Title: Waiting to Forget
Author: Sheila Welch
Ages: 10 and older
Grades: 4th - 8th
Click here to read the story synopsis and reviews on the publisher's website.
Excerpt: Pages 20 – 24 : WAITING TO FORGET by Sheila Kelly Welch
In this excerpt, twelve-year -old T.J. has been waiting for a long time at the hospital while his little sister, Angela, unconscious after a fall, is being examined in the ER. Their adoptive parents are with Angela but take turns checking up on T.J. He's been looking through a scrapbook – or life book, as their caseworker calls it – that he put together shortly before he and Angela moved into their new home about a year ago..
South Hampton, New Hampshire
Copyright © 2011 by Sheila Kelly Welch
All rights reserved
He slams his life book shut and looks up into Marlene’s face. She’s standing directly in front of him, but he didn’t see or hear her coming.
“I’m sorry you’ve been waiting here alone. But I … your dad … the doctors don’t think you should come back there.” Marlene stays standing, her arms bent as if inviting a comforting hug.
T.J. waits. He doesn’t ask about Angela. His fingers feel stiff and moist where they are touching the cover of his life book.
“She’s still not awake,” Marlene says quietly. “They’re doing tests. X-rays and all that. Only more complicated. A CAT scan. You know.”
T.J. says nothing.
“Are you okay? Do you need anything? Here. Here’s some money.” She dumps a pile of change into his cupped hand.
The coins are cool on his warm palm. “Go get yourself some juice, apple or orange, plus something to eat. There are machines around that corner.” Marlene points and T.J. turns his head to look. But his stomach is clenched around that familiar pain, holding it tightly inside him. No way can he eat anything.
Marlene reaches out to brush a strand of hair off his forehead, and he ducks instinctively. She draws back, frowning, then says, “I’ll come for you as soon as they say you can see her. But right now—it’s not a good time.”
T.J. tries to look into his adoptive mother’s eyes, but she is already turning toward the swinging doors.
She calls back to him, “Be sure to get some food, Timothy. It’s time for lunch, but we can’t leave Angela. We don’t want you getting sick from not eating.”
T.J. is silent. He feels a tiny measure of relief, like when you open the refrigerator door on a really hot day and you breathe in a little blast of chilled air. Marlene didn’t say that Angela was dead. And she didn’t mention anything about Angela’s fall. Or why it happened. Not yet.
His mouth feels dry. He thinks about his tongue, wondering if it’ll stick to his teeth if he doesn’t get a drink soon. He’s not thinking about Angela behind those doors, having weird stuff—tests—done to her.
He stands up and dumps all the change Marlene gave him into the left front pocket of his jeans. It feels heavy. Then he sits down again and carefully pries open his life book to the second page.
Between Then and Now—
“Draw a picture of the first house you remember, T.J. It can be one you lived in with your birth mother or a foster home. Put in lots of details.” Mrs. Cox was sounding helpful and supportive. It was her job.
T.J. grabbed the top piece of construction paper off the neat pile Mrs. Cox had arranged on the table halfway between him and his sister. The paper was brown. He used a black magic marker to draw a rectangle with a triangle for the roof. Next he selected a blue marker and began coloring in the house. The blue on top of brown turned a dark, nondescript color, almost black. The picture looked like something a baby would draw. Not worthy of an eleven-year-old. He pretended he didn’t care.
Mrs. Cox was busy trying to get Angela to do something—anything—other than make yet another folded bird.
T.J. had really wanted to draw that blue house, but it looked all wrong. He thought about crumpling up the stupid picture and tossing it onto the floor. If he did, Mrs. Cox would insist that he get up and take it over to the wastebasket by the door, so instead he began drawing a tree next to the house. He tried to make a cat, balancing on one limb. Felicity Feline. He wrote her name in the space above the stick-figure cat, but the marker was too thick, so the letters got all mushed together. And he wasn’t exactly sure how to spell Felicity.
Spelling was not his favorite subject. Funny how reading could be so easy but spelling so hard. Actually, nothing about school was a favorite with T.J. Maybe recess if nobody was picking on him or Angela.
“You lived in a black house?” Mrs. Cox sounded concerned.
T.J. shook his head and said, “It’s supposed to be blue.”
