Read a Free Excerpt from The Lucky Ones by Liz Lawson

The Lucky Ones by Liz Lawson is a powerful new novel about putting yourself back together when it seems like you’ve lost it all. Start reading now….

Chapter One


I bolt across the lawn, squinting through the inky black. The streetlamp behind me casts a pool of light, but it’s weak. Clouds block the moon.

As I run, I wipe my hand across my forehead, and it comes back wet. It’s hot as shit out here, even though it’s January in Los Angeles and that’s supposed to mean something. It’s been like this for weeks—hot and still. Earthquake weather, Lucy’s grandmother claims, even though I keep telling her it’s been scientifically proven that you can’t predict an earth- quake.

I’m alone; Lucy ditched me after our late-night dinner. I guess I can’t blame her for going home; it’s after midnight and we have school in the morning—my first day at this new school since I was kicked out of the old one almost ten months ago. I probably should have gone home too, but I couldn’t without coming here first. It’s not like I sleep any- more, anyway.

Lucy would have a fit if she knew where I went after she left.

Ever since we figured out that Michelle Teller installed motion-sensitive lights on the side of the garage, Lucy’s been so much more cautious—all Dude, May, I love you but we need to be careful, messing with that shit—which I get for her—I get it, I do—but for me, it’s different. For me, it’s worth it. She disagrees, but as much as I love Lucy and as much as I tell her about what’s running through this fucked-up head of mine, I don’t tell her everything.

Like, tonight. When I called her, late, and asked her to meet me at the diner for some food—I didn’t tell her why.

This afternoon I checked the mail for the first time all weekend and there was another one, waiting for me in the box.

When I saw it, my insides froze. I grabbed it, went up- stairs, stuffed it under my clothes way in the back of my closet, and then went into the bathroom and threw up. After, I lay down on my bed, head pounding. But from across the room I could feel the thump of its presence, like a fucking telltale heart. There are so many now, hidden around my room, haunting me at night from my desk drawer, f rom my closet, from every nook and cranny in my bedroom where I shove them. If I actually fall and stay asleep, like a normal human being, they creep into my dreams, turning them into nightmares.

I couldn’t stay still. I jumped out of bed and started cleaning my room but couldn’t concentrate enough to do much more than pace back and forth across the cluttered carpet.

Hence the call to Lucy. Hence not going home when she did. I need this—it’s the only thing that will smooth the sharp memory of those letters.

I finally reach the garage door, but as soon as I get to it an image pops into my head, distracting me, of my twin brother Jordan’s body sprawled on the jazz band room floor, thick, bright crimson pouring out of him, soaking into the ratty gray carpet. I’m thrown for a moment, before I take that image and shove it down out of my head, down into the depth of my belly, and I step too close to the side of the house. I know not to; over the past months, I’ve gotten to be an expert on the layout of the Tellers’ driveway and the system of lights they hooked up, but as usual I screw things up.

A spotlight blasts on, and for a split second I’m like an animal caught in headlights, one of the idiotic ones that always get mowed down. I freeze.

After a few long seconds, I finally get it through my dumb head that standing here in the middle of a bright circle of light is not a great idea, and I force myself to move. I dart around the corner into the blackness of the backyard and press my body up against the stucco of the house. I’m gripping the can of spray paint so hard that my fingers turn white, standing out against the black of the night. I suck in breaths like Dr. McMillen, PsyD, taught me, one long inhale for four counts and one long exhale for four, and my heart begins to slow.

I try to think of what Lucy would say if she was here, other than the obvious—Be more careful, May, you dumbass. Would she tell me to go home? Yell at me for being a pussy? Normally she’d be out here with me, the two of us charging through the night together, but over the past few weeks she’s been doing this more and more—ducking out and leaving me to come here on my own.

My breath calms me enough that I can think about moving again. I need to pay more attention, stop letting memories distract me, remember what I read in The Art of War, which I found buried in Jordan’s room in a pile of his clothes a month after he died.

In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.

That guy, Sun Tzu, was pretty smart. It’s how I first came up with this thing—a way to show the asshole lawyer who took that psychopath’s case that what she’s doing isn’t okay. From that book. I figured it was a sign or something, finding it in Jordan’s stuff.

I’m pretty sure the night I found it was the first time any of us had been in his room since it happened. Even now, eleven months later, my mom still refuses to go in there, refuses to sort through his things, and sometimes—on the rare occasions when my parents are both at home—I hear her and my dad arguing about it, late in the night when I can’t sleep.

