Part 3 of The Story

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

The last week went by in a blur. I didn’t want it to go fast but it seemed to fly by, in spite of the spike in tension in the house. 

Brooke had told our parents that she was moving out. She felt like it was time, and with me gone she wouldn’t have much to do at home anymore, since Mom and Dad were always at work. They argued that with me gone they would need her here, and, also, what would they do without her they would be home alone, and, also, their two babies are just going to  disappear without giving a thought about their parents? They weren’t at work that much, and in fact, did she not want them to make money to pay for her food?

It was a guilt trip on their part like no other but Brooke was determined. She didn’t need them to pay for her, either. Apparently she had been planning this for a while, ever since I got into college and she convinced me to dorm, to live my own life. Her bakery job she worked at a couple of times a week could cover the rent of her living with three other roommates in a two bedroom, and while she wouldn’t have a ton for food left over there would be enough. She also had enough saved to make it easy for the first four months so she could write more music, maybe take a class and become a yoga teacher like she always wanted, and generally be more independent. They heard what she said and while they disagreed they were powerless to stop her. She was twenty one and she needed to grow up and they couldn’t stay mad for forever. 

I was worried that her leaving would mean my parents would make it harder on me to go, but at least that didn’t end up happening.

The night before I was scheduled to move into the dorms, we all went out to eat at a nice place. The relationship between the three of them was shaky at best, but they held it together for me to celebrate my last night of being what they called a child. Apparently, college was the real world and I was becoming an adult tomorrow. They said all this with a pointed look at Brooke as if the fact that she hadn’t gone to college meant that she would never be an adult. It was a topic they had argued endlessly about when Brooke was my age, but she was the same then as she was now- determined and unstoppable. She didn’t see the point in going to college if she was going to create her own music, or do something where a degree would get her nowhere. She didn’t see the point in what she called a ‘waste of four years’. They were scared I would end up like her but what they didn’t realize was it was just how Brooke saw herself. She never tried to push her ideals onto me, claiming that everyone needed something different. 

Now, tonight, she was as supportive as ever, volunteering to pay for the drinks, as well as offering to Dad that she would stay on water so he wouldn’t have to drive home. He declined but it was still very nice, and the fancy cocktails the waiters kept bringing out lent a festive air to the whole evening. Our choice of place was very end-of-summer as well, offering wings and burgers and more fries than any one person could reasonably eat. We ended up having a grand old time, and when we drove back and everyone trooped up to bed I barely had time to stay up all night and worry. I set my alarm for early the next morning and crashed. 

The bleeping wasn’t what woke me the next morning. It was Mom, with a kiss on my forehead. 

“Hmm?,” I garbled sleepily, looking up into her tired face. “Is it time to go already?”

“No sweety, you can sleep a bit longer. Dad and I just have to go into work early. There’s some sort of minor emergency. Brooke said she’ll take you, ok?”

While this wasn’t the most surprising news, since I did already assume that they wouldn’t find time, I couldn’t help but feel just a little irritated. I tried to hide it though, and reached up to give her a hug. 

“I’ll see you so soon, ok? Thanksgiving, it’s just family time. I might even tell Aunt Stacey she can’t come.” I laughed and Dad, who had walked into the room just then came over and gave me a quick squeeze. 

“Call if you need anything, ok?,” he said in that gruff tone he used when he didn’t want to get emotional. “We’re on the other side of the city but that’s only a skip away on the train. See you soon,” he kissed the top of my head, and my parents turned around and walked away. 

I turned over into my bed but it was no use. I was already up and I wasn’t going to be able to fall back asleep. 

The time was six fifteen. The dorms were open from noon and then stayed open throughout the whole day with supervisors and dorm counselors walking around ready to help anyone. I wanted to get there early so I could be the first to choose a bed and I would be able to unpack without my roommate getting in my way. But even so, we wouldn’t need to leave for at least another four hours, so I decided I would make some coffee and go sit on the back deck, enjoying the weather before it got unbearably hot again. 

Brooke was already out there and I gave a small gasp of surprise as I joined her. My heart rate slowly returned to normal. She was already dressed, but then I made a mental scratch out. She was still dressed in the same clothes from last night. It looked like she had gotten the barest amount of sleep again, her eyes unfocused, looking further off than our backyard. 

I wanted to ask her if everything was ok but she hadn’t acknowledged me yet so I let her have her space out and drank my coffee, the most perfect I had ever made so far. It was a cool morning and I shivered slightly. That seemed to wake her from her stupor and she shook her head a bit as if to clear it from cobwebs and gave me a wide smile. 

“Hey good morning sleepyhead,” she teased me, poking me in the arm. I reacted swiftly, stretching my mug out of her reach. 

“Careful! It’s hot!”

She gave a little chuckle that sounded nothing like her which I blamed on tiredness. 

“Are you alright?”

“Fine,” she responded. “Just up all night trying to figure out my roommate situation.”

Two were girls she went to high school with and one of them was an unknown. They had a whatsapp group, she told me, and they were all figuring out when would be a good time to meet with the landlord so they could sign the contract. 

“Is it really so difficult to set up a meeting?”

“Well, Abby is in her last semester of college and she’s had some summer classes she’s had to take so there’s working around her schedule. Fee started a new job working as a secretary for a big firm or something so there’s that. And Miranda isn’t even in the state yet. She’s visiting her grandparents in some random place like Oklahoma. It feels like I’m the only one around who can actually get anything done.”

I wasn’t surprised. Brooke was always the one who took care of things. She had a take charge attitude not a lot of people possessed, and she made it look like she didn’t mind doing everything. Most of the time it was probably true. Usually it was easier to do it yourself rather than relying on the masses to get it done for you. 

“Can you just go get it signed yourself?,” I asked. 

She scoffed. “And what, risk having to pay for everything when we inevitably come up against damages and debts and the like? No thank you.”

“Never mind then,” I shrugged. “Where’s the apartment anyways?”

“Queens,” she said shortly. 

“No, I know that but where exactly. I was looking up trains to see how I would travel to you.”

She gave me a sharp look. “You’re going to stay in college and you’re going to enjoy it. You’ll make new friends, you’ll go to interesting classes, and you won’t need me at all. If you keep using me as a crutch, Parker, then you’ll never be able to do anything.”

Her words were harsh and I reeled back from them. It wasn’t like I had been planning to be a fifth roommate or something, it was just nice to know my sister was close. 

I ran a bunch of responses in my head but too late I realized she was getting up. I felt like a fool, stunned into speechlessness, rejected by the only person who always had my back. 

“I’m going inside to shower. See you soon.” This was so unlike Brooke that I was almost worried. But I didn’t want to let anything ruin this day. It was the first day of four years where I could be anyone. I knew no one that going to college with me, and I wanted to use that to my advantage. Who knows where that could take me?

I took some more sips of coffee and calmed down, the anger dying down to nothing but a sizzle inside of me. Brooke could be a jerk, it didn’t matter, I was leaving. 

A little while later though, when my coffee was done and I realized I was hungry I went looking for her. The sun was officially out, and it was too hot to sit there in my light sweater. I needed to go inside and I wanted pancakes. And Brooke made the best ones. I figured she would do this for me since it was our last day living in the same house. 

Woah, I hadn’t thought about it like that. 

She saw me wiping tears from my eyes as she came into the kitchen. 

“What’s wrong?,” Brooke said nicely, and I assumed the shower had washed the nasty off her body and her spirits. 

“I just realized that last night was the last night we’d be living under the same roof,” I replied, wiping the tears away with my whole palm. All the emotion was catching up to me, I wasn’t ready for Brooke to be a jerk.

“Oh, Parker,” Brooke walked over to me and wrapped her arms around me. 

“Let’s not think about it like that. Let’s remember that we’re both starting new chapters in life and it’s going to be wonderful. We’ll call each other and visit and tell each other all about it.”

“But you said-”

“We’ll definitely talk, Parker. This isn’t goodbye forever. I just want you to have a good start, make some good friends. Leave behind high school and that drama and realize college will give you so many amazing opportunities. Life has so many opportunities! Just you wait, everything will be great. Now, let’s talk about what’s important now. Breakfast? You hungry?”

I nodded shakily and took a big shuddering gasp. “I was actually thinking of pancakes? Your specialty?”

“I don’t even know why I bothered asking,” Brooke said, rolling her eyes and giving a little giggle. 

She pushed her wet hair back with a headband and got to work. Miraculously, we had every single ingredient in the house, and neither of us had to run out to buy anything. The milk wasn’t spoiled, and there was enough left over to make another mug of coffee for each of us. 

I was set with my caffeine level, but Brooke chugged another one down as if her life depended on it. She wasn’t someone who generally drank a lot of coffee, just the usual one in the morning so I knew that she hadn’t slept well but didn’t comment. 

The pancakes were delicious, made all the more better with a drizzle of maple syrup and chocolate sauce Brooke always made herself. 

She was a one of a kind girl. I was going to miss her. 

The tears felt like they were welling up again, so I quickly licked my plate and tossed all the plastic into the garbage. And then I washed the dishes, because as Brooke always said, if she had to cook everything then I was going to have to clean. It was the least I could do, and I really didn’t mind a couple of dishes. It was better than the flies that would instantly appear out of nowhere, swarming over any piece of food we happened to have left over. 

When all was said and done we were still two hours away from leaving. 

“Do you want to start packing up the car?,” Brooke suggested, as we lay on the couch inside feeling too stuffed to move. 

“In a minute,” I groaned. “I feel like I just ate enough pancakes for the rest of the year.”

“Yeah, and you’ll never be able to eat a pancake again,” Brooke teased. “You always say that. You’ll be fine in a couple of hours, in fact I guarantee you we’re going to grab lunch while we’re in the city.”

I knew she was right, it was just fun to complain sometimes. 

We had the car packed within the hour and all that was left was to go over my room and make sure nothing was forgotten. All seemed to be in place and I decided it was time to shower and get ready for my first day!

Brooke gave me a dress for my ‘first day first impressions’. She said everyone should own something that makes them look and feel beautiful so I could choose something from her closet.  

There were endless amounts of dresses to choose from, as Brooke was quite an avid thrift shopper, but there was one that I always had my eye on since the day she bought it. It was a tight piece and I had always assumed that since I barely had any curves to speak of that I wouldn’t be able to fill it out. But it was flattering, its color a light coral with tiny stitching on it that looked like sailboats. Starting from the top it was square necked with short sleeves and went straight down, unassuming, doing a little flair out at the bottom as if saying it was not to be underestimated. 

Brooke knew I would pick that one and she warned me that I could have it but she would totally be borrowing it if she ever had a charity dinner or was going out clubbing. It was just that kind of dress – super versatile depending on the right shoes. 

Today I chose to wear them with a low slingback sandal. As I got out of the shower, I wrapped a towel around me and rubbed away the fog from the mirror. I examined myself critically. I could do this. I was smart, I was a hard worker. And I was friendly. I could do this. I bared my teeth, checking for hidden scraps waiting to embarrass me. All good. 

I went to go get dressed. 

Rather surprisingly, as almost nothing seems to work out perfectly in life that way, we were on the road at the exact time I had planned to leave. The car was packed and we were both dressed and ready and there was no reason to drag on. 

There was no traffic as we crossed over the bridge, and Brooke spared a moment to glance over at me. 

“Nervous?,” she asked, noticing my clasped hands and the fact that I wasn’t singing along with the radio. 

“Nope,” I didn’t want to talk about it. 

We pulled up not soon after, the entrance to the college already packed with people. 

Brooke got directed to a temporary unloading zone, and we quickly moved to unload all of my things. 

I had two big suitcases and three heavy boxes. I had thought it was a lot but watching other people unload showed me how minimalistic I was. Girls were slinging bean bag chairs out of cars and guys were carrying long rectangular boxes containing stuff I couldn’t imagine. Brooke quickly went to park the car – well as quick as could be done in New York City while I waited. No way was I leaving my things on the sidewalk for any homeless man to lay claim to. When Brooke got back she watched my things while I made my way to the check in table. Despite the fact that there were hoards of people milling about, check in went fast and I made my way back to Brooke with my room keys. Together we each took a rolling duffel bag and placed a box precariously on top. There was one box left which I wasn’t sure how to bring up in this first go. I debated going myself and letting Brooke wait with the rest of it and just make two trips when someone came up behind us. 

“Hey, need a hand?” It was a tall girl with ebony skin and black curly hair that encased her head like a halo. She gave a nod over to the box that was left on the floor. “I don’t mind carrying that, I’ve already done my trip.”

“Oh, so you’re early then,” Brooke replied, assuming my shyness had prevented me from answering. I shook my head slightly and mentally berated myself while listening to the girl’s reply. She carried the box with no hitch to her voice, her strong muscled arms clad in a black tank top easily taking the weight. 

“Yeah, I’ve actually been here all day helping set up. I’m Gloria but everyone calls me RiRi.” she looked between the two of us. “Are you guys twins?”

Nobody thought that when we were apart, but when we stood together we had similar mannerisms that identified us as sisters. 

“No, I’m the older one, helping Parker here drop her stuff off. I’m Brooke”. She smiled and held out her hand as we waited for the elevators. We both shook hands with RiRi respectively. 

“So you’re a freshman?,” I asked tentatively, ready to insert myself into the conversation. 

“Junior,” RiRi replied. “I’m actually your RA.” RA’s were resident assistants, there as peer counselors, as resources or referral people, as advocates, programmers, policy enforcers, and group leaders. I had gotten that mainly word for word from the NYU website but I still wasn’t sure what their job was. 

“Oh?,” I replied, at a loss for words again. She sounded like she was someone in charge. 

“Yeah, I’m the one who’s going to get you in trouble if you do something wrong.” Her eyes twinkled mischievously and I knew she was just messing with me. “No, but actually if you need anything, I’m here to help.” 

We finally made it into an elevator and traveled up to the fourth floor. It wasn’t too high up, and I wouldn’t mind taking the stairs on occasion, but today with the amount of baggage it was worth it to wait. 

My room  was at the end of the hall, and I put my bag down to grab my key and turn the lock. 

Mercifully, I was the first one there. I was going to be sharing a room with an unknown and I was not ready yet for a new face. 

RiRi placed my box down on the desk. 

“I’ll be around all of today helping people bring things back and forth. If you get bored and want to help as well just come on down to the front desk and look around. If you get hungry, there are about fifty places to grab pizza or hot dogs or sushi. This is New York City afterall! See you around”.

And she was gone, letting the door swing softly shut behind her. 

Brooke made her way fully into the room and looked around. It was a nice size, with two twin sized beds at opposite ends, each with their own desk and closet. The closet had two sides, one with a bar for hangers and the other side with shelves. It was a decent amount of space but I noticed that there were draws under the beds as well. 

“Yeah, awesome!,” Brooke exclaimed, rolling them out. “I love these types of beds. This’ll be super helpful for you when you finally decide to start shopping.” She dodged my playful slap and then said, from across the room, “No seriously, maybe I’ll even start keeping things here there’s just that much room!”.

“Oh, shut up and help me unpack,” I giggled, rolling my eyes at her. 

We started with the clothes and while Brooke set me up in the neat way only she knew, I unloaded my books and set them up at the back of the desk I claimed as my own. One drawer beneath the bed got turned into a sock and underwear drawer and the other was left empty for the meantime. 

Lastly, I unpacked my new laptop. I drew in a deep breath as I took it out from the box, marveling at how new it was. There were no scratches anywhere, the screen clean from smudge marks. It was remarkably light as well, and I couldn’t wait to bring it to classes and take notes. This is what got me hot – the freshness of a new school year, and the ability to take perfect recordings of my courses. 

My new roommate still hadn’t arrived yet and we were almost done, Brooke helping me spread a sheet over my bed and put the blanket cover over my quilt. 

“Whew,” she said, wiping her brow and sitting down dramatically. “I think we both deserve some lunch, yeah?”

There was nothing more to do, nothing else she could help me with, but I could tell she didn’t want to leave yet. And I didn’t want her to go yet either. 

“Yeah, let’s go grab something to eat.”

We made to step out of the room, when just then the door was flung open from the outside. 

A girl of Barbie proportions stalked in on high heels, giving us once overs as she came inside. Her legs were clad in the barest minimum of what could be called shorts and her crop top might as well have been a bra. 

I could see my shock reflected in Brooke’s face. Well I suppose this is what you got when you chose potluck.

“Jennifer?,” I asked unsurely. 

She whipped her massive sunglasses off and turned to face me, having been in the process of giving my hanging clothes a thorough inspection. 

“Yep,” she replied in a southern drawl. “Now which of y’all are Parker?”

“That’s me,” I volunteered, her accent making me slightly more comfortable. “This is my sister, Brooke.”

She brought out her hand that I noticed was perfectly manicured and offered a shake with each of us. 

We looked at each other. The silence stretched on. It got slightly awkward. I could feel the sweat pooling underneath my arms and beading up on my forehead. I struggled to find something to say and looked anxiously over at Brooke who was determinedly avoiding my gaze, glorying in my struggle. Finally she conceded to look up and I gave her a pleading look. She rolled her eyes and took charge. 

“So, do you need any help? Where are your things?”

“Oh, that’s mighty nice of you. Thanks Booke. I’ll be fine, my Pa is just downstairs dealing with admissions or whatever. I just came up to see the space.” She eyed it critically. “Honestly y’all, I thought it’d be smaller, yeah? You find a place for everything?”

I nodded bravely. This girl gave off an intimidating impression but the second she opened her mouth that typical warm southern hospitality seeped from all her pores and she wasn’t so scary to talk to. Of course then she immediately took out a nail filer and sat down on the chair near her desk, looking for imperfection and buffing them to a blinding shine. 

Was this girl for real? Brooke decided that it was time we both left, as she had to be getting back for a shift later that night at the bakery. 

“Well, it was nice to meet you Jennifer,” she said, grabbing my elbow. “Parker will be back later but I need to get going soon.”

“Everyone calls me Jenny,” she said, waving her hands grandly. “See you later Parker, it was nice to meet you too, Brooke. Hope you’ll be back around to visit.” She winked at her and I winced. Already people were gravitating towards Brooke, it was what she did. She couldn’t help it, but I resented her ever so slightly.

We left the room and I noticed Brooke holding her breath. She made it around the corner before she burst into giggles. 

“That girl could have come straight out of a TV show,” she said, smothering her laughter behind a turned hand. With that, my grumpiness shattered. 

“But she does seem nice. It’ll be good for you to get out a bit, see the world through some non New Yorker’s eyes.” She gave me a sidelong glance and could see me nervously biting my lip. While my anger with Brooke faded faster than sugar in hot water, I still wanted to know how she effortlessly made people feel good about themselves and gave off vibes of calm, collected, and cool. I wasn’t the best around strangers, it took me a while to warm up to them. I especially wasn’t ready for someone who looked like they belonged on a runway but spoke like they came from The Ranch. 

“I just don’t get her,” I replied nervously, looking over my shoulder to make sure she wasn’t right behind us or something. “Like, she looks like she’s a freaking model, right? She could be famous!”

“Yeah, and did you see her checking out your clothes? She totally wants to become sisters with you. Just please don’t replace me!,” Brooke said the next part half jokingly, with a dramatic hand on heart pose. “Either way, you’ll be fine. I bet there are so many people around, if you hate her you never have to interact with her. Now where do you want to go?”

Surprisingly, despite my nerves, I was hungry for food. Ravenous, in fact. I could eat a whole pie of pizza. And that was what I told Brooke. She acquiesced, and we were off to follow the closest one we could find on Google Maps, called Joe’s Pizza. We ended up walking past it and looking for another one as they didn’t even sell fries, and what type of pizza store didn’t sell fries?

We found a chain store and sat down, me ordering two slices and fries with an iced tea, and Brooke got a greek salad. Of course, she ended up eating most of my fries and when it was time to go she held me so tight that I stopped breathing for a moment but I gave back nothing less. She refused my offer to walk her to the parking garage and we parted, me watching her walking away slowly, her hand raised in farewell, the swarms of people quickly swallowing her up.

I walked back to my residence hall feeling rather dejected. Mom called me just as Brooke disappeared from sight and I spent a couple of minutes outside on the phone with her reassuring her that I was fine, that my roommate was nice, that my whole place was set up neatly. She promised to visit some time next week but I had low expectations. 

I didn’t see RiRi as I walked into the entrance hall and took the stairs up to my room. The place was even more packed, if that was possible, parents and siblings of all the students making their way in and out of the building, getting room keys and luggage from cars. Jennifer was in full swing when I made it back to our room, the door flung wide open and music blaring out. I walked in nervously, wiping my sweaty palms on the outside of my dress and then immediately felt gross like I needed to wash them. I made an abrupt turn before she noticed me and walked down the hall to the bathroom that was shared with the whole floor. It had six different stalls and four fully separate showers of which I was grateful for, and a row of ten sinks in the middle with five on each side. That would come in handy when you had the whole floor wanting to brush their teeth at the same time. I went to the bathroom and came out, giving my hands a thorough scrubbing and then realizing there was no soap. Ok, step one is definitely to acquire soap, I thought to myself.

I made my way back to my room, knocking tentatively. 

“Hey! Parker!,” Jennifer called loudly over the music, in her southern drawl. She nodded over to a tall man who had his head in her closet, hanging up some of her clothes. “This is my Pa. Pa, this is my roommate Parker.”

I held out my hand the man who had pulled his face out and was grinning widely. He was very good looking for someone of his advanced age, kind of like a Johnny Depp type but very weatherbeaten. His face was lined but his body was buff as if he did a lot of heavy lifting. 

“Hi, nice to meet you.” It was up to me to make conversation now that Brooke was gone. “Do you guys need any help?”

“Ooh, yes, you wouldn’t mind?,” Jennifer said eagerly. She pointed to some boxes down the hall. “Haven’t had a chance to bring them in yet, would you mind helping me?” She left some letters off of her words and I just knew that this was the girl all the guys would be clamoring to sleep with. 

“Sure,” I gave a jerk of the head, and all three of us traipsed down the hallway to bring in the last of her boxes. 

She had so many things, I wasn’t sure how she was planning on fitting them until I saw in one of her boxes a pile of shelves. 

“Pa’s helping me nail these to the wall,” she said, in response to my gaze which had lingered on the shelves. “I ain’t got a place for all everything I brought.” She chuckled lightly. “Back home I got the place to myself. Never occurred to me I mightn’t have room.”

Her Pa produced a drill and some nails and proceeded to put the shelves up. It was so loud and I needed to get out of there so I gestured I was going out and quickly walked down the stairs to what they called the 2East Lounge. The room was empty, obviously, everyone being otherwise occupied and I looked around casually. It had a big TV, and all the important tables, ie; foosball, ping pong, and pool. There were comfy couches lining the walls and a bunch of tables where I assumed one could play cards or do their homework if they were so inclined. It was a comfortable space and I swung my body down onto a couch and brought my phone out to scan in order to while away the time. 

There was supposed to be an activity later that day, organized by our RA’s and I was looking forward to doing something because coming so early had me really bored. I was debating going to find RiRi and offer my help when I got a text from my Dad. 

Hey sweety hope you hv a gr8 time mkng frends! Hv fun!! 🙂 

I instantly missed him with an ache in my chest but texted back assurances that I was fine. I didn’t need anyone worrying about me and besides it had only been a couple of hours since I was home. Why did I have to act like such a baby?

I decided to get out of the room and go see if anyone needed help. Distractions were the key to homesickness. 

By the time our activity came around later that night, I had met a bunch of different people, all of whom I was sure I wouldn’t be friends with in a month. Dave, the Californian whose shorts were almost shorter than Jennifer’s, Sandra, who seemed very type A, Samantha, who wouldn’t let me help her because she was sure I would break everything, Kyle, who made me carry his load when I offered my help, and Randy, who just screamed ‘nerd’ and ‘video games’. No, he actually screamed them from the top of his lungs. It was written on his shirt as well, NERD WHO LIKES VIDEO GAMES, and when I asked him about it he said it was better to own it than be made fun of. I suppose he was right on that front. 

The activity that the RAs had set up for us was just a bunch of ice breaker games, joined by lots of non alcoholic drinks. They were forbidden to serve us beer (even though most of the people here would jump on their first chance to join a college party consisting of alcohol) and when it was over I knew only slightly more than I did before about a handful of people. I felt very alone when the organized entertainment broke up and everyone wandered away or stayed there chatting. No one was really talking to me and I was too shy to make that much of an effort. I left the lounge, walking slowly back to my room, ready to just watch a movie and go to sleep. Jennifer – no, Jenny as she had assured me again – wasn’t back yet but her stuff was everywhere on her side of the room. Mine was still clean, and I fell back into my made bed, not even having time to switch my new laptop on before falling asleep after the exhausting and emotionally draining events of the day. 

I woke up groggily at what felt like the middle of the night to the sounds of banging on my door. I glanced over to Jenny’s side of the room and saw no change. The moon was casting a bright light into the room, causing shadows of unfamiliar objects everywhere. I gave my body a second to wake up so I could roll out of bed and open the door. 

“Thank you so much,” Jenny was there, with a grateful and sorry look on her face. “I left my key. Sorry, did I wake you?”

I assured her that yes she did but it was fine and then I asked her the time. 

“Oh, it’s just past one AM,” she replied, glancing down at her watch. She flicked the light on and picked some clean clothes from a newly attached shelf on her wall. 

“Just gonna go shower!,” she replied cheerily, opening the door again. Now that I was a little more awake I heard the unmistakable sounds of late night partying happening outside. It seemed as if the whole dorm had decided they were going to get to know each other and had left me out of it. While I knew that was unfair, since I had chosen to go to bed, I still felt left out. I promised myself I would work harder tomorrow, and I texted Brooke to see if she was awake to get a little pick-me-up.

Her response was immediate:

All good?

Feeling kind of left out. e/o partying outside w/o me.

Why don’t you go join them? I knew she would give me the encouraging push I need.

Too shy. I could always be honest with Brooke. Tomorrow. Promise. 

Ok Pancake remember your awesome and theyd be lucky 2b friends with you. 

Gnite.

Gnite, xoxo

I went to sleep feeling much better and this time I slept through Jenny coming back from her shower and didn’t wake up until the morning. 

