Fall Girl, Part 1: Blue Day
Sunny Tuesday, 9:07a.m., I’m in my spot at the window waiting to see who has what to do today. Most of them are gone already, needing to be wherever by nine, but a few seem to hold off on the pleasure of leaving just for me to see. Nicole Anderson comes out of her parents’ house, dressed to the tee. So skinny, big hair all in place. I remember when we were friends at St. Frances. We both started awkward, but by senior year she was close to being the swan she is now and I was still hiding in any shadow I could find. She got tired of being my savior and by graduation, she’d invited ten girls to out to dinner and don’t one of them was me. Oh, well. I guess I’m still getting over it, never mind that it happened eight years ago. Eight years. My calendar doesn’t need to name the days individually because it’s all the same. Each of the twelve page can be labeled “Everyday” and left without squares to separate one 24-hour period form the next. I want to change that if I can ever figure out where to start. The longer I sit here with empty days stacking up, the more I want to get out of here, finally do what I want.
I hear daddy in his room, getting up on his own for once and making a lot of unnecessary noise. Anything to see if I’ll come running. Anything to piss me off. I’m not surprised when he grunts at the sight of me on his way to the kitchen, walking normal and dressed for the day. He gets his own coffee just fine and heads out to the porch like he doesn’t even see me. I’m glad. We are finally getting sick of each other. For somebody with a failing heart and claiming to be at death’s door, he doesn’t miss a beat or an opportunity to show out. Today he must have plans, like always. I’m not sure what, but I know he’ll rub it in my face soon enough.
“It’s unnatural! Sittin’ alone all day, watchin’ folks. Get you some business, girl!” Daddy yelled on his way out, visor on his shiny, bald head and bingo daubers in hand. It was one of the calmer social things he could still do and he’d sit there all day if something more entertaining didn’t come up. he never sat around here, “looking at my long face” as he put it. I hate bingo, but still went when he used to invite me. He doesn’t anymore, though.
It’s so hard to find anything worth watching so I’ll watch pretty much watch anything to force the hours by. I’m twenty-six years old and still not allowed to have a television in my room or to sit in there all day. That’s been a no-no since I was nine and new in this family. I still remember the picture the three of us posed for on the courthouse steps when it was all made permanent. “You’re one of the lucky ones!” adults said. “It’s because you look white.” Other kids bawled up their faces at me. “You look like me”, my new mom said, putting our heads together so the photographer could capture the light off our blue eyes. I should probably just call her Arlene now. Whatever the reason, for that day I allowed myself to be happy. I had years to find out that I was the compromise that saved their marriage for another decade. That college commercial comes on and normally I would stick around to watch it, think about calling the number. Instead, I ease off the couch to head to the store to get stuff that will take my mind off what I can’t change.
I walk the few blocks to the grocery store, weaving through happy children riding bikes and playing with chalk on the sidewalk. The sun feels strange on my heavy arms, so pale from too much time inside. It’s July and as I get into the coolness of my favorite place and head straight for the ice cream, I realize that this is the first time I left the house in weeks. I grab a cake to go with my Chocolate Swirl, just because it’s a good combination. I going down every food aisle, glad to have all my allowance savings with me. I might not come back out for a while, if I can help it. I do the self-checkout just to avoid having to talk to anyone, but it didn’t work this time. Clyde and Jamison must have been hiding.
“Hey, Cierra!” his grey eyes are wide with excitement just like they were in high school. Probably from too much coffee these days. I can see him taking in my wide frame and choosing not to make a joke, or at least that’s what I think. I take him in, too. Fancy work shirt and pressed khakis, obviously on lunch break from somewhere. I wish I could go back and rethink not to ironing my dress, its black and white stripes wrinkled all the way to the tops of my feet. My hair in its usual frizzy, dirty blond bun. I can barely look at them. Jamison, quiet as always and ready to go, just smirked with his bag already in hand. I mumbled a greeting back, even smiled a little before turning back to my cart full of food. They laughed about something on the way out, I open a candy bar worried it was about me. I get back home in half the time and sweaty from speed walking, which felt pretty good, by the way. I can see why the morning joggers like that motion. I got back so fast that my ice cream nor frozen pizza had much time to melt. I got chips and cookies to go with the marathon of Law and Order starting at four. Still no sign of daddy so I grab a quick shower to get ready. In the water, I look away from myself as I wash, something I’ve done ever since the scale hit 210lbs and kept going. “You too pretty to be that damn fat and sloppy!” daddy said almost every day, usually looking at any plate I fix for myself. He’ll even point to the food, every now and then, “see? That’s why. Right there.”. Even sick, he was still in shape. There was a lot I could say to get back at him, but nothing on that topic. I get out and put on enough clothes so he won’t look at me and shake his head in disgust whenever he came back.
By seven, my oven pizza is gone so I order from Charlie’s, knowing the delivery guy will be a friendly face. I like him and the small talk we make for a few moments every time he comes with my food, which is often. I feel my eyes get wide and happy when I add an order of barbeque wings. I eat my cookies while waiting and can’t even remember the storyline of this hour’s episode. When the doorbell rings, it’s a delivery guy I don’t know and I feel the disappointment in my gut.
“Where’s Jason?” I work up the nerve to ask and he doesn’t look up until he’s done counting the money I handed him.
I’m on my third slice when the phone rings. It’s Arlene and her new southern accent. She stops trying to pull conversation out of me, knowing I have nothing new to report and goes on about a house she’s just sold. And her sons, and the spa she’ll spend the weekend at as reward for all her hard work. I liked hearing about her new life, I really did, but not always. I get up to get a fourth slice, but I’m too full to bite it more than once. “You can always come and visit, Cierra. You’re not a prisoner in that house.” She had no idea.
“You sure you want me in the way?” my voice shook more than I wanted. I didn’t want to show my skin right now.
“Of course, you haven’t even met your brothers yet and their three damn years old, now!” loud as always. Mom was life’s cheerleader and sometime, a lot of times, I wished that had rubbed off on me. “Gil, wants to see you too.” No, he doesn’t. Her husband, who I met once at their wedding and only said about six words to. Sometimes he picks up the phone when I call there and I nearly choke asking to speak with the woman who raised me. He probably thinks I’m retarded. I lean against the counter in the dark and pick at another cookie.
“I’m still your mother, Cierra. A lot has changed, I know, but that never will.” She was tired of talking to me already. Daddy says we both bring her down. Hard to tell, I kept to myself as we said our goodbyes, promising to talk again in a few days.
I woke up confused, the light from the TV making shapes on the blanket over my head. I fell asleep on the couch again. It must have been after midnight or close to, and I could tell by the feeling in the house that daddy still wasn’t home. If he had come in, he would’ve turned on every light in the living room just to get me off the couch. Might even turn the TV all the way up for as long as he could stand it. I poke my head out of the blanket, Law and Order is still on. I stare at the screen trying to catch the story and hoping to fall asleep again soon. I decide against going to my room, come what may. I would just be even more alone in there.