Tag Archives: getting back to writing

Hello From Žižkov-Chapter 4, pgs. 117-120

I had read an article somewhere, once, that Gerald Ford created the five-day workweek in order to promote productivity in the working American man. Ford’s purpose was, so I read, to get his great motor vehicles out onto the new highways in an increased and efficient speed. This was progress. I had also read somewhere that the American public school system was structured around the seasons in regard to harvesting and planting, and that the government had the authority and power to create daylight savings all in regard to “saving energy” or getting people to work a greater number of hours. My understanding or what I understood to be time was actually something that could be manipulated by the few to control the masses, and this coupled with my new time structure on travel which was based on train schedules, hostel lock-ins and outs, and PX military work schedules, taught me that time as I knew it or thought of it was completely irrelevant to what it really was. There was no time and there was only time. Time was like a long continuous string floating in liquid space with no beginning and no end. No matter how hard I had tried to place it into clean charts with solid lines: little boxes in a tower of squares with beginnings and endings, time did whatever it wanted- swerving and billowing like dandelion seeds in the wind. It was chaos. I had only been in Prague for a week, but it was difficult to tell when the days actually began and ended. Days felt simultaneously like one long day and two long weeks. This caused me to panic because I felt like I needed to find a job immediately, not only because I didn’t have a lot of money, but because I needed to create a box for my time chart. I needed something to try and slow things down. On the outside, the clouds appeared still, they were moving slowly on some ethereal pattern and minding their own lovely business. I saw them as rapidly moving storms that warned of a tornado that would uproot me once again and send me flying somewhere, and everywhere to nowhere.

Somewhere deep in my brain a voice was saying, don’t you think it’s about time you got out of bed? Don’t you think you should be getting a job? My body clock was telling me it was rising time. I peeled back my eyelids and stared with blurry vision at the angry digital numbers of Francisco’s mini alarm clock. Two p.m.

“Oh shit.” I said out loud. I rolled onto my back. The flat was silent. I got up and walked toward the shower room. I passed Marco’s room, his door was still closed, and headed into the shower to brush my teeth. I squeezed the last bit of toothpaste from the tube and stared at myself as I brushed. My eyes looked like two puffed marshmallows. I yawned and then splashed the cold metallic smelling water onto my face. I slapped my cheeks till they turned a bright pink.

Back in my room I sat on my bed staring off toward the wall. “I can’t do this every night.” I mumbled to myself and then I fell back on the hard futon. I massaged my forehead with my fingertips. I needed to find a job. I didn’t want one. I just needed one. It was great not having a job; I hated working. I’d rather get paid to do what I liked, and as soon as I figured out just what that was I planned to go out and get that job. But right now I needed to find something before I ran out of money. We were already out of toothpaste.

I closed my eyes and listened to the sounds of the street below. The neighborhood block was very quite. I never saw another person on the street except once or twice, usually some woman walking a small dog. Maybe it was because I hadn’t been outside during the day when normal people were going to work or heading home from work.  Maybe it was because I just got here and didn’t know anything yet. I sat up feeling anxious. “I should do something.” I said to myself. But there wasn’t anything I could really think of that I wanted to do. I lay back down. I wasn’t feeling ambitious or independent. I wanted Marco to wake up so he could entertain me. I wasn’t so much bored as I was uncertain as to what to do with myself. I flipped onto my stomach and put my face into the lumpy pillow. “I’m boring.” I yelled into the pillow. I started kicking my feet against the futon and I had a satisfying childish tantrum, then I fell back asleep splayed out like a gutted fish, all dead and boring.

I didn’t even bother to check the time when I woke up again. The sun was still up, which was all I needed. I stretched. I was traveling, living on the road. It was about time I got a little yogi. I tried meditation. I crossed my legs, rested the back of my hands on my knees, pinched my fingers to my thumbs, closed my eyes and waited. I did that for about a minute before giving up. I looked over at Francisco’s books lined up against the wall. He had about 20 or 30. It was strange staying in a room and sleeping in a bed that belonged to someone I had never met. I knew nothing about him except that he was from the Ukraine, he looked like a drug dealer, he never worked, but sold his body for medical experiments, and apparently got laid often. I didn’t want to think about that particular bit of information, his exploits, as I lay in his bed, especially since I didn’t know when the sheets had last been washed. Laundry. What do we do with our laundry? I pulled out On the Road by Jack Kerouac. All of Francisco’s books were in English. My eyes scanned over the titles and authors, Henry Miller, Charles Bukowski, William Burroughs, Thomas Wolfe, Kurt Vonnegut, J.D. Salinger, Jack London… he had a certain type of writer he liked. I wondered if he actually read all of these books or if they were part of his décor.

Marco pushed the door to my room open and rubbed his eyes before putting on his glasses. He looked down at me sitting on the floor with Francisco’s books spread out all over. I looked back at him. “He likes Hemingway.” I said holding up The Sun Also Rises.

“What time is it?” Marco asked.

I glanced at the clock. “Five p.m.” I said flipping through the pages.

“Oh shit. Lemme tell you the rules of this house,” he said while rubbing his neck. “If you awake don’t be quiet. Bang around make some noise or else us mutherfuckers will never get up.”

“Marco?” I said spinning to face him. “Do you ever want to have a family? Have kids? You know, be a grown up?

“Why? You wanna make a baby?”

“No. Just thinking.”

“I already gots a family. I’ve got family back home. Family here. I’ve got plenty of kids. I got you. I don’t need anything more.” He said with a shrug. “I’m hungry. Have you eaten?”

I shook my head.

“Let’s go shopping.” He said.

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Hello From Žižkov-Chapter 3, pgs. 81-86

We finished off the last of our beers, gathered our things and headed to the hostel. The sun was dropping and a soft lavender light with a strip of blue settled behind the silhouette of the linden trees. As we walked away from the park the dim roar of the beer tent faded into the atmosphere and the approaching night. A gentle chill was beginning to descend around us and we each pulled our arms around ourselves. Marco wrapped his arm over my shoulder and led me back toward Feste’s. Ian marched ahead of us shouting and singing the song “Looking for a Kiss” from the New York Dolls. I watched as the smoke from Ian’s cigarette floated around Canada Mike and his visiting friend Jon, as they ambled on beside him.

