The Ashlee's through my window.
To the other Ten Billion people on the planet the state of Washington might as well not even exist. Us Washingtonians, myself included, are I have to say, a strange lot. We're the keeper's of Boeing, even with rumors that their looking for a new host. We lived with Kurt Cobain amongst us. Many would even say our greatest achievement before, of course we elected two governors into office, and the majority of us don't think that's its unusual to experience a fifty inch rain accumulation over a year long period. One of my aunts from California came to visit us once, while we were living in Olympia. It was November, the month where umbrellas are always sold out at stores and she constantly brought up the fact that it was raining. "Oh Karen," she'd say to my mother, "is it still raining?" Then no more then a half hour later. "Karen it's still raining?" I could see the look on my mother's face as she handed my Aunt a can of pop. I knew that both she and I wanted to slap her silly and say: "Yes its still raining, and no the rain won't kill you, in fact its quite refreshing."
When I was younger I would stand outside for hours in the rain, constantly in the watchful eye of my father who, from his work room over the garage would say: "Jeni honestly get in the house before you freeze!"
"Just a few more minutes," I would plead, pressing my wet hands together. By the time I finally was dragged in, my clothes were heavy and my hair-sopping wet. I was never cold though; I always wanted to go back outside, too jump, too sing, and too dance in the rain.
Life was calm for me in Olympia, my mother, a startling twenty years younger then my father had barely graduated from The University of Washington before hastily marrying him-she was pregnant at the time and was too afraid to tell her father until she was married. I was born in January of the following year and my mother, having graduated top of her class in law was already working at a fairly well to do law firm in my fathers home town of Olympia. My father was a carpenter, old and gray by the time I came along. He owned his own roofing company, which was mostly run by his partner Ted Monny. He also indulged in making furniture, our house was littered with his piece's. A silky smooth mahogany bed set for them, with equally smooth nightstand and dresser, as well as a tiny mahogany twin bed for me. I loved the feel of the wood, so cold and polished between my fingers. I would fall asleep to the thick sawdust smell of my father's clothes when he kissed me goodnight and before I closed my eyes I pulled my hand along the smooth flat board; I always feared that I would somehow die in my sleep and never feel that softness of it again.
My mother, was what most people would call a work-aholic. From the day she was born she knew that she wanted to do something important. In her case, it was to become a high powered lawyer at Sacson and Grant, one of the largest firms in the state, which coincidentally was located in our very own backyard. I used to find her on her tip toes at the back bedroom window glancing over the trees until she could see the two translucent tips of the firms sky scrappers. By the time I was five my mother was working there, she would leave every morning in her tailored suites of varying colors, gray, dark blue, light blue, and a salmon shade of pink which I loved, but she detested. The only reason she wore it, she said, was because it made her look more feminine, and that the men who worked at her office needed that from time to time. I never met anyone from my mom's office, she was chipper and her disposition was cold when she would come home, briefcase in hand saying, "Oh the day was ok," or "Everything's as usual, how was you day Edward?" She was speaking to my father then, who wore his white work shirt and dark blue jeans covered in grime and sawdust which no one seemed to worry was being tracked into the house. My mother was a small women, barely standing over 5'2 in her heels and weighing only about a hundred pounds. My father on the other hand stood well over six feet tall and looked, like my grandfather instead of my actual father.
When I started school I would have him come for show-in-tell day sense he rarely left the house but for once a week when he went down to check with his roofers. I would grip his hand tight as he sat on the floor at the head of the class, his torso, though sitting, was still taller then I was. "This is my daddy," I would say in a shaky five-year-old voice, I remember feeling sweat roll down my back and I was sure that every eyeball in the class was boring holes into me.
"That's your dad?" An over zealous boy who took his medication everyday before lunch asked. "He looks like my grandpa."
