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Authors: Cynthia Blair

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Crazy in Love

BOOK: Crazy in Love
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CRAZY IN LOVE
Cynthia Blair

 

Chapter 1

 

There may be no such place as never-never land, but
there is a place called New York
City, where all kinds of
crazy things can happen.

When I was growing up in Boston,
during the first fifteen years of my life, I thought New York
was just another city, like Cleveland or San Francisco or
Dallas. But then my father’s company offered him a
promotion.  Being the loyal corporate executive that he
is, he eagerly followed golden opportunity, even though it
meant dragging his family away from the place they’d
always called home.

After just a few short weeks I could see that I’d been wrong about New York. My new school, the
neighbors in the thirty-story building that my family moved
into, even the people I passed on the street—well, it
didn’t
take long for me to realize that New York is magic.

All that happened two years ago. A lot has happened
since the Spooner family made the big move away from
New England. I made some great new friends, went
out on my first date, and decided that what I want most out
of life is to become a songwriter. I began to think I’d become so cosmopolitan and sophisticated that nothing
could faze me anymore. But then something so exciting, so beautiful, so absolutely
romantic,
happened that I decided
that no matter how much living you do, no matter how
much you’re exposed to, there is always the possibility of witnessing something so unexpected that you go back to believing in Peter Pan and Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy
all over again.

I suppose it’s important to mention right at the beginning
that the eye-opening experience I’m referring to didn’t happen
to me, but to my very best friend in the whole wide
world, Rachel Glass. Yes, I know. The first thing anyone ever notices about Rachel and me is the weird combination of our names. Rachel Glass and Sallie Spooner. We sound like
characters in a children’s book about kitchen utensils.
Despite our last names, however, we don’t share many
similarities. At least on the outside. Underneath it all, deep down where it really counts, Rachel and I are so much alike
that I sometimes think that if there’s such a thing as
reincarnation, we must have been twins in another life.

But since we seem so different on the surface,
it took me a while to discover that Rachel and I’d
been cut from the same mold. When we first met each other,
I didn’t even like her. I was a junior in high school, and it’s funny to think that if I hadn’t twisted my ankle on the stairs
of the subway station at 59
th
Street and Lexington
Avenue, I probably would never have come into contact
with the girl who ended up becoming my blood sister.

Maybe I should go back to the beginning. About a year ago, when I was just starting my junior year of high school,
I fell down the stairs of the
subway station on my way home from seeing the latest
movie at the Coronet, one of the theaters right across the
street from Bloomingdale’s, with my younger sister, Jenny.
It had been a wonderful day, one of those brisk, bustling
Saturdays when the city had just started coming back to life after a dull summer. It must have been a couple of weeks after Labor Day, because school had just gotten
going again.

Anyway, I was dragging Jenny down the steps of the
station, my mind half caught up in the film I’d just seen and
half obsessed with getting us both home on time. It was
late, later than it should have been, because Jenny and I’d
gotten so involved in a record sale at Alexander’s that we’d missed the two o’clock show and ended up waiting around
for the four o’clock. Mom would be worried, I knew; she
had never really adjusted to New York and was still
constantly afraid that we would be kidnapped off the streets
and smuggled away to South America or something. She
truly is a New Englander at heart and always will be, I
suppose.

All this may seem irrelevant, but it does prove that I had a good reason for being so distracted that I didn’t notice
that the set of steps I was running down continued on after
stopping at a platform. I turned the corner, and the next
thing I knew, I was sprawled across the concrete floor. It
didn’t take long for a small crowd to form. I don’t know if
those people were sympathetic, or if they were merely
annoyed that someone’s body was blocking their
way.

At any rate, I was so embarrassed by the whole thing that
I felt absolutely no pain until a little old man helped me to
my feet with all the gallantry of an English nobleman. It
was then that I just went ahead and forced all my weight on my left foot, prepared to continue on my way with at least some dignity.

Instead, I fell
to my knees in a way that was just as dramatic and just as mortifying
. If it hadn’t been for Jenny’s strong shoulder, I don’t know how I ever would have gotten back up those stairs and into a taxi. For all I know, I might still be lying on the
subway platform, a bother to all the commuters
hurrying toward the Number Six train or the pretzel stand
a few feet away.

To make a long story short, it turned out that my accident was more frightening and more embarrassing than damaging. Once my mother recovered from her initial shock and stopped throwing those I-told-you-New-York-was-no-place-
to-raise-two-teenage-girls looks at my father, she talked
Dr. Brooks, the husband of one of her friends, into making
a Saturday-night house call. He poked
around for a few minutes, ignoring agonized look on my face, then concluded that it was nothing more than a mild
sprain.

Of course I was relieved. The idea of
spending the first few weeks of school in a cast, hobbling
around on crutches and developing shoulders like a football player, had been worrying me all along. 

