Guess what, Anger Management Diary? It wasn’t my dad. It was Ian Furlough from Compassion Club. Ian Furlough is the only kid at school who’s ever bothered to talk to me. He gave me a tour of the campus on the first day, and showed me all the places where people sneak off to make out. It was kind of weird. I quickly realized that he’s the kid everyone makes fun of here, like Willie Barnes at my old school. After that I tried to keep him at a distance, but then we got paired up in English class, and the whole Colin thing happened, and now I’ll probably never get rid of him.

“Everyone in Compassion Club signed a big card for you,” Ian had called me to say. He went on to describe every single detail of the card, like exactly who had signed it and exactly what they’d written, till I was finally like, “Maybe you should put it in the mail so I can see this amazing card for myself, Ian.”

“Oh yeah, definitely…” he said. “Um, Hollis?”

“Yes, Ian?” I glanced at my watch. It was almost time for Jeopardy, assuming I hadn’t lost my TV privileges.

“I’m still, like, reliving it in my mind. Colin hitting the floor like that. You were so amazing.”

Amazing? That’s a word I hadn’t expected to hear. “Oh. Thanks,” I said, embarrassed.

“Um, um, Hollis?”

“Yes Ian?” I said. I wanted to get off the phone. We don’t have a cordless, so I was stuck in the kitchen with my mother eyeing me from behind her Science Digest.

“Um, I love you. I’ll do anything. I love you.”

“Ian, oh my GOD.” I slammed down the phone.

“Who was that?” my mother said. “Was that Ian Furlough? That nice boy?”

“I don’t know,” I said, and then ran back up to my room. I’m really mad because my homework is in my backpack but I don’t want to touch it because it has blood on it and possibly a tooth. I remember a horrible crack when my Lit book hit Colin’s face, and hearing the words “teeth everywhere” when Mr. Novak was explaining it to the principal. God, I’m not sure which words are more horrifying to me: Mr. Novak saying “teeth everywhere,” or Ian saying “I love you.”

Tomorrow I have my first group meeting at the Teen Center, and I’m supposed to read out loud from my anger management diary. Obviously that’s not happening. I guess I should start working on a decoy journal that’s like, Dear Anger Management Diary: What a useful tool you are proving to be! Who knew it was so easy to manage one’s anger through the simple exercise of writing. I am filled with optimism about this new chapter of my life.

OK, I realize I should probably be taking this seriously. It’s not like it was fun getting almost kicked out of school. Nor was it fun to realize how close I am to being this incredibly weird, friendless person. Whatever, maybe they’ll get the Apatosaurus out of the ground in record time, and I can go back to my old school and my old friends, and this whole thing will be a funny anecdote about that crazy time I almost got kicked out of school. In fact, this could be my new personality: Hollis the bad girl, always in trouble. That could be cool!

For a while I sat on my bed listening to my Pearl Jam tape, and imagining how cool I was going to be from now on. Obviously I’d get a new wardrobe and smoke cigarillos and say things like, “Don’t mess with me, girl.” I invented exciting scenarios for my new personality, like being a jaded guitarist, and starting fistfights at Denny’s. But then I started to feel pathetic and depressed. I can’t really explain it. It’s like, you realize you’re not a kid anymore, and that imagination isn’t enough. You need stuff to be real. But my mom would never let me smoke, and this town doesn’t even have a Denny’s.

There was a knock on the door. “It’s Ian again,” my mom was saying. I hadn’t even heard the phone ringing. I wanted to tell her to hang up on him, but suddenly I didn’t have the energy. “Whatever,” I said, mostly to myself. Then I trudged down to the kitchen and picked up the phone.

“Yes, Ian?” I said wearily.

“Um, Hollis?”

“Yes, Ian?” I repeated. I was holding my breath, prepared to scream if he said “I love you” again.

“How do I get my treasure in the swamp?”

Ew, was he being perverted? “Huh?” I said.

“I’m trying to get my treasure in the swamp to score points, but I keep blowing myself up.”

“Wait, you’re playing MUD2? Which server?”


“Which server? Who’s your Arch-Wizard?”

“Uh…I dunno. I’m totally lost. And I keep exploding.”

“OK, well are you using a torch?” I asked him. My mom was pretending to read Science Digest, but I could tell she was listening. I turned to face the wall, twisting the phone cord around my wrist.

“Yeah, of course I have a torch,” Ian was saying.

“Well there’s your problem, idiot,” I said, half-laughing. “There’s marsh gas everywhere, of course you’re exploding. Get rid of your fire.”

“Ooooooooh,” he said. “Thanks, bye.” Then he hung up on me! Can you believe that, Anger Management Diary? I went back to my room and logged into MUD2. I don’t have Ian’s screen name, but it’s easy to find newbies because they get stuck places. I’ll just follow him around, and watch him make a fool of himself. Ha ha ha he just jumped off a cliff like five times! Go AROUND, Ian. You can’t just jump off a freaking cliff.

This is going to be really fun. You know what’s weird? All of a sudden I’m grinning so hard it hurts. Even if it’s just dumb Ian, at least there’s somebody online. ♦