Shannen Crane Camp

The Breakup Artist

© 2011 Shannen Crane Camp

For my wonderful husband, Josh, who brings meaning to my life and gives me a reason to write, and for my family who shows me more love and support than I could ever deserve (particularly my mom with her unending encouragement and constant list of ways my book can touch lives). This one is for you guys.


Josh, the reason I wake up every morning, the reason I write, the reason I love.

Mom, my medical advisor, emotional support, editor extraordinaire, and best friend who I couldn’t have written this book without.

Gary, my guide in everything logical, who never let me have a negative thought about myself or my writing, and the provider of many, many sour candy eating contests.

Dad, the patron of my obsessive reading, the person I get my sense of humor from, and a friend I love dearly.

Maddie, my unofficial locations manager and provider of amazing books that I’d never heard of.

Jared, my wonderful big brother, protector, and the reason I’m so eccentric.

Awilda, the best sister I could ask for, my de-stressor and fellow lover of all things fuzzy and cute.

Rainey, my crazy other half who understands me when I speak in movie quotes.

Jackie, my wonderful (unofficial) editor and fellow author whom I love dearly for never taking anything at face value.

Courtney, my fellow art connoisseur who gave me inspiration for a chronic disguiser.

Lyndsey, who put up with my constantly changing moods and let me be just as weird as I wanted.

Lindsay S, the age consultant and fellow inner child.

My new family, you are all so wonderful, and the fact that you taught me Nerts has changed the way I view controlled chaos forever.

All the YA authors whose endless blogs kept me trudging toward my goal.

Chapter One

The paper in my hand read:



POI-’80s dancing, girl pants, terrariums

Deadline-Two weeks before prom

As I read this boy’s fact sheet, I was already mentally pulling together an outfit from my closet. I pictured my gray shirt with brightly colored cassette tape stamps all over it, black skinny jeans, and a hot pink and black zebra- print scarf. I could just slap on some neon eye shadow and I’d be good to go. Judging by the brief history given to me by James’s soon-to-be former girlfriend, this job would only take a few hours, which worked out well since Nat wanted some other boy to ask her to the prom. There wasn’t a question in my mind that “Nat” was the short, cool version of some otherwise outdated name. I didn’t doubt that I’d be breaking the new couple up the day after prom, but that wasn’t any of my business. My business was destroying the currently living relationship. I stuffed the paper into my black backpack and nodded to the retro-punk girl in front of me.

“It’s going to be fifty,” I said simply, checking my black cell phone for the time. If this transaction made me late for biology, I’d be doubling my price.

“Fifty!” she said incredulously. “Tori Jacobs told me you did it for her for only thirty!” I had expected this reaction, and I was prepared.

“Listen, Nat. It’s three weeks until the prom. It’s my busiest season of the school year, so I don’t have time to haggle with you. If I take on any more clients I might be raising it to seventy, so fifty’s a pretty good deal, wouldn’t you say?” She nodded sullenly at me and began digging through her backpack for the money.

It has always amazed me what people will pay to avoid an awkward situation. That’s where I come in. All the girls in the high school knew me and what I did to earn money, but the boys, amazingly enough, hadn’t caught on yet. This was good for me because the second boys learned that my presence meant their inevitable heartbreak, my job would become that much more complicated. Of course, then I could just charge more.

Nat handed over two twenty-dollar bills and a ten grudgingly. The paper was crinkled and warm from her backpack, but money was money.

“Lovely doing business with you,” I said professionally, pocketing the cash. I began walking away when Nat grabbed my arm, cutting off my escape route through the quickly-emptying hallway. I really needed to get myself some sort of office to keep my business transactions more private. Nat spun me around to face her and I gave her a look that said she was overstepping the boundaries by using physical contact.

“You sure this will work?” she asked me, her voice straddling the border between anger and desperation.

“Positive. I deliver the news, cushion the blow, and gracefully bow out. He won’t even blame you when I’m through with him.” This answer seemed to satisfy her, and she released my arm so that I could make my way, unencumbered, to biology. I could feel the wad of money in my pocket, and I smiled to myself, keeping my eyes straight ahead on the door just down the hallway. I’m sure that deep down somewhere I should feel bad about taking money from people for doing something they’d be better off doing themselves, but isn’t that what business is all about? We’d be better off doing our own taxes but we pay people to do them for us, and I don’t see mobs surrounding any CPAs’ offices come April 15. Okay, so that may be a bad analogy, but I stick by what I said- everybody pays other people to do something for them that they could easily do on their own.

Biology with Mrs. Mathers was the same as it always was: terribly interesting, yet presenting me an absolute guarantee that I’d fail the test. It is always unfortunate to love something you’re bad at, which is why I embrace my profession so fully. I mean, God graced me with good looks and absolutely no friends, so I made that into a business. Besides, it’s hard to be friends with someone when you’re taking their boyfriend on a date. Things always get way too weird when I try to combine my business and my social life, hence why it’s easier to just remain friendless.

I discovered my gift in elementary school with my first, last, and only friend, Becky Brasher. She and Tommy White had been “going out” (which in elementary school means that they held hands once every few lunch periods) for a week when Becky asked me to tell him it was over. Being ten, I naturally thought this would help our friendship so I told Tommy they were not dating anymore, giving him my business motto, “It’s not you, it’s me,” only to realize that this line was usually delivered by the actual girlfriend. Ever since then it’s been apparent that my calling in life was to be the scapegoat, albeit a scapegoat that cushioned the blow by giving the quiet assurance that the boy’s looks or personality have nothing to do with the breakup. But there I was, a scapegoat

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