Romaine Anne-Marie Germaine
A Chinese American young girl who, as a fourteen to fifteen year old high school Junior, has just experienced her first, dizzying, and rose-scented crush. While she is ultimately fated to take a different direction, her heart seeks a path to peace of mind and natural growth. However, much like a too hastily tacked-on illusion, her optimism is rather fragile and on the verge of reverting to an accustomed cynicism. Her parents also thought her name would be a funny idea and used to call her "Lettuce Head."
A fairly bright but somewhat lonely twelve year old girl who decided to make the transition to high school. Although she is not quite aware yet, she does seem to find her science partner Rosaline Rook rather pretty and enjoy her attention. Given the fact she is so young for a freshman, she is still childish in many ways and under her mother's thumb and older brother's shadow. She is rather underweight for her age, though she always seems to be hungry for more sugar.
A little older and used to the grind, thirteen year old Romaine has started to slip up and fail the harsh standards that her mother has set for her, resulting in a rocky relationship that only further deepens her addiction to chocolate, in an attempt to feel happier. However, at least her brief moments with Rosaline Rook offer her a brief respite, and she is beginning to realize she may have deeper feelings than friendship for the older girl.
The object of every Romaine's affections, two years senior. General consensus is that she is an intelligent and comely girl. At some point, was in regular contact with Romaine, her classmate. Given the nature of the three other unreliable dramatis personae, however, any other information is likely to be disputable.
An underclassman of Romaine's who has been developing feelings for her and is closer to her age. Many would agree that he is a good student and a nice boy, if a little delicate.
A classmate an of Romaine's, who is two years older and emphasizes this fact much to her annoyance in order to cement his position as older brother. Julien is also his younger brother.
A kind and strong Christian woman who is the principal of a Catholic private high school to which Romaine was admitted.
Mrs. Lai Di Germaine, Romaine's Mother
Although not much is known about her, after hearing stories about her from Romaine, some feel uneasy about their relationship and the unconfident, perfectionist nature that she has instilled in her daughter through a harsh homeschooled education. Somewhat prone to hysterics if she does not get her way, much like her daughter. Wishes she had a boy to help out around the farm. Having grown up in Guangzhou, she learned how to develop a rigorous work ethic and expects the same of her daughter.
Mr. Lauren Germaine, Romaine's Father
A rather lukewarm man. Presumably works in the law profession.
Daniel Louis Germaine
Romaine's older brother, an EEC major who is currently at California Institute of Technology. He is fond of Mars Bars and may have introduced them as a gift to his little sister.
A fairly bright boy around Romaine's age who she supposedly went out on a few dates with. Both of them belonged to some sort of school activity team, and got along well enough as friends to briefly consider dating. Since his mother runs a Korean-Japanese fusion restaurant, most likely they went out for kalbi and spring rolls, or maybe Romaine took him out to her mother's favorite dim sum place.
Mr. James Flaherty
A beloved AP US History and science teacher who loves talking on and on about nature, his grandchildren, and adventures in biking to and fro from St. Jameson High School.
(A young girl, approximately fourteen to fifteen years of age, is sitting in a bedroom. In front of her is also an Algebra II book, which she is vehemently trying to ignore, yet every three seconds or so will look up from her book to rifle through as if she will have to go through it sooner or later. Behind her is the door to her bedroom, which has been blocked by a table, presumably pushed in front of the door by Romaine herself. Given the fact that its resistance to any attempts to open the door is practically nonexistent, this measure is more to make Romaine feel safer than it is actually effective.)
Mrs. Germaine: (From behind the door, quietly) I know you're still in there.
(Romaine merely looks down, her expression unreadable.)
Mrs. Germaine: I heard what you told the school counselor. About going back to Junior year. About how you hate all your classes and don't want to be a freshman anymore. Is that why you won't come out?
(Romaine still says nothing, but her mother is onto something.)
Mrs. Germaine: I see. That's how it is, isn't it? (Louder) Are you going to open the door and let your mother in?
(Romaine freezes, then shifts uncomfortably. She looks back at the table, which is covered in various writing utensils and her backpack. She glances twices at her outdated, beat up flip phone and starts to reach for it when the door wedges open, allowing a crack through which Mrs. Germaine can speak.)
Mrs. Germaine: Why would you lock me out? You don't want to speak to me?
(Romaine, looking up, flinches slightly and snatches her cellphone up quickly then jumps back onto her bed, hiding it behind her back and shifting position so she is now sitting on top of the hands holding it.)
Romaine: (Speaking loudly and aggressively) What?
Mrs. Germaine: (Opening mouth in an expression of shock, then clapping hands onto ears) Wow...So loud! So...so angry! How can you be so filled with hatred for your own mother?
