We Were Never One And The Same
I wasn’t sure how long I’d been sitting here in Hayden’s bedroom, sniffling and whimpering like a beaten puppy or something. I wouldn’t go home. I couldn’t. Not now. Not when I just told my own mother that I hated her. I mean, what kind of person did something like that? Like how ungrateful could I be? This was the woman that spent almost sixteen years of her life caring for her only child like the world depended on it. This was the woman that managed to live in an apartment with a newborn baby, two hundred dollars to live on, and still graduate high school with honors.
Not even people like Albert Einstein or Alexander Graham Bell could do something like that and still go to college, become an awesome English professor at a small town community college, andwrite a series of best-selling mystery novels on the side. She could’ve given me up. You know, dropped me in front of some random elderly couple’s home in a basket with an apology note or wrapped me up in a cocoon of smelly newspapers and left me in a dumpster to starve and die.
My life could have been worse. Mom could’ve turned into those bitter, alcohol-and-drug-addicted mothers who constantly took out their life’s frustrations on their children with a belt or a TV cable. She could’ve turned into those mothers who suddenly snap and drown their children in the bath tub or bury them alive in wooden caskets in their backyards. Here I was, Katherine Kitten Linda Holm, a regular teenage girl with a regular teenage life, who threw a tantrum because her mother was mad at her for skipping school to snag some picture and an autograph.
I sighed and dropped my head in my hands. But was that so wrong? All I wanted was to meet my favorite boy band (best male group of the year according to the Teen Choice Awards) and take a simple picture with them. It could’ve been worse. I could’ve been worse. I could’ve been one of those girls who sneak out of the house to have sex with some random horny pedophile for a McDonald’s cheeseburger or a Snickers candy bar. I could’ve been one of those girls who constantly got into brawls with the popular girls at school for being such a loser. Hey, I could’ve been one of those girls who ran away from home with a secret boyfriend, never to be seen or heard from again. It wasn’t that big a deal, right? Didn’t it matter that I was okay? It wasn’t like I was walking around the city hand-in-hand with a certain dark-haired, blue-eyed stranger or anything like that.
My mind seemed to drift back in time to that moment. My mother’s vise-like grip on my arm, the anger in her eyes shooting daggers into my own like laser beams, the uncontrollable shaking when that man had seemed to materialize out of nowhere, calling out to her, seeming confused by her suddenly hasty behavior, and then stopping to stare at me like I was an alien from mars or something. Ugh. At least aliens didn’t tell their mothers that they hated them. They were at least appreciative of everything their mothers had to go through to raise them. Unless they were some evil, blood-sucking, man-eating alien serpents or something. Wait. Could serpents even live on Mars? NASA did say that there was water up there or something right?
Did flesh-eating serpent aliens even need water to survive on Mars? Wait. What? What am I thinking? What did aliens have to do with anything that was happening right now? Argh!
Keep focused Katie! I scolded myself and threw my arms and legs out in the air to stretch my stiff limbs. I had to fix this. I couldn’t hide out in Hayden’s house forever. Mom would eventually call her to see if I was here and ask her to send me home or drive over here and plead for me to work things out with her. To start over and pretend that no harsh words were ever said. That nothing ever happened. But what if she didn’t call or drive by? What if she didn’t even want me there at all anymore? What if she was on the phone right now with Uncle Jack and Aunt Paula asking them to take me in because she was fed up with my recent behavior?
My heart suddenly skipped a beat. What if mom suddenly disowned me? Where would I go? What would I do? I didn’t have any money. I couldn’t rent my own apartment. At least not legally. Wait—Hayden would let me stay here right? I mean, she was already in trouble for taking her brother Ray’s convertible without permission and skipping a whole day of school to go see Alpha Centari downtown with me at the Primrose Hotel. It was miracle that Mrs. Kelmer had let me in to see her. She was supposed to be grounded.
Oh my god. Was Hayden mad at me then? Did she hate me now and want me gone forever? Would she replace me with someone else? A new best friend?
My anxious train of thought, however, suddenly came to a halt as the bedroom door swung open and an angry-looking Hayden stomped into the room, cursing in Spanish underneath her breath, viciously tugging her tangled mop of dark hair out of its rubber band. I didn’t dare move or say anything. I’d learned from experience that when Hayden was in this degree of anger, it was better to let her work things out in her head by herself before talking to her. She had tendency to screech and yell when you tried to comfort her at this time.
She was grumbling now, furiously slamming her drawers shut after hastily rummaging through them, shaking her fists in the air as she disappeared into the closet and returned with a backpack in one hand, a worn duffel bag in the other. I bit my lip and slowly scooted back on the bed until my back was firmly pressed against the wooden headrest of her queen-sized bed. Hayden sighed and threw herself into the black leather swivel chair on the east side of the room by the window, blinking rapidly and pounding her thighs with her fists. I wonder what happened downstairs with her mother. I mean, she’d been gone for almost an hour, looking extremely angry when her brother had confronted her about his convertible when she got home.
What was with the backpack? Why did she look like she was ready to step into the ring with Mike Tyson and just let him have it?
