Cynthia J. McGean
Excerpt from Schism
a young adult novel
by Cynthia J. McGean

Chapter I 
If you were an animal, object or household appliance, what would you be?  
How does your choice reflect your core beliefs and future goals?

    Carrie Leeds stared at the gaping white space on the college application and groaned.  She searched the clutter on her dresser: her class ring, the stuffed koala bear her older brother won for her at a carnival, a postcard of the beach with a Bible quote from her parents, and a hodge-podge of make-up samples.  What did any of it have to do with core beliefs?  
    Flopping down on her bed, she scanned the other applications scattered across the comforter:  Find a quote that represents you;  choose a season that best describes you; name a song that captures what you think and feel.   She chucked her pencil to the floor.  “If you were an evil genius who wanted to torture teenagers with stupid essay questions, what college would you work for?” she muttered.      
    A sudden sound like the crack of a bat exploded from the kitchen directly beneath her room.  Carrie started up off the bed.  The heated voices of her parents and her older brother Roger erupted through the floor.
    “God did not make you this way!” Mom screamed.  
    “How do you know?” Roger shouted. 
    “God doesn’t make mistakes!”  
    “So I’m a mistake?”
    Dad cut in.  “Don’t blame your weakness on God.”
    “You’re not listening to me!” 
    “How can we?  How can we even look at you?”   
    There was a moment of burning silence.  A door slammed.  The walls shook.  Then nothing.    
    The Leeds family never yelled at each other, not like that.  Carrie waited, ears straining, heart pounding, unsure what to do.  Outside, bare tree branches scraped against her window, but inside was dead quiet.  At last, she stole softly out of her room.  She peered over the railing, but there was no sign of anyone.  “Mom?” she whispered.  “Dad?  Roger?”  She padded down the flight of stairs and around the corner, gently pushed open the swinging kitchen door and stepped inside.  
    A dark crimson stain of noodles and tomato sauce spread down the wall.  Mom knelt on the floor beside shattered pieces of the big turquoise spaghetti bowl, two shards held limply in her trembling hands.  Dad slumped at the table, staring blankly into space, his face pale and stunned.  
    “What happened?” Carrie asked.
    Mom gasped and dropped the jagged blue triangles.  She struggled to her feet.  “Go upstairs, Carrie.  This doesn’t concern you.  Go!”  She pushed Carrie out of the kitchen, the door slapping back and forth behind her.  Carrie felt as if she had caught her parents naked.  

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SCHISM copyright 2010 Cynthia J. McGean.  All rights reserved.