Read Don't Even Think About It Online

Authors: Sarah Mlynowski

Don't Even Think About It (8 page)

Something Funny’s Going On Around Here

Cooper sang to himself as he hurried up the stairs to school. As usual, he was late. This time he was late because Ashley, his three-year-old sister, would not let go of the leg of his jeans. She hadn’t wanted him to leave. “Let’s play Spider-Man!” she’d hollered. When she finally let go, she insisted on going with him to the elevator to press the button. He adored his sister, but she made it infinitely more difficult to leave the apartment.

He slept in by accident. He’d been up late the night before. The baseball game had gone into overtime. Eleven innings. The Yankees had beaten Baltimore, finally, 4–3. They needed to win two more games to go to the Championship Series. After the game was over, he’d had trouble falling asleep. He’d been thinking about Mackenzie and trying to figure out what was going on with her. Something was up; he just wasn’t sure what. When they’d spoken the night before, she had sounded distant.

“You okay?” he asked.

“Yeah. Fine,” she said, her voice clipped.

It was with this in mind that he dumped his books into his locker and hurried to homeroom. He was looking forward to seeing her.

“What’s up, 10B!” Cooper sang. “Can I get a boo-ya?”

Usually we responded to his chant. On this day, though, we just stared at him. No one said a word. Not even Nick or Mackenzie.

He tried again. “10B! I cannot hear your boo-ya!”

Again we didn’t respond.

He looked confused. He
confused. Understandably. Every day for all of September at least some of us had responded to his boo-ya. That day we were all too busy mentally talking to each other.

And what we were saying was this: Everyone in our homeroom could read minds. Everyone except Renée, Adam McCall, and Cooper.

I get why Renée and Adam can’t—they didn’t get the vaccine. But why can’t Cooper do it?

He got the shot, didn’t he?

He did!

Did anyone see him get the shot?

Mackenzie did. She went in with him.

Mackenzie was in the back row. Tess was sitting to her right. Cooper would take the spot on her left.

Levi, BJ, and Courtney were all in the row in front of her.

Mackenzie thought.
I just hope it didn’t work on him. Damn, I didn’t mean to think that!

Mackenzie’s glad he doesn’t have it!
Courtney thought.

thought BJ.

I don’t know!
replied Courtney.

Stop thinking about me!
Mackenzie ordered.

Mackenzie always thinks everything is about her,
Courtney thought.

Excuse me? I do not.

Why wouldn’t you want Cooper to have it?
BJ asked, twisting around to look at her.
Unless there’s something you’re not telling him. Did you lie to him? Did you cheat on him?

The name
popped into Mackenzie’s head before she could stop it. She clenched her eyes closed immediately, but it was too late.

Way too late.

“Bennett who goes to Westside?” Courtney blurted out.

Oh no, oh no, oh no. Mackenzie didn’t want to give anything else away, but she wanted—she
—to know what the others were thinking. She opened her eyes.

“What about Bennett who goes to Westside? I know a Bennett who goes to Westside.” said Jordana, who was sitting next to Courtney.

He’s the guy Mackenzie cheated on Cooper with. He lives in her building. He’s hot.

BJ shook his head in dismay.
Mackenzie cheated on Cooper with a private school guy? Rough. Cooper doesn’t deserve that.

Mackenzie cheated on Cooper!

Why would she cheat on Cooper?



Mackenzie gripped Tess’s hand.

It wasn’t me, I swear,
Tess thought.

BJ was staring at both of them.
So it’s true?

Can you just stop talking about this, please?
Mackenzie begged. She spotted Nick in the front of the classroom. Nick was friends with Cooper. Not best friends, but good friends. Was he listening to this?

Don’t worry,
Tess thought.
Nick won’t say anything. He’s staying out of people’s business. He didn’t say anything to Teddy about me.

Mackenzie put her head down on the desk and closed her eyes. She wanted this to stop.

“Hey, babe, what’s wrong?” Cooper asked, finally taking the seat beside her. “Headache?”