“Man!” she howled and chucked the backpack and duffel bag across the room. “I hate her so much! I freakin’ hate it here!”
I blinked at her in surprise. Hate it here? Here as in her house? Or here as in Dixie? I didn’t get the chance to ask because Hayden was rambling again. She knotted her fingers into her hair and jerked her thick locks this way and that with such surprising force that I winced. She began to pace the length of the spacious room with quick, irritated strides as she told me what happened.
“You know what Katherine?” she snapped.
I jumped at her acidic tone, but didn’t reply. It was bad then. No doubt about it. Hayden never called me by my whole name. Not unless she was severely angry with me.
“Well, after you disappeared on me, I went looking for you. I drove around downtown for hours trying to find you, thinking that something bad happened to you. I thought maybe you were grabbed by some psycho rapist or arrested like those other girls for disturbing the peace or whatever. I asked some people if they saw you walking around by yourself or with someone else. Nobody saw you. So then I decided to go home.”
She paused and jerked her hair back into a messy bun at the nape of her skinny neck. I swallowed and retreated further into the bed. Uh oh. This was super bad.
“So when I got home? Guess who I saw here? My stupid brother Raymond who thought it was a good idea to tell mom that I ‘stole’ his car and took it to go see the boys downtown at that stupid hotel. We fought about it for a while. I pleaded with him to not tell mom on me. He agreed and made me pay freakin’ fifty bucks to shut him up! Fifty! Can you freakin’ believe that?
“So then my mom comes home and as I go up to hug her and ask her how her day was, she pushes me away and called me ‘una delinquente’. You wanna know why she said that? Because yourmother called my mother and told her that we had skipped school to go meet Alpha Centari in person. She got so freakin’ pissed at me that she decided that it was a good idea to send me to my uncle Jorge to spend the summer on a ranch in Vegas.”
I was too stunned to even utter a sound. Hayden was going to Vegas? Vegas, as in, Las Vegas, Nevada? As in, like, ten billion miles away from Minnesota to live on the other side of the country for three months? I’d never even heard of this Uncle Jorge and she had to go live with him for the whole summer? She was going to leave me behind to live with some strange cowboy guy? What was I supposed to do in the mean time? Count rocks all day? She was the only friend I had. How could Mrs. Kelmer do this to us? She didn’t really mean it did she? Oh my god. How could mom do this to us? Argh! Couldn’t they just ground us and get it over with? Why did this have to go so far?
“You can’t leave!” I blurted out and scrambled off the bed. “You can’t! We had so many plans this summer! How can your mom do this—”
“Well my mom wouldn’t have done anything if your mom has kept her big mouth shut!” Hayden hissed through gritted teeth. “This is both of your faults!”
I sucked in my breath. Okay now I was pissed. “Our fault?” I retorted and fisted my hands on my hips. ”Our fault? If it hadn’t been for your coming to my house and making me skip school to go downtown then none of this would’ve happened! If anything, this is your fault!”
Our fault? Really? If she never would’ve woken me up today and told me anything, then we wouldn’t be in so much trouble today. We would’ve gone to school (like I would’ve done in the first place), come home to do our chores, and then just spent the whole day laughing and crying and screaming like we always did. It was her idea to take Ray’s car and it was her idea to skip school and head downtown to see the boys. I hadn’t forced her to do anything. Mom hadn’t even known anything. If she had just stuck to me like glue like she was supposed to, then I never would’ve gotten lost and mom never would’ve found out that we were down there.
Hayden turned and scowled at me. ”My fault? Please Katherine. I didn’t force you to come with me. You could’ve just said no and gone off to school in the first place like the goody-goody-two-shoes that you are, but instead you decided to come with me just so you could slobber over the face of a guy that wouldn’t even give someone plain and boring like you the time of day!”
My heart gave a painful squeeze as my body slowly lowered itself onto the bed. That wasn’t true. It wasn’t. Eden would totally give me the time of day. He gave me the note after he took me to the hospital. He waited for me, stayed at my bedside until he couldn’t wait any longer. He gave me a note. Me. Katherine Kitten Linda Holm, the plainest girl in the world. Sure, I wasn’t very pretty like Hayden. I wasn’t tall with killer curves, long shiny hair, and a face that belonged on an airbrushed cover of Seventeen Magazine, but I wasn’t that bad, right?
A rush of heat suddenly colored my cheeks. No. I wasn’t that bad. Not if Eden himself had at least acknowledged my existence.
“Oh yeah?” I barked and rose to my feet again. “Eden acknowledged me Hayden. He gave me a note. An apology note. He could’ve just shrugged it off and left the situation in the hands of his agent or something when I got hurt, but he didn’t because he’s a super nice guy. He took me to the hospital and waited for me. I bet you wouldn’t have even done that for me since I’m so plain and boring, right? He bothered to register my existence which is something you never do because you’re too caught up in Kai, a guy that would never give someone like you the time of day, an insecure hater who dedicates her time and energy into hating his girlfriends all the time! Why would he waste his time going out with someone so spoiled and...and...bitchy?”
