What If . . .
Everyone Knew Your Name


In Hillsdale,
those who ride the bus
usually get busted.

Haley was still choking on the convertible’s exhaust fumes when a dingy yellow bus rounded the corner and stopped in front of her driveway. A pair of graffitied doors with cracked glass opened. Bracing herself, Haley stepped inside.

“This isn’t the bus for Hillsdale, is it?” she gasped, looking around at the sea of misfits.

“No, it’s the bus to Disneyland, kid,” the driver said. “Take a seat,” he ordered.

Haley wobbled down the aisle as the Millers’ quaint new house became a speck in the distance.

She scanned the rows, looking for a seat, while goons with facial hair and girls pierced six ways to Sunday glared back at her.

Haley had heard that her bus route began in the Floods, an undesirable section of Hillsdale where rainstorms turned backyards into lakes and streets into rapid-flowing rivers. How bad could it be? she had thought when her mother warned her. Pretty bad, she now realized.

Halfway down the aisle, a boy’s leg was outstretched, blocking her path.

“What have we got here?” he said.

The boy was wearing a black tank top and had a wad of chewing tobacco stuffed in his lip. One look at him and Haley knew that his bell had already reached its curve and that it was all downhill from here.

“Aren’t guys like you supposed to drop out of high school?” she asked.

“But then we wouldn’t have met,” the boy said with a smirk.

“Leave her alone, Garrett, you freak.” Johnny Lane delivered the ultimatum without looking up from the Paul Westerberg biography that lay open in his lap. Haley recognized the good-looking brooder as one of the boys who had played basketball at Reese Highland’s house the week before and wondered why he, of all people, was riding the bus.

“Easy, tough guy.” Garrett laughed. “Guess I’ll check you later,” he said to Haley, finally letting her pass. He stared at her as he put his headphones on and resumed singing aloud to an obnoxious tirade of rap lyrics.

“Hey, thanks,” Haley said to Johnny, but he either didn’t hear her or didn’t care, because he continued to read his book.

Haley kept walking and finally found a seat in the back next to a boy with pale skin and crooked teeth that were covered in braces. It was, Haley thought, like looking at a set of train tracks snaking through a jagged mountain range.

Across the aisle, Haley noticed an Asian girl hiding beneath an oversized gray sweatshirt, doodling in a large black book with frayed edges. The artist seemed oblivious to her surroundings and clearly unaware of Haley, who was now craning her neck to get a better look at the sketchpad.

With Haley in midlean, the bus lurched to a stop, slamming her into the seat back in front of her. Startled, the Asian girl turned and made eye contact with her. . . .

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Excerpted from What If . . . Everyone Knew Your Name by Liz Ruckdeschel and Sara James. Text copyright © 2006 by Liz Ruckdeschel and Sara James. 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.

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