All These Things I've Done, p.1Gabrielle Zevin
ALL THESE THINGS I’VE DONE. Copyright © 2011 by Gabrielle Zevin. All rights reserved. For information, address Square Fish, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.
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Originally published in the United States by Farrar Straus Giroux
Square Fish logo designed by Filomena Tuosto
First eBook Edition : June 2012
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
All these things I’ve done / Gabrielle Zevin. p. cm.—(Birthright)
Summary: In a future where chocolate and caffeine are contraband, teenage cellphone use is illegal, and water and paper are carefully rationed, sixteen-year-old Anya Balanchine finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight as heir apparent to an important New York City crime family.
ISBN 978-1-250-01028-5 [1. Organized crime—Fiction. 2. Celebrities—Fiction. 3. High schools—Fiction.
4. Schools—Fiction. 5. Family life—New York (State)—New York—Fiction. 6. New York (N.Y.)—Fiction. 7. Science fiction.] I. Title. II. Title: All these things I’ve done. PZ7.Z452All 2011 [Fic]—dc22
First Square Fish Edition: May 2012
To my dad, Richard Zevin, who knows everything
Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.
—Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
Table of Contents
I. - i defend my own honor
II. - i am punished; define recidivism; tend to family matters
III. - i confess; contemplate mortality & teeth; lure a boy under false pretenses; disappoint my brother
IV. - i go to little egypt
V. - i regret having gone to little egypt
VI. - i entertain two unwelcome guests; am mistaken for someone else
VII. - i am accused; make matters worse
VIII. - i am sent to liberty; am also tattooed!
IX. - i discover an influential friend & then, a foe
X. - i convalesce; receive visitors; hear news of gable arsley
XI. - i define tragedy for scarlet
XII. - i relent; make an adequate witch
XIII. - i tend to an obligation (ignore others); pose for a picture
XIV. - i am forced to turn the other cheek
XV. - we mourn again; i learn the definition of internecine
XVI. - i apologize (repeatedly); am apologized to (once)
XVII. - i make plans for the summer
XVIII. - i am betrayed
XIX. - i enact a fair trade
XX. - i set my house in order; am returned to liberty
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i defend my own honor
THE NIGHT BEFORE JUNIOR YEAR—I was sixteen, barely—Gable Arsley said he wanted to sleep with me. Not in the distant or semidistant future either. Right then.
Admittedly, my taste in boys wasn’t so great. I was attracted to the sort who weren’t in the habit of asking permission to do anything. Boys like my father, I guess.
We’d just gotten back from the coffee speakeasy that used to be off University Place, in the basement of a church. This was back when caffeine, along with about a million other things, was against the law. So much was illegal (paper without a permit, phones with cameras, chocolate, etc.) and the laws changed so quickly, you could be committing a crime and not even know it. Not that it mattered. The boys in blue were totally overwhelmed. The city was bankrupt, and I’d say maybe 75 percent of the force had been fired. The police that were left didn’t have time to worry about teens getting high on coffee.
I should have known something was up when Gable offered to escort me back to the apartment. At night at least, it was a pretty dangerous trek from the speakeasy to where I lived on East Ninetieth, and Gable usually left me to fend for myself. He lived downtown, and I guess he figured that I hadn’t been killed making the trip yet.
We went into my apartment, which had been in the family practically forever—since 1995, the year my grandma Galina was born. Galina, who we called Nana and who I loved like nobody’s business, was busy dying in her bedroom. She had the distinction of being both the oldest and the sickest person I had ever known. As soon as I opened the door, I could hear the machines that were keeping her heart and everything else pumping. The only reason they hadn’t turned the machines off, like they would have for anyone else, was because she was responsible for my older brother, my little sister, and me. Her mind was still sharp, by the way. Even confined to the bed, not much got past her.
Gable had had, maybe, six espressos that night, two of them with shots of Prozac (also illegal)—and he was mad up. I’m not making excuses for him, only trying to explain a few things.
“Annie,” he said, loosening his necktie and sitting down on the couch, “you gots to have some chocolate in here. I know you do. I’m gagging for it. Come on, baby, hook Daddy up.” It was the caffeine talking. Gable sounded like a different person when he was on the stuff. I especially hated when he referred to himself as Daddy. I think he’d heard it in an old movie. I wanted to say, You aren’t my daddy. You’re seventeen years old, for God’s sake. Sometimes I did say this but mostly I let it go. My actual daddy used to say that if you didn’t let some things go, you’d spend your whole life fighting. Chocolate was why Gable’d said he wanted to come up to the apartment in the first place. I told him he could have one piece and then he had to leave. The first day of school was tomorrow (my junior year as I mentioned; his senior), and I needed to get some sleep.
We kept our chocolate in Nana’s room in a secret safe in the back of her closet. I tried to be real quiet as I walked past her bed. Not that there was much of a need for that. Her machines were as loud as the subway.