Darkness settles back over the driveway, and I decide it’s safe to shake the can just enough to prep it, even though each time the hard ball hits the bottom it sounds like a cannon going off. You’d think, it being the twenty-first century and all, someone would have invented a quieter way to do this, particularly since, in my experience, no one ever uses spray paint for activities that are . . . let’s just say . . . totally legal.

Although, I’d argue that the purposes I use it for are right in line with my moral code, and that everyone is getting what they deserve.

I’m out in front of the garage finishing the last letter, paint still dripping red down the door, when there’s a rustling behind me. For a second, David’s face flashes through my mind, and even though I know—I know—he’s secured behind bars at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Downtown LA, I leap about twenty feet into the air and whirl around so fast that I trip over my feet. I land hard on the driveway, scraping my palms, and the goddamn spotlight flicks on again, blind- ing me from above. My heart’s beating a million miles a min- ute, and tears prick at the edges of my eyes. I’m squinting at the sudden glare, trying to scramble to my feet, generally having a massive heart attack, when I hear a soft mew, and something brushes against the back of my leg.

Fucking hell. It’s just a stupid cat.

I collapse back on the driveway in the center of the spotlight to catch my breath and stop my insides from sprinting away from my body down the street. I don’t even care if someone sees me. My limbs feel like they’ve been filled with lead. The cat, unaware that it almost killed me less than ten seconds ago, walks up onto my chest like it owns the place and starts to knead my sweatshirt.

“Jesus Christ.” I can’t help it; I start to laugh and have to squeeze my lips together to keep the sound from bursting out of my mouth into the night. “Kitty, you scared me half to death, no joke.” I reach out and run a hand along the side of its fur, only realizing after that I’ve left a faint red line all the way down its back. I glance at my arm and see that it’s streaked with paint from fingers to elbow. I must have sprayed myself when the cat freaked me out.

This last part of the night is not going as planned. I’m definitely going to give Lucy shit for abandoning me. Tired, my ass.

Whatever, the cat will just have to deal with its new color. A little red paint never killed anyone, right? (I actually have no idea if that’s true, but I’m going to go ahead and believe it for the time being, otherwise I could potentially end up washing a cat in the dark.)

I’m still lying here in the driveway with a cat nudging at my face when the spotlight goes out, leaving me in dark.

Chapter Two



That word, still slightly wet, dripping red paint onto the asphalt of our driveway, is the first thing I see as I leave the house to head to school. First day back after winter break— what a great way to start the semester.

The letters are huge—massive, in fact—tearing their way across the garage door.

When I see them, I stop in my tracks.

Gwenie slams into my back and screeches, “Zach, what the hell?” Her curly blond hair is a mess, all unruly and tangled, and I make a mental note to find her a better brush. File under yet another thing a parent should do for their daughter that I’ll be doing instead.

My sister thinks she’s so grown-up this year, what with her cursing and the belly-button piercing she got without permission at some shady place down near the Venice Boardwalk. She’s convinced that entering high school has made her a full-fledged grown-up. What she doesn’t know is how little she still is. How much she should always want to be little. Playing on her swing set in the backyard, ignorant of messages like the one that’s been spray-painted on our house, yet again.

Instead she’s standing behind me, glowering at my back. “Gwenie, go inside.” I turn and try to shove her back

through the front door so she doesn’t see, but she’s too quick. She darts under my arm and stops at the corner of the porch. “What is it?” She’s squinting; she doesn’t have her glasses on, and the contacts she normally wears have been retired for the time being, until she can remember to take them out at night. “They were here again? In our driveway?” Her voice is

rising, her breath coming out in short bursts.

“Go back inside.” I’m trying to stay calm, but my voice comes out like a growl, and her spine stiffens.

“It says bitch!” Her voice squeaks; she sounds like another version of herself, the one that would follow me around constantly when we were younger, trying to get me to play with her.

I sigh. “Gwen. It’s nothing. Just the same stupid crap that people have been doing ever since Mom took this case, you know?”

“But . . . it’s on our house. Again. They keep coming, Zach. When we’re sleeping inside! They’re out here, and we don’t even know it.” A sob escapes her mouth and she turns back to me, tears gathering at the corners of her eyes. “We  should get Dad.”

