Crappy New Year by Meg Wilson is a Snappy, Funny And Insightful Book For Readers of All Ages & is Featured in Today’s Free Excerpt From Kids Corner at Kindle Nation Daily

November 26, 2012
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Last week we announced that Crappy New Year by Meg Wilson is our Kids Corner Book of the Week and the sponsor of our student reviews and of thousands of great bargains in the Kids Book category:

Now we’re back to offer a free Kids Corner excerpt, and if you aren’t among those who have downloaded this one already, you’re in for a treat!

CRAPPY NEW YEAR

by Meg Wilson

5.0 stars – 5 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Here’s the set-up:

As if the death of her father wasn’t bad enough, Tess Amory’s mother plans to remarry soon. While Tess wants nothing to do with future stepsister Felicity, Ian next door acts like he wants MORE to do with Tess. With a high-stakes Open Mic coming up, Tess can either fly away from all this craziness…or do something about it.

“Meg Wilson is a delightful new voice. CRAPPY NEW YEAR is a snappy, funny and insightful book for readers of all ages. As someone who never recovered from {adolescence}, I can attest, Meg nailed it. A wonderful debut!” —Elizabeth Peavey, Maine Humorist and Columnist

 

And here, for your reading pleasure, is our free excerpt:

 

“Hi, Tess. You look like you’re going somewhere,” Mom says. She leans on the banister waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs. She wears her concerned-yet-disappointed look. The new diamond twinkles away on her ring finger. The ring Dad gave her has somehow propelled itself to her other hand. His diamond is a tiny pebble compared to the boulder from Rob.

Speaking of, he’s flipping through Dad’s CD collection over by the stereo. He glances up at me with that same concerned-yet-disappointed look, almost as if they rehearsed it together. Does he think I’m acting like a baby? Do I even care? Why should I care?

“I’m going over to Ian’s,” I tell the rug.

“No, Tessie,” Mom starts. “I’m still waiting for you to apologize for those awful things you said.”

I’m supposed to apologize?

Fishface stands in the doorway leading to the kitchen. Her mousy hair hangs limp. Her mud-colored eyes stare blankly at me as she eats from a heaping bowl of tortilla chips in her hand. I watch her blowfish cheeks inflate and deflate in rhythm with her crunching. I feel sorry for her for no particular reason.

I want to scream “RUN, FISHFACE, RUN!” before they wrap her in an apron and pass her a platter full of shrimp. But how am I supposed to help her when I can barely help ME? And doesn’t she know she’s blocking the only practical exit? I imagine myself escaping through the dank and creepy basement, climbing out the icy cellar bulkhead in my sneakers and trudging through the snowdrifts to Ian’s back door.

I shiver. Can’t see it coming down to that.

“Okay. I’m sorry about what I said. Now can I please go?”

Fishface mumbles, “Everyone deserves to have fun on New Year’s Eve.”

Mom’s too busy staring me down to hear the best thing to ever come from Rob’s little princess. “Look, Tess,” she goes. “Our guests will be here anytime now, and we have something wonderful to celebrate. I need you to stay here with me, and Rob, and Felicity. And please, for everybody’s sake, try to be happy?”

 

I take a deep breath.

My face is a bonfire.

Just go for it, Tess.

 

“Okay, Mom. Maybe I got a little upset. But you can’t force me to feel anything else. And I just said I was sorry. But I won’t stay here and celebrate my life being ruined.”

Mom looks all shocked and betrayed as I march toward Fishface and the door to freedom behind her. Fishface jumps out of my way with her bowl of tortilla chips. A couple chips fall to the rug. I step on one and grind it in.

“Jeez, what’d I do?” Fishface says.

“Tess, don’t walk out that door!” Mom yells behind me.

“Let’s talk about this, Tess,” Rob pleads.

SLAM!

Isn’t it a little late for that?


