Her mouth spilled ink and
just like that I became another one
of her heartbreaking, bestselling stories.
Her mouth spilled ink and
Her mouth spilled ink and
just like that I became another one
of her heartbreaking, bestselling stories.
(Play before reading.)
“When the world comes crashing down, I’ll find you if you hide.”
She waited, she had been waiting for quite some time, in the waiting room. So much happened in waiting rooms; fraction of a lifetime, an infinitesimal integration of unforgettable moments of infinitesimal lives happened there. Prayers being offered, celebrations happening, reunions, hope rekindling, lives starting afresh- waiting rooms witnessed them all.
Today, it was witnessing a renewing faith in God as she prayed and waited for her angel, her angel draped in a white coat, carrying news that would alter her life forever. Her wife was in the operation theatre, in labor, (hopefully) delivering their first child.
They both had got married just three months ago and had been together for a little over four years. It was the second serious relationship for both of them who were- then- very much over the prime of their lives. Both despondent with their personal lives, they contacted each other after a long time of negligible communication. Their first meeting in over fifteen years was awkward and both were certain that they would never see the other again.
There is certain power in promises, however, that they get themselves fulfilled. Destiny, or fate or merely the ‘pinky promise’ that they had made when they were nine, brought them together on their first date after a week of their meeting. They kissed on her doorstep and three dates later, they were engaged.
People called them crazy and there were times when theyselves wondered if it had all been done in a hurry, but they were happier than they’d ever been in a long time and three years later, they shared an apartment, two dogs and both had ravishing careers. The spark was still there but something was needed.
They started looking for ways for either of them to get impregnated. Artificial insemination appealed to them both. They doctors, however, were cynical. Their ages were a little troublesome and there might be complication in delivery, if impregnated. They agreed and both underwent the procedure. Only one of them was successful. Six months in, they got married, one with a bulging stomach and it was very hilarious watching her having to use the restroom every half hour.
The eighth and ninth months had been troublesome. There were a lot of false alarms and twice, she had to be rushed into emergency for something or the other. There were a lot of sleepless nights, hurling, shouting, and unavoidable negativity. Their love for the other, however, remained unchanged, if not stronger. Given the history, the doctor had her in the hospital, secured, a week before the due date. Which brought both of them to today.
Sitting in the waiting room, a leg stamping the floor, prayer on the mouth and a tissue in hand, she waited. She wondered how life would be if it happened and she wondered how life would be if it didn’t. She wondered if their relationship would ever stay the same if it did happen. Or would either of them ever recover from the lingering ‘could-have-beens’ that would scar their lives forever. Whatever the outcome, all she wished for was the love of her life, her wife to be fine. Suddenly, the door opened, and the doctor stepped out, facemask on, poker faced. She took off her mask, still straight faced, and proclaimed, “It’s a girl,” starting to grin ear to ear.
Later that night, when one mother and the baby were peacefully asleep, another mother sat in the room, and on the same tissue she had clutched that morning, wrote, “I’ll always love you both. I’ll always protect you both. Even when the world comes crashing down, I’ll find you if you hide.“
Euphoria clouds conscience,
blood in the veins; pulsating nerve
and breathlessness incurs
as every nerve ending
breathes in the sight of
your majesty, and vibrance
and the poise of your erect
spine and the stiffness
at your curvy, shallow
crevices, your hair falling
below that dented
shoulder and the
smothering skin and the ice cold
hands that are an artist’s best work,
and the lovely, lovely
plumpness of your wicked mouth,
trembling, as I
attempt to raise you,
inch by inch, above your bulk
into the space, eager to
start the new story that
After a long wait, I’m finally here with the next chapter of Unraveling Broken Threads. In case you aren’t sure where to begin, here is the first chapter. If you would like to refresh your minds in what happened last, the previous chapter is here. So here it goes…..
The next day was better and worse. It was better because she was surer of what she had to do in the next 24 hours. She had, in fact, made a list of all that she had to do:
Last night had been a complete emotional pandemonium. What had happened had not been expected. She had fought with her sister, praised her mom and had done things she sure wouldn’t have done in hell. Having been late, she had done her Spanish homework in a bit of a confusion, and wasn’t sure where she had done it now. It was worse because she had no plans on what she would do for the elections. She wasn’t sure what her plans for the elections were, how she was going to beat the peer pressure, and the most important thing, whether she was going to contest them or not. Yet she was sure of one thing, whether or not she was contesting, she still had to make new friends.
