Story About A Girl
The Girl is Me
This is one story that I never thought I'd have to tell. A story about a girl. But the girl is me- this is my story. A story of my childhood… Of my shortcomings- and of the things that make me who I am today. Of course, along with those things, there are also people… very special people, who are very near and dear to me. I honestly don't know what I'd do without them, and it is with them that my story (and my adventure) really begins.
Beauty in the Breakdown
My name is Jamie Lee. I am sixteen years old. My hair is currently dyed a deep purple-black . My eyes are brown, and my skin is naturally pale, though I do tan very nicely. I guess I'd have to say that I'm a rebel by choice- what with the purple hair, and all.
I feel that it is necessary to tell you that my hair is not naturally purple. Only an idiot would think that. But I do have a good reason for telling you… my hair is not any colour, not naturally. I went 'white' at a young age. I've been told that I get it from my father (the dirty lying bastard), but I'm not too sure that I care where I've gotten it from. I can't say that it matters to me- besides. I have a legitimate reason for dying my hair funky colours. And it doesn't damage the natural colour of my hair anyhow, so there you go.
Armed with my purple hair though, I'll say that I am one of those teen-rebel types. For as long as I can remember, I've never fit in. And by the time that I actually accepted that I'd never fit in, I was comfortable with what I'd made myself. Some people called me a bully. Some people called me a loner… a tomboy… a bitch. I was (am) all of those things. You can ask anyone. But I like being those things, so I suppose that if you don't like it, then get over it. I'm in no hurry to change… not anytime soon.
I'd trained in many martial arts since finding my place on the playground in grade two… everything from judo, to karate. This, incidentally, was my most recent goal- to conquer karate, and become a black belt in the martial art. I knew how to use a bokken (a wooden sword) and nunchaku. Quite honestly, I was a force to be reckoned with.
The oriental fighting styles that I enjoyed were most likely brought on by my mother… she had Japanese family. I was not partial, at all, to those useless family members. I'd only ever seen them once or twice, anyhow. If anyone asked, I'd gladly tell them that the Japs got what was coming to them in World War II. However, no one's asked me that, so I never said it, okay?
But now that you know a little more about me, than maybe- just maybe- you'll be able to understand my position throughout this… experience of mine. That's what I like to think of it as… a nice, big, long, hearty, experience.
I have blamed everything on my father.
Nothing that anyone can ever say will change that, because I know, in my heart, that he was the little rock that started the avalanche.
And that little rock… the actual incident… was the act of tearing my little family apart.
We lived in the dangerous part of town. You know. Drive-by shootings were pretty regular… so were house robberies… drug-vendors on the street corners… and gang graffiti on every building, every bridge, and every train car. Young wrong-doers ran amok.
The reasons that I was given for us living in such a desolate place were both simple, and reasonable. 'We moved here when the neighborhood was nice' was one of the most common ones. I knew that the truth of the matter was that we didn't have enough money to do much else.
Regardless, it was living in such a dirty place that molded me… as I grew cautious, perceptive, and sneaky. These skills were probably the most basic that a kid could have if he wanted to go anywhere, or do anything, without having to face the music in front of a pearly set of gates above the clouds.
Anyhow, it was one year… I think I was in grade six? Actually, I can't really remember just how old I was, but I can tell you for a fact that I was almost out of elementary school, and I was on my way to high school.
But the point is, I was like, eleven years old. By birthday was in a few months. Life was boring during the day, because school was a breeze, and there was nothing else to do. At home, life was rocky, because my parents were constantly fighting. First, it was over little things… stupid things. But no matter what the issue was, it was always enough to earn a shouting match.
A few times, the yelling had gotten so loud, that the neighbors had complained to the police. Of course, the police didn't really care that much, so after the first couple of calls that they received in regards to my parents, they didn't bother. It was kind of like the boy who cried wolf. Except in reality, it was just me that was crying, silent tears that stained my pillow and left salt stains on my cheeks.
The crying didn't last too long… I grew out of it, fast- just like most of the other things in my life. I grew out of clothes, I grew out of habits, I grew out of touch. I stopped caring. My marks dropped rapidly, because I skipped, or didn't bother showing up for important test dates. My father didn't really care, because most of the time, he was too drunk off his ass to do anything more than belch.
Mother was the one who cared. She always looked sad when I came home with a letter from the teacher, or the principal. She was the one who came to all my parent-teacher conferences, and she was the one who apologized for my disruptive behavior over and over again, bowing in that silly Asian way- the manners she had grown up with.
I tried harder after that, but for the sole purpose that I couldn't bear to make my mother sad. Father did enough of that as it was. I remember when she actually started crying in front of me one night, begging me to at least try to pass. It's a pretty horrible feeling when your own mother has to beg her eleven year old to try…
So I tried. I did all that was required to pass, and nothing more. Father stopped coming home, and we wouldn't see him for days at a time. That Christmas, he appeared for the first time in a month and a half. Mother wasn't going to even let him come in, but he was toting several expensive-looking gifts, all for me. Of course, she let him in. I wasn't expecting anything amazing as a present, because the little extra money that we had was going towards my extra-curricular activities.
