“Maybe you should be a porn star,” said her boyfriend, Grayson, giving her that naughty grin that always sent a shiver right down to her toes.
Virginia pretended to be mad at him. “Gray-son! I don’t think so!” she giggled. “I want to be a movie star-slash-model-slash-singer. And I’m going to change my name to Rainbow. No last name. Just Rainbow.”
Grayson snorted. “Rainbow? Seriously?”
“Yep.” Virginia could picture her entire future so clearly. There she would be onstage, glittering with sequins and jewels, belting out lyrics while a huge audience sang along. “And then,” she added breathlessly, “I’ll be super rich, and then you and I can get married and have…”
“Whoa!” Grayson leaped to his feet. “Come down from the clouds, Rainbow.” He shook his head. “Look, you don’t have to be famous or rich to be happy.”
But Virginia knew better. All of her friends were rich. And they all seemed to be a lot happier than she was. She spent most of her free time hanging out with them in their gigantic houses, with their indoor pools and TV screens the size of an entire wall.
“When are you going to invite me over to your house, Virginia?” Her friends would ask from time to time. But Virginia always had some reason why she couldn’t return the invitation.
Her best friend, Ivy, was the only person at school who knew the truth. Virginia hadn’t told her – somehow, Ivy had figured it out. “Please don’t tell anyone,” she had begged.
“Of course I won’t,” Ivy assured her. “You can trust me. I’m good at keeping secrets.” And she was. No one else found out that Virginia Zackowski’s family was poor. No one found out that her family lived in a filthy homeless encampment down by the river. No one else knew that she and her family slept in a tent, or that her father got drunk and took out his anger on her.
But Virginia was not going to stay poor forever, cooking meals over a campfire with teeth chattering from the cold. She had a plan. She was going to be Rainbow, a rich superstar diva. And she was going to live in a mansion and take hot showers every day, and be so happy that everyone would wish they were just like her. She could not wait.