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I have finished December, and here I am, already 7 behind. On the bright side, I looked at finished batches and look! There is Leigh’s. I thought she had forgotten, but then I realized, of course she wouldn’t. Leigh says what she will do and refuses what she can’t. She knows her limits. She doesn’t commit without being sure she can do it. Me, I throw myself in head first, without a care, without even pausing to think, hey, maybe this is too much. See, that is the difference between her and I. Leigh is dependable, sensible. I am not.
There is snow outside. I love snow, I always have. My brother and sister immediately run outside to play, but I remain indoors. They don’t know why I don’t play in the snow. It isn’t the fact that my toes always feel like blocks of wood, or that my nose runs and my eyes water and my long hair gets in my face too much, and I can’t properly express my joy at this white world because gravity holds me back, though that is part of it. My reason is this: who would ever want to disturb that glacial perfection?
At school Kelly is popular. Kelly takes nothing seriously, and is light hearted but shallow. She always has a witty retort, especially for the teachers, but they always end up making a pet of her anyway. She makes the play, the lacrosse team, and she isn’t afraid of anything. Kelly doesn’t go home. KJ goes in her place. KJ is quiet and introspective; she loves things Kelly would never admit to liking. KJ writes stories and poetry and reads often. KJ isn’t popular. The teachers hardly notice her. Yet they exist in the same body, how, I am not sure.
I pass him in the hallways and we don’t say a word. We have a few mutual friends but girls surround him as I am by both sexes. I think his eyes are too close together and he’s not serious enough and I know he thinks I’m too stuck-up and academically snobby. We both adore books, especially ones that make us think, and music and thinking. He is carefree and self-confident and I hold myself rigid and often am silent. The only class we share is English and all too often I look at him to see the gaze returned.
Why is time going so quickly? It seems just yesterday that January was just beginning. I was so motivated then, so determined to become the best student ever. But somewhere along the lines I lost that motivation and regained my horrid attitude towards class. Maybe I really am the brightest student, but my grades certainly don’t show it. Sometimes the people with the best grades aren’t intelligent. I don’t think grades are a good way of guessing our mental abilities. I think they should grade by us ourselves, not our ability to absorb facts and spit them back out again.
I’m a master liar. I could get myself out of thousands of situations given the chance. I don’t know, but I guess not telling truths simply hasn’t had much affect on me. As long as I could remember I haven’t been able to see why people think lying is so terrible. I lie all the time, without even noticing. The very sad thing is, though, no one doubts it. I lie about stupid things, like whether my DSL link is hidden or not, or what someone said at school today. Maybe my brain is imbalanced. Also, I think I’m histrionic.
Leigh Jahnig and I had a playground fight in second grade over something I don’t remember anymore. We stood in the middle of the upper level, somewhere between the little kid monkey bars and the taller ones that only middle schoolers could reach. The other students watched us discreetly while pretending to play as usual. After a while I realized I couldn’t win this fight by words. I decided then to do something that would ensure my victory permanently. I began to cry. The other girls in the grade immediately surrounded me, comforting. They were on my side. I win.
As I child I never had many friends. I was painfully conscious of my differences. They thought I was strange and quiet. They seemed so young, so carefree, so much children. I had never felt like a child. I used to wonder what it would be like to be one of them, laughing, dancing, singing. I didn’t laugh in front of them. The teachers liked to tell me I could ‘talk to them whenever’. I never would. They said this because they thought there was something wrong with me. I was too serious, too solemn. I pretended I didn’t care.
playground fight, seven years old, screaming, yelling, shrieks of rage, accusations, pointing fingers, fierce rage, anger, wish to rip, tear that plaid uniform, won’t work, not strong enough, she’s bigger than me, potential punishment, idea strikes, calculated decision, can I win this by words? not yet I can’t, today a child, tomorrow maybe I’ll grow but not today, today I’m going to win, you just wait, I’ll be a good girl someday but today I’ll win ‘cause I must or I’ll absolutely die, other girl can’t win, think of something sad, don’t blink, forced tears, comforting arms smother. I win.
Five years old. There are two sets of monkey bars on the playground- big and little. The little one is kinda big for me, but I manage. Seven years old it’s the exact right size and sometimes I can skip a bar. Ten years old I move on to the big one and I have to jump to reach the bar, I can’t go all across because there’s a gap in the middle and I can’t reach. Thirteen and my friends and I swing up on top and look down. Fourteen years old and high-schoolers never play on monkey bars.
I’m six now and I have to go to school in the morning and sit still and not talk. It’s not too hard for me but my friend Jenny says its stupid. Jenny’s mom doesn’t like it when she says stupid. My mom doesn’t care that much, and besides I’d never say it in front of her. I don’t get in trouble at all, really! Except for the time I was caught reading under the desk, or the time I asked the teacher ‘why?’ I’m always asking ‘why’ and I never get anything but trouble. More trouble than saying ‘stupid’.
