40 Things I Want to Tell You, p.1Alice Kuipers
For my dad—for believing in me
Q&A WITH ALICE KUIPERS
About the Publisher
“THERE’S SOMETHING I’VE BEEN MEANING TO TELL YOU.” I LEANED back in my desk chair, resting the phone between my cheek and my ear, and doodled on the pad of paper by my computer. There were ten items on my to-do list and I scratched a pen line through the fourth: Tell Cleo.
“Did you and Griffin do it?” Cleo squealed.
I giggled. “My birthday. Not till then.”
“How do you cope? You’ve got so much self-control.”
I imagined Cleo sitting on her king-size bed, probably painting her long nails while talking with me, her gorgeous black hair and dark skin contrasting with the cream-and-white design of her luxurious room. I said, “So. Okay. It’s not exactly a secret. Well, it is.”
Cleo’s voice dropped. “What do you mean? What secret could you possibly have that I don’t know about?” I could tell she was teasing me.
“It’s no big deal.”
“Oh my God, Bird, just tell me already.”
“Well, about two months ago I set up this website.” I paused, feeling stupid. I was making way too big of a drama over this. “I sort of didn’t want to tell anyone because it’s an advice thing, so it seemed best to keep it secret, but, well, it’s getting lots of hits and I’m thinking about it loads and I was just reading a question that a reader had sent in about how to deal with a crush—”
“You’re, like, an Internet advice girl! That’s so perfect. What’s the address? I’m looking you up.”
I told her and heard her clicking on a keyboard. There was a long pause.
“Hello,” I yelled. “I’m still here, like, talking to you.”
“Calm down,” she said, “I can still hear you. It’s superb. I love it. People really write these questions to you?”
“Honestly? I made up the first couple, but then, after that, people started writing in. I try to answer when I’ve got time and something to say. I don’t answer everyone.” I spoke fast—thinking about the site got me animated like that.
“How do you know what to say? Oooh, I’m reading it now. I like the way you do it—clever. And I love your onscreen name.”
“I do research and use experiences from my own life. I choose questions I feel like I’ll be able to answer. I started this never imagining it would become so, you know, popular, so quickly.”
She said, “Sex advice from you.”
“Shut up. Okay, so no experience there. Yet. That answer was research-based. Plus, I listen to you.”
She laughed. “If you’d only get on and do it with Griffin, then you’d be a real expert. Sexpert.” She fell quiet again, then she burst out, “Oh my God, you should totally pay me for that line: A bad boy might be attractive, but he’s always trouble and he won’t change for you. I told you that.”
“That’s why I had to tell you about the site. You know stuff. How can I write to this girl about dealing with a crush when I’ve never had a crush, not since I was, like, a little kid and into some guy in a boy-band?”
“Why would you need to have a crush when your boyfriend is right next door? Plus, having a crush would be, I dunno, way too out of control for you. It would be wild.”
“I can be wild,” I shot back.
“If you say so.”
“I just crossed off an item on my to-do list. That’s pretty wild,” I joked. “Anyway, you like it?”
“Stop talking: I’m still reading. Wow, Bird, it’s really good. Why was it secret from me? I wouldn’t have told anyone.”
“I figured I’d put it up there and no one would be interested and then I’d feel like an idiot if anyone knew.”
“I don’t care if you do idiotic things.”
“I didn’t know I’d want to keep the site going.”
“As if you ever give anything up when it’s not finished. What made you start?”
I tapped my pen against the page. “I guess I find it fun. It’s pretty great when someone asks me something and I can figure out the answer and tell it in a way that might help them get their own life under control. I dunno. I guess I want to fix things for people.”
“Well, you’re certainly my go-to girl for advice. You know, if you can give advice on sex, you can probably handle the girl with the crush, but I’m flattered you want my help.”
“I just wanted you involved. So any thoughts?”
“Hang on, does Griffin know?”
“Of course he doesn’t know. It’s a secret—I wanted my site to be anonymous so the people writing in could say whatever they wanted to say.”
“Okay, well I’m honoured to know your alter ego. Now, Miss Take-Control, you have to tell me what to do about Xavier. I’m seeing him tonight.”
“You know what I think about him. Oh, Griffin’s calling. I gotta go. Quickly, advice on a crush …”
“Cold turkey. Stay away. Remember, you’ll get over him. Do other stuff, et cetera. If he’s not into her, then it’s his loss, right?”
“Perfect.” I ended the call and then answered Griffin’s.
“What’s up? Did you get all your homework done?”
His soft voice said, “Most of it. Sort of. Just wondering if you want to come over. We could … study.”
