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Chapter no 52 – ‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌Warning: This Kid Is Rated R‌

Wonder

I had warned Mom about August’s face. I had described what he looked like. I did this because I know she’s not always so good at faking her feelings, and August was coming over for the first time today. I even sent her a text at work to remind her about it. But I could tell from the expression on her face when she came home after work that I hadn’t prepared her enough. She was shocked when she came through the door and saw his face for the first time.

“Hi, Mom, this is Auggie. Can he stay for dinner?” I asked quickly. It took a second for my question to even register.

“Hi, Auggie,” she said. “Um, of course, sweetheart. If it’s okay with Auggie’s mother.”

While Auggie called his mother on his cell phone, I whispered to Mom: “Stop making that weirded-out face!” She had that look like when she’s watching the news and some horrific event has happened. She nodded quickly, like she hadn’t realized she was making a face, and was really nice and normal to Auggie afterward.

After a while, Auggie and I got tired of working on our projects and went to hang out in the living room. Auggie was looking at the pictures on the mantel, and he saw a picture of me and Daddy.

“Is that your dad?” he said. “Yeah.”

“I didn’t know you were … what’s the word?” “Biracial.”

“Right! That’s the word.” “Yeah.”

He looked at the picture again.

“Are your parents divorced? I’ve never seen him at drop-off or anything.”

“Oh, no,” I said. “He was a platoon sergeant. He died a few years ago.”

“Whoa! I didn’t know that.”

“Yeah.” I nodded, handing him a picture of my dad in his uniform.

“Wow, look at all those medals.” “Yeah. He was pretty awesome.” “Wow, Summer. I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, it sucks. I really miss him a lot.”

“Yeah, wow.” He nodded, handing me back the picture. “Have you ever known anyone who died?” I asked.

“Just my grandmother, and I don’t really even remember her.” “That’s too bad.”

Auggie nodded.

“You ever wonder what happens to people when they die?” I asked.

He shrugged. “Not really. I mean, I guess they go to heaven? That’s where my Grans went.”

“I think about it a lot,” I said. “I think when people die, their souls go to heaven but just for a little while. Like that’s where they see their old friends and stuff, and kind of catch up on old times. But then I actually think the souls start thinking about their lives on earth, like if they were good or bad or whatever. And then they get born again as brand-new babies in the world.”

“Why would they want to do that?”

“Because then they get another chance to get it right,” I answered. “Their souls get a chance to have a do-over.”

He thought about what I was saying and then nodded. “Kind of like when you get a makeup test,” he said.

“Right.”

“But they don’t come back looking the same,” he said. “I mean, they look completely different when they come back, right?”

“Oh yeah,” I answered. “Your soul stays the same but everything else is different.”

“I like that,” he said, nodding a lot. “I really like that, Summer.

That means in my next life I won’t be stuck with this face.”

He pointed to his face when he said that and batted his eyes, which made me laugh.

“I guess not.” I shrugged.

“Hey, I might even be handsome!” he said, smiling. “That would be so awesome, wouldn’t it? I could come back and be this good-looking dude and be super buff and super tall.”

I laughed again. He was such a good sport about himself. That’s one of the things I like the most about Auggie.

“Hey, Auggie, can I ask you a question?”

“Yeah,” he said, like he knew exactly what I wanted to ask.

I hesitated. I’ve been wanting to ask him this for a while but I’ve always lost the guts to ask.

“What?” he said. “You want to know what’s wrong with my face?” “Yeah, I guess. If it’s okay for me to ask.”

He shrugged. I was so relieved that he didn’t seem mad or sad. “Yeah, it’s no big deal,” he said casually. “The main thing I have is

this thing called man-di-bu-lo-facial dys-os-tosis—which took me forever to learn how to pronounce, by the way. But I also have this other syndrome thing that I can’t even pronounce. And these things kind of just morphed together into one big superthing, which is so rare they don’t even have a name for it. I mean, I don’t want to brag or anything, but I’m actually considered something of a medical wonder, you know.”

He smiled.

“That was a joke,” he said. “You can laugh.” I smiled and shook my head.

“You’re funny, Auggie.” I said.

“Yes, I am,” he said proudly. “I am cool beans.”

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