"Mia? come on. wake up! were going to the beach!" my stepmom, Cherry, says in her ever bright and cheery voice. She starts to shake me to get me to get up. I barely get sleep and she feels its ok to wake me up at what ever the hell this hour is? Who the hell does she think she is? My mother. She probably does. I hold back to urge to smack her and say, my head still in the pillow, "The beach sucks. Get away!" And wave my hand at her. She sighs, the kind of sigh my father tells me not to make her sigh because then she's not happy, and the kind of sigh I am oh so happy to conjure from her.
She 'cutely' stomps out of the room, thinking I will follow her and say sorry and hug her and make things better and we'd be a big happy family. But I don't. She, after ten minutes of pure bliss mostly due to the fact that cherry isn't here, comes back into my room.
"Come on sweetie," did she just call me sweetie? "You love the
beach! I know you do! Your father told me that you used to love
going into the water and laughing!" He told her that? Asshole.
And yeah doesn't she get the USED TO part of that little story of
his? I used to do a lot of the things she does, but do I anymore?
No. I don't say anything, just wave her off again, and she sighs.
"Well, if you wont wake up, I'll get your father." She waits a little before going to get him. Its not like I get up when she leaves though. Getting my father is like trying to get me up by pulling the shades down some more and putting on Led Zeppelin. I hear her footsteps come back in, her dainty ones now accompanied by my fathers big clomps.
"Mia!" He says, trying to act like a good authority figure, and macho man.
"Yes?" I say, in a sugar coated sweet voice.
"Don't play games, get up. You've made cherry very unhappy, so you've made me unhappy. We are going to the beach like a family. And you have no say in this discussion. Get. Up!" And he stomps his foot. It echoes in my big room. I wave him off too, just like Cherry and speak.
"No making-me-go-to-the-beachation without representation!" I know my father would laugh if it was us pre-cherry. Or if Cherry wasn't here. But she is. So no one laughs. I knew Cherry wouldn't laugh, she has no sense of humor.
My father says my name again. I still don't get up. Its quite in my big room. You can sort of hear music from my sleeping playlist, mostly made up of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, come out if my closet. I take a quick look at them, fast enough that they wont notice I did. His hand is around her waist and she is leaning on him, both her hands on his chest. His chest if puffed out, but in about two minutes of just standing there, waiting for me to give in he will deflate and say I wont have to go. So, I wait. Concentrating hard on the music, so faint that I'm almost completely positive that cherry turned it down before waking me. I can make out a guitar and drums, so it's a guitar solo, not uncommon for both bands. So I basically cant tell what song it is. If someone was singing I could at least decipher if it was Sabbath or Zeppelin. Two minutes pass, exactly I may add, and my dad deflates.
"Fine. You don't have to come." They leave the room back to
theirs. When I took a peak at them before I saw, as always,
Cherry was in her jogging gear, and she had obviously just came
back. But my dad was in the clothes he wore yesterday evening
running, which means he jut got woke up too. They were probably
in their room, my dad on the custom huge bed waiting for Cherry
to come back with his beach attire, while Cherry was in their
closet the size of the whole upstairs of my mom's house. Thinking
of my mom gives me a twang in my chest that take me forever to
shake when I get them. I push it aside as best I can, which is
pretty successful seeing I as i've been doing this for six years
every time I'm at my dad's house.
I get up and go to my own huge closet. I choose and outfit out, basically the first thing I see, and put on my converse. I pluck my ipod from it's charging/playing station and plug the earphones into it. Putting my ears phones in I press play. Ah. Now I know what song was playing during the awkward two minutes when we were all anticipating my dads surrender. Led Zeppelin's "What Is And What Should Never Be." One of my favorite songs by them. It's also one of my mom's. My mother loves classic rock. My father loves eighties music and cherry… Well Cherry thinks 92.0NOW! (the station that plays NOW! music) is god's gift to earth.
There are lot of reasons why I don't like Cherry. Some of which being she is trying to be my mother. She replaced my mother to my father. And she worships the Jersey Shore cast. Of course there are more, like her to bubbly and ever present personality, but those are the most important.
