Sticks & Stones

Sticks & Stones by Abby Cooper Read Free Book Online

Book: Sticks & Stones by Abby Cooper Read Free Book Online
Authors: Abby Cooper
the bathroom?”
    She laughed. “Yeah, sometimes. I haven’t been doing it much, but I have to take quiet when I can get it. My house is always crazy.”
    â€œOh yeah! You have a bunch of brothers and sisters, right?”
    â€œYeah! Do you have any?”
    â€œNope. If you ever get sick of yours, I’ll borrow them.”
    Olivia laughed.
    â€œHow old are they?” I asked.
    â€œWell…” She scratched her chin and laughed again. “I should know this. Okay, so Emmanuel is sixteen, and Vera is fourteen, and I’m eleven. Then Philip is eight, Farrah is five, and Matthew is two.”
    â€œDo you all get along?”
    â€œYeah … we don’t have much choice. Farrah has brittle-bone disease, so we all take care of her together. It’s the mild kind, but still. I think we all feel kinda dumb about fighting when we think about what she has to deal with.”
    â€œWow.” Everything Olivia said made me want to be her friend even more. She really cared about people. And her sister—it might make me a little selfish, but the first thing I thought was that if Olivia was so kind to her sister, maybe she’d be kind to me, too, if she knew about my CAV.
    But I couldn’t bring myself to tell her. The second I considered it, my throat dried up so much that I couldn’t say anything . So instead of talking, I smiled and opened up my book and my lunch. I grabbed my string cheese—courtesy of Nice Andy for the fifth day in a row (now his mom was buying extra for the middle school cheese-eaters)—and offered her a big chunk.
    Olivia smiled and took it. Then she opened her book, too, and for the next twenty minutes we sat on our bench with our books, enjoying a little peace and quiet and cheese.

    One of the good parts about being in middle school was that now I was allowed to go out by myself on the weekends as long as my homework was done and I promised to stay close. I could just decide, Hey, I want to go for a walk, and not have to wait around for Mom or Jeg or anyone to agree to go with me.
    I didn’t know where I was going when I started walking on Saturday morning. All I knew was that I was crunching in the leaves along the way, and the sun was out, and everything seemed perfect even though some things were a mess and I had lots of dumb, itchy words on my body to prove it. But I tried really hard not to let myself think about it—until I found myself at the big neighborhood field, right near the bleachers.
    I looked around, like How did I get here? I didn’t mean to go to the field. I didn’t want to be at the field. I’d rather have been at home, locked in my room with a thousand bottles of the thickest, goopiest, most disgusting anti-itch cream Mom could find than be at the field. Yet there I was. There, my feet had automatically taken me. Traitors.
    Last year, Jeg and I had gone to the field all the time because we wanted fresh air, and also because we wanted to spy on Kevin and Liam. Mostly because we wanted to spy on Kevin and Liam.
    They were on the soccer team that practiced every Saturday morning. We would pack bags of candy (for energy) and skip down the street, giggling the whole way because we would always say the same thing at the same time and it was hilarious. Everything was hilarious when I was with my best friend, even the stuff that wasn’t really all that funny.
    When we’d get to the field, we’d run and hide behind the rusty bleachers on the sidelines. If we sat criss-cross-applesauce, we were at the perfect angle where we could see out but people couldn’t see in. From that position, we watched practice after practice, commenting the whole time about how cute Kevin looked in his uniform (Jeg) and how nice and focused Liam was (me).
    â€œEveryone over here,” a big voice boomed, snapping me out of my thoughts. People in blue jerseys poured in from all directions. I

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