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Incredibly alice, p.1
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       Incredibly Alice, p.1

           Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
 
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Incredibly Alice


  Get ready to start your own incredible, amazing life … right?

  Alice McKinley is standing on the edge of something new, and half afraid she might fall off. Graduation is a big deal—that gauntlet of growing up that requires everyone she’s known since forever to make huge decisions that will fling them here and there and far from home. But what if Alice wants to be the little dandelion seed that doesn’t scatter? What if she doesn’t have the heart to fly off into the horizon on the next big breeze? And what if that starts to make her feel like staying close to home means she’s a little less incredible than her friends and her boyfriend, Patrick?

  Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is be honest with yourself, and sometimes the most incredible thing you can do is sneak a little fun into all this soul-searching.

  Don’t miss these other Alice books!

  Watch videos, get extras, and read exclusives at

  TEEN.SimonandSchuster.com

  COVER DESIGN BY JESSICA HANDELMAN • COVER PHOTOGRAPH BY LAURA

  HANIFIN COPYRIGHT © 2011 BY SIMON & SCHUSTER, INC. • ATHENEUM BOOKS

  FOR YOUNG READERS • SIMON & SCHUSTER, NEW YORK • AGES 14 UP • 0512

  Here’s what fans have to say about Alice:*

  “Your Alice books contain some of the funniest events ever and it would probably amuse you that I’ve actually doggy-eared the pages that I want to share with my friends.”—Julia

  “Thanks for remaining very real and true to what kids and teenagers—and adults for that matter—go through. Never once have I read something in the Alice series and that ‘thought wouldn’t really happen’ and that’s important. I have a feeling that if I live to 99 I will still be pulling out Alice from time to time.”—Amy

  “Alice McKinley is like one of my best friends, as insane as that may sound.”—Claire

  “Thanks for teaching us that we can be special even if we’re not super popular or an athlete. Thank you for showing that even the girls like Alice are important.”—Hannah

  *Taken from actual postings on the Alice website. To read more, visit ALICEMCKINLEY.COM.

  Phyllis Reynolds Naylor includes many of her own growing-up experiences in the Alice books. She writes for both children and adults, and is the author of more than one hundred and thirty-five books, including the Alice series, which Entertainment Weekly has called “tender” and “wonderful.” In 1992 her novel Shiloh won the Newbery Medal. She lives with her husband, Rex, in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Visit Phyllis online at alicemckinley.com.

  INCREDIBLY ALICE

  BOOKS BY PHYLLIS REYNOLDS NAYLOR

  Shiloh Books

  Shiloh

  Shiloh Season

  Saving Shiloh

  The Alice Books

  Starting with Alice

  Alice in Blunderland

  Lovingly Alice

  The Agony of Alice

  Alice in Rapture, Sort Of

  Reluctantly Alice

  All But Alice

  Alice in April

  Alice In-Between

  Alice the Brave

  Alice in Lace

  Outrageously Alice

  Achingly Alice

  Alice on the Outside

  The Grooming of Alice

  Alice Alone

  Simply Alice

  Patiently Alice

  Including Alice

  Alice on Her Way

  Alice in the Know

  Dangerously Alice

  Almost Alice

  Intensely Alice

  Alice in Charge

  Incredibly Alice

  Alice on Board

  Alice Collections

  I Like Him, He Likes Her

  It’s Not Like I Planned It This Way

  Please Don’t Be True

  The Bernie Magruder Books

  Bernie Magruder and the Case of the Big Stink

  Bernie Magruder and the Disappearing Bodies

  Bernie Magruder and the Haunted Hotel

  Bernie Magruder and the Drive-thru Funeral Parlor

  Bernie Magruder and the Bus Station Blowup

  Bernie Magruder and the Pirate’s Treasure

  Bernie Magruder and the Parachute Peril

  Bernie Magruder and the Bats in the Belfry

  The Cat Pack Books

  The Grand Escape

  The Healing of Texas Jake

  Carlotta’s Kittens

  Polo’s Mother

  The York Trilogy

  Shadows on the Wall

  Faces in the Water

  Footprints at the Window

  The Witch Books

  Witch’s Sister

  Witch Water

  The Witch Herself

  The Witch’s Eye

  Witch Weed

  The Witch Returns

  Picture Books

  King of the Playground

  The Boy with the Helium Head

  Old Sadie and the Christmas Bear

  Keeping a Christmas Secret

  Ducks Disappearing

  I Can’t Take You Anywhere

  Sweet Strawberries

  Please DO Feed the Bears

  Books for Young Readers

  Josie’s Troubles

  How Lazy Can You Get?