As was our custom, this happened a lot. In stores, or even just walking down the street we would met people, some who knew my father before my mother and asked open eyed and polite, "Edward, Is this your granddaughter?" My father had been married once before, which made up slightly for the age difference between my parents. At nineteen, my father a bean poll with long arms and straight blond hair that hung down to his shoulders married a women named Jennifer Trumble, who I always thought that I was named after but that my father neither confirmed or denied. She was twenty-one and tall and slim like him. She looked like a movie star in the glossy black and white photograph's of my father's youth. Pictures of them holding hands in front of a lake on a summer's day, their equally long hair blowing in a slight breeze. Another where she's making pasta in the kitchen-the same kitchen that my mother now made us our TV dinners every night. They had been married for a little over six years when they moved from Olympia to California were his family lived. They rented our house out, and packed most of their things, hopping to open a new branch in the roofing company which never really worked out. While in California Jennifer Trumble was diagnosed with cancer and died.
There is little else that I know about her, beyond the photos and my father's sketchy tale of his first wife's death. "Jeni," my mom would scold, "it doesn't matter, just don't talk about it with him." But it did matter, I wanted to know who she was, and what was the precise reason that I had been named after her? Was it his undying love for her? I liked to think that, though I loved my mother and loved having them together I always dreamed of having the smiling silky haired blond in the photographs as my mother. What a different life that would have been. My mother wouldn't talk about it with him, either because Jennifer Trumble would always be her competition even in death, or because she just didn't care. That was my mother view on death, when your dead, or dead, move on. I suspected that such an attitude could be attributed to the fact that her own mother, my grandmother had died while she was still a baby and was raised primarily by her distant and cruel father.
I didn't care if he wasn't going to talk about it; my imagination and curiosity were going wild. I would approach the subject carefully, each time in a different way. "Dad," I would start, "what color were Jennifer's eyes?" This was an honest fact that I didn't know; I had never seen a colored photograph of her. My father would be silent a moment, his eyes focused on the TV or whatever piece of furniture he was making at the time. His silence would slowly turn to stiffness as he said:
"Not now honey, I'm working."
At night, while trying to fall asleep my mind would swarm with questions about my father's elusive first wife. I wondered what her voice was like, silky and silvery like the black and white pictures, or low and loving. I saw her as a women who hummed nonchalantly as she worked and kissed my father passionately, the way that my mother never did. I wondered why they had never had children, by the time she died they had been married for seven years. In my mind I saw Jennifer Trumble's belly huge with me in my infancy within. I saw her holding me, and humming to me in the way that she did. I could taste her pasta on my lips and could feel the warmth of her as she hugged me goodnight. I realized, with a pain in my heart that my mother never hugged or kissed me before going off to bed. She just said "goodnight," in the same tone that she would ask "where's the milk?" and shut off the light.
I was an only child, and like most if not all only children I imagined having siblings. Fantastical siblings, an older brother who would sweep me into his arms and throw me high up in the air and always catch me. I had a younger sister who I would play dolls and dress up with, whom I would confide all of my secrets to and who would dream of the life that Jennifer Trumble once had with me. When I was eleven my fantasy came true, slightly. My mother, bearing a whimsical smile and a look of joy that shocked me in just the same way as aliens landing on earth and making me Jeni White their elected leader would. "I'm pregnant!" She gasped, neither my father or myself moved. Oddly I remember now that it was October, and it was raining and that I came home furious because my new backpack, a green Jansport already had a whole in the bottom.
"What?" My father asked, his tone asking if she were kidding around.
I remember my mother was wearing the Salmon pink dress suit that had over the years faded to a grayish pink, and that I swore I saw a tiny bulge in her stomach.
"What?" My father asked again, I would have spoken but I was still frozen waiting for the aliens to land.
"May!" Was all my mother said, her smile still wide and unusual to me.
"Really," my father said, his tone was dull, filled with shock and a slight displeasure that he couldn't hide. "That's great." I could see his mind working out the figures, he was already fifty-six. He'd be fifty-seven at the time of the babies birth and seventy-four when it graduated from high school. I did the math quickly in my head as well, only mine was easier, I would always be twelve years older. Realizing that he should do something my father took a step, stopped, then took another and another and hugged my mother's shoulders. "This is great Karen."
