Read Anything but Normal Online

Authors: Melody Carlson

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BOOK: Anything but Normal
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Sophie shrugged again.

“Come on, did you?”

“Yeah . . . I talked to him.”

“About me?” Carrie’s brown eyes were wide and eager.

“I guess . . . your name probably came up.”


“And, I don’t know . . . we talked about a bunch of stuff.”

of stuff?”

Sophie knew she needed to change the subject. “So, are you ever going to finish your lunch? I mean, I still have a lot of shopping to do, and you’re just sitting there blabbing on and on and not even touching your food and—”

“Sorry,” Carrie Anne snapped. “Excuse me for keeping you waiting.”

Sophie snatched up a couple of Carrie Anne’s Mexi fries and shoved them in her mouth. “Well, you’re the one who’s freaking that I’ll show up at school wearing something the dog dragged in, or maybe more like something the cat barfed up.”

Carrie Anne laughed so hard she snorted.

“Very attractive.”

Soon they were back to shopping again. As torturous as it was trying on jeans and tops and skirts and sweaters, it was highly preferable to talking about Dylan Morris. And even though it meant taking fashion advice and some even more ridiculous dieting suggestions from Carrie Anne, as well as purchasing a couple of items that Sophie didn’t really like, she knew it was worth the sacrifice to keep any and all questions about the past month and Camp Calderwood and Dylan Morris at bay.

Now all Sophie needed to do was to come up with a viable excuse for not going out to the lake with Carrie Anne on Monday.


Of course, by the time Monday came, Carrie Anne would not take no for an answer. “I know you’re home alone today, Sophie. And I can tell by the sound of your voice that you’re kinda bummed. So get your swimsuit and junk together, because I
be picking you up in ten minutes. Be ready or be spaghetti.”

Sophie faked a laugh at the worn-out joke. But as soon as she hung up, she felt like screaming . . . or crying. Why hadn’t she simply said, “No way, forget it, I am not going”? Or why didn’t she just call Carrie Anne back and tell her she was having her period and bad cramps and couldn’t possibly do the lake thing today—end of conversation. Sure, it was a lie, but desperate times called for desperate measures.

Instead Sophie ran around her cluttered room gathering up her swimsuit, sunscreen, and sunglasses, all the while reassuring herself that it was entirely possible that Dylan wouldn’t be up there anyway. In all likelihood, he’d probably gone off to college by now. After all, Sophie’s own brother, Bart, was on his way to campus—in fact, her mom was probably just pulling up to Bart’s dorm now. Too bad Sophie had decided not to go on the road trip with them.

Sophie sighed as she stuffed a faded beach towel into her oversized bag. She had considered talking to Bart. She’d imagined herself spilling the beans to him, telling him all about Dylan Morris and how things had gone at Camp Calderwood, and how she was confused about so much and how she had no one to talk to. She knew that her brother, more than anyone else in her family, would have some solid advice for her. Bart, like her, was a strong and committed Christian. He lived his life according to God’s Word and was considering going into some form of ministry. Not only that, but it was Bart who had helped Sophie find God back in sixth grade. And it was Bart who would have the right kind of answers now.

But when her brother came home for a short break last week after three weeks of grueling football training, when she finally peeled him away from their dad who only wanted to talk sports, and when the two of them were alone getting ice cream and she finally had the chance to talk to him, she froze up. All she could think was how disappointed he would be in her. She just couldn’t bear to see that kind of look in his eyes. So she had made small talk with him and made him laugh. And now he was gone.

“Come on, Sophie!” Carrie Anne yelled. As usual, she’d let herself into the house and was already coming up the stairs. “We’re burning daylight here!”

“Coming.” Sophie grabbed up her bag and hurried out to see Carrie Anne waiting for her halfway up the stairs. Sophie actually considered faking a fall and pretending to sprain her ankle. But with her luck, she might actually stumble for real and break something or even injure Carrie Anne in the process. Besides, she reminded herself, Dylan was probably on his way to college by now. It was time to just chill.

Carrie Anne grinned as she adjusted the top of her lime green swimsuit. Sophie knew it was her favorite suit—it made her look bigger on top—and she usually reserved it for “special” occasions. All of this did not bode well. Still, Sophie wasn’t going there.

“Let’s go, girlfriend!” Carrie Anne said.

