Authors: Carrie Mac
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #General, #JUV000000
Copyright ©Carrie Mac 2006
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Mac, Carrie, 1975-
Crush / Carrie Mac.
ISBN 1-55143-521-7 (bound) ISBN 1-55143-526-8 (pbk.)
I. Title. II. Series.
PS8625.A23C78 2006 jC813’.6 C2006-900405-6
First published in the United States, 2006
Library of Congress Control Number:
During a summer in New York, Hope falls in love
with another girl and must decide whether she is gay.
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program (BPIDP), the Canada Council for the Arts, and the British Columbia Arts Council.
Cover design: Lynn O'Rourke
Cover photography: Getty Images
Orca Book Publishers Orca Book Publishers
PO Box 5626 Stn.B PO Box 468
Victoria, BC Canada Custer, WA USA
V8R 6S4 98240-0468
Printed and bound in Canada
09 08 07 06 • 5 4 3 2 1
I have two suitcases, one backpack and a barking West Highland terrier in one of those dog-carrying bags movie stars made cool. Daisy started barking when she got into the car, and she hasn’t stopped since. What if she barks all the way to New York? That will make me popular on the flight.
“Have you got everything?” Mom rifles through her backpack. “I thought I had gum in here for you.”
“I have gum, Mom.”
“Chew this on the way up and down.” She hands me a pack of sugar-free bubble gum. “It’ll help with your ears.”
“I know, Mom. Thanks.” Their luggage is stacked in a teetering pile and looks like it’s about to collapse. “How much time do you have?”
“An hour or so before check-in.” She checks and rechecks their passports. Daisy barks and barks.
They’re going to Thailand to build a school. I’m going to New York to stay with my sister for the summer. Of course, I wish I was going to Thailand, but it’s my parents’ thirtieth non-wedding (they’re common-law) anniversary and that’s what they chose to do for it. I was not invited. When they announced their plans, I just assumed I’d be going along with them, and they just assumed that I wouldn’t be. For three months I thought I was going to spend the summer in Thailand, only to find out a month ago that I was going to spend the summer in Brooklyn, with my spacey older sister and her failed-actor boyfriend. What fun.
“How are you feeling, sweetheart?” Dad puts an arm across my shoulder. He’s the one who finally realized the misunderstanding and filled me in. I wasn’t impressed, to say the least. “Doing okay, kiddo?”
And Daisy barks and barks and barks.
“I’m fine, Dad.”
“I know you’re upset about this.” He squats to peer at Daisy in her little carrying case. “Blessed creature, be quiet!” He stands again. Daisy barks and barks and barks. “But I also know that you understand how important it is for your mother and me to share this experience together, as a couple.”
My dad, professional therapist.
“I know, Dad.”
“Some things in life are best experienced solely with your life partner, to strengthen intimacy and create shared memories upon which to build a deeper love,” he says.
I roll my eyes. What else do you do when you’re seventeen and your father says something like that?
“Yeah, Dad. Got it.”
“I know you do, sweetheart.” He kisses my forehead. “You are my brilliant star.”
Mom is back from the very expensive airport store with more goodies for my flight.
“Tissues, trashy magazines, mini sewing kit—you never know—crossword puzzle book, hard candies. I couldn’t find any sugar- free. Be sure to brush extra hard.”
I stuff them into my backpack, which is already bursting with all of the goodies she’d packed for me at home.
“And an umbrella.” She hands me a super- compact little thing, hot pink. “We forgot to pack one.”
“Joy will have umbrellas,” I say.
“Your sister...” Dad says.
“Your sister...” Mom says.
“And that Bruce...” Dad says.
“Bruce, Bruce, Bruce.” Mom shakes her head.
“Okay, okay. I’ll try to fit it in.” I jam it into my pack. Anything to get them off the subject of the not-so-happy couple.
“Sorry about the color,” Mom says.
“Doesn’t matter.” I’ll never open that umbrella over my head, but I love my mother enough to not say so. “Thanks.”
Dad checks his watch. It’s his first watch, ever. He bought it especially for their trip, and it has a GPS and all kinds of high-tech gadgets on it. Now, I love him to neurons, but my “Mr. Tie-Dye T-Shirt, Hemp Shorts and Sandals dad” is the last human on earth who should be allowed near anything high-tech or remotely electronic.
They’re taking a satellite phone too, and a laptop, and I can only hope that my mother will not let him near any of it. Every once in a while, he decides he’s going to become a technical genius—like now, for example.
Apparently he’s forgotten about his latest spectacle, which involved $14,000 worth of solar panels dominoing off the roof and smashing to bits on the patio below. Of course, everyone was mad at him; it took forever to save up the money for the panels. But instead of bad vibes from everybody, he got sympathy because he slipped off the roof along with the solar panels and busted his leg in three places.
My mother unravels her orange sarong practically down to her underwear (thank the Universe, she’s actually wearing some for once) and rearranges it. She’s paired the sarong with a bright blue tank top that advertises her belly rolls like they’re the aisle four special. Her skin is dark and leathery from years of sunshine working in the market garden, and she’s wearing her usual assortment of wacky bangles and necklaces. My parents. I love them. But they look like lost, aging Dead Heads.
