Home > Transcend (Transcend Duet #1)

Transcend (Transcend Duet #1)
Author: Jewel E. Ann


Nevaeh. It’s Heaven spelled backwards and the name of the girl to my right with her finger five stories up her nose. I grimace while readjusting in my chair. It has nothing to do with her disgusting habit. One of the wings to my pad is stuck to my pubic hair. Mom worries about tampons and toxic shock syndrome. It can’t be more painful than this.

The receptionist keeps glancing at us through her owlish glasses, tapping the end of her pen on her chin. “Nevaeh, do you need a tissue?” she asks.

My parents are not the weirdest parents in the world after all. Lucky me.





With over ten thousand baby names in the average name book, how does one settle on such horrible names?

Backwards Heaven glances over at me as if I have the answer to the receptionist’s question. I’m not the tip of her finger. How am I supposed to know what it feels like up there? After inspecting her size—smaller than me—and her yellow hair in a hundred different lengths that looks like something my mom calls a DIY, I give the receptionist a small nod.

Without moving her finger, because it might be stuck, Nevaeh mimics my nod. The receptionist holds out a box of tissues. They both stare at me. When did I get put on booger duty?

“Swayze, do you need to go potty before we leave?” Mom asks, coming out of the office where I took my tests.

Swayze. That’s me. Worst name ever—until five minutes ago when Nevaeh introduced herself and offered me a gluten-free, peanut-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, taste-free snack from her BPA-free backpack. My uncle thinks the millennials are going to ruin the world because they have no common sense, and all of their knowledge comes from the internet. He may be right, only time will tell, but then what’s my parents’ excuse? Or Nevaeh’s parents’ excuse? Common sense says you give your child a good solid name. Kids don’t want to be unique. It’s true. We just want to fit in.

I grab the box of tissues and toss it on my empty chair, turning before Nevaeh’s finger slides out. Some things I don’t need to know, like why it smells like cherry vomit in the waiting room, why there is a water dispenser but no cups, and what’s up Nevaeh’s right nostril.

“Restroom,” I mumble, tracing the toe of my shoe over the red and white geometric patterns of the carpet.

“We can’t hear you when you talk to your feet, Swayze,” Dad says like he’s said it a million times. Maybe he has.

I lift my head up. “No, I don’t need to use the restroom! Or potty. Do I still look four to you?”

His blue eyes, which match mine, ping-pong around the room before landing on me. “Shh … you don’t need to be so loud.” He smooths his hand over the top of his mostly bald head, like I ruffled his feathers, what few he has left.

“Let’s just go, dear.” My mom reaches for my hand.

I jerk away.


As if giving me such a stupid name wasn’t enough, she has to draw it out. “Swaaayzeee.” Who wants a name that rhymes with lazy and crazy?

“Well, you said you can’t hear me when I talk to my feet. Can you hear me now?!”

They hear me. The guy who tested me peeks his head out the door, squinting at me. He hears me too. I can’t find my inside voice. Something has tripped my volume and it’s stuck on playground voice.

“Potty is what toddlers do. I’m not a toddler! I’m eleven. And I know stuff that other eleven-year-olds don’t know. So what? That doesn’t mean something is wrong with me. You keep bringing me to places like this to take stupid tests and sit in stinky waiting rooms with weird kids who have crazy names and like to chant unsolvable riddles, pull their hair, and pick their noses!”

Balling my hands, I resist the rare urge to pull my own hair. My parents each take one of my arms and drag me out of the office. Just before we reach the door, I give Nevaeh a small grimace of apology. She slides her finger back into her nose.

“Am I a genius yet?” I ask in a much calmer voice as my parents rush me to the elevator and down fifteen stories like someone’s trying to kill the president. Next to our blue hybrid car is a red convertible. Maybe it belongs to Nevaeh’s parents. Then again, that car is a little too cool for people who would name their child Heaven backwards. Heaven in the opposite direction … wouldn’t that be Hell?

