Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles

Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles

Author:Simone Elkeles
Format: mobi, epub
ISBN: 9780738710181
Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide
Published: 2007-03-31T08:00:00+00:00




You ignore me, and I'll ignore you. Maggie, like every X other girl in my life, is trying to control me. I'm sick of the games, I'm sick of feeling like a jerk. And most of all I'm sick of people gawking at me because I went to jail.

I know she's staring at me, I can feel her eyes on me like little pin pricks poking into my back. Out of frustration, I pound the next nail into the two-by-four harder than I normally would and whack my forefinger with the hammer.

I glare at Maggie.

The girl is sitting on the ground wearing torn and stained overalls. "I ... I wasn't staring at you," she stutters. "The hell you weren't," I bark back. I hold my arms


out wide. "You want to gawk at the ex-con, you got it. Just answer one thing for me, will ya? You like it when people stare at you when you limp around like you're gonna topple over any second?"

Maggie sucks in a breath, then covers her nose and mouth with her hand as she hobbles inside the house.

Oh crap.

My finger is throbbing, my head is pounding, and I insulted a crippled girl--a girl I'm responsible for crippling. I should just go to hell right now because the deal with the devil is probably signed anyway.

Mrs. Reynolds has no clue what's happening, her head is slumped in the chair and she's snoring.

I throw down the hammer and go into the house to find Maggie. I hear sniffling sounds coming from the kitchen. Maggie is standing at the counter, taking vegetables out of the refrigerator. She pulls out a cutting board and starts cutting them with a huge butcher knife.

"I'm sorry," I say. "I shouldn't have said that."

"It's fine."

"Obviously it's not or you wouldn't be crying."

"I'm not crying."

I lean my hip against the counter. "There's tears running down your face." Plain as day I can see 'em.

She picks up an onion and holds it out to me. "My eyes tear when I cut onions."

My fists clench together, because I can't shake her and


make her yell at me. This time I deserve to be yelled at. "Say something."

Instead of responding, she chops the onion in two. I imagine she's pretending that onion is my head ... or some other part of my body.

"Fine, have it your way," I say, then leave her. If she wants to live in silence, that's her choice.

I clench my teeth so much they hurt, and the rest of the afternoon I work outside on the gazebo. It feels good to create something useful, something to finally make someone proud of me for a change. Because the rest of my life I've totally fucked up.

Maggie abandoned her post in the yard. She hasn't been outside since I went off on her.

At seven I inform a waking Mrs. Reynolds I'm leaving for the day and head for the bus stop. Maggie's not far behind.

I'm standing on the corner of Jarvis and Lake Streets, backpack flung over my shoulder, when a car screeches beside me.


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