Would you rather know what's going to happen? Or not know?
"When did you become so sunny?" I ask. "You're in this perpetual good mood. Have you seen my other green flip-flop?"
Claire laughs. "I feel like . . . I feel like there's promise." She kicks my flip-flop out from under a heap of clothes on the floor. "It's summer. But that isn't even the best of it. I'm going to college in what, seven weeks?"
"Don't remind me. Abandoning me to face eleventh grade without your protection. Stranding me with Mom and Dad."
"Aw, Nat, don't worry." She comes over and slides her arm across my back. "You'll come for weekends sometimes. It'll be great."
"Great for you." When I think about Claire leaving,
I want to throw up. We've been sharing a room since I was born. How can our life be reduced to occasional weekends?
"I have this roar in my head," she says. "Of . . . of anticipation. That it's all just starting. Stuff I don't even know about."
"Could you be any more corny?"
She ignores me, putting on mascara. They should use her eyelashes to advertise mascara.
"Where are you going tonight?" I ask.
"Movies. With Joe-boy and Kate and Mark."
"Did you fix things with Kate?"
"As long as I ignore her massive flirtation with Joe, and her relentless need to be more attractive than I am, she's the best and we're tight. Where are you going tonight?"
"Nowhere," I say. "There's nothing to do here. Summer just started and it's already boring. And so effing hot. I'll just meet everybody, I guess."
"Mwa," she says, kissing air as she grabs her bag.
They're already there when I get to the Ding-Dong, except Zack, who doesn't finish at the DQ till nine. Audrey looks pissed off, but she's still on duty. It bites to wait on your friends.
"French fries," I tell her. "Gravy on the side."
Leila is scrunched in the corner of the booth with her feet up on the seat, no matter how many times Audrey tells her, Get your stinking feet off the seat, I'll get fired if my friends mess up in here.
I slide in next to Carson. He's building a log cabin out of toothpicks. "Hey."
"Hey," they say.
Leila is filing her thumbnail with her teeth. Audrey sets down the fries, gravy poured over.
"Does the phrase on the side mean anything to you?"
"He wasn't listening. Just eat them, okay? Really."
"I hate using a fork for French fries," I remind her. "I like dipping."
"Get over it," says Audrey.
"They're good tonight." Carson pinches a fry. "They don't taste like cigarette butts."
"Would you rather have French fries swimming in gravy or no gravy again for the rest of your life?" says Leila, picking up her fork.
"Lame," says Carson.
"You do better." Leila flicks a crumb at his toothpick masterpiece.
"Mmmm, the point is to have options that are not options. The point is to repulse."
"Not necessarily," I say. "Moral challenge is good."
"Gravy counts as moral challenge?"
Some Good Ones from Before
Would you rather eat a rat with the fur still on or eat sewage straight from the pipe?
Would you rather have your father sing at the supermarket or your mother fart in the principal's office?
Would you rather be a murderer who gets away with it and has to live with the guilt or someone who is kidnapped by a wacko and doesn't have the courage to kill the kidnapper?
Would you rather lose all your hair or all your teeth?
Would you rather have a piece of rice permanently attached to your lip or a fly always buzzing around your head?
Would you rather be so fat you need a wheelchair to get around or so skinny your bones snap if someone bumps into you?
Would you rather die or have everyone else die?From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from Would You by Marthe Jocelyn. Copyright © 2008 by Marthe Jocelyn. Excerpted by permission of Laurel Leaf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.