She was moving down the stairs into the dining room to look for the homework, when she passed Jules and her mom’s room, which looked like it had been hit by a hurricane. Everything was a mess. She entered the room, and immediately saw her notebook, partially hidden by a quilt. She went in to retrieve it, and noticed some papers sticking out of it, and started reading it when she heard an argument, ‘Mom! This won’t work. You choose, it’s either me or that bitch?’ Jennifer stopped near the stairs.
‘Why do you say that? She’s not as bad as you think she is. In fact, even you never tried making amends with her, did you?’ Some silence. ‘I know, after your dad, it never worked between you two, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll never talk to each other, does it? She’s your sister, after all.’
There was someone sniffing after which Jules said, ‘You know, after she came to my room and started all this nonsense with, and before leaving, you know what she said to me? She said that she had done this all on purpose and that she would like nothing better than to beat her own little sister at the elections. She also said that she’d destroy anything that comes between the batch and her this time,’ a small pause, ‘even me.’
‘What?’ her mother whispered, too shocked to shout, ‘I don’t believe it-’
Some brisk noises came from the room, the closing of a zip, the noise of the cutlery and moving feet. ‘Of course, you wouldn’t. She is your daughter, after all.’
With that, Jules turned around and moved out of the room, where she spotted Jennifer, huddled beside the mirror table, noticed the expression on her face, smirked and moved outside.
Jenny was too shocked to move. She slowly made her way outside, the hunger inside her suddenly evaporated. She switched on her car in a blur, and drove to school, unaware of her surroundings.
‘Jennifer! I tried calling you, like a million times, and then Jules picked up the phone, said you were unwell and that you won’t come to school tomorrow. I was just coming to visit you this afternoon- What’s up?’ Alex was at her car’s window and seeing the blank expression of her friend’s face made her suspicious.
‘Jules. Apparently, she is contesting the elections too and we had this big fight last night,’ her words were rushed, and she was now choking with emotions, ‘she told mom that I was contesting them on purpose as a way to get back to her and that I would stop at nothing, even if it means, going against her.’
‘Oh honey! I’m sorry. So what do we do now?’ she stepped aside as Jennifer stepped out of the car.
Jennifer covered her face with her hands, then after a minute, smiling, got out of the car, ‘We do what we were doing. Hey Nick!’ she spotted him a hundred yards away and called out to him, at the same time whispering to Alex, ‘Don’t tell him about this.’
‘Hi Jen, Alex! So are you all ready?’ he asked. Then without waiting for an answer, he said, ‘Look, I asked my dad about all these things and he has certain knowledge pertaining to topics like these. He said the first most important thing is to be sure. It is absolutely essential that you are sure of what because you are there to represent. Secondly,’ he increased his pace as he heard the bell ring, ‘you must be convincing. You should be sure that what you do would be beneficial to not just you or me but everyone in the school. Thirdly, you have to have friends. Dad says it is no use having any of one of these three. You should be sure of the decisions you take, you must have people believe in what you are doing is right, and without people believing in you, all you work goes down the drain. So,’ he panted stopping before the classroom, ‘what do you think?’
Jennifer smiled. ‘I think that we’ll talk in lunch today.’
Two hours, forty five minutes later, Jennifer was sitting on the table, her hand twitching nervously as she waited for Nick to return from the table at the end of the room. Her lunch tray, kept in front of her, was untouched. They had just been discussing about the “campaigning” as Nick liked to call it. They had been making a list of what all they’d have to do before the elections, when Nick had strode over to a table of five, at the other end of the café. Nick returned from the table and had flung himself across the seat, when Alex had questioned, ‘What?’
‘Oh that! Lindsey is in Spanish with me and she had a great hand at art. She has gladly agreed to help us with the posters and all. She’d be over at your house after school.’
‘Thanks Nick.’ She turned to her lunch gratefully. Then something clicked and she said, ‘My house?’ she gave Alex a meaningful look.
‘Of course, why?’ Nick asked unaware of this silent exchange.
‘Well, um, uh, it is, uh,’ Alex interrupted, ‘It’s that Jules is having some friends over tonight and they’re partying. It would be difficult. Could we come at your house, because you know of how my father is, right? Please?’ she requested.
