Aicha Zoubair

Jessica Bell

Monday, June 3, 2013

Orangeberry Book of the Day - Living Backwards by Tracy Sweeney (Excerpt)

CHAPTER 1 - Jillian

I learned an important life lesson at Carrie Picalow’s slumber party when I was just ten-years-old: Horror movies are awesome…until it’s time to go to sleep. Sure they’re fun for two hours while you scream with your friends, but the following eight hours spent squeezing your eyes shut and attempting to fall asleep are torture. I made a vow to stay away from horror movies from there on out, but it never really worked. If I knew there was a scary movie on, I’d flip by the channel to get a peek. If I felt particularly brave, I’d stop and watch for a few minutes with my fingers partially covering my eyes. Even though I knew I shouldn’t—even though I knew I’d be up all night staring at my closet convincing myself that there wasn’t a scary little girl or a deranged clown inside—I’d watch. I couldn’t stop myself. And just as I would have predicted, I’d spend the rest of the night huddled under my covers.

I got the same feeling every time I stared across the room at the computer on my desk. When I’d sit down and open up my browser, I wouldn’t just check my email. I wouldn’t check the weather or the local headlines either. No. Even though I knew I shouldn’t—even though I knew it would only irritate me—I’d do something worse than watching a horror movie. I’d log onto Facebook.

Thanks to the so-called geniuses behind Facebook, suddenly people felt compelled to broadcast every thought, idea or mindless observation in their head on a minute-by-minute basis. But the worst part was that I couldn’t look away. It probably wouldn’t bother me as much if I actually knew any of the people complaining about having to go to work or needing their morning coffee. I didn’t. Not really. My timeline was full of people whose names I knew—kids who went to my high school and lived in my town—but I wouldn’t call them friends. Sure, I remembered that I had chemistry with that guy, and lived down the street from that girl, but I didn’t hang out with them. Or anyone really. Now, over ten years later, I knew every detail of their lives.

Last week, Tyler Burroughs tagged our whole Reynolds High School class in his Twenty-Five Things About Me post. I couldn’t understand why he thought I’d be interested. I hadn’t seen Tyler in over a decade and I barely knew him then, so I could say without a doubt that I didn’t care that he was still a terrible driver and almost lost his license twice. I didn’t care that he went to Comic-Con and met Joss Whedon in the men’s room. Unless Joss was whipping out long lost Buffy footage, it didn’t interest me. But for some reason, I kept coming back. Facebook had become the horror movie I was destined to watch every day of my life.

I blame my best friend Danielle who practically forced me into creating a profile. “Everyone is on Facebook, Jillian,” she informed me. “Even my papa. Don’t you want to be cooler than my papa?”

I couldn’t argue with that logic so I gave in and joined the world of social networking. Now thanks to Danielle, I was able to view people I barely knew discuss high school parties I hadn’t been invited to, dances I’d never attended and places I’d never been.

It really wasn’t her fault. High school was different for Danielle. We went to the same school, but we didn’t exactly run in the same circles back then. She was popular and outgoing, and I was…well…mute.

Looking back now, I didn’t have a lot in common with that girl anymore. People change. And in my case, for the better, I think. I left the shy me back in the school library, eating lunch alone and chatting with the librarian because everything was different once I left Reynolds, Washington, for New York City.

It was during Summer Freshman Orientation at NYU that I ran into Danielle. Literally. I was walking through the quad daydreaming when I nearly plowed over what I thought was a small child. My backpack and papers went flying in the air, and I landed flat on my ass.

“Jillian Cross!” she exclaimed. “What are you doing here? How did I not know you were going to NYU?”

I winced from the pain in my behind and looked up into the pale blue eyes of Danielle Powers. Danielle was someone I had occasionally said hi to, but it was never much more than that. She was in my World Lit class senior year, she was exceptionally perky, and after bouncing off her, ridiculously sturdy for such a small little thing. With her button nose and short, stylish bob, she reminded me more of a cartoon character than an actual person.

“Danielle, wow,” I stammered, suddenly feeling self-conscious. “I didn’t know anyone else from Reynolds would be here.”

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Genre – Chick Lit

Rating – PG13

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