“An Interview with Mary”
By Anne Tibbets
Q: I understand your family is going through a difficult time. Tell us a little about it.
A: Crappers. I’d rather not talk about it. But, since you asked, here it goes. My older sister, Gwen, is a total disaster. She’s seventeen, and pregnant by this guy I call “The Creep.” He makes me feel weird. He says inappropriate stuff to me all the time. I don’t care for him, honestly. She’s decided she’s going to marry him, which my parents aren’t happy about, and they’re kind of freaking out. It’s put them on edge. Mom is handling it the worst. Her temper is out of control and she gets mad at me over stupid stuff, and when Mom gets mad, she gets physical. Plus, Gwen can get pretty mean and picks on me for no reason. I’m not going to lie, it can get pretty rough.
Q: How are you dealing with it?
A: Dealing with it? I don’t know. I just try and stay out of the way. That’s what my brother, Paul, keeps telling me to do. But I don’t always have control over my mouth and I end up blurting out things that get me into bigger trouble. I wish I could just shut up.
Q: Have you talked to anybody about it?
A: There’s no one to talk to. I tried to talk to my teacher about it, but she thought I was being melodramatic. So I just keep it to myself mostly. There’s nothing anybody can do anyway.
Q: Why do you think that?
A: I don’t think any one would believe me.
Q: So, what are you going to do?
A: (shrugs) I have a couple ideas. But I’m not sure yet.
Q: What are your ideas?
A: Well, if I could run away, and get a job. Maybe I could support myself and live alone. Alone, there would be nobody there to tell me every time I do something wrong, which seems to be often. But I also have a Plan B.
Q: What Plan B?
A: I keep a bottle of pills. You know, just in case I can’t take it anymore.
Q: Surely, there has to be another solution?
A: If there is one, let me know. I’m open to suggestions.
Synopsis of SHUT UP from Author: Mary's older sister, Gwen, has royally screwed up her life. Not only is Gwen pregnant at seventeen, but she's also decided to marry The Creep who knocked her up.
Now Mary is powerless to stop her family from imploding. Her parents are freaking out, and to top if off, The Creep has a gross fascination with Mary, while Gwen enjoys teasing her to tears for sport.
Despite her brother's advice to shut up, Mary can't keep her trap closed and manages to piss off Mom so much it comes to blows.
Mary doesn't know what to do, and all her attempts to get help are rejected. When she finally plans her escape, she fails to consider how it could destroy them all.
SHUT UP features mature themes such as physical abuse, sexual assault, depression and suicide. Based on events from my own childhood, SHUT UP is a book I would recommend for all teens.
I used to like to skateboard alone in the side yard, which was this large cement slab with half brick walls on either side. It was quiet, out of sight from the inside of the house, and perfect for riding a skateboard back and forth a thousand times, and maybe doing a few tricks, or roller blading in circles, depending on your mood. I liked it there because it got me away from Rose, who I was stuck sharing the same bedroom. Rose was always following me around and wanting to play baby games, like dolls. Luckily for me, Rose didn’t like to skateboard.
Paul did, though. Some days he would skateboard too. I thought Paul was pretty cool, so that was always fun. Then one day, long before the baby, long before the pregnancy, and long before Gwen and The Creep were forbidden from seeing each other, The Creep strolled into the side yard as I was skateboarding.
He usually just hung all over Gwen. I couldn’t think what made him want to come to the side yard. I didn’t think he was there to skateboard. I saw him coming from the courtyard and quickly sat on the brick wall against the house, sliding the skateboard back and forth as casually as I could with one foot on the concrete. I didn’t want to ride in front of him; if I fell, the teasing would have been endless.
“So,” The Creep said, crossing his arms and leaning back on his heels. “What are you doing?”
“Skateboarding,” I said, rolling my eyes at him. Dumb question -- there was a skateboard right in front of me. Duh!
“All by yourself?” he asked.
“Yeah. Sometimes Paul or Ralph come out and do it too.” I thought maybe if he knew others could show up he’d take a hike. After staring at him for ten seconds in silence I realized he wasn’t budging. Drat.
He grinned. “Is Ralph your boyfriend?” He looked like he was about to laugh.
I felt my stomach turn sour. He was making me feel weird again. He did that a lot. That’s why I thought he was creepy. Just then, my foot slipped from the skateboard and it rolled away, banging against the wooden gate a few yards off. I stood up and got it, feeling The Creep’s eyes on me. I sat back down quickly, with my back against the house, trying to act like it didn’t bother me. He strolled over to stand in front of me again.
“No. Ralph isn’t really my boyfriend,” I said, watching him approach. I didn’t want to tell him that Ralph had kissed me on the cheek just the week before in the bushes.
