A Bit of Quirky @katjanzanderson #amwriting #novel

A Little Bit of Quirky

I watch my sister Adel pull on her mini skirt and zip it up the back.

“How do you do it?” I ask her.

Adel checks the mirror swiveling her hips from side to side. “What do you mean?”

I move to my stomach and pull a pillow under my shoulders for support.

“You’re always going out. You’ve got so many friends.”

“I do, don’t I.” She smiles into the mirror, checks her teeth, and then her behind.

She steps into her white cowboy boots and picks up her purse. “Find a group of girls you like then just play along.” Her nose twitches down at me. “Don’t be such a…quirky little thing.”

I watch her leave, knowing I’ve never really tried. Never felt a need to. But now, something’s churning inside me, and I realize that I don’t even know who I am.

Phyllis and I were friends from kindergarten until the eighth grade. We were so much alike, and then she moved away. That was a year and a half ago. Oh, how I miss her.

Even if my head is in a book most of the time, I hear things. And I’ve been amazed how some find it hilarious to put others down. Not in the—oh, did you see the funny thing he did last night—but in the downright mean kind of way that could put a soul to aching. I’ve never been taken to that kind of thing. Although, anymore…I don’t know, maybe that’s the way to go. It’s all in fun, isn’t it?

I love to study, and have always gotten straight A’s. But like I said; lately, something’s come over me. Something I can’t quite describe except there’s this burning inside me that needs quenching.

It’s Saturday. My mother is at work. She and my father divorced when I was five. He moved to California and remarried. Adel and I went to see him during the summer the first few years. She stopped going when she was twelve. But I still see him once a year. Well, then last summer they decided to start taking trips to Europe, so…. So, I’m home alone, again.

I jump from the bed and dress in my best pair of jeans and top, and my new Adidas sneakers. The city bus drops me off downtown. That seems like the go-ingest place around.

I see two girls lined up against a building. They light cigarettes and lean back watching passersby. One has a head of wild multi-colored hair, dark eyeliner, and red lipstick. The other one has short spiked black hair, and a mini skirt that would fit our poodle.

I walk up. “Have a cigarette?”

The girl with the wild hair hands me one. I lean in for a light.

We all watch a pleasant looking couple walk by.

I take a drag off my cigarette, coughing as I laugh. “Did you see the dress on that lady? I’ll bet she picked it up at the good will.”

The girl that gave me the cigarette glares at me and walks off. The other follows.

I take another drag, coughing as I watch the couple head up the street. That dress isn’t really that bad, I think. I throw the cigarette down and smash it with a foot. This probably isn’t the best way to begin my quest for whatever it is I’m trying to find, I decide as I walk off, a little disgusted with myself.

I go into a restaurant and order a hamburger, fries, and a coke. There’s no pondering over that. The thing is, I’ve got to plan this out, I tell myself. But then I’m reminded that its summer and everyone’s off on vacation. Maybe I should just eat and go home.

I’m enjoying my burger and fries the best I can when I look out the window. There’s an old woman in the middle of the street. She’s dropped her package, and she’s clambering to pick everything up. A car honks and shoots around her. Those two girls I tried to befriend earlier walk by, amused.

I drop a fry and bolt out the door. That poor old woman is in tears when I arrive. I bend to pick up a box of Kleenex when a hand folds over mine. “I’ve got that,” a young man says as he lifts the box into a tattered cloth sack. He takes the old lady’s arm, looks back at me and smiles as he walks her toward the sidewalk.

Call me quirky, or call me dumb. But I’m at peace suddenly because I know. I know who I really am. And I don’t have to push anything at all.

“Just be yourself,” I say as I walk to the bus stop. I get an odd look, but who cares. That burning? I know what it is.