The Hanson’s school year started the next Monday. Dana dressed that morning in her previously picked first day of school outfit, new jeans and a Gap shirt. She rang the Hanson’s front bell at precisely nine o’clock, just as she had been told. Walker answered the door and led Dana down to a room in the basement that she had never seen. Isaac and Taylor were already there. She couldn’t see the others anywhere. They must be in another room, Dana thought.
“Hello and welcome to Hanson Academcy” Walker said. Isaac smiled. Taylor blushed. Walker continued: “This is homeroom, and now I will call roll. Dana Neilson?” Dana raised her hand. “Isaac Hanson?” Isaac did the same. “And Taylor Hanson?” Taylor raised his hand, as well. “Ok, everyone is here. Take out your Englsih books. All three produced books. Isaac’s and Dana’s were new, but Taylor’s was battered. It had been used two years ago by Isaac. “Do the first lesson.” The three students got to work.
In the next room, Diana was teaching Zachary, Jessica, and Avery English. Terese was upstairs with Mackie, and Kevin was on the phone with his boss trying to get the Hansons a date with a recording studio and a song writer.
The day wore on, through history, math (tought by a different man whose name Dana didn’t remember), lunch, art, and science. Dana was sad. She missed Austin and her friends terribly. How she longed to be at Jefferson with Hollie,and Jason,and Tina,and Blake, and everyone. She wanter to hate her teachers, eat nasty cafiteria food, and read graffiti in the bathrooms, and get detentions, and watch fights, and misbehave during fire drills. You know, stuff normal high school freshman do. She wouldn’t even mind seniors playing tricks on her.
When four o’clock arrived Dana was ecstatic! She bounded out of the Hanson home without so much as a goodbye. She walked toward a park she had seen. She hated Tulsa, she hated her house, she hated the Hansons, and she hated her father for making her come here. Dana found a bench in the park and sobbed.
When she was done, it was almost five. Dana decided to take a little walk before going home. She walked a ways, and found a group of girls about her age. She introduced herself and sat down next to a blonde named Aimee. After the boring introductions were over Dana knew the other girls were Lora, Nonie, Beth, and Dawn. They went to the high school across the park. They also happened to be freshman.
When Dana told them where she lived, the girls stopped short.
“That’s where Taylor Hanson lives!” breathed Beth.
“And Isaac and Zachary, too!” cried Nonie.
“Have you introduced yourself, yet?” Aimee wanted to know.
Dana was astonished. These girls were exactly like the ones she had seen in the mall. She decided to play dumb so they would leave her alone about it. “No, we haven’t met any neighbors, yet. Who are they anyway?”
“Only the best young Tulsa music stars ever!” Lora exclaimed.
“You HAVE to invite us to your house!”
“And point out theirs!”
This went on for a few minutes. Dana was bored. These girls were so obviously obsessed, it was boring. She left a while later. Aimee had invited her over to her house Friday for a sleepover. The other girls were invited, too. Dana said she’d ask and could she call? Aimee gave Dana her phone number and they all bid her goodbye.
Dana walked home briskly. It was only almost six, so she had a while before dinner. She walked up the stairs to her room and changed her clothes. Dana rummaged through her desk and found a piece of paper and a pen. She wanted to write to Hollie and tell her what happened.
Hey! How’s Jefferson? Does everyone miss me? I miss everyone. We had our first day of “school” today. It sucked. Mr. and Mrs. Hanson and some other guy are the teachers. We don’t even have any electives, except art. It’s SOO boring. All we do is work lessons all day and Mr. Hanson checks them. No discussions or anything. I hate it here.
I met some girls today in the park. They are my age and are in ninth grade at the public school here. Their names are Aimee Porter, Lora Miller, Nonie Wilson, Beth Lee, and Dawn Carminshi. They’re really nice, but, like those girls in the mall I told you about, they are obsessivly in love with the three oldest Hansons. I didn’t even tell them I knew them, since then they would beg me to introduce them and all that. Isaac, Zachary, and especially Taylor don’t like girls obsessing over them.
I think I might like Taylor. Maybe. He IS cute. And nice. And plays good music. Well, sometimes I like him. Other times, like today in “school” I didn’t even care if he was there or not. He probably thinks I’m just another adoring fan, anyway. I know Zachary has a crush on me. Its so cute! He is, too. And he’s FUNNY!! If only he were my age, then.........well, maybe. Isaac is ok. I think I can confide in him. About Taylor and things.
I must close this letter now, as it is time to eat.