“Ya everyone’s in yor house, and they shootin up in yor room, fuckin’ beau-it-ful and gloomed!”

Ian’s lyrics hit us like an aural assault, tumbling off the stone and brick buildings and bouncing like giant boulders of sound toward Marco and I as we walked behind them.

“He always fucks up the lyrics.” Marco said as he searched his pockets for his cigarettes.

Someone slammed open a window above us and shouted at our group. For a second I thought maybe it was someone they knew, but I quickly realized it was intended for Ian’s singing. Ian, without looking in the direction of the voice, held up his two fingers in an English “fuck you,” and sang louder.

“Charming fellow, huh?” Said Marco still looking for his cigarettes. “Fuck” He mumbled.

At Feste’s four of us sat around a table with several pints and shots of Becherovka, a hard spirit made from herbs and flowers. The shot’s strong taste of cinnamon and anise burned deep through my sinuses, down my gullet, and into the pit of my stomach where it heated like a potbelly furnace.

Ian wandered around the bar chatting up various tables of new arrivals. Sandy, the southern girl I had met the day before, was working behind the bar. She was wearing the same loose leather pants and shimmery red sleeveless shirt that exposed her boney arms.

The Canada boys were huddled over their empty pints deep in a heated conversation. Sandy interrupted their discussion to ask Canada Mike something about the morning till. The shots hit me pretty fast. I could feel my nose beginning to tingle with numbness. I scanned the room to look at all the strangers talking in groups of all sizes as though they had known each other their whole lives. Most of these people would be here a day or two maybe a week. Prague was just a stop on a larger journey. Whatever that journey happened to be. Yet, it felt as if we all belonged here at this very moment. It wasn’t until I left my xenophobic parents, that I began to think that we, as in humanity, were all connected. It was strange to have spent the majority of my life around my family, my flesh and blood, and have felt so alone, so isolated, so trapped, and yet, out in the world traveling alone I had felt more connected to strangers. Friendships seemed to happen faster. It was more in the moment. I felt more connected to every stranger in this room than I had ever been to anyone I knew before like I had a divine kinship to them all. We were a tsunami of beings rolling into one another, and powerful enough to destroy and renew with our thoughts and actions; it was kismet. I was kind of drunk.

“Canada Mike works here.” Said Marco, “I tried to get a job here but muthufuckers wouldn’t hire me.” Marco shot a dirty look over toward Sandy then laughed at himself. “Sandy said they’ll need help this summer so maybe I’ll get some work then cause I’ll be out of a job. I’ll still have a couple of students but not enough.”

“Your kids?” I asked.

“No. I teach English to some adults that I found ads for posted at various hostels. I have this Korean lady that I teach every once in awhile.”

A thin willow of a man walked behind the bar and drew his arm around Sandy’s waist. He bent over to speak into her ear.  He held his arms up at his elbows with his hands hanging limp from his wrists like a praying mantis. When he straightened up he stood at least six foot-four with his dyed burgundy hair piled on top of his head like a turban adding more inches to his height. He wore heavy combat boots and walked with long slow clumping strides. He was the definition of long; his arms were long, his torso long, his face was long and of course his legs were long, and exposed, he wore short cut-offs with a low waistline. His white t-shirt had been cut off at the arms, and a deep v had been cut into the front, and it had been shortened to show his lightly haired reddish-blonde torso. When he stood he arched his back and stuck out his flat belly. He looked like a seventies glam rocker with his silver and black bracelets, rings, and necklaces that hung around his wrists, fingers, and neck. Knotted loosely around his neck was a red bandana. He poured himself a glass of white wine took a sip then set it on the counter behind the bar before spotting the group of us huddled in the corner then clumped and swayed over to where we were sitting. The man moved like he was pushing through the atmosphere, as if he could feel those gaseous elements blocking his path. Placing his hands with delicate grace on the table while looking at me he addressed Marco.

“Hey, Marco, how are sings?” he said in what sounded like a German accent. His tone and cadence were as long and drawn out as his face and body.

“Fine.” Said Marco looking around the room.

“So, who is dis beautiful woman you have sitting at your side?” He smiled at me and gave a slow wink.

His pants were cut so low that if they were any lower you would be able to see his pubic hair coming out from under his belt buckle. I shifted in my chair and tried to adjust my gaze.

“Man, you need to pull up yor pants.” Said Marco.

“You are quiet funny, Marco.” He took my hand and gave it a slow long shake. His fingers wrapped like rice paper around my hand. “It is nice to meet you, my name is Cash.”

“Hey, Cash, why don’t you bring us some drinks.” Said Marco.

Cash let go of my hand and stood back with one crooked arm on his hip, and arched his belly. “I don’t do the table service you know that, Marco.” He turned to look back to me. “But, since your new friend is here I’m happy to help you.”  He clumped back to the bar to pour our drinks.

“Muthufucker needs to pull up his pants, he be showin his pubes n’ shit.” Said Marco. You know he does that shit on purpose, cause that muthafucker is too put together.”

“Maybe it works for him.” I said.

Marco stared at me a moment then looked back to Cash. “Humph. Whateva’.” He snorted then as if in an afterthought, “maybe I should try it.” Then he snickered, “just jokin’”.

Cash placed the drinks on our table then he returned to the bar where Sandy was serving a patron.

“So those English girls, your old roommates, they were drug dealers?” I asked over the rising roar of the bar.

“Fuck no.” Laughed Marco, “they tried but they sucked. Look at that muthufucker.” He said gesturing at Ian who was sitting on the laps of two giggling girls. “They think he’s charming an’ shit but they don’t know he’s just after them to buy him drinks. And they will.” He pursed his lips then threw back a shot.