They’re whispering to each other, holding hands, leaning in close, bodies touching. To look at them, you’d think they were falling in love before your very eyes. They kiss, and then my dad kisses his fingertip and touches it to her lips. He always does that, and it always makes me smile.
“Sweetheart?” Dad takes my hand. I feel a Circle coming on. “We love you so very, very much.” He closes his eyes. “Let’s do Circle.” My mom closes her eyes too and lets out the same melodic sigh she does before every Circle.
We’re not a religious family, per se, but we very much believe in the Universe, with a capital U. When I was little, Circle was one of my favorite things, and I didn’t care where we did it—in the parking lot of the grocery store or in a theater lobby, what did I care? But now, the public ones are getting a little unbearable. I don’t close my eyes. Instead, as my dad launches into his blessing, I soak in the gawks and stares here in International Departures. “Universe, we thank you for our precious Hope and ask that you keep her safe and healthy and happy during our time apart,” Dad says. He lets out a little mumbly sound, which he always does, kind of like “Amen” for hippies.
“And take care of her while we’re so far away,” my mom says, taking her turn. “Because being apart will bruise all of our hearts.”
Despite the audience, I get a little choked up when she says that. It suddenly occurs to me that we’ve never been separated for more than a week before. No sane teenager should be sad to get rid of her parents for a
couple of months, but I am. Suddenly, this is the saddest event in modern times. “And, please, let Joy and Bruce find peace with each other and themselves.” She always ends with that, no matter what the Circle is about.
Daisy barks and barks. It’s my turn to say something, but if I open my mouth to speak, I’ll just start crying. I close my eyes. Really, who cares who gawks? These are my parents—my best friends, really—who I love more than anyone else, and they’re about to go to Thailand for two months all by themselves without me. What if there’s another killer tsunami? What if they die from some tropical flesh-eating infection? What if they’re mugged or drugged or imprisoned? What if Dad gets drunk and does something stupid and ends up stuck in some third world jail for the rest of his life? Or what if they just disappear without a trace? What if this is the last time I ever see them?
“Sweetheart?” Dad squeezes my hand again.
“Give me a sec?” The tears well instantly.
“Um. I thank the Universe...uh, for my amazing, wonderful, loving—” I start bawling.
And Daisy barks and barks.
My parents squeeze my hands but don’t break Circle to comfort me. We’ve been through this before. If we’re in Circle—it doesn’t matter if it’s just us or any of the others who do Circle (yes, there’s a whole whack of us cool people)—we just let the person
with their emotions. That’s the whole point, after all...to just
with the Universe. If you’re raised by hippies, this sort of thing passes for normal.
I take a deep breath and launch into it before another rush of tears start. All of a sudden, I really need my parents to know how much I love them.
“I am so thankful that my parents love each other so much, and that they love me and Joy with all of their hearts. I know how blessed I am to have them and how lucky I am compared to the screwed-up homes so many kids have. I am so proud of them for going to Thailand to build a school and for being together for thirty years and for who
they are in the Universe, and I just want them to be safe. And I want Dad to watch what he does when he’s been drinking.”
Sometimes Dad gets a little touchy when I mention his drinking, but when I open my eyes, they’re both gazing at me adoringly. This usually drives me mad, but right now it just makes me miss them already.
“Blessed be,” they say in unison.
“Blessed be,” I mumble, through more tears.
We hug each other, and then we all start crying with the earnestness of years of practice. I bet the passersby think we’re heading to a funeral, the way we’re carrying on. But we carry on like this for any number of occasions: new babies, weddings, breakups, the tsunami, the global AIDS crisis, crop failure, or Joy getting a full scholarship to the Brooklyn Academy of Dance after we all thought she’d be a cokehead underwear model for the rest of her life, and of course partings especially, like this one.
It’s time for me to head to the plane. New York, here I come. With Daisy, who’s started
barking again. She barks all the way onto the plane, too. Yep, we’re going to be about as popular as the woman in front of me with the twin babies who both have the rosy cheeks of teething and the drippy noses and runny eyes of a head cold. What fun.
I just got back from a little wander to see how first class flies, but the snooty flight attendant wouldn’t let me in. Miraculously, Daisy isn’t barking, although the babies in front of me are still crying and have been ever since takeoff. Daisy’s snout is tucked under her paws, and she’s snoring like I’ve never heard before. I take another little stroll to the back of the plane (you don’t want to sit too long or you’ll
get a blood clot and die). When I get back to my seat, I notice that the twins are sleeping too now. The mom glances up and smiles apologetically. She looks ten miles beyond tired.
“If you need a hand when they wake up, just let me know,” I whisper.
“Really?” She puts a hand to her heart. “Do you really mean that?”
I nod. “Babysitter extraordinaire at your service.” We shake hands. “My name’s Hope.”
“Maira. And thank you.” She pumps my hand. “I’ve been getting the most evil looks. It’s just that they’re—”