Sample text for The astonishing adventures of Fanboy & Goth Girl / by Barry Lyga.
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FANBOY - Chapter ONE
I want to not ride the bus to school every day, but that would be a waste of a
really big want--it"ll take care of itself eventually. Until then, I put up with it,
So what do I want? I want a copy of Giant-Size X-Men #1 in Mint
I would settle for Near Mint, I guess, which would definitely be
cheaper, but I"d really like to be able to say that my copy is pretty much
perfect. On eBay, a Mint copy starts at at least eight hundred bucks, which
is way more than I can afford, but maybe once I get my driver"s license, I can
get a job after school and put together the money. Sounds crazy, I know--
some ancient comic book from the 1970s. But it"s important.
I also want a new computer. Multiprocessor, maxed-out memory
slots, wireless everything . . . When my parents got divorced, my mom got
custody of me, and I got custody of the old Pentium clone that used to sit in
the den at our old house. Thanks to the very best in Microsoft/Intel
crashes every time you exhale too hard in its general vicinity. It"s tough to
accomplish the kinds of things I want to accomplish with that going on. I
want Flash animation! Video
editing! Heck, I just want to be able to use Photoshop or Illustrator for ten
minutes without rebooting.
Thinking about a pristine Giant-Size X-Men #1 and a humming
new computer usually gets me through the bus ride to school. Today"s an
exception. Today, I don"t need to spin fantasies because a living, breathing
fantasy has just gotten on board: Dina Jurgens, who manages to make
climbing the steps to the bus look like something that crazy parents" groups
It"s a good day when a goddess gets on the school bus with you.
In my two years suffering as this particular school bus stutters over potholes
and gravel, winding its way through the back roads of Brookdale, Dina has
only ridden a handful of times.
She"s a senior, two years older than I am, but she looks like she
could have stepped off a runway somewhere: blond hair, bright green eyes,
soft and puffy lips, and a body that"s pure torture. There are plenty of hotties
at South Brook High, but Dina"s a cut above and beyond. Of all the things I
hate about South Brook, the fact that she"s graduating in a few months is at
the top of the list. How am I supposed to go through junior and senior years
without catching glimpses of her in the hall?
Dina checks out the seating situation, scanning the back seats,
which are packed. The bus driver--a wheezing, leather-faced troll
appropriately named Mr. Dull--closes the door and hits the gas, jerking Dina
forward a little. She flips her hair out of her eyes, then rolls them at Mr. Dull"s
temerity. She heads for the first empty seat, which happens to be, well, next
I try to play it cool, but let"s be honest--that"s tough to do in the
presence of a goddess. I go with my first instinct, which is to try to dip my
hand into my pocket for the safety totem I keep there. I always feel calmer
when I touch it.
But it"s awkward getting a hand into your pocket when you"re
sitting down, doubly so when there"s someone right next to you. My elbow
brushes her side, and she looks at me like I planned it. "Hey!"
"Sorry," I mumble. I feel like I should explain that I wasn"t trying to
touch her, but she"s already looking away.
"What happened, Dina?" Sounds like Kayla Meyer. A junior, one
who hasn"t gotten a car yet. One who apparently ranks as Worthy on the
Dina Jurgens Scale because her older brother is Steve Meyer, who I think
dated Dina"s older sister or something like that. I don"t know. I don"t really
pay attention to stuff like that.
"My car wouldn"t start this morning."
"Yeah, I told my dad that it has to be ready by the weekend
because . . ."
I tune it out and keep my head down so that no one will bother
me. But being so close to Dina rattles me. I keep wanting to turn and stare,
but even I know that that"s not cool. So I settle for cutting my eyes left as
often as I can. I get flashes of skirt and leg and the shadow of what could be
a breast, but I"m not sure and I don"t want to risk looking for longer than, like,
a tenth of a second. So it"s sort of like dumping the pieces of a puzzle out on
the floor, looking at them, and then trying to put it all together in your head.
With your eyes closed. So close! So far!
It goes like that for a little while, the bus jerking and bouncing
along, making Dina"s anatomy do very interesting things that she"s
apparently unaware of (and of which I"m woefully underaware, given those
quick glances). Dina talks with Kayla, the Usual Idiots yell and chatter, and
Mr. Dull"s beloved country station blares out of the radio.
At some point, I realize that I probably look like an idiot, my head
bent down, doing nothing (apparently), staring down at my feet. I pretend to
look for something in my backpack, but there"s just school stuff and comic
books in there. And God knows I don"t want to pull out a comic book while
Dina"s sitting next to me! I wish I had something--anything--else to read,
something that didn"t scream "Geek!" at the top of its lungs and jump around
in nerdly war paint. Like . . . I don"t know . . . Hot Rod?
When we screech to a tooth-grinding halt at the school, a sudden
brilliant stroke hits me. Dina is sitting next to me. On the aisle. She"ll get up
to leave and I"ll get up behind her. Behind her. From here to the exit, I"ll be
right behind her, with an unobstructed view of The Back of Dina Jurgens. Not
as splendid a sight as The Front, but not bad in its own right. Sweet.
So Dina gets up and I grab my backpack (watching her legs as I
do so--wow), then get up and move to get behind her--
And Mark Broderick pushes me back. "Move it."
He doesn"t even look at me as he does it. He"s a big senior with
short bleached hair and a face like old hamburger. He dresses like Eminem,
if Eminem weighed twenty pounds too much and couldn"t keep the sweat
stains from spreading out under his armpits. This is the weirdest part--he
smells like boiling leather. I"ve never been able to figure that part out.
Up until now, the only contact I"ve ever had with him was smelling
that unique aroma as he walked past me on the bus. But right now I watch
him as he struts up to the door behind Dina. A flood of bigger, meaner, and/or
tougher kids fills the aisle, and I"m not about to step into that flood, so I just
stand here and wait and watch Mark"s back and the buzzcut that clutches
Now that I"m standing, it"s easy to slip my hand into my pocket.
As usual, I feel immediate calm when I touch the bullet that I keep there. I
started carrying it about a year ago.
Everything"s OK; I"ve added Mark to The List.
The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga.
Copyright (c) 2006 by Barry Lyga. Reprinted by permission of Houghton
Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Library of Congress subject headings for this publication:
Self-perception -- Fiction.
Cartoons and comics -- Fiction.
Geeks (Computer enthusiasts) -- Fiction.
Interpersonal relations -- Fiction.
High schools -- Fiction.
Schools -- Fiction.