What I wanted at eight, a bookstore of my own, an Arabian horse for me to ride, a television in my room, unlimited allowance so I could buy all the books I wanted, a homemade ice cream maker, another cat, my brother to leave me alone, curly hair, blue eyes, my dad to stop making those stupid jokes, a secret garden just like Mary’s from The Secret Garden, to fly like Peter Pan and Wendy, people to stop treating me as if I was somehow less intelligent just because I had not been on the earth as long as then.
Do you remember? Sshhh, let’s sneak to the kitchen and snitch some of Grandmother’s cookies, she’ll never notice. Remember? Lets set chairs in the hallway and jump, and aw, Mom, it’s just a scratch. Remember? Slip slide across the marble floor, come on, you won’t get hurt. Remember? Ride the bike without training wheels, don’t worry, if you fall I’ll get you back up. Remember? Move that thing, it won’t do anything, Dad’s car will be fine. Remember? Don’t be silly, of course I can make you a tiger with mom’s make-up. Remember? Go away, I don’t have time. Remember?
I was so excited when I found strawberry soda in the machines at school. Most people I hear say STRAW-bairy, however I pronounce it straw-burRY. The other day I bought a straw-burRy soda from the machines. In the hallway Tim came up to me, said, what is that? I said, straw-burRY soda. Can I try some of that straw-BERRY soda? He asked. Sure and he said, okay and took a long sip. Tim’s face contorted and euuuurugh, he said, that tastes nasty. I guess most things are like that. To me it may taste good, but its poison to others.
What was Jesus like as a child? Did he make mud pies in the dirt and then would the Virgin Mary scold him? Did his parents spank him sometimes and make him wear stuff he didn’t want to and did he ever skip out on synagogue because he wanted to play? Did Jesus sneak and snitch and fight and then feel so so awful he was caught but not really that he did it? Did he ever participate in the messy brilliance that is childhood? And who told him he was the Son of God and did it fully blow his mind?
When I was little I wanted to die young so I could be a child in heaven. The Stone Ridge girls played a game that told you what colour hair you would have once you reached paradise. You would take one single solitary hair and draw it through your mouth, then hold it up to the sun and VOILA. My hair was a brilliant copper that I would kill to have, but then I wasn’t satisfied- I wanted to be a little baby angel with perfect golden curls... I should add my hair has always been stick straight and dark.
I have a fear of failure. I wonder if there is a word for that and if that means I should see a psychologist, and probably because everything is cause for psychoanalysis these days. I used to be so sure what I would be when I grew up, but now I have no idea. Last year I thought eating would be failure, but most of the time I’m over that now. This year all my dreams have faults. I can’t do it, I’m not clever enough, not pretty enough, not outgoing enough, not good enough. Most things revolve around money.
Staring into the mirror I whispered cruelly, fat, ugly. Failure. Could have been, would have been, didn’t. Don’t eat, failure, if you do you’re worse than I thought. Failure. An angry beast inside me clawed at my skin, I welcomed the pain. Maybe the pain would make me pure, finally, finally. I felt dizzy when I stood too quickly; the world swam before my eyes sometimes. This was good- this meant I wasn’t as much of a failure. Meant I had some hope to become clean, finally, finally. But the bones didn’t stick out of my skin enough. Failure. Failure.
When I was very young the girl in the mirror was my friend. I would pretend sometimes she was my twin sister, but we would never converse with each other because whenever she talked I did too. The older I got the more we drifted apart, that girl and I. I don’t know exactly when, but sometime she became my mortal enemy. Fat, ugly, I would tell her, failure. Could have been, might have been, isn’t’. Not good enough, not thin enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough- not enough. Failure. Failure. And she would say the same to me.
Books tumble all over each other. Gone With the Wind lies next to Great Expectations and Matilda on top of Growing Wings and under them are Frindle and The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. Front Row at the White House and Girls in the Van are on my trunk. The First Elizabeth and Primary Colors and The Amber Spyglass make up one stack. Peter Pan in a corner, Harry Potter a L’Ecole de Sorciers on my desk next to Wicca and Witchcraft. I wonder if they argue while I sleep, about magic and science and politics and children.
Remember sofa cushion forts and haphazard tree houses and finger paintings on the wall? Remember freckles and sunburn and wild hair and mismatched clothing and no, dear, you can’t wear that and why? Remember pouts and tantrums and childish fights and no, mummy, he hit me first and Go to your room! Remember comics and picture books and scraped knees and bloody elbows? Remember magic and fairies and the backyard is my world? Remember when the world was so big? Remember, don’t you remember? All the messy brilliance of childhood- and don’t you wish you could do it all again?