“Sorry to keep you waiting.” Sophie made a face. “What’s the rush anyway?”

“The rush is, let’s get there already.”

Carrie Anne was driving her dad’s red Jeep Wrangler today. She had the top down and her straw cowboy hat handy. “Ready to rock and roll?”

“How’d you get so lucky?” Sophie asked as she got in and buckled up.

“Oh, you know. I just batted my big brown eyes and told Dad that he was the best dad in the whole wide world.”

“You are such a daddy’s girl.”

Carrie Anne grinned and put the Jeep in reverse. “And so far, it’s working for me.”

And you sure know how to work it
, Sophie wanted to add, but she knew that sounded rude and a little bit jealous too.

The truth was, Sophie did envy Carrie Anne sometimes, but she’d never admit it to anyone. Except to God, and lately she wasn’t even too sure about that. Still, it wasn’t always easy being best friends with the pastor’s daughter. Not because Pastor Vincent watched every step they took or acted like Big Brother or anything weird or controlling like that. The hardest part was that Carrie Anne’s family was so normal, so happy, so nicely connected. They actually had family devotions before dinner every evening. Well, any night when they were all gathered around the table together. And even if it was only half the time, it was twice as often as Sophie’s family. Meaning that Sophie’s family ate dinner together only on holidays, on birthdays, or by accident.

“Why are you being so quiet?” Carrie Anne turned onto the road that led to the lake.

“Just thinking.”

“Can you believe school starts tomorrow?” Carrie Anne groaned loudly. “And don’t tell me you’re happy about it or I’ll puke.”

It was a well-established fact that Carrie Anne tolerated school whereas Sophie actually loved it. “It
our senior year,” Sophie reminded her. “Something we’ve been looking forward to for like forever. I’d think you’d be glad too.”

“Well, I’m sort of okay about that part, except that now all my parents are talking about is college. Make that

“Arguing?” Sophie couldn’t imagine Carrie Anne’s parents arguing about anything.

“Yeah, that’s probably an overstatement. Mom wants me to live at home and go to the community college.” She laughed. “Actually, she thinks I’ll be lucky to get in there. But Dad wants me to go to his alma mater.”

“Bible college?”

“Yeah.” Carrie Anne frowned.

“What do you want?”

She threw her head back and let out a whoop. “Meaning you don’t want to go to college at all?”

“Meaning I don’t want to think about it right now. But Mom’s probably right. I should probably go to community college. My grade-point average isn’t exactly stellar.”

Sophie knew that was an understatement.

“But Dad keeps acting like he’s going to pull some strings for Bible college.” Carrie Anne glanced nervously at Sophie. “In fact, he’s been mentioning you. He’s pretty sure you can get a scholarship there.”


“Yeah. You make me so jealous sometimes. You’ve always been such a little brainiac.”

“You could work harder to get your grades up, Carrie Anne.”

“That’s what Dad keeps telling me. He was trying to motivate me with the idea that we could be roommates in college, like it’s going to be so fun and great. I think he plans to have a little talk with you soon.”

Sophie blinked. “A talk? With me?”

“You know, to encourage you to help me get my grades up, to take my education seriously. You’re the good influence, remember?”

Sophie turned away from Carrie Anne, biting her lip as she watched the pine trees zip past, blending into a blur of green.

“So, anyway, don’t act too shocked if Dad asks you to take me by the hand and lead me to the college promised land.” Suddenly Carrie Anne was singing that last line, belting it out like she thought she was the next Miley Cyrus or something.

Sophie couldn’t help but laugh. “Maybe you should skip college and head straight to Nashville.”

“I am rather musical, don’tcha think?”

“That depends on how you define musical.”

“I define musical as
Dylan Morris
.” Carrie Anne pretended to swoon. “So did he perform at camp? Did you ever hear him sing?”

Sophie coughed. “I think I just swallowed a bug.”

“Nasty!” Carrie Anne made a face. “I have gum in my bag.” Sophie grabbed the bag and focused her attention on fishing out a rumpled pack of gum.

“So, did he?”

“Huh?” Sophie shoved a piece of fruit-flavored gum in her mouth and frowned. “What?”

“Did Dylan perform at Camp Calderwood?”

“Oh.” Sophie nodded. “Yeah. He was part of the worship team. And he did a few solos too.”

