Authors: Ann Dee Ellis
Copyright © 2009 by Ann Dee Ellis
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced,
distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written
permission of the publisher.
Little, Brown and Company
Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
Visit our Web site at
First eBook Edition: March 2009
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental
and not intended by the author.
To my little Van, who was born with this book.
On my street.
A white van drives by. And then a red car and I know the lady in the red car.
Her name is Norma and she is big. BIG.
But I don’t look at all her fat. I look at her face. Like when she came over to give Mom a bill that had gotten in her mailbox
by mistake and said, “So how are you, young lady?”
I said, “I’m fine.” And I smiled.
Then we stood there. I scraped some mud off the metal plate on the door frame with my fingernail. She stood there.
“How’s your mother?”
That’s when I looked at Norma’s face again and she had a gigantic mole that I hadn’t really had time to look at closely before.
There was a hair in it.
“Does she need anything?”
The hair was long. But not that long because I hadn’t noticed it before. And it was blackish brown like Norma’s hair-ball
“Can I come in and see her?”
No, you cannot see my mom. No, you can’t, you fat fat lady with a red car and no cats.
“I don’t think so,” I said.
And instead of saying, “Oh, that’s all right. I’ll come over later,” Norma put her hand on my cheek.
It took up almost my entire face. “Poor poor thing. You poor dear little thing.” Her hand was hot and wet and smelled like
Oreos or honey.
I stood there holding very still because I didn’t know what to do. Finally she pulled away and said, “You and me are going
to be friends.”
So I said, “I have to go make a sculpture,” and then I slammed the door like on TV.
But I didn’t lean against the door after I slammed it like on TV.
Out my window I can see Colby Dean’s boat. It’s just in their driveway and it says “Dean Machine” on the side with an orange
stripe and it’s bigger than their Suburban. Colby isn’t outside today but he was yesterday.
I saw him.
He was out in the yard mowing the grass, and once, before Dad was gone, when I got to mow the grass, I ran over a snake.
“It’s just a field snake,” Colby had said when I showed him.
So I picked it up and threw it at him and he yelled and swore and told me to get away away from him and that I’m a sicko.
He came over later and I had the snake in a box and we got a knife and some matches and some fishing line to do experiments.
First we opened the head with the steak knife but it was hard because the knife was old.
“You have to saw it. You can’t just push down,” Colby said.
“Okay,” I said, but I could have just pushed down probably.
So I started to saw but I didn’t want to saw too hard because I wanted to see the brain.
I sawed and sawed very carefully and slowly to preserve the brain and Colby was getting mad. “Go faster. This is taking all
I almost said for him to do it but we had already had a fight and I didn’t want him to go home.
Colby didn’t used to be this bossy.
I sawed and sawed and then it opened. The brain wasn’t really there. I couldn’t find a brain.
“Who cares about the dumb brain?” Colby said.
So then we stuck the fishing line in a needle and we put it through the head and then we put the line through the tail and
made a necklace.
We were both kneeling over the snake on the hot cement when Mr. Grobin with the belly and ketchup walked up. “What’re you
The sun was bright behind his head and you couldn’t really see his face except for the sweat drips that slowly went into balls
and glistened before they fell to the ground. “You kids should know better.”
“Those snakes keep critters away.”
“I better not catch you doin’ stuff like this again. You hear me?”
Colby nodded his head. I just didn’t do anything.
And then he walked away.
“This is stupid,” Colby said. And he left.
The snake is on my wall — dried up — and sometimes I wear it as a necklace when I’m putting my clothes away or hiding in the
closet or doing anything.
I wish Colby was outside right now.
This morning I ate thirteen marshmallows.
I put them in the microwave first for thirty seconds and watched them.
Then I got them out and they were on a plate and I ate them with chopsticks.
A fly was buzzing around the kitchen.
I tried to catch it with my chopsticks.
That’s when the marshmallows got hard again and stuck to the plate.
I put them back in the microwave and then I saw Colby out on the boat with his dad.
I opened the window. “Colby! Colby!”
He kept helping his dad and not saying anything back.
“Colby! Colby!” His dad looked up and said something to him. Colby shook his head and his dad said something else.
The microwave dinged and I heard Mom groan in the next room.
9:15. She needed her pills.
But Colby was getting off his boat and walking over.
I hurried to get the pills and the sorbet out for Mom.
She groaned again and then the fly was back buzzing all over and then it landed right on my face.
I hit it hard but I only got my face.
“Mazeline,” I heard my mom say, and then Colby was at my window.
“What?” he said.
“What what?” I said.
“What do you want?”
“Why were you yelling my name?”
“Were too. My dad heard it.”
