Authors: Rachel Vail
From: [email protected]
How's college life?
We went to the waffle cart in the park today, for “family time.” I know. Sorry. We fully missed you.
Especially because of this guy ahead of us in line. He was kind of a chunky guy. Not in consistency but in shape. Kept hiking up his pants because they were sliding down the bottom slope of his belly. The guy was looking down the whole time, like if he didn't see people, nobody would see him, either.
I was like, I feel you, Chunky Guy. You and me, dude. Because okay, I'll tell you but DON'T SAY ANYTHING TO MOM.
We were all hanging out at Evangeline's last night, got pizza and watched this ridiculous movie in her basement. Butâremember Natasha? The one you were like,
oh man, she's in your grade? Holy.
Yeah. Well I went out with her briefly a few weeks ago. Cuz I'm all that. Uh-huh. But you know the crazy-hot scale? She's way over the line into crazy-land. So I had to end that.
Not because of Brooke so don't even go there.
Anyway, Natasha wasn't invited and it was a whole thing. They're in some fight, the girls, and they didn't want her over. None of my business, whatever. They're always in a fight and then crying and hugging and then not talking to each other and then hugging it out again and they all tell me stuff but even though I'm like,
yeah wow that sucks
, honestly what I'm thinking about is
man I wish I had some pizza
Natasha texted me like 50 times while I was at Evangeline's until I finally just turned off my phone. Then this morning she was still at it until finally I was like WHAT?
And she texted back:
Fine, forget it.
And then nothing.
Which, good, right? Done.
So when I felt my phone buzzing in my pocket while I was waiting in that line I was like, leave me alone, would you please? Because if I answered she'd yell at me, and Mom would hear, andâexactly. Then it's a Thing.
Especially because don't tell them this either I failed another algebra quiz. Actually failed this time, though. 62. DO NOT REPEAT THAT. Seriously. They'd string me up. They would've had my privates in the blender for the 78 if they knew, and you even admitted that. They'd boot me out of the family for this.
Anyway, the chunky guy got to the front of the line right about then.
The girl in the cart was like,
How can I help you?
He smiled up at her sadly, like, honey, there is really no helping me at this point, and ordered a waffle with bacon and syrup and all the fixings on it. But he didn't come out and say “I'll have the Top-o'-the-Morning Waffle even though it is three o'clock in the afternoon and it is pure cruelty to make a grown man say Top-o'-the-Morning Waffle as if my humiliation at being about to eat a waffle loaded up with bacon, syrup, potatoes, eggs, and cheese is insufficient to kill me right here.”
What he said was,
I'll have some of thatÂ .Â .Â . uhÂ .Â .Â . bacon situation.
Like: yeah not sure what exactly is gonna happen here but whatever, I'm a man. I'll handle whatever comes. I'm a boss. I can deal. I'll have some of that, uh, bacon situation.
Right? Don't you just LOVE that guy?
He killed it. Faced down his potential shame with the awesome evasive power of a master ninja.
Some of that, uh, bacon situation
I so wish you'd been there. Mom and Dad had no clue what happened. Even after I told them, they didn't get why I was cracking up and so stoked. But you would've been all over that. I know you would've.
Just, perfection. Right? I wanted to shake that guy's hand, but I didn't want to bother him. Respect. He is the man.
I am so going to use that line anytime life craps on me. Some of this, uh, Natasha situation. Some of this, uh, girl situation. Some of this listen to music and play Xbox instead of doing my homework situation.
That guy is my new hero. Sorry, JT. Shuffle your feet, he took your seat.
I'll have some of thatÂ .Â .Â . bacon situation.
Sometimes I miss you a little.
MY PARENTS LOOK
at each other with worried faces every time they check the stitches. At least they let me go to the sleepover at Evangeline's this weekend, even if they were the first to pick up this morning. They keep telling me I need to keep my leg elevated because of the swelling. But I can't keep it elevated.
It's my leg.
All the basic jobs of a leg involve being down.
And it is still oozing. I can't even look at it, it's so gross. My mother has to change the bandage on it. I'm not officially supposed to have a bandage on it anymore, because it needs to get air to dry out. But then I end up looking at it, which makes me all woozy.
I'm going to have a scar, Dad said. Forcing a smile, he assured me that scars give you character.
Now of course my sister Molly wants a scar.
Tonight she had a whole temper tantrum about how it's not fair that I get to have a scar and character, if she doesn't. And it's not fair that I get two chairs at the dinner table, one for my leg and one for the rest of me. Eventually Dad brought over his desk chair for Molly to prop under her perfectly fine leg. Just to settle her down.
