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by Jessica Brody
Teen Fiction
Farrar, Straus, & Giroux Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 29, 2017


From “If I Had Chosen Right”

The very first thought that enters my mind as I watch my boyfriend kissing my best friend is:

You chose wrong.

Not the wrong boyfriend. And not even the wrong best friend.

But the wrong life.

I must make some kind of noise and it probably sounds something like a mouse being electrocuted because suddenly they’re not kissing anymore. They’re looking at me. And I’m looking at them and the TV is still going and an announcer kicks off the beginning of a new episode by yodeling, “How Is This My Life?”

And I think, yes, exactly.

How is this my life?

This wasn’t supposed to be my life. I wasn’t supposed to be here. I’m supposed to be at the Windsor Academy. I’m supposed to be with CoyCoy55 and Luce_the_Goose. We’re all supposed to be studying together in the student union or touring art museums or something.

Instead, I’m standing here like an idiot and they’re sitting there like idiots and no one is sure which idiot should talk first. It’s like one of those lame standoffs in an action flick when the cop and the bad guy are both pointing guns at each other and they’re saying things like, “I know what you did,” and “I’m going to blow your brains out” and “you’ll never get away with this” and “just watch me.”

I never understood those scenes. I always thought, why doesn’t someone freaking shoot already and put an end to this?

But now, I’m suddenly gaining a new appreciation for that particular type of stalemate. If I shoot first—if I speak or cry or yell—there’s a chance they’ll immediately shoot back. And then it’ll hurt more. And we’ll all be dead.

So I do what no cop has ever done in the history of action movies. I drop my weapon and just start running.