2

 

 

My mother’s going to marry in the spring

She thinks it’s such a lovely, wondrous thing

She wishes that I felt her happiness

But I’d prefer to have no part of this

Although she may have found The Perfect Man

It’s Fishface who I’ll never understand

Miss Precious Daughter, I’ll be stuck with her

Like Cinderella and her stepsister

Not bad for the first few lines of my sonnet, but probably won’t win airfare to Florida. Mr. Royer expects us to have at least twelve different kinds of poems by Open Mic Night. Then we’ll choose our favorite to read aloud. He says the panel of judges will include Maine’s “Poet Laureate.” Don’t know what the heck a poet laureate is, but I think it means I have to try harder – like write about rainbows or sunsets and crap like that. Seems like the things that win contests are the same things that put you to sleep.

I should’ve known how Ian would react to my big awful news about Mom and Rob – being a guy and all. Dad once tried to explain to me that a guy’s mind works differently from a girl’s. An awkward conversation if I recall. Not as bad as the one about condoms, but still. It’s all starting to make sense to me now ‘cause here’s how it went with Ian:

Ian: What happened to your face? It’s all red and puffy-looking.

Brandon: Yeah, it looks like a pizza.

Me: Thanks, guys. If you must know, I was crying.

Ian: What for?

Brandon: You were sad, Tess?

Me: Yeah, I was sad, Brandon. My mom and her boyfriend are getting married.

Ian: Cool!

Me: Cool? Are you kidding me?

Ian: Didn’t you say that Rob won some big medal when he was in the Marines?

Me: Yeah. So what?

Brandon: He was in the Marines?

Ian: And he’s president of Southern Maine Hospital.

Brandon: He’s the pres-en-dent?

Me: What does that have to do with anything? Don’t you realize what this means?

Ian: Uhhhhh. I’m not sure. Are you going to have to move?

Brandon: You’re going to mooooove, Tess? You can’t mooooove!”

Me: I better not move. No way! What it means is Fishface is going to be my stepsister.

Brandon: Fishface? Her name is Fishface? Her face is like a fish and yours is like a pizza?

Me: Yup. We’re the whole buffet.

Ian: Maybe you should call her by her real name if she’s going to be your stepsister.

Me: Sure. Okay. Hey, thanks for the advice, Dr. Phil.

Ian: Wow. You really are mad, aren’t you?

Me: Just forget I said anything, okay? How ‘bout we play some UNO?

Brandon: Cool!

Ian: Are you all right?

Me: Never better.

And I let them win.

 

After Brandon fell asleep, Ian beat me at Gripper until The Conniptions came on Rockin’ Eve and the crowd in Times Square went wild. Right before the ball dropped, Ian ran out to the kitchen and came back with a bottle of ginger ale and two real fragile-looking glasses. He filled them slowly so they wouldn’t bubble over.

“Happy New Year, Tess,” he said, passing me one. “Aren’t I supposed to kiss you now?”

“Very funny,” I told him. Then I clinked his glass with mine and took a big long swig.

Crappy New Year.

 

We hung out watching TV until Mom’s car was the only one left sitting in our driveway. She was washing up when I walked in. She smiled and said good night and went up to bed as if I’d been there all along and hadn’t stormed off to Ian’s house and blown off her entire “celebration.” I bet one of her friends suggested that she act like nothing ever happened. I can usually tell when someone has given her advice about me. I’m the one who could use some advice right about now.

The Open Mic is the third week of March. We’ll decorate the cafeteria like a coffeehouse and serve hot drinks and desserts and we’ll take turns reading our poems in front of everyone. I’ll write something really melancholy for the Open Mic. I love that word. So much good poetry is melancholy, like Emily Dickinson’s. She wrote lines like,

Upon the gallows hung a wretch

and

A poor torn heart, a tattered heart.

 

Talk about melancholy! She used depressing words like anguish and convulsion and grief and perished and dungeon. I think she ended up killing herself. All that poetic talent wasted. Maybe things would’ve turned out differently if she’d won a trip to Florida. The way things are going around here, I should have plenty of material in my Algebra Notebook in time for the Open Mic. Of course it’s not really my Algebra Notebook, but if I wrote TESS’S POETRY on the cover, Fishface would take it as an invitation to snoop inside.

