Thursday, November 1, 2012

GS Chapter 1: Going Nowhere- Part 1

Chapter One: Going Nowhere
            “Camera opens in a close-up of a guy—
            Focus slowly as he opens his eyes.
            In the background hear his girl, she’s screaming words.
            The door slams shut before a car outside is heard…”

            This is me.
            Average build. Average looks. Average day on a street corner.
            I slammed the door of my mom’s Jeep closed only two seconds before this, but what do you know! She’s already halfway down the street and not even thinking about looking back!
She salutes me with a honk and a wave. Goodbye! says her honk-wave. So long Ellie, my only daughter, my heart! My lower lips quivers, but I shrug it off with a scoff. Good riddance, I say. Who the heck needs her.
            Tearing my eyes away from her car’s fleeting figure, I focus, instead, on the tightwad standing across the street. Short hair. Short temper. Just short. That is my cousin. That is the girl I’m supposed to be “learning from” this summer. That’s Bailey.
            To think it’s been a year since I saw her last and she looks the same. Same cold cut expression. Same judgmental gleam in her eyes. Same slow-blinking stare… She’s even wearing the same thing she wore when she vowed she’d never speak to me again which is awkward. Guess she really loves that powder blue dress. The white polka dots are cute and all, but really? I expect better from a college girl.
With a sigh, I lean down to pick up my guitar case and my duffel. Can’t get much worse, can it? Life, I mean. Generally speaking.
            More specifically, then, my life. It can’t get much worse, can it? Bailey’s cross-armed stance screams, “I don’t want you here,” almost as loudly as my heart begs me to make a run for it. As I cross the street, I map out my options. Break for Casey’s? Club Bailey with the guitar and laugh maniacally until she regains consciousness and calls the police?
A tight grin takes over my face in an attempt to be cordial. “Hey, there,” I say.
She doesn’t return the sentiment.
Instead, she shows off her fluency in robot. “Is that everything?” she asks.
She stands only a few inches taller than me on the top step of the path leading to the front door, but every time she speaks I hear, I’m better than you, I’m better than you…
I nod slowly— deliberately— and make her wait for the, “Mm-hmm.”
She inhales sharply. “Come on, then.”
Biting my tongue, I follow her through the front door of the warm, toffee-colored home. I knew that this wasn’t her parents’ place from one look at the ritzy address. But once inside, I swallow thickly as my eyes dart across from one foreign room to the next. Pictures of another family line the walls and shelves. Worn couches and warm rugs litter the floor.  Antiques and little trinkets wink at me as the light from the wide front windows hits their faces. And once again I’m made aware of how out of place I am everywhere I go.
“Nice place you got here,” I remark as we fly down the hall past a painting by some scribble named “J.W.”
Without turning around Bailey replies, “It’s not mine.” Then she twists the handle of the last door down, pushes it open, and stands in the doorframe so I can pass.
You might be wondering why I’m being forced to spend the summer before my senior year with a grump like Bee. Honestly? I’m still trying to figure that out for myself. Often times I wonder if life’s trying to punish me just for existing. But then I remember Bailey got accepted to Stanford and Yale, and I think, Life doesn’t do that. If it did, she’d be getting it a thousand times worse.
The room is cramped, but lived in— comfortable. The window next to the bed lets light stream onto the queen sized mattress, and the couch inside the room adds a nice touch to the overall ambience. Books on the desk, chairs, and floors tell me that whoever lived here before we took over was obsessive. And the posters on the walls of Time’s Up and Just Kidding! tell me that I’m okay with that. Good taste in music makes you alright in my book.
“And this is mine?” I have to ask to pinch myself, to make myself believe this is happening. I’ve always had my own room, but we’ve never stayed in one place long enough to get cozy. To think that this room would be mine for the next three months felt like a dream. Especially since it already looks the way I’d want it to had I been allowed time to pack more than a change of underwear. Especially since it already feels so… me.
I turn to Bailey, and she snorts. “Yeah, you wish.” As my face falls, she reaches into a pocket on the front of her dress and pulls out a folded slip of paper. “This,” she starts again reading the sheet in a kind of singsong, “is yours and an Asher-comma-Tracey’s.”
“A who’s?” I ask thoroughly confused.
Bailey’s confused, too. “Your roo-mmate’s.” She enunciates it like I’m stupid.
“What roo-mmate?” I enunciate back.
Her brow furrows and her arms cross as she evaluates me. “Sam didn’t tell you what this place was, did she?”
It’s a statement more than it is a question, but I answer with a shake of my head. Bailey unfolds her arms and gives me the worst look of all— the pity stare. I turn my back to her. Low blow, Cousin… Low blow.
“Well you know my mom,” I say to the Time’s Up poster staring at the room from its place next to the bed. “She probably figured you’d do a better job filling in the blanks.” I pick up a stuffed animal from its perch on a pile of books and turn back to Ellie. “Do I get hints, clues, or are you just gonna tell me?”
Bailey blinks twice and then looks at the doll in my hand. To it, she says, “Lunch’ll be ready in two hours. Try not to get arrested in the meantime.” And then she’s gone.
“Ha, ha. How original.” The empty doorframe couldn’t possibly care less. I toss the innocent creature in my hands over my shoulder and let it hit the floor… let it stay there while I grumble. Let it sit there and watch me burn. Let it smile at me from the ground, before I roll my eyes and pick it up again.
Because I guess that’s probably part of it. This could be what I suspected: a sick sort of punishment for my shoplifting escapades last year. But I realize that’s only part of it. That’s just the excuse for me being here— the “reason” I have to stay.
“Hey!” My voice echoes down the empty hallway bouncing off “J.W.’s” painting, off the trinkets. “This place got a toilet?”
Bailey’s “Yep!” comes back just as coarsely.
“Oh gee, thank you!” I return enraged. One by one, I open all of the doors in the house. I close them again. I lock myself away in the fluorescently lit bathroom and slide down the cold, wooden door letting the ground take away the weight of the day.
I sit there for a whole minute— for two. Then three and then four and I allow myself to feel. To think. To breathe. To hate the world because if I don’t, who will?
I sit there and I mutter. It’s like everyone expects you to be perfect these days. To be normal. To wear a bra when you’re out in public and a tampon when you’re on your period… But I’m not perfect. I’m nowhere near it.
On my knees I search for the sink. With my hands I find the faucet, turn it on, and pull myself up again. I look at myself in the mirror, counting off every imperfection.
And I sigh.
Because I can.
I wink at myself. A tear rolls down my cheek.
I wash it away. Another one takes its place.
I’m not perfect and I’ve come to terms with the fact that I never will be. I’ve come to terms with it, but the expectations of everyone else flood my brain. I don’t want to live my life chasing some impossible version of myself. I guess it’s too much to hope for that someone just expects me to be me.


  1. this is great! Keep up the hard work. I'm looking forward to reading more.