This story takes place in January 1999, when the Septs are sixteen years old and in eleventh grade.

Rebel on the Slopes
A Carlson Septuplets Story

"Hurry up, we're going to miss the bus!" Michelle stood by the front door, dressed in a parka, waterproof ski pants, and clunky, hard plastic boots. A pile of accessories—thick mittens, a multi-colored, crazily styled hat, ski goggles, and a neckwarmer, and perhaps most importantly, a Westfield Ski Club membership card—sat at her feet. "Megan, Monica, are you guys ready yet? Everyone else is in the car!"

"Coming!" came a voice from upstairs. Monica skipped down the stairs and into the living room, followed by Megan, who was still adjusting her sweatshirt and ski pants to try and fit them comfortably over her jeans.

"So this is okay, this outfit? I'm not going to be too cold or anything? And don't I need boots like yours?" Megan sounded very unsure.

"Your outfit's fine, like I've said a million times! See, it's just like what Monica and I are wearing. And you'll get your boots from the rental place when we get there." Michelle was exasperated from being extremely concerned about missing the Ski Club bus.

"Well, Monica's never been skiing either, so how should I know if we're both dressed right?" Megan mumbled, but no one heard her.

"Do you guys have your cards?" Michelle asked. Both her sisters held up their Ski Club photo IDs. "Good, then let's go! We're going to be late!" Megan and Monica ran out to the Sept Van and hopped inside, followed by Michelle who walked as quickly as she could in her clunky ski boots.


Mr. Carlson pulled the Sept Van in front of the Westfield Rec Center, and his seven daughters hopped out. Michelle and Meredith, the only Septs who had their own skis already, ran around to the back of the van and opened the trunk, pulling out two long, thin bags containing their skis and poles. These two had been skiing plenty of times before, mostly with their friends' families; when these friends bought new skis, they had given the Carlsons great deals on their old ones, so two of the Septs now owned their own skis. Michelle and Meredith had been in Ski Club for a few years already, and they both had great skill on the slopes, so they knew it would be worth it to purchase used skis. Melissa and Mary also skied very well, as they had also gone with friends and to Ski Club in past years; Molly was a very promising beginning skier, having been to the slopes two or three times before. Monica and Megan, however, had never put skis on in their lives.

"So you'll be here at eleven o'clock to pick us up, as usual, right, Dad?" Mary asked her father through the van's open driver-side window.

"Yep, just look for the van in the usual place."

"Okay, then. Bye!" Mary waved to her dad as he drove away. Megan just sort of stared at the Sept Van, as if she were really wishing that it hadn't left without her on board.

"Hey, Mary, Megan! You want some tags?!" Melissa waved to them from just outside the front door of the Rec Center. She held two metal hooks and two small fluorescent green pieces of paper in her hand, waving them above her head. Monica and Molly stood next to her, attaching the hooks to their jackets' zippers and folding the green paper, which was sticky on one side, over them so the vividly colored tags would hang quite visibly from the fronts of their jackets.

"Thanks, Mel!" Mary called, then said to Megan, "C'mon, Mel got us some tags. Let's hurry up and put them on, and then get on the buses."

"What do we need those green tags for?" Megan asked, quite clueless in the ways of Ski Club.

"They say 'Westfield' on them. I guess they're so the ski people can tell we're from Westfield Ski Club, though I have no idea why they need to know," Mary said with a shrug. The two of them ran over to where Melissa was standing and put their own tags on their jackets. Megan's came out quite crumbled and awkward, but it was adequate. Meredith and Michelle, who had finished stashing their skis in the bus that would carry equipment for all the Ski Club members lucky enough to own their own pairs, joined them and attached their tags to their coats.

"C'mon, you guys, let's get on the bus," Meredith said. "We'll be lucky if we can all find seats."

The idea that they wouldn't be able to find seats boggled Megan's and Monica's minds, as six buses had lined up in front of the Rec Center. They knew the Westfield Ski Club was a large organization, but they didn't know it was that big!

The seven of them headed to the nearest bus, but the attendant at the door waved them away. Apparently that bus had already filled. So had the next one. On the third, the attendant let some of them on, but didn't think there would be enough room for all seven of them, so Michelle and Melissa got on and the others headed to the next bus, where there was enough room for all of them.

"Cards, please?" The bus attendant wouldn't let them board until they had given him their Ski Club photo IDs. Once they had done so, they made their way down the small, crowded aisle in the center of the school bus—the Ski Club used the school district's buses to carry all the 6th through 12th grade Ski Club members to the local ski places. Megan and Meredith sat down in the first empty seat they passed; Mary, Molly, and Monica headed further back until they found two empty seats across from each other. Mary and Monica sat together on one side, and Molly got the opposite seat to herself (though Mary and Monica made her pile all their hats, mittens, goggles, and other accessories on the seat next to her, since she had so much room to spare).

After a few minutes, the bus filled up completely (except, luckily for Molly, the seat next to her) and the caravan of school buses departed. The driver turned on the radio, but no one could hear the music very well because so many kids were shouting back and forth. The high school students tended to blame the racket on the little middle schoolers, but many of them could be obnoxiously noisy, too.

"Oooh, it's so loud and crazy on this bus!" Megan commented to Meredith. "I forgot how loud school buses can be, since we always walk to school. I haven't been on one since elementary school!"

"Yeah," Meredith agreed. "It's always crazy on the Ski Club buses."

"Well, I still don't know what I'm doing on one of them. I don't know how to ski at all. I don't know how I got talked into this!"

"Don't worry. There are free ski lessons for anyone who's in Ski Club," Meredith explained. "And Monica doesn't know how to ski, either, so she'll be taking them with you."

"Yeah, but I don't really know if I even want to learn to ski."

