White Houses

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Summary

When your identity is wrapped in your best friend, who do you become when she dies? At 16, Mattie’s best friend, Cat, dies. Car accident. Freak accident. Whatever you want to call it, her person is gone. At 17, Mattie’s parents force her into therapy. There’s lots of talking on one end. It’s not hers. When her parents refuse to believe her “Everything’s Fine” attitude, they tell her that she’ll be taking Cat’s place at The Music Academy in San Francisco this summer. Even though she’s highly positive they can’t just replace one girl with another, she finds herself doing what she’s always done — follow in Cat’s footsteps. Spending eight weeks with four total strangers, Mattie begins to learn that she didn’t know everything about her best friend, and that she never really knew much about herself, either.

Genre:
Romance / Drama
Author:
Rachel Fair
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
13
Rating:
4.6 10 reviews
Age Rating:
18+

Chapter 1

Dear Cat,
I can’t believe you’re not here anymore…

Dear Cat,
Your funeral was so lame, you would have absolutely....

Dear Cat,
Fuck you.


October 30: 8 DAYS W/O CAT

Two weeks ago I was sitting in a car with my best friend listening to her older brother’s slightly less old CDs; there was a lot of Dashboard Confessional and The Honorary Title, because he totally had a thing for whiny boys with instruments. At least that’s what Cat said. Personally, I loved the songs Nate liked, because he had a taste that I liked to call “emotional.” I think I told Cat that, once, and she laughed at me.

“‘Emotional’ is not a genre, Mattie; 2005 ended forever ago, leave it behind.”

I can’t tell if I’m listening to his old CDs now because I’m emotional, it’s an emotional time, or because a part of me wants to annoy the shit out of her. Because this? This would annoy the shit out of her.

To say that it’s been hard would be an understatement of epic, ridiculous proportions. I spent two days sleeping after I heard the news, if that’s what you can call it. News. It’s still kinda blurry, but I remember being at work and putting away a bunch of used blues records in the $2 bin and suddenly my phone was blowing up in the back room. Grease, my boss, started bitching about violations and how “lucky ya’ll are for even getting to keep them on” before finally getting pissed off enough to shout, “Mattie, get your goddamn phone and turn it off!”

There were text messages and voicemails ranging from kids we knew at school, to Cat’s parents, my parents, Nate -- but none from Cat. Catalina. The Cat to my Mat since we were 4 and sharing apples in pre-K. A lot of the messages asked if I had heard from her anytime in the past day. Others ranged from “I’m so sorry” and “Let me know if you need anything.” It’s crazy how the power of cell phones has done nothing but increase my anxiety instead of making my life feel any easier.

I called her phone 29 times before Nate came barrelling into the store.

That’s when it hit me that something was really wrong.

Nate hates Vinyl Renaissance. He prefers Mills Record Store ever since Grease and he got into an argument about the influence Nirvana had on modern rock. He’d never come in here unless it was urgent.

Fuck. I’m crying again. This is so stupid. She takes one long ass drive to the middle of nowhere Kansas, runs into a tree and somehow the whole world stops with her. It’s not fair. She never told anyone she was going anywhere. It’s only considered an accident due to the break marks. Apparently they ran long. Swirled. It had rained earlier that day, there could have been another car that just ran off, or God himself could have gripped her busted Ion, pulled it back like a Hot Wheel, and let it shoot off into an oak tree.

Mom says that’s how death works sometimes: it’s an open ended question that we have to answer for ourselves.

I smile and say, “It was an accident, she’s in a better place.”

Sometimes I think, “It wasn’t, and she shouldn’t be.”

Someday I’ll be in hell with her.

November 1: 10 DAYS W/O CAT

I started work again today. Nate went back to school. He left me a bag of pot for “when I need it,” but I’ve never been a big fan of escapism. Unless it involved music. Which is why I’m glad to be back at work. Grease got in some Simon & Garfunkel albums that he’s been saving for me; my four hour shift was spent listening to “Sounds of Silence” over and over while pretending to label and sort some carts of old CDs.

