(Even when diluted with water). I’ve tried several other kinds of juice, but they all taste even worse.
I haven’t been on a date since high school. Most of the time, I’m either at work or studying. When I do go out, I feel self-conscious about my skin and try to cover it up with long sleeves and pants in the summer. It doesn’t help that it’s starting to get colder in the fall either.
(I hate the snow! It makes everything wet and slushy).
I’ve tried taking a girl to an indoor theater before, but the lights were too bright and I got really nervous since I was worried that people could see my skin condition. It was so stressful that I never went out on another date with her again.
I work part-time in a pizza joint. The owner is an old, fat, balding guy with a brown mustache. He takes all the pretty girls that come in to work for him and tries to get them to have sexual relations with him.
I know this because he tried to do it with my roommate. She was 19 and had only been living with me for a month when it happened. She didn’t tell me any of the details, but I could tell something was wrong when she came back from her shift at work. She was quieter than usual and wouldn’t look me in the eye.
She moved out a couple weeks later and I didn’t have the courage to ask her why.
She found another place and a new roommate (A pretty girl who graduated from our high school last year) and has been doing a lot better since then. She even went back to work there a few more times, but I don’t think she’s going back anymore. The owner hasn’t tried anything again since then either.
I worry about her sometimes. I don’t think he’s the kind of guy who takes no for an answer. I’m afraid that one day, he’s going to try to force himself on her and she won’t be strong enough to stop him. It would break my heart if anything happened to her.
I wish I could help her somehow, but I feel so powerless.
I’ve thought about going to the health department and telling them about him, but I’m afraid of getting her into trouble. I feel trapped in a cycle of helplessness and frustration. The only time I feel free is when I go to the library and lose myself in books.
So that’s why I became a librarian (and a nerd). You might think I’m weird for wanting to be surrounded by books all day, but they make me feel safe and calm. I get to meet people like me too; people who love to read and have amazing imaginations. I like to think that I’m making a difference in people’s lives by helping them find good books that they’ll enjoy.
I’ve been told that I should write a book about my life, but I don’t think anyone would want to read it. How boring it is living at home, not going out much, and just reading books all day!
Who would want to read that?
Besides, I like to keep my private life private. If people knew how awkward and strange I really am, they’d probably laugh at me.
I don’t even have any pets; Mother won’t let me have one. She says that it wouldn’t be fair to the animal (especially since we might move again). Well, Mother also doesn’t want me to have a pet because she says that I wouldn’t take care of it properly. She might be right about that…
Maybe I wouldn’t take great care of the pet, but I’d try. I think that it would be nice to have at least one living creature that was fond of me. It would be a nice change of pace from how I am normally: Me, myself, and I.
The only other person who shows any affection for me is Mother. She still gives me hugs and kisses me on the cheek when she leaves for work and when she comes back. She bought me some flowers (which I had to hide) for my last birthday. She means well, but all this affection makes me uncomfortable.
It’s just so…well, embarrassing.
I know other people have loving families. I see them on the street sometimes; Mom says they must be headed to or from a family gathering. Everyone looks so happy in their little groups. Some even look like they are about to burst with happiness.
I know I should count my blessings, but the lack of privacy in this house is really starting to get to me.
I spend most of my time in my bedroom with the door locked. I know I should at least go out and socialize more, but every time I try, I get so …um…freaked out.
That’s the only word I can think of to describe it. It feels like something has taken over my mind and is squeezing it, or maybe even scratching at my brain with sharp claws. It’s a very unsettling feeling.
I don’t get this feeling from everyone, just certain people. Mother and Father don’t cause this feeling, nor do the elderly, little children, or disabled people. It’s usually from other teenagers or younger people who are seemingly normal. I don’t know what it is, but I want to find out.
I have to find out.
Maybe it has something to do with why I’m still a virgin. It’s not for lack of trying. I’ve tried talking to various boys at school, but once they get over their initial shyness, they suddenly become more interested in me. They lose all their previous nervousness, and their eyes start to look a little too hungry.
I try to back away, but they crowd me until I have to run. It’s really pathetic. I should be happy about this, and I suppose I am in a way, but it still hurts.
Maybe I’m just too ugly and shy. Maybe if I wasn’t so homely, I wouldn’t be so shy or have these weird feelings. It would certainly make things easier. I wouldn’t have to rely on books for company.
