I now had a brand new list:
1) Conquer Genetics Lab
2) Still direct a main focus on the names of those in
Stan Jensen's 11 o'clock class, not just our faces
3) Become my parent's daughter, once again.
4) Lastly, face the devil, for the last and hopefully
Number four was an obstacle, settling in the pit of my stomach.
It had to be done, but how? I couldn't possibly do it alone. As I
walked into Stan's classroom, I left the obstacle out in the
hallway to temporarily reside. I take my seat between a smiling
Ant and a smiling Jim.
"Morning Matty. How was your weekend?" I take my
seat, not responding right away. I inhaled the past weekend
before saying a word.
I didn't know quite know how to respond. Do I say
interesting? Do I say, life-changing? Jim did not know me well
enough for me to respond with a regular Matty response. I turn to
face Ant's blue and honest eyes. I exhale and say,
"It was definitely, a long weekend." I face Jim's
almond shaped hazel eyes. "How was yours?"
"Relaxing. I slept through most of it, seeming that
the weekdays bring nothing but strife and turmoil. I rest in the
bed my parents bought me, in the bedroom where my parents pay a
mortgage. Not that any of that lingers in my head though."
"Jim's parents are sending him subliminal messages to
"More like clear cut messages that are thrown out in
the open. Dinner conversation consists of this: ' Jim, you're 21,
get out.' I'd like this jackass to move out with me, but his
parents enjoy having him live in their basement."
"I can't live off of my parents forever. I'll look,
you look, and whichever is closer to school with decent rent and
lack of rodents and insects, then that'll be our new home."
Ant and Jim reminded me of Tara and me. We made a
pact when we were 16 that when both of us had finally turned 21,
we would move into our own place. There was only six more months
till that milestone and I had just moved back home.
"Do you still live at home Matty? Oh wait, you have a
boyfriend. So you stay at Danny's right?" Ant, at that moment,
faces the keyboard. Jim looks almost regretful for shuttering the
assumption. I stare directly into Jim's eyes and decide that this
was the moment where I would confess the truth.
"Well, not anymore. I'm now without a boyfriend. I am
now single, living between my dad's house and my mom's apartment,
for now." Yet, Ant remained focused on the keyboard. I wondered
if there had been one exact key that kept his focal point or had
the entire keyboard meshed in together, forming one massive
"Oh, I'm sorry. How are you? If you don't mind me
"I am fine." The lump had made it known that it was
Ant did not make any loose, informal, nor did any
random or spontaneous eye contact with me throughout the entire
time Stan Jensen choked on his memorization skills.
"S--Stacey? You, with the blonde hair and pink
glasses, I got your name right, right?"
"Nope. I'm Tiffany with the blonde hair and the pink
"R-right. Tiffany." Jim and I saw the humor and yet
Ant wanted nothing to do with our mutual humor.
I didn't get his standoffish behavior, one bit. So,
when class ended I said goodbye to only Jim and went off on my
"Matty, wait!" I stopped, waiting for Ant to approach
me. "Listen, I hope what we had talked about in the library did
not have any influence on your breakup. Sam and Danny were in
high school. He's 21 now, people evolve with time."
I notice at that moment that Ant and I are the
opposite sex versions of one another. I laugh at my male
"Why are you laughing?"
"You are me, but with a penis."
Ant's four eyes lift with shock. "What?"
"You had absolutely nothing to do with my decision.
It was mine and nobody else can claim it or even have any
copyrights to it whatsoever. I actually feel fine, really."
"Except…" To jump to conclusions and have throw-up of
the mouth was one thing, but how the hell did he know that there
was more to that statement?
"Except? What do you mean by…except?"
"If you are exactly like me, but with a vagina,
you're not heartless." I start to walk forward, but slowly.
"No, I'm usually not. I usually have a great deal of
empathy, for everything. I shed not one tear as I fed him the
words. There was no warning or signal given to him; he didn't
even see it coming. Hell neither did I. I let him go without
calling him back to the park bench. I let him drive away without
chasing him down the street. I presented myself as a cold,
heartless bitch and didn't even stop myself. I am evil, aren't
"Then how come I feel like I am? I feel lighter on the outside,
but on the inside, there's a heavy weight of guilt."
"You feel for him you just don't know how to express it since it
was a weight off of your shoulders at the same time."