I only cried, like, twice.

Pretty sure I don’t have many more tears left. We’ll see. I should hydrate more. Cat’s mom has always been big on hydration. I should listen to her more.


Called Mrs. Perez to ask if hydrating helps with crying; never got to actually ask the question. It’s Día de los Muertos and I didn’t even realize. They’re “celebrating Catalina’s life” and sending prayers to her as if she’s around to actually hear them. Apparently they sent me an invitation via word of mouth through my mother, but she didn’t see the point in telling me. I would ask her, but I don’t feel like hearing her say something about my lack of emotion. She already mentioned it to Dad a few nights ago when they thought I wasn’t around to hear.

I apologized for not being able to make it, using work as my excuse, and then got off the phone before I could tear down her celebration with my bitter tears. Cat would have loved it all, I’m sure. Did they make sugar skulls this year? They were always her favorite. I wonder if they decorated them by memory of her face -- the high cheekbones, wide and rich eyebrows, deep full lips. If it were me, I’d recreate the mask she let her Aunt Sophia paint upon her skin when we were 13 and just short of being “too cool” for face painting that didn’t come from a MAC bottle. She bounced around for the entirety, pissing Sophia off as usual, and the instant it was finished, but not yet dry, she laughed loud and hard at her reflection. It was stunning, witnessing a skeleton laugh as if they were never dead.

But skeletons don’t really laugh, do they?

November 5: 14 DAYS W/O CAT

You know what really sucks? School. And like, don’t get me wrong, I’m aware that all teenagers think school sucks, but this is bigger than having an acne breakout or tripping over yourself in the lunchroom or quad. I’ve officially been labeled The Dead Girl’s Friend. It’s obnoxious. Like, yes, Cat and I have been connected by hip or hand since we were kids, but we both have other friends.

Or. Well. She had other friends. But the kids in band aren’t being labeled The Dead Girl’s Bandmates, now are they?

One of the worst things is that they created some sort of memorial for her on her locker. Which would be a whatever sort of thing, except that we got lockers right next to each other this year in an effort to see each other more since we only had two periods together. So now I have to be reminded at the top of every goddamn hour that, hey, in case you forgot somewhere in between learning about the French revolution and quadratic equations, your best friend is dead, Mattie. Just. You know. So you know. Because BAM! Here’s a declaration to her short lived 16 year old life right next to you.

At first it was like visiting the wreckage each day. People would stop what they were doing just to look at me, looking at it, and it’s always been way too hard for me to have attention upon myself. So now, when I’m grieving, all of these people who never really gave two shits about me are completely focused on my every mood. After three days of them not moving on to the Next Big Thing, I decided to just use my amazing skills of Not Caring and stopped.

That’s when the whispers started.

Now, it seems I’m The Dead Girl’s Friend Who Doesn’t Give A Shit.

If only they knew how much I really wish I didn’t.

November 11: 20 DAYS W/O CAT

Today I got sent to the headmaster’s office. It’s Veteran’s Day, which meant we had to sit through a two-hour assembly where people, I don’t know, remembered the veteran’s in their life, or something? I was zoned out. Watching people cry when I’ve found out that I can’t anymore is not something I enjoy. It was like… the more they cried about their uncle, sister, dad, second cousin they never actually met, the more my own chest would fill and fill until my lungs were full of air that I couldn’t release, and then it finally exploded.

Okay, so I punched Ike French. He’s some worthless slacker who plays baseball -- terribly, I might add -- and he was sitting behind me, making all of these horrible comments to his buddies, and in my lack of zoning into the people on stage, I focused in on his voice. It was actually calming for the first half hour or so, just bogus bullshit coming out of his overly wet mouth (which I know about, because in ninth grade Cat made out with him and then proceeded to spend weeks talking about how it was like being licked to death by a bulldog), when he started talking about Cat in particular. My pulse sped up, the nails of my right hand started drawing blood, and then I kind of blacked out for a minute when he said, “We should honor Cat Perez, man. She was a veteran of having a great pussy, you know?”

