All Little Girls Should Be Told They're Pretty

Short Stories

I rolled my eyes. She was always trying to be like me. She faked her opinions to match mine and sucked up to me like there was no tomorrow.

      “Why are you so annoying?” I said as I sat down at the table.   

     “Marilyn, if you continue being mean to Gillian I’ll take away one of your privileges. You need to think about what you say and before you say it ask yourself: is it necessary is it kind, is it uplifting,” my mom said.

     “It’s okay, Mrs. Vane, I’m used to it,” Gillian assured her. She took a big bite of her pork, and the juice dribbled down her chin and onto her shirt. I sneered at her.

     “What?” she said.

     “Look at your shirt. It’s covered in stains.” My mother looked at me and raised her eyebrow.

     “It’s perfectly alright Gillian. Your mother can always wash it.”

Gillian eyed her shirt and fell silent as she pursed his lips. I swallowed hard realizing I had hurt her.

      “Can we go shopping tomorrow?” she asked me suddenly.

     “Can we mom? It’s a Saturday. Neither of us has homework, and Miss Angela canceled my voice lesson so we’re both free.”

     “I suppose so, but you’ll have to ask your mother, Gillian,” my mother said.


      On Monday we both saw each other at school wearing the new clothing we had bought on Saturday.

     “Wow, you look so different,” said one of my friends Karen as she looked at Gillian’s new outfit and new hair. She had dyed it a brown color like mine.

          “Whoa, you dyed you hair. When did you do that? And I love those pants so much, I would totally wear those,” I said.    

     “I dyed it Sunday. And I’m glad you like the pants. I was hoping you would,” she replied. As she spoke her eyes looked at me so expectantly it made my stomach turn. “I was also wondering if I could take a picture of you.” Gillian said as she stared at me.

    “Erm, I guess so,” I said. She pulled her camera out of her purse and snapped a photo of me.

     “Thanks Marilyn,” she said as she gazed at the photo.

     “You coming to class?” I asked her.

     “What? Oh yeah, sorry,” she said. Karen and I continued walking to class but Gillian lagged behind. I felt her analyzing my movements, staring at me, taking notes on something and writing them down. The scratch of her pen tickled my skin, and I hurried ahead hoping to elude her.

     “Is Gillian acting a little weird to you?” I asked Karen.

     “She seems a little off. But I’m sure it’s nothing,” she said. Easy for her to say.


At lunch, Gillian and I sat at the same table we always did, the green one with the least amount of gum stuck to the bottom of it.

     “What’s that?” I asked as she lifted her sandwich up to her mouth. I noticed she drew something on the back of her wrist that resembled my birth mark that I had in that same place. I looked down at my notes for choir and shrugged it off.

She ignored my question. “How much do you weigh?” Gillian asked me.

     “121,” I told her. She frowned at her waist and at her sandwich, and then set it down back onto her plate. “Don’t you want that?” I said as I pointed to her lunch.

     “I’m not that hungry anymore,” she said as she got up and left the cafeteria. I noticed she had left one of her notebooks. Out of boredom and curiosity I picked it up, I flipped through its pages becoming more and more confused. The book was filled with notes on me; how I walked, talked, dressed, what facial expressions I used, and underlined many times was my weight and my skin color. I had always been darker, older and skinnier than she was. She was a pale ginger with a heavier build and brown eyes while I was tall, tan, brown haired and blue eyed. I left the notebook lying there for her to recover and left the cafeteria.

The school day had finally ended but I had seen Gillian anywhere in the crowd of students.

“Have you seen Gillian?” I asked Karen.

“I saw her after lunch in the girls’ bathroom,” Karen said with a guilty look on her face.

     “What are you hiding from me?” I asked her. When Karen didn’t speak I stared at her to try and get a response. Karen quickly gave in.

     “Well, when I went in there I saw Gillian. I fixed my hair and then I left, but as I left I heard some weird noises coming from her stall so I stopped to listen,” Karen looked down at the floor “she was vomiting up her lunch.”

I felt cold and wobbly and shook my head. “No, she wouldn’t.” I backed away and made for the exit. I stood on the steps and looked all around me. The auburn trees and swift breeze didn’t make me smile. The golden sun and pattering of shoes didn’t comfort me.

     “Marilyn!” I heard someone call my name from far off. It was Gillian, but she was barely recognizable.  She was orange, a bright orange.