It was strange, but nice, to see these presents waiting under the tree, all with my name on them. There were some new jeans, a few new tops. A new pair of sneakers- the nice Converse that had just come out. A nice fresh notebook and pen set, though I knew I'd never use it. My favourite present was the cap gun, designed to look just like a rifle. Mother warned me sharply not to ever point it at a person, and it was never to be fired in the house, or else.
When I went upstairs with my new gifts, I heard the telltale yelling start up again, and I knew my mother was upset. What kind of parent gets their kid a gun, she yelled. Father replied loudly that he was just trying to give his darling girl a way to live safely, a way to protect herself. Mother grew furious at that, and she exploded. Why don't you just get a job, so that the money can help us? You know better than anyone that guns will do nothing here. Everything is your fault!
Apparently, that was the last straw for father, too. He slapped my mother's face so soundly, that I could have sworn it echoed. An angry red welt was already forming, and tears were running over it silently. I was appalled. How could he have just hit her like that? I dumped my stuff where I was standing, spying. Grabbing my new gun, I flew down the stairs, and dashed back to the tree, where mother had sunk to the floor.
I pointed the barrel right at my father's face, and flipped the little safety lock, just like I saw the men on the street do. He stared down the barrel with wide eyes, and my mother inhaled sharply, half a sob, half cough. She grabbed my ankle in an action of protest, but said nothing.
"I can do more than protect myself with this gun." I said, raising the butt of the gun to my shoulder, aiming carefully.
"Don't you ever touch Mom again, bastard!"
Mother let out a sob then, and I felt her grip weaken around my ankle. Father hadn't said anything yet, and he simply stared at me, his hands clenched so tightly that his knuckles were white. My own hands were gripping the cap gun so hard, that my own hands were white too, I knew. What gave him the right to pick on my mother? She was right. He had done nothing for the family, for nearly six months. He appeared and disappeared regularly, and there were few words ever passed between us.
What gave him the right?
"Jamie, honey, surely-" he started, trying to compromise.
"WHAT GIVES YOU THE RIGHT?" I yelled, tears starting to stream down my face too. My mother was shaking; I could feel her trembling behind me.
Father closed his mouth abruptly, and simply glared. Taking a menacing step forward, I gasped. I had never seen him look at me with such hatred- his eyes were narrowed, and he loomed above my small figure. I tilted the gun up and squeezed my eyes shut, pulling the trigger at the same time. Mother screamed, and my father roared in pain.
Opening my eyes, I watched as he clutched at his forehead in pain, blood leaking in little rivulets between his fingers. What had I done? I was terrified, and I was rooted to the spot, the gun dangling in one of my hands. Mother was still behind me, and I swallowed tersely. Now what?
Father moved his hands, and I saw that the cap had made a long, thin gash right above his eyebrow, stretching around his temple and finally stopping right before his ear. I think I whimpered then, but it might have been mother. I don't remember this part as clearly… not like the events that led up to it.
Father stormed out of the house, knocking things down, kicking and breaking as he went. He slammed the door so hard that it bounced back open, the lock breaking. Outside, I gasped at the sight. A fancy red sports car sat waiting outside of our house. It was almost never that we saw something so nice around our home- or any home, really.
I still think that he stole it.
The engine rumbled to life as he stumbled into the car, and he ripped off down the road, leaving rubber marks behind him. That was the last that I ever saw of my father.
A few years later, mother had her first breakdown. I think it was when she found out that we were on welfare… or that we needed it. Or something. Money had always been sparse; especially since the disappearance of my father. But that had never mattered to me, because between calling in favours to keep me entertained between the final school bell and bedtime, and putting food on the table, my mother usually had everything under control.
After school let out, I went straight to the dojo, where I did my homework dutifully, and the cleaning tasks that had been assigned to me as part of my training. Then, from 4 to 6 I did my exercises with my sensei and class, and was promptly home by 6:30 no matter what.
Mother had dinner finished by 6:45, and as soon as I got home, I cleaned myself up, set the table, and served our food. Sometimes there were guests to serve as well; the newest boyfriend that sometimes contributed to our cause. No matter what situation we were in, my mother always managed to be respectable, never turning to drugs or whoring. Looking back on it now, I have to say I'm extremely proud of her; the temptation must have been strong. She always had this need to put me first; which she would always call 'A mother's duty'.
God, I love her so much.
One day- a day that so far, had been just like any other- I came home to find my mother sitting on the couch, mess strewn about the little sitting space, with tears dried on her face. She had passed out in a strange position on the couch; legs flopped haphazardly across one edge of the couch, and her arm falling off the other end. The blinds were drawn, and everything was much darker than I was accustomed to.
"Mom?" I questioned the darkness. The figure on the couch didn't reply; it didn't even move.
