I don’t often give trigger warnings, but I also don’t usually post about books like these. This one is full of toxic masculinity that doesn’t necessarily get much better by the end. So this is kind of read at your own risk territory–and here’s a quick excerpt to help you decide!
Excerpt: Chapter 3
I woke up the next morning—still on a Sharon Martin high— and asked Mom if I had an appointment with the doctor. The pain was in full effect and I came to the conclusion that this cast was designed for ultimate discomfort. The way it took up most of my arm, locking it in a pathetic L-shape. The pressure had my shoulder aching, my elbow cramped, and it had only been a day. Basically, I felt like a little whiny bitch.
The orthopedist was able to fit me in at 11 a.m. My mom let me skip school for the day to take it easy and see how the appointment would go—I liked this sympathy. My mind wandered to Sharon again on the car ride. The way she massaged my shoulders before she leaned in and kissed me, her cinnamon scented neck, her thick blond hair tickling my chin. All a solid memory to distract from whatever news I’d get from the doctor. I shut my eyes and exhaled.
We pulled into the doctor’s office parking lot and Mom dropped me in front of the building before attempting to find a spot in this overpopulated, crammed town. She was always worried about being late, and she’d probably have to circle the lot five times before a space opened up.
“I’ll meet you inside. Don’t go in to see the doctor without me,” she said. She loved to treat my brother and me like little kids. Maybe Chad needed it because he couldn’t leave the house without forgetting something half the time—like his lacrosse stick when he went to lacrosse practice, or his homework assignments sitting on the kitchen table when he went to school. But my personal favorite was when he forgot Dove when his intention was to take her to the dog park.
I scanned the directory board inside the double doors. North Shore Orthopedics, Dr. Kenneth Kalad—second floor.
There was a girl with short bleached hair and purple streaks standing in front of the elevator. Her sweater with cutouts down the arms gave glimpses of smooth, pale skin, but it covered most of her faded jeans, which were tucked inside a pair of boots with chunky buckles up the sides. She was scribbling in a book with bleeding flowers on the cover. When she saw me out of the corner of her eye, she closed the book and tucked it under her arm, keeping her head pointed at the floor. I stared at her, but she didn’t even glance up.
The elevator doors opened and we both stepped inside. She pressed the “3” button with a chewed black fingernail. When she didn’t ask which floor I wanted, I pushed “2” with my good arm. I focused on her. She focused on the floor.
“You don’t care about my floor needs in this crippled state?” I joked as the doors shut.
She looked up and laughed, like one short exhale. “Sorry,” she said, pushing some strands of hair behind her left ear, exposing at least eight hoop earrings.
Her bright green eyes were outlined in heavy black makeup. I traced my gaze down her face to her chest. A cool necklace hung against her collarbone—half of a clock, with the hands pointing to the half that wasn’t there. It kind of reminded me of football, waiting for halftime where the game could go in a to- tally different direction, but that probably wasn’t what it meant. My eyes traveled up to the side of her face again.
Yeah, she was definitely hot. But kind of in a surprising way—like an “I don’t even know why I’m looking at her” sort of way. I mean, I didn’t usually go for artsy-emo-type girls. But there was this strange sad look on her face—the corners of her lips turned down, a droopy tiredness in her eyes. You wouldn’t think that would draw you to someone, but it made me curious about her. Like, what had her so preoccupied that she couldn’t smile or flirt with me?
“I like your necklace,” I said, willing her to look at me again.
She glanced up, shoulders tense, and grabbed the chain in her hand, before looking at the floor again and quietly saying, “Thanks.”
The doors opened on the second floor. I watched her for a beat longer before stepping out of the elevator. It was like she couldn’t wait for me to leave.
Then just as the doors began to shut behind me, she said, “Hope your arm feels better.”
“Okay,” I said, turning back around. “Take care.”
Take care? It was like I couldn’t remember who I was or why I was even in this building. Why didn’t she have the normal reaction girls had toward me? I guess I couldn’t totally blame her—she (and my wrist) had me way off my game.
About the Author:
Shay Siegel is from Long Island, New York. She is a Tulane University graduate with a B.A. in English, and former member of the women’s tennis team. She has an MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Shay currently lives in Charleston, South Carolina with her boyfriend, Pat, and their giant-headed rescue dog, Bernie.
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