I have a new entry from The Novel Graveyard! This one is a bit darker (okay, maybe a lot darker) than Wrong Answer (which you can read HERE). I only got about ten pages into this one, but I definitely used a few ideas from it for later stories.
I never regret my insanely overpopulated graveyard because I feel like sooner or later, the good ideas work their way into another story. This particular excerpt may not be for everyone, so sorry in advance if it's offensive or anything. :-) Anyway, here's today's offering:
GETTING BACK TO PERFECT
My phone vibrated again, tickling my leg from inside my pocket. I knew who it was. I knew he was waiting.
“What I don’t get,” the counselor continued. “Is how you’ve kept your grades up without actually attending class.”
Right. I guess it never occurred to her that I was actually still smart.
“In fact, Miss Rowan. You’re three absences away from retention.”
Right. I guess it never occurred to her that I didn’t give a shit.
“Do you understand what’ll happen?”
“I fail twelfth grade?”
She looked stunned. Was she expecting a different answer? A plea maybe? My phone vibrated again.
“Well, yes. You would fail. But it also means that you won’t be attending college with all of your friends. Is that what you want?”
It pretty much was.
“I’ll overlook this latest absence,” she said, pushing the glasses up on her long nose. “But you’d better not miss anymore classes. This is your final warning.”
“I understand, Mrs. Cromwell.” This was actually my third final warning.
She pursed her lips and I felt the sickening twist in my stomach. I knew what was coming.
“I know,” she confided like we were best gal pals. “That you’re still hurting from you mother’s death. I know it can be so hard. But if you ever need to talk, Camilla, I’m here to listen.”
I smiled politely even though my mouth twitched, wanting to scream. Because God forbid I screw up without blaming it on my mother. God forbid anyone think I’m anything other than poor little Camilla who couldn’t handle her mother’s death.
How about this? I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to know them. They never knew me. No one did.
My phone vibrated.
“I should get to class,” I said, sounding very studious. She seemed to like that.
“Great. Well then, have a good day, honey.”
Gross. The honey was completely unnecessary.
I stood up and she didn’t walk me to her door although she did the half stand motion that looked like she would have if I hadn’t bolted. I barely made it out the door when my phone started in again. I pulled it out and put it to my ear.
“Holy shit. Impatient much?”
“I’m coming now.”
“You’re skipping class?” Ryan asked, obviously fully aware that I was skipping class since he was waiting for me in the parking lot.
“I’m a rebel. Haven’t you heard?”
“Oh, I’ve heard.” He sounded devious. “I heard you’re into all sorts of naughty things.”
“You’re such an ass.” But I laughed. He was the only one that made me laugh anymore.
I darted a look down the school hallway before pushing through the double doors and out into the Oregon sunshine. I squinted against it, trying to shield my eyes with my palm.
Ryan whistled. “Hey, gorgeous,” he called out the open passenger window. And there he was, sitting in his black SUV, grinning at me. Looking so right.
I dropped down the stairs, feeling the weight of the school behind me, the ease of the air in front of me. I climbed in Ryan’s car and the minute I shut the door, I exhaled.
“You missed me, huh?” he asked, leaning his head back on the seat to stare at me. I turned to him.
“Definitely not.” But I did. He knew I did. And I was happy because if there was
one thing Ryan didn’t ask me to do, it was talk. And I loved that about him.
“You’re such a sweetheart,” he said and chuckled. Then he shifted into gear and began the drive toward our spot. The only place where we could hang out without the world spying on us. Somewhere without parents or ex-boyfriends or parole officers.
I put my hand in the wind outside the car, letting it lift in the rushing air. I could still remember the first time I met Ryan, outside on my front lawn, watching a police cruiser drop him off across the street. He was fourteen. I was twelve. He flipped me off.
“Remember when you gave me the finger out in front of your house?” I asked absently, staring at the passing trees.
“You still mad about that?”
“It wasn’t nice.” I looked over and raised my eyebrow.
“Aw,” he took my hand and wrapped it with his. “What can I say? I was a troublemaker and you were the cute blonde next door. It was my job to piss you off.”
“You were very professional.”
He kissed my fingers as he took a turn down the dirt road. “I’m pretty nice to you now, aren’t I?” He bit my knuckle and I pulled it back, smiling.
“You’re alright.” And he was. Despite his reputation, Ryan was great to me. Sweet to me. Patient with me.
The lighthouse was just ahead and I was so happy to see it, I nearly broke out in tears.
“So Miss Rowan,” he said. “Any major breakthroughs in counseling?”
“Tons. Oh, hey,” I said wide-eyed. “Did you know that if you failed twelfth grade you don’t get to go college with assholes?”
“Really?” he asked. “I did not know that. I thought assholes were a prerequisite for life. But wow. If dropping out saved me four years of assholedom, I’m glad I ignored my father.”
Ryan was making light of it. His dropping out had been a major deal. One that involved a police visit for domestic disturbance.