October 11, 201X
Hey diary so today when I was at lunch we were talking about nose rings again. And I think Kelly and Lowell had a fight because they were sitting on opposite sides of the table from each other. Well when I say opposite, Willis and I were sitting next to each other Steven was across from him. Kelly was sitting next to Steven on one side of the table while Lowell was sitting next to me on the other side of the table. Basically they were as far about as they could be and still be part of the group.
“So you’re all ready to get that nose ring right?” Steven asked me as he was munching on the apple he stole from my new skull-print lunchbox.
I’ve thought about this long and hard diary but I really don’t want to get a nose ring. Not just because of the needle but I don’t like wearing jewelry in general. And besides Mom would freak out if I came to dinner one day with a piercing. But I couldn’t just tell them that. They would think I’m a freaking wimp or something worse, and I really didn’t feel like being berated at lunch.
Lowell took a break from staring daggers at Kelly to say something, “Yeah we can go after school if you want or we could just skip and go now.”
And again they suggested something that I can’t do. Any infractions and I could get kicked out of girl scouts and besides the big orchestra competition’s coming up and I really want to go. It won’t be in Olympia but a trip will be really good. Just to get away from everything, you know diary.
Again I couldn’t tell them why I really didn’t want to go, though so I had to think of something quick. But luckily for me I’m a master of excuses. The trick is to never lie, but instead say something that is kind of true.
“Sorry I have to go to girl scouts after school today guys,” I told them.
Willis chuckled, “It’s okay just bring us a box of cookies instead.”
I laughed along with him like I was planning to bring them some cookies, but we all know I can’t do that. Well I don’t think they know I can’t do that, but I really can’t do that. Every Wednesday night Ms. Aveline counts all the boxes of cookies and makes sure that no one steals any. Even Evelyn isn’t allowed to count the cookies at night, that’s how worried Ms. Aveline is of theft. But it’ll be fine, by tomorrow they’ll have forgotten that they even wanted cookies.
The rest of lunch went smoothly but I sweat a little everytime Steven mentions what he’ll do with the cookies tomorrow. But he’ll forget, I know he’ll forget, he has to forget.
Once lunch was over it was time for orchestra. And I was actually excited about it today. Like I said the regional competition is coming up and no one cares about anything else other than winning. Like the mood in the practice room has completely changed. From the sort of quiet, laid back, we just want to learn our instruments and play the zelda theme song occasionally, to we are dedicated and serious and Beethoven our lord and master will bless us with his music to win. It’s almost funny in a way, how competitive everyone is.
In between practicing our pieces for the actual competition we were also learning what we’re going to play for the fundraising dinner on Friday. Amelia and I are the only freshman viola players so we usually sit together. And today was no different.
“You’re really into this fundraising piece, huh,” she said to me.
We were on a break while Mr. Lemmons, our orchestra teacher was critiquing some of the bass players on what they were doing wrong. But Amelia and I didn’t need a critique, we were playing beautifully.
I laughed, “Less the piece and more the fundraiser. I think my mom is coming so I need to master this before then.”
“Alright that’s fair but save some of that enthusiasm for the actual competitions okay?”
With a playful roll of my eyes I answered, “Yeah don’t worry I think Brain’ll hit me with his case if I mess up during the competition.”
“Yeah he’s getting really intense about all this,” she told me, then as a bit of gossip, “I heard he’s skipping Jessica A’s party’s to go and she’s really mad at him.”
“Gosh maybe you’re the one who needs to ramp up your enthusiasm Amelia,” I told her with a laugh, “I mean if you’re not missing your girlfriend’s party to play at regionals are you even committed?”
We both laughed but before she had the chance to say something in response Mr. Lemmons had us playing again, and again, and again for the rest of the hour. During our breaks it was all both of us could just to rest our fingers and rub our sore shoulders, let alone get back to chatting. But I’m not mad, the fundraising dinner will be amazing and I’ll practice for hours to make sure of that. Oh and regionals, I guess that’ll go smoothly too.
I was so tired after practice that the day seemed to just swing by and before I knew it I was walking to the main doors. But before I could even get halfway there someone stopped me.
