20 March 2009

i knew they'd think i was weird

Their faces sort of dropped. They made me feel peculiar and I fidgeted and re-crossed my legs in front of me. We all sat quietly and they both stared at me for several seconds with that fallen expression. I could almost see my words lingering, hovering over our heads, taunting me and making me wish i could stuff them back inside my mouth and deep into the place I had kept them secret for so long.

"You mean your sister isn't really your sister?" Anabel asked as she passed the hand held mirror and tube of lipstick we were taking turns applying.

"She is, I mean, we don't have the same dad, but we're really close and that never really mattered to us anyway."

Vanessa grabbed the items and held the mirror up to her face. She uncapped the lipstick and began rubbing it in large circles all around her mouth. The lipstick was an orange-red that made a mockery of her olive-toned skin. She stopped applying the lipstick for a moment and looked at me intensely and said, "You know, I never thought you looked like your dad. It all makes sense now."

"No, my dad is my dad, my dad is not my sister's dad. My mom was married to my sister's dad before she met my dad."

"Oh, I just never thought you looked like anyone in your family," Vanessa said and she turned her attention back to the image in the mirror and smacked her lips and rolled the waxy color with dramatic undulations of her mouth.

She held out the lipstick and mirror once her vanity had been satisfied and I grabbed it and set it down in front of me. I wasn't in the mood for dress-up anymore. I imagined Anabel and Vanessa going back to school on Monday and telling the entire 6th grade that I come from a dysfunctional and weird family. That my sibling isn't at all who I say she is and that my mother is a whore. That the reason I'm so skinny and flat-chested is because i come from a broken home. I can see the mean boys in school laughing at me from the back row in math class tossing spit wads in my hair and calling me names. They already did anyway.

"You know, a lot of people have step sisters and step brothers," I said.
"Yeah, i know. it's just a little weird because we had no idea," Anabel said.

I knew they'd think i was weird.

16 February 2009

a valentine's passed

i watched him, as he turned the corner, from the end of the hallway leaning against my locker, carrying a white teddy bear and herding about five red and white balloons that bounced against one another above his head. the balloons bounced off of other people as he cut through the crowds that gathered in between periods to collect books and reapply make-up and distribute gossip at the lockers . it was just before first period and the crowd was extra thick. other girls carried and showed off pink and white and red items that now in my nostalgia, seem like blobs of wasted synthetic fur and cardboard, meaningless expressions of a fleeting high school chemical attraction between two adolescents, foaming-mouthed, acne-ridden, skinny-armed adolescents. he was none of these things. he was my first boyfriend.

he handed me the white teddy bear and the balloons and a card and smiled at me and kissed me on the cheek. we made plans to meet for lunch and i thanked him for the gifts and he walked towards his first period math class. my friends materialized next to me and with high-pitched voices squeaked out questions about the card. i opened it and read it. it was a ziggy card. he held a heart on the cover and on the inside, he unfolded into a springy 3-d face that said something about having a happy valentine's day. at the bottom of the card in small lettering were hand-written the words, "i love you". my friends continued their squeaking and squawking and ran away towards their own classes they were running late for. i put the gifts in my locker and brought the balloons along with me. we were fifteen and he had said i love you only a few days after we had become "boyfriend girlfriend". i wondered if other girls had been told "i love you" so soon and if they could read his love for me on my face or on his.

i kept the card for years and looked back on it once in a while just to remind myself of how it felt to be told something so special without reservation or concern, without care or expectations. even if he really didn't feel that way, this brash act of forwardness and emotion meant more.