(I’m camping and probably freezing my tail off. Send warm thoughts my way! I’ll be back on Monday, but if all goes well, this should autopost and you’ll be able to read the first chapter of my first novel–written in November 2002!–and laugh with me. Happy reading!)
“This is the first time I’ve kept a diary (or at least tried to without losing the diary first). But before I actually start writing, a few things about me:
1. I never tell anyone anything about myself.
2. I don’t want friends.
3. I can’t have friends.
4. I have to keep myself from making friends if at all possible.
I know it’s crazy, but if I’m going to be accomplished in the future, I don’t need a social life to get in the way now. They cannot know what I am thinking. It would ruin my entire purpose.”
Oh, Darn. I was almost caught, and on the first entry, too. That’s truly sad. She tiptoed down the stairs, hoping Mom was just wanting her to help unload groceries or help get the car keys out from under the seat. She was always losing those keys. Laura sent in the car two days ago for repairs, and now the hole in the seat was even more obvious. Anything could fall through now, and now “anything” extended to the keys, and every time Laura opened the car door.
“Gina,” Mom said. There were no grocery bags in sight, but Gina did notice that Mom had a slight tear in her skirt, as she usually did. Gina stood still.
“You’re really good at this time management business, dear. That’s why I have a little genius on my hands, anyway. Maybe you can help me here. Look, I have two parties tomorrow night for the school, and I can’t decide which one to go to. I would really like to go to both, so…can you tell me how I can go to both?”
“Mo-om,” Gina said. She sighed. “Okay, what times are the parties?”
“Well, Ms. Lyle’s baby shower is from six to eight in the school library and I have to help set up anyway so I’ll be there right after school, and I have this really cute present for her baby–they say it’s a girl–and the new teachers’ convention at the nutrition center downtown is from seven to eleven.”
“That long for a new teachers’ convention? Why do you want to go to it?”
“Well, since there are two new teachers in the English department and since everyone else in the department is going, I feel like I should, too, but I already told Sabby that I would go to the shower.”
“How many times do I have to tell you? You do not have to stay at one party for the entire duration of the stinking thing.”
“Okay, you told me that twice–no, thrice–before. Why can’t I drum that into my head?”
“There we go. Go to Sabby’s party, leave early, and show up at that teacher thing fashionably late.”
“What would I do without you, dear?” Laura Brandeshear bent down to kiss her daughter, but she missed, kissing instead a lock of Gina’s mahogany hair.
“Don’t kiss me, mother. Please.”
Laura obliged. If she was going to run two lives at once, she may as well listen to her dear loving daughter. Laura headed back downstairs.
Gina went back to her room and continued writing, but not before she heard her name echoing across the house again.
“I lost the Scotch tape, dear,” Laura said. “Did you use it?”
“Then would you have any idea where it is?”
Gina thought. Laura had countless uses for Scotch tape. Besides wrapping presents, she used it to remove nail polish, test her newly growing wrinkles, hold skirts together until she could sew them back together again…
Gina ran to her mother’s room and headed straight to the sewing machine. Bingo. She grabbed the tape and handed it over.
“Okay, where was it?”
“You ripped a skirt yesterday, too, remember?”
“Oh yes. That’s why I wore this one. But then I got the skirt caught in the car door while I was reaching for the keys this morning before work.”
Gina slapped herself on the head and moaned. Laura immediately turned around. “Are you okay, dearest?” she asked.
“Yes, I’m just fine,” Gina moaned back. “Just–just leave me alone, okay?”
Laura backed off. “Good grief,” Gina whispered to herself. “Why doesn’t she just get the heck off my back? Why did I have to be the one stuck with the scatterbrained mom after she lost the love of her life? God, why did you do this to me?”
Her rant was interrupted by the blaring ring of the telephone. She picked it up. “Brandeshear residence.”
She didn’t recognize the voice on the other end, but she did. Did that last thought make sense? “Is this Gina Brandeshear?”