Hayden recoiled as if I’d hit her or something. Even I had to step back to fully analyze what I’d just said. Whoa. Did those words really just come out of my mouth? Bitchy? Spoiled? I didn’t think Hayden was really like that...did I? She had everything anyone could ever want so why did she always have to act as though her life was so hard? As if her problems were the worst thing anyone could ever go through in the world? My life was harder then hers but I didn’t complain. Sheesh. What could possibly be so hard for her that she’d be such a brat about it?
“B-bitchy?” Hayden stammered and blinked her eyes a few time. “Katherine, do you...do you think I’m a spoiled bitch?”
I just stared at her. She called me plain and boring and although I wasn’t as funny or as pretty as Hayden, boring was something that I definitely wasn’t. I had my good qualities too. I was smart. Smarter then most people my age I’d say. I could somewhat cook. Maybe not something fancy like Huevos Rancheros or Aroz Con Pollo like Hayden, but I could work a grill and a pan pretty well. I had a talent for drawing things like elves and faeries and ogres. Hayden couldn’t draw a straight line if her life depended on it. Maybe I wasn’t as outgoing or as popular, but I had a nice personality. I was person that was worth while too, wasn’t I? Wasn’t I?
The word to tumble out of my mouth before I realized what I’d said. “Yes.”
Hayden looked taken aback by my response. I was taken aback by my response. This was my best friend that I was talking about. I didn’t really feel that way about her. I couldn’t. Why would she be my best friend if I did?
“Oh really?” Her eyes narrowed into dark brown slits. “Well I think you’re a plain, good-goody little priss with absolutely no personality.”
Rage simmered in my mouth. No personality? I had tons of personality. But if she wanted to play the game like that, then so be it. It took two to tango didn’t it?
“N-no p-personality?” I stuttered in disbelief. “No personality? I have twice as much personality as you do. I’m not the one who has a different personality for each boy I date.”
Score. Hayden’s cheeks flared with crimson. Then a sinister lopsided grin played on the corner of Hayden’s mouth. I hated that grin.
“At least I’ve dated boys,” she replied slyly and tossed her hair back over her shoulder. “At least I’m date-worthy. Not some invisible loser no one cares about.”
My cheeks flared with heat again. That wasn’t true. Elmer Dunken from fourth grade had a crush on me. He even drew me a picture and made me a ring out of rubber bands that he wanted me to wear for the whole entire year. Yeah, maybe I’d never been taken out to romance candlelit dinners on the beach, but I was totally date-worthy. If I wasn’t me, then I would totally date me. I could have just as many boyfriends as Hayden. I just haven’t found a good guy that I was interested in dating yet and she knew that.
My fists were shaking. “I’m not some worthless loser,” I replied to gritted teeth. “I’m just as good as you. Just because I’m not about my looks doesn’t mean that I’m anything less than you.”
“Please Kat,” Hayden responded with a laugh. “Everyone knows that without me, you’d be nowhere. You remember Shannon Rose and her brother Shane from sixth grade? They only hung out with you that day on the playground because I asked them to since I couldn’t be at school that day. You remember Kyle Radcliffe from seventh grade? You remember when he came up to us at lunch and told you that he ‘liked’ you? That was because I told him to do it since you were just sulking around when I told you I was dating that eighth grader Kevin Sawa.”
My vision blurred as a wave of hot tears prickled the backs of my eyes and bubbled on the rims. She asked Shannon and Shane to keep me company that day? They didn’t hang out with me because they liked me? Kyle Radcliffe? So he didn’t like me at all? She told him to tell me that? I balled my hands into fists. When she started dating Kevin, I couldn’t have been happier for her. She had a crush on him since the fifth grade so when he asked her out, we both celebrated by going out to get her an outfit to wear for her date that very night. Sure, I had felt left out because I thought no one liked me, but when Kyle told me he did, I was relieved because I was just as pretty or as funny or as worthy of a boy’s attention like Hayden was. But it was all a lie then? None of those things were real?
“Aw, don’t look too let down,” Hayden sneered with a sly smirk. “At least you still have Elmer to keep you company. Oh wait—isn’t he going out with that nerd girl from Mrs. Harper’s science class?”
The laugh that followed made my tears spill down my cheeks in salty ribbons. She was supposed to be my best friend, someone that I could laugh and cry and fight with without having to worry that our friendship was going to crumble and break over something so stupid. This was just supposed to be a regular fight. All best friends fought didn’t they? But now I found out that my one and only friend in the world was stabbing me in the back this whole entire time and I was too stupid to even notice?
My throat felt like it was slowly closing up, carefully choking off my words, my screams, and my sobs. Had I even meant anything to her then? Did all those times when we were hanging out together, laughing and screaming over the boys, even mean anything to her the way they meant something to me? Had I even been important to her at all?
“Was...was I even...?” I couldn’t get the words out without feeling like I was going to burst into tears right there.
“You want to know if you were even my friend, right?” Hayden asked and inclined her head to glare down at me. “To be honest with you Katie, you never were.”