Unpublished “Epilogue” from my novel You Don’t Think She Is
This short epilogue was originally tacked onto the end of You Don’t Think She Is, and I hated to cut it, but I liked the ending I went with, and so I cut it… but no one said I had to keep it to myself. So here it is. Consider it not really an “alternate ending” to You Don’t Think She Is, but, rather, a “bonus track.” –Max
At the end of tenth grade, after Christy and I started dating, I thought it might be cool if maybe sometime Margo would go out with Steve Kelly; that way we could all double date. Christy seemed lukewarm to it –“Well, he’d have to ask, and he’s been seeing Beth, and Margo’s seeing Scott, so…”
Nonetheless, I sort of mentioned the idea to Margo at lunch the next day, and she was anything but lukewarm.
“No way! Steve Kelly had his chance!” And then she stifled herself and blushed, like she knew she’d already said too much.
“Had his chance, huh?” I said.
“Back in our fort?”
Margo kicked me under the cafeteria table. “Shut up!” she shrieked, her face turning red. “You know nnnnnnnnoth-ing, Colonel Schultz, and don’t you forget it, either!”
“First of all,” I said, “it was Sergeant Schultz, and second–”
Margo giggled. “–Nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnothing!”
I laughed. “You played Doctor?”
Margo laughed. “Did you?”
“We’re not talking about me,” I said.
“Well,” Margo said, looking down and picking up her carton of milk, “we will be.”
I wasn’t letting her distract me. “You played Doctor,” I repeated.
Margo took a sip of her milk, blushing, smirking, and then wiped her mouth with her napkin. “If that was ‘playing Doctor,’” she said at last, “then it wasn’t much of a checkup.”
“What’s that mean–”
Margo acted like she didn’t hear me as she took an Oreo from the baggie in front of her. “You, on the other hand–”
“–What do you mean, it wasn’t much of a checkup?”
Margo screwed the top off the Oreo and then scraped the white iced filling from it with her front teeth. “I mean…” She took another sip of her milk. “O.K.,” she said, and she lowered her voice and leaned in. “That same summer that Christy and you…”
I smiled like I had no idea what she was talking about. “That Christy and me what?”
KICK! Right in the shin, lightly, but firmly, like you’d yank on a leash if you were training a dog. Which she was, kind of. “You know what!” She shot a sideways glance at Karen Harner, who was sitting an empty seat away but looked poised to take out her steno pad. “Rhymes with ‘Christyweed on your soot,’ O.K.?”
“‘Christyweed on your soot?’” I repeated, laughing.
“Yeah,” Margo tittered, popping the icing-less bottom half of the Oreo in her mouth. “Christyweed on your soot, while you were bake-ed in the horn shield.”
We were both laughing so hard that everyone at the table was staring at us, but I didn’t care. I was whooping and Margo was wheezing, almost hyperventilating. “Bake-ed in the horn shield,” I repeated as I calmed down.
“Yeah,” Margo wiped her eyes. “Yeah, isn’t that funny?” she said, like someone else had said it, not her.
I blew my nose into my napkin. “I can’t believe Christy told you that.”
“Why wouldn’t she?” Margo said, unscrewing another Oreo. “We’re best friends.” Icing scrape. “Besides… she’s Catholic. She likes confession.” She popped the top half of the cookie into her mouth and took a shot of milk. “Anyway…” She looked sideways down at Karen and leaned back in, dropping her voice again. “…anyway, that same summer, right?… as soon as you and your family took off for the beach… Steve Kelly was back out at our fort, hanging around… staring… anyway, we were out there and this one morning I had to pee… so I go back into the brush, and I could feel him, you know, trying to look at me. Which skeeved me. Skeevy Stevie.” I laughed as she finally tore open the OPEN OTHER SIDE side of her milk carton so that it’d be wide enough for dipping. She dunked the other half of her Oreo into the carton and then quick popped the dripping cookie into her mouth. “You never did that,” she said as she chewed.
“Stare?” I said, and she nodded. “You said not to,” I reminded her.
“Well, you never did before I said that, either.” She unscrewed the last Oreo. “Annnnyway… I could tell, you know, that he was kinda curious… and so when I came back out, we cut a little deal… and he dropped his drawers, and I took off my shirt.” Icing scrape.
“That’s all?” I said.
Margo took a bite of the Oreo top. “Mmmmmm-hmm.”
“But you took your shirt off around me all the time.”
Margo nodded. “That’s right.” She dunked the bottom of the Oreo into her milk and popped the cookie in her mouth. “But he didn’t know that.”
“I could’ve sworn he was with us a few times when you took off your shirt,” I said.
“Nope!” Margo said, and she shot down the rest of her milk.
The bell rang for sixth period, and as we got up from the table and followed everybody out into the hall, I thought of what had happened with Margo and me in that same fort earlier that same summer –“You wanna see?”– and I wondered…
“Well,” I said, talking low and close to her ear, “remember when you and me were out there and you…”
“…showed you the store? Yeah.”
“Well, did you ever… did you tell ever tell Christy–”
“–No way! One, she never asked, and two, it’s none of her beeswax.”
We stepped out into the hall and started toward our respective classes. “But she told you about her and me…”
Margo nodded. “Uhhhh-huh.”
I laughed once. “Well, that’s a nice little arrangement you’ve got there.”
Margo smiled proudly. “Yeah, it is, isn’t it?” And she patted my arm. “See ya in study hall,” and she cut off away from me and up the stairwell.
* * *
After school that day, the three of us walked together to the college snack bar, and Christy said “You know what I like about us? Is that we tell each other everything.”
Margo patted me on the back.
“Me, too,” she said.
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“…You Don’t Think She Is by Max Harrick Shenk reveals a brilliantly composed coming of age novel… The short chapters speak volumes about the notion of first love, the workings of puberty, and the understanding of a blossoming sexuality …(and) give the reader a keen insight into each of the character’s youthful thoughts and ideas… Shenk’s book will take any reader back in time to their emotions and explorations during middle school. It is reminder of the innocence of youth and the burgeoning feelings of desire. –Kathy Buckert, author and English instructor
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