Alison Emily White was born two weeks into May of the following year. From the beginning I hated her. Who was she? Who was this Alison, my sister? Who was she named after? My mother just said that she liked that name, that she wanted to name me Alison but my father had insisted that they call me Jennifer. That one bit of information answered dozens of questions that I had posed in my childhood about the origins of my name, but by twelve I was no longer harboring such thoughts of my father's first wife, in fact I hadn't even thought of her for years until then. Alison was a beautiful name, I will admit but where did that leave me. Dull and plain Jeni? I felt like I had been cast aside hastily, scrunching myself up to make room for everyone else. My father and I would visit the hospital and look through the thick and dirty glass at the babies asleep in their basinets. I looked on with boredom as my father smiled at his new daughter in a way that he had never given, or even showed to me. I tugged at his arm, "Dad common lets go." A strange fear that I had to get him away from Alison gripped me; I practically dragged him with all of my strength but still hadn't moved him.
"Just a minute Jeni!" He said as though he were shooing away an annoying fly buzzing around his face.
We brought Alison home from the hospital on a Saturday and I spent a total of eight hours in my room alone without coming out. I counted each hour on a peace of paper as the clocked chimed it. I sat on the floor cross legged with my arms around my waste waiting for one of them, both of them to notice that I wasn't around, that I hadn't left my room all day. But as afternoon turned to night and dinnertime came and went neither of them opened the door.
My father stopped kissing me goodnight. I stopped smelling his sawdust aroma before going to sleep, and in retaliation I stopped brushing my hand along the mahogany bed frame before closing my eyes. The house was loud where it had once been quiet and I was more alone now then when I was an only child.
In the first year of Alison's life I hit puberty, leaving my elementary school and entering the dark world of junior high. I realized for the first time that compared to all of the other girls I wasn't very pretty. My height was somewhere in between my mother's shortness and my father's tallness. I had stringy blond hair that hung lifeless around my head. I was flat chessted and mortified that some of the girls were already popping out at their chests. Full breasted girls that I would never be. I saw the boys begin to notice as well. Boys who had been gawky and wiry at our old school were now cool or fly or pimp daddy's as some of them referred to themselves. Some of them had even gotten tale, shooting up like corn stalks during the summer's heat when I had not seen them. I asked my mother for a training braw and because she both had too much work to do from the office and had to take care of Alison my father took me. My father shopped with surprising know-how as to what I needed and should have while I, completely mortified regretted ever bringing up the subject.
My father purchased three bras for me, all the same size, the lowest that you could go. Two white, and one with a colorful pattern of fish swimming under the sea, I had grabbed that one first upon entering the store and without pressing the subject he said that I could have it if I wanted it. When I got home I took all of my clothes off in front of the mirror and looked at myself. The none breasted thirteen-year-old girl who still hadn't even gotten her first period. "Its nothing," my mother said when I informed her that something was seriously wrong with me, sense I knew for a fact that over half of the girls in my class had gotten theirs and I still hadn't. "Jeni its nothing, some girls don't even get their period until their fifteen, or sixteen, I even knew a girl back in high school who's didn't come along until she was seventeen."
"Well how old were you?" I asked, hoping for an answer like thirteen or fourteen.
"Eleven" she said matter-of-factly, not getting that a lie would have made me feel better.