“You should finish all your homework, remember? You’ve got to study hard this year.” I was half teasing, half reminding him to stay focused.
I looked out my window and saw him standing at his, smiling over at me. Our bedroom windows faced each other—and when we were little kids we wrote each other messages to read through the glass, or tried out semaphore, or communicated by turning lights on and off. With phones and Internet, and now that we were sixteen, we hadn’t used sign language in forever. Still, I automatically checked the window whenever he called.
He wore his usual white shirt and jeans. He was classically handsome: milk-white, baby-smooth skin and vivid blue eyes. He was tall, muscular but slim. He worked out, worked hard at school, had few friends but the ones he had were close. He radiated calm. With his pale skin and dark hair he had that sexy-vampire thing going for him. A couple other girls occasionally glanced him up and down, but he never looked at any of them, never even seemed to notice their stares, because he loved me. If he could haul himself out of bed at a decent hour, he’d be practically perfect.
I said, regretfully, “I can’t, G. Too much to do.” I looked down at my list.
Read chapter for History
Learn subjunctive of twenty new verbs for Spanish
Upload new photos to computer and file them
Essay for English
Start “Top Tips” section
Online Pilates workout—45 mins
Write list of Christmas presents for everyone—get ahead on this
Tidy room and pack bag for school tomorrow
He pouted at me through the glass.
“Don’t be like that,” I said, smiling over at his sweet puppy-dog expression. “Look—” I held up my Spanish textbook. “I’ll get this done, but why don’t you come over tonight? Mum’s making a roast, as usual. I’ll go ask her if it’s okay.”
“Sure. Give me a call. I feel like we’ve hardly seen each other recently.”
“You’re seeing me right now.”
He wrinkled his nose. “Yeah, I guess. You look really pretty today, by the way.”
“Do I? Thanks.” I was wearing my favourite pair of jeans and a blue turtleneck, also super comfy. I’m five-foot-six, not quite as slim as I’d like to be but just about okay in the figure department—not like Cleo, who is stunning. I’m curly-haired (well, frizzy, which is why I straighten it), freckle-faced, and I sort of like my eyes, which change blue/green/grey with the weather. People are always telling me I look just like someone they know.
He said, “So give me a call when you figure out this evening.” He waved and hung up.
I turned away from the window and read over my list, deciding to start with my website. I opened up the crush email and got to work. I had a smile on my face. I loved being Miss Take-Control-of-Your-Life. Loved it.
Sun 3 Oct
Dear Miss Take-Control-of-Your-Life,
Theres a guy in my school who doesnt know I exist. He doesnt even know my name but I think about him all the time and I wish I could get him to notice me but its crzy because he already has a girlfriend … I cry at night because I know we cant b together and I take it out on my friends because I think about him all the time … This is taking up my whole entire universe … I wnt him out of my head so I can get on with my life … help help help!!!!
Tips to Take Back Control
Cold turkey. Stay away.
Remind yourself you’re worth a guy who sees how great you are, and who doesn’t already have a girlfriend.
It might seem like he’s the only boy in the world for you, but I promise that will pass. Soon you won’t remember what you saw in him.
When you find yourself thinking about him, force yourself to think about something different. Like another guy. Or one of your friends’ problems. Or homework. Or anything. Keep talking to your friends—don’t get mad at them. By sharing your thoughts, you’ll stop feeling like you’re going to explode.
From one teen to another …
I got my essay done, learned all the verbs for Spanish, uploaded my photos and did the Pilates workout. I folded my clothes and put out what I was going to wear for the next morning. Supper was off as Mum said she wasn’t cooking—weird for a Sunday—and because I wanted to use the time to get on with my Top Tips section for the site, I made a sandwich to eat at my desk and texted G to cancel.
He texted right back.
All okay? Sure?
Course. C U 2moro xxx
My phone buzzed.
Is this about the sex thing?
My throat tightened. The sex thing. I reread the text a couple of times. Wow. That had come out of nowhere. As I was figuring out an answer, he texted again.
I called him straight away. “Nothing’s wrong, G,” I said as he picked up. “Everything’s fine. This has nothing to do with … with sex.”
He said, “Why can’t we just hang out even if your mum isn’t making her regular roast? Also, you’ve been going in to school early for the last couple weeks, so we don’t, I dunno, hang out like we used to. I figure—”
I stared out my window but he wasn’t looking at me. He was being really … whiny. “Griffin, you’re being weird. Nothing’s wrong, I promise.”
“It’s normal for a guy to want to have sex with his girlfriend.”
