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"All around me I see people laughing, joking, and walking around with these huge, goofy smiles plastered on their faces. I've begun to wonder how they do it, and more important, will I ever be able to be like that again?"
Five months after his dad's unexpected death, Billy Romero is still struggling with the loss. Billy's mom spends more time talking to her Bluetooth than to him, and his best friend, Ziggy, just doesn't get it. There's no one who understands how alone Billy feels...except his new English teacher, the young and beautiful Miss Gate.
Miss Gate offers support and friendship, even giving Billy extra help with his writing outside of school. Billy isn't really sure how he feels about spending so much time with his teacher. It's a little weird, but it's also kind of exciting that someone like Miss Gate wants to hang out with him. But the closer they get, the more Billy wonders what kind of friendship this really is....
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Greg Logsted has lived in Connecticut his whole life. He occasionally escapes but always comes back. He suspects that strings are attached. When he’s not writing he’s climbing ladders, drinking coffee and turning night into day. He presently lives in Danbury with his wife Lauren Baratz-Logsted and their daughter Jackie.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
I can't believe I'm doing this. I can't believe I'm writing to you. It feels strange -- really, really strange. It's not like you're ever going to write back or give me a call or anything. It's not like you're going to be driving into our garage again, messing with the garbage cans before trudging up the back stairs, throwing the paper on the table, and giving me a hug like you did for years and years every day after work. No, I don't imagine it's going to be like that. Is it?
I don't even know WHY I'm doing this. I really don't. It's Bragg's idea, of course. Mom keeps saying I've got "issues" and I haven't "properly grieved" and all that other stuff Mom always runs on about. You know how she is and how she gets. So guess what? About four months ago she sent me to this head doctor. Dr. Christopher W. Bragg.
He's got an office over by the mall in that ugly brown building. You know the one. You used to call it ugly just about every time we drove by it. She said I needed someone I could "talk" to. Yeah, right. Talk? To him? I can't even get him to tell me what his "W" stands for. He's from Texas, too. I smell a story. What's up with the "W"? Inquiring minds want to know. My money -- if I had any -- would be on "Wilbur."
Anyhow, Bragg seems to do most of the talking. I thought these guys were supposed to listen and keep quiet and all that. Maybe he doesn't want to be there any more than I do. Could be, right? I know if I was him, I wouldn't want to spend two hours a week locked in a small room trying to "talk" to a thirteen-year-old. He drinks a ton of coffee, too. I think he's struggling to stay awake. His tongue is always brown. I bet they know his first name at the coffee shop. Maybe they even know what the "W" stands for.
Bragg said I should write to you whenever I need to. Like a journal. Tell you what's going on in my life. Tell you my feelings. Tell you I miss you. God, Dad, I do. I miss you so much. I miss you all the time. I miss you so much that it hurts. It's like poison ivy. It's just inside me constantly, this burning and itching feeling of loss. I just can't seem to leave it alone; it's always there just begging me to scratch it. I keep expecting you to walk into the house and announce it was all some kind of a joke. Every time the phone rings, I hope that it's somehow you. Every time I see a car that looks like yours, I check out the driver. Sometimes I'll see a guy your age walking down the street and something about him will look like you, and it's like all the blood in my body just rushes to my head. I stop in my tracks and stare at him, but whatever it was that reminded me of you always melts right away.
I know I have to accept the truth. The stupid, stupid truth. I stood next to Mom at the wake with your open coffin. I stood next to Mom at the cemetery as they lowered your body into the ground. Now I have to stand tall and be brave. Help Mom and the twins. Be the man of the house. Right? That's what you would tell me to do. Isn't it? You'd say, "Billy, wake up. This is the way it is. Deal with it. You have to be a man now."
Dad, I'm sorry I overslept that day. I keep thinking about how I never got to say good-bye. How you got into your car, went off to work, and never came back. I keep thinking that maybe if I had gotten up a little earlier, we would have talked about something. Maybe the Yankees or the weather -- you know, anything -- and maybe I would have delayed you for just a minute. I figure even just one minute's delay might have been long enough to change everything. One minute is the difference between being in front of the truck or behind it. You were just waiting at a tollbooth. It's not like you were doing anything. Just sitting there waiting. Did you even see the truck coming up behind you? Did you know what was about to happen before it happened? Did you think of us: me and Mom and the twins?
If only I had gotten out of bed. You see, Dad, I didn't really oversleep that day. I was just lazy. I was just lying there listening to my stupid radio. I feel like this was all my fault. I'm sorry.
Well, that's enough for now.
Copyright © 2008 by Greg Logsted
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