For the next few days, I heeded Valerie’s threat and stay as far away as possible from Xander. I know it was crazy for me to do that considering how we shared one class together, but I couldn’t risk having my sister being angry with me. It was pathetic of me to even be doing this, but I didn’t want her piling on more things that would get me into trouble with our parents.
Besides, it was better this way. There was no point in me being friendly with a guy like Xander who would never give me the time of day. Valerie was right. Guys like him don’t go for girls like me. I’m just a fat slob that no one in their right mind would ever be seen with in public. Who am I to get my hopes up about a guy like him giving me any attention? A pathetic, fat loser that’s who. I should just stop crushing on him and move on. There was no use for me to crush on someone like him. It was just a dumb and unrealistic crush.
Thankfully, I could get a break from avoiding him due to it being the weekend. On Saturdays, I visited my aunt and grandmother. My grandmother lived with my aunt and her boyfriend, Eric, in her two story home with Four beds and one bath. My parents dropped me off here when they decided to take Valerie out somewhere to have a family day. They didn’t like to be seen with me in public because they claimed that I was an embarrassment to the family. Usually during this day, they’d buy Valerie a bunch of things and buy me nothing.
They’ve been doing this since I was a kid and Kyle hated it when they did it because he would object to the entire thing by coming here with me. It pissed our parents off, but they didn’t care either way as long as they didn’t have to deal with another one of their children.
“I never understood why your mother and your bitch of a father always leave you here and spoil the hell out of that big headed sister of yours,” My aunt huffed as she plopped down onto her bed. My aunt and I were in her room because she said that she had some clothes that she bought me. She always did this despite my protests because my parents never bothered to do it for me because they were too focused on spoiling Kyle and Valerie to care about me or too focused on my weight to even buy me clothes because they felt that I needed to lose weight before they did that.
“It’s fine. That’s just the way it is,” I told her.
“Well it shouldn’t be. I don’t understand why the fuck they exclude you out of shit,” She hissed. It’s because they feel like I’m a burden that was unfairly placed in their lives and an embarrassment to their family. Because of this, I wasn’t even in any of the Christmas cards they sent out every year. I haven’t been in any since the fifth grade.
“It’s so fucking stupid,” She hissed, “But I can’t change their minds, especially that dumb ass sister of mine.”
“Now now, Lisa. You know how I feel about you talking down on your sister,” My grandma said as soon as she walked into the room. My aunt huffed with a scowl on her face.
“It’s not like I have anything good to say in the first place,” She muttered.
“I understand that you and your sister have your differences, but I’m sure Marley doesn’t want to hear you saying things like that in front of her,” My grandma replied. It didn’t matter to me about what my aunt said about my mother because all of the things she said were true. My mother was a bitch towards me for no damn reason other than my weight.
“That girl don’t care, momma. She knows just how terrible of a person her mother is. Heck, she’s the one who has to live with her,” my aunt told her. My grandma just sighed loudly and rolled her eyes before turning to me with a smile.
“How’s school going?” My grandmother asked.
“It’s going fine as usual. I have two big tests coming up in my Macroeconomics class and my Oceanography class,” I answered.
“Did you study?” She inquired.
“Yes, ma’am,” I replied.
“Good. I know you’ll do excellent on those tests,” My grandma beamed.
“Thank you,” I smiled.
“You’re welcome, sweetie. I just want you to do well in school so that way you can get into a good school, figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life, and work hard to achieve your dreams,” She explained. My grandma has always been very supportive of me and has always expected me to do better, unlike my own parents who don’t even recognize my accomplishments. It was nice to at least have someone on my side that wanted to see me become successful in the future.
“Have your senior pictures come back yet?” My aunt asked.
“Not yet. They said that I should receive them by next week,” I replied.
“What about the lawn sign?” My grandmother inquired.
“It’s at Home right now, but I can give it to you when you drop me off,” I replied. You heard right. My aunt and grandmother dropped me off at home because my parents didn’t want to bother with doing it themselves. They didn’t really care about how I got home as long as I was dropped off. My dad preferred that I walk, but my aunt’s house was an hour and fifteen walk to my home. Considering how I stay at my aunt’s home until at least ten at night, it was a little dangerous for me to even be doing that in the first place.