How to Understand The Secret in a Rational Manner

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Oh, hey there! I’m Shari and I’m a successful author. 

Oh, you’ve never heard of me? Well, you will. One day soon. 

Oh, you want to read a book that I wrote? Or at least see proof that there’s a book out there that exists? Well, it’s coming. And soon. 

I’ve actually just started to post the chapters of a book I wrote right here online! If you want to be one of the first people to get a sneak peek, get to comment, and maybe have some of your ideas end up in my book then stick around. It’s going to be fabulous!

A fun thing happened to me last week. I reached 50 followers! This feels like a nice round number to be proud of, and I celebrated by buying myself a yacht and traveling to exotic places on it. 

I hope you know I’m joking. I would like to give a shout out to The Bipolar Writer for being my fiftieth! 

Anyways, I spoke a little bit last week about how to change your life for the better. That was before I discovered something new, but it is interesting how much it relates to what I’m about to tell you. 

Have you ever heard of ‘The Secret’? 

If you’ve answered yes, please, PLEASE share your story with me. It’s fascinating stuff. And if you’ve answered no, well, then, duh. It’s a secret afterall. 

The funny thing is, I watched a YouTube video about manifesting your dreams, and the girl who was speaking did throw out something about a book called The Secret. I wasn’t interested in it as much as I was interested in her video, but while on Netflix this week, I noticed a documentary called The Secret. And the cover page looked exactly the same as the cover of the book that the girl showed off, which is what led me to click on it. 

And it was mind-numbingly-shocking. Honestly, the type of ideas the rational part of your brain doesn’t believe are true, but there is a tiny (read: big) part of me that definitely believes in magic and I just… bxelieve. 

If you haven’t watched it, I strongly encourage it, if you have a rational person in your life that can help you not float off into the clouds. For me, that person is my husband.

I tend to get a little… fanatic shall we say?, about things I see. For example I became a vegan for half a year because I watched a couple of documentaries in the beginning of lockdown. I just believe in the good in people and believe that people wouldn’t lie to me, so therefore they must be telling me the truth.

But my husband thinks I’m naive and I need to think more. And he’s right, mostly. So I’ve been working on it, specifically researching the other side of things and exposing myself to all views while trying to pick the path I think is right.

And yet for this….

Well, by now you must have watched The Secret. So I’ll tell you what it’s about. 

The Law of Attraction. Ever heard of it? I hadn’t specifically heard of the term until now, but the concept of it exists in many places. Positivity attracts positive things and negativity attracts negative things.  

But it goes deeper than that. Whatever we think comes true because we attract it to us. Our dreams become reality, what we dwell on will come to pass. Essentially, the universe is a catalogue and we just choose what we want from within it’s pages. 

On a deeper level, we are made up of energy. The energy that exists in our mind changes the outcome of our lives.

It’s all quite mind boggling, to tell you the truth. Is it really all that easy to just imagine what we want and then it’ll come to pass?

So, knowing my tendency to believe in the crazy, I took it to my husband.

Even though he is someone with his feet planted firmly on the ground and an extremely rational brain that only looks at truth, he said something that kind of shocked me. He’s actually been practicing this in some way since childhood. He always pictured himself as being successful in a myriad of ways, and he vividly sees the things he wants in his mind until today. It’s a concept he’s always understood. But that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to it.

Paraphrasing what he said, “You have to picture what you want, really picture it, and then start working towards it. The trick is knowing it’s actually going to happen. That the future you want is here right now. But you don’t sit back and assume it will materialize around you. You work towards it knowing that it is your future.” 

It wasn’t exactly what The Secret says, but I do understand where he’s coming from. The rational part of me understands it like this: if we believe something is going to happen, we see the future as we want it, then we’re likely to grab every opportunity as it comes our way. It’s always on our mind! So everything you see, every person you encounter can be a step in that direction. 

It’s kind of similar to only looking at the good in life, and then only good happens. Because that is what you’re focusing on. If you constantly focus on the bad, and keep complaining about everything, then you’ll only see the bad! Also people won’t want to hang out with you. Just saying.

So the concept of the Law of Attraction states that we attract what our mind thinks about and this doesn’t have to be some heebie-jeebyie thing. It can be understood in the factual way of looking for good and opportunity and therefore only see the good and opportunity that surrounds you.

But honestly, I do believe in a little bit of magic. Can it hurt to picture all the things you want, really use your imagination to put yourself in your dream mansion, surrounded by love, and success? Na.

In short:

  1. Think positive, and life will be positive.
  2. Believe that your dreams will come true, and look for opportunities to work towards them.

It’s time to put my overactive imagination to more use then just weird food groups that don’t belong together!

Part 2 of The Story

Photo by GREG KANTRA on Unsplash

It was a random Tuesday, and still a hotter summer than anyone could recall in living history. Everyone walked around grumbling about global warming, but I was outside in my backyard soaking in the rays. I was trying to work on a tan. My goal was to enter college as that aloof and super attractive girl. It wasn’t me, to say the least. I was five foot three, and skinny. Without makeup I could easily be confused as a middle schooler. I went inside to grab more ice for my lemonade that was slowly starting to boil in the heat and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror above the sink.  I screwed up my nose at the multitude of freckles forming there as I rebraided my reddish brown hair. It used to be more red but as the years went on it thankfully darkened to brown. I let my hair grow out long – too long Mom always said before begging me to sit down so she could just trim the edges. Just trim. Please? I’d give in to her demands every couple of months because it did get pretty annoying to take care of- especially in the shower and when I decided to straighten it. But I would never dream of cutting it short for fear that I would end up looking like some version of Orphan Annie- all short and little with my hair framing my entire head like a helmet and too many freckles to count. 

I retook my place outside on the deck chair and closed my eyes whilst tilting my face to the sun. Just then I heard a squeak and the back door opened and Brooke walked out. 

“Hey,” I welcomed her, my eyes closing again. “I thought you were out.”

“The store closed early today,” Brooke replied, placing her bikini clad butt on the lawn chair next to mine. Brooke worked random days at a bakery around the corner, which is where she learned all the tricks to decorating baked goodies.

She started rubbing sunscreen lotion all over her exposed limbs. Brooke and I couldn’t have looked any more different. Whereas I was small and freckled with my auburn locks, Brooke was pale, like vampire level pale, with thick black hair that she liked to keep short. She was around the same height as me but was way curvier, something I was envious of. 

She finally settled down and we enjoyed the quiet for a bit. The sun was starting to get too hot though, and I nudged Brooke wanting to go do something a bit more exciting. 

“Parker!,” she murmured, trying to avoid the shade I was purposely throwing on her. “Let me sit in peace!”

“Ok, but soon let’s go somewhere indoors. I’ve been sitting outside for hours already, I’m ready for some AC.”

She nodded and promptly started snoring. Brooke always fell asleep in the sun. It was a miracle she was as pale as she was. I adjusted my bathing suit, pulling the straps to the side so I wouldn’t end up with a tan mark. A bird sang in the distance. This was my definition of summer. 

My eyelids felt like they were burning, so I sat up and put on my sunglasses that were chilling next to me on a chair. 

Our backyard was a luxury not normally found in Brooklyn homes. The remnants from childhood were scattered all over, with a trampoline and a swingset. A plastic car sat in the corner gathering dust, one that I could only fit in when I was three, and Brooke used to sit on the hood and make me give her rides. It made me happy to look at it all, knowing there was no reason to have it, but still glad we hadn’t thrown it away. 

The deck we were sitting on was a new addition. Here we had lawn chairs and a BBQ grill, along with a table and a stack of normal plastic chairs. When the weather was nice – not too hot or too cold, Dad would come out and grill hamburgers and we would all hang out until Mom said she was going to bed and Dad followed her soon afterwards. Then Brooke and I would stare at the stars until we were too tired to keep our eyes open, finally falling asleep and making our way to our beds later on in the night. 

Those dinners were fewer, and further in between. Mom and Dad were working on building their marketing business, recently making a few risky choices and hoping the returns would be worth it. I didn’t really know so much about what was going on since I was the youngest. I had a feeling that no matter how old I would get nobody would ever tell me anything, always thinking of me as the baby. I only knew the result which was that they were barely home anymore. 

But it was fine. I always had Brooke around. She graduated from high school two years ago and was in the process of being the coolest girl ever. She had nixed college, deciding to follow her dreams which were… well, everything. She wanted to write songs, become a bodybuilder, start her own catering business. She was my inspiration. 

I was going to college because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I needed money to do so, and getting a degree seemed to be like a good place to start before getting a job. Brooke encouraged me to leave the house, spread my wings. I was quiet, preferring to stay home and cook a nice meal and then sit down to watch a movie, versus going out with friends. 

It was another reminder how we couldn’t be more different. 

Brooke had countless friends who wanted to hang out with her but for some reason she chose to spend time with me. 

