Pumpkin (Dumplin' #3) - Julie Murphy Page 0,1

might hiss at him.

Ms. Laverne, a Black woman around the age of my grammy with soft brown walnut-shaped eyes and the most perfect Cupid’s bow I’ve ever seen, plops down on the cot. I take her chair, twirling in a circle, like I’m some kind of office chair figure skater. (I can find the glamour in anything. My twin sister, Clementine, swears it’s a gift.)

Shaking her head, Ms. Laverne says, “You really did drop that piping-hot churro on my floor, didn’t you?”

I sigh. “And Gloria said it was their last one. Life is a series of tragedies.”

She lies back and crosses her ankles, her feet clad in bright white orthopedic shoes as they dangle off the edge. God, those things look comfortable. Why do all shoes that are basically pillows for your feet always have to be ugly? Is it some sort of sick universal law? Today Ms. Laverne’s hair is a wavy dark-brown bob with a few golden highlights. My first favorite thing about Ms. Laverne is her willingness to give me safe harbor. My second favorite thing about Ms. Laverne is her rotating collection of wigs.

“Shirts and skins in PE class, huh?” asks Ms. Laverne.

I nod.

“Life really is a series of tragedies,” she confirms.


Clem and I are twins who have been raised with one universal truth: when you’re a twin, nothing is entirely your own. And for our sixteenth birthday, my parents demonstrated this by giving us every teenager’s dream gift: a car.

Of course, our parents would see no problem in giving us one single car. To share. The truck—or Beulah, as we have lovingly named her—is a cobalt-blue single-cab hand-me-down that was once Dad’s work truck. Since Clem barely passed the driving test—and in a rather traumatic fashion—she only drives when she absolutely has to. So I am her eternal designated driver. Still, this clunker of a vehicle is 50 percent hers, which is why I’m sitting in the parking lot waiting for my sister, who is waiting for her girlfriend.

Yeah, you heard that right. My twin sister is a lover of the ladies. Our parents basically hit the queer lottery.

“Clem!” I shout out the driver’s side window. “Clementine!”

She twirls around at the front of the parking lot, her mouth set into a deep pout. Two long orange braids lie down the front of her shoulders over her striped ringer T-shirt, and bright red glasses frame her soft blue eyes. Mom always jokes that no one actually knows the real texture of Clem’s hair because she’s been wearing it in braids every day since we were kids. Straight out of the shower and into two braids. When I’ve prodded her about cutting them off, she gets weirdly defensive and begins to pet them, like they’re the source of everything that makes her Clementine. My twin is only a few inches shorter than me, which means she towers over her girlfriend, Hannah.

Just behind Clem, Hannah saunters out of the school entrance, flocked by her posse of oddball friends, and waves a quick goodbye to them. Even though Hannah’s general response to people seems to be that she’s allergic, she takes Clem’s hand, and her whole expression gets a massive glow up. Hannah is a small person with big energy. I can’t imagine she’s taller than five three, but honestly anything shorter than five nine and I lose my ability to discern height. You’re either shorter than me or much shorter than me. Unless you’re Tucker Watson, in which case you are slightly taller than me.

Hannah and Clem have been dating since last summer. They met only four days after Hannah’s then girlfriend, Courtney, broke up with her. Since Hannah is Clem’s first real girlfriend, I was scared she would be nothing more than a rebound for Hannah, but turns out I was wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time. If Clem dresses like she could be a kid on a playdate, Hannah looks more like an extra in Mad Max. They make an odd duo at times, but watching them together is like watching two people who have gone their whole lives speaking a language only they can understand. Plus, Hannah isn’t as tough as she looks. Clem once confessed to me that she was named after a character from General Hospital, so I feel like having a daytime soap opera name means you have to have at least a slightly ooey-gooey center.

“Come on, come on, come on, come on,” I mutter to myself, tapping my thumb against the