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The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett
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A teenage misfit named Hawthorn Creely inserts herself in the investigation of missing person Lizzie Lovett, who disappeared mysteriously while camping with her boyfriend. Hawthorn doesn’t mean to interfere, but she has a pretty crazy theory about what happened to Lizzie. In order to prove it, she decides to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life. That includes taking her job… and her boyfriend. It’s a huge risk — but it’s just what Hawthorn needs to find her own place in the world.
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The First Thing
The first thing that happened was Lizzie Lovett disappeared, and everyone was all, “How can someone like Lizzie be missing?” and I was like, “Who cares?” A few days later, there was talk about Lizzie maybe being dead, and it was still kinda boring, but not totally boring, because I’d never known a dead person before.
After that, I started to get fascinated by the whole situation, mostly because I noticed a bunch of weird stuff. Which was how I figured out Lizzie Lovett’s secret.
But I’m probably doing that thing again where I get ahead of myself and skip all over the place, which I’m trying to stop doing.
So the beginning, or the beginning for me at least, was when I found out Lizzie Lovett was missing. It happened like this:
It was Monday morning, and I needed an excuse to stay home. I was dreading school even more than usual, because the Welcome Back dance had been on Saturday, and I was probably the only senior at Griffin Mills High School who hadn’t gone, and everyone would be talking about it while I sat there thinking, Wow, I’m a loser.
I figured I could pretend to be sick and stay home, and by Tuesday, all the dance story swapping would’ve died down. Then no one would ask why I hadn’t gone, and I wouldn’t have to roll my eyes and say, “High school events are so stupid and pointless.” And no one would have to nod like they believed me, even though we all knew it was really because I hadn’t been asked.
But maybe I wouldn’t have to pretend to be sick, because my breakfast seemed more like silly putty than oatmeal and was quite possibly going to make me throw up.
“I don’t think I can digest this,” I said, using my spoon to make peaks and valleys.
My mom was washing dishes on the other side of the kitchen and didn’t bother to look up.
I tried again. “What’s wrong with pancakes? You could make them organic or vegan or whatever.”
“I’m not having this discussion right now, Hawthorn.”
“Or even better, we could drop being vegan completely, since it’s clearly never going to stick.”
Mom frowned, and I supposed I should shut up if I wanted to get out of school. So I sighed and shoveled a heaping spoonful of oatmeal putty into my mouth.
I immediately regretted it, because it was too much food and way too thick, and I wasn’t going to be able to swallow. Or maybe I would, but the food would get stuck on the way down, and I’d choke and die right there at the kitchen table. Which would be a super unpleasant way to go. Food I could barely identify would be my last meal, and at my funeral, my mom would cry and say, “If only I’d made pancakes like Hawthorn wanted.”
On the plus side, I wouldn’t have to go to school.
But then everyone would be like, “Oh, poor Hawthorn, she was the only girl who wasn’t asked to the Welcome Back dance, and now she’s dead,” and they’d think I was even more pathetic.
I forced myself to swallow. It was maybe, probably, the right thing to do. I glanced at my mom, but she hadn’t even noticed my near-death experience. She was looking dreamily out the window as if there was something fascinating outside and not just the same boring view of the woods.
It was almost time to leave, so I started preparing my speech about it not being in my best interest to attend school that day. But before I could begin, Rush shuffled awkwardly down the hallway toward the kitchen. This immediately got my attention, because usually I’m the awkward one in the family.
Even on mornings when Rush was hungover, he managed to come across as an energetic superjock. The pale face and unfocused eyes and lumbering around were completely abnormal for him. I took a moment to assess the situation. Maybe he was sick. He certainly looked like he had a cold or a virus.
Rush opened his mouth, but no words came out. He seemed unsteady on his feet. Suddenly, I had this thought that maybe the virus was deadly—or worse than deadly. Maybe my brother had been turned into a zombie.
I glanced at my mom to see how she was taking this new development, but she was still lost in whatever world she goes to when she’s ignoring me.
Rush hesitated in the doorway, giving me time to evaluate my options. Obviously, it was up to me to save both me and my mom, which I found slightly unfair. If I was smart, I’d leave her to fend for herself. But considering that she gave birth to me, it wouldn’t be very nice to run off and let her be devoured by her only son. On the other hand, if I tried to save us both, there was a good chance I’d get bitten in the process, and then I’d have roughly twenty-four hours before I became a zombie too. And from what I’ve read, the process of turning into a zombie is totally painful.