A glass of crazy, p.37
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       A Glass of Crazy, p.37

           Tina Laningham
I went to my room to call Daniel, but after clicking the door shut, a strange feeling came over me that was hard to describe, like danger was near. Perhaps calling Daniel was a bad idea. I sat on the bed and stared at the bookshelf without actually focusing on anything. The feeling of impending danger probably wasn't real. I mean, when have my feelings ever been appropriate to the situation? I was shocked that Mom hadn't deleted the eight text messages from Daniel, mostly saying to call him, oh and three from Megan that just said, "???"

  I curled up on the bed and sent Megan a text:

  Abby: r u there?

  Ten minutes later, my committee convened to discuss all the reasons Megan hadn't replied. She hates you. If she betrayed you once, she'll betray you twice. You're lower than a worm and don't deserve friends. I turned over on the bed and hoped the committee would stop, but it didn't. "Fire them," Dr. Drake had said. "Just fire them." I wish it were that easy.

  When I figured out why my eyes kept wandering back to the bookshelf, the wave of fear returned-I'd hidden water bottles full of vodka there. I leapt out of bed, reached over the books and scoured the empty space behind them. Ka-ching! I pulled out the first bottle and tossed it on the bed. Ka-ching! Bottle number two. As I pulled out bottle number three, Rafa opened the door and his bright spirit transformed into pure loathing.

  "Don't get your panties in a wad," I said. "Help me dump all this vodka."

  Rafa's spirit recovered nicely and he started at the bottom shelf while I worked my way up to the top. We found two more bottles and carried them to the kitchen where Mom had just finished cleaning up. "Mom-" I started to explain, but her face lit up and she said, "A vodka dumping ceremony!"

  "Yes, indeed," I said. "It's time to say goodbye to my not-so-loyal friend, Ms. Vodka." I unscrewed one of the plastic caps. "She seemed sweet at first, luring me with the warmth and comfort I craved; but she destroyed my relationships with everyone I loved." I took a moment to acknowledge Mom and then Rafa. "I won't miss you," I said, raising the bottle high. And then, ceremoniously, I turned it upside down and the clear liquid danced its way out of the bottle to the sink below. I held my breath to keep from inhaling any fumes, but by the end of the second bottle, I needed air and sucked in another breath. Magically, no fumes entered my nasal passages, which surprised me at first, but then I remembered that vodka didn't have much of an odor, which was why I'd chosen it as my constant companion in the first place. I took another sniff. Nothing. Finally, I sniffed directly into the bottle and found no trace of alcohol whatsoever. I shrieked, "This is water!"

  Mom had the guiltiest look, ever, and just as I started to unleash my rage, Rafa laughed. "She loves you," he said, grabbing me in a headlock and swaying back and forth. "Don't be mad because someone loves you."

  I didn't trust my feelings, but I trusted Rafa's. His first instinct was to see the positive side, unlike mine. "Okay, okay." I tickled his belly and he released me from the headlock.

  "I'm sorry," Mom said. "I just-"

  "Hey, fair is fair," I said. "I filled your vodka bottles with water, too."

  Mom's eyes got big. "I had no idea."

  A surge of pride rushed through me. "Anyway, you have to trust me."

  She gave me a sideways hug. "I know."

  "It's late," Rafa said. "I must go home."

  Mom gathered her keys and her purse. "I'll drive you, honey."

  After they left, I went back to my room to sort out all my mismatched feelings. Thank god a message appeared from Megan because I'd had enough emotional trauma for one day.

  Megan: Hey badass! R u out of the slammer???

  Abby: Yes!!!!

  Megan: With the parental unit. C u at school??

  Abby: Yup, c u

  Instead of calling Daniel, which kept crossing my mind, I drew a hot bath and poured in lots of jasmine scented bubble bath. After lighting a few candles, I stepped in and let the warm water soothe me. At some point, Mom peeked in and said goodnight, but I kept my eyes closed and let myself completely relax. Finally, I would sleep in my own bed.

