Read My Senior Year of Awesome Online

Authors: Jennifer DiGiovanni

Tags: #YA, #social issues, #contemporary romance, #teen, #love

My Senior Year of Awesome (10 page)

BOOK: My Senior Year of Awesome
13.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

“Same old,” I say.

“What about you, AK?” Dom asks. “What’d you do? Star Wars Convention?”

I grip the side of the lab table, bracing for Andy’s answer.

“Nope. Just the usual.”

I need to stop worrying about Andy telling everyone we spent the morning together. Obviously, it meant nothing to him. Right now, his biggest concern seems to be decoding Sidh’s handwritten list of homework assignments, ones Andy missed because he took a day off from school last week to check out
MIT
for the millionth time. Probably on the
VIP
tour.

“Lame,” Dom says, slumping back in his chair and yawning. “Sadie, can I see your notes? Cause I need to make sure I’ve got everything down before the test tomorrow.”

He reaches for my three ring binder with all my class outlines printed out, arranged by subject, and highlighted appropriately. Without bothering to wait for my reply, he flips it open and begins taking pictures with his cell phone.

“I need to know what you think is important,” he explains. “Limits my study time.”

For the next forty-three minutes, Andy ignores me, his body as stiff as an extra-long surf board, or perhaps a half-dead person settling into the early stages of rigor mortis. This tempo of silence continues the next day as well. I thought he would at least bring up the fact that I downed four waffles just to get a rise from me. But he doesn’t speak to me or about me at all.

In fact, Andy Kosolowski has the nerve to totally ignore me for the rest of the week.

Of course, I’m beyond happy about it. Relieved, more like it. I’ve got so much else going on, with track, my role as a musical plant, coming up with more crazy achievements before graduation, and schoolwork. Who wants to deal with a temperamental genius?

 

 

***

 

 

After school, I run into Melinda Banner in the girls’ locker room, looking neat and perfect in her basketball uniform. She tugs her auburn hair into a severe ponytail, with not one strand escaping.

“Oh, Sadie, I’ve been meaning to ask you something about the Senior Superlatives,” she says, opening a top-row locker, blocking my view of her face.

I prop my left foot on a bench and pull my laces tighter. “Sure. Whatever.”

“It’s just that I interviewed Cindy and I talked to Andy for my last article, but not you.”

“I guess I’m pretty forgettable.” Sarcasm drips from my voice.

She closes the locker door and shifts her gaze to me. We stare at each other for a long minute. “So. What happened?”

The hair on the back of my neck prickles. “I have no idea.”

She raises an eyebrow. “Andy and Cindy both claimed they had nothing to do with the results. And no one I’ve spoken with off-the-record admits to voting for you. So…”

“So what? You think I fixed it?” I’m aware of the screech in my voice.

“I don’t know. Did you?” she asks, a hint of a smile playing on her lips.

“No. Never. Not at all. And you can quote me on that.”

Her smile widens. “Thanks. Maybe I will.” As she saunters away, I feel sick all over again.

Reeling after the showdown with Melinda, I dog it in practice, running miles behind the rest of the girls. Even Jana laps me three times. She slows to my pace during our last circuit of the day, chatting away the whole time about homework, our weekend plans, and our unachieved list items. Strangely, the person incapable of walking a straight line excels at simultaneously running
and
talking.

“Everything okay?” she asks.

I force hot air out of my lungs with a long, slow breath. “Miranda Banner’s nosing around about the Senior Superlatives.”

“About that, or about Andy?”

I shrug. “She’s a pain in the ass.”

“Everyone else in school has forgotten about it. Does the whole thing with Andy still bother you?”

“No, but she bothers me.”

“Must be a slow news day at Harmony. No one’s Instagrammed an ugly picture of themselves by accident.” We turn down the junior hallway. “Ben mentioned he and Dominic may drive to Philly this weekend for the car show. Do you think it would look obvious if we took the train into the city and happened to run into them?”

I see her mouth moving and hear her voice ringing in the air around me, but my oxygen deprived brain needs fifty more meters to process her suggestion.

“Since we don’t drive and have zero interest in cars, yes,” I answer as we curve around the trash can Coach Jenkins placed in the junior hallway to indicate when we’re permitted to change direction.

“I was thinking it might somehow count as an achievement,” Jana says, somewhat unconvincingly.

“That’s the only reason?”

“Sure.”

