Deborah Davis Not Like You

ISBN 13: 9780547076157

Not Like You

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9780547076157: Not Like You

How do you learn to love the person who scares you the most?

Kayla’s mom calls their moves as, Starting a new chapter.” Five in the past two years. Each time it’s the same: Marilyn promises to stop drinking, breaks her promise, and they’re off again.

This time it’s New Mexico. But something feels different. Kayla is putting down roots, starting her own dog-walking business, and spending time with Remy, a twenty-four-year-old musician. He’s her refuge from Marilyn’s daily struggle with sobriety. But Kayla is only fifteen. Does an older man really offer Kayla the refuge she needs? Or is the safety she craves actually with the person who scares her most?

Heart wrenching and hopeful, that's what this book is, and that's what life is." TeensReadToo.com

* This story hits all the right notes.” SLJ, starred review

[A] moving, gritty novel” Booklist

A strongly written portrait of a sympathetic young woman. . . . absolutely believable.” The Bulletin

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About the Author:

Deborah Davis is the author of The Secret of the Seal (Crown) and My Brother Has AIDS (a Jean Karl Book, Atheneum) and the editor of You Look Too Young to Be a Mom: Teen Mothers Speak Out on Love, Learning, and Success (Perigee, Penguin). She lives in Berkeley, California, with her family. For more information visit www.deborahdavisauthor.com.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 1

On a warm May night, Hal and I lay in each other’s arms on the mattress that filled the back of his van, waiting for the train. I liked this part—the closeness, the warmth of his skin. It felt promising, and it matched his other promises: we’d sail his aunt’s boat on Lake Tawakoni, cruise back roads on his cousin’s motorcycle, drive to a bar in Fort Worth with great bands and a bouncer who couldn’t calculate ages.
“Everyone goes,” he’d told me. “You haven’t lived till you’ve been there.” Hal was a senior, two years ahead of me. That was cool—at least, the girls in my sophomore class would have thought so. They didn’t know about Hal and me, though. Nobody did. Not yet. That was about to change.
Hal had parked in the dry riverbed, just yards beneath the train trestle.
Thin rays of moonlight shot through the front passenger window. There were no windows in the back, so it was kind of dark, which suited me just fine. I didn’t much like being seen, especially with Hal cracking jokes about how we got undressed way too early and would have to time it closer tomorrow night. Hal was giving a party in two nights to celebrate school being over. I knew because I overheard his friends talking about it. This was our third time under the trestle, and still he hadn’t mentioned the party to me. Surely, he’d invite me tonight.
Flicking a condom with his fingers, he checked his watch again and grinned.
“Ten thirty-three. One minute to go.” Right on schedule, the train whistle blew, Hal’s signal to roll on top of me. The train that crossed the trestle at 10:34 took about two and a half minutes to pass. Hal’s challenge was to start and finish within that amount of time.
Overhead, the train thundered past, and Hal squeezed his eyes shut. Closing my own, I tried to block out the grunting boy on top of me by imagining my favorite dog: black and white with a feathery tail. A black muzzle and paws.
No pure bred—not for me. My dog was one hundred percent, brilliant mongrel. Part Labrador, part terrier, part shepherd, part whatever. A magical mix and the friendliest, best-behaved mutt you’d ever want to share a walk or a swim or a bed with. All of which I did.
He ran next to me, panting. While the van rocked and the train roared, I chased the dog until my heart pounded and my legs burned. We galloped to our house and lay together in the porch hammock and swung and swung and swung.
My favorite dog, loyal, gentle, always thrilled to see me.
The last train cars rumbled by, and the dog vanished. Hal groaned, slumped against me, and quickly rolled away. In the dim light his face gleamed. “I made it,” he panted. “A perfect night.” I waited for him to say more. The party was only two nights away.
He glanced at his watch again. “If we hustle,” he said, “I can even get you home on time.” I pulled on my clothes. He said, “Hey, your T-shirt’s on backward,” and he smiled at me. I turned the shirt around.
Two nights till the party. He seemed to like me. There was still time.

