To celebrate the first year anniversary of Evernight Teen, which has worked so hard to get my best friend's book published, I am hosting a spotlight on her book and helping spread the word about this publishing company.
This is an excerpt from The Tearings by V.C Repetto, published by Evernight Teen:
The guy sitting at the next table coughed. It was an ugly, wet sound that made me look up from the exam sheet in front of me.
Fabulous. Last thing I needed was to get sick before the swim match.
He sniffed and wiped his nose with his stiff, already less-than-fresh sleeve, then lowered his hand back to his pencil and paper. Too bad for the person who’d have to pick that particular test sheet up.
Okay, back to the nonsense that would decide if I passed sophomore year or if I had to have “loser” tattooed to my forehead.
Sighing, I looked at the word problem. It was a geometry question, one of those that made no real sense except in the wonky world of math and I’d already read it through at least three times. It still sounded like gibberish.
I glanced up at the rest of the sophomores, all bent over their own papers. Even Lisa, a row ahead of me, looked like she was trying to disarm an atomic bomb.
Standardized tests on a Friday morning, when all anyone could think of was being free to drool on our pillows until Saturday afternoon, at the earliest, was an interesting form of torture.
I glanced down my Scantron. I hadn’t bubbled in a B for a while.
Ms. Cadiz’s voice rang in my head, admonishing about the horrors of guessing, about the complicated fractions of point subtractions. Whatever. If I left it blank, I might forget and bubble everything wrong.
Without another thought, I shadowed in B and moved on to the next wordy nightmare.
“How was it?”
I grabbed my gym bag from my locker. “Evil. That’s how it was.”
“Yeah, there were some questions I left blank,” Lisa said.
“I just hope I passed. My mom will have a stroke if I don’t.” Slinging the bag over my shoulder, I leaned against the cool locker door, feeling the aluminum like a sheet of ice against my back.
“Well, she did try to get you that tutor.”
“I don’t think anything would have prepared me for some of those questions. I’m pretty sure I got the test that was in Russian or something.”
She smiled. “You can tell your mom that. I’m sure she’ll believe it.”
“No, but I really was distracted. There was a guy coughing up a hairball next to me.”
“It’s probably whatever is going around the school, the flu, or something, but I don’t want to even think of getting sick.” I grabbed Lisa’s arm and started to lead the two of us to the gym. There was a large crowd of students still exiting the cafeteria where we’d had the exam, each one with varying levels of fear sketched on their faces.
“You can still swim if you’re sick.”
“Not at a state championship. Mr. Grason will never let me even get on the bus.”
“It was just a kid coughing, will you stop worrying? You’ll be fine.”
I arched an eyebrow at her. “You’re a fortune teller now?”
“No, I just know you have paranoid tendencies.”
I laughed and pulled the gym door open. “I hope you’re right. Otherwise I’m coughing all over your lunch tray.”
“You’re so gross,” she muttered, following me into the sweet and tangy smell of the school gym.
“If I can’t go to the match, you can’t, either.”
Mom was waiting at the kitchen table when I finally made it home enveloped in a chlorinated cloud. It was so much the norm for me that I barely smelled it anymore, but I knew it could curl unprepared noses.
There were so many questions on her face and she was pulling on her shirt like she did when she was about to leap out of her skin.
“It was fine,” I said, before she exploded with anxiety.
“Do you think you passed? No, I don’t know if I want to know. If you’re held up a year, then you’ll have trouble getting scholarships and−”
“Mom, chill. Geez, I love the faith you have in me.”
“Maya, you and I both know math is not your forte.”
“Okay, but it’s not like, kryptonite or something.”
Mom sighed and stood. “I know I’m exaggerating, but I want you to do well.”
I smiled. I really should have been used to this by now. After all, it’ll always been just the two of us, a household of semi-insane females.
“There’s eggplant lasagna in the oven; it’ll be ready in a few minutes.”
“Yum. It’s completely vegetarian?”
“Yes, Maya. I was really tempted to get the beef one, though, and pass it off as meat-free.”
“I didn’t. This one is the nice, boring vegetable variety.”
Putting my back-pack and gym bag down, I grabbed two placemats and dropped them on the kitchen table, a rickety, ancient thing that was small enough for us to have to squeeze our glasses in between our plates. We’d tried eating at the dining room, but it felt strange in there, with so much space around us we actually lost the salt shaker once. Actually lost it in the tablecloth dunes.
Okay, mom wasn’t the only one who had a penchant for exaggeration.
“How was work?”
“Oh, it was glorious. Norman was out sick so the office was so quiet! He really should be sick more often.”
I snorted. “As a social worker, aren’t you supposed to have, like, compassion for your fellow human beings? You can’t just walk around wishing people sick.”
“Norman’s a pain.”
Laughing, I set the rest of the table.
“Actually, there’s something going around, I think.” Her face tightened. “Are you taking your vitamin C tablets? Your Echinacea?”
“Yes, mom. I’m taking them all. You’ll probably find me one of these days sprawled on the floor, yellow and dead from a vitamin C overdose.”
“It keeps you healthy. We also should get your flu shot one of these days before the season starts.”
I shook my head. “It’s tested on animals.”
“It is not.”
“Yeah, it is. I’m not getting the shot.”
Mom rolled her eyes at me and plopped a serving of lasagna onto my plate. “You can be a real pain sometimes.”
“Oh, like Norman. One of these days you’ll be wishing I get sick so you don’t have to put up with me anymore.”
“Yup, that’s exactly right. Seventeen years with you is quite enough.”
I gasped in mock horror and flung a dinner roll at her, hitting her square on her forehead. My aim was definitely improving.
Monday rolled around and with it, the swim match.
The rain had started the night before and continued, flooding the school parking lot and making the ten of us, the half-asleep swim team, groan as our uniforms started to sag.
“I wasn’t planning on getting wet this early,” Lisa said as we climbed up the bus steps.
“Yeah, I already have a cold,” Trevor said with a sniff. “I’ll probably die in the water. Float right up to the top like a fish.”
“You’re sick? Does Coach Grason know?”
“Do you think I’m retarded? Of course he doesn’t know. And you better not tell him.”
I lowered my bag onto one of the fake leather seats. “I’m not going to say anything, but of you throw up in the pool...”
I grimaced as I sat down, hearing the seat’s wet squelch. Somehow, the rain had found its way inside.
“At least this pool’s one of those warm ones.” Rachael, the team captain, extended her legs along the aisle in a stretch.
“Yeah, the last one was so cold I thought they’d have to use an ice pick to get me out.”
“Which one was the last one?” Lisa asked.
“The one in Jackson High,” I said.
“Right. No, but this one is supposed to be one of those super fancy ones. I mean, it should be, from how annoying their swim team is. You’d think they trained in a gold-rimmed pool.”
Trevor laughed. The sound twisted into a hard cough that hurt my throat just from hearing it. “Do you want an aspirin?”
He shook his head. “I’ve already had four this morning.” He wiped his nose and leaned against the seat. Was it just the light, or were his cheeks flushed?
“Maybe it’s not a great for you to compete today. You’re not looking your best.”
“I’m fine. I just need, like, the largest cup of coffee on Earth.”
Lisa shrugged. “You’ll have to wait until we get back for that.”
Trevor nodded and closed his eyes. I watched him for a few more seconds, then sat back to wait for the bus to finally get going.
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