(Romaine bites her lip and her hands grip the cellphone a little more tightly, like a lifeline)
Mrs. Germaine: (Shoving the door more wider open and growing louder with each word, to which Romaine reacts by taking deeper and deeper breaths) I told you not to speak to the counselor, didn't I? I told you not to talk to him. You're not allowed to speak to them - they'll, they'll think I'm some crazy tiger mother or something, and then they'll think you really don't like their school. You want to go back to eleventh grade that badly? (She laughs sharply, and Romaine's fingers curl around the cell phone even more tightly, her knuckles stretching. She is staring ahead, not at her mother but at anything else.) By the time you graduate, you won't even be able to drive. And then you'll be running home, saying that it's all my fault I let you go to college before you were ready. You think you're ready? You're not. Let me guess...you're not even working on your algebra two, aren't you?
Romaine: (Somewhat ticked, but trying to appease her mother) I already finished half of it in class - all I have to do are four more problems, I'll be fine-
Mrs. Germaine: (speaking over her and throwing up her hands habitually) Goodness! You can't even finish a simple set of math problems before midnight. I tell you what, this is why I can't let you go back. You don't know how to discipline yourself. If you can't even answer questions for a class you've already taken, then you definitely won't even be able to learn how to drive.
(Romaine's eyes widen with shock, then her shoulders fall, crestfallen, and her mouth tightens to prevent a cry from escaping).
Mrs. Germaine: (Reaching out to correct her daughter's posture) Stand up straight, for heaven's sake! Stop slouching like a humpback whale -
Romaine: (immediately flinching, even letting go of her cell phone with one hand to hold it in front of her) Don't touch me- (Mrs. Germaine grabs her by the shoulder anyway) Stop! Stop! Don't touch me! Stop!
Mrs. Germaine: (Angrily forcing her shoulders to jerk and align more rigidly) Stop - slouching - like - that! You look so ugly.
Romaine: (Angered.) I told you not to touch me!
Mrs. Germaine: (Squints at her for a few seconds, mocking her daughter's angry look, then starts to laugh raucously and indifferently) I'm your mother! I can touch you whenever I want to.
(Romaine's control is slipping. She now looks furious)
Mrs. Germaine: Besides, I'm not hurting you. You, you're the one who hurts me. (Without warning, she pushes on Romaine's shoulder slightly and laughs again when she reacts by flinching away) Every night, my heart beats harder and harder, and it goes BOM! BOM! BOM! (With each "Bom!", growing louder and more intimidating in intensity, also punctuating with guestures. Romaine flinches further back as her hands get closer and closer to her face). The doctor warned me that I might have another heart attack if I keep this up. All... All because... (Her hands fall to her side, then she rapidly points with one bony finger directly at Romaine) All because of you, and your stupid friend Rosie, and all the trouble you've put me through, trying to find a good place for you.
Romaine: (Defensively, suddenly renewed with a will to speak back) Leave Rosie out of this - she did nothing. Besides, I didn't say anything bad to the counselor!
(Mrs. Germaine pauses slightly, suspicious. Romaine takes the bait and continues to speak.)
Romaine: All I told him was that we're not really living in the school district, we're just renting the apartment to make it appear that way, and it only made sense to just go back to the environment I miss rather than try to replicate it by taking the same courses and keep on spending so much money when it doesn't seem to be worth it-
Mrs. Germaine: You told him about the apartment? How could you? You know that if you say something like that, they'll that-
Romaine: I just - I don't want to stay there anymore. I want to go back. I'm sorry that it's going to cost a lot of money, but it's where -
Mrs. Germaine: Sweetie, it's not about the money. You can go back whenever you want - you tell me what you want, and I will bend over and do what - ever - you - want. I spend my whole life slaving away to help you, and you thank me by breaking my heart and doing nothing to help out. I bet you just want to go back so you can be with your best friend in the world, Rosaline.
Romaine: (Defensive) I asked you if you wanted help with anything yesterday and I've been cleaning the bathroom and doing the laundry-
Mrs. Germaine: (Laughing) You love that girl more than me, don't you?
(Romaine glares silently)
Mrs. Germaine: (Eyes widening) Ha-ha! That's it! (Smirking at daughter triumphantly.) I see now. That's how it is.
(Romaine says nothing, but her shoulders are tense, unsure what to expect.)
Mrs. Germaine: You're...you're one of those...those...what's word? You are one of those lesbians, aren't you? You're in love with that girl!
Romaine: (Immediately freezes. She brings the cellphone, clutched even more tightly, to her chest and stares ahead in horror) I - we're just friends, besides, she already is dating someone -
Mrs. Germaine: You...you...you are in love with that girl, that's why you want to go back to eleventh grade instead of staying in freshman year! Well, let me tell you the truth-
Romaine: (Frantically covering her ears) Stop, just go away...I'll do the homework, I'll do it, I'll do it, please just stop talking -
Mrs. Germaine: (Gleeful, having found the foothold she needed to regain power over her strongminded daughter) Rosaline is a good girl, you know, she's definitely not gay - she doesn't wear any of those leather jackets or cut her hair short or anything like that. She won't look at you like that.
Romaine: Just stop! Please! Shut - just go away!
Mrs. Germaine: Or, you know, maybe she is. But, she's definitely not interested in you, you do know that right? You're way too young for her. Didn't you tell me the other day that she called you to tell you she can't wait to receive her Intermediate Driving License? She's already a grown up girl, gonna turn seventeen soon, and you haven't even breached fifteen! You're still a baby, you know. (She reaches out to stroke her daughter's hair. Romaine flinches and moves back.) It's the truth.
(Romaine's face is furious. Some part of her knows this and is with it, but this is the last person she wanted to hear it from.)
Romaine: (breathing deeply) Please...just...LEAVE...ME...ALONE. JUST GO AWAY. You're not...making it any better...just go, please!
Mrs. Germaine: It's better to hear it from me first, you know, before you make a mistake...(More sweetly and motherly) I'm your mother, you know. I love you. When you were a baby, I carried you all the way into this country so you could have a better life, and I worked until we had a place to live together...when you cried at night, who did you go to? You went to Mama, of course. We were always constant companions.
(Romaine crawls away. Her face is pained. The words draw her in, but her body wants more distance between them.)
Mrs. Germaine: (Still sweetly, but there is a small hint of aggression) You don't want to talk to your own mother? You hate me that much? You won't listen to me anymore?
(Romaine says nothing, just curls into a ball and rolls away, sniffing)
Mrs. Germaine: I'll always love you, even if you are...well, even if you're one of those...those homosexuals, you know. We can make it through anything together. I'll fix this.
Romaine: (Horrified, sitting up) You'll fix it?
Mrs. Germaine: Yes. We just need to sign you up for one of those camps...I think the church at Westally runs one. Don't worry...there are plenty of boys who will still take you, you know. It's probably just temporary.
Romaine: (Pissed) No, I don't want it to be fixed. I'm fine how it is. I don't see...there's nothing wrong with it.
Mrs. Germaine: It's alright, no need to worried. Mama will fix this. You'll find a boy someday, I'm sure. You know, there was this boy from Missisippi, he also used to identify as a homosexual-
Romaine: (Shakes head then finally throws arms up) Enough! I've...heard...enough! I don't want to talk to you anymore! Just leave!
Mrs. Germaine: I will leave, but only when you tell me you're fine with staying a freshman!
Romaine: I won't!
Mrs. Germaine: Then I won't leave! (Crosses arms)
(Her eyes narrow. Her face is red. She has been pushed to her limit. She stands up and gets off of the bed and starts physically shoving her mother out of the room).
Romaine: Please! Just! Leave! I want to be left alone! Go away! Just stop talking!
Mrs. Germaine: (Splays out arms, trying to keep door open) Good Lord! You would push your own mother out, like...like...like a dog!
Romaine: Please just leave some time to myself! I...can't...calm down if you keep on talking! (She is practically in tears by now)
Mrs. Germaine: No!
Romaine: (Fighting to close door on her) Just please leave my room the fuck alone! That's all I want!
(Mrs. Germaine's mouth drops. Romaine miserably slams the door in her face then shoves the table in front of the closed door, and throws herself onto the bed, cradling the phone in her hand and whimpering)
(Mrs. Germaine's voice comes from the other side of the door, angry and indignant)
Mrs. Germaine: Lauren!
Mr. Germaine: Yes?
(He has been there the whole time, easily within earshot. Romaine covers her face in one of her pillows and sobs.)
Mrs. Germaine: She pushed me!
(Mr. Germaine says nothing)
Mrs. Germaine: (Her voice is getting further away. She is walking over to her husband) She pushed me! That girl really is going to be the death of me - I can feel my heart beating out of his chest!
Mr. Germaine: Let me listen to it.
(Mrs. Germaine begins to make loud, exaggerated, pained breathing sounds as her husband presumably listens to her heartbeat)
Mr. Germaine: I think it's normal.
Mrs. Germaine: Are you sure? I think it's faster than it should be. The doctor said that I might have to undergo open heart surgery if it doesn't get any better. You know the chances of me surviving an operation at my age?
