Chapter One

No, wait. I changed my mind. I will tell you about what happened after I went back home. My touchy parents I told you about were pissed off when I told them I flunked out. They really were. They started lecturing to me about all the things they had been through to get me into that phony school, which they thought was the best school around. To tell you the truth, I hate when people lecture to me, I prefer if they beat me or something. I really do. They told me I was lazy and didn’t want to accomplish anything in life. Boy, that hurt like hell.

I went to my room that night sort of crying. I kept thinking about going back to school and all that and how my life could be different if I happened to change. I had been sleeping for the next goddam day and no one bothered to wake me up or anything.  They didn’t wake me up for breakfast or lunch or whatever it is that they eat between lunch and breakfast. The next morning I was so sick, I couldn’t move. I really mean it. I couldn’t move. I called Phoebe and told her to let mom or dad or whoever was there know that I was sick. It is depressing to be sick at your house and no one checks at you or even asks you how you are. It really is. I sometimes tell myself that I am the reason why my family is fed up with me because I wasted all their money by flunking out of every school they send me to.  I didn’t want to admit that but that was exactly what was going on in my mind and I couldn’t stand it.

Anyway, while I was thinking, Phoebe and mom came to my room. She first thought I was joking or something, but when she saw my terrible look she realized that I wasn’t faking. She started to care about me more now when she saw my situation. Just a day ago she was talking crap about me and how I was a pain in the neck to the family. That kills me and I couldn’t get over it. But that was good in some ways. It made my mother loose her anger and all and that was good. She asked me what was wrong with me but I didn’t feel any better. I told her what first came to my mind. I told her I was having a stomachache or something and she just believed. it. That is what I like about mothers; they easily believe you even if you tell them the biggest lie you could ever imagine. But fathers are different, especially my father, he takes everything I tell him with a grain of salt. He never believes me even if I tell that I am dying with leukemia just like Allie. That is horrible. To have a father who never believes what you say.

To get back to what I was talking about, my mother was worrying about my health. Old Phoebe was standing beside my mother without saying anything. She was observing me and I guess she was probably perplexed by this sudden stomachache I told them I had. My mother told me that she was going to take me to the hospital to see what my sickness was. She parked her car near the door so it would be easy for me to just walk. I got up and tried to walk but my mother suddenly jumped to help me walk. I was holding to her shoulder and I felt terrific. I thought to myself and said, “you know what, this stomachache was actually a good thing after all.” 

I was thinking a lot while I was in the car. I thought about what kind of sickness I would be diagnosed with. To tell you the truth I was so scared of being diagnosed with cancer or something. I am very yellow about it. We went inside the hospital. I saw this big guy with big glasses almost as big as his forehead. They told me he was the doctor. I don’t know but whenever I go somewhere I see some phony guys. Although I haven’t met this guy before, I could tell he was phony from the way he was standing, pretending he knows everything. That kills me every time I see it. I don’t like people who pretend to be something they are not. I really don’t.

I sat next to him. He took his phony flashlight and lit it right in my mouth. I don’t know what in the world he was looking for in my mouth but he did it any way. He said I was smoking too much lately and that caused an eating disorder or something. I couldn’t listen to him. He was a real phony. How come he could he tell if I had eating disorder or anything for Chrissake? He probably smelled the smell of the cigarette when he was checking my mouth. That is the only explanation I can think of.

We went back home that day and my mother was fine. She didn’t talk to me about school or anything and that was good. I was tired that day and I just went back to my room and lay on my bed for twenty minutes. Boy, I was thinking about changing my life after all. I didn’t want to end up being like these empty-looking guys who brag about what their brother or father does for a living. I really don’t want to be like them. So I decided to tell my mother that I wanted to go to another school, but this time I have to choose the school that I want to go to.

(Holden makes a lot of friends, reconciles with his parents and plans to go to Harvard.)