The next thing I’m really aware of is sitting in the headmaster’s office with the nurse patching up my hand. Apparently I stood up, turned around calmly, then punched Ike square in the teeth. My hand is all busted up now. I saw Ike being walked to a car by his mom after the meeting, though, and he looked worse off -- his lips were all tore up from where I had shattered his veneers. Now he’s toothless as fuck. Hopefully that nickname sticks. That, or Asshole. Whatever. When the headmaster was issuing me a suspension my brain was wondering if I got any of Ike’s nasty ass saliva on my hand. The nurse had already cleaned it up by the time my brain decided to turn back on. Mom was there looking very much like Viola Davis by then, too. I’ll return to school on Monday, and I’m allowed to make-up all work missed due to Mom’s lawyering.

Writing is kind of a bitch now, but like, for some reason I just had to put this down somewhere. I spent way too long staring at Cat’s contact info in my cell when I got home, thinking about how badly I wanted to tell her.

But I don’t have her anymore. Or anyone else, really. So there’s this.

November 17: 26 DAY W/O CAT

Okay, so like, I am not a writer, okay?

I’m not even a freakin’ reader, for Christ’s sake!

So, yeah, sure, I read what we’re supposed to read for school, and I’ve always gotten pretty good grades, and I don’t, like, mind reading a lot of the stuff we read, but I’m not freaking Robyn Fox, who freaking carries around two “For Fun” books on top of all of her actual school books, as well as this fugly brown journal that’s she’s always scribbling in. I’m not Robyn Fox. She’s a “writer.” Not me.

I’m only doing this because at the funeral, Cat’s hippie aunt, Sophia, gave it to me and was like, “Grieving is hard, expression is hard, let it out” and shit. At least I think that’s what she was saying; her accent is still super thick since she’s only been in America for a few years now. Cat always called her a hippie because Sophia’s very religious and is always burning herbs and incense and saying prayers in spanish. But I’ve always liked Sophia; when we were 10, I went to Mexico with Cat to visit her family that still lives there, back when Sophia did, and she spent the whole week making sure that I was taken care of when Cat would run around speaking Spanish a mile a minute with her cousins. She knew broken english, I knew broken spanish, and she never held it against me for being black like some of the rest of the family did. I don’t know, she’s sweet. And she was apparently thinking of me, and how I never found a form of expression like Cat did, and she probably wanted me to feel like I still had an outlet or a friend, even when I didn’t anymore.

Probably.

But whatever, I’m still not a writer.

November 22: 31 DAYS W/O CAT

One month.

One month ago today.

It feels like it’s been longer. Or shorter. It just doesn’t seem right that it’s been a whole freaking month. This is officially the longest I’ve gone without talking to her since we were freaking four years old. I guess that’s how it’ll always be now, though. The longest I’ve ever gone… because she’s forever gone.

God, that’s so fucking stupid.

Thank god it’s a Sunday and I don’t have to force my face for the day.


Just kidding. Mom just came in to tell me that we’re having The Perez’s over for dinner tonight. A tradition in the making, I’m sure.

I’m going to go stare at myself in the mirror to see if my face has changed any.


Dinner was fucking stupid, okay? Just so fucking stupid. Mom and Mr. Perez put together all of Cat’s favorite dishes, while I had to sit there with Nate, Mrs. Perez and my Dad in the living room while we talked about the past month.

And by “talk about the past month” I mean that my Dad asked Nate about school (“It’s been fine”), and then Mrs. Perez asked me about school (“fine”), and then they finally turned to each other and talked about work.

It’s easily the most awkward we’ve all been in all of the time that I’ve known them.

