"I've been in love with the same boy for a thousand years. That's weird, especially since I'm only seventeen, and I can barely hold a guy's interest to the end of a five-minute conversation.
Ever since a psychic told Penny that she's been in love with the same guy for a thousand years, she's had nightmares. In every lifetime -- over and over again -- her mysterious boyfriend is present and so is her best friend, Diana. Both die young and their deaths are always Penny's fault. Can Penny change their fate--and her own? Will true love triumph?
|Publisher:||Roaring Brook Press|
|File size:||262 KB|
|Age Range:||12 - 18 Years|
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Over and Over You
By Amy McAuley
Roaring Brook PressCopyright © 2005 Amy McAuley
All rights reserved.
I've been in love with the same boy for a thousand years. That's weird, especially since I'm only seventeen, and I can barely hold a guy's interest to the end of a five-minute conversation. Don't ask me how I've kept the same boyfriend for a millennium.
Last night, my mom threw a psychic party, mostly for her friends who need assurance that their futures will be better than their pasts. My innocent trip to the living room, to steal from the dessert and deli trays, somehow led to me visiting Margie, the psychic, too. I figured I'd get a far-fetched reading, laugh it off, and quickly forget about it. Turns out, I was right about the far-fetched part, wrong about being able to forget.
"We may not remember the people from our pasts," Margie said, "but when we happen upon them, it feels right. Circumstances bring us together in ways we can't understand." She flipped a red curl off her face and leaned closer. "Penny, the boy from your past, he is searching for you in this life, even though he doesn't realize it."
Margie may have thought her story was fun and romantic, but to find out that a reincarnated stranger is looking for me sent invisible feather dusters rolling down my skin. For all I know, the guy could be in Super-Saver with me at this very moment, squeezing the melons or choosing paper over plastic.
I scan groceries as they roll to me, lulled into a trance by the beep the machine makes whenever a product slides over it. My heavy head bobs with the rhythm.
Get to plastic divider bar. Smile at customer. Say "Hi!" in pretend, cheery voice. Ring up total. Kid strapped into cart screams for candy. Customer relents to shut kid up. Ring up total again. Customer scrounges within murky depths of gigantic purse for correct change she knows she has in there somewhere. Say "Thanks, have a nice night." Move on to the next customer. Scan groceries.
A chimp with a half-decent personality could do my job. I wish I didn't like money so much. I also wish I had a dad who liked money more than beer. Maybe then I'd have two parents who could take care of me, so I wouldn't have to work my ass off at a crappy job before trudging home to study and do homework. When I complain about it to Mom, she says, "Well, you can't get everything you want in life." Who the hell made up that stupid motto?
After work, I zip up my jacket and step from bright busyness into calm darkness. The energetic puppy persona I have to use at work seeps into the parking lot. I take a huge breath, inhaling a little part of the deep black sky. My shoulders slump.
"Penny!" My name echoes through the empty parking lot.
Squinting in the direction the voice came from, I spot three shadowy figures lined up beside a parked car at the side of the lot. The one in the middle is my best friend, Diana. I'd know her lithe ballerina body and maximum-volume voice anywhere. The identity of the other two is a mystery that I'm not too keen on solving. They're taller than Di, and built like guys. All I wanted to do after work was go home, take a bubble bath, and watch a movie. Something tells me my regularly scheduled program has been pre-empted.
I sigh. Di can be the kindest, most serene person around. Or she can be the loudest, most obnoxious one. She blames her extreme personalities on being a Gemini. Yeah, sure, it all has to do with the alignment of the stars, not a chemical imbalance or anything. The only time she talks to me in that snappish way is when she's with a guy she's trying to hook up with, as if to immediately set the record straight that she's cooler than me.
"I'm coming," I call back. "Don't get your big grandma-underpants in a knot."
I'd do absolutely anything for Di. She's like a sister to me. The only problem is, sisters know where your frustration buttons are. And they don't mind pushing them. Sometimes I want to tackle Di to the ground and duke it out, like real siblings do.
We're alike in many ways, but where guys are concerned, we're polar opposites. I've never had a boyfriend, and she goes through guys like they're disposable razors. They eventually get dull and lose their edge, then they're chucked in the trash. In the five years I've known Di, she's had nine boyfriends, not counting the party stash of guys she keeps in reserve. Each breakup is followed by a guy-free period, and for the past three months, she's been single. Secretly, I was glad.
I step up to the car, looking only at Di's face. "Hi. What are you guys doing?"
"We were waiting for you," she says. "We're going to Ryan's to hang out."
Ryan. My gaze flicks side to side. He must be the dark-haired guy on Di's left. The blond one to her right is Scott McLean. I know because he's in my math class. All the girls think he's soooo cute. Squeal!
"We've got beer," Di adds, as if that'll convince me to leave with them.
The stiff collar of my shirt suddenly seems unbearably tight. Figures Di would show up with guys when she knows I'm dressed in my supreme-dork work uniform. What little makeup I wear to work wore off hours ago, my hair is a static-cling mess, and I probably stink.
"We have to stop by my place first," I say.
