I couldn’t feel more lost. I’m like a ghost in my own life. I’m there but I can’t connect to anyone or anything. Derek’s been gone for a month. I haven’t heard from him. I don’t know if he’s in the looney bin or in GI JOE school. I. WANT. TO. DIE. But I can’t… because one day Derek is coming back and if I’m not here… I don’t want him to feel like this forever… Being alone, sucks.
“Kaylie and Trevor”
Passing the joint to me Kaylie says, “He’ll be back, but I think it’s fluffing bark-sniff you can’t talk to him. If I were you, I’d march over to Alexis Fabry’s house, kickdown the fluffing door and make that blick tell me how to get in touch with him.”
I just pass the joint to Trevor without taking a hit. I don’t really like smoking marijuana… I only do it because Derek likes to.
Trevor takes a huge drag and exhales a huge plume of smoke in my face… The secondhand high offers a decent buzz right now.
“I can’t believe his parents. They’re such fluffing helicopters.” Trevor huffs. He draws his knees to his chest and uses his knees to rest his crossed arms.
Kaylie takes the joint out of his fingers. She lays down on the floor, fully intending to finish what’s left on her own.
Derek and I met these two at Brink on our first day. For as long as we’ve known Kaylie, she keeps her pixie cut fiery crimson red hair on point and she has snake bite piercings on her bottom lip. She dresses like a steam punk princess with a very gothy edge. I don’t know how she can wear long ruffled sleeves all year long in the desert, and long leather boots that go up to the knees, with nearly four-inch heels. She’s really short and Trevor is like basketball star tall… I guess she just tries to catch up. Though with her porcelain complexion, her style of clothing suits her… is that racist of me to think?
Trevor is like Derek’s twin. They both have long hair past their shoulders, that they never wash. They wear vans and loose-fitting jeans or long jean shorts. T-shirts about any legendary rock or metal band and hoodies, even when it is as hot as hades out. They both skateboard too. Though lately, Trevor’s been really into BMX. He even competes in BMX tournaments out in the boonies and up on the mountains. The main difference is, Trevor is like the Mexican version of Derek. Brown skin, black hair, narrow brown eyes… but I’m not sure if Trevor is Mexican… his mom is White and I don’t think he knows who his dad is…
“I get where they’re coming from, it just sucks…” I say as I lie down next to Kaylie. I snuggle her like she’s a body pillow. It feels cool to be this close to a warm body that isn’t a little person.
“Are you coming with us tonight?” Kaylie asks blowing more smoke in my faces.
We both cough because the room is super stuffy now.
“I don’t know… I’m on thin ice with my mom… I guess if she doesn’t have a problem with me staying at your house this weekend… again… for the third time in a row…”
Tonight, Stefan Troy is throwing a costume party at his house in honor of Halloween. Everyone is going to be there. Trevor is supplying the party favors and by party favors that means DRUGS… lots and lots of drugs… all kinds…
I have no idea where Trevor scores such a variety and he sells to a lot of people. I know I shouldn’t hang around him, but other than Derek, Kaylie is one of my people and I don’t get Kaylie without Trevor.
“Babysitter by Default”
“I don’t know what the fluff you do over at the blick’s house, but you ain’t going this weekend.” Jewel said.
“Why not?” I asked.
“All weekend [the jerk] and I have to work the night shift. You need to be here with the little sniffs so nobody calls fluffing CPS on me. Those sniffs sleep like bricks. I know they’d just sleep right through. It’s those fluffing new neighbors thinking their holier-than-fluff and sniff, snooping around and I know, if they knew the sniffs were here alone… I’d be fluffed sideways to TIMBUKTU.” Jewel said.
I didn’t argue.
She added, “The only fluffing thing you’re useful for is being the mod-sammed babysitter.”
Jewel and the jerk left for work without feeding us dinner. It was late, but I couldn’t let my girls starve. I made the Babysitter Chef Special: Box Mac N’ Cheese with Hot Dog Slices. Albany ate like the chunky girl she is… she eats her feelings… and had like all the helpings minus one for little Genie. I didn’t eat because I wasn’t hungry.
Albany took a shower while Genie and I played dolls. Genie doesn’t make Barbie and Ken have sex yet, so she’s still pure and innocent. I try to do everything I can to keep her that way. Life sucks the more you get to know about it. After Albany was ready for bed, I said she could watch TV while I gave Genie a bath.
