Sample Chapters

Little White Lies  (an excerpt)

I

          Snow. That's how it all started. Snow, on a day you'd never expect it. That was when our lives changed forever. It seemed innoculous, to most of us. I know. I saw the mixed reactions around me. Some kids thought it was cool. Some resented it. But, just about everyone thought it was innocent. Early? Yes. Unwelcome? Perhaps. Evil? No. No, that thought never crossed our innocent minds. As for me, I'll never forget it. How could I; after what's happened? Six months ago (almost to the day) life was very near perfect. Now, well, now it's a disaster.
	It didn't stay long, but the menace it brought down upon the human race will linger, long after I'm gone. Of course, I'm getting ahead of myself (as I have a tendency to do). Let me start at the beginning; it makes a hell of a lot more sense that way.
	It was October 13, a Thursday. All of Franklin High was abuzz with gossip and goofiness, just like any other day. Oh, that day. Every moment of it, is and forever will be, burned into my brain the way the events of 9/11 (only ten years earlier) are. The whole day, looking back, is kind of a haze, at first, until you break it down. Then, you can remember every detail. Down to the smell of breakfast cooking on the stove and every sentence you, or anyone around you, uttered.
	I remember being in a great mood that day. Thinking that nothing (in the wonderful, awful, ignorant naiveté of youth) could spoil it. It was an Indian Summer; some record-breaking 78 degrees. I put on a springy kind of skirt that fell to my knees and a baby doll tee, finished off with my indomitable flip-flops (which I wore even in snow), and tied back my chestnut curls in a loose ponytail.
	Downstairs, I grabbed a blueberry muffin and my mom yelled to me, from behind the closed bathroom door. I remember hoping, at that moment, that I never got old. Careful what you wish for and a half; there.
	  “"Anya, don't forget to go to the ATM with that money before school starts. I don't feel great about you walking around with all that cash."”
	  I had just been awarded a settlement from the driver who rear-ended me and totaled my Toyota last year.
	  I'd been sitting at a light, kind of daydreaming, when it happened. I felt a little guilty, at first, and it still seems like it might have been my fault, just a wee bit. I mean, I did hesitate somewhat when the light changed, but the police insisted that he should have been able to accurately estimate the distance between our cars, regardless of my delayed response to said light change. Following the lengthy lawsuit, it was around $13,000 (post-lawyer's due). We had a feeling, since the other driver paid the whole thing in cash, that he didn't exactly work a good old fashioned 9-5 (if ya know what I mean).
	  “"Got it, Ma," I rolled my eyes in exasperation.
	  “"And don't roll your eyes at me!"”
	  I spun around, to see if she had come out of the bathroom. Nope. The door was still tightly closed.
	  “"How did you know?" I gasped, too amazed at her near-psychic ability, to be the least bit concerned that I was ratting myself out.
	  "Your tone. Besides, I was seventeen once. Where do you think I got this nasty little habit of knowing everything?"”
	  I laughed in spite of myself. "Fair enough. I'll see ya later. I gotta get to school, Ma."”
	  “"Love you. Go slow."”
	  “"Yeah, yeah," I almost rolled my eyes, again and then, decided against it. It was just too creepy the last time.
	  Laughter, again, from the bathroom. As if, she'd read my mind, anyhow. I had to get out of there. I grabbed my keys and headed for the door, when Matt, the booger disguised as my thirteen-year-old brother, came bounding down the stairs. At the sight of me, his eyes lit up. Definitely a first.
	  “"What do you want?" I demanded. "I'm running late."”
	  “"Oh,"he lowered his eyes pathetically. "So I can't get a ride to school?"” A tiny note of hope entered his voice, at this last bit, to make it a semi-question. I must have taught him well because, boy, that kid sure knew how to work it.
