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Authors: Emily Adrian

Like It Never Happened

BOOK: Like It Never Happened
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Text copyright © 2015 by Emily Adrian

By Tennessee Williams, from
A Streetcar Named Desire
, copyright © 1947 by The University of the South. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

A Streetcar Named Desire
, by Tennessee Williams. Copyright © 1947, 1953 by The University of the South. Reprinted by permission of Georges Borchardt, Inc. for the Estate of Tennessee Williams. All rights reserved.

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Adrian, Emily.

Like it never happened / by Emily Adrian. pages cm

Summary: As one of The Essential Five theater students at her alternative high school, Rebecca Rivers is preparing to become an actress and enjoying junior year with the perfect boyfriend until life-changing rumors threaten everything.

ISBN 978-0-698-18549-4

[1. Theater—Fiction. 2. Interpersonal relations—Fiction. 3. Teacher-student relationships—Fiction. 4. High schools—Fiction. 5. Schools—Fiction. 6. Family life—Oregon—Fiction. 7. Portland (Or.)—Fiction.] I. Title.

PZ7.1.A27Lik 2015     [Fic]—dc23     2014019390

The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

Version_2

FOR DAN SCHILLINGER,
BEST FRIEND I'VE EVER HAD

Contents

TITLE PAGE

COPYRIGHT

DEDICATION

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 14

CHAPTER 15

CHAPTER 16

CHAPTER 17

CHAPTER 18

CHAPTER 19

CHAPTER 20

CHAPTER 21

CHAPTER 22

CHAPTER 23

CHAPTER 24

CHAPTER 25

CHAPTER 26

CHAPTER 27

CHAPTER 28

CHAPTER 29

CHAPTER 30

CHAPTER 31

CHAPTER 32

CHAPTER 33

CHAPTER 34

CHAPTER 35

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

CHAPTER 1

I
t wasn
'
t like he begged me to sit shotgun in his ancient station wagon. Mr. McFadden only offered me a ride home because I happened to be backstage looking for a taxidermied puffin. Two weeks earlier, during curtain call for
The Seagull,
Mr. McFadden had placed the puffin in my arms instead of something normal, like roses. The whole audience had laughed. It was somehow funnier for being the wrong kind of bird.

Afterward I had been so excited for the cast party, I had forgotten to take it home. But now, on the last day of tenth grade, I wanted the puffin. As a souvenir.

Mr. McFadden was crouched behind his desk packing old props into boxes. He didn't hear me push through the stage doors.

“Have you seen my puffin?” I asked.

Startled, he toppled backward, which was strangely satisfying to watch. Running his hands through his hair, he sighed. “I was about to toss it with the rest of this stuff nobody has any use for.” He set aside a broken typewriter and a tambourine and produced my puffin, half crushed.

“I have a use for it,” I said.

Mr. McFadden stared at me clutching the dead bird to my chest and shook his head, like he didn't even want to know. He hoisted a box into his arms. “Help me carry these to the car and I'll give you a ride.”

I hesitated. I was buzzing with that feeling you get exactly once per year, on the last day of school. In an hour I had to be home for my mother's birthday dinner and I wanted to walk with my friends. We were going to get Slurpees for the first time since January, when Charlie had calculated that we had spent a collective $588 on them since the start of the school year. To combat our addiction, we had sworn off Slurpees until summer.

“Unless you have something else you have to do.” Mr. McFadden raised his eyebrows.

I opened my mouth to explain the situation, but stopped. Because wondering about Mr. McFadden's personal life was one of our favorite group activities. The Essential Five might forgive me for missing Slurpee day, but they would never forgive me for missing the opportunity to see inside our director's car. They would want to know everything—whether there was garbage on the floor, music on the stereo, evidence of a girlfriend or boyfriend. I zipped the puffin into my backpack, grabbed a box, and followed Mr. McFadden to the staff parking lot.

