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Dream Girl
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Dream Girl

Written by Lauren MechlingAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Lauren Mechling

· Delacorte Books for Young Readers
· eBook · July 22, 2008 · $7.99 · 978-0-375-84905-3 (0-375-84905-X)

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A Supposedly Beautiful Mind

"Claire!" Dad screamed down the airport hallway. "Zeep zeep!"
He was doing his best to sound authoritative, but with his French accent, he reminded me of PepŽ Le Pew. My entire family had stopped walking and was looking at me as if I were personally responsible for how grumpy and tired they all felt after our eight-hour flight home. Mom made an exaggerated yawn, and my little brother, Henry, weighed down by his enormous backpack, crumpled against her legs.
The girl with the puppy emerged from the bathroom and cast me a wary glance. She coasted ahead of me, and I couldn't help taking one last look at the pink lock dangling off her bag. It was definitely the same one I'd seen in my mind before we'd boarded. Unfortunately, that was all it was.
It didn't mean a thing.
"I'm coming!" I screamed.
I'd been having visions ever since I was little, but they were usually stupid and meaningless, like Henry holding a green umbrella with a frog on it or, say, a bright pink lock--things that I'd later see in front of me but that never lead me to anything groundbreaking.
There was one time I saw something worthwhile: a picture of a tabby cat napping in a fedora. When I saw the same image on one of my grandmother Kiki's hatboxes, I peeked inside and found bundles of carbon-copied letters between Kiki and my mother from the time my mother was still in college. Suddenly everything made sense--my parents and Kiki didn't clash regularly just because of a difference in lifestyles, as they'd led me to believe. There had been a massive falling-out. Kiki had violently disapproved of Mom's getting engaged to her "penniless French professor," and when my parents went ahead and eloped, Kiki wrote my mom a soap-opera-worthy letter saying something along the lines of "Being excluded from my only daughter's wedding has been more painful than you, who do not yet have children, can imagine. I don't expect I will ever fully recover."
This revelation was huge--and not only because it explained so much about my family. It also gave me reason enough to believe that my next vision might lead to another monumental discovery. A hope I was hanging on to for dear life.
I never said a word to Kiki about the letters, but she already knew all about my visions. I had to tell her--the second you so much as think about a secret you're keeping from her, she sniffs it out. And she wasn't too weirded out when I told her. She said it was my parents' fault since they were the ones who'd given me my name. "You don't do that to a girl whose last name is Voyante," she'd moaned. "Not that Claire isn't a lovely name on its own . . ."
For their part, my parents said they'd named me after my dad's great-aunt Claire, who died in a Parisian heat wave the summer I was born. My little brother, Henry, is legally Henri, or as Dad pronounces it, On-ree. My mom, who thinks she's French, tries to pronounce it the French way, but she forgets at least half the time.
Down at baggage claim, Mom was channeling her inner Frenchwoman. "Voile! There it is!" she cried, waving her Evian bottle across the carousel as if her luggage might be looking for her, too. Even when she's shouting, Mom's voice is light and girly, the polar opposite of my own husky rasp.
"You see it?" Dad asked. He squinted and perched on his tiptoes to look past the crowd. "Ah, there's mine, coming right along behind yours!" And then he pulled Mom in close and kissed her, as if their suitcases' being next to each other were the most romantic thing in the world.
I guess that's the way it goes when your mom isn't just beautiful but hot. And we're not talking hot-for-a-mom, here. She's unfairly, across-the-board hot, with huge drowsy eyes and chopstick-skinny limbs.
As fate would have it, I look like my dad, or at least the way he would look if he were a fifteen-year-old girl and not a middle-aged French professor. I'm short and blond, with a Cheerio-shaped mouth, a flat chest, and a megabutt--I'm keeping my fingers crossed for future developments. The only way I've figured out to wear my puffy hair is in a high ponytail. Most people say that the most distinctive thing about me is that I have one green and one hazel eye, but I think my friend Louis nailed it when he said I'm always scrunching up my nose like a confused duck. Attractive, I know.
As we gathered our baggage and headed toward the exit, we could see our friend and neighbor Cheri-Lee Vird waiting for us in her teal Honda at the curb. "Yoo-hoo!" She stuck her bright red bob out the car window. Mom and Dad don't believe in paying for cabs (or, for that matter, new books or name-brand cereal) and always arrange to have somebody pick us up at the airport. Cheri-Lee is generally that somebody.
"Sorry if we kept you waiting," Mom said when we were all squished inside the car. We had more luggage than the trunk could hold, so Henry sat on my lap in the oh-so-comfortable elbow-jutting-into-spleen configuration.
Since she'd taken us to the airport at the beginning of the summer, Cheri-Lee had done some decorating on her car. A flock of red plastic swallows was pinned to the felt covering the ceiling, and she'd affixed turquoise roses to the steering wheel. Over the last year she'd started to go through a crafty phase, dip-dying old nightgowns and attending potato-stamping seminars. Looked as though the party wasn't over yet.

From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpted from Dream Girl by Lauren Mechling Copyright © 2008 by Lauren Mechling. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.