	  My heart melted, despite my intimate knowledge of exactly the kind of crap he was pulling. In fact, I actually sort of admired him for it. A good con was a good con; right?
	  Mom began to protest from the bathroom and I put two and two together. Or, at least, I thought I did. I figured he'd had a fight with her and avoiding the fallout, was why he needed a ride. It had happened to me enough.
	  “"Alright," I caved. "But it's gotta be now. Go grab your backpack."”
	  It was easy to imagine how Mom felt, as I watched him dart away. Even I wanted him to stay a little kid and they'd always been pretty tight, anyhow. Puberty was making him a little bit of a jerk, but, I guess it does that to everyone. Sitting here, now, after all that's happened, I can still remember the tiny poignant moments that make up a life. Particularly, my own. And more particularly, the Easter morning Matty was six and I was ten. We came downstairs that day to look for our baskets and found, instead, an itty, bitty bunny hopping toward us with his ever-hopeful, big, brown eyes and twitching pink nose.
	  “"Oh, my gosh!" Mom came rushing over to us. "I'm so glad you're up. Look! I caught the Easter Bunny, leaving your baskets and he said we could keep him. He's sick of that old job, anyhow."”
	  Matt lit up like the night sky, on Independence Day, and scooped up the little guy. I thought he was going to hug it, and squeeze it, and name it George (but, he named it Pete). He went out and learned everything he could, about rabbits. Their habitats, eating habits, the whole nine yards. It was the coolest thing, the way she made the Easter Bunny not exist anymore, before Matty could fgure it out, on his own.
	  As he ran back to his room, I walked outside, to start my car. Hopefully, Mom wouldn't finish in the bathroom before Matty got out here, or she'd waylay him at the door, to talk his ear off.
	  Dad was in the driveway when I went out to start my car. He was a professor at Dean College around the corner, so he usually left earlier than this, but, I guess I was getting an opportunity from God (or whatever you want to call it) to talk to him, before the shit hit the fan. He waved me over to where he stood, for a word, with me. I wish, of course, that I had said more to him that morning. Hindsight always did have that nasty little habit of being twenty/twenty.
	  “"I know your mom's probably a little more whacko than usual today, but do me a favor and humor her; would ya? She had an awful dream last night. Screaming, sweating, whole kit and kaboodle. She wouldn't tell me what it was about, except that we were in danger, and you know how she gets about that stuff." He paused to do a little, she's loco, sign with his finger. "Anyhow, she was pretty riled up, so just do what she asks today, ok? And be careful on your way to school."”
	  “"Sure, Dad." I gave him this little wave/salute thing, that we'd done, since time out of mind. He laughed and did it back. Thankfully, that's how I'll always remember him. Laughing, in the sunlight of a new morning, purely for the love of his daughter.
	  “"You guys are gay," Matt scoffed as he hopped into the car. I didn't hold it against him. He wasn't a jerk; just a boy. And, when you're a teenage boy, everything's gay. He'd grow out of it, no doubt.
	  “"So," I carefully avoided his eyes as we backed out of the driveway (hopefully slowly enough for Dad's approval), "why didn't you let Mom take you to school?"”
	  His eyes all but ran to meet mine, so taken aback was he, at my uncanny knowledge of his intentions. I laughed. I guessed, I could empathize with Mom's psychic ability in the bathroom, earlier.
	  “"Come on, man. You're going to school a half an hour early. You sneaked out of the house before she was done in the bathroom. I couldn't wait to get my license. I just wanna know if your reason's the same as mine."”
