Blue Home
by Mallory Joel

There's a star in the sky outside that's so brightly white it's almost blue. I'm lying on the sand and remembering how when I was a little kid, I took the stars for granted- each one was simply an insignificant speck that was part of my little world. Now I realize that they aren't part of my world at all, but great balls of life and fire millions of miles away, too far and boiling hot and enormous for me to even comprehend.
The stars do not revolve around me, they are heavenly bodies with entire mysterious universes that revolve around them.

I dumped Jake Hirschmier five weeks ago when his drunken hand unceremoniously felt me up. We were down by the brook, the main teenage hangout on our Godforsaken tiny island. I was lying back on the damp ground, slightly buzzed, my jeans caked with mud. Ellen and James were off making out in his pickup truck and someone was peeing in the brook, a steady whizzing noise interrupted only by slurred laughter. And suddenly, that hand crept up out of nowhere.
I jumped up and ran a couple of fingers through my hair, looking around. Cigarette butts and Bud Light cans littered the ground. James' pickup with it's four stolen hubcaps was off in the distance, supporting several people who were dancing on the bed of it. A loud, blaring noise emitted0 the base was turned way up.
I closed my eyes briefly and rubbed my temples. Glancing down at my watch, I noticed it was 12:18- eighteen minutes past my curfew. I began walking.
"Where ya goin', babe?" Jake asked, a woozy half-smile on his face. He looked different, suddenly. Not cool or mysterious or wild, but like the rough-around-the-edges, doped-up mechanic's son he really was. I smiled at him, but it was laced with something else.
"Goodbye, Jake," I said, just as I always did.
But he knew what I meant.

From what I can remember of my mother, she was three things: pretty, neighborly, and religious. She brought casseroles to people who had just moved in and invited them to come to church with us, read to my from the children's Bible, and had long, black hair. That is, before the chemo. Most of my memories of my mother are after she got cancer. Her hair fell out and grew back dull and gray. She sat around most of the day, writing in her journal and watching Oprah and Jeopardy. Towards the end, she stopped writing and eating as much. She just sat on the couch with the TV on all day.

I was sitting in fourth period English today, at first zoning out but then becoming angrier and angrier. Mrs. Whitcomb, my teacher, was giving us grammar worksheets and telling us how grammar is the backbone of words and storytelling.
She made me so mad, my ears whistled and I could hardly sit still. I completely tuned her out, my mind burning with wild thoughts. Who did she think she was? Storytelling is not about pronouns and subjects, it is about life and nature and lessons. I thoughts back to the stories my mother used to tell me: tales of her and her sisters growing up, of Jesus and His disciples, of me when I was a baby. Suddenly, I knew that Mrs. Whitcomb was all wrong. Love is the backbone of stories.
When the bell rang, I hadn't done any of my worksheets. I jumped out of my seat and was the first one to the door, crumpling up those stupid papers and tossing them into the recycling bin. I grabbed my surfboard out of my locker and ran out of the building, away from the red EXIT sign, away from fifth-period art, away from Mrs. Whitcomb and her grammar worksheets. I ran towards the only thing that truly understood me: the beach.

My dad is white, North-European with red hair and skinny legs. He manages three agricultural fields that grow coconut trees and citrus fruits. He wears plaid cotton shirts and rides around in his golf cart under the warm sun all day, making sure the laborers are doing their jobs right.
Every Wednesday night, he brings home hamburgers and French fries. We sit on the porch, facing the ocean, and say our high and low points of the week. Then we go inside, get all ready for bed, and watch Comedy Central until we fall asleep, him on the Lay-Z-Boy, me on the futon. It's out Wednesday night tradition.

I guess you can say it all started the beginning of sophomore year, thirteen months ago. I was friends with a group of girls who thought lipstick and MTV were the most important things in the world. I had been friends with them since elementary school and their silly obsessions had been consistent: first Barbies and the Spice Girls, then ballet and horses, and now this. Frankly, I had outgrown them.
I had no idea where I fit in. The school was mostly divided by heritage: white kids and Hawaiians. I was a six-foot mixed breed, with tan but freckled skin, raven hair, and narrow green eyes. I was a girl surfer and a writer of poetry, and my three favorite musical artists were Britney Spears, Nirvana, and my uncle the flute player.
Jake came along and swept me out of my mundane life. His friends were crazy and rebellious and knew how to have a good time. Drugs were mandatory, sex was common, and school was optional.
My dad hardly noticed anything was different. I looked the same, ate and slept, and erased the messages from school letting him know I'd been absent. I kept up our Wednesday nights, and he assumed nothing was wrong.
At first, I was exhilarated. I felt more alive and free than ever, and accepted like I never had been before. Jake's crowd was head and shoulders above the rest of the world, and they knew the key to life.
Slowly, though, their image started to change. There was nothing glorious about D's on my report card or post-hangover puke. I was denying it for so long, it hard me hard when I realized it: I still felt confused. Jake and his friends began to look like what they really were: a bunch of scared, angsty teenagers who desperately clung to eachother to feel like they belonged.

When I got to the beach, it was nearly empty. It was a Wednesday afternoon in October after all. I pulled on my board shorts and headed out, paddling in the crystal blue water. The waves were great; cascading walls of wet beauty that I glided on. This was more freeing than any joint.
I walked home a few hours later and changed back into my school uniform. Systematically, I erased the message on the machine. I went up to my room and pulled a leather bound diary from under my box spring and opened it up to the last page, as I did every once in a while.
"I am not sure whether or not the world will be different after I die. I hate that my last few days are spent here in a white tiled room reeking of Clorox, rather than on the beach with Shane and little Nina.
"Little Nina, God bless her. Though I am not sure of many things, my heart sings in it's absolute love for her."
At my mother's words, a tear slipped down my check, blue and salty as the ocean.

My father came home at 6:30 with two white paper bags in hand. We sat on the porch and inhaled our Bacon Cheeseburgers, talking about work, school, and friends. As the sun set, we went inside and turned on Comedy Central.
I looked over at him during Whose Line Is It Anyway?. His nose was burnt and he was wearing his blue long johns, laughing at an impression on the screen. His face was wrinkled and rough, but it was perfect and I loved it. He will always be there, every Wednesday night with his Medium Fries and his knee-slapping laugh.

He fell asleep just after nine o'clock, his chuckles turning into snores. I grabbed my bike and rode down to the beach, the same one I was at earlier. Now it's completely deserted, the waves crashing and rolling just for me.
I'm gazing at that bright blue star and the hundreds, thousands, millions others just like it. I'm remembering the past year, and thinking about my mother and father. I decide that the ocean must be made of tears, the tears of countless others who have sat on the beach and cried just like I'm now doing.
Who knows where the center of my universe is. Who knows who I even am. But the skies and the sea remind me of how small I really am, how my place in the galaxy is insignificant unless I try to make something more of it.
The moon shines in a pinkish glow and I'm reminded how billions of people across the earth gaze at this very moon every moon every night. Though I may not fit in in the confines of modern-day high school, the moon knows where I truly belong.
I dust off my hands, climb onto my bike, and head home.