I stood there forever looking in the mirror, trying to fix the wave in my hair from last night. I always take a shower at night and this is the price that I pay in the morning. The hairspray wasn’t working and I broke the last rubber band that I could find in my junk drawer. I decided to wear my purple, sparkly headband and then steal Charm’s hair tie. Hopefully, I can pull this off without looking like a zombie.
I snuck into Charm’s room, hoping she wouldn’t catch me stealing her stuff again. Charm is my four year-old sister. Yeah, I know, what kind of name is Charm anyway right? It’s not like it is even short for Charmaine or anything. My parents had her when I was ten and told me her name was Charm. I looked blankly at their faces and giggled “Yeah right” as they stared at me with stone serious faces. They said that the names Grace and Charm sounded so perfect together that they couldn’t resist. Well, Hollywood is crawling with weird baby names anyway so Charm should fit right in, poor thing.
If you haven’t guessed, I am the Grace part of that duo. I am fourteen years old and in the 9th grade. I excel quite well in science and math, but PE class and I are arch enemies. I just decided that doing exercise under some sort of military command is not my thing. Plus, I enjoy snacking way too much for any of that physical activity. I have long brown hair and brown eyes. Sure, I wish I was taller and thinner but doesn’t everyone? Ugh! Where is that stupid hair tie?!
Whew! I finally found that sneaky hair tie under the bed. Our cat Pickles was batting it around and she hissed at me when I took it from her. Hissed at me! As if she forgot that I was the one that saved her from an imminent death! My dad is allergic to cats, or so he claims to be, and he let me keep her when I came home from school three years ago after I found her on the side of the road with a broken tail. Laugh all you want, but apparently those are pretty painful, according to the veterinarian. She has been a part of the family ever since and now she was attacking an old gum wrapper.
I slowly went downstairs to breakfast. I hate Monday mornings just as much as the next person. My family was gathered around the island in our kitchen grabbing their food. My mom always makes omelets on Monday mornings, and today was no exception. My mom is beautiful, always smiling and so kind to people. She used to be an art teacher at the local community center but decided to be a stay at home mom a few years ago.
She loves to do art projects and teach Charm new things. Their latest adventure is learning sign language and the solar system.
“What would you like in your omelet Grace?” she asked me as part of her curly hair fell out of her bun.
I wanted so badly to say I will take a Mountain Dew and a Snickers, but she stood there looking at me with a huge smile on her face and wearing the apron I made her in the 4th grade with a giant cupcake on it.
“Just cheese please,” I smiled back at her.
My mom cheerfully accepted my order and got started. My dad had already eaten more than half of his omelet before he even noticed me sitting there.
“Hey kid, how’s it going?” he said behind his newspaper.
This was normal conversation for my dad. He eats his breakfast, reads the paper, complains about the gas prices then off to work. My dad is a goofball. He works as an Assistant Branch Manager at our local bank. He always wears these off the wall ties and cracks jokes that only he thinks are funny. I wasn’t listening to any of his new jokes today. I was too concerned my hair was not quite perfect. The bus was going to be here any minute and if Jakob Ellis was on the bus today, he would naturally think I was homeless with hair like this.
Dad looked at his watch, “Crap, I gotta go!” chugged his orange juice, kissed my mom and rubbed my head.
“Love you kid,” he said before running out the door.
Just as I was enjoying the oozing cheese from my fresh omelet, the bus pulls up outside and honks. It is so embarrassing when it honks. I finished ramming all of my papers in my backpack as my mom planted a huge kiss right on my cheek. Gross.
I started walking down my driveway to the bus making sure I walked like a model and looked fabulous just in case Jakob was indeed on the bus. Right as I was stepping onto the bus, my mom creaks open our screen door and yelled,
“Don’t forget your appointment is at 4:00 today Grace.”
OMG really mom?!
I stepped up into the bus where Mrs. Bartlett greeted me.
“Good morning Grace. How is your mom today?”
They went to high school together.
“She’s good,” I replied as I started walking to my seat.
I walked past Jakob’s seat but he was too busy playing his IPod to notice me. That is so rude.
I got to the seat where my best friend Casey was sitting. I plopped down in the seat, no use acting like a model now.
Casey stared at my head, “What’s wrong with your hair?”
“Don’t even start,” I replied patting down the fly away hairs.
Casey is almost fourteen years old. She has shoulder length blonde hair and blue glasses and never seems to have a bad hair day.
We arrived at school and went directly to our lockers to put all of our things away for first period, PE.
The first class of the day.
Way to ruin my whole entire day class schedule planning person!
