Adventures of the Teen Furies
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by MaryJanice Davidson
Category: Young Adult
Description: Andrea Grouper, chronic wise-ass and Air Force brat, has plenty to keep her busy. When she isn't battling her chauvinist father for freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, she's keeping a wary eye on her best friend (who is under psychiatric care), avoiding her best friend's creepily manic boyfriend, fending off the poetic attentions of her own boyfriend, and hiding her crush on his best friend. Add an uncaring school and a loving but clueless family to the mix, and you've got Andrea's life in a nutshell--rollicking good times, the anger of the oppressed, and painful insecurity. In other words, adolescence. Andrea and her friends use role-playing games as an escape from their lives as misfit high schoolers, becoming fearless, buff young superheroes with a roll of the dice. Through their imaginary characters, they experience life, death, and everything in between, while in the real world they are more victims than heroes. Humorous and poignant, Adventures will strike a chord in teenagers because, like them, the Furies are alternately powerless and powerful. And, like them, the Furies find no matter how frightening or silly the circumstances, true friends are invaluable. [Cover art Dirk A Wolf]
eBook Publisher: Hard Shell Word Factory, 1999
eBookwise Release Date: February 2004
26 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [289 KB]
Reading time: 184-258 min.
"Davidson uses the male-female mix of her group to explore the various romantic issues faced by teenagers. The entanglements are inevitable, and Davidson examines various scenarios as her characters fall in and out of love. As with most teenagers, the question of sex looms large in the mind of this group, and Davidson addresses their confusion without adopting a preachy stance. Davidson's matter-of- fact approach to issues such as sex and mental disorder adds to the credibility of the characters and story. In Adventures of the Teen Furies, MaryJanice Davidson has written a book that will appeal to both younger and older readers. She ends her story with her characters poised on the brink of the next phase of their lives, leaving her readers eager to learn what happens next to these kids."--Kassia Krozser, Subversions
"A very accurate and on target portrayal of the emotional conflict that today's teens face. The characters are well developed, and very believable, so much so, that I could mistake several of them for my own nieces! Ms. Davidson writes a cohesive, telling and endearing story of the lives of the 6 central characters. And she does so with a special flare and expert craft. Highly recommended for young adults and their parents, aunts, grandparents. Well done!"--A Writers Choice Literary Review
"A YA novel, Adventures of the Teen Furies is about as true to teen life, in language and in emotional conflict, as any book I've read--and as a former high school teacher, I have read a great many. The characters are teens, with all that implies: mixed-up, prone to emotion, loyal, creative, wanting to grow up, afraid, and, above all else, lovable. If I had a daughter in the proper age group (eleven or twelve to sixteen or seventeen), I would ask her to read this book--not once but twice because it has some very valid advice cunningly concealed in its lively plot. Highly Recommended!"--Under the Covers Book Reviews
Mr. Leary looked up from his clipboard. "Red light coming up," he said, voice trembling slightly.
I wasn't impressed. Cannon Falls only had one light, first of all; second, I'd been driving since I was eight. So I just kept cruising. Leary, that wimp, wouldn't let me turn on the radio so I hummed under my breath.
"Red light coming up."
"It's seven blocks away," I said patiently. "On the down side of this hill. I can't even see it yet."
"That's why I was -- watch out!"
Four blocks ahead, a Ford escort had pulled into traffic. I sighed; from the back seat I heard Trisha smother a giggle.
"It's all right, Mr. Leary." Soothe, soothe. "I see it. And the high school is only a couple miles from here. We'll be back soon." You'll be safe again, was the unspoken end to that statement.
We crested the hill and I could see the lone stoplight. Sure enough, it was red. Of course, by the time I got there, it would be green. Not that--
"Red light, red light!"
-- Mr. Leary would take that into consideration.
"Do you want to get in the back seat and stretch out? Maybe pop a couple Valium?" I asked sweetly, holding on to my temper with a mighty effort. "You're awfully pale -- get your foot off the brake!"
Leery had been riding the passenger side brake, though we were blocks and blocks from an intersection and I was creeping along at a bare twenty-five miles per hour. Nothing took years off a car's brakes like keeping a constant foot on the pedal, and my father had broken me of that habit when he first started teaching me to drive. Consequently, I had no tolerance for it.
"Miss Grouper," Leery said stiffly, after he had hastily complied, "I will not tolerate that tone from any student."
"You've got something against women drivers, doncha, Leary? We make you nervous, right?"
"Certainly not and you will refer to me as Mister Leary."
"How 'bout I refer to you as--"
"Andrea..." Trisha said warningly from the back.
"Mr. Leary," I finished wearily, slouching low in the seat. I had whizzed through the green light by now and the high school was in sight. Leary visibly relaxed, though his foot was inching toward the brake again. "I'll call you Mr. Leary, okay, Mr. Leary?"