I could have a boyfriend (or even a girlfriend, maybe) to go to the movies or amusement parks with. I’ve never been on a date, or to a dance, or anything like that.
I’m starting to wonder if these feelings are normal.
Do other girls feel like this?
Maybe I’m some sort of freak…
I don’t know what to think anymore. I’m just so confused…and scared.
Sometimes I feel like my head is going to explode from the pressure within.
I just wish it would all stop. I just want things to be simple again. I want to be able to go outside and play, instead of being cooped up in this room all day. I want to be free…but am
I ready for freedom if it means dealing with all of this?
Maybe it’s just easier to stay in my room. It’s safe in here.
There’s a light knock on the door, and then it opens a crack. Mother’s pale face peeks in.
“Brbrbrbrbttt,” she says, beckoning to me.
What does she want?
She opens the door wider and pokes her head in. She looks around and smiles. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen her smile.
She holds up a familiar blue dress with white lace trim. My favorite dress. The one I was buried in.
she asks. “
Do you want to try it on?”
I nod eagerly and hold out my arms. She passes it to me, and I hold it up against my body. It’s a little small, only reaching halfway down my thigh, but that’s to be expected after six years of being compressed in a cedar box.
Mother shakes her head and goes back to the closet. After digging around for awhile, she comes out with a length of white cloth. A belt.
She approaches me with it and ties it around my waist. The dress hangs a lot lower now, but it’s still not quite right.
She frowns and looks me up and down. Then, she takes the dress in her hands and starts ripping. She tugs it down until it’s halfway down my thighs, then ties a knot in the bottom so that I can’t pull it back up. It’s still pretty loose around my waist though.
She stands back and nods in approval before turning around to pick something off of the floor. When she turns back around, she’s holding a pair of white stockings.
“Brbtt…” she says, holding them out to me. “For you.”
I take them and hold them up. They’re a little too big, but they’ll do. I slide them up my legs and fasten them to the garter belt that Mother helped me put on earlier.
Mother smiles and nods her head.
“Come,” she says, grabbing my hand and taking me to the full-body mirror beside the closet door.
I take in the sight of myself. I look almost exactly how I did on that day, six years ago. The only differences are my shorter hair and the lack of a bow in it. I turn from side to side, watching the skirt flare out slightly.
I smile at the way it puffs out when I spin.
Mother smiles at me and rests her hand on my head. I fold my arms and pout, making my best attempt at looking as cute as possible. She chuckles and crouches down to look me in the eyes.
“You are very pretty,” she says.
I smile a little. She straightens my dress, then takes a step back to admire me.
“You look like…your father.”
I frown. I don’t like it when she talks about him like that. It makes me sad. She smiles weakly and kisses my forehead.
You ready to go?”
she asks, taking my hand.
I nod eagerly and open the door. She leads me down the dark, candle-lit hallway. We go down the spiraling staircase and into the foyer. The house is silent, but I know that Mr.
and Mrs. Derksen are probably awake, sitting in their candle-lit dining room, reading the Bible and drinking coffee.
Mother opens the front door and ushers me outside. I blink as my eyes adjust to the darkness. The only light other than that of the moon comes from Mother’s bedroom window. We stay like that for a brief moment, then Mother shuts the door.
A lock turns over in the door, and she takes my hand once more. She leads me around the side of the house to the path that leads to town. We walk down it in silence.
As we come up to town, I see lights shining in the bar windows. Mother tenses up briefly before regaining her composure. Her grip on my hand tightens slightly, but I don’t say anything. I’m scared of what’s to come.
I don’t like being out here. I’m frightened that a boogeyman is going to get me, or that a monster is going to eat me.
Mother and I walk under the railroad trestle and onto the gravel that leads up to the bar’s entrance. The light inside seems bright compared to the darkness of the night. We cross the threshold, and the door swings shut behind us.
Immediately, the noise of several talking people hits us. Mother tenses up and looks around nervously. She looks back at the door, as if pondering making a run for it. I look around, taking in the scene.
There aren’t many people here. A few sit at tables, drinking. Two pool players are going head to head in the back. A gruff, bearded man with a cowboy hat on sits at the bar, a beer in front of him. A bearded, long-haired man with a cowboy hat not-on sits next to him, talking to the barkeep, an older, heavyset man with a beard that’s losing a struggle against his fat, balding neck. Mother tugs at my wrist gently and we walk up to the bar.
