Read Second Helpings Online

Authors: Megan McCafferty

Tags: #Fiction, #Coming of Age, #Humorous, #Juvenile Fiction, #Social Issues, #Adolescence

Second Helpings

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Second Helpings

 

By

 

Megan McCafferty

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Contents

 

july

august

september

october

november

december

january

february

march

april

may

june

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Copyright c 2003 by Megan McCafferty

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any m eans, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

 

Published by Three Rivers Press, New York, New York.

 

Member of the Crown publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.

 

www.randomhouse.com

 

THREE RIVERS PRESS and the Tugboat design are registered trademarks of Random House Inc.

 

Printed in the United States of America

 

DESIGN BY ELINA D. NUDELMAN

 

Library of Congress Cataloguing-in-Publication Data

 

McCafferty, Megan.

 

Second helpings: a novel / Megan McCafferty.1st ed.

p. cm.

1. High school studentsFiction. 2. Teenage girlsFiction. 3. New JerseyFiction. 1. Title

 

PS3613.C3 S34 2003

813'.6dc21

 

2002014097

 

ISBN 0-609-80791-9

 

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2

 

First Edition

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June 30th

 

Hope,

 

By the time you get this, I will already be attending the Summer Pre-College Enrichment Curriculum in Artistic Learning. I think its hilarious for a gifted and talented program to have an acronym (SPECIAL) with the exact opposite educational connotation.

 

While Im psyched to escape another summer of junk-food servitude on the boardwalk, I cant help but feel like a fraud. Im not all that interested in experiencing the artistic, intellectual, and social activities integral for a successful career in the arts, like it says in the brochure. My motivation is simple: I know that the only way to brace myself for the indignity of my senior year at Pineville High is to avoid everyone and everything associated with it for as long as I possibly can. Hence, why my summer vacation is a deportation.

 

You know I wouldve stuck around this strip-mall wasteland all summer if you had opted to visit me in Jersey instead of jetting around Europe. Tough choice. If you werent my best friend, and I didnt love you so much, I would hate you. Not for your decision, but for the privilege to make it in the first place.

 

I know our e-mail/IM daily, call weekly schedule will be out of whack until you get back to Tennessee. But dont forget to write. More than once a month, if the mood strikes. And if it doesnt, well, less. Even though youre going all international on me, these are still the Totally Guilt-Free Guidelines for Keeping in Touch. With a special emphasis on the Guilt-Free part.

 

Enviously yours, J.

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july

 

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the first

 

I cant believe I used to do this nearly every day. Or night, rather. In the wee hours, when the sky was purple and the house sighed with sleep, Id hover, wide awake, over my beat-up black-and-white-speckled composition notebook. Id scribble, scratch, and scrawl until my hand, and sometimes my heart, ached.

 

I wrote and wrote and wrote. Then, one day, I stopped.

 

With the exception of letters to Hope and editorials for the school newspaper, I havent written anything real in months. (Which is why its such a crock that Im attending SPECIAL.) I have no choice but to start up again because Im required to keep a journal for SPECIALS writing program. But this journal will be different. It has to be different. Or I will be institutionalized.

 

My last journal was the only eyewitness to every mortifying and just plan moronic thought I had throughout my sophomore and junior years. And like the mob, I had the sole observer whacked. Specifically, I slipped page by page into my dads paper shredder, leaving nothing but guilty confetti behind. I wanted to have a ritualistic burning in the fireplace, but my mom wouldnt let me because she was afraid the ink from my pen would emit a toxic cloud and kill us all. Even in my dementia I knew that would have been an unnecessarily melodramatic touch.

 

I destroyed that journal because it contained all the things I shouldve been telling my best friend. I trashed it on New Years Day, the last time I saw Hope, which was the first time I had seen her since she moved to Tennessee. My resolution: to stop pouring my soul out to an anonymous person on paper and start telling her everything again. And everything included everything that had happened between me and He Who Shall Remain Nameless.

 

Instead of hating me for the weird whatever relationship He and I used to have, Hope proved once and for all that she is a better best friend than I am. She swore to me on that January day, and a bizillion times since that I have the right to be friends and/or more with whomever I want to be friends and/or more with. She assured me of this, even though His debaucherous activities indirectly contributed to her own brothers overdose, and very directly led to her parents moving her a thousand miles away from Pinevilles supposedly evil influence. Because when it comes down to it, as she told me that shivery afternoon, and again and again, her brother, Heaths, death was no ones fault but his own. No one stuck that lethal needle in his arm; Heath did it himself. And if I feel a real connection with Him, she told me then, and keeps telling me, and telling me, and telling me, I shouldnt be so quick to cut it off.

 

Ive told Hope a bizillion times right back that Im not removing Him from my life out of respect for Heaths memory. Im doing it because it simply doesnt do me any good to keep Him there. Especially when He hasnt said a word to me since I told Him to fuck himself last New Years Eve.

 

Thats not totally true. He has spoken to me. And thats how I know that when it comes to He Who Shall Remain Nameless and me, theres something far worse than silence: small talk. We used to talk about everything from stem cells to Trading Spaces . Now the deepest He gets is: Would you mind moving your head, please? I cant see the black board. (2/9/01First period. World History II.)

 

STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I dont want to have to burn this journal before I even begin.

