Authors: Lauren Bjorkman
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Girls & Women, #Humorous Stories, #Social Issues, #Friendship
Henry Holt and Company, LLC
Publishers since 1866
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New York, New York 10010
Henry Holt ® is a registered trademark of Henry Holt and Company, LLC.
Copyright © 2009 by Lauren Bjorkman
All rights reserved.
Distributed in Canada by H. B. Fenn and Company Ltd.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
My invented life / Lauren Bjorkman.—1st ed.
Summary: During rehearsals for Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” sixteen-year-old Roz, jealous of her cheerleader sister’s acting skills and heartthrob boyfriend, invents a new identity, with unexpected results.
[1. Sisters—Fiction. 2. Identity—Fiction. 3. Sexual orientation—Fiction. 4. Shakespeare, William, 1564–1616. As you like it—Fiction. 5. Theater—Fiction. 6. High schools—Fiction. 7. Schools—Fiction.] I. Title.
PZ7.B52859My 2009 [Fic]—dc22 2008050279
First Edition—2009 / Designed by April Ward
Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper. ∞
1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2
To Pelle for many little reasons and one big one
raise my mini golf club
and try to focus on the clown’s chomping mouth. Other lips are on my mind, though—Bryan’s, to be honest. As my eyes wander in his direction, Eva leans in to kiss those lips. Bryan belongs to my sister, a circumstance I’d rather forget. My ball sails over the polka-dotted clown hat and disappears deep into Nowheresville, where the gum wrappers live. Mom bribed us into coming tonight by inviting our boyfriends. Except I don’t have one.
If life were one big stage (and it is), this would be the scene where the heroine (me) seethes with jealousy and the desire for revenge. The thick folds of her wool cloak conceal a weapon. She unveils the silvery blade to gasps from the audience and advances toward the doomed couple. O happy dagger!
But the pint-sized windmill in the background is all wrong. It creates a trashy-teen-movie sort of ambience when the scene calls for romantic boudoir. Think Othello taking the life of his beloved Desdemona.
Eva and Bryan’s kiss goes on for an eternity. When they finally come up for air, he looks over her shoulder
right at me. I choose feigned disinterest over murder and saunter off in the direction of my lost ball. My so-called search leads me to a hidden bench that’s perfect for an intermission. I stretch out and close my eyes. Here’s what I should’ve said to Mom this afternoon: “Alas, no miniature golf for me tonight. My allergy to Astroturf, you know. Have your people call my people to reschedule.”
A sweet smell hovers over my bench. “Wake up, Sleeping Beauty,” Bryan says, brushing my cheek with a half-opened rose.
I am so lying
There are no flowers for miles around. Actually, the smell bears an unfortunate resemblance to cigarette smoke. When I open my eyes, I see Bryan leaning against a chain-link fence a few feet away. He inhales.
“Are you okay?” he asks through a toxic cloud. The glow of his platinum blond hair in the artificial light haloes his face. A girl needs sunglasses to look at him without hurting her eyes.
“I’m tired, that’s all,” I mumble.
After his parents divorced three years ago, Bryan broke my heart by moving away from Yolo Bluffs. Last September he came back with his dad, and my romantic dreams were rekindled. Sadly, before he could fall madly in love with me, he succumbed to Eva’s perky cheerleader routine. And who can blame him? She
amazing in every way. Half the boys at school swoon in her presence. Still, here’s my chance to make him notice my less-obvious charms, to make him change his mind.
“You seem out of it,” he says, dropping down next to me. I sit up.
“I stayed up too late on New Year’s Eve. Mom’s grad student party,” I say. Inside my head I scream at him,
Are you blind? You picked the wrong sister
His smile reveals even teeth, not too big and not too small. The song “Sweet Cheater” runs through my head. My heart pounds out a few extra beats.
“Where’s your ball?” he asks.
“I don’t believe in balls,” I say.
Smoke pours from his mouth when he laughs. I cough. He immediately drops his cigarette and rubs it out with the heel of his white sneaker. “Eva says I should quit.”
“You should do what you want.”
Personally, I believe smoking compares unfavorably to eating raw banana slugs, and I’m one of the few who’s tried both. At least when he kisses Eva tonight his mouth will be tainted by eau d’ashtray. I take comfort in this.
“I can’t help it. I’m bad,” he says.
“That’s your best quality,” I say.
In the third grade, I would stare at him for the entire lunch period, spending many dreamy minutes on each dimple. Once Eva helped me write him a love survey: Do you like me? Will you kiss me? Will you marry me?
Bryan filled it out yes, no, and yes. Nothing ever came of it, but my crush lived on.
“Great shot, Eva,” shouts the member of the Eva Fan Club known as Dad.
I savor the last moments of our intimate silence until Mom ruins it by yelling, “Roz, where are you?”
“Coming,” I yell back.
“Something’s up with you,” Bryan breathes into my ear. “Call me.”
Okay, so he’s not totally blind. We stand up and join the others. The moment we appear, Eva grabs on to him, circling her arm around his waist like a noose. Her face gives nothing away. Then again, she’s a better actress than I am, and I’m the best.
I poke around Eva the Diva’s room the next morning after she leaves for her ballet lesson. I haven’t come in here since she got mad at me before Christmas. More than mad. She took the folder on her computer desktop titled Roz: sister and best friend and moved it to trash.
The first thing I see is her journal. I’m not tempted. It rests seductively at the center of her night table, and the latch appears to be broken. Still I don’t touch it. Even though she’ll never find out. And even though it might reveal why she deleted me from her life.
Okay, then, one little peek.
December 20—Last day of practice before Christmas break. Finally got chorus line routine together. Skipped the cheerleaders’ party. Went for walk with Bryan.
The rest reads the same. Maybe TV Land hired her to write a script for
America’s Boringest Home Videos
. To be honest, I’d hoped for a confession, a green light to go after Bryan. Something like, “Roz wants that loser Bryan. I’m going to hook up with him to get back at her.” But back at me for what? I’m innocent. And I’m not looking for a new nickname—boyfriend-stealing lowlife—either. Still, there are extenuating circumstances to consider. For one, I
liked him first. For another, all’s fair in love and sibling rivalry.
So that my morning won’t be entirely wasted, I close her journal and move on to pillaging her closet. We used to trade clothes constantly, without bothering to ask each other first. When my growth spurt made that impractical, we still shared accessories all the time—BD (Before Deletion), that is. Her new ivory scarf feels soft. I wind it around my neck, lie on her bed so my cheek rests on the angora, and hope for a miracle.
The blue pom-poms hanging on her door look like a pair of punk trolls in need of a haircut. I hate them. Since Eva deserted me for her petite cheerleader friends, I fantasize about slipping bovine growth hormone into their Gatorade. My fave internet advice line says it’s normal for sisters to grow apart during high school. True, we live in the same house, go to the same school, and hang with the same theater-geek crowd. The 24/7 thing can wear on a person. Except we didn’t grow apart. She dumped me, and it hurts.
Eva is one grade ahead of me, a senior in high school. Even BD we pretty much ignored each other in public by mutual consent. When we were alone, though, she used to tell me everything about everything—who kissed with too much saliva, how she had to wear a hoodie around her waist when her tampon leaked, things like that. She stopped spending time with me around Halloween to hang with Bryan. That always happens with a new boyfriend, so I didn’t freak. After Thanksgiving she started acting odd, and then she dissolved and recrystallized into a stranger.
Her door swings open. “Did you forget where your room is?” She tosses her gym bag into the closet. “Oh. Your GPS broke down.”