I examined my frame in the mirror, checking for the third time that the bathroom door was securely locked. I turned sideways, and backwards. Where my breasts should have been there was just flat skin with small dots that I hoped would one day become nipples. I brought my finger to them and rubbed. I had over heard a girl in the locker room-who was very well developed- say that a boy and done this to her and that it had completely turned her on. I continued to rub my fingers in a circle but felt nothing. I stopped, looking at my stomach, which was flat, but bulgy with no muscle definition. Then I looked down at my vagina, hairless and simple like a little girls. I sighed, practically on the verge of tears. Why did I look this way? Why couldn't I be like everybody else? I pulled my clothes back on and one of the new bras as well. I looked at myself again while fully dressed but still I found no redeeming quality. I pulled my shirt up and rolled toilet paper into balls and stuffed them into each cup. Giving my new breasts a preciseness that I had given nothing else in my life, I would stuff them both, pull my shirt back down, making sure if they were even or not and if I didn't think they looked big enough I'd stuff more paper in. I had seen a movie once were a girl, facing the same problem that I was facing had scooped pudding into balloons and placed them inside her braw. I thought about doing that, it would work and look more natural then the texture of the tissue but as far as I knew we had no pudding in the house, let alone enough to use that method continuously.
It had become my morning ritual to stuff my braw. I took pride in it, got up early so I would have enough time to do it right and always checked myself in the mirror before leaving the house. If my parents noticed that I was doing this, they never said anything, which to this day I am grateful for. Some boys noticed me, the ones that like me, didn't stick out in the crowd. Fearfully, with the pit of my stomach sinking I would walk past the popular boys, the beautiful boys, the boys that could like me if only they looked. I'd sway the hips that I didn't have and stand perfectly straight while heaving out my chest to show the elusion of what was their. If any of them ever looked I never saw.
I was fourteen when I finally got my period, when the dark milky fluid of my womanhood finally fell from between my legs ushering me into a world that I had long sense been denied. My mother taught me all of the necessary things, how to use both tampons and pads, how to keep the odder from becoming noticeable. She instructed me to take my deodorant and swipe it once along the crotch line of my underwear which would hid any smell. I did that diligently for the four days every month when I bled. My vagina busheled with fair hairs over night and tiny breasts with petite nipples appeared, though what I had actually was far less then what I was giving myself artificial.
Though I had become most of what I wanted so badly to be the boys that I really wanted to see never noticed. I got crushes in fiery degrees. Travis Allwin a tall boy with the face of a Grecian statue was my first obsession. With wide and heavy eyes I'd mimic his footsteps down the hall of school, making sure that my feet touched exactly the same places that his did. I'd sigh and converse in in-depth conversations with him in my head. I'd let him touch my cheek, brushing his hot fingers over my face and then I'd give in when he kissed me. He's hold me strongly, my body miniscule between his hands, and his need so great for me that he'd shower my ears with pledges that he loved me that he's be with me forever. I had read enough novels and seen enough movies to know about sex. I even shop lifted a book from the drug store that had to be wrapped in brown paper due to the erotic nature of its front cover. I held the book tightly to my chest and when I was sure no one was looking I stuffed it down my shirt. Casually I walked through the store for a few more minutes. My heart was pounding and I was scared to death to leave, I knew that the buzzers- the buzzers that go off in every store when someone shop lifts were just waiting for me to pass through the doors. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and ran. I didn't stop, not once until I was at least half a mile away. I never got caught.
I had stashed my bike in a bush on a residential rode where I was sure no one would find it. Still clutching at the book inside my shirt I grabbed my bike with my free hand and walked briskly home. Once there I said nothing to my father, who like everyday was up in his workshop, the comforting sound of his sander dulling out the silence of the house. Alison was at daycare, and mom, like always was at work.
In my room I closed the door tightly and pulled the brown paper off of the book. My breathing was labored from all of the running and my face was covered in a cold sweat that made me shiver under my clothes. The book was a detailed description of sexual positions and describing each area that a man and women were sensitive most in. I studied each word of the book as though the biggest test of my life were going to be on it the next day. I sat against the floor, my head flush with the door and imagined Travis and I in those positions, his hands on me, and my hands on him.
I don't exactly remember how, or when, or even why but I forgot about Travis. One day, like any other I had come to find that he wasn't important to me anymore. Like the fog of Washington mornings, it burns off by the afternoon.
A/N: This is just an excerpt from a story that I'm writing so please forgive the unfinished look. I'm kind of in a blocked spot with it, not knowing if I should continue or not. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated, or if not, I hope that you enjoyed.