All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- 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
The Months of Summer
Monsieur LeBlanc stood impatiently at the front of the room, attempting to grasp the class’ attention. I lent him more of my brain than usual today, because cradled in his arms, waiting to be deposited, was my fate. My fate that would determine my future career, social or otherwise. I needed this success. My life depended on it. This was my destiny.
Monsieur strolled around, gently distributing one sheet of lined binder paper on each student’s desk, saying “Tres bien” to each person who got a B or better. If you get below a B, there is dead silence. Occasionally, if you fail the test or get the worst score of the class — and I speak from experience — he just shakes his head and mumbles something about working harder next time.
He made his way through the desks, snaking in and out of the rows, delivering each student their fate. When he placed the test face down on my desk, he said nothing. I gazed up at him, like a puppy dog begging for a treat, silently willing God to make the words “Good Job” come out of Monsieur LeBlanc’s mouth. But all that appeared on his face was a lame attempt to be optimistic. I was too apprehensive to roll my eyes.
With my heart pounding hard, I warily flipped over my future. I gasped, as my hand drew to my mouth. I’m sure every person in fourth period French heard my sudden intake of breath. My heart stopped beating for a second, and I had to cough my oxygen back, because right there on my test paper, glaring up at me was a big fat red D.
As soon as the lunch bell rang, I strolled into the cafeteria, my glumness remaining far beneath my fake smile. My personal motto was to never let anyone see me upset. I would receive an entirely new reputation, if so. I waved my practiced queen wave at some people, but only if they waved at me first, which they always did.
I wandered in through the doors of the cafeteria, searching for the same familiar face I always saw. My forged smile turned into an almost genuine one once I saw my best friend, Melly. She was sitting by our customary table alone, talking on her cell phone.
I walked up to the booth and sat down in a huff. I unzipped my folder and smacked my failed test on the table in front of her.
Melly didn’t see my movement. She just kept talking on the phone.
I sighed. “Melly, I have a question,” She looked at me, wondering what I meant. I rolled my eyes. Whenever I tell her that I have a question, she always answers, “And I have an answer,” which is ironic because most of the time she doesn’t have an answer.
“I’m on the phone,” she mouthed. I rolled my eyes. Way to state the obvious Melly.
I ignored her and repeated in the same tone as before, “Melly, I have a question.”
She sighed and said into the phone, “Hold on a sec.” And then to me, “And I have an answer.”
I smiled with satisfaction I always got it. “How do you think my parents will kill me when they see my test grade? Will they chop me in half? Or will they throw me off a bridge?” I pointed to my test lying on the table, as if that explained everything.
Melly’s face reshaped from a smug smile to an O. She quickly closed her phone shut without any goodbyes and looked from me to the paper and back again.
“I don’t know!” I exclaimed, exasperated, putting my head down on the table. But then I quickly brought it back up again as soon as I realized that every eighth grade girl was watching me right then, studying me like a textbook.
Melly looked over the test, and then nodded. “Yup, that’s a D all right.”
My exhale was filled with frustration. Her remark did not comfort me. “I need my energy bar!”
Melly laughed, as she tightened her blonde pony tail. “I know what you need, and it’s not an energy bar. What you need is some major sugar!”
I sighed, and then looked at her like she was the dumbest person in the world. Melly is my best friend, but she doesn’t understand that I just don’t eat junk food like she does. Really, no one does, but especially not I.
If you compare our two lunches, they are completely diverse. Melly gets a pizza, a cookie, and some drink filled to the very rim with nothing but sugar; while I buy a Nutri-Grain bar, a salad, and a water bottle. Sometimes, if I feel like spoiling myself, I buy a chocolate milk, but only if I am feeling extremely risky at that moment. And even if I do take it, it’s a rare occasion when I finish it.
“Sugar makes you fat,” was my response, no different than any other time she offers me something disgusting. Melly just rolled her eyes as she munched into her cookie.
“Sho wu’ yo gonna doo ‘bout da tesht?”
“Excuse me?” I asked, squinting my eyes in disgust. Although I knew what she said, I wanted to linger my answer as long as possible. Also, I really hate it when people talk with their mouth full. It’s so disgusting.
Melly swallowed, and then repeated slowly and carefully, like she was talking to a little kid. It reminded me of the way I talk to her daily. “So what are you going to do about the test?”
I shrugged my shoulders hopelessly. I opened my mouth to say something, but then a flicker of movement caught my eye.
Brown hair, brown eyes, pale white skin, how could I not notice it? He was headed toward the lunch line to buy food, and I recognized the unique strut that he used, bouncing up and down, like he was so superior to everyone. I narrowed my eyes at him.
His face shot up, as if he could see me glaring at him without actually looking. He always had a way of knowing things even when I didn’t.
As soon as our eyes locked in place, my anger flared up inside me. The knowledge that we both shared was silently transferred between us. The green truck barreling into me, headlights flashing, too, too much blood.
He saw my discomfort and grinned mockingly at me. He knew he was the only one who could make me fidget and he took advantage of it. I glared at him, the worst face I could possibly give anyone, but that only made him smile wider. How could he not be ashamed? The more he mocked me, the worse I felt.
I hated him for doing this to me. I hated him for making me remember again. I hated him for making me hate him.
Then, as if it were on a timer, my cell phone vibrated. I wondered what Melly thought of my tense position just then, but who I didn’t care. It was only Melly. Besides, she was obviously too busy picking out the chocolate chips from her cookie and eating them alone.
“Hello?” I asked into my phone.
“Hey Tiffany, it’s Cassie!”
Cassie is a good friend of Melly’s and mine. She typically sits with us, which is why I was surprised she called instead of just coming right over. I thought we were done with the tentativeness to sit with us. We had already dealt with too long ago. On top of that, she is in my fourth period French class so we typically just walk from French to lunch. But today, she disappeared as soon as the bell rang.
“Where are you?” I wondered.
Cassie chuckled, half amused, half ashamed — pretty much my life story — as she said, “Well I kind of got a C- on the test so I went straight to the library to study…” My heart skipped a beat as soon she said the L word.
“I’m sorry; I stopped listening as soon as you told me where you are. You went where?!” I asked again, astonished.
“Where?” questioned Melly from across the table, always wanting to know every single detail.
“Library” I mouthed back to her. I made a face, not only because I just said the library, but because Melly had chocolate all around her lips like lip-liner. Melly snorted but I held up a freshly manicured finger motioning for her to be quiet. She sat back against her chair obediently.
