Chapter no 20 – ‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌One to Ten‌


Mom always had this habit of asking me how something felt on a scale of one to ten. It started after I had my jaw surgery, when I couldn’t talk because my mouth was wired shut. They had taken a piece of bone from my hip bone to insert into my chin to make it look more normal, so I was hurting in a lot of different places. Mom would point to one of my bandages, and I would hold up my fingers to show her how much it was hurting. One meant a little bit. Ten meant so, so, so much. Then she would tell the doctor when he made his rounds what needed adjusting or things like that. Mom got very good at reading my mind sometimes.

After that, we got into the habit of doing the one-to-ten scale for anything that hurt, like if I just had a plain old sore throat, she’d ask: “One to ten?” And I’d say: “Three,” or whatever it was.

When school was over, I went outside to meet Mom, who was waiting for me at the front entrance like all the other parents or babysitters. The first thing she said after hugging me was: “So, how was it? One to ten?”

“Five,” I said, shrugging, which I could tell totally surprised her. “Wow,” she said quietly, “that’s even better than I hoped for.” “Are we picking Via up?”

“Miranda’s mother is picking her up today. Do you want me to carry your backpack, sweetness?” We had started walking through the crowd of kids and parents, most of whom were noticing me, “secretly” pointing me out to each other.

“I’m fine,” I said.

“It looks too heavy, Auggie.” She started to take it from me.

“Mom!” I said, pulling my backpack away from her. I walked in front of her through the crowd.

“See you tomorrow, August!” It was Summer. She was walking in the opposite direction.

“Bye, Summer,” I said, waving at her.

As soon as we crossed the street and were away from the crowd,

Mom said: “Who was that, Auggie?” “Summer.”

“Is she in your class?” “I have lots of classes.”

“Is she in any of your classes?” Mom said. “Nope.”

Mom waited for me to say something else, but I just didn’t feel like talking.

“So it went okay?” said Mom. I could tell she had a million questions she wanted to ask me. “Everyone was nice? Did you like your teachers?”


“How about those kids you met last week? Were they nice?” “Fine, fine. Jack hung out with me a lot.”

“That’s so great, sweetie. What about that boy Julian?”

I thought about that Darth Sidious comment. By now it felt like that had happened a hundred years ago.

“He was okay,” I said.

“And the blond girl, what was her name?” “Charlotte. Mom, I said everyone was nice already.” “Okay,” Mom answered.

I honestly don’t know why I was kind of mad at Mom, but I was. We crossed Amesfort Avenue, and she didn’t say anything else until we turned onto our block.

“So,” Mom said. “How did you meet Summer if she wasn’t in any of your classes?”

“We sat together at lunch,” I said.

I had started kicking a rock between my feet like it was a soccer ball, chasing it back and forth across the sidewalk.

“She seems very nice.” “Yeah, she is.”

“She’s very pretty,” Mom said.

“Yeah, I know,” I answered. “We’re kind of like Beauty and the Beast.”

I didn’t wait to see Mom’s reaction. I just started running down the sidewalk after the rock, which I had kicked as hard as I could in front of me.

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