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Marly the Kid

Marly the Kid

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Marly the Kid

141 pages
2 heures
Jan 6, 2015


Sometimes you just have to pack a suitcase and walk out the door

Marly knows her older sister, Kit, is tall, beautiful, and outspoken—everything Marly isn’t. But does everyone have to remind her of it all the time? Since her parents’ divorce, her mom hasn’t had a single nice thing to say—and even if she did, she’s always working. So Marly packs her bags and catches the bus to stay with her dad. She knows he’ll want her, and hopefully his new wife will too.

Ed and Sally are surprised to find Marly on their doorstep but excited to take her in and become a family. They cook together and laugh together, and no one ever shouts at anyone else, a big difference from Marly’s life with her mom.

Marly has kept quiet up until now, which has given her a reputation for being well behaved. But once she starts getting used to being treated like an actual person, she begins talking about what’s important to her. She may not be able to stop—and she may not want to.
Jan 6, 2015

À propos de l'auteur

Susan Beth Pfeffer is the author of many books for teens, including the New York Times best-selling novel Life As We Knew It, which was nominated for several state awards, and its companion books, The Dead and the Gone, This World We Live In, and The Shade of the Moon. She lives in Middletown, New York.

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Marly the Kid - Susan Beth Pfeffer



She had her story all ready, in case anybody asked what she was doing on a bus leaving Great Oaks, instead of being at school. She was going to visit a sick grandmother. It had worked for Little Red Riding Hood, Marly reasoned, so it should work for her. To bolster her courage, and because the color was appropriate, she was wearing a red dress, a hand-me-down from her older sister, Kit. Even with Kit’s red hair, it had looked a lot better on her than it did on Marly, but then again, everything did. Kit was tall and slender and beautiful. Marly was short and dumpy and not unattractive. That had been the second to last thing to make her leave. There was nothing Marly hated more than a sympathetic gym teacher, and she’d gotten one for her sophomore year at high school. The lady remembered Kit vividly (and why not, she’d graduated the June before and had caused a stir that summer winning the county beauty contest and then running off to Colorado), and she looked at Marly and said in her most hopeful voice, Well, you’re not unattractive. Your sister, Kit, is a beauty, but we each have to make do with what we’re given. Marly boiled all day after that. She walked home alone hating herself and her school and her entire life. She was greeted at home by her mother, a nurse, who changed shifts the way most people change underwear—6 to 2 one day, 9 to 4 the next, 3 to 12 the next. The last person Marly wanted to see was her mother. It was her genes that had screwed up Marly in the first place.

Did you have a nice day? her mother asked, almost as though she were interested. To keep Marly from being deceived, she read a magazine while she asked.

I had a lousy day, Marly said. My gym teacher said I was not unattractive.

Your teacher’s crazy, Marly’s mother said. Marly held her breath. Was it possible her mother was actually going to say something nice about her? The last time that happened was right after Kit left, and then it was only a compliment for the desperate. Well, there’s one thing to be said for you, her mother had said on that historic day. At least you’re not flighty.

Why do you say that? Marly asked, taking her life into her own hands. I mean about my teacher being crazy.

Getting your hopes up like that, her mother said. It’s bad enough the way you look. There’s no point encouraging any delusions. Which, God knows, you suffer from enough. You and your equally crazy father. Thinking that now that Kit’s gone, we can live on bread and water. Now that he has that ritzy new wife, he probably just wants to keep all his money and spend it on jewels for her, diamonds and rubies, while we make do with old shoes and TV dinners. I bet they eat out every day.

We would too if we could afford it, Marly said, already deciding what she would pack.

What kind of crack is that? her mother said. I work every blasted day to keep this family going, not that it’s a family any more, with Kit gone, and hardly a ‘hello how are you’ since she left.

She writes to me, Marly said.

Aren’t you the lucky one, her mother said. I bet she’s asking for money all the time. Just like her father, that one. Always taking, even from a helpless little thing like you. Not unattractive. Well, not unattractive, how about cleaning up your room. I’m sick and tired of looking at Kit’s stuff, every time I go in there.

Why do you go in there at all then?

How else do you expect me to find out how Kit is? her mother asked. You never bring her letters out here for me to read.

That’s because they’re addressed to me, Marly said. You’ve been reading my mail?

I knew her before you did, her mother said. And the only reason she’s not writing to me is because she doesn’t want to admit I was right. Miss High and Mighty. Thought she’d go out West and show them all. And what are they letting her do? Paint sets. Put on make-up. Helen Hayes never put on anybody’s makeup.

Kit’s having a great time, Marly said, deciding on the red dress, to give her courage. And you shouldn’t read my letters.

You shouldn’t keep them from me, her mother said. Now leave me alone. Talking to you gives me a headache.

Her mother’s newest shift was 6 A.M. to 2 P.M. When her alarm rang the next morning, Marly had the comforting knowledge that she was alone, and would be until after lunch. She considered turning over and going back to sleep, but decided even with the extra time, she should get ready. So she took a shower, packed as many of her clothes as would fit into her mother’s best remaining suitcase, debated which of her books she should take along, decided on The Great Gatsby, piled her library books together and left them on the kitchen counter with a note on top.

Dear Mom,

The books are due in two weeks. Please return them, since the new librarian gets mean about overdue books. I hope with me gone you’ll have more money for yourself. I am running away. Please don’t try to find me, since I never want to speak to you again. If I change my mind, I’ll give you a call. Tell Kit, I’ll get in touch with her as soon as I can. I am not running away to Colorado, if that’s what you’re thinking. Not that I care what you think. You never cared about what I thought. I hope you rot in hell.



She considered crossing out that part about rotting in hell, but it was nothing her mother hadn’t said to her, and besides, it was the truth. Marly picked up her suitcase, stole the twenty-dollar bill her mother kept in the freezer, a hiding place she’d discovered years back, picked up her suitcase and walked the half mile to the bus station.

She wasn’t sure where she wanted to go. If she had her choice in the matter, she would have picked London, but twenty dollars wouldn’t get her there, not even by bus. Marly prided herself on being practical. Next choice would be Colorado, but it wasn’t fair to Kit, and the money wouldn’t get her there either. Kit had told her to leave, to go live with their father. He was third choice. Marly knew it was a dumb place to go, since her mother was bound to find her, but Marly didn’t care if her mother knew where she was, just as long as she didn’t make her come back. And Sally, her stepmother, had said she was always welcome. Of course, it’s one thing to say something like that, and quite enough to have your husband’s kid show up on your doorstep. But if Sally didn’t want her, she could always run away again. And her father did want her. That she knew. So she asked for a one-way ticket to Henderson, waited an hour and fifteen minutes inside the station watching people play the pinball machine, and waiting for someone to ask her why she was there, and not in school. Sick grandmother. Why was that more socially acceptable than running away to live with a father? There was no accounting for society.

But no one asked while she waited, and no one asked when she got on the bus, not even the bus driver, who looked experienced and likely to wonder about her, and no one asked for the entire two-hour trip to Henderson.

Sally had seemed nice enough, but of course they hadn’t had much of a chance to talk, and she was probably trying to make a good impression on Marly and Kit. Kit couldn’t understand why anybody would want to marry their father, but of course Kit never got along very well with him; he’d always favored Marly. He was the only person in the whole human race who did, and Marly cherished him. Still, Sally might prove to be a rotten person. What did Marly know about her? She was a schoolteacher, third grade, and now her last name was Carson, like Marly’s. That was it. That wasn’t much to base an entire future on. And suppose Sally pretended she liked Marly, just for the sake of peace in the family? Marly had heard about families like that, where the parents pretended for peace in the family. They always sounded like mythical characters to her, but there were kids Marly knew whose parents tried not to fight in front of them, and all kinds of wonderful things like that. Sally might be like that too. Civilized. And then Marly would never know whether she really wanted her around, or was just putting up with her.

Kit could pick up and go to Colorado and not write to their mother. Marly felt guilty about telling her mother to rot in hell. Maybe when she got to Henderson, she should call the hospital and tell her mother not to read the note. Just return the library books before they got overdue.

Rather than think about how she was wrecking her life with the one fairly impetuous act she’d ever committed, rather than worry about Sally and start crying, she picked up her copy of The Great Gatsby and read that. Reading on the bus always made Marly sick in her stomach, but she had a stomach-ache anyway. She wondered if she could be arrested for being a truant. The school knew they couldn’t call her mother to find out if she really was home sick, so they probably wouldn’t find out Marly wasn’t home with a fever until her mother went to the school and told them that Marly had run away. Given her mother, that could be in another couple of years. Don’t bother ordering a cap and gown, she ran away to Henderson three years ago last Tuesday. And by then, the school would have figured it out all by themselves. Suddenly Marly felt evil, like a thief. She enjoyed the feeling.


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