Marco and I were now sitting alone at the table with our backs against the wall so we could watch everyone. At the back of the bar was a small piano and two large swinging doors that lead up to the rooms of the hostel. People were standing everywhere and all the tables were full, it was busy compared to the night before. A train full of travelers must have just come in. As we sat quietly taking in the crowd the double doors to the hostel flew open and slammed against the walls. I jumped and caused Marco to jump.

“God damn muthufucker.” He yelped, “Give me a muthafuckin’ heart attack. What the fuck?” He said glaring at me as if I knew what had caused the door to fly open.

It was the blonde angelic boy from the night before. He had stumbled out of the doors and was leaning against the piano. He shook his head as if to wake up, and, half running half walking, began to move toward the exit. He stopped and stood in the archway beside our table with his hand bracing himself against the wall near the seat closest to Marco. He was thin and muscular, but had an unhealthy malnourished look that showed in his dull skin tone. His hair was spiked and messed either on purpose or by not making any effort. He nodded his head down and popped it back up again, then looked at us. His eyes were slant and mischievous and the color of blue ice like glaciers that you would see in Alaska. The white around his irises was flooded with red. He had an ethereal magnetic glow to him, but he also looked totally fucked up. I wasn’t sure if he was going to sit down in Marco’s lap, fall down, or keep walking. His eyes rapidly darted from Marco to me, and back to Marco. He had a sharp nose that pointed down to his thin sharp lips that suddenly pulled into a devilish smile before he pushed himself off the wall, and then stumbled out toward the front door.

“Wow.” Said Marco looking around the corner at the guy.

“My thoughts exactly.” I said. I shook my head a little to shake the effect of his presence. I felt like I had picked up a contact high just by looking at him.

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NYC Short Story Feedback

I didn’t make it past the second round of the NYC Midnight Short Story writing challenge. It is not too unexpected. I had a hard time getting into the theme. I knew it was disjointed and even though I sent it off I didn’t really like it. So, although it was a slight disappointment I wasn’t surprised.

A great thing about doing the NYC Writing challenge is that even if you do not get passed on to the next rounds they still will give you feedback on your writing. I find that the feedback is very helpful. Some of the stuff I am aware of other notes are new- it is all helpful.

Below is the feedback they sent.

 

”The Lost Mission” by Adrienna Ogin – WHAT THE JUDGE(S) LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY – ……Interesting ideas. I was most interested in the main character’s history, including his teenage belief that he had come to the stars…….The mystery is presented up front, which pulls the reader in.//The tone has a distance to it which helps the reader identify with the protagonist’s predicament……………………………….I really like the inter-dimensional aspect to this story – it brings a real sci-fi flavor, but it feels fresh. The story has a nice arc and feels complete by the time we reach the end. The shift in perspective for the final paragraph is handled well, giving us just enough information to leave a ghostly after-image, without over-explaining……………………….   WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK – ……The scenes of this story feel structurally disconnected, and I wasn’t able to put it all together at the end…….There’s a switch of POV at the end — and those last lines are chilling and leave a strong impression. However, those lines would work much more seamlessly if there were some anchor at the beginning so that it’s an echo, rather than an out-of-the-blue POV switch.//When a story is rendered in the past tense, it’s important that anything which happened before the time of the story is rendered in the pluperfect…………………………….…Some of the descriptions were a little bland or too general. For example, “Life had felt relatively normal before his trip…” Normal by whose standard? Why “relatively”? And: “He had always felt somewhat different…” You can cut “somewhat” and double the strength of the statement. But even then, it might be better just to lean on the examples of his feeling different (hearing voices, needing therapy & medication) and trust the reader to know this means he felt different from other people. And: “…after some years and some medication…” How  many years? What medication? Getting more specific will help lift this story to the next level…………………….

NaNo- Lagging behind, but still trying

Time: 1986

Wendy got sent home from school because of her hooker costume. Mrs. Crabtree said that it was inappropriate and the principle agreed. I was afraid that she was going to get beat by her mom because the school forced her to come and pick Wendy up, but she just got mad at the principal. Wendy said it was her mom’s idea in the first place, and that her mother thought it was a funny costume. Her mom made a huge scene too. She was cussing at the principal as Wendy stood behind her with her head down and her little side ponytail hanging over her forehead. I think that the principal looked at Wendy like he felt sorry her. If her mom can’t tell her it’s a bad costume than how is she supposed to know? I didn’t see what was a wrong with it.

“Why’s she in trouble?” Angel asked.

“Because they said that her hooker costume is inappropriate attire for school.” I said.

“But it’s halloween.” Roseland said as we sat on the library steps watching Wendy’s mom scream at the principal.

The whole school was watching. It was like watching a game or being at the circus, like all the kids had their lunch like they were eating popcorn and drinking soda while watching the clowns pile out of those tiny cars. I felt so sorry for Wendy. Now all the kids have seen what she has as a mother. You’d think that maybe kids would feel bad for her and maybe be nice to her from now on because no one should have a bad mom, but it isn’t like that. I could already see the Marissa kinda girls and the Jason Sender kind of boys snickering. They would just have new things to make fun of her about.

“I don’t see what the big deal is.” Said Angel. “She looks like Madonna but without any pants or skirt. Where’d she get those fishnet stockings.”

“The whats?” Roseland asked.

“Her tights they are called fishnets. My older sister has some. I totally want a pair, but my mom won’t let me she say’s not in elementary school.”

“Well, if your mom say’s it’s not okay, then maybe it isn’t okay.” I said.

“What do you mean? I think they’re sexy.” Angel said.

Roseland laughed at sexy.

“Why do you want to be sexy? You’re twelve. That’s weird.” I said.

“I’m almost thirteen.” Angel said with her hand on her hip. She was wearing black fingerless lace gloves with her witch costume. “Cyndi Lauper is wearing fishnets on the cover of She’s so Unusual and you like that.” She said all snotty like.