“Oh. I was going to see if you wanted some marshmallows.”
He looked in better and I said, “They’re in the microwave.”
Then Mom really said it loud. “Mazzy!”
Colby took a step back. “Was that your mom?”
I didn’t answer him. Instead I did a karate chop at him but the screen was blocking.
I did another karate chop and Colby said really fast, “I’m supposed to see if you want to go to the lake.” He wasn’t looking
at me. He was trying to look for my mom. But no one gets to see my mom.
I said, “Okay.”
And then I killed the fly on the wall with a super karate chop.
Colby said to meet him outside in a half hour.
And then he left.
The marshmallows were hard when I got back from Mom’s bedroom and I had to throw away the plate.
We only have four plates left.
One lady comes over and her name is Mrs. Peet and she is with Family Services.
I say, “Oh.”
“Can I come in?”
“Why not, honey?”
“Why are you here?” I say, and I almost burp too but I swallow it.
“This is the Roanys, correct?”
“Okay. Well, I’m just here to check on things. May I come in?”
“Come on, honey.”
“Because we are quarantined.”
“We have a very contagious virus going through this house and we are not allowed to let anyone in.”
Mrs. Peet is not fat like Norma.
She is skinny and has on a tight shirt that shows the tops of her boobs.
I look at them.
“Honey, I need to come in.”
“Not today,” I say. “Sorry, too dangerous.”
She taps her toe and looks at her watch and then she says, “You know what? It’s your lucky day because this is obviously going
to take more time than I have. I’m leaving now but I’ll be here Wednesday at noon.” She tucks her clipboard in her big bag
and turns around.
I think about saying, “Whatever, booby,” but instead I just watch her walk away.
there is a show about swimsuits for big butts.
Oprah has a big butt.
I think my butt is regular but I still watch the show.
I like swimming.
I see the red car again, and this time there is a man in it and that man is named Mr. Grobin who had said he better not see
me doing that again to snakes.
Mr. Grobin and Norma drive by, and Norma waves her globs of arm fat out the window.
“Hello, Norma!” I yell, and I do a princess wave back to her.
I feel bad I slammed the door on her that one time.
I don’t wave to Mr. Grobin.
I hope they don’t have babies.
A baby with that hairy mole would be a very sad baby.
When Dad left, he told me, “Anything but the art room.”
“Leave your Mother’s art room alone, Maz. That’s the only place that is off limits.”
He said he’d only be gone a week, but then it was two weeks and then three. He came home for a day but then he was gone again.
So I say Mom’s art room is
One thing about that room is I haven’t been in there so it smells dark.
I open the curtains and the windows.
I put all the stuff that was out in the corner and mop the floor with the orange spice cleanser that she would always use.
I put the easels away and I bring in the power fan from the front room.
Then I get out her blue painting, the one with the three of us: me, Olivia, and her.
I get it out and put it in the middle of the back wall instead of the
Then I watch the painting.
I am going to start my own art studio and do whatever I want.
E IN THE ART STUDIO DOING WHATEVER
: Oils On Canvas
THE DEAN MACHINE
This is not my first invitation to ride on the Dean Machine.
This is my second.
“Is your mom okay with this?” Mr. Dean asks.
“Uh-huh,” I say, and I take off my shirt.
I am wearing Mom’s old bikini. It sags on me but I tied it in back.
Colby starts laughing. Colby’s mom looks back from the passenger seat and says, “Colby, please.”
I just wear the bikini and sit by Colby on the way to the lake.
“I didn’t want you to come,” Colby whispers. His face has freckles all over it and his feet stink because he just took off
“Because I could take only one friend and I was going to take Randy.”
He stops talking because there are speed bumps and we scream when we go over speed bumps.
I wish there was a cemetery too. You have to hold your breath when you go by cemeteries and then Colby would have to say:
We pick up two people on the way: a man with hair coming out his shirt and a lady.
They sit by me and Colby so we have to share a seat belt because they are big people.
Colby says, “This is disgusting,” under his breath. Our arms are touching and our thighs. It’s not THAT disgusting. I think
he likes it.
The man says to me, “Hi, I’m Henry.”
“Oh, sorry, this is Colby’s friend Mazzy,” Mrs. Dean says, and Henry shakes my hand but it’s hard to shake hands because he’s
squished against me.
The girl is wearing a bikini too but hers isn’t saggy. Her boobs are big. They are bigger than Mrs. Peet’s.
No one says what her name is.
Colby looks out the window.
At the lake Mrs. Dean buys us snow cones while Mr. Dean and Henry and the bikini girl, who I found out is Mrs. Dean’s sister
and is named Dixie, buy a permit, and back up the boat.