“Listen Cassie,” I continued, not allowing any room for her to answer. “I know you care about you grades and all that stuff, but do they really matter so much that you would go to that…place?”
Cassie laughed, as if she thought I was kidding. She should know me better than that, though. I wouldn’t be caught dead in any place with reading material besides the magazine aisle with US Weekly or People.
“Anyways,” Cassie said, drawing the word out, “the reason I called was because I was wondering if you wanted to join me to study and find out what we got wrong on the test, since I’m assuming you got your usual D?” I scowled, but let it go. After all, she was right.
I snorted and laughed like she had just said the funniest thing I had ever heard. “That was a good one, Cassie. For a second I thought that you actually thought that I would ever go with you to the library.” I giggled once more for effect. I knew she wasn’t joking, and she knew just as well, but I think I got my point across that I wouldn’t go anywhere within a mile range of the library.
“Tiffany…” Cassie started. Since I wasn’t in the mood for one of Cassie’s infamous guilt trips, I interrupted.
“What’s that, Melly?” making my voice sound far away from the speaker. “Oh you want me to get off the phone because you are worried that I will die in the library by some science-obsessed murderers, and you don’t want me even thinking about doing such a dangerous thing? Okay, Melly dear. Whatever you say!”
Cassie just giggled, finally getting the point. “I give up! I guess I’ll talk to you later!”
“Have fun in the library!” I sang into the phone, then I broke into a fit of constant laughter.
“What?” wondered Melly, suspiciously.
“I can’t believe I just said ‘Have fun in the library!’”
Melly snickered into her palm, but failed to conceal her laughter. Some obvious eavesdroppers wandered by our table, hoping to catch on to what we were laughing about, or at least a tiny clue on to what it was. I let them wonder and be jealous, not revealing anything. Not our problem.
I was glad that I had my fun times at school, instead of fretting about my test. I knew things would be different at home.
My mom owns a sweet tooth factory, or at least that’s what I call it. It is actually a cupcake and candy shop, but I bet if you looked up Mrs. Baker’s Baked Goods in the dictionary, you would find an image of a rotted-up tooth and a fat lady who can’t see her toes over her round belly. Everyone finds it curious how my mom owns a candy shop and loves sweets, while I can’t stand eating chips with more than three grams of sugar and less than two grams of protein.
I walked in through the doors of the sweet factory and threw my backpack down on one of the tables. Immediately, as if rehearsed, my mom rushed over with a frightened look on her face, as if the world was going to tragically crumble down to the ground with just one drop of my backpack on her immaculately clean tables. I smiled. So typical Mom.
“Tiffany! How many times do I have to remind you that even though you are here a lot, the candy shop is not your home, and you cannot treat in like your home! You need to have respect for the property in my bakery because I only pay for half. So if you ruin one of my tables or send out a customer by one of your disgusting qualities, then you will be paying for that particular half. Now I want you to pick up your backpack right now.”
By then I had already pulled out my cell phone and was being resourceful of my vacant texting time. It wasn’t like I was being told anything remotely useful.
“Huh?” I looked up, my eyes wide with innocence, oblivious to anything she was saying at that moment. My fingers were still making furious beeping sounds, even though I wasn’t looking, something I had been practicing for some time.
My mom, seeing that her lecture went in one ear and out the other, sighed and moved my backpack to the ground herself. Then, she took out a wet towel from her pocket and cleaned off the table.
My mom, in addition to being obsessed with sweets, has OCD cleaning. It’s hilarious to watch her eat cake. She takes a bite, and then wipes off her mouth. Bite, wipe. Bite, wipe. I find it difficult not to laugh whenever she eats.
Satisfied and happy with her cleanliness, my mom made her way over to the orange and pink countertops. She grabbed a cupcake from her juvenile hidden stash and bit into it vigorously.
“Want one?” she asked.
Typically, you wouldn’t come across a mother encouraging and practically forcing her daughter to eat sweets, but my mom is not a universal mother at all. Sometimes I wonder how she and I could possibly be related. My mom, like Melly, tries endlessly, but always unsuccessfully, to get me to eat candy. I would think after all these years of persuasion that they would get exhausted of rejection and then just surrender their case. But they have been going at it for over two years now, and I am tired of it, if not them.
I just made a face as usual with an additional eye roll today, and then habitually added, “Sugar makes you fat.”
Taking another humungous bite, my mom smartly changed the subject, as she asked the accustomed mom question.
“How was school today, honey?” I shrugged my shoulders, not giving her an answer or anything to make interesting conversation with.
Then her face lit up and she piped anxiously, “Oh how was your French test today?” like it was a topic to be excited about. Inside my head, I sighed. I would have happily changed the subject back to sugar in a heartbeat. But since she asked, I just shrugged again, hoping that she would just leave it at that. But I knew my mom was incapable of letting things go. She must know every single tiny detail and if she didn’t she would throw a mom-fit. That was another way that she and Melly were alike.
“Oh you’re probably just being modest. Come on, show it to me!” she said annoyingly, practically jumping up and down like a little kid who’s mom just said she could have cotton candy. She walked across the back area to throw her cupcake wrapper away and wash her hands thoroughly. Then she came back to the counter and looked at me expectantly. I groaned as I took my time unzipping my backpack and opening my folder. Finally, I unfolded the test and laid it on the counter.
I watch as her face changed from excited, to confused, to disappointed, to angry. She opened her mouth wider than I thought was humanly possible, to yell at me, when the phone rang. Saved by the bell, again. It was hard to decide whether today was lucky or unlucky.
“We’ll finish this tonight at dinner.” She gave me a look that made me want to shrivel up into a ball and roll away like a roly-poly. Then, I began to debate whether a roly-poly has it better off than I do. They never have to take tests or have childish parents; but on the other hand, I don’t think that a roly-poly could be as popular as I was.
There was only one person who had ever exceeded my level of popularity. My mind flashed back to lunch and the silent but horrible incident. Brown hair, brown eyes, pale skin. I looked over at my mother’s angry face, remembering when it had looked so sad. Remembering the time we had all been so sad.
I wasn’t sure which one I preferred.
At around 5:30 we left the candy factory to head home. The car ride was uncomfortably silent. All I could hear was the engine rumbling and the tires against the road. I turned on the radio to ease the awkwardness, but my mom shut it off immediately. I silently wondered if she appreciated the silence. If she wanted me to feel threatened.