I was about to say that she’s not Cyndi Lauper and she’s not a grown up like Cyndi, but Wendy’s mom yelled out a loud “fuck you,” which made all the kids make an ooing sound and the principle looked too shocked to respond. I kind of forgot what I was going to say to Angel because all I could see was my friend getting humiliated by her mother, and I couldn’t do anything but watch as all these dregs and sludges of the school took notes on more ways to hurt her. If the principal wanted to say something to Wendy’s mom he didn’t have time to because her mom had Wendy by the arm and was dragging her away.

“Wow. That’s Wendy’s mom.” Roseland said. “I’d hate to have a mom like that.”

“Yeah,” said Angel. “I don’t even have a mom like that. My mom probably wouldn’t even come and get me. She’d say make her walk home. Then I wouldn’t even go home because she wouldn’t care or even notice.”

“Crud.” I said. “Now how are we going to get her?”

We had made a plan. After school we were all going to go to Roseland’s house for dinner and then we told her mom that Angel’s mom was going to take us trick or treating. We knew we couldn’t stay at Roseland’s because her mom would really take us trick or treating, and we knew that Angel’s mom wouldn’t care if we were by ourselves or not. I got my grandpa to agree to come and pick Wendy and I up and take us home. There was no way that Wendy’s mom was going to bring Wendy to Angel’s house and no way that my grandpa would pick her up and drop her off, and then come back and pick us up again later.

“We’re going to have to go without her.” I said with a sigh.

“Maybe it will be better.” Roseland said.

“Why?” I asked feeling like I was going to need to defend Wendy.

“Well because if we get seen they’ll be looking for three kids, and we are always hanging out and there are normally four of us, so they won’t think it’s us.” She said.

“Yeah, but our mom’s will know that there are only three of us tonight.” Angel said.

“Do you think we’ll get caught?” Roseland asked.

“No.” I said trying to think about how we could make it seem like there were four of us. “We just can’t get caught.” I said. “It’s as simple as that.”

I remember my father sitting in the living room with my brother months before he died. He told my brother to choose his friends wisely because bad friends can bring you down. They can change the kind of man you can be. I knew that what we were about to do was wrong and that we would get in trouble, but it seemed to me that if you did something wrong to people who were bad than it should make up for what you’re doing wrong. Even so it was my idea and I wondered if I was the one that was a bad friend. Not even Angel who has one of the worst families in town with the worst reputation for getting in trouble had thought of getting back at the old people behind the church.

The three of us walked from Roseland’s house to Angels. We had told Roseland’s mom that Wendy was going to meet us at Angel’s and that she didn’t come for dinner because her mom had wanted to have a special Halloween dinner together something that they always did together. Angel and I did all the lying since Roseland couldn’t lie to her mother. As we walked cut through the graveyard we were all very quiet. This time it wasn’t just because of my mom and brother being in this graveyard it was because we knew there had to be teenagers hiding in here. You can’t have a graveyard on Halloween without teenagers waiting to terrorize some poor kids. We got close to the gate when we heard the first sound. It was like the howl of a wolf. Then someone made a wooing noise like a ghost. I knew it was stupid teenagers, but we had a mission and we couldn’t take the choice of being slowed down by them.

“Run!” I yelled and I took off for the gate. Angel and Roseland were running right beside me. From the corner of my eye I saw someone jump out from behind a gravestone. It wasn’t dark yet so it wasn’t as scary as it could have been but we still didn’t want to get caught. They were boys and they were bigger and faster than all of us. We had almost made it to the gate when all three of us got grabbed by a boy or more. There were seven of them. We were all screaming and kicking as they held us. One of the boys was laughing.

“Man. We’ve got us some fighters!” Then he looked at the boy who had me. “Look  man you’ve got Bobby’s little sister.”

The boy turned me around and slammed me down onto the ground to look at my face.

“Get off me!” I screamed.

He had a Jason hockey mask. I could see his blue eyes through the eyeholes starring at me.

“Get off me.” I screamed again. The boy grabbed me by the shoulders and pulled me up off the ground. “Let ’em go guys.”

“Man your little sister is dressing like a slutty witch.” A Jason Myers boy was holding Angel up off the ground as she was kicky and trying to twist out of his hold. Another boy dressed like Freddy Kruger grabbed Angel’s feet. “Maybe we should teach her what it means to dress like a slutty witch, Angel.” The Freddy Kruger said her name slow and funny with a creepy drag to his voice.

Jason hushed over and pushed the guy away. “Get the fuck off my fucking sister man. What’s the fucking matter with you man, fuck. You sound like a fucking pervert.”

Freddy Kruger just shrugged. “I was just joking man. Fuckin’ chill.”

All the boys were dressed like monsters or killers from the movies. There was a Jason,  a Freddy, and a Michael, there was also a zombie and a zombie vampire, and a guy who just had blood all over his face and a guy with a dumb Frankenstein mask.  The guy with the blood all over his face was Rodger Rogers, one of Angel’s brothers and the boy in the Jason mask must have been Gunner. Gunner the one who was with my brother when he died. Rodger lifted up Angel’s dress. She was still being held by Michael Myers. She kicked at him, and screamed.

Gunner grabbed his brother by the back of his shirt and pulled him back halfway chocking him. He pulled Angel out of the Michael’s arms and dragged her over to Roseland and I who were standing next to each other with the gate behind us.

“What are you doing dressed like that?” He yelled at her.

“I’m a witch! It’s halloween.” She yelled back.

I didn’t see what the big deal was. Angel normally dressed in short skirts with leggings and layers of tops. Her witch dress was all cut up but it went down to her knees. I was in a baby onsie and Roseland was also in a leotard with black tights and a long tail. It must have been something about girls in dresses that were making Angel and Wendy get in trouble. I could tell that once you got to be twelve girls had to start dressing how older boys and grown ups thought were okay. I decided I wasn’t going to do that.

“Go home and put some pants on.” He yelled.

