Thursday, November 7, 2019

Sick Kids In Love

Like Isabel, the main character of SICK KIDS IN LOVE, I don't consider myself a “romance person.” I'm too practical, too analytical, and way too in favor of talking everything to death. So some of my favorite scenes to write between Isabel and her love interest Sasha were the ones that let her be exactly that—neurotic and nervous and, most of all, completely honest about that with the person she trusts the most. Isabel never pretends that she's sure when she's not, and Sasha never makes her, and the easy way they share their insecurities with each other, even when they're insecurities about the other person, was one of my favorite parts of writing their burgeoning relationship.
“You could try taking me seriously,” I say. “I'm wrestling with a major decision here.”
“I've used up all the seriously I have for this issue over the past month and a half. I'm at capacity.”
“I don't have to be perfect,” I say.
I listen to him laugh, feel his scratchy breathing under my ear. “You asked people if you should date me,” he says. “And you do it for everything! You don't do anything without asking twenty billion people first to make sure the way you feel is normal. You are so afraid of making the wrong choice. Why don't you just trust yourself? What do you want?”
“What I want isn't the point,” I say.
“Do you even hear yourself?”
“No, because like...” I sit up. “What if I'm wrong? What if I do what I want and...”
“Lungs rested,” he announces. He gets up and goes over to his closet and starts rearranging boxes on top. “And you know, not that I support the practice, but most of the people you asked did say you should date me, so if you're going to go make it your method...”
“Going with what I want could be a bad idea,” I say. “What I want could mess everything up.”
He turns around and faces me, his hands braced on the top frame of his closet. He says, “If I'm reading between the lines correctly, what you want is to go to the dance together.”
“Okay, yes, but—”
He holds out a hand. “Just, just stop, right there. Think about how great it would be to just stop at yes. I know I would enjoy it, personally.”
“It could be a mistake,” I say.
“So what!” he says. “Is the world going to end if we go to the dance together and have a terrible time? Or if we date for a while and then break up? We would still be friends.”
“Everyone says they'll still be friends,” I say.
He shrugs. “Everyone isn't us.”
I sigh.
He pulls a box down and sorts through it, pulling out a bunch of what look like...Happy Meal toys, why does he save this shit? “Let me me ask you something,” he says. “When's the last time you made a mistake? Did something you knew might not end up well. Something reckless.”
“I...I don't know.”
“You don't know! Isabel, come on. That is no way to live and you know it.”
“Garfinkels don't make mistakes,” I say. “We make decisions.”
He barks out a laugh. “What is that, a motto? Is that on your family crest?”
I flop back on the bed. “Shut up.”
“Fine,” he says. “Maybe Garfinkels don't make mistakes. But you know what Sverdlov-Decklers do? Mistakes. Lots of 'em. Accidental babies, runaway trips to Africa, dating girls they meet at bars when they could be home with their lovely children, having the aforementioned lovely children without any kind of genetic testing, not cleaning their room for ten years...Just mistake after mistake. And since you've been basically living here for the past month, some of that must have rubbed off on you.”


Isabel has one rule: no dating.
It’s easier—
It’s safer—
It’s better—
—for the other person.
She’s got issues. She’s got secrets. She’s got rheumatoid arthritis.
But then she meets another sick kid.
He’s got a chronic illness Isabel’s never heard of, something she can’t even pronounce. He understands what it means to be sick. He understands her more than her healthy friends. He understands her more than her own father who’s a doctor.
He’s gorgeous, fun, and foul-mouthed. And totally into her.
Isabel has one rule: no dating.
It’s complicated—
It’s dangerous—
It’s never felt better—
—to consider breaking that rule for him.

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