"Heh, having second thoughts, huh?" Meredith smiled. "Relax. It's a ton of fun. You and Monica were the only ones out of all of us who hadn't tried it before. If we didn't think you'd like it, we wouldn't have suggested that you sign up for Ski Club this year. And it's really pretty simple. I learned really quickly when I spent a week with Hannah and Millie at Caberfae Peaks a few years ago. Now that all of us are going to know how to ski, maybe we can get Mom and Dad to take us all up north to ski for a week on February break!"

"Oh, so THAT'S the reason I'm here: to help pressure our parents into taking us on a ski vacation."

"No, of course not!" Meredith insisted. "Well...okay, so that would be nice, but I really think you and Monica'll like it. It's really fun! Don't you like roller coasters? It's kind of like that."

Megan sighed. "Except roller coasters come with seat belts and are stuck to a track."


Shortly after the buses departed, the Ski Club attendant began selling lift tickets. He started at the front of the bus and gradually worked his way down the aisle. When he reached Meredith and Megan, he checked their club ID cards and saw a yellow sticker on Meredith's, indicating that she had previously passed the third and highest level ski test and would be able to purchase the all-area ticket. As Megan had never skied before, she had never passed any tests, nor did she have any stickers. So all she could purchase was a rope tow ticket.

"You'll be able to upgrade this ticket when we go to Mt. Brighton," the attendant explained, "but you can't upgrade at Mt. Holly. Ski Club tests are only given at Mt. Brighton. So you're going to have to stick to the rope tow tonight." The Westfield Ski Club went to three different slopes, most frequently Mt. Brighton, but sometimes they went to a place called Alpine Valley, or best and rarest of all, the Septs' favorite, Mt. Holly. Since they didn't go to Mt. Holly as frequently, they didn't offer the Westfield Ski Club test there.

"Oh, that's okay," Megan said. "The rope tow is fine with me." She paid the man, and he gave her a sticker to put on her neon green Westfield Ski Club tag. When the attendant had moved to the next group of kids, Megan asked her sister, "Ummm...what's a rope tow?"

Meredith laughed. "I thought someone told you this already! A rope tow's something they only use on the bunny hills. That's what they call the very tiniest hills, too small even for a chair lift. You hold on to the rope and it pulls you up the hill. I hope you brought thick mittens, 'cause if you didn't, the rope'll tear 'em up."

"So I don't have to go on one of those chairs that hang in the air?" Megan sounded very relieved. "Those look really unsafe."

"No, you don't have to go on them, but don't be silly. They're perfectly safe. 'Course, it's a trick learning to get on and off of them, but it's even trickier using the rope tow without falling down, or without tripping over some other beginner who fell down in front of you."

Megan's eyes widened. Her sister laughed again. "Oh, don't worry about it, am I scaring you? Sorry about that! It's really not hard. You'll catch on really quickly. Of course, you'll want to stick to the ones that have green circles on them, 'cause those are the easiest runs."

"Okay," Megan said, glad to know this useful tidbit of information. At least now she didn't have to worry about accidentally going on any difficult hills!

Meanwhile, the ski club attendant had worked his way towards the back of the bus where Monica, Molly, and Mary were sitting.

"We'd like one rope tow pass and two all-areas, please," Mary requested.

"Hold on, let me check your cards," the man said. "What are your names?"

"Monica, Mary, and Molly Carlson," Monica said.

"Oh, right, more of the Septuplets," he said as he looked through the cards. "Hmm, well, you can get the rope tow, of course, but it looks like you girls—Molly and Mary—only have second-level passes." He held up their cards, showing a blue sticker on the back.

"That's right. But there isn't a second level pass available at Mt. Holly. There's only rope tow and all-area. So we'd like the all-area passes," Molly explained.

"Sorry, girls, but I can't sell all-areas to people without yellow stickers."

"WHAT?! But we've both skied the hardest slope they have at Alpine Valley, and we've gone on black diamonds plenty of times at Holly, too! And now you're telling us we have to stick to the green hills?!" Molly was outraged.

"We can't even go to the blue squares? We do have intermediate passes, you know!" Mary added, equally upset. Black diamonds designated the hardest hills, which Molly and Mary both went on often, while blue squares identified the intermediate slopes, which were their favorites. They were fast and fun, but not too crazy. Unlike Megan, they found the idea of sticking to hills with green circles absolutely boring.

"I'm sorry," he repeated, "but those are the rules."

"Can't we pass the test here, then?" Mary asked.

"Nope. You can only test at Brighton."

"But WHY? Why can you only test at Brighton?!" Molly pleaded.

"That's just how the program works. I'm really not the one you should talk to about that, as I didn't set up the rules. I just sell the tickets. Don't worry, though, our next trip's to Brighton, so you can test up then."

"A lot of good that does us today," Mary mumbled so he couldn't hear her.

"Okay then, I guess we have to buy three rope tow tickets," Molly said. She spat out the words "rope tow" as if they tasted decidedly icky.

"Right. That'll be thirty dollars."

"WHAT?!" Molly shouted again. "Thirty dollars! That's the same price it would be for an all-area! Don't tell me we have to pay just as much for the rope tow ticket, but we can only go on the two hills with elevations of about five feet!"

The man shrugged; he seemed to be getting frustrated. "Look, girls, I told you, I don't make the rules. You can talk to the people at the Rec Center if you don't like how the club's run. But right now I can only sell you rope tow passes, and the price for three is thirty dollars. So do you want to buy them, or are you just going to sit at the bottom of the hill all evening?"

