Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers

By Courtney Summers

Excellent Parker Fadley isn’t so ideal anymore. She’s hand over the cheerleading squad, she’s dumped her excellent boyfriend, and she’s failing college. Her mom and dad are on a relentless suicide watch and her counselors imagine she’s taking part in games…but what they don’t recognize, the true reason behind this entire mess, isn’t anything she will say out loud. It isn’t even whatever she will be able to say to herself. A terrible factor has occurred and it simply should be her fault. If she will be able to simply get rid of herself from all people - be completely on my own - then every thing might be okay...The challenge is, no one will allow her.

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She almost falls out of her chair; that’s how convincing I am. That’s great, Parker; that’s wonderful! See? We’ll get you back yet! And then I clam up. No, it’s stupid. You’re wrong. It’s stupid. Never mind. Because there’s no qualifying exam to be a high school guidance counselor. All you have to do is watch a bunch of cheesy movies about troubled teens and take notes. This is how Grey expects the meeting to go down and I’m giving it to her because it might get me out of here faster or, at the very least, end this discussion.

When I come here, it always takes me a while to get my bearings, but I can’t afford to do that tonight because I promised my parents I’d be home within the hour and I’m not wearing a watch. I trudge into the trees and pull out my Mini Maglite. One step, two steps, ten steps, twenty, twenty-five steps. I turn the flashlight on. A feeble, yellow light reveals a small strip of ground laden with pine needles.  . And then, without fail, I hear the music from that night, like I always do when I come out here.

Two “V-I-C-T-O-R-Y! “HIT ’EM LOW AND HIT ’EM HIGH! “V-I-C-T-O-R-Y! “LET’S GO, JACKALS! WIN OR DIE! ” Grey says I’m not allowed to spend lunch period in the nurse’s office anymore because no one will take me seriously should the time ever come that I actually can’t breathe, so I go to the gym and sit in on cheerleading practice instead. It’s a pretty low-key affair. The squad takes up the far side of the court and Chris, his buddies and his new puppy, Jake, play a game of twenty-one on the opposite end.

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