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And to Laura,

who was my very first fan.

Chapter One

I HATE PAPER DAY. HATE. IT. But I still do it every week, sometimes twice a week, because my mom asks me to. I know I shouldn’t. I know it doesn’t help. But I do it because the only people in the world that we can count on is us. My dad’s just a frozen smile in a brushed-brass frame on our living room wall. And since he hasn’t jumped down to run to the office supply store for her in the last 17 years, it’s all on me.

I lug home three stacks of printer paper every week, even though it kills my arms. The office supply is on my way home from school and the store manager, Buzz, keeps it waiting for me by the register now. It’s 1,500 sheets of their cheapest paper, wrapped up in individual paper packages. Buzz used to ask me what we do with it all. I told him my mom was a writer, but I didn’t tell him about how all this paper ends up in storage garages, filled to the rafters. I don’t tell him that the reason I’m in this neighborhood, and at his particular store counter, is because our old house was so crammed with paper that we had to move. And I don’t tell him that my mom has never even finished one story.

But I think Buzz assumes my mom is a crappy writer anyway, because she has never published anything. It took a few weeks before he stopped making jokes about how we keep him in business, about how we buy enough paper to build a house out of it, and about how my mom sure must make a lot of typos. Now he just smiles and asks me how it’s going or we talk about things that don’t matter, like school or the weather.

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