Home > Walk the Edge (Thunder Road #2)(4)

Walk the Edge (Thunder Road #2)(4)
Katie McGarry

My attention returns to the main office and my guidance counselor has already settled behind her desk. Mom and Dad sit in two worn particleboard chairs across from her and neither of them acknowledge me as I enter and take a seat.

Dad stares at his loafers and Mom has become fascinated with something beyond the windows as she fiddles with the office ID badge for the hospital where she works. Only my guidance counselor, Mrs. Reed, meets my gaze, and when she subtly shakes her head, my heart sinks.

I bite my lower lip to prevent it from trembling. This was a long shot. I knew it when I pleaded with my counselor to discuss this opportunity with my parents, but I was stupid enough to have a shred of hope.

No point in acting as if I’m not aware of the resolution of their conversation. “High Grove offered me a partial scholarship. It pays for seventy-five percent of the tuition and I called around. I can make money in their work-study program and then I found this coffee shop that said they would hire me and would be flexible with my schedule and I could even study while things were slow and—”

“And you’ll be over two hours away from us,” Mom cuts me off, then smooths her short black hair in a way that shows she’s upset. “This is your senior year. Your last year home with us. I’m not okay sending you to a private school. It’s not right.”

“But did Mrs. Reed explain my schedule for this year?”

I’ve already mastered every class Snowflake, Kentucky’s lone high school has to offer. Because of how my brain is wired differently, there won’t be a challenge, and if I intend to preserve my sanity, I require a challenge.

I briefly shut my eyes and attempt to control the chaos in my mind. My brain...it never rests. It’s always searching for a puzzle to solve, for a code to crack, for a test to grapple with, and not having one, it’s like someone is chiseling at my bones from below my skin.

“Yes,” Mom answers. “But Mrs. Reed also assured us they’ll give you extra work and you’ll participate in some independent studies. Some of them for college credit.”

My foot taps the floor as hot anger leaks into my veins. What Mom’s suggesting, it’s everything that makes me stick out, everything that makes me the school freak again. “I need this. I need something more. I need a challenge.”

“And I need you home.” Mom’s voice cracks and she grimaces as if she’s on the verge of tears. My eyes fill along with hers. We’ve had this argument, this discussion, this tearfest several times as I was applying.

“You’re my baby,” Mom whispers. “I already have four of you out of the house and next year you’ll be gone.”

I swallow the lump in my throat. Next year, I plan to be hundreds and hundreds of miles north of here. Hopefully at an Ivy League school.

“Don’t cost me my last year with you.” The hurt in her voice cuts me deep.

“I’ll come home on the weekends.” I risk glancing at her. “I’ll call daily. I’ll still be around, just not as much.”

“But we need you here.” Mom scoots to the edge of her seat as if being nearer to me will alter my view, but what she doesn’t understand is I’m seconds away from dropping to my knees to beg her to change her mind.

“Joshua is more than capable of helping out around the house.” My younger brother by just over a year. I’m cushioned in the middle between four older-than-me and four younger-than-me siblings. Each older sibling has served their sentence as being the one in charge. Heading to private school would be the equivalent to handing in my two weeks’ notice.

“Joshua isn’t you,” Mom says. “He can’t handle the responsibility.”

“So you’re saying I should screw up and then you’d let me go to private school? Because that’s the logic of your argument. I meet your expectations and I have to stay home.”

“Mrs. Miller.” Sensing a full-on argument, my guidance counselor interrupts. “This is a fantastic opportunity for Breanna. With her photographic memory—”

“Just a good memory,” I correct softly. There’s no such thing as a photographic memory. At least it has never been proved, though there are people like me who can remember random information very well, but, in other areas, can struggle.

“Of course.” Mrs. Reed smiles at me, probably remembering the conversations we’ve shared where she insists on calling my memory photographic and I insist my memory isn’t quite that impressive. Since my freshman year, she’s performed an array of tests on me like I’m a cracked-out guinea pig.

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