The lump decided to chime in right at that precise
I arrived home from school on a Wednesday evening,
with the lump in full effect and Danny on my mind entirely. He
had been haunting, everything as of lately. The clothes I had on
my body reeked of the ADDIDAS cologne that I had bought for him
on a spontaneous splurge. I still hadn't taken down the only
picture I have of him, off of my mirror. I kept the photo there,
so when and if I were alone in my bedroom, his presence would
still be there. I was so use to having his presence surround me
that I think self-consciously I feared of living life without
him, entirely. In the photo, he's in his Viking attire, posing
for only me in his bedroom. I took that picture five months into
the relationship. It was yet a rainy Saturday afternoon, with
certainly absolutely nothing to do but to sleep, or feed
ourselves with cans of warm coke. This was a rare Saturday
afternoon, in that the regime was broken and he ventured off a
different branch of his daily path. That Saturday afternoon
consisted of us, being silly in his bedroom. The laughter of that
afternoon haunted my ears in echoes.
My purse was tilted over, revealing the cell phone
that Mr. Salinski was still unfairly paying for. My closet door
was open, revealing the available space for the rest of my
wardrobe to take up. Denise's radar surrounded me as all of these
reminders haunted me. My heart pumped her blood. My head thumped
her face. I close my eyes, to see her scolding glare. I believe
that she haunted me more than Danny ever has.
I drove myself and Tara--for moral and spiritual
support--to the Salinski household.
"Want to come in? You miss Danny, don't you? He'll
want to say hi, catch up on life…you know, small talk."
"Shut the fuck up Matty and just do this please. I
really don't want to spend my night in Quaint fucking Quarters."
Reluctantly, I open the car door. Reluctantly, I step
out of my car. Reluctantly, I stare at the house that was
literally once considered my second home.
"Come on Matty. The longer you wait, the more the
bitch will haunt you." Tara was right. I wanted the bitch out of
my system, for good. I used her annoyance, her inner judgment,
and her Food Network obsession and transformed it all down to my
I knocked on the door, the door that I use to just
open up and enter through. The waiting for somebody to answer
felt identical to waiting for customer service or a collections
agent to answer, in hopes that that person does not end up
answering at all. In this case, indefinitely, somebody were to
open the door and that somebody was Mr. Salinski.
"Hi, um…Mr. Salinski. I'm here to return the cell
phone and um…is Danny home?" I caught a glimpse of the Jetta when
I pulled up in front of the house, but I mentally blocked it from
my thoughts. "Of course he is, I saw the Jetta when I pulled up
in front of the house--"
"Just walk upstairs Matty." He gave me a closed, warm
smile. The kind of smile that would make Denise cringe.
I walk through the living room with my head down,
knowing damn well that she was in her lair. I could hear the
faucet running, so at least her back would be facing me. Yet, I
couldn't bring my head upward. I cross my fingers as I step on to
the white linoleum. The running water blocked out the tiny creek
my foot made. I make it to the first step, so now my back would
be facing her back. I don't know why, but I bolted up that flight
of stairs like a vandalizer running away from the damage.
I could smell the aroma of his bedroom welcoming me
like Two-tone does when I walk up the stairs into the kitchen.
The scent was welcoming, but Danny might not welcome me in.
I knock on the door lightly to where I could barely
hear it myself. I knock a little bit louder the second time and
then stop, halfway through the third knock. I thought that maybe
I might have knocked too abruptly. And then, I thought out loud.
"Should I just walk in?" The thinking continued. "I
don't have the right to anymore, that would just be rude."
Instead, the door opens up for me.
"I wouldn't have minded." Danny was wearing flannel
bottoms and a Hanes white tee shirt. It was nearly 7:30 at night
and he was already in his pajamas. He rarely ever changed into
his pajamas before 9 o'clock. "It would not be rude."
"I forget to keep inner monologue, inner…sometimes."
He smirks then immediately looks down at his feet. He moves out
of the way, inviting me back into his bedroom. Keep in mind that
I still have the cell phone in my hand.
"Danny, I'm sorry for how I acted at the park. In
fact I didn't act at all. I almost came off as, happy, which I
wasn't happy. I'm not happy Danny."
"Neither am I...I am miserable. Look at me. I am in
my pajamas at 7:30 at night. I've been in them practically all
day. I miss you Matty." I walk further in, making him walk
backwards. I turn around, walking back to shut the door. I
venture back towards him, sitting on the corner of his bed.