Molly shoved three ten dollar bills into the man's glove, and took the three rope tow tickets he handed her in return. They looked different from the all-area tickets so the lift operators could tell which price people had paid; skiers who didn't come with Ski Club had different prices to pay for rope tow and all-area passes. Molly passed them out to Monica and Mary, who attached them to their green Ski Club tags.

"This is so not fair," Mary complained. "We can ski black diamond hills just fine, and here we are stuck on the rope tow! And we still have to pay the same as we would for an all-area pass!"

"If we weren't with Ski Club, they couldn't keep us from buying whatever ticket we wanted," Molly added.

"That's right," Mary agreed, in an icy tone of voice.

The two of them sat there quietly for a moment; you could almost see the black storm clouds hovering above their heads, like in cartoons when the characters are upset. Monica just glanced from one of her sisters to the other, not knowing what to say. She had never skied before, so she didn't know why they considered rope tow passes such a punishment.

"You know," Molly said, "I think since we paid just as much for these passes as we would have for an all-area, and we are better judges of our own skill levels than the ski club people are, I'm just going to go on whatever hill I want."

Mary stared at her. "Oooooh, Molly, you're going to break a rule?"

"It's a stupid rule! It's civil disobedience!" Molly seemed very annoyed. "And besides, if the Mt. Holly people tell me to stop, I'll stop. But I don't think the lift operators will even care, it's just those silly Ski Club people who have to stick to dumb rules even when they're so poorly thought out! Why are you looking at me like that?!"

Mary burst out laughing. "Oh, nothing. You just aren't the rebel type. But I'm coming with you. There's no way I'm staying on their two tiny rope tows for the entire evening!"

"Hey, what about me and Megan?" Monica spoke up. "Someone's got to hang around with us and show us how to ski!"

"Don't worry, we will," Molly said. "But you'll catch on really quick, and then we're hitting the big slopes!"


The sun hung low in the afternoon sky, and a few light flurries of snow fell to the already white-coated ground as the caravan of buses arrived at Mt. Holly. Kids poured out of the buses and swarmed toward either the ski rental building or the bus that carried skis for those members who owned their own. Meredith and Michelle headed over to the bus to find their skis, while the other Septs searched for each other in the mob of kids outside the rental shop.

"There's Mel," Monica said. "Hey, Melissa, over here!"

Melissa and her friend Louise had already found each other, but the two of them joined up with the other Septs before going to get their rentals.

"Hey, did you have the same problem we did, with getting an all-area pass?" Mary asked Melissa, who had been on a different bus and therefore hadn't been able to commiserate with her sisters on the ride over.

"Huh? What are you talking about? Of course I got an all-area pass. You think I want to stay on the bunny hills all day?"

" don't have a yellow sticker on your card! You're at the same level as we are!" Upon hearing that her sister—who had the same level of skiing ability as Mary and Molly—had an all-area pass, Mary felt her temper surge.

"Yeah, I'm on the second level. And second level is way too high for a rope tow pass," Melissa stated matter-of-factly.

"I KNOW that! But they wouldn't sell us all-area passes because we hadn't gotten the most advanced sticker yet!"

"But you can ski the most advanced level, even if you haven't taken the test." Melissa seemed a bit puzzled.

"That's right," Mary said, becoming increasingly annoyed. "But they have their stupid rules that you have to prove you can ski the very hardest hill before they'll even let you off the rope tow. Or at least, they SAID that was the rule. So how did YOU end up with an all-area pass?!"

Melissa shrugged. "Too bad you weren't on our bus. We must have had a nicer ticket-seller."

"So you and Michelle have the all-area passes, and Meredith got one 'cause she's got a yellow sticker, and Monica and Megan have rope tow passes, which are appropriate for them since they've never skied before. But me and Molly got completely gypped! This is so not fair! Isn't it, Molly?"

She looked around for Molly, but she didn't see her among their little crowd.

"Molly?" Mary repeated. "Hey, where's Molly?"

"I dunno," Melissa shrugged again.

"I saw her getting off the bus, but then I lost track of her," Monica added.

"Maybe she's with Meredith and Michelle," Megan suggested.

"But she has to rent skis, so why would she have gone with them?" Mary wondered. "Where is she?" Looking around, she couldn't see her anywhere.

"Well, I'm sure she's fine, wherever she is," Louise said. "Seems to me that Molly's one person you never have to worry about."

"Yeah, especially here, as there's nothing for her to blow up," Melissa added with a half-joking, half-serious smirk.

"I bet she went to try to trade in her rope tow pass for an all-area," Monica said.

Mary looked a bit annoyed. "Then she should have told me so I could go too. Well, anyway, let's go get our skis. Maybe she's already gone ahead of us. We're meeting up with Meredith and Michelle outside the rental place after we get our skis, so maybe they'll find Molly and she'll wait for us, too."

So Monica, Megan, Melissa, Mary, and Louise headed into the ski rental building and got in line, filling out forms telling their height, weight, and skiing ability level. Monica and Megan marked "I" for beginner, while the other three marked "II" for intermediate. The line moved rather quickly; after only a few minutes, they had reached the first counter, where they picked up ski boots. After that, they proceeded to the locker area where they put on the boots—Melissa's were soaking wet, so she went back to get another pair—and stashed all their shoes in one twenty-five cent locker. Then they went to get their skis and poles.

Megan had a bit of trouble getting up off of the bench after putting her boots on. "How do you WALK in these things?"

Monica agreed. "I feel like a big, bulky robot!"

"You'll get used to 'em," Louise assured them, as they handed their rental forms to some college kids who were working the ski rental area. After each of them got their equipment, they lugged it all outside and began putting it on. Meredith and Michelle were waiting for them.

"Hey guys," Meredith greeted them as they emerged from the shop.

"Have you two seen Molly?" Monica asked them.

"Wasn't she renting skis with you?" Michelle questioned, sounding surprised.