His car was faded red, except for one brown door, and probably older than I was. Maybe even older than my sister. Flattened Starbucks cups littered the floor, and one of those tree-shaped air fresheners hung from the mirror.

I buckled my seat belt and waited for the speakers to betray him. What if they played something awful, like Barbra Streisand, or Creed? Even more startling would be something truly good. In my sister's old room I had recently discovered an acoustic Nirvana album and realized that Kurt Cobain was not just for boys with bad taste in T-shirts. If Mr. McFadden listened to something as hauntingly good as acoustic Nirvana, I wouldn't even know what to think.

Only we weren't moving. Mr. McFadden looked pained and on the cusp of confession. He stayed quiet so long, my pulse started to race.

Finally he said, “You have to lift your butt up.”

My cheeks promptly burst into flames. “What?”

My director took a deep breath. “When the car was designed in 1987, it came equipped with several innovative safety features, including the ignition's refusal to turn when the passenger seat is occupied, but the seat belt unbuckled.”

“My seat belt is buckled,” I pointed out.

He nodded. “Sometime in the last twenty-five years, the car got confused, and now it only knows that you're here. It can no longer sense that you are safely buckled.”

I stared at him, wishing I could take this sort of thing in stride. “You've had the same car for twenty-five years?”

“It was my mother's car first.”

I remained planted to the seat until he released a small sigh. “Everyone has to do it,” he said.

As our director, Mr. McFadden was so sarcastic and short-tempered, he was like a character himself—one that happened to dominate every rehearsal of every play. But right now, he was approximately as awkward as any of my friends.

I lifted my butt off the seat. Mr. McFadden started the engine and threw the car into gear. “I would get it fixed,” he said, turning onto Hawthorne Boulevard, “but my mechanic said it would cost more than the car is worth. You can sit down now.”

I sank.

We drove ten blocks in silence. No music played, which was disappointing. I searched for something to say, but my brain was now incapable of processing anything besides
You have to lift your butt up
.

“So,” he said, eventually, “are you excited to attend the Shining Stars Summer Camp for Performing Arts?”

I groaned. In February, Mr. McFadden had convinced me and Charlie to apply for jobs at a theater camp in eastern Oregon. It had seemed reasonable at the time—like a good, wholesome commitment on behalf of our future selves. But now that we were our future selves, I wished we could stay in the city with the rest of the Essential Five. As long as we were all together, it was easier to ignore the way my heart hammered every time Charlie came near me.

“I'm kind of nervous,” I admitted.

“It will look good on your résumé,” he said for the millionth time.

“Uh-huh. Special skills: changing sheets on bunk beds, late-night kitchen raids. Broadway will be so impressed.”

He rolled his eyes. “I meant for college.”

“Maybe I don't want to go to college.” In my head, my mother gasped, causing me to remember her birthday. We were stopped at a red light. A sign in a convenience store window said
FRESH-CUT FLOW
ERS
.

“You can let me off here,” I said abruptly.

“Do you live here?” asked Mr. McFadden.

“No, but I want to buy some flowers.”

“Oh.” He shrugged and slid into a parking space. “I don't mind waiting.”

The store sold mostly instant noodles and cat litter, but by the cash register sat a bucket of fresh lavender. I grabbed a fistful. The flowers were cheap and ordinary, but I thought my mom might appreciate the gesture. She was a big fan of gestures.

The second I got back into the car, the smell of the lavender was very strong and I was suddenly self-conscious, like I was the thing that smelled.

“It's my mother's birthday,” I explained.

“How old is she?” asked Mr. McFadden.

“Fifty-six,” I said.

He looked surprised. “Really? Mine too.”

“How old are you?” The question just kind of slipped out. Maybe because I was practically high on last-day-of-school euphoria.

Mr. McFadden's shoulders stiffened. I remembered that he was my teacher. “Sorry,” I said. “Pretend I didn't ask that.”

I didn't much care, anyway. He looked about thirty, but I'm bad with age.

BOOK: Like It Never Happened
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