I walk out to the garage and pick which car I want to take. There
are to many to choose from. And I never thought I would ever
think or say that phrase. But ever since my dad moved out and
meet Cherry, the car count just keeps on increases. Of course I
only have three cars. My 55' Buick Special is really only for
weekend affairs, like cruising, and even though I am just going
to work, i don't wan to burn out the motor. Thinking that,
thought, makes me laugh. I cant take my 84' Avanti (there were
only 200 84' Avanti's ever made. i have #2) because it is
pristine. It's a Beret Jackson car. So that leaves me my Chevy
pick up. I knew that I would take it to. This is my favorite car,
ever not just out of my wide variety in the garage, and i love
it. Its from 1945 and is all original. Well, an all original
body. But it is all raced up on the inside. Duel exhaust, a cam
for extra sound, a 450/450 motor and trani, etc. The whole kit
and caboodle. I wont go into it.
I grab the keys off the key rack, hop in, put the key in the hole and turn. I hear the beautiful and so familiar low beat. It sounds like the opening drum solo to "Hot For Teacher" by Van Halen. I sigh a happy sigh, pull out, carful not to hit the italian sports cars and german sports cars and all the foreign sports cars that my dad likes. But no american cars. all my cars are american, as my mother, although she only has two rusty old pick ups. They do the job and they're both Chevy. Cars, as music, are my life. Like my mom.
I drive out of my drive way and take the turns and twists I could
make in my sleep. I finally pull into the mall parking lot. No
one is here because I have to get here before the mall opens. Of
course thats why I get a good parking space. Or two. I have to
park my car sideways so no one can hit it, by parking close. If
other people were already here and someone had a nice car I would
park next to them, because people with nice cars make sure they
don't hit other cars, but as I've mentioned, I'm here early. I
walk up to the big doors.
It always surprises me how big this structure can be, with out collapsing. With out crumbling under the pressure of holding so many people, and the clothes, and shoes and toys and kiosk's and things and the food and everything else this mega mall has. Of not breaking down under the pressure of it all.
I get to the elevator and press the button the the third floor, made up of all the stores I don't really like. Because on the floor with the stores I don't really like, Is the place where I work. And why, you ask, would I work in a store I don't like, on a floor with stores I don't like? Because its my father's store. And I didn't feel like looking for a job anywhere else, so here I am. Working in a store selling clothes that are basically just like the clothes in the store next to it. And the store down the hall. And every other store here.
I pull out my jingly keys and plug in the one that goes with the store. I walk up the stairs to the porch, costume built to make it look like an old rickety house front on the beach complete with the wicker chairs and table. I turn and push up the bars that cover it over night. It makes a click-y but also sloshy sound.
This was the first, the original, Creedon store. Soon they popped all over the country. I thought these kind of stores were supposed to start in like the seventies or eighties. But nope. This on started when my dad left. He started the store right away, when he moved to florida. When he and Cherry got married. When he and my mom never talked again. When so many crappy things were happening in my life, when my whole secure and safe world was crumbling down, like I always imagine this mall doing, this store was building its frames. This store was selling little things, then bigger, then just like the big shops. This store was becoming, just like Cherry, while my new life was becoming. But unlike my dad, who preferred this life, this life with big companies, lots of money, a wife four years older than his daughter, his old love forgotten, I hate it. I'm miserable, and I hate how my dad is so happy and smiles way to big and way to much, my mom is sad and the only time she smiles is when she is really, really sad or when i show an inkling of having any other friends than Savannah, Kiss and Kim.
That doesn't happen often. Or at all. The only time I have ever
really seen her smile was when I told her I made a friend where
dad lives. I didn't, of course, because all the people here are
rich snobs and people that belong on reality television. But
still, it was nice to see her smile like that. So I lied. I only
lie to my mom to make her happy. I lie to my dad because I hate
I walk to behind the oak counter and I turn my ipod off. I take it out and plug it into the docking station cleverly hidden under the counter next to the bags. I switch the playlist form sleeping playlist to just songs and the melodies of war pigs, that can put you in a trance, is replaced by the fast beat of "First Date" by Blink 182.
Sitting on my chair, I prop my feet up on the desk and read. The music on my ipod isn't really what the store is about, but no one goes to the mall at nine in the morning, although it is persistent about being open this early. No one is even up at nine in the summer. And even so, when Marina gets in, my perky co-worker who real pisses me off, she'll change it to her ipod or 92.0NOW station.
Like I said, no on goes to the mall at nine in the morning, and Marina doesn't get in until ten, so imagine my surprise when I hear the ding-dong of the door bell. The door bell always sounds off when someone walks in, to make it feel more homey. It gets really annoying. I thought maybe I conjured it up by my imagination, willing somebody to come into the store so I could call Kim or Savannah- probably both- and tell them about the poor kid lost in the world. But nope, not my imagination. A real person. A real good looking guy. Well good looking if you like the shaggy blond hair, blue eyes kind of guy. which I don't. I like brown hair and sparkly green eyes. Mmmm….
