*Young Adult RONE finalist award and the USA Best Book Award finalist in Youth Issues *
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Maggie pulled out her calendar, and flipped past July and August, which were filled with her work schedule and penciled-in date nights with Justin. “No,” she whispered, turning to the month of September. “No, no, no, no, no.” The blood drained from her face, and she sucked in a deep breath, trying not to pass out. “No, it can’t be,” she whispered again. Count again. “Mags, what’s wrong?” Lauren Weaver, her best friend, leaned over from her seat with a look of concern on her face. Maggie glanced at Lauren, and shooed her away with her hand. She flicked her eyes back to her calendar, flipped to the month of August and counted the days from the little ”X” she’d made at the beginning of the month. Lauren interrupted her deep concentration. “Maggie,” she whispered, smacking her gum. A bead of sweat trickled down Maggie’s hairline. Finally, she looked straight at her friend, whose eyes squinted in confusion. “What’s wrong?” “Oh, nothing.” Slapping her notebook closed, she packed up her books long before class was over. “Nothing, I’m fine.” But she wasn’t. “Ms. O’Donnell, I’m not feeling well,” she said as she gathered her books and dashed to the nearest bathroom down the hall, where she locked herself in the handicapped stall and sat on the toilet trying to suck in a full breath. It wasn’t possible. The calendar she’d just used moments before stared at her from the top of her pile of books, but she ignored it for a while longer, choosing instead to read the graffiti on the walls. Jenna & Cade 4ever. Mr. Brackenrich bites! Not very creative. Staring at the puffy lettering scratched on the wall, her vision grew fuzzy until her brain pulled her into the present again. She had probably counted wrong. Yeah, that was it. Grabbing the little book, she looked for the mark telling her what day she’d started last month. Twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty…forty-one…forty-one...forty-one. Numbness spread through her limbs and mind as she sat on the toilet. Her arms slack at her side, she didn’t have the strength even to close the notebook, which still lay open on her lap. She was late. Two weeks late. She’d been late before, but only a couple of days, never two weeks. Forty-one days. No, that couldn’t be right. One more time. Count one more time. But it was no use. All six times, she came up with the same number. She was late. Late enough to be— Without warning, her stomach heaved, and the acid rose.
Author Info: Jessie Andersen lives in a small town in Western New York with her husband and three kids. A former English teacher, she now spends her time writing while the kids are at school and the baby is sleeping. She volunteers at the local library and sings in the church band. You can find information about her books at her website, and you can follow her blogs at her personal blog and her book blog. You can also follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.