Nana’s room smelled like death, a combination of day-old egg salad (poultry was rationed) and overripe honeydew melons (fruit was pretty scarce) and old shoes and cleaning products (purchase permitted with voucher). I went into her walk-in closet, pushed her coats out of the way, and entered the combination. Behind the guns was the chocolate, which was superdark, with hazelnuts, and came from Russia. I put a bar in my pocket and closed the safe. On my way out, I stopped to kiss my grandmother on the cheek, and she woke up.
“Anya,” she croaked, “what time did you get home?”
I told her that I’d been home for a while. She’d never know the difference anyway and she’d only worry if she knew where I’d been. Then I told her to go back to sleep, that I hadn’t meant to wake her. “You need your rest, Nana.”
“What for? I’ll be resting forever soon enough.”
“Don’t talk like that. You’ll be alive a really long time,” I lied.
“There’s a difference between being alive and living,” she muttered before changing the subject. “First day of school tomorrow.”
I was surprised she remembered.
“Go get yourself a nice chocolate bar from the closet, okay, Anyaschka?”
I did what she said. I put the bar from my pocket back in the safe and replaced it with a different, identical one.
“Don’t show anybody,” she said. “And don’t share it unless it’s with someone you really love.”
Easier said than done, I thought, but I promised I wouldn’t. I kissed my gran
When I went back out to the living room, Gable wasn’t there. I knew where he’d be.
Gable was lying in the middle of my bed, passed out. As I saw it, that was the problem with caffeine. A little of it, and you had a nice buzz. Too much, and you were a goner. At least, that’s how it was for Gable. I kicked him, not too hard, on the leg. He didn’t wake up. I kicked him again, harder. He grunted a little and rolled onto his back. I figured I’d let him sleep it off. If worst came to worst, I’d sleep on the couch. Anyway, Gable was cute when he slept. Harmless, like a puppy or a little boy. I suppose I liked him best that way.
I took my school uniform from my closet and laid it out on my desk chair for the next day. I organized my bag and charged up my slate. I broke off a single piece of dark chocolate. The flavor was strong and woodsy. I rewrapped the rest in its silver foil and put it in my top drawer for safekeeping. I was glad I hadn’t had to share it with Gable.
You’re probably asking why Gable was my boyfriend when I barely wanted to share chocolate with him. The thing is, he wasn’t boring. He was a little dangerous and, stupid girl that I was, I guess I found that sort of thing attractive. And—God rest your soul, Daddy—it could be said that I lacked positive male role models. Besides, sharing chocolate wasn’t some casual thing: it really was hard to come by.
I decided to take a shower so I wouldn’t have to do it in the morning. When I got out ninety seconds later (everyone’s showers ran on timers because of how expensive water was getting), Gable was sitting cross-legged on my bed while stuffing the last of my chocolate bar down his throat.
“Hey,” I said, my towel wrapped around me, “you went into my drawer!”
Chocolate was smudged on his thumb, index finger, and the inside corners of his mouth. “I wasn’t snooping. I sniffed it out,” he said in the middle of a bite. He paused chomping long enough to look up at me. “You look pretty, Annie. Clean.”
I wrapped my towel tighter around myself. “Well, now that you’re awake and you’ve had your chocolate, you should leave,” I said.
He didn’t move.
“Come on, then! Out!” I said this strongly, if not loudly. I didn’t want to wake my siblings or Nana.
That’s when he told me that he thought we should have sex.
“No,” I said, wishing very much that I hadn’t been so foolish as to take a shower while a dangerous, overcaffeinated boy lay in wait on my bed. “Absolutely not.”
“Why not?” he asked. And then he said that he was in love with me. It was the first time a boy had ever told me that. Even as inexperienced as I was, I could tell he didn’t mean it.
“I want you to go,” I said. “We’ve got school tomorrow, and we both should get some sleep.”
“I can’t go now. It’s past midnight.”
Not that there were enough cops to enforce it, but midnight was the citywide, under-eighteen curfew. It was only 11:45, so I lied and told him he could still make it if he ran.
“I’ll never make it, Annie. Besides, my parents aren’t home, and your grandma will never know if I stay. Come on, be sweet to me.”
I shook my head and tried to look tough, which was somewhat hard to do while wearing a yellow, flowered towel.
“Doesn’t it count for anything that I just told you I love you?” Gable asked.
I considered this briefly before deciding that it didn’t. “Not really. Not when I know you don’t mean it.”
He looked at me with big, dumb eyes like I had hurt his feelings or something. Then he cleared his throat and tried a different technique. “Come on, Annie. We’ve been together almost nine months. That’s the longest I’ve ever been with anyone. So … Like … Why not?”
I gave him my list. One, I said, we were too young. Two, I didn’t love him. And three, the most important of all, I didn’t believe in sex before marriage. I was a mostly good Catholic girl, and I knew exactly where the type of behavior he was suggesting would get me: straight to Hell. For the record, I very much believed (and believe) in Heaven and Hell, and not in an abstract way either. More about this later.
