You Will Know Me - Megan Abbott
Go Devon! Knox Rox! Next Stop: Elite Qualifiers!
BelStars 4-Ever! Regional Champs!
The vinyl banners rippled from the air vent behind them, the restaurant roiling with parents, the bobbing of gymnast heads, music gushing from the weighty speakers keeled on the window ledges.
Slung around Devon’s neck were three medals, two silver and one gold, her first regional-champion title on the vault.
“I’m so proud of you, sweetie,” Katie whispered in her daughter’s ear. “You can do anything.”
Later, Katie would come to think of that night as the key to everything that came after, the secret code.
But at the time, it was just a party, a celebration like dozens of others, all to honor their exceptional fifteen-year-old daughter.
In six months, Devon would compete in Elite Qualifiers and, after years of bruising toil and hamstring tears and twenty-five thousand dollars in credit-card debt and one fateful misstep at her last qualifier, would at last assume the mantle of Senior Elite. From there, anything felt possible.
Everything was glowing: the disco ball spinning above, and the Sterno lights flickering under the kebabs and lomi-lomi atop long tables skirted with raffia, candles in coconut shells and pineapples that Katie had helped hollow out with ice cream scoopers.
Everyone was wearing a lei in honor of the booster club’s Polynesian theme, and Katie spotted Devon smelling hers, the only one made with real orchids, purple and green, the exalted Coach T. himself having draped it over her head as she walked under the thatched arch to great applause. Hail our Devon, he’d intoned, that big voice of his, for the future of BelStars rests on these powerful shoulders!
It was the giddiest Katie had ever seen her daughter. Maybe it was the night, or the plastic cup of rum-spiked punch Eric let her have, offering some small release from the tight pincers that held her constantly.
In a corner, her son, Drew, sat with two other quiet fourth-grade boys, eating frozen bananas dipped in chocolate, their heads craned over handheld games. He was quieter than usual, having been scolded earlier for spilling, or pouring, chocolate milk all over Devon’s perfectly softened good-luck grips.
“But Devon never gets in trouble,” he’d said. “Not for sassing, or doing the treadmill when she’s supposed to rest her knee. Not even for sneaking out at night.”
“I never snuck out,” Devon had insisted.
“You were dreaming,” Katie had reminded him. He was always dreaming about his sister, saying he’d heard her, seen her doing things impossible and forbidden. Mom, Devon was on the roof, flying. Her bed was on fire, Dad. When he was little, he used to dream she had claws for feet.
“Buddy,” Eric had said. “Let your sister have her night.”
But Katie had whispered a promise to him: all the coconut cake and pineapple kebabs he wanted as long as he behaved.
By her second cocktail, fabric petals tickling her cheek, Katie had forgotten about Drew’s misdeed, forgotten even about the uncomfortable moment, hours before at the stadium, a dozen rows ahead of them in the stands, that beet-faced dad in the GymDreamz cap, upset over his daughter’s ranking, who’d shouted that disgusting thing (Devon Knox! Devon sucks c—), only stopping, midsentence, at his wife’s glare.
But Eric had heard it. She could tell by the way his back stiffened, his jaw tightened.
She’d grabbed for his hand. Held it firmly.
But the moment passed, and now Eric stood at one of the banquet tables, carving the glistening ham, pink as a newborn.
Coach Teddy, a parasol’d mai tai impossibly dainty in his bear-paw hand, pulled Katie aside and said he was counting every second until July’s qualifiers, when Devon would gain