From the book
***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof.***
Copyright © 2014 by Laurie Halse Anderson
The crowd in the stadium roared so loudly I couldn't hear what the mom manning the ticket booth said.
"Why?" I asked again.
She glared and waited a beat for the noise to die down. "Everybody pays to get into the game. No exceptions."
"But I'm the press," I whined. "On assignment."
"Students get a dollar discount." She put her hand out. "Four dollars or don't go in."
I paid her. Finn now owed me nineteen bucks.
The bleachers were a wall of people dressed in Belmont yellow. For one second, it felt like they were all staring at me, that they all knew I came to the football game alone and didn't know where to sit, but then a whistle blew and the football teams on the field behind me crashed into each other and the crowd cheered and jumped up and down. I was invisible to them.
I turned my back to the stands. On the other side of the field sat the enemy, the Richardson Ravens, dressed in black and silver. Beyond the goalposts at the far end of the field rose a gentle hill that was dotted with people sitting on blankets, little kids zooming around them, cheerfully ignoring the sad excuse for a football game.
The referee blew his whistle and the two lines of players crashed into each other again, grunting and shouting. I couldn't see what happened to the ball, but the Richardson side of the field erupted in cheers.
I texted Gracie:
After a long pause, she wrote back:
at movie ttyl?
I sent a simple smiley face, because my phone did not have a smiley face that was wrapping her hands around her own throat and beating her head against a wall.
The two teams ran to their huddles to plot out their next bit of brilliant strategy. They ended the huddle and ran back to line up, each face inches away from the scowling face of the enemy, feet pawing at the ground like impatient horses. The quarterback grunted, the lines crashed together, and they all fell down again. Everyone in Belmont yellow screamed and whistled.
Should I be writing this down? I looked up at the stands. Wouldn't anyone who cared about this game be here? Why would they want to read about it? Answer: they wouldn't. My earlier plan to get the stats and eavesdrop for quotes first period Monday was still viable and even more attractive than it had been on the bus. I just needed someplace to go that was not my house. It was only a quarter to eight. I could probably make it to the mall before nine.
I texted Gracie.
She didn't answer, which meant she was with Topher, which meant any hope I had of crashing her Friday night plans had just evaporated. How lame would it be for me to go to Gracie's house and ask her mom if she wanted to hang out? Mrs. Rappaport was a big fan of home makeover shows. Last time I was at her house, she'd been talking about redesigning her kitchen. Maybe we could watch a few episodes about countertops.
I shuddered. I'd be better off spending the evening chasing rats out of Dumpsters.
The clock clicked down the last few seconds to halftime, the refs blew their whistles, and people raced for the bathrooms and the food stand.
"This is ridiculous," I muttered as I pressed against the fence that separated the spectators from the field. As soon as the herd moved past, I followed, intending to head for the parking lot, unchain my bike, and ride. Not home, not for a few hours. Just ride in the dark and hope that Topher and Gracie would have a huge fight and she'd call in tears and ask me to spend the night and mention that they...