Authors: Sarah Mlynowski
a house of mirrors,” Pi said. “And we have to watch from every angle. Especially the other people in our homeroom. Got it?”
“We have to be a team,” Pi continued. “We’ll meet again tomorrow at lunch.”
“I have a
meeting,” Tess said.
“Skip it,” Pi ordered.
“For all we know, we might not even have telepathy anymore tomorrow,” Levi said.
Fevers after vaccines only last a day or so. Why should this last any longer?
Pi gave her a look that was part admiration, part annoyance.
For someone who has never spoken in class, you sure have a lot to say.
Mackenzie turned to Olivia. “So this could all be gone by tomorrow?” Her voice sounded hopeful.
I hope so.
“Thank God,” Mackenzie said.
Life can go back to normal.
Brinn shook her head. Her fingers were tinged with charcoal.
Normal is boring. Who wants that?
“Okay, everyone,” Pi said. “See you tomorrow at lunch. Keep your mouths shut. If you do discover someone else, please share our discussions with them and inform them about tomorrow’s meeting.”
We nodded. Pi had spoken: class was dismissed.
Tess looked for Teddy all over school but couldn’t find him.
She was psyched to finally find out if he liked her. No more wondering. She would just stand beside him and know if he felt the same or if she should move on.
But by the end of the day, Tess hadn’t seen Teddy at all. Well, they’d crossed paths for a second on the stairs. Tess was going up; Teddy was going down. But there were like a hundred louder people between them, so she couldn’t hear his thoughts.
She waved and tried to squirm her way toward him, but it was like rush hour on the subway, so no go.
Between sixth and seventh periods he was by his locker, so she thought maybe that was her chance, but he had some sort of French test and all he was thinking was
je pense, tu penses, il pense,
and that did not help her get a feel for if he liked her one bit,
By the time the bell rang, she knew she had to take matters into her own hands.
She texted him:
Hey, what are you up to later?
She stared at her phone. And waited. She knew in theory a watched phone never got a text, but she still stared.
Finally a text popped up—theory proven false!
Have practice. But want to see new Death Valley movie with me and Nick after that?
Tess did want to see
She loved seeing horror movies, especially with Teddy. The scarier the better. When the movie was especially bloody, she had an excuse to press her face against his shoulder and breathe in his Irish Spring scent. Yum.
Usually Tess was happy to have Nick around too.
But not tonight.
Nick would hear everything she was thinking. Including thoughts about her signature sniffing-Teddy’s-shoulder move.
But time could be running out. She needed to see Teddy soon. She texted back:
She was extra pleased when she got out of the shower and saw:
Nick bailed. You still in?
Yes. She was still in.
Now, what to wear? She wanted to look pretty but casual. Not like she was trying. Normal, but really good normal. So he could see her and think she was pretty and not even notice the extra effort … or the extra few pounds. Or maybe even like them.
The weight was all her mom could think about. Seriously, her mom had been thinking about it as Tess ate dinner.
Maybe if she ate slower, she wouldn’t be so hungry. Does she have to use that much salad dressing? Why is she taking more sweet potatoes?
So what if she wanted a second serving of sweet potatoes? Sweet potatoes were vegetables.
She scrunched and diffused her hair and then zipped up her best jeans. Or what she thought were her best jeans.
We think her best jeans were actually the ones with the frayed bottoms.
Tess didn’t know that at the time, though, so she called Mackenzie to make sure she looked good in them. “My James jeans don’t make my ass look fat, do they?”
“No,” Mackenzie said.
“Love you,” Tess chirped. If Teddy felt the same way Tess did, soon they’d be double-dating with Mackenzie and Cooper. She couldn’t wait. “What are you doing?” she asked.
“Just thinking,” Mackenzie said.
“About what?” she asked. She wished their telepathy worked over the phone. Then she wouldn’t have to waste time with silly questions.
“Nothing. I gotta go. Good luck.”
Tess put on her best bra. It was black lace and gave her great cleavage.
None of us had seen all her bras, so we can’t make an informed decision on whether it was her best.
BJ had seen one of Tess’s bras. He felt her up during a game of seven minutes in heaven in eighth grade while they were kissing. It was a cotton white one. It had been biggish back then, but now it fit perfectly.
As Tess put on a purple shirt, she thought about what it would mean if she found out Teddy didn’t like her. What if he thought she was ugly? Or fat? Did she really want to know what he thought of her? Was she opening some sort of Pandora’s box? Once she knew what he thought, she wouldn’t be able to erase the knowledge. It was like reading someone’s diary or overhearing a phone conversation. Once you heard, you couldn’t unhear.
Tess would die if anyone read her diary. She wrote religiously. Kind of. There was an entry for every day. But she back-wrote them about once a week. She fake-dated them and used a different pen for each day of the week to make it look legit.
So did she
want to know what he
Yes. She really did.
* * *
Tess waited for him at the entranceway to the theater. Teddy grabbed her in a bear hug. “Tess! Are you ready to be terrified? There will be blood. And beheadings. Many beheadings.”
“Awesome,” she said. “Nothing like a good beheading.”
Tess is the best. She’s just such a cutie.
Of course he had no idea that she could hear him.
Why would he? Back then people didn’t ever think about their thoughts being heard. These days it’s a different story.
But Tess did hear. She was thinking,
Yes! Yes! Yes! He thinks I’m the best! He thinks I’m cute!
For the record, we don’t think “cute” and “such a cutie” are interchangeable. But anyway.
As they went to buy tickets, what Tess thought was this:
If he thinks I’m cute and we’re already best friends, doesn’t that mean he likes me? What else does he need?
