My son has been berating me because he thinks all I ever do is “waste time” (his words, not mine) blogging. He says I should be promoting my book, From Cornflakes to Eternity, instead of writing posts and reading my blogging friends’ posts. He is partially right. Below is an excerpt.
The slanting of the light reminded Vicky of the evening she died. She had really wanted a sleep-over with her friends and it was supposed to happen that day, the day she died, but her Mom wouldn’t hear of it. She had planned to have her new boyfriend over, she was going to ‘make’ him dinner, impress him with her culinary skills. But Vicky knew she was just going to order stuff from the fancy restaurant they always went to and bring it home. That seemed like cheating to Vicky, but whatever.
Vicky had asked her Mom days before if she could invite some friends over, so they could stay the night. She and her friends had it all planned out. They were going to watch movies, do make-up and hair stuff. Then maybe when it got later they would prank call some of the kids they didn’t really like at school. They were going to get on Facebook and see what the loser kids were saying, make fun of them. Same with Twitter, maybe they would get into a group chat and dog on people, insult them. That was always fun. Then they were going to go swimming. They could run around Vicky’s house, filling the empty, perpetually lifeless rooms that were decorated to impress, with noise and laughter.
Vicky was going to have Graciela fill their Sub-Zero fridge with all kinds of scrumptious snacks. They were going to eat those snacks and say how fat they were and they how they shouldn’t really eat the snacks. And then they were going to tell each other they weren’t fat, but secretly each one of them would think the other friends were perhaps a little pudgy and so on and so forth. They had planned so many fun things. But Vicky’s Mom had said no. Just like that, no. No, because her stinking boyfriend was going to come over and she was going to exhibit her non-existent cooking skills and he was going to fall in love her with her just because of that. How stupid was that. So, so, so stupid.
It made Vicky mad thinking about it. She had even written her Mom a letter, trying to convince her a sleep-over was a good thing. In the letter, she promised her that she and her friends wouldn’t make a lot of noise, they would be so quiet – so quiet that her Mom’s boyfriend wouldn’t even know they were there. She had even drawn boxes at the bottom of the letter, one for Yes and one for No. She had made the Yes box a little bit bigger so her Mom would be more inclined to check it. But her Mom had just ignored the letter, left it on the kitchen counter. She bugged her Mom about the letter, asking her to answer it and her Mom had finally got mad and crumpled the letter up and thrown it across the kitchen.
The note had fallen into the kitchen sink. Vicky had run across the kitchen to retrieve it. The note lay in a bowl which was soaking in the sink. The balled up paper had slowly uncrumpled itself as the fibers absorbed the water. The ink from her pink gel pen silently seeped across the paper and the entire note became a big, soggy, ink-smeared piece of mess. All the words were indiscernible, as the paper floated. Vicky had looked up. Her Mom was already on her phone, which was always in her hand, texting to some nebulous person in cyberspace, who was so much more important than Vicky. Her Mom had forgotten the issue at hand already, because she lifted her head ever so slightly and smirked, turned and exited the well-appointed kitchen without giving Vicky so much as a second glance.
Vicky was so mad at her Mom. There was no way she was going to buy her way out of this. She had promised Vicky could have a sleep-over, and like she normally did, she totally reneged on her promise, because her life was so much more important than Vicky’s. Now Vicky would have to text all of her friends and tell them the sleep-over was off because her Mom was a big piece of hairy dog poop. That’s what she was going to tell her friends. My Mom is a big piece of moldy, hairy dog poop that’s been sitting in the lawn getting white. Or maybe, Vicky had thought at the time, maybe I’m the big piece of dog poop, that has been forgotten in the lawn long enough to grow hairy stuff on it. Left unnoticed, long enough for grass to grow over it, hidden, ignored.
Vicky had stormed out of the house, she couldn’t stand being in the same house as her Mom. She wished she could over to her Dad’s house, but it wasn’t the week to be at her Dad’s house, that was next week. So, she was stuck here, with her Mom and her stupid boyfriend. The boyfriend that was tall, with the crazy blue eyes, but didn’t have a clue how to talk to kids. He pretended to be interested in what Vicky had to say, but couldn’t figure out that at the age of ten, Vicky didn’t need to be talked down to like she was some kind of little kid. He was basically a well-tanned idiot with lots of money and she was sure that was why her Mom was interested in him.
Vicky had slammed the massive front door as hard as she could and stood at the front entrance of their enormous house, looking across the street to the manicured front yards of their neighbors. They lived on a street, lined with old eucalyptus trees that spread their protective branches across the street to meet, forming a shady tunnel. The oleander bushes beneath the gum trees were planted just so, to provide even more isolation, their blossoms were bright and plentiful. The street was quiet as it always was. The houses looked like model homes, where no one really lived.
On that street, everything was so perfect. Too perfect. There were never any children littering the driveways with their yelling and playing. All the kids in the neighborhood didn’t have time to play on the driveways or do any really fun kid stuff. They were too busy being shuttled from one activity to another by their nannies or the hired help. Their schedules were filled with ballet, piano and musical instrument classes, school sport activities and tutoring sessions.
The kids were kept busy enough so they wouldn’t litter the streets, and so they wouldn’t pester their parents. Their schedules were heavily coordinated and structured, such that their parents were excused from feeling guilty about not spending time with them. And all of this overbooking was touted as a way for the children in this neighborhood to be better. Better than all the normal children. Better than the children that did get time just to be kids. Better than the children allowed to play in the driveways, filling the streets with musical sounds of laughter and squeals of enjoyment. None of the parents on this end of town, in this neighborhood, wanted stupid, uncultured children. Stupid children didn’t match their European cars and their designer labels and their big houses.
Vicky knew each house, along her empty tree-lined street was filled with granite countertops, interesting sink bowls and hand towels hanging neatly from towel racks. Hand towels that no one ever used. Just like in her house.
Each house was decorated inside to look like something off of the Home and Garden channel. Nothing in these houses really indicated what type of experiences and memories were individual to the families that resided there. All the decorations, the accessories, were the latest and the greatest, things that their decorators and interior designers thought would look good, provide a pop of color. So generic, so insipid. Each house was designed to impress, but exactly who was it designed to impress? All the other people with hand towels? Who knew?
She shuffled in her fur filled, fluffy boots, over to the driveway, that trailed from the three car garage. Standing at attention, a potted topiary bush was placed between the spaces of each garage door. There were five bushes in ornate pots, stupid bushes in stupid pots. Everything was so stupid. It was all so tidy.
She plopped herself down on the driveway and fished for her phone in her pocket. She placed her ear phones into her ears and turned up the volume, drowning out her madness, her fury. She was listening to a popular song about money, money, money, singing Cha-ching, Cha-ching to herself, she loved that part of the song.
She was in the process of texting her friends, announcing the bad news. The sleep-over was off, because her Mom was a selfish idiot that never thought about anyone else but herself. Vicky remembered her fingers flew across the keyboard of her phone, the one encased in the glittery Hello Kitty phone case, she was so mad having to text her friends this announcement. So mad. Mad at her Mom, mad at her solitary life, mad at everything. The music coming through her earphones had been loud. Really, really loud.
She never heard the garage door behind her open. She never heard the car door to her Mom’s white Range Rover open and close. She never saw her Mom, with her phone to her ear, talking excitedly to someone, laughing her fake laugh, like she always did when she wanted whoever was on the other end to think she really gave a damn about what they were saying. She never heard or saw any of that. Because she was so angry, because the volume was up, drowning out any external sounds out, drowning out her life.
It was at the last minute, Vicky realized something was happening. She had picked up a whiff of her Mom’s signature fragrance, as it was expelled from the car, with the rush of air that occurred with the car door closing. The cloud of scent had slowly wafted from behind her, and it wasn’t until her olfactory senses, separated that distinctive smell of her Mom’s perfume from the smell of oleander and gardenia blossoms filling the air, she knew something was up.
From Cornflakes to Eternity is available either in e-book format or in paperback.
Bedroom – howtodecorate.com
Tree-lined street – en.wikipedia.org
Hand-towels – homestratosphere.com