“Alright, sweetie. Remember to remind me when we get ready to leave,” She said.
“Okay,” I nodded.
“Since your momma won’t even take the time to mail off your announcements, I’ll do it myself,” My grandmother sighed shaking her head.
“You don’t have to do that. I can do it myself,” I murmured.
“No way, Marley. We’re not going to let you do that,” My aunt shook her head, “We just want you to focus on walking on that stage.”
“She’s right. Besides, we were going to get them personalized,” My grandmother informed me.
“Personalized?” I looked at them in confusion.
“Yeah,” My aunt nodded, “We don’t want to send out those bland looking announcements. We need to spice it up a bit and have them looking very pretty.”
“And we need to get pictures of you all dressed up too,” My grandmother added.
“Umm...I don’t know about that,” I mumbled, “I don’t want you guys to spend all that money on me.”
“Nonsense. We want to do this,” My aunt said.
“She’s right. We already know that your parents won’t even invest in you this year, even though I’ve told their asses many times to do it,” My grandmother told me. She was right. My senior pictures were paid for by me and me alone. My grandmother and aunt were livid when they found out that I had to pay for everything, even Kyle was pissed off too.
“I’m still pissed off that their asses didn’t even take the time to at least spend a little money on you and your senior pictures. Who the hell makes their own child pay for their own shit when they know damn well that they have the money for it?” My aunt ranted.
“A pair of idiots they are,” My grandmother shook her head.
“I concur,” My aunt frowned.
“Well since you’re paying for that then I guess I’ll pay for prom this year. I’ll just have to get a job,” I murmured. A smack upside was the only response I received from my grandmother and aunt.
“Ow!” I yelped, “What was that for?”
I rubbed the back of my head to relieve the pain.
“For saying some stupid ish like that,” My aunt answered.
“That I’d pay for my prom?” I asked.
“Yes!” They both exclaimed.
“Look, Marley. We don’t want you to get a job this year. Why? Because we want you to focus on school and have as much fun as you can during your last year of high school and not worry about paying for anything,” My grandmother explained.
“Even though you already did that for your senior year, we’re not going to allow you to pay for anything else,” My aunt added, “So after today you don’t need to pay for anything else. Homecoming, prom, senior fees, etc. is all on us. Understand?”
“Yes, aunt Lisa,” I replied.
“Good. Now are you going to homecoming this year?” My aunt asked.
“Yeah,” I nodded.
“Okay. When is it?” She inquired.
“Umm....it’s October twenty-seventh,” I replied.
“Well since it’s September ninth, we can go shopping for a dress now so that way you don’t get the rejected leftovers,” She told me.
“Oh okay,” I nodded.
“I’ll pay for the whole thing,” Eric said as he walked into the room.
“Oh no,” I shook my head, “You don’t have to do that.”
“Well I want to. End of discussion,” Eric replied.
“See? Eric has homecoming covered so that just leaves senior fees and prom,” My grandmother said.
“We can go half and half on prom,” My aunt told her.
“That works for me,” My grandmother, “You can take on senior fees and I’ll take on the announcements.”
“Do I have any say?” I spoke up.
“No,” They all answered. A loud sigh escaped my lips. It was no point in arguing when these three had their minds made up.
“Before we leave the house, let me show you the clothes I got you,” My aunt smiled. She hopped off the bed and headed towards the closet.
“That’s my cue to leave,” Eric remarked. He walked out and closed the door behind him. My aunt came out of the closet with a big shopping bag filled with clothes. She placed it down on the bed and sat down afterwards.
“Okay so I bought these clothes from that store you kids like so much called Fashion Nova and a few things off this site called Depop as well,” She told me. I looked into the bag and pulled out its contents.
“How many pairs of jeans did you buy?” I asked.
“I bought five pairs from each store,” She replied.
“Oh okay,” I nodded as I looked through the bag.
“As for the shirts and dresses, I bought ten each,” She informed me.
“Thank you,” I smiled.
“You’re welcome, sweetie. Just remember to wear these clothes for me. Okay?” She asked.