     “I got a tan,” she said.

     “When did you have time to get a tan?” I asked.

     “I gave myself a spray tan a few minutes before English. I was a little late but it was totally worth it. What do you think?” she asked me, as she put her arm next to mine to compare our complexions. I jerked my arm away.

     “I think you look terrible. Just stop being so stupid.”  I said as I walked away. I left Gillian standing on the steps alone and orange. I looked back to see her face. It was so pathetic looking. I found my mom waiting by the curb and climbed into our old Honda.

     “How was school?” my mom said.

     “Let’s just go home, please.”


    It was 4:20 pm on a Saturday, Karen was over and Gillian hadn’t texted me in over 30 minutes.

      “You mean to tell me that Gillian bought an outfit from a costume store to match yours?” Karen asked.  “What were you wearing?”

    “My vintage fringe vest with bell bottoms, sandals and a headband. Then when I saw her in math class she was wearing one of those cheap, awful hippie costumes. Except everything she was wearing was like 4 times too big for her, as usual,” I poked the table with my fingernail as I recalled my embarrassment. “And the next day she did something just as bad.”


     “We were in history together when she just got up and ran out of class screaming. She said she had to go the nurse’s office. Later we found out all she went to do was weigh herself...and then I found her vomiting in the girl’s bathroom….again.”

     “This has to stop, Marilyn. What are you going to do?”

     “I don’t know. I’ll see her in an hour. She signed up for choir,” Karen looked at me with disbelief. “I can’t believe it either. That girl can’t carry a tune in a bucket. She’s going to embarrass herself,” I said.

 Karen looked thoughtful for a moment then hesitated as she spoke. “How did you react when you saw what Gillian was wearing that day?”

     My stomach turned my pizza over and over in my stomach as I thought about it. “I told her,” I swallowed hard. “I told her I hated her and her outfit and that she embarrassed me, then I got up and walked to the other side of the classroom,” I groaned as my cell phone rang. It was Gillian. “That’s the tenth call today. She just won’t leave me alone. And every time I ask her to she bursts into tears and says she’s sorry.  Either that or she denies what she does and says I’m just mean and full of myself.”

The clock’s digits changed to 4:30. Karen left and I got ready for choir. When we arrived at the small white building I saw Gillian outside waiting for me.

     “Hi Marilyn, how are you? I’m doing great. I signed up for choir. I just love singing. Don’t you? Every time I sing I feel so wonderful. It’s like I’m floating quietly up into the clouds. I couldn’t live without singing. Hey, maybe some time or another we could sing together, maybe write a song, or work on your singing. You do need to work on your range as well as controlling that vibrato of yours,” Gillian babbled on and with each word my neck grew hot.

     “Look, Gillian, get this through your stupid little head, okay? You do not like singing and you never have. In fact you can’t even sing. You sound like a whale being run over by a pickup truck. You don’t have the right to say you couldn’t live without singing and offend people who really truly love singing. And one more thing, you can’t just tell me I need to work on my voice and expect me to be okay with it. You are not an expert and I did not ask for your opinion,” I said all of this without taking my eyes off her, making sure she knew how furious I was.

    “I hate you. You always do this. Every time I have my own opinion you tear me down, whenever I’m myself you hate me,” she said.

     “But that’s just it Gillian: you’re not being yourself. You’re being me. You’re trying to be someone you’re not.” Gillian tried to protest but burst into tears. She tore off her choir robe and shoved it at my face. “Gillian,” I gasped as I saw how skinny she was. For the past week she had worn the same clothes I had but in much bigger sizes, now I saw why. Her bones stuck out from her thin skin and her body was gnarled and fragile. “Gillian, why would you do this? You’re killing yourself. Stop, please,” I said.

Gillian looked down at the ground as her back faced me. She turned around, her eyes bright red with tears. “No! I will be who I want to be! I’m not you, I’m me! Me! Do you understand?”  Then she fainted.


I stood over Gillian’s limp body as nurses attached wires and whatnot to her.

     “Why didn’t you tell us what was going on with Gillian?” Her mother asked me. I couldn’t look her in the eye. Please stop looking at me like that.

     “I don’t know,” I said. How could you not know? You’re her mother.  “I just didn’t want you to know that I had hurt her.” I walked out of the room wiping away a tear.