I changed into my black shorts and gray Altonville Armadillos gym shorts. They are super classy. Thank goodness Jakob isn’t in my class! I turned around to walk out to the gym and saw Casey just sitting there on the bench.
“Come on Case, Mr. Hall is gonna freak out if we are late again.”
We were late last Tuesday when my lunch money fell in the toilet…oops!
“I’m not feeling so well,” Casey told me.
“What’s wrong?” I asked her, “Is Aunt Flo visiting?”
“No, just go to class Grace before you get in trouble.”
“You dug two quarters out of the toilet for me last week. I am staying until you tell me what’s wrong,” I told her as I sat down on the bench next to her.
She lifted a sweatshirt she had had covering her legs. There on her left thigh was a bruise in the shape of an entire hand print.
“Oh my gosh Casey! What happened?”
“It was Preston,” she replied. “He saw one of my papers last night and I got a C, needless to say he wasn’t happy,” she told me while holding back tears and rubbing her leg.
Preston is her mom’s boyfriend. He moved here to Nebraska from Texas a couple years ago. Her mom met him at the gas station buying cigarettes and apparently it was love at first sight. Barf. He doesn’t have any kids so he thinks that Casey is annoying and should act more responsible and adult-like. He smokes, drinks beer and doesn’t work. He uses Casey’s mom for everything. He is obviously the annoying one here.
“You have to tell your mom Casey,” I told her sternly.
“I did, she made him apologize and now acts like it is no big deal since he said was sorry,” she said still looking down and rubbing her leg.
I gave her my black sweatpants and begged her to come out to class with me. She finally agreed and put them on and we went to class. Mr. Hall gave us a disapproving look but did not say anything. Casey seemed to act fine during class but I couldn’t help but feel awful for her.
At lunch, we sat with the school gossip Catherine. If you needed to know anything and everything that was happening in the whole school, make that the whole town, she was your girl. Just as I about to take a bite of my pizza, which by the way they obviously changed the sauce because it tasted more like ketchup now, Catherine blurts out,
“Jakob Ellis is dating Riley Kimrey!”
The bite of pizza didn’t even make its way to my mouth before it seemed as if all of my bodily functions stopped working all at once. I just sat there with my mouth hanging wide open while Catherine and Casey stared at me.
“Sorry Grace,” Catherine frowned and Casey looked down almost knowing she would be hearing about this for days, weeks, maybe even months!!
I dumped my tray and thought to myself ok, whatever, he used to eat his boogers in second grade anyway so who knows what kind of gross things he does now? Eww.
“I think we both need some cheering up,” Casey said to me when we were walking to our lockers.
“How about we ditch the bus after school and walk over to Charlie’s for some ice cream? Then we can do our homework there, walk home, and be back by dinner.” She stopped right in front of my locker.
I heard the words ice cream and I was in!
“Riley Kimrey? Really?” I sighed out loud.
I was still in a daze as we walked to Charlie’s.
“She always smells like waffles!” I stated in disbelief.
“Who wants to date someone that smells like waffles?”
“Grace, you are obsessed with the way people smell,” Casey laughed.
“I do have a keen sense of smell you know,” I proudly affirmed.
We ate our delicious ice cream. I got mint chip and Casey got plain ole vanilla, then we finished our homework. I am not going to confirm nor deny if either of us looked at each other’s answers or not.
We decided to start heading home since it takes about a half an hour while walking. We always walk to Casey’s house first since hers is closest to town.
“Ok Casey, I will see you tomorrow. If you have any problems, or need anything, just call ok?” I said to her while holding her shoulders and looking right into her face.
“Ok Grace,” she laughed telling me I reminded her of her dance teacher right before a recital, “it should be ok tonight, Preston always goes up town to watch football at Monkey’s on Mondays.”
Then she smiled at me, “You’re such a good friend Grace.”
I watched Casey go into her house then I turned on some Bon Jovi on my headphones and walked the rest of the way home.
I walked in the door and immediately met a look of disappointment on my mom’s face.
“Grace, where in the world have you been? You know how hard it is to get an appointment with Dr. Sawyer!” she yelled.
Oh crap!!! My 4:00 appointment!!
“Oh mom I am so sorry, I completely forgot about it. There was a lot going on at school and it slipped my mind,” I quietly said to her.
She just sighed and turned back around stirring the spaghetti.
“Luckily there was a cancellation for tomorrow at 2:00, so I will pick you up from school at 1:30,” she said shaking the spaghetti spoon matter of fact at me.
“And miss my Geometry class?” I thought to myself, “Yes, please!!”