I shifted in my seat, ill at ease. Puzzled at what she might have been thinking, I looked at my mom. Her face was blanker than my mind during my practically-failed French test. She showed no emotion — not angry, disappointed, happy, or sad. Nothing. She wouldn’t talk to me, let alone look at me. This was worse than her screaming at me.
“Mom…” I started, even though I was certain that it was a failed mission reasoning with my mother. “It’s not that big of a deal. It’s just one test.” My mom pulled jaggedly into our steep driveway and stopped so abruptly my body lurched forward. She looked at me, sharp as a needle as I opened the car door.
“We’ll talk about this later,” she repeated, spitting each distinct syllable. Then she glared down at me so intensely that I almost fell out of the ajar car door.
We walked into the house, soundlessly. Desperately, I ran up to my room, curled up on my cozy bed, and immediately texted Melly, telling her what happened.
It wasn’t like I didn’t care about my grades, because I did; I just don’t believe that my entire life should revolve around them. You could go through your whole life obsessed about getting straight A’s, but once you get into that dream college, you’ll be so socially awkward and grade-oriented that your social life will suffer. That is what’s most important to me. Besides, college is way to far away to even be contemplating.
When my parents called me for dinner, I turned off my phone and rushed downstairs.
My parents were sitting at the table, every once in a while glancing nervously at each other. What did they have to be nervous about? It’s not that complex to yell at someone, especially after all the times my parents have had to practice on me before.
My mom’s face was still emotionless, like she was still in shock. My dad just sat there, solemnly. His hands were folded on the table. Lips pursed and eyebrows narrowed, he was ready to give me my punishment. He reminded me of my principal after he had just caught someone chewing gum or rough-housing in the hallways.
I rolled my eyes at their stances as I plopped down fearlessly on my chair. They didn’t scare me.
My dad started. “Tiffany, I’m sure by now you know that we are disappointed in you. Test after test you haven’t gotten a single C or better.”
I rolled my eyes as I corrected his inaccurate information. “One time I got a B-.”
“Don’t interrupt me,” he scolded. Emotion touched my mom’s face for a moment. I wondered what triggered it. Again, though, I rolled my eyes. I had a feeling that I was going to have a headache at the end of dinner from all the eye rolling I was about to do.
“As I was saying,” my father went on, looking at me pointedly, “you need to improve your test scores. This was your idea to choose French. We warned you that it was going to be difficult, but since you insisted upon it, you must follow through with it. So until you improve your test grades, you are grounded.”
I just stared at him, wide-eyed. This was beyond an eye roll. Although I already knew that grounding was a possibility, I was not going down without a fight. I stood up and threw my napkin on the table, a trick I had learned from the movies.
“Please sit down Tiffany.” my mom instructed, annoyingly patient. I just stood there defiantly, my hands on my hips glaring down at both of them. They couldn’t tell me what to do. “This is what your father has decided. I’m sorry, but this is what’s going to happen.” I rolled my eyes because I knew she wasn’t sorry. When I left the room she and my dad were probably going to compliment and high five each other on how mean and unfair they were to me.
But then something stopped me.
“What about you?” I asked.
She looked up, caught off guard. “Excuse me?”
“What have you decided?”
My dad shot me a warning look, but I ignored it.
She looked at her food, undecided. Then she said, “What your father just said. Your…uh…grounding.”
He shot her the same look he shot me. My mom, though, didn’t seem to be able to ignore it. He nodded with satisfaction.
I stared at my mom, unconvinced. What just happened?
I let it go, though, trying a new angle.
“But Melly’s fourteenth birthday party is tomorrow!” I protested. “Why would you do that to me? She’s my best friend.”
My parents just sat there, unperturbed. It always makes me frustrated when my parents act like nothing out of the ordinary is happening when they are ruining my life.
“Tiffany,” my mom started, but hesitated. I saw my dad nudge her. He looked at her sternly. She rolled her eyes but continued. “It wasn’t our decision for you to fail the test. If we had it our way, you would have been inside every night at eight o’clock studying French. But instead, you insisted on hanging out with your friends until 10:30. So you got what you wanted then, now we get what we want. The only difference is that it didn’t work out so well for you. You got yourself grounded, not us.”
That’s the next thing I hate with my parents. They do reverse psychology moves on me, saying that it was my choice to get in trouble, not theirs. It’s so stupid though, because obviously it was their decision to ground me, not mine. Like I’m ever going to ground myself. Sometimes my parents amaze me with their ability to appear smart, yet actually be morons.
“But—” I began, but was rudely cut off.
“End of discussion, Tiffany,” my dad said firmly, in all likelihoods trying to scare me. But they didn’t intimidate me, they never had and they never will. With one final glare, I angrily ran out the room, knocking my chair over as I stormed through the kitchen. I wasn’t going to pick it up.
“Finish your dinner, honey,” my mom called soothingly, trying to calm me down. I didn’t want to look at her anymore, though. It was probably her idea to force me to miss my best friend’s one-and-only fourteenth birthday party. Melly was never going to have another one.
Though something brought me back to her torn face. I almost wondered if it really was her fault, or if she had just been influenced by my father. I decided that it didn’t matter, though. They were both at fault.
“I don’t like tuna,” I yelled back, wondering if we really did have tuna that night for dinner.
“We’re having chicken!” my dad said, chuckling obnoxiously to himself.
Not wanting him to have the last word in, especially when he thought it was funny, I just screamed as I charged through the kitchen, “I don’t care!” Then I stomped up the stairs and slammed my door with all my might.
When I was safely inside my room, I called Melly.
As soon as she answered, I didn’t even greet her. I just immediately filled her in on my terrible two-minute dinner. When I was done, there was silence on the other end of the phone.
“Crap, I’m so sorry!” She consoled me after she had thought for a while. I knew she was truly upset because she never swears. Not even words that are close, like for example, crap. It all seemed very childish to me, but I guess that’s just what Melly is — childish.
“Thanks Melly and I am so sorry I have to miss your birthday party!” I exclaimed, hardly having to forge my sincerity. But then, I got an idea. An idea that would teach my parents a lesson of a lifetime. They were going to regret their decision. I smiled, sinisterly.
“Maybe I won’t have to miss it after all…” I said leadingly, attempting to be mysterious.
“What do you mean?” Melly wondered innocently, obviously confused. Melly was always slow with these kinds of things.
“I mean, that I’m not missing your birthday party for anything.”