"Um, excuse me? Is this store open?" He asks. He has the kind of voice that is meant for me to supposedly melt at, I've heard it plenty of times directed at my friends, or my not friends. I don't have any heart for it.
"Yeah were open, obviously. The door's open, isn't it?" This might seam rude, but I can just tell this guy needs it. I can just tell he cruises through life on a kind of charm that I really don't like. I thought after my rude dismissal he would leave, but nope he just goes right on talking.
"Well, miss frowny pants, I need help finding my gf a birthday present." He just wont leave.
"Well that sounds nice!" I say in my cheery voice. "How about you, and this is just me thinking out loud here," and now I change my voice form cheery to my normal why-are-you-bothering-me voice, "look around."
He was smiling at me the whole time I was talking, the whole time
I was giving him the fake look. Fake voice. I could see his smile
waver a little bit when I said look around in my usual
"See the thing is," he starts, leaning forward so his elbows are on the table. man this guy is tall. And he doesn't know when to let up.
"I don't really know what girls like. I was thinking, you could help me."
He smiles again. I get up, walk around the counter and stand in front of him, my five four miniscule to what it seams like his six two.
"Does it look like I know what girls that shop here like?" I put my arms out in a way so that both my palms are faced up and look at him incrediously.
"I don't know" he says, "But you sure do dress a lot like my gf." I look down at my outfit for the first time. Crap. The one day when my clothes are all from Creedon, and this guy is here. Who ever this guy is.
I look like Miley Cyrus. I have on shorts that could pass as denim underwear, and a black sugar-lip under an over sized white tank that has Creedon embroidered in the corner of it with faded blue and purple splotches, to make to look like a sunset, behind it. I guess my dad put this crap in my dresser with me unknowingly. Like all the other times he does. Usually I have the energy to look through and see what he put in, and throw it away, but after my encounter with Cherry and my dad, I guess I just didn't.
"This isn't my usual attire. You know, dressed like a whore and all." He laughs and fakes an appalled face. He thinks i'm joking with him.
"Yeah well, my gf is really a whore. Ha!" He says, likes its the
biggest joke in the world. No one says anything for a few
seconds, we just stand there staring at each other, so I take
this as a good bye and walk back behind my counter. I just got
back in my reading position before he clears his throat. It
startles me so much that I fall off my stool and hit my head on
the back wall.
I decide, I don't feel like getting up. But I guess this guy, who cant seam to say the words girl and friend, feels like he doesn't want me down. I can feel his arms slide under mine and start to pull me up. I swat him away and stand up, without his help. I brush off my shirt with my hands, like he made it dirty and say,
"I thought you left." he smiles again and says,
"I'm still waiting for you to help me out." I feel my self smile, even though I don't know why, and i walk to the right side of the store. I pick up a pink baby doll shirt with a light blue satin ribbon line right under where your boobs are supposed to fall and a blue satin ribbon line in the bottom of the shirt as well, that i wouldn't be caught dead in.
"I guess I see a lot of girls buying this. Although I don't really get why. Its pretty ugly, and I don't really think the colors go together." He smiles but shakes his head.
"She told me specifically not to get that shirt, because her best
friend Dana has it and would be so crushed by it."
I laugh, because it just a shirt, but nod and walk along. The next time I stop we're at a different round table, and this time I pick up a bathing suit top. It is summer after all. The top has embroidered feathers, that are made to look like cute cartoon peacock feathers on it and is on a blue backdrop.
"How bout this?" I ask. I think its hideous, but I think all things Creedon are hideous. He shakes his head again.
"Too out there." And we walk to another table. This goes on
forever. I pick something up, he vetoes it. Maybe, but it has
that thing that she doesn't like. Hell no. Well…
I learned a lot about the guy and his girl friend while we were shopping, though. Like how his girl friend doesn't like it when you interrupt her in a story, and how she seams really high maintenance. And how he is feed up by it. And that his name is Ryan and hers is Amber. And as I got to know this stranger, could kind of tell that his relaxed vibe is really just a mask to cover how anxious he really is.
We never found anything.
It gets to the point where we've made a whole lap around the store, and I'm back at the counter. Sighing, I lean my back agains the counter, defeated and tiered of shopping.
"Dude, I seriously can not help you. You've denied everything in the store." We laugh.
"Yeah but… I don't know!" Ryan says as he throws his hands up. We
laugh some more and I suggest just getting her a necklace or
something. He shakes his head.