‘Sure, I’ll tell Lindsey. Around 7?’ he asked.
‘Yes, fine.’ Both Alex and Jenifer replied in unison, both red to the ears.
How’d you like it? Is it what you had expected? Like, comment and share to let me know! I hope you look forward to the next chapter.
And The Mountains Echoed has a very promising start. A sturdy story line, strong, and lively characters, in terms of their coming to life. Pari and Abdullah are two sibling who love each to death. They live in a village called Shahbagh and barely manage to make ends meet. Trouble arises when their step uncle takes a six year old Pari away in the city. Abdullah is devastated. The foundation of the story is the estrangement of these two siblings; how a single decision can affect lives, spanning around the globe from the smallest village of Afghanistan to California and Greece.
That is where the trouble comes. Hosseini introduces a horde of characters, each more forgettable than the last, their lives those small classified ads in newspapers you never bother to read. Their lives are uninteresting, boring and kept me on the verge of dropping the book.
Since there is no definite story line and each chapter tells their life, it is hard to determine what happens to those. Multiples of twists and turns that are not needed, stupidly entangles lives, uninteresting back stories. This one was a let down.
A Thousand Splendid Suns had kept my hopes up, only to see that crash like this. It was a disappointing book.
April 8, 11 pm
Its official, I am contending for the upcoming elections. So is Jules.
I don’t believe I landed myself in such a big mess. I should have never taken that ass seriously. I mean, even though Nick has been good to me and kind and friendly, I know that I can’t do this. Even though things have not been good between Jules and me lately (as usual), she is still my sister. And come to think of her, I’m not she is the one to be blamed.
I have done a lot of things that I’ll regret in the future. Jules, for instance. She hasn’t been the best of sister but she was always willing to work that thing out. The way she hops in my car, when I don’t want her to, the way she tells me stories about herself, sharing the deepest secrets that I pretended not to hear and the way she takes my clothes without asking knowing that I hate it, maybe, feeling that what was mine was hers, and vice-verse. She indulged, but it was me who was a complete ass to her.
The way I’ve treated my mother for example. I never did sympathise with what she felt, how she managed it all. I was too screwed up in my world to have thought of her. She has gone a through a lot worse than I’ve ever had to, and she ensured that. She had her heart broken in the best time of her life and had me. She never socialized, just took my care, changed my diaper, fed me whatever I wanted without a question, took her days off when I was sick and adopted a daughter just to not make me feel insecure. And look what I’ve done. I gave up on her when she needed me the most; I bitched about her at all times, and created strife between the two of us.
I’ve been a complete wreck all this time. I loved my father and all, but it wasn’t their fault that he didn’t come back. It was his. I think it’s time I got over with it. Maybe, then it would be easier for me to remain in the present and work things out than live in the past, and survive amidst broken hearts.
As for the elections, I am still not sure. If I do contest, this won’t do. All this no friends’ attitude won’t work, and I’ll need to rush back to being who I was before dad left. A cheerful girl with loads of friends, and a mom and a sister she loved, and who loved her back. If I don’t contest, I’ll still have to do the same.
Just a little thought, would it hurt Jules if I contested the way I am planning to? Yes, it would. But, it wouldn’t be counted since Jules doesn’t know if I know what she has done. I think it’s about time I thought of something.
Maybe it’s better to be in dreamland, along with our wildest fantasies, where there’s a chance for our wishes to fulfil, than to be here, in reality, where they definitely won’t. Maybe if meet Jules there, she would realize what dilemma I am in at the moment. But I don’t think I would, because she probably would be with her friends and she won’t like them to know that I’m her sister.
Set by David/Megan here, The Five Word Challenge consists of five words that are taken out of a magic word box having 500 words in it. The words for this month are:
I would advise you to watch the performance in the above link. Also, play the music while reading the story for full effect.
Five Days Ago
I have always loved travelling. My dad and I, whenever we used to take trips, he always made me record all trips. That is one huge scrapbook now. I just counted yesterday, I have visited 102 countries till now. India is going to be my 103rd. I wish to become the youngest person ever to visit all the countries of the world.
My first stop in India would be Delhi, where I’ll spend four days, after which I will drive, in a caravan, to Rajasthan. From there, I’ll start along the coastline till Kolkata. There, I’ll drop my caravan and fly to Manali and travel to Leh from there. I’m gonna be in India for a month. After that, it’s China. So India, here I come!
