What Happened to Goodbye begins as Mclean Sweet and her dad, Gus Sweet, move to a new town. Gus works as an interim chef for EAT INC., a corporation that buys failing restaurants, makes them profitable, and sells them to the highest bidder. This job requires him to move around a great deal, and this is the fourth time he and Mclean have moved in two years.
Mclean does not mind bouncing from town to town. It gives her a chance to start over, and it is her only choice if she wants to avoid living with her mom, Katherine. Mclean grew up in Tyler, the hometown of the excellent Defriese University basketball team. Throughout her childhood, she and her dad followed Defriese basketball fanatically—until her mom had an affair with Peter Hamilton, the Defriese coach. In the messy divorce that followed, Mclean decided her loyalties lay with her dad.
With each new town she enters, Mclean has developed a ritual of re-naming herself based on a variation of her middle name, Elizabeth. As she does this, she takes on a new, fake persona to fit the name. First she was Eliza, a perky cheerleader. Then she became Lizbet, an emotional drama type. In the last town, she was Beth, “student council secretary and all-around joiner.” When Mclean and her dad leave a town, she sheds her personalities as easily as dirty clothes. She never even bothers to tell people she is leaving. Now, as she settles into her new house, she checks Beth Sweet’s messages online for the last time. A message from her boyfriend gives her a twinge: “What happened to goodbye?”
In her new town, Mclean thinks she is going to call herself Liz. She introduces herself that way to Opal, the manager of her dad’s new restaurant, Luna Blu. Later, Mclean decides that Liz might be an outgoing type and joins a party next door. She listens awkwardly to a few conversations and takes a few sips of beer. Then the cops arrive.
The police tell everyone to stand still, but Liz Sweet, it seems, is not the type to follow orders. Mclean bolts, running through backyards until a dark figure grabs her and helps her hide in a unused storm cellar. When the police are gone, Mclean’s rescuer turns on a light. She sees that he is her neighbor, a boy her age whom she has only glimpsed briefly until now. Dave seems like a very real person, and for some reason Mclean cannot tell him her new, fake name. She introduces herself as Mclean.
(The entire section is 2417 words.)
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