I speak, quietly.
"I'm not here to reconcile. I am here to let you go,
completely, but in the way I should have before." He lowers his
head, facing his bare feet. "We both need to grow away from one
another, to reinvestigate ourselves. Danny, you're going to learn
so much from traveling and I only know the best will happen for
you. I'm going to learn so much, hell I already am by driving my
own ass to school everyday. I'm not a half bad of a drive you
know." I saw a slight smirk creep out of the left side of his
mouth. "You were my first experience at a relationship. I need to
experience other things for myself now. Do you understand?"
"I do. I'm just going to miss you so much." He
couldn't lift his head up to look me in the eyes. "I don't know
if it was reciprocated, but Matty you were my first love."
At that moment I was grateful that he couldn't face
me. Sadly, it wasn't reciprocated. The harsh reality that lingers
is that I will always hold the truth in knowing that I will
always be considered his first love.
I crept back down the stairs, with two garbage bags
filled of my clothes and with the cell phone still in hand, to
see a clean, quiet, and peaceful kitchen. I could hear Rachel
Ray's voice coming from the living room. I knew I had to face her
and there was no better time than the present.
I place the garbage bags down on the floor of the
dinning room and I walk slowly into the living room, reaching
closer to my destination with each small step I take.
I take a deep breath and force the words out of my
"Denise." She turns in her place on the couch to face
me. "I want to return the cell phone. You can send the bill to my
dad's house, I'll pay it. It wouldn't be right otherwise."
She takes the phone from my hands.
"Matty, just go home."
And just like that, I grab the garbage bags and exit
the Salinski household.
I saved the conversation with Tara for the park
"He was miserable and a little pathetic. I could
tell that he hadn't showered. Danny always showers and the scent
mixes in with everything else he has done throughout that day. He
smelled musky, almost stale. The computer wasn't on. The
television was off. There was no evidence if the radio had been
on at all during the day. He was just utterly miserable. It's an
awful, awful feeling to know that I caused that."
"Matty, he's needy. He's probably scared to be alone.
I'm sure that this is just habit for him with a break up."
"No, it's not. He told me that I was his first love."
Tara just stares at me, with the fountain light glowing on her
face, speechless. "I know for a fact that what we had, or at
least what I felt wasn't even close to love. Tara, I have no
sadness in me, no sympathy, or no fucking tears that are building
up and ready to pour out. And the worst part is, he is not the
even the burden."
It was 2:30 in the morning and I hadn't slept a wink.
I lied in bed, wide awake. I couldn't close my eyes without the
burden looking at me straight in the face. She had told me to
leave, with no fighting words. Her last words were serene, almost
frightening. I was expecting there to be a verbal rebuttal
between the two of us, where we finally had a chance to say
exactly how we felt about one another. I was expecting hurtful
and truthful words that would stick on to me for a lifetime. I
wanted there to be an argument between Denise and I. I wanted to
be patronized. I wanted to have the opportunity to express how I
felt about her.
The opportunity came at me like inspiration. A black
BIC pen and a notebook was what I needed. The pen rested
perfectly against the callus on my middle finger. I allowed the
vision to replace the words that flew on to the paper. This
opportunity needed to be spontaneous, not premeditated.
I am writing this letter to you and only you. Please
do not show this to Danny. As you know, I am the one who ended
the relationship. I am the one who has made your son miserable
these past couple of days. I have no hurt, animosity, or any
sorts of angst or anguish towards your son. I will always care
for Danny and will carry him with me as I go on with my life. To
you, this sounds corny, unreasonable, and unrealistic. To me,
it's true and very, very realistic.
During the entire time I was in a relationship with
your son, both you and Mr. Salinski were nothing but generous and
grateful to me. I cannot express my gratitude with words. I do
not want you to believe for one second that I was taking
advantage of your open arms. My household does not reside in
Quaint Quarters. My household resides on dysfunctional, 3rd
avenue. My parents despise one another. I have longed for a
family, such as yours, throughout my entire childhood. I finally
received it and I realized that it was not mine. Danny and I come
from two different worlds. I believe our compatibility was based
on comfort and the further we carried on, the more comfortable we
became. We are too young to be at that state. We both need to see
what life has to offer, for ourselves. Who knows, maybe somewhere
down the line we might meet up again. But, we both need to figure
that out, separately.