Speaking of spending time with me, Brooke finally opened her eyes and gestured to me to help her up. I swung my legs over and helped drag her into a sitting position. Her body squeaked as it disengaged from the chair. 

“Alright, where do you want to go?,” she yawned widely and her yawn made me hungry. 

“Let’s go out to eat!,” I suggested enthusiastically. We both ran upstairs to get dressed, not feeling bathing suit attire was appropriate for brunch. 

I was downstairs another couple of moments later, my skinny limbs sticking out from a pair of shorts and my favorite tank that said ‘Eat Me’ above a slice of pizza pulled over my bikini top. 

Brooke was a little longer to get ready. She was so beautiful that I don’t know why she bothered but she always put effort into her appearance. She said it was important to give a good impression, and therefore was more likely to wear flowy dresses and strappy sandals than shorts and flip flops. 

Sure enough when she came downstairs she was wearing a short loose dress in gingham print with ruched sleeves, her feet encased in high espadrilles. I wasn’t sure if we were related. 

I grabbed the credit card that Dad always left for us and Brooke and I got into the car. 

“So, where are we going,” Brooke asked, fiddling with the radio dial. 

“Allow me,” I made her focus on the road and chose an FM station. 

“Let’s go get sushi!”

“Sushi?” Brooke glanced at me suspiciously. There was a reason she believed something was up. I refused to eat sushi, anything with fish made me nauseous. I found something to eat when we ended up there but it was definitely not one of my first choices. 

“Let’s just go”. I said no more until we got to the one closest to us. 

Brooke parked as I jumped out, claiming I was going to grab us a table. 

But really I was looking for him. 

Brooke made it inside before my eyes adjusted to the dim lighting and I could see behind the counter. 

“Come, let’s sit here”. I let her lead me to a table in the corner and we both sat down, my eyes darting all over the place. She watched me for a few moments saying nothing. Then- 

“Who’s the new beau? Is it the one making the sushi?” I wheeled around in my seat and glared at her. Joben was the resident sushi chef, known for his specialty rolls and the fact that he must have eaten all of his knowledge. He was a good boss though. At least I’ve heard it said. I blushed and Brooke saw, nudging me with her foot and looking around furtively. 

“Cute guy behind the counter?” and I saw he had come out from wherever he had been hiding, smiling politely as he helped a customer with a takeout order. 

“Shhh!” I motioned Brooke to look back around. “Stop staring!”

“Oh, but I wasn’t joking! He is cute!”

“Yeah, yeah, he went to my school, he’s been working here all senior year and I figured through the summer as well.”

“Have you ever spoken to him!”

“Of course!” I declared huffily. “I’m not pathetic!”

Brooke’s eyes twinkled mischievously. “Oh, I’m sure you’re not. That’s why you should go say hi.”

My stomach immediately started doing backflips. It felt like a circus down there. Brooke knew she had gotten me. 

“Let’s just order”. We motioned a waiter over as I looked down at my menu and chose what I always ordered- fries. 

Brooke got her favorite- as spicy as they would make it with extra wasabi. It didn’t matter the type of fish, she liked them all. 

Just then, he came to our table with our order. 

“Why hello,” Brooke said slowly in her favorite posh drawl. “Thank you so much,” she glanced closely at the name tag, “Jeremy”.

I shook my head frantically, hoping she would notice. It didn’t matter, he just corrected her. 

“Hi there! I’m actually wearing Jeremy’s apron today. Mine is in the wash. My name is Scott.”

“Well, thank you then Scott”.

“You’re welcome. Enjoy your food ladies.” Scott gave a little bow as he walked away from our table, barely even glancing at me the entire time he was here. He never noticed me. I was a background fly, barely even giving off an annoying buzz. Especially sitting next to Brooke I had no chance. Not that I was even sure I would want one. 

Whatever. 

Brooke was eating her sushi daintedly, with the chopsticks held in the precise position and her soy sauce neatly poured into a bowl. She slowly chewed and finished her bite all while I shoveled fries into my mouth, fast. She finally finished, put down her utensils and gave me a look. 

“Scott?” she asked scornfully. I wasn’t sure what the question was but it didn’t sound good. “I mean come on, who these days are named Scott? It’s a stupid, full of yourself name”.

I had no response to that. I stayed quiet and continued eating. 

“You deserve better. Stop being so… obvious”. 

Well, that was a burn that Brooke didn’t so often dish. 

“Whatever,” I rolled my eyes, trying to disguise my hurt. “He’s in a couple of my classes and he’s really smart, OK? Of course he’s also all those other obvious stuff, and I know we would never amount to anything, but he does make rather nice eye candy”.

“That you’re right”. 

She looked at him almost as if she was studying him, trying to figure out what made him tick. And then, abruptly, she was up and out of her seat, paying at the register, then back at the table placing down a tip. 

“Come on Pancake,” she said, coaxing me up. “I have a better idea of how to spend this day”.

I followed her, but not before grabbing another handful of fries as we made our way outside. 

We got back into a car that had just gone through a double broiler and a stint in an industrial oven. It was so hot I refused to touch the belt buckle until the AC cooled the place down a couple of hundred degrees. Brooke consented to letting me ride unfastened and drove a corresponding two miles an hour. Eventually we made it to where she had decided she wanted to take me. The mall. 

“Um, no”. I did not need another pointless window shopping trip since everything I had was being used towards college next year. It’s not like I was interested in shopping regardless. I wasn’t what you would call a ‘girly girl’. Everything nice I got as a hand-me-down from Brooke and that was good enough for me. 

“No, Parker. Turn your eyes. I mean, what’s next to the mall?”

“A 7/11?”

“Precisely”.

I had no idea what she meant and let her lead me inside to the wonderfully air conditioned interior and cold refreshing Slurpees.

Behind the counter was the most magnificent man I have ever seen. This was no Scott-Boy-Wonder. This was Keep-it-in-the-pants-make-you-stupid-Man-hot. I was hitting puberty all over again at the age of eighteen. This is what it was like to graduate high school and prepare for college. I found myself staring and quickly caught myself and looked over to Brooke. She was browsing in the far left section, still with a perfect view to the front. 

I made my way over. “You evil devil! So this is what you’ve been doing all those times you just say you’re out to get slurpees with friends? Well, he is certainly worth it. Has he fallen for you yet?”

“Ha, no. I haven’t spoken to him more than three words, all of which have been where’s my change?”

“But, why? You’re amazing, who wouldn’t want you?”

“I’m just kind of taking care of myself right now. Hanging out with my little sister before she goes to college, you know? Not in the mood for a relationship and you know my view on one night stands”. Brooke had too much belief in the purity of monogamy to do any such nonsense. She was above it all. She wasn’t snooty about it, it wasn’t something she shared with everyone. It was something she told me, her little sister, when she was in her ‘Impart Sage Advice’ mood. 

“So you just come here to check him out?”

“Ain’t nothing wrong with that. I also love the Slurpees,” she said deviously, and went to go get us cups. 

“I want a large one!” I called after her, knowing she wouldn’t settle for less anyways. What was the point of a Slurpee if you weren’t going to get the biggest size?

We snapped a selfie as we walked out of the store and I remember thinking we looked like a Postcard, two girls with arms linked, heads thrown back in laughter, our faces shining in the heat and not a care in the world.  


A week before the semester started had me throwing a hissy fit, tossing all my shoes all over the room. 

“Where is it?!?,” I yelled anxiously, turning over a bag that had already been packed with a bunch of toiletries. 

“Honey, relax. Where did you see it last?” Mom tried calming me down but I was already gone. Granted, I was super nervous about starting college, but also Brooke had been absent the whole weekend and I didn’t have anyone to distract me from my butterflies. So I had stayed downstairs, clicking through stupid shows, trying to find anything interesting that would deflect my panic. 

But tonight my laptop went missing. My brand new laptop I had saved up the past year to buy specifically for college. 

I wasn’t even sure why I decided I wanted it. All of a sudden I had a need to confirm its whereabouts and it was nowhere to be found. If Brooke was here she would make me relax and probably find it and make me a meal. But she was refusing to answer my texts and I was getting worried about her, even though Mom said she had spoken to her this morning and she just had bad reception on the road. 

A couple of her friends who she sometimes sang with had decided they were taking an end of summer road trip. They were going to hit up a bunch of random bars along the way and offer to play for free to get their music out. I tried hinting to Brooke that I wanted an invite but she had acted purposely obtuse. They left early in the morning, her friend Simon coming to pick her up in his old and noisy truck and she didn’t even say goodbye. 

She was only going to be gone a couple of days but I was still upset with her. 

Now, trying to find my laptop, I let myself wonder for a second if perhaps Brooke could have taken it. She knew I didn’t need it until the semester started, and she probably assumed that I wouldn’t look for it until she came back. I know sometimes she used one of her friend’s laptops to make her music sound clearer or whatever. I was so angry at her for something I assumed she did that I could barely think of her in a positive light. I was so angry it was like a furnace in my gut and I could barely unclench my fists. 

