A glass of crazy, p.13
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       A Glass of Crazy, p.13

           Tina Laningham
 
When we got to the apartment, I gathered groceries in the back seat and carried them to the kitchen where Mom waited, shaking her head like we were going to talk.

  I went to my room and shut the door. I expected Mom to come in, but then I overheard her talking to Dad on the phone, so I cracked the door a bit.

  "She's a teenager now," Mom yelled. "I had to pick her up at the police station!"

  I wish I knew what Dad was saying.

  "They went for a joy ride in my car and nearly drove into the Gulf!"

  Okay, I needed equal time.

  "Look, John. You better start spending less on your little floozy and more on your daughter. I can't support her on the pocket change you call child support. You ought to be ashamed!"

  My stomach tightened.

  "I don't have a job," she said.

  I don't know what Dad talked about after that, but it must've been bad because Mom shrieked and turned off the phone.

  I squeezed the door shut, stretched out on the bed and closed my eyes. Just as I tried with all my might to erase everything from my mind, Mom came in. I shot up, wild-eyed.

  "How 'bout burgers and fries tonight?" She looked defeated. "Watch TV?"

  "Sounds good," I said with a weak smile.

  While Mom went to get burgers, I sat on the sofa and texted Rafa. My elbow knocked something off the end table, but I was too busy texting to see what it was.

  Abby: u ok?

  Rafa: yes ok

  Rafa: u?

  Abby: fabulous

  I reached down and picked up an orange bottle filled with some prescription Mom probably had for her migraines. Take one every four hours for pain. Oh. My. God. Painkillers. They ought to prescribe these to kids whose parents are crazy. I popped one in my mouth and downed it with some watered down vodka. I deserved it after nearly going to jail. I mean God, those police officers have traumatized me for life. I closed my eyes and waited for the vodka to swim through my soul.

  A burger, some fries and two sitcoms later, I had to ask. Even though the risk of Mom blowing up again was huge, I didn't care. The painkiller brought a smile to my face and put a fluffy cloud around me. Nothing Mom might possibly say could penetrate my feel-good cloud. I peered sideways. "So, ahem, Mom, what happened to that job you had at the appliance store?"

  "Oh honey," she picked up the burger wrappers and took them to the kitchen. "I disagreed with the store manager on the first day. Apparently, you're not supposed to do that."

  I don't remember anything after that.

  I woke up in my bed with Mom standing over me, saying something about taking me to school.

  I sent Rafa a text:

  Abby: c u at school. Mom's taking me.

  Rafa: ok c u

  I loved Rafa, but painkillers were my new best friend. Mom seemed okay on the drive to school, but I was cautious.

  "Why'd you rip up those jeans?" Mom asked.

  I wasn't about to tell her my nickname was Ghetto Girl and that I had started this fashion trend. Instead I said, "It's the latest thing," which wasn't a lie.

  When she pulled up to the school, a group of kids walked by with their clothes all torn up and Mom said, "I see."

  Rafa waved me over at the steps of the school. "Everything good?" he asked.

  "Lovely. Did you get in trouble?"

  "No one in my family can know about the police thing," Rafa said. "You can't tell anyone at school or my parents could find out."

  "No prob, shish kabob." That sounded lame and I'm not sure why I said it. I think it was something Dad used to say when I was little. When I got to my locker, the custodian had painted over the black spray paint and the vandal had used red paint this time to write, Ghetto Girl Germ with an arrow pointing to a dot that had been circled.

  Rafa and I stared at each other and shrugged. Most kids passing by gripped yellow pieces of paper and they seemed to walk as far away from me as possible. While reading a new message on his phone, Rafa got a funny look on his face.

  "What?" I asked.

  "You have mono?"

  I grabbed his phone and read the message:

  Extreme Mono Alert!!! Ghetto Girl Contagious!!!

  A yellow flier lying in the hallway with a big sneaker footprint said the same thing.

  I glared at the yellow sheet. "Megan," I said softly. Ouch.

  Rafa dropped his head. "I can't fix this for you."

  "Oh, I'm sure Mr. Bald is all over it." I didn't let Rafa see me rolling my eyes.

  Everyone stayed away from me, which wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but it wasn't making me feel good about myself either. By the time I got to English class, I was used to it.

  The second I walked in, the room went silent like someone had flipped a switch that cut the sound. The triple Ps plus Megan sat along the wall, hands clasped on desks, looking straight ahead, smiling. I wanted to smack them. Instead, I turned to Rafa and said, "Never hate people who are jealous of you. Respect their jealousy because they think you're better." Again the aliens had taken over my body. I had no idea where that came from. Wait, actually I did.

  "Well said!" Mr. Oliver wrote it on the board. "To whom do I credit this quote?"

  "John Alexander," I said. "My dad."

  "Perfect." Mr. Oliver wrote Dad's name on the board.

  A few kids sneered. I chalked it up to jealousy and gave it the respect it deserved.

  "Today you will write a story about jealousy." Mr. Oliver bounced a tea bag in a cup. "You may begin."

