Not Dead Enough
- Pages: 416 Pages
- Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
- Imprint: Viking Books for Young Readers
- ISBN: 9780593205549
An Excerpt From
Not Dead Enough
The house creaked and I flinched. I never used to be like that. But now, everything made me jump.
It was just a settling noise. Probably. But what if it wasn’t?
Were the doors locked? I’d checked them an hour ago, but what if, when I checked them, I’d accidentally unlocked them?
My therapist, Gemma, told me my anxiety lied to me, and I knew she was right. But knowing something and feeling it were two different things. My brain knew the doors were locked. I remembered locking them.
But my anxiety whispered that I couldn’t trust what I thought. I huffed out a breath and got up.
I eased my bedroom door open and tiptoed downstairs, using my phone to light the hallway. I checked the front door, then the kitchen door. They were locked. Of course they were locked. I closed my eyes and sighed.
When I got back to my room, I stopped in the doorway. My room was cold, and it hadn’t been a few minutes ago. Weird. I put on a sweatshirt and sat back down.
I thought about texting Lori or Ian, but normal people were asleep.
I’m the only one who’ll ever love you, Charlotte. The memory of Jerry’s voice echoed in my head.
If Jerry and I were still together, I could text him. He never cared if I woke him up. He’d send me videos of ocean waves and tell me stories of how we’d lie on the beach or build sandcastles. While he talked, I could almost smell the salt and feel the hot sand.
But I couldn’t text Jerry anymore. That part of my life was over. I rubbed my achy eyes. Eventually, I’d be able to sleep.
As I scrolled through my phone, I tapped my foot. I opened Awake All Night, an app for insomniacs like me. I’d never messaged anyone, but I liked knowing other people were awake too.
One of the dots was only a few miles away. I’d looked at his profile before, but never messaged him. Starry_Nate, 16, Connoisseur of the Weird. The next closest people were Twinkletoes, 77, Former Ballroom Dancer, and Cogsworth, 43, Collects Talking Clocks.
Starry_Nate’s feed showed an article he’d shared about smart people being messy and staying up late. It was one I’d already read, but I skimmed it again. I hesitated. There was a Nate in a few of my classes. He seemed nice, but I’d never talked to him.
Randomly talking to someone wasn’t something I normally did, and if I were less exhausted, maybe I would have been nervous. But I was tired of thinking about the locks and Jerry.
Did you actually read the article before you shared it?
Of course. I read anything
that makes me look good. According to the article, I’m a genius.
You know it was probably written by someone who wanted to justify being messy and sleeping in, right?
Obviously. But that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
I smiled. But then the skin on the back of my neck prickled, like someone was watching me. I tried to ignore it. I was alone in the room. The doors were locked. Everything was fine.
What does “Connoisseur of the Weird” mean?
Did you know bullfrogs don’t sleep?
Okay, who even knew stuff like that? Did he just Google “weird random stuff ”?
Or snails have teeth?
I laughed, then covered my face with a pillow to muffle the noise. My parents would freak if they knew I was still up. They liked to pretend my insomnia wasn’t happening. My mom always told me “fake it till you make it,” meaning that I was supposed to pretend nothing was wrong, even when it was. She was the master of that, saying she was okay when she wasn’t and putting on makeup as armor so no one would know she had feelings.
Gotcha. Weird random facts.
What is up with girls being obsessed with Pride & Prejudice?
My smile faded. How did he know I loved Pride and Prejudice? But then I remembered my profile had a “favorite books” section, and I could breathe again. It didn’t mean anything.
Does liking something make me obsessed? It’s not like I’m going to change my name to Elizabeth and start wearing petticoats.
Changing your name would
be stepping over the crazy line.
The crazy line. I flinched and my fingers went still on my phone.
I knew he was joking but still, I hated that word. Sure, I called myself crazy sometimes, but it was different when someone else said it.
I jolted and looked toward the sound. My heart sped up.
Everything looked the same as it had a moment ago. Except for the book now lying on the floor. It must have fallen off my nightstand. For no reason. I rubbed my hands up and down my arms, then picked up the book. It was cool to the touch. I hesitated, then put it back.
My laptop sat open on my desk, the screen saver giving my dark bedroom a subtle glow. I couldn’t sleep in the dark anymore, so I left my laptop open as a night-light. I lay back down on my bed and scrolled through pictures on my phone. There was ten-year-old Lori and me in a blue kiddie pool in my backyard, our smiles and pink bathing suits matching, Lori’s hair dark where mine was light, her skin tanned golden, while mine was pale and luminescent with sunscreen.
Next up was a picture of Ian and me when we were about twelve, grinning at the camera with our arms wrapped around each other, our faces smeared with icing from our annual birthday cake fight. Ian’s brown skin had turned a richer shade of sepia from his being outside all summer. Then Ian standing alone in his basketball uniform. A freckled arm slung over his shoulder was the only indication that I’d cropped Jerry out. My eyes pricked with tears, and I squeezed them shut, trying to remember who I’d been without Jerry. It was like taking the stitches out of leather. You could remove the thread, but the holes would still be there, showing something was missing.
When I was with Jerry, I’d become a version of myself I didn’t recognize. Now that he was gone, I wasn’t sure who I was or if I liked the person I’d become.
I threw my phone down, not wanting to think about how I used to be. I turned onto my back and stared at the beach poster on my ceiling.
My phone pinged.
You still there?
I deleted the message I’d started writing. I started to delete my chat history, then remembered I didn’t have to do that anymore. Jerry wouldn’t see me messaging some other guy and get jealous. He couldn’t accuse me of hiding things. He couldn’t make me feel guilty.
I pushed the thoughts away. There was no point in thinking about any of that.
Because Jerry was dead, and he wasn’t coming back.
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