 

 

It’s yearbook meeting day. Kelly and Janie are supposed to be taking photos of the drama club, but all they’re doing is flirting around with the backstage crew. This one kid goes, “Hey, check out this wheelchair. Anyone want to ride around with a hotty like me?”

Kelly goes, “I do. Hee hee. Here, Janie, come ride with us. Tee hee.”

They’re all giggling, piled onto this old wheelchair that’s supposed to be a prop, but they’re about to break it. Even Janie’s wheeling around with them. She never flirted until Kelly came along.

My job is to write little summaries about all the clubs that Kelly and Janie take pictures of. I also write little captions to go under all the candid photos, like if someone’s sitting in the library spacing out I might put Earth to Eddie, do you read me? under the photo. Mr. Royer lets me write whatever I want to. Sometimes he doesn’t even check the captions when I’m done.

I’ve spent the last twenty minutes trying to come up with something tantalizing to say about chess club, but I have no clue what these boys are doing in these photos, and whether they’re moving a pawn or a rookie or what. Guess I should’ve paid more attention when Dad tried to teach me how to play.

It’s time to go home, so I give Mr. Royer the cheerleading summary I wrote and I’m heading toward the lobby when I hear Janie yell, “Tess, wait up!” I turn around, and she’s skipping toward me, with Kelly trailing along behind her.

Janie and her mother used to give me rides home, but Kelly’s been leaving with them lately. I don’t feel like tagging along like a shadow, so I’ve been walking home by myself. I’d rather do that than have Mom come and get me and ask a million times what’s going on between Janie and me.

Janie catches up. “Want a ride home today?”

She ought to stop asking soon. Before I can answer, her mother walks up singing, “Hi, Tess. Are you feeling better? You look nice and healthy. We haven’t seen that much of you lately.”

“Hi, Mrs. Addison,” I sing back.

“We heard your Mom’s engaged to Rob Holden,” she goes on. “How wonderful! Can we give you a lift home?”

“No, thanks. I’ve got a ride.”

Janie gives me this look like she knows I’m lying, but she lied to me about staying home when she was really at Kelly’s party on New Year’s Eve, and that’s so much worse than anything I would ever say or do to her. Now Kelly’s standing here next to Janie, snapping her gum, tipping her long blonde head sideways, studying the ceiling tiles and completely ignoring me like she’s God’s gift to the town of Foster, Maine and I’m invisible.

“Well, maybe next time then,” Mrs. Addison says, hitting some high notes. “And tell your Mom congratulations for us.”

“Okay.” I give them all a fake smile and a quick wave as I skip out the lobby door. Outside, dropping my backpack and leaning against the cold brick wall, I watch my breath rise like smoke and rub my hands together. Wish I’d worn my gloves today.

If Dad were still alive, he’d be picking me up and we’d stop for pizza from Gordie’s ‘cause it’s Friday, and somehow he’d find a way to make me laugh about Janie and her friend Kelly Stanford who I hope ends up with one of those infections our health teacher warned us about.

As soon as the Addison family van disappears around the corner, I fling my heavy backpack over my shoulder and start the mile-long trip down Main Street’s icy sidewalk to number 359. I can’t help thinking about Florida and what poem I should write next.

Ian’s house is number 357. I can see his silhouette through his bedroom window upstairs. He’s at his desk with headphones on, most likely sketching out house plans. He says he’s going to be the next Frank Lloyd Wright. His head bobs in rhythm with the music and I can’t help smiling. It’s probably that new Phrost Heave he was telling me about. He knows I hate Phrost Heave but he’ll never stop trying to convert me.