     “Marilyn, she’s awake,” her father said to me as he poked his head out of the room, but I didn’t turn around. I sighed and turned my eyes towards the ceiling, trying to let my tears slide back into their ducts.

   I heard a groan. “Is Marilyn here?” I heard Gillian say.

     Her father poked his head back out and looked at me for an answer.

     “No,” her Father said when he saw me shake my head.

     “Good,” said Gillian. “I never want to see her again.”


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Girl after a girl: Events unforgettable



Part I


1) With a ‘to’ and a ‘fro’ in her throat,

something she did note,

as on a piece of paper, she wrote

"I can't like you, for you don't know -

I got to go away - to which I can't say No."

Well, every girl is so so pretty.


2) With her legs beside me, so stiff

and -to save me- her hands with great mischief,

she conveys to the punishment chief -

"Oh Ma'am? How can he be guilty?

As this is his first moment to my proximity!"

Well, every girl is so so pretty.


3) With all her teeth and gums out

and her tiny eyes so stout,

she beckons me with a shout -

"Go! I won't talk anymore to you.

How much I am hurt, you never knew."

Well, every girl is so so pretty.


4) With real tears in her eyes

and five of her fingers glued to rice,

maybe yes, twice - she cries -

"How would you know how much I moan!

For, never you, I am disturbed alone."

Well, every girl is so so pretty.


5) With a big grin at my face,

but with a big cry, the very next phase,

at my back this time, she says -

"He wouldn't have really scolded me,

If, even little, he had ever read me."

Well, every girl is so so pretty.


6) With a rise in all her gaze over the book,

when asked for her verses, she gave me an eerie look.

Soon, she wrote for me; Almost a month it took! -

"Though difficult, try to remember me

for, perhaps many for you, though you're alone for me."

Well, every girl is so so pretty.


From a girl, only another girl keeps one away,

but not from past nor future, for there're many more girls, I say.

An event with a girl can give a great kick start

that can lead anyone, till many suns set.

Memories of brain written from heart -

a few of many incidents I could not forget!


Part II


7) With drops falling down as she bends

her neck, in some reunion -she attends

after a year- she tells our friends -

Long back, He stopped talking to me.

Neither a hello nor a glance – as if I’m his enemy.

Well, every girl is so so pretty.


8) With a smile -she leaves the lab- too fake one

and with swollen eyes -returns in- pointing none.

Then, a message leaves her, following the sun -

A friend can be anything, but not a sister!

So, please don’t ever call me so, you mister!

Well, every girl is so so pretty.


9) With good red expressions – contorted,

while issues were being sorted

out about my interest in her, her words parted –

Oh, now please stop it! I want no fight.

I understand it and it’s completely alright!

Well, every girl is so so pretty.


10) With her ideas so optimistic,

though actions far realistic,

she typed something very mystic -

Had you worked, excellence of now would have been average

Anyways, any failure to be understood needs courage.

Well, every girl is so so pretty.


11) With her face full of joy and hope

and beliefs no less than some pope,

she always replies, to my theory of mortality, with nope -

The word End, with someone can also be Never,

for the person may know words like Forever.

Well, every girl is so so pretty.


12) With a look so cheerless, that can shrink

one’s heart -though sometimes so cheerful that can kink

it’s beat- she said or typed - I think -

Really miss you as I sometimes also saw my ex in you.

You played big part in my life, though days were very few.

Well, every girl is so so pretty.


Lies apart, any girl can make your day,

no matter whether you are a guy, girl or a gay

This is a small tribute to a small part

of all the girls I met.

Memories of brain written from heart -

a few of the incidents I could never forget!



Author's Notes/Comments: 

A saga written as a ode about incidents revolving in mind, involving a few of the girls I met. Their sounds still ring in my head!


It was five years ago when we met of the side of Monaco 

You held my heart in your hand and told me, lets just be friends 
It was first sight for me... Yet to you it was only a dream 
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If and When

The Drabble Ditch

If and When


There's a sea, a city, then her,

All waiting for home and a happy place,

Each caved by impatience, importance and imperfection

That they're sick of waiting, and yet

There's hope there, I hope.

Although there's fear there, I fear.

A fear that hope is too far away

And a hope that fear will be far enough away,

Fear is bitter fruit, so let's not.

Hope is a well-thumbed book and we can,

It's a plan, or a laugh or a song, or a day

Without eyes, just words and a laugh.

