Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sneak Peek : Excerpt Four of Teri Terry's Slated


Thanks to the awesome Laure from Hatchette Children's Books, here is the last  excerpt of Slated by Teri Terry.

I hope you all have enjoyed the excerpts and want to get the book I've read it and loved it!


*-*-*-*-*-*
‘Can I see?’ Amy asks. She cranes her head forward,
but I angle the sketch away.
‘Not yet. Hold still, or I won’t be able to finish it.’
‘Bossy thing.’
‘It won’t be long now,’ I say, glancing back at Amy and then down to my drawing, for a few final strokes of my pencil.
Amy smiles. ‘Are you level?’
I turn my wrist to check. ‘Yes. 5.2 and steady.’
The door opens but I don’t look up.
‘Are you girls ready for breakfast?’ Mum says.
‘Nearly,’ I say, looking at Amy one more time, then at the sketch in my hands. A final stroke, there. ‘Done,’
I say, and put the pencil down.
‘Let me see!’ Amy springs up, and Mum walks over.
‘That is so good,’ Amy says.
Mum’s mouth is in a round ‘o’ of surprise. ‘That is Amy, you have captured her, just so. I want to frame this and hang it on the wall. May I?’ I smile. ‘Yes.’
Breakfast is pancakes. Eaten with butter melting in streaks, and syrup, or strawberry jam. I try both, together: very nice.
‘Don’t think you’ll be eating like this every day,’
Mum says. My sketch of Amy is on the fridge with a magnet instead of a frame on the wall, and Mum has reverted to her pointy self.
‘Amy, you’ve got twenty minutes before the bus and you don’t look even a bit ready to me.’
‘Can’t I stay home with Kyla today?’
‘No.’
‘Where’s Dad?’ I ask.
‘Work, of course. Where I should be, but had to take leave to mind you.’
I do the math. Amy is going to school, Dad’s at work: that leaves Mum and me for the whole day.
‘When can I start school? Can I go today?’
‘No.’
Amy explains. ‘You’ve got to be assessed by the area nurse first; she has to think you are ready. Then the school tests you to work out where to put you, what year. Though they’ve sent some books for you to read.’
‘Oh.’
‘The nurse is dropping in this afternoon to meet
you,’ Mum says.
I vow to act as well adjusted as possible. Amy dashes upstairs in a flurry of finding school
books, uniform. She is in her last year of A-levels. At nineteen she should be done, at university, studying nursing like she wants to, already. But she needed an extra year to catch up. And she was fourteen when she was Slated. I’m sixteen now. How many extra years of school will I have?
‘You can wash up,’ Mum says.
‘Wash what?’
She rolls her eyes.
‘The dishes.’
I stand and look at them on the table.
She sighs. ‘Pick up the dirty dishes from the table and put them there.’ She points at the worktop next to the sink.
I carry one plate across and go back for another.
‘No! That will take forever. Stack them up. Like
this.’
She stacks plates, pulling out knives and forks and clattering them on the top one, then plonks the lot on the worktop.
‘Fill the sink. Add soap, just a little.’ She squeezes a bottle into the sink.
Bubbles!
‘Wash them with this brush.’ She scrubs a brush across the plate. ‘Rinse it under the tap, put it in the rack, like so. Repeat. Got it?’
‘I think so.’
I plunge my hands in the hot water.
So this is washing up.
I carefully clean a plate of the sticky remains of pancakes and syrup, rinse it and put it in the rack.
‘Pick up the pace or you’ll be there all day.’
I stop, and look around.
‘Pick up what?’
‘The pace. It means go faster.’
Plates, then cups. This isn’t so bad. I speed up and Mum starts wiping them with a towel. Amy rushes down the stairs as I start on the cutlery.
I gasp, and look down: a thin line of red drips from a knife clasped in my right hand.
Amy bounds in. ‘Oh no! Kyla.’
Mum turns and clucks under her breath. She grabs
a sheet of kitchen paper.
‘Press it against, don’t bleed everywhere.’
I do, and Amy rubs my shoulder and looks at my Levo: 5.1.
‘Doesn’t it hurt?’ Amy asks.
I shrug. ‘A little,’ I say, and it does, but I ignore the jagged heat that throbs through my hand, and
stare, fascinated. Bright red soaks into the kitchen paper, slows, then stops.
‘Just a nick,’ Mum says, peeling the paper back to look. ‘The nurse can check it later. She’s all right, Amy.
Run or you’ll miss the bus.’
Mum wraps a bandage around my hand as Amy bounces out the door. Mum smiles.
‘I forgot to mention, Kyla. Knives are sharp. Don’t hold them by the pointy end.’
So many things to remember. Nurse Penny unwraps my hand later for a look.