“Not even when you’re grounded?”
“Not even when I’m grounded.”
There was a pause to let that sink in on her microscopic, almost invisible brain.
“But… I don’t get it. You’re grounded, so how on earth can you go?” she asked dumbly. Sometimes, her personality reflected so much on her hair.
“I can work around it,” I said, still relishing my mischievousness. There was another pause on the other line of the phone. I began to grow frustrated.
“Do I have to spell it out for you, Melly?”
“Well…” Melly said, not wanting to conceive to her stupidity.
I spoke slowly and carefully, like how I talk to dogs, except minus the cutesy voice.
“Yes, I do know that I am grounded, and yes, I do know that that means that I am not allowed to leave the house. But I can work around it, so I can get to your party.”
Finally, exasperated, I shouted maybe a bit too loud, “Oh my God Melly. I’m going to escape my prison house and sneak out to get to your party!” Instinctively, I brought my hand up to my mouth, paranoid that my parents were outside my door eavesdropping on my conversation. Quickly, I prayed to God that they didn’t hear, and if they did, I asked Him to erase it from their almost-too-spacey memories completely; effective immediately.
“Oh!” Melly said. “Now I get it. You could have just said that!” I rolled my eyes, but granted her the consent to continue. She likes it when she feels smart. “But how are you going to escape? I mean it’s not exactly that smart to go out the front door. I mean hello? Obvious much?” I giggled at her blunt remark.
“Yeah, I’m thinking about the office window. That’s the only window that opens all the way. Then I can climb out, go around the side gate and go to your party!”
Although I couldn’t see her, I knew Melly was smiling. She loves these plans of mine, which occur on a regular basis that involves me breaking the rules. And boy was I going to break the rules this time.
The next day at school, the day of Melly’s birthday party, I couldn’t pay attention to anything at school — more than usual. So don’t blame me the next time we have a quiz on French verbs. But honestly, which would you rather do? Think about escaping a house to go to your best friend’s birthday party? Or actually listen to your boring French teacher just mutter things in French under his breath, probably cursing the class for not paying attention to his lecture about the difference between a verb and an adjective and how we should have learned that in kindergarten.
The whole day, I was oblivious to anything happening around me unless it contained the word “party” in it. Fortunately, the losers didn’t find anything inconsistent about my behavior. It’s nothing out of the ordinary for me to act like they are windows. They wave at me as usual, and hope for something more in return than a tiny, barely visible nod. But the day of Melly’s birthday party, I ignored everyone, including Melly, without even realizing it. Finally the day was over, and I walked home still mesmerized in my birthday party daze.
“Tiffany? Tiffany!” Melly waved of her hand in front of my face impatiently as we walked. I looked at her; my eyes open wide, in hopes of appearing innocent. But Melly saw right through me, as usual, as she gave me a look.
I smiled at her apologetically, but refusing to ever apologize to anyone. “I’m just so excited for tonight!”
Melly just rolled her eyes.
“Oh don’t be such a prude, Melly,” I scoffed, rolling my eyes.
Melly and I always fail to see eye to eye the exhilaration of sneaking out and doing something even close to being against the rules. I think its fun and exciting, while Melly just likes to observe from the sidelines and giggle about it afterwards. Sometimes, I wonder how my best friend could be the wimp of the century in comparison to me.
Unlike mostly everyone else in the school, I am not afraid to speak my mind, or walk up to random people and tell them exactly that.
For example, one time I was at Melly’s locker when this girl named Christine walked by us. I am not particularly fond of Christine — which means no one is — so when she strolled by the lockers, I glared at her. Seeing my glare, which was the signal that it was okay to insult her, Melly started telling me this story of how in biology class Christine had accidentally scraped her with a pencil. She said that Christine didn’t even apologize, but Melly was sure that Christine had noticed that she had hurt Melly.
Of course, the story was a lame attempt to insult her, but at the time, I had smiled appreciatively anyways.
“I just wanted to tell her off right then and there,” Melly had said, starting to get angry for no sensible reason.
“Here’s your chance. Do it now,” I suggested, reasonably.
“No,” Melly whined, “that’s something only you would do.”
I shrugged my shoulders, happy for the chance to put someone down. “Okay, if you insist.”
Christine was walking out of our locker aisle, so I fast-walked to keep up with her. I tapped her on the shoulder impatiently.
“Um, excuse me?”
She turned around, and then looked around at the students walking who surrounded us, making sure that I wasn’t talking to anyone else but her. I remember that she had smiled, like she thought I was going to invite her to one of my ultra exclusive parties or something.
“Tiffany Baker,” she mumbled, to herself, clearly in awe. I rolled my eyes, but kept my voice even and forward.
She looked up at me, smiling, like a lost pet who had just been found.
“Yeah, I was just wondering…”
“Uh huh?” Christine had pressed, anxiously.
“I’m taking a poll for English class, and I was wondering if you have ever scraped someone in the arm with a pencil during biology by the name of Melly, and didn’t even have the considerate heart to apologize?” I paused to clutch my heart dramatically. I reminded myself of Juliet calling for Romeo.
Obviously, I had caught her off guard, because she had just looked at me dumbfound. I rolled my eyes to the extreme.
“During biology yesterday you, most likely on purpose, scratched Melly Camble in her arm with your pencil. And it was apparent to everyone in the class that you had noticed, but failed to send Melly your dearest apologies. Now, if you don’t apologize to my friend this instant, I will report this incident to the principal as sexual harassment.”
I might have gone a little too far with the sexual harassment bit, but she knew as well as anyone did that I wasn’t joking when I said that I would report her.
“What?” Christine spat. She looked around frantically, probably wishing then that I had been talking to anyone else but her. I didn’t do as much as blink. I was used to making people think they would rather be dead than have to talk to me. I raised my eyebrows and pursed my lips; the standard “You heard me” look.
She looked at her feet and grumbled, “I…I didn’t p-poke…Melly.”
Without missing a beat, I said, “Well Melly says you did.”
I rolled my eyes.
“Who do you think I’m going to believe? My best friend or some insignificant bystander who contributes nothing to our school, not even her presence? Wow, what a tough decision,” I added sarcastically.
She had stared at me, wide-eyed.
I heard Melly snicker behind me.
“I think we all know the answer, Christine. And I think you know better than to intentionally poke people with pencils who aren’t even in your social league, now don’t you?”
She just stared at me and I said, “I’m glad we understand each other.”