“Okay,” I replied. I put the clothes back into the bag and then hugged her. My aunt has been buying me clothes since I was in middle school because my parents didn’t bother with doing it due to my weight. At first, I didn’t like it, but after she smacked me upside my head and threatened to whoop me if I didn’t, I just ended up accepting the clothes with a smile on my face. As for my parents and Valerie, they didn’t tamper with my wardrobe at all because the last time they did that, my grandmother tore them a new one, especially Valerie who got the ass whooping of a lifetime. They learned after a while to leave my clothes alone and to not question what my aunt and grandmother bought me.
“Now go put your shoes so we can go find you a homecoming dress and some new shoes. Those ones that you have on are looking a little worn out,” My aunt said.
“Maybe when we find you some shoes, you can ask the employees to throw those out,” My grandmother chimed in.
“That’s a great idea,” My aunt agreed, “How long have you had those shoes?”
“Since ninth grade,” I answered.
“Yeah. You’re going to have to throw those out. It’s amazing how they’ve lasted so long,” She said.
“Yep. You’re definitely throwing those out,” My grandmother said.
“Mhm,” My aunt nodded, “Now please get out so I can get dressed.”
My grandmother and I got off the bed, then left the room.
“Tell Eric to do the same as well,” She remarked.
“Eric, my aunt wants you to change clothes,” I called out to him.
“Okay! I’ll be right there,” He replied.
After my aunt, my grandmother, and Eric got changed, we all got into Eric’s car and headed to the mall. When we got there, we headed straight for Windsor to find me a homecoming dress. My aunt had decided on this store after calling and asking my cousin Georgia about it.
“Are you sure we’ll be able to find her a nice dress in that store?” My grandmother asked, “Belk or Dillard’s are more reliable.”
“Mom, we’re not trying to find dresses for some eighth grade dance,” My aunt said, “We’re trying to find one for a high school homecoming dance.”
“Hm. I guess,” My grandmother remarked. I could tell that she probably didn’t trust this store fully like Belk or Dillard’s, which were pretty reliable.
“How about this, if Marley can’t find a dress that she likes then we can head over to those two stores?” Eric suggested.
“That sounds like a plan,” My aunt replied.
“Hm. Okay,” She nodded. As we continued on our way to the store, I heard the sound of someone calling my name. Scrunching my eyebrows together, I turned to look around. My eyes landed on Xander who was walking towards me. Oh no. I’ve been trying to avoid him and now he’s here if all places. Ugh. Why? Just why me?
“Oh. Who’s that handsome young man?” My aunt inquired with a smirk. Now I have to let him come and talk to me despite how much I didn’t want to. Hopefully one of Valerie’s friends isn’t here right now and hopefully he won’t talk to me for long.
“Who is that?” Eric asked. He started to get into his protective mode.
“Umm....it’s this....uhh....guy from my school,” I murmured.
“Ohh. He’s cute,” My grandmother smiled.
“Really cute,” My aunt agreed, “Let’s leave these two alone so they can talk.”
“Why?” Eric asked. My aunt rolled her eyes.
“Come on,” She pulled him away.
“If that punk tries anything, I’ll fuck him up,” Eric told me.
“My sentiments exactly, although he looks like such a nice boy,” She added before heading to the bench my aunt and Eric were sitting at. I turned around and saw that Xander was now in front of me.
“Hey, Marley,” He greeted with a smile.
“H-Hi,” I greeted back looking around nervously.
“You’re here with your parents right?” He asked.
“Hm? Oh no. That’s just....that’s just my aunt, her boyfriend, and my grandmother,” I replied.
“Ohh. Well you look a lot like her,” He told me.
“Thanks,” I nodded, “We get that a lot.”
“So why have you been avoiding me?” He asked getting straight to the point. The question kind of caught me guard.
“Ummm....uhhh....that’s a.....ummm....funny question,” I chuckled nervously.
“Mhm. I bet it is, but that funny question needs an answer,” He told me. It would be stupid to tell him that my sister wouldn’t allow me to talk to him because of her crush on him and because of the threat she made to practically ruin my life. It would just lead to many unwanted questions and just having him looking at me weirdly. I needed to come up with something, anything, to get him off of my back, but what? What can I possibly tell him that’ll make him not question me and why I’ve been avoiding him?
“Well? I’m waiting,” He said.
“I....ummm.....it’s....uhhh....the thing is.....I....” I started to say.
“Uh-huh. Well since you can’t come up with a plausible excuse, then hand over your phone,” He held out his hand.