My cheeks flushed. “Where’s this coming from? We talked about my birthday.”
“That’s ages away. You’re putting me off.”
“I’m not. I’m just busy with school. You know what I’m like, G.”
“I know. It’s just— I feel like I saw you more before you became my girlfriend, which isn’t how it should be—” He broke off. Then I heard a muffled “Mom, careful.” He said back into the phone, “I’ve gotta go. Love you.”
I hung up, a grumble of disquiet starting low in my belly. Griffin was my best friend, and becoming his girlfriend three months ago had been easy—at first. But cancelling dinner wouldn’t have been such a big deal before. Now he was acting almost clingy.
I lingered, looking at the heading of the homepage where my onscreen name loomed large. Miss Take-Control-of-Your-Life. Getting focused always helped when my brain was stressing about something. I began to set up the new section I’d been planning. Every time I wanted to add to it, the words Top Tips would pop up to direct readers to a new permanent sidebar on the homepage. Once I’d done the coding, I typed in:
It’s time to start my new Top Tips section for you, like I’ve been planning. Top Tips are things I want to tell you, things you might appreciate, extra bits of advice … Enjoy! Find them HERE. More Top Tips soon.
Now it was time to write out a tip. I tapped my fingers on the desk. I read through some quotations online to inspire me. I wanted to get this first one exactly right. I came up with a few: There’s always another story … When in doubt, don’t … Count to ten before you say something you regret …
I read each of them over. Then I remembered something my dad often said to me that felt like the perfect way to start my new project. These were words that made me excited about the future.
TOP TIP 1: YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT’S COMING NEXT-EMBRACE THE UNEXPECTED
Mon 4 Oct
Dear Miss Take-Control-of-Your-Life,
I need some advice fast. I think my boyfriend is going to dump me and I don’t want him to. He never answers my calls and he treats me like he doesn’t even like me. What can I do to get him to fall back in love with me?
Some of these questions were really hard. I wasn’t sure I had anything to say to Nikki about her situation—it sounded complicated. What if she was calling him a hundred times a day? Maybe he was right not to always answer her. I went to get myself a cup of coffee and came back to sit in front of the screen a little longer. I could do this. I could figure out how to fix things for Nikki.
Tips to Take Back Control
You can’t get him to feel anything he doesn’t already feel.
If he’s changed and he used to be more loving and kind, then perhaps try to talk to him. Maybe something else is going on his life that he hasn’t talked to you about yet.
Be wary. By treating you as if he doesn’t like you, he’s probably trying to show you it’s over without facing up to telling you directly.
Don’t let him call the shots. Walk away with your head held high.
From one teen to another …
I posted my reply. I had gotten up early, as always, and after I’d finished with the website, I showered, straightened my hair, dressed in the clothes I’d laid out the night before and collected my bag.
As I pulled back the curtains, I noticed that the clouds outside were thick and stormy. Surprisingly, Mum was standing by the front gate with her camera in her hands. She had the same wild blonde curls as me, and they bounced around in the wind. She was curvy, with milky skin and freckles. Looking down at her, I realized how much we looked alike, even down to our changeable eyes and almost invisible blonde eyebrows. Both of us were often told by p
I scooted downstairs and hurried past Dad, who was reading the newspaper online in his office. He grunted something about coffee, but I was on my way out the door. I called over my shoulder, “See you later, Dad. Love you.”
I stepped out of our brick house and was whipped by the wind. I looked around for Mum, but she had vanished. I noticed that Griffin’s curtains were still shut: lazybones. Pulling my jacket tight, I tried to tuck away strands of my hair, silently begging the rain to hold off until I got to school. At Coffee Grounds—my favourite local café—I ordered my usual non-fat latte, which I drank as I dodged the traffic to get to the small park near my school. The sound of cars and the morning rush hour faded as I hurried along the path by the lake. The water danced in small metallic waves, shaken up by the approaching storm. The clouds grew darker as I darted from the park into the small front entrance of the stone block where the sixth form classes were held. Just inside, I turned right to get to the first-year sixth-form Common Room of Harton’s High School.
I said hi to Neen Patel and Gracie Atkins—this early there were only a few students around—threw some stuff in my locker and went to do a little reading at the library.
About half an hour later, Griffin came over and covered my eyes with his cool hands. “Guess who?”
I pushed back my seat and kissed him. He tasted of minty toothpaste. I said, “How was the morning?”
He swept his black floppy hair off his face. “Same old. I miss walking with you.”
“G, I told you: it’s not personal. I just want to get in early to do a bit of extra work.”
40 Things I Want to Tell You by Alice Kuipers / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes