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Authors: Trish Cook

A Really Awesome Mess

BOOK: A Really Awesome Mess
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EGMONT
We bring stories to life

First published by Egmont USA, 2013
443 Park Avenue South, Suite 806
New York, NY 10016
Copyright © Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin, 2013
All rights reserved
www.egmontusa.com
www.trishcook.com
www.brendanhalpin.com
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Cook, Trish, 1965- author.
A really awesome mess/Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin.
pages cm
Summary: An angry girl and a depressed boy, both sixteen, are sent to a therapeutic boarding school.
eISBN: 978-1-60684-364-2
[1. Emotional problems–Fiction. 2. Psychotherapy–Fiction. 3. Chinese Americans–Fiction. 4. Boarding schools–Fiction. 5. Schools–Fiction.] I. Halpin, Brendan, 1968- author. II. Title.
PZ7.C773Re 2013                                                                 [Fic]–dc23

2012045978

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher and copyright owner.

v3.1

To Courtney and Kelsey, who light up my life
.

—T.C
.

If you’re getting through high school with anxiety and depression on board, I dedicate this book to you
.

—B.H
.

Contents

“HOME CRAPPY HOME,” I WHISPERED UNDER MY BREATH
.

Dropping my duffel bag on the worn hardwood floor, I scanned the claustrophobic room. Above me: A low, oddly angled ceiling that made the cramped space feel like it might swallow me whole. Straight ahead: A tall, skinny window with bars on the outside, presumably so I wouldn’t a) fall or b) hurl myself out of it, flanked by plain wooden dressers. To my right: Twin beds crammed into an L-shape, each with a big-ass bulletin board hanging above it. Pee-yellow walls all around.

The already-claimed mattress was covered in a barn red comforter and had a big stuffed pig on top of it. Farm Girl—which was what I’d already nicknamed my new roommate in my head, and hoped wouldn’t actually come out of my mouth when I met
her—had plastered every last inch of her board in cutesy animal pictures and 4-H ribbons. The bed and board meant for me, of course, were still naked.

“Heartland Academy is going to be such a great experience for you, Emmy,” my mom said, a fake smile glued to her face. “Take it all in. Give it everything you’ve got!”

I couldn’t believe she was pulling out an inspirational speech at a time like this. It would have been more honest if she’d just crowed, “Later, sucker!” and hightailed out of there never to return, because the truth of the matter was inescapable. She and Dad were finally getting rid of me. I mean, Dad hadn’t even bothered to come to drop me off here, claiming he didn’t have any more vacations days left after all the meetings at school and with the police and whoever else had gotten pissed at me recently.

I also knew the lame excuse the ’rents were using—
We need you to learn to be healthy again, both mentally and physically
—wasn’t the real reason they were sending me away. Reality: Despite the twenty pounds I’d lost recently, I was still the elephant in the room. Though we’d all tried our best to deny it, I was always going to be a living, breathing reminder of my parents’ painful bout with infertility. Lucky for them, the infertility had turned out to be temporary and they’d ended up making a kid the old-fashioned way. Unlucky for me, they now wanted to cut bait on the sole vestige of a very sad time in their lives.

“Yeah, totes. This place seems really chill, Em,” my little sister Jocelyn piped in, checking out a picture of a hedgehog wearing a daisy-print hat on Farm Girl’s bulletin board.

The “little” in little sister would be a relative term here. For pretty much our whole lives, Joss has towered over me. Other things, in addition to tall, that Joss is and I am not: Fair-skinned, blond, and freckled. Athletic. Biologically related to my mom and dad.

I stared around the room, then back at Joss again. She couldn’t be serious.

“I guess what I meant was, I’m sure it’ll be way better than the Internet made it out to be,” she qualified, wincing.

We’d spent the last few days holed up in my room, poring over the Heartland Academy and Rate My School websites, looking for clues as to what my daily life might be like here and how long my involuntary admission might last. Heartland’s made it look a lot like summer camp—arts and crafts, ropes courses, trust games, that kind of stuff—with regular classes and tons of psychotherapy thrown in; Rate My School’s assessment probably cut a lot closer to the truth.
Hell in a cornfield, Pointless and stupid
, and
Jail
were just a few of the descriptors former students had posted anonymously. And after the long, bleak orientation I’d just sat through with the other new kids who for the most part looked like total freaks, I was even more inclined to agree with the Rate My Schoolies.

“You want to stay here in my place?” I joked with Joss.

I was only half kidding. Joss had been known to do other heroic things for me, like beating up the mean boy in preschool who said we couldn’t be sisters because I was a “ching chong bing bong.” Like inviting me along to parties and dances with her friends because the few I had tended to be socially awkward and anxious. Like choosing to stay home with me instead of hitting those same parties and dances after the shit flew and even my socially awkward and anxious friends deserted me.

Tears pooled in Joss’s eyes. “I wish I could,” she said, sniffling. “Really I do.”

Mom decided Joss needed defending, which was ridiculous because we weren’t even fighting. I couldn’t remember us
ever
really fighting. “It is not Jocelyn’s responsibility to rescue you from this situation. Nor is it mine or your dad’s. You’ll have to do that for yourself this time.”

She sounded just like the parents’ section of the Heartland website. I wondered if they’d made her memorize lines like that during her orientation, and that’s why it had been held separately from mine.

“Things really got blown out of proportion, don’t you think?” I said, staring down at my feet and scrunching up my toes in my kid-sized Converse.

Mom answered my question with another question. “You’re surprised that parents, your school, and the police take
bullying—especially when it is carried out online for everyone to see—seriously?”

I sighed heavily. “Mom, I told you a million times, I posted those things on Facebook in self-defense. Danny Schwartz bullied me first!”

“Then perhaps you should have reported him to the school administrators rather than taking matters into your own hands, Emmy,” my mom said. Her eyes kept darting toward the door, like she was plotting her escape from me even as we spoke.

I took some slow, deliberate breaths—another dumbass thing suggested on the Heartland website—to try and keep my head from exploding off my body. What my mom didn’t know (and what I’d never tell her) was I couldn’t have reported that douche Danny—who liked to sing
me so horny
every time he saw me in the halls—no matter how much I wanted to. And here’s why: According to the rules of my swanky private school, we would have then been obligated to have our argument mediated.

Which would have meant talking about what had prompted his racist, sexist remarks.

In front of a bunch of student mediators and teachers overseeing the proceedings.

Sure, they might have made Danny apologize even if he refused to admit what he’d done. But his fake apology wasn’t worth me having to expose myself any further than I already had. And I was positive that asshole would have found a way to work
the mortifying reason he was harassing me in the first place into the conversation.

So narcing on him had never even been a remote possibility in my mind. Instead, I launched an online counterattack meant to publicly humiliate the guy the way he was publicly humiliating me. Over the course of five days, I spammed choice words and photos disparaging him all over FB. One of my favorites:
Dan Schwartz has the genitals of a Girl Scout
, accompanied by a picture of a half-eaten Samoa cookie. I thought it was pretty funny, especially since word at school was the guy had a total chode in his pants.

Even funnier, that particular post had gotten 256 likes. Which, of course, Danny didn’t like at all. So he screenshotted all my little digs and reported me to his parents, who in turn reported me to the school, who in turn reported me to the local police.

The power trio was not amused in the least bit. I got grounded for an undetermined amount of time that still hadn’t ended, not that I cared to go out anyhow; a lecture from Officer Friendly about online etiquette that wrapped up with a fifteen-hour community service sentence, which I kind of liked because speed-shelving books at the library turned out to be great cardio; and a week-long suspension from school that came as a welcome relief because I could barely get myself out of bed and dressed in the morning, I was so stressed by that point.

I was told I could return to school once seven days was up and I issued an apology to
me so horny
-singing Danny Schwartz. Naturally, I declined. So then they declined to let me back in.

My parents, baffled by my uncharacteristic mean behavior and subsequent stubbornness, begged and pleaded with me to apologize. Even Joss, who knew why I’d gone after Danny Schwartz like a rabid pit bull, advised me to just suck it up so I could get out of trouble. But there was no way—not a chance in hell, not then, not now, not ever—he was going to hear the words
I’m sorry
pass my lips. No f-ing way.

It turned into a total standoff, which left me in quite the quandry, school-wise. Since all this happened with only three weeks left of the academic year, my by now totally freaked out parents convinced the powers that be to let me complete the rest of my assignments and take finals from home. I was like, halle-freaking-lujah, because it meant I wouldn’t have to put up with people staring at me and whispering about me in the halls anymore.

BOOK: A Really Awesome Mess
2.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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