Kody Keplinger: The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend

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Kody Keplinger The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend
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    The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend
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    Современная проза / на английском языке
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    Английский
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The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face. But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley. Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

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Around six o’clock that night, the guy on the news started talking about some big snowstorm that would show up in the “early morning hours.” I guess the school board took pity on us since we hadn’t had a single snow day so far, because they went ahead and canceled classes before the storm even hit. So Casey called at seven-thirty and insisted that we go to the Nest, since we didn’t have to get up early the next morning.

“I don’t know, Casey,” I said. “What if the roads are bad?” I’ll admit it. I was looking for any reason not to go. My day had been crappy enough on its own. I didn’t know if I could endure the torture of that hellhole, too.

“B, the storm isn’t supposed to even start until, like, three a.m. or something. As long as we’re home by then it’ll be cool.”

“I have a lot of homework.”

“It’s not due until Wednesday. You can work on it all day tomorrow if you want.”

I sighed. “Can you and Jessica find another ride and go without me? I just don’t feel up to it. It’s been a bad day, Casey.”

I could always rely on Casey to act at the slightest sign of trouble. “What happened?” she asked. “Are you okay? You didn’t look happy at lunch. Is it about your mom?”

“Casey.”

“Tell me what’s up.”

“Nothing,” I assured her. “Today just sucked, okay? Nothing major or anything. I’m just not in the mood to go partying with you guys tonight.”

There was a pause on the other end of the line. Finally, Casey said, “Bianca, you know you can tell me anything, right? You know you can talk to me if you need to. Don’t keep things bottled up. It’s not good for you.”

“Casey, I’m fi-”

“You’re fine,” she interrupted. “Yeah, I know. I’m just saying that if you have a problem, I’m here for you.”

“I know,” I murmured. I felt guilty for getting her nervous like that over something so stupid. I had a bad habit of holding in all my emotions, and Casey knew that all too well. She was always trying to look out for me. Always coaxing me into sharing so that I didn’t wind up exploding later. It could get annoying, but knowing that someone cared… well, that felt nice. So I couldn’t really get mad about it. “I know, Casey. I’m fine, though. It’s just… I found out Toby has a girlfriend today, and I’m a little bummed. That’s all.”

“Oh, B,” she sighed. “That sucks. I’m sorry. Maybe if you come out tonight, Jess and I can cheer you up. Two scoops of ice cream and everything.”

I let out a little laugh. “Thanks, but no thanks. I think I’ll just stay home tonight.”

I hung up the phone and went downstairs, where I found Dad using the cordless in the kitchen. I heard him before I saw him. He was yelling into the receiver. I stood in the doorway, assuming he’d notice me and immediately lower his voice. I figured some telemarketer was getting an earful of Mike Piper, but then my name came up.

“Think of what you’re doing to Bianca!” Dad’s loud voice, which I’d taken for anger, sounded more like pleading. “This isn’t good for a seventeen-year-old girl and her mother. She needs you here at home, Gina. We need you here.”

I slipped back into the living room, surprised to realize he was talking to my mother. Truthfully, I didn’t really know how to feel about it. About the things he was saying. I mean, yeah, I missed my mom. Having her home would have been nice, but it wasn’t as if we weren’t used to getting along without her.

My mother was a motivational speaker. When I was a kid, she’d written some sort of uplifting, inspirational book about improving self-esteem. It hadn’t sold well, but she still got offers to speak at colleges, support groups, and graduations all over the country. Since the book had flopped, she came pretty cheap.

For a while, she’d taken only local jobs. Ones she could drive home from after she finished telling people how to love themselves. But after my grandmother passed away, when I was twelve, Mom got a little depressed. Dad suggested she take a vacation. Just get away for a few weeks.

When she came back, she gushed about all the places she’d seen and the people she’d met. I guess maybe that’s what sparked her addiction to traveling. Because after that first vacation, Mom started booking events all over the place. In Colorado and New Hampshire. She’d set up entire tours.

Only this tour, the one she was on now, had been the longest. She hadn’t been home in almost two months, and this time I wasn’t even sure where she was speaking.

Obviously that was why Dad was pissed. Because she’d been gone for so long.

“Damn it, Gina. When are you going to stop being a child and come home? When are you coming home to us… for good?” The way my dad’s voice cracked when he uttered that sentence nearly had me in tears. “Gina,” he murmured. “Gina, we love you. Bianca and I miss you, and we want you to come home.”

I pressed myself against the wall that separated me from Dad, biting my lip. God, it was just getting pathetic. I mean, why wouldn’t they just get a fucking divorce already? Was I the only one who could see that things just weren’t working out here? What was the point of being married if Mom was always gone?

“Gina,” my father said, and I thought it sounded like he was on the verge of crying. Then I heard him put the phone down on the counter. The talk was over.

I gave him a couple of minutes before I walked into the kitchen. “Hey, Dad. Is everything okay?”

“Yeah,” he said. God, he was a bad liar. “Oh, it’s fine, Bumblebee. I just had a talk with your mom and… she sends her love.”

“From where this time?”

“Um… Orange County,” he said. “She’s visiting your aunt Leah while she speaks at a high school there. Cool, huh? You can tell your friends that your mom is in the O.C. now. You like that show, don’t you?”

“Yeah,” I said. “I liked it… but it got canceled a few years ago.”

“Oh, well… I guess I’m behind, Bumblebee.” I saw his eyes drift over to the counter, where he’d left his car keys, and I followed them. He noticed this and looked away quickly, before I could say anything. “Do you have plans tonight?” he asked.

“Well, I could make some, but…” I cleared my throat, uncertain of how to say my next sentence. Dad and I really didn’t make a habit of talking to each other. “I could stay home, too. Do you want me to stay here and, like, watch TV with you or something?”

“Oh, no, Bumblebee,” he said with an unconvincing laugh. “Go have fun with your friends. I’ll probably go to bed early tonight, anyway.”

I looked him in the eye, hoping he’d change his mind. Dad always got really depressed after his fights with Mom. I was worried about him, but I wasn’t really sure how to approach the subject.

And in the back of my mind, there was this tiny fear. It was stupid, really, but I couldn’t shake it. My father was a recovering alcoholic. I mean, he quit before I was born, and he hadn’t touched a drop since… but sometimes, when he got all pouty about Mom, I got scared. Scared that he might take those car keys and head to the liquor store or something. Like I said, it was ridiculous, but the fear couldn’t be vanquished.

Dad broke our eye contact and shifted uncomfortably. He turned and walked toward the sink, washing the plate he’d just eaten spaghetti off of. I wanted to walk over there and take the plate-his pathetic excuse to distract himself-and throw it on the ground. I wanted to tell him how stupid this whole thing was with Mom. I wanted him to realize what a waste of time these dumb depressions and fights were and just admit things weren’t working out.

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