When we all sat down to eat, Mr. Perez was crying due to the overwhelming smell of “Catalina’s favorite night.” Mrs. Perez held his hand all throughout the dinner, and Nate stared at their hands like it was something he’d never witnessed before and was angry about it. Which is dumb, because Mr. and Mrs. Perez have always been overtly affectionate with each other, so I don’t know what his problem was.

Dad went on to toast Cat, saying shit about how “her memory will always keep us together” and that “without her, we may never be able to have this extended family.” Which, for the record, is total bullshit. Because Dad and Mr. Perez have been best friends since they were in the minor leagues together, and the only reason why Cat and I didn’t become best friends until we were four was because she was accidentally born in Mexico when her Mom was visiting family and it took them forever to get back to the states, or something. I don’t know, that’s just the story they’ve always kind of gone with. Nate says we met before then, but we didn’t care for each other. I try not to listen to him when he says shit like that.

Either way, the dinner just became like, this bullshit sharing circle where we were supposed to all sit there and talk about Cat like she wasn’t even there, which, like, okay I know she isn’t or wasn’t but still, it felt fucking rude as hell, and so fucking stupid. Like, both sets of parents were going on and on about how great Cat was, like she was some goddamn fucking angel, and that was never the case.

I only took a single bite of food, and the taste of the mole sauce made me want to vomit. Something must have shown on my face, because nobody said a word to me. After cleaning and putting away the dishes, long after The Perez’s had left with a “same time next month?,” I came wordlessly up to my room to just… I don’t know, punch my pillow with my almost healed hand and then write this down?


I wish I could stop being so mad.

November 27th: 36 W/O CAT

I’m locked inside the bathroom at work. It’s Black Friday, and contrary to popular belief (is this a popular belief?) people do also come to indie stores, like the record shop I work at, at the break of freaking dawn for the “best deals.”

We do not have the best deals. We have the same crap today as we did yesterday, when we only had 3 people come in. Today there has been a constant flow of 50 people at ALL FREAKING TIMES.

This is my break, though. Locking myself in here. I don’t know why I brought this stupid journal thing. Whatever. I’m still feeling raw from yesterday, I guess. It was Thanksgiving, in case you didn’t figure that out.

You. Jesus, I’m going insane.

Anyways, my mom’s entire family came over to the house for dinner, and we haven’t seen any of them since like, last Christmas or something. Which meant they were are bringing in a new wave of pity for the cousin/niece with the dead friend. By the twelfth “I’m so sorry for your loss” and “how are you doing, Mattelyn?” I finally had enough and went up to my room. I spent twenty minutes staring at this damn journal, but right before I started writing in it my older cousin, Drake, came in -- without knocking, I might add -- and started perusing all of my shit.

“Do you freaking mind? Get out.”

“Auntie Lisa sent me up here to get you for dinner. It’s about ready.” He fingered the picture of Cat and I from the End of the Year party she dragged me to last June; she’s wearing an orange halter and John Lennon glasses, while the only thing I’m baring is my left shoulder and a smile as I stare at her. It was a good night until she locked me in a closet with Brian Johnson. When we were in the closet together, I made it known that I wasn’t down with whatever it is Cat thought we should be up to, he sighed and shrugged, saying, “I get paid either way.” It haunted me the entire summer.

Anyways, back to Drake: I was like, “Please stop touching my stuff; I’ll be down soon,” but he wasn’t having any of it. Started going on about how we’re the “rich side” and I go to “that private school with all them white people” so I must have “something up in here that you’re not supposed to.” That’s when he started going through my drawers. Now, I’m not like a waif or anything, but I’m not very big, either. I’m mostly all corners with sharp elbows and knees, and I only come up to Drake’s huge ass shoulder. So I couldn’t exactly fight him off, and I knew if I called out for someone, he’d probably push me around like he used to when we were kids and only had 20 pounds on me instead of the...like, 80 or whatever he does now. So I ended up pulling the bag of weed that Nate gave me from the back of my sock drawer and shoved it into his face.

