An Introduction to Destruction:
Six minutes until seven o'clock. Eyes closed.
Five minutes and fifty-five seconds until seven o'clock. I sighed and glanced at my alien space invaders alarm clock. When given the chance, it squawked 'Good morning' in fifty-seven different languages. Sadly, it never got the chance most mornings.
In five minutes and forty-six seconds Mom was going to burst through my bedroom door, snap open the blinds, and in a voice that seemed unusually loud for seven in the morning, shout, "Lindy, are you sleeping?!" As if I could sleep through that. As if she actually thought I was working on REM cycles through that kind of screeching ruckus. I liked to think she was secretly getting back at me for the six months of colic she'd endured when I was a baby. She'd denied it on many an interrogation, but I'd seen the twinkle in her eye.
True to my predictions, at exactly seven o'clock a woman with frizzy black hair that needed a root touch up appeared, wearing the ever predictable black power suit and pink dress shirt with matching handkerchief tied neatly around her neck. Wrinkles were beginning to show around her brown eyes, ones that she'd tried to cover up with make-up, but only succeeded in highlighting her age. I didn't mention that because she had low self-esteem, and Gramps said I was very negative when it came to my mother's appearance. The blinds snapped open, sunlight streaming directly into my large pupils and half-blinding them.
"Lindy, are you sleeping?" That voice – oh that voice; it was like the high-pitched squawk of a cockatoo. When I had kids I was going to get my revenge. That thought was my only comfort.
"Agh!" I grunted, squinting at her with a face that might have made her feel grotesque. My lips were twisted into a snarl, my nose was all scrunched, and my right eye was all squeezed shut reminiscent of the stink eye. Mom had once said it was my trademark morning face.
"Hurry! Gramps is making pancakes for you and Sammy."
I was surprised she had let him near the stove again what with the whole gas incident last weekend. "Great, we can all stay home from school with food poisoning." With a yawn I sat up and mashed my hair around before letting it fall around my face, messier than before.
My mother gave one of those mom sighs and tussled my mop. "Darling, do you always have to be this charming in the morning?"
"Do you always have to wear your power suit on Fridays?" I shouldn't have said it, and instantly regretted it the second it exited my mouth.
Mom's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "Do I really wear it every Friday? Oh dear, I should change. What are my students going to think…" My mother was a little fragile when it came to her ego lately. I wasn't sure why her vulnerability made it so easy for me to pick on her, but unconsciously I had been.
I rolled my eyes. "Actually, I think the pink is like a bright beacon of hope. They know it's Friday and they can drink their faces off all night long. You are the salvation after a long week of dismal darkness…" I shrugged as if it were no big deal and watched her relax a little, though give me a strange look. There was a pause of silence before I glanced at the clock. "Don't you have to go?"
She blinked. "Right. Have a good day, love." Predictably she pushed away the thick curtain of hair from my forehead and kissed me before rushing from the room calling for Sammy.
I sighed. Quickly rolling over I grabbed my stereo remote and turned on Gang Gang Dance while simultaneously snatching my notebook from underneath my pillow. Today was a good day, I thought, skimming through pages until I found one marked from last night. Yes, it was by far my most ingenious plan, and not bad for a three AM epiphany. With a satisfied smirk I began bopping my head to the uncoordinated beat and doing some kind of dance reminiscent to the sprinkler.
"Lindy! Frou Frou's gonna eat your pancakes!" my brother Sammy called as he passed my room.
Snapping my book closed and stowing it safely in my backpack I made my way to the bright lime green and purple kitchen. Mom had had the sudden urge to redecorate after watching a summer's worth of Trading Spaces.
"Frou Frou, get away from my pancakes before I make you into Chinese food." I growled at the mini dog thing sitting in my chair. Frou Frou stared at me with her bulgy fish-like eyes a moment before hopping off my chair and going to hide between Gramps' legs. She'd known from day one when she'd chewed up one of the scarves Gran had knitted me that I had no feelings of endearment for the thing. She avoided me for the most part.
With a sigh I sauntered to the fridge to get necessary ingredients before plopping down at the table. Before me sat three small pancakes stacked on top of each other. On the first layer I slathered peanut butter, the second, mustard, and the third, rainbow chip icing. To top it off I poured a generous helping of syrup with theatrical flare. I caught Sammy staring expectantly. "What?"
"You're disgusting." The sixteen year old used to eat his own boogers and pee the bed. A little experimentation with condiments was nothing in comparison.
I took a bite and chewed thoughtfully. It wasn't a bad combination. Sammy grimaced. "Y'know, Sam, if you expanded your personal palette you'd find that not everything that's not normal tastes terrible."
