To: Anna Oliphant <[email protected]>

From: Étienne St. Clair <[email protected]>

Subject: Re: Christmas Dinner

YOU feel sorry for ME? I am not the one who has never tasted bread pudding. The hospital was the same. I won’t bore you with the details.

Though I had to wait an hour to catch the bus back, and it started raining. Now that I’m at the flat, my father has left for the hospital. We’re each

making stel ar work of pretending the other doesn’t exist.

P.S. Mum says to tell you “Merry Christmas.” So Merry Christmas from my mum, but Happy Christmas from me.

To: Étienne St. Clair <[email protected]>

From: Anna Oliphant <[email protected]>

Subject: SAVE ME


Worst. Dinner. Ever. It took less than five minutes for things to explode. My dad tried to force Seany to eat the green bean casserole, and when

he wouldn’t, Dad accused Mom of not feeding my brother enough vegetables. So she threw down her fork, and said that Dad had no right to tel

her how to raise her children. And then he brought out the “I’m their father” crap, and she brought out the “You abandoned them” crap, and

meanwhile, the WHOLE TIME my half-deaf Nanna is shouting, “WHERE’S THE SALT! I CAN’T TASTE THE CASSEROLE! PASS THE SALT!”

And then Granddad complained that Mom’s turkey was “a wee dry,” and she lost it. I mean, Mom just started s creaming.

And it freaked Seany out, and he ran to his room crying, and when I checked on him, he was UNWRAPPING A CANDY CANE!! I have no idea

where it came from. He knows he can’t eat Red Dye #40! So I grabbed it from him, and he cried harder, and Mom ran in and yel ed at ME, like

I’d given him the stupid thing. Not, “Thank you for saving my only son’s life, Anna.” And then Dad came in and the fighting resumed, and they

didn’t even notice that Seany was stil sobbing. So I took him outside and fed him cookies, and now he’s running around in circles, and my

grandparents are stil at the table, as if we’re all going to sit back down and finish our meal.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY FAMILY? And now Dad is knocking on my door. Great. Can this stupid holiday get any worse??

To: Anna Oliphant <[email protected]>

From: Étienne St. Clair <[email protected]>


I’m teleporting to Atlanta. I’m picking you up, and we’l go someplace where our families can’t find us. We’l take Seany. And we’l let him run laps

until he tires, and then you and I will take a long walk. Like Thanksgiving. Remember? And we’l talk about everything BUT our parents . . . or

perhaps we won’t talk at all. We’l just walk. And we’l keep walking until the rest of the world ceases to exist.

I’m sorry, Anna. What did your father want? Please tell me what I can do.

To: Étienne St. Clair <[email protected]>

From: Anna Oliphant <[email protected]>

Subject: Sigh. I’d love that.

Thank you, but it was okay. Dad wanted to apologize. For a split second, he was almost human. Almost. And then Mom apologized, and now

they’re washing dishes and pretending like nothing happened. I don’t know. I didn’t mean to get all drama queen, when your problems are so

much worse than mine. I’m sorry.

To: Anna Oliphant <[email protected]>

From: Étienne St. Clair <[email protected]>

Subject: Are you mad?

My day was boring. Your day was a nightmare. Are you all right?

To: Étienne St. Clair <[email protected]>

From: Anna Oliphant <[email protected]>

Subject: Re: Are you mad?

I’m okay. I’m just glad I have you to talk to.

To: Anna Oliphant <[email protected]>

From: Étienne St. Clair <[email protected]>

Subject: So . . .

Does that mean I can cal you now?

Chapter twenty-nine

In the history of terrible holidays, this ranks as the worst ever. Worse than the Fourth of July when Granddad showed up to see the fireworks in a kilt and insisted on singing “Flower of Scotland” instead of “America the Beautiful.” Worse than the Hal oween when Trudy Sherman and I both went to school

dressed as Glinda the Good Witch, and she told everyone her costume was better than mine, because you could see my purple “Monday” panties through


I’m not talking to Bridgette. She cal s every day, but I ignore her. It’s over. The Christmas gift I bought her, a tiny package wrapped in red-and-white-

striped paper, has been shoved into the bottom of my suitcase. It’s a model of Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge in Paris. It was part of a model train set, and because of my poor language skil s, St. Clair spent fifteen minutes convincing the shopkeeper to sel the bridge to me separately.

I hope I can return it.

I’ve only been to the Royal Midtown 14 once, and even though I saw Hercules, Toph was there, too. And he was like, “Hey, Anna. Why won’t you talk to

Bridge?” and I had to run into the restroom. One of the new girls fol owed me in and said she thinks Toph is an insensitive douchebag motherhumping

assclown, and that I shouldn’t let him get to me. Which was sweet, but didn’t real y help.

Afterward, Hercules and I watched the latest cheesy Christmas movie and made fun of the actors’ matching holiday sweaters. He told me about the

mysterious package of roast beef he found in theater six, and he said he’s been enjoying my website. He thinks my reviews are getting better. At least

Most Popular