know what it feels like to have your world come apart at the seams?
From Shiri Langfordâs journal, March 28th
I love Brendan so much. I never thought I could feel this way. I canât explain it without sounding maudlin, without channeling the Romantic poets or sounding like a sentimental movie. Itâs the most amazing feeling.
Iâve told him all about my family, how screwed up my dad and my half-brother are, and how frustrated it makes me that my mom just canât seem to see it. He doesnât think Iâm crazy or messed up, he just smiles and kisses me and then eventually we seem to end up in bed, and later we lie there and talk and he tells me about how he worries about his little brother, whoâs mixed up with a bad crowd of kids at home.
Sometimes, after he talks about Neal I end up worrying about Sunny, but I know I shouldnât. She always seems so secure, so sure of herself. Unlike me.
The next day at lunch, Mikaela and I are sitting next to each other at the orange picnic table, on the bench nearest the building wall. Itâs raining, drumming lightly on the awning. An occasional droplet blows in on a gust of wind and catches me on the face, or on my hands clenched tightly in my lap.
Cody, Becca, and the rest of the goth crew just took off for the lunchtime pep rally in the gymâto âridicule the conformist masses,â or so they claimed. I asked Mikaela if sheâd stick around so I could ask her about something. She agreed, saying she doesnât like watching anorexic cheerleaders waving their stick-limbs around anyway.
Once everyone else is out of sight, we both scoot down so that our shoulders and heads are resting on the wall behind us and our legs are up on the table. Trying to work up the nerve to talk to her, I stare at my plain white canvas sneakers lying there next to her vintage knee-high purple Doc Martens. Typical Mikaela: outrageous. Typical me: blah. I might as well still be part of the Zombie Squad.
I let out an explosive sigh.
âWhat?â Mikaela nudges me.
How can I explain it to her? Iâm incredibly lucky, I know that much. I could have been spending the rest of the year eating lunch on my own, wondering if Iâd done the right thing. But Mikaela and her friendsâthey let me stay. Why did they even care? I hate to feel suspicious of everybody, but I need to know what Iâm doing here.
And yet, I worry that if I question it, itâll all fall apart, like a dream about flying where you suddenly realize hey, people canât fly.
âNothing,â I say. She stares at me. âI just hate these shoes. Theyâre boring.â
âThatâs it ? Youâre bumming out about having boring shoes?â She snorts a laugh. âOkay. On the scale of lifeâs major problems, thatâs one we can easily address.â
âYeah, but â¦ â I make a frustrated noise. This isnât happening how I imagined it. I blurt out, âWhy me?â
âAre we having a philosophical discussion now?â She grins.
âNo! What I meant was â¦ â I take a deep breath. âWhy are you guys okay with hanging out with me? You didnât have to humor me when I just showed up here uninvited.â I stare at my knees, afraid to look at her face. âBut you didnât kick me out.â
Thereâs silence for a moment. I bite my thumbnail anxiously and listen to the rain dripping off the awning.
âListen,â Mikaela finally says. âI will freely admit that at first, I was driven by morbid fascination.â Her voice is a little sheepish, and I glance up. Sheâs staring into the distance with a tiny, embarrassed smile. âI know, I suck. But trust me, I got over it. I can now truly say that I find you a worthwhile person. Regardless of your footwear.â
Still not looking at me, she flicks one of my tennis shoes with a black-painted fingernail. Just like that, the
Stephen King, Matthew Broderick, Tim Curry, Eve Beglarian