“Jesus, just take this. I don’t even want it anyways.”

He just smiled and walked away swinging it. I wanted to set his skin on fire.

Of course, that just made the actual meal ten times worse. Because he kept giving me these looks like he knew me, or knew something that I didn’t know, but either way it was driving me insane. It wasn’t until we were all eating Aunt Mona’s pumpkin pie that I realized being pissed off at him was the first time I’d been angry about something that wasn’t Cat-related. At least it didn’t feel Cat-related at the time. I don’t know how I feel about not thinking about her, even if it’s just for an hour of anger at a stupid cousin during a meal.

It’s only been 36 days. It’s still too soon to be forgetting her already. I just

Sorry, Grease started banging on the door. I was in there for too long writing about all this bullshit. I’m home now. Mom and I shared leftovers for dinner while we watched old episodes of Grey’s Anatomy together. Dad went out to North Carolina this morning for work, so this weekend it’s just us. Me and Mom. She’s a lawyer, kind of like Viola Davis in “How To Get Away With Murder.” That’s the conclusion that Cat and I drew after the show premiered and we became obsessed. Mom even looks a little like Viola, but she laughs a lot more than I’ve ever seen from Miss Davis. Well, she used to. She hasn’t laughed much since Cat. None of us really have. I think there have been moments where we’ve wanted to -- when Dad came home with a broken thumb from work around the same time my hand was extra busted from punching Ike, Mom and I looked at each other over his head while he was playing pathetic over the situation and I just know that any other time we would have cracked jokes over his lameness, but this time we stopped ourselves. I don’t know, it’s just like we’re all walking on eggshells. They are around me, and I am around them.

I wonder if Cat ever realized that by leaving she wouldn’t just be making people sad, but completely tearing apart worlds and family dynamics.

Probably not. She loved us all, but she never thought too much about how we were affected by the things she would do.

Fuck. I need to stop writing in this stupid journal. It’s like it’s forcing me to be introspective over all of this bullshit. This is dumb. I need to stop. Just… suck it up and go on. Cat’s gone, right? She’s never coming back. So why should I keep lingering on this?

I’m done. Fuck this journal.

December 22: 61 DAYS W/O CAT

I’m only writing in this because today is two months without her and at dinner tonight it felt like it hit all of us that we’ve just lived for two months without her. There’s this shitty wall calendar in the kitchen pantry, and when I was cleaning off everyone’s plates I saw that today is the official start of winter. The calendar actually said: WINTER BEGINS. Cat would have made some sort of “Game of Thrones” joke about how winter finally came. Nate would have joined her in a quote off, speaking in voices I don’t recognize until finally they left for the night or forced me to watch an episode with them. That was always their thing. “Game of Thrones.” They both got really into that shit together; it was kind of the only thing they both agreed on in the past few years. But the point of the matter here is that winter began today and it was so shocking to me, as I scraped off lasagna from mom’s favorite dinnerware, that today was when the cold and bitter time is supposed to start, but I could have sworn that it started two months ago today on October 22nd when the person I loved most in this whole fucking world drove away without saying goodbye and never came back. It’s been cold ever since. Why is it supposedly only starting now?

January 3: 73 DAYS W/O CAT

It’s a new year. For Cat that always meant new starts. She would plan out all of the shit she wanted to try to do for that blank slate of year. When we were 14, she planned to get her permit on her first try; it took her seven attempts. And only then because she cheated off of the person next to her. When we were 11, she wanted to master the drum part of Sum 41’s “We’re All To Blame.” She actually accomplished that one pretty easily. Drumming was always her thing; when she was 8 the school counselor said she had ADHD and so to help with her focus and constant movement, her Dad bought her a drum kit. Just like that. I remember being so jealous because my Dad would never just buy me something that big out of nowhere.