As I swallow my banana-n-milkshake breakfast, the steward gets my luggage and fills it in the hired RV caravan. The receptionist hands me a drive-to map from Delhi to Rajasthan and marks the best route for Alwar, my first stop.
I exit the highway and started driving on the road to Alwar. Of course, the maximum traffic always diverted when an hour before I did because Jaipur here gets the maximum tourists.
It’s been quite a while since then and I have hardly spotted a single person here.
The road I had taken ended at a fort complex. I must have taken a wrong turn. Seems like I’ve lost my way. Ughh! I have to turn all the way back, find the highway and then drive to Alwar. I’m so tired now. It’s not easy waking up at four in the morning, packing up and driving. I am erect from driving and I can feel a mild headache rising. I think I’m going to just stay and spend the night here.
I’ve had dinner. Beef cheeks, bread and cake. Lying on the stomach seems a little difficult now. There is not network here or I could have updated my blog and kept my readers busy. I think I might take a little walk around the fort, click some photographs, see where I am.
I am back. The weird thing here is that the entire fort is uninhabited. Not even a security guard is here. There is utmost silence and it’s absolutely dark. And it’s cold. I was constantly shivering. I am more than happy to be in my caravan again. I don’t know why this place is giving me the creeps. On the other hand, I took some great photographs. One of which is a signboard. To bad I don’t have a network, I could’ve translated what this means.
I am reading my book but my mind keeps wandering to what my friend, Lisa told me while I was with her at the JFK Airport. She kept telling me how when she had heard from her friends that Rajasthan is the state of India’s most haunted place, Bhangarh. She told me all sorts of absurd stories about ghosts, phantoms, vampires, werewolves, doppelgangers and witches. I just laughed at them. I mean, the Winchester Mansion in California is supposed to be haunted. How many times have we been there? Seven. Did we see any ghost? No.
I have finished my book. It was a sweet story. I, however, don’t feel very sweet today. I am irked and on my nerves. Maybe it’s just the long day unwinding on me. Outside, it’s pitch black. I don’t know what’s with this place. I’m going to get out of here the first thing tomorrow morning.
I’m drifting off to sleep. A light breeze starts somewhere and ruffles my hair. It feels misty outside and I can feel the moon’s gentle, shimmery light enveloping me. Somewhere, I hear something howl and with the tufts of winds outside, I sleep.
The Next Morning
The eagles fly high in the blue sky and the sun shines in all it’s glory. Some two thousand feet below, the area around the Bhangarh Fort is buzzing with activity. A local passing by found a fully mutilated body of an American woman recognized as Eliza Jonas, who had lost her way. The police claim the body has been in such a condition for the past seven days.
At the dining table at the Cruise’s, the table was scattered with papers, bent over them three heads, belonging to Jennifer, Alex and Nick. As soon as Jennifer told them of her plan, both screamed in unison, ‘No freaking way!’
Jennifer had invited Nick to her house to plan their next move. He had gladly agreed, and Jenny had started liking his company very much. He always knew the appropriate thing to say, and when not to. He cracked okay jokes when the atmosphere got too tense. He also contributed good ideas, however crappy they may seem later.
Yet, so far, they had had nothing. Each of them gave ideas which were rejected by either one of the two. And Jennifer was tired. ‘Come on guys, we can’t be hopeless?’ she cried at 7:30 evening by the watch.
‘Yes we are. Listen, it’s getting late. I think we should all sleep over it and think of what to do,’ Nick said, gathering his stuff of the table. ‘Listen, Jules is your sister after all. Maybe you can take some tips, about you know, how to do this.’
‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ she said irritated. Then seeing the expression on his face, she said dejectedly, ‘I’ll think about it,’ she groaned, ‘okay! But this one last time.’
‘Cool, I’ll see you tomorrow at school. Are you leaving too Alex?’ he questioned.
‘Yes, just five minutes. Jenny, I’ll do some research off the internet and see how this is done. I may even talk to Earl,’ her neighbour, who had stood in the city elections as an independent, ‘and I’ll call you later.’
She stood up and left with Nick, who was waiting patiently at the door.