I don’t think she even had the nerve to nod an okay.
I laughed and walked away to Melly at her locker, who was doing her best not to start cracking up. I linked arms with her and skipped down the hall. As I was turning the corner, I heard Christine whisper to the people she associated as her friends, “You don’t think she’s serious, do you? She won’t really report me, right?”
I smiled, remembering that time. Ever since then, whenever I look at Christine, she just opens her eyes wider than humanly possible and cowers off to the nearest corner, probably secretly wondering if I’m still going to report her to the principal.
“Stop smiling, Tiffany!” Returning back to reality, I blinked and tried to remember what we were talking about. “We could get in trouble!”
Feeling the need to console her, I said, “Please Melly. If anyone gets in trouble, it should be my parents for grounding me. Besides, what are they going to do? Ground me? Oops, already done!”
“They could ground you for longer!” Melly said pessimistically. I sighed, momentarily despising her sensibility.
“But there are no good parties worth going to, after yours party, so that doesn’t even matter. Come on Melly. You only turn fourteen once.”
“True,” she said, after thinking about it for a while. I smiled, pleased with my persuasion work. I was grateful that at least Melly was done with. Now all I had to do was get past my parents. Unfortunately, though, I had a feeling they weren’t going to be as easy as Melly.
The party started at 9:00 PM, which is pathetically the same time that my parents go to bed. Since I was walking there and needed to conquer the whole escaping part of my plan, I decided to leave at 8:30. Thankfully, Melly’s house isn’t far so it wouldn’t take a long time for me to walk there.
At 7:30, I sat on my bed, my heart pounding hard through my head. I can’t believe I’m actually doing this, I thought over and over in my head. I wanted everything to go perfect, starting with my outfit.
Lying on my bed, waiting to be put on, was my brilliantly crafted outfit that took me over a half hour to create. I plucked myself off my comfortable, expensive bedspread, as I admired my masterpiece. I had picked my brown shorts — that were definitely a bit too short for my parents’ liking — to go with my black converse. I chose a white tank-top with light green and blue sequins on the top, to go under a low-cut navy blue short-sleeved shirt. My accessories included a silver and pink Juicy Couture bracelet, my favorite necklace that I bought from Tiffany’s that has a big fancy “T” in a circle on it, and some authentic diamond earrings.
Suddenly, though, I thought of something that brought me out of my wonderful outfit daze. I knew my outfit would undoubtedly receive the attention it deserves, but what was I to do about my straight brown hair? Of course it was definitely to my attention that my vanilla latte-colored long hair looks fine without anything done with it, but I needed more than fine. I needed brilliant. When I stroll confidently into the room where the party is happening, I need to grasp the allure of anyone who lays their eyes on me.
I walked into my bathroom, which was adjacent to my room. I took out my curling iron, and turned it on. I spent the next half hour curling every last strand of my hair to the perfection. Satisfied, I turned it off and walked back into my room. I could barely sit still on my bed from my anxiety. This was going to be the party of my lifetime.
At 8:30 on the dot, I opened my bedroom door a crack and stuck my head through it. I winced as my momentarily annoying door creaked. I made a mental note to persuade my dad to repair that later. Downstairs in the family room, I heard my parents watching Seinfeld. My dad was being convulsed with laughter every time Jerry said something remotely humorous; and my mom was probably sprawled across the couch, her head on my dad’s lap. It amazed me she is could be in a deep sleep despite my dad’s sonorous laugh. I didn’t roll my eyes at their typical television positions today though, because this time it worked to my advantage. They were all the way downstairs, completely absorbed in their program, which allowed me a good ten minutes to safely climb out the office window.
Noiselessly, I tip-toed across the hall into the office. I hoisted myself onto the overly-organized desk, messing up a few of my mom’s piled papers. Oh well, I smirked, not putting the papers back. A little messiness never hurt anyone.
As I nervously unlatched the office window, a gust of chilly autumn air rushed in, overwhelming me. The drafty air felt pure and perfect against my skin. I inhaled some of the refreshing air, and let it out slowly.
I was really doing this.
Carefully, I threw one leg outside of the window, then the other. I was standing on my window sill, when I realized I forgot one significant detail when I was planning my escape.
How was I going to get down?
I had forgotten to put a ladder by the window, and there was no rope or pole to slide down on to my lawn, so I decided that the only way down was to jump. Looking down, I realized that the second story of my house was higher up than I remembered. It was as if the grass below me was shrinking lower and lower into the earth.
I felt like I was on the high dive. There was no way down but to jump. All I had to do was let myself go, but I just couldn’t bring my muscles to do it. Just jump, I reasoned with myself. This is for Melly. It’s for Melly. Finally, I closed my eyes tight, and jumped. I landed not so gracefully on my itchy grass, completely scratching up my legs.
For a moment, I just sat there, recovering from my fall. Suddenly, I saw my dad get up off the couch and turn off the T.V., still smiling from Jerry. I smirked at how cheesy my dad was, while at the same time my stomach did a flip. Did he see me? I wondered, paranoid. Bringing myself to my feet, I ran around the side of the house to the front yard, where I was no longer visible.
My heart was pounding hard in my chest as my feet moved uncontrollably towards the direction of Melly’s house. All it took was for my parents to look out the window and see me speed-walking away from the house, all gussied-up for a party and they would know. All it took was for my parents to come into my room and say good night and they would realize I was gone. All it took was for my parents to notice my closed door, my lights completely turned off, and my window closed all the way, and they would know. They would know that I had snuck out to go to Melly’s party, even when they specifically told me I couldn’t go. I would be in so much trouble, I couldn’t even think about it.
In fact, I wasn’t going to let myself think about it. I looked gorgeous, it was my best friend’s birthday party, and there were going to be boys there. I couldn’t miss it. I am Tiffany Baker, the most popular girl in school, the girl everyone feared and loved at the same time.
Anything was possible.
The weekend went by fast. Too fast. Although I was sitting in my room staring at the seconds go by on the clock and becoming too familiar with the pattern on my bed, the minutes went by like seconds and the hours like minutes. I was dreading Monday the whole time. This was worse than the time I had to go to school after I had lost class president by one vote, or the time I had to go one day when my flat iron broke. This was different. I wasn’t fearing the actual school part, it was the after.
School was a like a small bridge to the reading program. I didn’t want to go on the bridge, because I knew where it leads and what would happen when I stepped off the bridge. But my mom somehow pushed me onto it, and it was impossible to stop my legs from walking across.