You're waiting for a day to say "I deserve it"

But it isn't the bones and the pain and the hate that you need,


It's a boat across the sea to the city. 

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We all got Facebook Friends




We all got facebook friends

long lists without an end

writing on walls, messages

pc n phones; supping beverages

but the generation before

true friendship, knew the score


no walls to write on days

you had no choice but gaze

into the eyes of those

in your company you chose

easier to judge your company

idiots would stick out completely


and those you trusted with

life, love, energy, all of it

allowed them through your door

to write on your souls wall

and if you let my dad in

he would not stop scribbling


If you interacted with dad

he always made you glad

always helped when he could

whatever your neighbourhood

also always full of love

plucking heart strings; so proud of


friendship then, so much deeper

social interaction so much sweeter

give undesirables a wide berth

more solid friendships given birth

more local friend bases too

built with love, compassion, truth


constructed with things in common

forming a solid foundation

to shape lasting friendships too

bound with a strong emotional glue

not present in social networking

face to face friendship abandoning


lot to answer for, modern technology 

tho easy to spread yourself too thinly

easy to talk across the globe

the joys of skyping don’t you know

not the same as personal interaction

gives the soul ultimate satisfaction

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 (Lovingly dedicated to my dog Hedge who loved cats as much as I do)

So the afternoon sun is just streaming through the window and hitting me right in the eye when I finally get up and move my seat.  The smell in the waiting room was nauseating to say the least.  People with congested lungs coughing stink mixing with an unidentifiable odor made it difficult to take a deep breath.   After tolerating all this for nearly forty-five minutes I was about to leave when the receptionist called my name…I was almost grateful even though she’d mangled the pronunciation.


I handed her my filled-out paperwork and she motioned with her well-manicured hand for me to walk through the swinging door into no-man’s land.  It was the door that everyone craned their necks to look through every time someone opened it, hoping for a clue as to what really went on behind it…morbidly curious to know what were they in for  in there.
It was nothing unfathomable as I noted after entering the hallway with many small rooms on either side.  Just a clinic….no mystery.  A young girl with a genuine smile wearing a red and white striped blouse under a white apron and white shoes that made absolutely no sound when she walked, directed me to one of the small rooms to yet again wait.  We communicated with head nods and grins only.  I thought it was a little strange.


She left me standing there with no order to disrobe or sit pending the doctor’s arrival..which was sure to be at least another forty-five minutes.  So, I made myself at home and sat on the examining bench and began to idly dump out the contents of my purse and pick out the crumpled, empty gum wrappers for the trash bin.  The usual I-have-no-idea-where-that-came-from lint spilled out as well making a mess on the clean strip of butcher paper.  Oh well. 


As luck would have it the doctor appeared nontraditionally early and the first thing he did was frown at the soiled bench….not a good start.  I quickly began to reload my purse and apologize at the same time hoping to distract his attention away from the flurry of lint and hair that I mindlessly brushed onto his pristine floor.  I could feel my face heat up with uncharacteristic embarrassment.   Fuck it.  He could afford a vacuum cleaner and someone to operate it for him.  I began to sweat.


After a five-minute exam, which didn’t require removal of any clothing, he concluded I had a “touch of the flu”.  Hmm, a touch eh?  I felt like shit…more like a punch in the gut than a touch.  But, I was in no mood to argue the fact so I pretended to be pleased with his diagnosis and commented on having only been “touched” and was “grateful since the waiting room was so full of people who were actually sick!”   He grunted at my sarcasm and scribbled some Greek words on a few pages of his little pad, left them on the bench for me to pick up instead of handing them to me and then abruptly left the room.  “Grumpy old fucker”, I thought to myself as I made my way down the hallway back to the receptionist’s desk.  It took her exactly four minutes to finally stop typing and answering the phone to turn around and acknowledge me.  Evidently clearing one’s throat loudly was a costly act because the more I did it the slower she seemed to move.  Without a glance up to see the face of whom she was robbing she set the price at “$85.  Cash or credit card?”.  The phone rang…good thing too because had she heard what I mumbled about her and the bill she probably would have had a shit fit right then and there in front of all those sickos still camping out in the smelly waiting room.    I knew it was pointless to protest so I counted out exactly eighty-four dollars from my wallet, forty pennies, six nickels and a quarter for a grand total of $85.   She took two more calls for appointments that she seemed to begrudgingly to fill and then called a new victim to enter through the swing door.