Tired but so, she made her way her way to Jules’ room grudgingly. Her and Adrian’s room was entirely pink, pink carpets, pink walls, pink sofa, pink bed sheets. She felt as though she was entering a parallel universe which was only pink. The main feature of their room was a mirror that covered up the entire wall facing the room, and a small wooden slab that extended along the breadth of the mirror. The slab was littered with bottles of perfumes, nail polish, combs, curlers, and all sorts of beautifying cosmetics ever invented. As she entered, she saw Jules sitting on a small stool, in front of the mirror, straightening her hair. Jules saw Jennifer enter.
‘Aren’t we in the wrong room?’ she commented.
‘No we aren’t. I wanted to ask you something,’ she replied awkwardly, ‘I know we don’t talk and all, but I want to ask you something.’
‘What? Your T-shirt back? I don’t have it,’ she sarcastically said.
‘Well, I’m sorry for that. I was just irritated when you had come, and so I was bad. Listen, how, I mean, what do you do-’ she hesitated, ‘I’ll get straight to the point.’ Rushing forward she said, ‘I have given my name forward to something social. I want to know how you do that. Become popular, that is. Because what I’ve done needs public attention immediately.’
‘What have you done?’ she asked suspiciously.
‘Well, I have, um, offered my name, um for the elections in school. And this can only be done, once I am popular enough to get voted to win.’ Long silence prevailed while Jules digested this, with Jen standing in front of her, her face on fire, literally. She had already hung her face so as to avoid all the color, that had nonetheless, come. Once she felt that the danger had passed, she allowed herself to peek. Jules looked shell shocked, a frown resting on her face, and arms folded above her chest.
Finally, Jules said in an eerily calming voice, ‘You did that on purpose, right? You couldn’t bear to have me enjoy my share of popularity this year now, could you?’
Her words stung, not only because of what she said, but also because of what she meant. However, before she could dwell further on the matter, her sister ordered, and her voice as hard as steel, ‘Get out. Get out before I do something terrible.’
An assortment of emotions made themselves present while Jennifer made her way across the room. On the way to her room, she saw sprawled on the bed, watching the television. Feeling the day wouldn’t be worsened if she talked to her; she went inside, ‘Mom!’
‘Hey, are your friends gone?’ she asked nonchalantly.
‘Yes.’ After some deliberate thinking on the pretence of watching the TV, she asked, ‘I haven’t had the chance to talk to you for a long time now. Everything fine at work, at Jules’ school?’
‘Of course. In fact, things couldn’t be better at the job, and my elder daughter seems to be paying attention to what her mother is saying today, which is as good as a gift that anyone can ever give. Besides that, Jules seems to be getting her mind off the puberty changes and seems to be putting her popularity to good use. So it’s great going for me,’ she informed. After a while, she asked softly, ‘What about you?’
‘Oh I’m fine, just the usual high school drama,’ she answered vaguely, but her mind had stuck on to one sentence that her mother had said, “and seems to be putting her popularity to good use”. She knew she had to ask. ‘Uh, mom. What did you mean about Jules putting her popularity to good use?’
‘Well, she is going to contest the school elections this year. She got herself written down today, with some Okra woman. She said there is another senior girl who has signed, but she’s pretty confident of herself. She told me that the posts for the treasurer, the secretary and the editor were the most preferred. She said that Mrs Ohra-’
‘Okra,’ Jennifer corrected.
‘- had told her that her chances are pretty high as the other girls are not like her, pretty, smart, popular too.’ She suddenly started, ‘You know, when I was your age, popularity was not important. What mattered was that how good the good was, excelling not only in academics, but sports and drama as well. There were a few things that were a must in the kids selected. Loyalty,’ she counted them off the fingers, ’team spirit, sincerity, integrity, laborious, and lastly, honesty.’ She held up a reminiscent finger, ‘Oh those were good days, they were. No responsibility, no prohibitions, no seriousness, all of us were children that time. I wish you had been there too; you would have enjoyed that time a lot more than you do this one. With everyone loving you for you who are, not who they want you to be. I admire you for that, for your uniqueness. ’ She moved back to the TV.
‘Yeah, me too,’ Jennifer whispered.
Jennifer was running in the hallway but she didn’t care. She had done it. She had finally done something that would do her good. And she wanted to tell Alex and Nick first. And she wanted to apologise and thank Nick.
