- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
Author's note: This is something I wrote about two years ago, but tell me what you think!
(December 22, Friday)
I take my sisters hand as I watch them lower the casket into the ground. She wipes a tear from her cheek as the preacher stands up and says a few words. Two stocky men pick up shovels.
“Wait!” Katelyn calls out.
I give her a puzzled look.
She ignores me and digs through her giant pocket for something I can’t see. Her bright yellow rain jacket, purple high tops, pink dress, and blue leggings stand out among the black clothes of everyone else, including me. ‘It’s what she asked me to do.’ She had said in her defense the night before.
Though I didn’t understand, and probably never would, I’d let it go.
Now she pulls out an envelope. Everyone watches as she suddenly drops it into the hole.
I finally realize that it’s a letter. I’d seen her writing something for the past couple of days with Max, and that’s what it must have been.
I look up through the mist with a worried look.
All of a sudden, Katelyn rips her hand from mine, covers her mouth with her hands, and bolts into the woods.
I’d been expecting this. “Crud.”
“She needs you.” The shadowed hood says from next to me.
I nod and start to run.
(October 14, Friday)
I like to think of life as a mirror. You can see your reflection inside, except for when it’s dirty. So you polish it, and it’s nice and clear. But sometimes...it cracks, and there’s no way to put it back together. Even if you glue it, you can still see the exact line where it threatened to shatter. Life, too. Sometimes...it cracks.
“911 operator, what is the nature of your emergency? Police, fire or rescue?”
“Rescue.” I quickly answer, the panic rising in my throat. I tap my foot against the wall and call down to my sister. “Nicki? How’s mom doing? Is her head bleeding?” I knew I didn’t have to ask, I could smell the blood.
“Yeah.” she calls back nervously. “And she’s breathing, but she’s unconscious.” Her voice is shaky.
“Hello, this is a rescue agent. What is your emergency?” My fingers are shaking and I re-grip the phone.
“My name is Katelyn Angell, and I was home with my mom and my sister Nickol and our mom fell down our cellar stairs and she hit her head and it’s bleeding a lot. She’s not conscious but my sister said she’s breathing and I’m really scared.” I say in one breath.
“Okay, your mother is going to be okay. Just stay calm. Are you with your mother?”
“No, my sister Nickol is because I’ll pass out if I see the blood.” Just saying it starts to make me dizzy. I grip onto the wall for support and try to concentrate on the small tack mark in the wall where our calendar used to be. Mom probably forgot to get one for this year, seeing as she forgets almost everything. I remember last month Nickol and I were late for school because she couldn’t find her keys.
“Girls?” My mom had called up the stairs, “You’re going to be late for school!”
“Coming!” I shouted back, pulling on my sneakers with one hand while trying to tie my hair back with another. “Nicki?” I asked.
“What?” She answered from the bathroom. I walked in to see her leaning across the counter, inches away from the mirror, putting on even more eyeliner. “I’m coming.”
“Okay...” I said. I continued down the stairs. Even though Nickol and I were close, I had to admit that she could sometimes be a little self-centered. Mom said she was just going through a phase.
I had come downstairs to find mom running around the house, frantic.
“What are you looking for now?” I asked, slightly exasperated. “We’re going to be late. Can’t you find whatever it is later?”
“My keys...we can’t drive without my keys...” she says absently.
“Mom.” I said, trying to get her attention. I followed her into the kitchen. “Mom, there in the fridge.” I wasn’t sure how I knew, but I just had this feeling. Both Nickol and I always knew where her missing things were, for some reason. Must be a mother-daughter thing.
And opening the door to the fridge, I found her keys on top of the milk carton.
Nickol walked down the stairs as my mother mused, “Oh. Well, I wonder how they got there.”She scratched her forehead.
We’d ended up making it to school on time.
Just thinking of the memory makes me want to cry, and a new set of tears well up in my eyes. I try to hold it together.
“Do either you or your sister know CPR?” The person on the other end asks, startling me.
“Yeah, we both do.”
“The ambulance will be there in a few minutes, okay? Just stay on the phone with me until they get there.”
“Okay.” I start to hyperventilate. The smell of the blood is stronger now, and it’s making me dizzier.
I practice my breathing. In through the nose, out through the mouth. In the nose, out the mouth. In, out...
The minutes seem like hours. I listen to the soft ticks of the kitchen clock and continue breathing as calmly as possible.
Finally, the ambulance arrives. They barge in, and ask me where the cellar is. I point to the door. They bring down a big stretcher, all of them dressed in white clothes, smelling like a hospital. One lady says to me that she is going to go and get my sister and take us somewhere to figure things out. I nod.
When my sister walks up the stairs, and I see all the blood on her shirt and on her hands, the dizziness takes over. Everything starts to blur around the edges, and the wall tips sideways. Before I know it, everything is black.
(October 14, Friday)
Hours later I wake up to the smell of shampoo and Nickol’s heart shaped face peering down on me with a worried look. Her deep red hair is behind her ears, and wavy as usual.
She’d changed into her favorite green v-neck that is the same bright green as her eyes. Today her eyes are green-blue, which they only are when she’s sad. I suppose only a sister can notice that.
“She’s awake!” Nickol announces.
“Oh, good.” someone says. It sounds like my Auntie Becca. “Honey? Katelyn? It’s me, Auntie Becca. Are you okay? Do you think that you could sit up and talk to me, please?” I see her huge pregnant stomach before I see her face...it wasn’t too long now until the baby was due.
“Auntie Becca? Where is mom? Is she okay? What time is it?” I question without giving her a chance to answer.
“Calm down, honey, your moms down at the hospital. And don’t worry, she’s going to be okay.”
“What’s wrong with her?”
“Well… she broke her leg, and um…”
“She lost most of her memory.” Nickol answers slowly.
“What? No!” I yell, “This can’t be happening!” I start to cry.
“I’m sorry honey; it’s hard for us too.” Auntie Becca says.
“What time is it?” I demand.
“It’s 2:30 in the afternoon.”
“Where even are we?” I ask coldly, turning my face away from them.
“At Auntie Becca’s.” Nickol says to me, quieter, now. I can see the hurt on her face as if she’d announced it aloud. “I packed a few things for you in your bag, although you might need a few-”
I cut her off. “Why? Where are we going? Can’t I see mom?”
She takes a deep breath. “Actually, you can’t.”
“Have you?” I ask jealously.
“No, the doctors said no visitors. Besides, we’re leaving tonight at 5:30.”
“To go where?” My voice cracks. There is a long pause before Auntie Becca answers. I don’t like the look on her face. She reaches down to brush my hair out of my eyes, but I turn away.
“We think that it would be better if you go and live with your separate fathers for a while.” Auntie Becca says warily. “I can’t keep you in my house; we barely have enough money for food, never mind insurance, mortgage, gas, electricity.” She goes on and on and on, but I zone out. Our separate dads? I haven’t heard from my dad in four years and I haven’t seen him in ten! How was I supposed to go see him now?
“Well that just plain sucks!” I scream. This isn’t fair! I’ve never lived without my sister before. I get up and run out of the door without knowing where I’m going. I run down the street and into a forest a few streets down. I fall again and again, and I cut my knees and my hands. I can’t decide if I’m more mad or upset. Finally, I trip and don’t get up. My hair is sticking to my face with mud and it starts to rain. I don’t care.
It’s completely silent in the forest except for the rain pat-pat-patting on the trees. Sadly, this leaves lots of room in my head to think.
My family is kind of weird. My sister and I have two separate dads. We aren’t really sisters, just half sisters. Our mom had Nickol with her dad, Joe Mackey, on September 12, 1995. My mom had me with my dad, Max Angell, September 12, 1997. Which is pretty awesome. I mean, we have the same birthday. I just wish that I were more like Nicki. She’s smart, pretty, popular, the girl everyone wants to be.
I’m just an average person; hate school, and I’m not pretty at all. I’m not tan, and my curly brown hair is so puffy that I have to keep it in a ponytail most of the time.
But, if you asked Nickol to describe me, she would say that I have chestnut curls that fall in perfect ringlets from my face. She would say that I have plump lips that curl into a pretty smile around my straight, white teeth. She would say that my olive skin accents my hair and makes me look older and skinnier. She would say that I am beautiful, but I know it isn’t true.
Nicki has so many friends, and she usually sits at the popular table at school. She’s in ninth grade in high school so I don’t see her during school.
I drift in and out of sleep for what seems like forever until suddenly, I feel myself being picked up and carried out of the forest by someone. I try to open my eyes with little success. It’s pretty bright outside of the tall, dark trees.
I finally look up and see a man that I recognize as Uncle Bob, Aunties Becca’s husband. He has a wet polo on and looks very tired. His face was red and sweaty. I don’t think he realized that I was awake. He smells like mud. Then I realize that the mud smell is me.
He walks me up to the doorway of his and Auntie Becca’s house and stops on the steps. Nickol immediately comes out of the door and tries to take me from Uncle Bob, but he doesn’t let her.
“She’s too heavy.” I hear him say. He shifts my weight to his other arm.
“Fine.” She says to him. Now she looks at me. “Katelyn! Oh, Katelyn. Are you awake? You had me so worried! Why did you run off like that? You know that that was such a bad idea.”Her face is full of relief, and it makes me feel guilty.
“Yes, I’m awake.” I croak.
“I’m sorry, okay? I promise I won’t do it again.” Auntie Becca walks over.
“Oh! Child, you’re a mess! Let’s get you inside and into the shower.”
“Please. I feel disgusting.” I say.
“I’ll go and get your stuff ready, okay? Meet me in the bathroom.” Nickol says. She sniffs and walks away.
“Okay. Can you get me something nice to wear?” I call after her. “I don’t want to make a bad impression on my dad.” What I really want to say is that this is all a bowl of crap, but I hold my tongue. Auntie Becca wouldn’t have liked it if I said that.
Uncle Bob brings me into the bathroom and sets me down on the floor.
“Thanks.” I say, trying to smile at him. I don’t think it works, seeing as he gives me a weird look and leaves the room. When Nickol walks in, I can see her carrying something that isn’t mine.
“What’s that?” I ask, curious.
“Oh, this is just a little something that I bought for you.” She holds it up to show me. “You can wear it with your black leggings and black ballet flats.” It’s a knee length baby blue dress. I can tell that she is trying to make lemonade with her lemons, trying to make it easier for me. But I can see right through her little façade. On the inside, she is hurting. And there was nothing anyone could do.
“Thanks!” I say with as much enthusiasm as I have left.
“Yup. Now get in the shower so you can put it on, okay? I’m going to go and make sure that we have everything packed for tonight.”
“Okay, but who talked to my dad anyway? Does he even know that I’m coming?”
“Um…I called him.” Nickol answers nervously. I blink. She starts playing with her hair like she always does when she knows she about to be yelled at. I try not to be too pushy this time.
“You called him?! What did he say? What did you say? What was he like?” I suddenly think about Nickol’s dad and feel jealous. Nickol’s dad is a very famous actor. He has a lot of money and I think that Nickol is kind of excited to go see him. It’s been two years since she last saw her dad, but she calls him on his birthday and Christmas. He calls her on her birthday, and on Easter. They have their own little schedule. I wish my dad and I did that.
Nickol ignores my questions. “You need to shower. My plane is leaving soon.”
After my shower, I put on the dress. It’s beautiful. I do a little twirl in front of the full-length mirror on the back of the door in Auntie Becca’s guest room.
I’m startled to hear Auntie Becca’s voice behind me.
“Oh, you look so much like your father.” She lays both of her hands on her stomach.
“What?” I ask. No one in my family ever, and I mean ever, talks about my dad. It’s basically forbidden.
“You do, baby doll.” Auntie Becca says, wrapping her arms around me from behind. Well as best as she can, seeing as her basketball stomach is in the way. “Baby doll,” She says again. “That’s what your father used to call you.”
“Yes, yes he did. You don’t remember that? That one time he came to visit you when you were just five years old.” I shake my head, baffled. “Your mother and Nickol went away for two weeks to Paris, leaving you with me. I called your father the second she left, told him to get his Texas butt up here to Connecticut and come and see his baby girl.” I gasp unconsciously, and she laughs. “We went to the zoo.
“He let you watch the monkeys for about two hours, every time he tried to show you the elephants, you would beg for the monkeys, the monkeys, the monkeys. And I would tell him that he had to give you exactly what you wanted, and he did.
“He spoiled you that day, bought you things from the gift shop, and all the candy you can imagine. Popcorn, cotton candy, soda, everything your mother would have never given you.
“But he eventually had to go. Both you and I hated to see him leave, but we had no choice. You don’t remember?”
“No, but boy do I wish I did! He sounds like a great dad.”
“He is, baby doll, he is.”
Just then Nickol walks into the room, interrupting us. Auntie Becca leaves for the kitchen.
“Thanks again for the dress, Nicki. I love it. I wish I had something for you.”
“That’s okay. I’m glad you like it.” Nicki helps me paint my fingernails and toes, and straighten my hair. I feel much better.
I go in the bathroom and play with my hair for a while.
When I walk back into the guest room, Nickol is on the bed, crying. I don’t have to ask her why this time.
I sit down next to her on the bed. She sniffs and looks up at me.
“I’m going to miss you. This is terrible. I don’t even know what I did to deserve this. It’s all my fault.” She wails.
“This isn’t your fault and you know it!”
“Yes it is! I was talking to her and…and then she fell and I watched her but I was too shocked to even try to help her.”
“Stop that, Nickol. This isn’t your fault. There was nothing that you could do to stop her from falling. I’m really upset too, but I’m not blaming myself. You know, that’s a really bad habit of yours, blaming yourself for things that you didn’t do. There was nothing you could do to stop her.” I babble.
