Rock Hard (Sinners on Tour #2) Good Girl Gone (The Reed Brothers #7)

The wait was excruciating. Corabelle cried herself to sleep. I moved to a chair in the corner. Her mother sat on the foam sofa that converted to a bed. Her father returned after a while, shaking his head. I couldn’t get anything out of anybody, other than I can’t see him right now. He glanced over at me. I had to tell them you two were married. Otherwise Gavin doesn’t have any part in this. I didn’t know that.

The tour guide stepped through the door. It’s calming, isn’t it? Some people actually feel sick inside here, like the last poor couple. But if you just stare at the chandelier, you find peace within your discomfort.Who built this? Corabelle asked.

The Fallen Star (Fallen Star #1)

It was installed by Do Ho Suh, an artist from Korea, the woman said. He wanted others to feel the disorientation that he felt coming to a new country.It certainly works, Corabelle said. Now that she had looked away from the chandelier, she gripped me hard, already starting to sway. Do you get used to it?I only volunteer here once every two weeks, so I have to adjust all over again every time. After about half an hour, I can manage. Are you here for the assignment?

Pride and Pleasure (Historical #3)

The picture your professor wants you to measure is that one. She pointed to an image of a baby, allegedly one of the deans.Corabelle tried to step toward it and stumbled into me. I managed to catch her, but my stomach began to turn. The angled walls seemed to be falling inward. I tried staring at the floor, but the position of my feet made the confusion in my brain hit a fever pitch.

I wanted out of there, back to normal ground, where I could control things again. Screw the assignment. Come on, Corabelle, I said. It looks like 27 degrees to me.

The guide looked displeased with us, and Corabelle almost protested. But when she turned to me, something in my face changed her mind. She just said, Thank you to the guide as I led her out.FOLD YOUR HANDS IN YOUR LAP. Smile. Don’t smile. Don’t look anyone in the eye. Pretend you don’t care. Study your shoes. Don’t smile … don’t ever smile. God.

I am fidgety and awkward. I never know what to do and when to do it. A boy smiled at me once; he was cute. He’d already passed by the time I smiled back. Too little too late. I couldn’t make my face move in time. School is a reprieve from home; home is a reprieve from school. I don’t belong anywhere, so I travel from place to place hoping no one notices me—but if they do, I hope they won’t be overly cruel. I think about the past. Days long gone.Everything different, everything so strangely the same. People become different, I realize. It’s the landscape that never changes: the highway signs marred with graffiti, the pink and orange blended sunsets that kiss the top of the evergreens, even the line of cars waiting to turn into the Wal-Mart parking lot. That’s what jars me the most: same sky, same Bone, same house, different mother.

Flawless (Pretty Little Liars #2)

So I remember the old mother, tracing the past, recoloring the memories. The weight of bad memories blossoms and expands under the good memories. I try to think only of those—the good things that carve me into my childhood, not the ones that carve me out of it.I think of the way my mother always had a leaf between her fingers. That’s what I remember most. She’d pull one from a bush or a tree and hold it between her fingers, compulsively rubbing little circles until the leaf was rubbed clean of its veins and membranes and her fingers were stained green. I liked when her fingers were green; it reminded me of the finger paints we used at school. It made her seem strange and fun, organically different from the other mothers who were always sour-faced and stiff. When we were outside, I’d study the way she’d examine the plants, mimicking her movements, wanting to be close to her, wanting to be her. And it was difficult because my mother carried her grace around her shoulders, a regal class that was almost impossible to imitate.

That was when I was real little and things were almost right. Before she lost her job at Markobs and Jacob, before she started smoking, before the men. Nowadays, my mother’s fingers are stained with nicotine. The smell rolls off her skin when she moves across a room—stale smoke and tobacco rot. Her shoulders hang from her neck like an old housecoat. When she stopped leaving the house a few years ago, she would send me out to buy cigarettes, the ones with the Indian chief on the carton, because they were healthier for you. Somewhere in between her smelling like the outdoors, and her smelling like an ashtray, I stopped wanting to be her. And during that same time, while she was shrugging off the mantle of parenting and becoming a stranger, she stopped saying my name.At first I didn’t notice it. It wasn’t until a teacher said my name at school, calling me to the front of the class to solve an equation, that I realized I hadn’t heard it in some time. My mother still delivered commands, but at some point skimmed my name from the top of them. Margo. It took me a minute to recognize that it was me Mrs. Lerson was calling. The other students laughed as I made my way through the line of desks to stand in front of the blackboard. Margo, I thought. That’s me. And then, as I walked home from the bus, I tried to remember the last time I heard her say it, and I couldn’t.

My mother, a Perry Mason fan, named me after Margo Albert, an actress she once saw on his show, The Case of the Sad Sicilian. In Margo’s final role, before she died of brain cancer, she played a murderess named Serafina. My mother, stricken by her doleful eyes, vowed to name her first daughter Margo. It feels like a cruel joke to be named after a woman who was cast in tragic roles, and even more so to have the meaning of one’s name be something so beautiful and delicate when you yourself are anything but.In the eating house, I remain nameless. White blonde hair, forgettable eyes, ugly, tattered clothes.

I spin around. The school bus is retracting its STOP sign, doors closing. Destiny comes barreling down the sidewalk toward me, slinging her backpack over her shoulder. I eye the cut of her jeans, and the way her shirt hangs fashionably off her shoulder. She’s even wearing the type of shoes the other girls are wearing: sparkly flats. She stopped speaking to me sometime around seventh grade, after the kids at school started calling me the whore’s daughter. I don’t know if it was by her parents’ command or self-preservation, but she just left me.You forgot this on the bus, she says, handing me the paperback novel I’d been reading. I take it from her without meeting her eyes.

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