I headed straight for the pharmacy located conveniently around the corner to fill the prescriptions so benevolently given by the doctor. But, as I thumbed through them on my way up to the door I noticed that one was for cough syrup for the cough I didn’t have and one was for a type of anti-biotics, which I already had at home and one was for friggin’ Tylenol. 


I skipped the pharmacy and went home to my nice warm bed, my cat Mimi and a pot of tea and lemon. 


I recorded the miserable events of the day in my journal from the comfort of my comforter and treated the cat to a can of tuna for dinner.  I decided to have a bowl of meso soup with over-cooked rice noodles and medicate myself with a nice hot tottie….went over like a led balloon as far as my stomach was concerned but it did knock me completely out until 9 o’clock the next morning. 




I sat up pretty groggy thinking I was late for work…but, graciously the Universe had planned that today would be Saturday.  My aches and fever were gone and I felt brand new after a light breakfast of toast and tea. 


But, there laid Mimi flapping her tail like she always did just before she hurled up something horrible.  I placed my face down next to hers to inquire of her if she felt sick.  She answered with an indignant “meow” and nipped at my hand as I stroked her fur. I supposed that to her I was no different than the imposing doctor I had relinquished my entertainment budget for the month to the day before.


It seemed as though I had cured myself but transferred my illness to my cat.


Spent the day spoon-feeding Mimi her favorite vanilla soymilk and sushi wrapped in seaweed.  She remained there on my pillow lapping up the attention she’d earned by making me feel guilty for getting her sick…I’m sure that’s how she saw it.


By that evening she was fit to fiddle with the best of them and smiled her kitty-smile at me, which was an expression of her gratitude for having carryied her through her dark hour.  “What goes around comes around.”, I told her.


As it turned neither Mimi nor I needed anything beyond each other and home sweet home…which is by far always the best medicine in the world.







The End


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A Fight For August

Short Stories

My hands have a bluish tint to them thanks to the cold and I can barely feel the homemade cigarette between my fingers. Laurie is lying next to me on the large, scratchy blanket slowly puffing on hers. She learned to make them with tea from a Youtube video. They’re not half bad but she looks better smoking them than I do.

   I turn over onto my back and rest my face against her shoulder.

     “Ya know, this would be a very movie-like situation if we weren’t turning into giant icicles,” I say as I stare at the quivering stars.

   Laurie laughs too loud and covers her mouth. We both quickly look over at her house to make sure no one woke up.

“Jordan, look it’s a shooting star.” She points to the sky, her cig leaving behind twirly trails of smoke.

I grab her freezing hand in mine and smile. I close my eyes and take a deep breath of icy air.

     “What did you wish for?” I ask her. I hold my cigarette between my forefinger and my thumb.

     “That we won’t get caught.”

     “What? Smoking or running away?” I turn to face her.

     “Running away,” she says. “Have you figured out where you want to go? We can’t stay in one spot, but we’ll still go to L.A.”

I roll over onto my stomach and pick at a splinter in my thumb.

     “I’ve been thinking, and I don’t think we should go through with it. It’s not worth the punishment. I mean, our parents would never trust us again. It wouldn’t be a big deal if we were gonna run away for forever, but we’re coming back. And I’m sure they’d find us anyway.”

I don’t look at Laurie as she sits up and stares at me.

     “Jordan, you can’t be serious. I need this. We need this,” she says. She cranes her neck to try and get me to look at her.

I don’t.

     “Fine. I’ll go alone.”

Is she serious, right now? I can’t believe her. Always the drama queen.

I don’t say a word but breathe in the bitter smoke from my cig and blow it out through my teeth.

     “Well, some friend you are. I guess I see your true colors now. I thought you cared, Jordan. I guess I was wrong.” She tucks her legs up to her chin and places her crossed arms on top of them.

I roll my eyes underneath my fringe.

     “I do care, Laurie. It’s just that I’m not willing to risk my freedom for temporary freedom. And what would we even be able to do? We’re 15 not 21.”

     “That’s why we’ll bring Devon. He’s 20.”

     “He won’t come. And, dude, that might be illegal. He could get in trouble for running away with a couple of minors.” I stand up and stomp on the butt of my cigarette with my boot. “And since he won’t come we can’t go because he’s the one that drives.”

    “I’ll be able to drive in a few months, legally that is.”

