The Avery Shaw Experiment (Science Squad #1)

by Kelly Oram

The following journal is a scientific study on the process of overcoming heartbreak and is my official entry for the 2013 Utah State Science Fair.

My theory is that having your heart broken is very similar to experiencing the death of a loved one. Therefore, it stands to reason that by using the commonly accepted seven stages of grief (shock/disbelief, denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression, and acceptance/hope), one can overcome the devastating effects of a broken heart.

In this experiment, I will prove my theory by taking you through the seven stages of grief as applied to my own severely-damaged heart. I hypothesize that once I have experienced all seven of these steps, I will have cured my heart of all cracks and tears and will be otherwise ready to fall in love again.

As I, Avery Shaw—average sixteen-year-old junior in Spanish Fork, Utah—am obviously not impartial on this topic and will not always be able to make unbiased observations, I have recruited the help of fellow Spanish Fork High student Grayson Kennedy to be an objective outside observer throughout this study. Unlike me, the eighteen-year-old basketball star and womanizing socialite has absolutely no personal interest in the outcome of this experiment. (He’s in it for the extra credit.)

We call this project The Avery Shaw Experiment.


To really grasp the full extent of the shock I experienced when Aiden Kennedy broke my heart, you need to understand the unusual circumstances of our relationship up until that point.

Aiden and I had known each other since birth. Our mothers met in a prenatal yoga class and became instant best friends, bonding over the same due date and a mutual tendency to throw up during class.

Aiden and I were born on the same cold winter day: February 11, 1997. As babies we went to all the same playdates and mommy-and-me groups. When we got a little older, it became the same preschool and then the same elementary school, middle school, and high school. We have all the same friends, participate in all the same extracurricular activities, and have even celebrated every single one of our birthdays together.

I’d been desperately in love with Aiden for years, but despite my secret undying devotion, we’d never been anything but the very best of friends. Knowing boys are slower to develop in the romance department, I waited patiently for Aiden to catch up to my feelings. I never had any doubt that he would one day see me for the girl I am and give me my first kiss. Then we would go to prom together and eventually end up as Mr. and Mrs. Aiden and Avery Kennedy. Even our names fit perfectly together.

Aiden dropped the bomb that changed my life this past New Year’s Eve. My mom and I had gone—as we did every year—with the Kennedy family up to their insanely nice condo in Park City for winter break. It was nearing dinnertime, and Aiden and I were watching this fascinating documentary about the effects of steroid use on the human body.

“Where in the world is your brother?” Aiden’s mom, Cheryl, stood in the kitchen, frowning at the pile of dishes in the sink.

Grayson Kennedy is not my brother, technically, but I didn’t think twice before answering his mom’s question. “He went downstairs to the gym about an hour ago.”

“Shirtless,” Aiden added with a snort. “I guess the new tenants down in 7B have a good-looking daughter. What was the term he used?”

“Whooty.” I laughed.

“Whooty?” Cheryl echoed.

“It was a new one for us too. We had to look it up.”

Aiden happily recited the definition we’d read on “‘A white girl who has a pretty face, a nice slim waist, and a voluptuously large, bountiful, beautiful booty’.”

Cheryl let out a long, exasperated sigh, yet there was a hint of amusement in her voice when she said, “Where does he come up with that stuff?”

As if he’d felt his ears burning, Grayson burst through the front door and answered his mom’s question. “Some people just have a gift.” He trounced into the kitchen—still shirtless and now drenched in sweat—scooped his mom up into a big hug, and plastered a sloppy kiss in her cheek. “Love you, Mom! What’s for dinner? I’m starving.”

“Gross!” Cheryl shrieked and slapped him away. “That is disgusting, Grayson! I know I’ve taught you better manners than that!”

Grayson frowned. “Since when is hugging your mom and telling her you love her bad manners?”

Cheryl sighed again but cracked a smile. She shoved a chocolate-chip cookie into her oldest son’s mouth after seeing the pout on his face.

Some people have gifts all right. Grayson Kennedy could charm the pants off of any girl he met, and frequently did if the rumors around school were to be believed. Which they were.

“I love you too, honey,” Cheryl said, “but you stink. Go shower, please, and then get in here and do these dishes.”

“The dishes?” Grayson whined, heading for the fridge.

Thankfully Cheryl intercepted the milk and handed Grayson a glass before he could slobber all over the carton. “Yes. The dishes. It was your turn to do them after lunch. If they’re not done before dinner, then you will be in charge of all the dinner dishes as well, and Avery will be off the hook tonight.”

“Sweet,” I called over my shoulder from the living room. “By all means, Grayson, put it off a little longer.”

Grayson finally noticed Aiden and I on the couch. “What are you two dorks doing?”

“Learning about steroids,” I said cheerfully. “You should probably know that using them can cause acne, testicular atrophy, decreased sperm count, prostate enlargement, and gynecomastia.”

Grayson looked rightfully appalled. “Gyneco-what-ia?”

“Enlarged breasts in men,” Aiden translated. “So you should lay off the juice before you have to start borrowing Avery’s bras.”

I gasped at the mention of my underwear and whacked Aiden’s shoulder hard.

Behind me, Grayson laughed. I knew he was about to deliver a comeback, but I refused to look at him. Seconds later his breath was warm on my neck. He whispered just low enough that his mother couldn’t hear what he said. “I like my bras colorful and lacey, Aves. Not sure your collection would do it for me.”

Total mortification. Grayson may be as close as family to me, but he was still one of the hottest, most popular guys in our whole school. He, discussing my bras in that low, sexy voice that could stop a girl’s heart on the spot, made my lungs constrict. Plus, he was right of course. My bras were all of the plain white cotton variety.