She opened her eyes and stared at his trusting face.

“You have no idea,” she said.

And We Meet Again

Like the rest of us, Olivia walked out of homeroom with a pounding headache.

Unfortunately, she had public speaking next. She hadn’t seen Mr. Roth since the previous day’s telepathy-induced panic attack. She had her speech with her, but she didn’t think she could do it that day. She prayed her teacher would give her a break.

“Let’s just stroll by Lazar’s locker,” Renée said.
They are going to be the cutest couple.

Olivia was too tired to argue. And anyway, at this point she was happy to surround herself with people who could not read her mind. Homeroom had been one of the most stressful classes of her life. She was even too stressed to worry about Lazar. To worry what he thought of her. To worry if he thought she was cute. Or if he thought she was a total moron.

She’d felt awful for Mackenzie. Everyone in homeroom had been thinking about her and Cooper. She felt bad for Cooper too, of course. The whole situation was miserable. If she’d been in either of their places, she would have just about died.

She hated that the people in her homeroom could hear her thoughts. She did not want her homeroom to know that the only kissing experience she had was with her pillow. She didn’t want everyone knowing when she had to pee. Or when she had a stomachache. She had lots of stomachaches. At her next doctor’s appointment she was going to ask them to check for Crohn’s disease.

She didn’t want everyone knowing anything.

She was planning on avoiding the other people with ESP at all costs. Since there were about two hundred people in her grade, only a few students in each of her classes would have ESP.

But she’d still have to listen to everyone else’s thoughts, including Renée’s. And all of Renée’s Olivia-related opinions.

Olivia really should go out with Lazar. A boyfriend would make her so happy. She should also not tie her hair back in a half ponytail. It’s so sixth grade.

“You should really wear your hair down,” Renée said. “Have you thought about bangs?”

At least Olivia could trust Renée to say what she thought.

“There he is,” Renée said.
I should get him to walk with us to public speaking!

Olivia stopped in her tracks.
No! Wait!

“Hey, Lazar!” Renée said. “Come walk with us!”


Lazar looked up, first noticing Renée.
She is such a pest.

Olivia tried not to laugh. She
a pest. But at least she was honest.

Then he looked at Olivia.
Oh! It’s Olivia!

Olivia stood up straighter.
Yes it is. Thank you for noticing.

I hope she’s feeling better. What happened in class yesterday was insane. I’ve never seen anyone faint before.

Olivia felt her cheeks burn. Great. Just great. Now all he saw when he looked at her was a freak of nature.

“Hi,” he said, looking into Olivia’s eyes. He had splotches of red on his cheeks. “How are you feeling?”

“Oh, um—” Her throat closed up. She hated talking to guys. What if she said the wrong thing?

She looks better,
he thought.
She looks good.

Olivia blushed.
I look good? He thinks I look good! Wait, what was the question? Oh right
—“I’m feeling better. Thanks. Thank you.”

“Good to hear. That was one scary fall,” he said, still looking into her eyes.
She has great eyes. They’re so expressive.

He’s complimenting my eyes!
“Thanks,” she said. Then she realized that he hadn’t actually said that aloud. What had he said aloud? Oh! Her fall. That was one scary fall. “Yes,” she said finally. “It was one scary fall. But I’ll live.”

He was still staring at her intently.
She’s pretty.

Olivia thought.
Maybe hearing what people think won’t be as bad as I thought.

*  *  *

Tess also had a headache. And now she had chemistry class with Teddy and Sadie.

She would have to talk to Teddy. She would have to look at Teddy. She would have to listen to Teddy.

She would have to be lab partners with Teddy.

“Sorry you missed so much of the movie last night,” Teddy said to Tess as she slid into the seat beside him. “Is everything okay?”

“Yup,” she muttered.

Sadie walked in and waved.