No matter how hard she appeared on the outside, she still had a warm heart. Alex could guarantee you that. No one would let in a girl barely covered and give her bed to sleep and some food to eat. No one would stand up against a drunkard father for a girl they hardly knew. No one would silently cry at night and say how much they miss their devastated family. No one. No one except Jennifer.
She was just in front of Mr. Warner’s room before Nick came out, accompanying Alex.
‘- I wouldn’t tell you where Jennifer is. Please Nick, I am requesting you, please her life is messed up already, she doesn’t need random challenges to trouble her more than she already is.’ She saw Jennifer.
‘Oh god Jennifer! Where were you all this time? I was worried about you sick,’ she said, noticing her expression, as she was staring at Nick’s face. ‘Everything all right?’
‘Yes,’ she said without turning. ‘Would you mind if I talk to Nick privately?’
‘No sure, I’ll meet you in the cafe,’ she said, a little surprised. She turned around and walked away, not turning back once.
As soon as Alex was out of earshot, Jennifer began, ‘Look, I am here for two reasons. Firstly, I want to apologize to you for what happened the other night. I was upset and then you irritated me and I took it all out on you. I know you don’t deserve it. You’re a good guy and sorry. Secondly I want to thank you.’ She put her hand out in front with palms facing Nick as she noticed he was speaking up and said, ‘I wanted to thank you too. For what you said that day, about the elections. I talked to the-’ she gave up on telling her about the counsellor, ‘-thought a lot about it and felt that it would be great for me to move on, which I clearly haven’t.’
She started blabbering then. ‘Of course with my father out of house, a darned mother who doesn’t care about anything, a hypersensitive sister, and you challenging me on top of that, provided you are too good to me and-’ she stopped herself, feeling the color rise in her cheeks as she noticed Nick who wore a confused expression somewhere between amusement and mocking laughter. ‘Thanks,’ she said finally, ‘would you like to join us for lunch?’ she held out her hand.
‘Yes, sure,’ he smiled and together they walked into the café, past all the tables till they got to one in which Alex was sitting, her eyes wide with disbelief.
‘Hey Jennifer, what’s up?’ she asked.
‘Alex, Nick. Nick, Alex,’ she flicked her hand slightly from one to another, introducing them.
‘Hey Alex, Nice to formally meet you,’ Nick winked. ‘Yeah you too,’ Alex replied embarrassed on the way she had talked to him earlier.
They both picked up their lunch trays and walked to the seats. The great thing was that no one paid slight attention to them, especially Jules and her gang of cheer girls. She was glad to be invisible for once, unheard, unseen and unspoken by all.
‘So, why thank me?’ Nick asked once they had settled down, ‘I mean, it’s not like you’re contesting, right?’
‘Well, that’s where you’re wrong,’ she said teasing him. ‘I had this totally awesome idea last night. We are unpopular nerds, unseen and unspoken. This is our chance to come out of the shell, right? I mean, it’s high time this differentiation between the jocks and the nerds is dissolved. And more than that, it gives hopes to a lot of students who are just like us, who want to make friends, but are just unable to do so?’
‘You got good ideas, Jennifer Cruise. Any idea how you’re going to do it?’ he asked, but she didn’t like the emphasis he laid on how. She had thought about it. Getting yourself registered was just one thing. There are thousand people to influence, to convince and to represent; at least that’s what she had learnt in World Politics.
‘Well, I don’t know. I guess, I’ll start by doing just this,’ she waved her hand over the table.
‘Which is what?’ he asked, biting into his sandwich.
She said, smiling grandly, ‘Making friends.’
Jennifer woke up the next morning. She was still lying on the bed when she heard Alex shout, ‘Jenny, come down, it’s getting late.’
She jumped from the bed and made her way to the bathroom, with her eyes half closed and SMACK! She slammed into the door. The bathroom was locked. She cursed, grabbed her secret toothbrush from under the mattress on the bed and started brushing. With a calm peaceful head, she decided how to deal with this whole “Nick Issue” as she had started calling it. Once thing was certain, she would have to contest the elections, there was no way out. She had to prove Nick, Adrian, Jules and Jason wrong.
She made a quick plan. While getting dressed, she took a pen and a pad and wrote down:
Things to do for Elections:
She put this list inside her jeans’ pocket and moved downstairs, where Alex was sitting on the dining table with a cereal bowl in front of her, reading the morning newspaper. Jules was applying lipstick looking at a small mirror, and her mom was still in her gown, with a cup of coffee in one hand.