"That will be fine, young lady."
Oh, I hated young lady! How'd he like to be called middle-aged man? But I kept my lip zipped and a smile on my face as I executed a flawless parallel park. Trish clapped from the back seat while Leary scribbled on his clipboard. I moodily unbuckled my seat belt and got out of the car; Trish and Leary clambered out behind me.
"Hmm, now, let's see, I'll see you again Wednesday night, Andrea."
"Excellent work, Patricia, but you might work a bit on your parallel parking; you could pick up some pointers from Andrea and reread that section in your driver's manual."
I smiled sweetly; Trisha made a face. She liked being called Patricia about as much as I liked 'young lady'. "Thanks, Mr. Leary," she said dutifully.
"Yeah, thanks tons, Mr. Leary."
"Very well, then, I'll see you both Wednesday."
" 'Bye," we chorused, watching him stride away. He had perked up considerably once escaping the confines of the car. Poor slob. The teachers had a lottery every autumn to see who'd get stuck teaching the sophomores how to drive. Some took it better than others.
"Well, Patricia, we'd best get inside."
"Knock it off, Andy. And please, please be nicer to Mr. Leary. If you lose your temper one more time he'll refuse to teach you, which means I, your luckless partner, will be screwed out of my driver's license."
"I hate wimps," I muttered.
"You'll hate being chauffeured to prom by your father even more."
"Yuck, good point."
"Now come on," she said, softening her rebuke by smiling the smile that melted males from the age of six to fifty-seven. "Speech practice will be over by the time we get in there." She took off in the direction of Mr. Berman's room. I was female and immune to her grin, but followed anyway.
Once inside we were greeted by the usual din. Bermie-- Mr. Berman, the speech coach -- claimed no one could work in perfect silence, that in the real world people had precious few opportunities to concentrate in utter quiet and the sooner we got used to working amid chaos the better. Myself, I figured the constant racket was because he simply let everyone do as they pleased. It was one of the reasons most of us adored him.
He was part teacher, part mother, part nag. In particular, he nagged me, but I kind of liked it. He had this nutty idea that I was smarter than I let on -- worse, he was trying to convince my parents of the same thing. Luckily, they still saw me as an amiable idiot, but Bermie didn't. He even went so far as to get me enrolled in Critical Thinking -- Smart Kids Class, as we dummies called it. That was a laugh, because while I was Critical, I didn't spend a lot of time applying it to my Thinking. A less determined individual would have seen that I wasn't cut out to hang with the brainiacs, but Bermie was stubborn.
He also persuaded me to join the speech team last fall, and to my surprise I turned out to be pretty good at standing before a group of strangers and making a fool of myself. Unfortunately, I applied the same energy to speech that I did to my studies -- the least amount of work to get the job done, that was my goal. It drove Bermie nuts that I could be a straight A student if I wasn't so lazy. Likewise, he was tormented by the fact that he could have had another State-quality speaker... if I wasn't so lazy.
It was a constant battle of wills, and we were pretty evenly matched. He was an intelligent adult with the full resources of the Cannon Falls Junior-Senior High School behind him. I was an adolescent who cherished her spare time, who had unlimited resources for avoiding work. Luckily, he had dozens of other students to worry about, whereas he was my only real nemesis.
That's what he called me once -- his "blonde nemesis". I looked up the word -- it meant formidable opponent. I liked that, even if I didn't dare tell him he'd inadvertently made me learn something. Oh, he was a tricky one.
While I was pondering Bermie's sneaky way of making me learn stuff, Meredith Devonshire, my best friend and worst enemy, was on stage performing. She was gesturing dramatically and the other speech team members were watching her every move. The ignorant observer might assume she held them in thrall because her speech was very topical and moving. In truth, everyone was staring at her because she was dressed in one of her bizarre ensembles. Today it was a black leotard, orange running shorts, red tights, green tennis shoes, and her straw-colored hair was caught back in a severe bun. Electric blue eyeglass frames completed the picture. Her dark green eyes blazed out at the audience as she made another imperious gesture.
I used to think I'd go blind if I looked at Meredith too long. The truth is, you don't go blind, but you develop a pretty amazing tolerance for unusual color combinations.
"New glasses," Trisha muttered, sliding into a seat.
"And new hair." It had been jet black last month. She must have dyed it back to the original color -- a sort of browny-honey blonde-- then bleached it. Business as usual with Meredith, which was great. Better than great, because--
"Capitalist dog-pigs!" she spat. "They should crawl in filth! They should spawn more maggots to feed the machine which grinds up our young!"
-- well, because Meredith had been having a rough time lately.
There was dazed applause from the audience; Meredith shook her fist and then bowed. Straightening, she looked toward Trisha and me and practically skipped over.