It was Michal, and he grabbed my arm. I looked down and his hand was on my arm. He was holding my arm, that was weird right. And I felt super uncomfortable so I must have a crush on him right, diary? I mean everyone has a crush when they’re in highschool, and when I noticed that Michal dragged my arm I felt uncomfortable. So what I said to the little girl scouts must not have been a lie. So I guess it’s official diary, I have a crush on Michal.
Anyway the reason he grabbed my arm, right, so…
“Hey there’s a door over here that’s closer to the bike rack.” he told me, finally letting go of my arm after what seemed like forever, “Come on I’ll show you.”
That was actually really nice of him. Before school started I thought about going out of one of the side doors but since everyone goes out the main doors I go out the main doors. But I wouldn’t not take the opportunity to go out different doors so I followed him.
“I heard that you’re going to be helping out at the orchestra dinner,” That’s what people with crushes do right? Try to spend as much time as possible with their crush? Sorry if I’m fumbling here, diary, I’m new at this.
“Yeah, I need some volunteer hours and I think it’ll be fun,” he said, “I sort of wasted my entire summer with the group so now I’m scrambling for hours.”
“Oh,” That was all I could say.
But I think he realized his mistake because he turned around, Walking backwards facing me, and absentmindedly he ran his hand through his hair. And his hand emerged slick with gel.
“The group’s cool through you should totally stick with it,” Then as he wiped his greasy hand on the leg of his khakis, “Just remember to not make it the only thing you, or else you’ll end up short on volunteer hours like me.”
That hair-hand thing was cute right, diary? Either way I made myself giggled before I answered, “Yeah I’ll be sure to keep that in mind.”
He showed me through the side door and that cut the time it took me to walk to the bike rack by about eight minutes, which was good because I had lots to do this afternoon. Michal didn’t ask me to walk with him again, but I really didn’t have time to think about that as I furiously pedaled home. I needed to be at the elementary school in like forty-five minutes to tutor some of the kids, as a girl scout. So I needed to rush home, change, then bike back to the elementary school. It was going to be a tight fit, but I could make it if I hurried.
Since I wasn’t biking for long the song pool was a bit limited today but here’s the lyric of the day…
I’m floating away over the coooooolors, I’m floating away glowing in starduuuuuust. - StarJumper//Bad Suns
I love the elongated vowels in that clip diary, it just makes everything seem more floaty, you know?
I didn’t even bother parking my bike when I got back home, I just rode it into the grass and got off. Once I changed I would need to get right back on it so there really wasn’t any point. Just remind me not to schedule important schooling sessions so soon after school diary, I really don’t want to have to peddle that hard again.
When I got in the front door Nathan and Derrick were talking in the foyer and I just went sprinting up the stairs. But they still managed to catch me before I went into my room though.
“Hey Naomi we need your help with…” Derrick started saying.
“No!” I yelled back at him, he already knew I had girl scouts there was no point in him asking. But still before I opened the door to my room I paused, waiting. When I didn’t hear Mom berating me for disrespecting her husband I went inside. I’ve always got to be careful being blunt with Derrick, you never know when my mom’s around to berate me.
It took me a few minutes to change into my girl scout uniform. Making sure my sash was straight and my skirt wasn’t inside out that kind of stuff. But when I was done and looked in the mirror, almost by instinct, I put on some black lipstick. And I know that sounds weird diary but I swear it was like my mind was acting on its own. I had put the tube of lipstick in my bedside drawer and without even knowing it I opened the door and swiped the tube over my lips. Not quickly though, I did it slowly and carefully. Actually I was on my bike, riding to the elementary school when I realized I had it on. I was actually a bit anxious that I wouldn’t be let into the school, but then I tried to convince myself to not care.
When I got there I got to park my bike right outside the door, something I hadn’t done at a school in months. Today I was tutoring a bunch of third graders and since I had gone to that elementary school when I was younger I already knew the way there. There are two classrooms and two teachers for each grade, along with speciality teachers for gym and art and stuff.