‘Hey there, you slept well?’ Alex asked, smiling as she saw Jennifer coming downstairs. ‘I’ll make you coffee.’
‘Thanks, but I’ll skip, I suppose. I’m not hungry today,’ she said and made her way out of the front door.
She heard Alex packing her stuff and saying, ‘Thanks Mrs. Cruise for letting me stay. I had a really good time.’ She turned on the car and honked, twice.
Alex came out looking hurried, and flushed. ‘What happened?’ Jenny asked. ‘Nothing,’ she replied, and they drove to the school in silence. Finally after they parked at school, Alex said, ‘So girl, I heard you sniffing yesterday night. What’s up?’
‘I have been thinking about it, about what Nick said,’ she said, ignoring the remark.
‘I am going to contest the school elections. And I am going to win,’ she said determined. ‘I’ll talk to the coordinator today. You want to come?’ she asked, stepping out of the car.
‘Na, you go. I have to talk to Mr. Hess about some Trig questions. I’ll see you later,’ she said, and moved away.
Twenty five minutes later, Jennifer was sitting in the counsellor, Mrs. Okra’s office. She had first taken an appointment with the counsellor specifically for the third period, English, so as to avoid talking to Nick. She had purchased the school newspaper as well and had found out, luckily, that Mrs. Okra was also the election coordinator. She could not believe she was doing this. However, she would not back out. The door opened, and Mrs. Okra came inside.
‘Well, well,’ Mrs. Okra said, ‘I was wondering when you’d come in.’ Mrs. Okra was a pretty woman in her late twenties. She had a soft, nasal voice yet, her voice usually had a calming effect on students. It was rumoured at Bowman’s that she wasn’t married but used ‘Mrs’ to keep the students from hitting on her. Presently, she seated herself across the table, in front of Jennifer.
‘Why would that be?’ Jenny asked.
‘You feature in many students’ sessions,’ she said simply. ‘Why are you here?’
‘Well, um, there’s this thing,’ she said hesitatingly.
Mrs. Okra said, ‘There is no need for you to hesitate, love. You can speak out loud. There is no one to listen to you, except me and that’s what I’m here for, so speak up.’
‘Well, I don’t know what to say,’ she finally said. ‘I have a family yet I don’t. My mom kicked out my dad years ago and since then, I hate her. My sister is too ashamed to even admit that we are sisters, because I am not popular, so it’s bad for her image. My best friend’s father is a drunkard and hits her daily and she is totally dependent on me like I am on her. A guy said to me that I need an attitude adjustment, and then challenged me to contest the elections. I have absolutely no family, friends and no social life. I hate myself.’ She sighed. ‘Is it possible to disappear from the world, without anyone noticing?’
‘Oh honey!’ she said worriedly, ‘There is absolutely nothing that should threaten you. So what if your mom doesn’t love you, you love her back. Maybe one day, she’ll realize that she did her greatest mistake is not loving her daughter. So what if your dad didn’t return. Just live with the faith that he always has someone looking over you, someone who will take care of you during the tough times,’ she paused. ‘Your sister is one of the foolish people to believe that her friends would stay with her forever. Yes they may, yet nothing would be able to replace your importance in her life.’
‘You think so?’ she asked quietly.
‘Yes of course. I feel you are an open book. You don’t like to keep your likes and dislikes in private. You’re not one of those who are all sweet and caring in front, and bitching behind people’s backs. And this is a quality that is admired by all, honesty. You are honest with your thoughts and that’s what makes you unique, unlike the rest.’ She spoke, suddenly serious, ‘As for the boy who challenged you, and said you needed an attitude adjustment, just prove him wrong. Like he said, contest. And win. Don’t get intimidated by him. This is just high school. What would you do when you enter the real world? ’
‘I had thought about that,’ she said earnestly, ‘but who would vote for a girl who’s not popular and social, and lacks friends and apparently needs and “attitude adjustment”?’
‘So what, you don’t let that trouble you. Make some,’ she said. ‘Well, I’m afraid time is running out Ms. Cruise. If you need some more sessions, you may take an appointment any time you like. I would be there for you,’ she smiled.
Just as Mrs. Okra started gathering her stuff, the bell rang, Jennifer hurriedly said, ‘Put my name down. On the list, will you?’ and rushed out of the room.