A hint of a smile tweaks Di's mouth. "Okay."
We get in the car, Di and Scott up front and Ryan and me in the back. Ryan gives me a smile as we're leaning toward each other to buckle our seat belts, and my stomach bounces up to say hello to my throat. Ryan is cute. Really, really cute. Instead of smiling back, I stare at the back of Di's head.
* * *
Ryan's older brother rents the basement from his parents. Since he's at work, we're hanging out in his apartment. Since his parents are out for the night, we're drinking.
"You don't talk much, Penny?"
I glance up at Ryan. He smiles with his beer bottle poised at his lips. The last time he came back from the bathroom, he sat on the floor, directly across from me.
"That depends," I say, shredding my bottle label.
"Get her another beer," Di says. "Pen is hilarious, but she gets nervous around guys."
I glance at her, annoyed, and notice she's now using Scott's lap as a chair.
How Di gets away with her slutty behavior astounds me. I figure it must be her hair. The way the light sparkles off it must hypnotize people; that's the only theory I can come up with. And guys are so easily bedazzled, it's frightening.
Ryan sets his bottle near my leg and clambers to standing. "You like Pink Floyd?"
I don't know anyone my age who likes the same music I do. "I love Pink Floyd."
"Come here. My brother has tons of CDs and albums."
Di's eyes and eyebrows suggest, in a not so subtle way, that I should get off my butt. I set my bottle on the worn brown carpet beside Ryan's and meet him at a huge CD rack.
"Have you seen the movie The Wall?" I ask.
"Sure, I have it on DVD. It's a great movie."
I laugh way too loudly, transforming into some alien girlie-girl I've never met before.
The drawer of the CD player whirrs open and Ryan sets a disc onto the holder.
When the music starts, Di groans. "You guys and your old-people music."
That's an ironic comment, coming from somebody who listens to classical music every day. Ryan and I smile at each other. Birds of a feather stick together.
We turn away from the stereo, only to find that Scott and Di are making out, and our beer bottles are in serious jeopardy of being knocked over by Scott's very large and very happy feet. Ryan creeps past the entangled bodies and rescues our beer in the nick of time. He sets the bottles on a table near the stereo and runs a hand through his hair, lifting it off his forehead. His bright green eyes remind me of the beautiful tropical ocean pictures in the travel magazines Mom pores over to torture herself.
"Would it be okay if I kissed you, Penny?"
I stiffen and glance over his shoulder.
"Don't worry, they're not paying any attention to us," he says.
That's partly what I was worried about, Di and Scott watching us, but there's one other gigantic thing that's bothering me. I've never kissed anybody before. Ever. Not even in middle school when we played stupid games like Spin the Bottle at parties. I went in the closet with the guy when my turn came up, but somehow I always managed to spend the entire two minutes talking, not kissing. I haven't practiced kissing a pillow or mirror or anything. I am so unprepared for this major milestone in my life.
I nod, and my brain cries, No, shake head side to side, not up and down, dummy!
Ryan licks his lips and leans toward me. I close my eyes. And then it's happening. He's kissing me slowly and romantically; the complete opposite of how I'd imagined a teenage guy would kiss. In the background, David Gilmour croons out one of my most favorite Pink Floyd tunes. My heart thumps hard and I feel ready to throw up. But it's mixed with the best feeling in the entire world.
* * *
Di made Ryan walk me home. Not against his will, he wanted to, but when she uses her loud voice, people tend to take action. I tried to convince her that I could walk home alone. She told me not to be stupid.
When Ryan and I got to my house, I casually mentioned, "There's my house," and we kept walking. We're on our sixth rotation around my block.
"Remember the Spirit Day we had in ninth grade?" Ryan says. "With the mud slide?"
"Wasn't that fun? At the end, Di and I looked like swamp monsters."
"You were wearing a sleeveless shirt. I thought you had good arms and shoulders."
Good arms and shoulders. That's a strange compliment. Somebody must have forgotten to tell Ryan that guys don't notice me. When your best friend is a dancer with bedazzling hair, you grow accustomed to being her invisible sidekick.
I have clear memories of that Spirit Day, freshman year, and they don't include Ryan. I feel bad that he noticed me that long ago. I didn't know who he was until tonight.
He adjusts his baseball cap and takes hold of my hand. "Do you swim?"
"I can. I'm probably not very good anymore. Before my parents got divorced, I used to take lessons at the community pool during summer break."
"The pool on Nelson Street?" he asks, and I nod. "I'm a swim instructor there, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, after school. And I'm a lifeguard."
A lifeguard. That's in the same realm as fireman or race-car driver, as far as fantasy boyfriends go. I take a few seconds to picture Ryan in a Speedo.
As we approach my house, again, Ryan slows down.
"What do you like about teaching?" I ask, not wanting our talk to end.
"The beginners. Some of them come in too afraid to put their faces in the water, but by the end of the lessons, they're almost always swimming around like fish. That's cool," he says, and his enthusiasm makes me smile.
We stop at the end of my driveway. Mom's bedroom light is the only one on. Hopefully, she won't come out in her robe to remind me that I'm past curfew.
