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We Were Here

by

We Were Here Cover

 

 

Excerpt

May 13

Heres the thing: I was probably gonna write a book when I got older anyways. About what its like growing up on the levee in Stockton, where every other person you meet has missing teeth or is leaning against a liquor store wall begging for change to buy beer. Or maybe itd be about my dad dying in the stupid war and how at the funeral they gave my mom some cheap medal and a folded flag and shot a bunch of rifles at the clouds. Or maybe the book would just be something about me and my brother, Diego. How we hang mostly by ourselves, pulling corroded-looking fish out of the murky levee water and throwing them back. How sometimes when Moms falls asleep in front of the TV well sneak out of the apartment and walk around the neighborhood, looking into other peoples windows, watching them sleep.

Thats the weirdest thing, by the way. That every person you come across lays down in a bed, under the covers, and closes their eyes at night. Cops, teachers, parents, hot girls, pro ballers, everybody. For some reason it makes people seem so much less real when I look at them.

Anyways, at first I was worried standing there next to the hunchback old man they gave me for a lawyer, both of us waiting for the judge to make his verdict. I thought maybe theyd put me away for a grip of years because of what I did. But then I thought real hard about it. I squinted my eyes and concentrated with my whole mind. Thats something you dont know about me. I can sometimes make stuff happen just by thinking about it. I try not to do it too much because my head mostly gets stuck on bad stuff, but this time something good actually happened: the judge only gave me a year in a group home. Said I had to write in a journal so some counselor could try to figure out how I think. Dude didnt know I was probably gonna write a book anyways. Or that its hard as hell bein at home these days, after what happened. So when he gave out my sentence it was almost like he didnt give me a sentence at all.

I told my moms the same thing when we were walking out of the courtroom together. I said, “Yo, Ma, this isnt so bad, right? I thought those people would lock me up and throw away the key.”

She didnt say anything back, though. Didnt look at me either. Matter of fact, she didnt look at me all the way up till the day she had to drive me to Juvenile Hall, drop me off at the gate, where two big beefy white guards were waiting to escort me into the building. And even then she just barely glanced at me for a split second. And we didnt hug or anything. Her face seemed plain, like it would on any other day. I tried to look at her real good as we stood there. I knew I wasnt gonna see her for a while. Her skin was so much whiter than mine and her eyes were big and blue. And she was wearing the fake diamond earrings she always wears that sparkle when the sun hits em at a certain angle. Her blond hair all pulled back in a ponytail.

For some reason it hit me hard right then—as one of the guards took me by the arm and started leading me away—how mad pretty my mom is. For real, man, its like someones picture youd see in one of them magazines laying around the dentists office. Or on a TV show. And shes actually my moms.

I looked over my shoulder as they walked me through the gate, but she still wasnt looking at me. Its okay, though. I understood why.

Its cause of what I did.

June 1

Ill put it to you like this: Im about ten times smarter than everyone in Juvi. For real. These guys are a bunch of straight-up dummies, man. Take this big black kid they put me in a cell with, Rondell. He cant even read. I know cause three nights ago he stepped to me when I was writing in my journal. He said: “Yo, Mexico, whachu writin bout in there?”

“Whatever I wanna write about,” I said without looking up. “How bout them apples, homey?”

He paused. “What you just said?”

I shook my head, told him: “And Mexicos a pretty stupid thing to call me, by the way, considering Ive never even been to Mexico.”

His ass stood there a quick sec, thinking about what Id just said to him—or at least trying. Then he bum-rushed me. Shoved me right off my chair and onto the ground, pressed his giant grass-stained shoe down on my neck. He said: “Dont you never talk like that to Rondell again. You hear? Nobody talk to Rondell like that.”

I tried to nod, but he had my neck pinned, so I couldnt really move my head. Couldnt make a sound either. Or breathe too good.

He swiped my journal off the table and stared at the page I was writing, his kick weighing down on my neck. And Im not gonna lie, man, I got a little spooked. Rondells a freak for a sixteen-year-old: six foot something with huge-ass arms and legs and a face that already looks like hes a grown man. And Id just written some pretty bad stuff about him in my journal. Called him a retarded ape who smelled like when a rat dies in the wall of your apartment. But at the same time I almost wanted Rondell to push down harder with his shoe. Almost wanted him to crush my neck, break my windpipe, end my stupid-ass journal right then and there. I started imagining the shoe pushing all the way through, rubber hitting cement. Them telling my moms what happened as she stood with the phone cupped to her ear in the kitchen, crying but at the same time looking sort of relieved, too.

After a couple minutes like that—Rondell staring at the page Id been writing and me pinned to the nasty cement floor of our cell—he tossed the journal back on the table and took his foot off my neck.

And thats how I knew he couldnt read. Dude was staring right at the sentences Id just written about him, right? And he didnt do nothin. Just hopped up on his bunk, linked his fingers behind his head and stared at the paint-chipped ceiling.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780385736701
Author:
De La Pena, Matt
Publisher:
Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
Author:
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Author:
de La Pena, Matt
Author:
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Author:
Matt de la Pena
Author:
de la Pe
Author:
Matt De La Pe
Author:
a, Matt
Author:
A
Subject:
Family - Orphans & Foster Homes
Subject:
Social Issues - Friendship
Subject:
Social Issues - Runaways
Subject:
Children s-General
Subject:
runaways;brothers;california;friendship;fiction;group homes;group home;juvenile delinquents;ya;young adult
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20100931
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 9
Language:
English
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
8.00x5.10x.75 in. .58 lbs.
Age Level:
14-17

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Related Subjects


Children's » General
Children's » Sale Books
Young Adult » Fiction » Social Issues » Friendship
Young Adult » Fiction » Social Issues » Runaways
Young Adult » General

We Were Here Sale Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.98 In Stock
Product details 368 pages Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers - English 9780385736701 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , After "it" happens, Miguel is sent to juvenile hall for a year. The judge had no idea he was doing Miguel a favor. Ever since "it" happened, his mother can't even look at him. "Any" home besides his would be a better place to live.
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