The only thing that stings more than my knee-gash is how Natasha keeps glaring at me. Brooke says not to worry, that Natasha is just moody and has to chill for a while. Better to not engage.
It's hard not to engage when every time I say anything in school she is there, slicing her narrow eyes away from me. I get the feeling she thinks it's somehow my fault, this fight she had with Brooke. Brooke doesn't want to discuss it. She just said, “Well, after that stuff Natasha saidÂ .Â .Â .”
“What stuff?” I asked.
Brooke closed her eyes slowly. “You're right.”
“No,” Brooke said. “My bad. I shouldn't have evenÂ .Â .Â . I respect that you don't want to talk about it.”
“Okay,” I said, though I did want to talk about it.
“But I'm glad you reached out to me,” Brooke whispered. “It was the right thing to do.”
“I know you didn't ask for help. I just, anyway. Moving on, right?”
“Right,” I said. “So anyway, about, I mean, I don't know what Natashaâ”
“I don't either,” Brooke interrupted. “But you know what? There comes a point where you have to just say, no way.”
“I guess,” I said, though honestly, what?
But then we had to rush to get to eighth period.
Maybe something happened after I got picked up at five thirty at the pizza place last week? Or maybe something to do with Clay? Because he and Brooke are very close and I know Natasha dumped him. He apparently had terrible breath and was a too-forceful kisser, which sounds really awful. But maybe he just didn't know how to kiss well, because maybe it was his first kiss and didn't realize. And maybe he just forgot to brush his teeth. That could happen to a person, especially one as laid-back as Clay. And maybe Natasha was too harsh about it and Brooke defended him.
But if that's not it, maybe there's some unwritten rule Natasha violated. If I don't know the rule
I could do the same unforgivable thing by accident. So it's not purely generosity and wanting to help my friends make up, if I'm honest. There's also the selfish question of: what did she
Maybe it was flirting?
Natasha told me that everybody was talking about how flirtatious I've been. I know they all say that about her. Maybe that's what she did wrong?
And so maybe I'm next to get kicked out?
Mom noticed my nails. I knew she would. I'm covered in Bite No More and Band-Aids now. I look like I'm heading home from war.
Last night after the boys left Evangeline's house, Lulu asked me who I like, Clay or Jack. I don't really have a good answer to that other than gobble up my own fingers. I forced them into my pockets and shrugged instead.
Brooke said, “Truly's very private about that stuff.”
But that's not really why I'm not saying who I like.
I barely know Clay, but I think he's in love with Brooke. They talk in almost a private language, a rhythm nobody else can get in on, like they're playing double Dutch but everybody else at best can do regular jump rope. They seem like they're already a couple even though they don't realize it.
And about Jack: he is very sweet, and distractingly good-looking. But I can't even see him without thinking of my knee innards. Also he scares me a little. He picked me up and carried me to the nurse's office after I got hurt. He held me like I was a pile of summer laundry.
I know I am small for my age, but I weigh more than a pile of cotton sundresses. My own father hasn't picked me up since I turned nine. Jack might be bigger than my
Which feels not okay.
Plus, while he was holding me in the nurse's office, I think a small amount of nose goo may have gotten onto Jack's shirt. From my nose. So there's that to be embarrassed about, too.
But mostly, I just don't actually have a crush on anybody. I'm not even fully sure how a crush would feel. I don't want to admit that, though, because my new friends are mature. They talk a lot about crushes. I need to stop imagining shape-shifting powers and tiny worlds with magical elves living in them all the time. I am trying to be more interested in crushes than in math, wars, and racial injustice. I am thirteen years old. Time to grow up.
If my new friends knew I didn't have a crush on anybody yet, maybe they would think I am too babyish to hang with them, and make me go back to my old table. But I can't, because everybody at that table hates me now. So I would be completely alone, which would be so awful I can't even think about it without eating up my fingers despite the poison Mom coated them with.
This morning after we blew down the air mattresses at Evangeline's, we worked a little on the History Day project. When Evangeline got up to go to the bathroom, she left her computer open. Lulu posted, as if she were Evangeline: “My name is Evangeline and I like smelling basketballs, library books, and poop.”
She and Brooke thought that was a riot. Brooke added, “And my best friend is Brooke, who is the BEST person in the world!”
“Won't she know it's you, then?” I asked, which cracked them up more. They couldn't believe I didn't have some of the apps they all have. I figured it was okay to download them because they were free and I am over thirteen now. It's all just easy goofy fun. Everybody chiming in I LOVE YOU! And YOU WATCH THAT TOO? And
How are you SO PRETTY?
OMG that was so funny lolz
So I was fairly sure these other apps and social sites would be fine with Mom, too. Everybody has them. Facebook is pretty done, now that everybody's parents are on it. It's boring anyway. Not that we stay off it, hahahaha. But still. We don't want our parents all up in our business. Apparently.
