Excerpt from Let's Call It a Doomsday by Katie Henry, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Let's Call It a Doomsday

by Katie Henry

Let's Call It a Doomsday by Katie  Henry X
Let's Call It a Doomsday by Katie  Henry
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  • Published:
    Aug 2019, 400 pages

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Catherine M Andronik
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I shouldn't stare at this girl and her loose, long, wavy hair, the color of an old penny. And scraggly at the tips, like it hasn't been cut in a while. She's in faded jeans and a navy hoodie that's way too big for her. It engulfs her torso and hides her hands. Her feet are tucked under her legs. I wonder if she's even wearing shoes.

And as I'm standing there, staring, the girl in blue opens her eyes.

I squeak and stumble back.

She smiles, big and broad, like we're best friends reunited. "Hi," she says, and the way she says it, it's clear she remembers me, even if I can't remember her.

"I'm sorry," I say, and don't even know for what. For staring at her? For forgetting her name? "Do we—how do I know you?"

She tilts her head. "You don't know me," she says. "Not yet."

This is how serial-killer shows start. In five network-TV minutes, a grizzled detective is going to find my corpse by a drainage pipe, strangled with a navy blue sweatshirt.

The girl's still smiling. It's like she doesn't even know I'm internally debating whether she's a criminal mastermind. I have to say something. Anything. Anything not about murder.

I clear my throat. "Um. What?"

She opens her mouth, but closes it fast as we hear high heels clipping down the hallway. Martha appears in the waiting door almost inhumanly fast. She looks at the girl in blue, then at me. Her serene mask, the nonjudgmental face she wears in our sessions, vanishes. Only for a second.

Martha looks back at the girl in blue. "You're very early." She pauses, awkwardly, like she swallowed a word.

The girl gets to her feet. She is, in fact, wearing shoes. "I walked, and it didn't take as long as I thought it would."

"We'll start now," she says to the girl. She flicks her eyes to me. "See you next week."

Martha starts to usher the girl through the door. The girl glances back at me as she goes. "See you sooner than that."

She grins. Martha shuts the door behind them. I stand in the empty waiting room alone.

If we were in a session, Martha would ask me to name what I'm feeling right now. It's easier to do inside my head than out loud.

Confused. Intrigued. Nervous, as always.

I can name Martha's feelings, too, the ones on her face when the mask dropped. Surprised. Wary. Maybe even scared.

I can't do that for the girl in blue, because I don't know her.

I don't know her, but I think I will.

Two

I TAKE THE bus straight home. I'd rather have walked, but it's Monday, and Monday means family home evening. So I squeeze myself onto a packed 51A bus. Wedged between a pack of middle school kids drawing boobs on the wall and an elderly man who clearly regrets having chosen the back row, I think about the girl in blue.

You don't know me.
Not yet.

And though I rack my brain for what that could mean, even after I'm off the bus, down my block, and opening my front door, I'm no closer to figuring it out. I shake my head. I need to forget about this, for now.

Family home evening—everyone shortens it to FHE—is the one night a week reserved for family time. No extracurriculars, no late nights at the office, no holing up in your room alone. We're Mormon, and that means we're big on family. It makes sense. If you're going to spend all eternity together, you might as well become close while you're still on Earth.

I know a lot of people do this kind of thing, not just us, but we're the only church I know of to give it a name and make it a weekly expectation. Not that I mind. As far as expectations go, this is an easy one. Hang out with your family, eat something sugary, play a game or watch a movie? It's nice. I like my family.

"Ellis?" Mom calls from the kitchen. "Can you come in here?"

I mostly like my family.

Excerpted from Let's Call It a Doomsday by Katie Henry. Copyright © 2019 by Katie Henry. Excerpted by permission of Katherine Tegan Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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