My Father, Mother, and I, all sit down at the wooden table to eat our food. An eerie smile creeps upon Mother's face. My Father grunts and attacks his potatoes like a wild beast. I shudder and stare down at my food.
I give my Mother and Father names based on their personalities.
My Mother is the Evil Witch, My father is the Retched Beast, and I name myself the Tortured Teenager.
Let the games begin! A voice screams in my head. I guess IT too knows what is about to happen.
Evil Witch: Eat your food, Christine.
Tortured Teenager: (stabs at meatloaf with vigor).
Retched Beast: (stops eating and glares at Teenager, his mouth twitching with inappropriate words).
Evil Witch: Look at me, Chris.
Tortured Teenager: (purposely rakes at her food to make it look like road kill, ignoring the parental units).
Evil Witch: look at me now. (Grasps fork in one hand maliciously, lips curling back over her teeth in an unnatural way).
Retched Beast: Don't make me have to come over there, young lady. (Hand twitches towards the belt in the loop of his jeans and growls low under his breath, still glaring at Teenager).
Tortured Teenager: (sees where Retched Beast hands are. Eyes grow wide as dinner plates and she quickly looks up at the Evil Witch).
Evil Witch: (creepy smile has entered face again). Good girl. Now eat your dinner and wash the dishes when you're finished. Okay? Thank you, dear.
Tortured Teenager: (slowly eats the road kill that is on her plate).
Evil Witch and Retched Beast then begin arguing about something that Tortured Teenager cannot understand. Evil Witch shouts derogatory language across the table. Retched Beast suggests that Evil Witch should visit that scary, fiery underworld that is the Center Of The Earth, which would suit her well. Evil Witch responds by telling him just what he should do to himself; spit flying out of her mouth, and Retched Beast calls her names that would put his parents to shame.
That is the last straw. Tortured Teenager cannot take the bickering. She gets up, rinses out her plate in the sink, and saunters upstairs without either of her parental units noticing her absence, who are too caught up in their heated discussion.
I hate my life.
I climb outside of my bedroom window and onto the roof. I sit there and look up at the sky for what seems like hours. A golden fire ball rests in the sky. It smiles down at me and I frown, shading my eyes from the brightness. The grass on the front lawn moves this way and that along with the wind, dancing to imaginary music. The marigolds in the garden bob their leaves and shake their skinny stems.
There is a party going on in my yard. I smile as I become aware of this. The maple trees rustle their leaves like pom-poms to an unrecognizable tempo. The flowers and blades of grass join the tree and soon the air is swirling with noise. The trees with their rustling, the marigolds with their shushing noises, and the grass with their whispery whooshing.
My eyes are closed. I am laughing so loud that I think my jaw bones will crack. It is when that I realize that I am suddenly moving towards the edge of the roof that I open my eyes and try to grab onto something, anything that will keep me from slipping. I scream so loud it hurts my ears. Oops, too late. My fingers grab air and I fall in mid-air.
I hit the ground with a soft thump. All noise and merriment stop. There is suddenly no wind. My chest feels like it is about to burst and my head is pounding like crazy. Red spots dance across my vision and the world threatens to turn black.
I hear a loud voice scream from inside the house. "Christine, you get your ass back in this house and don't let me have to come out there and get you!" It's my Father, A.K.A Parental Unit #1. I groan and rest my head on the grass. Pain sears through my body as another voice explodes from the house. It is Parental Unit #2, my mother. "You heard your father! Get back in this house and quit lying on the damn grass like it's your bed! Are you even listening to me, Chris?"
Blah, blah, blah…where is the justice? Doesn't anyone know when to shut up anymore?
I wish she would just put me out of my misery and get hit by a car. I wish she would just shut up.
"Oh, get up already! You aren't fooling anyone!" her voice explodes in my head like a rocket just about to take off. It feels like my eardrums are going to burst. Oh, Well. If I become deaf then at least I won't have to listen to either of the Parental Units.