I run a hand through my hair and tug at its ends, trying to think. Our dad’s still asleep upstairs. It’s my job to drag Gwenie out of bed in the morning; my job to drive her to school, to make sure she has dinner, to make sure she gets all her homework done and handed in on time. Over the break, that’s all I did—drive Gwenie to the mall, order dinner for the two of us, stay on top of her to finish the reading she needed to do for her new classes.

I don’t know when I became my sister’s keeper. Was it when my mom took this stupid case and my family became a fixture in local gossip? When this fucking vandalism started, escalating from mean notes left in our mailbox to graffiti marking the house and salt killing our front lawn? When Gwen started waking up in the middle of the night from nightmares? Or did it begin way before any of that? It’s not like our mom was ever here much—it’s not like our dad’s been present in years. Not since he was laid off five years ago and instead of looking for a new grown-up job decided to pursue a career as a musician at the ripe old age of forty-five. Surprising no one, except maybe him, his career didn’t take off, and six months ago he collapsed into a useless heap of skin and bones. I’m sure the total lack of support from my mom’s end these past few months didn’t help matters; she basically ignored the entire situation, per usual, and, from what I can see, has started to treat him like her third child. A role that he’s readily adopted, a role that’s overshadowed his identity as, you know, a FATHER. Gwen and I are so lucky.

“Dad’s sleeping.” I glance up at his dark window. “C’mon. Let’s just get to school. I’ll text him so he knows what to expect when he goes downstairs today.”

If he goes downstairs today.

“We’re just going to . . . leave that word? Sitting there?

What if the neighbors see it?” Gwen asks.

Considering it’s light out and I can see the kids down the block waiting for the school bus, I’m pretty sure that ship has sailed, but I’m not going to tell her that. Not to mention, I think the neighbors are used to it by now, although I wouldn’t know because they ignore us just like everyone else.

“It’s fine, okay?” I hoist my heavy backpack farther up on my shoulders and walk over to where she’s standing, frozen, a statue made of ice and fear.

I put a hand on her arm. “Gwenie. C’mon. We’re gonna be late if we don’t leave.”

“I don’t care if we’re late. I hate that place.” She mutters this so softly that I almost miss it. I grit my teeth and turn away, pretending that I didn’t hear, pretending that the hot, blustery Santa Ana winds snatched up her words before they could reach me.

I walk by her motionless figure to my car and beep it unlocked.

Behind me there’s silence, and then the sound of her footsteps, running to catch up.

*    *    *


We pull into the parking lot at school, and it’s all I can do to remember how to find my space. I’ve been driving us to school every day since senior year began, but I still can’t seem to wrap my mind around this labyrinth of a lot, which they opened this year when all the Carter kids were transferred here. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that it changes shape and size every night after everyone goes home.

After an embarrassing amount of time, I remember that we need to take a left at space 355 instead of a right, and moments later I’m parking.

As I turn off the ignition, a Volvo pulls in a few spots over.  I glance over without even meaning to: the white of the car’s paint catches the sun, and it’s like I can’t help looking.

And there she is.

My  ex, Rosaline.

I usually time this better. I usually get us here early, because I know Rosa, and if there’s one thing you can count on with her, it’s that she’s always, always late. But that stupid word on our stupid garage door threw me off schedule this morning, and now we’re stuck.

Gwenie opens her door and then looks back over at me, because I’m sitting here, immobile. She must spot Rosa through my window, because she sucks in a breath.

“Shit. Zach . . .” She trails off.

“I know.” I squeeze my eyes shut and count to ten to steady myself, like the school counselor told me to do last time I was in his office, after another nasty note was left in my locker and a teacher found me slumped against the door.

“What are we going to do?” She sounds scared.

“I don’t know.” I glance back through the window at Rosa’s car and find myself looking directly into her eyes. She looks as surprised as I feel, and for a split second I think I see something cross her face that doesn’t look like the normal revulsion she directs toward me and my family, but then it’s gone, replaced by the mask of anger and contempt she’s worn nonstop since last fall.

Unlike my sister and me, she doesn’t hesitate to get out of her car. As I watch, unable to tear my eyes away, she pulls off her seat belt and throws open her car door in one oddly elegant motion.

My heart is ripping in two inside my chest. Gwenie and I are trapped like rodents in the car, and I don’t know where to direct my eyes. I’m sweating; my shirt’s gonna be a mess. And we haven’t even gotten out of the car yet. This is a fucked-up way to start the new semester, but fucked-up is pretty much par for the course these past few months, thanks to our lovely mother.