Denise, I am telling you this to reassure you of my
intentions. Cowardly or not, I am going to finish this the best
way that I know how. I always have been and probably will be
intimidated by you. I have never known of a parent to hold their
child in such high regards as you do. It is a very admirable
quality that I am scared to death of. I always felt either
beneath your standards or discreetly rebelling against your
standards. I have no idea what you really thought about me, and
that scares me too. Danny places you above all other females in
his life, including myself. I could and never will live up to the
standards that you give off, and I have learned that it's ok. I
am just a young woman who is still trying to find herself in this
I want to say goodbye and thank you, for everything.
Genetics lab arrived, and maybe, just maybe I could
grasp her words and paste them into my attention span. Of course,
I was the last one to walk into the class. The entire class
watches me, all of them stereotyping me as the incompetent one
who cannot complete a lab all on her own.
"Nice to know that you also have a great concept of
time." Her gray eyes drew her inner fury right at my embarrassed
I take my seat, calmly telling myself not to let her
sarcasm bring me down.
"Before I explain the lab, we need to do a quick
lecture. Dreadful," There were those eyes gleaming out at the
class, like demons. "I know." She takes her fury and directs it
at me, once again. "So grab a pen and your notebook and pay
I tried, with all of my might, to pay attention.
Instead, my attention went to her eyes. I wondered why all of her
fury had to be directed solely at me? I was not her ex-cheating
husband. I was not the hand that smacked her across the face. I
found myself writing down words, but her voice was on mute. I was
scared to skim at what I had actually wrote down. Clearly she got
to it first. I must have written down something completely
unreadable or something aiming directly towards her fury. Without
any apologies or care for the rest of the class, in which I am
positive who were all paying attention, she stopped in
mid-sentence, beaming down at my bowed head. I heard a chuckle
coming from behind me, only making my embarrassment become a neon
flashing sign. I slowly lift my head up to meet her eyes.
"I said get out." This woman wasn't playing around.
The chuckles echoed in my hallow head. I was the laughing stock
of the entire class. "Stop that! You all want zeroes too?"
I felt like the incredible shrinking woman. I was the
freak show exhibit at the carnival. I was the 20 year-old who got
kicked out of a classroom, where the average age was 18. I walked
out of the building, through the campus, and headed straight for
the parking lot. Nothing was in plain sight, not even the girl
who I happened to bump head-on into. She just happened to be in
my Media and Culture class. I was clearly leaving the campus and
she clearly knew exactly where my destination was. The look on
her face screamed out "Tattle tale." I just knew that she would
wait till class let out to tell the professor of my whereabouts.
I give the ultimate PMS bitch look that only a woman can give.
Then, I continued to carry on to my destination, my car.
Back at the homestead, all three dogs greeted my
arrival. Dogs could care less about their owner's prior events.
As long as a Milkbone and a friendly, "I love you," is thrown
their way, that's all that matters. Hell, I could have murdered
someone and they would still be on their hind legs, awaiting my
affection. Ok, I am over exaggerating the experience, but I like
to have full-hands on approach when I am trying to conquer
something. For instance, I did what I needed to do when breaking
the news to Danny. I ended up producing it to him like the snap
of a finger, but I had hands on control of the situation. I had
absolutely no control of anything in that laboratory.
Friday passed. Saturday came and Denise would have
officially read my letter. Knowing this made my Saturday quite
pleasant. I took over the entire living room as my dad chuckled
through his day in the computer room. It was nice to hear Stan
Bianco chuckle. This meant that he was happy. Grant it the
happiness came from a computer screen. Stan was happy and that's
all that mattered. I was happy, doing my homework on the couch
instead of on my bed. Finally, I was able to enjoy doing
homework. Who the hell actually enjoys doing homework? I do.
I kept the Thursday event hidden. In order to achieve that goal,
I put the text book under my bed, where I would clearly forget
about it. I wasn't ready to face that stipulation just yet.
It was Saturday night and I was obligation free. What
does one do on a Saturday night? I vowed to no television on the
weekends. Those Saturday nights are in Saturday night's past.
Brand new Saturday nights bring spontaneity and…
The telephone rings.
"Matty, it's your mother." Obviously.
"Whatcha got planned tonight?"
"Nothing planned. Why?"
"I'm having a house warming party, now that I am
completely settled in…want to come?"