Genie loves to take baths. She loves to swim too. I guess she just loves water. Once Genie gets in the tub with suds, it’s super hard to get her out.
After I get her dressed in her pink night gown, I collect Albany and we all climb into bed together. I didn’t change out of my day clothes and they didn’t ask me if I was going to change. We lied there while I told them the same story about “The Yellow Butterfly”. They fell asleep at the same point they always do, before I get to the good part. I don’t remember the good part anyhow…
Poor Albany’s home with a stomach bug, people at our schools must think we’ve taken an extra-long break. Veteran’s day was yesterday. I’m afraid she got the bug from me. I’ve been hanging out with Kaylie a lot, and for the past week she’s been sicker than a dog, but she’s functioning day to day. Her mom won’t let her miss school unless she has to go to the ER and our school is really good about forcing us to make up the hours we miss. Kaylie figured if she was going to suffer, why not suffer through school. But Kaylie finally gave it to me, and I was sick all-day yesterday.
Jewel never let me come out of my room. Albany was a doll and switched out my buckets of barf. Her penalty for nursing me back to health was getting cursed with this sickness.
Genie had it made though. Jewel and the jerk allowed her to sleep in their bed with them.
I feel way better today. I think I’m well.
The acidic, musky smell of Albany’s vomit from the garbage bin at the foot of the bed triggers my gag reflex and I find myself rushing to the toilet to offer the contents of my stomach. After I brush my teeth, I go back into the room with toilet paper plugging up my nostrils. The refreshing whiff of crisp toilet paper beats the smell of puke. I take her throw-up bucket and empty it in the toilet. I disinfect everything with name brand foam cleaner that kills 99.9% of all germs. I wonder if they say that so you don’t sue when you get sick. Truth is, if you get sick, it’s because the germs are already in your system before you took preventive measures or is the company using an honest statistic to advertise their product?
When I bring her puke bucket back, Albany demands I tell her a story.
“I thought you hated my stories.”
In a pouty, moaning voice she confesses, “No I don’t.”
Sitting beside her on the bed, I stroke her bright blonde hair. Her feverish eyes gape at me. She waits for a story to bore her to sleep.
“Which one do you want to hear?”
“The cowgirl one…” Albany pouts.
Okay… that one I remember well. In a cheesy, southern accent, I tell a story, “Gee and Al were just two girls who loved horses and lassos. They may have walked like cowgirls, talked with a twang in their accents like cowgirls, and dressed like hootin’, tootin’ cowgirls, but they were not cowgirls…”
“Not the Flu”
Jewel and the jerk picked up last minute nightshifts. Albany is still sick, so Genie will sleep in Jewel’s bed, Albany will sleep alone in our bed, and I will sleep on the couch.
After just recovering from being sick, after figuring out my college math and college writing assignments, and after taking care of a sick child all day, I am ready for sleep. I don’t even need the white noise of the TV.
I freak out when a knock on the door wakes me up. It’s 11 pm at night. Only cops and Derek come knocking on my door that late at night… Okay, the cops have never visited us at this apartment yet, but we’ve only been here a year… anything can happen…
I stand at the door, hesitating to unlock it. My phone rings and it’s Kaylie FaceTiming me. I pick up and see nothing but black.
Her voice echoes as she asks, “Can you let me in already?”
Oh, it’s her knocking on my door.
I let her in and I’m surprised to see her dressed like a normal person. Blue jeans, a blank white tee, and a maroon hoodie that says “fearless” on the back of it. The snake bite piercings are out of her lips too. Weirdest of all, she has tennis shoes on… Something is super different with Kaylie.
Closing the door and relocking it, I ask her, “Are you okay?”
Kaylie holds a plastic convenience store bag in her hands. She paces back and forth, in between the couch and the coffee table.
“Jewel and [the jerk] are at work now, right?”
I nod yes.
She reaches in the bag and pulls out a perfectly unopened pregnancy test. I don’t even know what to say. She thinks she’s pregnant?