The other boys started laughing. “What are you doing out? You should be home.” He said.

“I don’t know if you know this but halloween is for kids and you are the ones who should be home because you’re too old to be trick or treating.” Angel said.

“Who say’s were getting candy?” Rodger said. “At least not candy from old ladies.” He laughed.

“Rodger Rogers, what a stupid name.” I said. “Your dad must have been stuttering when he named you because he was scared at how ugly you were.”

“Shut up you little freak. Why don’t you go die like your mom.” Rodger said.

“Shut the fuck up.” Gunner said. He turned back to look down on us. Gunner was sixteen. My brother would have been sixteen this spring. “Go home.”

“That’s where we were going before you and your lame-o friends grabbed us. I’m telling mom that you’re out here.” Angel said.

“Tell mom we are on the way to a party and will be back late. Also, you better be at home and asleep when I get back.”

“Whatever dad.” Angel sneered.”

“Right now I am your dad. So get going.”

We started to walk away.

“Have fun torturing kids.” I yelled back.

“We will.” Rodgers laughed.

“I hate my brothers.” Angel said.

Nano-Day 9 (I missed day 8 so now I have to make up for it) First Draft

Time:1986
Current word count: 18,173

*Part in italics taken from the end of Day 7, and not included in todays word count

Cover of "Stand By Me (Deluxe Edition)"

Stand By Me 

“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.”

I had never really liked boys much before this year. Some of my friends from before had boyfriends even when they were in second grade, but I didn’t like them. I thought most of them were pretty stupid. I remember when I was six and I was playing with this neighbor girl Cathy. Her mom and her dad were both doctors and they had just had a baby. He was almost a year old when her mom got pregnant again and her stomach started to get big. We both knew that babies came out of moms’ stomachs, but we didn’t understand how they actually got there. I had seen puppies be born before so I could kind of understand how the babies got out, but I wasn’t really sure how they come out of a mom because dogs and people were different. So one day Cathy and I asked her mom how babies were made and born. Her mom sat us down in their living room and she brought out a book that had all these pictures that were drawn, and she told us everything, the whole story about how babies were made and born. She showed us the drawing of a penis on a boy and a vagina on a girl. She told us that the boy puts his penis in the vagina of the girl and then a baby get’s made. Then she told us how it is a fetus and it grows into a baby and then it comes out of the girl’s vagina. I did not like this story one bit. After words I had felt really disturbed like something was really wrong with the whole world. I remember that Cathy didn’t say much either. We went and played on her swing set. It was one of those fancy new metal swing sets that you can buy in the store and put together at home. They had put the swing set under the huge fig tree that grew in their backyard. I remember as we were swinging that I could smell the figs and see them turning purple some of them were still green on the top but they would be ripe soon. A few had fallen to the ground and the gooshy insides and purple seeds had splattered onto the path that her parents had built in their backyard. The hanging and fallen fruit made me think of pregnant women. Her mother had walked out of the house carrying her baby brother. She had him on her hip but it looked like he was riding on her belly and sitting on the new baby that was growing inside her. She set him in the garden as she did some work watering the plants and picking some of the vegetables. We swung back and forth on the swing set neither one of us were talking and there was only the sound of the swings squeaking and the smell of figs. I watched her brother sitting in the garden as he picked up a snail. He held it in his hands and then pulled the snail out of it’s shell and put it in his mouth. He chewed on it for a little bit and then spit it out and as the chewed snail fell out of his mouth brown spit came out too. I felt my stomach get sick and I thought, boys are so gross. A that moment I looked at my friend Cathy who was also watching her brother. “I don’t care what grown ups say,” I said to her, “I don’t want a baby. And I will never ever ever let a boy put his penis in my vagina. Ever.” She nodded in agreement.

I had really thought boys were more of a bother than anything. I liked to play with them to beat them at games and stuff and some boys were okay to play with but older boys were just stupid, and my brother got more and more dumb the older he got. I was fine without them, but like I said some of the girls that used to be my friends liked boys differently. I had thought if they new about how babies were really born then they might not feel the same about boys as they did today. I never liked them until the first day of school this year. I really hated boys after my brother died, and not just because they were simply boys, but because once I started to change like wear all black and stop playing with the girls I used to play with the boys got mean. Boys being mean can not compete with girls being mean, but still it made me mad that boys who I used to play with or boys that once were friends with my brother started calling me a freak, and trying to push me around and stuff. They don’t try stuff now since last year I pretty much beat up every boy in my class, but like Jason Sanders they like to try and call me names when they are out of my arms reach. I really didn’t like them at all not even to play with until this school year. On the third day of school a new boy came to our school. His name was Sam Rider. He had been living in Ridgeview his whole life, but he had been going to the other elementary school, but his parents had sold their house and moved to the North Ridge. We would have lived in the same neighborhood if my dad hadn’t of moved me to my grandparents. I didn’t know exactly why I liked Sam. It was weird because I had always hated boys, but Sam was different. It was the first time I actually really noticed a boy. It was really weird, but I thought Sam was cute. Sam looked kind of like River Phoenix in the Stand by Me movie. I never really thought even movie actor boys were cute until I saw Sam. I was keeping it a secret though because I didn’t know why but I didn’t want to let anyone know that I liked him. I haven’t even tried to talk to him, but sometimes I find myself just staring at him. He dresses different from all the other boys and I was wondering if it was because things were different at the South Ridge elementary, but in a “What I did for Summer Vacation” paper that we had to read out loud in class we learned that Sam had spent his summer in France. He had an older sister who was an exchange student in France and that his parents let him stay with her for the whole summer. I don’t think any kid wanted to read their paper in front of the class after hearing Sam’s story. What was really strange was that sometimes boys like Sam get bullied at my school. Most kids here would think he was showing off that he lived in France or that he was better then them he was certainly different, but somehow Sam became the most popular boy in school in the first week he was there. He was nice to everyone and he was really funny. It was like he was magic or something. Lots of girls liked to talk to him and he never sat at lunch alone. I kept as far away from him as possible, but sometimes I when Wendy and I would sit outside at the school picnic table and Sam was out on the field playing with his friends most of who used to be my friends I would just kind of stare at him and not even hear what Wendy was saying. I didn’t do that much now that we had Roseland because now there were three of us, but that was okay. He sat in the front of my class and I sat in the back and I really liked this because I could stare at him anytime I wanted and he couldn’t see me. It was funny because I knew that girls who liked boys liked to talk about liking boys, but I hated it. I really didn’t like liking Sam and sometimes it made want to be even meaner to all the other boys.