“Two coffees, please,” she says quietly.
The bartender nods and grabs two mugs from underneath the counter. He bends down and opens a little box underneath the counter, pulling out two packs of instant coffee. He opens one of the packs and starts dumping the contents into both mugs, then does the same with the second pack. He puts the now empty packs back into the box, which he closes and puts back underneath the counter.
He picks up a large plastic bottle that says “Sugar” on it and pours a generous amount into each cup, then does the same with a bottle which says “Whipped Cream.” He sets both bottles back underneath the counter and picks up the two mugs of coffee, sliding them across the counter to Mother and I.
“That’ll be three dollars,” he says.
Mother fishes out three crumpled one dollar bills from her pocket and slides them across the counter to him. He counts the bills, then grabs them and puts them in the register. He slides two quarters and a nickel back to Mother.
“Thank you,” Mother says.
We pick up our coffees and walk over to one of the empty tables towards the back, far from the pool players. We sit down and I take a sip of the strong, black coffee. It’s too bitter for my tastes, but I don’t say anything. Mother doesn’t either.
She just takes a sip from her mug and pulls out a cigarette from the pack in her pocket. She puts it in her mouth and reaches for the pack of matches on the table. She lights the cigarette and takes a long drag, then exhales a cloud of gray smoke around her head.
“I’m gonna go call your father,” she says.
Mother walks over to the bar’s payphone, next to the bathroom door. She puts her coffee down on the floor and lifts the receiver up to her ear. She drops a few coins into the payphone and waits. Mother taps her foot impatiently as she waits for someone to pick up at the other end of the line.
“Come on, come on, come on,” she whisper to herself.
Suddenly, someone picks up. Mother smiles.
a man’s voice answers questioningly.
“Yeah, it’s me.”
Is everything alright?”
he asks with a tinge of worry in his voice.
Mother hesitates before answering.
“Yes… I mean no…
I mean, I need to talk to you about something,” she says.
What is it?”
Mother pauses again. I can hear her breathing on the other end of the line, but nothing more.
“Maggie, you’re worrying me. You better tell me what’s going on,” Hank says.
“I… I need to see you.”
“Maggie, you’re really not making any sense. If you need money, I can probably scrape together a few bucks for you, but-“
“It’s not that,” Mother says, then pauses again. “I… I think I’m in trouble.
I really need to see you.”
Well, where are you?”
“I’m at the Gold Stone Tavern. I… I need you to come get me.”
“Okay, I’ll be there in a little bit. Just wait for me inside. I don’t want you walking around outside this late at night.”
“Okay… I love you, Hank.”
“I love you, too. See you soon.”
Mother hangs up the phone and walks back to the table, picking up her coffee on the way. She sits down across from me and takes another sip.
Is everything okay? Are you in some sort of trouble?”
“I told you to stop asking so many questions,” Mother says.
“I’m sorry. I just want to know what’s going on.”
“When your father gets here, everything will be explained. Now, stop prying and drink your coffee. I don’t want you having caffeine this late, it’ll keep you up all night.
You have school in the morning, remember?
You don’t want to start falling asleep in class.”
I look down at the dark brown liquid in my mug and wonder if I should obey Mother and drink it, or disobey her and throw it in her face.
Do you have to ruin everything?
I was having a good day until you came along. Now, everything is just… ruined,” I say in a low voice.
“Nothing,” I say.
“I want to know what you just said.”
“I said I want to go home.
Please, can we go home now?”
“Not yet. We still have to wait for your father.”
“I don’t want to wait for him! I want to go home!”
Why do you always do this?
You ask to go home, I tell you no, you throw a tantrum, I drag you some place public so people shame you into submission, and then we eventually go home. Wash, rinse, and repeat.”
“I don’t understand why we can’t just go home,” I reply angrily.
What’s not to understand?
We’re having an adventure! I’d think you’d be having fun, considering you just woke up from a seven year coma.”
“I was having more fun in my coma,” I complain.
“Oh, stop being so melodramatic and play your game boy. I’m sure you’ll feel better after a bit. We’re almost done here. Then, we can go home, and you’ll feel a lot better.”
I sigh, then look down at my hands. Mother takes another sip of her coffee and turns her gaze to the people and cars passing by on the street. After a few minutes of silence, she looks at her watch, then gets out of her seat.
“I’m going to go see what’s taking your father so long. I’ll be back in a minute.
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