My mom has an art class on Mondays and my dad was having my Uncle Larry over to watch the game. Everyone ate their spaghetti really fast and cleaned up. The Chicago Bears were playing the Minnesota Vikings. My dad is from Chicago and moved to Nebraska for work about twenty years ago. He met my mom when she was at his bank cashing a check for some plants she was selling. He still screams really loudly and swings his arms around so much that Pickles always hides under the couch.
I was sitting on the couch with my dad watching the winning lottery numbers when Uncle Larry arrived. I tried to run up the stairs before he saw me but I was too late.
“Hey there little chicken wing!” he said as he grabbed me around the waist and cracked a pretend egg on my head.
“Hi Uncle Larry,” I tried to get out as I was laughing.
I finally got out of his grip and went up to my room and fell in my bed.
“Riley Kimrey? Ugh gag me with a spoon!” I thought to myself while lying there staring at the ceiling pondering my existence.
I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I heard was,
“Ugh the game must still be on,” I thought.
I went downstairs to get a drink and saw Uncle Larry and dad high fiving each other and cheering as popcorn goes flying all over.
“Go Bears,” I whispered to myself as I took a drink from the milk carton.
There is no way dad would catch me in the middle of Monday Night Football.
“How long are these games?” I asked my dad, feeling like it started five days ago.
“It will be over in about 10 minutes as long as we don’t go to OT. Go back to bed honey,” he said as if he wasn’t the one who tore me from my deep sleep while doing the Superbowl Shuffle with Uncle Larry.
I saw Pickles peeking out from under the couch so I grabbed her and lay with her while dad and Uncle Larry ignored the world around them.
“Grace wake up! Your alarm has been going off for 30 minutes!” my mom said rushing around my room shutting all of my windows.
“Geez Louise Grace, you left your windows open all night and all of these leaves blew in your room!”
Still groggily waking up and stretching I murmured, “Sorry mom, I guess I got hot.”
I quickly got up, grabbed an outfit and noticed a new pack of rubber bands on my dresser.
“Yes! Thanks Mom,” I thought as I threw one in my hair, ran downstairs and started looking for my shoes.
“Mom, have you seen my purple flats?” I asked while grabbing my hoodie.
“I think I saw them in your room.”
Ugh…I ran back upstairs and saw them under the window, full of leaves.
OMG. I ran downstairs and as I ran by the kitchen my mom had her hand out with a granola bar and a water. Not the soda I was hoping for, but ok, thanks mom.
“See you at school at 1:30 and do not be late today,” she yelled behind me as I was running out the door.
I gave her a backwards wave behind my head as I got on the bus.
“Morning Grace,” Mrs. Bartlett said.
“She’s good,” I quickly replied through a mouth full of granola bar, knowing what she was going to ask me.
I walked past Jakob’s seat and rolled my eyes at him. He must really love waffles.
I got to my seat and Casey wasn’t there. “Great,” I sighed as I collapsed into my seat.
Headphones it is today, with a bit of 80’s rock.
We pulled up to the school and I stumbled in not looking forward to another day, especially if Casey wasn’t there, but at least I did get out early for that doctor appointment.
I didn’t get half way down the 9th grade hallway when Catherine came running toward me.
“OMG Grace! Did you hear what happened last night?” she looked like her head was about to pop off!
“No, what happened?” I asked her in anticipation.
This must be good because she was even sweating!
“Casey’s mom’s boyfriend got hit by a car last night walking home from Monkey’s!”
“No way!!” I replied back, barely understanding what just happened.
“Yes! I guess he left Monkey’s after the football game and was walking down Hendrickson Road and smash! A car ran him over! Not bumped him over or knock him down, but smashed! Like body parts smashed and blood splattered everywhere!” she could barely breathe by now.
Mr. Hall was walking by and touched Catherine on the shoulder, “Quiet down Catherine.”
She then whispered, “Mrs. Hurley found him when she was walking Pepper this morning. Eww, can you imagine that grossness??!!”
I stood there thinking maybe I was dreaming and this story I was hearing was a movie that I fell asleep watching. I looked around the hallway and everyone was talking about it.
“Oh no! Casey!” I cried out.
“I guess she’s at home with her mom,” Catherine continued, “the police are everywhere in town trying to figure this out. They think it was another drunk guy from Monkey’s too.”
Our town is very small, less than a thousand people and everyone knows everything about everyone which can be extremely annoying. The students and the teachers talked about it all morning and Catherine went on and on again at lunch. All I kept thinking of was I hope Casey was alright.