Sometimes, when I get home after dark like this, the only light on inside our house comes from the computer monitor and the desk lamp in the tiny alcove that Mom calls her office. People love the brochures she designs, and her newest client happens to be Southern Maine Hospital. Rob bought her this humongous new monitor for Christmas, and I remember breathing a sigh of relief that there really was something practical in that oversized gold square box with the red ribbon under the tree. I thought he was playing a trick on her and she’d open a box of rocks with a diamond ring hidden at the bottom. Turned out the joke was on me.

Tonight, every room in our tiny house is lit up like a factory, including my room. That can only mean one thing – I’m stuck with Fishface again. I can’t stand it when she’s allowed to use my room like it’s hers, free to snoop around and do stuff like check out my underwear drawer if she wants. Next thing you know she’ll be dropping by Ian and Brandon’s as if they’re her neighbors, and eventually she’ll stop ringing their doorbell, too.

I have to give myself a pep talk right there on the sidewalk in the freezing cold. Don’t let her get to you, Tess. Ignore her if she bothers you.

Rob’s shiny BMW is parked in the driveway next to Mom’s Toyota clunker. I open the door to the kitchen with numb fingers, kick it closed, and fling my shoes off. My toes tingle. Probably frostbite. I throw my backpack on the little bench near the door.

“Hi, Tessie, we’re in here,” Mom calls from the living room where there’s a reporter talking over a baby crying on TV. I beeline for the stairs as Rob stands up and Mom’s hand with the boulder on it slides from his. The fluttery wave I give them is meant to help thaw my fingers, nothing more.

“Hey, Tess. How was your day?” Rob says.

“Long. Yours?”

“Great, thanks. I’m just heading out to pick up pizza. Want to come?”

“You’re going to Gordie’s?”

“No, Clay Oven tonight.”

Why does it always have to be Clay Oven? They only make gross pizza there, like feta spinach and salmon dill. It’s like they’ve never even heard of pepperoni.

“I’m not very hungry. I’ll stay here, thanks. Maybe Fe-li-ci-ty will go.”

I sure hope so.

Upstairs in my room, Fishface is on my guest bed eating yogurt, foil lid upside-down on the blanket. She’s reading a comic book, listening to country music on my radio.

Then I notice she’s wearing my sweatshirt. Dad’s U MAINE sweatshirt.

My face starts burning. “That’s my sweatshirt.”

Fishface sniffs, scraping the inside of her yogurt container. Scrape, scrape, scrape. “Kinda big for you, isn’t it?”

“Take it off, please.”

“You know, if it weren’t so freaking cold in here.” Scrape, scrape, scrape. “You guys ever heard of heat?

“Take it off.”

“It’s just a ratty old–”

“–TAKE IT OFF!”

“Sheesh, what’s the big deal?” Fishface sighs, pulls my sweatshirt over her head and throws it on my bed. Then she stomps out my door muttering, “I’m soooo glad I don’t have to stay in this icebox tonight.”

“That makes two of us,” I yell behind her. “And don’t touch my radio.”

“Everything okay up there?” Mom yells over the drone of the TV.

“No!” I yell back, slamming the door after Fishface and the empty yogurt container that I threw into the hallway ‘cause she always leaves that kinda crap behind when she takes off.

I roll Dad’s sweatshirt into a ball and check to make sure it doesn’t smell like Fishface, wishing like crazy it still smelled like him. Climbing into bed, I turn out the light and wrap my comforter all around me like a cocoon, hugging Dad’s sweatshirt like a pillow. What is it like to be a caterpillar? To fall asleep and wake up to find you have wings? To fly away?

I wish I knew.

The music calms me down – a song with a gentle melody and a guy crooning, “Trouble don’t last always.” I’ve never heard it before, but it’s pretty. When I realize I didn’t turn the station back to WTXT, it doesn’t matter anymore. I drift off thinking maybe I like country music after all.

