The girl sat with her laptop on her knees, watching the reruns of her favourite serial, One Tree Hill. She had never understood how she fell in love with it. But, yet, she was here, watching the reruns when her mother called out to her. “Jenny, don’t you ever have to study?” she shouted.
‘Mom,’ she shouted back, ‘it’s a Sunday. Would you please let me do this while I can?’
She almost snapped. Last week was the first at her school; she was starting 11th, the most dangerous class of all time. And she hated her mom. It was something that happened earlier. She didn’t want to talk about it now. Even without her family troubles, she had a lot on her mind. She had a younger sister, Jules, who she didn’t mix well with; her dad was a womaniser and left their family for another woman, Linda, four years ago.
It was Alex, Alexandra Wilson, who she loved. Alex was her best friend she had met at school. With straight brown hair, and 5”9 body, her pale skin and light blue eyes, she and Alex were exact opposites. Alex stood six inches shorter, blonde hair, with black eyes and whitish skin.
Yet, there was something, something more that friendship that bound them together. It was the love Jennifer had never felt for her sister, sisterly love. Alex had a drunkard father and her mother was dead.
One day, seven years ago, Jenny was returning from the park after her “evening walk”, which she looked forward to as it meant getting free of her crazy household. It was a cold day, with slight signs of rain. She was hunched up and moving fast, when she saw a thin, small girl, barely covered standing in front of a house. She was crying and kept pounding at the door sporadically. Jenny took the girl along with her to her house. That was the beginning of their friendship.
It still took a lot of nerve for Alex to stand up to her dad. Sometimes Jenny helped her with it. ‘What are friends for, after all?’ she said. Since then, the two unpopular, lonely girls always sat together, in the classes, the cafeteria, and even took the ride to school and back to home together and they were happy.
Suddenly, the door banged open and her sister entered. Jenny jumped. ‘What the hell are you doing?’ she asked, surprised. ‘Wait, is that my T-shirt you’re wearing?’ she shouted as she noticed. She got of the bed and ran towards Jules, who stood unruffled by this sudden outburst. ‘Give it to me! How dare you touch my closet, you moron! I want it right back.’ Jennifer yelled again, hands akimbo.
‘Jen, I need to have this. I have, uh, to go somewhere,’ she said vaguely. Jennifer narrowed her eyes. She did that a lot these days. Her sister had inherited their father’s features, or so their mother said. It was because of that, on her entering middle school, she was very popular, always the one with hundred friends, the one who dated, who partied. Jenny despised these types of girls, but yet she envied them. She admired Jules good looks. A straight long nose, long wavy brown hair, brown eyes and a firm jaw. She had a slender body, even graceful, unlike the tread that Jenny owned, yet she was athletic and of course, a part of their school, Bowman High school’s cheering girls. And she did a good job of ignoring her dumb, unsocial sister at school, Jennifer even felt bad sometimes.
‘Don’t call me Jen. I’m Jennifer,’ she affirmed. ‘Where? You have to go where?’ she asked finally.
‘I have a date with Mark,’ Jules said, unconcerned. Obviously, the football kid. He and Jules had been spending a lot of time together. Jenny thought something had been cooking. Well, at least I wasn’t proven wrong.
‘Still, the answer’s a no. I am not allowing you to wear this. Remove it!’ she charged for her Tshirt and starting tugging at the cloth. A raging quarrel followed, when finally their mother appeared, completely out of breath. It was clear that she had come running upstairs. Hers was a small duplex house, three bedrooms, a kitchen, and a living room where they dined. Jennifer had a room all by herself at the top floor, while Jules and Mrs. Cruise shared a one at the ground floor. One was kept as the guest room, often occupied by Grandma Cruise who came to stay a lot. A small porch added to the compact surrounding, a quite contrast to the atmosphere inside the house at the moment.
‘Christ!’ she said. ‘What is all this shouting Jenny? I thought you had been studying,’ she panted.
‘Well now you know I wasn’t,’ she snapped.
‘That is no way to talk to your mother. You are sixteen, when would you start acting responsibly?’ she questioned.
‘The day you would,’ she replied, a cold sneer on her face.
A long silence ensued. Finally after what seemed like an hour, she asked, ‘What was all this about?’
‘I wore her T-shirt without asking,’ Jules burst out. ‘If I knew it would be such an issue, I wouldn’t have touched the bloody thing!’ she shouted. Removing the T-shirt and flinging it on the floor, she marched out of the room, back downstairs.
A threatening look passed over her mother’s face. ‘This was a T-shirt. You made a mess out of it. I don’t know what you think of yourself, but you are no Queen Victoria. You are not to behave that way to neither me nor Jules, or for that matter, anyone at school as well. If you put another toe out of the line, I’ll make sure that you don’t forget it easily,’ she glowered at her, before shouting, ‘Jules, I’m coming, sweetheart!’ and left the room.
‘Talk about stepping out of line,’ she muttered. She wasn’t the least scared of her mother. She knew what would happen if she did. She would be thrown out of the house and be expected to spend the night outside. Yet she found a solution to that. Mr. John, the old baker who lived down the street was a kind man. He had no children, so Jennifer always managed his shop when he had to go somewhere. During nights like these, he would let Jennifer to sleep at the shop, without turning the heater off. Apart from Alex, she liked him the most.
Many often she had wondered if she made a list of the people she liked, where her mother and Jules would stand. But she was sure that it wouldn’t be before a hundred of two. Not that she had tried this, but still she had wondered so.
She was just making her way back to the bed to return to the serial, when her phone rang. She rushed to pick it up.
‘Alex, hi honey! I forgot to call you, it’s just that….’ She said instantly and trailed off. It was a boy.
‘Hello? Jennifer?’ he asked, hesitatingly.
‘Yes?’ she replied. ‘What do you want?’ she asked rudely.
‘I am not sure that you identify me. I’m Nick, Nicholas. I sat by you on Thursday at English.’ Then she remembered. A tall, lanky boy, with dark brown hair that often fell on his forehead, and white skin, the new boy.
‘Yeah, so?’ She was bored of his decent voice and wanted to cut the line. It, however, would look too indecent.
‘I am not sure, but I think you took my English book by mistake. So if you-’
She interrupted, ‘Okay, I will look. If I find it, then I’ll give you tomorrow.’ She cut the line.
She crossed the room and lay down. She suddenly felt exhausted. Shutting the laptop and without changing her clothes, she stared at the ceiling till her eyes welled up with tears. Remembering something, she whispered, ‘You know I loved you once, mom,’ she said, before she started weeping on the pillow, silently, and drifted off to sleep.