Tell everyone “Hey” for me at Jefferson. And write back!!
Dana sealed and adressed the letter and went down to put it in the mailbox. Then she decided that she might as well do her homework until dinner. All the homework was was more lessons. Bor-ring. How can they stand this, day after day? She wondered. Then she thought: They’ve never known anything else, since they’ve been home-schooled their whole lives. Poor things. Dana found that she began to feel sorry for the Hansons. They had to pay a great price for their fame. And they weren’t hardly famous, yet! Imagine what it would be like when they are national celeberties!
“What are we gonna call ourselves?” Isaac Hanson asked his brothers the same night. The day, for them, had gone very well. Both Taylor and Isaac had loved having Dana in their class. Taylor even made his first flat out perfect score in math- without trying. The three oldest Hansons had gone to their room after school to talk. They all agreed that Dana was a positive influence. Zachary was looking out the window and singing a silly song he made up about Dana. Taylor was laying on his bed, playing with some Legos. He was concentrating really hard and didn’t hear Isaac’s question. Isaac looked up from the desk, where he was writing a song for Taylor and Dana to sing together, called Peace by the River and asked his question again.
“Why can’t we just keep the same name?” Zachary asked. The Hanson brothers were known around twon as precisely the; The Hanson Brothers.
“I dunno.....It sounds kinda......young.”
“We ARE young!!!”
“You are, I’m not.”
While Isaac and Zachary were arguing, Taylor was still in his own Lego world. He was making a city. Hansonville. It was kinda like the city he had made on the computer. He brushed back and strand of blonde hair and looked up to see his brothers in a wrestling match on the floor. He shook his head and looked back down.
Just then Kevin burst through the door. “Guys! I got you a gig Saturday at the mall!” The three Hansons started cheering. They had been low on gigs the last few weeks. “And I have better news! I got you a date with the recording company! First you got to meet with your songwriter, and of course you’ve got to practice, and- Well, you best get busy!”
There was a stampede to the basement. The three brothers had a busy schedule ahead of them!
Dana was watching this threw her bedroom window. She was still kinda mad. When Kevin came in the room she had drawn the curtains in a huff and turned her music on loud. On second thought, she ran downstairs and told her mother aboud Aimee and the rest. Terese was skeptical, but finally, she gave in on the fact that Dana had finally made friends her own age. Dana raced up the stairs and called Aimee.
“Great! I’ll see you there!” Dana was going to be at Aimee’s house at 6 on Friday. She couldn’t wait. The day was picking up, after all.
Terese then called up the steps that Dana had a letter. Dana was ecstatic. She ran down to get it. It was from Hollie.
Hey girl! How’s Tulsa? Austin is still in its late summer heat wave. Jefferson is really cool. Tina, Stephanie, Gabby and I made the dance team. You would have made it, too, if you were still here. The band sounds cool. That Taylor guy sounds hot! You’re so lucky!
Guess who is going out!!! Me and Bryan! Isn’t that the coolest? Everyone says we make the cutest couple.
Well, I can’t write much longer, since I’m off to dance practice. We’re doing the songs from Aladdin this year and our costumes and light blue and oriental. They are baggy pants that gather at the ankles and a midriff top with puffy sleeves. The whole thing is sequined. It’s really awesome looking.
Dana sighed put the letter away. She flopped back on her bed deep in thought.
Friday night came and, after a week of boring lessons, Dana was glad. She raced up to her bedroom at four a clock to pack her overnight bag. Dana didn’t know what to pack. She already had an outfit for tomorrow and pajamas, but what else? First, she added her makeup and toothbrush, of course. She piled it all into a Liz Claibourne case and stuck it in her overnight bag, which was her last years bookbag, a blue Jansport. Then Dana thought that she should bring her Cds, so she went through them and put her twelve best in her travel case. She took the two books her friends had given her, too. Lastly, she threw in last years yearbook, and her favorite movie, A League of Their Own. She grabbed her sleeping bag and pillow and ran downstairs.
“Mom! I’m going to meet Aimee in the park!” She called on her way out. Since Dana didn’t know where Aimee lived, they had agreed to meet in the park beforehand. She banged the screen door shut, called goodbye to Zachary, who was rollar blading in his driveway, and set out. It was a windy day, and with her cargo, she wasn’t getting anywhere. Fortunately, Isaac drove by just then and offered to take her to the park. Dana readily accepted, forgetting how obsessed Aimee was.
