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Authors: Lauren McKellar

The Problem With Crazy

BOOK: The Problem With Crazy
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For fathers, everywhere;

for Mitch’s, and for mine

Other Books by Lauren K. McKellar

Finding Home

The Problem With Heartache
(coming June 2014)

Chapter One

with crazy is that crazy, by itself, has no context. It can be good crazy, bad crazy ... or
crazy, the kind that makes you turn your head and avoid eye contact, even though you know you shouldn’t.

Sometimes it can be thrown about with vicious intent, like when my mum used it against my dad.

“I am going to go crazy at your father,
he eventually decides to grace us with his presence,” Mum hissed at me. I say ‘at’ because even though her eyes were darting to all four corners of the full-to-exploding hall, spit still landed square in the middle of my left cheek.

“Mu-um.” I sighed. I was pissed, too, though. I could accept his missing my birthday and Christmas last year, after he’d run out of our lives without a trace, but come on; what kind of father calls to say he’s coming, and then is late to his only daughter’s graduation?

“Kate, it’s the least he could do,” Mum mumbled. She was taking huge strides down the side of the hall, scanning the hordes of seated parents and students for an empty chair. Other parents and graduates-to-be milled around, a buzz of excitement filling the auditorium. Up on stage, our principal, Mr McDonald, was speaking to a few class captains.

“I’ve not had a cent from him in more than a year, and now he thinks he can just walk back into your life to play father at your graduation? If that drunken idiot thinks I’ll sit next to him when he finally does get here, he is going to be sorely mistaken.”

“I doubt he thinks that,” I breathed. Recounting my father’s sins, both on the phone to him and in my presence, was one of my mother’s favourite activities since he’d left.

“There. There’s a seat.” Mum extended a maroon-painted talon toward an empty chair in the front row. It matched her freshly pressed suit-dress perfectly. The talon, that is; not the chair. “It’ll be a better view for my photos, anyway.” I cringed. It was bad enough she was taking photos, but front and centre? Really?

I racked my brain, trying to come up with a contingency plan to get me out of this mess when I felt a cool pair of hands close over my eyes.

“Guess who?” a deep voice asked from behind me.

“Dave!” I spun around to greet him, planting a tiny kiss on his cheek.

“Hey, Kate. Mrs T.” He nodded in Mum’s direction.

“Hi, Dave. You look just lovely,” Mum swooned at Dave’s tucked-in white school shirt and firmly fastened navy-blue tie. Even his hair was slicked up into neat little spikes, a change from the usual scruffy mess I loved running my hands through.

“Thanks. Hey, I’m sure my folks would like to sit with you, if you’re trying to find a seat.” Dave pointed his delicate musician’s finger toward an empty seat three rows behind us. His parents waved with fervour, and I said a silent prayer of thanks. “They’re just over there.”

“That is so kind of you to offer. I’ll go on and find them. You two kids get backstage—oh! Mr McDonald has turned on the microphone. They must be about to start.”

I turned toward where she was pointing and saw our school principal had indeed gripped his hand firmly around the microphone. The lights dimmed and the audience slowly hushed. I grabbed Dave’s arm and we raced to the door on the left hand side of the room, the one that would lead us to the wings.

Compared to the silence of the hall, backstage was chaos. The other 163 members of our school year milled about, a sea of navy check and white, all talking far too loudly with the exuberance of the released. This was it. In approximately sixty-four minutes, if the dress rehearsal was anything to go by, we would all be officially finished school. And I, for one, couldn’t wait.

“You guys! Can you please get into alphabetical order?” Stacey whined from her position at the top of the stairs. Her blonde ponytail bobbed up and down as she brought her fingers to her temple. No one seemed to be listening. Apparently, graduation was the one time she couldn’t make our entire year stand still and take notice.

“Oh, Kate. Good, you’re here.” She bounced over to my side, blue eyes sparkling as she scanned me up and down. “I was getting worried. What took you so long?”

“You know … She couldn’t decide what to wear.” Dave joked.

“But—it’s school uniform today.” Stacey tilted her head to the side. I sucked in a breath and ignored the elbow to the ribs Dave gave me. Sometimes, I wondered how Stacey had gotten through high school alive.