After school I would have to go to a senior citizen old people home. I was going to have to be remotely civilized to someone I didn’t even know nor like. It didn’t matter if Summer was the nicest, wisest, most wonderful old lady in the world. I still hated her. She took my life away, and there was no way that I was going to be anything that people would consider in the range of civil.
I was not going to give my parents the satisfaction of their plan actually working. What did they think would happen? I would come home from the first reading session and be a changed person? My parents knew me well enough to know that this wouldn’t change me, but why did they think that this would do anything except be a waste of money for them?
And the saddest most pathetic part of the whole thing was that I didn’t want to leave school. Anything was better than reading to wrinkly women; even school. I wanted to stay on the bridge forever.
I had decided not to tell Melly; she would just think that I have no control over my parents. So I didn’t blame her when she gave me a bewildered look every time I would groan when the bell rang.
“Tiffany, are you okay?” she would worriedly ask.
“Yeah,” I answered. I had the perfect excuse. “I got a headache from your party and I still have it. The bell hurts my head.” I smiled my weak, yet somehow convincing smile and she let it be at that. Melly was grounded too, but her parents weren’t that mad because they knew it wasn’t her fault. When Melly asked what my punishment was, I just told her that I was grounded and I had a lot of yelling. Fortunately, she’ll never know the worst of my punishment.
I could have cried when the final bell rang. I lingered in the classroom a good thirty seconds after it rang, procrastinating as long as possible. I asked about the homework, about the upcoming projects, and even college. Although the teacher was genuinely pleased and answered each question with enthusiastic content, Melly knew better. She knew that I was fabricating, which made me even more reluctant to exit the classroom.
The walk home was silent. Melly wasn’t going to say anything and I surely wasn’t. I couldn’t imagine breaking the news to her. That I was going to a senior citizen home and was going to have to spend an hour and a half each day reading. Not even to myself, but to Summer, a 100-year-old gray-haired wrinkly ancient blind lady. What kind of name is that, anyway? Summer? Is that a nickname to make her seem more appealing to me? Was I supposed to compare her to the season summer and then suddenly appreciate her presence and anticipate each visit with pleasure like I would do if it really were summer?
I rolled my eyes and shook my head. This whole situation was unthinkable. I had already spent the whole day contemplating this afternoon, and I didn’t want to anymore. I tried to push the concept out of my brain but I simply couldn’t.
Melly noticed me struggling with something and tilted her head to the left curiously. Our gaze met for a solid second before I quickly looked away pretending to ignore her, that I hadn’t seen her perturbed expression. But she had already looked into my eyes and seen through me.
“No, Tiffany, what’s wrong?” she urged me anxiously.
“I told you,” I lied for the millionth time, “it’s the headache.” I pretended to grimace in pain at my head, but Melly didn’t buy it. Why did she have to pick this one particular time to be even relatively smart?
“No,” she protested, deep in thought. “I think something is up, and I think I know what it is.” I flinched again but for a different reason this time. I struggled with my face until I had fully recovered before she had the time to notice.
“What is it, Melly?” I asked nonchalantly, feigning boredom from her tedious questions.
“Well I don’t know,” she squinted her eyes and pulled at her hair thoughtfully. “It’s just that all things add up. I know you don’t usually eat a huge amount of lunch, but today you didn’t eat anything. Not even a Nutri-Grain bar or water or anything! You just sat there staring at your food and muttering things under your breath. You didn’t even care when random people walked up to our table to ask what’s wrong. Not even a glare of irritation or a snide comment once they left. Nothing!” She lifted her arms when she finished, exasperated.
“So?” I asked, annoyed.
“It’s just so unlike you.” Melly said quietly. She paused for a moment, but came right back up with another question. “And your headaches?”
“Your party,” I reminded her without missing a beat.
“I know that’s what you told me, but…” She let her thought trail off.
“But what, Melly? What are you getting at?” I was honestly confused at that moment. But my irritation was showing more than my perplexity.
Melly pursed her lips timidly, thinking it over before she actually said it. I’m sure she was debating whether or not I would throw a fit if she asked me. I sighed impatiently, throwing her a meaningful glance. She took a deep breath and said, “Tiffany, are you… are you… anorexic?”
WHAT? I wasn’t sure if I said it out loud or not; I just stared at her for a couple seconds with amazement. Had she really just asked me that? If I was anorexic? There suddenly was a loud ringing clamor filling my ears. I squinted, trying to figure out which direction it was coming from. But as loud as it seemed to be, somehow it was muffled. It felt like I was in a glass box and the obnoxious ringing was trying to get into me, but the box was keeping it safely outside.
I suddenly felt very faint, but then immediately reclaimed my dignity. I searched her face thoroughly to see any sense of teasing or mocking, staring into her frightened eyes, but I found nothing. Melly was actually concerned that I was anorexic.
Then, without warning, I burst out laughing, and I couldn’t stop myself. Her petrified expression suddenly changed into a bewildered look. I tried to explain myself but I was incapable. I took several deep breaths after a minute of hysterical laughter, and was under control, though my lips were still quivering up on the sides.
“That is ridiculous,” I told her reasonably. “I am so skinny, that I couldn’t possibly get any skinnier. And if I wanted to, I would exercise, not make myself throw up or starve myself. I don’t eat very much because I’m not hungry. I wouldn’t dare even think about hurting my perfect body. Understand? I — am not — anorexic. Okay?”
Melly seemed satisfied enough, but she still obviously had the question that I didn’t want to answer. The question of why I was acting so different. I had avoided it on purpose. She knew I was keeping something from her, but I wouldn’t tell her. Thankfully, by then we were at my house and it was time to say goodbyes.
“But what about today?” Melly pressed eagerly.
“What about it? Listen, Melly I have a lot of homework and I don’t have time for your accusations. So, see you tomorrow!” I skipped up the front porch before she even had time to think about what to say.
The car ride to the senior citizen home was unbearable. I watched the trees go by faster than usual; felt the wind whip my hair around, making it go in crazy circles. I prayed for the car to experience a flat tire, or suddenly break down with no reasonable explanation and have to wait a month sitting there to be repaired. I prayed for an alien abduction to suddenly occur and take our car up to space and be eaten by Martians.
All too soon, we were parked outside of a large three story building. I sat in my seat for a couple minutes, not just stalling for time, but really absorbing in the home.