“Hi,” Sadie said, about to approach them. Sadie had texted Tess twenty times since the night before. And left five phone messages. It was super annoying. Tess would prefer not to chat with the girl who had stolen the heart of the guy she liked. She did not want to be best friends with her either. She wanted nothing to do with her. But since she wasn’t a bitch, she’d had no choice but to help Sadie through her breakdown at the movies.

First she’d whisked Sadie away to the bathroom. “What is wrong with me?” Sadie had asked Tess, tears overflowing from her doe-like eyes.

So Tess explained. About how it was happening to everyone in their homeroom. That they were not the only ones. That they were meeting the next day to talk about it at lunch and to decide what to do.

Meanwhile Tess was thinking,
You better not like Teddy!

And Sadie said, “What? Huh? Teddy?”

Then two other girls stormed into the bathroom and it got noisy. Tess had stepped back so that the other girls were between them and she could compose her thoughts while Sadie was distracted by the noise.

Tess did not want Sadie to know that Teddy thought she smelled like strawberries. She did not want Sadie to know anything about Teddy at all. He was
Teddy. Even if Sadie was dating Keith, it was still possible that she could fall madly in love with Teddy, right? Even if he was a sophomore and Keith was a senior? Unlikely, yes, but still possible.

Teddy was smart and funny and cute. No. Tess would not let herself think nice things about Teddy. Sadie would hear and it would just encourage Sadie to like him.

Besides physically putting other people between her and Sadie, or maybe hiding in the bathroom stall, Tess wasn’t sure how she could stop Sadie from hearing her. She couldn’t exactly close her eyes in the middle of a discussion.

The strangers went into stalls.

Tess decided to try something. “Everything is going to be fine,” she said. “Don’t worry. It’s a little overwhelming at first but you get used to it.” Tess realized that if she kept talking, then Sadie would focus on what she was saying. Not on her thoughts. Also, if she forced herself to keep talking, then she wouldn’t be able to think at the same time.

“And it stops when you close your eyes,” Tess added.

Sadie slammed her eyes shut.

Tess took a deep breath. Ahhh. Free play.
You better not like Teddy! He’s mine, mine, mine!

Sadie opened her eyes. “I think I want to go to sleep.”

“No worries,” Tess said, backing away. “I’ll tell Keith you’re not feeling well. You can call me if you have any questions. Or text me.”

Afterward, Tess had snuck back into the dark theater and told the boys that Sadie wasn’t feeling well.

I can’t believe she’s making me miss the movie,
Tess heard Keith think. Then,
I guess this means no sex tonight.


Oh no!
Teddy thought.
This was our time together!

Tess told Teddy that she had to deal with a family issue and spent the rest of the movie eating popcorn and sitting on the wooden bench outside the theater, reading and answering texts from Sadie.

Sadie: I can hear my parents too?

Tess: Yup.

Sadie: And my doorman?

Tess: Everyone.

Sadie: Do you think it’ll be gone by tomorrow?

Tess: I hope so.

Obviously it was not gone by the next day, because there they were in chemistry and it was still happening.

As soon as Sadie stepped inside the classroom, Teddy’s brain went into overdrive.
She’s here! Awesome. I hope she’s feeling better. Her hair is so shiny.

Barf, barf, barf,
Tess thought, but then got nervous. What if Sadie had heard her mentally barfing? Also, Renée was sitting in the front row. But Tess couldn’t remember if Renée had gotten the shot. She didn’t think so. She’d gone on and on about it all being some government conspiracy.

As Sadie stepped up to her, Tess started to panic. She did not want Sadie to know that Teddy was obsessed with her. No, no, no! She had purposefully kept as far away from Sadie as she could all morning so that she wouldn’t accidentally give away Teddy’s feelings. It hadn’t been easy. After the previous night, Sadie thought Tess was her new best friend.

But as soon as Sadie walked down the aisle, she’d be standing next to Teddy and would know everything, because surely Teddy would blab on and on and on about the stupid strawberries.