  At first I wanted to write about how the Organization of Mean Girls, better known as OMG, invented Ghetto Girl to glorify their meanness. But when OMG got jealous of their own creation, they destroyed her. I didn't write about that, but it made me realize Ghetto girl was only fiction, which meant the attacks on Ghetto Girl were fictitious, too. Forget Ghetto Girl. It was time to be Abby again.

  I wrote my name at the top of the page. Hopefully it was true I possessed some kind of freaky magic powers and whatever I decided to write about would actually come true. I touched my pen to the paper and began writing:

  Once upon a time, there lived a Princess named Abigail who spent much of her time playing with fairies in the family castle. The fairies had magic wands and made all of Abigail's wishes come true. When she wished for a basketball, the wish was granted. When she wished for a yellow mountain bike, one appeared out of nowhere. Princess Abigail loved the fairies and they loved her.

  One day, the King came home and announced to the Queen he had fallen in love with a different Queen and he left the castle forever. The old Queen was jealous and the Princess was sad because they both loved the King and couldn't understand why he didn't want to live with them any longer. "I don't love you anymore," said the King. "I am in love with a more beautiful Queen."

  After the King left, the old Queen didn't have enough money to buy food for herself and the Princess. She sold her most valued possessions, including her throne, but soon that money was gone, too. One day she called the King and asked for some gold coins and the King said, "No" because the prettier Queen had already spent all of his coins. Now the old Queen was mad.

  Finally, the old Queen had to sell the castle. On a cold and rainy day, the old Queen and the Princess moved into a hut in a nearby village. The old Queen was so sad, she could barely get out of bed. Princess Abigail wished for a big pot of gold so she and the Queen could move back into the castle and their lives could go back to normal. But there was a problem. The fairies who granted the wishes lived in the castle.

  One night, Princess Abigail sneaked out of the hut, borrowed the old Queen's horse, and rode to the castle. She found a fairy who waved her magic wand and said the wish had been granted. When Abigail returned to the hut, gold coins overflowed from the huge kettle in the fireplace. The old Queen and the Princess moved back into the castle and when the flowers bloomed in Spring, the King came home, too. He told the old Queen and the Princess he loved them very much and they all lived happily ever after.

 
; Just before the bell rang, Mr. Oliver told us to pass our papers to the front.

  "Well?" I said to Rafa.

  "Well what?" Rafa handed his paper to the girl sitting in front him.

  "What did you write about?"

  "None of your business."

  I really didn't care because he probably wrote about how the prince was jealous of some girl's dress at the ball.

  "I hope you made a good wish this time," he said. "Maybe you are a curandera."

  I smiled half-heartedly. My writing had sucked. A princess in a castle-I mean seriously, could that story be any more unoriginal? I could forget about winning the Teen Fantasy Writers' novel contest this year. It was official. I'd been reduced to a shallow, self-obsessed girl who constantly writes about herself in a journal because she's completely devoid of talent.

  After school, I was surprised to see Mom's Mercedes parked out front. Her pills must have worn off for a few minutes.

  Rafa looked up while unlocking his bike. "Tell me your wish."

  "I wished for money, lots of it."

  "Then you better buy a lotto ticket," he said.

  Mom gave me the silent treatment all the way home and I had no idea why, but it didn't matter. If she wanted to hate me, she was going to have to get in line.

  Finally, when we stepped in the apartment, Mom said, "Why did Mr. Baldwin call to ask if you had mononucleosis? You better not be having sex."

  My mouth dropped but no words came out.

  "Go to your room," she said.

  "It was a prank!"

  "You think that's funny?"

  "The kids at school pulled a prank on me. They were being mean."

  Mom studied my eyes like she was trying to figure out if I was lying. "I better not find out you're having sex," she said and turned away.

  I went straight to my room, shut the door and curled up in a little ball. The only thing standing between me and the vodka and painkillers was Mom. At some point, she would have to pee. I waited patiently, like a lioness waiting for her prey.

  Later that night, I arrived in the pain-free zone. While I was deleting my membership on friendworld, Mom opened the door, but didn't come in.

  From the hallway she said, "I just spoke with your father."

  I was surprised at how unexcited I was about that.

  "You're going to Mexico for Thanksgiving."

  That got my attention.

  "You leave Sunday," she said, "for the whole week."

  Nothing came out of my mouth, even though I had a million questions. Mom waited a few more seconds for me to speak, then closed the door.

  I picked up the phone and called Rafa.

  "I get to see my dad," I said the second he answered.

  "Ah, that is good. When?"

  "Sunday. For a whole week."

  "Don't forget to buy a lotto ticket," he said. "You will win. I know this."

  "I have to get a dollar first-I'll get some quarters out of Mom's car."

  "My brother says you cannot buy the ticket because you are not eighteen."

  "Did you ask if he'll buy it for me?"

  "Yes," Rafa replied. "He will do it."

  I turned off the light and got under the covers. Tomorrow was Friday. I'd give Rafa four quarters for the lottery ticket, win millions of dollars on Saturday, and on Sunday, I'd finally be with Dad. Just like the hurricane story, the new story I wrote in Mr. Oliver's class would come true. I squeezed my eyes and made the wish.

  - 14 -

 
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