I need stitches but I don't tell her this. She continues to scream and I look down at a small gaping hole in my right shoulder that is spurting blood like a fountain. It smells of salt and tin foil and it makes me dizzy. My head is spinning and bile is boiling in the acids of my stomach. I feel sick. Parental Unit #2 is still hollering but now she looks like she is going to cry. One part of me is happy about this and wants to jump with joy but the other part of me wants to curl up like a child in a corner. So much for having a good day.
"You had better get your lazy ass back into this house, young lady! Otherwise, there's going to be some serious consequences! Do you hear me?" Parental Unit #1 yells. Behind him, Parental Unit #2 is crying, more like blubbering. I don't get it. What did I do to her? She's such a baby. Five minutes pass by and I sit up. A fountain of chunks and brown liquid spew out my mouth in a sudden rush.
I hate my high school and most of the people in it. The hallways reek of feces and urine, the restrooms are musty and need cleaning, the teachers are nosy, and the guys and girls of this craptastic dump of a school are total bitches and assholes. This school stinks.
"Welcome To Westbury High!" A sign above the main entrance of the school says. I snort as I read it for the hundredth time this year. Westbury, my ass. What a stupid name for a school. No wonder there are only one hundred and thirty eight kids in this dump!
Like most other high schools, everyone has their own group of friends to hang out, kind of like a posse or a gang. There are groups like Lesbians, who are obviously acquainted with other women, Burnouts, Cheerleading Sluts, Nymphomaniacs, Bulimics, Etcetera, Etcetera, Etcetera…
And then there are groups like Mafia and Cash Unit, well…not groups but gangs. Mafia contains a bunch of wannabe hustlers who sell drugs on the corner and shoplift occasionally from stores like Stop & Shop for food. Cash Unit contains…some hardcore clowns that just came to the school and decided to form their own group to fit in, which is going surprisingly smooth.
I am nobody.
I have no group, gang, posse, or whatever you call it. All I have is Sydney, my friend of six years. Sydney is nothing like me. She is always smiling, smart, bubbly, athletic, and pretty. I will never find anyone that is as perky as Sydney Perkins. Sometimes I wonder why she doesn't join the cheerleading squad instead of hanging out with me but I never speak my thoughts aloud to her. I don't socialize as much as she does.
No one would listen to me. If I choose to talk all the time, my words will fall to deaf ears. The only person that listens to me is Sydney. Sydney Perkins.
As I enter my Physics class now, I see that Sydney is seated in the front row, chatting with a girl behind her. Soon she stops talking and notices me standing there in the doorway. "Hi, Christine!" She practically yells across the room. A thin smile stretches across my lips. With all the joy radiating off her I couldn't be sure whether she was just about ready to bust a tear duct or not. She just looked so damn happy. "Hi," I say timidly. I make no move to sit next to her so she pats the empty seat beside her, motioning for me to sit down. I groan inaudibly. I'm sure she is going to talk up a storm in my ear.
"Come sit with me!" she yells. Heads in the classroom turn to stare at Sydney and then at me. "Fine," I say. Sydney smiles, her cheeks turning bright pink. Everyone divert their eyes elsewhere. Members of both Mafia and Cash Unit enter the room, arguing heatedly about whom can spit rhymes the best, A.K.A. rap the best. Noise stirs amongst the other people, mixing in with the volume of the argument. As I walk over to sit next to I think about the trees, grass, and flowers and the party they were having. I miss that.
"So, how was your weekend?" Sydney asks. I cannot look at her. I can never look her in the eyes. Her eyes creep me out. "It was fine," I lie, not giving her eye contact. My weekend sucked. Parental Unit #1 and Parental Unit #2 nagged and threw things at each other the whole three days. I ignored them and curled up in my room with a bag of candy corn and a book named Twilight. Besides that my weekend was just peachy.
It isn't long before Sydney launches into a long story about how her weekend was. This is how it always went. She would ask me how my weekend was and I'd tell her it was okay or fine and she would run off her mouth about her wonderful parents, dog, and little brother named Owen. I envy her. When she is finish I want to tell her to go to hell but my brain tells me to be kind, be a good friend. I scratch my arms, a telltale sign that I am itching to say something nasty to her.