“So was he dreamy or not?”

Sophie just shrugged again. She realized she’d been shrugging a lot the past few days. Especially whenever Carrie Anne mentioned Dylan. She needed to be more careful.

“You’ve been acting so weird lately, Sophie.” Carrie Anne glanced her way. “You sure you’re okay?”

Sophie thought for a long moment. “No, actually, I’m not okay.”

“What?” Carrie Anne looked a little worried.

“I’ve been meaning to tell you something . . .” Sophie sighed. “You see, the mother ship landed in my backyard last week, and three purple aliens pulled me out of bed and took me aboard and—”

“Very funny.” Carrie Anne scowled. “I was trying to be serious.”

“Well, then don’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because . . . ,” Sophie threw her head back and let out a loud whoop just like Carrie Anne’s, “. . . this is our last day of freedom, and I think we should enjoy it!”

Carrie Anne nodded, then reached down and turned on the radio, which was tuned to the oldies rock station, her dad’s favorite. She cranked it up, and the two of them rocked out as she drove down the gravel road toward the lake.

At least Sophie pretended to be rocking out. It was easier than having a real conversation . . . and much easier than talking about Dylan. And it was better than totally freaking over whether or not he’d be at the lake. Although the truth was, she
freaking. What would she say to him if he was there? How would she act toward him? Nonchalant and slightly oblivious? Casually friendly but somewhat distant? Downright chilly and cold?

Dylan had promised to call her when they got back home from camp. But he hadn’t called. Not once. And she’d checked both the landline at home and her cell—numerous times. It was obvious that he’d forgotten all about her. That he didn’t really care. That what they’d had meant nothing to him. And that hurt. A lot.

If Carrie Anne didn’t still have such a ridiculous crush on Dylan, Sophie would talk to her about this whole thing. But as it was, Sophie didn’t dare mention a thing. She couldn’t imagine how Carrie Anne would react. In fact, she didn’t want to know. Maybe it was a relief that Dylan was dumping her after all—make that he’d
dumped her but just hadn’t bothered to send her the memo. Oh, why had she come up here today?

“It looks busy up here,” Carrie Anne said as she turned into the first parking area. “Good thing Dylan and his folks came up last week.”

“Last week?” Sophie’s voice came out sounding like a mouse squeak.

“Yeah. The Morrises have been camping up here for about a week. My mom said it was kind of their last family thing before Dylan heads off to college.”

Sophie felt a sudden jolt of hope. “Do cell phones work up here?”

Carrie Anne shrugged as she snagged a skinny parking spot, neatly wedging the Jeep between an SUV and a tree trunk. “I don’t know. Do you need to call someone?”

Sophie smiled faintly. “Not really . . . I just wondered.” She grabbed up her bag, digging around until she found her lip gloss and a hairbrush.

“Primping?” Carrie Anne peered curiously at Sophie.

Sophie felt her cheeks grow warm. “Hey, you’re the one who’s always nagging me to care about my appearance.”

Carrie Anne chuckled. “And I always figured when that happened, I’d start to care about my grades.”

“Maybe we’re changing places, kind of like that old movie—
Freaky Friday

“No way.” Carrie Anne pulled out her makeup pouch. Tilting the rearview mirror her direction, she quickly made sure she was looking good. “I’m not ready to trade in my looks for brains just yet.”

Sophie tried not to take that as an insult, but as they got out of the car, she knew what Carrie Anne meant. She wasn’t being mean, just honest. And really, Sophie told herself, wouldn’t she rather be smart than beautiful? Wasn’t that one of the very things that Dylan had said attracted him to her in the first place? Her mind? Her spirit? And her commitment to God? Sophie pulled out her cell phone as they walked down the grassy slope toward the dock area. No connectivity. So . . . what if all this time Dylan had really
to call her but just couldn’t use his cell phone out here? What if she’d blown this whole thing out of proportion for nothing? Poor Dylan had been stuck out here at the lake, and she’d been stuck in town—separated by their families and by the lack of cell phone service. Kind of like Romeo and Juliet. Okay, not quite that dramatic, but it sounded good. Anyway, it was entirely possible that Dylan was sitting down there on the dock right now, pining away and just waiting for her to make her appearance and to make his day.

BOOK: Anything but Normal
13.48Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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