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The Lunchbox

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“Don’t go in there!” Emily screamed as I picked up her lunch box to clean it out. She ran at me, arms flailing, eyes wild, legs pumping, “There’s a secret in there! Robbie gave it to me!” This took me by surprise, my cute little sister, barely up to my knees, only 6 years old and she still wear cute pink coveralls and doc martens with bows in her hair, has a boyfriend? I’m 10 years her senior and I can’t get a boyfriend even with what I consider good looks, but my finger paint splattered and grass-stained brat of a sister can? That wasn’t fair, my head says, she’s not a brat and calm down, you want mom to trust you. I quickly shush the voice in case Emily can hear her. “Susie,” she timidly asks, “can you help me write Robbie a note?” Well isn’t that just freaking adorable? A note she wants? Ohh I’ll give her a note, as I raise my hand the voice yells, STOP remember what happened last time you lost control? Don’t you dare hit Emily, or I’ll never shut up about it. Damnit you have me there. I write Emily’s little note to her boyfriend Robbie and pin it to her coat jacket so she can show him on their play date.

After my mom leaves to drop her off I sit in my room and think. Why am I the one with the stupid voice? Everyone has a voice you dumba**; it’s called a conscience. Oh my what colorful language you have today Mrs. Conscience. Shut up and do your homework. S***, she’s right; I have a boatload of work for US history. I’m crazy, I think, sitting here listening to a voice inside my head telling me to do work. I can’t think anymore, thinking is dangerous. I run downstairs and pick up a water bottle, it’s burning hot outside, despite the fact that it snowed 2 weeks ago, gotta love New York. On my way out I see Emily’s lunchbox, I open it to find a little GI Joe action figure with a little note that says: “I luv u” scrawled in paint. Adorable.

I ran that day, I don’t know how far, I don’t know how fast. All I know is I ran, I emptied my mind of the crazy and filled it with the sound of my feet hitting the cement, my arms pumping and my chest heaving. Why did I wear just a training bra? Who do I think I’m kidding? I’m not Billie Jean or Cassandra, one of the elite squad of girls too dumb for honors but too good looking for regular classes. No, I’m Susie Elise Carson, outcast, crazy girl, I get good grades without trying but I also intimidate people. Maybe it’s the way I talk to myself, or the meticulous way I organize my lunch, books, papers and pens inside my bag. Maybe it’s the way I freaked out when someone bent the page in my book and demanded that they get me a perfect book. You see I strive for perfection, running for a perfect body, cleaning for a perfect room, good grades for a perfect life.
Omg hide the cutest guy is running by! Shut up that’s just Graig. Oh dear Graig the year away has done you well. Susie get a hold of yourself, don’t talk to him. Not after what happened last year. I keep running until my calves threaten to rip off my body. Smart Susie forgot her cell phone at home, so I’ll have to walk home, great. I can’t move an inch so I collapse in the grass and pour the remaining water on my face. Is that Graig coming by again? “ Susie! Hey, Susie! How are you?”
“I’m good. You? Listen Graig”
“listen Suse,”
“oh it’s ok you go first!”
“Ok, Suse, the thing is, I’m really sorry about last year. It’s not that I didn’t love you, it’s just that I was at the party and Cassandra was coming on so strong, she wouldn’t leave me alone! But this year at college I grew up a lot and I realize that I love you, I truly do, so please Suse, take me back?”
“Aw that’s really sweet Graig, but I have to tell you a few things too, first of all my name is Susie, not Suse, S-U-S-I-E, get it?” Graig nodds shamefully, “ and second I’ve grown up a lot too and you know what I realized? Love dosen’t exist, it’s just a promise. You’re not so good with promises now are you?” I look into his gorgeous blue eyes, scruffy one day beard and just-rolled-out-of-bed hair and I almost fall for him again, almost.
“I’m sorry, I really am. Listen you look really tired, do you want a ride home? No strings?” remembering the last time he gave me a ride home, I shuddered. I opened my mouth to say no but I remembered my aching legs and accepted. The car ride was nothing special really. We didn’t talk, he blasted some obnoxious bass-saturated beat and I looked out of the window. I didn’t realize we were in front of my house until I felt his hand on my knee and heard him say, “ So maybe I’ll see you around when school gets out?” I looked him over and was instantly reminded why I liked him so much, but then I remembered why I stopped, “ Maybe, but maybe not. Bye Graig.” I could see the hurt in his eyes, shut up Susie just turn around and go home. And for once, the voice was right.





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