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 final time.
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 move out.”
“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
“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 blurry blob.
“Oh, I’m sorry. How are you? If you don’t mind me asking.”
“I am fine.” The lump had made it known that it was remaining stagnant.
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 glasses.”
“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 way.
“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 reflection.
“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 I?”
“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 moment.
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 stomping feet.
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
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
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 mouth.
“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 bench.
“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 world.
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 attention.”
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
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
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 I wanted.
“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 party.”
“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 drink.
“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 him.”
“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 having me.”
“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 highway.”
“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
“Is that guy bothering you?” Stephen joined me by lighting a cigarette.
“You could have smoked that inside, my mom doesn’t care.”
“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 share?”
“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 finally matured.
“Leather and Lace” was now blaring throughout the apartment.
“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 speech.
“It’ll be good for Mama to have you here.”
“Stephen do you mind if I have Tara for just a second?”
“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 swear.”
“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 laboratory.”
“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 am.
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 back down.
“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
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