The Withering.

"It is one thing to mortify curiosity. Another to conquer it."


"Are you listening to me?" Mrs. Bolander snapped, she gripped both hands on the wheel as she eased the gas up to forty-five, every time was Mrs. Bolander's first time to drive, Yale thought, halfway closing her worn library copy of Hunger, and moving her eyebrows as if to say, And? As if she couldn't read and listen at the same time, she snorted to herself. "I said you need to stop carrying your food to your room and watch TV downstairs with the rest of us, like a normal person. Your brother doesn't do things like read textbooks and European trash." She added as an afterthought, more to herself than Yale.

If you actually could read, Shelby, you'd know that Hunger is one of the most excellent novels by Knut Hamsun, it portrays the irrationality of the human mind, something you seem to lack. "Well Ryan doesn't know how to read, so I doubt he could."

Mrs. Bolander couldn't slam on the brakes dramatically at this pronouncement, so she resorted to her most ludicrous looking 'glare' that didn't even faze Yale. "What?" Shelby breathed like a wounded rhino, "What did you say, psycho?"

This did faze Yale, who dog tagged her book and flew out the car door in one movement, she hit the ground and sent gravel scraping against the side, her mother's screams and cursing followed her as she hurried into the house, shutting the screen door with a bang as ESPN blared from the TV.

"Shut the damn door before the mosquitos get in!"

There's John, always the gentlemen. Yale pounded up the unwaxed stairs, two at a time, passing by Ryan's room where the bed creaked and made her nauseous. Closing and locking the cracked door she felt the fury rise from her stomach to her head, she clenched her nails into her palms and relished in the pain they caused. Pain was better than crying, not that she ever had, she mused. Pain was one of the few things she truly felt, that and anger. But she was terrified that one day she would feel sadness that she read about, and that was unnerving. She placed her book on the third stack and observed her sanctuary.

A white rusting iron bed frame that held a worn mattress and a single white pillow was pushed in a corner, as if sleep wasn't necessary. A broken dresser had only one drawer full of clothes, the others she had taken out so she could stack her books. Used textbooks, library books, books she had borrowed from her teachers, and books she had stolen. She winced as she stepped on a splinter on the rough hardwood as she picked up The Remains of the Day and flipped to the title page.

Yale,

This is the only book I know.

Lionel Taylor, your IB English Literature teacher.

Lionel was the only person Yale had ever truly connected to, they discussed, every afternoon without fail, everything. They generally chatted about one thing or another. At first their conversations at lunch and after the bell were mostly about each other, Yale had been fascinated with his travels in the Himalayas, his British history. They fascinated each other, the girl of many disorders and the Englishman, one raised in near poverty and emotional abuse and the other born and bred in British stoicism. Once they had moved on from one another, which didn't take long, Lionel introduced her to foreign movies and Yale began educating him on astronomy and the universe. Pan's Labyrinth's ending and The Seventh Seal occupied them for a week, and black holes another four afternoons.

That wasn't to say they didn't disagree, they often argued over religion and politics, as Yale was an atheist but polytheism interested her, and Lionel a devoted Catholic. Lionel attempted to keep his words civil and once rebutted Yale so that she could barely form coherent sentences. And some days they simply sat in silence, other than the occasional, "More sugar," after an emotionally draining third period class or a rough night at home. Lionel had taken to bringing an electric hot-water kettle and testing her on dissecting the elements of the brew. (Her favorite tea was called the white whisper, the leaves resembled classic Chinese silver needles, and it had hints of peach, hay and citrus in the honey and milk flavor.)

A girlish giggle cut through her reverie and the door to her brother's room opened. When the front door shut she heard her father say, "Nice catch, son."

Yale then reached into a stack and pulled out a textbook on ninth grade English and opened it, carefully reaching for a Glock 26, and racked the slide back and began chambering a round.


I need a beta, desperately. Read and review.