Mom was gone, downstairs I assumed to do some more laundry or cooking and I was left to lie on my bed in despair, pining for something nameless. 

Outside I heard a car pull up, one with a distinct sound and engine. 

I was determined not to talk to her when she came in, I was going to freeze her out just like she had done to me. 

The front door opened and I heard her voice calling out something indistinguishable, and then it shut and Mom welcomed her back home. 

I turned onto my side to face the wall so I could pass off sleeping when she came up. I heard her footsteps on the stairs and my heart beat faster and then they walked past my room to hers without even pausing by the doorway. 

My eyes squeezed out a couple of tears and I silently pushed open my bedroom window and climbed out onto the roof, a place that had become my comfort since I could manage the act. The roof sloped down, and I had to be careful to stay as near to the house as possible in order to avoid falling off. But it was a nice place to be. Right now the weather had cooled a bit and I could look up at a night sky that was too bright to show the stars and just be. I would never tell Mom since she would immediately say I was never to do something so dangerous and it was something even Brooke didn’t do, since she had a fear of heights. So I was alone for the time being and I could stew by myself. 

Stewing got old quick, though, after the fourth mosquito flew around and managed to bite my foot before I had a chance to crush it. I resolutely pulled the window up and climbed back inside, ready to face my sister again. 

“Brooke?,” I said tentatively, knocking on her open door. 

“Hey! Parker! I was just about to come around and say hi! Sorry I wanted to come in before but I smelled so bad I couldn’t stand another second with the revolting bar stink still on me.”

Sure enough her hair was wet, hanging about her head as if she had tousled it dry.

I wanted to know everywhere she went and all the fun she must have had but it also was an ache in my chest thinking of how she had done all those things without me. 

I was tempted to just turn away without saying anything else, the lump in my throat making it impossible and then Brooke said, “Oh, and I got you a present!”

Present? I did love getting gifts. Quickly, I blinked away the tears that had welled up in my eyes as Brooke turned to lean over her open overnight bag. 

“Here,” she said, thrusting a box wrapped with newspapers into my hands. 

It felt strangely heavy for its size but not so heavy that I suspected books. 

I tore it open nonchalantly, showing her I wasn’t so eager to see whatever it was that she had bought for me. 

But I wasn’t expecting what was inside. She had gotten me expensive noise cancelling headphones, the kind that are so comfortable it feels like you’re wearing clouds on your ears in addition to the fact that once you put them on you can’t hear anything going on. 

“I was thinking they would be perfect for college,” Brooke said, watching my face closely. “This way you could put them on and even if you’re in a packed study room or something no one can bother you.”

“They’re.. They’re,” I was too overwhelmed to say words. They were perfect, and Brooke knew it as well. She walked over and gave me a hug, allowing me to pretend I wasn’t crying by not requiring me to say anything. 

“Thank you Brooke,” I said quietly into her shoulder, as she squeezed me tightly. 

“This way when you get good marks you’ll have me to thank,” she joked. “Oh and I almost forgot. Mom said you couldn’t find your laptop. Don’t you remember you put it in my closet. For so-called ‘safekeeping’, since you didn’t want to open it up until the night before you left?”

I did remember and immediately I felt stupid. I was just overwhelmed and feeling like I wasn’t ready for any of this, especially without my sister who always knew what to do and led the way. 

“Oh,” was all I could say in response though. Mere moments ago I had been so angry at her that I didn’t even know if I would be able to look at her. And now she was reminding me of who she was and buying me presents so I just felt confused. I held onto the feeling of abandonment when she left me to have some sort of self righteousness. 

“We’ll talk tomorrow? I’m exhausted.” It gave me a perverse sense of pride to blow her off like that, instead of sitting up with her all night to hear what she had to say. She looked a little put out, but nodded and let me go back to my room where I stayed up half the night looking at my spinning ceiling fan and trying to relax. 

I woke up the next day late as usual feeling much better. My temper had alleviated over the night and with a new day came calmer emotions. 

Brooke was still not up yet, I had swung past her room to see if she was still there and heard the slow sounds of deep sleep emanating from within. 

I decided to make eggs, feeling particularly hungry this morning and in the mood for a big brunch. 

I was going to make Brooke breakfast as well. I started off toasting some bread and cheese and cracked a couple of eggs into a big bowl. Then I decided to get very fancy and sauteed some onions and garlic, turning this into a tasty meal. The final cherry on top were milkshakes, each made to order in regards to our preferences. Brooke got double chocolate chocolate with chocolate drizzled on top while I opted for a more subtle mix of pistachio and strawberries. I heard clomping down the stairs as the blender was whirring. Brooke entered the kitchen looking like she hadn’t slept in weeks. Her eyes were ringed in purple, the bags beneath them bigger than any I was bringing with me to college. She held back a yawn as she rumpled her short black hair. 

“Wow,” she exclaimed, picking her nose up and sniffing the air as the smell of freshly brewed coffee I had put up last minute wafted towards her. “This is all extremely fancy and unexpected coming from you.”

I shrugged. “I’m feeling good this morning and starving. Come, let’s eat!”

I pointed to the eggs that had just come off the stove. “Those are still hot for the next couple of seconds and the bread is perfectly toasty and cheesy.” Brooke clapped her hands delightedly like a child and grabbed a mug to pour herself a generous dose of caffeine. 

“I’m starving as well. And this is delicious!” The last part was said over a mouthful of eggs, shoved into her mouth and washed down with the milkshakes. “I feel like I haven’t eaten real food since I left. I know I was only gone for like four days but it felt like forever. And Simon brought his new girlfriend.” she rolled her eyes. “It seems like every couple of days there’s a new girl that he brings, all ready to party and be part of a band until she realizes how lame he actually is.”

I laughed without being able to help it. I loved hearing her stories and even though I was still dismayed at my being left out of her gang, I conversely wanted to know everything about it.

“We need a picture of all this food!” Brooke grabbed her phone out of the pocket of her pajama shorts and urged me into it, snapping a picture of the spread of food with us at either end of the table, making silly faces and digging in. That was one of my favorite pictures of the summer. It reminded me of our friendship, the fact that no matter how upset I was with her she could always make me laugh, the fact that food was bountiful back then, we were both rumpled from sleep, not showered or dressed and yet looking as beautiful as we had ever been. 

Part 1 of a New Story

Photo by Sam Manns on Unsplash

Hey guys! Welcome back to Short Story Sunday. Only, this time I’ve decided to do it a bit differently. I’ve decided to post the first chapter of a novel that I wrote recently. Let me know what you think! I’ve been playing with the idea of posting chapters here and if you’d like to influence the work, and maybe end up with your idea in the final draft, leave me a comment! I’d love to hear what you think.

If I had known that the summer before college was the last time that I would truly be carefree, well, I wouldn’t have chosen to squander it away on Netflix. I would have chosen to make more memories, to spend even more time with Brooke. I would have kept her up all night and made her tell me all the secrets of the universe. 

I saw that summer as a series of snapshots. It was the only way I could remember what had happened – through all the photos I had managed to snap on my phone. 

It was the summer of relaxation. Almost everyone I knew was away, either living it up before college sucked all the life out of them or else escaping the Brooklyn humidity. We never went away. Mom and Dad worked as usual, leaving before Brooke or I had even thought about waking up and coming back when we were deep into our heroic attempt to complete all of Netflix before I couldn’t afford to watch anymore. 

Thankfully, Brooke hadn’t had much doing that summer as well. I had a sneaking suspicion that she took time off just to hang out with me, but hey, who cares? I was lucky!

We woke up at around the same time every day – lunch time. The place was hot and my body was sticky on account of the fact that Mom liked shutting off the air conditioning before her and Dad left to work. I know it saved money, but it was really hard to survive with the suppressing heat weighing down on your chest. Every morning required a quick shower – one that only used the cold water, and by the time I was downstairs I was hot again.   

The morning of July fourth I made my way downstairs to see Brooke already in the kitchen. It was so hot I was fairly positive if I took an egg out of the fridge it would become hard boiled within a couple of minutes. I noticed the oven was on which explained the high temperatures. But why was it on?

“Good morning!,” Brooke greeted me with a massive smile that swallowed the sweat dripping down her face.

“Ergh,” I replied to her happiness, taking my place at the kitchen table and laying my head down on the cool marble surface. It was too hot. “I’m hungry and what are you cooking? How are you surviving in here?”

“It’s July fourth! Happy Independence Day!” She proceeded to open the oven, checking on it’s contents before closing it back up and wiping her forearm against her forehead. “I’m making a cake.”

“A fancy one?” when Brooke did something she put her one hundred percent into it. That meant the cake was probably going to be fifty layers to represent the stars with stripes all along the sides. 

“Of course. You’re going to help me as well. Eat something, we have to run to the store and pick up more ingredients. Everything has to be ready by four for the party.”

