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Bittersweet (part 1)

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You are lying on your bed, the radio cranked to full volume. It is rock and roll - The Rolling Stones, Zeppelin, Ramones. You feel full; satiated yet hungry, this feeling that only music can give you. A swelling throb in your chest, like the longing for a lost love, grows, pushing against your ribs. You flex your feet heel to toe, heel to toe, against the covers, your arms sweeping across your stomach. Your eyes are closed, your hair is the melody, your feet are the drums, your hand’s the guitar. You are the music.
The song ends, slides back to static. Then the station cuts to commercial. You check your watch. It’s time to leave for class.
You grab your backpack and slip on your Chucks, wait at the front door for you father. When he doesn’t show, you get agitated.
“Dad. DAD. DAD!”
“WHAT?” You hear him yell.
“DAD, I have to LEAVE for Dance or I’ll be late!”
“WHAT?”
“DAD. YOU HAVE TO DRIVE ME GET UP JESUS.”
He staggers into view, slamming the door to the basement behind him. His eyes are bloodshot and he stinks of stale booze.
You roll your eyes. Figures.
“DAD. You can’t drive me to dance like that.”
“WHAT?”
“You’re DRUNK.”
“SO?”
“Oh my God. Fine.” You turn on your heel and leave. You’ll drive yourself. Daddy Dingbat always left the keys in the ignition anyway.
You park in the lot in front of the Studio, a gray building that looks more like an office then a sanctuary for art and expression. You buy a pack of peanuts at the vending machine out front (salted) and enter.
You and the other girls change, and spend three hours dancing to classical masterpieces that bore you to tears. You lift your leg and bend and do the pleas anyway, because these classes are expensive and you have to keep limber.
After class, you all file back into the locker rooms. You are all sweaty and tired, but high on the release of endorphins. The ones that genuinely love the class are smiling, big obnoxious smiles, teeth far too white. A few of the smiley girls link arms and skip to the bathroom, giggling vapidly. You all pretend that you can’t hear their vomit hit the toilet water as they all collectively retch.
Ugh, you think. How cliché. Bulimic dancers. Can’t they think of anything better to do?
Daisy, a sandy haired girl you are acquainted with but have never really liked, approaches you and you abruptly decide that you need to hang out with her.
Daisy and you get into your father’s car and you drive out to the MegaMarket on the edge of town, where you wander aimlessly up and down the aisles. You find a stack of felt fedoras and try them on, make faces at each other. You slip one of the hats into your backpack as Daisy keeps lookout. You pool the money in your worn wallets and buy two packs of Camels, Oreos and a bottle of the cheapest wine on the rack (But I want the Bombay, Daisy whines). The man behind the counter lets you buy the cigarettes and booze because Daisy is blond, a dancer, and wears a C cup.
Her ease of access in stores is partly the reason you sometimes hang out with her, but no matter.
You drive back into town and pick up Daisy’s older brother from baseball practice, offer him a smoke and an Oreo.
You drive up and down the streets. Daisy’s brother says he needs to practice his swing, and he pulls out a bat. Crank down the windows, watch him lean his body out the window and swing the bat into passing mailboxes, crack up deliriously when he finally dismembers one and it turns out to be your English teacher’s.
Daisy turns on the radio and that song you were listening to earlier that day starts to play. This sends you into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. You even snort. Daisy’s brother, whose name you learn is Jeff, say’s “You’re nuts.”
You kiss him on the cheek.
You say to him, Let me try. You take the bat and squiggle out the window. You see the pavement moving fast under you, the white line, the gravel, think: That looks really HARD, and scream, squiggling back inside the car. You tell someone to hold your feet, cuz Oh my God, shoot, you really don’t want to FALL and DIE, and Jeff finds this just hysterical. You lean back out and grip the bat between sweaty fingers. You lick your lips and the wind is fierce and your hair is loosening from the high dancer’s bun. You see a house. Spot a mail box. Swallow and swing, pushing against the wind.
You dent the side. You shriek. Now you are laughing, and Jeff is pulling you back inside.
“Good job,” he says.
“That was fun,” you reply.
You offer the bat to Daisy, but she shakes her head no. Oh god no, I can’t, what if they catch me?, I suck I’d screw it, trust me I’m a big time f up.
You shrug and pass her the bottle of wine.





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