“What? Why?” I asked defensively.
“Because I said so. Now fork it over,” He held out his hand. Sighing loudly, I took my phone out of my back pocket and unlocked it before handing it to him.
“What are you about to do?” I asked.
“Don’t worry. You’ll see,” He smiled. It was starting to worry me on what he was about to do. I tried to look, but he shielded my phone away from me and continued what he was doing. When he was finished, he handed it back to me. One the screen, it said his name with the smiling and blushing emoji.
“There you go,” He said.
“Why did you give me your number? We’re not friends,” I told him.
“You’re right. We’re not, but I’m hoping to change that pretty soon,” He smiled. He wants to be friends with me? What the heck? Am I dreaming or something? Did Xander Liao really just say that he wanted to be friends with me, a pathetic loser who’s own parents don’t even like her?
“W-Why?” I asked.
“Because you seem like a pretty cool person and you seem like a pretty cool person,” He replied. That statement alone caused the butterflies in my stomach to flutter like crazy and my cheeks exams heated.
“O-Oh,” I mumbled.
“Yeah and since we’re on the road to be friends, stop avoiding me,” He said.
“Umm....ahh....o-okay,” I replied.
“Good. I’ll see you around,” He said.
“Y-You too,” I nodded. He smiled at me one more time and gave my nosy aunt, Eric, and my grandmother a small wave. Eric simply glared at him while my aunt and grandmother just waved at him. He chuckled.
“Bye, Marley,” He said.
“Bye,” I replied. He walked away towards his friends leaving me there. I let out a breath I didn’t even know I was holding and walked over to my family.
“He’s cute,” My aunt chirped.
“He really is,” My grandmother agreed.
“I don’t trust him,” Eric frowned.
“Oh hush,” My aunt waved him off. They each got off the bench together.
“Who knew that my granddaughter had a thing for Asian boys,” My grandmother said.
“Grandma!” I cried out.
“What? Did I say something wrong?” She asked.
“No you didn’t, Mom,” My aunt giggled.
“I don’t have a thing for him. I can’t,” I softly said.
“And why not?” My aunt asked.
“Because Valerie likes him,” I replied.
“Is Valerie dating him or something?” My aunt asked.
“No,” I shook my head.
“Has she even talked to the boy at least once?” My grandmother questioned. Honestly, yeah she has, but it was a crash and burn type of thing because Xander wasn’t all that interested in what she had to say at all. In fact, he was pretty much annoyed with her and ignored her the entire time while she struggled to get his attention. When his friends finally left them alone, he made up an excuse to get away from her, which was really embarrassing for her, but she took that embarrassment she felt and turned it into anger that she used on me.
“Y-Yeah, but he didn’t seem interested,” I stated truthfully.
“Since he wasn’t interested, that doesn’t mean you can’t talk to him,” My aunt said.
“She’s right. Valerie shouldn’t stop you from liking who you like, especially when the boy doesn’t even like her,” My grandmother said.
“They’re right you know,” Eric murmured.
“Well I don’t want to compete over a boy,” I replied.
“Not really a competition if one of you isn’t even in the running,” My aunt muttered. Eric chuckled.
“We love your sister as much as we love you, but it’s really meaningless to consider her feelings when she’s never done the same to you, especially when that little boy from your seventh grade class had asked you to the dance,” My aunt told me. She was right. Valerie has never been considerate of my feelings at all and she’s always turned the boys who used to like me away from me. It’s always been this way and I disliked it so much, but I couldn’t say much considering how she’d use our parents’ distaste for me against me.
“I’m still mad that she did that shit, and to her own sister,” My grandmother huffed. My aunt and grandmother weren’t too fond of her doing things like that. They’ve told her about that countless times, but she just gives me an unapologetic apology in front of them to try and make herself look good, even though they don’t believe it for a second. After she gives me those “apologies”, she gets angry and tells our parents that I lied in her, which gets me into trouble.
“Me too,” My aunt agreed.
“Anyways. Enough about that sister of yours, let’s get started on finding you a homecoming dress.” They both walked ahead of Eric and I.
“If you like that boy, then like him all you want. Don’t let Valerie deter you away from him just because she does. It’s not like she’s dating him or anything. It’s just like you said, he was not interested in her in the first place,” Eric explained before walking ahead.