"I was thinking about joining a club," Sydney says now, looking down at the arm I was scratching. "How about you?"
"What about me?" I ask quietly. A boy walks in right about then. He hits his leg accidentally on the edge of someone's desk and curses loudly. His friends laugh and the teacher glares at him from behind his desk at the front of the room. Sydney waves a hand in front of my face, saying "Hello! Are you even listening to me, Chris?" I look at her, unaware that she was talking. "Sorry," I tell her.
She smiles at me, showing those shiny pearly whites. I smile back timidly. "So...what club do you want to join? We could join one together if you'd like," she says. My smile drops. I haven't the slightest clue of what to say to her, so I just open my mouth and say "Okay". This makes her happy. She claps her hands and squeals like a newborn mouse. The high-pitched sound rings in my ears like a bell.
"Cheerleading?" she asks suddenly, abruptly cutting her squeal short. I nod, following the be-a-good-friend-advice of my brain. I don't want to see Sydney upset. She breaks my heart when she's upset, with all the lip biting, watery eyes, and puffy cheeks. She's a real con-artist when she doesn't get what she wants.
"Okay", I say again, smiling, acting like I know what I am agreeing to. I did not think Sydney was a slut and I know I wasn't but the cheerleaders from last year were total whores. I sometimes think that they get group abortions over the summer. I guess they missed the lecture, which was supposed to be given to by their mothers, called Keeping Your Legs Closed until Marriage. My mother gives me that lecture constantly, like she thinks I'm dumb or something. But if Sydney thought we could make it through the cheerleading squad without turning into a slut then so be it.
"Excellent!" she squeals, smiling and clapping. This time she not only sounds like a mouse but she looks like a puppet with strings.
The consciences in my head yell at each other, clouding my head with noise.
Angel: Why do you always have to lie, dear? It would be so much easier for you to tell the truth.
Devil: To hell with telling the truth! Let her lie!
Angel: no, no, dear. That just wouldn't do. Lying is wrong, you know.
Devil: yeah, yeah, yeah. Tell me something I don't know. And don't you ever call me "dear" again, understood?
Angel: (shakes head) I just don't understand why you think doing wrong is right.
Devil: are you judging me? Because if you are…I have a lot of things to judge you about.
Angel: like what, misguided one?
Devil: (growls) like the fact that you're wearing a dress.
Angel: (gasps) what's wrong with wearing a dress? It's very comfortable and it compliments my thighs.
Devil: there's nothing wrong with wearing a dress if you're a woman. If you're a guy…then…you know…
Angel: That's it! I'm leaving! I'll come back later, Christine. Sorry about this but his comments are very unsettling.
Devil: pfft, what's with him?
Clink, Clink, Clink, stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp. The two consciences somehow exit my brain, making my head feel spacious and empty, like there is nothing in there. No brain, no nothing.
I feel lightheaded and my stomach is killing me. Sydney notices and says "are you feeling okay, Chris? 'Cause you don't look so hot". I nod my head and she invites me over to her house like she always does. I accept her offer and clutch my stomach tightly with one hand, the other on the side of my head.
Sydney stares hard at me, creases forming in between her eyebrows. "Do you need to go to the nurse? You look awful".
I shake my head fast. The last thing I need to go is to the nurse, where a short stocky woman with beady black eyes and profuse body odor is waiting for me. I shiver every time I see her. Her name is Ms. Shark and she has a mean attitude about everything. I think it has something to do with her divorce and losing her kids two years back.
Sydney grabs my hand from my stomach and squeezes it. "Well, try to get some sleep when you get to my house, okay? I'll give you some chicken soup. That should make you feel better".
"Thanks," I tell her. Her mother is nice, her brother is mean, and her father is quiet. What could go wrong? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Her house is my hideout that I stay in until it's time for dinner at my house.
Our Physics teacher, Mr. Stern, rises from his chair at his desk and begins to write on the chalk board. The chalk squeaks as he writes math problems hastily on the board in tiny penmanship. I take out a piece of paper and so does Sydney. Mr. Stern turns back to the class and moves a little so we can copy the math problems and do them. "Bring me your papers in ten minutes," Mr. Stern says in his gravely voice, the many wrinkles under his chin folding in on each other. Sydney wastes no time. She is finished within three minutes and has her hands folded on her desk and a smile on her face. I almost think that she will come up with an apple and hand it to the teacher like the suck-up she is.