Once I realized that there was no real harm done and that,
according to Dr. Brooks, all I had to do was keep off my
foot for a few days and then avoid strenuous exercise for a
few weeks, I was able to enjoy my new role of invalid.
Jenny did all kinds of nice things for me, things that she
never would have tolerated otherwise. She would put a
stack of my favorite records on the stereo in my bedroom, then come back a few hours later to replace it. She went down to the bookstore the Monday after my fall to pick up some
light reading for me, something that wouldn’t tax my poor
traumatized brain. She even offered to check in with my
teachers to see what I would be missing during my brief
vacation from school, but I told her that
wouldn’t be necessary. I knew here’d be
enough of that once things got back to normal
.

Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever, and it wasn’t long
before I was pronounced well enough to go back to school. The one limitation was that I skip gym class for at least a month. This was good news
, since I’ve never been particularly fond of anything that requires moving any
more than two muscles at a time. So while I pretended to be distraught for the sake of my gym teacher, Ms. Mead, I was secretly thrilled.

But another result
was that my entire schedule of classes was
rearranged. I was transferred into a gym class that met
during last period so I could go home earlier each day
to rest my foot. And that’s how my chemistry
class was changed from seventh period to first period.

My revised schedule didn’t require much of an adjustment, since
most of my teachers were the same as they’d
been under my original schedule. What was different was
the group of kids in my classes. When I limped into my new chemistry class on my first day back at school, I found that I’d
been paired off with a lab partner I’d never even heard
of, much less met. All I knew about her was her name and the fact that she kept notes in a fabric-covered notebook in an extremely neat handwriting. She even went so far as to
underline the important points with a red pen! It
was for this reason, trivial as it may seem, that I took an instant dislike to Rachel Glass. Anyone who was that
conscientious, I figured, couldn’t possibly be my kind of
person.

I suppose I was overreacting, but my distaste for my new
lab partner made me very sour. I imagined all
kinds of terrible things about Rachel, especially that she
was a snob and that she hated me because I was the “new
kid” in the class and I limped and I still had a marked
Boston accent that I couldn’t seem to shake, no matter how
hard I tried to imitate the other kids’ way of talking. It was silly, I know now, and I guess I even knew it then, but
it was still very real. As I get older, I realize more and more
that people don’t always do the most reasonable thing. In
fact, I’d say that much of the time they end up doing
ridiculous things, for reasons that even they don’t understand. And my behavior toward Rachel was the perfect example.

On the very first day of lab, Rachel and I stood hunched together over a Bunsen burner, trying to figure out how the
stupid thing worked. I was mad at her, I guess because I figured that anyone who was so careful about keeping
notes and underlining in red ink should at least
know how to do something as simple as light a Bunsen
burner. The fact that I was as lost as she was seemed
completely irrelevant. All I did was scowl and sigh
deeply, until Dan Meyer, who at the time struck me as
about the cutest boy who’d ever walked the face of the
earth, took pity on us and came over to show us how.

Of course, once we saw him do it, we felt kind of stupid for not being able to figure out such a simple thing ourselves. I would have been ashamed if I hadn’t already resigned myself
to the fact that, at heart, I was a creative person and a
romantic to boot. Therefore, I had no need for pointless
knowledge like the kind that’s handed down in chemistry
classes.

Rachel wasn’t particularly suited to the
scientific life either, I quickly found out. She was talented in
languages, and while she had had as much difficulty as I did lighting a Bunsen burner, she, at least,
could have followed a set of directions if they’d been
printed in Spanish, Russian, or Portuguese.

At the time it seemed as if nothing was going right. Here
Dan Meyer was thinking that we were both complete idiots
, I was cross about my entire situation, my ankle was throbbing, and we still hadn’t gotten started on the actual assignment. We had to start by
boiling water, which was done simply enough by setting up a metal
ring on a stand above the Bunsen burner and putting a Pyrex
beaker of water over the flame. This, at least, my
fellow chemist and I managed to do successfully.

Unfortunately patience has never been one of my virtues.
When a full thirty seconds had passed and the water still
refused to boil, I became frustrated and exclaimed, “This stupid thing isn’t working. What’s wrong with it?” and I
reached for the beaker.

The yelp that followed could probably be heard over in
New Jersey. It wasn’t enough that I had a nonfunctional
foot; now I had to add red fingers to the list of physical dysfunctions. But Rachel pulled me over to the sink even
before the pain had started to register, putting my
hand under cold running water.

Once again my face ended up turning red, redder than my burned fingers. As I looked
over at Rachel, though, expecting her to tell me what a jerk I was, she grinned and said, “Hot glass looks like cold glass, but doesn’t feel the same, claim nine
out of ten users.”

I burst out laughing then, not only because I was relieved
that the ridiculous tension I’d created between was
finally gone, but because I’d just discovered that
Rachel Glass had the most valuable attribute known
to humankind. She had a sense of humor. I think it was then
and there that she and I became best friends.

BOOK: Crazy in Love
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ads

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