Home > Walk the Edge (Thunder Road #2)(3)

Walk the Edge (Thunder Road #2)(3)
Author: Katie McGarry

“Do you know this is the first time you’ve spoken to me?” I say.

He laughs like I told a joke, but I’m not kidding. Snowflake, Kentucky, is a small town and everyone tends to know everyone else, but just because we breathe the same air doesn’t mean we communicate, or act like everyone else exists.

“That’s not true,” he retorts. “We sat at the same table in fourth grade.”

I incline my head to the side in a mock why-didn’t-I-remember-that-bonding-moment? “My, how time flies.”

He chuckles, then scratches the back of his head, causing his styled hair to curl out to the side. “You’re funny. I didn’t know that. Look, it’s not my fault you’re quiet.”

Kyle’s right. It isn’t his fault I became socially withdrawn. That blame falls solely on me. It’s a decision I made in seventh grade when I was publicly crucified.

Blending into paint for the past couple of years has kept me safe, but it creates the sensation of suffocation. Everyone says the same thing: Breanna’s smart, she’s quiet. On the inside, I’m not at all quiet. Most of the time, I’m screaming. “I’m not writing your papers.”

Kyle’s smile that had suggested he had a done deal morphs into a frown and acid sloshes in my stomach. Denying Kyle isn’t what bothers me as much as it worries me what he’ll mention to his friends. They’re the reason why I went voluntarily mute in seventh grade.

Heat races up my neck as the repercussions of refusing sets in, but I don’t even consider agreeing. Cheating is not my style.

Kyle surveys the hallway, and if it’s privacy he’s searching for, he’ll be sorely disappointed. He slides closer and a strange edginess causes me to step back, but Kyle follows. “Fine. One hundred dollars per paper.”


“You don’t understand. My grades have to improve.” Easygoing Kyle disappears and desperation is hardly attractive.

I steal a peek into the school’s main office, hoping my guidance counselor will beckon me in. Half of me hopes she’ll have life-altering news for me, the other half hopes to end this insane conversation. “What you’re asking for is crazy.”

“No, it’s not.”

In an answer to the one million prayers being chanted in my head, my guidance counselor opens her door. “Breanna.”

Kyle leans into me. “This conversation isn’t over.”

“Yes, it is.” But he ignores my reply as he jogs up the nearest stairwell. Great. So far my senior year is starting out as the antithesis of my wishes—back at this tiny, strangling school with a group of people who think I’m beneficial for only one thing: as a homework hotline.

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.

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