Authors: Alex Van Tol
Tags: #JUV049000, #JUV039060, #JUV039190
Alex Van Tol
ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERS
Copyright Â© 2012 Alex Van Tol
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced
or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including
photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now
known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Van Tol, Alex
Oracle [electronic resource] / Alex Van Tol.
Issued also in print format.
I. Title. II. Series: Orca currents (Online)
73 2012 Â Â Â Â Â Â j
813'.6 Â Â Â Â Â Â
First published in the United States, 2012
Library of Congress Control Number:
Owen sets up an anonymous blog to influence a girl at school.
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its
publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government
of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts,
and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council
and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.
10% of author royalties will go toward supporting the work of Kids Help Phone.
Cover photography by Thinkstock
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I can't help it. She's beautiful. I have to stare.
My love is like to ice and I to fire.
The words from that Renaissance guy's poem spool around in my head in a repeating loop. Mr. Schmidt would be proud that I remembered something from his class last year.
Poems don't usually make a lot of sense to me. But this one did. It was so true. The harder this poor guy loved the girl, the colder she got. He can't figure out why he can't melt her one little bit when he burns for her.
I totally get that. Looking at her stony perfection, I don't think I could melt Kamryn Holt's heart in a million years.
But that doesn't mean I can't try.
Maybe I'll ask her to go to the dance with me.
Maybe when pigs fly.
When the bell rings, my daydream ends and another screamingly dull social studies class is over. People fling their books into their bags and charge out the door.
It's lunch, and finally it's nice enough to sit outside.
By the time I make it through the crowded doorway, Kamryn is sitting at her usual place on the concrete wall. She is surrounded by other girls.
Even if I wanted to ask her to the dance, there's no way I could do it in front of that crowd. How do guys ever get anywhere with girls when all girls do is huddle together like a bunch of ducks?
The wall is a popular spot for the eights and nines. The sevens sit at the picnic tables. The sixes run around on the playground, screaming and pushing each other like demented toddlers. The senior students usually go to McDonald's or Starbucks for lunch.
I stroll toward the wall. I take a seat a few feet down from the girl gaggle. I pull my iPod from my backpack. Mason spots me and heads across the grass in my direction.
I unwind my headphones and take a package of cookies from my lunch.
Scratch that. The cookies
my lunch. I've been raised on Oreos and Chips Ahoy ever since my mom declared she was done making lunches. That was two years ago.
Mason drops his pack and plops down. “I hate Prost's class,” he says. “He's so picky.”
“Got your essay back?” I ask, glancing at him. Kamryn is exactly in my line of sight. I should thank Mason for sitting in the perfect spot.
Mason nods. “He killed it,” he says. “I mean, who cares if I spell
without the b? It's
Who remembers to add silent letters anyway?”
I shrug. “People who passed grade two?” I pop an Oreo into my mouth.
“Weren't you the one who failed grade two?” he retorts.
Mason laughs. “Hey, you coming over tonight? I finally got
for my Xbox. You can let my ninja kick your ninja's butt.”
“I have to stick around to help Ms. Hamilton with math tutorial after school,” I say. “But I'll come after dinner if I don't have too much homework.”
“Math help? Seriously?” Mason says. He unwraps a tasty-looking sandwich. “You're such a keener, O-man.”
“She totally cornered me,” I protest. “What am I going to say? No?”
“Yeah, that's exactly what you should say.” Mason takes a big bite of his sandwich. My attention drifts to where Kamryn sits with Becca farther down the wall.
Giggling, the two girls stand. I chew faster once I see them moving my way. I don't want to have sticky brown teeth if Kamryn stops to talk.
Like she ever would. She knows I exist, but that's about as deep as our relationship goes.
I swallow and take a slug of water, swishing. Why didn't I pick the vanilla Oreos this morning?
Kamryn and Becca move toward the stairs, talking. My heart speeds up when Becca stops in front of us. For one agonizing second I think she's going to talk to me. Which might be good, because it would open a conversation with Kamryn. It also might not be good, because I might end up looking like a freak with gooey black teeth.
Turns out I don't have to worry. Neither of them notice my existence.
