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Transformed chapter 3
Well....school is over...for the day
I didn’t have very much homework, only a math worksheet and to write an essay for english, and usually when I had very little assignments, I found my way to the food service or different community service clubs, and log some philanthropy hours. Most people don’t help the poor because they could write a book of excuses, but the people that do, which is never-the-less a large number, only do it because that is what the older, less expensive colleges look for in applications. Don’t get me wrong, that was one of the reasons that I did it as well, but on the other hand, more often than for that reason, I go to get away from my life at home and school and to think about my life, just to help me get through it.
I had ridden my old, simple bike to school, and that was the only method of transportation I could use to get anywhere; all throughout highschool, I had been saving up my money for college, rather than buying a car.
About twenty minutes after school had ended, I arrived at the Food Bank, which was the closest philanthropy to school. I chained my bike to a pole, and then walked into the brown, brick building. The inside was nearly empty, with only several people walking around with boxes and canned food.
“Oh, hey Tina!” I turned my face to see a boy named Giacone waving at me; out of kindness, rather than ignoring his friendly greeting, I walk towards him, where he was stacking cans in a box.
I usually thought of Giacone being similar to me, always trying to be on top of everything, doing a lot of charity, and caring about school. We had met at the Food Bank a couple years ago, and have been constantly seeing each other there ever since. He was probably five inches taller than me, and had a centimeter-thick blanket of red hair sticking up on his head. But, he wasn’t the normal red-head with freckles that someone usually hears about, he had a smooth, slightly tan face.
“Hi Giacone. How long have you been here?”
Although, he was concentrating on what he was doing on a table, I saw his lips edge upwards, “Just got here. I thought I would stay for a half an hour or so,” he paused, “But, now that you are here, I’ll stay until you leave.”
“Thanks. It’s always nice to talk to someone instead of listening to silence. But, I think I am just going to stay for a half an hour anyway. Just a short-stop on my way home from school.” I shrugged, picked up a box from a pile that were laying at my feet, and began stacking cans into it.
“Why are you so anxious to get back to your house? I only think I have seen you stay for 30 minutes once, and that was the day of eighth-grade graduation for you.”
I chuckled, “Umm. Well, actually, college acceptance letters arrive today.” I knew that he would understand my reason because he was eighteen and had graduated the year before.
“Oh. Silly me. I should have known that. What one are you hoping to get into the most?”
“Definitely Harvard and Pontiserant. The greatest colleges on earth. But, I am guessing I will get into Harvard. To many people are trying to get into Pontiserant.”
“Cool. Super cool,” he paused again, and I finished filling a box and began moving on to the next one. Giacone looked in my face, “I always liked your determination. Don’t find that much of it here in Salt Lake City, these days. But, then again, I shouldn’t be surprised. You were born with a big brain.” He laughed.
I dropped my jaw playfully, “How rude!” and shoved him slightly.
“Hey, don’t be mean. I really do...” His words were blocked when my cheapo iphone rang from within my pocket. I grabbed it and looked at the I.D: MOM.
“Excuse me. I have to get this. One second.” I shrugged, and put the phone up to my ear, for them to just be ringing immediately by the sound of my mother’s voice.
“OH MY GOD, TINA! Guess What! You won’t be able to, actually!”
I looked at Giacone, who was staring at me with his eyes wide. “Mom, can you please stop yelling. People can hear you from my phone.”
Her voice calmed. “I am sorry. Your college applications arrived.”
Butterflies began flying around in my stomach. “Yeh! Can you bring them inside, and I’ll open them when I get home?”
There was silence for a second. “Tina, I already opened them.” My lungs dropped to the bottom of me. “You got accepted into Stanford, Harvard, and Pontiserant. Isn’t this exciting? I am so proud of you.”
But then, I was the one screaming. “Mom! You opened them without me. How could you do that to me? It was a once in a lifetime moment, and you ruined it for me!”
“Honey, what did I do?” I barely let her say those words.