	  He turned red and looked out the window. When he finally did say anything, his voice was so low, I wasn't sure he'd even spoken.
	  “"What?"”
	  “"All of the guys at school think Mom's," he paused, sighed, and looked at me sideways, "hot."”
	  I laughed at him.
	  "I'm serious," he reddened further, as he protested. "They talk about it all day at school. Her boobs and everything. It's wicked gross. I mean, it's my Mom."”
	  I tried to pull it together long enough to look like I was taking him seriously. The truth is, it was adorable that he was so distraught, over all of it. This clearly bothered him and all I could do was laugh about it. Poor kid.
	  “"It's not funny, Anya."”
	  “"You're right." I struggled with my face before finally pulling it straight. A little bit, anyway. "I'm sorry. I just fought with Mom all the time. She'd nag and I'd bitch, and before you knew it, fight with a capital F.  My issue with Mom was more, like, her constantly complaining. ’'Did you do your homework?'" I mimicked. "'Because you're going to be in trouble if you didn't. There's never enough time to do it in homeroom'. And yada, yada, yada.…
	“  "Your reason's much better. I think I remember a comment, or two, but it never occurred to me, that boys at school might think she was, uh, hot. I definitely never heard anything about her boobs. Price of being a boy, I guess."”
	  “"Man," he corrected, as though irretrievably offended at my allusion, to his youth.
	  “"Oh. Right," (a fight with my face again). "Sorry, bud."” I glanced at the clock on my dashboard. I didn't have time to hit the ATM, which I had suspected, would happen. I saw the orange and pink sign out of the corner of my eye and calculated that I did, however, have time to stop for a coffee (gotta have your priorities straight, you know). I pulled the car into Dunkie's and hit the drive-thru, instead.
	  “"You want a coffee?"”
	  Matt's nose scrunched, in visible disgust, at this ridiculous suggestion. I turned from him to hide the smile I couldn't control.
	   “"Chocolate milk?"”
	   He brightened. "Yeah. And a sprinkle donut?"”
	   I didn't care what he thought, he would always be my little brother, even when he outgrew me. I ordered my good ol' half coffee/half hot chocolate, a milk and donut for the man I was driving to middle school, paid, and continued on our way. His school was only about a quarter of a mile from mine and I dropped him off out front.
	  “"I can't pick you up, bud. I'm staying after with the Drama Club."”
	“  "Me too. I won't be ready 'til, like, five."”
	  “"Why are you staying after?" I hate to admit it, even now, but  this sounded a lot like Mom. He heard it too, I could tell. He shot me a look that was more like a double-take and I could almost see the thought bubble above his head. One that read, "Wait; did Mom give me a ride to school, after all?”
	  But, all he said was,  "No reason," and jumped out of the car, before I could press him any further about it.
	  I watched  him run through the doors (very manly, of him) to the junior high, shaking my head, as I began to understand a tiny little fraction of what our mom went through every day. I can honestly say, I loved her more in that brief moment of sympathy, than I have at any other time of my life. I could almost see all of the special Mom things she did to make us the people we are today. She let me hate her for three years, just so I would grow up right and not end up on MTV for all the wrong reasons, celebrating sluthood.
	  Carpools and cookies, late nights and sleepless months filled with colic and colds; Santa Clauses and Easter Bunnies; all purely and solely for our well being. And there will never be another Mothers' Day for me to tell her I understand. Even, if it is, just a wee bit.
	  Hold on. I have to try and contain myself. I know I have to go on. I have to get this story out, to the rest of you, left to fight. To do that, I have to continue. I have to get it out, now, before they find me and kill me. Or worse.