 

 

3

Tries to write good poetry

Eyes are Amory blue

Sees Grammy very seldom

Sometimes wants to be with her in Florida

 

Likes Ian, but only as a friend

Once ate a whole box of Oreos

Used to have grandfathers too

Intolerant of spiders

Saw Grease twenty times since fifth grade

Enjoys happy surprises, not sad ones

 

Aunt, uncle, and cousins are in Florida

Misses father’s side of the family

Oatmeal loather

Read 100 books for a contest in fourth grade

Y can’t everything go back to normal?

 

Maybe I shouldn’t have tried so hard with my acrostic poem. I just realized it won’t even make sense if I try to read it out loud, so what’s the point? It’s probably better than that kid, A.J. Fox’s, but no judge is going to choose an acrostic for the winner. I think I just wasted my time.

Rob and Mom settled on a wedding date last night. June second, only five months away, at Fort Williams Park by the ocean.

This morning, Mom’s watching me over her coffee cup while I’m spreading margarine on my English muffin, cramming for my vocab test. PERSUASIVE…got it. PERVERSE…

“I want you to be my maid of honor,” she says.

“Uh-huh.”

“And I want Felicity to be my other maid of honor.”

My stomach lurches and I drop my knife, smearing Parkway across PERTURB.

“Both of us? No, thanks.”

“But it would mean a lot to me, and to Rob.”

“That’s nice, Mom, but I’m not interested.”

“Tessie, honey, I know this is hard for you. I understand. Really, I do. But you need to learn to accept Felicity.”

I pick up the knife again and plunge it into the raspberry fruit spread.

She keeps trying. “Haven’t you always wanted a sister?”

“No,” I tell her. “I wanted my father.”

 

 

It’s Wednesday. WTXT was listing storm cancellations when the alarm went off this morning, and I didn’t even know it was supposed to snow today! I had to listen through like a thousand school names before Marty the Maniac finally announced, “NO SCHOOL IN FOSTER.”

They played “Can’t Let It Go” by Traffic Jam, my all-time favorite song. What a way to wake up! Jessie Colton is the cutest lead singer of any band, ever. Ian doesn’t like Traffic Jam at all. He thinks they’re lame.

It snowed hard all day long, so we made this gargantuan snow fort for Brandon. It has tunnels that lead to different rooms, and it has windows, and even a place to store snowballs.

Ian goes, “I’m going to design a house like this.”

“Cool.”

“Then I’m going to live in it.”

“Can I live in it too?” Brandon wants to know.

“Maybe…if you had your own wing. And if my wife was okay with it.”

Tess would be okay with it, wouldn’t you, Tess?”

I laugh. “You guys crack me up.”

I hardly thought about Mom or Rob or Fishface or Janie or Kelly all day. I thought about Dad less than usual too. I feel kinda bad about that. Rob’s in Chicago on business, but he still called twice tonight. We’ve become experts at small talk.

Ring, ring.

“Hello?”

“Hi…is this Tess?”

I’m tempted to call him Thomas or Antonio just to see what happens. But I decide not to.

“Hi, Rob.”

“How are you?”

“Fine. How are you?”

“Great, thanks. How was school today?”

“Fine.” I don’t bother telling him it was a snow day. “How’s Chicago?”

“Windy, thanks for asking.”

We’d go on like this for two hours if I didn’t scour the house looking for Mom so I can hand the phone off. I really should let her answer it from now on anyway. It’s hardly ever for me anymore.

 

 

During lunch at school, Janie drops a note on my tray and it almost lands in my Caesar salad. Then she goes and sits down at the next table, alone. Kelly wasn’t in study hall this morning, so she must be absent. I open the note, and in Janie’s old familiar handwriting it says:

 

What’s wrong with you lately? Seems like you’re avoiding me. We hardly talk anymore. Are we still friends?

 

I look over at her. She steals a glance toward me, then quickly turns away. I find a pencil stub on the floor and scribble a note back to her.

 

I helped you find a dress for Kelly’s party when you said it was for your cousin’s wedding.

Please stop being such a liar…and a snob.