The two made small talk until the park. “Have fun practicing!” Dana yelled as Isaac sped off. She turned around. Aimee was no where to be seen, thank goodness. Dana walked a ways to a bench and waited. Five minutes later, Aimee and Dawn showed up.
“Dawn lives down the street from me, so we both came.” Aimee explained. “Its not that far.” Aimee and Dawn led Dana down a side street and then turned left. They stopped in front of a small apartment building. Aimee buzzed them in and led the way up the stairs. Her apartment was on the third floor, number 301. She led them inside to her room. “Mom’s still at work,” Aimee explained. Dawn leaned over to Dana and whispered “Divorce” before Dana could ask about Mr. Porter.
Aimee’s room was plain, but fairly big. It was painted white, with grey carpet and a blue border, carpet and bedspread. A TV was in the corner, on a dresser. A desk was the only other peice of furniture in the room. Dana threw her stuff in the corner and faced the other two girls. “The others will be here soon, why don’t we go down and meet them?” Aimee suggested. Dawn and Dana agreed and they soon found themselves downstairs again.
Beth was the first to arrive, then Lora. Nonie came last with another girl, Jodi Harrison, who hadn’t been at the park on Monday. The seven of them trooped back up the stairs to Aimee’s room, where they spread out sleeping bags. “Mom’s bringing home pizza for everyone. That’ll be about eight, so we have about two hours before she gets here, any ideas?”
“BOYS!” Everyone but Dana immediately exclaimed.
They soon were crowded by the phone, inviting. Dana hung back. Nonie and Lora were arguing over who had the best boyfriend. Jodi and Aimee were still going throough the phone book. Dawn was on the phone, and Beth was just hanging back, getting a few words in sometimes. Dana was looking over Aimee’s shoulder at the names. “How many are coming?”
“Well, we invited 10. Two had machines, and one said no, so we’re left with seven. They’re on their way!”
There was a mad dash for the bathroom. Everyone started primping. It was like a group date and everyone had to get ready for it. The intercom buzzed. Aimee shreaked, then composed herself enough to answer it. When she came back she announced that they were all on their way up.
The seven boys entered the apartment. There were “Heys” all aournd and Nonie and Lora’s boyfriends found them. In the middle of this Aimee saw that Dana had hung back, and pulled her foreward. “Guys,” she said, refereing to all the males. “This is Dana Neilson. She just moved here from Texas.” Dana managed a weak smile. She was looking at one of THE most gorgeous guys she had ever seen. He had dark, longish hair (not as long as Isaac’s) and a quiet look. “Dana, this is Shawn Danielson, Jonathan Jacobs, Anthony Richardson, Matt Kelly, Bryan Miller, Terry Gordon, and Danny Zimms.” The boys all said hi to Dana, Shawn and Terry turned back around to Nonie and Lora, and everyone else began to mill around.
“Get a room!” Someone shouted. Some one giggled in Dana’s ear. The two happy couples walked down the hall. Aimee called after them “Not on my bed!!”
Then Jodi got an idea. “Lets play Truth or Dare!” Everyone agreed, and they all formed a circle. Dana found herself kinda on the outside, between Beth and (wow) the cute guy, whose name was Anthony.
The game progressed, getting wilder and wilder. If you refused to answer a question or do a dare, you gave up a piece of clothing. Shoes where everywhere, and one guy (Dana thought it was Jonathan) was without his shirt.Most of the questions were pretty tame, like “If you could go out with anyone here, who would it be?” or “Which teacher is the best good looking?” But the dares were really good. Someone dared someone else to check on the couples and throw a couple of comdoms in. Someone else dared someone to call the escort service and say in an old lady voice that they would like an escort to the senior citizens dance, perfiribly someone over 75. These, of course, were turned down. The only dares people seemed to be accepting were the kissing ones. Everyone here seemed to be friends, so it didn’t mean to matter.
Anthony nuged Dana. She jumped in surprise and turned around. “You’re Dana, right?” She nodded. “Anthony Richardson. You know you must have broken a few hearts when you left wherever it is you left because you sure are beautiful.” Dana smiled and blushed. She wasn’t expecting THAT!
“Nah...” She answered calmly as she could. “I didn’t have a boyfriend.”
“Would you like one? I mean, would you like to go to the movies tomorrow?”
“Sure, but, um, I can’t. Some family thing. I can Sunday afternoon, though. Is that ok?”
“Sure is!” Anthony smiled his beautiful smile and leaned back on his arm. He positioned it so that it wasn’t really around Dana, but it seamed as if it was.