Third grade. We were given The Borrowers to read and sent to the library for half an hour to get started. At the end of the allotted time Jenny asked me, ‘How far did you get? I read one chapter.’ My eyes widened. ‘I read real fast,’ she boasted. ‘Well,’ I replied, ‘I finished the book, so I read it again.’ ‘Liar,’ said Jenny. The teacher didn’t believe me either, and she told me to confess my sins at mass on Sunday. I went into fourth grade having learnt to be the same as everyone else, because difference was wrong.
As I child I never really had many friends. I was painfully conscious of my differences. They seemed so young, so carefree, so much children. I had never felt like a child. I used to wonder what it would be like, sometimes, to be one of them, laughing, dancing, singing. I didn’t laugh in front of them. The teachers liked to tell me I could ‘talk to them whenever I wanted to’. I never would. I knew they said this because they thought there was something wrong with me. I was too serious, too solemn. I pretended I didn’t care.
Why don’t you talk to me instead? Why don’t you talk to me instead? Why don’t you talk to me instead? Why don’t you talk to me instead? Why don’t you talk to me instead? Why don’t you talk to me instead? Why don’t you talk to me instead? Why don’t you talk to me instead? Why don’t you talk to me instead? Why don’t you talk to me instead? Why don’t you talk to me instead? Why don’t you talk to me instead? Why don’t you talk to me instead? Why don’t you talk to me instead? Why not?
Blank verse is an androgynous figure in white. Haiku is a Japanese woman with shiny dark hair in a chignon. Limerick is a jolly Irish man with red hair. Sonnet is a solemn dark girl with a disagreeable face. Fantasy is a fair man with a sword. Autobiography is a pompous old man. Biography is an old man, too, but this one a professor- type. Historical fiction is Scarlett O’Hara and science fiction is a reckless young boy. Classic is a grumpy female teacher and nonfiction is Matilda with her clever face. Don’t you see? Even stories create other stories.
Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour.
Seven years. Spinning laughing dancing to her favourite song. A little girl with nothing wrong is all alone. Eyes wide open always hoping for the sun and she’ll sing her song to anyone who comes along. Fragile as a leaf in autumn just falling to the ground without a sound. Crooked little smile on her face tells a tale of grace that’s all her own. Fragile as a leaf in autumn just falling to the ground without a sound she’s a little girl with nothing wrong and she’s all alone. A little girl with nothing wrong, and she’s all alone.
Kelly, phone for you. Hello? Hey, it’s Gaby. Can you do the research for bioterrorism for biology? Sure, okay. See you tomorrow. Bye. Kelly, phone for you. Hello? Hi, its Cassie. I was calling because I couldn’t figure out Kazaa. Get on AIM and I’ll explain it, okay? Okay, bye. Bye. Kelly, phone for you. Hello? Hi, it’s Katie. Larissa’s having a before Winter Formal party, want to come? Sure, okay. Well, it’s the same as homecoming- drop off at six thirty, bring twenty bucks. Tell me tomorrow if you can. Okay, see you. Bye. Kelly, phone for you. Hello?
Flaking yellow paint on my tree house. Dust gathering in the corners, spider webs inside. What was once a well-loved haven is now a home for squirrels and birds. Gritty sand beneath my toes at the beach irritate my skin and is pleasantly warm at the same time. Sweet and sour candies burst in my mouth, acerbic and saccharine mixing together. Flowers from my wreath dry up and begin to shed while the paper leaves stay put and the garland begins decay. Chirping crickets grate my ears. And all this is life. All this is living, in the purest sense.
Show off, attention whore. Stuck up brat. Snobby baby. Liar, stealer, thief. Condescending horror. Tart. Flirt. Geek, dork, freak. Strange, frightening, peculiar. Weird. Silly, shallow, fake. Cold. Frigid, aloof, formal. Facsimile of a sham of a person. Loud, grating, bossy. Domineering, dominant. Witch. Mean, rude, impolite. Nasty. Disrespectful, impertinent, cheeky. Insolent. Arrogant, big-headed, conceited. Vain. It is good for me to remember insults and accusations people throw at me. Far better than hearing the compliments. Leader, take charge, introspective, deep, funny, amusing, light, mischievous, impish, puckish, self confident, clever, studious, smart, genial, mature, open, candid. The insults are more true.
Being near him is intoxicating. It makes me dizzy. My stomach rolls, my brain races for something, anything clever. After I walk away I need more, more of this being around him. I analyse our conversation afterwards, did I say the right things, did I do something stupid? I will go so far to say he is like a drug. He makes me not fully myself and yet more me than ever and I become addicted. Words are powerful just because they’re his. If I could blush I would be red constantly around him. God, how do I hate crushes.
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