 

I barely have time to drop the note on her table and walk away when Kelly appears out of nowhere. She’s breathing hard and dressed like Dream Date Barbie as usual. She plops herself down next to Janie. Last thing I see is Janie shoving the note in her pocket without even reading it.

Mom just yelled, “Goodnight, Tessie!” It’s 10:00.

The three good things about Rob being here tonight are:

 

1)     Fishface isn’t with him.

2)    Mom made something special for dinner (lasagna), and

3)    She won’t bother coming back upstairs to see if my light goes out, which is good because I still haven’t done my algebra homework.

 

She and Rob are downstairs planning the wedding. It’s starting to sound way too fancy, with violins and shrimp cocktail and tons of guests. I hope it rains and everybody stays home.

I can tell when they’re kissing downstairs. They stop talking about the wedding and it gets real quiet and then I hear those disgusting wet, smacking noises. Sometimes I even hear these little moans which make me want to barf. Then they start talking about the wedding again. The whole cycle repeats itself a few minutes later.

Mom thinks I’m going to change my mind and be a maid of honor with Fishface. She wants me to go shopping for dresses with them on Saturday, but she doesn’t know that I’m getting strep throat that day. Just being at the wedding is going to be torture enough, what with having to smile for the cameras and playing along like a good little actress.

If I win the Open Mic, I’ll fly off to Florida that very same morning. When I get there, I’ll be so happy that nobody, not even Grammy Amory, will be able to wipe the grin off my face.

4

 

ODE TO DAD

I bring something with me

When I visit your grave.

Sometimes I bring poems and

I read them to you

As if you can hear them

Or something.

I stare at your headstone

And brush off the snow.

It says here you died

A whole year ago.

That was the day

A big part of me

Died too.

 

It’s Wednesday, and Mom’s zapping leftover lasagna in the microwave for dinner. We have leftovers on the nights that Rob isn’t here. She’s wearing sweatpants and an old blue Quebec shirt from a trip she took with Dad. I’m setting the table thinking about Janie for no particular reason, and Mom’s pouring us some milk, and it’s like she reads my mind.

“Is everything okay with you and Janie?”

“Sure,” I tell the silverware.

“She hasn’t been over here for a while.”

“She’s busy. We’re all busy.”

I can tell Mom knows there’s more to it than that, and as soon as we sit down to eat, she tries to turn dinner into a mother-daughter heart-to-heart moment, “Like we used to have,” she says, reaching over and putting her hand on my shoulder.

“Well, that was then, this is now. Things change.”  I take one look at the soggy bloated croutons in the Caesar salad. “I’m not hungry and I have a ton of homework. Can I eat something later, maybe?”

She gives me the CYD (concerned-yet-disappointed) look and a careful nod and I put my empty plate and clean silverware away and my glass of milk in the fridge. I head back to my room – where I’ve been since I got home from school. Janie and I used to spend hours up here looking at magazines, listening to the radio, talking and laughing until Mom made us stop, usually sometime after midnight. Then we’d whisper. The spare bed belonged to Janie. Now it belongs to Fishface.

See, if Fishface slept downstairs, Rob and Mom wouldn’t be able to get away with hooking up in the middle of the night. Sure, Mom would like me to think that Rob sleeps on the living room pullout all night long. Good thing I’m such a sound sleeper. Good thing I don’t want to know the truth.

I’m lying down on my bed now – pretending the guest bed is gone and minding my own business – when I look over at my bureau and all my pictures of Dad. Something doesn’t feel right. I go and look and sure enough, they’ve been messed with. Why I didn’t notice the cracked glass before, I don’t know, but there’s no doubt. Fishface knew that she broke one of the frames because it’s tucked behind the other ones.

Why did she have to break this one? This is the picture Mom used to have on her desk. When I found she’d tucked it away in her drawer, I moved it to my room. It’s the photo of Dad winning that national award for his social work, taken right before he died. Mom had to push his wheelchair up to the podium ‘cause he was so sick. Everyone there clapped for about five minutes. Dad must’ve looked really awful to them, sunken and yellow and bald, but he still looked amazing to me.