I glance in the rearview mirror and see Rosa, her back rigid, walking quickly away. A small hand slips into mine, and only then do I realize that I’m trembling something fierce.

Gwen and I sit there silently in my car, trapped, waiting for the coast to clear.

Chapter Three


I’m fucking sore.

And tired.

Tired and sore. Biking home from the lawyer’s house took way too long last night.

And now I’m driving to school. For the first time in almost a year.

Not Carter, of course. They closed that building down a few months after, because the air inside was full of ghosts. Bad ghosts. Pained ghosts. My brother’s ghost.

No, I’m driving to some other high school in the Valley— a school we used to play in sports occasionally, I think. I never knew anyone who went there. It was too far away, and Los Angeles traffic is beyond shitty. This morning it’s taken me over forty minutes to get here, and it’s less than ten miles away. Quincy Adams High School. It sounds so bougie. So fuck- ing lame. Lucy says it’s been weird—all the Carter kids keep to themselves, and the QA kids let them. She says it feels like they’re afraid of us. Like we’re infected by what happened. Apparently, last semester the administration tried to force interaction by doing stupid assemblies where they would do team-building exercises and shit. That went over about as well as you’d expect.

Last year, for a few months right after the shooting, they tried to keep us at Carter, which was an extremely stupid idea if you ask me. Toward the end of the semester, things got so bad, with breakdowns and fights and people   dropping out left and right, too afraid to go back to that place, and they finally decided a fresh start was better for everyone.

Hence, their decision to transfer half of the leftover kids from Carter here at the beginning of the new school year and half to Miller, the next closest high school in the Valley. This is where I ended up when my parents and Dr. McMillen decided homeschooling wasn’t working out. Wasn’t working out . . . so sue me if I couldn’t take that whimpering home-school teacher seriously as she sat in front of me, clutching my textbooks in her aging hands, barely able to hold them up. Couldn’t take her seriously as we both sat there ignor- ing the ever-present ghost of my brother, which draped itself over everything in the house, over furniture like ill-fitting slip- covers, over conversations like a heavy fog, over every fucking interaction like an anchor pulling us down, down, down to the bottom of the ocean.

Last fall, the Executive Decision (vom) was made that it would be better for my mental health (again, vom) if I was around people. Not homeschooled, since my parents couldn’t (read: wouldn’t) be there with me to make sure I was, you know, actually doing stuff and not just ignoring the teacher they’d brought in, who had failed at her “job” pretty miserably. Principal Rose-Brady somehow convinced the school board to let me back in, even though I’m pretty sure she had to field several angry phone calls after that decision from parents of kids who I may or may not have punched in the face at some point in the past. Honestly, though, how could those parents fight my reenrollment? The fact is: I’m a SURVIVOR.

I’m the leftover. The lucky one.

The only one in that room who lived. And now I’m back in school.

It sucks.


I don’t know where to park, so I spend far too long trying to maneuver through the stupid maze of a lot, one hand on the wheel and the other clutching the hand-drawn map Lucy gave me last night to try to alleviate my anxiety.

I’m so exhausted that the lines of her drawing keep twisting together like ropes, crossing in imaginary places. I didn’t get home until almost two a.m.; I stayed on that driveway for almost an hour, lying there with that stupid cat, just breathing. Feeling like the sky was pressing down on my head, like the stars were going to pop like old lightbulbs any second, leaving the world black.

I finally find my space and turn the car into it with enough force that for a second I’m afraid the brakes will fail and I’ll go slamming into the car across the way. I’m used to Jordan sitting next to me, reminding me to slow down. Even toward the end, when we weren’t talking much, when our silences could swallow entire car rides, his hand on my arm could calm me. Now there’s an empty seat next to me: a reminder that I’m alone.

Once I’m parked, I head across the sidewalk to the main building.

When I reach the front door, I remember what I forgot. The sight of the metal detectors slams me in the stomach.

They look like something out of a sci-fi movie, something that I should see in a place that is dangerous and frightening, not in a school building, but of course now they are one and the same, the frightening places and the daily places, and my mouth tugs downward and my stomach plummets through the asphalt into the center of the earth.

