Hi, I’m J from the book Just J. Colin’s letting me use his blog to let you know that my book (yes my, not his, he just took dictation, but being a guy, he let the woman do the work, then took the credit for himself—typical) is available wherever good books are sold. If your local store doesn’t have it, that doesn’t necessarily mean they suck, it might just mean you have to enlighten them so that they can order some. If they say they can’t get it in then, yes, I’m sorry, but that does mean they suck and you should enlighten them to that too. And then order it online and bring the copy to the store to show them what they’re missing. Together we can make the world more helpful and more intelligent: you can’t have one without the other.
Now, here’s the first chapter from my book.
My past is misery; my present, agony; my future, bleak. And it is not just because I’m a thirteen-year-old girl, or because I’m too thin or too tall or because my hair is red (it’s orange actually—but they call it red).
I admit, in the big picture my life wouldn’t rank very high on the downtrodden scale. Not if you compare me to a kid dying of AIDS in Africa or fearing bombs in a war zone, but who thinks about the big picture? You think about your family and friends, your school, your work, your neighbors—how you measure up.
My circle hasn’t just shrunk, it’s gone pear-shaped as well. In recent months it’s consisted of home, school and the hospital—that’s it. All of it.
Other kids lives are a heck of a lot bigger than mine, which is ironic, considering how much smaller their minds are. Do I sound bitter? I don’t mean to. I’m not bitter, I’m downright furious.
The sky sympathizes. It’s an empty gray, and thunder gives voice to my fury, saving me the trouble of screaming, which I have every right to do. Especially since, on top of everything else, Dad is making me ride in the same car as The Wicked Witch of all compass points associated with anything demonic. She’s pure evil in a black business suit. Her jet-black hair is tied back in a bun so tight you’d think she was trying to give herself a facelift. Her eyes-- two lumps of blackest coal-- are set off by ghostly white, almost transparent, skin. Her suit does little to contain her breasts, which stick out like the noses on a pair of bloodhounds who have just caught their prey’s scent-- my dad being the prey. Of course he doesn’t see her that way.
“It’ll be okay,” she stupidly says to him.
My eyes bore hateful thoughts through the Explorer’s headrest and into The Thing’s brain as she sits comfortably in the passenger seat. Maybe I’ll give her an aneurysm, or I’ll give myself one; either would improve the situation.
The way It ogles my father makes me glad I skipped breakfast.
The sun’s coming out now, shining through the trees as the rain continues to fall. The sun tries to cheer me up, outlining every dancing drop. The wind holds the beads of water in the air, giving them life. The sun-shower becomes a million tiny water babies sent to entertain me.
The late June greenery emerges emerald from the mist as we wind through the Don Valley. The rain totally disappears as mother sun takes her little droplets home--what was comforting suddenly seems cruel.
As we turn onto Bloor Street, I’m happy to say goodbye to the trees and wrap myself in cold steel and hardened concrete. If only I could stop the sun from keeping an eye on me. I don’t feel like being sunny today.
They say, life goes on. That the sun is still going to come up in the morning.
But why? Why must the sun always come up in the morning? Why can’t it take a day off? Why can’t we all take a day off to reflect on how screwed up everything is?
The only way to be free is to not need anything from anyone, even the sun. That way no one can hurt you or leave you when you need them the most. That’s when they always go. That’s when she left--when I needed her the most. What kind of a mother leaves her thirteen-year-old daughter?
This morning—the day of her funeral—I got my first period! It’s like she planned it that way. Her voice comes from behind a cloud, or wherever the hell she is—pun intended. “You’re a woman now and you’ll have to look after yourself.”
It was disgusting!
I used bunched up toilet paper for the first two hours until Dad could “pull himself together” enough to get out of their bathroom so I could see if Mom had left any tampons; she had—thank God.
I don’t know why Dad’s upset. He’s already found The She-devil—Mom’s instant replacement. Mom and Dad were high school sweethearts from grade nine on--how do you replace that? And almost overnight!
He says The She-devil’s “a friend who only wants to help us through a difficult time.”
He’s either naive, stupid or lying—my money’s on all three. No way am I going to let her “help” me.
“J,” Billy whines, tugging my sleeve and looking up at me with urgency in his clear blue eyes. Almost everybody calls me J. Jenevieve is too long, Jen is too short and Jenny is too perky. Billy’s my five-year-old brother. He’s all right, in his little pinstripe suit with his blond hair cut and styled like a junior executive: straight across the back and every hair arranged perfectly on top --a mini-Dad, poor kid. Of course Dad’s hair is no longer thick enough to be perfect on top and each year it gets closer to gray than blond. Mom wouldn’t have approved of The Witch’s new look for Billy.
Billy doesn’t really understand what’s going on—about Mom, I mean. He cried a lot the at the hospital after Mom died, but I think that was just because everyone else was crying. He’s been fine ever since. I’m sure he likes the fact that nobody hassles him about how much time he’s spending watching TV or playing his Game Boy. He even gets to watch martial arts films on the big screen TV instead of sneaking into my bedroom to see them. Not that I watch them of course—well, only with Billy. Mom thought they were too violent, so we kept it on the down-low, sneaking them out of Dad’s DVD library.
“What?” I ask, leaving out the is it now part of the sentence.
“I need to pee,” he says.
“You’ll have to wait ‘til we get to the funeral home.”
“I don’t know if I can,” he whines.
“You’re going to have to,” I tell him as he squeezes his crotch for dramatic effect. I can’t help but feel a little sorry for him. “We’re almost there. Just think of something else.” The last thing I need today is a little brother in wet pants.
“’If you could read my mind love…’” I begin singing a Gordon Lightfoot song—not the coolest, I know. Not that I care. Mom used to sing it to get Billy to go to sleep.
We were going to see Gordon Lightfoot in concert, Mom and me, but then she got sick. Dad said I was too young to go on my own and that he couldn’t take me because he had to stay with Mom. He said I could go if I went with another kid from school. Like that was going to happen—I keep my musical tastes to myself to avoid total humiliation. Dad used Mom’s illness to get out of pretty much everything—mainly raising Billy and me.
The Shrew glares at me in the rear-view mirror as if my singing is inappropriate. What would she know? I doubt she has a mother; she was probably hatched from demon-seed.
Friend of the family along to help out, my butt! She’s no friend of mine.
I wonder if they have holy water at funeral homes? I could just throw some on her and be done with it.
As the car pulls to a stop, she puts her front hoof onto Dad’s shoulder. Dad takes a deep breath, trying to get into character as the grieving husband.
“I’m here for you,” The Creature says, oh so sympathetically.
Dad opens the door, making a rapid exit as The Thing turns to Billy and me.
“Come on, children,” It instructs, as if we’re both five years old. She couldn’t get more patronizing.
I take Billy’s hand and we’re quickly out of the car. I’m praying we make it to the washroom in time.
“That’s all right, Jenevieve. I’ll take your brother.” I stand corrected; she can get more patronizing.
“He’s fine with me,” I firmly inform her.
“Jenevieve, your father doesn’t need you being difficult.”
She tears Billy from my side, lifts him up and cradles him on her hip.
I start to protest but catch myself just in time. I give an obedient and understanding smile and lean into Billy.
“I’ll meet you inside, okay, buddy?” I say, stroking his hair and giving him a little tickle under his arm. It does the trick.
That may not be holy water running down The Creature’s side, but it’ll do for now.
Copyright © Colin Frizzell 2007. All rights reserved.