Sophie's Smile: A Novel

Sophie's Smile: A Novel by Sheena Harper Read Free Book Online

Book: Sophie's Smile: A Novel by Sheena Harper Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sheena Harper
Tags: Novels
older, and quite obviously gave up on Justin years ago. Both parents came from previous marriages and had other children. Justin was the unexpected product of their late love affair. Justin’s upbringing was one of half dysfunction, half spoiling. His personality matched his upbringing—he threw tantrums at the drop of a hat; later, he would be comforted by mommy and showered with gifts. To sum it up, Justin was either a big, soft teddy bear or a force to be reckoned with. And you did not want to be there for the latter.
     
    Today he wanted to play chess. His dad taught both of us the game back when we were seven, which is probably why he always won. We hadn’t played chess since we were eight, before I left for Tahoe.
    “Do you mind?” Justin asked as he started setting up the 32 pieces on the black-and-white checkered board.
    I shrugged. “Sure.” I really didn’t care what we did as long as Justin was in a good mood and I was distracted. It didn’t really matter how I felt, anyway…Justin always got his way. I learned to accept it. It was easier for everyone that way.
    This was a good game. An hour went by and I was in full focus. Justin was fidgeting, his mood deteriorating with each capture and move I made. My heart was racing. Could this be? Will I finally win a game of chess? I had to focus. And then there it was. In that moment the pieces glowed and the chess-gods were finally on my side. It was like the angels were singing and Glinda was leading me down the yellow brick road toward—.
    “Checkmate.” I said nonchalantly. I was trying to hide my smug, elated face as I won the game. Justin’s cheeks turned from tan to crimson in a matter of seconds.
    Shit…I knew it was too good to be true.
    “What the Fu—!”
    Chess pieces started flying and the next thing I knew there was a gaping hole in the living room wall. I wasn’t shocked. It wasn’t the first time, and I’m sure it wouldn’t be the last. I was more…well, disappointed.
    Come on, Justin, grow up. You probably already won like a hundred times…can’t I just win once? Of course I didn’t say that. I just did what I always did. Stood by, silently, trying to stifle my laughter, watching as Justin tore up the room like Cookie Monster ripping through a box of cookies. Looking back, I probably should have just let him win, but at this point I knew there was nothing I could do; there was no reasoning with him, so I left. After witnessing my parents’ divorce, I had no more tolerance for tantrums and selfishness. I was over it.
     
     
    4
     
    Days, months, and then years flew by without a single word from Justin. If it was anyone else I probably would have been concerned, but it was Justin. I was a little peeved but not surprised. He was the biggest baby I knew, and honestly I no longer cared whether or not we remained friends. With friends like that, who needs enemies.
    I picked up my acoustic guitar, which I spotted at a seedy pawn shop two years ago, and started strumming mindlessly. I focused on the melody that rose from each chord I struck, creating glorious vibrations, just by strumming on the taut nylon strings. Unconsciously, I started repeating the chords to James Taylor’s You’ve Got a Friend , starting over each time a note was slightly out of place, trying to perfect it.
    That was my fault…always trying to perfect everything…to be perfect. To some, I guess it would be considered a strength , but to me, I only looked at it as a dangerous weapon that could someday lead to my death, a weakness.
    I didn’t have a choice, it was my way of coping, it was the only thing I had complete control over—to be perfect. To work night and day until I perfected the new song I learned. To weigh out each ounce of flour on a digital scale before dumping it into the mixing bowl, in order to make sure the cookies tasted flawlessly delicious. To throw the baseball 500 times a day until I could strike out everyone on the opposing team.
    I could

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