Current word count: 15,794
Roseland’s parents were probably the nicest grown-ups I had ever met in my life. I used to think that my parents were the best parents in the world, but all that changed of course, now I don’t have any parents. Roseland’s parents were different then mine were like Roseland’s parents seemed younger than my mom and dad. My parents had all kinds of rules for themselves and us, but Roseland’s parents still kind of acted like kids. They also asked Roseland for her opinion of things that were going on in the house. They actually asked her opinion about things going on in The Ghetto, because it was a community and the community had a say on everything. I thought the whole thing was totally weird, but her parents were really cool. It was Roseland’s choice to go to our school. She said her mom homeschooled her, and none of us had ever heard of anything like that before, but the idea of not having to go to school sounded like the greatest invention on the planet, and why in the hell would she choose to go to public school. After she told us about how she didn’t like it because she didn’t have any kids to hang out with that were her age and that she got lonely I kind of got it. She said, our school sucked because we had a lot of kids in the school that said stupid and mean things to her and it was really bad for her brother in the middle school and that was why he left, but that if she hadn’t gone to our school she wouldn’t have met us. I thought that was a really nice thing to say and it kind of made me feel good. I thought about the idea of being homeschooled and thought maybe I wouldn’t like it. I’d be stuck at home with my grandma all day. She didn’t know anything. She was nice, but she only graduated from high school and then was a wife and a mother. She only knew how to do things around the house, and she didn’t like to think too deep. That’s what she’d say. Don’t ask me that honey, I don’t like to think too deep, she told me once when I was asking her for help on my geography homework. I knew homeschool would be terrible for Wendy. It would just be her having to work around the house, getting beat, and not learning anything. I think at that moment that I kind of realized that public school was for kids like Wendy and maybe Angel because if they didn’t have public school how would they learn anything? If my mom was still around and things had never gone bad then maybe she would be a good teacher for me and my brother. I’d let Roseland’s mother teach me, but I also understood about getting lonely and wanting to meet other kids your age. There wasn’t really any other way to meet kids here except for school. There was no where to hang out and no place that was the main place to play. School and the neighborhood you live in and that’s it. I used to love Ridgeview, but now that I’m twelve I’m kinda starting to find it boring. Maybe it’s just because I don’t feel good anymore.
Roseland’s dad made a really good lasagna. It was so yummy that I didn’t even miss the meat. Wendy tried her hardest to eat, but she picked around the carrots and zucchini and only ate the fat ribbony pieces of pasta, the cheese, and the sauce. Roseland’s mom was so nice though she didn’t even give Wendy a hard time about it. If it bothered her you couldn’t tell. Sometimes adults that aren’t your parents or teachers like to tell kids what to do like they know better. Maybe they do know better, but still it doesn’t seem right that just because you are a grown-up that you can say things to kids about how they eat or dress or talk if they are not your parent or teacher. It’s not like Wendy is hitting other kids she just doesn’t like her vegetables. I noticed some stranger adult will say something like you kids shouldn’t act that way, but they never stop a kid from bullying another kid. Where are the adults then? When I grow up I’m going to be different. I’m never gonna tell kids, I know more than you even if I do know more because its like they think we don’t have a brain or feelings. Like adults who knew my parents or my brother are always saying you should stop wearing black, or go out and be social it is good for you or you’ll feel better. Whatever. They were my parents. My heart. I wished I could trade places with Roseland. I wanted to tell her parents what happened. I wondered if they would adopt me. Would they do that thing where they shake their head, and give me the pity act? I wondered, if their kid died and the other one lived would they act the same as my parents did? Of course, Roseland’s brother had a different dad. Roseland’s dad would never leave his daughter, but would her mother be like mine? I wondered.
After dinner Roseland’s dad drove us home. Even though Angle lived close enough for her to walk Roseland’s dad wanted to drive her. Ridgeview was normally a safe town, but last month a girl said that a man in a red corvette had followed her and asked her if she wanted a ride and that when he opened his door he didn’t have any pants or underwear on and that he was touching his thing. Roseland’s parents were like the Ridge parents even though they were poor an they were hippies living in a commune called The Ghetto they made sure all the kids were safe. Wendy’s parents and I think maybe Angels parents probably didn’t even know this guy was out there. When I was six I could go around anywhere I wanted by myself or with my friends even when it was dark, but everything changed after that boy Adam Walsh got killed. All the parents got scared. I was just a kid then, but I remember watching it on the news and I didn’t know why but I couldn’t stop watching it. I wasn’t scared. I didn’t know what I was I just knew that he was my age. When the movie about him came out I really wanted to see it, but my mom didn’t let me or my brother watch it. She said, it would give us nightmares. I think really she was worried about her own nightmares. They never caught the person that killed him either. He was still out there. He could be the guy in the corvette. I kind of made myself feel a little sick thinking about all of this stuff so I thought about the dinner and what I learned about Roseland’s family.
Roseland’s mother was born in Oakland. I knew where Oakland was because I’d been to the Bay Area a lot, but I had never been to Oakland before. Her mother was really smart in school, but she had gotten pregnant when she was sixteen. Her boyfriend was black like her and they tried to live together and be parents, but she said it just didn’t work but that he was a good man and loved his son. When her mom was a little older she went to Berkeley. She said she was involved in the women’s movement and the environmental and civil rights and she wanted to change the world and they way people thought about the world and others and it was at one of these different meetings that she met her now husband Roseland’s dad. She said that he loved her son like he was his own, but also didn’t get weird about Rosleand’s son’s father. They moved to San Francisco together because of the hippie movement and some stuff about music and art and stuff, but they decided to move to further into Northern California to get out of the city and have a communal life with some friends that had already set all this stuff. It was all over my head really, but I liked to listen to them talk. I also liked that I had never met any people like them before and I hoped that maybe more people who were different would move to Ridgeview. Now it seemed like there were only people who were poor and people who thought they had money but they all acted the same kind of boring. Also, Roseland’s mom and dad were not married because they said they didn’t believe in that institution, even though they call each other husband and wife. I didn’t know really what they meant by that, but I did know that most grown-ups thought you had to get married when you became an adult, even though in truth I wasn’t exactly sure why you had to get married I just knew that you did. I mean everyone got married, even the people who got divorced got married again. I’d never heard of it called the institution, but it seemed like they acted the same as being married so it didn’t really matter to me. I wondered how Wendy was handling all of this new kind of life. I bet her brain was just melting and I knew she couldn’t wait to get out of the car so she could ask me all kinds of questions. Of course we couldn’t talk much because I knew she had to get home. She was for sure going to get a whipping for getting home late, and not because her mom is worried about the guy in the red corvette.
We dropped off Angel and she waved goodbye before running into her house. I was really upset that she had weaseled her way into our group. I had to think of a way to get rid of her. Now we had plans to go over to her house tomorrow to watch Stand by Me and to make halloween costumes. Halloween was on a Monday this year but that didn’t stop anyone from going trick or treating and we needed costumes for school. Angel said she had a ton of clothes that we could use as costumes. I already know that Wendy is going to wanna be Madonna and of course Angel has the clothes for that. I didn’t care what I was I just wanted to get rid of Angel. Why did she want to hang out with us anyway? She already had friends. She hung out with all the bad sixth graders who hung out with all of the older kids in middle school and even high school. They acted more grown up even though I knew they were still kids. She was into boys and once I heard her say she already had her period. I wondered what she was up too. I wondered if she was just trying to get to Roseland or maybe even take Wendy away from me. I felt like her family already took away everyone I ever loved so why wouldn’t she try to take over my friends too? I didn’t even want to go over to her house tomorrow, and it was supposed to be a sleep-over. I thought that maybe I should just say no and tell they others that if they hang out with her than our friendship was over, but I did kinda want to see all her clothes and I wanted to watch Stand by Me so I was going to have to think of another way to get rid of her, but how?
“Oh my gosh! River Phoenix is sooooooo cute! I totally want to marry Chris Chambers! ” Angel squealed at the end of the movie and grabbed a pillow and hugged it close to her body as she rolled onto her bed.
“He dies?” Roseland was sitting on the edge of the bed. She had both her hands up and out like a question. “He grows up and tries to help someone and he dies?” She looks over at us. “That’s lame. I don’t like that. He shouldn’t have died.”
“Oh who cares.” said Angel sighing, “It’s just a movie. At least River Phoenix is alive and he is going to live forever and I am going to marry him!”
“You just said you wanted to marry Chris Chambers.” I said feeling irritated. “So Chris Chambers is who you get, and he dies so too bad so sad.”