I groaned. Every year on July fourth the entire block got together to throw a party. Well, whoever was left here anyways. It was always us at a minimum along with Tom and Delia, the old couple who lived next door. There was nothing wrong with it, per se. There was mostly decent food, if you excluded Delia’s roasted eggplant and bean dish which I hated with a passion. But since Brooke and I were among the only kids on the block we got a certain amount of, shall I say, attention?  All the adults wanted to know what we were doing, what our plans were this year, were we dating anyone? It wasn’t so bad, except that Brooke was slowly leaving me behind to accept all the attention on myself alone. I remembered when we were younger and there were more kid centered activities since there were just more of us. But now there was plenty of white wine and beer and tables, so everyone could sit around and gossip. 

“Come on,” Brooke said encouragingly. “It’s not that bad.”

“Yeah, but if Mrs. Finer tries to pinch my cheeks one more time I’m gonna scream. I’m eighteen years old!” It was a point I couldn’t help repeating. Ever since turning eighteen, I waited for that revelation one got when they reached adulthood. But it never came. I still felt like a little kid, unable to take the world on by myself. I kept that one close to the chest. Brooke wouldn’t understand. She had always been confident and ready to take on anything. 

“Yeah, yeah, we know. I’m going to run up and take a shower, when the timer goes off take the cakes out of the oven, alright?”

“Cakes, plural?” but she was already up the stairs. 

I grabbed some ice and poured myself a glass of cold orange juice. I drank it standing inside the freezer, letting the cold air dry the sweat that had already accumulated all over my body. I didn’t want to shower again but it felt like I had to. Closing the freezer reluctantly, I splashed some water over my face and looked around, trying to figure out what I wanted to eat for breakfast. The timer went off just then so I opened the oven door and took out not one, not two, but three cakes! I wasn’t surprised when I saw that one was a blondie cake and the other two were colored blue and red. Really getting into the spirit of it. 

I decided on cereal since it was too hot to really cook anything and we had some cinnamon toast crunch left. Brooke came down as I was tilting the bowl up over my head, guzzling what was left of that delicious cinnamon-y and sugary milk.

“Let’s go, Pancake.” Brooke liked to call me that on account of I used to only eat pancakes. I went through a stage. Mom would hide healthy stuff in there, like tuna, or chicken, and I would just pour maple syrup over it and eat. Anything that had the base of a pancake I allowed and I only got over it when my classmates in second grade had a pizza party. Who could pass up pizza?

She grabbed the keys and made her way to her 2003 Pontiac she had purchased at a used car dealership last year. I suspect she knew nothing about the car except for the fact that it was bright red. But she loved her car, and it worked, so I loved it as well. She taught me how to drive in that car. 

“Music?,” Brooke gestured for me to play something. 

“I left my phone inside!” I grappled with the door handle even as she was pulling away. 

“Relax, you’ll be fine. We’ll be back in a couple of minutes, I need to get back before the cakes cool too much.”

“I don’t think that will be a problem.” I settled back into the seat, even as we were turning a corner onto the grocery’s block. That was the thing about living in Brooklyn. You really didn’t need a car to drive anywhere, most things were a short walk away.

Inside, Brooke instructed me to the fruit and vegetable section, giving me a short list, and we were out of the store within 10 minutes. Brooke had hit up the baking aisle and I saw all the buttercream and frosting and white chocolate chips you could dream of. 

We made it back with the cakes still sizzling on the counter, and the sun’s rays heating up my favorite spot in the kitchen.

The house phone rang, and neither of us made a move to go answer it. I ran upstairs to get my cell phone that was still plugged in next to my bed. 

Three missed calls from Mom. Whoops. That was probably who had called the house and she hated it when we didn’t answer. I quickly called her back. 

“Parker!,” Mom always answered the phone at work with a high chirpy voice. She thought it made her seem more approachable and I thought it made her seem more like a bird. 

“Hey Mom. Sorry, I left my phone at home, Brooke and I went to buy some stuff she needed for the July Fourth cake.”

“Ok perfect, I was going to ask if you guys went out yet. Did you buy the fruit and vegetables like I asked?” I had totally forgotten, but I saw that as usual Brooke was on top of her game. 

“Yeah, we picked them up. How’s work going?”

“Dad’s having a meeting with those people from upstate. We’ll probably finish negotiations and start the job right after you leave for college.”

My heart beat a little faster at that. Thinking of college always made me nervous. I really didn’t feel ready to start that new chapter, but nobody asked me. Age kind of just decides that stuff for you. 

“Great, so happy for you guys!”

Someone spoke in the background on my mom’s side and she hung up hurriedly with a, “Love you Parker, tell your sister thank you!”

I trudged back down the stairs. Brooke had all of our mixing bowls out and was proceeding to whip up some blue buttercream.

“Why are Mom and Dad working,” I said as I stood next to Brooke, hoping she would let me lick the bowl. 

“They always work,” Brooke said absentmindedly, as she checked her phone again for the recipe. 

“Yeah but it’s July Fourth. Are they even going to make it home for the party?”

“Yeah, Mom said they’ll only be there half the day and they should be home by two. Come to think of it,” she wheeled around to look at the clock. “It’s almost 1 so they’ll probably be leaving soon. I need to finish this cake, want to help? And no,” she said that last part whilst slapping my hand away from the spoon she had left lying upright on the counter. “That does not include you licking everything before I’m done. At the end you can but I’m not sure I have enough.”

Brooke always had enough. I rolled my eyes but acquiesced. 

Brooke cut off the tops of all the cakes to make them flat and spread buttercream between each layer. She then instructed me to cover half of the cake with red frosting and the other with blue. She finished it off with stars on the blue side and white stripes on the white. 

“But now you can’t even see the different colored cakes!” I lamented. 

“Just wait until you cut it open though.” And she was right. The cake would be fabulous as usual. 

Brooke gently lifted it and brought it to the fridge. She had already cleared a shelf for the big cake and stored it there so everything wouldn’t melt. We would take it out in the beginning of the party and by the time the real food had been eaten the cake would be the perfect temperature. 

“GUYS, we’re HOME!,” Mom called as the front door was opened and then promptly closed. 

“It’s a furnace in here!” Dad said grumpily, as he usually did at the end of a work day. 

“Mom, Dad!” Brooke and I ran into the front room as Dad fiddled with the air conditioner remote to get it up and running and Mom came into the kitchen to get them a cold drink. 

“You have to see the cake Brooke made,” I gushed, so excited to show it off. It was truly a masterpiece. They oohed and ahed over it, and then Dad said he had to go take a nap before the party and Mom decided to make some shepherds pie. There was always a BBQ, but she liked bringing food that was ready to be eaten so people wouldn’t be hungry. Brooke and I left to go chill in the basement. It was cool down there even without the benefit of air, and had a massive fan we would put on and oscillate. The fan did good work but it was too powerful to bring upstairs. It would just blow all the important papers all over the place. We relaxed for a bit while skimming YouTube and watching dumb videos. At about a quarter to four Brooke decided she was going to get dressed and I decided I would follow her and raid her closet. This was the best part about having a big sister, who didn’t hate you. That last part was important.

The party didn’t completely suck. Brooke let me wear a pretty blue dress of hers and I tied a thin, white belt around my waist. My red flip flops completed the look and I was appropriately attired for the day. 

As expected, all of Mom’s friends came over to ask me what I was planning on doing the coming year. 

“I’m going to NYU,” I replied, and for the first time I didn’t hate answering that question. It was an impressive place to say the least and I worked my ass off to get there. I know I deserved it, as well as that hefty scholarship that allowed me to attend  it over a community college. 

The best picture taken that night is of us sitting on a picnic table. We seem to be talking about something serious, but I know we were probably just goofing around. Brooke’s new short dark hair that always reminded me of one of Rihanna’s hairstyles was blowing bangs into her face. I remember thinking that nobody could possibly pull it off, but she did. And effortlessly, laughing along with everyone and making conversation like a beloved politician. And I mean that in the best way possible. 

How to Give your Life a Complete Overhaul and Change it For The Better

Photo by Jaime Handley on Unsplash

Hey guys!

I don’t know why, but I feel as if I’ve completely changed this past week.

Like, life altering change has occurred within me.

Allow me to explain.

Last week I wrote a post about how down I feel sometimes, and as if I’ll never amount to anything. I compared depression to falling down a dark hole you can’t get out of.

But somehow I feel like someone covered the hole up so I can’t fall in in the first place. And that someone was me.

Allow me to explain further.

In case you hadn’t realized, and have been living in an alternative universe with your head in another dimension completely, us as a society recently passed a huge milestone which was turning 2020 into 2021. With that comes resolutions every way you turn, with people who never take a moment to think about how to be better deciding to completely overhaul their lives and make changes that cause others to raise some eyebrows. As we know, most resolutions don’t last until February (there are many studies that have proven this over time. I found some studies that say only 8% of Americans who make a New Year’s resolution actually keep them all year and 80% have failed by the start of February. The numbers vary but they’re never much higher than that. There was an interesting case study that showed how to be more successful at keeping to your resolutions, read until the end to find out more!).

