Not a Bestseller, by Nobody
Excerpt from Chapter 1, I Was Thirsty, p. 6 - 10
I didn’t plan on getting arrested that day. There was this really, really, really bad chain of events that unfolded on me. It was completely inevitable. And unfair. Like any other day, it all started with a therapy session.
Doctor Conner was waiting for me in his office.
On my way there, I stared at—not out—the car window as I waited for the frost to drip. I’d only touched that window once, yet the clear portion had already clouded over.
“Ben? Did you hear me?”
My driver spoke in a voice that had an odd ring to it. Like he’d just finished saying something. Something important. I realized his question was directed towards me when he looked in his back-view mirror.
What had he asked me?
I shook my head and hoped that was an answer.
My driver—I called him Ed, although I never found out whether Ed was his real name—sighed. He curled his lips and made an odd expression that was supposed to conceal his real emotion from me, from what I could tell. I’d grown accustomed to that face.
He spoke the words that turned my life into a Shakespearian tragedy. “I said that I’m going to be a few minutes late picking you up today.”
“Why?” I asked, not the least bit interested, mind you. My head was back on the window.
“Your parents need me to pick them up first.”
I stared at him.
"I’ll come get you afterward.”
I flipped through the files in my brain’s headquarters. Dad was on some mission to rise to fame in the world of politics, and Mom was right by his side in all of it. I never paid attention to what he did. Something about campaigning and the governor and please don’t make me go on or I’ll fall asleep.
All I knew? Cameramen cascaded Dad without mercy. And he always kept me at a distance to avoid screen time.
I didn’t blame him. Dad’s boss—the mighty Rex Peterson—says I’d ruin the “image,” i.e. a beautiful wife, perfect sons for all anyone knows, and more money than Microsoft would know what to do with. The media had yet to pick dirt on him.
They’d have their story soon.
Ed stared at the mirror again. I studied his face. His eyes were a little wider than usual, and his lips were inside his mouth. He was waiting for a response from me.
“Okay,” I said.
He seemed satisfied. Because he turned his focus back on the road, where it should have been the whole time.
I didn’t dislike Ed personally, but he couldn’t have been hired for his driving abilities. If he was qualified, he would have known to pick me up first. He would have sped to pick up my dad while avoiding the main roads. He would have driven more smoothly on the pavement split with black ice rather than skating on it. He would have kept two hands on the wheel instead of one.
Maybe it was a tiny bit personal.
I wish they would let me drive. I did have my own car, after all. But my parents had this idea trapped inside their file cabinets: I wasn’t supposed to drive until I was thirty-five. In a lot of ways, I agreed with them. Although I would have said thirty-six. And a half.
But, come on. My driving skills couldn’t be any worse than Ed’s.
(I would find out later how wrong I was.)
Ed tapped his fingers against the wheel, and I realized we were stopped. Doctor Conner’s office reminded me of a prison. Ha, prison would be a step up. This was my least favorite place in the world. Also known as most hated.
I opened the car door.
“Remember. Just. Wait. Here.”
People separated their words like that when they spoke to me. I hated it. It’s not a convenient form of communication for any species, so why make me the exception? It’s not like slowing down his words was going to make me listen to them. Boy, I should have.
I disappeared inside the building before I could watch the car pull away. I wouldn't be coming back to this place for a long time. I just didn’t know it yet.
So, I dreaded it as usual.
The bright colors of the room always threw me off guard. Like a preschool tricking troubled kids into thinking they’re special.
I knocked on the door to Doctor Conner’s office and poked my head inside.
“Hi, Ben,” he said. “Have a seat.”
We used to have these long arguments when he called me “Benjamin” with emphasized syllables. I’m Ben. That’s what I want to be called. Doctor Conner asked me why, and my answer was simple. Because that’s what I want. There's no changing that fact. Or arguing that logic.
I took my seat and prepared myself for interrogations. Sure enough, Doctor Conner
asked, “How are you?”
I crossed my arms the way I always did and stared at the floor. “Fine.”
“Did you do anything fun yesterday?”
“What did you do then?”
“What didn’t you do?”
“How’s your dad?”
“He looks the same.”
“Do you want to talk?”
“But I want to talk to you, Ben.”
“Well, that’s too bad.”
“I don’t see anything negative about the current situation.”
“Ben. Could you look at me?”
My body remained stubbornly still.
I considered him. Then glanced up. He had one of those typical faces, which I already knew. It was kind of disappointing. The way his eyes judged me sucked.
He wore a fake grin that matched the preschool atmosphere of the room. “That’s better. Don’t you agree?”
It took the strained effort of every muscle in my body not to strangle him. There was something extremely irritating about him. Like he was better than me, and he knew it. Like I was a little kid.
“So…why don’t you tell me how you’re feeling right now?”
I won’t bore you with more details of my therapy session. But, to understand what I was going through, imagine something you hate to do. And I mean really hate. Okay, now imagine you’re doing that thing you hate with someone you honest-to-goodness hate. Then, imagine doing that hated activity with that hated person for at least one hour.
Every. Single. Day.
Yeah. That’s my life.
Query Letter/Book Details
Benjamin Daniel Wood is autistic and uninteresting, and he plans to keep it that way. When another session of parent-enforced therapy goes wrong, there’s only one logical solution for a seventeen-year-old kid in Delcoph, New York: steal a bottle of water and make sure he gets caught.
Step two? An eye-contact-less conversation with his parents while they discuss how to make their idiot-boss likable again before elections. Unfortunately, it all backfires into another therapy program (led by a man who looks way too much like Charles Manson) and Ben will do anything to get out of it.
However, he takes one rebellious act too far, and it’s not the cops or news crew who catch him this time. It’s a girl who’s not afraid of controversial black-mail. Delving back into the world of therapy, Ben will have to choose whether to play up to the labels he's been forced into, or decide for himself whom he chooses to be: Nobody, or Somebody worth living as.
In the meantime, he’ll write his non-story in this book and pray to God no one ever finds it.
At 90000 words, Not a Bestseller is a YA contemporary coming-of-age novel telling the tale a young boy under the burden of society’s labels. It is the first a potential series, The Abnormality Profiles. Possible audiences include lovers of simple stories with deeper meanings, such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Marley and Me, or The Fault in Our Stars, and fans of self-aware stories with healthy doses of sarcasm, such as the Wimpy Kid series or A Series of Unfortunate Events.
A young writer in central Wisconsin, I am currently pursuing a degree in English and Education and represent a vast majority of unheard writers. I have had work published in online forums and have gained a modest readership through social media networking platforms. My manuscript, Not a Bestseller, is available in its entirety upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration!