Chapter 1


The sudden burst of sound coming from the telephone startled me, and I immediately turned my attention to my mother's bedroom door. Please, God, be asleep. It rang again. I leaped from the table, covering the entire distance of my living room before it could ring a third time. If only I could summon that kind of energy in gym class.

“Ana? Can you hear me? Hello…?"

My eyes returned to her door. Nothing. Thank goodness.

“Hey Jaz, I’m here.”

“Oh good, you won’t believe what I just heard about Erick!”

“My Erick?” I asked, pretending to be interested.

Jasmine squealed. “The very same one!”

I took the phone into my room and stretched out across the bed. Jasmine went on about the fallout from Erick being caught with Jessica, despite his going out with her older sister, Amber. To be honest, I could have cared less. High school gossip didn’t exactly set my soul on fire, but Jasmine’s a friend, and I haven’t had one of those in years. I played my part, making sure to sound as if I hung onto her every word, sometimes throwing in a gasp, or a “You can’t be serious!” for good measure.

Trivial or not, I so needed this—to feel normal. This is what girls my age were supposed to be doing—staying up late to talk about things that didn’t really matter. But then, if I were normal, maybe I would care about who slept with who, or even who was way too cute to be smoking now. I tried to picture myself as the average teenage girl (I left Jasmine to extol the physical virtues of David Beecher, our school’s star running back and resident alpha male; she hardly needed my input for that). How much different would I be? Well, first off, I would have a car—no more creepy bus rides alongside old guys with gap-toothed grins that always sat too close. And I would have friends too, lots of friends—enough that I wouldn’t ever have to worry about where to sit for lunch. Maybe I would even be popular, maybe homecoming queen—okay, I would never be that girl, but a boyfriend might be nice…

“Ana…? Are you even listening to me?”

“Oh, sorry. I guess I kinda dazed off—“

“Thinking about Erick, I bet! Girl, if you’d put some effort into it, boys like that might notice you.”

“Effort? Like what?”

“Like maybe a skirt or a tight little pair of jeans that shows off those curves? Something to remind people that you’re a girl? I mean sweat pants are comfortable around the house but come on…"

She wasn’t exaggerating. My entire wardrobe consisted of sweat pants and t-shirts in the summer, and sweat pants and sweatshirts in the winter. Obviously, if it were up to me, I’d have nicer clothes—at least normal ones. But then, what was up to me? Even my bedroom was my mother's design, and it reeked terribly of old person. Who has pictures of cacti on their bedroom wall?

"Jaz? Can I ask you something?”

“What’s up?”

“Do you think I’m pretty? I mean, if you were a guy, would I be somebody you’d maybe wanna ask out?”

“Hells yeah! I mean, sure you dress like a forty-year-old alcoholic… Kidding! But seriously, you’ve got a super cute face and those eyes! Make sure you’re an organ donor, cause if something happens to you, not that I want it to, but if it did, donate those eyes to me!”

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