Doctors chos his dream
By Ibra Hansen
Chapter One: Ainsley
Most of my memories of him were of screaming. I was five then. My stupid kid brain couldn’t process why there was screaming, but I’m older now. I know things. I know things like how the egg prices keep increasing and people kill other people just because they are mad. I know that adults make mistakes, and kids too, and sometimes the adults make more than the kids.
Probably the thing I know best though is that nobody stays. Dad didn’t stay. Lillian didn’t stay. And mom didn’t stay, though she never left.
My collection of tiny glass animals is my pride and joy. Each morning they stare at me with their little eyes until they finally guilt me into getting out of bed. This morning is no different. I kick off my covers and blink my eyes a few times, trying to get the sleep out of them. I dig through my dresser until I find my favorite jeans, the semi-baggy ones with the holes. For my top, I pick out a trendy, tight, sage green tank top.
I like to dress in a way that completely contradicts my inward feelings. In other words, calm and collected is what I go for. My backpack is solid teal with brown straps; it goes with anything. I sit down at my vanity and do my hair in my usual messy bun. Even though it’s called messy, I’ve perfected the exact shape and style of the bun. I know it’s perfect because everybody says so, but they don’t suspect I spent hours and hours working on my technique last summer.
Mom is already at work, so I fix myself a quick breakfast of toaster waffles. I prefer bagels, but I haven’t had time to go to the store, and I’m pretty sure Mom forgot grocery stores exist. As I chew, I try to imagine what Mom might be doing at work. Working, duh, I tell myself. Drowning in her misery, calling forty-million people and telling them about prices.
I put my dishes in the dishwasher and put on my Reebok’s, then head out the door. It only takes ten minutes for me to walk to school, and I’m so glad I don’t have to take the bus. It smells, and it’s generally annoying. And even though no teenager in the history of the world has ever said this, I wish Mom took me to school.
As soon as I step past the announcement board near the entrance to the parking lot, its mayhem. On my right are some boys pushing each other and laughing. On my left, some emo couple is kissing.
“Ainsley!!” I turn and there’s Liv, waving hello. I wave back, and plaster a smile on my face. Liv jogs over to me and we walk into school together. Liv is talking about some scandal that happened over the weekend and I’m only half listening as I put things in my locker.
A couple minutes later, as Liv and I are discussing the new math teacher, Eris and Leah come over to us, whispering. They look up when they notice what we’re talking about. “Oh my god. The new math teacher is so gross,” Eris says. Leah nods. “On Friday, I saw him picking his nose.” I make a face like, ew, because teachers aren’t supposed to pick their noses.
As I’m sitting down in Homeroom, Malaya runs in, her long black hair flying behind her. She slides into her seat just before the bell, and as usual she looks extremely put together. I don’t know how someone who is late to everything can look like she has all the time in the world.
She passes me a note as Ms.Robinson is taking attendance and I open it up to find her usual cursive handwriting done with purple ink. We should do something after school. The whole group, I mean. Maybe Fro- Yo? YES or NO. I circle yes and pass the note back to her. She turns around and grins at me, then swivels back around in her seat.
My brain wanders off all day long, and I can’t wait for school to end. I can’t stop thinking about the letter on my desk, the one I haven’t opened. Now that we’re getting Fro-Yo, I’m putting it off longer. It starts to rain around two o’clock, and I pretend the water droplets are racing. The fatter one wins.
The hallways are strangely peaceful as Malaya and I pack up. That is until Eris and Leah show up. They start gossiping about this new girl at school who wears shoes that went out of style last year. They never stop gossiping, but its become a familiar tune, and my life would be weird without it.
Liv walks over to us, her wavy blonde hair bouncing against her shoulders. “I’m sorry, I can’t go,” she says, “Joe wants to go to the movies.” Eris and Leah glance at each other. Joe is Liv’s boyfriend, and they’ve been dating for three months. Liv has also been ditching us for him for three months. Eris especially is fed up, considering Joe’s older brother used to bully her in second grade. He was in fifth, and he would hit her and a few of the other little kids if they didn’t give him their money.