“I don’t really like boys that much.” Said Wendy.

I could always count on Wendy.

“What?” Angel sat up on her bed. “You don’t? I don’t think that’s normal.”

“It’s normal.” I said coming to Wendy’s defense.

“Do you like boys?” She said asking me.

I shrugged. I wasn’t about to come clean to her about anything, but at the same time I was worried about not seeming normal and I didn’t know what Roseland would think. “They’re okay. They’d be better if they weren’t so stupid all the time.”

“But you think River Phoenix is cute don’t you?” She asked.

“Yeah. Sure. I like Chris Chambers in the movie.” I said because that seemed safe. Then I had a strange realization about all the boys in the movie, I kind of liked all the boys in the movie, but I didn’t know why. “I kind a like all the boys in that movie.”

“Yeah, but I mean like differently. Like do you want to marry Teddy LaChance or do you want to marry Chris Chambers?”

I didn’t even have to think about it. “Chris Chambers.”

“Do you like boys?” Wendy asked Roseland.

She shrugged like I did. “A little.” She said. “There was this boy last year that I liked to play with and I liked him like you know like just  normal kind of boy, but sometimes I felt like I liked him more, but I don’t know. I don’t like any boys at this school though so I don’t really think about it much.”

“Wow.” Said Angel. “I’ve liked boys since kindergarten. I remember there was this boy Matt that would chase all the girls around and when he’d catch them he would kiss them, and I always let him catch me.”

“Ewwww. Matt Foster? Ewww. He would chase me too and I thought it was gross. I did not let him catch me.” I said totally disgusted.

“Ewww. Me neither.” Said Wendy.

“Well, I don’t like him now. I just mean that I liked boys ever when I was little.” Angel said. “My other friends like boys too. It’s mostly what we talk about. We like the junior high boys. Next year when we go to junior high there will be boys from South Ridgeview there and if they are all like Sam Rider its going to be so great.”

I felt my face get hot and I had a really strange feeling in my stomach that was kind of like all my insides fell out. I felt like I was going to be really really mad. First my family and then my friends, then River Phoenix and now Sam Rider? I was about to belt her one right in the face, but Roseland sat next to her on the bed. Then Wendy climbed on the bed too. I stayed on the floor just staring at them. I felt really betrayed and angry, but I didn’t want to let anyone know. I didn’t like how I was feeling and I just wanted to be mean to Angel. Really mean, but I didn’t know how.

“I don’t like boys that much.” Roseland said again, “They just kind of annoy me, but I do think some boys on t.v. are cute, but they seem different.”

“I like boys.” Wendy said.

” I thought you just said you didn’t like them.” I kind of barked at her. “One minute you like them the next you don’t. What are you just tryin’ to look cool for Angel or something.”

Angel wrinkled her eye brows at me as the other two just looked at me strangely for a second.

“No. I mean I like to play with boys but I don’t like ’em like ’em.”

I felt a little stupid with them all staring at me like they were so I didn’t say anything else.

“I want to play the same kind of games as boys sometimes, you know. Like I like to play race cars, and run and climb trees and play pranks and stuff. I like my dolls still, but sometimes I want to play with boys, like when I was little I used to play with all the boys in the neighborhood, but they don’t like me anymore. They all say I’m gross or that I have cooties, but I just want to play.” Wendy looked really sad.

“I don’t play with dolls.” Angel said. “I don’t like boy things. I like clothes and I want to wear make-up, but my mom says no, but maybe next year. I just like to kiss boys.”

“EEEEwa!” Squealed Roseland with a short laugh. She shook her hands in disgust. “Gross!” She laughed and threw her face into a pillow.

“What?” Angel yelled. She wasn’t mad I could tell because she was smiling.

Wendy looked grossed out. “You kiss boys?” She stuck her tongue out like she was going to puke.

“So.” Angel laughed.

“Gross!” Roseland screamed into the pillow. She started kicking her legs on the bed and the other two started laughing and piling on top of her. I smiled at them and part of me wanted to climb on the bed to and crawl into the pile, but I also felt too mad at Angel to join them so I stayed on the floor and watched. My smile began to fade as a feeling of being lonely came over me. I felt like I wasn’t a part of their group. They were all misfits too. Angel was too loose at too young of an age, Wendy was not accepted as normal by other kids and she was slow and awkward, and Roseland while being a really cool girl was the only black girl at school and that made kids be mean to her. If they knew that she had a black mother and a white father who knew how the kids would be. They were all misfits and rejects, and I still didn’t fit in with them.

Roseland pulled herself out of the pile. She was still laughing as she kicked at Angel. “I think if a boy kissed me I would puke.”

“You have to use your tongue.” Angel said.

“Ewwwwww!” She screamed again throwing herself back down on the bed.

We all screamed even me. That was way too much all I could think about was Cathy’s brother and that chewed up snail and brown spit coming out of his mouth.

NaNo Day 7- First Draft

Time: 1986
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.”