Then, because I have no other option, no other choice, I push through the doors and put my school bag on the conveyor belt and walk through the detector. Out of the corner of my eye I see a uniformed guard patting down another late ar- rival, gracelessly poking at his pockets and around his ankles. On the other side, I come face to face with a giant placard displaying the names and faces of the other people who were in the band room that day—my favorite teacher, my friends, my fucking brother. Why they insisted on putting up this dis- gusting memorial at all the high schools in our area is beyond me. The shooting didn’t happen here. It’s like they’re just try-ing too hard—trying to act like they care—trying to act like they understand.

Like they could ever understand.

Thank god Lucy warned me or I’d probably puke all over it.

Before I can explode into a thousand tiny molecules of fury, my friend Chimera is on me like white on rice. She clamps her slender fingers around my arm, and I almost jump out of my skin.

“May, oh my god, I am so glad to see you. Do you have an extra tampon? I just got my period. It’s like a fucking bloodbath down there.” She trails off and her face goes scarlet. My heart’s beating at a thousand ticks a minute, and I’m breathing in and out, trying to calm myself down. Chim glances over at Jordan’s face, which is staring at us from the bullshit display on the wall. “Oh god. I didn’t mean that. Oh my god, I am so sorry.” She drops my arm and puts her

hands to her mouth. This is such typical Chim. Haven’t seen her in three months, and in the first twenty seconds I’m reminded why.

Since I got kicked out of school last year, I’ve tried to learn how not to react. How to control my face and my emotions like a fucking Zen monk. It’s an art form, I swear. One I’m not very good at, especially around Chim, who reminds me of who I used to be—a person I’d rather forget.

I force a smile and rummage around in my purse with shaky fingers, finally locating a tampon. I hand it to Chim and she smiles, all grateful. I manage not to roll my eyes directly in her face. She’s wearing a skullcap that’s totally inappropriate for the eighty-degree day, and the ends of her hair peek out from under it. She’s chopped it since I last saw her three months ago, and apparently dyed it pink. She looks cute, I guess, if you like that sort of thing.

We start down the crowded hall together, into the black hole that is this fucking school, toward lockers and classrooms and all the things I hoped to never have to deal with again. We have to push by people to get through; Lucy warned me how overstuffed it is here, but I didn’t really expect it to be this bad. I should have, though, I guess, since there are now so many students enrolled here that we have two principals: Rose-Brady, who came with us from Carter so we’d have a familiar face in charge (eye roll), and Kalb, the original QA principal.

The walls around us are papered with flyers talking about dances and tryouts and all the normal crap, but I see the other ones too—the ones talking about grief groups and counselors and how to deal with life after death. I want to tear them all off the walls and throw them in the toilet and flush them far, far away from here—from me. Rose-Brady made me go to one of those grief groups last year, before Carter closed, but that didn’t turn out so well. At all. So now I see a private therapist. Who tells me shit like It gets better. I used to have to see her multiple times a week—luckily, since last fall I’ve managed to avoid going outside of the once-a-month sessions that Rose-Brady and the school board made known were a requirement to even consider my reenrollment.

“Chim. Please stop. It’s fine; you know it’s fine. Now that I’m back you cannot start tiptoeing around me. You know I hate that shit.” More accurately, I hate having to have conversations with people whose eyes are so full of pity, who don’t see me anymore, just a reflection of Jordan’s ghost.

Chim, who never used to get embarrassed by her big mouth around me, blushes an even deeper shade of red. It’s impressive.

“No, I really am sorry. I have to start thinking before I speak; my mom keeps telling me that. I’m always saying stupid stuff, and I know I need to be more sensitive around you.” She’s babbling, all nerves and tongue flaps, and my

chest tightens. We’ve known each other since kindergarten— she was my first real friend outside of Jordan, actually—but ever since last year it’s been hard for me to stomach the sight of her. It’s not fair, I know that, but it’s like I just can’t let myself relax when I’m with her—we can’t seem to find the rhythm of our friendship since Jordan died.

We reach her locker, and she’s still talking. I am so tempted to slap her to get her to just shut up (am I really supposed to just stand here and listen to this incessant chatter?), when a warm hand clasps my arm.

“Ladies.” I turn, and there she is—my savior, Lucy, the only person I want to see these days; the only person who seems to be able to see me through the haze of what happened last year. She smirks like she knows exactly what I was just thinking—knows that she stopped me from smacking Chim across her lovely, annoying face.