He got caught once, and was suspended. But I personally think he should’ve been expelled. Eris agrees. Liv dashes off to meet Joe, and we all roll our eyes. “I swear, that girl thinks Joe is a god,” Leah laughs. Our group walks out of school together, sans Liv, and I notice some of the freshmen staring.
After all, we are the most popular girls in the school. The seniors and juniors? They’re irrelevant. The senior girls? Mostly single, because all the senior and junior boys are in love with us.
I honestly don’t know why we’re popular. Maybe it’s because we’re rich, and can buy all the latest trends. Maybe it’s because we are all better than average looking teenagers. Maybe it’s because we have “the” personality. It’s probably all that put together.
I do my best to eat my Fro-yo slowly, when I really feel like stuffing my face in it. I love Fro-yo so much. Eris and Ainsley are chatting about a boy, and I look over at Leah. She’s pouting; the definition of a clingy friend.
Speaking of friends..”Ainsley!” I say it so loud that everyone jumps. She looks at me funny.’What?” “Are you coming to the party tomorrow night?” She shrugs. “Probably not. It doesn’t sound that fun.” I can’t go without Ainsley. “I was going to go but.. I don’t know, it sounds kinda lame.” I shrug. Eris and Leah get up like one being and say over their shoulders, “We have gymnastics!” Like we don’t know.
Eris and Leah have been doing gymnastics since kindergarten. That’s how they met. One of the reasons they aren’t the most popular in our group is that gymnastics became dorky two years ago. That or their creepy twin thing. But, somehow, they manage to make gymnastics kinda cool. I mean, they are so flexible, and, like, fit. I wish I was as skinny as them sometimes.
Ainsley continues to eat her fro-yo and we’re silent for a few minutes. It gives me time to think about Priya. I miss her. Everything’s different without her.
“You should put purple highlights in your hair.” Ainsley’s staring at me like I’m a homework problem she can’t figure out. I have always wanted purple highlights. Highlights haven’t been trending until recently though, so maybe. Mom and Dad probably wouldn’t notice or care. “Maybe I’ll go this Saturday. You should get highlights too!” I try to smile winningly.
“You’ve lost your mind,” Ainsley declares and gets up to throw away her cup. I get up too, making sure Ainsley doesn’t leave me behind.
I dump my bag onto the kitchen counter and open the fridge. I found leftover chicken and rice, so I put that in the microwave and get out the dishes. I’m always afraid I’m going to break the dishes since they are all delicate and fancy. I haven’t ever broken anything though. Maybe I’m just lucky.
The microwave beeps at me and I open it and take out my food. After I’ve gotten some sweet tea in a glass I sit down and eat. Every sound I make echoes through the empty house, and I feel completely and utterly alone.
I miss the days when Priya would make meals for me when I got home. She loved to cook, always putting a unique spin on things, even leftovers. I’ve relied on Priya so much, it’s a wonder I know how to use a microwave. A tear slides down my cheek, and I wipe it away as quickly as I can. I’ll see her again someday.
As I’m washing the dishes, I hear the familiar meow ringtone announcing a text from Priya. I used to hate that ringtone, so I tried to take it off. But Priya always got it back on somehow. It makes me sad now, but I’m never, ever, changing it.
I eagerly open the text and see a picture. It’s the first one I’ve gotten in three months- the first one since she’s been gone. She’s smiling and holding up a peace sign. Next to her is Alley, her best friend who moved away a couple of years ago. They are standing in front of a bookstore, it looks like a grand opening or something. Priya always loved bookstores.
And even though everything looks alright in the photo, I can’t help but notice Priya’s other hand over the bump on her stomach.
Around ten o’ clock I stop watching Food Network and go to bed. I can’t sleep without socks on so I put on my favorite purple ones. I haven’t responded to Priya yet- didn’t know what to say. I lie on my bed and stare at the picture before finally settling on a simple heart emoji reaction. I wish I knew how to handle this better. But there’s just nothing to say.
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