The day went by so fast with all of the chaos and before I knew it, Miss Austin called me down to the office for my appointment, but not before Mr. Locke gave me Geometry homework after all. Really?
I got down to the office and my mom was standing there with a frown on her face.
“Oh honey, are you OK?” she asked as she hugged me.
“Yeah, I am OK mom, just worried about Casey.”
“I know sweetie. I called Penny and she said her and Casey are doing OK and she will call you soon.”
I felt better knowing that.
My mom and I chatted about the accident as we drove through town on the way to Dr. Sawyer’s office. The police had most of the side roads closed with flashing barricades. It was something I was used to seeing on TV but not in my own town.
We arrived at Dr. Sawyer’s and checked in right at 2:00. His nurse, Libby, brought us right back.
“How have you been feeling Grace?” she asked as I stepped up on the scale.
“Good, I guess,” I sulked as I saw that I gained a pound since last month.
“It’s ok, you are getting older and taller,” she smiled as she rubbed my arm on the way back to our room. “Go ahead and wait right here. Dr. Sawyer will be right in.”
She closed the door and my mom quickly scolded me.
“No more soda Grace Elizabeth!”
We didn’t wait but a few minutes when Dr. Sawyer came in.
“Hello Grace,” he softly said giving me a hug.”
“Hello Claire. How’s Michael” he asked my mom, hugging her also.
“He is good. He says ‘hello’,” she politely responded.
“So Grace, how have you been feeling since last month? Does the medicine seem to be helping?”
I shrugged my shoulders clicking my heels together, “Yeah I guess so,” I responded.
“And Grace, how is your little sister, Charm is it? How is she doing?” he asked.
“She is good. She is learning about the solar system, “ I replied, hoping to get the show on the road so maybe we could stop at the mall on the way home.
“She seems to be more alert and responsive now Dr. I think things are going really well,” my mom said with her partial “fake” smile.
Dr. Sawyer ignored her.
“Are you going to be attending Daylight Academy in the spring still Grace?” he asked sliding his wheeled chair closer to me.
I just sat there staring straight ahead at the cat poster on the wall. All I kept thinking about was how much Jakob Ellis must love waffles.
“Grace? Dr. Sawyer is talking to you,” my mom said through her teeth.
“Yes, Daylight Academy in the spring. Can we go now mom?” I asked jumping down off the examination table.
Dr. Sawyer patted my back.
“Why don’t you go out with Libby and she will find you a snack in the back while I talk to your mom for a minute.”
I went out the door and heading up front to find Libby and get that snack. Hopefully there was something good.
My mom met me out front a few minutes later.
“Come on Grace, let’s go,” she hurriedly walked out the door. Libby winked at me, “See you next month.”
On the drive home, we didn’t talk too much. I asked if we could go to the mall but she said not today. When we got home my dad was watching Judge Judy and petting Pickles. I knew he secretly liked her!
“Hey girls, what’s for dinner?” he asked before we were even in the door.
“Meatloaf,” my mom responded sharply, sounding annoyed.
“Grace, please set the table,” she asked.
Dad and I just looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders.
I grabbed 4 plates, cups and silverware and set the table, even lighting my favorite candle.
“How did it go at Dr. Sawyer’s?” my dad asked my mom in between chews.
“Grace, can you get some napkins?” my mom asked looking all around the table.
Dang it, I forgot the napkins, I always forget the napkins.
I went to the kitchen where our paper towel holder sits by the coffee pot. It has a bird on the top of it so every time I spin it, it looks like the bird if flying. I ripped off the napkins one by one. I could hear my mom telling my dad about my appointment.
“He raised her medicine a bit more. He is worried that the last dose isn’t strong enough,” she whispered.
“She is still experiencing the delusions. She still thinks that she has a sister, living in this house,” she said even quieter.
I kept spinning the bird faster and faster.
“Maybe Daylight Academy will be good for her Claire. She can make some new friends. Friends more like her,” my dad said sweetly.
I tore off the final napkin.
It was for Charm.
She always spills her meatloaf.
“I will think about it,” my mom replied in a shaky voice.
I started walking back to my seat when I remembered.
My dad had fallen asleep watching game highlights.
His keys were right on the counter where he always leaves them.
My purple flats were right there by the door.
I could make it to town in a few minutes.
I turned back around and grabbed some extra paper towel, opened the door below the sink and got the cleaning spray out.
I snuck out in to the garage while my mom and dad were still talking. I squatted down in front of the car,
“Grace how could you be so careless?” I whispered to myself as I cleaned all of the dried blood from the front of my dad’s bumper.