It’s quiet for a few minutes. We sit next to each other and cry, both comforting the other.
“It’s going to be okay.” She finally sniffles. I look up at her.
“Promise?” I ask.
She sticks out her pinky and I wrap mine around it.
“Pinky promise.” She answers
(October 14, Friday)
ast call for flight 23 to Hollywood California.” The intercom announces. That’s my flight.
I walk over to Uncle Bob. “I’m going to miss you.” I say giving him a big bear hug. I can’t help it. The tears begin to flow. I’m trying to be tough in front of Katelyn, so it won’t be as bad for her. She is crying on Auntie Becca’s lap.
“You won’t be gone forever.” He reminds me.
“Bye Auntie Becca.” I say. I give her a big hug and start to sob.
“I’ll email you every night to tell you how your mother is, okay? I’ll call you a lot, too.” she comforts. I sniffle. Now I walk over to Katelyn for the hardest goodbye.
I hand her a letter. “I want you to open this as soon as you’re alone in your room at your dads, okay? And I’ll email you to tell you the phone number of my dad’s house and then you can call me anytime you want. I love you.”
“I love you.” She manages to choke out. I brush her hair out of her eyes. “Email me as soon as you get the number, okay?” I give her a big hug and kiss.
“I promise.” I look at Auntie Becca, though it’s hard with my tears clouding my vision. “Do you know how long we’ll be gone?”
“Probably about a month,” She says grimly. “Maybe more. You better go and get on the plane though, honey. It’s about to leave.”
“Okay, bye everyone. I love you.” I say. I start walking down the long gray runway until I get to the plane door. I’ve been on planes a few times, unlike Katelyn, who has never been on a plane before.
You can do this, Nickol.
I turn and run back to Katelyn for one last hug.
“Good bye...I love you.” I whisper in her ear. I push the last mind picture of mom out of my head, and run back to the plane.
“Ta ta for now!” Auntie Becca calls after me. I yell it back. That has been hers, my moms, mine, and Katelyn’s inside joke, I suppose, since we were little. We would always say it to each other when we were leaving. Saying it now made me want to cry.
I’m flying first class, thanks to my dad. He has more money than I could ever imagine.
I wonder what movie he’s working on now. Besides being upset about my mom, it will be great to see my dad. The last time I saw him was two years ago.
I lug my carry-on down the narrow hallway and find my seat. It smells like soap and chemicals.
People are filing onto the plane, and a flight attendant lady walks to the front of the plane and tells us how to get and use the oxygen masks and life jackets.
About ten minutes later, we’re told to put on our seatbelts and get ready for takeoff. I try to put on my seatbelt, but the pudgy lady sitting next to me has to help me.
“Thanks.” I say.
“Your very welcome, little miss. What’s your name?” She asks.
“Aren’t you Joe Mackey’s daughter? You look just like him.” She exclaims loudly.
“Um…yeah.” She must be a real fan to recognize me.
“Oh! How wonderful!” she says. She’s starting to get on my nerves already, and we haven’t even taken off yet.
“Yup. Well, I think that I’m going to take a nap until we get there, so good night.” I say.
I roll over and yawn real big. A flight attendant comes up to me and asks me if I want a drink.
“No, thank you. But do you have any pillows or blankets?” I ask. I am pretty tired. It’s been a long, long day.
“Yes we do!” I didn’t get why she was so excited. I was just asking for a pillow.
“Would you like silk, or fleece?”
“Uh, fleece, I guess.” I answer.
“Okay, I’ll be right back with that, honey!”
Geez. I pull out my stuffed bunny, Grover.
She brings me a pillow and a blanket. But by then, I’m already half asleep.
I wake up groggily six hours later. Surprisingly I slept soundly. The lady next to me is snoring. Ew.
Being on a plane alone is weird. And I have to go to the bathroom, but I don’t think I’ll be able to squeeze past her. I get up and try, but she rolls over and knocks me down.
I guess I’ll just have to wait.
I decide to read my book. It’s one of my favorites, Island of the Blue Dolphins. I read it one whole time and am starting again when the pilot announces that we will be landing soon. I gather all my things, and get ready to get off the plane.
I pull out a big wad of gum and start to chew. I hate it when my ears pop on the plane, so I chew a lot of gum. I feel the gentle thud as the planes wheels find solid ground. We’re there. I wonder if my dad will be here to pick me up.
As soon as I walk off of the plane, I see my dad. He looks exactly the same as last time I saw him. His curly orange hair is slightly longer, but otherwise the same. And if that didn’t give it away, he had a bodyguard at his side.
“Dad?” I call. His face lights up. “Hi, Dad!” I run up to him and grab him in a big bear hug.
“Hey kiddo! I missed you! You’ve gotten so big!” He says.
“Yeah.” I say. Then I remember the real reason that I’m here...mom. I guess he remembered that too.
“How’s your mother doing?”
“Okay. I guess. I haven’t seen her.”
“Oh, honey I’m so sorry.”
“It’s…it’s okay.” He wraps me in an awkward hug.
“Well, let’s get your luggage and get home.” He says.
We walk over to the luggage belt and find my bag. I have two of them, and they both say Nickol on the front. Katelyn has them, too, but with her name on the front. I miss her already.
When we get outside, I can see a limo.
“Hey, Dad!” I say. “There might be a star-person thing in the limo!” I stumbled over my words.
“Uh, honey, that’s my limo.” I never realized how famous and rich my dad is!
“I get to ride in aaa…”
“Limo.” My dad finishes, giving me a weird look.
“Yeah, that.” I giggle.
“But not all the time, only for today, and parties and premieres and things.” My dad says.
“That’s cool.” I whisper. “I wonder what Katelyn would say!”
“Why don’t you call her?” He asks.
“Oh, I don’t have a phone.” We climb in to the limo. It is huge! There are two TV’s, a radio, video games, a man behind a counter, and leather seats.
I realize that the man behind the counter will make us foods or drinks if we want them, which is crazy.
“Yes you do!” my dad says as he pulls two phones out of the compartment next to him. “There are two. You can pick which one you want. They’re just two different colors.”
“Yup. Here, look at them.” He hands me the phones. One of them is blue, and one of them is pink. They’re blackberries.
“Can I have the pink one?” I ask.
“Sure. Open it!” he hands the blue one to his bodyguard.
“Hey, uh, Dad? Do you think that we could send that one to Katelyn? ‘Cause she doesn’t have a phone.”
“Sure, sweetheart. Anything to make you happy.”
When we get to the house, my jaw drops. The house is huge. And when I say huge, I mean huge. It’s the biggest house I’ve ever seen.
It’s painted a very pale blue, with cranberry shutters. It has a wrap-around porch with a swing and rocking chairs. There is a long driveway, and when we get there, there is a lady sitting on the porch, reading.
“Who’s that?” I ask.
“Well, I was just about to tell you about her.” He laughs nervously. I see a bead of sweat on his forehead.
We step outside of the limo, and the woman stands to greet us.
“Hello!” she exclaims. “I’m so excited to meet you! Your dad has told me so much about you!” Suddenly, I get a strange feeling that she is my dad’s girlfriend.
“Honey, this is Sara. We’re engaged!” He says as he puts his arm around her shoulders, a fake, huge smile plastered on his face. She gives him a nudge and a look that says ‘you didn’t tell her yet?’ She seems annoyed. And engaged? I wasn’t expecting that.
“Surprise.” he squeaks. It sounds more like a question.
“Well, don’t just make her stand there! Let’s bring her in the house!” Sara says. She walks over to the limo and takes one of my bags. I warily grab the other and my carry-on and follow her into the house.
Surprisingly, the inside of the house is more beautiful and bigger than the outside. The ceilings are huge, and when we walk inside there is a big, open living room with expensive, pure white couches. I never understood why anyone would want white furniture because it would get dirty so easily.
We walk forward into a spacious kitchen. There are gray counter tops, a stove, and a stainless steel fridge with only my picture on it (surprisingly), and an open door that looks like it leads into a dining room. I can see a large ornate table with matching chairs. It looks like it isn’t used much.
Sara points out everything when we get in, and keeps walking. She goes up a set of spiral stairs, and we go down a big hallway, passing a few closed doors. Then, she stops. She opens a door to reveal a teenage girls dream bedroom. Everything is pink. The bed, the walls, the dresser, the rug, the TV, the computer, everything.
“Well, this is your room! Enjoy! We’ll have to do some shopping someday next week…you need some new clothes.” She looks me up and down, making me self-conscious about my light blue jeans and green tank. I was dressed for a plane ride, not a fashion show.
“This is cool.” I say. And it is. I love pink. I’m surprised that my dad remembers.
“Yeah.” She sighs. “You look just like your dad.”
“Yeah…” I say awkwardly. “Most people say that.”
“Would you like me to help you unpack?”
“Uhhh…if you want to.”
“Alright.” She answers. I quickly email Katelyn with the house number and my new cell phone number before we unpack. Sara starts to tell me all about her dream wedding as we put everything away in the drawers. I’m surprised to see myself having fun. Sara is actually a really funny person.
We spend all day telling each other funny stories about my dad out next to the pool. We don’t even realize how late it’s gotten because we’ve been laughing so hard.
That night, Sara and I have dinner together, because my dad has a meeting.
She makes spaghetti and meatballs. They’re amazing.
“So, Nickol, you’re a freshman in high school...how’s that going for you? You got a lot of friends?”
“Yeah, it’s going pretty good.”
“Got yourself a boyfriend?” She asks. Then she slurps up on long piece of spaghetti, and sauce splatters everywhere. She starts to giggle, and I join in. “Anyway...” she says between laughs, “...boyfriend? Yes? No?” She reminds me of a teenage girl right now. She has sauce on her shirt, and it still giggling a bit from before. I finally take in her skinny jeans, swoopy tank-top and long blonde hair. Her earrings dangle on her shoulders, and she has lots of make-up on. I honestly wonder how she and my dad met.
“No, not right now.” I answered, slurping up a piece of spaghetti myself. It flings even more sauce on Sara’s shirt.
We both start cracking up.
After dinner she helps me set up the blackberries. When I’m getting ready for bed, I realize that Katelyn hasn’t emailed me back or called me yet, which is weird. She must have checked her email by now.
When I’m about to get into bed for the night, Sara comes up and asks if I have the address of Katelyn’s house because she is going to send the sidekick to Katelyn tonight so she will get it tomorrow morning. I give her the address and thank her. Before she leaves, I put my new cell phone and house number in the contacts.
Then I realize that I haven’t called Auntie Becca yet! She must be freaking out. I quickly grab the phone and dial. No one answers. That’s weird. I try her cell phone. Nothing. Oh well, it’s late. I’ll have to wait till tomorrow. I bite my lip until its bleeding as I fall asleep.
(October 15, Saturday)
I have nightmares all night and try calling again the next morning, but no one answers. Once again, I try to put it off and think about other things. Sara makes pancakes for us, and they are good. Early in the morning, my dad sets off to work. I’m texting my friend Erin from back home when Sara comes up to me.
“Hey! I got you a backpack. I hope you like it!” she says.
I look up at Sara to see a pink and green Vera Bradley backpack. It’s cute.
“Thanks!” I say. “Hey, what’s the name of the school I’m going to again? I’m starting in two days, on Monday, right?”
“Correct. I don’t even get the point. It’s only for a few weeks.”
“I know, but then I would have to make all of it up when we get home, so, that would be a lot of work.”
“I see, I see.” She says. “Well, it’s called Clark Hall High School, but most people just call it Clark.”
“Oh. That’s a cool name.”
“I was just talking to the principal and she’s excited to have you come, so that’s good.”
“Yeah. I’m pretty nervous. I don’t want to make any really good friends, ‘cause then I won’t be able to see them.”
“Well, your dad and I had an idea that you should come and spend a month here every summer, if you want to. That way, you can keep in touch.”
“Really? That would be awesome!”
“Good, I’m glad you want to. Your father and I are getting married next summer, so I think that you should be here for that.”
“Of course I should be! I’m so not going to miss your wedding.”
“No way.” Sara says. “Well, I’ll let you get back to your texting.”
“Okay. And thanks for the backpack.”
“You’re welcome, sweetie.”
All of a sudden, my blackberry starts blaring an obnoxious ring. “I’ll have to change that…”I mumble to myself.
“Yes! Nicki? Tell your dad that I said thank you so much for the sidekick. I love it!”
“Okay. I’m glad you like it. How’s your dad?”
“Terrible.” Her excited tone drains into nothing.
“Tell me everything.”
“Well,” she sighs, “About one hour after you left, my plane was called. So, I got on the plane, and we took off, and about halfway there, I started to feel sick to my stomach. So I tried to go to sleep, but I couldn’t. So I went to the bathroom. And then I threw up. And it was greenish-“
“I don’t need to know the details of that.” I interrupt quickly.
“Sorry. So, when I got off the plane, I couldn’t find my dad. I was calling for him, and calling, and he never came. So I just sat down on the bench and waited.
“About twenty minutes later, he decided to show up. And it was really awkward and he was like, ‘So, sorry about your, um mom.’ And I was like ‘Yeah, it’s okay.’ And then he didn’t say anything else.
“So, we got into the car. And it took three hours to get there. And then when we were finally there, the house was this really little thing that was falling apart. And then this old, evil looking lady walked outside and told me that she was Bernie and that she was my dad’s wife.” By now Katelyn was crying.
“It’s okay, Kate.” I comfort. I really wish I could give her a hug. She sniffs and continues.
“So then she brings me inside, tells me she’ll call me when dinners ready, and directs me to my bedroom. When I’m walking upstairs, I can see a few doors. So I knock on the first one, just in case, and someone says, “Come in!” Katelyn’s crying so hard it’s not easy to understand her.
