Book cover of “Julie and the Lost Kids“ by Taylor Brooks

Julie and the Lost Kids

  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Age: 18+
  • Status: Completed
  • Language: English
  • Author: Taylor Brooks
“Well, first, where are we? And why are we all here?” “We don’t actually know what this place is called,” Chloe started, “But all of us got here the same way – through a portal from our homes.” 15-year-old Julie lives in a small town with an alcoholic mother who never cared about anything but booze. All of Julie’s efforts to push her mom to get... 

Chapter 1

Julie sank lower and lower into her seat as Mr. Peters spoke. It wasn’t like much of what he said was processed in her mind, though; half of it was going in one ear and out the other. She knew all this already. She also wanted to hide. She was scared that everyone could see right through her normal facade. On the outside, Julie was like every other girl in her junior year at Salem High School. She had a few close friends, but besides that, she kept to herself. Her physical appearance didn’t make her stand out, either.

She was of average height, fair-skinned, with long brown curly hair. She typically pulled her hair back into a ponytail, or like today, a French braid, because the curls could be quite unmanageable, but she kept it tamed. Her beautiful green eyes could stand out a bit, especially since they were magnified by her glasses, but she kept her gaze downward most of the time unless she was around Abby and Hailey, her two best friends. They were basically the only two people Julie felt like she could be herself around. They knew why she was hiding today in her AP Psychology class.

They knew why a flush was creeping into her cheeks.

“People can become addicted to anything – gambling, shopping, sex, food – but for this class, we are going to focus on alcohol,” Mr. Peters rattled off like he was reading a grocery list. Clearly, he wasn’t too interested in this topic. For him, this was just a lesson that he had to teach to cover the material for the AP exam.

That’s probably why he saved this for the end of the school year. He was putting it off. He wanted to spend most of his time going over the “real” stuff – depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia. He didn’t really believe addictions were much more than a bad choice. People with addictions are responsible for these problems because they can’t control themselves around whatever it is they’re addicted to. This isn’t all speculation on Julie’s part. Mr. Peters was pretty outspoken about what he believed. “The criteria for alcoholism have changed throughout the years as the DSM has been updated,” he continued.

Julie risked a glance up and around the classroom.

No one was staring at her; it was just her imagination. Abby was seated to her right. Julie tried to see if her best friend was watching her, but no, Abby’s eyes were on the front of the room. Somehow, she was seemingly hypnotized by Mr. Peters’ boring lecture. Well, it’s probably not the lecture she’s so enthralled by, Julie thought, and a little smile reached her face.

As Julie looked around again, she realized all the girls had their eyes fixed ahead while most of the guys looked like they were ready to fall asleep. Typical. Mr. Peters was the hottest teacher at Salem High School, and the girls completely fawned over him. He was tall, tan, and fit. He played college baseball, and he still played in his spare time, so he was definitely in good shape. He coached the boys’ varsity baseball team at the school. He had dark hair that sat perfectly flat on his head, and his face was like a movie star’s or a model’s. He had perfect teeth and bright blue eyes that you could get completely lost in.

Usually, Julie would be staring at Mr. Peters, too, but today she was distracted. She was trying as hard as she could to not focus on what Mr. Peters was lecturing about, but by doing so, she was getting more sucked in and getting completely stuck in her head. It didn’t matter that he was drop-dead gorgeous.

“…in the DSM-V, it is called ‘alcohol use disorder.’

“There are 11 criteria, and if you meet any 2 in the past 12 months, you get the diagnosis. Most of the symptoms are obvious, like trying to quit but can’t, cravings, and continuing to drink despite negative consequences. I’ll list all the criteria on the board. Copy them down and memorize them because they’ll be on your test on Friday, and they’ll likely come up on the AP exam in 2 weeks.”

Mr. Peters turned around and began to write on the whiteboard.

Julie didn’t need to take notes for this class.

She knew everything already. But she didn’t want to draw attention to herself, so she pretended to take meticulous notes in her notebook, trying to blend in with all the other students in her class. In reality, she wasn’t writing anything related to the class.

She was working on a new poem.

Julie loved writing in her spare time.

She worked on poems and short stories.

Being a book nerd herself, she was drawn to expressing herself through the written word.

“There are a few different research-based treatments for alcohol use disorder, but one of the most promising courses of action is joining and actively participating in AA.”

Julie has done her research about alcoholism over the years.

She knew all about AA. She has even been to a couple of meetings just to figure out what all the hype was about. She knew the signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse, the health consequences, and the recommended treatment; she considered herself an expert on the subject at this point, but none of that has made a difference.

At least I know I’ll do well on this part of the test, she thought. Not that she was worried about the rest of the test either. Julie had a 4.2 GPA, she was in all AP and college-level classes, and she had already decided that she would apply to some of the Ivy League schools next year. She got her ACT scores back last week, and she couldn’t believe how well she did.

Getting a 35 on the ACT is definitely Ivy League material, but of course, she knew that so much more went into these decisions than grades and test scores. She had some extra-curricular activities, but not as many as some of the kids in her school, because she also had a part-time job at the grocery store where she worked about 25 hours a week. She knew she would have to write a killer essay for her applications and try to get interviews so she could really sell herself.

She continued to daydream about getting into one of her target schools and getting out of this town. Salem was so small; everyone knew everyone else’s business, and Julie was so sick of it. She wanted to get out of her house and leave everything behind. But, she thought, none of it matters. With my luck, I’m never getting out of here. She really believed that her personal connection to the subject Mr. Peters was continuing to drone on about would preclude her from achieving her dreams.

It would keep her stuck in this place forever.

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