“I don’t think I have the flu… if I did… I should be over it by now, but I’m sick all the time and certain smells make me sick. I’m tired all the time,” she sighs. That is true, a few days ago she kept falling asleep in class. “And my boobs really hurt… I get migraines lately a lot…” she went on and on and she said she googled all her symptoms and she’s either pregnant or has brain cancer. God, I want neither to be true, I definitely don’t want her to die, so I hope she’s pregnant if those are our only two options to pick from.
“Don’t you and Trevor use like all the free condoms we get from school.”
“Of course, but when we don’t have any… you know… we just pull the goalie…”
I smack my face accidentally as I sigh dropping my head into my palm… How dumb is SHE?!
I’m super curious though, why she is not dressed like herself. “Why are you dressed like a normal person?”
Kaylie stops moving. With her back to me, she states, “Because I threw out all my goth and steam punk clothes.”
“Because I’m reinventing myself.”
“Why? Just because you might be pregnant.”
“No… I have a different reason.”
Kaylie faces me. She lifts up the pendent on her black thread necklace of a silver cross. “I rededicated myself to Christ. I believe again.”
Whoa… I never knew Kaylie ever believed. I know her parents are incredibly religious, but Kaylie never said she ever believed. She just mocked her senile parents for believing in “the Man in the Sky”. They are a little long in the tooth to be parents to a teenager, but I give them respect for putting up with Kaylie and never hitting her. She could murder someone and they would probably take the blame for her.
“And I needed to get away from all the negativity in my life, I felt like my clothes were a huge part of that. My old clothes from middle school are all I have until I go shopping with my mom.”
She goes on to explain that it happened last night at church. For once, she went with her mom, and she went to youth group instead of sitting in regular service. During the end of the service, the youth pastor was praying for people and she stopped in the middle of what she was doing and pointed at Kaylie. The youth pastor said something no one knew… not even me and Kaylie tells me everything… and then the pastor told Kaylie her destiny… that she’s called sing in the Kingdom. Kaylie said she didn’t open up her voice once to sing last night, but she can sing better than Beyoncé… sorry Queen B.
“Okay… okay… but what makes you think you might be pregnant and why can’t you take that test at home?”
“I don’t want to unload this drama on my parents unless I’m actually pregnant. They’re so happy I gave my life back to Christ… They actually look at me like they’re proud of me now… I don’t want to lose that unless I know I have to…”
“If Jewel finds that box, and thinks that I’m pregnant-,” before I could tell her the ugly truth, Kaylie assures me that she’ll throw it out when she leaves.
We go to the bathroom together. I stand with my back against the wall as she does her thing, peeing on a stick. I’m so nervous. I’m totally freaked out Jewel is going to stop home on her break and she’s going to see us and lose it… I’m also scared about the results. Now that Kaylie’s a believer, she’s not even going to think about abortion, which is fine… it’s her body… but Trevor would make an awful dad. He sells drugs… he gets high all the time… and he’s a jerk… I over look his jerkiness for Kaylie’s sake and I try to compare him to Derek, but he’s not Derek—he’s only Derek’s Mexican look alike. Well, there’s adoption… That might not be a bad choice. I’m sure her parents are going to push for that anyway with their good ole Christian values.
Kaylie sits on the toilet, with her pants up and the lid closed, holding the test as we wait for the results. The timer on my phone goes off and I ask, “So?”
She stares at the test. Way too curious to wait I go over and look at it and read upside down…
“Pregnant…” I sigh.
It’s not like I didn’t see that coming.
Kaylie puts the stick in the box and she tosses the box in the bag from the store. She sets the bag by her feet. I crouch to get eye level with her. I rub her knee trying to be comforting but I feel like I’m epically failing. “We will… figure this out…”
“I’m not getting an abortion.”
“Okay.” I say.
“I can do this…”
“We’ll do this. I’m a great babysitter.”
“No. I’m not raising the baby. I’m going to place the baby in adoption.”
Wow… this is easier than I thought to talk her into adoption.
“But I need you to remind me I want to do this… the adoption thing… when the baby is born… I might want to change my mind, but I can’t, okay?”
“Savvy!” Albany whines knocking on the bathroom door. “I feel sick and the bucket is full…”
Kaylie and I stand up together. We rush out of the bathroom to let the Puking Queen in.
I ask Kaylie if she wants to stay the night, but she says she needs to go home and figure how she is going to tell her parents. She hugs me like she might not see me for a while. I hope they don’t do the cliché Christian movie thing and send her away. That would be SO LAME!
