Sample text for Me, Penelope / Lisa Jahn-Clough.

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My name is Penelope Yeager, Lopi for short. I appear normal—normal for a sixteen-year-old American girl, that is. I live with a single mother who is still young and beautiful, more beautiful than I will ever be. My father left when I was six, after the accident.
He moved across the country and I haven’t seen him since. Viv says he has a new wife and two new children. He’s moved on with a new life. I can’t say I blame him.

Viv, my mother, has moved on by filling her life with activity and people, covering the memory with various substances, both legal and illegal, forcing herself by any means to be happy. I think she is in denial.

I have not moved on.

I look like nothing special. Longish brown hair, a smattering of freckles, thin lips that I wish were fuller, breasts a little larger than I’d like, hips a little narrow, but in general an okay body. I’m nothing to write home about, but I’m nothing freakish either. If I put my hair up in a ponytail I can pass for a lacrosse player, if I leave it stringy I can pass for a druggie, if I put it in pigtails and wear a baggy shirt I can pass for about twelve, and if I puff it up, wear a little makeup, and stick my chest out I can maybe pass for a college student. However, I am none of these things.

Anyway, it’s not my looks or my body that dissatisfies me (most of the time)—it’s my thinking. Mainly I can’t stop thinking. Sometimes I want things so badly, all I can do is long for them until I get really, really sad.

I think that my mind must be different from others’. I don’t know how people can be so together, so calm and happy all the time. I don’t believe them. Take my mother, for instance. She appears happy, but how can she be, really? Her life has been full of tragedy.
There are times when I am sitting there reading a book or studying for a math test, watching TV even, and my mind is off in a thousand places. Really what I am doing is trying not to think, but I can’t help it. I think about the future, what I’d rather be doing, what could happen. I think about school and how things have shifted this year, how all I want to do is get out. I think about my friends and how I don’t really have any anymore, except for Toad and that’s changing—all we do is bicker like an old married couple, and we’ve never even been boyfriend and girlfriend.

Basically, I think about my life a lot, and sometimes to make my life better, I make things up. I think about how I want someone that I can talk to, really, really talk to. I’d like to see a shrink, but Viv says we can’t afford one and that it’s unnecessary for me, yet she sees one regularly. I saw one once when I was eight, but now Viv thinks I am doing fine. I am good at pretending.

And then there’s sex. A lot of what I think about these days is sex. How to get it, if I want it, who I want it with. They say teenage boys are obsessed, but I think I have them beat hands down. Ha. Hands down, get it? See how my mind works? I have fantasy scenes going on a good part of the time in my head. If I could just find someone to connect with—really deeply connect with, the rest wouldn’t matter so much. If I could only be touched all the way down to my soul, now that would be something.

Library of Congress subject headings for this publication:
Emotional problems -- Fiction.
Guilt -- Fiction.
Mothers and daughters -- Fiction.
Interpersonal relations -- Fiction.
Dating (Social customs) -- Fiction.
High schools -- Fiction.
Schools -- Fiction.