Current word count: 10,521
“I don’t know.” I whispered back.
“Listen, if you think you are takin’ a dig at me by sayin’ somethin’ about hippies you’re gonna have to try harder than that because that word doesn’t insult me.”
I almost grinned. Roseland was not about to let that Angel Rogers bully her. I was glad that Wendy wanted to talk to her and we had her on our side.
“Who said I was takin’ a dig?” Angel asked cooly. “I don’t give a crap if you find the word insulting or not. I just call things like I see ’em.” She tugged at the bow in her hair and tucked a few loose strands of her dark hair under her headband. “I happen to like to go down there in the summer to swim in the creek. My brothers and I are always playing down there. My brother Gunner likes to get his pot from some of the hippies that live around there. You ever smoke pot?”
“No.” Said Roseland with a snotty hint to her voice. “My mom doesn’t allow that.”
“That’s cool.” Said Angel and she pursed her lips together. “You must have a good mom.” Her eyes flashed over Wendy and me.
I felt heat rise in my face. I wanted Roseland to push her down so we could kick all the grass in her face.
“I do.” Said Roseland. “The best. I have the best mom in the world.”
I felt my heart sink a little at hearing Roseland say this. I wanted to have the best mom in the world. I wanted my mom. Best or worst I wanted my mom.
“Well, you’re lucky.” Angel said. Her face looked a little sad for a second, but it quickly changed as she moved onto a new subject. “Can I come over to your house too?”
No! I thought in my head no. No you can not come. Roseland doesn’t like you. Wendy doesn’t like you. People think you are a slut. Your family totally ruined my family. You’re not invited and not allowed.
“Yeah. Sure.” Roseland shrugged.
“What?” I couldn’t stop myself. Both Wendy and Roseland looked at me a little strange and I got that they didn’t understand why I wouldn’t want Angel around. How could they. “I mean… isn’t your mom going to get mad at you for bringing an extra person? I mean aren’t we having dinner?”
“I don’t have to eat.” Angel said.
“My mom doesn’t care. We’re a commune, so there’s always people coming over and sharing food, and eating stuff. We have a huge garden and goats.”
“You have goats!” Wendy nearly screamed.
“We’ll some of the people in the commune do, but they’re for everyone.”
“What’s a commune?” Wendy asked.
“It’s like when a bunch of different families live together and share everything, and take care of each other’s kids and stuff. And the adults play music and kids play together.” Roseland said.
“It sounds fund.” Wendy said.
“It kind of is, except I’m the oldest and most of the kids are babies so I have to watch them sometimes and the grown-ups are having more fun. I’d have fun but the oldest kid beside me is six and that’s just a baby. My brother is two years older, but he went to live with his dad.”
“She’s a vegetarian.” I said to Angel to try and get her to not want to come with us.
“What’s that?” She asked looking at me.
“I don’t eat meat.” Roseland said.
“You don’t eat meat?” Angel stared at Roseland with a confused look on her face. “Weird. But whatever.”
She was actually going to come with us. Angel Rogers the slut girl and person from the family that totally destroyed my family was going to come to dinner with my friends. What was she trying to do ruin my only friends’ lives too?
“Lemme put my book in my room and get my sweater. I’ll be right back.” She turned and ran toward her house the flat feet of her jellie shoes flashing neon green as she ran.
I turned to look at my friends. I had to end this right now. I could not allow Angel Rogers to invade our lives to ruin our reputations and our happiness. I had to tell them that she killed my family. Well she didn’t kill anyone, but I was sure that one of her brothers were responsible.
“I can’t believe the Angel Rogers wants to play with us!” Wendy nearly squealed.
“Who is she?” Asked Roseland.
“She’s totally popular.” Wendy began-
“Yeah, with the boys. Like all the boys.” I interrupted.
“True, but she’s so cool looking. She’s super pretty don’t you think?” Wendy looked in the direction of her house. “She the best dresser ever.” She sighed. “I totally wish I could have her clothes. I mean sixth graders never dress that cool. She’s like a high school dresser.”
“It’s just because she has older sisters.” I mumbled feeling a little jealous over Wendy’s adoration of my secret enemy.
“She does dress like Madonna.” Said Roseland with a shrug.
I was happy to see she was not as impressed.
“I know!” Wendy squealed again.
Angel came running back out holding her sweater in her hand.
“K. I’m ready.”
The four of us walked along the road. Wendy and Roseland walked on either side of Angel and asked her a ton of questions as I stayed behind them. I wasn’t really used to being the one that was in the back. When I had a lot of friends and was popular I was never in the back I was always the one that the kids wanted to talk to, and when I stopped having friends then I was just by myself leading and following. I was everything all at once. Then when Wendy became my friend it was like she was that Warner Brother’s cartoon where she was the little dog and I was Spike the bulldog. Then with Roseland it was still me in the center, but now… now this. I felt like these new friends were traitors. I kinda knew it wasn’t their fault how could they know what I felt or what had happened, but I couldn’t understand how they couldn’t see who she really was-she was a Rogers. A bad person, a slut, and trashy, and I secretly hated her. I hated that she was anywhere near me, and I hated that I loved her clothes.
