What's Wrong With Me? Excerpt
While Scott had been hoping to elude questions from his family that morning, over on Moon Court, Kaitlin was desperate to ask some questions of one family member in particular before her bus arrived. Please, she thought as she wandered down the hall that led to Keri Ann and Jody’s downstairs apartment with her green JanSport backpack hanging from her shoulders and her large slate-blue zip-up binder clasped in her arms. Be able to give me an answer about what happened to me yesterday. Because I’m still really scared about it.
Reaching the main door of her sisters' apartment, Kaitlin pushed it open and stepped into their living room inside which she could hear voices emanating from the bedroom.
“So what about you?" Jody asked. "Are you going to come see me film my commercial tomorrow night?”
“Sorry, Jody, but I can’t this time,” Keri Ann apologized as Kaitlin began to walk over to the partially open bedroom door. “Eddie and I already have plans to go to the movies tomorrow night. And I don’t think I should cancel on him since, with everything that’s happened over the last month, this will really be the first time since before Christmas that we’ve actually been able to go on a date.”
“Hmm,” said Jody, who Kaitlin could now clearly see sitting on the end of her bed munching on a bag of potato chips, as she thoughtfully nodded. “I guess I shouldn’t be too mad at you for that being that the biggest reason that you haven’t been able to see Eddie lately is because of the car accident and all of the courtroom drama that resulted after you went with me the last time.”
Keri Ann, who was standing in front of the mirror that was attached to their white wicker bureau, let out a sigh of relief. “I'm so glad that all of that is finally over,” she said as she used a flat iron to smooth out some of the kinks in her wavy hair, which was pulled back in a half ponytail with a black barrette.
“Yeah,” Jody agreed with a nod as she popped another potato chip into her mouth. “And that justice was actually served because that Josh Kaine kid is going to go to jail for almost killing us.”
As Keri Ann turned to Jody and nodded in agreement, Kaitlin, who had been standing just outside the room waiting for a break in the conversation, finally pushed the door open and took a tentative step inside. "Uh, Keri Ann,” she said. “Do you have a few minutes to talk before I have to leave for school?”
Turning to her little sister, Keri Ann gave her a welcoming smile. “Sure, Kate," she said as she turned to set her flat iron down on top of the bureau. "What's going on?"
Stopping beside Keri Ann’s white wicker twin bed, Kaitlin set her binder down on the purple comforter that covered it. “Uh…" she said, her eyes drifting over to Jody as she reached up to pull her backpack from her shoulders.
Upon feeling Kaitlin’s gaze on her, Jody looked up. “Oh,” she said. "You want me to leave?"
Turning to look at Jody, Keri Ann, who had just finished turning off her hair straightener, nodded. “Sorry, Jody,” she said as she crossed her arms over her red ribbed long-sleeve turtleneck sweater. "But I think I know what Kate wants to talk about, and it’s kind of just between us right now, so…"
Understandingly nodding, Jody stood up and dusted some potato chip crumbs off of the khaki pants that she was wearing with sneakers, a forest-green long-sleeve V-neck sweater that was pulled over a white three-quarter-sleeve blouse that had a yellow-orange, light brown, and forest-green floral print on it, and a tortoiseshell headband that held her hair back from her face. “It's okay," she said. “I should be getting to campus anyway. I've still got some work to catch up on after missing a bunch of classes because of the car accident and the court stuff. So it’s off to the Berklandy library for me.”
As Jody crumpled up the now empty potato chip bag and began to walk over to their white wicker desk where her khaki messenger bag sat on the matching chair’s purple cushion, Keri Ann gave her an appreciative smile. "Good luck," she said.
“Thanks,” said Jody as she reached the desk, tossed the chip bag into the small garbage can that stood beside it, and then scooped up her messenger bag. “Because I totally need it right now.”
After Jody had slung the bag’s strap over her head, turned, and strolled out of the room, Kaitlin, who was now sitting on Keri Ann’s bed, let out a longing sigh. “Sometimes I wish I was more like her," she declared, her hair, which was pulled back in a half ponytail with a white hair elastic, falling forward slightly as she began to trace a pattern on Keri Ann's bedspread with her finger.
Keri Ann frowned. “What do you mean?" she asked, the black loafers that she was wearing with matching black stockings thumping softly against her light pink carpet as she began to wander over to the desk chair.
Sighing again, Kaitlin froze and thought for a moment. "It's just that," she began, "Jody has a ton of work to do just like I do right now.” She shook her head. "But she doesn't seem that stressed out about it.”
Keri Ann nodded. “Yes," she agreed, tucking her short black, red, and gray plaid pleated skirt underneath her legs as she carefully sat down in the desk chair. “She's definitely a lot more relaxed about it than I would be. Because if it were me having to make up a few weeks' worth of work, I’d probably be having a panic attack right about now.”
Frowning, Kaitlin slowly looked up at Keri Ann. “A panic attack?” she repeated. "What's that?"
Folding her hands on her skirt, Keri Ann explained, “It’s exactly what it sounds like: A sensation of overwhelming panic.” She shook her head. "Now they don’t usually last very long, but they can be scary because of the symptoms that come along with them.”
“What symptoms?” asked Kaitlin as her heart began to nervously pound against the white three-quarter-sleeve top, which had pointy lavender flowers with green leaves and silver rhinestone centers printed on it, that she was wearing with jeans, sneakers, and an open lavender long-sleeve button-down cardigan.
“Racing heart,” Keri Ann replied. “Sweating. Suddenly feeling like you can’t catch your breath."
“And maybe feeling like you’re going to faint?" Kaitlin fearfully asked.
Keri Ann nodded. “Yes," she replied. "That can happen too.” Cocking her head to the side, she gave Kaitlin a suspicious look. “Why? Did something like that happen to you?”
But just as Kaitlin was opening her mouth to respond, Annie came into the doorway of the room dressed in khaki twill pants, brown boots, and a light pink long-sleeve blouse, which had gold buttons, that was open over a light pink tank top that had large yellow-orange flowers with forest-green leaves and small lavender flower buds printed on it. “Kaitlin!” she exclaimed when she saw her teenage daughter sitting on Keri Ann’s bed. “What are you doing sitting around in here? Your bus is going to be here any minute.”
Turning to her mother, Kaitlin gave her a surprised look. “It is?” she asked.
Annie vigorously nodded. “Yes,” she confirmed as she reached up and tucked her hair, which was pulled back in a half ponytail, behind her ear. “So you’d better get going because I am not going to be happy if I have to drive you to school because you missed it. Especially not after you already missed it once this week.”
Not having to be told twice, Kaitlin quickly grabbed her binder from Keri Ann’s bed, stood up, and snatched her backpack from where she had set it on the floor beside the bed. Then she turned and rushed out of the room.
“That girl,” Kaitlin heard her mother say as she reentered the living room of Keri Ann and Jody’s apartment. “I’ve never had to worry about her before, but now she’s starting to drive me absolutely crazy. So what gives? I mean, what’s going on with her?”
I wish I knew, Mom, Kaitlin miserably thought as she hurried toward the apartment door. But at least I have a clue now. Because that panic attack thing that Keri Ann just described…well, that sounds exactly like what happened to me yesterday. And if that is what happened, then how do I keep it from ever happening again?