"There's not much I don't like about working at the pool. Maybe that I don't have as much free time as I'd like."
"I feel like I don't have enough free time, either."
Ryan adjusts his hat, pulling it forward and back. "If you get some free time, maybe you could come to the pool," he says, sounding as nervous as I feel. "We could swim a few laps or something."
"Okay. That sounds fun."
I have no idea why I said that. Swimming with Ryan would involve wearing a bathing suit. I might as well have agreed to flash him my underwear.
"Well, I should go inside," I say. Going inside is the last thing I want to do, but the longer our good-bye drags out, the more anxious I'll get, especially since I'm still on a high from my great first kiss. "I'll see you at school on Monday?"
"Sure. Your locker's near the library, right?"
"Right," I say, shocked that he knows where both my locker and the library are.
A firefly glows brightly near my front porch. For the first time in a least an hour, Ryan and I stand quietly together, tracking the bug's trail into my neighbor's yard.
While I'm waiting for the next tiny light to appear, Ryan gives me a fast kiss. "Bye, Penny. See you at school."
"Bye." I wave, jerkily, like my arm's forgotten how to work properly.
When I reach the side of the house, out of Ryan's sight, I do a funky dance, wishing I could let my happiness out in a big scream. I have way too much energy to go to sleep, even though it's late. I'll lie in bed, stare at the ceiling, and replay every second of tonight over and over in my head.
And, to think, all I wanted to do after work was go home and watch a movie.
I'm naked. Not a cover-my-body-with-my-arms, embarrassed-type naked. This is a proud, lusty kind of naked that I've certainly never felt before. Silk and a thick blanket drape the bed beneath me. I'm alone.
Flames flicker at the ends of torches. Damp shadows caress the room's stone walls. People are coming. Female voices travel nearer, growing louder outside the wooden door on my right. They bustle into the room, a miasma of guttural speech. My ears hear French. My brain hears their words translated into English.
Two women draw me from the bed. Rough hands push, shove, and strap me into clothing I know to be my own. I'm whirled about.
Diana stands just inside the doorway, her white T-shirt and torn jeans soaked in blood. Torchlight glistens on the slick red trail that drips from her forehead to her chin. I'm nearly oblivious to the women fussing with my hair and clothing. A lump rises out of my chest, coming to rest in my throat like a jagged stone.
"Why?" Diana asks, her voice the breath of a ghost. Her mouth works, but I cannot hear what she is saying. I see her tongue roll as she admonishes me, and her white lips peel back in hateful scorn.
Flames lick her feet, appearing out of the floor like magic. Diana's head rears back. Silent screams bellow from her wide mouth.
Whimpering, I slowly wake up. My entire body is tensed. Pale beams of streetlamp light cross my blanket. My blanket. My room. The walls are peach and plastered in posters, they're not made of stone. I roll onto my stomach, too afraid to let my hands or arms dangle over the side of the bed. I'll never be able to get back to sleep with a vision of Diana covered in blood popping up behind my closed eyelids.
Think of other things: chocolate, cute furry kitties, Diana, blood, meadows of pretty wildflowers, oceans of blood, frolicking puppies, fire.
Damn. This isn't working.CHAPTER 2
Super-Saver closes early on Sundays, but when I drag myself into the house after work, I'm dead tired, as if I worked a ten-hour shift with no breaks.
The phone rings while I'm taking off my shoes. My sister, Kalli, runs into the kitchen on her long stilt-legs, sees me bent over in the laundry room, and races to the phone to get there before I do. I barely have the energy to hang up my coat.
"Peneeeelopeeeee!" she calls, stretching my name out like an accordion. "Phone."
I sigh and trudge into the kitchen.
Kalli holds the receiver out, covering the mouthpiece. "It's a boy!"
My legs feel like sandbags, and my feet are killing me, but I run to grab the phone before Kalli can say something to embarrass me. She pulls the phone back at the last second, puckers up, and pretends to kiss it. I yank it out of her hand and pretend to whack her in the head with it.
"I'm telling Mom!" she squeals, galloping away.
I take a deep breath to compose myself. "Hello?"
"Hi, Penny, it's Ryan. I was wondering if you'd want to watch The Wall at my house on Friday," he says, and the words fly at me, like he's a speed-reading telemarketer.
When I realize that he's asking me out, I lean against the wall, lightheaded. Do I have plans for Friday? Do I have to work? I'm not sure. What's my name? Where am I?
"Sure," I say, not sure if I'm already busy, but Ryan is worth a sick day from work.
I catch Kalli spying on me from the stairs. My most menacing glare sends her scurrying to her room, but not before giving an imaginary phone one last kiss. She's thirteen going on nine.
Ryan and I get talking about school and new movies, and I don't notice that we've been on the phone a long time until Mom gets in from work. She taps her watch, which means I've been tying up the phone while she was trying to call home. She hates that.
Excerpted from Over and Over You by Amy McAuley. Copyright © 2005 Amy McAuley. Excerpted by permission of Roaring Brook Press.
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