"Nope. Can't do that, she only likes like juicy and shit like that. Yup. My gf has really expensive taste." he says, as he looks off into space. I can already tell that I wouldn't like his "gf". And that him being inept to say girl friend is really pissing me off.
"Can you say girl friend for me please?" I say in a sweet voice.
"Girl friend for me please?" He says, imitating me. i punch him in the arm. He says ow and starts to rub it. I laugh.
"Yeah, but I get what your saying. Gf does sound kinda stupid. It's just she insists that I say gf instead girl friend, because her idol, Missy, Does that with her bf." I give him evil eyes.
"Boy friend." He says, sounding embarrassed.
"good boy!" I fake coo at him. We laugh.
"Just get her a gift card then." I say, throwing another idea out there.
"Can't. She says they're very impersonal and she doesn't like
that." I throw my hands up, defeated. I try to defend my perfect
"But thats the best part! impersonal things are the best!" he laughs
and points at me chest.
"Hey, where'd you get you necklace, I think she would like it." I don't even look down at it at first, just laugh.
"Finally! She like something!" but then I do. I do look at it. And see what it is. And it brings back memories Ryan has somehow managed to push away like no other friend have been able to.
My dad bought me this necklace the night him and Cherry got
married. It was a sorry, I love you and a replacement all wrapped
up in one perfect name brand package. The day before the wedding
I broke the necklace he got me when I was two at the boardwalk.
They were nothing alike. The one from the boardwalk was made up
of shells and one big fake shark tooth at the center.
I thought it was the coolest thing and my mom says I wouldn't shut up about it. I wanted it so bad that I went to the point of hitting my dad on his head when I was perched on his shoulders, managing to sit there like they were made just for me. We didn't get it that day. I was so angry that I wouldn't talk to either of my parents the rest of the night. The next day I forgot about the necklace until, on the plane going back to new york, my dad pulled out a small white box. I pulled it out of his hands before he could hesitate, like if I didn't act fast enough then it would disappear, dissolve into thin air.
I remember the moment of pure happiness as I saw the necklace
inside that tiny white box. I remember wrapping my small arms
around his big shoulder, the day before I was sitting on, and him
putting one big arm around my waist. I see my mom across the isle
of the plane, smiling a big broad smile, one I haven't seen in
I get pulled back from my flashback because Ryan is now shaking me.
"Wha.. What?" I say. "Oh, here. You can have it." And I take the necklace off, suddenly pissed. I can see it now, a full movie playing in front of my face. An endless movie with a perfect real and a film I just cant seam to escape.
My hands are clenched in tight fists, white knuckled, and Ryan is
looking at me with concern on his face. How can this stranger be
concerned with how I feel if my own father isn't? I'm suddenly
disgusted with Ryan. I'm to distant to hear anything he is
saying, and I can see his mouth moving, the worry lines on his
forehead moving with his mouth. Why cant he just go to his
Ryan is shaking me again and I see my co-worker come in at the other door, smacking her gum and rolling through a magazine. She has no cares, probably. She probably just blows through life like a dream.
I push away from ryan and run down the hall, feeling the tears coming on and this time it feels like I can stop it. I get to the back exit, which is amazing because its on the other side of the mall. I run the the storage room for the store and climb onto the top of the boxes. I've been crying small tears, some seeping through the almost unbreakable barrier of my eyes, but once I get behind the boxes I break out in sobs. Terrible gut wrenching puddle making sobs.
I stay here for I don't know how long. Just crying about everything. Everything I've kept, pent up inside me, just waiting to blow. I cry about the divorce, and Cherry. I cry about my dad quitting the job he loved so much as a carpenter in new york and moving to florida to live with Cherry and be a clothes owner. I cry because I don't know what a clothes owner even does. And then, I start to laugh. I laugh because its stupid to cry about something that is old, and cant be fixed. I stay in the room with my i-pod on for about an hour before I decide my eyes have probably de-puffed and that I should go back to work.
when I get there Ryan, obviously, isn't there. I get back behind the counter since Marina is around helping people, and I find a note. Well, really a post it and "thank for the necklace. i'll come back tomorrow to give you money for the necklace. heres my number so you can tell me how much it was… and if you want to talk. your cool, lets be friends?" scribbled in sharpie on it, obviously written in a hurry. Had he been waiting for me? And if so, how long had he stayed? All of these things ramble through my brain, as well as others. One thing's for sure. When I get home, I am calling him. What oh so conveniently doesn't cross my mind is that I met him while he was shopping for his girlfriend. What doesn't cross my mind is that he has a girlfriend.