18 September 2011

Excerpt: Sophie & Carter By: Chelsea Fine

Title: Sophie & Carter
Author: Chelsea Fine
Publisher: Acacia Publishing, Inc. 128 Pages (June 20th, 2011)
Order here: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Synopsis: While other high school seniors are dreaming about their futures, Sophie and Carter are just trying to make it through each day. Carter is overwhelmed by issues at home as he struggles to support his mother. Meanwhile, next door neighbor Sophie is left to care for her three younger siblings in place of their absent and troubled mother. All that holds these two best friends together is each other, and knowing that each night they'll sit together on Sophie's front porch swing and escape from reality, if just for awhile. But as their relationship reaches a turning point and high school graduation nears, will their friendship become something more?


 Sophie and I don’t walk home from school together. We never have. But we live next door to one another on Penrose Street.
Right next door.
Sophie usually walks twenty feet ahead of me on our way home. I’m used to this and it feels comfortable. On days when Sophie stays home sick or…whatever, it feels wrong. I walk home alone and I can never seem to get there fast enough.
Today she’s here, though, walking in front of me. Not acknowledging me, which is our unspoken understanding. We act like we don’t know each other around our friends.
It keeps things simple. It keeps reality out.
I shove my hands in my pockets; my eyes falling on the familiar cracks in the sidewalk beneath me. The wind carries scents of the neighborhood up to my nose as I walk. Dirt…rubber…grass… even a little garbage, meet my nostrils, reminding me of home.
We don’t live in the nicest part of town, but it could be worse.
The houses are small and crooked, but the trees are large and stand up tall. Large oaks stretch their canopies over the leaky roofs and peeling paint of the homes below, keeping the secrets in and the sunlight out.
Not that sunlight would help any.
I bring my head up and survey the street. A long time ago the neighborhood was probably pretty nice…back before the pavement cracked and lifted, and the streetlights hung at dangerous angles. I’m sure there was a time when Penrose Street was probably an ideal place to walk your dog or have a barbecue.
Not anymore, though.
The only dogs in the neighborhood are strays, and barbecues are something I’ve only seen on TV.
A breeze floats through the air, softly lifting Sophie’s hair from her shoulders. I catch a glimpse of her profile as her hair rises and smile to myself.
Sophie has no idea how attractive she is. At school she walks around guarded, paying little mind to the teenage Neanderthals vying for her attention. Kids don’t understand why she’s so quiet and uninterested. They don’t know anything about her.
But I do.
A leaf falls from one of the tall oaks and brushes against Sophie’s arm before falling to the ground. My eyes stay on her as we near our houses.
I like to watch her walk—and not in a sexual way. Don’t get me wrong, she’s got a nice butt. Actually, she’s got nice…everything.
But there’s something about how she walks…how she holds herself high, keeps her head straight and knows where she’s going. It’s beautiful.
I’ve been watching her walk home twenty feet ahead of me since the third grade. That’s when she moved in next door. We were nine, my life sucked, and she was new.
She was also the reason I went to school. Or got up in the morning. Or kept breathing.
The promise of Sophie.
She drops a piece of paper on the ground without stopping. It’s for me. It’s how we ‘talk’ on our walk home.
I keep my pace steady, even though I want to race to where the paper scrap fell and retrieve it like a possessive hound.
My feet finally reach where her note landed and I bend to pick it up, barely slowing my momentum.
I open the small folded note. It’s covered in smiley faces. Of course.
Stop staring at my butt.
I smile.
Like I said, she’s got a great butt. But right now I’m not staring at it.
She knows I’m not staring at it.
No. I’m staring at her skinny fingers, wrapped like magnets around the strap of her book bag. Her knuckles are white and her forearm is flexed.
She’s tense.
We’re almost home. This is the worst part of the day—for both of us.
I shove her note in my pocket and take a deep breath. We’re each at our driveways now. Sophie doesn’t look over at me or say goodbye. I don’t wave or look at her either.
Because this is the beginning of the end of our day. This is when things go wrong.
This is why she dropped me a note.
Because she knows, and I know, that we both need a little levity before we walk into our homes after school.
They’re not really homes. More like houses where we sleep. Where we eat—if we’re lucky. Where we cry and fight. Where we bleed and break. Where we cower and scream.
Where we give up. Where we sigh. Where we barely survive.
I know this because our houses are only twenty feet apart. Her bedroom window faces mine. Her kitchen window faces mine. We see everything that happens to each other.
It’s terrible, intrusive and embarrassing.
It’s also the reason Sophie Hartman is my best friend.

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1 comment:

  1. Love the excerpt. I think I need to track this book down. Definitely on the TBR list.


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