“Katie, I’m so sorry, but I promise it’ll be okay.” I say. She takes a deep breath and starts again.
“So, I open the door a crack, and there’s a girl sitting on a bed. She has a thick country accent, and she says hi to me. So I say hi back. Then she says ‘You must be Katelyn! I’m Mackenzie. My momma said yawl was comin.’ And she tells me that she spells her name M-a-k-e-n-z. So then I was all ‘Who are you?’ and then she said ‘Well, I’m your half sister silly!’ and then I was all, ‘half sister?’
“And then we like talked for a while and she told me how old she is and what school she goes to. And she’s 12 too so were in the same grade at the same school. And then she helped me unpack and told me that there is no computer, TV, or any other electronics. She was like ‘It’s just us, and the big ol farm. And she actually seemed happy!”
“Well, she doesn’t seem so bad.”
“She kind of creeps me out, though. Oh, yeah, I forget the best part.” She says with sarcasm. “There’s no bathroom inside. We have to use an outhouse.” I gasp and quickly recover.
“Oh my God! I’m so sorry! That’s terrible.”
“Yeah. And I get up at least once a night to the bathroom. So now I have to go outside. And it’s gross. Well, tell me about your day.” She sighs.
“Uh…I don’t want to rub it in, but I’m kind of having fun.” Then I quickly add. “Except for when I’m missing you. Which is basically all the time so; it’s not fun.”
“That’s fine! Don’t worry about me. What’s so fun?”
“Well. Uh…my dad’s getting married. And I really like his fiancé. Her name is Sara and she’s really sweet.”
“Yeah. And my room is totally pink. There’s even a computer and a TV in it. And the rug is really fluffy and it’s long so when you step on it, you sink down really low.”
“Cool. What’ve you been doing?”
“Um, just like hanging out and stuff. Texting Erin.”
“What school are you going to go to?”
“Clark. Well, that’s its nickname. It’s really called Clark Hall High School, but nobody calls it that.”
“Oh. You really seem to be fitting in.”
“Yeah. Sorry. I mean-“
“I said its fine! I want you to fit in!” She says.
Then she sighs. “Sorry, I have to go harvest the corn.” I can’t tell if she’s joking or not.
“Are you kidding?”
“Yeah. I just have to go and set the table. But before I know it, they’ll have me working on the fields. Bye.”
“Bye. I love you.” I say, but she’s already gone.
(October 16, Sunday)
t was only my third day with my dad and I was already tired of him. All he did was yell, yell, and yell. He would yell at me because I was on the phone. He would yell at Makenz, because she was always reading. He would yell at Bernie, because, well, I don’t actually know why. But it sure was annoying.
I was so nervous about school tomorrow, but Makenz keeps saying that I‘ll do fine. I doubt it. Finally, I remember that Nickol gave me a letter to read as soon as I got to my dad’s. I quickly find the letter. In her giant handwriting it says:
I already miss you very much. I just hope that you are having fun at your dads. I just want you to know that you are the best little sister that anyone could ever have and that I love you so much. Call me.
A yell interrupts my reading. Naturally, it’s my dad.
“Katelyn! Get down here!”
“Coming, Dad!” I trudge down the stairs and see Bernie, Makenz, and my dad sitting at the tiny beat up kitchen table.
“Sit.” He orders. Makenz gives me a sorry look. “I think that now that you will be staying here with us for a while, you should help out with the farm. We can use an extra pair of hands around here.” I groan inwardly. I knew this was coming soon enough.
“Okay. When’s my first shift.” I say sarcastically.
“Don’t you give me attitude young lady.” He says sternly.
“Sorry.” I say, guilty now.
“Makenz will show you what to do tomorrow.” He turns to look at Makenz. “Please show her the shower and help her turn it on.” That’s when I realize that there is no shower in the house. Come to think of it, the only running water is the hose outside and the sink. I start to panic. Where was the shower if it wasn’t inside? I didn’t want to think about that.
“Okay.” Makenz says. She gets up and leads me upstairs. I breathe out a sigh of relief. The shower must be inside if she was taking me upstairs, right? “Just getting ya’ll a towel.” She goes into her parent’s room and grabs one of the three towels on their bed. Then she starts down the stairs and goes out the front and only door. Okay, this is not going to be good.
“Here it is.” She says and points to a showerhead coming out of the wall. There isn’t even a curtain or a door or anything.
“This is the shower?” I ask, my voice a pitch higher with shock and disbelief.
“Sure is. Why so creeped out?”
“There’s no curtain?”
“Why would we need one? There’s no one else here but us and the corn. And the neighbors, but they’re too far away to see us.” Neighbors? I didn’t know that we have neighbors. Oh well, I had more important things to think about at the moment.
I take an unsteady breath and say “But…but…no curtain?” I say again.
“Do you see a curtain?” she asks “ Would yawl like one?” I nod, not trusting my voice.
“Well, I’m sure I might be able to hold up something for yawl…” she looks around, trying to find something to hold up as a curtain for me.
“You could hold up my towel.” I say, though it sounds more like a question.
“Hmmm, that might work.” She says as she grabs the towel off of me. She had me get undressed upstairs and put the towel around me, though it was kind of awkward. I gasp and instinctively tried to cover myself up. What if my dad came out?
“Oh, sorry. I didn’t think you minded.” She says, obviously embarrassed. Her cheeks turn a light shade of pink. Then she holds the towel up for me, just as my dad comes outside. I fumble with the shower water, and finally shower. The water turns lukewarm after about five minutes. After I’m done, I get my PJ’s on and stay in my room while Makenz showers. The whole situation was just weird.
I immediately call Nickol so we can talk.
“Hi Nicki! How are you?”
“I’m good. How are you?”
“Oh! You’ll never guess who I met today!’
“Taylor Swift! She’s acting in my dad’s movie. I went to work with him today and Taylor was there! And she talked to me! It was awesome!”
I do a quiet scream. “Cool!”
“Well, I just showered outside!” I say with fake enthusiasm.
“What?” she gasps.
“Yeah. And there’s no curtain so Makenz had to hold up a towel for me. It was terrible. You would have absolutely died.” Apparently, the situation seems extremely funny to Nickol. She starts cracking up. I’m kind of startled at first, but then I start to giggle to. Before I know it, we’re both laughing so hard we’re crying.
All of a sudden, I hear a knock on my door, and Makenz walks in. “Nickol? Can I call you tomorrow?” The suspicious look on Makenz’s face is creeping me out.
“Uh…sure? Is everything okay?”
“Yeah, I just need to talk to Makenz. Love ya, bye.” I quickly assure her and hang up.
“What’s up?” I ask Makenz.
“You got some mail…” she says.
“Mail? From who?”
“I don’t know.” She answers honestly. “There’s no address…”
“Oh. Can I see it?” I ask curiously.
“Here you go. It could be from any of our four neighbors…there’s four houses on the other end of our cornfield…you know we share the cornfield, right?”
“I guess so.” I say as I open the note.
(Part of the lyrics to ‘Haven’t Met You Yet’ by Michael Buble)
I might have to wait,
I’ll never give up,
I guess it's half timin', and the other half's luck,
Wherever you are,
Whenever it's right,
You'll come outta nowhere and into my life.
And I know some day that it’ll all turn out,
You'll make me work so we can work to work it out,
And I promise you kid that I give so much more than I get...
I just haven't met you yet.
Love, Your Secret Admirer
I giggle at the cleverness and gasp in surprise. A secret admirer? Me? Makenz must have thought the letter was for me, even though it was for her, right?
“Makenz, this letter can’t be for me. It must be for you.” I say as I hand her the letter.
“It can’t be for me.” She says as she reads the note. “I’ve met all of our neighbors and it’s from the song ‘Haven’t Met You Yet’.”
“Who even are our neighbors?” I seriously didn’t know. I barely even knew that
“You know those houses that border the cornfield? We all share the cornfield. Mrs. Pinsetti teaches the school at her house.”
“Oh. So will I meet all the kids tomorrow?”
“Yup. I’ll introduce you to all of them tomorrow.”
“Okay. How many are there?”
“There are four houses, not including ours. Mr. and Mrs. Pinsetti have three girls, Megan, Jewel, and Alicia. They’re triplets and seven years old. Mr. and Mrs. Keller have one girl and one boy, Mike and Tara. Mike’s thirteen and Tara’s eleven. Mrs. Pike-her husband died seven years ago-has seven kids, Carrie, 7 Cassie, 8, Carlie, 9,Cammie, 10, Cindie, 11, Cathie, 12, and Corrie, 13. And Dr. and Mrs. Adams have three kids, John, 14, Maxwell, 13, and Kenny, 12.”
“Wow. That’s a lot of names to remember, but I can usually remember names really easily.”
“Oh. Well that’s good then. Your letter is probably from Mike, John, Maxwell, or Kenny.”
“Probably. Well, I have to call Nickol back and call Auntie Becca and then go to bed, so I’ll see you tomorrow. Good night.”
“Good night, Katelyn.”
(October 17, Monday)
Makenz wakes me up at about seven thirty the next morning, telling me that I have one hour to get ready so I better get a move on.
“Alright, alright! I’ll get up!” I say, annoyed and exasperated, but I can’t help the smile. I go and get the outfit I picked out the night before, which was my most flattering outfit, seeing as I want my secret admirer to admire me even more. It was a short-but-not-too-short jean skirt and a baby blue v-neck tank with a silver flower design on the bottom. Paired with my silver flats, I was perfect. Or at least as perfect as I could be.
I try calling Auntie Becca again, but get nothing. I try to cover up my lip with lip gloss; last night I bit it until it started bleeding.
I was thankful that my dad had fixed up the loft for me. Or else I would be sleeping in Makenz’s room. I walk into her room now, and her jaw drops at the sight of my outfit and make-up.
“Is it too much?” I ask.
“You. Look. Amazing. Oh my God! You have to dress me. Please? Please make me look pretty! I have this really huge crush on Kenny, and I really want him to like me! Please!” She was on her knees, now, begging for my help.
“Jeez, of course I’ll help you.”
“Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you!” She got up off her knees and looked me in the eyes. “Now, make me beautiful.”
“Okay.” She sits down on the bed and I go to work. By the time she’s done, she is wearing a pair of my shorts, and a red and white plaid shirt with it all scrunched up in a ponytail on the side. I had put her red-brown hair into two low braids and put just a touch of light green eye shadow on her eyelids. To finish off the look, I applied a swipe of deep pink lip-gloss and brown eyeliner. I stepped back to admire my handy-work. I guess living for 12 years with the queen of clothes and make-up I’d caught on a little.
“Where did you learn to do this?” Makenz asks me while checking herself out in the mirror.
“Well, I’m not really sure. Nickol is usually the one who helps me get dressed and put on makeup, so I must have picked up on a few things.”
“Definitely. So, how do I just walk in to school like this? I don’t usually look like this...I usually wear old clothes.” She laughs at herself in minor embarrassment.
“Well, you just have to look confident. And, walk with your head high, like you don’t care what anybody else thinks of you.”
“Okay.” She gave a practice strut across her small room and I giggle.
“Perfect. Now let’s go get ‘em!” I say as I take her arm in mine. We walk like Dorothy and her friends in the Wizard of Oz all the way to school, heads high. When we get there, though, the panic sets in. I wasn’t like this, pretty and popular at home, so how will I know if the kids will like me here?
We walk up the front steps of what is obviously Mrs. Pinsetti’s house.
“Follow me.” Makenz says as we walk into the small doorway. She leads me into the first room to the right, and I see all the rows of desks. There were twenty desks all together, and fourteen of them were filled.
All the kids turn and stare at me. A few whispers to each other until there shushed by the teacher.
“Oh! Hello! You must be Katelyn. I’m Mrs. Pinsetti, your temporary teacher.” Makenz walks to what is obviously her desk and sits down. “Okay. Katelyn, this is Megan, Jewel, Alicia, Carrie and Cassie.” She says pointing to the first row. Now she points to the second row. “This is Carlie, Cammie, Cindie, Cathie, and Tara.” She points to the third row. “And this is…well, you know Makenz, and this is Kenny, Cathie, Corrie, John, and Maxwell. Why don’t you just pick an empty seat?”
“Okay.” I say. I sit down next to Maxwell since Makenz is surrounded. He tells me to call him Max. He’s pretty gorgeous. I laugh softly at myself, checking him out.
He has amazing blonde hair that’s long, but not weird-long. His eyes are deep, deep blue and he’s extremely tan with perfect skin. I glance shyly at him and he catches my eye. I can’t look away; I’m caught in a daze of his dark, sea blue eyes. He holds my stare for what seems like forever.
“Max?” Mrs. Pinsetti asks. “What did you get for number seven?”
He breaks the stare and looks at her, completely baffled.
“Oh!” He fumbles for his math notebook, scrambling around. His face is completely red and his brother Kenny laughs, the one that Makenz likes.
We go through the rest of the day like that and I feel like I’m in elementary school again. Mrs. Pinsetti just gave us papers to do and things out of books. Every “grade” got a different level paper. All in all, it was pretty easy. I could get used to this, I think. On the way home, I called Nickol to see how she was doing.
“Hi Nickol, its Katelyn.”
“I know. How was your first day of school?” I don’t know why I had said it was Katelyn. Maybe I didn’t quite feel like myself, so I thought that she wouldn’t recognize me either. Odd.
“Pretty good.” I answer. For once I had a good story to tell. I had forgotten to call Nickol last night, so she didn’t know anything about my secret admirer. “Guess what?”
“I have a secret admirer! And he wrote me a poem!”
“Oh my gosh! No way! You are so lucky! Do you know who it is? What did the poem say?” I’d already memorized the poem so I recited it to her. Then I told her all about my “elementary” school day.