I’ve had to give a presentation for every large expense I’ve wanted -- laptop? I gave a list of references and reviews for three different models, and had to explain why and how it would be detrimental to my education to not have one. A car? We literally had to test drive 17 different models and years and when we ended up with my Jeep it was only because Mom finally stepped in and put her foot down. “She’s not going to roll this thing in Kansas City of all places, Sam.” So a drum set? Or any sort of musical instruments? If I wanted them, I had to get them myself.

Dad and Mr. Perez both come from super poor backgrounds, though, so they use the money they got from their ball careers in different ways, I guess. Mr. Perez always wanted to give Cat and Nate whatever they wanted because he never had the opportunity to even want things; Dad is very aware that money is precious and should only be used for frivolous things rarely because terrible things happen randomly and cost dramatically. His mom had cancer, and Grandpa was apparently a gambler, so I kinda get where he’s coming from with those worries. It’s why I’ve been working at Vinyl Ren since I was 15.

Why am I writing in this thing again, though?

I got flustered when I couldn’t remember why I picked this up. That’s been happening quite a bit in the past month or so. Like, I keep zoning out of life or whatever, or I follow a thought until it unravels into thoughts about Cat, then I’m left stuck in this weird darkness and wondering how I got there. So this time I put on my headphones and played Bastille over and over before mixing him up with some Kendrick Lamar. Halfway through creating a new work of art, I swear, it hit me. New year’s, holidays, second chances. Right.

It’s a new year. Cat always believed in the power of clean slates and new opportunities. So instead of being The Angry Dead Girl’s Best Friend, I’m going to be The Perfect Daughter. I don’t have Cat to live vicariously through anymore, you know? So I need to pave my own way. And I’m also starting to think that if I don’t change something soon, Mom and Dad are going to do something drastic with me. Christmas day was rough because the Perez’s came over to drop off some gifts. And they gave me a lot of Cat’s stuff. And I may or may not have taken everything they gave me and put it in the basement. Then I proceeded to box up every picture, letter, CD, t-shirt -- ANYTHING that had anything to do with Cat ever -- and put them down there as well.

Dad found it on New Year’s Eve when he was looking for champagne flutes. Every year they throw this huge New Year’s Party for friends and teammates. But I guess he saw the boxes, told mom, and they spent all night looking at me. I’ve always been allowed a glass of eggnog or champagne, but this year they wouldn’t let me. Like, what the hell? I’m almost 17 years old, I can handle a single glass of champagne, thank you. But Mom just said it was because they didn’t buy as much this year, and Dad rang the new year in by holding my hand through everyone’s excitement and cheers. His large hands held my face when he gave me my New Year’s kiss on my forehead like he has every year since I can remember, but this year his eyes were glassy. He said, “I want so much for your life, baby girl. Your life, Mattelyn. Do you understand?” I nodded, completely speechless, as he nodded and ran his larger-than-life hands over his face.

I never want my daddy to look like that again. It was like he was looking at a dead girl.

So I’m going to take a page out of Cat’s book and try something new. Actually, I’m going to try everything new.

January 30: 100 DAYS W/O CAT

It’s been 100 days since Cat died.

I know this because I stole the calendar from the kitchen pantry and I’ve been writing a new number for every day I wake up and she’s not here.

100 days.

So much can happen in 100 days.

Except nothing really has. I’m not much different. The bright glow of a new year faded the instant I got back to school; her memorial’s been taken down, there’s a new student in her place. Some freshman on scholarship. I have never hated someone so much without actually knowing them. Except for the guy that Cat spent last summer with. I hate him. When I look back at my final months with her, now, all I can think of is how she never shut up about him. She called him Dream Boat. Apparently they spent the summer having sex and making music.

I wonder if he has a calendar where he’s counted off 100 days without her.

Does he even know?

