Here’s a little preview of a narrative I’m writing loosely based on my life. Fiction, with a hint of truth. I’m working on it little by little and will post as I go. Hope you guys enjoy!
It was the hottest June I can remember. Sitting barefoot on the edge of the back porch, my feet pressed blades of grass into a flat, circular pattern. Beads of sweat swelled on my forehead, then burst and poured down the side of my face, dripping off my chin, landing on the collar of the pink shirt my mother ordered for me out of the JC Penney catalog. It had a smiling sun embroidered on the chest. Where the sunrays met the core, threads began to fray like hair caught and ripped from a rubber band. No amount of wiping my hand did could control the perspiration my skin desperately needed to exhale. I let my shirt soak through around the collar turning the bright pink color to a richer, red hue. My knees, sticking out from under my matching pink skirt were sweating just as profusely. My choppy bangs fell lifelessly into my squinty, blue eyes and I brushed them feverishly out of my face. The sweat, like gel, kept my bangs slathered to my temples momentarily. Two blonde, French braids hung down to my shoulders like the next door neighbor’s marigolds that hadn’t been watered in months. The line of scalp showing between the braids turned pinker and pinker with every minute in the exhausting sun. I breathed a heavy sigh and waited patiently for the house to cool down. I couldn’t wait to go back inside and watch another episode of All That on Channel 42.
Last summer, because my family used an antenna, we only had twelve, measly channels to flip through which meant I had the choice of PBS or Looney Toons. This summer, Dad purchased the family a year’s worth of cable television to celebrate his new promotion giving us 96 glorious choices! My world changed when I discovered All That. I had to watch it every day. I practiced the skit Amanda Bines performed, called “Ask Ashley”, to a nonexistent audience while I waited on the porch. Amanda’s character, Ashley, would yell at fans who wrote letters to the show asking for help. One boy complained about a peanut butter sandwich his mother had made him for his school lunch. The boy complained that his mother always put the jelly on the wrong side and asked if Ashley could please help. The look of fury in Amanda’s eyes, the exasperated gestures she created with her body, the hilarity that ensued, I could never measure up. “TURN THE SANDWICH OVER!!! HOW STUPID CAN YOU BE?!” Still I pretended I was Ashley yelling at the young boy, and my ghostly observers always doubled over in laughter.
Directly behind me the back door abruptly swung open interrupting my performance. Rick, my freckled, rebellious, teenage brother, fuming, jumped into Dad’s truck and sped off, the tires kicking up any gravel left in our tiny alleyway. Dad’s truck was a beater. Rick didn’t seem to mind driving it around, but secretly I wished it would die. Maybe it would fall into the bay, or randomly catch on fire. It didn’t really matter. The hideous blue and white stripes painted on by a Mexican, the rust around the fenders, the blue and beige tweeds seats, everything had to disappear before I arrived to my new middle school in August. Hearing the engine fire up, and the tires skid out of the driveway, Dad ran out of the house after Rick with a look on his face that said “I’m going to murder my own child”. With that I decided it was safe to enter the house again. I wiped the sweat off my forehead one last time and trotted my dirty, grass-stained feet into the messy living room with the dark, plum-purple carpet. I’m not sure what my parents were thinking when they chose this particular flooring…maybe they thought the color would hide Kool-Aid stains better than any other color. It did. Too bad it didn’t hide the old popcorn bags and left over take-out dinner containers crumpled in the dusty corners of the room.
“Mom, I’m thirsty!” I yelled as I entered. Mom was in the front of the house sewing halter tops for my sister, Nora and me.
“Samantha! I’m busy! I think there’s some sun tea in the fridge. Have some of that, then come in here and try this on, ok? I think it’s coming out very cute! The fabric is even reversible!”
I sluggishly walked the ten steps to the tiny kitchen with parquet flooring that needed Spic ‘N’ Span pronto. The sink, filled with dishes sat along the back wall of the kitchen, and the refrigerator slouched against the side wall closest to the living room. It was tall and eggshell and hadn’t been cleaned in years. Like the carpet in the living room, our refrigerator was never in good spirits. Most refrigerators, at first glance, seem to offer something sweet or fresh inside like lemonade, or fresh raspberries, or both. Ours, on the contrary, seemed to drool out rotten vegetable juice the moment an intruder approached. The door handles, side by side, were slathered with butter, chocolate syrup, chicken grease, and ketchup from all the careless humans who refused to wash their hands before retrieving their next item of indulgence. Inside was even worse. Shelves were packed with old cheese, jams leaking from the lids, fermented fruits permeating the already moldy drawers, and green left-overs from restaurants Dad insisted we eat at on the weekends. I grabbed an extra-large, plastic, neon-blue cup from the old, dusty cupboard, filled it with ice and ventured in to find the sun tea Mom offered me. Sun tea is the best drink a person can have on a summer day in the kind of weather this particular June provided. Somehow it washes away any concern, worry, or fatigue. I filled my cup to the brim and carefully, one toe at a time, slipped into the formal sitting area where Mom had her sewing station set up.
Fabrics were sprawled in every direction. I looked at my mother concentrating, her steel blue eyes narrowed as she reached the end of the stitch. Mom’s hair was beautifully golden and wavy. I loved the way the sunlight delicately skimmed the strands that had gotten loose from her buoyant pony tail. Mom was a force to be reckoned with when she was angry, but her heart was the salt of the earth. Her compassion for her family surpassed any other mother’s and the same dedication and honesty went into her teaching career. In most eyes, my mother was born to love. I slurped my tea; Mom looked up.
“Oh good! Come here! Try this on. I think you’re going to love it!”
I set my tea on the table, careful to not spill, and took off my shirt. I didn’t have boobs yet but secretly prayed every night for them to grow. I wanted nothing too big of course, just enough to fill up one of those enticing push-up bras, preferably in cheetah print. No one knew this and I wasn’t about to tell anyone either. Nora would kill me if she knew I had stolen her Victoria’s Secret catalog. I never got my wish anyhow. Nora was lucky. She developed early and had long luxurious, brown hair with enough waves of gold to make the color interesting. Her eyes stood out too. They were the shape of almonds colored a brilliant green with eyelashes long enough to touch her perfectly arched eyebrows. Nora was 5 years older than me and made it known. She was getting a halter top made by Mom too and while I was always happy to have new clothes I worried that people would think I was much uglier than my tall, beautiful, teenage sister when we wore the tops at the same time. Nora would say at the mall, “Did you see that guy look at me? He is so fine.” I would grin like a good sister, and then pout to myself that I’d never have a guy look at me the way they looked at Nora.
First, Mom tied the neck of the top and slid it over my head letting the rest hang about my shoulders.
“Turn around now. Let me tie you up,” Mom said excitedly.
Spinning around I felt a cool breeze coming from the air conditioning unit in the window and smiled. I could feel Mom’s damp hands touch the skin on my back as she tied the two pieces of fabric into a perfect bow. I looked at myself in the mirror straight ahead of me. The halter top was yellow with red flowers on one side and red with yellow flowers on the other. The yellow complimented my hair and the red matched my cheeks. The top showed just a bit of my curvy tummy, but it still looked cute. Maybe this year at the mall a guy would notice me too. Grinning at my reflection I laughed and told Mom thank you. I loved it! Maybe this summer wasn’t going to be as terrible as I anticipated.
More to come…this is just a rough draft 🙂