I opened the door to the apartment and froze. The place had been ransacked.
Cabinets and drawers stood open.
Clothes, magazines, pots, and dishes were strewn everywhere.
Before I could call out for my mother, a stack of empty boxes and a full bottle of her favorite whiskey caught my eye.
Oh, my god, no. Not again.
There’d been no burglary. Mom was packing. I heard her in the bedroom. She’d have beer in there. She’d warm up on that and switch to the whiskey. A binge and a move—my mother’s answer to debts and dumb boyfriends and a lack of employment. All of which she had.
Mom’s footsteps crisscrossed her room, but she wouldn’t be on her feet long. Not with a full bottle of Wild Turkey in the apartment and all our stuff to pack. By the end of the night, she’d be on her ass. And in the morning, worse.
Damn, just when I had a chance here. Hal wanted to see me again. He said so right before he dropped me off.
He didn’t mention the party, but there was still plenty of time. Two more days.
Nearly forty-eight hours. This guy was so promising. Not like the others.
When I stepped into her bedroom, she was throwing shirts and dresses from the closet onto the bed. Carefully folded clothes lay neatly in a couple of old suitcases and boxes and in stacks on her bed. “Are we going somewhere?” I asked, scanning the room for beer bottles. I didn’t see even one.
She spun around. “You’re home early.” Her clear eyes and steady voice startled me. “No,” I said, “I’m right on time. As usual.” She noted the clock. “Good. We’ve got a lot to do. Start in the kitchen, okay?” I dropped to the floor to grab a belt from under her bed, checking to see if she’d hidden any bottles there.
Nothing. Nor did I smell any booze on her when I leaned over to hand her the belt. I crossed back to her doorway and leaned against it. “We can’t leave, Mom.” She scooped pantyhose and lingerie into her arms and dropped them into a suitcase. “Why not?” “Because . . .” She’d freak if I told her about Hal. I’d said I was going out with some girls. “We’re just getting settled.” I picked up a magazine and pretended to study the cover.
She looked around the room. One of the two windows was boarded up, had been that way since we moved in a few months earlier. “You want to settle here?” My mind groped for an answer. “I could probably fix that window.” She folded her arms. “Kayla, I hate this place. So did you, until about a week ago.” My face grew warm. I’d started seeing Hal about a week before. Now I knew for sure Mom wasn’t drinking. She was never this rational once she started guzzling. “I’ve got . . . friends here,” I said. Maybe not now, I thought, but two more days and I will.
She squinted at me. “You hardly mention them, you don’t bring them around.” My eyes shot back to the boarded-up window. “I could, I guess.” She shook her head. “Too late.
We’re out of here in the morning.” "To where?” “I’ll explain tomorrow.” She emptied a drawer onto her bed. “It’s a long story, and we’ve got way too much to do.” “You won’t even tell me where we’re going?” “Tomorrow. We’ve got a long drive.
Start in the kitchen, would you?” I threw several empty liquor store cartons into my room and slammed the door. It didn’t take long to pack my stuff. I was reading through my poetry notebook when Mom knocked. “Let’s finish in the morning,” she said. “I’m gonna hit the sack.” I cracked open the door. Trying to keep my voice even, I asked, “Where the hell are we going?” She smiled. “It’s a surprise.” I shut the door in her face. I’d heard that before, and I knew what it meant. It was her way of saying she didn’t know.
I should have seen this coming. Our moves were predictable; each one—four in just the past two years—followed a week or two of blowout booze fests. Mom’s one-night binges weren’t too bad because she could pick herself up in the morning and muddle on. It was the three-, four-, six-day benders that worried me. I hadn’t exactly seen her drinking or puking lately because of my evenings with Hal and my early-morning dog-walking jobs, but she’d stayed out late almost every night for over a week.
That and the quart of whiskey on our kitchen table were a sure sign that within twenty-four hours we’d be on the road, searching for a new place to call “home.” Mom was dead sober when I went to sleep that night, but I knew her clear-headedness wouldn’t last long.