February 2: 103 DAYS W/O CAT

I just spent the entire weekend trying to figure out who Dream Boat is. All I could think about is that there might be people out there who don’t know that Cat is dead. That she died. How she died. The length of time in which those of us who mattered have had to deal with her loss. They should know. Cat has spent the past two summers out in San Francisco at this indie music school thing. It’s where she met Dream Boat. I don’t know if he’s one of the people she lived with or not, but I know her parents have a room rented in a house with four other students out there. She never really told me much about any of them; when she was gone she would send me texts and we’d talk on the phone, but it was always about what was going on here (nothing) or what she was doing in school (being the best and first female drummer OF COLOR, Mattie). She only told me about Dream Boat when she got back; that last summer she had pulled away a lot, saying she had harder pieces to learn, that she was creating her own music and beats for once. We didn’t talk as much.

But whatever. I looked through all of her old texts which I still have saved on my computer -- emails, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… I couldn’t find a name, a stranger, nothing. She lived for eight weeks with four strangers I’ve never met or heard of, two years in a row. How did she not become their friend? Or did she, and once she died they just deleted her from their cyber lives? Who would fucking do that? Do these people even realize how fucking lucky they were to get to spend those summers with Cat? I spent that time working and listening to music. That’s it. The most exciting shit that happened when she was gone was when she would text me or send me a picture of the sunset over the bay. That’s it.

Goddamnit, who are these people?

I just woke up. It’s 1:30 in the afternoon. On a Monday. I wrote that last bit at around 2 a.m. I think. Sleep did not happen this weekend; there was a lot of Red Bull involved, to say the least. Then I crashed in a fit of tears and frustration. Apparently Mom’s letting me take the day off of school, since she’s also home working on research for a case. She gave me the same look she did on New Year’s.

My calendar says it’s Groundhog Day. This winter has been one of the coldest Kansas City has ever had, with very little snow, which is so weird. I asked her if the groundhog saw his shadow.

“He did. Six more weeks of this chill, it seems.”

“Do you think it’ll ever end?” I asked.

She gave me The Look. “It will, baby. Someday it won’t be so cold.”

“Promise?”

“Promise.”

I’m going to go back to bed now.

February 14: 115 DAYS W/O Cat

I fucking hate Valentine’s Day.

My first kiss happened on Valentine’s Day.

This is the first Valentine’s Day where I won’t be.

Kissed, that is.

February 21: 122 DAYS W/O CAT

Last year my birthday was on a Friday; a sweet sixteen bash full of two people, a dark theater, and “Love & Basketball” on the big screen. We ate our weight in popcorn, gummy bears, and Buncha Crunch. I had to pee through the entire last 20 minutes, because I drank a super-sized cherry Icee. She spent the entire time talking about how hot Quincy was and all the things she’d do to him if she could. I felt Lena’s pain when she saw him with other girls.

Today I turned seventeen. It’s a Saturday. We had promised to do something as cheesetastic as last year, like maybe going roller skating or hitting up the batting cages. Instead I worked an 8 hour shift then came home and finished my homework for the next week. My grades have never been so high as they are right now; the guidance counselor pulled me aside and said I should join some clubs, make new friends… “You’re on your way to Ivy League material, Mattelyn, if you keep this up.” I wanted to vomit.

Mom and Dad bought me a cake from Cosentino’s, like every other year, and offered to take me to the movies, go bowling, do something as a family. I smiled and said, “thanks, but it’s not a big deal. I have a paper to finish for Chem and, you know, 17 isn’t that big of a year or anything.”

“You can officially see rated-R movies,” dad had piped up, raising his hand. Mom swatted him on the back of the head.

“The paper can wait, can’t it?” she asked, “We can marathon your favorite ShondaLand episodes and destroy this cake. Daddy might even make his famous milkshake.”

I answered by kissing them both goodnight. I just didn’t want to see The Look on their faces anymore. There will be plenty of that tomorrow night when The Perez’s come over for dinner. It’ll be four months.

Thank god I just found The Postal Service’s album “Give Up” on vinyl; it’s going to be spinning all night.

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Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.