After checking my seatbelt, as if an eleven-year-old can’t be trusted to listen for the click and give it a tug, my dad glares at me, jaw clenched. He’s too mad to talk. That’s fine. I’ll know when he’s ready to talk; his first demand will be an explanation. There really isn’t anything more I can say. My words, although louder than necessary, were self-explanatory.

After long minutes of some self-imposed timeout on himself, my dad looks at my mom and nods.

“Swayze?” She glances over her shoulder at me, curling her dark hair behind her ear. I don’t detect any anger in her voice. It’s sweet and juicy like the Starburst candy I get at the movies.

I fear her words will feel like the cavities I get from eating too much sugar.

“How would you feel about trying a new school?”

Yep. She’s drilling without numbing anything first. I’ve attended four different schools. Every educational psychologist and child development expert in a fifty-mile radius has evaluated me. They figured out I’m gifted, but not in a typical way. Smart. But not necessarily a genius.

My random recollections of historical events, that are not at all noteworthy, are most puzzling. I’m not playing Chopin or speaking fluent Spanish. I enjoy talking with adults, but I fit in just fine with my peers as well. I can’t name that many famous war generals. Even naming the presidents in order is a challenge. But random things that happened in Madison, Wisconsin, a few years before I was born seems to be my specialty.

“Move? Again?” I sigh as we pass the UW-Madison Arboretum, one of the places I like to go in the summer.

“We just want to find a good fit for you.”

“I fit fine where I’m at.”

“But they’re not challenging you enough.”

I shrug. “What does it matter? If I already know what they’re telling me, then I don’t have to do as much homework as my friends.”

“It’s wasted potential.” Dad shoots me a quick look in the rearview mirror. He, too, has lost his fight over my outburst.

“Potential means—” Mom starts to explain.

“Possibilities, prospects, future success. I get it.” I’m fairly certain other eleven-year-old kids in sixth grade have heard the word potential before. It’s not exactly a word I’d see on my word of the day calendar.

“You know, Swayze, the Gibsons are sending Boomer to a private school only an hour from our house. If we send you there, you’d already have one friend.”

Boomer. Another hideous name. Sounds like a Rottweiler. Nice boy though. I like him, but not the way he likes me. At least I don’t think so. He carries my backpack to the bus for me after school, but he also snaps my bra in class. The bra I don’t need. My mom pressured me into getting one after several of my friends got them. I don’t have breasts. Nope. Nothing there yet. Still, I wear it to feel like all of the other girls, and apparently Boomer’s need to snap it during math every day means he likes me. At least that’s the story my mom tries to sell.

Not buying it.

“I like my school.” I twist my blond hair around my finger then slide it through my lips curled between my teeth.

Mom frowns. She has a thing about hair near the mouth. A hair in her food triggers her gag reflex to the point of vomiting, and then she can’t eat that type of food for months. Dad always threatens to plant a hair in the ice cream she likes to sneak—his ice cream.

“You’ll be in middle school next year. It’s a good time for a change. The transition will be easier.” Dad nods as if he only needs to convince himself and my mom.

“I like my friends.”

“You’ll make new friends,” Mom says, shaking her head and scowling at the hair in my mouth.

I pull it out and flip it over my shoulder. “Why can’t I just be normal and you be happy with that?”

“Swayze, if you just give this a try, I promise we won’t ask you to switch schools again, even if it doesn’t work out.” Mom flinches like something’s caught in her throat, probably bile from seeing hair in my mouth.

One last move. One last school. I’ll do it. But I won’t believe it’s truly the last.


10 Years Later

“Swayze, what makes you think your parents gave up on you?” Dr. Greyson asks.

Carlton Greyson. That is a well-thought-out name. Strong. Manly. Intelligent.

My father died of a heart attack last year. I’m good, but my mother suggested we use some of his life insurance money to help deal with the loss. I suggested a trip to Costa Rica. She decided on shrinks.

Again, I’m good. However, it appeases her to know that I’m expressing my emotions to someone since it’s not her. I’ve been through a handful of psychologists and psychiatrists, looking for someone who doesn’t annoy me.

This is my first visit with Dr. Greyson. It’s too early to make any conclusions, but his name doesn’t piss me off so there’s that.

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