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Are You Seeing Me?

De
440 pages
Twins Justine and Perry have left their home in Australia and embarked on the road trip of a lifetime in the Pacific Northwest.
It's been a year since their dad lost his battle with cancer and Justine became the sole caregiver for her autistic brother, Perry. Now Perry has been accepted into an assisted-living residence in their hometown, Brisbane, Australia, but before he takes up residence, they're seeking to create the perfect memory.
For Perry, the trip is a glorious celebration of some of his favorite things: Ogopogo, Jackie Chan movies and earthquakes. For Justine, it's an opportunity to learn how to let go, of Perry, of her boyfriend, Marc, and to offer their mother the chance to atone for past wrongs.
But the instability that has shaped their lives will not subside, and the seismic event that Perry forewarned threatens to reduce their worlds to rubble…
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goth aRé yOu sÉEing mE? dareN goth aRé
Copyright ©2015Darren Groth
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Groth, Darren,1969–, author Are you seeing me? / Darren Groth.
Originally published: North Sydney,nsw: Woolshed Press, an imprint of Random House Australia,2014.
Issued in print and electronic formats. isbn 9781459810792(bound).—isbn 9781459810808(pdf).— isbn 9781459810815(epub)
I. Title. ps8613.r698a74 2015jc813'.6 c20159015480 c20159015499
First published by Woolshed Press,2014 First published in the United States,2015 Library of Congress Control Number:2015934240
Summary: In this novel, twins Justine and Perry have left their home in Australia and embarked on the road trip of a lifetime in the Pacific Northwest.
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.
Cover images from Shutterstock.com: silhouettes © freesoulproduction, crack © farmer79, tentacles © shockfactor.de, car © Jennifer Gottschalk, road sign © VoodooDot Jacket design by Christabella Designs and Teresa Bubela Author photo by Lauren White
orca book publishers www.orcabook.com
For W, for J and especially for C
We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth. george bernard shaw
Justine
PErry îS Standîng on thEfar side of the metal detector, feet planted on the red stripe. Beads of sweat dot his forehead. His right leg twitches, keeping pace with some inaudible rhythm. At regular intervals, his lips curl inward then spring open, releasing a loudpop. He’s stuck. He’s been stuck for a while. There’ll be another announcement over thepasoon. I imagine it being a little more pointed than its predecessor:Ms. Justine Richter, Mr. Perry Richter, you are required to board Flightto Vancouver. Your fellow passengers are waiting for you to end this madness. Can you blame them for getting upset? I can’t…What is your problem? Are you unaware of anyone but yourselves? You think the whole world should bow to your needs? The two of you are an absolute disgrace. I attempt to catch Perry’s eye with reassuring nods and hereisyourlovingsister hand gestures. I won’t approach him or get in his face. I won’t negotiate either— speeches are useless when my brother has reached this level of anxiety. It’s like trying to draw attention to a lit candle during a laser show.
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The stolid security officer holding the metaldetecting paddle displays a frown. “Please step through, sir,” he says for the millionth time. The sour business suit behind Perry huffs and places his hands on his hips. “No worries, pal,” he says. “It’s not like we’ve got planes to catch or anything.” Perry hears none of it. His hands are clasped together on top of his head. A pronounced lean has gripped the left side of his body. Thepopshave morphed into heavy sighs. The soles of his shoes remain fixed to the red stripe. This is my nightmare. Sure, there are any number of planks in the rickety suspension bridge of our trip that could give out and send us plummeting—the flight, the hotels, the road trips to Okanagan Lake and Seattle. Foreign places, foreign people. Foreigneverything. And, of course, The Appointment and all of the ques tion marks it entails. But to go wrong here?Here?At the airport?On the list of places you’d want to avoid acting out of the ordinary, the airport would rank number one with a bullet. Or maybe a Taser. I pull the rubber band at my wrist, let it snap back. The blossom of pain strangles the panic, rouses a resilience honed over the last two years. Perry needs help—it is right and just that I provide it. This is his time. His ultimate holiday. He deserves all the patience and tolerance required to make the next two weeks a memory for the ages.
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I take a couple of steps forward and stand tall, framed by the metal detector. Like a mime playing to the back row, an exaggerated level of animation overtakes my move ments. I nod my head until my neck hurts. I tap my watch with large stabbing points of the index finger. I wheel my arm over like an air guitarist in full flight. The perform ance makes a minor impression; Perry has returned to vertical, and the volume has been turned down on his sighs. I’m ready for a second dance of persuasion when a voice to my left interjects. “He’ll get there, miss.” I look toward the reassurer. It’s the security officer seated by the Xray machine. She’s a cement block of a woman with dyed black hair and a red blotchy face. In contrast to her body, her expression is open, soft. The conveyor belt of luggage that is her charge has been halted. I hesitate, wary of reconciling compassion with authority, then nod. “I’ve got a nephew like him. Similar age, by the look of it.” She juts her chin and sits up a little straighter in her chair. “You’re doin’ real good.” Nephew or not, she has no real clue, but I mouth the wordsthank youanyway. As I turn back toward the stalemate, she adds, “You take as much time as you need.” Her gracious sentiment is not a shared one. The paddle wielder has dropped thesirhis requests. from
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The suit barges back through the line in search of a security station that “doesn’t have a goddamn retard holding everything up.” A small part of me is proud of Pez for upending their crappy little ordered empires. The rest of me is still locked on his unraveling. And then things go from bad to worse. Perry bends at the knees, buckling slowly, like Atlas defeated. The implications are immediate—if his knees hit the floor, it’s a done deal. He’ll go to all fours, then onto his stomach. Perhaps he’ll roll over on his back. Whatever the final position, he’ll be spreadeagled and staked. Ninetyone kilograms of dead weight destined for fullblown security intervention. The clock, previously at a premium, is seconds away from becoming redundant. He’s halfway down when an idea strikes. I lunge for the counter and unzip the bag Perry packed for the trip. I scrabble around among his essentials, assessing their candidacy. The seismometer? Too valuable. Thedvdof Jackie Chan’sDrunken Master II? Too fragile. The Ogopogo stuffed toy? Too childish. Thecd ofPolka Hits from Around the World?! Too…weird. The bookQuakeshake: A Child’s Experience of the Newcastle Earthquake? Bingo! I snatch up the book and hustle into position. I turn sideon, then cock my wrist, ready for the throw. It’s all or nothing, anything but a gimme; the toss must
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