“Cool. I start school tomorrow. Wish me luck!” she says.
“Good luck. Love you. Hey, have you been able to get in touch with Auntie Becca? Because she hasn’t emailed me or gotten any of my calls. Or called me.”
“I know. Me neither. Isn’t it weird? I’m getting really worried about her. And mom.”
“Yeah, me too. I’ll try her again when I get home. You call her too, okay? I really hope she answers because I’m really worried about mom…” I start to chew on my nails like I only do when I’m upset or worried.
“Yeah. Okay. Bye, Katelyn.”
(October 17, Monday)
re you ready for your first day of school, Nickol? You look beautiful, sweetie.”
“Thanks, Sara. I’m really, really nervous.”
“Oh, sweets, you’ll do fine.”
“I hope so.”
“Do you want me to drive you to school in the limo, Nickol?” My dad calls from the living room. Sara and I are sitting at the kitchen table, and I’m wearing one of the outfits that I had bought with Sara yesterday. It was a green short-sleeved top and a pair of short jean shorts. I was also wearing my hair up the way that Sara taught me how to do. It was in a French braid twirled up around my head. I was wearing a pair of golden flip-flops, golden earrings, bangle bracelets, and a long necklace, all gold.
“No thanks. But don’t you have to call ahead to get it, anyway?”
“Honey, I’m Joe Mackey, I can get whatever I want when I want it.” He laughs.
“Sure, sure.” I answer. “Besides, I don’t want to attract attention.”
My dad walks into the kitchen. “I thought you liked to be the center of attention.”
“Only with people I know, not complete strangers.”
“Okay, you don’t have to, I was just offering.” He says, putting his hands in front of his face like a shield. I roll my eyes at him and swipe on a fresh cover of lip-gloss. “Is Sara driving you to school in the SUV?”
“Of course I will!” Sara says, rejoining the conversation. “Actually, I think that we should leave now, so you can get there a little early.”
“Okay.” Sara and I walk outside and get in the car. When we get to the school, she kisses me on the cheek, whispers good luck, and shows me the main office. And now, I’m on my own.
I walk into the front office, head high, trying to look like I belong. Most people stare at me as I walk by, but I don’t look at them. When I get to the front office desk, I tell them my name.
“Oh! Hi Nickol. Let’s see…” She rummages around in a draw for a minute and then hands me a schedule. “Here’s your schedule. Find someone in your home room who’s in your next class so they can take you to your first class.” She tells me how to get to my homeroom, and ships me off into a world of strangers.
When I get into homeroom, I’m bombarded with stares from various kids. I can tell who is popular because they whisper in my general direction and laugh. I can tell who are nerds because they are too busy concentrating on writing who knows what to look at me. And I can tell who’s going to be nice enough to talk to me, which all just seem to be boys.
A guy with shaggy brown hair and a big smile walks up to me. He flicks his hair out of his eyes and I notice he’s wearing skinny jeans. And there purple.
I gaze into his eyes, which look like a jungle. They are the prettiest eyes I have ever seen. There is green for the trees, brown for the mud, and blue for the rain. There are gold flecks that reminded me of the sun glinting off the blue water. As I watch, his eyes smolder, and they go almost completely blue and brown; the green gone.
“Whoa.” I say almost silently.
“Hey. I’m Taylor.” He says, while checking me out. He stops in the general direction of my boobs, and I bend down to look him in the eye.
“Hi. I’m Nickol.” He flushes red and brings his jungle eyes to my face, keeping them there, not allowing me to look away. I am dazzled. Now they are green without the brown.
“Uh…do you need help finding your first class?” He asks.
His buds in the back of the class laugh. Now I turn red. He ignores them, and looks at me for an answer.
“Sure. I’m going to room 105 for social studies.”
“Oh! Cool, so am I.”
Just then the bell rings to begin homeroom and a short sturdy women enters the room.
“Get in your seats!” she calls out.
I walk up to her desk and tell her that I’m here temporarily.
“Oh, hello. I’m Mrs. Venture. You’re Nickol?”
“Yes. Uh, where should I sit?”
“Well. Why don’t you sit right here.” She points to an empty seat towards the back, near a girl with short, pink hair and a nice smile.
“Okay.” I walk towards the seat and sit down.
“Hi! I’m Kelly. You must be Nickol.” The girl with the pink hair says.
“Yeah. I like your hair.”
“Thanks. I hear you have social studies first?”
“How did you hear that?” I ask.
“If you haven’t noticed, Taylor is kind of loud. And cute! He’s totally crushing on you.”
“I don’t know why.”
“Your new, your pretty, confident, what boy wouldn’t like you?” I feel the red seep up my cheeks.
“Thanks. What-” The bell cuts me off. Taylor gets up and heads in my direction.
“Off to social studies we go!” he cheers.
“Whoo-hoo.” I say sarcastically.
“Who peed in your coffee?” He asks as if we are old friends.
“I just want to go home. And see my sister.”
“Well, yeah, I’m here by myself because…because…I’m helping my dad, Joe Mackey, film his next movie.” I lie. I figure that if I tell a few white lies, I would become popular. And it’s not like a few little white lies here and there could hurt anyone, right?
“No way!” He says. “That’s awesome.”
(October 17, Monday)
I go to the bathroom during english to text Kate:
Nickol95: hey Kate
Bunnyluv54: hi hows school
Nickol95: good im in english u?
Bunnyluv54: good im doing math…boring…
Nickol95: =/ I have math next
Bunnyluv54: o. poor u
Nickol95: I no right
Bunnyluv54: gotta go gonna get caught
Nickol95: kk bye xoxo
Bunnyluv54: xoxo luv u
“Hey, Nickol, why don’t you sit with us and the guys at lunch?” Cameron, a popular girl whose been following me around like a puppy all day asks.
“Your boyfriend will be there!” she squeals.
“He’s not my boyfriend.” I say hotly.
“He wants to be!”
“No he doesn’t.”
“Yeah huh. He asked me in art if I would ask you to sit with us.”
“Not uh!” she protests, an honest look on her face.
“Okay, fine. Maybe he likes me a little.”
“And you like him back! Anyway…I heard you tell Taylor that your dad is Joe Mackey and you’re here helping him on his movie. That’s pretty cool. My mom’s famous, too.”
“Who is she?”
“That’s for me to know, and you not to find out.” This of course makes my very curious. “Most of the kids here have famous parents. Oh and by the way…a few years back my mom and your dad dated. So that makes us practically sisters.” She whispers icily in my ear. I wonder why she seems so upset about that. “But remember,” She continues, “It’s a secret.”
At lunch, I sit with a variety of popular girls and jocks. Cameron informs me that Taylor is the best guy on the football team and the quarterback, number 23.
“Hey, babe.” Taylor says to me. I blush again. I wonder if this is going to be a new habit for me.
“Hey.” I say. I sit in between him and Cameron, only to realize that I have to go and buy a lunch. “Cameron?” I ask.
She whips her head around from talking to her friend. “What.” She says angrily, like I’ve interrupted her or something.
“Will you come and show me how to buy a lunch?”
“Can’t you see I’m a little busy right now?” She says.
“Okay then.” I say to no one in particular. Then, Kelly comes up to me and says, “Come on. I’ll show you.”
“Thanks.” I say. We walk to the lunch line and I buy a pizza.
“Want to sit with me?” she asks, a sliver of hope in her voice.
“Sorry, I’m sitting with Taylor and Cameron.” I apologize.
“Right.” She says under her breath.
At the end of lunch, I walk into the bathroom to text Katelyn.
Nicki95: hey katie what up
Bunnyluv54: nuthin much how bout u
Nicki95: at lunch
Nicki95: whatcha learnin 2day
Bunnyluv54: bout the presidents algebra same old u?
Nicki95: nuthin much pre- calc
Bunnyluv54: call me l8r
Nicki95: kk xo
(October 18, Tuesday)
“Hey, Kate.” I say into the phone. It’s the next morning and I’m calling Kate as promised.
“Hi Nicki! Guess what!” She doesn’t give me a chance to reply. “My secret admirer gave me another note! It says: Every time I walk by you, my heart flutters, my eyes pop, my heart sings. Every time you speak, my ears ring, my heart grows, my ears tingle. Every time you meet my gaze, my eyes smile, my breath catches, my eyes won’t look away. Every time you’re here, my heart gushes, my heart gushes, my heart gushes, with the love I have for you. Isn’t that so romantic?!”
“Wow. That’s cool.” I hate to admit it to myself, but I am a little jealous. So I brag. “I went to school today, and this adorable guy is crushing on me. He’s tall, and funny, and sweet.” I sigh for good measure.
“Oh. Cool.” I can tell that I’ve bursted her bubble, and now I’m guilty. “How was school?” she asks.
“Good. I met this nice girl named Kelly and she has pink hair.”
“Yup. It’s totally cool. How was your day at school?”
“So where was the note, anyway?”
And she goes off into a whole new story.
(October 19, Wednesday)
kay, as weird as this sounds, I like working on the farm. It’s calm, quiet, and peaceful. I mean, sure it’s hard work and all, but it still can be fun. Especially when I’m with Makenz. She’s always joking around. But I’ve only done it twice, and it wasn’t for a long time.
Sometimes, I play a little game with myself. I watch all the boys that I see and pretend that they are my secret admirer. I try to picture myself with them. Sometimes it’s a good picture, and sometimes it’s not. I hope that my secret admirer is Max. He is definitely the cutest of all the boys. And those eyes...
(October 20, Thursday)
It’s the next morning. “Hello? Katelyn? You Hoo!” Makenz is waving a hand in front of my face. “If you don’t hurry up and finish your breakfast we’re going to be late for school.”
“What? Oh! Sorry, I was just daydreaming.”
“Hey, maybe your secret admirer will have left something on your desk again this morning!”
“Maybe.” I say in between chewing my Frosted Flakes.
“Okay, are you done now? We have to leave.”
“Yes, I’m done. Yeesh. Let’s go.” We head out the front door and grab our lunches that Bernie makes every morning for us. To get to the schoolhouse we have to pass by the creek that runs from a big city in Texas. As we pass it, I spot something furry in the water, stopped on a log.
“Hey! What’s that? I think it’s a muskrat! And it looks hurt!” I call out to Makenz.
“Oh My Gosh! I think your right!” Makenz shouts in her Texas accent. She runs over to the animal with me right behind her. Somehow, I get there first.
“Oh, God. Makenz, come quick, it’s a puppy!” I shout, only to realize that Makenz is right behind me. “Get it out of the water!” I say, though I’m already on my hands and knees reaching for the puppy.
When I pull it out, I realize that it’s a chocolate lab. It’s teeny and shivering from the cold.
“Let’s take it to Dr. Adams, maybe he can help.” Makenz suggests.
(October 20, Thursday)
“Well, I think that he’s going to be alright.” Dr. Adams explains. “I’ve wrapped his paw in gauze, and if he starts biting on it, please tell him to stop. If he does it excessively, than we will have to go and see a real vet and get a cone to put on his neck so he won’t be able to bite his foot.”
“Okay, thank you so much Dr. Adams. This is very nice of you. How much?” I ask in my most grown up voice.
“Well, I have just one question for you. Are you keeping this dog?”
“Um…we’re going to ask my dad…” I say, just as he walks in.
“Girls? Why on earth weren’t ya’ll in school? I just went all the way to your school because Makenz forgot her inhaler to find out that you girls hadn’t shown up! Where have you been? I’ve checked every house for you. You are in big trouble!” I can see that he is fuming. Makenz and I share a nervous look.
“I-I’m really sorry dad. I mean- we found this puppy on the way to school.” I pointed to the dog whimpering on the table. “And we just had to help it. It was in the creek, so we brought it here, and Dr. Adams helped us.”
“Well, whatever the cost is, you girls are going to pay for.” I glance at Makenz as my father turns to Dr. Adams. “Doctor, what is the cost for this?”
“Well, I took an x-ray, which costs about 34 dollars for you, and the rest was just putting on gauze, which is free.” He says half-heartedly.
“Can we pay you back as soon as the girls get the money?”
“Yeah, that would be fine.”
“Okay, I think that we’ll do that. Girls, get outside now. I need to talk to Dr. Adams alone.” As we walk outside, we can hear Dr. Adams telling our father that it was all for the better, and that he should be proud of us for doing the right thing and saving the dogs life.
“Don’t worry, Ken, I got the money. I brought one hundred dollars with me. As long as he can make change, we’re good.”
“Oh, would you? I’m so sorry I don’t have any money...”
“It’s okay. I got it.” I confirm.
When we get to school, I find a small box in my desk, with my name on it. My dad talks to Mrs. Pinsetti, and explains why we’re late.
“Oh my! You found a puppy?” She exclaims.
“Sure did.” Makenz says. “Well, it was really Katelyn who found him. She saved him!”
I turn beet red and reply, “Makenz, you helped too.”
“It was all you.” She says.
“Look, Makenz. I found another box!” I whisper to her once we’re sitting.
“Open it at lunch!” She giggles.
We sit outside at lunch and I bring the box with me. It is in the shape of a heart and is pink. When I open the box, I find chocolates. They are the kind of chocolates that you don’t know what’s inside them. There is also a note. It says: Tomorrow night I will reveal my true identity to you, but only if you meet me in the back of the schoolhouse while the stars have just started lighting the sky. Love, your secret admirer.
We spend the rest of lunch watching all the guys, analyzing their reactions when they see me looking at them. No one seems overly suspicious.
When we get home at two, the end of the school day, Bernie is waiting with a smile on her face, a sleeping chocolate lab in her arms.
“Awww! How cute!” I shout.
“Shh! He’s sleeping!” Bernie whispers to me.
“Oh! Sorry!” I whisper back. “What are we going to do with him?”