“Do you like him?”
I kept my eyes on the skateboard and started the back and forth rolling I was doing before, but it wasn’t the same. It didn’t feel right anymore.
“I think he kinda’ likes me.” I was sorry for saying that the second the words came out. I knew The Creep was having fun with me, but couldn’t think how to make him go away.
The Creep smiled, proudly displaying his newly straightened teeth, but they still had the white scars from wearing braces too long. “Ralph likes you, eh?”
I nodded, looking back at the skateboard, but giving up trying to slide it back and forth. He probably thought I was too ugly for a boy to like, just like Gwen did.
I could hear Gwen call me a fat cow and pushed it from my mind, answering, “Yeah.” I rested my foot on the top of the skateboard.
“Do you like him?” he asked again.
“He’s nice.” I shrugged, blushing. I didn’t want to talk with The Creep anymore. Well, ever, really. Why didn’t he just leave me alone?
“Have you kissed him?”
I laughed too loudly and picked up the skateboard, setting it in my lap, as if adding it between him and me would help. “No!”
“Aw, come on! Pretty girl like you? With blue eyes like that? You’ve kissed a boy before!”
I felt my face turn hot. Now I was sure he was making fun of me. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt I was far from pretty. Gwen reminded me daily. My teeth were crooked, my hair was a short mousey brown, and no one could even see my eyes behind my glasses. “I have not!”
“Sure you have! How old are you now, thirteen?”
I looked at The Creep and rolled my eyes, laughing too loudly again. “I’m twelve.”
The Creep took a step forward and leaned in, as if inspecting my face. “No! Twelve? You look at least thirteen.”
I looked down at the skateboard and rubbed the top with my fingertips, using my other hand to push my bra strap back under my tank top. I wanted to go back to practicing skateboarding but felt glued to the brick wall. I shifted slightly, feeling the pockets of my cut offs rub against the brick wall. I flipped the skateboard over in my lap and ran my fingers across the smooth British flag painted on the bottom. “I’m only in the sixth grade.”
The Creep moved closer. He stood right in front of me, his hands at his sides. I bit my thumbnail and looked up at him. He smiled. I wanted to back up but had no farther to go. “When I was in the sixth grade, I don’t remember any of the girls looking like you,” he said.
I felt my face flush and my stomach churn. The brick wall was like fly paper, with my rump stuck to it. I wanted to get out from in front of The Creep, but couldn’t move. My breath quickened, and my heart pounded in my throat.
“Yeah, right,” was all I managed to say.
“Those are nice shorts you’re wearing,” he said, eyeing my long legs up and down. His hand moved toward my knee just as Gwen appeared behind him, out of the front courtyard.
She stood at the end of the side yard and rested a hand on her hip. Gwen’s big brown wavy hair and super long bangs were the exact opposite of her skin tight jeans and tee shirt. She was like an upside down carrot. “Mary?” her eyes bore into The Creep’s back.
“What are you doing?” Gwen’s usual nasty tone was not lost on me.
“Nothing!” I answered quickly.
To my relief, The Creep took a step back and crossed his arms again. “Mary has a boyfriend,” he said, his voice instantly changing. He sounded just as irritated as Gwen.
“I do not!” I protested. The Creep cackled, head leaning back as he laughed. With long strides he walked to Gwen and slung his arm across her shoulders, turning her back to the front courtyard.
“Ralph from next door. Though, I think she has a thing for me.” The Creep led Gwen away.
“The little slut,” Gwen said. Then they were gone, back into the house and out of my sight.
I felt hot tears swell in my eyes. I did not have a thing for The Creep! I hated him! He was a total jerk!
I sat on the brick wall, shaking. I wanted to punch The Creep. I wanted to slap Gwen.
I wanted to scream!
Instead, I got up and flung the skateboard at the wooden gate. The faded avocado green paint chipped, and the wood dented as the skateboard skidded across the fence and slapped onto the concrete, landing upside down and rocking back and forth as it settled.
I saw the damage to the fence and burst into tears.
Now I’m going to get grounded for denting the fence, when all I’d wanted to do in the first place was practice my skateboarding.
Author Bio: Anne Tibbets is an SCBWI award-winning and Smashwords.com Best Selling author. Anne found her way to young adult fantasy by following what she loves: strong female characters, magic, sword fights and ferocious and cuddly animals. Anne is co-author of the middle grade time travel adventure, "The Amulet Chronicles," author of the young adult fantasy "The Beast Call," and YA contemporary "Shut Up."
She divides her time between writing, her family, and three furry creatures that she secretly believes are plotting her assassination. For more information about Anne, visit her website, her blog or on Facebook
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