The rest of the party past in a blur to Dana. The guys left, Aimee’s mom came home, they ate pizza, talked, did makeovers, watched a movie and went to sleep. Dana slept with Anthony’s phone number under her pillow. The next morning Dawn and Aimee walked Dana back to the park.
“The Hanson Brothers are performing at the mall tonight, are you gonna be there?” Dawn asked.
Dana thought. “Sure. I’ll be there, I think.”
“Great see you there.” The girls waved and then walked off back to their street. Dana set out in the opposite direction for home. On second thought she doubled back and found a pay phone. She diled the Hanson’s number. Zachary answered on the second ring with one of his usual funny greetings. Dana asked for Isaac and when he came on the line she asked for a ride. Isaac agreed reluctantly, but said it was no problem because he needed a new guitar pick for tonight and he and Taylor were going to the music store. Five minutes later they arrived.
“You don’t mind coming along to the music store, do you?” Isaac asked. Dana said it was no problem. The store was right across from the park. The boys walked in and Dana followed. Isaac went off to the guitar section and Taylor fingered the keyboards. Dana thumbed through the sheet music. She wanted to take voice lessons again here and inquired at the desk about it.
“Well, miss. There’s a good teacher over at the high school, but I don’t know if he does lessons anymore. There’s Mrs. White, but she specializes in younguns. Ah. Over on 5th Street there’s a theatrical academy. I think they do voice. Here’s the card. Thanks miss.”
Dana studied the card. Tulsa Academy of the Theatre was printed in big letters across the top. Under that was “Training in all areas of the theatre for all ages” Under that was an adress and a phone number. Dana slipped the card in her pocket. Isaac was paying for his purchase. Soon she found herself back in the car.
When Dana got home, after depositing her overnight things in her room, she went to find her mother. She was reading in the study.
“Hi Dane! How was the party?”
“Oh, same old, same old. I guess slumber parties are the same all over the country. I did meet a guy, though. Don’t worry, they didn’t spend the night. His name is Anthony Richardson and he is friends with Aimee and everyone. He invited me to the movies tomorrow, but I said that I’d call him later.”
“Hmmmm.....That’s pretty fast work Dana. Are you sure he’s nice?”
“Oh, yes!! Aimee and Dawn and everyone said he is just so sweet!”
“Well.....I guess its ok.”
“I wanted to ask you something else.”
“What is it?”
“Mom, can I take voice lessons again? I found out about this great theatre academy and here’s their card. I really want to. Taylor and Isaac and everyone say I’m really good.”
“I’ll think about it. I’ll call tonight and ask for prices. Its good that you found something to do. Oh, and Kevin said to come over to the Hanson’s basement as soon as you got home, so you’d better scoot.”
“Ok, thanks Mom. Bye!”
Dana hurried out the door and across the lawn. The Hanson’s back door was open and sh let herself in. There were banging noises coming from the basement. When Dana got to the bottom of the steps she found Isaac, Taylor, Zachary, Walker, and Kevin struggling to pack up the Hanson’s instruments.
“Need any help?” Dana called over the racket.
“Sure!” answered Taylor. “You can roll up these wires while I help Dad. We’re gonna need you to help out at the show too, so don’t wander off.” Dana nodded and started on the wires. In an hour, the whole basement was practially in a box. Walker took them outside and put everything in the back of his pickup.
“You guys wanna go out for burgers and then set up?” Everyone agreed except Kevin, who said he had some phone calls to make. The five of them paked into the extended cab of Mr. Hanson’s truck. Isaac was riding shotgun, and Dana, Taylor, and Zachary were in the back. “What do you guys say to drive through McDonalds? Not exactly gormet, but...” Fortunatly everyone said that was fine and began yelling orders.
When everyone was finally content wiht their food, Walker found a parking spot at a nearby supermarket and everyone began to eat. Ten minutes later, they were on their way to the mall.
“Are you guys performing in those clothes?” Dana asked, noticing their grubby clothes for the first time.
“Of course not!” Zachary exclaimed. Isaac held up a garment bag.
“Our performance clothes are in here. We’re gonna change while you guys start to set up.”
As they approached the mall Dana notice a big sign. “Hanson Brothers Live in Concert Tonight Only” It read. Dana started to get excited.
As Taylor and Isaac came out of the dressing room Taylor said, “Ike, can I ask you something? Serious?” Isaac was busy fixing his hair so he just nodded. Taylor continued, “Its about Dana. Ike, I think I really like her. I mean more than a friend. She’s just so pretty and she has such a good voice, and she’s nice and treats us like human beings, not stars.”
