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A Date for Zephany This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.


   Zephany, that's my name. Ilike it; it's different. Every school year some teacher would think it was anerror and call out "Stephanie," but I'd catch this mistake quickly,making sure I enunciated the "Zeph," biting my bottom lip lightly. Mymother had wanted a rare name, hoping I would wind up famous and successful.Pregnant women are all on crack, though her choice of a name did manage to helpme make friends when we moved to Florida. Every-one I met commented with anawestruck tone, "Wow, with a Z. That's cool." That is why one of myvery best friends is Carla Eggelmeyer. We've been friends for years, and shethinks it's time to be matchmaker.

"No, I will not go on a date withTimmy Olin! He's got a red face and he's boring. There's no way!" I scream,stomping through the dim corridors of high school.

"Zephany, I knowyou like him. I saw you staring at him in calc all period, and you watched hisbutt when he sharpened his pencil," Carla retorts.

With a look ofdisgust, then a grin, I ask, "So what? That doesn't mean I want to go outwith him!"

"All right, whatever, I'll get some other girl to gowith him. See you later," she surrenders.

Bye. Timmy Olin is F-I-N-E,fine. Brilliant, glassy, green-speckled eyes fanned by innocent eyelashes. Ilongingly stare at his sharp-cut jawline painted with perfect ripened peach and asun-kissed glow. His blond hair reflects shine in every strand but isstrategically messy in all the right places. One touch would send charges up myarm directly to my heart, and an amazing physique balances him on the tip of thepyramid. A freshman can only dream of admiring up-close those firm pecs and abs,complete with a sub-dermal piercing of a six-pack of Coke.

Mmmm ... but Idon't care. Anything that gets remotely close to a relationship is not for me.Yeah, I'm always up for the occasional eye-candy. I like to ogle and be rude. Butevery girl giggles annoyingly around Timmy Olin like he's a god or Brad Pitt, andif I did that I would crush my own larynx, without painkillers. Nobody shouldhave that much control over my emotions (though it seems he already does). Beingin a relationship means I have to make sacrifices, be the "girlfriend."As if I wanted a new title. Then, somehow, my mushy feelings would get in the wayof living, so yeah, my wallet picture of a shirtless Timmy Olin will definitelysuffice.

On my way to the ice-cream shop, I think about how badly I wantto go to a concert because I've been working endlessly. Traffic is always thickand I usually blast Aerosmith's "Cryin'" through dented speakers whilescream-singing with all my lung capacity. This song makes me realize that if Idid meet somebody it would just end miserably. Big surprise.

I pull intoa pot-holed parking space up front and walk in the suffocating heat into frozenheaven. We have a new flavor, and tasting the blueberry cheese puff swirl is theclimax of Saturday evening. I mop the tiles of the gooey floor, careful to catchevery glob under the booths. The light poles are futuristic scarecrows protectingme from the deranged psychos hiding in the shadows. I imagine murderers crawlingover the connected stores around the shopping center like giant spiders. I makeone last circular motion and toss the paper towel in a trash can. I snatch mypurse, lock the door and sprint childishly to my Christmas-tree-greenDodge.

Driving home, I decide to stop, throw a blanket on the roof andwhisper dreams to the sky. I wish to be happy because I believe my hell iswaiting impatiently, a nice suite including a peaceful fireplace and a boilingjacuzzi with settings like melancholy or depression. My foot is stuck inquicksand and it's really pulling me down, so I breathe in, tell myself I'm goingto the YMCA for a workout before going to flirt with the hottie at Hot Topics, agothic shop wedged between Pacific Sunwear and Express. I roll off my car andspeed into the bright darkness.

In my black-laced canopy, I dream that Ido have one of those. You know, ... a boyfriend. Inside the University ofKentucky, I stride naturally into the bustling, noisy cafeteria. A crowd ofpeople swarms around me and as they clear, I see my boyfriend holding hands withanother girl, very nonchalantly. A moment in dreamland passes and his neck pivotsin my direction. Instantly, his hand unclasps hers as if it were an ancient relicat the museum and he had just noticed the "Do Not Touch" sign. My facefeels like it's melting. The anger burns into my mind and I know regret is linedin each string of his every muscle. I turn to run before I break, thinking thisis dying without a tombstone. Burning rays of dust-filled light erase the imagesof the nightmare but the feelings and memory linger.

During school, Ishoot angry scowling looks at any cute boy who eyes me except this one guy,because his fly is open and I fall on the ground laughing, forcing a typhoon-waveof underclassmen to split like the exact even part of my hair.

"Areyou all right?" he asks, thinking I had tripped, which makes me roar louder.After I stop howling, this oblivious guy asks my name and I tell him it's asecret and walk away. Ignorant boy yells, "I'm Kyle!" and I saunteraway, hips swaying, straight to English.

