Chapter Excerpt

Some girls have journals. I talk to my poster.

It’s Saturday afternoon and Jewel should be here soon. While I wait for him, I’m talking to the poster over my bed.

“Dove Girl, please help me.”

She’s a print made by Picasso in the fifties: Le Visage de la Paix. The face of peace. Much wished-upon by me. It’s something about how comfortable she seems; calm.

“Please help me with creatures of the male persuasion,” I say. “Other than Jewel.”

What I want, I tell her, is a boyfriend. Maybe I won’t find my soul mate. But I want handholding and kissing and I want someone to go to the Halloween Bloodbath with. Like everyone else.

Not just like everyone else, maybe. But a date. With someone who wants to be there with me. Someone I can slow-dance with, off in the shadows.

I hear the front door open, the chimes above it clinking. “Hello, Davises!” Jewel says.

My parents yell hello. Their voices boom, in a happy way.

I can’t tell Jewel that I want to go to the Bath. Of course he’d go with me. But he’d say, “Alice, this is ridiculous,” and “Alice, let’s go rent a movie instead.” And no way would we hold hands or slow-dance. Or kiss. We’ve been friends since we were three.

He’s the only person who knows I have this habit of, like, praying to an inanimate poster. We talked about it just a few days ago. “It’s healthy,” he said, sharing a bag of popcorn with me in my kitchen. “You need someone to talk to.”

“I have you to talk to,” I said. But there’s plenty that I can’t share with him. “Anyway, you don’t really talk to anyone else either. What’s your version of the Dove Girl?”

He swallowed the last handful of popcorn. His camera was hanging from its shoulder strap. He picked it up, fiddled with the lens, and snapped a photo of me staring at him. “That.”

“Hey,” I say now. Jewel squeezes me hello.

He’s watching my parents as they screen-print T-shirts in their headquarters for saving the world, which used to be our dining room. They’re working on a new design. A plastic soda six-pack-holder-together thing is choking a tuna on the front of the shirt; on the back, the rings are being cut by scissors.

Both of my parents are in their fifties, but when I look at them now I can see exactly what they must’ve been like at my age. Passionate. Excitable.

Good-looking, too. My dad has blue-blue eyes and black hair spiked gray around his temples. My mom has kept her orange hair long, and the only thing that betrays her age is that now she uses those little half-glasses for reading.

Jewel’s mom comes in. “Hi, Brenda,” I say.

She holds up a grocery bag. “Supplies for the troops!” She’s cute, younger than my parents, in a linen jumper and clogs.

Jewel’s reddish brown hair matches hers. He raises his thickly lashed eyelids and flashes his hazel eyes at her. Something in Jewel is so vibrant; it’s like he’s in color when most of the world is sort of sepia-toned.

Mom gives Brenda a hug. “We can use all the hands we can get.”

They go into the kitchen.


Jewel nods.

The parents are laughing about something; Brenda teaches preschool and she usually has stories about the kids. My parents love to relive having toddlers.

I lean through the doorway. “Be back later.”

Jewel and I tink the door chimes as we leave.

The sky, our Seattle sky, is gray, like it usually is, and it drips rain onto every part of us, raindrops so tiny that we hardly notice them. We’ve grown up here, so we’re amphibians.

But we wear our hoods up.

We walk to the scone shop with the best lattes. Chunky Glasses is behind the counter; the guy looks like a fifties square, but in that way that’s hip now.

The people in here always act superior because they know whether a marionberry or a raspberry goes better in a scone with an orange glaze. And they sell buttons that say things like kill your television. But they have the best lattes. We come here, but it’s strictly a to-go situation.

“Double tall vanilla,” Jewel says to Chunky Glasses. “Two.”

Chunky Glasses nods and makes the espresso machine swell into a frenzy of sound like a helium balloon inflating. When he presents our lattes, he says, “Lids right behind you,” like he hasn’t seen us a hundred times before. “And sugar.”

That’s an insult; no one adds sugar to this drink. He’s testing our Seattle coffee sophistication.

Jewel pays, and Chunky Glasses puts our change on the counter, even though Jewel is holding his hand palm up right there.

Outside, Jewel and I drink our coffee. He gulps like a giant. I remember our first lattes, when we were twelve. We ordered triple grandes and I thought the espresso tasted like acid. I trashed mine about halfway through. Jewel drank his by clamping his lips around the cup and letting the tiniest bit through. He drank the whole thing, so slowly.

The scone shop window is covered in flyers. I notice a dog walker looking for new clients, a yoga studio beginning its next six-week Vinyasa session, and a glassblowing workshop.

“Glassblowing,” I say, nodding toward the flyer. I take a step toward the window. fire art glass studio. now registering for saturday workshop. all levels. call jim. “Cool.”

Jewel steps next to me. “Yeah, totally. It’s eighty dollars, though.”

I consider. “I still have some babysitting money from the summer. I’ve been saving it for something special.”

“You should do it. You’d love it.” His gaze lands on my face.

“What makes you think so?”

He keeps looking at me. “You want to try a new medium, right? This is perfect. I bet glass will really be your thing.”

“I have always wanted to try it.”

“Do it!” He goes over to the flyer, rips off the phone number, and hands it to me.

“We’ll see.” I put the scrap of paper in my pocket.

“Let’s walk,” Jewel says, and we head down Fremont Avenue toward Ballard.

In the window of the big junk shop on the corner, plastic skeletons dance. Jack-o’-lantern heads top scarecrow bodies. A wooden witch wearing the perfect dress—black and netty—soars across a Mylar moon.

“Holy Halloween, Batman,” I say, and stop.

“Almost makes you want to go to the Bloodbath, doesn’t it?” Jewel says. “If you were a cheesier type of person.”

He thrusts around his latte cup like it’s a pom-pom. “Go, team!” he yells.

“Rah,” I say, but I’m not really concentrating because my brain has been taken over by the witch dress. “Jewel.”

His gaze follows my pointing finger to the witch. “Seriously? Okay. Fun.”

We take down our hoods and head inside.

From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpted from The Opposite of Invisible by Liz Gallagher
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