  All Because I’m Older

  Maudie in the Middle

  One of the Third-Grade Thonkers

  Roxie and the Hooligans

  Books for Middle Readers

  Walking Through the Dark

  How I Came to Be a Writer

  Eddie, Incorporated

  The Solomon System

  The Keeper

  Beetles, Lightly Toasted

  The Fear Place

  Being Danny’s Dog

  Danny’s Desert Rats

  Walker’s Crossing

  Books for Older Readers

  A String of Chances

  Night Cry

  The Dark of the Tunnel

  The Year of the Gopher

  Send No Blessings

  Ice

  Sang Spell

  Jade Green

  Blizzard’s Wake

  Cricket Man

  With special thanks to the Minneapolis Naylors for their help throughout this book

  ATHENEUM BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS

  An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division

  1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020

  www.SimonandSchuster.com

  This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  Copyright © 2011 by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

  All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

  ATHENEUM BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS is a registered trademark of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

  The Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau can bring authors to your live event. For more information or to book an event, contact the Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau at 1-866-248-3049 or visit our website at www.simonspeakers.com.

  Also available in an Atheneum Books for Young Readers hardcover edition

  Book design by Jessica Handelman

  The text for this book is set in Berkeley Oldstyle Book.

  First Atheneum Books for Young Readers paperback edition May 2012

  The Library of Congress has cataloged the hardcover edition as follows:

  Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds.

  Incredibly Alice / Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. —1st ed.

  p. cm. —(Alice)

  Summary: Maryland teenager Alice McKinley spends her last sem
ester of high school performing in the school play, working on the student paper, worrying about being away from her boyfriend, who will be studying in Spain, and anticipating her future in college.

  ISBN 978-1-4169-7553-3 (hc)

  [1. High schools—Fiction. 2. Schools—Fiction. 3. Theater—Fiction. 4. Dating (Social customs)—

  Fiction. 5. Family life—Maryland—Fiction. 6. Maryland—Fiction.] I. Title.

  PZ7.N24Io 2011

  [Fic]—dc22

  2010036982

  ISBN 978-1-4169-7556-4 (pbk)

  ISBN 978-1-4424-6248-9 (eBook)

  To Hannah, Becca, and Melissa,

  who love the Alice books

  Contents

  One: Plans

  Two: The Unexpected

  Three: Bodily Perceptions

  Four: An Untimely Offer

  Five: New Life

  Six: Call from Aunt Sally

  Seven: A Pivotal Moment

  Eight: Getting Ready

  Nine: Reading for Mr. Ellis

  Ten: The List

  Eleven: Carrying On

  Twelve: Roommates

  Thirteen: Sound of the Whistle

  Fourteen: News

  Fifteen: Insomnia

  Sixteen: Opening Night

  Seventeen: Getting Closer

  Eighteen: Holding Back

  Nineteen: Mail

  Twenty: In the Diner

  Twenty-one: Talking with Patrick

  Twenty-two: Catching Up

  Twenty-three: Eating Oysters

  Twenty-four: Dearly Beloved

  Twenty-five: Looking Ahead

  Twenty-six: May 14

  Twenty-seven: View from the Bridge

  Twenty-eight: By the Hour?

  Twenty-nine: Prank Day

  Thirty: Anything Could Happen

  Alice on Board Excerpt

  The Seascape and the Spellbound

  1

  PLANS

  If I could characterize my last semester of high school, I think I’d say it was full of “might have known,” “should have thought,” and “wouldn’t have guessed in a million years.” Surprises, that was it, and decisions like you wouldn’t believe.

  When I woke on New Year’s Day, I thought it must be ten in the morning, it was so light out. But when I got up, it was only five after six. A fresh blanket of snow had fallen after the ice storm of the evening before, and everything looked untouched, untested. Like it was up to me what to make of it.

  I used the bathroom and jumped back into bed, pulled the comforter up under my chin, glad there was nowhere I had to go, no special ritual connected to this particular holiday. And though I don’t much believe in New Year’s resolutions because I so seldom keep them, I wondered if there was anything I really wanted to do before I graduated. Come June, I didn’t want to look back and wonder why I’d missed the chance for something big.

  Yeah, right. As though I weren’t overscheduled enough as it was. But I went through the exercise anyway. Sports? I’d never been especially good at them, so I didn’t crave to be on the girls’ soccer team or anything. Student government? I’d served on Student Jury last semester, and that was all the student government I needed. Journalism? I was already features editor of The Edge. I had no regrets.

  I opened my eyes again and stared at the light reflected on the ceiling. Maybe I was comparing myself with my friends and what they had done—Gwen on Student Council, Pamela an understudy in Guys and Dolls last year, Liz in a folk dance group. I suddenly realized I had never really competed for anything. Anything. I didn’t try out for girls’ track team—I did my solitary running a few mornings a week before school. Stage crew? You didn’t have to try out to be on the props committee. Student Jury? I was appointed. Features editor? I’d started out as a lowly roving reporter, no experience necessary, and worked my way up.

  It’s weird when you discover a new fact about yourself. Like a birthmark you never knew you had on the back of your thigh. Was it unnatural somehow not to be competitive? My grades were reasonably good, but I was only competing with what I’d done before. Was I afraid to compete, or was I just genuinely not interested?

  Who knows? I concluded finally. It was too late in the year for any kind of team I could think of, and I wasn’t going to join something just to be joining. I decided to hunker down under the covers and wait for the impulse to pass, and after a while it did.