English class is full of potheadsand airheads but I prefer the potheads. Not that I smoke, but they're moreintellectual. I suppose it's because they're so mellow. My attention span ismeasured by what author/poet we're reading. Hawthorne. I'm doodling.

Atlunch, the old ladies serve meatloaf and really it's rat blended with goat. I gagand slip into the silent black-hole void called the library. Just as I'm immersedin Stephen King's suspenseful writing, someone clears his throat. I continuereading, and he does it again.

"Yes," I say pulling the bookdown a couple of inches so only soft baby amber eyes areexposed.

"Zephany, that's your name right?" A handsome hunkstands nervously in front of me. I nod, astonished that this stranger pronouncedmy name impeccably.

"Yeah, well, um, I'm the guy you laughed attoday." I put the book down.

"Oh, yes, hello, Kyle. I see yourpants are zipped now." His face turns pink and I smile. I can't believe Ididn't perceive this allure before.

I check him out a few moments more,then decide I need to get rid of him so I can imagine zombie wars in peace. (Eww!Imagine zombie sex! Ugh! Gross!)

"Uh, Kyle, I have to read this bookfor a class, and ..."

"Oh, well, sorry, I was doing research forhistory and wanted to talk to you. See ya around, Zephany." Weird guy, evenblushed and did a cute little wave, then smack, the library door slams like apinball game.

Track finishes the day and it's wonderfully invigoratingfor the mind and body. I don't have to talk at all. I just run in circles like agigantic dog chasing its tail. I love the pounding of my heart reverberatingthrough my chest. I hate going home and I hate school, so track is my balancebetween the two. After practice I hurry off to practice skate boarding for ameasly 15 minutes. Home life is hectic because my parents fight a lot aboutstupid stuff like laundry and politics, but then I fight with them about gradesand my sharp decline in "family time." I let the anger roll off insteam clouds since I strive to be in a never-ending state of coolness. I alsodrink water like I breathe air. I'm drinking right now so one day I can be ahealthy rich CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a robust garbage woman.

I hadanother dream; this time the guy is Kyle. I'm watching him play soccer. I have noclue if he plays soccer (though he's built well enough to), and he scores a goal.And then the dream's over. Sunlight lays heavy on my eyelids and I wake up, tripinto some clothes, and speed to work. There is nothing to do and I lay my face onthe counter to reflect on life. Time is zooming by with senior portraits, classrings and parties. Growing up isn't scary, it is monotonous and predictable. It'sall about waiting.

I want to grow up and move to Long Beach, Californiaor maybe the Bahamas. Becoming wrinkly, old and absentminded terrifies me,especially when I'm around the elderly and it is as if they have displaced theirlink with the world. I've got a plan though - when it's too much to bear, I'llpurchase a gun and blow my brains out in the shower or woods (for less mess). I'mcrazy and unstable. There's no way a relationship would work for me. Kyle shouldhave missed that goal but he is that minuscule shard of shattered glass I did notpick up when everything broke and now somehow he's embedded in mythoughts.

Kyle strolls into Uncle Harry's Ice Cream Palace with all hisguy friends while I'm sopping up melted drippings. I pretend he does not exist.When he pays, he gives me a folded paper. I drop it into my pocket. After theyleave, I feel the note and wonder if I should even read it. I mean what if ... Iopen it and it's a bomb or a winning lotto ticket. I'm being egotisticallyfoolish. Discreetly, I turn my back to my co-workers, then unfold the dud. Itreads:

Zephany, I'm too shy to ask you in person, but would you like to goout with me? Call me at 555-3128, I want to get to know you. - Kyle

Toostunned to do anything of sound mind, I crumple it and fling it in the garbagecan. Then while I'm throwing trash in the dumpster, I dive into the nastycontraption before I can think about what I'm doing and dig, because I'm starvingfor that note.

In my car, I clutch it, feeling stupid and oddly important.I am the only person on Earth holding the future (i.e. boyfriend, love, etc.) inmy hands. I am desperately yearning to attend The Used concert but it would be adate that goes against every love rule I hold, which is No Dating. The onlyreason I would go is the concert. I can't. I'll go with a friend. He could bepractice for later on in life ... no. Love does not need practice. Kyle is hot.There are others. I dreamed about him. Society is trying to conform me. I haven'thad a date in forever and society tells me I need to date. Stupid society. Iwon't do it and that's it, end of story, there is no more! (long sigh) I'mcalling him when I get home.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the June 2003 Teen Ink Fiction Contest.






Join the Discussion

This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Z's Dad said...
Aug. 26, 2012 at 3:18 am
O Fiction ! Name too?
 
Z's Dad said...
Aug. 26, 2012 at 3:13 am
Zephany is my daughters name too.She's 21 now. Everyone tries to call her Stephanie too.
 
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