“How are we this morning?” Lucy, as always, is wearing black on black on black: a T-shirt of some obscure local band who will be famous by next year, and ripped leather pants. The administrations of all the local public schools outlawed that sort of clothing last year when they instituted a strict countywide dress code, but Lucy is apparently the exception to that rule. She usually is.

She hip-checks me and lays her curly brown head on my shoulder. My heart rate slows, and I remember how to breathe as some of the tension drains out of my body. My hand unflexes by my waist, and Lucy slips in a roll of Girl Scout cookies. Thin Mints. My favorite—pretty much the only thing I ate last spring after Jordan died.

I love Lucy.

“Good to see you here,” she whispers into my ear. “Luce!” Chim’s eyes light up. Chim’s had a crush on Lucy

since I can remember, which is cute when she’s not following Lucy around like a lost little puppy dog.

“Hey, Chim.” Lucy nods at her. “Thanks for coming outSaturday to see the band. Sorry we sucked. I think I might quit. I’m actually gonna go check out another band tonight; I need something new.”

“You so did not suck.” Chim’s voice is an octave higher than normal. She’s been going to Lucy’s shows since forever. I don’t think she’s missed one. In fact, I’m pretty sure she skipped her cousin’s bat mitzvah in order to make one a few years ago.

Jordan and I used to go to them, too, which was fine, until it wasn’t. Sometime during sophomore year, I started resenting the fact that Lucy always invited both of us. That my friends were our friends. Like he didn’t have enough with his perfect grades and his perfect hair and all the attention our parents poured on him. So, at Lucy’s shows, instead of hanging out with him, I would ditch him as soon as we arrived and spend most of the rest of the night out back with Chim, drinking and smoking and getting fucked-up. Basically, doing everything in my power to avoid him and his judgmental looks and making Chim come along for the ride. He started bringing a few of his friends along soon after.

I push the thought out of my head, far out, try to erase even the imprint of it from my mind.

“May.” Lucy squeezes my hand again. “Yo, the bell rang. It’s time to get to class, chérie.

I’m startled out of my reverie. I glance around the hallway, realizing for the first time that it emptied while I’ve been deep in my own memories, obsessing.

Chim freaks out when she hears the bell. “Shit. I’m going to be late for chem again. Not that it matters; I’m basically failing.”

Lucy rolls her eyes. “So, what, you’re getting a B right now?” “Whatever. I gotta go.” Chim takes off down the hallway, and I wave to her back, wiggling my fingers like Good to see

ya, friend.

“Dude. You are harsh.” Lucy grabs my hand and holds it down near her hip. “She means well, you know that.”

I yank my hand out of her grip. “Yeah. I know. I get it. But, man. Sometimes I want to slap her so bad.”

Lucy snorts. “No shit. I saw you earlier. You need to chill. She loves you—she just doesn’t know what to say.” She considers me. “And you’re lucky that I got here when I did, or it woulda been detention for you, no matter who you are. You know what Rose-Brady said when they agreed to take you here: best behavior.” She taps me on my head between my eyes.

I flare my nostrils. “I know what she said,” I say. I just don’t care.

She leans in and brushes the hair off my forehead. “Hey. You look exhausted. Are you okay?” I nod, cross my arms tight against my chest. Lucy pauses, bites her lower lip, clears her throat. “May. You’re flying under the radar right now, but barely. You know this. I know this. You have to be careful. They aren’t going to keep giving you chances—even with Rose-Brady in your corner—if you can’t control yourself.

Okay?” She glances down at her watch. “Shit. I gotta run. I’ll see you at lunch.”

I chew on the inside of my cheek, silent as she walks away. Repeat over and over in my head one of the many mantras the school-appointed therapist, Dr. McMillen, taught me last summer: You are safe. You are safe.

It’s not working. It never works. My heart pounds in my chest and it’s like I’m back there, in that tiny closet at Carter, sitting wrapped in a ball with my hands over my ears, trying to block out all those screams. My brother’s screams. And then after what seemed like an eternity but was probably only a minute, the screams stopped and the silence began, and it was the thickest, most suffocating silence I’ve ever heard.

The last bell rings and I jump. It’s loud and it’s sharp and I swear to god that my eardrums start bleeding, that I can feel the blood trickling down my cheeks, but when I go to wipe it away, I realize that it’s nothing more than my own tears.






















Excerpt copyright © 2020 by Liz Lawson


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