"Hurry," Sydney pokes me in the side, still smiling. "So we can bring up our papers together". I nod like a chicken and squint up at the board. I can't do this. There are too many numbers. My head hurts and it feels lightheaded again. I am beginning to believe my mother when she says that I am stupid. I mean, how else don't I know how to do five math problems?
"What's wrong?" Sydney whispers to me. "Nothing," I whisper back. This is not true but I don't think to tell her this. I can tell that she knows I am lying but she doesn't make it known. "Well, hurry then," she insists, poking me again.
By the time everyone around Sydney and I hand in their papers I am still sitting there, staring down at my blank paper like a zombie. Sydney is being impatient. She is tapping her foot loudly and sighing every minute or so. I want to scream at her but I keep my mouth closed.
"Time is up," Mr. Stern says then, looking at me. He comes over and picks up Sydney's paper then picks up mine. I close my eyes and sigh quietly. I know I am in trouble.
Mr. Stern looks down at my blank paper, purses his lips, and glares at me. "It seems that you chose not to do what I asked, Ms. Blakely". He pauses, looks down at my paper again, and continues. "Why is that? Did you have something else to do that was more important?"
I swallow a wad of spit. "No," I say. Obviously, my simple response was not what he had wanted. He glares harder, trying to burn a hole through my face, I presume.
"Then why didn't you do the assignment I gave you?" he asks, his voice climbing, climbing until it got a little too loud. Behind me, members of both Mafia and Cash Unit snicker, thumping their desks as if they've just heard the funniest joke in the world.
I want to kill them.
Mr. Stern ignores them and keeps his eyes on me. I feel uncomfortable. I wonder if he has x-ray vision and if he can see what color bra I'm wearing underneath my polyester shirt. I hope not.
"I don't know," I finally answer. My voice is quiet, barely above a whisper. There is more laughing from the back row of the class and more thumping. I fold my hands into fists at my sides. I feel the eyes of every student in the room on my face, even Sydney's. Her gaze penetrates my face less ardently.
Mr. Stern frowns, crumples my paper, and says three words that send my head reeling:
"Detention, after school".
Then he goes on to teach as if nothing happened. I curse under my breath. Note to self: ask Sydney for help when needed. Sydney squeezes my hand again, saying "I'm sorry," over and over again as if it was her fault.
I lay my head on the desk, silently wishing I was more smart and attentive like Sydney was. I wish I was a lot of things: happy, smart, energetic, nice…Etcetera.
But I'm not so I guess I'll just have to face the facts and get over myself. Eventually, I fall asleep and am awaken by being shaken by the shoulders. I look up into the face of Sydney and yawn. "Wake up," she says. "Class is over". My eyes are half open and my lips pull up at the corner. My head is spinning and my feet ache as I groggily get up and grab my books from my desk. I feel like I need a chiropractor.
All I want to do is sleep.
I think about skipping detention after school but Sydney reads my mind. "I'll come to detention with you," she says, neatly rearranging her bag and books in her locker. I shove my own books into the bottom of my locker. My arms feel like loose string. We slam our lockers shut simultaneously, right on cue.
"Then you can come to my house and do homework with me," she continues. I roll my eyes and mumble "fine". Her plan disgusts me, to say the least. I hate detention and doing homework. What's the point of doing either anyways? Why is it so important? I don't care about what the principle and teachers say about GETTING YOUR EDUCATION. I hate everything about being in school and the craptastic education here. It all makes no sense to me.
"I know you're upset about getting detention and all," Sydney says, fumbling with the clasp on the heart necklace around her neck. "But you really should have done what he asked you to do". I narrow my eyes at her. "So you're on his side now," I say. The words have more volume than I intended it to have but at that moment I don't care.