“Well, helloooo Stacey.” Michael came up from behind, giving her a skirt a quick tug as he scooted his way into our circle. Stacey gave his puppy-dog eyes a quick glare, her hands quickly smoothing the material back down and making sure her assets were firmly covered.

That was how, I reminded myself. With a body like that and eyes that could kill, Stacey had done more than attend high school. She veritably ruled the school.

“Dave, man, how you doing?” Michael asked, clapping his weathered hand on my boyfriend’s shoulder.

“I think I’ll be better in an hour or so.”

“I know what you mean.”

“Not to interrupt your male bonding session, but can you please line up in alphabetical? It’s im
tant,” Stacey pleaded, her hands clasped in front of her.

“Your wish is my command.” Michael bowed.

“Right.” Stacey narrowed her eyes at us, gave a sharp nod, and then spun on her heel. “I’ll see you when we’re graduates, Kate.” She threw one hand up in the air and charged to the front of the line.

“Man, when is that chick gonna notice I’m alive?” Michael turned to watch her go. “Sometimes I think she’ll date anyone but me.”

“When we’re on tour with Coal she won’t be able to help but notice you,” Dave said. His green eyes came alive, widening at the thought of their upcoming tour.

“You know it. This will be our time to shine.” Michael nodded. “It’s a good thing your girlfriend is so good at organising things. We’d never have made the tour if she hadn’t hit them up.”

“It was nothing.” I felt the heat rise in my cheeks.

“Yeah, it’s not like she wrote the songs.” Dave stroked the back of my hair, bringing shiny brown strands of it to rest over my shoulder. “It was probably just seeing her face on our album cover. She’s too pretty to say no to.”

“Dave.” I slapped him playfully across the chest, unsure if it was an insult or a compliment.

“Hey! I’m not saying you weren’t part of the reason we got the spot.” His hands were up in the air in defence. “And when we’re famous rock stars, you can live a life of luxury as payment.”

“I can’t wait,” I whispered, turning to him. He stood deliciously close. He wrapped his arms around my neck and I inhaled his scent—exotic, spicy, and loaded with cologne.

“I can’t wait for the first night of tour,” he spoke into my hair. “For
first night.” His words were loaded with meaning. I felt his hands travel a little lower, skimming over the curves of my hips. My school skirt suddenly felt very thin, and very short.

“Guys, get a room,” Michael said. I pulled away, my face hot for the second time that day.

“We will. On tour!” Dave laughed, and threw his hand up in the air. Michael laughed and high-fived him right back, and I pretended to ignore their stupid boy banter. Nothing makes a girl feel special like a joke about losing her virginity, made by her boyfriend.

It was lucky I loved Dave—because sometimes he could be a downright jerk.

“Everybody, please line up NOW. They have STARTED ALREADY.” Stacey’s hands were on her hips as her blonde hair tossed from side to side.

“She’s so cute when she’s mad.” Michael smiled.

“Good luck.” I leaned in and kissed Dave on the cheek.

I made my way to my spot in line, leaving the two boys to walk to their allocated places in alphabetical order. They were next to each other, Belconnen and Belmonte. They’d actually met in roll call one year; funny to think they were now co-founders of one of the biggest on-the-verge bands today. I grinned a smug smile. Thanks in part to me, no matter what Dave said.

A blanket of silence settled over the line and I chewed my lip. I wondered if Dad made it, then hated myself for doing so. I hadn’t needed him for the past year, and I didn’t need him now. Mum and I did just fine without him.

The line shuffled forward and I felt the butterflies kicking around my stomach. This was it. I was going to graduate. My whole future was ahead of me, planning tours and events for the band, spending time with Dave, visiting different countries world over and—

“Tomlinson.” Mr McDonald’s voice boomed through the microphone, echoing backstage. I looked up. Front of the line already. I smoothed my hands down my blue-plaid skirt and plastered a smile on my face. Father or no, I was really doing this. I was finally going to graduate high school and go on the road with Dave—far, far away from here, from the memories that haunted our two-storey wooden house and this small, seaside town.

I strode out of the wings. In front of me, hundreds of parents gazed up at the stage, expectation written all over their faces. I swallowed. I’d never been great with crowds.

BOOK: The Problem With Crazy
3.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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