"Nice outfit," I said.
"Nice speech," Trisha said.
"Thanks, you big liars," she retorted. "A, my outfit is far beyond the grasp of your puny artistic capabilities and B, neither of you have the vaguest clue what my speech was about, coming in on the last thirty seconds like you did."
"Probably the usual theme," I said, bored. "Oppression, repression, and angst. Yawn."
In reply Meredith asked sweetly, "How did the driving lesson go? Have you driven Mr. Leary to suicide yet?"
"Don't say that name to me," I grumped. "I can't believe they won't let me test for my license until I've completed this damned course. I've been--"
"-- driving since you were eight," Meredith and Trisha said.
"Well, I have."
"Meredith, what are you doing here? I thought you were off the speech team for the year, since your break -- I mean, since what happened last month."
I raised my eyebrows. Direct questions weren't Trisha's style. Meredith called her, not incorrectly, the Mistress of Tact. And what Trisha was so delicately referring to was Meredith's nervous breakdown barely four weeks ago. Merry was a sophomore in high school like the rest of us, but she had a head full of worries and last month they'd gotten to be too much for her, culminating in a mad dash outdoors in sub-zero weather without coat or shoes. When we finally tracked her down, she had frostbite on most of her toes and fingers, and it was the briefest of stops from the Emergency Room to the psychiatric ward of the Mayo Clinic. She'd lost the smallest toe on her right foot and we counted her lucky that was all she lost.
"I am off the team," Meredith said, smiling. "But I came in for fun. I've been cooped up in the house for days, and now that Grandmother's in the nursing home it's awfully quiet at home."
Trisha and I didn't have anything to say to that. Meredith's grandma going to the nursing home was very bad. She had cancer and wasn't expected to live to see April Fool's Day. Being around her every day, watching her get sicker and sicker was part of the reason Meredith went crazy in the first place.
"At least," Meredith continued, "Mr. Leary's ordeal is over for another week. How are your lessons going, Trisha?"
"Fine, I guess." She looked at me unhappily. "But if Andrea keeps losing her temper we're both out of luck."
"Oh, too bad," Meredith said, barely keeping the smirk off her face.
"I don't want to talk about Driver's Ed anymore," I said shortly.
"Want to see my license again?" Meredith asked brightly. "I only got the hard copy yesterd--"
"I've seen it!" I shouted, earning a disapproving glance from Mr. Berman and a guffaw from Trisha. "Shut up, Trish. Are you ready, Merry?"
"Don't call me that. You know I hate that. And yes, I'm ready, though I don't know why I let you talk me into this."
"Into what?" Trisha asked.
"I invited her to my friend Brenda's tonight. I didn't ask you because I knew you had a date," I explained. Trisha had stayed home on a Friday night maybe once since ninth grade... I think that was the week she'd had intestinal flu. "You can come next time. I'm sure it'll be fun." Fun, of course, was an understatement. I'd been looking forward to tonight since I got Brenda's letter, and I couldn't wait for her to meet Meredith.
Brenda Morrison was my one and only friend from the last school I'd been incarcerated in. I'd cried hard when Mom and Dad told us we were moving, and had been stonily silent to them for a week after their big announcement. We only moved thirty-six miles, but it meant I wouldn't be going to school with Bren anymore -- hell, as it was I only saw her once a month or so. We consoled each other with the fact that we would get our licenses this year and then would be able to see each other all the time.
I was anxious for Meredith, my new best friend, to meet Brenda, my old best friend. They didn't have a thing in common, Bren being nice and normal and Merry being a complete fruitcake, but I loved them both and wanted them to hit it off so we could all be friends together.
Trisha decided to stay put for a while and practice her speech for Bermie; Merry and I decided to cruise. I was hungry anyway, and wanted to swing by the Dairy Inn before we headed up to Hastings.
I needled Meredith about eating while we buckled in. Or, I should say, while I buckled in. Meredith refused to wear a seat belt. I told her again and again it was vanity; worse, it was stupid and against the law besides, but she wouldn't hear me. At times Meredith could be as fun as an overindulged four-year-old, and I told her so.
"It's the gambler in me," was her amiable reply as she pulled out of the high school parking lot. "If there's an accident, will I be killed? Will I sail through the windshield with the greatest of ease? Will I live? If I live will it be by God's intervention, or sheer chance? If by God's intervention, then am I to live because I'm here for a specific purpose?"
"You're so weird."
"It seems like cheating, to buckle my seat belt and bilk Fate out of having her way with me."
"You'll change your mind in the hospital after you've been fed through a tube for six months and -- hey, stop! You're going past the Dairy Inn!"
Merry shuddered convincingly but pulled in. Her idea of fast food was Red Lobster, anything else was--
"Garbage. How can you eat here?"
"I'm starving. Mom and Dad went fishing this morning and cleaned the place out. The cupboard's bare and it's after three o'clock! I haven't eaten since this morning." Meredith strolled unhurriedly inside while I practically ran up to the counter. "Yes, hello, I'd like two double cheeseburgers, an order of onion rings, a large Coke..." Beside me, Meredith was making muffled retching noises; I ignored her and went on. "...and for dessert I'd like a chocolate ice cream cone dipped in chocolate sprinkles. You want anything, Merry?"
"A small vanilla cone."
"Right, and we'll take that here." I forked over the cash; we got our food and sat down. I made short work of mine; I love fast food. Even watching Meredith go through her Dairy Inn Ritual didn't dampen my pleasure.
She would delicately nip at her vanilla cone (she was the only person I knew who chewed ice cream) and occasionally help herself to one of my onion rings. Carefully balancing her cone on the table, she would firmly press an onion ring between two napkins to soak up the grease, and then take five minutes to eat the tiny, crushed thing; in that form it looked more like a battered tapeworm than anything else. Sometimes I couldn't watch her. Today I was too hungry to care.
"You're almost as lean as I," Meredith said, watching me eat with an expression of awed revulsion, "and I can't understand it. When was the last time you had a fresh vegetable? Or a piece of fruit?"
"Onion rings are vegetables," I said, polishing off my cone and burping gently. "Totally off the subject--"
"Oh, Lord, here we go."
"-- I told Brenda all about you."
"Yeah. Hope you don't mind. It's just that while you were-- uh--"
"Losing my mind?" she prompted sweetly.
"Yes. Bren was the only one I could really talk to about it. But she's not a gossip like Trisha; she wouldn't talk that stuff around."
"Not a gossip like Trisha?" Merry raised her eyebrows and I flushed. I was as much a gossip as Trish, probably worse, in fact. I loved to talk, especially about other people. And for the first time in my life, I had other people to talk about. "How fortunate for me."
"Like I said," I continued, ignoring the insinuation, "Brenda wouldn't talk that stuff around. Besides, who would she tell? No one we know. But I wanted you to know that she's heard quite a bit about what happened over the last few months."
Meredith considered that. Then, "I suppose I don't mind too much. From what you've told me she sounds pleasant. She won't make fun."
No, Bren certainly wouldn't make fun. She was much too nice. Way nicer than me, super-smart -- almost as smart as Merry -- and a killer artist. There wasn't a thing in creation she couldn't sketch in about thirty seconds.
Now for the tricky part. "Bren said something about having people over to play a game," I said, so-o-o casually. "Since I moved last year she's made some new friends and she wants me -- us, I mean -- to meet them."
Meredith froze, the last bite of her cone stopping an inch from her lips. I feigned innocence and ordered an ice cream sandwich to soothe my nerves. Merry hated strangers, hated meeting new people, hated parties. Even before the breakdown she'd been something of a recluse. The post-breakdown Meredith was morbidly afraid people would find out she was seeing a psychiatrist twice a week, that she entertained thoughts of killing herself, that she had gone crazy over her grandmother and been pulled out of high school, that she was using private tutors in order to keep up with the rest of us.
She once said to me, "I'm a cat surrounded by jackals." She'd always felt the odd man out, and being around other people made her feel more alone, more different. She avoided pep fests, rallies, parties -- anything where the number of people in the room was greater than four; the only group gathering she tolerated was speech practice. Part and parcel of her illness, I figured.
But I was tired of her living like a monk, avoiding everyone but Trisha, me, and her parents. Hardly ever leaving the house except for speech practice. Hell, she wouldn't even go to the movies. It wasn't healthy, and I'd had enough.
"Don't look at me like that," I said sharply. "It's a little get-together, not an inquisition. It'll be fun." I hoped. I couldn't imagine Brenda had taken up with a bunch of jerks in my absence, but you never knew. After all, she'd taken up with me. "You know -- fun? Remember fun?"
"You tricked me."
"How could I trick you? As you never get tired of telling me, you're about five times smarter than I am. Come on, don't be mad," I begged. "You've been cooped up since before Christmas. It's not the Dark Ages anymore, they don't make psychiatric patients hide from the light. Besides, you're talking like I did this to you to be mean. We'll have a good time. I wouldn't be dragging you all the way to Hastings--"
"An interminable twenty miles," Merry said dryly.
"-- if I didn't think you wouldn't enjoy yourself. Give it a try. Please?"
Her green-eyed glare bored through all the layers of my brain and I shriveled in my seat. "You're not so smart," she sneered, and I relaxed. "Finish your sandwich. And wipe your mouth, there's chocolate everywhere."
I stuck out my tongue, showing her even more chocolate, and she threw her napkin at me.
Copyright © 1999 by MaryJanice Davidson