He made a face and stood. "Sorry, Weirdo, I like having friends."
"Are you coming home for supper?" Gramps asked, untying his frilly pink apron and hanging it over one of the dining room chairs.
Sammy shrugged, messing up his dirty blond hair on purpose to 'look sexy'. He reeked of Axe cologne that he liked to spray in overly generous amounts, so much so that we sometimes had to open windows. "I have basketball practice so I might be late."
The older man nodded thoughtfully and gave a peace sign, something that would have seemed strange a year ago. Ever since Gran had died and he'd moved in with us, he'd been watching MTV with Sammy and using gangster slang every once in awhile. I wasn't sure if it was an unconscious thing or he did it to see if we'd notice. Aside from cooking and listening to a vast record collection, he spent most of his time pampering Frou Frou, his pet Pomeranian. Frou Frou had been the replacement Gran. After she'd died Gramps had taken a month to obsessively alphabetize his record collection. Then one day he'd gone out and returned with a furry rat that barked at plants and ran into sliding glass doors. Mom had let it stay because she'd noticed that Gramps seemed happier.
Sammy left, Kanye West blasting through his headphones so loud I could hear every word. His exit should have been my cue to go get dressed, but I was too enthralled with my pancakes. Who knew rainbow chip icing and mustard made such a fabulous combination with peanut butter?
Gramps and I sat at the table in amiable silence before he looked at the creation I was in the midst of eating. "Any good?"
I nodded with a large mouthful still in my mouth. "Shurprivingwy." Gramps was the only one who understood my food choices – and my food-in-mouth language for that matter.
"You're going to be late if you don't finish them soon." He observed.
I glanced at the clock behind me. "Mmph!"
It was quickly decided that today was baggy pants day – the skinny jeans that were too big in the waist and super tight at the bottom. I blamed Gramps. He'd taken all my dirty pants and had refused to give them back until after laundry day, which unfortunately wasn't until Monday. I wore a belt with some of Sammy's boxers underneath and a baggy t-shirt with a trucker/gangster hat tilted sideways. After a quick brushing of teeth and touchup of yesterday's eyeliner I snatched my back pack and shut my bedroom door. Gramps had made a rule that all doors had to be closed so Frou Frou wouldn't chew on something in our rooms and choke and die. I'd been tempted to leave my door open with nails lying on the floor, but had wisely resisted the urge. Gramps shook his head at my attire as I scrambled through the kitchen, grabbing whatever I could by way of edible food.
"You look like your brother." He said, pulling out a container of dog food for Frou Frou. Once I'd mistaken it for human food and had dined on 'Chunky Beefy Stew'. Oddly it hadn't tasted any different from regular stew.
I glanced down and shrugged. "Huh. I thought I looked more emo than gangster."
"You're a veritable mix of both." Frou Frou began salivating on the floor and wagging her tail so hard her entire body moved. Stupid dog.
"Peace out, homeslice." I slipped on a pair of huge white rimmed sunglasses and made a gun with my fingers.
Gramps returned the gesture with a peace sign. "Word, dawg."
The prospect of my plan ran through my mind the entire way to school. I sat there on the bus listening to Duchess Says and perfecting each step of it so that nothing could go wrong, unless of course Officer Kleiber got involved. He was always such a spoilsport. He'd been the one to make me clean school bathroom toilets for displaying all the underwear belonging to certain immoral girls with the names of all the boys they'd done. I'd only strung them up on the school's flagpole, and it'd taken me hours to write out all those names. My hard work had been poisoned by disgusting bathroom toilets – for a month! Art was a dying breed.
"You have that look like you're going to do something." Gus greeted me, suspicion lacing her voice. After only a year of friendship she was still one of two people in the school I could stand. I mean, it wasn't as if everyone else were malicious or had made me an outcast. I'd just closed myself off from them because they annoyed me. Gus was usually the only girl I could hang out with for long periods of time and not have the urge to throw heavy objects at. Larissa – or Lars, as she was more fondly known as – was the second.
I shrugged, tugging off my headphones and dialing into my locker. "I am, but not in daylight. And is it just me, or did that Raymond kid grow a moustache overnight? That's why they shouldn't be drinking milk. There are far too many hormones in that stuff."
Gus gave me a funny look, her thick untamed eyebrows dipping in confusion. "What Raymond kid?"
I shrugged again, unloading some books in my bag and closing my locker. "Dunno, but I think his name is Raymond something. Raymond, Radcliff, Ryan… Did you know rainbow chip icing and mustard go really well together? It's like…this cosmic explosion of sweet and tart – so amazing! Also, this whole Tibet thing is getting really out of hand."
