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I’m not afraid to die. Not even by my own hand.

There’s an old song that says, “Suicide is painless.” I’m not foolish enough to believe that’s always the case, but I do know this: Suicide ends pain.

The only question is: How badly do you want to end the pain?

How badly do you need to?

I don’t know yet. I don’t have the answer. But the question always echoes, most loudly when I’m alone. I suppose some people might find that sort of psychic hectoring difficult or onerous, but I don’t mind it. See, I’m in control. My future and my fate are in my hands, no one else’s. I can do it or I can not. I can do it now or put it off indefinitely.

That’s not scary. It’s comforting.

Sometimes, it’s the only comfort I have.

Not always, though. The first Saturday after the end of each school year, I spend the night at Evan’s. It’s been this way since time immemorial, or at least the past five years. We term this day The Summer Kick-Off Extravaganza! and mark the auspicious occasion by staying up all night watching old movies and concocting ever-more-disgusting arrays of junk food in juxtapositions never intended by God or Frito-Lay. One year, we dipped Cheetos in vanilla ice cream, chased with a hearty brew of every soft drink we could find in the house, mixed together with cherry juice and iced tea. Our flatulence that night and into the next day was truly epic to behold.

For the first few years, visiting Evan’s house was like Lucy parting the furs in the wardrobe to behold the snowfilled, lamppost-lit vistas of Narnia. The sprawling manse is too small to be a mansion by any precise definition. But not by much.

Marble floors through the first level, striped with thick, densely patterned rugs. Rich mahogany handrails and accents throughout. A crystalline chandelier overhead in the foyer. . . and another in the dining room. . . and another in the great room.

(There is nothing as prosaic as a “living room” in Evan’s house. Mere living is for lesser mortals.) The kitchen is three times the size of mine, with two ovens, a six-burner range with a built-in grill, and a range hood that has the suction power of a jet turbine. The fridge, camouflaged into the cabinetry, measures twice as wide as my own, to say nothing of the separate, subzero freezer.

Upstairs, I’ve only glimpsed the rooms other than Evan’s. His brother’s room. His father’s home office. His mother’s auxiliary closet. And I’ve never been to the very top floor, reserved for his parents, with their own sitting room and TV room and a bathroom that—according to Evan—has “two of everything.”

Evan’s room has an attached bathroom and a walk-in closet big enough for a desk and a TV.

Everything is connected, controlled by touchscreens throughout the house. Intercoms and cameras. Everything has a place and everything is in that place, not like in my house, where Mom can never decide exactly where to keep the potted spider plant or which drawer she wants to use for the big serving spoons.

Narnia. You push aside the coats and the cold air hits you and you see the soft, welcoming glow of the lamppost and you know you are far away and that at the same time you are somehow home.

That was in years past.

More recently, I’ve felt as though Evan’s house is a museum, not a fantasyland. I’ve become aware of the way his mother in particular watches me whenever I’m near her. Not as though I’m a thief about to pocket the silver, but rather as though some invisible, malodorous filth clings to me and could drop off and befoul her carpets or her spotless marble floor forever.

Sometimes I wonder: Why can’t they just see me, not the kid who killed? But then I wonder: Is it because the two are the same? It’s bad enough to feel like an outsider. Even worse is when I wonder: Is this new behavior, or has she been like this all along and I just never noticed?

What have I been missing?


Excerpted from BANG © Copyright 2017 by Barry Lyga. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

by by Barry Lyga

  • Genres: Fiction, Young Adult 12+
  • paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0316315516
  • ISBN-13: 9780316315517