“Oh, well, here, why don’t you start over? Use this white paper. That way the blue will turn out blue. Or better yet, use crayons. When you’re filling in a large area, crayons work better than markers. Don’t you think?”
“No,” said T.J.
Mrs. Cox sighed. “Maybe we’ve done enough for one session. Neither of you seems to be trying. I mean, these books are something you can treasure the rest of your lives. You can show them to your new family. Marlene is a scrapbooker herself. She will love looking at your life books! You can add on new pages after you move in with Dan and Marlene. And I’m certain they will be interested in your past. In everything about you.”
He didn’t believe Mrs. Cox. There were a lot of things T.J. didn’t think his new parents would want to know. There were things he didn’t want to remember himself.
Mrs. Cox glanced at her watch and sighed again. Evidently it wasn’t yet time to take them back to their foster home.
“Here.” Mrs. Cox handed him an unlined 3 x 5 card. “Write down your memories about this house, T.J. You don’t have to draw it over if you don’t want to.”
He sat for a few minutes with a thin magic marker in his hand. He was aware of Angela humming softly to herself as she folded an orange bird. She had finished a pink bird, too, and set it on the table next to the purple one. The paper cranes looked as if they’d fallen, each listing to a side on bent wingtips.
T.J. wrote carefully. This was are house for a wile. I licked living there. They had a lot of cats. I don’t rememmber there names. I mean the peple. The cats had good names like Felcity Felin.
He stuck the card under the drab picture of the house. He wished that Mrs. Cox had insisted that he redo the drawing, but he didn’t want her to think he agreed with her about how lousy it looked, so he left it alone.
T.J. stares at the picture in his life book and then shuts his eyes, trying to remember that blue house the way it really looked. But he imagines it just like his babyish drawing—crooked, smudged. Best forgotten.
But he can’t forget the days leading up to their going there. It all started when Momma left them with her friend Tanya. He was little then, years younger than Angela is now. He had just started kindergarten, and Angela was toddling around, wearing diapers that gave her a fat butt and smelled worse than dog poop.
Hello! Rather than introduce myself with my standard biographical information, which is easy to find, I decided to provide some little-known facts about me.
A Baker's Dozen of Facts about Sheila Welch
- When I was born, I broke the record for the longest baby girl ever born in Pottstown Hospital. A boy beat me by half an inch.
- I was a few months old when I ate a caterpillar that fell into my baby carriage.
- My first cat was named Icky, and he sometimes slept under a weeping pear tree that I called Icky's house.
- When I was seven, I had rheumatic fever and spent six months in bed, and we had no TV, computer, or electronic games. Guess who soon realized there is magic in reading!
- Three days before I started third grade at a new school, a chair I was standing on fell over and broke my right arm. That chair is now at our kitchen table 845 miles from my old home. I never stand on it.
- One day when I was about ten, I was crawling over some huge tree roots in the woods. My head was down near the roots when, suddenly, I came face-to-face with the biggest spider I've ever seen.
- My pet goat was named Valentine, and my dog was named Tam. He could add, subtract, multiply, and divide by barking the correct number of times. He could do any math problem that I could do.
- I had a hand-me-down horse named Flash who was a go-anywhere, do-anything kind of horse.
- We didn't own a TV until I was 15.
- I milked goats for several years and drank goats' milk.
- When I was in high school, I won an Achievement Award in Writing from the National Council of Teachers of English, and colleges all over the country invited me to enroll. I decided to study art instead of English.
- I was sure I'd meet my future husband at a summer camp, and I did.
- My children have called me the Bionic Woman because I have an artificial heart valve that's older than a lot of you who are reading this. Sometimes I can hear it ticking, and when I can't, I get a little bit worried.
Want to see more? Click here to see the rest of the Waiting to forget tour schedule.
Want to see more? Click here to see the rest of the Waiting to forget tour schedule.
Sheila has generously offered to gift a lucky commenter with a copy of Waiting to Forget. International participants will receive and ebook (mobi, epub, or pdf). US participants will receive and ebook or a print book according to their preference. The contest closes 3/20/2012 at 11:59PM.
Tell us a little-known fact about yourself. And have fun with it!
I'll start the ball rolling -- I met my husband, who by the way doesn't touch a drop of alcohol, at a little bar called Cheers. And no, it wasn't the one in Boston :)