Nano Day Six- First Draft

Time: 1986
Current Wordcount: 13,593

kids

None of us talked until we reached the street that lead to where Roseland lived. She pointed us in the direction of a steep paved hill and told us that we were almost to her home. As we passed a mint green house Roseland told us that the man who lived there owned many snakes. He sometimes would let the kids from the Ghetto to look at them. She said he had a gigantic python that he kept in a glass case that took up the size of a bedroom. Both Wendy and Angel seemed interested in seeing the snake, but I had no interest in snakes what so ever. When I was five my brother and I were playing at my aunt’s house. She lived in the small farm town of Durham that is an hour away from Ridgeville. Durham is hot and flat and dry and it is the perfect place for Rattlers. My aunt lived in this giant white farm-house that was far back away from the main road. Her mailbox was at the top of the road and it was about a five-minute walk to go and check the mail. My brother and I wanted to check the mail ourselves. It gave us a reason to get away from the grown-ups and there were some kids that live in a house that was once an old fire station. We had been trying for a week to convince these kids to let us come over so we could slide down the fireman pole that they told us was still in the house. We had been talking so much about how we were going to get them to invite us over that I hadn’t even notice when we got to the mailbox. I saw it from the corner of my eye so without even looking I turned to the mailbox and reached my hand up, but thank god my brother was looking and that he heard the rattle. Curled around the bottom of the mailbox was the hugest rattlesnake we had ever seen in our lives. It was fat and had its tail up rattling and its head was back. I don’t remember what happened after that because I was so scared that I blocked it out, but when I opened my eyes I remember seeing on of the teenage neighbor boys wheeling it away in a rusty old wheelbarrow. There was something sad about seeing its huge body tossed in the barrow with its long neck and head draped over the side lifeless and limp. My brother chased after the boy asking him if he could have it’s rattle. The boy said, no and pushed the snake up the dirt road. Before the snake was alive and huge and frightened and moving and then suddenly it wasn’t worth anything except for it’s rattle that showed how big and scary it once was. I don’t know why it made me feel sad. If it had bit me I could be dead. It was me or the snake. The river or my brother. The pills or my mother. No. It doesn’t work that way, it only works with living things facing living things.

“What’s a ghetto?” I heard Wendy ask.

“It’s what my mom and dad and all the other grown-ups call the place where we live.” Said Roseland.

“What does it mean?” Asked Angel.

“I don’t know.” Roseland shrugged. “I never asked. It’s just where we live.”

We reached the bottom to a point where the paved road curved off to the left and Roseland pointed toward a wide gravelly road to the right. We followed her along this road till we came to a large open clearing that had four houses that were in a kind of circle. In the center of all the houses was a giant garden with big leaves of vegetables. Big dark green leaves that were the size of my head with bright orange pumpkins and round yellow squash. In the center of the garden holding a green hose a very dark-skinned black woman was watering the plants. I figured that the woman was Roseland’s mother even though her mom was so much darker than her. The woman was wearing gold, brass, and copper colors. She had a long loose flowing dress that part of she had tossed over one arm so that she wouldn’t get mud on the bottom. Her neck was long and she had a pretty face and big eyes. I had never seen a black woman before except on t.v. and I had never seen a woman who looked like Roseland’s mother. Her skin was so dark and smooth and her hair wasn’t straight but round almost like a ball. I didn’t know how she could get her hair like that like it just grew that way.  She was really  pretty and had round cheeks and a round chin. She almost looked like a teenager. She looked bright  like a flower in all the colors that were around her. She looked over at us standing in the road staring at her. When she smiled I felt warm and safe deep inside. I felt like I was in love with Roseland’s mother even though I had not even talked to her yet. I just couldn’t imagine that anyone so pretty and with a smile that nice and good could possibly be a bad person. I wanted right at that moment for her to be my mother.

“Hey, Hon.” She called over to Roseland, “These your girls?”

“Mmmmhmm.” Roseland nodded.

“Give me a second. I need to turn off this water. I’ll be over to meet your friends before you rush them off into the house.” She stepped over a giant pumpkin and walked toward one of the houses to turn off the facet and then after wiping her hands on the skirt of her dress she walked toward us. The dress bounced up like small curling waves as she walked. She stood with her hands on her hips and smiled down at all of us. “So introduce me.”

“This is my mom.” Said Roseland reaching for her mother’s arm. “Mom, this is Angel, Wendy, and Brianna.”

“Hello girls.” She bent down and gave each one of us a hug. When she held me I could smell coco-butter and fresh dirt, and plants. She smelled like the earth and she was warm. It had been almost two years since I was hugged by my mother and I didn’t want her to let go of me. I wanted to cry and have her pick me up and hold me, but I couldn’t so I let go. She looked down at me like she knew like she felt how badly I wanted her to hold me. She brushed the bangs from my eyes.

“Look how long and tangled your hair is child. You look like a hippie.” She leaned down and kissed Roseland on the cheek. “Take your friend’s into the house your dad is making lasagna for dinner. I’ll be in in a second, I need to pick the last of the tomatoes. I hope you girls like your vegetables.” She said to us.

I could see Wendy wince, but she smiled because she was too afraid to say she didn’t ever in her life eat vegetables.

We followed Roseland toward one of the houses. They were all painted white and they all looked like they were falling apart kind of like Angel’s house except instead of broken down cars in the yards there were gardens, and porch swings and flowers growing out of anything that was once broken. The paint on all of the houses were chipped and peeling, but each house had bright curtains, that some looked like sheets or flags. Roseland’s house had rainbow curtains that were made from sheets. Little kids were playing and running around the houses and some people were sitting on a porch here or a porch swing there. Music was coming out of some of the houses. It sounded like someone was playing a guitar. As we walked up the wooden steps to Roseland’s porch we could hear music coming from inside her house. The door was open and Roseland had us take our shoes off before stepping on to the thick shaggy brown carpet. It was weird to me to take my shoes off and I could tell from the expressions on both Wendy and Angels faces that they didn’t think it was normal either. Roseland skipped into the kitchen yelling, dad. The three of us stood alone in the living room staring at all the things that were in the space. Everywhere there were plants. Hanging plants, big plants with fat leaves in giant clay pots, plants with flowers, plants that climbed up the wall; it was like a garden in the living room. They didn’t have a t.v. but they had a stereo with tons and tons of records. On the walls were pictures of people who I guessed were musicians, some I knew some I didn’t. There was a big picture of John Lennon wearing a shirt that said New York. I knew who he was. My dad used to listen to The Beatles all the time. I remember exactly when John Lennon died because it made my dad cry which I thought was really strange. I couldn’t understand why this man who my father never met in his life would make my father cry just because he died. He didn’t cry as hard as he did at my brother’s funeral and he didn’t cry at all at my mother’s, but John Lennon died before both of them so maybe my dad didn’t know much about dying then. I guess I could get it now. I think I would maybe cry if Madonna died, but I wasn’t really sure. There were also other musicians like Jimi Hendricks, Janis Joplin, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, all people I didn’t know until I saw the bright red jacket with gold zippers and the matching red pants that only went to his ankles and the white socks and his black shoes. I knew that the Michael Jackson poster had to belong to Roseland. I thought it was so cool that her parents let her put up her own decoration in the front of the house. Like you just knew she wasn’t just a kid in the house, but that it was her house too.