     “Then fine. Go alone. Suit yourself.” I stand up and adjust my cookie monster beanie that I borrowed from Laurie’s younger brother. “Life isn’t as bad as you think, ya know? All you can do is create great moments like these ones and make sure reality’s not allowed in for a little while. I hope you have fun. See you in the morning.” I lean down and kiss her head.

I climb down the ladder and smile at her.

She doesn’t smile back.

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My friend

I was your friend

until the end

My heart can not mend

I have nothing to lend


I wish you would have listened

now nothing glistens

Its feels like you were bitten

I wish your story could be rewritten


I hate how they talked you into taking those pills

To you it looked like a thrill

I just didn't want to see you killed

Than you lied there so still


Your face went blue

The doctors tried to save you

Your parents couldn't beileve it was true

Everyone shock there heads when they knew


Everyone was sad for a few days
But to them you were just a phase

But I couldn't forget you in anyway

Your memory will always stay


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Chicken Nuggets

Short Stories

   I’m sitting in the middle of the street in my bathing suit with my younger sister and our two friends.  We live in a small town up in the mountains where everybody walks to where they need to go, so we’re not gonna get run over. We’re pretending to be fairies and the asphalt is so hot that you could squish it with your finger.

   I sat poking the street and squinted upwards as I heard footsteps.

     “Who’s that?” my best friend, Aly asks me. She closes one eye and her mouth is in a confused snarl.

   I shrug. “I dunno.” I go back to poking the asphalt.

Our town is supposed to be a secret and I don’t like it when people find it.

The stranger keeps walking towards us. This one was just a boy, about our age.

     “Hi,” he says. He’s tan and has hair that almost matches his skin. His teeth are crooked and he has scabs on his hands.

     “Hi,” my little sister says as she waves at him. All of us look at each other. The boy just stands there staring at us. None of us looks at him.

     “I gotta go home now. Bye guys. Come on Hope,” I say as I get up and take my little sisters hand. Aly and her younger sister wave goodbye and leave the boy alone in the street. Hope and I get home and spread ourselves out on the living room floor.

     “Who is he? Have you seen him before?” I ask and spit on a scratch on my knee.

     “No.” Hope shakes her head full of dark hair.

     “You don’t think he lives here do you? I hope not.”

Someone knocks on our front door. No one ever uses our front door. They always use the backdoor that never closes unless you slam it.

I get up to answer it. I see through the shades the shape of a young boy.

     “I think it’s the boy.” I open the door. “Hi.”

     “What’s your name?” he asks me.

     “Melody. What’s yours?”

     “Jimmy, but you can call me PJ,” he says as he pushes his way past me and walks into our house.

   I look at Hope and raise my eyebrows. I accidentally slam the door. I really don’t like this kid. I sigh and stick out my chin.

     “I’ll be right back. I need to ask my mom a question,” I say and walk to my parent’s room. “Mom, there’s this kid in our house and I don’t know who he is.”

     “What?” my mom asks me.

     “Aly and me and Hope and Lala met him today and we don’t know who he is.”

     “He’s probably the new neighbors.” She walks to the bedroom door and glances outside to look at PJ.

     “Oh,” I say. I dig my big toe into the carpet.

     “What’s the matter?” She looks back at me.

     “He’s gonna ruin our group. We have fun when it’s just us. He keeps trying to play with us and we don’t want him to.” I look down and make my mouth a rainbow shape.

     “Melody, that’s not very nice.”

   I scrunch my nose at her and leave.

I see PJ in our kitchen, going through our fridge. He grabs the snack I was saving for later and sits down at our table.

    I blink slowly as I watch him eat my food. I feel a bump pop into my throat.

     What the heck is he doing? That’s my snack.

  I stand still and breathe through my mouth.



   A few hours pass by and he’s still bugging me.

   I hear another knock on the door. Someone’s at the front door. I open it up and see a short lady with puffy red hair holding a cigarette in one hand and her cell phone in the other. 

   She’s gotta be the new neighbors. Everyone knows you don’t get cel service up here.

     “Hello, I’m Linda,” she says as she smiles. Her hands are shaking and she doesn’t look at me when she talks. “I’m looking for a little boy named PJ.”

   My mom suddenly pops up out of nowhere like she does and smiles at the strange lady.

  “Yeah, he’s here. I’ll go get him,” my mom says as she walks away to my room which he’s taken over.