She’s holding out, big time. “Is it Dominic?”

“No.”

Then it’s Ben.

“Ben’s cute,” I wheeze, from the bottom of my aching chest.

“He’s alright,” she answers with a noncommittal wave of her hand. Her voice trills, indicating otherwise. Quiet Ben gains a spot on the Jana Rodriguez potential boyfriend scale.

“Did you finish your English paper?” she asks after we round the next corner.

The sore muscles in my neck throb harder when I turn to look at her. “Really? You want to talk about homework?”

“What else are we supposed to do?” she asks, twirling her pony tail around her finger as she ambles along in a slow jog.

“Run,” I pant.

“I can’t just run. It’s soooo boring.”

“More like excruciating. Why are we doing this?”

“Because, chica, we don’t give up!”

“Even though signing up for track might be the stupidest idea we’ve ever had?”

“No, it’s not stupid. We’re not coasting through life anymore. We found a purpose. Set some goals.”

“Right now, my only goal is to remain upright.”

 

 

***

 

 

If Coach Jenkins is like an Army General running boot camp worthy track practices, then Ms. Cutler wins the title Queen of Spazland. When we practice
Little Shop of Horrors
, she jumps from scene to scene, her orangey curls flying in every direction at once. By the end of the night, she’s the one looking like she just ran a marathon. Coach Jenkins barely breaks a sweat, even after two hours of nonstop barking about improper form.

Play practice typically kicks off with Mrs. Bitty on the piano, leading vocal warm-ups. Next, we sing each of the songs as a group.

By the end of these sing-a-longs, I’m usually praying for an escape. The words stick in my head, replaying over and over like worms squiggling through my brain. Ugh.

Since the robotics club has yet to unveil what they promised to be a sexy plant apparatus, (X-rated is not permitted, according to Ms. Cutler, but a limited amount of “sensuousness” is okay), I devote most of my mandatory rehearsal time to hanging backstage with Jana and the stage crew, listening to Leslie and Derek run through various scenes. Derek struggles with memorization, and he repeatedly flubs lines, to everyone’s snickering enjoyment. Everyone, except Ms. Cutler, that is.

“You need to spend some quality time with the script, Derek. Come see me during study hall,” she says. “Mrs. Bitty, take that song again from the top.” Mrs. Bitty’s spine curves over the piano, her nose brushing the sheet music as she squints at the notes. Although her arthritic fingers skip over a good portion of the melody, no one bothers to bring this to her attention. Leslie says when we’re mic’d up during the show no one will hear the accompaniment anyway.

“Thank goodness I don’t have to memorize my lines. I keep a copy of the script offstage,” Jana whispers.

“And thank goodness I just have to stand there and act like a plant,” I say.

“A horrific, man-eating plant.”

“A horrific, man-eating plant bearing a strong resemblance to a glittery head of kale with a diva complex,” I add and we break into laughter. The stage crew guys throw angry glares our way, not wanting to be blamed for our misbehavior.

“Tell me again, Sadie. Why are we doing this?” Jana asks, once we regain our ability to speak.

“Because we can’t graduate to real life without subjecting ourselves to this wonderfully awesome experience!” We do our own version of a fist bump combined with a secret handshake, a series of synchronized hand and finger movements we’ve worked on since kindergarten.

Chapter Thirteen

 

 

Mr. Drum administers his final Driver’s Ed exam on the last Saturday of February. If I pass, Mom promises to let me retake my permit test. After that, I just need to find someone brave enough to spend sixty-five hours in the passenger seat while I practice driving.

The night before the final, I sleep over at Jana’s house, assuming we’ll spend a few hours cramming. What we actually do is flop on her bed in front of a zombie love story, (still scary, though billed as a chick flick) with all of the bedroom lights on and the closet doors open.

Between scenes, we pause the
DVD
and quiz each other on driving laws.

“Friday night studying goes against our principles,” Jana complains.

“I’m all for violation in this case. I can’t deal with one more Saturday morning stuck in class listening to sophomores bragging about the new cars they got for their sixteenth birthdays.”

Jana frowns. “You’re right. At this rate, Colette will be driving before me. She’s already pushing my parents for a car. Baby girl gets everything in this house.”

I’m tempted to remind Jana that her sister shares a bathroom with their younger brother. Totally gross, in my opinion. I’d definitely ask for a car as payback.