“You know what! Nothing. Okay. I have to go, bye.” I hung up, and began quietly working on the boxes again.
I was waiting for Giacone to ask me what happened, but he didn’t. I suppose I could thank him for that.
“She opened my letters without me,” I said softly.
He continued to stay quiet.
“I am going to go get something to eat after this. Do you want to come?” I didn’t look at him, hoping he wouldn’t see my frown and wet eyes.
“I probably shouldn’t. But if you ever need me, my number is 5687-56832, okay?”
I frowned, but listened to his number anyway.
A moment later, he said softly, “Fine, i’ll go if you want me to.”
I didn’t notice I was saying anything; it was just flowing out of my mouth like water. “I do want you to.”
We looked at each other finally, before I noticed a slight reassuring smile on his face, “Are you sure you don’t want to be alone and go read your letters?”
“Yah. Again, I need someone to talk to. Let’s go to Jack in the Box after we finish fifteen more boxes.”
“Okay, that will take about thirty minutes, if we hurry.”
And for the rest of the time, we worked without speaking any words, and, of course, by the time 20 minutes had gone by, we had done nearly twice as many as we had planned; he had finished filling seventeen boxes, and I had done ten.
He began picking up the boxes and stacking them in a corner where there were several on the floor already. I stayed behind, picking at my nails and the skin around them.
“Are you ready to go, Tina?
I stopped, straightened up, “Yes, sorry. Let’s go,” and began leading the way out of the slightly gloomy building.
Immediately, the bright sun widened my sleepy eyes, even though on the inside, nothing changed. I was very aware of Giacone with his hand on my shoulders, pressing me out the do0r. I had never ever touched a boy, besides shaking hands, and normal greetings, but I tried to ignore my anxiety.
I didn’t have to show him where Jack in the Box was; everyone knew where it was. We walked there, only taking several minutes, and when we walked inside, there were only seven or eight families waiting in line. “What are you going to get?” I asked.
He shrugged, looking at the chunky woman and her young child in front of us, “I’ll probably just get a Pepsi.”
I frowned, “Are you sure? You’re not hungry at all?”
“No, not necessarily, but I am really thirsty. I live for Pepsi.”
“Okay. If you say so.” I leaned on my left leg, creating an S shape with my body.
The line diminished quickly, even though the adults had ordered enough food to feed an army.
A small, fair-skinned girl with a black bun on the top of her head was ready to serve us. “Hello, what can I get for you today?”
After I noticed that Giacone was waiting for me and was not going to order before me, I answered, “Can I have a half order of curly fries and a Oreo shake, please?”
“All right. And what about you?” She turned her face to ask Giacone, which showed me what type of people usually go to Jack in the box considering that she wasn’t staring at me like Giacone was, as if I had five kids to feed as well as myself.
“Can I have a Pepsi, please?” He finally answered.
“Yes.” She placed the orders into a screen, “That will be seven dollars.”
I began to grab for my small wallet in my pocket before I noticed that he was doing the same. “Giacone, I’ll pay. You aren’t even eating anything. I should pay for my own food.”
“No. It’s fine. You need a favor and to relax.” He handed his credit card to the waitress.
He looked at me, and I took the moment to say, “Thanks.”
He smiled as he turned to take his credit card back. “Any time.”
“Would you like a receipt, sir?”
“Yes please.” Giacone leaned against the counter.
But, while the receipt was printing, the cheerful waitress smiled and asked, “Are you guys dating? You guys are soo cute together.”
I began laughing, and when I stopped, I noticed that she was staring at me. Giacone responded for me, “No. We are not dating, just friends.”
Her cheeks turned slightly red. “Oh sorry. Well, there’s your receipt.” She handed it to Giacone, as we went to find a table, to sit down and wait for our food.
I buried my face in my hands before I ran them through my soft, tangled hair. He was staring at me. “Hey, are you alright? You don’t look so good.”
I smiled, “No, it’s fine. I am just a really hungry,” I laughed, “I can’t believe she thought we were dating. I mean, why would she possibly think that?”