It was an off-white structure with elaborate double doors and big blue door with a handicapped button to push for the wheel chaired people. Windows were equally spread in a line among all of the three stories, and there were two towering pillars in front that stretched to the middle of the second story. It all vaguely reminded me of a less-exaggerated version of the White House.
Hesitantly, I walked through the parking lot and through the elegant doors alone. I had told my mom to remain in the car and leave as soon as she saw me enter the building. Even when I’m with old people, I didn’t like to be seen with my mom.
The receptionist at the front desk looked surprisingly young. I thought all the people working at a senior citizen home were supposed to be old. Her brown hair was swept in a high bun behind her head. She wore glasses, but thankfully they were designer. She looked busy, but as soon as she saw me walk in, her eyes turned friendly.
“Hi, my name is Angela. What can I do for you?” She smiled and I noticed her bottom two teeth were crooked. I smiled my perfect white smile just to flaunt it, which seemed to make her uncomfortable. I smiled even wider.
“Yeah, my name is Tiffany Baker. I’m here to see Summer.”
If there had been a trace of fear or uncertainty in Angela’s face it was gone now.
“Tiffany!” she exclaimed like we were lifelong friends. “I’ve heard so much about you!”
“Cool. Yay,” I said in monotone, with mock enthusiasm. I wondered if that was a good thing. “Just tell me where to go.”
Angela held up one finger to tell me to wait as she picked up the phone. I noticed her finger was manicured, but clear polish. I never got the point of that. If you’re going to have a manicure and go to all the work to get it done, wouldn’t you at least want some color?
“Summer,” Angela said into the phone, still smiling. “Your friend Tiffany is here to see you.”
“Friend,” I scoffed under my breath. I don’t think it’s legal to have someone as a friend who is 90 years younger than them.
“Okay great!” she continued. “Uh huh… Room seven? Fabulous. I’ll take her right up!” I rolled my eyes. Was I really going to have to deal with her perkiness two times a week?
“Okay Tiffany! We’re going to room seven! Lucky number seven!” She might as well have been a five-year-old going to a carnival that contained cotton candy and merry-go-rounds.
“Mhhmm,” I mumbled. She could interpret that however she wanted; I was too intent on staring at her crooked teeth. I wondered if she had braces as a kid.
“I mean,” she went on, “I don’t really know why everyone thinks that seven is such a lucky number. Why not three or eight? They have good qualities also! Just because it takes longer than the others to draw eight doesn’t mean it should be excluded from being lucky. Don’t you feel sorry for the other numbers?”
I just gaped at her. I couldn’t believe that we were actually debating the numbers’ feelings and character traits.
She didn’t wait for my opinion about the numbers. Not that I had one though.
“So, how’s school? Do you like your teachers?” It never ended, did it?
“Um, they’re fine,” I murmured.
“When I was young, my favorite subject was English. I was the spelling bee queen! After I won the spelling bee one year, my friends called me Queen Bee. Get it?” she laughed to herself. I smirked out of pity. “Yeah I spelled the word s-u-b-p-o-e-n-a correct. It’s pronounced ‘suppeena.’ It means under penalty. I am still amazed to this day that I spelled it right!” She grinned, obviously proud.
I just rolled my eyes. If I hadn’t been in such a bad mood and she hadn’t been so annoying, I might have laughed to myself and made a mental note to mock her next visit. But now, it was just irritating.
“Can you spell loser?” I asked, not as quietly as I had intended. For a moment she recoiled, offended, but then she just gave an uneasy laugh.
“You’re funny, Tiffany. I can tell that we’ll be great friends!” Kill me! I thought.
By then we were at room seven. I couldn’t have been more relieved. But then the relief disappeared when I realized what was behind the door of room seven. Summer.
Summer’s room didn’t remind me of summer at all. Her parents should have named her Spring. Flowers were everywhere. There were paper flowers plastered to the wall, real flowers in vases, fake flowers in pretty bouquets, books about flowers, movies about flowers, everything was about flowers, it was annoying.
But flowers weren’t the only prominent figure in Summer’s room. She liked books, I could tell. Above the T.V. there was a banner saying “The road to knowledge begins with the turn of a page.” I rolled my eyes. How ridiculously cheesy. I counted four bookshelves filled with books that looked like long novels and not one of them seemed appealing to me.
But how could she read? She was blind!
Books and flowers. What an odd combination for an old blind woman.
I didn’t realize that anyone was sitting on the couch in the corner of the room until she spoke.
“Angela? Tiffany? Is that you?”
A smile grew on Angela’s face. What had made her smile?
“Yes, Summer. We’re here. I’m going back to the desk now. Call if you need any help!”
She gave me an awkward hug then bounced off.
As soon as she shut the door, a spooky silence settled over us.
“Come sit, Tiffany.” Her voice somewhat soothed me. It was like a coconut mixed with the sweet smell of rain. Stop it, I told myself. You will not like her. And just like that, every good thought about her fled. I hated her.
Hesitantly, I sat down on a chair across from her and studied her.
I was right, she was gray haired and wrinkly, just like an old woman. Her hair was cut into a short bob that shaped her face perfectly. She wore no eye make-up, just some blush it looked like. There was nothing out of the ordinary about her face, but it was her clothes that shocked me. She wasn’t wearing old grandma clothes, no plain blue tops and faded jeans. The bright colors of her shirt jumped out at me; pink, lime green, orange, yellow, red. It was a wonder I was able to look at her shirt without getting a migraine. It didn’t seem like the normal outfit a woman her age would usually wear.
She smiled, not necessarily at me, since she didn’t know where I was, but I could tell the smile was meant for me. Also, I noticed that she wasn’t wearing sunglasses like most blind people. Usually, the sunglasses are worn so people don’t get freaked out by their wandering eyes, but Summer didn’t seem to have wandering eyes.
In fact, it seemed that I completely missed her eyes while I was observing her. They were sort of green, with the essence of gray in it. Unusually enough, the gray didn’t make it seem dull, though. It contributed a light, as if it was silver and it was reflecting off her personality. But I refused to like anything about her so I just glared into her eyes.
“So Tiffany,” she said, filled with warmth, “tell me about yourself,” she said, filled with warmth.
“What d’you wanna know,” I grumbled, my words slurred, not even a question.
“Well,” Summer said her voice still light, as if she hadn’t realized my lack of enthusiasm, “why don’t you start off with telling me what you look like? I like to picture it.”
For a moment I actually considered giving her a false description of me. Why would it matter? It’s not like she’d ever find out.