“I think that it would be okay for you to keep him, Katelyn.”
“Keep him!” I shout with excitement, waking him up. “Sorry, sorry Creek.” I say leaning in to pet him. He jumps out of Bernie’s arms and lands on the ground in a powder of dust.
“Creek?” Makenz asks.
“Yeah…” I blush. “I want to name him that because we found him in the creek.”
“Oh, that’s a great name for him.” She agrees.
“Sure is.” Bernie says. I lean down to scratch Creek’s back and rub behind his ears. I’m s excited, so I run upstairs and text Nickol:
Bunnyluv54: hey! Guess what? I got a puppy!
Nicki95: no way! What kind?
Bunnyluv54: chocolate lab. His name is Creek cuz I found him in the creek
Nicki95: cool! When did u find him?
Bunnyluv54:on our way to school so we were really late and my dad was really mad
Nicki95: uh oh not good my dad has been ignoring me l8ly I don’t know y
Bunnyluv54: he’s probably just really busy
Bunnyluv54: don’t worry
Nicki95: im in class so I have to go. call me l8r
Bunnyluv54: kk bye luv u
Nicki95: luv u too
That night, Makenz goes and keeps watch while I go to meet my secret admirer.
Sneaking out it is almost too easy. Bernie and my dad are both snoring loudly and Makenz says that they sleep like rocks.
I get out of bed and creep towards the door. I’m already in clothes and have make-up on, but nothing on my lips. In case we kiss.
Once I get outside it is a piece of cake. I take the short walk to the back of the schoolhouse, passing the creek. I peer through the dark, trying to keep my balance in the weeds and long grass. I can see a figure in the dark, slouching on the wall.
Finally I am almost there. No one says anything. Then, my foot gets stuck on a root and I go flying right into the arms of my secret admirer.
(October 21, Friday)
ey Nickol, you’re invited to my birthday party this Saturday!” Kelly exclaims to me, handing me a small card folded in half. I open it and see that it is scheduled for this weekend. I hate to admit it to myself, but Kelly is kind of nerdy and I would much rather go shopping with Cameron this weekend.
“Uh…sorry, Kelly. I can’t go to your party because…because… I’m going to help my dad shoot uh…the next scene for his movie.” I lie.
“Oh. Okay. That’s too bad.” Just then Cameron walks up to me with Taylor in tow.
“Nickol! Come on! We’re going to be late for art!”
“Coming!” I call to Cameron. I shout a quick goodbye to Kelly and catch up with Cameron.
“Why were you talking to that nerd?” Cameron asks.
“No idea. She just invited me to her birthday party this weekend, but I told her I was busy so we can go shopping.”
“Oh, good. My dad said he’d drop us off at the mall.”
“Okay. That’s good. What time?”
“I hate to interrupt your little tea party girls, but we’re going to be late if you ladies don’t put down your pinkies and hurry up.” Taylor says.
“I know, I know.” I say to Taylor, and we rush down the hall, leaving a disappointed Kelly behind.
(October 22, Saturday)
A black Volvo with Cameron in the front seat beeps in my driveway Saturday morning.
“Bye, Sarah! Cameron’s here!” I call up the stairs.
“Bye sweetie! Have fun!”
“Okay!” I walk out the front door carrying my new Coach purse and my new clothes-a blue sparkly tank top from Abercrombie and jean shorts that come to my knees. We are going to the mall to get makeovers from the people that work at the make-up counters at Macys. Both of our dads said that we could buy all of the make-up that they use on us if we want to, which we obviously do.
“Hey Cameron.” I say as I climb into the back seat of her dad’s car.
“Hey, Nickol.” We drive to the mall in less than twenty minutes. When we get to the store, there is no one there, so we go right away.
“Hello girls! Whose first?”
“I’ll go first.” Cameron volunteers.
“Okay. Have a seat right here.” Cameron hops up on the stool. I notice how she just hops up there with one swift movement, not moving around until she’s comfortable like I would have. When she’s done, I hop onto the stool like she did. At least I try, but I would have fallen off if I didn’t adjust myself at least once. After we are both done and beautiful, we walk around the make-up area looking at all of the make-up because we are not sure if we want all of the make-up that the lady put on us.
I was a little jealous of Cameron. She looks amazing. She keeps telling me that I look better than her, but I know she’s just being nice.
We both end up buying all of the make-up that the lady had used on us and a few extra things. So all in all I bought: green eye shadow, dark cranberry lip-gloss, pink blush, and black mascara. I also bought the foundation that the lady put on me which is called Moon Glow.
After that we walk around the store just window-shopping until her dad comes to pick us up. Just as we were getting into his car, I got a text from Taylor.
Football23: hey Nicki
Nicki54: hey you
Football23: whatcha doing
Nicki54: not much
Football23: u doing something monday
Nicki54: no y
Football23: I was wondering if u wanted 2 get a pizza that night…my treat
Nicki54: r u asking me out?
Football23: I guess I am. is that good or bad
Nicki54: good I guess…sure what time?
Nicki54: meet u there
Football23: BEAT you there
(October 24, Monday)
Monday night, I meet Taylor at the local pizza place, Papa’s Pizza. It is definitely my favorite restaurant in Hollywood.
When I get there, Taylor is waiting for me, already seated at a table. He did beat me here.
“Hey.” He says to me as he helps me out of my jacket and pulls out my chair.
“Hi. Thanks.” I answer.
“Beat you here!” He laughs. “You like this place, right?”
“Yup. Actually, it’s my favorite restaurant. At least here.”
“That’s good. You look beautiful.” Although Papa’s Pizza doesn’t sound fancy, it is. I wore all of my new makeup and a new dress that is pink and sleeveless. It has pink sequins and sparkles along the bottom. Cameron helped me pick it out.
“Thank you. You look quite handsome yourself.” I complement. Instead of his usual t-shirt and shorts, he is wearing a white button down polo and black pants. He blushes.
“Hello. My name is Rachel and I’ll be your server today. Can I start you off with a drink?” The waitress asks, handing us menus.
“I’ll have a coke.” Taylor says.
“I’ll just have a water.” I answer.
“Okay, I’ll be right back with that.”
“So.” Taylor turns to me. “How was your trip to the mall yesterday?”
“How do you know I went to the mall yesterday?”
“With Cameron…at three o’clock…her dad dropped you off?”He squints his left eye as he’s talking.
“Are you psychic?”
“No, silly! I just overheard your little tea party. Remember?”
“Ohhhh yeah! I remember.” I giggle and blush.
“Yeah.” The waitress walks up to our table and gives us our drinks. We both decide to split a pizza with pepperoni, bacon, and goat cheese on it. It turns out that we both like the same exact kind of pizza, which is sort of weird.
“So. I need to know more about you.” He says.
“Well, what do you want to know?”
“Hm...do you have any other siblings then your sister?”
“Nope, she’s it. Katelyn. She’s 12...and she’s only my half sister.” I want to come clean with him right now and tell him why I’m really here, but I don’t. I’m too scared to see his reaction. “We actually have the same birthday...June 12th. How about you? Siblings?”
“Nope. It’s just little old me.”
“That stinks. So you live with both your parents’ right?”
“Yes, Ma’am, I do. And your mom lives in...Connecticut?”
“And your dad is the ever-famous Joe Mackey. How often do you come down here?”
“Well this is the first time in two years. So I just met his fiancé. They want me to come back for a while every summer, which I’ll definitely do.”
“And you’re here for...?” He asks the question I wanted to know the answer to.
“Not sure. Probably a couple more weeks. I’m not really positive.”
“Weeks?” he seems disappointed. He tries to wipe a drip of his soda off his shirt, but it just gets worse. I laugh at his attempt. “What?” He asks.
“Oh, nothing.” I giggle.
All of a sudden his face clouds over. He puts his head in his hands and sort of moans.
“Taylor? Taylor? What’s wrong?” I ask franticly. He doesn’t answer, but nods his head in the direction of the entrance to the restaurant.
I look over to see Jonny, a guy from my school, walking in. I watch his muscles ripple under his tight, white v-neck as he pushes the door. Though the shirt, I trace my eyes up the dragon tattoo, watch it swing its neck around Jonny’s neck, see it breathe fire over his chiseled jaw. He snaps his gum loudly, shakes his hair out and replaces his hat, backwards.
He radiates danger...but I like it. Most girls do. He just draws you in like the moon draws the tide, and you can’t help it.
Jonny nods at the hostess, who doesn’t seem sure whether to giggle or back away, so she does both. He heads towards our table, and Taylor glares at his hands.
“What does he want?” I ask. He shakes his head and I’m not sure if he means I don’t know, not now, or I don’t want to talk about it. So I don’t ask.
Jonny walks up to the table, leans on it. “You know what I want.” He says in a deep, deep voice. Well, I guess that crosses off I don’t know.
“It’s too bad. It’s not your choice...she’s made her decision, and it’s obviously me.” I kick Taylor under the table, and he knows what I’m asking ‘are you talking about me?’ and nods. This of course makes me uncomfortable.
Jonny lifts his fist as if to hit Taylor, but the manager catches his elbow and leads him outside.
“I’ll be right back.” Taylor says, but I get up and follow him, telling the waitress that we’ll be right back.
I click in my heels around the side of the building to see them in the parking lot. I get there soon enough to watch Jonny punch Taylor in the face. He sort of yelps and shields his face from Jonny.
This, of course, makes me very angry, so I walk up to Jonny, and as hard as it is with my heels and dress, kick him in the crotch. He drops to the ground.
Then I lead Taylor into the restaurant. We sit back down, and he lightly taps the soon-to0be bruise on his jaw. The waitress shoots me a concerned look, and I nod to tell her that he’s okay.
Then I ask, “Are you okay?”
“I told you that I’d be right back. You weren’t supposed to follow me.” He sounds angry.
“I just saved your butt, here.”
“Oh yeah. Thanks. Classic...The boyfriend gets beat up and his girlfriend comes to the rescue.” He laughs. “Classic.”
(October 25, Tuesday)
The next morning I call Katelyn.
“Hey Nicki. What’s up?”
“Oh my gosh! I went on a date with Taylor!”
“Cool! Where did you go?”
“We went to this pizza place-Papa’s Pizza-and it was really good. And now I think that we’re going out…but I’m not sure because he didn’t say anything, so it’s not official.”
“Cool. I know who my secret admirer is.”
“Do you want to hear the story?”
“Yes! Of course!”
“Okay. So, he gave me this box of chocolates, and there was a note that told me to meet him in the back of the schoolhouse that night, so I snuck out. And when I got there, there he was. But, I couldn’t tell who it was.
“So, I went a little closer. But I happened to fall on a weed.”
“Oh my gosh!” I squeal. “What did you say? What did he say?”
“Neither of us said anything, but let me finish. I’m getting to the good part.
“So, anyway, I fall. And I land in his arms. And he’s like, ‘Katelyn?’ So I say yes and then I say ‘Who are you?’ And he says ‘Max.’ And so I’m really excited and I let out a squeal-accidentally- and say ‘Are you my secret admirer?’ and he says yes and then he stands me upright again-he was still holding me up-and kisses my on the lips!”
“The lips!” I gasp. I knew enough about my sister that this is her first kiss.
“The lips.” She confirms.
“So then he sits down and I do too and we just sit there and talk for hours and hours until I fall asleep on top of him. So then he wakes me up and helps me up and walks me back to my dad’s house, where he kisses me again!”
“Again?” I say.
“Again. And then he says good night to me and I go upstairs and sleep for, like, three hours before I have to get up and go to school. I think that it was the best night of my life.”
“You’re so lucky!” I exclaim. “My first kiss wasn’t that good. It was with this weird kid from my school and he kissed me at my first boy-girl party when we played spin the bottle.”
“That doesn’t count. What was your real first kiss like?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I think it was at a party…uh…I was in the backyard and this guy was talking to me…I think that I had a crush on him…and he kissed me. I don’t know.” I say.
“Oh, boo hoo. You know exactly what it was like.”
“I have to go, Sarah’s calling me for dinner.”
“Excuses, excuses. Love you. Bye.”
“Love you too.”
(October 28, Friday)
o my surprise, I wake up this morning with a letter on my lap. It’s addressed from Nickol’s house to me. When I open it, I see a picture of someone. It takes me about five minutes to realize that it’s Nickol.
Instead of her usual red-orange hair, she has bleached blonde hair and no freckles. I think that she is pulling my leg and it’s just someone who looks like her until I read the letter.
I know that you must be surprised, but this is me. I dyed my hair blonde and I had my dad let me laser off my freckles. I look good, don’t I? I hope that you like it.
What? I couldn’t believe that Nicki would do something like that. She knows mom will have a hard time recognizing who we were already…and now she doesn’t even look like herself! I start to panic.
I remember one time when I was around five and Nicki was seven, she came home one day from school dressed as a monster. It was Halloween and she’d had a party at her school that day where they got to wear their costumes. But my little five-year-old brain didn’t quite comprehend that…so when I saw a giant monster walk in my front door, I freaked. She scared the living daylights outta me.
‘Its Nickol,’ she said, ‘it’s me, Nicki.” I wasn’t convinced. She took off the mask and the costume and everything, and I could see it was Nickol…but I still couldn’t quite bring myself to believe her. I hated that feeling of insecurity and I was afraid that mom would feel the same way if she saw Nickol like this. If she didn’t change…mom might never remember us. I had to do something.
I immediately get up and reach for my phone on my nightstand and hit Nickol’s speed dial.
“Hello?” A groggy voice picks up.
“Nickol? What did you do to yourself?”
“What? What are you talking about?”
“I got your mail.”
“What did you do to yourself?” I shout. I am angry. I don’t know why though…I mean, it’s not that bad. Okay, yeah it was.