My friend engaged herself immediately. "I know, right? What is China thinking? And with the Olympics looming I just think…" she went on, quickly forgetting the look of giddy glee that had occupied my eyes when thinking of my plan for the night.
Augustina Whitley was a fairly normal teenaged girl, minus the fact she'd skipped three grades. She probably could have been going to some hoity toity university and earning her PhD, but her parents had been adamant that they wanted their daughter to grow up as socially well-adjusted as possible. It had been a nice thought, however the fourteen year old would've rather had a conversation about political unrest in some third world country than go to homecoming dance. I watched CNN with Gramps after school most week days, so I was able to keep up with her for the most part. She only had a small idea of my antics, or what she called 'adolescent boredom', and didn't understand why I felt the need to destroy things all the time. I usually switched the subject when questioned.
She finished her tirade with an elegant flip of her raven black curls and pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose. As always her conclusion had been convincing and glib.
"Lindy, what in the world are you wearing?" Larissa asked suddenly from beside me. I should have smelled her ever-fragrant perfume, but she must have been downwind.
Larissa was the younger sister of one of the more popular girls in school, Adrienne. She got average grades, was pretty in an average way, and seemed one of the more grounded persons in my friendship repertoire. Originally she and I had been friends in Kindergarten. We'd grown apart during middle school because she'd been trying to fit in, but once she'd gotten over that whole phase, it had been back to me and my odd food choices. In fact, on many occasion we'd been mistaken for each other. The difference was that while she had bought into the stigma of designer labels and fragrances, I had taken a more thrifty approach – except when it came to my gangster hat. One could never get frugal about gangster hats.
I remembered that it was too-big pants day and that I looked like my brother. I shrugged as if it were nothing out of the ordinary. "I'm an emangster."
Gus frowned. "What's an emangster?" New words that I made up weren't in the dictionary and therefore not in Gus's vocabulary. She'd taken exception to 'bootiliscious' because she hated Destiny's Child.
"It's an emo and a gangster who made a love child that is me. They're very trendy these days with the younger generation. All the emo kids who want to be rebels can now wear expensive and obnoxiously colorful sweatshirts and go bust a cap up someone's –" the bell rang, signaling the beginning of another glorious day of high school.
Gus seemed somewhat confused but still slightly amused. Lars and I were trying our best to adapt her to pop culture, but she viewed everything so critically that it was beginning to seem like an insurmountable task. She hugged her text books close to her chest. "See you at lunch." She had advanced Algebra or Calculus or something equally scientific and mind-probing. Lars and I had Art.
"Peace out, homie!" I yelled after her, loud enough that a group of gangster-looking kids glared at me. I grinned. "Word, bra."
"Lindy!" Lars hissed and grabbed my arm, yanking me in the opposite direction to Art class.
"Don't be hatin'." I shrugged her off with a frown. I didn't see why she had to get all up in my grill about being an emangster. It wasn't as if I'd turned punk or goth or someone truly weird.
Her eyebrow rose as she surveyed me with a rueful look.
"My, your eyebrows look particularly plucked today, Lars. And your eyes – are you wearing purple contacts?" I squinted and studied her normally brown eyes. Mine were feces brown as well, but they had flecks of green speckled throughout.
Lars batted my curious fingers away from her eyes. "Careful, you'll poke my eye out! Yes, I'm wearing contacts. I wanted to try something different." She shrugged as if it were no big deal. She was always experimenting when it came to her clothing and appearance. Once she'd even styled her hair into a faux-hawk because she'd seen it on some runway. I'd teased her mercilessly, though Gus had told me that I was bringing down her self esteem.
"Lars, my friend, you are living proof that one can accessorize just about anything, including their eyeballs." I smiled and opened the door to the classroom just as the second bell rang.
An hour into class our teacher Miss Wang came around to observe what we were working on. Miss Wang had been brought up in the traditional ways of art, and her strength, she claimed, was in the area of watercolors. She hated most of the things that I did because they were neither traditional nor suiting her taste in subject matter, which was usually nature. Lars, on the other hand, could replicate photographs of people and flowers with the greatest of ease, and therefore was Miss Wang's favorite.
"Oh, Larissa, this is wonderful. You've captured the animal's eyes really well." Her own lidless eyes scrutinized Larissa's sketchbook before she took her pencil out. "What if you just shaded this area in just a little darker – I think you would get more of a feel for the atmosphere in behind here." She proceeded to etch dark marks into an area and smudge it a little with her fingers, giving a satisfied smile. "Excellent."