Mr. Germaine: No.
Mrs. Germaine: 19%! If I don't survive, who's going to take care of you two?
Mr. Germaine: I don't know.
Mrs. Germaine: Good Lord! (She is walking into the kitchen as she talks, making clanging sounds with pots and pans and opening and closing cupboards) You two are going to kill me...did you eat, sweetie?
Mr. Lauren: No. I was working on studying this transcript. I need to review the client's history and the case laws that were-
Mrs. Germaine: (Her voice is higher, more like a concerned wife) You need to eat something! I'll go make some food.
(Romaine rolls over. Although her face is wet, she has not made a sound. She studies the little flipphone in her hand, as if it were capable of communicating with a guardian angel)
(Mrs. Germaine knocks on the door. Romaine jumps and scrambles away, hiding behind the bed)
Mrs. Germaine: (Her voice has reverted to that of a kind and caring mother's, devoid of the aggression present just minutes earlier) Romaine, what would you like for dinner?
(Romaine does want food. She looks around the bed, but chooses not to say a word. Some part of her is still disturbed by her mother's words.)
Mrs. Germaine: I didn't hear that, Romaine, you know my hearing aid broke yesterday. What did you say again, sweetie?
(Romaine forces herself to revert to crouching behind the bed.)
Mrs. Germaine: Do you want any food?
(Romaine has said nothing. Her face is screwed together in determination. She will bear the hunger. She does not want this woman's generosity.)
Mrs. Germaine: I'll go make you some fish.
Romaine: I don't want any food!
Mrs. Germaine: I don't know what it is that would make anyone cuss out their mother as if they were a dog, but I understand, you're just going through your...you teeenager hormones. Even though Daniel never cussed me out, but maybe that's just because he was a good boy.
(Romaine just stares at the door apathetically. She does not have any energy left to react.)
Mrs. Germaine: Also I want you to finish your Algebra II by the time dinner is ready, okay? Otherwise, I won't buy you that new book.
Romaine: I was going to finish it any-
(Mrs. Germaine has already left. Romaine has lost again. Romaine rolls up into a ball again and collapses over, crying. She clutches the cell phone to her chest, then looks up and stares at the mathbook for a second. In a fit of anger, she throws it across the room so it makes a loud sound. She waits for a few seconds, and when her tantrum goes completely ignores, she resumes sulking in fetal position. Minutes later, a bowl of food and the pungent smell of cooked fish enter the room as the door cracks open.)
Mrs. Germaine: Dinner is served! (She leaves.)
(Romaine starts to open up her flip phone and turn it on.)
Mrs. Germaine: (Opening door again) Are you eating-
Romaine: GO. AWAY.
Mrs. Germaine: (Immediately shuts door) Wah! So loud. So angry. (Voice drifting further away) That girl! Would you like some more fish, Lauren?
Mr. Germaine: No, I'm good.
Mrs. Germaine: No?
Mr. Germaine: No, I'm not hungry. I'll get some if I do want it later.
Mrs. Germaine: Ok.
Romaine: Rosa? Did you call me earlier?
Romaine: So sorry I didn't pick up! I was, uh, busy doing math.
Romaine: Yes, hang on a sec. Let me...let me find some better reception.
(She looks around her room. There is no isolated place for her to hide besides the bed, except for a closet. She shrugs indifferently and crawls towards it, opening the doors and sliding inside.) No..no, I'm fine. (She wipes her wet face with the crook of her arm, not once sniveling) Huh? What did you say?
(Her face suddenly lights up, hopeful)
Romaine: Oh my god. Thank you so much. Yes, yes, I will call her rightaway! Yes.
(She hangs up and dials a new number. She waits anxiously for a few minutes.)
Romaine: Hello? Is this the principal of St. Jameson High school? This is Romaine...oh, thank you so much, Mrs. Weaver. Yes, yes. I would love to come back. That's what I have to do?
Romaine: Okay...I can do that.
(She stands up with newfound courage and crawls out of the closet. She takes a deep breath.)
Romaine: I'm coming. Just wait for me. Please. I'm trying my best.
(She looks up.)
Romaine: You know...if that was one of your signs and that was supposed to mean that you're cool with the way I am, I don't mind believing in you for a little longer. I...I won't give up.
(She exhales. Whatever god she is speaking to knows she's going to need to hold on tight to that faith.)
Romaine: (Folding hands together) Please bless Rosa and please, please bless Mrs. Weaver. Amen.
(A strange new peace has come over her. Sitting back on her bed and smiling, she hums and sings Hall and Oates' "You Make My Dreams Come True" with a lovestruck, youthful joy.)