My mom comes back and PJ’s looking down at his mud covered boots.

     “Thank you.” His mom smiles, grabs PJ’s arm and closes the door.

My mom breathes out for a long time, purses her lips and rubs the back of my head gently.

I hate it when she does mom-ish stuff like that.



   A few weeks later I’m over at Aly’s house with our friend Sarah. She’s been on vacation for a while so we’re telling her all about PJ.

     “Yeah, and then he-“ I’m cut off by Hope and Lala running towards us, screaming. They both reach us and point behind them.

     “He’s coming. Hide. It’s PJ,” says Hope between pants.

Sarah looks at us wide eyed and we all run to the garage.

     “Get in, get in. Hurry up.” I push Hope inside but leave the door open just a bit and peek outside. PJ walks into Aly’s yard and starts to wander around.

    “What’s he doing?” Sarah asks me.

     “He’s sitting down,” I say.

   Aly groans.

     “Ok, we should go out,” I say. Aly’s mouth falls open, a few strands of her sandy blonde hair are sticking inside her mouth. “He’s not gonna leave till a long time so we should just go out now.”

As I open up the door PJ turns around and smiles at us.

I roll my eyes, and we all walk to Aly’s front door.

     “Hey! Wait for me!” he says.

I stop walking and poke my cheek with my tongue.

     “Wanna play?”

     “I can’t today. I have a cold.” I say as I turn to face him and fake a cough.

     “Yeah, me too,” Aly says. She coughs too. I poke Hope in the ribs. She coughs, then Lala does.

     “What about you?” PJ points to Sarah. She looks down at the tips of her hair hanging towards the ground.

     “She has one too.”  I cough again. Sarah nods.

   PJ frowns at all of us.

     “Yeah, me too.” He coughs.

I squeeze my jaw tight and my stomach feels warm and heavy.

     “Ok, we’ll play with you. Just let us eat lunch. Aly’s mom is making it for us.” I turn away and run towards her house. We walk inside Aly’s house and go to her room.

     “Alright, we need a plan,” I say as I slowly look at my friends. “Here’s what we’re gonna do.” I motion them closer. “We’re gonna pretend that we can’t see him. So, like, we walk around and play with each other but act like he’s not there. It’ll make him really mad.” I smile and lean back on my heels. All of the girls smile back at me and nod.

   We walk back outside, giggling.

     “So whad’ya guys wanna play?” PJ asks us.

We ignore him.

     “So what do you wanna play? How about faeries?” I say. I try not to look at PJ to see his reaction.

     “I don’t wanna play faeries,” he says.

     “Did someone say something? What’s that noise?” Aly asks.

     “I don’t know,” Hope says.

We all start to walk away from PJ and snicker.

     “Where’ya going? Hey guys, I thought we were gonna play.” He walks up to us and pushes me. I still ignore him.

We keep moving away from him and for a little bit he follows us, but suddenly I don’t hear his footsteps anymore. I smile at Aly, she smiles back; but then we see PJ run past us, crying. We all stop walking.

    All of us look at each other and then down at the gravel.

     “It was your idea,” Hope says.

     “I know.” I frown at her. I scooch my mouth over to one side of my face and grumble.

I follow PJ.

I jog a little ways until I catch up to him. I see him dart around the corner near my house. He runs into a house I’ve never even noticed before. It’s small and blue.

I slowly go up to the door, but I don’t knock because I hear people yelling from inside.

     “Shut up, kid! I’m tryin’ to talk. Why’re you crying?!” says a man.

     “Please stop screaming! PJ would you get outta here? Me and Kraig are tryin’ to have talk.” I hear the Linda lady say.

     “But, mom, I-“ she cuts him off.

     “I don’t give a damn, PJ! You’re tryin’ mamma’s patience. Now please, get the heck outta here.”

  I don’t hear anything for a few seconds. But then the man swears. He says all the bad words I know and some that mom says I’m too young to know.

     “Nobody wants you around, kid! Go bother someone else with your snotty nose and whimpering or else you’ll eat outside again tonight!”

 I flinch and bite my lip. I run away as I hear footsteps coming toward the door.

I stop in front of my house. Aly and the girls are still standing in the same spot waiting for me. I glance into the living room window of my house and see my mom vacuuming the carpet.

I make the same face mom did a few weeks ago when we met Miss Linda.



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