Becca drops her bag and leans over to retie her sandal. It's one of those complicated ones with the ties that crisscross up the leg. It looks like it might take her awhile.
I keep my eyes down and listen.
“God, you should
not borrow these sandals for the spring dance, Kam,” Becca says. “This is the third time today I've had to retie them.”
“Yeah, but they look hot,” Kamryn says. “Isn't that what matters?”
“True, it is,” says Becca. “So? Are you going to talk to him at the dance?”
“Yes, and I'm so freaked out about it!”
“I'm still trying to figure out what to say,” Kamryn says.
“Think he's noticed you?”
“Totally!” Kamryn exclaims. “You were right there when he was staring at me at the game last Friday. He, like, couldn't take his eyes off me.”
“But he's in high school, Kam.” Becca finishes her knot with an extra tug and straightens.
Kamryn's after someone older?
“So? He's not
much older, Bex. Grade ten? Hello? That's only two years. Actually, less,” she adds. “His birthday is in October and mine's in March, so we're really only, like, sixteen months apart.”
At the mention of
, my stomach gives a little twist.
The next thing she says sends it into full seizure mode.
“It's meant to be, Bex. Think about it. Kyle and Kamryn? How perfect is that? How do we
I try to swallow. Beside me, Mason crumples up his wax paper. He reaches for his Coke.
“Okay, so maybe you belong together,” says Becca. “But how are you going to
“That's where I need a plan. And a superhot outfit,” Kamryn says as they move off.
My stomach gives another sickening turn as it all sinks in. This is so wrong. So totally wrong.
That grade-ten guy she's talking about? The one named Kyle?
He's my brother.
The girl I am desperately crushing on is in love with my big brother.
How am I supposed to be okay with this?
The guy's a jerk. I wish I could go up to Kamryn and tell her flat out that the good-looking basketball star she thinks is so fantastic has broken at least a dozen hearts in the last ten months alone. I wish I could tell her he's a waste of space.
And that last guy she was with? Segal? He was a jerk too.
I wish I could tell Kamryn that she should give me a chance. I'd treat her like a princess.
Yeah, right. Like I'd ever have the guts to tell her something like that. Like she'd ever listen to me anyway.
My afternoon crawls along. The seconds tick by even slower when I remember I'm supposed to start that stupid math tutoring today.
The tutorial hour passes like a turtle walking backward through cement. Perfect squares and square roots and ratios. But at 3:40, I'm finally free.
I skip the bus and decide to walk home. I need to think. I need to give my brain time to obsess about Kamryn trying to get together with my brother. My loser, jerk brother. He looks great on the outside, but he uses people to get what he wants.
How can I get what
I want to get Kamryn to like me instead of Kyle. But how do I do that?
This requires serious thinking. And serious thinking requires serious fuel. I double back half a block to the 7-Eleven. I buy a carton of milk and a bag of black licorice. The combination grosses all my friends out. But it works, especially when applied just before massive brainpower output. It's gotten me through at least seven major exams, one prepared speech and a really confusing breakup with a girl who was way better than me at talking in circles.
I take my sugar overdose outside with me and sit down on a parking block. I have to think. I have to come up with a plan to make Kamryn realize not only that Kyle is a weenie, but that she should spend her time with me instead.
Plan A: I kill Kyle outright. Then I won't have to think about him for the rest of my life. No more awards banquets. No more driving around to weekend tournaments. No more pictures of my grinning brother caught up in one-armed hugs with sports celebrities.
I go very still as I think about this for a moment. A warm feeling comes over me. I stop chewing and lose myself in the thought of a Kyle-free world.
No. I can't kill Kyle.
The warm feeling goes away. The familiar knot of irritation settles back into place in my chest. I sigh.
Plan B: I go right up to Kamryn and tell her she's hot and that I want her in my world. I say that Kyle is a doofus who leaves poo streaks in his Jockeys. I tell her I am clean, kind and full of love.
Somehow I don't think that plan is going to fly.
Something sneaky might work though. What if I could somehow communicate the same basic information to Kamryn without her knowing it's from me?
I chew through three more pieces of licorice while I brainstorm various options. I remind myself that anything goes when you're brainstorming. Stupid ideas included.