  Sitting in the hallway outside the cafeteria on Monday, our legs sprawled out in front of us, lunches on our laps, Gwen said, “I’ve got an idea for this summer.”

  I lowered the sandwich I was eating and stared at her—at the short brown fingers with magenta polish that were confidently peeling an orange without her even looking. Here was someone ready to sail through the next few months of assignments without a care in the world, already planning her summer.

  “You’re going to intern for a brilliant scientist in Switzerland?” Pamela guessed.

  “Nope. This time it’s something fun,” said Gwen. “I’m going to apply for a job as a waitress/housekeeper on a new cruise line, the Chesapeake. Why don’t we all do it?”

  Now she really had our attention.

  Liz had the look of a puppy who thinks someone just said the word walk. Her head jerked up, blue-violet eyes fixed on Gwen. “We can sign up just for the summer? We could still make the first day of college?”

  “Depends on the college, I guess, but I’ve got the dates already. I think they rely on college help, because the summer cruises end in mid-August and the fall cruises begin with a new crew.”

  “Where does it go?” I asked.

  “Mostly the Bay. A sister ship will be ready in a few months, but for now, this is the maiden voyage of the Chesapeake Seascape. A hundred and forty passengers.”

  I tried to jump forward to summer. Patrick’s folks had moved to Wisconsin, so there wouldn’t be any house here in Silver Spring for him to come back to. If he was there, and I was here, and there were 750 miles in between … Why not work on a cruise ship?

  “Sounds great!” I said. “Providing it doesn’t interfere with the prom.”

  “It doesn’t. Training starts the day after graduation,” Gwen told us. “I tried to get Yolanda to come too, but she doesn’t want to leave her boyfriend. They’re going at it hot and heavy.”

  “You make it sound like a wrestling match,” said Liz.

  “You might call it that,” said Gwen. “Anyway, we could have a blast, just the four of us.”

  Pamela was leaning forward, elbows resting on her thighs—shapely thighs, I might add, because everything about Pamela is shapely. “Will there be guys?”

  “Of course there will be guys,” Gwen said. “There are deckhands, you know, plus the regular crew. Bare-chested, sun-glazed, bronze-colored, muscle-molded, heat-seeking—”

  “Stop! Stop! I’m burning up already!” Pamela cried, clutching her heart. And then, singing, “I’m in the moooood for love.”

  Gwen laughed. “Puh-lease! Not a summer romance.”

  “Why not? That’s how you and Austin met, isn’t it?”

  “Austin’s here! We can see each other as much as we want.”

  “Well, remember what happened to Liz and Ross,” I said, thinking about the great guy she had met when we were camp counselors, the summer after our freshman year.

  “I still miss him,” Liz said in a small voice. How any guy could keep his distance from Liz, with her long dark hair and creamy complexion, was beyond my understanding.

  “You never hear from him?” Gwen asked.

  “We text now and then. But he’s got his life to live there in Pennsylvania. We just decided it wouldn’t work.”

  “But you have Keeno!” Pamela chirped, hoping to get us back in a happier mood. Liz and Keeno really had seemed to be hitting it off in recent months.

  But Liz gave a little shrug. “I like him. He makes me laugh. But I don’t like like him, know what I mean?”

  “Aha! Somebody else is
looking for love!” Pamela crooned. “Go ahead and get the applications, Gwen. I’m in.”

  “Me too,” I said. “Sounds like a great summer. At least Patrick’s coming for the prom.”

  “You’ve got the best of all possible worlds, Alice,” Liz said, breaking a huge cookie in half and holding up one piece. Gwen and I grabbed for it at once. Gwen won. “He’s in Chicago, you’re here, he comes back for the big stuff. Meanwhile, you’re free to date other guys… . There’s a long-distance romance that’s working.”

  “He’s only been gone for six months,” I reminded her. “And now that his parents have moved to Wisconsin … Well, I don’t even want to think about it. No, I do want to think about it. We’ve got this understanding that we’re special to each other, but …”

  This time nobody jumped in with assurances. No one made a joke.

  “It’s rough,” said Gwen. She broke off one bite of the cookie half and handed the rest to me, like a sympathy card, and I accepted. “This is make-each-moment-count time, everybody, because who knows where we’ll be a year from now?”

  That was to be our motto, I guess. Make each moment count. I remembered that a long time ago, when my brother and I were quarreling a lot, I’d decided to live each day as though it were the last time I’d ever see him, and it worked. It stopped the quarreling, but it got so real that I was always imagining Les choking on a chicken bone or something. There had to be some kind of balance here, but I wasn’t sure what it was.

  And I wondered why, just as in physics, for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction; for every new thing I looked forward to after high school, there seemed to be some opposite feeling I could hardly describe. Anxiety? Sadness? Don’t be a basket case, I told myself, and meant it.

  It was Phil’s idea. Phil—as in editor in chief of our school paper, The Edge. Phil—as in tall, once-gangly, now-square-shouldered head honcho.

  “Let me handle the neo-Nazi stuff if it keeps kicking around,” he told me that afternoon. “With all that’s happened at our school, we—and you in particular—need some R and R.”

 
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