"Yeah, but--" Monica began, but a familiar voice cut her off.

"Hi everyone!" It was Molly, coming out of a different doorway from the ski rental shop.

"Molly! There you are. Where did you--" Mary began, but she too was cut off. Not by Molly speaking this time, but because she had to stop and stare, speechless.

"Is that a snowboard?" Megan said, also gawking at the piece of equipment that Molly carried with her.

"No, it's surfboard but I'm going to use it anyway," Molly retorted. "Yes, it's a snowboard."

"What are you doing with a snowboard?!" Mary asked, incredulous.

"Snowboarding, of course."

"But you don't know how to snowboard!" Monica replied, also sounding a bit shocked.

"Well, I'm gonna learn, just like you're going to learn to ski!"

"Do Mom and Dad--" Melissa began, but she was the third to get cut off.

"Yes, of course they said it was okay! Geez, what's with the criminal interrogation here?"

"Well..." Megan began. "You don't seem like the snowboarder type. I thought only the wild and crazy kids snowboarded."

"I thought you guys knew better than to stereotype like that! I have a very intelligent and respectable friend who snowboards, for your information, and she said it was fun so I thought I'd try it. Does anyone have a problem with that?"

"Oh, no, no problem at all," Monica replied.

"Of course not," Mary concurred.

"Good. Then how about we go find a lift and start skiing?" Molly suggested.

"Hold on a second," Melissa said. "I thought Mary said you 'n' her couldn't take the lift."

"Well, neither can you. You've got the same colored sticker that I do," Molly said.

"Ummm...well, yes, but...." Mary said, and explained the whole situation that they had discovered just after losing Molly a little while ago, about the different attendant on Melissa's and Michelle's bus who had sold them all-area passes instead of rope tows.

Molly was as angry as Mary had been. "They sold you all-areas? Why wouldn't they sell them to us, then? Well, it doesn't matter, Mary and I already decided we were going to go on the lift hills anyway. The lift attendants know we paid equal prices 'cause of our green Westfield Ski Club tags, and they know that people who aren't in Ski Club can buy whichever ticket they want without worrying about proving themselves with stupid stickers."

Mary nodded in agreement, while the other Septs and Louise just stared at Molly. Except for Melissa, who burst out laughing. "Way to be a rebel, girl!" she said through her laughter.

"Are you mocking me?"

"Nooooo, of course not, rebel girl!"

"You ARE mocking me."

"Oh, come on, Molly! You do realize how hard it is to picture little miss studious science genius on a snowboard, completely blowing off ski club policy!"

"Well, the person who sold you your all-area ticket was obviously ignoring the policy too, and he works for the ski club...." Mary noted, but Melissa and Molly didn't hear her.

"Just because I'm good in school and I like science doesn't mean I can't be a snowboarder!"

"A rebel snowboarder."


Seeing where this discussion was leading, Monica jumped in to prevent a full-blown fight. "Ooo-kay, you guys, can we just go ski now? I'm getting really tired of standing around in these uncomfortable boots! So who's going to show me 'n' Megan how to ski?"

"Why don't all of us just go over to the bunny hill with Monica and Megan," Meredith suggested, "and we can all help them a little bit until their lesson starts, on the hour. That's in about twenty minutes." She pointed her ski pole at the nearest ski lift station's clock.

"Sounds good to me," Louise said, and a bunch of the Septs nodded and said, "okay," and "sure."

"Well, let's get going then!" Monica said, anxious to learn something.

As they skied off towards the bunny hills (and after Monica and Megan got their first quick lesson in how to move across level ground in skis, courtesy of Michelle), Mary caught Molly's eye and let out a giggle.

"What are you laughing at?" Molly demanded.

"Oh, nothing. It's just that usually you're the one stepping in to stop me and Mel from arguing, but this time Monica had to break up Mel and you!"

"Hmm," was all Molly had to say to that. "Come on, let's just go."

"Whatever you say, Princess Mol-leia of the Westfield Ski Club Rebel Alliance!"

"Oh, don't YOU start now." Molly rolled her eyes. But she resisted the urge to bop her smart aleck sister over the head with a ski pole, because she did like Star Wars.


Twenty minutes later, Megan and Monica had gone up the rope tow twice each (Monica fell down on her first try, but she got right back up and tried again) and neither seemed to have any trouble skiing down the bunny slope, although Megan was extremely hesitant whenever she was at the top of the hill.

The sound of a bell echoed from the bottom of the bunny hill. "That's the bell for the ski lesson," Molly told Megan and Monica.

"I bet I'll be the worst student in the class," Megan complained.

"Don't be silly! Look how far ahead you are already! Some of those people haven't even been up the rope tow yet, and you've already been down the hill twice," Michelle observed.

"Why don't you take a lesson too, Molly?" Monica suggested. "A snowboarding lesson."

"You could certainly benefit from one," Michelle pointed out. Molly had already accumulated at least three potential bruises, and she had only been down the bunny hill twice.

"I'll be fine! I read a bunch about snowboarding before I tried it, and a couple of my friends gave me tips. Too bad they aren't in Ski Club."

"Well, whatever you want, Molly. Can we just go on the lift now?" Mary requested.

"Yeah, let's go!" everyone agreed, and they headed off towards the nearest lift, leaving Monica and Megan behind at the ski school.

Clustering around the bottom of the chair lift, they saw that it serviced intermediate terrain, as indicated by the blue square posted in front of the queue. The lift was a quad-seater, the largest capacity lift at the resort. "Shall we go on this lift?" Meredith questioned. "Or we could take that one over there," she pointed toward a nearby double-seater, "which goes to green circles and blue squares." The lift she pointed to was the only one that serviced a green circle run; the only other easy hills were the two bunny slopes.

"Forget the easy hill, I've already warmed up enough on the bunny hill! Let's take this one! This is my favorite run, anyway," Melissa said, pointing toward the intermediate one on the face of the main hill, called Woodward after the main road through Detroit, Woodward Avenue, because it was the widest run with the most traffic.

"Woodward it is, then," Michelle said, sliding into the queue for the quad-seat lift. Melissa, Michelle, Louise, a boy who was Louise's friend got on the first quad-seat cab, followed by Meredith, Molly, and Mary in the next cab. As they passed the lift attendant, Molly and Mary couldn't cover up the tickets that hung from their zippers, but they did hope that he wouldn't bother to look at them. He did, but he didn't seem to notice anything that bothered him, and the two crusaders against stupid rules let out a sigh of relief.

As the ski lift carried them up to the tops of some pine trees and over the ski run, Mary looked down and saw a snowboarder tumbling head over heels down the slope, coming to a stop just before narrowly missing the trunk of one of the pines.

"Are you sure you don't want to practice on the easy hill?" Mary asked again, recalling a very nasty tumble that she had seen Molly take on the bunny hill.

"I'm sure! I'm with Mel: I've had enough of the baby slopes for now. Besides, that guy was being really crazy on his board, but I'll be careful. And it's too late now, anyway. This lift doesn't reach the easy slope. "

"Oookay, Princess Mol-leia."

"Oookay, Mary Skiwalker," Molly mocked Mary in a very silly, mocking tone.

"Oh, well then, before you go and kill yourself on your snowboard, there's something you should know. I'm your long lost twin sister. In fact, there's five more of us, too."

"Ha ha, aren't you the funny one. Why don't you go and get yourself long lost, so you can't bug me anymore, and take Melissa with you!" Molly teased, then grabbed the side railing as the cab started bouncing and swinging precariously. "Whoa! Hey, I was kidding, you don't have to try to dump me off this thing!"

"It's not me!" Mary cried, turning and glaring at Meredith, who giggled guiltily.

"Get ready, you guys, we're coming to the top," she said with an angelic grin.

As they reached the top, Mary and Meredith slid off the lift, perhaps not gracefully, but adequately; Molly nearly tumbled off into a snow bank.

"Are you sure—" began Melissa, who was waiting for them at the top along with the rest of the gang.

"Don't say it! I'm sure!" Molly insisted. "I just haven't had practice getting off a lift on this thing, that's all. I have practiced going down hills."

"Then let's not just stand here, let's head down!" Meredith called to them as she pulled her ski goggles over her eyes took off down Woodward slope without them. The rest of them followed, having no trouble with the familiar intermediate hill, except for Molly who got off to a wobbly start before finally getting a slow pace of stopping and starting as she cautiously descended on her snowboard.

This was basically how the next couple hours went; all of them would pick a hill, usually a blue square but occasionally a black diamond—the most difficult—and ride up the lift hill, then ski down, clustering at the bottom of the hill to wait for Molly, who always reached the bottom last. A while after the sun had completely set, they decided they were hungry and headed over to pick up Monica and Megan from the bunny hills before they all went into the lodge to find something resembling dinner in the resort's snack bar.

After their oh-so-healthy meal of fries, soft pretzels, pop, and candy—the whole group of them wandered out to the lifts again. "We're going up the lifts again," Meredith told Megan and Monica. "See you guys later. Hope you have fun on bunny hill!"

Monica and Megan both replied with forced half-smiles as the rest of their sisters skied off towards the lifts, which were lit up for night skiing. Although both had said during dinner that they were enjoying themselves, neither was really having such a great time. Monica was sick of the bunny hill and wanted to try something else. Megan, on the other hand, was feeling that even the bunny hill was a bit overwhelming and hoping that ten o'clock, the time when they had to turn in their skis and board the Ski Club buses again, would come very quickly.

As the two of them skied toward the bunny hill, Monica noticed something. "Hey, Megan, stop!"

Megan did stop, quite easily as she was already going extremely slowly. "What?"

"Look," Monica said, pointing to the only lift that serviced a beginner's slope, designated by the green circle posted at the lift station. "Do you want to try a different hill? Another easy one, but one that doesn't use a rope tow?"

"If it doesn't use a rope tow, that means it uses a chair lift, and I do not want to get on one of those things."

"Oh, come on, Megan," Monica pleaded. "It's probably less scary than the rope tow, since people can't fall down in front of you and make you crash."


"Please?? I'm going anyway, but I really don't want to go by myself."

"Oh, fine. As long as it's another green circle hill." Megan didn't particularly want to be left by herself in this intimidating environment, either. So being the overly friendly girl that she could quite often be, she consented to do something she really didn't wan to do: ride the lift to tackle a hill that had to be even longer than the bunny hill, even if it still had a green circle.

"Great! Let's go!" And with that, Monica and Megan skied into the queue for the double-seat easy-to-intermediate lift.


At the peak of the ski hill, Molly found herself in a bit of a dilemma. Everyone could see that she needed more practice before tackling any of the more difficult hills. She was getting a bit tired of everyone telling her she needed more practice and should go back to the bunny hill; even though she knew this was true, she was far too stubborn to admit it and had become determined to keep up with the others.

"We want to go down some of the tougher runs now," Meredith explained. "Maybe while we do that, you could head for the bunny hill and practice with Monica and Megan?"

"I already mastered the bunny hill, thank you very much," Molly snapped.

"Maybe you might want to stay on the intermediate hill until you get a little more comfortable with your snowboard, though," Mary suggested. "We could come back and meet you there after we go down this black diamond hill."

Molly rolled her eyes, as if she found Mary's suggestion very silly. Truthfully, though, she knew she didn't belong on the advanced slopes on a snowboard, so she said, "Oh, fine."

"Good, then let's go down this hill," Michelle suggested, pointing to what looked like a cliff marked with a black diamond. Molly secretly felt very glad that she didn't have to tackle that on her snowboard. Even on her familiar skis, she had always found that hill a bit tricky.

"See ya in a few minutes, Molly!" Meredith called cheerfully as she disappeared over the drop.

I'll just go find some other hill that looks like fun, but not too hard, Molly thought to herself. I can do the intermediate runs no problem. Well, maybe some problems, but that's what I'm going to fix. Then they won't be able to complain that they have to wait for me!

Seeing a sign with both blue and black arrows pointing to the right, indicating both intermediate and advanced terrain in that direction, she followed it, looking for a good medium level hill where she could practice.


"Help!" Megan cried. "I don't know how to get off this thing!" But no one except the signs saying "KEEP SKI TIPS UP" posted outside the lift station could give her directions on how to get off, and as the lift rolled around into the station, she shoved herself off frantically just at the last second, and tumbled into a pile of snow. Monica skied off shakily, but she managed to stay on her feet.

"Are you okay?" she asked Megan.

"I've been better, but I'm okay."

Monica stuck her pole toward Megan, who grabbed on to it while Monica pulled, helping her sister out of the snow. "Which way do we go?"

"You're asking me? I thought you had this all figured out!" Megan frowned anxiously.

"Oh, wait a sec. Look," Monica said, pointing to a sign with a green circle on it. "See, this is the easy run." The sign sat between two slopes; one closer to them and one farther away. Neither of the two novice skiers noticed the blue square sign hanging on a post behind them as they approached the hill and peered down.

"This looks really hard!" Megan cried, upon seeing the first drop. "This isn't at all like the bunny hill! We shouldn't have come up here."

"Don't worry. They wouldn't have marked this hill with a green circle if beginners couldn't go down it," Monica said matter-of-factly. "So let's try it!"

"Ohhhh..." Megan felt increasingly nervous. She moaned hesitantly.

"Watch, it's not that hard," Monica said, inching ahead as slowly as she could, keeping her skis in the V-shaped snowplow that their instructors had taught them to use when they wanted to stop or slow down. She crept toward the top of the descent, and cautiously started over it. Her skis picked up speed rapidly as she tried as hard as she could to snowplow to a halt. Finally, after traveling about ten feet, they did so.

"See?" Monica shouted back to her sister who still waited at the top. "It's not hard! If I can do it, you can, too."

"Oh no, oh no, oh no, I'm gonna break my leg," Megan mumbled as she crept, even slower than Monica had, toward the top. As she went over the drop, she didn't retain nearly as much control as Monica had, and began sliding down the hill even faster.

"Help me! I can't stop!" she screamed as she sailed past her sister.

"Snowplow! Snowplow!" Monica shouted, skiing after Megan as quickly as she could. Megan did so, but not skillfully, and ended up tumbling over again.

"Ouch!" she cried as she hit the ground. "This is SO HARD! Why did we ever come up here?!"

Monica began to answer, but a screaming, out-of-control snowboarder interrupted her. "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!" the snowboarder hollered as she sped right past them, nearly running them over but instead falling backwards and skidding a few feet, stopping just before running into a tree.

"That girl should watch where she was going," Megan said, sounding increasingly upset. No one had nearly run her over on the bunny hill. It was definitely much safer there—although the safest place of all, she thought, would be someplace far away from any skiing at all.

"Umm...I think 'that girl' was Molly," Monica said; although she couldn't see her face, she recognized the skiing outfit.

"Molly?!" Megan said, running over to see if Monica was correct.

"Owww," the snowboarder moaned as she pulled off her goggles, revealing that she was indeed Molly Carlson.

"Hey, are you all right?!" Monica asked.

"I think so," Molly replied. She tried to stand, but then fell backward with a yelp of pain.

"You don't seem to be all right," Megan observed.

"I hurt my leg," Molly explained.

Megan gasped. "Oh, no! Maybe it's broken!"

"No, I really don't think it is--" Molly began, but a voice over a loudspeaker on one of the nearby ski lift posts cut her off.

"First call for Westfield Ski Club, please return all rental skis at this time."

"Oh NO!" Megan said again. "We have to go return our stuff now! That means we have to ski down that!" She pointed to the rest of the hill, which looked even steeper than the first part of the hill, and much steeper than the bunny hills. As if that weren't bad enough, a shiny coat of ice glimmered off of the slope; the snow on this run was in very poor condition. "I can not see why they called this hill a beginner's slope."

"Beginners' slope?" Molly asked, staring up at her standing sisters with a puzzled expression. "This isn't a green circle. It's intermediate, a blue square. Didn't you see the sign?"

Monica and Megan just stared at her blankly. "Ummm...yes, we saw it, and it was green," Monica explained.

"I think you must have mistaken the next hill's sign for this one's," Molly told them. "The run on the other side of those trees is a green circle. It's the only easy hill they have here, besides the rope tows. But this one's a blue square. I guess I can see how it might be confusing, since the sign for the easy hill is right between the easy one and this one, which is more difficult."

With that, Megan collapsed to the ground in a disgruntled and frustrated heap. "I HATE THIS!" she wailed pathetically, and quite loudly; such an outburst in a public place surprised Monica and Molly, who knew that shy Megan tended to keep her feelings inside, except when safely at home. Of course, it probably didn't bother Megan to be noisy here, because no one else was skiing within a thirty foot radius of three girls. The icy hill was deserted; the only people nearby were hanging well above their heads, on the ski lift. "Molly broke her leg, and we're stuck on this super-difficult ice-covered hill! I only came up here because I thought we could go down an easy hill! And now Molly's leg is BROKEN and Ski Club is going to LEAVE pretty soon, without us, because WE'RE STUCK HERE ON THIS STUPID HILL!"

"Calm down, Megan! My leg is not broken! It's just bruised or something."

"Then stand on it," Megan demanded, looking skeptical.

Although Megan and Monica saw that it clearly took her much effort to do so, Molly pulled herself up from the ground, to a standing position. Her face twisted into a painful grimace, which she tried unsuccessfully to cover with a fake smile. "See, I can stand just fine."

"Sure, Molly. But maybe you really should sit down again," Monica suggested.

"I'll stand now that I'm up, thank you very much."

Monica shrugged. "Suit yourself."

"Okay, so her leg probably isn't broken, but how are we going to get down?!" Megan was nearly crying now. "I can't go down that hill! I almost broke my own leg going down the first part of this one, and the rest of this hill is really icy! Just look at it!" She clearly felt extremely stressed if she could become this upset. Usually she was the perfect example of a calm and rational girl.

"Maybe we could take our skis off and walk down," Monica suggested.

"I dunno, it looks pretty steep and icy, and what about Molly? Her leg really might be broken, you know. Just 'cause she's standing doesn't mean it's not."

"It's not," Molly said firmly, but Megan wasn't convinced. She hadn't faked that expression of intense pain, although she didn't look so troubled now.

"Well, I don't see what else we could do," Monica said flatly. "Do you think you can walk, Molly?"


"Oh, don't ask her, you know she's being a rebel tonight, she'll say she can walk even if she can't."

"Don't you start with that, too!" Molly was getting fed up. She wasn't trying to be a rebel!

A voice echoed over the speaker again. "Second call, Westfield Ski Club. All skis must be returned at this time."

"Oh NO! They're going to leave without us!" Megan seemed nearly ready to hyperventilate.

"They won't!" Molly insisted. "Geez, will you just calm down and help us decide what to do? You're acting really weird! What are we going to do if we don't walk? We can either ski down, which would probably hurt my leg even more if you're really so worried about me, and I doubt you want to ski down that either, or we can wait for magic fairies to come and carry us home."

Megan sat down on the icy ground and sulked. "Sounds good to me. Just let me know when you see the fairies."


Meanwhile, Michelle, Melissa, and Melissa's friend Louise were all seated on one of the Ski Club buses, having returned their skis already, just after the second call. "I wonder where those guys are?" Michelle questioned. They had left Mary and Meredith to guard Monica's and Megan's shoes, which had been in the same locker as Mary's, Melissa's, and Louise's since they had all rented skis at the same time. But Mary and Meredith had not yet returned, nor had Monica, Megan, or Molly.

"Well, there's one more call left. They're not officially late yet. Still, I didn't think Megan was having such a great time. I would have thought she'd come back to the buses early," Melissa observed.


Megan and Molly were still sulking in the middle of the intermediate slope, while Monica tried to convince them that they really ought to do something, and that perhaps skiing down the intermediate hill wasn't quite as suicidal as Megan seemed to think it was. Then she noticed some lights approaching quickly, coming up the hill.

"Hey, look," she said. "What's that?"

"Maybe it's the fairies," Megan replied sarcastically. Sarcasm from Megan was extremely rare; Monica saw quite obviously how upset Megan must feel for her to become so snippy. Molly just rolled her eyes.

"Do fairies drive snowmobiles?" Monica questioned, because that's what the lights were from. It pulled up next to the three stranded Septuplets and stopped.

"Is someone injured here?" A man with a Ski Patrol patch sewn on the front of his coat hopped out of the snowmobile. "Some boys just got off of this lift, and they reported to the lift attendant that they heard someone screaming about a broken leg and being stuck here."

"WE'RE SAVED!" Megan cried with glee, the first time she had sounded really happy all evening.

"So who's injured, and how?" the Ski Patrol man asked.

"Well, I fell off of my snowboard, and I think I twisted my leg. I can stand on it, though. I don't think it's broken or anything."

"Final call for Westfield Ski Club, all members should be at the buses at this time."

"Oh no!" Megan sounded upset again. "They're going to leave without us!"

"So you girls are in the Westfield Ski Club? Well, you'd better hop in so we can hurry and get you back there. They won't leave without you, of course, but they don't like to wait. And we're going to have to check you out before you can leave," he said to Molly, who groaned.

"I'm fine, really. Can't I just get my parents to take me to the doctor when I get home if my leg doesn't feel completely better by then?"

"Sorry, it's the resort's policy, as well as the Ski Club's."

Molly sighed, and climbed onto the little trailer that was attached to the back of the snowmobile. And with that, they were rescued from the oh-so-scary intermediate slope!


Meredith looked impatiently at the clock in the ski rental locker room. "Geez, where are those guys?! We're supposed to be on the bus by now! You think something happened to them?"

Mary shrugged, but someone else heard Meredith and had some info for her. It was a middle school boy, with a Westfield Ski Club tag hooked to his zipper. "Are you by any chance talking about three girls?"

"Yes," Meredith replied, curious.

"Well, we saw three girls stuck on one of the icy hills when we were on the lift. One of them was screaming something about a broken leg, so we told the guy at the top lift cabin when we got off. They said they'd send a snowmobile out for them. Maybe they're the ones you're waiting for."

Both Mary's and Meredith's eyes grew wide. "Maybe they are," Meredith agreed. "Thanks for telling us. Mary, you stay here and watch the shoes, okay? I'm going to go check first aid."


"Now, these X-rays will only take a few minutes," the nurse in the Ski Patrol office told Molly. Megan, Monica, the Ski Patrol officer who had found them, and one of the Ski Club volunteers were there as well; the Ski Club volunteer had Molly's emergency permission form that contained all the signatures from her parents that might become necessary. Molly waited, looking patient externally while feeling anything but patient inside. The nurse snapped a few X-rays of her leg and then sent them to be developed in another room.

"Monica," the Ski Patrol officer said, addressing Molly. "We couldn't help but notice that your lift ticket is only a rope tow pass, so we were wondering what you were doing on a hill serviced by a lift."

"Ummm...actually, I'm Molly," Molly explained, feeling quite embarrassed. She was one of those kids who never, ever got in trouble at school; that was why Melissa and Mary had teased her so much about being a rebel when she first said she'd go on the lift hills even if they wouldn't sell her a lift ticket.

"Sorry, Molly. Monica was your sister's name, right? Are the three of you triplets or something like that?"

"Something like that," Molly confirmed, but she didn't explain further; suddenly discussing her lift ticket controversy seemed like the preferable topic of conversation. Anything was better than revealing special information about her identity. "Anyway, I'm really sorry about the ticket and all that, but you see, we paid the exact same price for the rope tow that everyone else in Ski Club paid for the all-area! They just wouldn't sell it to us because we didn't have the right stickers! But we did have stickers for intermediate hills, at least, so that's where I was going. At least, I had it and my other friends did. Monica and Megan didn't, but they didn't realize that they couldn't go on the easy hill's lift. It's their first time ever skiing, so they don't really know all the rules yet. That's where they thought they were going, to the easy hill, you see. But it's not like we stole anything! They made us pay exactly the same price for the rope tow on the bus we were riding, but on my other sister's bus, they got all-area passes even though they hadn't passed the third test, either!" The words sped from Molly's mouth at about a mile per minute. She wasn't used to having to defend herself while under scrutiny from an authority figure! Here was goody-goody straight-A perfect-record Molly Carlson, being questioned by a Ski Patrol officer! Melissa would be hysterical when she found out.

"Wait, wait, hold on a second," the officer said, and he seemed to be trying not to smile. "So you say your sisters, but not these sisters, had passed the exact same Ski Club tests as you, yet they were sold all-area passes? And you were charged the very same amount to use only the rope tows as others were to use the lift hills?"

"That's right, sir."

"Hmmm." The officer glanced at Monica and Megan, who shrunk down in their seats and avoided eye contact, then at the Ski Club volunteer, who shrugged. He indicated for the volunteer to follow him into another office.

"You think you'll get in trouble?" Monica said in a small voice once the two adults had left.

"I hope not. He seemed a little bit amused. You think that's a good sign?"

"How should I know? I'm not a rebel like you, getting in trouble with the authorities all the time."

"Enough with the rebel jokes!" Molly stormed, jumping off of the bench on which the nurse had instructed her to sit. Just as she did so, the nurse returned with the X-rays.

"Molly, dear, I told you to sit on that bench! But I suppose if you're not screaming in pain, then that just confirms what the X-rays say. Your leg's not broken. You probably just twisted it. It should be fine. If it's still bothering you in a few days, though, be sure you tell your parents, okay?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"She really must be worried about getting in trouble," Monica said aside to Megan. "I've never heard her call people 'sir' and 'ma'am' before!" The two of them giggled. Molly heard them and glared.

Just then, the officer and Ski Club volunteer came back as well, followed by one of the Ski Club leaders who had apparently been waiting in the office. "Well, Molly, you'll be happy to hear that you're not in trouble," the officer explained, "as we have had many experiences with kids who are supposed to be on the rope tow taking the lifts instead." An enormous grin of relief spread across Molly's face.

"We've been thinking about amending that policy for a long time," the Ski Club leader explained, "because it really isn't fair to make rope tow kids pay the same price as all-area kids. In fact, we'll be sending out a newsletter to all Ski Club families this week letting them know just what specific changes we'll be making to the Ski Club ticket policy."

"Great!" Molly cheered. Hey, maybe she really had accomplished something by being a so-called rebel!

"Can we go now?" Monica asked.

"Yep, get on the buses. We're almost half an hour late as it is! You know how annoyed those parents get when we run late."

"WAIT!" came a familiar voice bursting into the room. Meredith and Mary had finally found them.

"Hey, you guys," Monica and Megan greeted the two.

"Here are your shoes," Meredith said, dropping a pair each at Megan's and Monica's feet. "What happened to you guys, anyway?"

"We'll explain on the ride home," Monica said. "Let's just get out of here!"

"I gotta get my shoes from the locker at the snowboard rental, and take these boots back," Molly said. "I'll meet you on the bus." The Ski Patrol officers took Monica's and Megan's ski supplies back to the rental place for them, and Septs all hurried back to the Ski Club buses, quite exhausted after such an adventurous night on the slopes!


Melissa did laugh at Molly when she heard the story of the night's events on the ride home. When a letter arrived at the Carlsons' house a few days later, however, Melissa didn't laugh.

"They raised the prices!" she cried as she read the letter. "Because too many kids were complaining that rope tow customers had to pay as much as all-areas, they raised the price of each lift ticket by five dollars, and they're requiring everyone to take the third test before they can buy all-areas at Mt. Holly! See what you and your little rebellious ways did, Molly? Since all of us except Monica and Megan will be wanting all areas now, you cost our family an extra twenty-five dollars per ski trip, since we can't just buy rope tows to go on the all-areas anymore!"

Now it was Molly's turn to laugh at Melissa. "Well, looks like all those commercials that you loved so much and I hated are finally going to pay for something, huh?" Even Melissa had to crack a smile at that.

"Rebel on the Slopes" © 2000 by Jessie Mannisto.