Well, I made a resolution not in January but a couple of months ago to be more confident (don’t wait for a temporal milestone to start to change!). This only consisted of one thing. Literally one thing. To be positive. To not be self deprecating. Basically to change the narrative in my head.

The narrative in our heads is so much more important than people realize. Every time you say something about yourself you’re pouring cement on that feeling within you. Over and over and over again. Just more and more cement until it’s literally packed in there with no way out.

Obviously there is a way out because while I’ve spent my entire life being self deprecating like this, I’ve also managed to slowly change.

By the way, slow change is the only way. Anyone who promises a fast fix isn’t giving you something lasting. This is most obvious with health, when ‘they’ (who is this ominous they?) say ‘one week to flat stomach’ or something silly like that and it DOESN’T WORK. And whatever results you get won’t last unless you take slow and steady steps towards your goal which means changing your lifestyle.

Changing the way your mind thinks and the way your body works takes time. We’ve lived in it for so long that we’ve already put in place roots which are hard to pick up. Because they are cemented in there.

Ah, there’s my cemented analogy. I was wondering where it had clunked off to.

So how do we uncement ourselves? It’s literally just chipping away at it over and over and over and OVER until it’s gone.

So instead of being negative you’re just being positive. Over and and over again.

In the beginning it honestly feels so weird. So confusing, and, well, fake. But then it starts to shift and you almost don’t even notice it until you look back and are like waiittt…. What just happened? I’m not that person anymore.

Around two weeks ago I noticed the change. I saw I was quicker to jump to say something positive about myself as opposed to the switch I had to consciously make when saying something negative to turn it positive.

And I felt better. I felt more surer of myself and my abilities.

Is that really all it is? Changing the words in your head?

I believe so. I believe so so much that I’ve decided to do a massive life overhaul and start thinking differently. Start thinking I’m already successful instead of wondering where my life is going. Start thinking of myself NOW as the dream person I’m going to be one day instead of just waiting for that one day to occur. It’s already here!

I notice specifically that I do that a lot. I have special things for special occasions, always thinking of my future self instead of the self I am right now. I hadn’t noticed but it was taking a toll on me because I wasn’t valuing myself as I currently I am.

But with that decision to make that change sees a whole new person.

Get ready world because here I come.

Here’s a more succinct version if you want to be the best you that you can be now and start that self loving that is so important to happiness:

  1. Change the narrative in your head. Every time you say something negative about yourself (and if you’re me that happens too often) say something positive. It doesn’t have to be something you really feel. Just say it to yourself. Say it out loud. Say it to a mirror. In fact, say it even when you don’t say something negative. Just express something good about yourself as often as you can.
  2. Treat yourself to something special. It can be a silly thing like using those new bath salts that were supposed to be for ‘a special time in the future’, or wearing your favorite dress even if there is no occasion to dress up. Because there is an occasion. It’s you being freaking awesome.

See I told you I would figure everything out AND make everything better AND show how being an adult can suck less. I’m just that fantastic (see what I did there? No more self deprecating jokes!) 

I hope I helped to change your life just like I changed mine. Even if you don’t think it’ll change your life, just humor me and try it (and let me know)! I guarantee you’ll see results. And it can’t hurt, eh? The good news is that the case study that I mentioned earlier showed that people who were given social support while making resolutions were more likely to be successful in them, than those who were left to fend for themselves. And we’re all here to support one another! Let this be your year, your life, and the manifesting of your dreams.

How to Engage in Self Destructive Behavior

Photo by Gary Meulemans on Unsplash

Is it okay to give a false impression of yourself to others if that’s who you want to be?

I’ve pondered that on occasion, and I still don’t know what to make of it. 

Hey everyone! I’m back. I don’t know for how long, but I missed writing. I came to the end of my work day, after doing so much and just feeling so exhausted and I sat down in front of my laptop to do something else when all of a sudden I found myself pulling up a blank document and starting to type. 

The more I work, the more I feel upset with myself. I have a job. So many people don’t! I can move my body, I’m not bedridden, I can dance and sing (physically, not that I have any talent), there’s so much I can be grateful for! There’s cereal in the house and I freaking love cereal. 

Yet, I want to pull my eyeballs out of my body. I want to scream at the top of my lungs and run until I run away from this life I’ve fallen into. 

I don’t like who I’ve become. And therefore I’m working so hard to not be that person. 

Okay I feel like this is all a bit confusing. There’s so much to share with you guys! And I understand how hard life can be, and how much things can suck sometimes. And ‘making the choice to have a good life’ doesn’t always work. 

You know what I started to do? Meditation. It started off as a challenge (how else? I can never do anything unless I’m actually challenged to do it for some reason) and I’m actually going to do that right now and then I’m going to come back and finish writing. 

Alright I’m back. It was an interesting meditation, because it was me falling into a state of deep relaxation and all of a sudden jolting awake because I heard a loud noise. My heart was pumping wildly and I couldn’t calm down for quite a few minutes. 

I’m pretty sure that’s the exact opposite of what meditation is supposed to give you. Oh well. 

Onto more things. 

I’ve been journaling every day, which at first started off with me just documenting my progress with meditation but then flowed into me writing my day, my feelings, my fears, my aspirations… you know. 

I’ve been extremely consistent with working out, because of a small health scare. That’s probably the one thing that’s not so bad right now, but I think I’ll reserve that for it’s own post. About the scare, and what I’m doing. Basically about how I am approaching fitness nowadays. 

I’ve been eating a lot, which could have something to do with the fact that I’ve increased my movement, or the fact that my brain has just slowed to a stop and I somehow feel that food is fuel for the brain. 

I mean, it is, but it’s also not, right? Depending on what you eat and how much of it. 

Okay, onto the complaints. 

I just don’t like so much about what’s going on in my life. I hate that FORTY hours of the week are spent doing something I hate so much (and this is me actively trying to use that ‘H’ word less), that’s mind-numbingly boring and literally a dead end. I’m not going anywhere with this job. 

And yet, it’s so easy to do because for every hour I work, I make money. It’s that simple. I don’t have to put any effort into it. In fact, I would argue that the lack of effort I’m putting in is what is bringing me to a slow death. Isn’t life but a slow death? Every day we move closer to the last day of our lives.

 What a dark post. I’m sorry to be back here with so much bleak news. 

I put on this brave face. I say that I’m happy. I joke around, smile, laugh, and occasionally I truly feel at peace with who I am and what the world has brought me. 

But picture walking down the street on a bright sunny day, when all of the sudden the floor falls away and you fall down into a dark hole. It’s sudden, and it’s frightening, and you feel like you’ll never see the sun again. 

And then I feel that the happy person I am when I’m ‘up top’ is just a lie. It’s just a persona to be likable, because who wants to be with someone who is depressed all day? I certainly don’t. I don’t even want to be with myself. 

I think I fake it more for me than anyone else. I want to love myself. In fact, I do love myself. I’ve been incredibly great at loving myself lately. 

So then why do I engage in so many self destructive behaviors that allow the floor to open beneath me? 

I’ll give you an example of a self destructive behavior. 

I’m lactose intolerant (aren’t we all). I avoid almost all dairy, unless I have a lactose pill, and even then I can’t eat things with heavy cream (think ice cream). Yet today, after eating a huge lunch, mind you, I couldn’t resist having some dairy chocolate, that I knew from previous experience was going to make me ill. 

So why did I do it? It was a conscious decision on my part to hurt myself. 

THAT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE. 

But the thing that I do that is the most destructive of all is stay in this job and not take any steps forward to try to do something that I truly love. I truly want to. 

But I’m so scared to make the step towards doing something that can make my life better. 

And I’m so, so tired. 

2021 y’all. I find it amusing that the last post I wrote was about the new year even though it was September. I mentioned in that post that I found it funny that I referred to a new year as a new school year when I am well graduated from high school, college, whatever works on a fall-summer schedule. I don’t do that anymore. (although the job I have now is literally working for a college. So I guess it is sorta seasonal if you think about it). 

I just want to do things that I love. Do you think anyone works and just enjoys it all the time? I doubt it. Life is made of ups and downs. It’s a rollercoaster. That’s it. But hopefully there are more ups than downs? Right guys. 

I guess this is feeling sort of depressing. I hate being an adult. 

Hate. It. 

And that’s four times I’ve used the ‘H’ word. 

Let me know how the past couple of months have been for you guys, and if you ever feel like you are just faking the image that you present to the world. If you do, just know you’re not alone. We will just have to figure it out together. 

Hopefully I’ll figure out some pointers I’ll be able to give over that will allow us to climb out of the dark hole we sometimes find ourselves in.

I promise that next time it’ll be more upbeat. Maybe even a Short Story Sunday. Who knows.