Lars kept her emotions buried beneath the surface and held her tongue. She was used to doing that – her mother was much like Miss Wang.
"And what are you working on, Lindy?"
I proudly showed her – though it was more of an anticipation of her reaction than actual pride. "It's a giant robot ripping apart Spiderman and eating his limbs while a cloud pukes rainbows. I call it 'Asteroids Are Cleaving Our Hearts Out of Our Chests'." I paused a moment for effect. "The rainbow represents how we view violence in our world, and how it makes us regurgitate it in different ways."
Lars had to bite her lip to keep from laughing while Miss Wang tilted her head and squinted. "This isn't what I assigned to you, Lindy. You were supposed to find a picture of an animal and do a portrait of it. Have you finished that one yet?"
I nodded, flipping the page back to a deformed looking bunny that I'd made into a cartoon. The bunny was shooting himself out of a canon towards a wall of sharp spikes. Underneath the caption read 'Suicide Bunny'.
My teacher seemed to be holding in an exasperated sigh. "That's not the format that I gave to you, Lindy. I'd like you to try again, and this time make it look real, more lifelike – like Larissa." She left for the other table quickly while Lars let out a few snickers.
I rolled my eyes and went back to the picture I'd been working on. "Did Picasso create lifelike art? No. He created his interpretation of life. And really – you're drawing an Ape."
Lars sent me a sympathetic smile. "If you just do what she says and then meander on your own she won't care."
I made a face: the scrunch-nose and squishy-lips. "I'm hoping if I annoy her enough she'll have a heart attack and die or kill herself due to stress and then I won't have to deal with her. If I had my gat right now I'd bust a cap –"
"Seriously, Lindy, if you keep talking like a wanna-be gangster I'm going to shove this pencil up your nose."
The day went on swimmingly as usual, although my new vocabulary had Gus giving me strange looks and Lars rolling her eyes. I was sure the only reason Lars hadn't taken me out in a darkened hallway was because she was desperately trying to convince me to attend some kind of artsy function.
Lars was always going to poetry readings, interpretive dance workshops, book signings, and other pretentious events such as that. She was big in the art scene, but mostly I believed she did it because her family was never home and she craved company. This time it was some big art show down at the Peacock Gallery. I wasn't interested; Gus was a pushover. After school was over Lars stood at my locker with her hands on her hips.
"You're coming on Monday night to the poetry reading at Bubble's. You promised, Lindy Lee Jones." Her fake purple eyes bore into me.
I looked up and pretended to silently talk to God. Sitting and listening to self-involved writers when I could have been creating new schemes felt more like torture to me, but I'd been putting it off for weeks now, and if I didn't go Lars would end up getting all huffy like her sister. With a belligerent sigh I conceded. "Fine, but I'm not clapping."
"Lindy, just because most of the individuals there are possibly the worst writers I've ever heard doesn't mean you can be equally condescending about it," Gus argued, though I didn't think it was quite the angle Lars had been going for.
"You don't have to clap," my ever-patient friend replied. "Just don't write numbers on the napkins and hold them up every time someone finishes. You almost made Francois cry."
My eyebrow rose. Francois cried if a flower wilted. He was all into his emotions and wrote poems about yoga stretches – terrible poems too. "I was being constructive with my criticism. How is he supposed to refine his art if no one breaks it to him that he can't write?"
Gus and I shared a laugh until I caught Lars smirking too.
"Oh, and I have extra tickets to a concert tomorrow night down at Vip's. You guys should come over early and we can go together." What Lars really meant was that she had purposely bought two extra tickets because she had no wish to see a concert alone.
Gus rolled her eyes. "Lars, you're becoming quite the scenester as of late."
I raised my hand in the air. "Amen, sister Gussy! Are you trying to become one of those band aides or groupies, or whatever they're calling them these days? Band boys are sluts, y'know. You could get an STI like lickety split." A boy from work was constantly reminding me of the perils of dating a boy in a band. Then again, he hated everyone.
Lars' face flushed a bright pink. "No! There's just a really good band playing and I want you guys to hear them too. Plus, my parents are out of town this weekend and Adrienne's supposedly having a party…"
I stared at her with a bored look on my face before shrugging. "Yeah, whatevs. I work tomorrow until five, but I'll give you a call after that." I made the shape of a phone with my fingers and held it to my ear before making them into a gun and twisting my lips to one side like a gangster. "Peace out, mo' fo's."
As I sauntered down the hall like a thug I heard Gus ask what a 'mo fo' was.
AN: She came to me while I contemplated rewriting My Life In One Sentence. An Existentialist's Breakfast is still in the works, as all my other ones. This one will be short...er.