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Head Over Heels
an SAT/ACT vocabulary novel

October 23: My Birthday

Talk about bad timing—can you believe I had to have my seventeenth birthday today, right after Jeremy’s injury? I guess I should have been prepared for disappointment, considering how grim my horoscope was. Here’s an excerpt: “Dear obdurate and controlling Scorpio, Unless you surrender to those circumstances beyond your control, you could end up in the eye of the storm. Proceed with caution. Little quirks may surface in a new relationship (personal or work), leaving you to rethink the depth of your commitment.” Hmmm . . .

The day wasn’t a complete loss, I guess. Nikki got me a cool shirt and some sunglasses from Urban Outfitters in Indy. My parents made me a steak dinner and a cake. After that, I went over to Jeremy’s to fulfill my duty as doting girlfriend. I couldn’t even really enjoy my day until then, because I was so anxious to make sure he was okay.

So, he’s going to be fine, but it turns out he sprained his ankle, so he’s going to be out for the rest of the season. I felt terrible for him, but the thing is, it was still my birthday, you know? And I hate to wallow in self-pity, but I couldn’t believe Jeremy didn’t even get me a present. He gave me a card and apologized elaborately for being too incapacitated to go shopping, but that wasn’t enough to make amends. Especially since all he could talk about was one thing. Or, actually, one person . . .

“I can’t believe, after how hard I trained this summer.” Jeremy bared his teeth. “I mean, did you see how bad his technique was? Did you see the way he flopped around like a fish?”

“Who’s that?” I asked, playing dumb.

“Luke!” he yelled. “Did you see how mediocre he was?”

Didn’t look so bad to me, I thought. I noticed he didn’t get scored on. I immediately felt guilty for thinking that, but Jeremy’s self-absorption was getting on my nerves.

“Did you notice?” Jeremy prodded.

“I wasn’t paying attention,” I said.

“Oh.” Jeremy looked back up at the TV. “Well, he sucked.”

Sweet, I thought. Happy birthday to me.

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