She kisses me on the cheek and I kiss her back.
“Love you girl…” I say.
“Love ya. Thank you so much. You’re a lifesaver.”
“Savvy!” Genie yells. “My tummy hurts!”
I roll my eyes. I hate that Jewel isn’t here to parent her own kids! I hate that my sickness made them sick. And I pray to the universe Jewel and the jerk get sicker than dogs.
Kaylie sees herself out as I rush to little Genie’s aide. In the hallway, before I can reach her, she pukes on the floor… Thank God the hallway is tile.
Derek: Hey babe…
Savvy: It’s so good to hear your voice. Are you okay?
Derek: Same. I’m good.
Savvy: So… where did you end up going?
Derek: If I told you, I’d have to kill you.
Savvy: (interpreting his joke) Military School. That’s good, right?
Derek: Yes, miss.
Savvy: Miss? You’re brainwashed already? That was fast.
Derek: Uncle Sam’s a good motivator.
Savvy: I miss you.
Derek: I miss you too.
Savvy: I love you.
Derek: I love you.
Savvy: We should have made love.
Derek: No! I mean… I’m glad we’re waiting. I don’t want you to be scared… Have you thought about talking to someone?
Savvy: Talking to someone about what?
Derek: Why you cry at the thought of having sex… like maybe you’re a lesbian.
Savvy: Ew! I mean… no disrespect, but I like men. I mean, I like you. I love you.
Derek: Then why do you cry when we almost go all the way?
Savvy couldn’t tell him why. She couldn’t talk about it. Not even to him. Not to anybody.
Savvy: I’m just scared about getting pregnant… My mom was 15 when she had me. Aunt Betty was 16 when she had Arnie, and 19 when she had Netty… Kaylie’s 17 and pregnant.
Derek: What?! Is Trevor the father?
Savvy: Of course, she’s faithful… My point is, I don’t want a baby any time soon and like the women in my family have the worst luck.
Derek: Netty’s not a mom yet.
Savvy: She’s different. She’s a God Girl.
Derek: About that…
Savvy: About what?
Derek: God… do you think He’s real?
Savvy: Um… I don’t know. I’ve never really thought about it. Do you think there’s a God?
Derek: Yeah, but doesn’t Netty tell you about God all the time?
Savvy: She talks about God a lot, but she lets me talk about whatever and never judges me… Like she’s different than a lot of religious people. She’s cool. Why are you wondering if God is real?
Derek: The Chaplin is really cool here and I went to Chapel last night… It’s just made me think about a lot of things… This is going to sound nuts, but I think God wanted me here at this Military School. And I think God wants me to reconnect with my Dad. I hated him when he left. I hated him more when he got remarried. And I really really hated him when my brother was born… but like after Chapel last night… I don’t hate him anymore. The Chaplin prayed for anyone who hated their father, whether they went to the altar or not, and like I woke up today and I don’t hate him. Tomorrow him and Shamus are coming to visit.
Savvy: If God is real and he wanted you there, why would he take you away from me?
Derek: I don’t know… I’ll be back soon…
A light, small box inside a plastic bag whaps me awake and Jewel hovers over me as I lie on the couch, comfortably nestled in the crevice of the seat cushions and the back cushions.
“You fluffed up, BLICK!” Jewel yells.
“What did I do?”
Throwing the box wrapped in a bag at me, she explains, “You didn’t think I wouldn’t find this hiding behind the toilet. You fluffed up and got knocked up you little blick.”
“It’s not mine. It’s-,” She slaps me across the face before I could explain.
I get up off the couch crushing the box in my hands trying to stop myself from hitting the woman that gave me life. As calmly as possible I say, “I’m not pregnant. I’ll pee on a stick to prove it.”
“Okay,” she says as she grabs me by my ponytail and she drags me to the bathroom. She throws me to the cold, hard tile floor toward the sink cabinet. “In the back there’s a couple of boxes. Take them both.”
I take them both out and set them on the countertop near the toilet. I take one out and ask, “You’re not going to ask why the one you found is positive?”
“Shut up and take a new test.”
Fortunately, I do have to pee. I wonder, “Can I pee on both of them at the same time?”
“Don’t be a brilliant-butt with me you sniff… Take them both however the fluff you need to.”
