Read My Almost Epic Summer Online

Authors: Adele Griffin

Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Juvenile Fiction, #Social Issues, #Conduct of life, #Family & Relationships, #Love & Romance, #Interpersonal Relations, #Friendship, #Self-Help, #Business; Careers; Occupations, #Self-Perception, #Babysitters

My Almost Epic Summer

BOOK: My Almost Epic Summer
13.95Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Table of Contents
Foreshadowing happens in Epics, but never in real life.
In real life, I knew exactly what my summer was changing into—unrelenting hours of playing I Spy with Lainie Prior and telling Evan for the umpteenth time to wash his muddy sneakers, feet, or legs before coming indoors, while counting off the days until school started. Which would then begin a whole new countdown to the last day of school. I wonder when I can stop my countdowns? I guess not until the day I take off.
But I guess things could be worse. Five hundred years ago I’d be babysitting my own kids.
For Erich
With special thanks to Lisa Brown, Katie Hancock, Matt Heller, Sara Kreger,
Charlotte Sheedy, Geoff Watson, and especially Nancy Paulsen.
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland
(a division of Penguin Books Ltd)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia
(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)
Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre,
Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand
(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue,
Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
Registered Offices: Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
First published in the United States of America by G. P. Putnam’s Sons,
a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2006
Published by Speak, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2008
Copyright © Adele Griffin, 2006
All rights reserved
Griffin, Adele. My almost epic summer / Adele Griffin.
p. cm.
Summary: Stuck babysitting during the summer while her friends take
glamorous vacations, fourteen-year-old Irene learns some lessons
about life after meeting a beautiful, yet troubled, girl.
[1. Self-perception—Fiction. 2. Conduct of life—Fiction.
3. Interpersonal relations—Fiction. 4. Babysitters—Fiction.]
I. Title. PZ7.G881325My 2006 [Fic]—dc22 2005013491
eISBN : 978-1-101-09853-0
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

I Am Fired
HERE IS MY DREAM. One day I am going to open my own beauty salon. It will be an upscale but cozy boutique in Los Angeles, with chandeliers and a white wood floor, where I will offer the latest looks. My specialty, however, will be re-creating the hairdos of Great Women in Literature.
I plan to call my shop Heroine Hairstyles.
In preparation, I have drawn seventy-six pages of heroine heads in my blue spiral notebook. Three heads to a row, four rows to a page, no order. On one page, Franny Glass is next to Antigone is next to Scout Finch is above Anna Kareni—
“Girl! You got shampoo in my eye!”
I look down. The lady’s eyes are squeezed tight. “Left or right?” I ask.
“Who cares left or right? Get me some water!”
My mom races from the cash register to the line of sinks. When Mom’s mad, she says my name like it’s a pronoun plus verb.
Rene (REEN): to perform an act of astonishing stupidity.
“Hurry up! My eye—my
eye—is burning!”
Mom has the hand towel and glass of water ready. She shoos me off. Bella, sweeping up hair at the other end of the sinks, giggles while watching herself giggle in the opposite mirror. Working at a beauty salon is the perfect job for Bella, whose first love is her own reflection.
“Flush.” Mom hands the lady the glass of water. “Apologize to Mrs. Conti,” she hisses at me.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Conti,” I say. “It was an accident.”
“You said the same thing last week.” Mrs. Conti sits up, tips the water into her eye and blinks.
“A little water clears us of this deed,” I quote. That’s from Shakespeare, after Lady Macbeth gets her husband to pop off Duncan. It’s not exactly an apology as much as an observation about how guilt can stain a person’s character. Sister Soledad says I have a knack for ironic quotation.
Mrs. Conti looks like she’d have been happier with plain old groveling.
Mom signals Bella to finish Mrs. Conti’s shampoo. Then she tugs me into the changing room, locking the door behind us. She begins with her usual sigh.
“Mom, I know. But I’m really,
working on paying better attention at the sinks.”
“Honey, it’s more than that,” says Mom. “You’ve been here—what?—three weeks? And all I do is run interference for your crazy screwups.”
“I’d feel better if you said honest mistakes.”
“I’ll give you honest,” says Mom, “but let’s backtrack a minute. In three weeks, you shrunk an entire wash load of fitting robes down to baby doll size. You put hot oil in the cream rinse dispensers and vice versa. You junked the magazines into recycling and left us without a scrap of reading for our clients. Then yesterday, you managed to mix up Mrs. Dent’s color glaze so that her hair turned pink.” Mom shudders at the memory. “And I lost count of how many times you’ve burned clients’ eyes or scalded their scalps. People shouldn’t equal an appointment here with
Irene. This is a beauty salon, not a dentist’s office.”
“But Mom, I’m still new.”
“Three weeks isn’t new.” Mom is tapping her teeth with her nails. One coat of Cotton Candy and one of Rose Blush. I did them for her last night. I smudged a thumb but I don’t think she’s noticed yet. “Hon, I might own this business, but I answer to the customer. Don’t you want to work someplace that fits you better?”
“I like it here.”
“Yeah, I know, but . . .” Mom stops tapping and stares at me with those intense brown eyes I didn’t inherit. “Maybe here doesn’t like you back.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Instead of answering, she hugs me. “I’m real sorry,” Mom whispers in my ear, “but we’ve gotta eat and pay bills. Irene, honey, this is just not working out. I’m gonna have to let you go.”
Something Turns Up
AS I SIT with my book on the hood of our car, waiting for Mom to finish locking up the salon, I can see and hear the epic of
My Life,
set to an evocative soundtrack.
What kind of mother fires her own daughter?
narrates the brave, only slightly plaintive heroine.
My Life
fades out once I get back into the ending of
The Color Purple.
At first I was reading it for Shug Avery’s hairstyle, but now I have to see if Celie gets her revenge on any of the people who’ve been kicking her around. As a whole, this story puts a person in a kicking mood.
When I look up, Mom and Judith Prior are walking toward me across the parking lot. Judith owns the Plugged Nickel, a secondhand shop two down from Style to Go.
Mom is smiling. She does not bear the guilty countenance of a woman who has just sacked her own daughter.
“We have a plan,” Mom announces once they’re in earshot.
“Irene,” begins Judith, “how would you like to come work for me?”
“Oh,” I answer. “Hmm.” Judith’s shop would not advance my future salon career, though it has its cramped, cluttered charms. There’s a jukebox that plays tinny songs from the 1950s, and Judith lets her customers hang out all afternoon without inflicting any pressure to buy a single thing. I should know.
“What’s the catch?” I ask.
“No catch,” says Judith. “I’ll match your pay here, plus ten percent.”
There is a catch. Something twinkly is happening in Judith’s eye. “What about transportation?” I’m suspicious. “And are the hours the same?”
BOOK: My Almost Epic Summer
13.95Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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