But then I sighed, and reluctantly said,
“I have brown hair with natural blonde highlights. My friends say it’s the color of a vanilla latte, you know the coffee?”
Summer chuckled. “Yes, I know what a vanilla latte is.”
“Oh,” I said. How did she know that? “Well it’s my favorite drink at Starbucks.”
“Oh yes, that’s a good drink there. But I prefer the mocha latte, or the double chocolate chip Frappuccino.”
I about choked on my spit. “You go to Starbucks?”
“Yes, I go every day, if not twice.”
I just stared at her, speechless.
“I can picture what you look like right now,” she said, smiling. “You think that an old blind lady like me can’t go to Starbucks. Well, Tiffany. I go so much that the people who work there know me by name and they just give me what I want without me having to ask.”
“That must be so cool!” I said, amazed. “If I could get coffee that much I would, but it has a certain affect on me, and my mom can’t deal with it.”
“Oh? What is that?” Summer asked, curious.
“Caffeine makes me super hyper. Just a couple sips and I’m bouncing off the walls.”
I smiled at the memory. Melly had been so scared of me that night.
But suddenly, I shut my mouth and straightened my lips into a line. I hated her, and there was no changing that, no matter how many times she visited Starbucks in a day.
“That would have been fun to see,” Summer laughed. Her teeth were straight but yellow and that disgusted me.
“Uh huh,” I said, suddenly in an impassive tone.
Just because she drinks Starbucks doesn’t mean I like her. I hate her.
“Okay,” Summer said, picking up my indifference. “What else would you like to tell me about yourself?”
“Well,” I said, drawing out the word. “I am the most popular girl at school and I know it, along with everyone at school. My best friend is Melly, always has been, always will be. I don’t eat any sugar, carbs, or fat. My mom has a major sweet tooth and owns a candy store and is obsessed with being neat. I have no brothers and sisters, and I like it.” I sighed in a huff. “Is that enough?”
Summer smiled. “Yes, I would say that’s sufficient.” I glared at her, and I was thankful she couldn’t see me.
“Would you like to hear about me?” she asked.
No, I thought. Instead, I shrugged and said, “Sure.”
“I was born in 1936, which makes me seventy two years old—” I winced at the age, but she didn’t pause, “—my mom’s name was Cara and my dad’s Frank. I have a sister named Anna and a brother also named Frank, after my dad…”
Her voice drifted in and out while she spoke. Did it really matter? There was no way I was going back, no matter what my parents thought. Seventy two years old. Ridiculous. I couldn’t believe I was spending my free time with someone who was seventy two years old. What if someone found out about Summer and me? Would it be the end of life? Well at least my social life?
I wouldn’t let that happen. I rule the school, which roughly translates to: I control how my school thinks. If word got out, I would just have to brainwash them that somehow what I was doing was cool. Soon, everyone in school would be reading to an old lady, and I would be the one who started it all. Once a trendsetter, always a trendsetter.
But what if it didn’t go according plan? What if my school turned against me? No, I wasn’t going allow myself to think about that. You are Tiffany Baker, most popular girl in school. I told myself, trying to use my key words to get my mind back on track. I didn’t have time for any negative thoughts at that moment.
“What did you say, Tiffany?”
I looked up at her, forgetting momentarily where I was or what she had even been saying to me.
“I thought you said something just now.”
“Nope,” I answered promptly. I hadn’t said anything.
“You said something about being the most popular girl in school…” Her voice trailed off. For a moment I was confused. Had I actually said my confidence reminder out loud?
I just rolled my eyes, even though she couldn’t see me, and replied back, “You must have been imagining it,” Yeah and that’s one of the symptoms of dying, I added secretly to myself.
“Hmm,” Summer said, not quite buying the excuse. It didn’t seem like she cared enough to question me any farther, because she said, “So I figured that this session we could just get to know each other, and then on Wednesday we could start reading books. How does that sound?”
“Fabulous,” I said, studying the chip in my nail polish. How had that gotten there?
“So,” she started, “do you play any sports?”
I almost laughed right in her face. “No way. Not at all.”
“Have you ever played a sport?”
I shook my head. “Never.”
“Do you even know what a sport is?”
“Of course I do,” I answered. She was so dumb.
“I was joking,” she said.
An awkward silence settled around us.
“What’s your favorite class?” she asked.
I could see her trying to hide a smile. “Yes, in school.”
“Gym,” I answered.
She looked at me, confused. “You just said you don’t play sports.”
“Gym isn’t for fitness,” I said using my duh voice. “It’s the only class besides lunch that you get to talk to your friends.”
“Oh,” she said, though I could tell she didn’t understand. “Do you like English class?”
I snorted. “Again, no way.”
“I used to love English. All the reading and writing — it all fascinated me.”
She turned her face to the window, then. What was she doing? It wasn’t like she could actually see anything.
“What time is it, dear?” she asked. I snorted, but then remembered that she couldn’t see. I instantly felt guilty, but then I told myself to never feel bad about being mean to Summer. If anything she should be feel bad for taking my life away.
“It’s 4:25,” I answered dully, without expression.
“Oh darn it. That’s the end of our session today.”
“Okay,” I replied, perking up at the subject of leaving.
Summer either didn’t hear my sudden happy tone of voice or chose to ignore it.
“Will I see you on Wednesday?” she asked. Was that a tint of hopefulness that I heard?
“Sure,” I grumbled. But I doubted that my parents were going to be able to resist my persuasion tactics. No one could.
“Okay then. Can’t wait!” Summer chirped, her voice kind of cracking at the end. Is that what happens when you get old? She smiled at me as we walked toward the door, her hand on my shoulder.
For a split second my insides warmed. It was like somehow her smile had made me soften up. I almost wanted to hug her, which was completely irrational. I could feel my arm muscles fighting the desperate urge to just wrap themselves around her. It would be so simple, and it wouldn’t hurt anyone. No, I told myself firmly. She must have felt something change about my attitude for that moment by her touch on my shoulder, because her lips started to curve up at the end. I didn’t want her to get her hopes up, though.
I hated myself for opening up to her for even the smallest moment. There was no hope for us. There was no hope that I was ever going to like her, and Summer should know that. She should have gotten the idea by now.
“Bye,” I grumbled, my back turned from her and my hand already on the doorknob.
I opened the door and shut it abruptly in her face, leaving a seventy-two-year-old Summer alone in the dark, winter-like room.