Authors: Karen Finneyfrock
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First published in the United States of America by Viking,
an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2013
Copyright © Karen Finneyfrock, 2013
All rights reserved
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA
The sweet revenge of Celia Door / by Karen Finneyfrock.
Summary: Fourteen-year-old Celia, hurt by her parents’ separation, the loss of her only friend,
and a classmate's cruelty, has only her poetry for solace until newcomer Drake Berlin befriends her, comes out to her, and seeks her help in connecting with the boy he left behind.
[1. High schools—Fiction. 2. Schools—Fiction. 3. Revenge—Fiction. 4. Gays—Fiction.
5. Poetry—Fiction. 6. Family life—Pennsylvania—Hershey—Fiction.
7. Hershey (Pa.)—Fiction.] I. Title.
PZ7.F49835Swe 2013 [Fic]—dc23 2011047221
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed
or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For Molly Eleanor Rhoades
× × ×
At fourteen I turned Dark. Now I’m Celia the Dark.
The first day of ninth grade, I walked twenty blocks from my house to Hershey High School in boots so thick, it looked like I grew three inches over the summer. I wore a gray shirt under a black hoodie, which was pulled down so far over my forehead, it met my eyeliner. I swept in through the side entrance, located my locker on the second floor, and used masking tape to hang a sign on the door. It was made of black cardboard and letters cut out of magazines like a ransom note.
Some kids, I’ve been told, come to school to learn. Some come for the social outlet or because they love theatre or football. Most come because it is legally required by the state and, therefore, their parents. I came to Hershey High School for revenge. I didn’t have a specific plan worked out, but I did know this: it would be public, it would humiliate someone, and it would be clear to that someone that I had orchestrated it.
Call me a planet, orbiting a revenge-colored sun.
Or a seed growing in the gray soil of settling the score.
I am a cold drink, retribution for ice cubes,
a meal spicy with payback.
Call me a film reel. Watch to see what I do.
That’s a poem I wrote this summer. I’ve been writing a lot of poetry since I turned Dark.
As I opened my backpack to put books in my locker, the hall swelled with students and the amplified chatter of the first day. That’s when her voice could be heard, sweet and chipper above the rest, a small bird with a sound too big for its body. She pointed to my locker and sang out, “Weirder every year,” as the girls trailing her snickered into their palms.
That’s Sandy Firestone. And if my heart were a crossbow, every arrow would be aiming at her.
× × ×
The sign on my locker read:
CELIA THE DARK.
After securing my locker sign with thick strips of duct tape, I made my way to my first-period class, English. English is more than my favorite subject, it’s my
subject. All other classes are just required credits, but in English, time speeds up, and the bell seems to ring too soon. I’ve always been a reader. I’m usually involved in at least two books, and I love a library the way the swim team loves towels.
I got to class a minute before the bell and took a seat in the last row. On one side of the room, beneath a bank of windows, were two six-foot tables stacked with novels. Already my heart rate was slowing, and a thin smile was forcing its way onto my face. I took out my notebook and a pen, hoping that class would start with the question, “What books did you read over the summer?”
The teacher walked in carrying a coffee cup and took a seat behind his desk. He was only slightly taller than I was, balding, and his pants were wrinkled. Not the romantic character I hoped for in an English teacher, but I wasn’t passing judgment yet.
I was anticipating the bell when a terrible first-day thing happened. Sandy Firestone walked through the door, right behind her best friend and personal tugboat, Mandy Hewton. Yes, their names rhyme. No, this is not a coincidence. In the sixth grade, Mandy went by her full name, Amanda Hewton. In the seventh grade, Amanda climbed the social ladder high enough to score the position of best friend to Sandy and promptly started asking all of our teachers to call her
. Despite her new status, Sandy still treats Mandy more like an assistant than an equal, which is obvious to anyone who knows them.
I’ve known Sandy Firestone since the sixth grade when we both started Hershey Middle School. And by
, I do not mean
. To meet Sandy is to understand instantly that she is taking measurement of you in her mind. Her eyes study you before her lips confirm that she considers you either predator or prey. If she considers you prey, meaning you are an ugly girl or a socially awkward boy, then her mouth forms into a pucker like she might be silently saying the word
. If she fears you might be a predator, a pretty girl who just moved into the school district or a boy who’s smart but uninterested in her, her mouth breaks into a smile wide enough to show two perfect rows of teeth. Sandy did pageants all the way through middle school. That smile got her named Little Miss Derry Township.
Sandy and Mandy plopped down in two open seats on the opposite side of the room, and I tried to force the tiny beads of sweat forming around my hairline back into my skin.
“Ms. Door, hood off please,” were my new English teacher’s first words to me.
Nice to meet you, too, Mr. Pearson.
“Okay, students, welcome to ninth-grade Language Arts. Notice I did not say ‘English class,’ I did not say ‘reading’
or ‘writing class
’ I said ‘Language Arts class’ or ‘L.A.’ for short. In this class, you won’t just be reading books, you will be practicing literary criticism, writing papers, and critiquing one another’s work. We will not treat books as things to be passively read and forgotten, but as texts to be analyzed and understood. The first thing we are going to do is get you into your assigned seats.”
The same groan goes up every time a teacher says “assigned seats.” We groaned the groan.
“Sorry, people, but this is also homeroom, and I don’t want to waste a lot of time with attendance, so we’re going to do this by alphabet.” Oh no. I had been through this before. The last names Door and Firestone are separated by only one letter, and I spent all of eighth-grade English next to Sandy. I could only pray that someone named Susan Edward or David Emanuel was in the classroom. “Cynthia Adams,
.” Mr. Pearson pointed to a chair at the back, right corner of the room and started working his way forward. “Chad Brooks,” he said, “Alicia Brady, Jahlil Cromwell, Anupa Dewan, Celia Door.” He pointed to a seat halfway up the row by the windows. I held my breath.
Come on, Susan Edward.
“Sandy Firestone,” he continued, “here.”
A whole year of Sandy Firestone’s blonde hairs on my desk in English class. Clearly, I had been marked by the gods for torment. I sluggishly dragged my boots over and dropped my backpack loudly on my new desk. “Ms. Door, less attitude please,” Mr. Pearson responded, giving Sandy the perfect opportunity to smirk as she took her seat in front of me. Sandy squealed when Amanda Hewton ended up in the seat next to her, and they high-fived before wiggling their fingers at each other across the aisle.
I tried to concentrate during the rest of class as we received our syllabus and our first book assignment,
To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee. But all I thought about was how my year seemed ruined before it had even started. I opened my notebook and tried to console myself the only way I could.
Maybe this wasn’t all bad,
. Maybe this seating arrangement would help provide me with an opportunity to enact my revenge.