Sydney's eyes widen. "No," she says, letting out a small laugh of hysteria. . "That's not what I meant! I was just saying…that you could have at least…tried a little more to do the assignment…" Her voice trails off.
I purse my lips. "So you're saying that I didn't try hard enough".
Sydney lets out another panicky laugh. My heart lurches in my chest. I can tell this is hard for her but; somehow, I can't bring myself to stop her from explaining herself.
She sighs. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you. It's just that I think that you could have, um, put some more, um, effort into the work".
"Whatever," I grumble. Sydney is suddenly her regular happy self again. "What's your next class? My next class is Spanish," She perks, smiling hugely. I take a piece of paper with my schedule on it and unfold it, piece by piece.
"English," I say, refolding the paper, and shoving it back into my pocket. "So…I'll see you at lunch, right?" She asks, as if she doesn't already know the answer. We always see each other at lunch. "Right," I mumble to the ground. "Ciao!" she yells and walks off in the other direction of her next class.
I stand there awkwardly, watching her walk down the hall. Someone bumps into me from behind, nearly making me fall on the ground. I stagger a bit and the unknown person grunts and shoves past me. My back is sore. I think about sneaking out the back door of the school and going home for a nap but I decide against it. I remember that there are fly sized cameras on the premises and at least two security guards at every Exit and Enter door. I'll never make it out. They would catch me and dump me in the Principals office. I weigh my options in my head.
Option #1: I can hang out in the bathroom until school is over.
No, I can't do that. Sydney would definitely get upset and hunt me down.
Option #2: I can get someone to distract the principle so he doesn't look at the camera and see when I climb out a window.
I decide against this, too. The Principal is way too serious and smart. He would never fall for it, the old bastard. I can't stand him and his stupid rules.
While I am trying to come up with another plan to hide out until class is finished, someone taps me on the shoulder. I whirl around to find a short guy with red hair, wired rim glasses, and a black and white checkered shirt. He smiles at me. I do not smile.
"Where's your hall pass, Sweetheart?" He asks, flashing teeth lined with braces. I cross my arms tightly across my chest.
"Who wants to know?" I say, my voice sounding stronger than I feel. I tighten my arms across my chest as he gives me the once over. This guy is a pervert. He won't look at my face.
"The names Harold," the guy says, putting out a hand. I spot a brown clipboard in his other hand. I look down at his hand blankly. I don't trust him. After a minute or two Harold draws his hand back and lets it drop to the side.
"Harold," I say, trying out the name on my tongue for size. Harold, thinking I wanted an answer, says "Yes?" he is too eager. His eyes are wide with interest and he looks like a puppy, a very obedient puppy. A Golden Retriever, maybe.
I don't answer so he sighs, takes out his clipboard and begins flipping through a of couple pages. "Got the hall pass or not?" he asks impatiently. His voice does not sound too friendly anymore. He is mad, I can tell that much.
"No," I say flatly. Harold takes a pen from his pocket and begin jotting down things on the clipboard. I am getting impatient. I want to be anywhere but here. He rips a page from the clipboard and hands it too me.
"You've just gotten a demerit for wandering the halls," he says and suddenly I want to punch him in the face. He stomps off then into the north stairwell, mumbling something that sounds like expletives. I can't decide whether he is pissed off that I didn't ask him out or because I just didn't have a hall pass. I don't bother to read the paper. I don't know what to do with it. I crumple it up and toss it into the nearest trash can. It misses and bounces to the floor but I don't pick it up. I'm too tired. I finally decide to grab a seat in English in the back off the class, draw fake eyes on my eyelids, and doze off.
That's exactly what I do. The English teacher, Mrs. Stevens's gives me a nasty look as soon I walk in. "Where's your late pass, Blakely?" she asks me. "Don't have one," I answer. She gives me another look and jots something down in a blue spiral notebook. I don't care. She can document me all she wants and I still won't give a shit.
I forget about drawing fake eyes on my eyelids and steal a nap right there on my desk. Some idiot bounces a paper plane off the back of my head. I think about curling up on the floor but decide that I am too fat. It will never work. I think it was all the donuts I ate this morning. Oh well. It could be worse, right? Right.