July 3, 2009
By Brandon Tarver BRONZE, Neptune, New Jersey
Brandon Tarver BRONZE, Neptune, New Jersey
2 articles 1 photo 0 comments

“Oh, God,” I can’t help but moan as another shower of vomit torrents from my mouth like water from a faucet.
Up this close, I can see all of the cracks and crevices of the toilet seat and come up with more reasons as to why I should be disgusted, and why I should continue doing this.
“Look at that grime, all this bacteria…” I mumble to my weary stomach.
I wretch once, nothing. Twice, nothing. By the third time, I’m going into an uncontrollable spasm, my abdomen tightening and throat burning as tart acid makes its way out of my system. Holding the toilet bowl close, I close my eyes and allow the excess water building from my eyes to cascade down into the foul-smelling toilet water. Feebly, I stand up and flush, then watch it all go down as if it’ll come right back up and give me away.
Under the sink faucet, which I keep running (to mask any noise, of course) during these times of self-loathing and release, I wash my face and try to drain all the red from my eyes. I like to think they’re my best feature; oval and forest green — not too far apart, not too close. Only 2% of the world’s population has green eyes. I like to think it makes me special.
Yeah, I like to think a lot of things.
I like to think that I look good in black, that it slims me down. Or so my mother tells me. I stand in front of the mirror attached to the back of my bedroom door, envious. How beautiful it is; a sparkling amber border with powerful engravings line the courteous pane. It takes anyone’s skin and makes it pure and pristine, not a blemish revealed. The room appears to be a little brighter as well, even when it’s pitch black. My grandmother calls it her “magic mirror”, but I call it my only friend. It has been passed down since before she could remember, and it used to be my mother’s. Now it’s mine and I have to take care of it. Especially now that my grandmother is dead.
A sable one-piece dress with no shoulders and black 3-inch heels is what I wear to the funeral. My hair, such stupid hair, is pulled into the nicest bun I can muster. It’s boring, brown, and shoulder-length. With it, I look like 98% of all the other girls on the planet. Just once, I’d like to be in that 2%. One of the girls who stands out from all the rest, puts a mark on the world and seals it with a kiss. But it’ll never happen. My mother won’t let me dye my hair. “Just work with what God gave you” she always tells me. So I cope with the repulsive being in front of the mirror and live life day-to-day, no matter how much I’d love to be someone else.
Feeling sorry for myself, I open my bedroom door so I have something else to look at. The house is nothing but silence. You can’t even feel the damp musk of sorrow in the halls that once swathed the house and swallowed it in despair. Although I saw her a few times, I never really knew my grandmother at all. Sure, I took summer trips to her cottage in Avon-by-the-Sea occasionally, received presents from her at Christmas and her best wishes at all my graduations (in generic Hallmark gift card form, of course), but she was such a mystery that I didn’t cry when my parents informed me of her death. I remember the day exactly:
Both of my parents carefully placed themselves upon the living room sofa as if they were china dolls. All of the magazines were stacked neatly and were closed. The ashtray was clean, which it rarely was. Old cigarette butts usually stacked atop of each other, swimming in ash like freshly-ground bones in a compost pile.
“Silas,” my father mumbled in my direction, the usual gruffness in his voice reduced to a gentle somberness.
I came from the kitchen, which isn’t but five feet away, holding a glass of green tea, and stood in the doorway.
“No, please, come sit down,” he didn’t even look at me. He just weakly motioned his brawny hand to the empty space next to him. I noted that it was smaller than I was. After squeezing in, he put his arm around me, and my mother blew her nose hard.
“Y-your grandmother He-H-Helen,” she started, unable to force the name from her thin lips. “she died, honey.”
I didn’t know what to say, so I just sat there and studied her face. It was so thin and beautiful, with lines of age accentuating her ski-slope nose and almond-shaped eyes. Green eyes, like mine.
“She had a heart attack alone in her home.” my father added, trying to sound calm and matter-of-factly.
I wanted to cry, I swear I wanted to. But it was like watching the news and hearing about a man killing his wife and 2.5 kids; you felt sad, but are unaffected because you’re not connected to the victims in question. I merely put my hands around my father’s robust frame and let my forehead graze his disheveled beard. My mother began sobbing intensely, crying, blowing her nose and whimpering into a small, wet tissue. My father sat pensive, holding me tight, the heat of our bodies exchanging. He knew everything, my father. I wondered if he was reading my mind. I like to think he has superpowers and can do whatever he pleases. I just hope he couldn’t see my sickening apathy.
And so we sat there for at least a half hour. My father and I holding each other as though we were never going to see each other again, my mother to the side, trying to cope with the death of her own mother, and the grandfather clock in front of us tick-tock-tick-tocking as each dreadful second passed us slowly. It was the worst night of their lives and all I could do was try and feel sorry for them. Yeah, I’m a great daughter, all right.
