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Home > Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1)(3)

Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1)(3)
Author: Kasie West

“You want me to do it now?”

“I think it would make you feel better.”

I grabbed a pillow, pulled it against my chest, and lay down. On the ceiling above me, in black scrolling print, was the Aristophanes quote I had painted there: “By words the mind is winged.” For some reason it stood out among all the other quotes that loomed above me. “I don’t know. Six weeks is a long time. I’d hate to have so many detailed memories floating around up there.”

“Why? That week leading up to homecoming was pretty awesome. I liked knowing that the heel of my red shoes was going to break on Wednesday after third period and that there would be a pop quiz on Friday.”

“Since I live to serve you, why don’t I just Search every day from now to death?”

“Seriously, why don’t you?” She smacked my leg. “Are you waiting for me to offer, or are you just being ridiculous? You know I can Erase whichever path you don’t choose, so you don’t have to fake it. Sometimes I wonder if you just picked me as your best friend because of my awesome ability.”

“Whatever. Your ability didn’t even Present until the seventh grade.” I paused, then tilted my head. “So wait, are you saying I use your ability a lot?”

“I’m not telling,” she sang. “And it’s true. You didn’t pick me for my ability. You picked me because I shoved Timothy after he stole your virtual pet.”

I smiled, then took a deep breath. I was avoiding the choice, still not sure if I wanted to know, if I was ready to know what my new life would look like. My parents admitted that the only reason they had left the decision up to me was because of my ability. And why wouldn’t I want to know for sure which choice would turn out better?

“Are you ready?” she asked.

I nodded. I had to know.

“So what do I do? Just sit here? Do you need something?”

I laughed. “No, I’m fine. It might take awhile. Are you sure you want to wait?”

“Please, that’s like asking someone if they want to leave the room while Picasso paints a masterpiece.”

“You’re comparing me to Picasso?”

“You know what I’m saying. Now start.”

I settled deeper into the pillow and tried to relax. It was hard when I knew I was about to be flooded with memories of a life I hadn’t lived yet. Really, two lives I hadn’t lived yet. It would only seem like five minutes to Laila, but to me it would feel like a month. I concentrated on the energies around me, and everything went hazy.

CHAPTER 3

PAR-A-digm: n. something that serves as a pattern or model

“Aren’t kids of divorced parents supposed to get whatever they want due to the extreme guilt of both parties?” I ask at breakfast a week after my dad left. The house feels different without him … empty.

“You’re not getting a new car,” my mom says from where she sits at the kitchen table behind her laptop. A pen holds her blond curls in a loose bun at the nape of her neck, and she grabs it to jot something on the notepad beside her. The action sends her hair down over her shoulders and reminds me of how similar it is to mine. Just when I think she’s forgotten we were talking, like she often does, she adds, “Your car runs just fine.”

“I’m not asking for a new car. Just a different one. Mine barely runs. Have you heard the latest noise? It’s kind of like a knock-clank-knock sound.”

“Talk to your father about it.”

I scoop a spoonful of milk-engorged bran flakes and then watch them slide slowly off my spoon. “Oh good, at least we’re not going to skip the pass-the-problems-to-the-other-parent part of divorce. I knew you wouldn’t let me miss out on at least some fun.” I know I’m being a brat, but I can’t help it. Like a bad cold, every negative feeling or complaint I’ve ever had about my mom has decided to accumulate in my chest.

For the first time since the conversation started, she looks at me. “Addie, knock it off. I just meant that your father is better at knowing what weird car noises mean.”

I stand, stick my bowl in the sink, and swipe my backpack from off the floor. “Well, I would ask Dad, but I don’t think my car would make it the five hours to his house.”

“We’re going to get through this,” she calls as I walk out the front door.

“And one day you’re going to understand why I did it,” I finish for her as the door shuts behind me. I don’t know how many times she’s said that line over the last week. She probably hoped that each time it was said the “one day” would get a little closer. It only seemed to push that day further away.

Once in my car, I pull out my cell phone and dial.

“Coleman,” my dad answers.

His voice alone makes me smile. “Don’t they have caller ID out there in Normville?”

“Yes, of course they do.”

“Then how come you answer that way when you know it’s me?”

“Habit. How are you?”

“Okay. My car’s being weird. Are you ready for it?” I hold the phone out the window and press my thumb against the start pad. The seats and mirrors adjust to my thumbprint specifications, and the radio starts playing my preset playlist that I have to voice command off. But the engine sputters to its halfhearted existence. “See?”

“Yeah, that doesn’t sound good. Is it fully charged?”

“Yes.” I tap on the dash. The green bar that used to indicate its charge level had blackened long ago. “It was powering all night.”

“Hmm. I’ll talk to your mother about it, okay?”

“Okay.”

