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Chick: Lister

144 pages
Chick is a popular fourteen-year-old who is essentially on this earth to live up to his father’s impossible expectations, or, at least, that’s how he feels. This pressure is a grinding source of anxiety for him, which he copes with by making lists. He itemizes every aspect of his life, from his daily routine to the things that make him nervous. But as the pressure of school and his budding romance with his debating teammate Audrey builds, his compulsion starts to feel impossible to control, or conceal.

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Alex Van Tol
Ch i ck : L i ster
Chick: Lister
Alex Van Tol
Copyright ©2015Alex Van Tol
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
Van Tol, Alex, author Chick: Lister / Alex Van Tol. (Orca currents)
Issued in print and electronic formats. isbn 9781459810006 (pbk.).—isbn 9781459810020 (pdf).— isbn 9781459810037(epub)
I. Title. II. Series: Orca currents ps8643.a63c45 2015jc813'.6 c20149066651  c2014906666x
First published in the United States,2015 Library of Congress Control Number:2014952056
Summary:Fourteenyearold Chick struggles with obsessive–compulsive disorder and his father’s expectations.
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 photography by Getty Images Author photo by BK Studios
orca book publishers po Box 5626,Stn. B Victoria, bcCanadav8r 6s4
orca book publishers po Box 468 Custer, wa usa 982400468
C h a p t e r O n e
My shoes are too tight. My mouth is dry. And I’m more than a little embar-rassed after having pronounced a word wrong in Spanish class. I tried to ask Isobel how old she was, in that weird backward Spanish way. Turns out “How many years do you have?” is just a shade different than “How many anuses do you have?” I’m pretty sure
Alex Van Tol
Isobel isn’t going to talk to me for the rest of eighth grade. At least it made people laugh. Now I just want to get home. Angeline and Maryke pass me in the hallway. “Have a good weekend, Chick.” Maryke smiles at me. I’m not sure if it’s a blessing or a curse that my younger brother couldn’t pronounce my full name when he was little. And how he gotChickfrom Tadeuszbeats me. But it stuck. And it’s a good thing. You should hear how people massacreTadeusz. It’s supposed to sound like “today-ish.” But last year we had a substitute who couldn’t work it out. My friends called meTa-douchefor a month. “Thanks, you too.” At least they’re not cracking butt jokes. That’ll come on Monday. I want to get into my locker so I can grab my books, and then I’m splitting
Chick: Lister
for home. As fast as I can get there. I’ve got a bit of pressure I need to release. My fingers tingle as I spin the numbers on my lock. A list of the after-noon’s insane events begins to form in my mind.
1. 2. 3. 4.
Jazmin asking me if I’m going to the dance. Audrey smiling at me, twice. Twice, people! The big A inside a bright red circle on the front page of my math test. The anus thing.
I wish I could write it out instead. That’sI înd my release. In the where writing. In my mind, I am sitting with a clean, white sheet of paper in front of me. There is a jar of pens. They’re all different colors. I look carefully at each
Alex Van Tol
one before choosing dark green. I hover there, my imaginary pen poised over the clean page. I savor the anticipation. It’s a pleasure-pain feeling, like clamping your teeth together after having your braces tightened. Back in the real world, I swap a few books, grab my jacket and close my locker. I can’t wait to write down all the crazy things from today. And then I’ll write a list of all the things I have to do this weekend. All the things I’m not supposed to forget. I’ll explode every-thing out onto the page. Get it out of my head. And get my anxiety back under control. As I sling my bag onto my back, my fantasy is interrupted. “Yo, Chick, wassup?” I don’t even have to look. I’d know Finnian’s cheesy hip-hop speak in a crowd of a hundred. My stomach dips
Chick: Lister
and twirls when I see Audrey coming along behind him. She drifts to a stop near my locker, a sweet smile on her face. My palms start to sweat, and I take a deep breath to steady myself.I am desperate to get home, but I don’t want to seem rude or abrupt. Especiallyto Audrey. “You heading out?” Fin claps me on the shoulder, even though he has to practically bend down to do it. I let my knees buckle and bang my head against the locker for effect. Audrey giggles. “Heading out,” I nod, rubbing my forehead. We have a good comic chem-istry, Fin and I. It’s a good thing we’re not debate partners. For the judges’ sakes. I shoot Audrey a smile and follow Finnian through this weird fist-bump-hand-slap-over-the-top-something-or-other that he’s been developing. It’s lame,
Alex Van Tol
but I do it anyway, because it’s Finnian. He’s my best friend. And everybody loves Finnian. He’s a rugby superstar, and girls think he’s cute. I mean, they think I’m cute too, but my cute is more of theAww, look, he’s not even ive feet tallvariety. “You want to go shoot some hoops?” I look down at myself, then back at Finnian. “You want to go tie two butterLies’ tongues together?” Audrey laughs. I like the way she looks up at me, even though I’m techni-cally shorter than she is. She has this way of dipping her chin down and looking up through her eyelashes. I appreciate it. Maybe if I hung out with Audrey more I wouldn’t always be reminded of how short I am. “Aw, come on, man,” Finnian says. “You know how to jump, don’t you?” “I forget.” “Actually…” Audrey interrupts. She pauses in this quiet way she has until we
Chick: Lister
both turn to look at her. “I was going to ask Chick if he could walk me home.” She glances at me. I can see she’s a little nervous. “There are a couple of things I wanted to talk to you about, for the debate tournament.” Holy schnitzel. Really? I’ve been struggling to think of a way to ask Audrey to hang out and work on our debate. And here she is, doing it for me. Finnian rolls his eyes and throws his hands in the air. “Oh, what isthat? Here I am, the number-one basketball god in the whole school offering you a chance to play. But then a girl shows up, and you’re all like ‘Yeah, baby, let’sdebate!’” It’s my turn to laugh. As if Finnian would ever truly be upset about this. He knows I’m into Audrey. And he knows I haven’t been able to get the ball rolling with her. Well, here it is, rolling. I think. I look back at Audrey. I search for my tongue, but I must have swallowed it.