His eyes were a little crazy—maybe it was the contraband he’d consumed—and he got up from the bed and walked closer to me. He started tickling my bare arms.
“Stop that,” I said. “Seriously, Gable, this isn’t funny. I know you’re trying to get me to drop my towel.”
“Why’d you take that shower if you didn’t want—”
I told him I’d scream.
“And then what?” he asked. “Your grandma can’t get out of bed. Your brother’s a retard. And your sister’s just a kid. All you’ll do is make them upset.”
Part of me couldn’t believe this was actually happening in my own house. That I’d allowed myself to be so witless and vulnerable. I hooked my towel under my armpits, and I pushed Gable away as hard as I could. “Leo is not a retard!” I yelled.
I heard a door open at the end of the hallway and then, footsteps. Leo, who was tall like Daddy had been (six feet five inches), appeared in my doorway wearing pajamas with a pattern of dogs and bones on them. Even though I had been handling things, I had never been so happy to see my big brother. “Hey, Annie!” Leo wrapped me in a quick hug before turning to my soon-to-be ex-boyfriend. “Hello, Gable,” Leo said. “I heard noise. I think you should leave now. You woke me which is okay. But if you wake Natty that won’t be good because she has to go to school tomorrow.”
Leo led Gable to our front door. I didn’t relax until I heard it shut and Leo had latched the chain.
“I don’t think your boyfriend is very nice,” Leo told me when he got back.
“You know what? I don’t think so either,” I said. I picked up Gable’s discarded chocolate wrappers and crushed them into a ball. By Nana’s standards, the only chocolate-worthy boy in my life was my brother.
The first day of school stunk more than most first days of school, and they tend to stink as a rule. Everyone had already heard that Gable Arsley and Anya Balanchine were over. This was annoying. Not because I had had any intention of staying with him after the foul he’d committed the night before, but because I’d wanted to be the one to break up with him. I’d wanted him to cry or yell or apologize. I’d wanted to walk away and not look back as he called my name. That sort of thing, right?
I have to admit: it was amazing how fast the rumors spread. Minors weren’t allowed to have their own phones, and no one of any age could publish, virtually or otherwise, without a license or even send an e-mail without paying postage and yet gossip always finds a way. And a good lie travels a heck of a lot faster than the sad, boring truth. By third period, the story of my breakup had been carved in stone, and I hadn’t been the one doing the carving.
I skipped fourth period to go to confession.
When I entered the confessional, I could see the distinctly female silhouette of Mother Piousina through the screen. Believe it or not, she was the first female priest Holy Trinity School had ever had. Even though these were supposedly modern times and everyone was supposedly enlightened, more than a few parents had complained when the Board of Overseers had announced her as their selection the prior year. There were some people who just weren’t comfortable with the idea of a lady priest. In addition to being a Catholic school, HT was also one of the better schools in Manhattan. Parents who paid its exorbitant tuition did so with the understanding that the school wasn’t allowed to change no matter how bad things got everywhere else.
I kneeled down and crossed myself. “Bless me, Mother, for I have sinned. It has been three months since my last confession …”
“What’s troubling you, daughter?”
I told her how I’d been having impure thoughts about Gable Arsley all morning. I didn’t use his name but Mother Piousina probably knew who I was talking about anyway. Everyone else at school did.
“Are you considering hav
“I know that, Mother,” I said. “Nothing like that. The thing is, this boy’s been spreading rumors about me, and I’ve just been thinking how I hate him and I want to kill him or at least hurt him a little.”
Mother Piousina laughed in a way that only somewhat offended me. “Is that everything?” she asked.
I told her that I’d used the Lord’s name in vain several times over the summer. Most of the instances had occurred during the mayor’s Great Air-Conditioning Ration. One of our “off days” had coincided with the hottest day in August. Between the 110-degree temperature and the heat generated by Nana’s many machines, the apartment had been a pretty close approximation of Hell.
“One more thing. My grandmother is very sick and even though I love her”—this was really hard for me to say—“sometimes I wish she would just die already.”
“You don’t want to see her suffer. God understands that you don’t mean it, my child.”
“Sometimes I have bad thoughts about the dead,” I added.
“My father mainly. But my mother sometimes, too. And sometimes—”
Mother Piousina interrupted. “Perhaps three months is too long for you to go between confessions, daughter.” She laughed again which annoyed me, but I continued anyway. The next one was the hardest to say.
“Sometimes I am ashamed of my older brother, Leo, because he’s … It’s not his fault. He’s the kindest, most loving brother but … You probably know that he’s a little slow. Today, he wanted to walk me and Natty to school but I told him that my grandmother needed him at home and that he’d be late for his job. Both lies.”
“Is this your entire confession?”
“Yes,” I said, bowing my head. “I’m sorry for these and all the sins of my past life.” Then I prayed the Act of Contrition.
All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin / Young Adult / Romance & Love / Science Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes