Side Effects May Vary

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Book: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy Read Free Book Online
Authors: Julie Murphy
ear, and slammed the locker door shut.
    â€œNever thought I’d see you again,” said a voice.
    I turned around to see Luke.
    â€œGet the hell away from me,” I said coolly, even though I was fully aware of how alone I was, here in this hallway with Luke. I’d never been conscious of things like that, but I’d never had good reason to be.
    He laid his hand on my shoulder. “Hey, now, Alice, I’m just the beginning of the welcome wagon.” I slapped his hand away.
    He stepped back. “You’ll be seeing me around. I haven’t forgotten,” he said, “and I don’t think Celeste has either.”
    This was Luke’s senior year, so if I could survive until May, I’d be fine. If the cancer didn’t come back, I’d be here next year with Celeste and I could handle her. I wondered if Celeste got her wish and finally got to do Luke. Luke didn’t really have standards anyway.
    Of Celeste and Mindi, only Mindi was in any of the classes I’d attended. I saw Celeste for a brief moment, though, sneering at me from the doorway of my classroom. The scene with Margaret Schmidt had been the same version of scenes in my first- and second-period classes. The questions, the few well-wishes—authentic and not. It all made me feel like someone else, someone I’d never wanted to be, someone fragile and lonely, who went home to scrawl all her feelings in her fucking journal.
    After second-period algebra with Mindi and Harvey, my school day was o-v-e-r. Well, not technically. I skipped out on the rest of the day, including my little meeting with Mr. Slaton.
    On my way to anywhere that wasn’t class, I stopped by the bathroom. As I washed my hands, the door swung open.
    â€œI thought that was you.”
    From the mirror, I watched Celeste. She stood with her arms crossed and her little designer wristlet dangling from her wrist.
    â€œYou know, I’d already bought a dress in case you didn’t make it. I mean, it was such a steal, and who doesn’t need one more little black dress?”
    â€œYou’re sick.”
    â€œI wore it for New Year’s instead. Luke took me to Three Forks off I-9.”
    I laughed. “Oh, so that little charade is still going? Do you guys like to do it with the lights on? We never got that far, but I always wondered.”
    She didn’t answer my question, but her lip twitched for a second, making me think that Celeste’s dreamboat might not be such a dream after all. I blinked and her vicious smile was back. “How’s your mom doing?”
    I turned around and crossed my arms, mirroring her, as I leaned up against the sink. I wanted to say something equally low, like how it must be really nice for Luke to be dating someone his own size. But I didn’t and it was Harvey’s fault. He was the closest thing I had to a damn conscience. “What do you want, Celeste?”
    â€œAll I want is for you to feel welcome. It’s cute how people are so excited to have you back.” She took two steps closer to me. “They don’t know what I know. The cancer might be gone, but the bitch isn’t.”
    Â 
    I’d met Eric under the bleachers in the gym after my run-in with Celeste. I’d never seen him before. He looked as though he hadn’t been to class in weeks, if not months. A few copies of SPIN magazine sat piled up beside him, like he’d set up a little home there. He was playing a game of solitaire and chewing on sunflower seeds, spitting the shells on the floor for the janitors to clean up.
    When I saw him there, I almost told him to leave because I intended to stay there until May. But before I did, he sprang up from his spot on the floor. He wore jeans tucked into combat boots and a black T-shirt. He looked older than most students, and I wondered if he was even a student at all. On the floor next to his pile of magazines were an olive green army jacket and a bright

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