When Lily Michaels-Ryan ditches her ADHD meds and lands in detention with Abelard, who has Asperger’s, she’s intrigued—Abelard seems thirty seconds behind, while she feels thirty seconds ahead. It doesn’t hurt that he’s brilliant and beautiful.
When Abelard posts a quote from The Letters of Abelard and Heloise online, their mutual affinity for ancient love letters connects them. The two fall for each other. Hard. But is it enough to bridge their differences in person?
This hilarious, heartbreaking story of human connection between two neurodivergent teens creates characters that will stay with you long after you finish reading.
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I stood. My feet made a decision in favor of the door, but a squeaking metallic noise stopped me.
Directly behind me was an accordion-folded, putty- colored vinyl wall, along with a gunmetal gray box with a handle sticking out of one end. The squeaking noise came from the metal box. The handle moved.
When our school was built in the sixties, someone decided that walls impede the free flow of educational ideas, because some of the third-floor rooms are all double-long, cut in half by retractable vinyl walls. Apparently, the archi- tect of this plan had never been to a high school cafeteria to experience the noise associated with the unimpeded flow of ideas. The wall doesn’t get opened much.
Last time anyone opened the wall was during Geography Fair. One of the custodians came with a strange circular key he inserted into a lock on the side of the box. He’d pushed the handle down and the wall had wheezed open, stuttering and complaining.
Now the handle jiggled up and down as if a bored ghost was trying to menace our class, but no one else was paying attention. I wondered if the custodian was trying to open the wall from the other side. It didn’t make sense.
I left my desk and walked to the box. I leaned over and grabbed it, surprised by the cool feel of solid metal. And suddenly, I felt much better. The world of noise and chaos faded away from me. The touch of real things can do this.
The movement stopped. I shook the bar up and down. It didn’t range very far before hitting the edge of what felt like teeth in a gear.
I pushed down hard on the handle. After a momen- tary lull, it sprang up in my hands, knocking with sur- prising force against my palms. I put both hands on the bar, planted the soles of my Converse sneakers, and pulled against it with all my might.
There was a loud pop, followed by the whipping sound of a wire cable unraveling. The bar went slack in my hands. The opposite end of the vinyl wall slid back three feet.
Everyone stopped talking. Students near the door craned their heads to see into the other classroom. Dakota Marquardt (male) said, “Shiiit!” and half the class giggled.
A rush of talking ensued, some of it in English, some in Spanish.
I dropped the handle and slid back into my chair, too late. Everyone had seen me.
Coach Neuwirth ran back into the room and tried to pull the accordion curtain closed. When he let go of the edge, it slid away, leaving a two-foot gap.
He turned and faced the room. “What the hell hap- pened here?”
It’s never good when a teacher like Coach Neuwirth swears.
I waited for someone to tell on me. Pretty much inevi- table.
Dakota Smith (female) stood and straightened her skirt. She pulled her long brown hair over her shoulder and leaned forward as though reaching across a podium for an invisible microphone.
“After you left, the handle on the wall began to move,” she began. “Lily put her hands on the handle and pushed down and the cable broke and — ”
“Thank you, Dakota.” Coach Neuwirth strode to his desk. “Lily Michaels-Ryan, please accompany me to my desk.”
I followed him to the front of the class, keenly aware that every set of eyes in the room was fixed on me. Coach Neuwirth filled out a form for me to take to the office, not the usual pink half-page referral form, but an ominous shade of yellow with pages of carbons. As I stared at the razor stubble on top of his pale head, I realized I’d messed up pretty badly. So badly, I probably wouldn’t be allowed to see my father in the summer.
“It wasn’t just me,” I said. “There was someone on the other side pushing down. I didn’t mean to break the door, it’s just …”
Coach Neuwirth ignored me.
“You’ll note, Miss Michaels-Ryan, that I have filled out a Skrellnetch form for you. Your mother will have to sign the kerblig and return it to the main office before you can be burn to clabs …”
This would be a good time to mention that I’d stopped taking my ADHD meds about a month earlier because they made me puke randomly and caused my head to ring like an empty bell at night. Side effects.
“… Your parents will have to sign the kerblig before you can be burn to clabs. Do you understand me?”
He waited, holding the Skrellnetch form that I needed to take to the office. Clearly, he had no plans to hand me the all-important Skrellnetch form until I answered him. I contemplated my choices. If I said yes, he would hold me responsible for remembering every clause in his statement, and I would be made to suffer later because I had no idea what he had just said. My heart pounded with a weird mix- ture of fear and exhilaration.
However, if I said no, Coach Neuwirth would consider it a sign of insubordination and general smart-assery. It didn’t look good for me.
“So … what copy does my mom sign again?”
Peals of laughter erupted from behind me. Someone muttered, “Ass-hat,” and the laughter increased.
“Get the hell out of my classroom,” Coach Neuwirth said. He threw the Skrellnetch paper across his desk at me.
About the Author
Laura Creedle lives in Austin, TX, and writes about her experiences as an ADHD writer at www.lauracreedle.com. The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily is her debut novel.
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