Without thinking, Tess squeezed her way in front of Teddy so that she was between him and Sadie. Hopefully Sadie wouldn’t be able to hear Teddy’s thoughts over Tess’s. And yeah, Sadie would still be able to hear Tess’s thoughts, but maybe she could camouflage them better than Teddy could. “Excuse me,” she said to him.

What’s Tess doing?
Teddy wondered.

Just go with it,
she told him, even though she knew he couldn’t hear. And now that she was between Sadie and Teddy, she gave Sadie a tight smile. “How are you?”

Sadie shrugged. “You know. Homeroom was crazy.”

“No kidding.”

Do you think it’ll go away soon?
Sadie asked.
I don’t like it.

I hope so,
Tess thought.

Teddy’s thoughts jumped into her head.
Why are they just standing there staring at each other?

Oh, right,
Tess thought.
This must look super odd.
“Let’s chat at lunch,” she told Sadie.

“But—” Sadie stopped.
I’m feeling so alone. I really want to talk.

“We’ll talk at lunch,” Tess said.

“You guys are going for lunch together?” Teddy asked eagerly. “Want some company?”

“We have a meeting at lunch,” Tess said.

“What meeting?” Teddy asked.

Good question,
Tess thought. She looked at Sadie.
Any ideas?

Telepathy club?

Gee, thanks, Sadie.
“Communications club,” Tess said.

“Oh. Cool. Never heard of it,” Teddy said. “Does it need new members? I’m looking for a club to join.”

How about Pathetic R Us?
Tess thought.

Why is he pathetic?
Sadie wondered.
Aren’t you guys best friends?

Don’t think it, don’t think it, don’t think it,
Tess thought.

Don’t think what?
Sadie asked while Teddy thought,
It would be great to be in a club with Sadie. Get some quality time with her.

Tess wished they’d both shut up.

Sadie blinked.
What’s your problem?

Tess couldn’t take it anymore.
He likes you, okay? He likes you. Teddy likes you. Are you happy now?

Sadie’s jaw dropped. “I didn’t know.”

Teddy leaned against the table. “You don’t know if they take new members?”

Sadie blushed. “No, I didn’t know that—” Her voice trailed off.
But why are you so mad? Do you like him or something?

Yes! I’ve liked him forever! And he’s obsessed with you.

Her lips made an O.
I’m sorry!

Me too.
Tess turned to Teddy. “The club is by invitation only.”
And you are not invited.

*  *  *

Third period, Pi had a surprise quiz in precalc.

She was not prepared.

It was unusual for Pi not to be prepared. She was an over-preparer. She didn’t have the second-highest GPA in her class for no reason. She had it because she had goals.

She wanted to get a perfect GPA.

She wanted to go to Harvard.

She wanted to be exceptional.

She wanted her mother to realize Pi was exceptional and to know she’d had nothing to do with it.

Second in your class was not exceptional.

First in your class was exceptional.

But Jon Matthews was number one, not her. It seemed to come easy to him too. He definitely wasn’t as studious as Pi was. Plus he was in Glee Club. And he played in a band called Demon. And he had a girlfriend. How did he have time for all those things? And to still be number one? It was impossible to understand. Pi barely had time for anything except being number two. She studied all the time. Even having to play on the chess team stressed her out but she needed
at least one
extracurricular to get into Harvard.

Jon barely seemed to break a sweat. Yet he was still number one.

Pi needed to study. Hard. That’s why she wasn’t prepared. She hadn’t had time. Normally she reviewed her precalc notes at night. She practiced. But last night she’d been too busy exploring her new talent.

Anyway, who cared about a little math test when she could hear what people were thinking? Jon couldn’t do that.

She could hear the person on her left:
X plus … no, that’s not right.

The person to her right:
Eight to the power of …

The person behind her:
I’m never going to finish on time, must focus!

She could even hear her teacher, Mr. Irving:
What should I make for dinner tonight? Maybe a peanut butter and pickle sandwich? Or cream cheese and canned tuna?

For the record, we all agree that both are absolutely disgusting dinner choices.


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