When Evangeline got back, they were still laughing. She immediately checked and saw what they'd done. She commented under it, “#smellygirls #yolo” and everybody rushed to like that from our phones. Then we took lots of pictures including selfies. We posted them on various sites and liked them, especially the ones where we made funny faces or kissed each other's cheeks while looking at the camera. We entered them into contests for how cute are we and then voted for ourselves a lot. We basically alternated between teasing, saying, We are such losers! And then saying how pretty we were. And how much we love each other.
I was kind of catching on, it felt like. We were literally falling down laughing. So we decided to make up a hilarious dance routine to the song we have to do in chorus, which I will now never be able to sing with a straight face again, especially the verse where we all pretended to be attacking each other with cans of hair spray and Windex. OMG we thought we were the best comedy team ever. We got close to nothing done on the Benedict Arnold project but #yolo and also, my face was sore from so much laughing.
So now I'm lying here in bed, clicking through pictures and apps. I've gotten forty-seven “likes” on average on my posted photos. The one where I'm looking back over my shoulder the way Evangeline said I should, I'm up to seventy-nine. Eighty. Eighty-three. I don't even know a lot of those people. A lot of them are boys. I haven't really been friends with boys since about kindergarten, until now. I have more friendsâwell, “friends”âevery day. I keep checking the number of friends and likes I have, and they both keep going up up up.
I won't be sending you this letter, nor any of the others I've written to you. At least, not yet. Not for a while. I just write them to stop myself from accidentally calling you when I have an interesting thought and who else can I really talk with about those?
Like here's a quote I just found, in my wanderings on the Internet, and I almost posted it on your wall before I remembered that social media is stupid and also I'm not talking to you:
We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. âT. S. Eliot
I am not completely positive what that quote means, but it definitely feels meaningful. What a piece of crap journey, though, if you just end up where you started, right? And you're like, oh, wait, I'm here again? After all this journeying I just did, and all these blisters? You'd have to wonder what kind of idiot you are at that point. You could have stayed home and watched a full season of some good show. But still. It's a deep thought.
Maybe I will post it as my status update and see if I get one one-hundredth of how many likes you get every time you post a photo of yourself puckering your lips. I doubt it.
And T. S. Eliot was a great poet or writer or, possibly, dancer. Maybe he was just a weary traveler with poor map skills and a gift for quotable sentences. But did he post kissy-face photos of himself on multiple Web sites? I doubt it.
Meanwhile, it turns out your Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat and all those kinds of accounts are just as easy to gain access to as your e-mail. Especially because you use the same password and user name for all of them. Maybe I'll post the T. S. Eliot quote as
status update. See how your new buddies react to
I have of course changed all of my user names and passwords since that day when you and I made them up together and wrote them down on those Post-it notes at your house, and decided we'd hide them in our jewelry boxes so nobody would ever find them. We thought we were being so sly, so safe.
I recently buried the jewelry box that was the twin to yours, Truly, the one you and I both had with the tiny ballerina twirling inside, personifying all a little girl's dreams. I buried it, along with my dead bird who was not who I thought he was, either. Pretty powerful symbolism, if you ask me.
I am a big fan of symbolism. Also, righteousness.
I may use the symbolism of my dead bird and/or those jewelry boxes in the writing project/personal reflection for English homework. Either that or my grandmother's life story, which I believe will bring her solace in the hospital. I will dedicate that story to her, if I choose to go that route. My father will appreciate the gesture, I think, but I may do it anyway.
I know many of the details of my grandmother's life, and feel I might be able to conjure the rest from intuition and imagination. Even though Grandee is a raging bigot and hates all children and most animals, she has good qualities. For instance: she knows how to wear a scarf. Few women do. I've heard her mention this fact often over the years to my mother, who apparently does not know how to wear a scarf. Maybe Grandee will leave her scarf collection to me in her will, if she ever dies.
On the other hand, I may go with the other story idea, with the dead bird and the murdered friendship. I have a different dedication in mind for that one. (Spoiler alert: it's you.)
If my dreams somehow don't come true and I can't be a humanitarian or a movie star and travel the world glamorously, I still plan to live life to the hilt. New ambitions I am cultivating include writer and computer hacker, or possibly a T. S. Eliot scholar. So the future is wide open.
Even the past is wide open.
I opened your account, Truly, and held my hands above the keyboard high, the way you do. I fluttered my eyelids like you do yours. And then I posted your photo, your words which I was making up, all as if I were you. I felt for the first time ever absolutely adorable. It was a rush. Fun. So I kept going.