Extract: We Come Apart
Conaghan won the 2016 Costa Children's Book Award for his dark, powerful story of survival, The Bombs That Brought Us Together,and Crossan was awarded last year's CILIP Carnegie Medal for her astonishing YA novel entirely in verse, One. The following extract is exclusive to Waterstones.
You have to be quick,
none of this pretending to be browsing business
that some shoplifters go for.
grab what you want
and out again.
But the others don’t get it.
They take ages making decisions, like they might be legit buying,
so I know before we’re done
we’re done for.
And I’m right.
We don’t make it two steps out of
before a security guard
nabs me by the hood of my jacket. Liz and Shawna are
legging it up the high street
while Meg and I
get dragged back into the shop
and up to an office.
‘Empty your pockets,
you little scrubbers!’ the security guard shouts.
‘Can’t make us,’ I say.
‘You want me to call the police? ’ he asks.
‘That what you want? ’
‘No!’ Meg says,
and as quick as a heartbeat
turns her coat pockets
But they’re empty.
No lipstick or nail varnish,
none of the mini chocolate eggs I saw her
stash away either.
‘I didn’t even do nothing,’ she says. She bites her bottom lip,
starts to well up.
Looks all sorts of pathetic
‘Now you,’ the security guard says,
poking the air around me with his fat finger.
I turn out my pockets
wondering if all the gear I tried to nick
will somehow disappear too,
like Meg’s did.
But it doesn’t.
Everything clatters to the floor:
lipstick, blusher, mascara, nail varnish
bloody mini chocolate eggs.
Mini chocolate eggs that I didn’t nick.
Mini chocolate eggs that Meg can’t get enough of.
She winks to tell me to keep schtum,
to make sure I don’t tell it as it is –
that she somehow managed to stuff her loot
into my pockets on the way up to the office,
that she’s meant to be my mate
but is stitching me up
and letting me take the rap
for everyone else’s thieving.
‘What’s all that? ’ the security guard asks, pointing at the gear on the floor.
‘Never seen it before,’ I say.
‘Really? ’ he asks.
‘Well, it just came out of your pockets.’
‘Can I go now? ’ Meg asks.
I stare at her,
Is she for real?
Like, is she actually going to leave me here on my own
with some mentalist security guard and the threat of juvenile jail?
‘Mum’ll be expecting me,’ she says.
‘I ain’t nicked nothing.’
The security guard picks up the phone.
‘Yeah, you can go,’ he tells Meg.
Then he grins at me,
well pleased with himself – Captain Catch-A-Thief.
You’re going down to the station.’