TITLE: The Allergy Club
GENRE: Contemporary YA
Madison went on what was supposed to be a day trip with The Allergy Club, but they got stuck overnight, so she missed her other club's car wash fundraiser. Since the club is a secret, Madison had told her friends she was spending the evening with her family. (Hank is Hailey's brother.)
I climbed out of Hank’s car and sprinted to Hailey in the corner of the grocery store parking lot. A nurse had cleaned up my knee, but a shooting pain still accompanied my every step. I tried not to wince and just focus on Hailey. She threw a sponge into an empty bucket, then set it next to the coiled up hose and a stack of leftover flyers.
“I’m so incredibly sorry,” I said, wishing I’d spent the drive coming up with better words. “There was a bit of a disaster, and we just got back.”
“We, being your family?”
I nodded, inwardly gulping.
“Yeah, that really explains why your parents called my house last night freaking out that you were gone. And my brother was gone all night, too. What, y’all ‘fell asleep somewhere,’ but nothing really happened? Is that what you’re going to pull?”
“No. Gosh no! It’s not that at all.”
“Then what is it?”
A stream of water trickled past us on the concrete. Jamie and Nandita stopped putting away the signs about ten feet away, and I could sense them watching. The concrete would probably be much more accepting of everything I couldn’t say, but I forced my eyes up to Hailey’s.
“I so wish I could tell you, but I just can’t. And you know I can’t keep a secret. So please believe me—it’s important it’s a secret.”
I didn’t believe that so much at first. I thought it was just a club that thought too much of itself. No club could truly need to be a secret.
But the club took in the parts of each of us that made our daily lives a bit of a struggle—the parts of us we couldn’t change. And we didn’t want them to become a bigger deal by talking about them to everyone in our lives. We didn’t want them to become the things that defined us, but we needed a place to deal with them, so eventually we could be free.
That didn’t make sense to me when I joined. When I just wanted to know how to get food into my stomach and not end up in pain. But now it was one of the only things in the world I was certain of.
“I don’t believe you. And I can’t believe that whatever you were doing was more important than this. We really needed you.”