He shrugged, “I don’t know. It was slightly awkward, you know? I wouldn’t just ask two people that question.”
“Yah.” I began tapping my fingers on the plastic table. “Thanks, by the way.”
He squinted his eyes in wonder, “For what?”
“For buying my snack. I wouldn’t have ordered so much if I knew that you were going to do that.” I frowned.
“It’s alright. You were hungry, I understand. Besides, it was only seven dollars, I’m not poor. Just don’t worry about it.” He stopped talking for a moment. “Let’s talk about you. Since you got accepted into three really good colleges, which one do you think that you want to go to?”
“I don’t know. The cheapest one probably. I don’t know if I will be able to afford Pontiserant. My mom still has my sister to pay for. I only have twenty-thousand saved up.”
The tips of his mouth turned downwards. “That is actually really good. I probably haven’t saved up that much in my life. Don’t be such a downer though. Just enjoy the idea of being accepted while it lasts. Don’t worry about later; life will sort things out for you.”
“Yah. I hope so.”
I looked into his face, and for a moment, our eyes locked. “Ninety-six,” the speakers announced.
Giacone broke my gaze as he stood up. “That’s our number,” I began to do the same, but he signaled for me to sit back down. “You stay here. I’ll go get the food.” He threw me a smile before he left.
My mind began racing: why was he being so nice. We are not strangers, but we have never been very close either.
Within thirty seconds, he was back with a tray. He handed me the small back of curly fries and a shake, placed his Pepsi where he would be sitting, and put the tray on the table behind us.
He took a sip of his pepsi. “Eat up.”
I threw one of the curly fries in my mouth, but even before I began chewing, I knew how crunchy and delicious it would be. “Oh my goodness, this is really good.” He was watching me. “Do you want one?”
“No thank you. It’s your food. You are hungry.”
“Seriously, I really must insist that you have one.” I got another fry out of the bag and aimed it towards his mouth. “Open up,” I said in a squeaky, child voice. He did, and I pushed the tip in his mouth. He closed his lips on the fry and began chewing.
“Wow, that is good. Thanks. I have never had Jack in the Box fries.” He developed a large smile.
“Really! I get them everytime I come here. Have you ever had one of their shakes before?”
He shook his head. “As I said before, I live for Pepsi. If I ever get anything else, I might cry.”
“Wow. The shakes are even better than the fries, and in my opinion, the oreo is the best. But, then again, I really like sweets. Do you want to try some of my shake too?”
I hadn’t tried any of it yet, but I figured he would rather sip out of an ‘untouched’ straw.
“If you don’t mind?”
“Don’t be silly.” I handed him the shake, and he sipped a small amount. His eyes widened and filled with joy. “Is it good?”
“I think I might be living for something else now.” He looked at his cup, “Sorry Pepsi. I have lost a little bit of interest in you.”
I laughed loudly; he looked at me before he joined in. The sweet aroma of ice cream filled my nose. This is the best day that I have had in a long time.
We stayed there, at Jack in the Box, for what felt like hours, talking and laughing about school and books, and other random topics. But before I knew it, the clock had struck six-thirty, and I still wasn’t home.
Only several people had come in to the restaurant within the last half an hour, and the building was nearly empty. But, all of that changed, when the door opened and the bell dinged.
I froze in place. Giacone continued to talk to me about how he was learning French, but I wasn’t listening. I watched as the newcomer walked up to the counter, ordered his food, and began walking in our direction.
He seemed to have not known I was looking at him until he glanced at me and stopped walking. He was still looking at me, so I challenged myself to break the gaze by looking at the table. Giacone finally turned around and saw Christian; I realized that they didn’t know each other when Giacone faced me and began talking again.
Christian began walking again, and this time it was towards me, not the direction of me. I tried to ignore him, hoping that he was just not walking straight, and was really just going to sit in the booth behind me, but when he finally stopped in front of me, I knew better. There was silence.
“Hello, Pela,” he spit my name out.
I responded softly, “Hi Christian. And, by the way, my name is not Pela.” Why is he talking to me? What does he want! He should go sit down and leave me alone.
“Well, what is it then?” He responded with sarcasm, obviously not caring.
Before I could respond, Giacone blurted, “It’s Pelatina. I am Giacone.” He grabbed Christian’s hand and shook it, in a friendly manner. “Are you here alone?” Please don’t ask him. Please don’t ask him....
“Yah, just trying to get out of the house.”
“Do you want to eat with us?”
Christian immediately began looking around the restaurant before he finally answered, “Sure.”
I was about to say, “Sit by Giacone,” before he plopped down next to me; I slowly began skouching toward the direction of the wall.
I was forcing myself to ignore Christian, when I noticed that Giacone knew what I was doing, and he began talking, “So, did you order?”
“Just a rootbeer float. I’m not really hungry at the moment. I just got college letters today.”
Giacone glanced at me, and I sat up straight. I blurted before I could think, “And....”
He spun to face me, before he narrowed his eyes and said proudly, “I got into Mallard and Pontiserant,” smiling while he spoke.
I rolled my eyes and looked at the table. “That’s good.” I guess I just ruled out Pontiserant as my top choice, then.
“What about you?” And, judging by the way he asked, I decided that I didn’t want to tell him.
I shrugged, without saying a word. Giacone’s eyebrows narrowed, as he ignored my thoughts, “She got into Stanford, Harvard, and....” He looked at me for a moment. “And Pontiserant.”
My mouth frowned as I buried my face in my hands, embarrassed. I touched my ears with my pinkies, to make sure they weren’t on fire, because they were feeling very hot.
I didn’t raise my eyes from the table, but I could sense the shock in Christian’s voice as he stammered against my hair, “You...You got into...thr..three colleges?”
I didn’t answer, for I stubbornly thought that he already knew the answer, so there was no gain from doing otherwise, but even if I wanted to, my response would have been interrupted by the speakers calling a number.
Christian stood up, “That would be me; I’ll be right back,” and walked towards the front of the restaurant.
As soon as he had left, Giacone got out of the booth and back in next to me. I turned towards him and he asked, “Who was that? You guys seemed like you hate each other.”
I didn’t answer his question, but blew in his face, “Why did you have to tell him! Huh. Why? You just made my already terrible life even worse,” and hid my face in my hands again.
I felt a hand placed on the top of my back and rubbed in circles as he whispered in my ear, “Hey, I’m sorry. I didn’t know that you didn’t want me to tell him.” He paused.
I sniffed in my arms, “It’s alright.”
He whispered in my ears, “If you want me to, I can tell him to leave. He doesn’t have to stay if you don’t feel comfortable with him here...”
My mind softened at the thought of Giacone’s kindness, and I brought my head up towards him and laid it on his shoulder.
“Tina....are you alright?”
I smiled slightly, “Fine, thank you, Giacone. Christian is just from my school, by the way, and we aren’t exactly friends.”
He chuckled, “Uh, yes. I noticed that. Do you...”
Giacone’s voice was cut off when Christian came jogging back to the booth, carrying his cup. “Hey! I got my root-beer float, finally.” He noticed that Giacone had switched spots, and shrugged before sitting down across from me. “They tried to cheat me by only filling the cup three-fourths full.”
“Yah, I hate when restaurants do that,” Giacone added.
And, before I knew it, they had engaged themselves in a conversation about restaurants, which I had stopped listening to from the beginning. Instead, I looked out the window of our booth at the crowded and polluted streets. Dozens of beggars were slumped and laying just outside the restaurant, their eyes full of hope following the cars as they passed. I had read many old books about wealth, which compared individual farmers and as they said ‘peasants’ to the aristocrats, but I had never read of poverty like there was in the streets of my city. Were things always like this, everything crowded and dirty with homeless without jobs?
No, things were not. They couldn’t have been. But, I sure do hope things change soon. I have a feeling things are going to get worse.