‘It should be all right without stitches,’ she says. ‘I’ll just put some antiseptic on it. Might sting a bit, mind.’
She splashes some yellow stuff on my hand that smarts and makes my eyes water, then wraps it up again.
‘It was weird,’ Mum says, ‘when she cut it. She just stood there looking at the blood running down her hand. No tears, no reaction.’
‘Well, she’s probably never cut herself before.
Never seen blood like that.’
Huh. Love it when people talk about me as if I’m not even there.
‘It didn’t send her low or anything. And—’
‘Excuse me.’ I smile my best well-adjusted smile.
They both jump as if I am a ghost that materialised before them the moment I spoke. ‘When can I go to school?’
‘Don’t worry about that yet, dear,’ Penny says.
‘Have a look through the books they sent.’ And she turns back to Mum. ‘You have to try to remember to point out hazards, like knives. She may not look it, but in some ways she is really like a small child, and—’
‘Excuse me.’ I smile again.
Penny turns.
‘Yes, dear?’
‘Those books the school sent. I looked through them this morning. They’re too easy, all stuff I already know from the hospital school.’
‘A genius then, are you?’ Mum says, with a look on her face that says I’m quite the opposite.
Penny pulls a netbook out of her bag. Frowns and taps the screen on the side, then runs her finger across the screen, searching files.
‘Well actually, she isn’t far off. Tested age appropriate before she left the hospital. That is most unusual; most of them are years behind. I’ll get the school to send some more stuff. Or Amy might have old school books around? We need to work out what subjects you should take.’
She shuts her netbook and turns back to Mum.
‘Where was I? Oh yes. There are no sharp corners, no hazards at the hospital. So everything needs to be pointed out. Like crossing the road, and—’
‘Excuse me.’ Even to me my smile is starting to feel stretched. Dislocated.
‘What is it this time?’ Mum says.
‘I already know what subject I want to take.’
Penny raises an eyebrow. ‘Oh, you do, do you?
What, then?’
‘Art.’
She smiles. ‘Well, you may need a few more practical subjects. And they’d have to assess you to
take you in art.’
Mum points at the fridge. ‘She drew that, this morning. Of Amy.’
Penny gets up to look; her eyes widen. ‘Well. I should think they’ll let you, dear.’
She turns back to Mum.
‘You did such an amazing job with Amy; she is a delight. I’m sure, with time, Kyla will adjust to your family.’
I cross my arms. Kyla will adjust: what about everyone else?
‘She had a nightmare last night,’ Mum says.
‘Screamed the house down.’
Penny opens her netbook again. Asking me might be an idea: I am the one who knows all about it.
‘There is a history of that, I’m afraid. No doubt why they kept her so long at hospital. Nine months instead of the usual six. We’ll look at some ways of controlling that in Group. They tried all the usual meds at hospital, but they made it worse if anything. And—’
‘Excuse me. Could you talk to me, instead of about
me?’
The smile slips from Penny’s face.
‘You see what I’m up against,’ Mum says, and sighs.
‘Part small child, part stroppy teenager,’ Penny
says. ‘Now Kyla, dear: let me chat to your mum. Why don’t you run along upstairs?’
I shut the door, hard, and plonk myself down on the bed. No sign of Sebastian, and it is two long hours before Amy gets home.
My folder of drawings sits on the dressing table. I pick up a sketch pad. Now the shock is over, no matter about the ones that went missing. If I close my eyes, they are all in my mind. Every detail. I will draw them again. I grasp a pencil, but it is no good: it rests between
my thumb and index finger, just where I cut my right hand, the hand I draw and write with. Time for an experiment: pencil in the left hand. It feels awkward at first; wrong. I do a few quick sketches and it starts to loosen up, but I can’t shake the feeling of wrongness, an edge of fear almost, that something will happen if I continue.
But I can’t stop.
A fresh page: who first?
Dr Lysander. Getting her right is all about the eyes. Tricky eyes, she has; mostly shielded and cold, but she peeks out now and then. When she does she seems more startled about it than I do.
I begin, hesitant at first with an unfamiliar hand.
Line, shading, all. Faster and surer as confidence increases. Dr Lysander begins to look back at me from under my pencil. Goose bumps rise along my arms, my neck.
Strange.
I draw much better with my left hand.

*-*-*-*-*-*

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