Apparently brand new Saturdays bring phone calls
received and phone calls made. I could now call whomever the hell
"Tara, do you have a date tonight?"
"Yeah, just don't know where though. Why?'
"You guys could go to my mother's house warming
"Unless you want to be alone with him."
"I'll call him--"
"I don't know how many people will be there and
they're all most likely going to be over the age of 50."
"I am sure it'll be fun--"
"If you don't go, I don't mind. Tara, this being free
to do whatever I want on a Saturday night is--"
"It's ok. I'll be there with or without him."
I can remember exactly what I've worn to every
specific event in my life. On graduation day/ I wore a red plaid
dress underneath the white graduation gown. I wore a mint green
and pink floral dress for picture day in the fourth grade. I wore
black carpenter pants, a black halter top, a black chunky beaded
bracelet, and black NIKE running sneakers to my first Less Than
Jake show. On this particular Saturday night, I put on a pair of
faded blue jeans, a maroon polo tee shirt, and slipped on my
black Mary Jane shoes. It's just the way my brain processes
certain information. Apparel and written words stick, numbers and
spoken words about Genetics fly out the window.
I walk into the apartment to Fleetwood Mac's "The
Dance" playing as background music. Tracey, Linda, Connie, and
Samantha, my mother's girlfriends, were chatting around the oak
kitchen table, with the box of Franzia as the center piece.
Tracey is a divorcee, Leslie is the happily married soccer mom
with four daughters, Connie is happily unmarried, and Samantha is
currently cheating on her husband Jeff. These women are my
mother's confidants who share one specific common bond: the
"Hello daughter of mine. We've got wine." Obviously.
"Hello…mother of mine. Tara and her Saturday night
date are coming too, if you don't mind."
"The more the merrier. Travis from upstairs, a
complete hottie, is coming too. He's around your age Matty. He's
a carpenter...real sexy." Wow, such vocabulary coming from my
mother's mouth. I practically dart for the Franzia box.
"So my daughter has become a member of the single
ladies club. Her and Danny are no more."
"I'm sorry to hear that. Are you Ok?" Of course the
only non member is the sympathetic one.
"Actually, never better. I was the one who did it."
"Hale fucking lujah Matty!" Samantha praised me by
lifting her wine glass.
"There is nothing wrong with being single. Look at
me, I've done it practically my entire life."
Connie has a spirit about her that is quite deceiving
to her actual charm. Her stance is upright and bold, but her
smile is wide. Her voice is calm, but her hair is wildly curly.
Her attire is ironed flat, while her fire engine red hair bellows
out to everybody on the street.
"Why'd you do it Matty?" Tracey was the one with a
broken heart. She and Cal had been apart for almost two years and
the divorce was just made official by law.
"I didn't love him. I'm not even sure what love is. I
was forcing myself to be in a relationship that was based on
comfort. He is very sheltered and immature. He has a lot of
learning that he needs to do, all on his own. I cannot do it for
"I admire your daughter Anne. She has a good head on
her shoulders. Don't ever sell yourself short. Don't ever
compromise yourself for someone else, solely based on comfort.
It's a good thing you learned that at a young age."
My mother sat back in her seat and smiles at me, the
way a proud mother smiles at her daughter.
"I know Connie."
The door opens and "Everywhere" is interrupted.
"Hello Mama Bianco!"
My mother refers to Tara as her adopted second
daughter. In a way, Mama Bianco has been like a real adoptive
mother to her. Shelly, Tara's mom, has never been married and
vows never to be married. She is a mystery in that she has never
sat down with her daughter and told stories of her past. Shelly
tells stories of her dates and her two jobs, and that's it.
"Your place is so fucking nice. " I turn my head to
reveal who her date is. "This is Stephen. Stephen, this is
Matty's mom and my second mother, Anne."
"It's very nice to meet you Anne. Thank you for
"A friend of Tara is a friend of mine. These two
girls have been best friends since before puberty hit." My mother
can mentally invert story time simply by the tone of her voice.
"Please help yourselves to some wine, there's plenty more."
"Trust me, she has two more boxes in the cabinet by
the stove and another box in the fridge."
"This was the shit me and my brothers would sneak
from my mom when I was 14. I believe almost every mother in
America stocks up on Franzia wine." Stephen's eyes are
child-like. When he says a vulgar word such as shit, he makes it
sound more like crap or poop.
"I never thought twice about sneaking any of my
parent's alcohol. It would have been easy since they never
believed in leaving the Scotch or the Baileys in a closed
cabinet. I think by leaving it out in the open lost all its fun
in potentially sneaking it."
"I'll never forget when Matty and Tara were 13 and
they told Stan and I they were going to the mall to shop around,
and catch a flick...you know the typical teenage mall rat thing.
Oh no none of those things were in their plans at all. Stan and I
decided to run all of our errands in Clifton Park since we were
their rides to and form the mall. So there we are driving down
146 and I see two teenage girls strolling along side of the
"How the hell were we supposed to know that you and
Stan planned errand day in fucking Clifton Park?" Tara places her
attention on to Stephen. "We planned on walking over to the
soccer shop to meet cute boys and then walk on over to the
bowling alley. "
"What in hell possessed you two to do that?" I sat
back and watched them two delve in a three-way conversation. I
wanted Tara to tell my part of the story as well.
"What Anne doesn't know is that Matty and I had done
that a couple of times before. We'd pick a fake destination and
walk to our real destination, which was always along side of busy
highways. It was the thrill of maybe seeing someone we knew who
would give Stan and Anne a call and blast us out. Mama actually
grounded me once."
"Hey Matty, do you miss that at all?" Samantha asks,
speaking low into my ear. She was referring to Tara and Stephen
engaging in each other's attention.
The music has now switched from Fleetwood Mac to
Stevie Nicks "Bella Donna." The women remained seated, all with
wine glasses in hand, belting out every word to "Stand Back."
Tara and Stephen ventured on over to the couch, still very much
engaged. I found myself, with a wine glass in hand as well,
engaged in a conversation with Travis the carpenter on the living
room floor. I had to disagree with my mother's opinion of Travis
being a "total hottie." I couldn't help but be mesmerized by his
hands though. His hands were dirty, masculine, and dark. I was
more interested in his hands than his face.
"I was with Liz for six years. We were engaged for
three. I simply just fell out of love with her. To have to look
into those sad, lost eyes was the hardest thing I've ever had to
do. To watch her cry, knowing I was the reason for her hurt.
Those images still leaves an ache in my stomach. You are not
Yes I was. I too looked into Danny's eyes and saw
hurt, yet, I knew that there was harsher triumph to over come in
my life. The more free I felt, the more evil I became.
"Excuse me Travis, I need some fresh air."
I needed to be out of the guilt stricken suffocating
apartment. The fall breeze blew on my skin, allowing my horns to
grow with pride.
"Is that guy bothering you?" Stephen joined me by
lighting a cigarette.
"You could have smoked that inside, my mom doesn't
"Hell no. I love this time of the year. I love fall,
especially in the beginning. It's creepy, not humid, and the air
feels fresh. It's fucking great."
"I agree. This time of the year is fucking great."
I want to ask how Kasey was, but how? How does one
ask how another is doing? A person whom she made out with while
still being heavily involved with another?
"You look as though you are in deep thought. Wanna
"It's nothing, really."
"Can't be. There's always something." It's just a
simple question, right?
"How's Kasey?" It's just a question, yes, but not
something that's worth deep thought over. "That's not the only
thing I was pondering. My mind ponders about everything all the
time. Although I believe everybody's mind ponders, we never
actually have a blank moment, you know?" Stephen ashes the
cigarette on to the lawn.
"You're funny, you know that?"
"I'd say ridiculous."
"Kasey is good."
"Good." Silence. I wanted to know more like what he
had been doing. Where has he gone to? Where does he run his
errands? Does he have a day totally centered on running errands?
These questions popped up and I didn't even bother to ask myself
why I even wondered. "No show tonight?"
"It got cancelled. We played last night at Northern
Lights. It kicked ass. The club was packed."
"Do you guys ever play out of the state?"
"We are releasing our second album around Christmas
time, so after the New Year, we're playing a few shows in
Massachusetts. We also have a show in Bennington, and we have a
few shows booked in Northern Jersey. Of course we're just the
opening act, but who the fuck cares? It's exposure."
"Definitely. That's great." I watch Stephen's
cigarette fly away with the early autumn breeze.
"Kasey would like to hear from you. Give him a call,
when you're ready."