There were only three main hallways in the school and walked down the second one. Posters and projects adored the walls and I calmed myself down by looking at them. I saw a bunch of Halloween jack-o-lanterns drawings on the wall and even homemade candy baskets hanging from the ceiling. One was a skeleton, another was a ghost, one was a pumpkin.
“Hey guys!” I said when I walked into the room, “Ready to do some homework?”
The five little third graders that I was tutoring looked up and I was relieved that I recognized a face. Sophie was there in all of her out of uniform girl scout cuteness. Along with four other third graders, and luckily they were sitting at their desks with their name tags prominent on them.
One little olive skinned red-head was named Lilian. One brown pigtailed girl was Alexia, another brown haired ponytailed girl was Phoebe. And the one with short blond hair and pale as paper skin was Daniel. And none of them looked excited to be there. At first I thought it was because I looked weird with my black lipstick but then I realized that they were a bunch of little kids that were being held after school for having bad grades. I would be embarrassed too.
Their teacher wasn’t there but I was told that I had free reign around the room. With their help I moved their five desks into a circle with a sixth desk just for me. It was a bit hard because of the rainbow carpet on the floor and the leaves hanging artfully from strings from the ceiling tiles. But we managed to form a pretty nice circle. My knees knocked the underside of the little desk but I managed to smile.
I started helping Sophie first, you know because girl scouts got to help each other or whatever Ms. Aveline always says. Thanks to me explaining to her how to decimal last wednesday the math wasn’t too bad, but the science was tricky. They were learning about watersheds and she still didn’t know the names of the major rivers here. It took me about fifteen minutes to explain it to her. But after a mnemonic device she seemed to get it pretty well. And in my professional tutor opinion I don’t think Sophie is dumb. She just takes a bit longer to understand some things, and I think tutoring will really help with that.
While we were working I had the other little kids work on their homework and any worksheets they were confused about on their own. My plan was to rotate which kid I was working with while the other kids worked by themselves and by the time I got everyone all the homework would be completed and I could go home. But a wrench got thrown in my plans very quickly.
“Instead of homework can you help me with my lipstick?” Daniel asked me.
Sophie, the little piece of poop that she is, immediately started teasing him, “You’re stupid Daniel, boys can’t wear lipstick! Lipstick is for girls!”
It’s amazing how fast ideas of right and wrong get into kids. Like Sophie’s eight and she already knows enough to stop Daniel from trying on lipstick because it was “for girls”. But since I was there I wasn’t going to stand for that.
“That’s not true, Daniel don’t worry I can help you with your lipstick.” So instead of helping Daniel with his homework I helped him put on makeup. It was a strange tutoring session for sure.
The tube he had in his pocket looked old, almost expired but I gave him the benefit of the doubt. It was from M.A.C. and looked pretty expansive so I had to assume that he swiped it from his mom. And once I started helping him he was actually pretty good at putting it on. Unlike my first time putting on lipgloss none when on this chin, his teeth, or his fingers. In hindsight I think he just wanted someone to validate him wanting to wear lipstick more than he wanted someone to actually help him out with the application.
Once we were done his lips were a cool shade of pink, and he was smiling from ear to ear. The only issue I could find was his mom being mad at me for helping him. I just hope the kid has enough sense not to give me up if he’s asked.
His turn with me was done but we hadn’t even done any homework yet so while I actually tutored him I helped Phoebe too. And then Alexia said she was feeling left out and I started to help her too. Then Lilian just scooted closer to us with no explanation, then Sophie, very angrily got in the new group too. And pretty soon it was just like a regular class, albeit with a much smaller student population.
We were all helping each other out and by that I mean Sophie accasinaly chimed in this information while I was explaining all the concepts to everybody. And not only did they learn but I also got a crash course of sorts. But not anything academic, no diary, I learned something much more interesting. Elementary school gossip!
“You look stupid Daniel,” Sophie told Dan while I was trying to explain multiplication to Phoebe.
“Now Sophie, that isn’t very nice…” I started to say, but Daniel cut me off.
He smiled wide, showing off his new pink lips, “It’s okay Naomi, she isn’t invited to my birthday party anyway.”