Teddy was looking as adorable as always. He had light brown hair, almost blond, and big brown eyes. His eyes reminded Tess of hot chocolate. He was in great shape too—on the bigger side, and not too thin.
Tess and Teddy met in a creative writing class back in seventh grade. He’d had a girlfriend then who lived in the West Village. Because he had a girlfriend, they’d been able to become fast—and best—friends. But he and the girlfriend had finally broken up—after three years!—just that summer.
Tess ordered herself one ticket and then Teddy got one for himself. She wished he had offered to treat her; that would have been a sign they were on an actual date.
But they had been to the movies lots of times before. They were just friends. Best friends. At a movie. Of course, a movie date could easily change into something more in a dark theater if the mood felt right. Right?
“I’ll get popcorn,” Teddy said. “You get us seats.”
“Will do,” she said. She smiled and then entered the empty theater. There was only a handful of people already there.
She chose a seat smack in the middle.
We think that was her first mistake, by the way. She should have sat in the last row. The last row says romance. Oh, well. Too late now.
The previews started as Teddy sat down a few minutes later. He was balancing one large popcorn and two large lemonades. They all looked precariously close to spilling.
Once he was seated, his knee was right next to hers. His arm too. They were so close. Any minute they could start kissing.
But was Teddy thinking about kissing? No. Teddy was thinking,
This preview looks awesome. I totally want to see
Maybe she needed more lip gloss?
Suddenly Teddy jerked in his seat.
She’s here! She’s here!
Huh? She’s here? Who’s here?
Tess looked over to see Sadie Newman and Keith Asher climbing up the stairs. Ugh.
What are they doing here?
“Hey, guys,” Teddy said, “come join us!”
The other people in the theater gave him dirty looks, which were accompanied by thoughts of
He better shut up!
Tess wanted to scream,
Nooooooo! Sit somewhere else! Leave us alone!
But she just smiled.
Sadie had straight blond hair, a big smile, a waiflike body, and huge pale blue eyes. You would not be surprised if you saw her on a teen book jacket, staring at the camera, looking wholesome while caught in a zombie-werewolf love triangle.
She waved and made her way toward them. She was in 10B too, but it didn’t seem to Tess that any telepathy had kicked in.
Keith followed, looking vaguely annoyed.
We can’t blame him. His night out with his off-and-on-again girlfriend had just become a group date with a bunch of sophomores. He was a senior. He played varsity baseball.
Keith cast a glance at Tess and gave her a brief smile.
What’s her name again? Carrie?
Tess was mortified.
He thinks my name is Carrie?
Was she that forgettable? But then Keith sat down beside Sadie, who was sitting beside Teddy, and Tess couldn’t really hear anyone but Teddy. And she did not like what she was hearing.
Why is she with him?
Teddy was thinking.
He’s such a tool. And she’s a goddess.
Tess felt sick. Sadie was a goddess?
She didn’t like writing, or watching horror movies. She spent most of homeroom reading tabloids on her iPhone or picking her split ends.
“You didn’t miss anything,” Teddy said to Sadie. “Do you want some popcorn?”
“Sure, dude,” Keith said.
I wasn’t talking to you, jerkoff,
I was talking to Sadie. Sadie, Sadie, Sadie.
Tess wished he weren’t talking to either of them. She wished they weren’t there. She wished
weren’t there. She wished she were at home writing in her diary.
Mmm. She smells so good,
Strawberries? He thinks it’s good if a girl smells like fruit?
We all know that if Teddy had thought that Tess smelled like fruit, any kind of fruit, even kiwis, she would have been over the moon. But as Tess sat in that movie theater, the only thing she wanted to do with strawberries was throw them at Sadie. Or maybe stuff them up Teddy’s nose.
When Teddy and Sadie both took popcorn at the same time, he wanted to hold her hand. He thought about her lips. He thought about what it would be like to kiss those lips. To kiss her neck. To unbutton her shirt. To lick those fingers. To—
Tess squeezed her eyes shut.
She did not want the visual, thank you very much.
Tess had no idea how she hadn’t known this. They were supposed to be friends! Best friends! Why hadn’t he told her he liked Sadie? And the three of them were in the same chemistry class together! How had she never noticed? The girl only sat four rows ahead of them. Was Tess that oblivious?
Tess felt crushed. Totally and completely annihilated. Like a truck had landed on her and then reversed and accelerated and then reversed and accelerated again until she was nothing but roadkill. She vowed never to open her eyes again.
She just couldn’t believe it. Teddy didn’t like her. He liked Sadie.
As if he had any chance with Sadie. She was dating a senior! She’d had sex with him, too! We all knew. Well, we were 99 percent sure. By the next day we’d have 100 percent confirmation just by sitting next to her.
Teddy tapped Tess’s knee. “Don’t close your eyes already! No one’s even been beheaded yet!”
Tess wondered if she could volunteer to be the first. She opened her eyes.
Maybe Sadie will get scared and jump into my lap,
Sadie turned to Teddy, looking startled. “Excuse me?”
She’s talking to me! Did you hear that, Keith? Huh?
“Are you trying to talk to Keith?” Sadie whispered. “Keith, Teddy has something to tell you.”
Keith leaned over. “What do you want, dude?”
Teddy shook his head.
I want to punch you in the face.
“Teddy!” Sadie shrieked. “What’s wrong with you?”
“SHHHHHH!” said the woman a few rows behind them.
Sadie was getting ESP and it was Tess’s job to help her. “Sadie, come with me to the bathroom?”
“Excuse me?” Sadie asked.
“Bathroom,” Tess said, standing up. “Let’s go.”
What’s she doing?
Did Keith just say that out loud?
Just come with me and I’ll explain, okay?
Sadie nervously picked at a split end. Then she nodded and followed Tess to the bathroom.