Chapter II, for anyone who was wondering…

28APR2012Leave a Comment

by wittyjules in Uncategorized [Edit]

 

II

I got to school a few minutes early despite my late start and pit stop so, I sat in the parking lot, enjoying my coffee.

“Hey!” my best friend pounded on my window, scaring the crap out of me. (Almost) literally. I checked my pants and everything.

“Jesus!” I screamed, spilling more than a little coffee in my lap. Marie Willis looked at the Styrofoam cup wistfully.

“What? None for me?”

I grabbed my books and got out of the car in a huff.

“Nope. That’s what you get for scaring me.”

“Right,” Ree rolled her eyes. “Like you’re psychic, and you just knew I was going to do that.”

“We’ve been best friends since second grade. I’m onto you, by now. Besides, the Universe knew, and Karma’s a real bitch.”

“Yeah, yeah,” she conceded as we crossed the parking lot to the big double doors marking the entrance into the building. We spoke as we sauntered down the wide, beige halls full of the history only a small New England town can truly take pride in displaying. It wasn’t like the library, which everyone could appreciate as the first of its kind in the continental United States, whose beauty remained unsurpassed even by the majestic cathedrals of the much larger city of Boston.

Franklin remained divided about the décor of our four-floored, imperial antiquity of a building. The eloquent Grecian mural on the main floor offended with its nudity and the books donated by Ben Franklin, himself, were kept encased in glass, maintaining their virginal historical air, never again to be touched by human fingers for fear they may taint the sacred love of their original owner.

The Historical Society, in fact, had put up a valiant fight to keep the naked gods and goddesses laughing down on the residents and visitors alike who thumbed through volumes under their carefree gazes.

“Why are you here early?” I asked as we made our way through the nearly empty halls.

“Oh,” she smiled shyly, “Joey Cooper gave me a ride.”

“Nah uh.”

“On my mother’s eyes.”

“Oh my God. Does this mean…”

“Yup.”

“Oh, Ree. That’s wicked cute.”

Marie had liked Coop since, oh, I don’t know…sixth grade…seventh? Something like that. Middle school, anyway. I was happy for her, but, of course, mythoughts wandered to Caleb Strauss.

“Now all we have to do is hook you up with Caleb.”

Was everyone a mind reader, all of a sudden?

“SSSSSHHHHH!”

“Jeez, Anya. I wasn’t that loud. You sound like a librarian on crack. Nobody’s even around. What the hell, kid?”

I peered over my shoulder like a crook easing open some creaky cellar window in the still of the night. She was right (I‘m a poet, and I didn‘t even know it). There really was nobody in our vicinity. Kids, a long way off yet, were just beginning to filter into the halls. Thank goodness.

“Well, God, Marie, it’s not national friggin’ news like you and Coop. Ok?”

“Ok. Jeez. Sorry.” This last was more a breath than even a whisper and I had to laugh. Damn Marie. She wasn’t the funniest person in the world, but her timing was impeccable. Funniest per capita, perhaps, in that she didn’t make jokes terribly often but when she did they were spot on. She’s also the type of person who would have bought me a coffee (without needing to call to see how I take it).

“You’d better be.” I opened my locker to dump off my books as the early bell pealed and the hallway began to fill up. “See you at lunch?”

“Second lunch?”

I nodded.

“See ya.”

Left to my own devices, I mused about the beautiful Caleb as I meandered down the hallway to my homeroom. Dark hair, gray-green eyes, big smile, deep dimples. Yeah, that boy was movie-star handsome. Had been ever since kindergarten.

“Ms. Stuart!” a sharp voice from behind me jolted my reverie and I turned to face our vice principle, Captain Douchebag, himself. A tall, skinny little man in K-mart suits and squeaky shoes. He wore his jet black hair slicked back, George McFly-style (cue: Huey Lewis and the Back To The Future soundtrack, music guy). I had the sneaking suspicion he’d been brutally picked on when he was in high school. He had that dorky cop writing you a ticket; just because he could; demeanor about him. That sort of ferrety, teacher’s pet, too busy reading his Trigonometry book to go outside and throw a baseball (ever) feel. Pale skin, darkly sunken eyes, pinched lips. Don’t think me a terrible person, but I am almost glad I never was never again forced into an encounter with the walking, breathing mix between Pee-Wee Herman and Where’s Waldo. He glared at me from behind horn-rimmed glasses, beady black eyes already dancing with excitement in anticipation of my punishment.

“Yeah?”

“Are you completely unaware, after three years at this establishment, of school policy?”

“No, Mr. Prentice.” Of course, Captain Douchebag wasn’t typed on his birth certificate or anything, but I could think of no one more deserving of the title.

“Then you know as well as I do that food or drink is prohibited outside of the cafeteria, Ms. Stuart. I’ll take that.” His little rat eyes shifted to my coveted java as he stretched out his hand.

“But I just bought it,” I protested.

“You should’ve known better.”

I almost smarted off, almost told him that if he hadn’t been the ass to snag my coffee, any other teacher would have let it slide (which I knew from countless personal experiences). Then, I thought better of it and just handed the damn thing over. Bastard was probably going to drink it himself once I was out of sight, anyhow, and I’ll tell ya, that thought alone was almost enough to make me wish I had mono.

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