Isaac put his arm around Taylor. “Ah......it must be love!”
“Ike, this is SERIOUS!!”
“I’ve got an idea. We’re debuting Thinking of You, right?” Taylor nodded. “How about we ask her to sing the lead? She’s practiced it a few times with us, and she knows the words and the rhythm. And........” Isaac whispered something in Taylor’s ear.
“Really? You think I could? Would she mind?” Taylor was excited.
“Sure! I’ll go tell her she can sing. She might wanna go buy something to sing in, before the stores close.” Isaac ran off to the makeshift stage where Dana was setting up.
Taylor, still thinking about Isaac’s idea, ran off to find his father to ask if it was ok for Dana to sing one song. He found Walker roping off the section of the mall. “Dad? You know how Dana’s a good singer? Well, we want her to sing one song with us tonight. Is that ok?”
Walker looked up, “If it’s ok with the four of you, its ok with me.” Taylor said thanks and ran back to the “stage.”
“.....so will you sing?” Isaac was asking.
Dana answered, “I dunno......” She was thinking about all her friends who would be there, and maybe Anthony. Then she saw Taylor standing there and changed her mind. A guy like Taylor could do that to you. “Sure, I guess. Lemme just go find something to wear. Got any money?”
Isaac handed her a credit card. “This is supposed to be only for emergancies, but I think we can make an exception.” Dana yelled thank you as she sprinted to The Gap. She had seen this cool cropped tee there the other day. It would go perfect with the baggy jeans she had on. She bought it and ran to the bathroom. On the way she passed Beth and Nonie, who were early for the performance.
“Hi Dana!” Beth exclaimed cheerfully.
“Hi! Can’t talk! Gotta change!” Dana was running out of breath. She hoped that the girls wouldn’t save her a spot or anything. Dana changed, fixed her hair, and hurried back. She went to back way, as to not be seen.
Zachary, Taylor, and Isaac were waiting just out of sight of the crowd.
“So are you sure you know the words?” Isaac asked.
“Sure!” Dana was very excited now.
“You look rah-vishing, dah-ling!” Zachary exclaimed.
“Yeah, just like a rock star!” Taylor put in.
Dana looked at their performance clothes. They were all wearing dark JNCOs. Taylors were cuffed, Isaacs wrinkled up so he wouldn’t step on them, and Zachary’s had big holes from being constantly stepped on. They were all wearing adidas shirts and shoes. Their shirts were different styles and colors, but their shoes were all the same. Taylor’s shirt was blue, Isaac’s red, and Zachary’s yellow. She liked their clothes, and told them so.
Five minutes before the show was to begin, Dana couldn’t help saying that she was nervous. Taylor told her that she was sure to be a hit, Zachary gave her his good luck penny, and Isaac rubbed her shoulders. “You guys must be used to this!”
“Yeah, it grows on you.” Isaac said.
Just then Kevin came buy. “The exec from the recording company is in the audience! Good luck to you! Walker says he’s going to introduce you now, so get ready.” Kevin disappeared again.
Walker came on the stage. They heard the crowd quiet down as he tested the mike. “Welcome, ladies and gentleman! I’m Walker Hanson, and I’d like to introduce my sons. Zachary on drums....” Zachary ran out, waved to the crowd, and took his place behind his drum set. “....Taylor on keyboard......” Taylor walked on, waved once, and stood behind his keyboard. “......and Isaac on guitar!” Isaac did the same. “Hit it!” Walker ran off as the music began.
The brothers played a a few songs. The concert wasn’t supposed to be that long. Dana peeked around the partition a few times, but didn’t want to be noticed too much. After the song ended, Isaac managed to quiet down the crowd. “We have a special guest here with us tonight. Everyone. I’d like to introduce our neighbor and best friend, fresh from Austin, Texas, Dana Neilson!” Walker pushed Dana onto the stage. She took the mike and said hi to the crowd. There were so many people!
In the audience, Beth, Aimee and everyone gasped. “The lying cheat! She knew them all along!”
On stage, the music started. Dana’s voice sang out clear and true. She was perfect! The audience cheered when she finished. She took a bow and smiled, taking in the applause. Isaac and Zachary came over and shook her hand. Taylor followed, but then hang back.
When Isaac and Zachary had moved back to their spots, Tayor walked up to Dana and kissed her on the cheek.
The crowd roared. Isaac breathed a “Thank you” into the mike and the concert was over.
Next five chapters