Our apartment was so quiet the next morning, I felt sure she must have put a big dent in that bottle of Wild Turkey.
Now she’d be passed out—or glued to her mattress by a hangover. I dragged myself out of bed, hoping she had changed her mind about leaving, or—if she’d finished the bottle—that the whiskey had changed it for her. If getting drunk stopped her, at least I wouldn’t have to break my back hauling everything down our three flights of stairs while she lay on the sofa, babying her aching head. How she always convinced me she could drive hundreds of miles but not help load the car first was a mystery.
I padded around in my T-shirt, looking for her. The whiskey sat untouched in the kitchen, and there was no sign of Mom or most of our stuff—just a calendar on the wall, a couple of boxes, and some trash. Mom’s room was completely cleaned out. I almost wondered if she’d conned someone into carrying everything to the car and taken off without me, but then the door flew open. My thin, wiry mother strode in, red-cheeked and smiling. There was no way, from the perky look of her, she could have been drinking the night before.
“Good,” she said. “You’re awake.
Get some pants on and help me with the last boxes. My arms must be six inches longer by now.” I stared at her. She’d actually worked up a sweat, and it wasn’t from a romp in her bedroom or a night in some dive bar.
“Pants,” she said, flicking her fingers toward my bare legs. She snatched a camisole the color of blood and an exercise video—both gifts from the guy she’d been seeing—off the floor, along with blank forms from the Dallas MLK unemployment office, and chucked everything into a large trash bag.
I stepped into my jeans. “What about Rocky?” That was my nickname for her latest bed thug, a wannabe boxer.
“I’m done with him. All he wants to do is have sex.” That was a new reason to break it off. I didn’t point out that she had seemed more than enthusiastic about having it with him.
“You and I are off to a whole new start,” she said, sounding mighty pleased.
It was a relief to see her sober, but her cheerfulness was grit under my skin. Crossing into the kitchen, I yanked our calendar marked with appointments off the wall. The thumbtack holding it flew across the room and got lost in the scattered garbage. I dropped the calendar into the trash bag.
“Maybe we should keep that,” Mom said.
“Why? We’re off to a whole new start.” She grinned. “You feel it, too?” I turned away so she couldn’t see me roll my eyes.

Most of what we owned fit into our rusty Escort wagon, the boxes and bags and loose clothes reaching to the roof. She insisted we lug the tattered couch down to the street, where we’d found it. The other crappy furniture was the landlord’s, so we left it where it was.
One box of books remained on the sidewalk. Our last books. The collection got smaller each time we moved.
“What about these?” I asked.
“Pitch ’em,” Mom said, carrying bags of trash to the Dumpster. “There’s no more room.” I shuffled through the box and pulled out two books of poetry, three on dog care and training, and a beat-up copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I hesitated over the second half of The Joy of Cooking, which I’d found near the Dumpster. Neither of us had ever cracked it open. Still, I crammed it and the other books I’d selected into the car.
When Mom returned, she told me to lock up and leave the keys in the landlord’s mailbox.
“What about the rent we owe?” “Covered,” she said, smiling. “The landlord’s got our damage deposit and last month’s rent.” She pulled a wad of bills from her shorts pocket. “Your eighty-six dollars. I didn’t need it.” I’d earned that money walking three spoiled Chihuahuas, and I’d given it to her for the phone bill. She saw that I was puzzled. “I worked extra hours this week and last,” she said. I stared at the money as she climbed into the car. I thought she’d been out with Rocky all those evenings.
“Hurry up,” Mom said, already seated behind the wheel. I ran upstairs.
From the doorway, I surveyed our trashed apartment. I picked through the rubble, checking inside drawers and under furniture. The Wild Turkey stood unopened on the kitchen table. For two years, I’d lived with a shadow over my head, the possibility that she would drink herself into oblivion again and I’d be sent back into foster care. It was always there, the hushed murmur of wrenching, impending doom, even when my mother was holding it together. Hearing her quick, light footsteps on the stairs, I grabbed the whiskey and shoved the bottle under the kitchen sink.
Mom appeared, breathless. “Forgot one thing,” she said, then disappeared into the bathroom and returned with a pink bathrobe that had hung behind the door, unnoticed during our packing.
I leaned against the sink, my legs rubbery. When she left, I turned off the lights, locked the apartment, and hurried down the steps after her. One of my boots made a tapping sound. I looked at the heel. The thumbtack from the calendar was stuck in it.

Copyright © 2007 by Deborah Davis.
Reprinted by permission of Clarion Books / Houghton Mifflin Company.

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