I unwrap the second one and I sit on the jon. “Is pee going to get on my hand because that will just be gross?”
Jewel glares at me with death. I hold my breath as I pee on both sticks and yes, pee got on my hand. I set them down on the counter as I wash my hands. Jewel picks them up and walks out of the bathroom.
Where is she going? I hurry to follow her. She paces the living room floor, holding two peed-on-pregnancy-tests in one hand and a newly lit cigarette in the other. I sit back down on the couch. My eyes are so heavy and I’m so tired. I can’t wait to fall asleep and for this drama to be over.
Unexpectedly, after a few minutes, after she looks at them both, she throws them at me and yells, “GET. THE. FLUFF. OUT!”
Okay, my mother is officially insane. I’m not pregnant. I can’t be. Derek and I have never had sex. Derek and I have never had sex…
I got my period though… It was lighter than usual. Brownish… but it’s like that sometimes. No… like… the jerk sucks but he’s not stupid…
I pick up both tests and I can’t believe what I’m reading. Both say I’m pregnant… these have to be old or something. These are false positives. I’m not pregnant!
I stand up, “Something’s wrong. That test wasn’t mine. I swear.”
Jewel lunges at me with a raised hand ready to slap me but she doesn’t. She puts her hand down. “I’m not going to feed another fluffing mouth around here. As long you’re pregnant, you can’t be here. You have 10 minutes to grab what you can and just get out… I don’t want to see your fluffing face again.”
Crying, I explain everything. How the test she found belonged to Kaylie, and Kaylie’s going to put her baby up for adoption. I tell her I can do that too. Or I tell her, I’ll get an abortion.
She slaps me twice, first across the face with her palm, then her backhand came for my other cheek.
“You wouldn’t like it if I killed you, would you? If you get an abortion, you better not show your fluffing face at my fluffing funeral blick. Your Derek’s problem now. Get out.”
Jewel slowly walks away from me.
“It’s not Derek’s. Derek still thinks I’m a virgin… that way at least. It’s Kurt’s…”
Jewel doesn’t look back at me. She rushes down the hallway. She busts through one of the bedroom doors, I can’t tell which one. I rush to see which room and I’m heartbroken to see she chose the wrong room.
The girls are up now. (Since Genie is sick, I laid her down next to Albany.) Crying and scared the girls ask Jewel what’s going on. I stand in the doorway and I watch my mother pack my backpack. When she’s done, she throws it at me with one of Derek’s hoodies. She shoves me out into the hallway, she gets in my face and loudly whispers, “It’s one thing you’re knocked up, but it’s another thing to fluffing lie to my face so you can manipulate me to help you murder a baby. I know Kurt hasn’t been fluffing you because he fluffs me every chance he gets. He can’t keep his hands off me honey, and whatever tricks you know, I’m a whole lot better, because I’m the original. Not some watered down, fluffing stained, negro sniff.” She spits in my face. “I don’t know what ungrateful blick you are, but you’re no daughter of mine. GET. OUT. Before I throw you out. I don’t really care what you do, but if I were you, I wouldn’t kill that sniff you’re carrying because that may be the only thing that will ever love you.”
“Oh… is that why you kept me? Because I would love you?! Well, I don’t. I HATE YOU JEWEL AND I HOPE YOU BURN IN HELL!”
For the first time ever. I slap her and I take the cigarette out of her hand, turn it around and burn her palm. As she hollers from the pain, I take off running. I don’t even put on my shoes. I don’t throw any pants on. I barge out the front door. I run down the stairs and I run as far away from Jewel as I can.
“The Boogie Man is Real”
The Boogie Man is Real.
At night, I try to sleep.
He emerges from the dark.
He lures me into the dark with him.
He puts the fear in me.
He makes me cry.
He steals my soul.
He robs my love.
Minutes feel like forever.
He leaves no bruises.
The Boogie Man is Real.
He’s inside me.
It’s my fault.
The Boogie Man is Real.
He haunts me.
I can’t say anything.
She wouldn’t believe me…
That the Boogie Man is Real.
The Jerk is Kurt.
He is the Boogie Man.
He’s why I cried
When I tried
To make love to Derek.
Kurt took advantage of me again and again.
He was always safe.
Or so I thought.
I hate him.
I hate Kurt the jerk.