“Nothing! I dyed my hair and lasered my freckles! Can’t you read?” She yells back furiously.
“Yes! But why?” As soon as she realizes how mad I am, I could tell she was on her guard. I get up and start pacing around my room.
“Why? Why not!”
“Because you’re not the same person anymore!” As I say this I realize that it’s the truth. In the picture, Nickol’s wearing a short and tight blue dress. I mean, come on. She is not the same person. I almost start to cry, but I have to keep it together.
“Yes I am! And why do you even care! You’re too obsessed with your stupid boyfriend!”
“For your information, I have the hottest boyfriend on planet earth! And you know what? I’m sure your new look will help bring mom back,” I say sarcastically, the tears bubbling over. “But seeing as you don’t care, why bother?!” I shout.
And then I hang up.
(October 28, Friday)
For the rest of the day I just lay in bed with Creek. I tell Bernie that I am sick and I won’t tell Makenz what happened. I feel horrible. But not because of our fight. Because I have been too busy with my own life to even think about my mom. Or Auntie Becca. So, I call her house phone. But I got a computerized message saying that the phone was not in use anymore. I try once every hour, but still got the same message.
And then I cry.
And I cry, and cry, and cry
And guess what I did next? I cried some more.
(October 29, Saturday)
The next morning is Saturday and I’m happy because I get to spend another day crying in bed. I finally decided to tell Makenz what happened and she told me that I shouldn’t pay any attention to Nickol.
But I was starting to feel guilty about what happened with her. She left me a message apologizing and saying that she was just jealous of my beauty and things like that but I knew she was lying.
Later that day there is a knock on my door.
“Who is it?” I call.
“It’s me, Max.”
“Oh. Come in, I guess.” I say as I run my fingers through my hair and try to wipe off my last set of tears.
“Hey, babe. What’s the matter? Sick?” He asks, gesturing to all the tissues on my bedroom floor.
“Um, yeah. I guess.” He walks over and sits on my bed.
“You okay?” He asks.
“Okay then. Want to do something tonight?”
“What? We can’t go anywhere.”
“Actually…My family is going up to town tonight and I was wondering if you wanted to come.”
“Really? Sure!” I exclaim, finally having some life in me. “But…is it okay if Makenz comes too?”
“Actually, Kenny asked her yesterday at school.”
“Really?” How come Makenz hadn’t told me? The boy of her dreams asked her out! “Okay, that’s good. What time though?” I try not to sound too excited, although most of my excitement is for Makenz.
“How about we pick you up at four o’clock?”
“Okay. See you then.”
“’Kay.” And just like that, he leaves. As soon as he is out of the door, I get up and take a shower. By then I had invented a shower curtain by putting my towel on two hooks on the wall and then on a coat rack that my dad was going to throw out in the middle. Makenz gave it the eye roll.
Then I go inside and before I know it I’m calling Nickol. I quickly hang up before she can pick up.
I sigh and then go to my closet. I pull out a navy blue shirt that’s off the shoulder and white skirt. It’s something that was a gift for my birthday from Nickol and I had never worn it before. It was for my eleventh birthday. I didn’t know why she bothered getting me such fancy stuff that she knew I would never wear.
But to my surprise, it fits nicely.
I walk into Makenz’s room to see her pacing across the room with all the clothes she owns on her bed.
“Whoa! Looks like a tornado hit here!”
“I don’t know what to wear!” She wails.
“Oh, calm down. How about you wear this?” I ask, picking up a green halter with a graceful bird perched on the front.
She raises her eyebrows. “With what pants?”
“Well, how about you borrow my jean skirt? I’m having déjà vu of the first day of school.” She gives me a weird look. You made me dress you then, too.” She laughs.
“So about the jean skirt...?”She asks.
“It should fit.” I say.
“Thank you so much!” she squeals and gives me a big hug.
Wait a minute, did she just squeal? Wow.
At exactly four o’clock, a minivan pulls up in front of our house.
“Bye Dad!” we call as we head out the door.
“Have fun!” He shouts. Surprisingly, he is okay with us going out with them. Makenz thinks that he’s just glad to have some quiet time with Bernie.
“Hey.” I say as I get in the car. Surprisingly, his dad is not in the car. John is sitting in the front seat so I get in the back and sit next to Max. “Where’s your dad?”
“He has to work tonight, sadly. He really wanted to come out with us.” Makenz goes past us and into the way back to sit with Kenny.
I blink. “Oh. That stinks.” I say. His mom clears her throat loudly in the front seat, so that she would not be forgotten.
“Oh, yeah. Uh, Mom, this is Katelyn,” He gestures to me, “and you already know Makenz.” He says. “Katelyn, this is my mom.”
“Hi, Dr. Adams. It’s so nice to meet you.”
“Please, call me Elaine.”
“Okay.” I say. Max seems embarrassed. How cute.
“So do you two like Italian?” She asks.
“Yup.” We say in unison. She pulls onto the main highway that leads to town.
“Good. We’re going to Italian Cuisine for dinner tonight. Then we can walk around the lake. Just a warning, Katelyn, it will take three hours to get there. I’m sorry about the length.” She looks back at me.
“It’s fine.” I assure her, though I’m a little worried on the inside. Long car rides are not always the best for me.
Thankfully, I don’t get sick. Max keeps me busy talking and before I know it we’re there.
“Here we are!” Elaine exclaims as we pull into a busy restaurant’s parking lot.
We go in and immediately get a seat, thanks to Elaine’s planning; we had a reservation.
“Wow.” I say as we sit down. “I haven’t been to a restaurant like this in a while.”
“It’s nice, huh?”
“Hello, my name is Carley and I’ll be your waitress today, can I start you off with a drink?” We go around the table and order our drinks, me being the only to order water. Everyone else gets a soda.
A few minutes later we order our food. Max and I split a pizza with Makenz and Kenny and Elaine gets a soup and salad.
We talk about simple things like school during dinner, trying to keep Dr. Adams in the conversation.
After we eat, we go for a walk around the lake. Kenny and Makenz go off on their own and Elaine stops to sit down. So Max and I also go on our own. I get butterflies in my stomach just thinking about being alone with him.
“Did you have fun tonight?” He asks me.
“Yes!” I say. “Of course I did. Your mom’s so nice.”
“Mm-hmm. I had fun too.” He agrees.
We walk silently for a while and then he goes and sits on a bench where his mom can’t see us. I follow and sit next to him. He smells like cinnamon. We lean in and kiss a long, sweet, kiss.
(October 30, Sunday)
When I wake up the next morning, I have a letter on my lap, again. It’s from Nickol. I almost decide not to read it and to just throw it away, but I don’t have the guts so I read it.
I’m sorry. I don’t know what else to say.
P.S. My first kiss was two years ago. It was when I went to camp. I had a crush on this guy, Ryan. One day I went down to the lake by myself, and he did the same. When he left, I followed him out. On the long walk back, he tripped on a root and landed on his back. On instinct, I ran up to him and held out my hand, saying ‘Here take my-’ before I could say ‘hand’ he took my hand and yanked me down so that I was lying on top of him. Then I whispered ‘hand’ we just sat in silence like that for a minute, and then he kissed me. It was the most wonderful day of my life. A few minutes later, we heard people coming. So he rolled over and got up. Then he helped me up. And we walked away together.
I never saw him again.
At that moment, I remember the conversation that Nickol and I had a few days ago. We had talked about our first kisses and Nickol had fibbed about hers. She had told me that it was playing spin the bottle, but that was a lie. I realize now that this was her real first kiss.
This was her apology, but it wasn’t good enough.
(November 4, Friday)
o Nickol, what are you doing this weekend?” Taylor
asks. I had plans to hang out with my dad, so once again I lied to Taylor.
“Sorry. I’m helping my dad with his movie again. I’m actually going to be in the movie, you know. As a background character.” My lie is getting bigger and bigger lately. I don’t know how to stop because now that I’m so far in, I can’t. People always say that once you start to lie, it just keeps getting bigger and bigger until it blows up in your face. So I am waiting for the blow.
“Oh. That’s cool. So what is your dad’s movie about?”
“Um…well…I...it’s about this person…” Sadly, I don’t even really know what my dad’s movie is about. I start to sweat.
“Uh…he does some stuff…”
“Hey, are you talking about your dad’s next movie? Tell me! Tell me!” Cameron buts in.
“Um, actually, I have to go to the bathroom. Catch you later!” I call as I make a run for it.
(November 4, Friday)
“Now, I have an exciting project for you to do! It will be due in two days.” My English teacher, Mrs. Gardens, drones. She lays her hands on her stomach. “I want you all to do a one page creative writing piece! It should sound like a fiction story, yet it should not be true. It should contain facts on your subject and there should be a main character.”
A series of groans echo throughout the classroom.
“Oh, come on! It will be fun!” She exclaims. “The sloppy copy is due tomorrow!” Just then, the bell rings, announcing the end of the day. I slowly gather my things so that I’m the last one in the classroom except for Mrs. Gardens.
“Nickol? Do you need to talk to me?” She asked, concern flashing over her young features.
“Actually, I have a question about the assignment.” I say as I walk up toward her desk.
“Well, I was wondering if I could write a true story for my piece.” I ask. I had decided that this lie was going to end, and this was my perfect chance. I knew that we would have to read our papers to the whole class, so if I wrote the true story of why I was here, it would be the perfect way to tell the truth without having such an uncomfortable confrontation.
“Well, what would you like to write about?” She eases down into the chair with her legs sprawled out.
“Are you ok?” I ask. She sighs and nods.
“Yeah, he’s just kicking a lot lately. Due in three weeks.”
“Awww!” I say. I’d always loved kids. But I had to get back to the problem at hand.
“So what did you want to write about, sweetie?”
“My mom.” I answer truthfully. Suddenly, I find myself telling Mrs. Gardens everything. “You see, I told everyone I was here because I was helping my dad with his movie. And, well, that’s not the truth. My mom fell down our cellar stairs and lost most of her memory and is in a coma in the hospital back in Connecticut.” She gasps. “And she couldn’t watch my half sister and me so we had to move with our separate dads. And that’s why I’m really here.
“But that’s not what I told everyone else. And I just can’t seem to stop lying and tell the truth! Everyone thinks I’m so cool because I’m in a movie, but I’m really not! And I don’t know what to do. So I think that if I write about it and read it to the class that would be easier. But I don’t want everyone to hate me!” I sigh. I didn’t realize until now that I am crying.
“And my sister and I, we, we got in a big fight because of my hair and freckles, but I only wanted to be as pretty as her!” I stammer. “She’s so pretty, she just doesn’t know it. And my dad is just too busy for me. My only friends are the ones here and they’re going to hate me soon enough. I don’t know what to do!” I sob.
Mrs. Gardens stands up and comes over to me, her arms spread wide for a hug. I try to hug her over her stomach and giggle a little through the tears because that was a difficult thing to do. She told me that everything was going to be okay and if I needed to talk again she was always willing to listen.
“Thank you, Mrs. Gardens. It really helped to get that all off my chest.”
“Your welcome. Now, you better get to your bus before you miss it.” She looked up at the clock. “Or is it too late?” She wonders aloud.
“I’ll just walk home.” I say. “I need the time to think.”
(November 7, Monday)
“One Friday evening, I was home alone with my half sister Katelyn and my mom. My dad was at his house in California, and Katelyn’s dad was at his house in Texas. Katelyn and I were in the living room, watching TV. My mom was doing the laundry, and the washing machine was in the basement. She was carrying a load of dirty laundry down the stairs.
“And she fell.
“Immediately, after we heard her scream and the bang that followed, I ran downstairs. I yelled for Katelyn to call 911 and she did. The ambulance came, and Katelyn passed out.
“Later, my aunt Becca and I found out that my mom lost most of her memory, was in a coma, broke her leg, and was not allowed to have visitors.
“So my aunt and I decided that Katelyn and I have to go and stay with our separate dads. My dad in Hollywood, California, and her dad in Texas.
“So I went to my dads, in Hollywood. And Katelyn went to her dads in Texas. And our mom is still suffering in Connecticut.” I was reading my paper in English two days later.
“And this is a true story. And I am the main character.” Everyone in the room gasps, although I’m surprised they hadn’t figured it out already. “I’m sorry that I’ve been lying to you for this whole time. I truly am.” This was the one class that Taylor, Kelly, and Cameron, were all in. Just then the bell rang to announce the end of school. I had planned it so that I was last. Nobody could talk to me if I was at home, right?
But I was wrong. The three people I wanted to leave did not leave the room. Taylor walked up to me first.
“I’m sorry.” I said to him.
“It’s over.” He said sourly.
“No, I-I’m sorry, please.”
“Please nothing.” Cameron
says as she walks by me, linking arms with Taylor.
I sit down in my seat and cry. Silence passes in the room for a minute and I almost forget that Kelly and Mrs. Gardens are still in the room.
“I’ll give you two a minute.” Mrs. Gardens says, quietly shutting the door behind her.
I look up at Kelly with a pleading glance, and a strange look crosses her face.
“I would forgive you. But I guess I’m just not good enough. You should have...you should have told us. You should have been my friend-and maybe I’d still be yours.” She says. And then she gets up and leaves.
(November 8, Tuesday)
o, now that we’re officially going out, I think I need to know a little bit more about you. So I have a few questions.” Max asks me one day after school, putting his hand in my back pocket.
“Okay.” I giggle.
“So, first of all, how long will you be here, in Texas?”
“Um…Well I’m not really sure. As soon as my mom can take care of my sister and me again I’ll go home.”
“Okay…now wait…what exactly happened? Mrs. Pinsetti told us that your mom was hurt and you were gonna live here for a while…but don’t you think I deserve just a few more details?”