When I got finally got home, the clock had just barely struck eight forty-five. Darkness surrounded me as I walked up the sidewalk to my front door. Even the porch lights weren’t shining in my eyes like they used to when I would come back from school when I was younger. Everything had changed in the last few years. Everything was silent in the streets at night, and every once in awhile, kids would be running in the streets. But, I never heard of anyone above the age of 60 laughing and offering pastries to one of the ‘little ones’ anymore. The last time I had even heard of an older woman was in the newspaper a couple months ago who had just died of Whooping cough. But, that is not a very common disease, so although some people started getting scared that they would get it, everyone moved on in some time or another.
I finally found my way to the black front door of my small house, parked my bike on the side, and walked in, hoping that I would not run into my mom on the way to my room.
I jogged to and up the gray-carpet staircase, my backpack hitting my knees on every step. Within a short moment, I had slammed the door of my room behind me, slung my backpack on the chair next to my desk, and flew myself onto my bed like a weight being dropped into a cloud. My face was buried in a mound of pillows, which absorbed the liquid that had just begun escaping my eyes.
Why does it always seem like I am alone in the world? The only person who has helped me in a long time was Giacone.
“TINA!!!!” I body jumped up, but my head stayed buried undercover.
“Leave me alone Mom!”
“Did you just get back! It’s nearly nine o’clock! You were supposed to feed Nilyna. Why don’t you ever fulfill your responsibilities?” She yelled at me from the doorway of my room.
“And, why don’t you ever accept your responsibility of taking care of your own daughter!” I yelled into my mattress, but immediately after the words escaped my rosy lips, my mind tried to reach back for them.
“You spoiled little brat!” My mother shouted.
But, this time, the voice was not from the doorway. I had a moment to listen to the thumping of heavy footsteps approaching my bed before a sharp pain stabbed my back. A scream exited my mouth, and my eyelids slammed shut against each other, forcing a stream of tears down my cheeks into the sheets of the mattress.
“You remember that next time you talk to me like that,” my mother walked away and slammed the door shut.
I didn’t move for a moment until I was sure that she wasn’t going to come back to my room.
Then, I removed the pillow from the top of my head and slowly sat up, looking at the floor through my blurred eyes. “I hate my life, and I definitely hate her!” I yelled in a whisper to myself. For several moments, I didn’t move a muscle, thinking those words over and over until my mind forced itself to being at Jack in the Box with Giacone, talking and laughing, a better life.
I had had enough; I was done with my mom.
An urge to get out of the house suddenly conquered my ‘good child’ personality. I packed a backpack, walked out of the house.
Just like that.
Once I had walked a couple blocks down the road, I was finally able to breathe the cool air deeply into my lungs.
After a moment of standing there, looking around the neighborhoods, I pulled out my old iPhone 6 from my back pocket. Such a thing was considered out of date, but that was all I had.
What was Giacone’s number? It was 5687-56832; I am pretty sure at least.
I dialed in the number, even though a twinge of dread formed in my stomach. It began ringing....and I squeezed my hands into fists.
All I heard for a minute was that ringing, echoing in my ears before a soft voice answered, “Hello?”
“Hi,” I whispered into the phone, my voice shaking. I couldn’t speak anymore.
I heard a groan from the other side of the phone line, “Do you need anything, because in case you are wondering, I don’t want to buy anything.”
He doesn’t know who I am. He thinks I am a private caller....
“Giacone,” I gathered my courage up to say.
There was a long moment of silence. I couldn’t even hear him breathing.
“Pelatina. You actually called.”
I didn’t answer, but a sigh of relief escaped me.
“Do you need something? Because, I am not doing anything right now, just fooling around on my computer.”
“I..I was wondering if.._if you could pick me up?”
He didn’t respond immediately, but I heard him stand up. “Sure, at your house?”
“Y...Yes kind of. Just several blocks down from it. You’ll...you should see me,”
“Okay, I’ll be there in five minutes.”
“Thank you Giacone.”
He hung up.