If I Stay
Everyone thinks it was because of the snow. And in a way, I suppose thats true. I wake up this morning to a thin blanket of white covering our front lawn. It isnt even an inch, but in this part of Oregon a slight dusting brings everything to a standstill as the one snowplow in the county gets busy clearing the roads. It is wet water that drops from the skyand drops and drops and dropsnot the frozen kind. It is enough snow to cancel school. My little brother, Teddy, lets out a war whoop when Moms AM radio announces the closures. Snow day! he bellows. Dad, lets go make a snowman.
My dad smiles and taps on his pipe. He started smoking one recently as part of this whole 1950s, Father Knows Best retro kick he is on. He also wears bow ties. I am never quite clear on whether all this is sartorial or sardonicDads way of announcing that he used to be a punker but is now a middle-school English teacher, or if becoming a teacher has actually turned my dad into this genuine throwback. But I like the smell of the pipe tobacco. It is sweet and smoky, and reminds me of winters and woodstoves.
You can make a valiant try, Dad tells Teddy. But its hardly sticking to the roads. Maybe you should consider a snow amoeba.
I can tell Dad is happy. Barely an inch of snow means that all the schools in the county are closed, including my high school and the middle school where Dad works, so its an unexpected day off for him, too. My mother, who works for a travel agent in town, clicks off the radio and pours herself a second cup of coffee. Well, if you lot are playing hooky today, no way Im going to work. Its simply not right. She picks up the telephone to call in. When shes done, she looks at us. Should I make breakfast?
Dad and I guffaw at the same time. Mom makes cereal and toast. Dads the cook in the family.
Pretending not to hear us, she reaches into the cabinet for a box of Bisquick. Please. How hard can it be? Who wants pancakes?
I do! I do! Teddy yells. Can we have chocolate chips in them?
I dont see why not, Mom replies.
Woo hoo! Teddy yelps, waving his arms in the air.
You have far too much energy for this early in the morning, I tease. I turn to Mom.
Maybe you shouldnt let Teddy drink so much coffee.
Ive switched him to decaf, Mom volleys back. Hes just naturally exuberant.
As long as youre not switching me to decaf, I say.
That would be child abuse, Dad says.
Mom hands me a steaming mug and the newspaper.
Theres a nice picture of your young man in there, she says.
Really? A picture?
Yep. Its about the most weve seen of him since summer, Mom says, giving me a sidelong glance with her eyebrow arched, her version of a soul-searching stare. I know, I say, and then without meaning to, I sigh. Adams band, Shooting Star, is on an upward spiral, which, is a great thingmostly.
Ah, fame, wasted on the youth, Dad says, but hes smiling. I know hes excited for Adam. Proud even.
I leaf through the newspaper to the calendar section. Theres a small blurb about Shooting Star, with an even smaller picture of the four of them, next to a big article about Bikini and a huge picture of the bands lead singer: punk-rock diva Brooke Vega. The bit about them basically says that local band Shooting Star is opening for Bikini on the Portland leg of Bikinis national tour. It doesnt mention the even-bigger-to-me news that last night Shooting Star headlined at a club in Seattle and, according to the text Adam sent me at midnight, sold out the place.
Excerpted from If I Stay by Gayle Forman Copyright © 2009 by Gayle Forman . Excerpted by permission of Penguin Group USA. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher
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