"Mom," I called again, my voice more of a whisper. Creeping into the room and closing the door behind me, my heart almost leapt out of my throat when I found her sitting up.
"Are you okay?" I rushed to her side, hesitant to touch her. She looked so fragile; like she was made out of china.
"Jamie, dear," she croaked, her voice old and broken. "I didn't make dinner. Sorry,"
"It's…" Words threatened to fail me. It was unreal, seeing my mother like this. "It's okay, Mom."
"Sorry," she whispered again as I pet her gently on the head. "Sorry,"
I think that word became her favourite word in the dictionary. She repeated it several times a day, both to herself, and to me. It became the excuse for everything. Life as I knew it changed; I had to fend for myself even more than before. I had to give up my karate, and I spent most of my time taking care of mother. Slowly, she seemed to grow more and more incapable of doing things on her own, leaving her previous duties to me. I did some part time work at the local grocers in exchange for bringing home our dinner each night. Leftovers served as our breakfast and lunch the next day.
My mother literally dwindled before my eyes, in the next couple of years. Sometimes, she had moments of clarity. However, the more time that passed the further and further apart those moments became. One day I came home to the now normal dark figure sprawled across the couch. Nothing seemed unusual… that is, until I kneeled down beside my mother and tried to shake her awake.
Her body was cold to the touch, and my hands recoiled against my will. Her eyes were half-lidded and bloodshot. Her mouth hung open, and I didn't need to examine any further to understand that she'd been like this for most of the day; her tongue was dried out.
Rising to my feet, I strode into the small kitchen space, dropping my bag at the island and leaning against it heavily.
"Now what?" my voice sounded weary as it echoed back to me off the kitchen walls.
A strange feeling of emptiness started at my stomach, rising up through my throat. Turning to the sink, I threw up my lunch. My mother was dead. She was dead. She was cold and dead.
I felt rather hysterical, and sunk to the ground beside my bag. Strangely enough, even as my head slumped over to rest on my arms, I didn't feel the sting of tears. What was wrong with me? Why couldn't I cry?
I think I fell asleep… because when I moved from that position, my whole body was stiff. The shadows had shifted, and were now on the other side of the kitchen. Creaks and pops seemed loud in the silence as I stretched before standing. There was a kind of resoluteness about the shadows of the evening, as if it was a message.
I couldn't stay here, that much was certain.
Feeling much calmer than I knew I should have, I headed for the stairs. There wasn't a lot that I was going to get accomplished if I wasn't prepared. I headed for my mother's room first; because that was where the cash was. Finding her wallet was easy enough, because it was right where I'd left it earlier in the week. I had 'borrowed' her credit card just long enough to pay off the electricity bill. The power was due to go out sometime in the next week, with the small amount I had put down.
Rushing to my room, I gathered my favourite things. There was the journal I had never used, from that Christmas long, long ago, along with a simple amethyst that had been hung on a string. So what if I had stolen it… I'd had it since I was small- and it matched my hair. Give a girl a break.
A withered copy of my favourite book, Homer's The Iliad, was also tossed- rather, placed fondly down- with my other things. A couple of pairs of jeans, a couple of tanks and long-sleeved shirts, socks, underwear, an extra bra… enough to last me a week before cleaning. I would probably be able to find a cheap Laundromat, no matter where I went. On my way back downstairs, I passed a room that had been used for storage ever since I could remember. Stepping briefly inside, I was attacked by dust.
After a coughing fit that rattled my lungs, I squinted into the darkness. Boxes stacked to the ceiling were accompanied by old shelves, furniture. There was a baby crib that I was certain I had used as a child, with a rocking chair balanced carefully atop it. A fond smile spread across my face, I'm sure, for I could just imagine my mother leaning over the crib shortly after I was born, tucking me securely into bed.
An oblong shape caught my eye as I turned to leave, peeking out from behind the corner. Approaching it, I was both angered and surprised to find my father's acoustic guitar. More memories washed over me- of laughing with my father while he played silly renditions of songs for my mother and I to sing along to. Anger, directed at him, flooded me in a wave. Anger at his treatment of my mother; for choosing to abandon us, and leave us in this god-forsaken place with debt up to our ears. Reaching out to the case, I slung it hesitantly over my shoulder. It seemed to nestle gently beside my backpack, and for the time, I decided it might be beneficial to bring it. After all, I could always pawn it off for money if I was desperate enough.
Back down in the kitchen, I shoved a jar of peanut butter, some beef jerky and a package of crackers, three juice boxes, and three apples into my bag. Twisting my fatigues into my ratty converse, and sliding on my sweater, followed by my jacket, I gave one final look at my mother, cold, dead and eagle spread across the couch.
This was it. After this, there was no turning back. Now or never.
A/N: This is a work in progress- one that I started a long time ago, and have recently revisited, and begun to rewrite. It's the only original work I've ever done... possibly the only one I will ever do... dundunduhhhhh-
Constructive criticism is greatly appreciated, and if you notice any spelling mistakes, please be sure to let me know!