Chapter One: Why?
Ever since you've been little, you've always asked, why? Why is the sky blue? Why do I have to eat my veggies? Why this? Why that? The list goes on.
My whys have always seemed a bit different then most kids whys. I think one of my first whys were, "Mommy, why do you and Daddy dress so funny?"
My mother had answered, "Because we have a fun job sweetie. We're actors. We get to be other people for a little while."
Another one: "Why can't we live in a house like Nelly?" I had asked this when I was six years old, right after going to my first sleepover. Nelly and I had been friends forever. Key word there is had.
Answer: "Because Kat, we have a different life style then Nelly's mom and dad then me and your mom."
Turns out, we lived, and remain to this day, in an apartment building. It's nice, actually, looking over the downtown streets of the small little town of Wausau. The doorman always said hello to me when I got off the bus, and my window over looked the library and river.
Nelly thought otherwise.
Question: "Momma why did Nelly's parents not stay around to talk like you did when you picked me up from her house?"
This was the first time I ever heard my mother tell me that she didn't know things. When you're that young, Mom knows everything.
"I don't know honey."
Nelly said only one more thing to my face after that for the next four years. It was during Lunch and I had worn my short hair in pigtails. She had stuck gum in, not one, but both of my auburn pigtails. Then she said, "Learn to clean your room, and maybe your parents will be able to find the money they don't have."
Nelly never thought about what might have been going through my head, but what do you know, we both wind up in the principal's office. Nelly has a black eye, and my hair is now chin length. I made a point to stay away from anyone with Hubba Bubba bubble gum since.
Now though, my why is a little different then my old ones, and this time, it's more to myself. "Why do I have to be in the same gym class as them," I asked under my breath on the first day of school. Them, meaning, guess who, Nelly, and a boy she had been flirting with all day. Someone said his name was Dayton. He was new, and of course, Miss Popular herself was all over him. That's the trouble with Eighth graders, you give them an inch, and they jog all over you, quote from Mr. Burner.
Dayton had given Nelly that fatal inch. Nelly was tossing her hair around in her long thick yellow braids and sticking out her chest (which I am proud to say is something I have, which she doesn't). Dayton seemed to be looking for any guys who would rescue him from the trap that is Nelly, those dark chestnut eyes scanning the gymnasium like a baby duckling looking for its mom.
His eyes fell on me. Quack, quack.
Nelly looked at me, and I swear I would have loved to bring in my dad for a good reaction of when Juliet stabs herself over Romeo's dead body in reply to that stare. It was meant to kill.
Dayton walked over in his baggy cargo pants, which he had passed for gym pants. Mr. Burner didn't really care much. We were supposed to be finding gym partners for the quarter so we could do push-ups that actually aren't the lame ones everyone does to get out on them with out your partner having to report it. I of course, was trying not to be noticed by anyone and end up, like last year, as Mr. Burner's partner. Which meant I only had to do the activities once, and had plenty of time to relax.
"Hey," the new kid said to me
"Oh, hi," I said absentmindedly, pretending like I hadn't noticed him, which is a load of nothing because I'd been staring at him for the past five minutes.
"I'm Dayton," he said kindly.
Dayton opened his mouth to continue conversation, but to my delight, Mr. Burner blew his over pitched whistle. "Now who hasn't gotten a partner yet?" he called. His eyes fell on Dayton and me. "Dayton, you can go with Kathleen."
Dayton smiled at me, and I gave a halfhearted smile, that I had practiced from Erin. Erin is my dad's friend. They had met in the seventy's or something. Erin has the best way of playing cruel and sarcastic characters.
"Today we'll be getting to know our partners by, you guessed it, talking for the remaining ten minutes. Go and get changed before the bell rings. I knew well enough not to get dressed on the first day of gym. Eighth hour of the day, and I was tired. Who wouldn't be after doing the same, "Get to know you" sheet in every class? Dayton had done the same thing as me, and I thought, maybe he wasn't that stupid as I thought he was.
"Who's that girl?" he asked, jabbing a finger in Nelly's direction. She had been paired with another guy, who seemed thrilled to be with her.
"Ha," I laughed. "I see you've met Miss Nelly."
"I walked in, asked her who the teacher was, and she became a fly that couldn't be killed, with or with out the chopsticks," Dayton muttered. Yeah, I'm a geek enough to remember old Eighty's movies like The Karate Kid. Well, at least I knew he was a geek too.