That really shut up Sophie and she stopped talking for all of seven minutes. During the relatively quiet time3 I managed to explain everything to Phoebe and even Alexia paid attention and learned a thing or two. But Sophie just had to chime in again.
“Alexia you have to have your anniversary party on Friday!” she said.
I could assume that Friday was the day of Daniel’s birthday party, but what Alexia’s anniversary was I couldn’t guess. Alexia seemed confused on why Sophie would ask her, but Sophie helpfully explained what she was talking about to her friend.
“I get invited to every party, I have to get invited to every party!” she said calmly, “If you have a party at the same time as Daniel’s then I can say I was somewhere else instead I didn’t get invited.”
It was all I could do to not laugh at that moment while I was helping Phoebe with English. Like the kids really thought that all mattered. Like when they’re my age they’re going to be consequences for not attending every party in third grade. But I guess it’s the same with everything I think is important. In twenty years am I really going to remember any of this? Well if I forget it’s your job to remind me, diary.
Alexia and Sophie kept talking parties and I kept talking and tutoring the other kids. Everyone was actually learning really well and I think I actually made a bit of a difference today. But when there was a bit of a lull, meaning that everyone was working on their own, I turned my attention back to Sophie and Alexia. And boy did they sure grab onto it and don’t let go.
“You know I can’t have a party,” Alexia said, “George’s taking me on a date. He said he’s saved up to buy me a cookie at Starbucks.”
That one really stabbed at my heart but I tried to keep my composure by asking a question, “How long have you two been dating, Alexia?”
She looked so proud, like they were engaged or something as she said, “Two weeks and our anniversary is Friday!”
Elementary school relationships are so weird. Everyone has a girlfriend or boyfriend and it’s considered weird not to. But I guess highschool’s not that different. My friends are pretty chill but I think Harper will judge me if I sit with Mom at the dinner on Friday.
We wrapped up the tutoring session at 6:00 and once I arranged the desks back to where they were before and made sure everyone had their proper papers we all filed out the front. Since they were little kids all of their parents were already there and I took the opportunity to schmooze a little bit. Isn’t that what Derrick calls it when you build connections? Schmoozing? I don’t know. I talked to the parents and gave them my number and they said they would call me if their kid needed anymore help, hopefully I would be paid in the future though.
Once I was done talking to the parents and watching their cars pull out of the bus loop I turned around to get my bike. Only to smile when I realized that there was someone to pick me up too.
“Charlie!”I said to my best friend, “I didn’t even realize you were there.”
She waved me off, “It’s fine the kids are most important anyway.”
We started walking home together and it really reminded me of old times. Even though we don’t live in the same neighborhood anymore Charlie and I used to live ,like, down the street next to each other when we were in elementary school. When Mom or Derrick was late Charlie’s dad would drop me off at my house instead. I would play on her nintendo ds while we rode and it would always be a fun time.
But this afternoon ,even though it was the first time Charlie and I had gone home together in months, didn’t feel like old times. She was smiling and I was walking my bike and we were right next to each other but I couldn’t help but feel like we were far apart.
“So how long have you been in that group?” I tried to ask her casually.
She thought about it for a second, “About two years…” Then as almost an afterthought, “Darn has it really been only that long, I can’t almost remember a time when I wasn’t in the group.”
That long, she’s been in a secret group and hadn’t told me for two years. And in all honesty she actually didn’t tell me, I discovered it on my own. With the help of that card of course. We’ve known each other since I moved here six years ago, but are we really friend’s diary? No matter what happened at school I’ve always counted on Charlie to be there and by my friend. But I guess those years don’t really count any more, but the next years can count.
Alright diary, commitment time! I’ve been thinking about this since I got back home and said bye to Charlie. I will join the group and I’ll even worship Satan or get blood poured on me for Charlie. I want to be her friend, for real this time, and I want her to not have to hide anything from me anymore. I would swear to God, but I don’t really think that’s appropriate in this context. I’ll start my commitment to the group tomorrow, see you then diary.
Naomi J. Morgan