All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
Olive plunges her pinky finger into the Mod Podge for the fifth time. It’s another desultory Friday night alone.
It’s the matte kind.
I wanted the satin where it dries all sparkling and glossy but the Paper Source stopped stocking it 3 months ago.
I don’t mind being alone.
In fact, I anticipate it so much that Mom gave me a quizzical look and asked if I was having people over because I appeared so eager for her to leave.
I only play music out loud and eat ramen noodles when she’s gone. Occasionally the Ben and Jerry’s Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream if Josie hasn’t eaten it already. Maybe a philosophical revelation or two.
It really depends.
And then she peels it off. White crumbly flakes flutter aimlessly to the floor.
They look like dandruff.
Usually, I have better things to do with a perfectly good Friday night.
She watches a candle splutter out flames and some sort of artificial fruity smell bordering on mango and strawberry.
Sometimes I lose track of time and draw faces with the burnt ends of the matches.
People ask me who I draw. Truth is, I’m not very sure. They’re kind of really everyone. Sometimes they’re better versions of myself. Most of the time, they’re not very good.
Drawing the nose is my favourite part. Eyes are difficult.
An assortment of school papers litter the floor. Her mind slips back to fourth period chemistry.
Justin insisted that I was wrong.
“But what is wrong? What does that even mean?”
He only rolled his eyes at the philosophical nature of my question.
“It’s supposed to be 32 grams. Oxygen is diatomic,”
I bit my tongue along with the foul, discordant words I only had to bristle and bubble over him.
But I was really only angry at myself.
Iris made me two paper cranes while studying me intently through her rimmed glasses.
And a little boat. I placed them on my notebook; the folds of paper a balanced delicacy. They faced each other, but they were too close because their small beaks were almost touching.
Iris gave me another crane.
“Look at Olive being so studious,”
I darted a piercing glare at him, though knowing very well that I should have been calculating the molar mass of acetate.
She checks the time, but it’s not there. Olive’s watch is missing. She rolls her eyes and kicks an empty can of off-brand grapefruit sparkling water across the room.
Sometimes I wonder that if my day went backwards if I’d still be bored. What if time went backwards? You’d start out as some sort of withered, puckered prune and get smaller and smaller until you were just a twinkle in someone’s eyes and then.
What does it feel like to be nothing?
She clenches her jaw. Grinds her teeth. Pacing and trying to remember where she misplaced it.
Sometimes I clench my jaw so tightly that my embouchure is too stiff to play baritone saxophone.
No wonder it sounds like a dying goose most of the time.
I like to rest it across my lap but then sometimes end up slamming it into Zach’s right knee or the neck of his P. Mauriat model PMXT-66R tenor saxophone. Usually, this encounter results in a half mumbled “sorry” through gritted teeth from the both of us.
But I use the school bari sax so it doesn’t really make sense why he’s apologising.
Sometimes we make some sort of small talk.
Other times we joke about James’s lawless disposition and the impressions he does of Miss Piggy and Scooby Doo. And then Svejda gets pissed and shows James 2 fingers, aggressively implying that he’s got one strike until an all-inclusive, one-way ticket to Symphonic Band.
He tells me about that time he went ice skating and got a concussion five years ago.
I tell him it’s foolish not to try again.
But I can’t tell if I’m lying because I don’t want to imagine what would happen if he did.
He wrings his hands like that one damp paper towel I had to use to clean up some cherry 7 Up that Seth spilled because he was too engrossed in talking to Roz about one of his 12 pairs of crocs.
The yellow ones.
With the green band.
She finds that one Rolling Stone special edition Beatles magazine that she bought in 7th grade at the Whole Foods for $12.99. The book has that one picture of them in 1965 on the cover. The contents contain an extensive song by song guide with the occasional never-before-seen picture lacing them together. She knows that the book is by far the best one she owns on her vast collection of Beatles memorabilia.
There was one time over the summer when Uncle Andrew gave these Paul McCartney tickets to Dad and I even though it had been a year and six months since I could recite the entire Beatles catalog in order. I still knew all the words and could tell by that first C minor chord that they were going to be playing “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite”.
And then the radio broke and my phone was dead so we sang the Abbey Road medley (all of the guitar solos on “The End”) and Steely Dan songs on the two-hour ride home. And I didn’t care that my singing voice was a tiny bit out of tune and raspy. I didn’t care that I couldn’t hit the high pitched, rapid fire thirty second notes during the 3-minute keyboard solo on “Your Gold Teeth”. It was just Dad and I. The only living people in the world.
And for the first time in five years, I realised that I felt normal around him.
Or maybe I was Liv because that’s what he calls me.
She wanders through the halls, to the bathroom. Sometimes she finds that she’s left it there.
Sometimes I sift through time. Like I’m waiting for something to happen. It feels like life isn’t really about what’s now, but what’s going to occur. And then in those empty minutes and lingering weeks, we try to jostle some sort of vacant idea that we’re accomplishing at least something.
Sometimes words slip their way out, I find I’ve accidentally planted the seeds of a poem that springs from my lips.
Like that too hot, syrupy, spring day when I told Seth I loved him and he told me that I was his best friend.
And I said,
“You know those songs that you’re only hearing for the first time but it feels like you’ve known for forever because you know where the melody and chord progression are gonna go?”
And he said, “Yeah,”
But he was unmistakably confused as to where I was going with this, being kind of emotionally stupid with this sort of deep talk.
“Well, those are the best kind of songs. They’re intuitive and lovely and you can just sing along to them and forget worrying for a bit. You’re that song. In a person. The best one; I feel like I’ve known you my entire life.”
And when he smiled, he glittered with the luminescence and brilliance of all of the stars in the universe. But not just the known universe, those unfrequented, chilled ninety billion light years. But the entire one, the one we don’t even know exists yet. All of him that I didn’t know yet. All of the things that I could have loved about him but didn’t yet know that I couldn’t.
And maybe we’re all just lost in the expanses of own little universes, each star somebody else that we’ll flicker by for just a hollow heartbeat. Some light faltering to reach us as we glide through the milky velvet of the four-dimensional entity of space and time. We could dream endlessly into the inky depths of oblivion and past the fringe of certainty.
And be ok that we’re not all too sure where we’re supposed to be going.
Sometimes there doesn’t need to be a reason why.
But we’re all traveling at the speed of light so we’re immortal. And probably for the most of us it’s not the face that will be remembered; not the hiccup in a laugh or the fragrant lilt in a voice. But it’s the morals and values and thoughts.
The idea of a person.
We live on in other places. Other people.
You were only a temporary home to a set of things that were never yours to begin with.
She traipses back to her room. There’s a small tube of Lemon Yellow paint resting on the floor.
It’s the one I used to paint the blazing sun and clusters of lustrous, shimmering stars on my alto saxophone case.
And I know it all too well.
It’s pungent and buttery and reeks of something like homesickness and nostalgia for someplace I’ve never been.
And I have the sudden urge to smear it all over my face, to go home, wherever it is. Wherever I’m supposed to be. Whoever I’m supposed to be.
I’m not too sure.
Maybe I’m the only one.
And then she sees it: the watch is resting on the nightstand beside 5 mugs of ancient green tea with shriveled up leaves encrusting the bottoms of each.
Or maybe we’re all just the same.