Like how the cigarette hit the ground, my horns had
"Leather and Lace" was now blaring throughout the
"I never knew how much fun your mom was Matty. I'm
glad to have her in the building. And I hear that your father
doesn't live too far from here either. So I'll get to see you
quite often, huh?" Tara winks over at me. "We should actually
hang out outside of this building or even outside of this town.
Matty, will you go out on a date with me?" The apartment talk
fell silent. Everyone's focus was on my answer. I hardly knew
this guy. All that I knew about him was that he was a carpenter
and that he had recently broken up with his fiancée, Liz.
I darted. I darted right for the bathroom and I
locked myself in.
"Matty, let me in." I let Tara inside the bathroom.
"What's wrong with you? Travis wants to take you out, it's just a
date." I sit down on the lid of the toilet. "My mom says that the
golden rule after a break up is to mess around with another man.
Did you see his hands Matty? Imagine those hands all over your
body." I wanted to puke just thinking about it.
"Stop it. Please, just stop." I look down at the
beige linoleum. "I don't want his hands all over my body. I don't
want anyone's hands all over my body yet. I want to be hands free
for a while."
"I'm sorry. I was just trying to--"
"Tara, I know." I look up at her. "I don't want to
face Travis. Please can you tell him to leave."
"Yeah." I remain seated on the toilet.
It wasn't Danny hovering over me that made me run, it
was Travis and his hands. It was Travis' sandy, bushy hair. It
was the way his blue shirt was tucked in perfectly into his dark
blue Levis jeans. Travis frightened me.
The party had come to its end and Anne Nottingham was
sprawled out flat drunk on the sofa. Tara and Stephen were the
last ones to leave.
"You want us to help you clean?"
"No, I'm going to do it, then head back home."
"This is your home too Matty. Remember that. Stay in
your bedroom, please." My mom's face was pressed squished against
a throw pillow and yet her words came out as clear as normal
"It'll be good for Mama to have you here."
"Stephen do you mind if I have Tara for just a
"Not at all. I'll be in the car babe. Thanks again
Matty." Stephen exits the apartment, leaving the two of us alone,
with my mother passed out on the couch.
"Tara, Travis frightened me. I don't know why, but
the thought of his hands on me made me nauseous."
"It's ok. I get it Matty."
"No. I don't think you do." I take a seat on the arm
of the wicker chair. "Danny has absolutely nothing to do with it
either. I want to be guy-less, meaning no random hook-ups, no
potential far away distanced crushes and definitely no Travis's.
I've never really cared about the opposite sex before Danny came
into my life, remember?" Tara smiles at me. "I miss that and want
that mentality back for a while. When I'm ready, I'll let it be
known that I am ready. No guy and certainly no Travis."
"I get it."
Tuesday had arrived and it was time to face reality.
The campus stood before me, reminding me that it was Lab day. I
couldn't bare to hear the quiet whispers and the not-so-discreet
laughter. I wouldn't be able to handle the weight of the
embarrassment. Most of all, I wasn't ready to face those gray
eyes just yet. I stopped walking and stood in front of the
Financial Aid building. The glass windows reveal my reflection,
almost clearly. I saw myself at six years-old petrified to go to
class and learn addition and subtraction for the first time. What
had happened to the ongoing streak I had? I was just starting to
overcome my uncertainties by creating this list in the first
place. Then it hit me, the list. And then it hit me even harder.
"Mrs. Ackerman…I mean Pat!" I barge her office door
open, nearly causing her to have a coronary before giving birth
to her first child. "I need you."
"Matty, you scared the living shit out of me. What
the hell is wrong?" I had pissed her off.
"I'm sorry. Really sorry. I didn't mean to do that,
really. I don't know what's wrong with me, ever. I always run in
a panic to others when I can't figure out my own problems. I am
pathetic." I drop my bag. "I need help; professional help." I sit
down on the black tiled floor. "I need a therapist." Pat swivels
the desk chair to face down at me.
"Matty, you don't need professional help. You do need
to stop putting loads of stress on top of yourself to where you
panic and nearly give people, such as myself, heart attacks
before they reach 37." I look down at a floor that desperately
needed to be swept. "Look, Matty, life is full of moments that
feel like dead ends or impossibilities. But really, when you
overcome those moments, it is the best release, ever." I never
imagined Patricia Ackerman to be dirty. I imagined everything in
her life as neat and clean, identical to her appearance. "Is it
school? Your family? You boyfriend?"
