“Alexandra, how many times do I have to tell you to wash your dishes when you’re finished with them?!” my mom screamed from downstairs.
“But I did wash them!” I yelled back, pushing my books aside and getting up from my bed.
“Then why are there dishes here?”
I padded downstairs and walked into the kitchen where my mom stood, looking beyond pissed. I glanced down at the dishes she was referring to. “Mom,” I said, “Those were your breakfast dishes.”
“Well wash them!”
I nodded and she moved aside to allow me room to wash her dishes.
“If you would just take some initiative and do something without having to be asked, we would have a lot less arguments,” she said, rubbing her temples.
“But mom, I didn’t even know that these were—”
“Stop talking back to me!”
I shut up and continued washing. Behind me, Mom sighed heavily and walked out of the room, her heels clicking. I stopped washing and dried off my hands. Leaning up against the counter, my shoulders sagged. Ever since Dad left Mom had become increasingly controlling and angry. Her temper was shorter than ever, and she was constantly yelling at me to clean, clean, clean. I understood that she was in a tough position, but I didn’t like it that she took it out on me.
Take today, for example. I had been sitting in my room, doing some summer reading, when she had just freaked out. I hadn’t done anything. I was up in my room, how was I supposed to know that there were dishes downstairs in need of washing? There was no way! But instead of realizing this, she just yells at me some more. Like that made sense.
The phone began to ring. I reached out and picked it up.
“Oh,” Dad said. “I need to speak with your mother.”
“Hi to you too, Dad.”
“Alex,” his voice was warning.
Of course, he doesn’t even say hello, and when I correct him on it, he gets mad as if I did something wrong. Makes perfect sense. I sighed and walked upstairs. I knocked twice on my mom’s bedroom door and waited.
I opened the door and walked in, immediately being hit by Mom’s overwhelming scent of coconut. “Um, Dad needs to talk to you.”
She sighed and reached out her hand. I handed the phone over and turned around, escaping before she could find something else to complain to me about.
“It’s crazy,” I told Michelle two hours later. “It’s like she tries to find stuff for me to do!”
“I’m sorry, Alex.”
I sighed. “It’s whatever.”
“Aren’t you tired of it?”
“Hell yes. I’m sick of it.”
“Then why don’t you tell her that?”
“How do you tell your mom that you’re sick of her giving you crap to do? You don’t do that. You just take it and go.”
“No. You don’t ‘just take it and go’. You’re a person, Alex. Stand up for yourself.”
“You sound like Peter,” I said without thinking.
“Wait, forget I s—”
“No, he has a point. He’s right, you know.”
I sighed. “Please don’t do this, too. Tyler gives me enough shit about it.”
“Well, Tyler’s right, too.”
“Ugh, please Michelle, please do not start.”
“If you’d just open your eyes, Alex.”
“My eyes are wide open, trust me. It’s you guys who need to open your eyes.”
“Open our eyes to what?”
“It’s obvious he doesn’t like me!”
“How is it obvious?”
I snorted. “He dumped me, for one.”
“Alex, you need to stop. You’re being delusional. He didn’t ‘dump’ you. He told you that he—”
“I know what he said! I was there when he said it!”
“Then how come you’re the only one who seems to be twisting his words?” Michelle said, sounding frustrated. “All of us weren’t even there and we all get what he was saying—and we agree!”
“Look,” I said, my voice flat. “It has nothing to do with you. So give it a rest.”
Michelle sighed. “You’re doing this to yourself, Alex.”
“I know, I know. It’s none of my business. I got it.” She hung up.
I sighed and let the phone drop to my bed. Why was every conversation I had turning into an argument? It was like everywhere I turned someone was out to get me or accuse me of something or tell me how to think. I was sick of all of it. People needed to mind their own business about the whole Peter thing. He didn’t want me. Why couldn’t they see that? He left me when I needed him most. And that’s that.
“I don’t know what’s happening to me,” I said, pacing back and forth around my room.
“You miss him,” Tyler said from his spot on my bed.
I stopped. “Miss who?”
He rolled his eyes. “Peter.”
“I do not!”
“Yeah you do!”
“Look, I’ve already had this discussion earlier today with Michelle. Let’s not repeat it, please.”
“What did she say?”
“Same thing you did.”
“Dang, my girlfriend’s smart.”
“Smarter than you!” I said, smirking.
“Yeah,” he said, smiling to himself. “She really is.”
“Oh, don’t get all mushy on me!”
“I’m just so lucky, you know?” he said, getting a dreamy look in his eyes.
“Tyler, I know! She says the same thing about you, now can we please get back to the problem at hand?”
“Why?” Tyler said, wiggling his eyebrows. “You want to get back to talking about Peter?”
He winked at me. “Sure.”
I rolled my eyes and sat down at my desk chair.
“Or,” Tyler said, “Me talking about how much I love my girlfriend is making you jealous because you miss Peter.”
“Will you just shut up about Peter?!” I said, getting up and snatching a pillow off the ground. I walked over to Tyler and began beating him with it. He picked me up by my waist and laid me down on the ground. He then picked up a pillow of his own and began to hit me with it. I jumped up off the ground and dove for him. He was quick, though, and moved out of the way. I landed on my bed and turned around, but he was already right there. He began to tickle my sides, making me squeal. “Stop! Tyler, stop it!”
“Then admit you miss Peter!”
“I don’t!” I said, trying to squirm out of his grasp.
“Yes you do! Admit it!”
“Okay, okay! I miss him!” I said, finally rolling away from him.
He released me and stood up, looking down at me. “Were you being honest?”
“Answer the question.”
I sighed. Glancing out the window, I said, “Yeah, I guess, a little.”
Tyler sat down next to me. “See? Now we have a place to start.”
“A place to start what?” I asked, looking at him.
“A place to start you admitting to yourself that you need him more than you say.”
“I don’t need him,” I said. “I don’t need anybody.”
“Sure you don’t.”
I rolled my eyes. “And I especially don’t need your ugly ass!” I said pushing him off the bed.
He landed on the floor with a thud. “Oh now you’re gonna get it!” he said, hopping up. In the next moment he had his fingers on my sides again and was tickling me mercilessly.
“Tyler that tickles!”
“That’s the point!”
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