I scream into my pillow. When I lift my head, my face is wet and I don’t know if I was actually screaming or crying. No, definitely crying – but quiet crying now – like I’m used to.

There’s a roll of masking tape in my desk drawer. I wipe my face and take it out and stick a line of tape on the carpet, right down the middle of my room. From now on, Fishface is not allowed to go anywhere beyond the masking tape line. She can’t go near my bureau or my bed. She can make a pigsty out of her side and half the closet too, but everything else is off-limits.

I take down all my posters on Fishface’s side and move them to my side. When I run out of wall space, I put the one of Jessie Colton over my bed and the Grease movie poster behind my door. I’ve had it so long I can’t part with it yet.

Mom knocks and comes in before I can tell her not to. She checks out my masking tape line and the empty wall on Fishface’s side.

“What’s all this about?”

I glance at the frame with the cracked glass, now in front of the other photos. “I need my own space.”

She gives me yet another CYD look. Her eyes then wander around my room, stalling at Jessie Colton (he’s looking down at his open fly), and again at the Visualize Whirled Peas bumper sticker I wrapped around my lampshade.

“Tessie, honey, this is no way to build a positive relationship with Felicity.”

“I know, Mom, but I still need my own space.” I don’t bother pointing out Dad’s photo ‘cause, after all, I found it tucked away in a drawer. He’s already ancient history as far as she’s concerned.

Mom frowns like she does when she’s thinking too hard. “Your room is a bit on the small side. We’ve got to get you up to see Rob’s place in Tannerville.” She says this for about the tenth time this month. “It has four big bedrooms, and a pond, and the apple orchard is so pretty, even in winter.” Then she hesitates, sits on my bed, and goes for the kill.

“We’re still not sure where we’re going to live.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean which house we’ll keep and which house we’ll sell…or if we should just get a new place altogether.”

What? Mom, you can’t expect me to drop everything and move to the sticks and go to some hick school just because you want to marry Rob!”

“Listen, Tess, we– ”

“–What about my friends? What about Ian and Brandon? What about the yearbook?”

“It’s just a–”

“–This was Dad’s house, Mom. You can’t make me lose this too.”

Mom sighs. “Tessie, listen. You haven’t even seen Rob’s place yet. The house is nice and big. You’d have your own room again. And the school there is the –”

“–Why are you doing this to me, Mom? Why do you keep trying to find even more ways to ruin my life?”

“Honey, I–”

“Would you just forget it, please? I’m not moving anywhere. Things are crappy enough already.”

I’m so frustrated, my head is throbbing, and my face is so hot it feels like my tears are evaporating on my cheeks. I take a deep breath and almost forget to exhale.

“Oh, sweetie, come sit with me.” Mom starts to cry, which surprises me, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to do about it. She pats the bed for me to sit, and I look away. On the bureau I see the other photos of Dad; him holding me for the first time, playing seaweed monster at the beach, and standing with me and Ian at the bus stop on my first day of school.

“Mom, please don’t make me move to Rob’s house. I think it would kill me.” I start to really cry and so does Mom. Naturally, I feel bad so I climb up on the bed with her.

She puts an arm around me and kisses my hair. “I never ever wanted your Dad to be taken away from us, honey. I loved him so much, just like you did.” She says this through her tears, and we sit and cry together for a minute or two. It feels good somehow. We’re close again.

Until the phone rings and she pats my leg and kisses my hair again and runs to her bedroom to answer it, and of course it’s Rob. I wash up and brush my teeth and she’s still on the phone, so I turn on the radio and climb into bed and hug the U MAINE sweatshirt and turn out the light. It’s only seven o’clock, but I don’t care. I want to sleep. If I have good dreams, hopefully they’ll come true for a change. Hopefully I’ll dream about going to Florida and seeing Dad’s side of the family again.

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