  Sunday was uneventful, which was perfectly fine with me, because I'd had enough drama for one lifetime. Mom and I went grocery shopping and then chilled on the sofa and watched a few movies, romantic comedies, which kept reminding me of Daniel. That made no sense, since there was nothing romantic between us. Yet he'd said something at the meeting that made it sound like we were more than friends. I tried to not remember, but I couldn't stop going there. I think he'd said I meant a lot to him, or whatever. By not calling him back, I gave my feelings a rest and chose to have a drama-free day.

  Just when I'd changed my mind again and decided to actually call him, Mom said, "It's time for a meeting." I looked at my phone. Seven-thirty. "Ninety meetings in ninety days," Mom said in a sing-song voice. That's what they'd prescribed when I checked out of treatment. Quite frankly, I was relieved, because a meeting was exactly what my rollercoaster of emotions wanted. Surprisingly, the meeting, right down the street by the way, wasn't any different than the ones I'd already attended. Well, different faces, different location, but the same topics of discussion. I felt at home.

  The next morning when the alarm went off, it felt weird to have to get ready for school. Rafa arrived on his bike at the usual time and when we rode up to the school, it looked different, smaller maybe. We locked our bikes and I got a couple of weird looks, but mostly kids smiled as they passed by. For some reason, it didn't seem important to me.

  "See you in English class," Rafa said and took off.

  In the hallway, other kids acted childish, hiding each other's binders, saying silly things that sounded shallow. I felt distant, like I didn't belong anymore, until I spotted Megan at her locker, smiling at me down the hall.

  "Hey BA, how's my favorite detoxed alkie?"

  I threw my arm over her shoulder. "I can always count on you to be real."

  After the bell rang, Megan said, "Okay, here's the thing. Mom's forbidding me to be friends with you."

  "What!" I studied her eyes.

  "Don't worry about it. She's just threatened by your recovery. You know how much she drinks. Anyway, don't call or text. I'll contact you."

  I grinned. "A forbidden friendship, I like it."

  "You really think I'd give up a chance to be best friends with the only badass girl at Marconi High School?" Megan gave me a hug. "I really admire you. I know it's hard."

  Good thing she ran off, because I still hadn't mastered the art of mushiness.

  In English class, Mr. Oliver never said a word about letting me work in his book shop in the summer. Later, when I mentioned it to Mom, she said he probably didn't want to discuss it in front of the other students, which made sense. I wondered what it must be like to be perfectly appropriate at all times-to know what to say and what not to say in every situation. I tried to imagine myself all overly appropriate like Mr. Oliver, but I couldn't see it, which was probably a good thing. I mean yes, I definitely needed to change my personality to stay sober, but please, that was a bit extreme.

  I somehow managed to get through the end of the school year without a drink, which in and of itself was a miracle. Dad had called from Mexico every single night, just to check in, since we were both trying to get sober at the same time. We mostly talked about AA and how to apply its basic principles in our everyday lives. All those words of wisdom he'd given me as a child now had a strong sense of urgency, probably because it was a matter of life and death, literally.

  And speaking of literally, while spending way too much time with Mr. Oliver at his book shop over the summer, he kept insisting that I base my first novel on the events of the past year. "That's not possible," I'd said repeatedly. "There's no happy ending."

  Daniel disagreed. Yes, I finally called him. Every afternoon, he collected me (I learned that from Mr. Oliver) at the book shop and drove me to the treatment center to fulfill my hours of community service, slopping canned food on plastic trays for juvenile delinquent girls. Daniel did the sam
e thing at the boy treatment center where he had detoxed.

  One day, I asked Dr. Drake if I could bring in real food and she explained that the treatment center needed to remain somewhat punitive, otherwise some girls would relapse just to keep coming back to a place that was better than home. She never would give me Kayla's phone number and I thought maybe it was because Kayla had run away again. I got all sad and wished I could redo everything I'd ever said to her.