“Look at the rainbow.” Wendy whispered.

She was pointing at a rainbow that danced on the wall over the face the man with brown hair in The Doors poster. He had his hand out and open like he was holding something and the rainbow bounced from his hand to his face. It came from a prism that hung in the large front window. There were many prisms. I had always liked prisms, but my mom had said that she thought they were kind of tacky, but she let me have a tiny heart shaped one that I used to keep in my room. My dad forgot to pack it. I knew we were in a very different kind of home. It wasn’t just that Roseland was poor. I could tell she was poor and that most things in her house were old even the record player, but I had been in the houses of people that were poor before. Wendy was poor and she lived in a trailer, and Angel was poor I could tell even though I had never been in her house before, but it wasn’t about money. My parents had money, and we had once had a really nice house. My grandparents have a really nice house, and when my family was all together we always had new things. It wasn’t about money at all it was something else it was, but I didn’t know what to call it, like everything was taken care of everything was loved.

“This is my dad.” Roseland said as she came out of the kitchen followed by a man drying his hands on a towel.

“Hi there ladies. I hope you’re hungry.” He said smiling.

I couldn’t talk for a second and I hardly heard Roseland say all of our names. Roseland’s dad was white. It suddenly made sense why Roseland was not as dark as her mother. I had never seen a black woman before, but I had never in my whole whole life even heard of a black person marrying a white person. They never showed that on television. I wondered where they came from because I knew that there was no way that they came from these mountain towns. Her father was really tall and thin and he had long long blonde hair that went past his shoulders. It was like he had a woman’s hair and I remembered my dad once talking about hippies and saying that they wore their hair long. He had asked me if I would like him to grow his hair long and I said no, that long hair was supposed to be for girls. Roseland’s dad had really long hair that he pulled back into a braid.

“The lasagnas still cooking in the oven, but it won’t be too long before we eat. Roseland why don’t you give the girls a tour our home and The Ghetto.” He kissed the top of her head and then walked back into the kitchen.

Roseland lead us to a room way in the back of the house and opened the door. The walls were covered of pictures of Michael Jackson, a picture of Ralph Macchio, and a small photo from the movie The Explorers with the only boy I’ll ever love, River Phoenix. As soon as Roseland shut the door to her room Wendy almost exploded like her brain must have been on fire the whole time we were talking to Roseland’s dad.

“You’re a half-breed too!”

Even though I totally knew that Wendy didn’t mean to say something bad, I knew she said something bad. I think Angel knew too because she didn’t say anything. In fact, all three of us were quiet while we stared at Wendy who was still grinning, but also looked confused.

“Why do you say such stupid things sometimes?” Asked Roseland angrily.

Wendy stammered a little. “I… I don’t know. I just thought, but I’m that too.”

“I’m not like you.” Said Roseland. “My parents are together. We’re a good family.”

I could tell that Roseland must have heard things like that a lot, maybe even more than Wendy.

“Go easy on her Roseland.” I said, “She doesn’t know any better. She’s not trying to be mean. It’s not her fault. You don’t know.”

“I know that is isn’t right to call someone that.” She said. She had her arms cross tightly in front of her chest.

“I didn’t mean it bad.” Said Wendy. Her eyes started to look wet like she was about to cry.

“Wendy,” I said placing my hands on her shoulders and looking into her face. “Do you like it when people call you that at school?”

She shook her head no.

“So Roseland isn’t going to like it either. Think before you just yell stuff out.”

“But I didn’t mean it like that. I wasn’t trying to be mean or stupid.” She said, almost crying. “I just was happy I wasn’t alone. I thought maybe because if we were both like that and you’re family so good that maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing and that all the kids at school were wrong about me, cause if your good and great than maybe that meant I was too. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I’m so stupid.” She turned toward the door. “I’ll go home. I’m sorry.”

“Stop. Stop.” Roseland ran after her. “It’s okay. I’m not mad.” Roseland grabbed her hand and smiled at her. “Sorry.” She hugged Wendy.

I sat down on Roseland’s bed and pulled at a tiny thread that was coming loose on her blanket. I didn’t know why the whole thing was making me feel uncomfortable. I wish I could stop Wendy before she talked sometimes, but Roseland seemed like she wasn’t mad anymore.

“Maybe it is a good thing.” Roseland said pulling away from Wendy and looking at her. “Like we’re special. Like we have super powers or something.”

Wendy smiled and wiped a tear from her cheek.

Angel had been standing in the corner watching all of us. She looked like she was kind of uncomfortable and kind of bored. She looked over my head to something on the wall.

“The Explorers.” She gasped. “I love that movie. River Phoenix is totally my favorite. Have you guys seen Stand by Me? That movie is so good. I totally fell in love with him in that movie. I’m going to marry him.”

Over my dead body. I thought. Now she was going to try and take my future boyfriend? No way.

“I have the movie on video if you guys ever want to come over and watch it some night. It’s totally, totally good.