“You deserve everything.” I giggle, gazing into his eyes. Makenz walks by and smacks me on the butt. Max laughs.
“Puppy love…” She says.
“Well she fell down the cellar stairs and broke her leg,” I continue, playfully glaring at her, “lost most of her memory, and is in a coma.”
“Oh my God. I’m so sorry. Do you know how she is now?”
“Actually, no. I was supposed to be keeping in touch with my Auntie Becca, but she won’t email me or answer any of my phone calls. It says that her phone number doesn’t exist anymore.”
“Are you sure you have the right phone number?”
“Oh. That’s not good.” Concern flashes over his face.
“Nope. And on top of that my half sister and I are having a big fight because she dyed her orange hair blonde and got her freckles lasered off.”
“Wow. She must look different.”
“Yup.” I say. “And as a matter of fact, I think I’m going to call her right now.”
“You definitely should. Not that I would know.”
“You’re so cute when you’re unsure.” I giggle.
“Let’s go, love birds!” Makenz calls back at us, holding her hand over her eyes to shade them from the sun.
“Yeah. So uh, bye. I’ll see you tomorrow.” He leans down and pecks me on the cheek, and I blush. “You’re so cute when you blush.” He whispers into my hair.
Makenz pretends to throw up.
“Okay, bye.” I pull out my sidekick and dial Nickol’s number. I had decided that this fight was going to end, and it was going to end now. I had started to feel really bad about what I’d said, and I just had to apologize. I was not usually the one to hold a grudge.
“Hi, Nickol. Look, I’m sorry, okay? I just thought that you shouldn’t have done that because if moms awake, she won’t be able to recognize you if you look like that. And…”
“Stop. I forgive you! I just want you to forgive me.” Nickol exclaims.
“Of course I’ll forgive you! But it was me who wasn’t nice at all.” I say. I’m instantly relieved.
“I think it was pretty even. So we’re friends?”
“Forever.” I say. “Pinky promise.” I hook my pinky finger around her invisible hand, and I can feel that she does the same.
Sometimes we have moments like that...where I can feel when she does something, or when something’s wrong. And we’re always saying stuff at the exact same time.
“Good. Now, do you think I should fix my hair? Because I forgot to tell you-the freckles are only temporary, so they’ll be back in a week or two. They are all ready starting to come back in anyway. My dad wouldn’t let me get them off forever.” She sounds disappointed by this fact.
“Really? That’s great. And you can just dye back your hair, right? Perfect!” I exclaim.
“Yeah. But I kind of liked it…”
“Nickol? Change it back. For me. For mom.”
“Oh, alright. I will. Soon.”
“Pinky promise.” She confirms. I giggle and hook my finger around nothing again. Makenz gives me a weird look, but I just shake my head at her.
“Okay. Now, have you talked to Auntie Becca? I keep calling her…and emailing.” The panic rises in me again like it had every time I tried to call. What could have possibly happened?
“Same here! Nothing! Soon enough we’ll have to go up there ourselves!”
“Um, yeah. I don’t know about that. Plane tickets are expensive.”
“Remember who my dad is?”
“Yeah, I know. But still.”
“Okay, well I have to go…homework.” She explains.
“Okay, yeah, me too. Bye, I love you.” I say.
“Love you more.” And she hangs up before I can argue.
(November 9, Wednesday)
“I’m going to take Creek for a walk in the woods near Dr. Adams house, want to come?” Makenz and I are sitting at the kitchen table eating an apple.
“Great idea. Where is Creek, anyway?” She wonders.
“Um…I’m not sure. I was just calling for him.”
“Oh! Here he is!” Creek runs and jumps onto Makenz. He is getting so big-he was the size of a bunny when we found him, but now he is up to my knees when he is on all fours. We are trying to teach him not to jump, because soon enough, he is going to knock us over. “No! Don’t jump.” She says sternly. He whimpers, but listens. “Good boy!” She coos.
“Come on, Creek. You want to go for a walk?” He barks and holds still as I put on his leash. I take his leash and Makenz and I walked over to Dr. Adams house. Mrs. Adam is outside, gardening.
“Elaine!” I call to her.
“Oh! Hello girls. How are you?”
“Good and you?” I ask.
“Good, thank you. Do you need something?”
“No, we’re just going for a walk with Creek.” I gesture to Creek, who was sniffing her flowers.
“Oh, cool! He seems to be doing well.”
“Yes, he is, thank you.”
“Are you taking him for a walk in the woods?”
“Well, have fun. And stay on the trail, be careful.”
“Bye-bye, now.” She calls after us.
Makenz and I walk over to the edge of the trees and find the trail.
We walk for an hour or two, talking about everything under the sun.
A little while later we start walking back home.
I’d gotten closer to Makenz then I ever expected to be with her…I barely remember the first day when I found out that she even existed. I was upset at my dad, but I’m not anymore.
“I thought you girls we’re going to be home for five…its six thirty.” Bernie gently scolds as we walk in. She’s leaning over a bucket peeling potatoes, her gray-brown hair falling into her eyes.
“Sorry.” We say in unison. i look at her and we both giggle.
Man, I’ve been giggling a lot lately.
“Why don’t you two set the table, please.” Bernie asks.
“Can I call Auntie Becca quick?”
I dial the familiar number.
(November 10, Thursday)
he past two days have been horrible. No one in the whole school will talk to me except for the teachers. And today was bound to be worse. But to my surprise, something was waiting for me in my locker when I opened it at the end of the day. There were two notes…one from Taylor and one from Kelly.
I have decided to forgive you after all. I know how bad you feel about what you did, and that you were only hanging out with Cameron to look cool and to get to Taylor. So, will you go to the mall with me? You know, I am a very fun person to shop with. And maybe you could fix your hair? I heard that you need to do that.
You know that you’re about as sharp as a bowling ball? And that your behavior has gone over like a fart in church? Well they’re both true. But, I just don’t think that I can live without you as my girlfriend. Your smile, your laugh, and your happy face… I need them like a pencil needs paper. I need you like a book needs words. They’re nothing without the other. And I’m nothing without you. I need you.
I quickly look around to try and find Kelly or Taylor before they could leave, but they are gone. So I quickly scrawl them each a note on a scrap of paper. My heart swells in my chest as I write back to them.
Thank you sooo much for forgiving me. You know that means a lot to me. I really want to go to the mall and I will have my dad drop me off on Saturday at three o’clock. How did you know that I wanted to fix my hair, anyway? Thanks again.
I need you, too. I know that what I did was wrong, and my God have I learned my lesson. And I need you like a letter needs a stamp, like a music needs a beat. I need you like a flower needs petals, like a faucet needs water. And I’m positive that I could think of a lot more. Because I need you.
I slip both of the notes in the right lockers. And then I realize something. My real friends have forgiven me. everyone else was not true friends. And that would be Cameron. I know now that Cameron wasn’t the kind of friend that anyone wanted to have because she wasn’t a friend at all.
(November 10, Friday)
“Hi, Nickol,” Katelyn says to me on the phone the next day.
“Hi! Guess what I’ve decided?”
“What?” She questions.
“We both have been calling and emailing Auntie Becca since we got down here, right?”
“And we both want to see and know how mom is doing, right?”
“Right.” She says warily.
“So we can just go up there ourselves! I already asked my dad to buy me a plane ticket to Texas and then us both tickets home to Connecticut. In three days! I get to see you in three days!” I had asked my dad two days ago after I had talked to Nickol to get me the tickets. And of course he had agreed, ‘anything for you, darling.’
“Three days?! That’s so soon! But still…yay!”
“Okay, then. It’s final already. So tell everyone goodbye because I’m coming!”
“Ha-haaaa!” I was giddy all over again.
(November 11, Saturday)
The next day is Saturday, the day that I’m going to the mall with Kelly. We had invited Taylor to come because I hadn’t seen him since the notes we had written.
“Dad, are you coming? I’m going to be late.” I call up the stairs towards my dad’s room. He had promised to drive me there, but instead of him coming down the stairs, Sara does. “Is he coming?” I ask her.
“Honey, your dad was just called in for a very important meeting. So I’ll take you!” She says, fake excitement and an apologetic look on her face. I try to hide my disappointment as I answer.
“Okay. I understand.”
Sara drives me over to Kelly’s house, and Taylor is there waiting for me. Then Sara takes us to the mall and drops us off. As soon as she’s out of sight, Taylor looks at me.
“Can I speak to you for a minute, alone?” He glances at Kelly.
“I’ll go take a walk.” She offers, a sly smile on her face.
“Thanks.” Taylor says.
“Yeah?” I ask. He doesn’t say anything. He just presses his lips to mine for a long minute. Then he sits down on the nearest bench and pulls me down next to him.
“I missed you.” He says to me. And then he kisses me again, but more seriously. “A lot.” And then we see Kelly coming from a distance. He stands me up and then we walk towards Kelly.
“Where are we headed to first?” Kelly asks. “The hair salon?” She looks at me.
“How do you know I want to fix my hair?”
“A little birdie told me.” She says and laughs. I give her a weird look, but follow her into the salon. When I am trying to find the right color for my hair, Kelly picks out one that seems to be the perfect color.
Kelly and Taylor sit patiently while I get my hair dyed, reading magazines and talking to each other.
After that, when I am back to normal, we just walk around and window shop. I buy a shirt and Kelly gets a pair of ballet flats. Taylor just kind of drags along behind us, looking bored.
Finally I do what I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I already have both ears double pierced, the top of my left ear, and my belly button…all that’s left is my nose.
They observe as the lady sticks a little silver pin through my nose.
“Now your piercings are complete.” Kelly announces.
“Hey, Kelly.” Taylor says suddenly.
“You should sit with us at lunch on Monday, you know.”
She raises her eyebrows and puts her hair elastic in her mouth so she can fix her ponytail. “Who’s ‘us’?” she mumbles around the elastic.
“Me and the football team and some of the cheerleaders. And Nickol. I hope.” He glances at me and I nod. She ties her hair back.
“That would be fun.” She says. And I smile at my two best friends.
(November 12, Sunday)
The next night, I start packing all of my things. I had gained a lot of clothes and things when I moved to my dads, so I had another duffel bag then when I had come.
I pack two out of the three bags with all of my things, but leave the third bag half empty, seeing as I still had two more days here. Then I called Taylor to tell him the bad news that I was leaving.
“Hi, Taylor. It’s Nickol.”
“Oh. Hey, what’s up?” He asks.
“Well, I have some news.”
“Good news or bad news?”
“Both. You see, I’m going back to Connecticut.”
“Yeah. In two days.”
“Two days?! Are you coming back?” I can hear the hope and panic in his voice... he wants me to come back but knows that I won’t.
“Well, I was talking to my dad and I think that I’m going to come back for a month every summer.”
“Wow. Um, why are you going home?”
“Because my sister and I need to know what’s going on with our mom. So we’re going to go find out for ourselves.” I explain.
“Oh. Well, that’s good then. For you, I guess.”
“Thanks. And I’m sorry. Do you think we can still…”
“Go out?” He asks. “We can try it.”
“Okay. And thank you.”
“No problem. Well, I have to go, my dad’s calling me.”
“Okay, bye. Love you.”
“Love you. Bye.”
Now that that was taken care of, I call Kelly.
“Hi, Kelly. It’s me, Nickol.”
“I know. Caller ID.” She giggles.
“Oh yeah. Well I have some bad news. But it’s also kind of good…”
“What? Who died?”
“No one died!” I laugh. “But I am leaving to go home to Connecticut. In two days.”
“Two days! But-but that’s so soon!”
“I know, and I’m sorry. But I’m coming here for a month every summer, so I’ll get to see you then.”
“So you’re going home? Why now?”
“Well, my sister and I want to know how our mom is, because we haven’t heard from my Aunt since we got down here.”
“Oh. Okay. That’s good that you’re taking charge.”
“Yeah. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay. But I have to go; I haven’t started my homework yet.”
“You’re crazy. Okay, bye.”
(November 13, Monday)
had all of my things packed for tomorrow, when I would be leaving. Until then, I had to make the best of the time I had left. Nickol would arrive at my dad’s house around two o’clock tomorrow, as soon as I get out of school, so that we can catch our seven o’clock plane.
Her dad had hired us a personal driver to take us everywhere we needed to go, including once we were in Connecticut. Then he would fly home.
“Hey, Katelyn, are you coming? You’re going to be late for your second to last day of school.” Makenz calls through my doorway.
“Don’t mention it. Please.”
“Why, don’t you want to go?”
“No, I’ll just miss you. And Max.”
“Oh. Well, I have a surprise for you.”
“What?” I ask warily.
“Every summer, you can come here for a month or two! It’s not really a surprise, but I thought it would be cool.”
“Really? That would be awesome! As long as I can get plane tickets…but I’m sure we can work something out. Hey, do you think Max will still go out with me when I’m in Connecticut?”
“You haven’t asked him yet? Have you even told him that you’re leaving?”
“I’m going to tell him today.”
“Oh. Okay, well we really have to go now or we’ll be late. Come on!” She calls to me as she scampers down the stairs. “Race you there!”
(November 14, Tuesday)
The next day at school everyone gives me gifts. I get a shirt from all the girls; they had sowed together pieces of one of each of their shirts to make me one. I don’t even know how to sow. And I get a bouquet of flowers from the boys; they had each put in a few flowers. And Mrs. Pinsetti gives me a book. I guess that is the Texas way to say good-bye.
At the end of the day, Max gives me a separate gift. It’s in a jewelry box, and inside is a chain with a silver key dangling from it.
“Oh my gosh! Max, I love it! Thank you so much! You didn’t have to do that.”
“I’m glad you like it.” He says to me.
“Oh I do! Can you help me put it on?” I squeal.