  That day, while Daniel was driving me home from community service, I asked how he saw this story Mr. Oliver wanted me to write with a happy ending. Daniel went on and on about how we couldn't control anything, except ourselves, which by the way I was still having trouble with, and that we had to let go of problems like Kayla's that we didn't have any control over. Again, I tried to let it go, but it still didn't work. I'd probably always wish I'd been nicer to Kayla.

  Freeway traffic came to a standstill and I closed my eyes to try to let go of everything around me, so I could focus on only the things I could change within myself. That's when Daniel kissed me. His soft, warm lips melted into mine and instead of pushing him away, I pulled him closer. We would have kissed forever if the car behind us hadn't honked after traffic started moving again. I didn't say a word the rest of the way home, but I totally liked how that letting go thing worked.

  By the end of summer, Daniel and I had completed our community services hours and instead of seeing each other every day, we were down to once a weekend. It sucked that he lived halfway between Galveston and Houston, but since his dad was an engineer at NASA, it wasn't very likely they'd be moving to the Island. Anyway, Daniel spent most of his time working on an invention, the details of which he refused to discuss. On some days, this infuriated me because I thought we were close, but most of the time I could see it rationally: inventors had to keep their ideas a secret until they got a patent.

  With Daniel busy creating his invention, I decided it was time to write that novel. Not the fantasy novel I'd envisioned, but the one Mr. Oliver wanted me to write. "Truth is stranger than fiction," he'd said. When I had trouble getting started, Mr. Oliver told me to be honest and the story would write itself. He'd winked and said, "Change the names, of course, to protect the guilty."

  On my laptop, I typed: This is not the story I wanted to write when I turned fifteen. That was the freaking truth.

  Megan appeared in the doorway and I slammed the laptop shut. "Your mom let me in. She was on the phone." I rolled over and Megan sat next to me on the bed. "It sounded like she was talking to your dad."

  "Just what I need, more drama."

  Megan stretched out and propped her head up with her hand. "Isn't your birthday on Saturday? We need to do something fun."

  "I thought you were forbidden to have fun with me."

  Megan grinned. "That makes it more fun. Jax and I broke up, by the way. Thanks for asking."

  "Let me make a note of that character defect. Self-centeredness, I wasn't aware of that one." I rolled my eyes and smiled.

  "You're lucky Daniel lives here. Long distance relationships never work out."

  I stared at the ceiling. "I wonder if Dad called Mom because the Kat finally had kittens." Just then, Mom's voice came up the stairs. She stood in the doorway and clicked off the phone. After taking a deep breath, Mom said, "Your father and Kat are coming here to have the babies. She's due in two weeks. Your father wants to be here in time for your birthday. They're arriving tomorrow."

  That was a lot of emotion-packed info for my committee to process. Separate birthday celebrations: one with Mom and one with Dad. Would the Kat creature come? Why couldn't I just celebrate with my friends and have a parent-free birthday? I kept myself on mute and continued staring at the ceiling. Fortunately, Megan picked up the conversation in a perfectly normal tone. "So where's the party?"

  "That's what I came to ask," Mom said.

  I turned my head sideways to look at her.

  "We can have a dinner party here, or your father can make reservations at the restaurant in the San Luis Hotel where they're staying."

  Was she freaking serious? One party with Mom and the Kat creature in the same room? Slowly, Megan got up and walked to the door. "We need a minute, Mrs. Alexander." Mom nodded as Megan closed the door. When Megan turned around, her eyes were huge. "We're so having it here," she said.

  I bolted up. "What difference does it make? It's still a formula for disaster."

  "Oh, it makes all the difference in the world." Megan peeled her eyes at me. "You don't want to feel like the guest at your own birthday party. Make the witch come here. Make her the guest."

  I didn't know if it was politically correct for my so-called spiritual program of recovery, but I totally agreed.

  - 38 -

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