In the background I hear a muffled, deep voice and my dad say, “Thanks. Stay cool.” Then he gives a little chuckle, and a door shuts.

“Did you really just tell someone to stay cool?”

“What’s wrong with that? It’s hot here.”

I laugh. “Who was it?”

“The mail carrier. Just got a package. But, anyway, we’ll figure out the car situation. Sound good?”

“Yes. I’d better get to school. See you lat … I mean …” I couldn’t finish the sentence. Somehow saying I’ll see you in a month didn’t sound right.

“Addie,” my dad says in his soft voice, “it won’t be long. We’ll see each other before you know it.”

I give a little hum and hang up the phone.

In the parking lot at Lincoln High, I glance at the clock on my dash. The talk with my dad put me a few minutes behind schedule. Just as I open the car door, a football hits my windshield. “Are you flippin’ kidding me?” I mumble.

“Sorry about that,” Duke says, running up to retrieve it from where it had bounced five feet away.

“Do you go anywhere without that thing?”

“If I didn’t have a football, people might not recognize me.”

As if. I look up at him. His perfectly messy blond hair and gorgeous smile greet me. Hotlicious. Was that Laila’s word? It fits, but I will never tell her or she might die of smugness. I grab my backpack off the passenger-side floor and stand. “And that would be a tragedy.”

He laughs. “I’ve just been practicing. Big game coming up.”

“Well, maybe you should practice on the field, away from people, because your aim seems a little off.” I shoulder my backpack and walk away.

“My aim is always perfect, Addie,” he calls after me.

What was that supposed to mean? That before he’d been trying to whack me in the forehead. And now he was trying to crack my windshield. What had I ever done to him?

Halfway to class Laila catches up with me, out of breath. I raise one eyebrow at her, surprised she ran in order to make it on time.

She provides the explanation: “I can’t get lunch detention today.”

“Nobody left to flirt with?”

“As a matter of fact, yes. Gregory had his last day yesterday.”

I roll my eyes. “It’s so nice to have a best friend who bases her choice on whether or not to be responsible solely on guys.”

“I’m glad to see you’re channeling the my-parents-were-just-divorced-so-I’m-allowed-to-be-pissy-anytime-I-want-and-everyone-should-understand attitude so well.”

I smile. “I’m sorry I’ve been so pissy.”

“Yeah, me too. Could you work on that, please? It’s ruining my social life.” She slips her arm in mine and lays her head on my shoulder as we walk. “I’m sorry your life sucks.”

“It doesn’t suck. I’ve just been spoiled by the ideal all these years.”

“I know, your parents did you a major disservice by giving you such a great childhood.”

“I’m sorry.” I say it because I realize how selfish I’ve been. Laila has a horrible home life, and she never complains about it. Nobody would know that her father lost his job because he has a drug problem. He spends all the family’s money to support his habit while her mom works all the time in order to support them.

As if reading my mind, Laila says, “Don’t start feeling sorry for me. You know how much I hate that.” She squeezes my arm and then straightens up. “You want to go to that party Friday? I promise not to leave your side the entire time.”

My brain tries to come up with an excuse, any excuse, but I already know my Friday evening is wide open and I’m a horrible liar. “Sure. Sounds exciting.”

“You are the queen of sarcasm, my friend, but I’ll pick you up at nine so you don’t stand me up.”

I open the door to the morning meditation room. “What would I do without you?”

“Probably curl up and die of boredom.” She pauses. “No, actually, you most likely already have your death penciled in sixty years from now, somewhere after homework and yoga.”

“I’d better not have homework in sixty years.” I step into my cubicle. The small, wall-mounted screen lights up at my entry and the acronym DAA—Department of Ability Advancement—pops up in bold letters. And if that isn’t enough to wipe the smile off my face, the talking head that appears next finishes the job.

My mother.

She’s a program developer for the DAA. It’s rare to see her in my cubicle in the morning, but according to her smiling, obviously prerecorded face, a new mind pattern has been introduced, specialized for each of our “claimed” abilities. She doesn’t actually use air quotes, but I can hear them in her voice. Adults like to make a point of adding the word claimed before abilities until we graduate and are able to officially prove ourselves by passing all the tests. It’s like they want to remind us that we’re not fully capable yet and still have to rely on them to help us reach our potential.

“So sit back, relax, and let your mind expand,” my mom’s face says.

Tones sound in my ears as images flash rapidly on the screen. I sit back. The relaxing part is out of the question.

CHAPTER 4

NOR-Mal: n. conforming to the standard I lie on the couch in our new house staring at the slowly circling ceiling fan. I decide it must be the least efficient way, ever, to cool a room. I long for the crosscurrents of my Compound house. My dad moved us into an already furnished rental in Dallas, Texas. Considering the state and style of the decor, I assume it was furnished forty years ago. Other than the ancient furniture, the house is bare—its walls white and empty.

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