“This is she,” Gina replied. Who is this crazy person?
“I’m Marylee Smith,” the voice replied. “You know, from biology class?”
Yes, I know a bit too well, Gina wanted to say. But instead Gina put on her “smiley voice” and said, “Yeah, I remember you. You were the one who squished the squid into the garbage can and blamed it on Clark.” She tried to laugh at it, but she just couldn’t. There was nothing in Gina that could laugh.
“Well,” Marylee said, “I was just wondering what has been going on. You haven’t seemed very happy lately. Just making sure nothing was wrong.”
“Everything is fine. Are you coming to put up the decorations for the dance? We need everyone there because we have a lot of stuff to arrange and not very much time. We’re supposed to be there at four, okay?”
“Oh, yes, I remember,” she said. “I love Valentine’s Day, even though I’ve never had a boyfriend. But that’s okay. My parents always bring me flowers or something neat like that.”
Good for you.
“Okay, then. See you at the school. Don’t forget to tell the others on the staff.” Gina hung up the phone, only to immediately hear it ring again. She clicked the button.
“Brad? What are you doing calling here?”
“I just wanted to make sure that we have to be at the school at four tomorrow to set up for the dance.”
“Uh, yeah. Don’t be late. And don’t forget the snow.”
“I have the entire list right here.”
“Good, don’t forget that either.”
“So, what are you doing for the dance?”
“Besides taking up tickets? Nothing. You know all I really do is take up tickets.”
“You need to get out more, Gina. School is your life.”
“But it’s productive, at least.”
“Is that why you’ve been so anxious lately?”
“Look, I have totally different reasons for that.”
“Still. You need to lighten up a little.”
“If I wanted to lighten up, I’d call you, but I don’t, okay?”
“See you tomorrow.” And then Gina hung up and retreated to her room.
“Marylee just called. Darn those Student Council directories. What business did she have calling me, anyway? ‘Just to see if I was fine.’ I’ll laugh if I don’t hear that again. That is just priceless. What is up with her, anyway? I remember when she nominated me as Stu-Co president. Ha. ‘I think Gina Brandeshear will make an excellent president because of her dedication to everything she’s involved in.’ That was a hoot. But nobody laughed at her when she said that. Some people just don’t get it, and Marylee Smith is one of them.
And after that Brad called. Why is he calling me so much? He hasn’t been this annoying until now. Everyone knows he’s had a crush on me since second grade, and everyone says we’d make the ‘cutest couple’, whatever that means. When will he get the message that I don’t want to go out with him, or even be his friend? When will they–both of them–get the message that I don’t want to be friends with either of them, or with anyone else for that matter?
I hate Valentine’s Day. I really do. I know that I’m the Stu-Co president and that I’m basically in charge of planning the event, but it’s not that much fun anymore. I was president last year, too, once again nominated by Miss Marylee Smith. It was exciting the year before last, when I was vice-president. Everyone was into it. But now no one is. I guess that’s just as well. I’d rather do it myself anyway. Of course, if I seriously considered that, Marylee won’t let me get away with it. Brad wouldn’t either. They’d insist that they help. And then they’d recruit the rest of the members, and next thing I know, everyone’s messing everything up. Good grief, we had it hard enough last year as it was. If I wasn’t barking at them, we never would have gotten anything done. It was a strange side of me for everyone else to see since they all think I’m all nice and friendly, but for some reason, it felt perfectly natural for me. Of course I’m not nice like everyone thinks I am. Being really, truly nice would make anyone crazy if they weren’t already so.”
She remembered the Valentine’s Dance from two years ago. Most of the Student Council members that year were senior groupies–they talked and goofed off more than they decorated or organized. Gina wound up doing most of it herself, which she didn’t mind. It turned out better, anyway. Now those seniors were gone, but they were replaced by freshman groupies who were just as bad, if not worse. It’s a freshman thing, she thought. Either that or a senior thing. She guessed that you just acquire those skills over time.