"I broke up with my boyfriend. I regained my
friendship with my best friend. I regained both relations with my
parents. Hell, my parents are going through a divorce and it's
flat out great. The point is, I have been following the list I
have created for myself and have actually been successful in
achieving my goals. I now have a new obstacle and I feel that
this one here is probably impossible."
"Tell me just how impossible this obstacle is." She
sounded almost annoyed by my explanation.
"I'm sorry, again, for barging in and making you my
temporary therapist. I do this too much and I need to stop." I
get up off from the dusty floor. "I'll never do this again, I
"I'll see you around and have a good semester."
"Matty, stop. I want to listen. I want to help, but
you have got to stop putting loads on yourself. It will
eventually make you need an actual therapist."
"I was kicked out of my Genetics Lab because of my
newly self-diagnosed ADD. I don't know why my brain will not
allow me to digest one single bit of information that comes out
of the woman's mouth. It was only the second lab and she
pinpointed me out, in front of the entire class, and actually
kicked me out; just like a disobedient adolescent. I am still
mortified and cannot physically bring myself to go back into that
"Then just drop the class."
"No. I will not. I need to conquer this, but how? How
is the barrier here."
The word how seemed to be the barrier in all of my
consequences. How was I going to figure out my relationship with
Danny? How was I ever going to vanquish Denise's power over me? I
somehow, someway answered those questions. I was sure to be able
to answer this one.
"I was once afraid of you and your class. I overcame
that fear by stepping up and admitting my fear to you and myself.
I did what I had to do with Danny. I finally let Denise know the
truth…why in the hell am I telling you all of this? Again, I am
sorry Pat." I dart out of her office like the psychopath that I
I ran all the way through the campus, like a
psychopath. I carried on looking like a maniac all the way to the
laboratory. I arrived just in time for class to end. As I entered
into the room, my fellow students looked directly at me,
laughing. It was expected. I ignore them as if they were just
another laughing student I pass in the halls. There she was, in
deep concentration, writing down what could only be negative
commentary. Sure, that student probably deserved it, simply for
laughing at me, but it was the constant negativity that
perspired. I take the first step in approaching her desk,
immediately feeling her negativity beaming directly at me. I may
never have worked out a single day of my life, but the
determination I had was as strong as any competitor in a
strongest man competition. I took the force, which was as heavy
as a Greyhound bus and mentally lifted it over my head and
throwing it behind me like it were a flower petal.
"I need to talk to you." Her eyes quickly met mine. I
wanted to stare down at the desktop, but my eyes were frozen into
"I understand why you were frustrated with me, I
really do. What I don't understand is, why did you have to place
me at center stage, in front of the entire class? Was it really
necessary to embarrass me in that manner?" Her eyes glare cold
into mine. The tension created an invisible glacier, yet I didn't
"Simple. You embarrassed me. So, I did on to you,
what you did on to me." What?
"What?" That wasn't supposed to come out of my mouth.
"Matty, right?" I nod. "A teacher teaches for
students to intake and at least try to comprehend. My repetitive
words are not cheap. I repeat myself daily to new ears. Even if
the subject matter is drab or confusing, it's my job to teach it
and help out with those issues. It's your job as a student to try
and maybe even gain an experience from it. If you think about, I
only speak for ten to 20 minutes of the class. That's not a long
time, at all."
She was right. My guilt had melted the glacier into a
puddle of my immaturity. I deserved the embarrassment.
"I'm sorry. You're right, I'm a jerk and you're
right." She was still looking into my eyes from the same
distance, but her face was moving farther away from me. Was I not
supposed to fapologize? "I don't know what's wrong with me. It's
not you, trust me. I want to learn. I want to try and comprehend,
but my stupid mind won't do its job. I'm…"
To my surprise, like my sudden burst into Pat's
office, she laughs. Her laugh is loud and feminine. She covers
her mouth, trying not to disturb an empty laboratory.
"You need help." I couldn't believe my un-waxed ears.
She was still laughing at me.
"Yes, I know I do, but you don't have to make a big
joke out of it."
"Oh sweetie," Sweetie? "I'm not. You're going to need
help with this subject. I was your age a long time ago. I
remember just how hard the world can be to somebody your age. All
I need is your eyes. Just like how you are right now. Show me
your eyes and I'll help guide you along the way."