Can You Say Catastrophe

Saturday, April 20, 11:45 P.M.

My 13th birthday


Here’s the good news: my instincts were right.

Here’s the bad news: The party was so much worse than I could have ever imagined. It was the most embarrassing day of my entire life.

It started when I woke up this morning, but it went from bad to catastrophic when Dad made May, June, and me all make a wish and blow out our candles. I wished for a downpour so the party would be over, but the sky stayed light blue with little puffy white clouds, and I knew my wish wasn’t coming true. It’s too bad, because what happened after everyone ate birthday pie was like one of those moments in a movie that’s so awful, you can’t believe the filmmaker thought it up because it would never happen in real life. But in this case, it did.

I was talking to Billy and Brynn, and May walked over. “You want me to pick you up?” she asked Billy. He laughed and told May he’d love to see her try. So May grabbed Billy by the legs and lifted him up (pretty easily, actually) and held him in the air long enough to get the attention of her friends, who walked over to see what was going on.

“Who else wants to be picked up?” she asked.

Before I knew it, there was a lineup of ten-year-olds who wanted to see if May could pick them up. One by one, she picked up everyone in the line and held them in the air for a few seconds. Her friends were cheering. May was grinning.

“I bet you can’t pick up somebody really big,” one of her friends said.

May nodded her head like she accepted the dare, and then she looked around the backyard. Her eyes stopped on the tallest kid at the party—Matt Parker.

She started across the yard to where he was standing. I didn’t like where this was going. “Don’t!” I yelled. I tried to grab May and stop her, but before I could, she had her arms wrapped around Matt’s legs. The next thing I knew, he was hovering five inches above the ground.

Matt looked like he couldn’t believe some little kid was lifting him off the ground. I couldn’t either. Everyone crowded around and watched as May held Matt up for what felt like forever. There was clapping and whistling. Matt looked like he was in shock.

“Who are you?” asked May when she finally put him down.

Matt regained his composure and smiled.

He has the whitest teeth and the cutest smile. My heart stopped.

“Matt Parker. I just moved in next door.”

For a brief second, I thought maybe the worst was over, but that’s when June decided to chime in. She looked right at Matt. “April said you’re hot and that she doesn’t even know you yet but she already has a crush on you.”

I couldn’t believe what I heard—what everyone over the age of six and under fourteen in Faraway, Alabama, heard too. I had to do some damage control. “What are you talking about?” I made a face like no one should believe a word that was coming out of June’s mouth.

But June was nodding her head like she knew exactly what she was talking about. She pointed at me. “I heard you say those exact words to Brynn just a few minutes ago.”

Everyone looked at Brynn. I tried to send a message to her brain to be a good best friend and tell everyone that my sister was a pathological liar. But unfortunately, that’s not what Brynn did. She just stood there and grinned, like she thought the whole thing was funny.

Later, Brynn tried to explain that all she did was smile and that she didn’t confirm that what June said was true. But here’s the problem: she didn’t say it wasn’t true either!

Everyone was looking at me. I heard whispers and laughter. And just like that, I was stuck in the middle of the worst moment of my life. Matt raised his eyebrows at me, shook his head without saying anything, and then walked off. But his face said it all, and what it said was, get me out of here!

All I can say is, Matt Parker, take me with you! Take me somewhere far away. But wait! The joke’s on me—I’m already in Faraway.

Sunday, April 21, 9:14 A.M.

In bed

Where I plan to stay

For a very long time

I don’t know if it’s because as a teenager, my brain is capable of more complex thought