“You have a brother?” Angel asked Roseland.
“So are your parents divorced?” She asked.
“No my parents are together. My brother has a different dad.” Roseland said.
“Me too!” Wendy yelled. She got easily excited. “My baby brother has a different dad too. I have two brothers. My older brother has the same dad as me. Well we don’t have a dad cause he’s dead, but my baby brother has a dad. I don’t like my baby brother.”
“Or his dad.” I muttered.
“I have brothers and sisters from different mom’s and dad’s too.” Angel said. “Only, my parents aren’t divorced.” She laughed a little which I thought was strange.
“What is the book you are reading?” Roseland asked.
“It’s called The Outsiders.”
“Wasn’t that a movie?” Wendy asked?
“Yeah, with the cutest boys ever. Matt Dillion. He’s super cute.” Said Angel.
“There were a lot of cute boys in the movie.” Said Wendy. “I didn’t know it was a book. Did you see that movie Brianna?”
“Yeah. Like a million times.” I mumbled.
“I’ve never seen it.” said Roseland.
“What?” Angel gasped. “How could you not see it. It’s like on cable all the time.”
“We don’t have a t.v. and I didn’t see it when it came out. I think my mom thought it was too violent. It’s about fighting right?”
“Kind of.” Said Angel. “I kind of think it might be about not fighting, but I was too stuck on watching the boys to think about it.”
“I cried.” Said Wendy. She curled her bottom lip under and shook her head at the memory of the scene in the movie where Johnny is in the hospital. I knew the scene. I had cried too.
“I’ve just started reading it. I’m only on the third chapter, but so far I really like it. The coolest part is that it’s a book about boys, you know teenage boys, and the main character, is fourteen so he’s like only two years older than us so like I can totally relate to some of the things, like the greasers and how their families are and stuff and being from the bad side of town and things like that, but the coolest part of it all is that it was written by a girl.”
“A girl?” Wendy asked.
“Yeah. A girl. A fifteen year old girl.” Angel said, nodding her head in that way when you’re so impressed you just nod your head.
“Fifteen?” I said out loud. “A girl?” I didn’t mean to be actually listening to her, but I had never heard of a girl writing a book before, especially a book about teenage boys. I mean if a girl who was only three years older than me could write a book then what could I do? What could we do?
“Isn’t that the coolest thing?” Said Angel.
“Wow.” Wendy looked dazed. “I wish I could do something like that.”
“What’s stopping you?” Asked Roseland. “Can you write?”
“Yeah.” Said Wendy shyly. “But, I can’t spell.”
“So what.” Said Angel. “Just write in your diary. You can write it like a book it doesn’t matter no one has to read it.”
“But, I’d want people to read it. Like they read The Outsiders.” She said sadly.
“We can read it.” I said, “And we don’t care about spelling.”
“Yeah. And maybe you can fix the bad spelling.” She clapped her hands together. “You guys are smart you can fix it.”
“Sure.” I said distracted.
I stopped following them. We were at the north gate of the Ridgeview cemetery. The three of them didn’t notice that I stopped and they continued walking a few feet before one of them turned around to look back at me. It was Roseland. She paused and stared at my face for a second before the other two stopped to turn and look at me.
“What’s the matter?” Wendy asked.
“Nothing.” My voice came out in a whisper and it sounded scratchy and tight like I had a sore throat. I couldn’t really think. I couldn’t move. They were in there both of them rotting. They were not mine anymore they were nothing they were dead. I hated them I hated the both of them rotting and stinking and filling up with air till they popped and splattered all over the fake silk material. My brother’s black material my mother’s white. How long before they were bones? Would it be a race? Did the young rot faster? Did the way a person die make them decompose faster. Would they have bugs and worms on them? Why’d we put them in those caskets? Why did we put them in this ground? Why couldn’t we have put them in the woods far away. Somewhere that I didn’t have to cut through in order to go to a friend’s? Why did he leave too?
I felt a hand on my arm. I looked up I didn’t know where I was, but I was looking into someone’s dark brown eyes. It took a minute for me to focus on the face. It was Angel.
“Are you okay?” Her voice was soft. “Is it because of your brother?” She whispered.
She knew. She knew he was here. Of course she knew. I remembered her now. I remembered seeing her all in black standing around his casket as they said empty prayers, and dropped dirt and flowers on his casket as my mother fell to the ground crying and my father tried to pick pull her up by her shoulders. Angel was there watching. She was there because it was her family’s fault. Her brother, who was alive and doing stupid things, her brother.
I threw her hand off my arm. “You don’t fucking know anything.” I yelled and then I stormed through the cemetery like I was a soldier.
I could feel them staring at me, but I didn’t care. If they wanted to be friends with her I didn’t care. I didn’t need anyone. I could be alone. I didn’t need them or her or him or anyone. I heard the sound of running behind me. All three of them ran till they caught up with me and then they fell back and walked in silence as we made our way to the other side of the cemetery. This time I was the leader. This was my war.