“Yeah. Did you see what it says on the back of the it?” I turned it over and see that it says: You will always have the key to my heart ~Max
I gasp. “That’s so sweet! Thank you!”
He just smiles and puts it on me.
“But I don’t have anything for you!” I wail.
“You already gave me something. Your heart.” And then he kisses me.
(November 14, Tuesday)
Nickol’s there waiting for me as soon as I run out of the school.
“Nickol!” I call as I run into her arms; happy tears streaming down both of our faces. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed her until now. My heart swells in my chest until I think that it might burst. This is the happiest reunion of my life. And Nickol is back to her normal self, with freckles orange hair.
“Oh my God, I missed you!” She says, wiping tears from her eyes.
“Me too. And your hair-it’s orange!”
“Yeah. I did it for you. And mom.”
“Oh, thank you! I-I-um…this is Max.” I say as I drag him by the hand over to Nickol. “And Max, this is Nickol.”
“Hubba hubba.” She whispers under her breath to me, and we both giggle. I had missed her giggle so much-it sounds heavenly to me now.
“What?” Max asks innocently.
“Oh, nothing.” I sigh in content. My sister is here. Here.
“So we have to leave in one hour, right? So you have to show me your house, and the dog-Creek, right? You haven’t talked about him in a while. How is he? And you have to introduce me to your dad and Bernie and Makenz.” She babbles.
“Yup, I know. Well, this is Makenz. Makenz, Nickol.”
“Hi.” Makenz says.
“Hi. I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“And it was all good things, right?” I ask, trying to keep the peace.
“Yup.” Nickol says.
“Mostly.” Makenz says and then giggles at Nickol’s upset face. “I was just kidding.” She laughs and I join in, showing Nickol that she was just joking.
“Oh. Okay.” Nickol says.
“Let’s head home.” I say to both of them. “Max, stop by in forty five minutes, okay? Everyone in the whole town is coming to see me off, so don’t miss it.”
“Aye aye Captain!” He says and puts his hand to his forehead in a salute.
Nickol and I walk with Makenz home, and my dad, Bernie, and Creek are all waiting.
“Nickol! You must be Nickol!” they shout, and Bernie puts Creek down and he runs towards us, jumping up on Nickol.
For the moment, Makenz and I just let him jump up; he is so happy.
“Hi Creek!” She coos. “Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Angell. It’s nice to meet you.”
“And you.” My dad says, shaking her hand. Bernie wraps her in an awkward hug.
“Let’s go inside.” I say, and Creek follows us in. We go up to my room, which now only has an empty cot, a bureau and desk. My bags are already in the car.
“Wow. You need some…like posters in here or something.”
“Believe, me, I would. If I had any.”
“Actually, speaking of posters, I have something in the car for you. Hold on, I’ll go and get it.” A few minutes later, she comes upstairs carrying a poster of Taylor Lautner, my favorite actor. And he signed it.
I squeal. “Oh. My. God. You got him to sign that? Is…it…for…me?” I say each word distinctively.
“I knew you’d like it.” She says with a grin.
“Like it? I love it! Thank you so much!”
“Your welcome. I told you that a famous dad has its benefits.”
“Thank you.” I say sincerely. “But, once again, I have nothing for you.”
“That doesn’t matter. Hey, I hear people coming in your house from down stairs. There all coming to see you off so you better get down there.”
Sure enough, I hear voices coming from downstairs.
“Okay. And thanks again for the poster.”
We walk down the stairs and I see almost everyone in our small town waiting for me.
(November 14, Tuesday)
“Oh, boy!” Nickol says, bouncing in her plane seat. I had been trying to fall asleep, but her nervous excitement is keeping me up. “I’m so nervous and…”
“Excited! I know! You’ve told me about three thousand times! And I’m trying to sleep!”
“Oh. Sorry. I’ll stop now.” She apologizes.
“Thank you.” I say, exasperated. Finally, I fall asleep, but not for long. My stomach wakes me up. A wave of nausea rolls inside me, and I bolt for the bathroom.
(November 14, Tuesday)
By the time we’re there, I’m feeling almost okay again. So we come out of the plane and get our bags. Nickol has three, and I only have one. Shows one big difference between us. I laugh.
“What?” She asks.
“Nothing…” She just shakes her head.
We have to get a cart because the man that her dad had hired; whose name I had found out was Alex, couldn’t carry all of our bags and wouldn’t let us carry our own. So naturally, he pushes the cart.
As soon as we get outside, Nickol is bouncing with excitement and nervousness again.
Alex gets us a taxi and loads our bags into it. It takes forty-five minutes to get to the hospital from the airport; Nickol had done her research and informed me earlier. So I settle in for the ride, trying to make simple conversation that included Alex to fill up the silence. Suddenly, I sense that Nickol is going to do something that she thinks is funny. I can tell by the way that her eyes light up and her mischievous grin.
“So,” She says. “I was trying on bras the other day.” She turns to see Alex’s reaction, which is definitely disturbed. “And now I’m a B cup and not an A! Like, so cool, right?” Alex’s face does not say ‘cool’. I giggle, catching on.
“Oh, my God, way cool! Like, amazing!”
“I know, right? So then, I was trying it on and I came out of the stall to show my friend, and this guy walks by!”
“No!” I gasp with a dramatic effect. Alex gives me a disturbed look.
“Yes!” She squeals. “And he looked right at me! And even though I have a boyfriend, I kind of smiled at him!”
“I did!” I knew by now that this was all for show. Now even the taxi driver is giving us funny looks.
“Girls?” Alex interrupts. “We’re here.”
“Oh! Okay, come on Katelyn, let’s go.” Nickol says to me, grabbing my hand. Alex would take our bags back to our house. And we walk into the hospital, side by side.
(November 14, Tuesday)
h, my God, that was so funny!” I exclaim about the bra talk Katelyn and I had in the taxi, as soon as Alex is out of earshot.
“Yes it was!” Katelyn squeals. She must have picked that up in Texas, because I have never heard her squeal like that before, but I don’t mention it.
We walk up to the front desk.
“Hi, Ashley.” I say, reading her nametag. I always like to call people by their names, and I usually do it over and over to annoy them. “We’re the daughters of Heidi Fisher. Could you tell us what floor she’s on and what room number she is, please, Ashley?”
“Well, she is moving out today, but she still might be in her room…”
“Moving out?!” Katelyn and I shout in unison.
She flinches. “Yes, she’s in a good enough condition to leave the hospital. I believe. At least that’s what it says on my record…”
“Wow.” I whisper. “So what room would she be in, Ashley?”
“Floor two, room three. Excuse me, what’s your name?”
“Floor two, room three, Nickol.” I blush, embarrassed.
“Thank you. Ashley.” I say.
“You’re welcome, Nickol. Good luck.”
“Thanks, Ash. Bye-bye now, Ashley.”
“Bye, Nicki.” She sighs and pulls her long brown hair back into a ponytail. Katelyn and I giggle and head for the elevator.
“I don’t get why you always have to do that.” Katelyn says.
“Call people there names so, so excessively.”
“Sorry. It’s just, just a-a habit.”
“Sure, sure.” She says. We get in the elevator and head for floor two, as directed. When we arrive on the floor, we find that it’s a maze of halls and rooms. We find a desk and there is a man with the name tag Jeff there, typing something into a computer.
“Excuse me, Jeff?” I politely ask.
Katelyn nudges me with her foot.
“Yes? How can you help you lovely ladies today? “
“Well, Jeff, I was wondering if you could show us the way to room number three.” I explain.
“Sure can! Actually, I was heading in that direction anyway.”
“Okay, thank you Jeff.” Katelyn nudges me harder, but I just ignore her.
We follow the doctor to room three, where the door is closed.
“Thanks, Jeff.” I say, smiling.
“Anytime, girls.” He says, and walks off.
Katelyn nervously clutches my hand as she reaches for the doorknob. She takes it in her hand, and turns. The door swings open, and there is our mother, sitting upright in a wheelchair, her right leg in a cast. Four or five doctors are swarming her, writing on clipboards. She takes one look at us, and smiles.
“Nickol, Katelyn.” She says as if we had never parted, complete recognition on her face. Then the swarm of doctor’s crowd around her like bees after someone who stole their honey. They are all asking different questions at the same time, but I can only make out one of them. ‘Do you know these girls?’
A doctor who had not been hovering over our mother comes up to us then. “You must be Nickol and Katelyn.” He says. “I’m Dr. Jon.”
“Nice to meet you.” I say distractedly, trying to see my mom through the doctors. “Why are they asking her all those questions?”
“Well, as you must know, your mother lost most of her memory that has to do with relationships. She remembers everything she learned in school and things that she does at work, she just doesn’t remember people. If you tell her you name, she’ll forget it in an instant.
“And she doesn’t remember anything about herself. She doesn’t know her favorite color, or the kinds of foods she likes. She doesn’t even remember her parents. So whenever she does recognize someone, the doctors will pounce on it. And by the looks on their faces right now, she seems to be coming back…” He trails off, mumbling long scientific words that I don’t understand.
Finally, our mother breaks loose from all of their questions and rolls the wheelchair towards us.
“Hello, girls! Where have you been? I’ve missed you.” She says. Her voice seems like it’s a pitch higher then it was before the accident, and her right eye is droopy.
But she is still our mom.
(November 14, Tuesday)
As soon as we are escorted into a cab, my mother asks us what restaurants she likes.
“Well, you like pizza. And Italian.” I offer.
“I do? Well, then let’s go to an Italian place with pizza for dinner!”
“How about Paparazzi?” The taxi driver says, turning to look at us. “I’ll take you there.” Then he turns around.
“Okay dokey then…” Nickol says, giving me a weird look.
“What?” Our mom asks.
“Oh, yeah. Papa Razzi? Okay. So, where have you girls been?” My mother asks us. “Have I been missing yous guys?” It wasn’t a question. The doctor had told us that her speech was a little weird, and to correct her whenever possible.
“Say, ‘I have been missing you guys.” Katelyn explains. She says it, so we answer.
“I’ve been in Hollywood, California, with my dad, Joe Mackey.” I say.
“And I’ve been in Texas, with my dad, Max Angell.” Katelyn says.
“Oh, I remember them.”
“You do?” Katelyn asks.
“Yup.” She looks intensively out the window, occasionally pointing at a bird or a passing car.
We arrive at the restaurant, and go in and get seated.
“There’s someone I want you to meet.” Our mom says.
All of a sudden, a handsome man in a suit comes and sits down next to our mother.
“Mom…?” Katelyn asks in confusion.
“This is Jerry.” She says. He reaches out to shake our hands, calling us by our names as he does.
“Hello.” He says in a deep voice. “My name is Jerry, and I’m your mother’s fiancé.”
(December 20, Wednesday)
ear Auntie Becca,
As I look back on my time with my dad, I realize that it wasn’t actually that bad. I mean, sure it was really hard being away from Nickol and mom and everyone…but they do say that if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.
You didn’t miss too much…well, not yet. I wish I had gotten to talk to you just one last time, or if you were here to see how good mom’s doing. And maybe you would have been able to meet Max. He’s a good kid. You would have liked him.
Since you never got to meet him, he has brown hair and brown eyes. As you and I both know so well, I’m a sucker for a guy with brown eyes. Right now he’s sitting here next to me, holding my right hand. (You know I’m a lefty, right?) He really wanted to meet you.
It’s been exactly one month since we got home from our dads. And five days since…you know, you died and all. I know that you always talked openly about dying, but it’s just not me. I miss you. Just saying.
You never got to meet Nickol’s boyfriend either. I haven’t either, at least not yet. But from what I hear he’s really great. Sometimes he texts me, which I find cute. Not like that kind of cute…like puppy cute or something. You know what I mean.
Mom’s doing really great. She’s starting to relearn things really well, thanks to Nickol, Jerry, and me. Jerry’s her fiancé. Both Nickol and I really love him. He takes care of us. And now Nickol and I have more free time because we don’t always have to take care of mom.
Jerry works at the hospital. That’s how they met. You must think how crazy she is, going on her third husband. Just wait till the day she has another kid on June 12th. Ha-ha. You were always such a good big sister to her.
Uncle Bob is doing okay. He’s spoiling that baby to death. He’s been really tired lately, so Nickol and I go over to your apartment a lot to help take care of little Carrie. She’s adorable, really is. And she looks so much like you, too. She’s really attached to mom, like I was to you when I was little. I think they’re going to be as close as we were.
Max says hello. He wasn’t sure if it was okay to say hello to your girlfriend’s dead aunt, but I told him that it was alright; you wouldn’t mind.
Don’t worry, when Carrie’s old enough, I’ll tell her all about you. I’ll tell her as much as I know, and then it will be as if you were here.
I’m going to go now. I promise that every year on Carries birthday I’ll take her to come and visit you. I just want you to know that I love you more than anything in the world, Auntie Becca.
Ta ta for now.
“Babe?” Max asks as I fold up the letter. “Sorry if I’m being pushy or anything, but like, what happened to her?”
“You know how we couldn’t talk to her on the phone?” he nods. “Well her house got foreclosed, so she moved into an apartment and got a new number. Then…she was giving birth. Something went wrong…I think the baby got detached from her and they had to do an emergency C-section, and while they were doing that she had a heart attack…” I explain. “After they got the baby out, it was too late. But the baby lived. Her names Carrie.”
“You guys were really close, huh?” It was a rhetorical question. Nickol comes up behind me and starts rubbing my shoulders.
“You got a lot of tension and stress up here, babe.” She says.
“Yeah, I know.” I sigh.
“Common, let’s go for a walk.” She suggests. She grabs my hand from Max and pulls me up. The two of us start walking into the sunset. “It’s going to be okay,” She says, “We’re going to be okay.”