As noon approached, my cell phone began ringing. I looked at the caller on the front of the tiny 1.3-inch LCD display: BRONWYN. Just like Bronwyn to tell me she’s ready ten minutes before something important is about to happen.
“Oh, Siiilaaas! I’m so sorry I’m late. You know how my alarm clock is.” she whined, the fake guilt in her voice as obvious as an elephant’s nose.
“Yeah, yeah, your alarm clock has ‘a mind of its own,’” I mocked back in her high-pitched tone. It was like Alvin on crack or something, I swear. But you felt alive talking to her. That crazy bitch.
“Okay, okay, so I’ll be there to pick you up at like… wait, what time is it?”
I glanced at the Hello Kitty clock above my canopy bed, “It’s eleven-forty-nine.”
“Okay, okay, okay! So I’ll be there in ten, hun. Be waiting outside. Love yooouuu.” she said in one breath. And then she was gone.
I sighed, slung the knock-off Dolce & Gabbana purse I got for Christmas over my shoulder and quietly entered the hallway. For some reason, it felt reasonable to creep through the second floor. At the end, right before the staircase, was my parents’ bedroom. My mother sat on her bed, fixing a pearl necklace so that it looked just right upon her protruding shoulder blades. She looked at me and smiled.
“I’m going to wait for Bronnie outside. She’ll be here any minute. I’ll see you there.” and I began to ascend down the stairs.
“Wait!” I heard from the room.
“Hmmm?” I said, not going back up.
“I love you, darling.” she said.
“I love you, too. So much.” I tried to sound as sentimental as I could.
No response came, so I took that as a final goodbye. As I reached the front porch, I closed the door ever-so-gently, like the house was going to crumble if I shut it with a normal amount of force. I was finally able to breathe. The air, in sharp contrast to the ambiance inside of the house, was fresh and clean. Birds fluttered peacefully, unafraid and carefree; blades of grass swayed coolly as a light spring wind brushed them slightly. Sometimes, I imagine that I’m an ant. Something so small, but so useful. They have a purpose in this world: to serve their queen. I would die for a purpose, I would. Someone to please. Someone to be there for. Someone to love.
After several minutes of soul-searching and almost getting sick over it, Bronwyn finally arrived in the low to the ground, pale green, color-of-the-doors-different-than-the-actual-color-of-the-car hooptie, Maude. Maude has seen a lot in her lifetime, I’m sure of it. I like to think it used to be owned by some lonely, devious couple who did nothing but rob banks and have outrageous sexual escapades in New Mexico, then died of a mysterious disease and the car magically found its way to New Jersey. A girl can dream, right?
Unnecessarily honking the horn and waving like a madwoman out of the window, Bronwyn called, “Silas! Silas!”
I’m not Helen Keller.
“Coming, I’m coming,” I tried my best to jog in heels, climbed into Maude, and put on my seatbelt.
“Ready to go?” she smiled. God, it’s a perfect smile. She has all thirty-two teeth necessary to constitute a normal adult mouth. And they’re unbelievably perfect: square and white, not too much gum, but too little, either. Housed inside soft pink lips I just can’t help but admire, I, at the same type, can’t help the fact that I would most certainly like to rip them from her jaw and replace them for my own, off-white jagged-edged teeth.
“Yeah. By the way, you look great.” I smiled. I meant it, too.
Bronwyn’s hair was shoulder-length and pale blonde, silky and luminescent like the kind of hair you only see on shampoo commercials. She never had to do anything with it. All she had to do was brush it in the morning (one-hundred times, she proclaims) and she was good to go. I would smother a baby for her hair, damnit. I hate waking up an extra half-hour in the morning just to try and tame the unruly beast I am forced to call hair.
So off we began, driving ten miles over the speed limit, because that’s how Bronwyn does it. She’s a cool girl. I’m lucky to have such a great best friend, I suppose. We met in fourth grade: She was the new girl in class, which was rare. I’ve always been somewhat of a nerd, and was labeled appropriately. We had a “special” class for students who were above average. The program, labeled Stars, placed a bunch of socially-inept (but freakishly awesome at math) children in one room and had us do advanced-grade level work. When she first arrived to the class, no one really liked her or had the people skills to approach such an outgoing, loud, and funny character. She was seen as “the dumb blonde” and constantly chastised by the teacher for disorderly conduct (constructing paper airplanes and threatening to launch them). So one day, at lunch, as she said alone for the fourth consecutive day in a row, I decided to sit next to her and we immediately hit it off. We both shared a mutual love for horror movies and glamorous pin-up girls from the forties, which was good — but she despised mainstream music, aka, she was perfect.
“We’ll be at Dante’s in a second,” she said after running a stop sign and almost giving the elderly woman to the right of us a heart attack.
I’ll tell you one thing: she will never be as perfect as Dante. No one will.

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.


MacMillan Books

Aspiring Writer? Take Our Online Course!