Hello, fellow worms!
I’ve been working hard on my new book, Snow Angel, and not doing much blogging as you have probably noticed. So I thought I would share a little of the novel in progress here. I hope all of your summers are full of fireflies and magic.
Angie looked like a waif but we in the family knew she was something sleek and feral. She was skinny to look at but boneless and eerily supple to the touch, like a cat.
That summer, she ran away from the grill one night with the marshmallow I was toasting, and when I, proud to be fast enough, proud to be strong enough, caught her, instead of twisting away she came close, sank her pointed little teeth into my shoulder until I let go, then ran away, laughing.
“It’s a nasty bite,” Grandma said. “And close to her heart, she could get blood poisoning. Human bites are dangerous.”
“Oh, Mother,” Aunt Mickey said, but she sent Angie to her room.
Angie ran up the stairs, laughing. Aunt Mickey looked exhausted.
I had hot soaks and ice applied to my shoulder, depending on who was around, ice by my mother, heat by Grandma. Aunt Mickey rolled her eyes at the fuss.
Late that night, Angie said, “You can bite me back, Nicky. Go ahead.”
“Yes,” Jenna said. “Chomp her, Nicky. It’s Justice.”
Angie edged nearer, the strap of her pajama top sliding down her arm, bony shoulder offered.
“I don’t want to,” I said. You’re too…”
“Skinny?” Jenna suggested.
They laughed, as they often did at things I said.
I was the youngest, the fattest, the plainest. With my long, wavy, mouse-colored hair and round gold-rimmed glasses I had an unfortunate resemblance to John Lennon, but they always had me right in the middle, just like in that picture, and on the rare occasions when we broke into two and one instead of our usual united three, it was always either me and Jenna together or me and Angie.
I loved them both. I could never have bitten Angie back, even though I knew she would just have laughed. She laughed when she bled, she laughed when Aunt Mickey, goaded past endurance by Angie (or, more often, by Grandma) spanked her.
She had laughed the week before when Jeremy gave her an Indian burn to get her to give back his Frisbee. She laughed silently, her whole body shaking, tears standing in her big gray or green (we could never decide) eyes until Jeremy finally dropped her arm and turned away in disgust.
“You’re a big bully,” Jenna blazed at him. “A big, — a big brute.” The grownups said Jenna was dramatic.
She dropped to her knees in front of Angie, whose thin shoulders were still shaking in that silent way you thought was maybe a sob until you saw the crazy grin on her bony little face.
“A brute?” she gasped.
“A horrible brute. Pick on somebody your own size,” Jenna told Jeremy, and the sight of his furious little sister made Jeremy laugh too, his shoulders shaking in a way that made beautiful, dark Jeremy look uncannily like Angie for a minute.
“Get somebody my own size to make me.”
I was already pulling one of my sweatshirts out of a drawer for Angie. Perpetually hot, she wore spaghetti-strap tops my mother said were inappropriate for girls our age, tiny shorts that fit her in the waist but were too baggy and short everywhere else, no shoes at any time of the year if she could get away with it. She radiated heat and kicked off the covers all night long as fast as you could pull them up, so Jenna and I always shared one bed in our room at the beach house and gave Angie the other one to herself. But now she took my sweatshirt without argument and pulled it over her skimpy top (this one said Angel Baby in pink glitter script) to cover her red, swelling arm.
Brute or not, none of us would ever have told on Jeremy.