 

the second

 

Now, heres a fun and totally not psychotic topic to write about!

 

Today I got the all-time ass-kickingest going-away present: 780 Verbal, 760 Math.

 

GOD BLESS THE SCHOLASTIC APTITUDE TEST!

 

Thats a combined score of 1540, for those of you who are perhaps not as mathematically inclined as I am. YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

 

Ive done it. Ive written my ticket out of Pineville, and I wont have to run in circles for it. I am the first person to admit that if an athletic scholarship were my only option, Id be out running laps and pumping performance-enhancing drugs right now. But my brain, for once, has helped, not hindered. I AM SO HAPPY I DID NOT SIGN UP FOR CROSS-COUNTRY CAMP.

 

As annoying as all those stupid vocabulary drills and Princeton Review process-of-elimination practice sessions were, Im totally against the movement to get rid of the SAT. It is the only way to prove to admissions officers that Im smart. A 4.4 GPA, glowing recommendations, and a number-one class rank mean absolutely nothing when youre up against applicants from schools that dont suck.

 

Of course, with scores like these, my problem isnt whether Ill get accepted to college, but deciding which of the 1600 schools in the Princeton Review guide to colleges I should attend in the first place. Ive been banking on the idea that college will be the place where I finally find people who understand me. My niche. I have no idea if Utopia University exists. But there is one consolation. Even if I pick the wrong school, and the odds are 1600 to 1 that I will, it cant be worse than my four years at Pineville High.

 

Incidentally, I didnt rock the SATs because Im a genius. One campus tour of Harvard taught me the difference between freaky brilliance and the rest of us. No, my scores didnt reflect my superior intellect as much as they did my ability to memorize all the little tricks for acing the test. For me the SATs were a necessary annoyance, but not the big trauma that they are for most high-school students. Way more things were harder for me to deal with in my sophomore and junior years than the Scholastic Aptitude Test. Since I destroyed all the evidence of my hardships, lets review:

 

Jessica Darlings Top Traumas: HHHH2000-2001 Edition

 

Trauma #1: My best friend moved a thousand miles away. After her brothers overdose, Hopes parents stole her away to their tiny Southern hometown, where good old-fashioned morals prevail, apparently. I cant blame the Weavers for trying to protect her innocence, as Hope is prob ably the last guileless person on the planet. Her absence hit me right in the middle of the school year, nineteen days before my Bitter Sixteenth birthday, shortly before the turn of this century. Humankind survived Y2K, but my world came to an end.

 

Heres the kind of best friend Hope was (is) to me: She was the only person who understood why I couldnt stand the Clueless Crew (as Manda, Sara, and Bridget were collectively known before Manda slept with Bridgets boyfriend, Burke). And when I started changing the lyrics to pop songs as a creative way of making fun of them, she showcased her numerous artistic talents by recording herself singing them (with her own piano accompaniment), compiling the cuts on a CD (Now, Thats What 1 Call Amusing !, Volume 1), and designing a professional-quality cover complete with liner notes. (Very special muchas gracias go out to Julio and Enrique Iglesias for all the love and inspiration youve given me over the years. Te amo y te amo .) Im listening to her soaring rendition of Cellulite (aka Saras song) right now. (Sung to the tune of the Dave Matthews Bands Satellite.)

 

Cellulite, on my thighs

 

Looks like stucco, makes me cry

 

Butt of blubber

 

Cellulite, no swimsuit will do

 

must find a muumuu

 

But I cant face those dressing-room mirrors

 

[Chorus]

 

Creams dont work, and squats, forget it! My parents wont pay for lipo just yet My puckered ass needs replacing Look up, look down, its all around My cellulite .

 

If that isnt proof that Hope was the only one who laughed at my jokes and sympathized with my tears, I dont know what is. We still talk on the phone and write letters, but its never been enough. And unlike most people my age, I think the round-the-clock availability of e-mail and interactive messaging is an inadequate substitute for face-to-face, heart-to-heart contact. This is one of the reasons I am a freak. Speaking of

 

Trauma #2: I had suck-ass excuses for friends. My parents thought that I had plenty of people to fill the void left by Hope, especially Bridget. She is Gwyneth blond with a bodacious booty and Hollywood ambitions. I am none of these things. We share nothing in common other than the street weve lived on since birth.

 

My parents also had a difficult time buying my loneliness because it was well known that Scotty, His Royal Guyness and Grand Poo-bah of the Upper Crust, had a crush on me. This wasand still isinexplicable since he never seems to understand a single thing that comes out of my mouth. I found the prospect of having to translate every utterance exhausting and exasperating. I didnt want to date Scotty just to kill time. He has since proven me right by banging bimbo after bimbo, all of whose first names invariably end in y .

 

My friendship with the Clueless Two, Manda and Sara, certainly didnt make my life any sunnier, especially after Manda couldnt resist her natural urge to bang Bridgets boyfriend, and Sara couldnt resist her inborn instinct to blab to the world about it.

 

And finally, to make matters worse, Miss Hyacinth Anastasia Wallace, the one girl I thought had friend potential, turned out to be a Manhattan celebutante hoping to gain credibility by slumming at Pineville High for a marking period or two, then writing a book about it, which was optioned by Miramax before she completed the spell check on the last draft, and will be available in stores nationwide just in time for Christmas.

 

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