“Let’s study.” I crack open our Driver’s Ed manual. “What is the minimum distance allowed between a parked vehicle and a stop sign?”

“Fifteen feet? No, that’s a fire hydrant. Thirty. It’s thirty!” Jana shovels a handful of popcorn in her mouth.

“Ding ding ding! Correct!”

Jana jumps off the bed and slaps the wall, right where her posters of The Vamps and Shawn Mendes used to hang. “We’ve got this! I can’t wait to sleep in on Saturday mornings.”

 

 

***

 

 

The next morning, after Jana and I deflate a stack of pancakes, Mr. Rodriguez offers to drive us to class. He’s not much taller than Jana, a well-trimmed man with jet black hair. Even though he focuses on immigration law at his small firm, on special occasions such as this frosty winter morning, he insists on interrogating his daughter about driving regulations.

“Tell me how long your license will be revoked if you’re caught driving under the influence,” he says as we motor along the side streets of town.

Jana slumps against the side door. “If your last name is Rodriguez? Forever.”

“Longer than a forever,” he says.

“Enough, Father. Mr. Drum showed us tons of pictures of
DUI
crashes. Besides, he’s mainly worried about our driving skills when we’re sober.”

“Texting, then,” Mr. Rodriguez continues in his clipped voice, which still carries a trace of his Cuban heritage. “You kids are transfixed by those screens. Tell me, petunia, what is the penalty for texting while driving?”

“Really bad. I won’t do it. Ever.”

“Yes, because aside from the legal ramifications, you do realize the parental punishment would be significantly worse, am I right?”

“Yes, Father,” Jana answers, with an annoyed sigh.

“That’s my girl. Go get ‘em, daffodil.” Mr. Rodriguez lives to embarrass Jana with his flowery nicknames. He’s been at it for years, and always feigns innocence when she brings the awful habit to his attention. I consider Jana’s mortification as one more reason I’m happy my dad lives on the opposite side of the country—one less person to humiliate me in public.

We follow our fellow non-driving classmates into school. The completion of Driver’s Ed creates a class-wide buzz large enough to rival the effects of a dozen super-sized mocha macchiatos.

“Open your test booklet and begin immediately.” Mr. Drum waves us into the room, as if he, too, is excited to free up our seats in his class.

I speed through thirty multiple-choice questions, circling the correct answers on defensive driving, proper seat belt use, and most efficient steering techniques. Next, I crank out a bunch of true and false answers. Excitement rises in my chest. I know this stuff! Somehow, while I vegged out in class the last six Saturday mornings, the driving code sank into my head.

I zoom through two pages of diagrammed intersections, scrawling arrows to indicate the right of way and correct traffic patterns. (Not necessarily the biggest car first, as I now know).

I turn to the final section. A list! I am so acing this exam.

 

Give five examples of driving distractions and explain how to avoid them.

My responses:

1. Cell phones – turn them off.

2. Loud music – keep it down.

3. Food – resist the call of the McDonald’s drive thru.

4. Putting on makeup – you don’t need to look good when driving.

5. Mr. Drum – because he’s so hot I forgot how to drive.

 

“Jana,” I whisper. At the sound of her name, she rips her eyes from her test, looking frazzled. She must not be doing as well as me. I slide my list to the edge of my desk for her to read before I erase and revise my answers. But Mr. Drum notices my answer-sharing and reaches my seat in three, lightning-fast strides.

“Finished, Miss Matthews?” He yanks the booklet out of my hand. His arm sweeps in front of my face, granting me an eye-level view of his forearm tattoos, an inked assortment of lethal weapons. Like a curved ninja sword. And I think something called a sickle decorates his elbow.

I shrink back into my seat. “Um, not quite. Can I please have my test back, Mr. Drum?”

“No. You’re done now. Everyone else, five minutes. Final grades will be posted next week.” Without bothering to wait for Mr. Drum to discover exactly why I will fail Driver’s Ed, I grab my backpack and run.

Fill It In – February 27th

Top Ten Ways To Screw Up Your Life

 

BOOK: My Senior Year of Awesome
13.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Last of the Sky Pirates by Paul Stewart, Chris Riddell
Flirting With Fortune by Erin Knightley
Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard
In My Wildest Dreams by Leslie Thomas
Simple Prayers by Michael Golding
Jinx by Meg Cabot
Everybody Had A Gun by Richard Prather