During the summer Orie went to Florida, mother needed to work on her tan. Essie was never far from her mind, always in her thoughts. She wondered what Essie would be thinking or would be doing. Would she be able to make another friend? No one would equal Essie she knew, but it didn’t stop her from wondering. While in the presence of her mother, she was her usual self knowing her mother just wouldn’t understand, but when she was alone, when she was really alone, Orie worried that she wouldn’t be able to find somebody to talk to like she did with Essie.
It was a long, hot summer. She walked with Biscuit up to Essie’s house, remembering the address that she had seen on Maril’s driver’s license, having read it so many times since Maril had it attached to her visor in the car. She never saw daddy do that, or mom for that matter, but different people had different ways of doing things she supposed. So she had taken a chance on this day, taken the chance and . . . well, so much for hope. She knocked on the door, expecting Maril to answer, but it was someone else. Essie was gone. School would start next week, and hopefully that would help.
The first day of school was here. Daddy dropped her off at the front gate, and Orie stopped to look at the front gate, realizing just how big it really was. Taking a deep breath in and out, she walked through. Now on the other side, the first thing she felt she had to do was to get a basic layout of the school in her head of all the important places, the office, cafeteria, library, etc. She was walking in the direction of her first class when she heard, “Hey, wait up! Hey, blondie, would you wait up? For being so short, you sure do move fast.”
Once the stranger caught up with her, Orie introduced herself. “Hi, my name’s Orie, Orie MacCreadie. Do I know you?”
“Hi, the name’s Dannie, and no, you don’t. I’ve been watching you though. So where’s the next stop, chum.” Dannie put her arm around Orie.
Orie took the chance to look at Dannie. Taller than she was, although that wasn’t hard considering Orie was all of four feet ten inches tall. Shoulder length wavy, chocolate brown hair with eyes to match, physically fit, and a unique way of dressing. Sort of a mix of grunge, rape, and Goth, Orie thought. To be honest, there really wasn’t any way to describe how Dannie dressed, and that was as close to a description that Orie could come up with.
“I actually have PE first period.” Orie continued to walk into the locker room. She had purchased the required PE clothes to be used for the class, which was something she wouldn’t mind wearing, as long as it was only for PE. Attached to the locker room was a gym, and out of habit, she sat on the bottom row close to the teacher. She didn’t realize that Dannie had followed her.
“You have PE now?”
“Yup, sure do. Ain’t it great to start the morning with the smell of rotten sweat and stale deodorant first thing in the morning?”
“Dannie, I only have one thing to say to that . . . Ewwwww.” They started laughing.
Class started, with the teachers introducing the scope of the class, their expectations, and that everyone would have an assigned locker only to be used during that class period, even though every year somebody didn’t use them just for that class period. They didn’t do anything the first day, warning everyone, though, that the class would begin physical activity tomorrow, so be sure to have the proper clothing. The bell rang, excusing the class, and it was at that time she heard a familiar voice, which was none other than Heather Miller.
It was recess and so far Orie’s morning wasn’t so bad. Dannie made things interesting though. She sort of expected Becky to be here, but was glad that she wasn’t at the same time. It was a relief to be free, but she was sad at the same time. If she stopped to think about it, it wasn’t a relief to be free, in fact, it was lonely. Walking around the campus aimlessly during recess watching the sidewalk, she bumped into somebody.
“You know, if you walk around with your head down watching the sidewalk, how are you gonna know what anybody looks like?”
“Huh?” Orie was confused.
“La ta da da . . .” Dannie sang before continuing. “In another words, look up,” Dannie said while point up.
“Oh, right . . . and sorry . . .”
“Eh, it’s all right, chum. So what has you looking at everybody’s shoes?”
“What? I wasn’t looking at everybody’s shoes.” Is it just me or is she not making sense.
“Sure you were, your head was down far enough you should have been able to count how many people wear Nike?”
“Did anybody ever tell you you’re weird?”
“Let’s see, there’s grams, mom, Tony, my younger brother, and several other people.”
“I wasn’t looking at shoes or counting shoes, I was just walking.”
“Me thinks you tell a great story, and . . .” Just then the bell rang. “Aww crap, I have Spanish next, what do you have?”
“I have math.”
“Later gator,” Dannie said and walked away, or was it half bouncing half dancing. Who knows?
The rest of the day proceeded all right, except her History teacher, which was the last class of the day, spoke in a monotone voice all period, nearly putting her to sleep. She hated History anyway because it was so boring, and the teacher made it even worse. Orie swore she could fall asleep and not miss a thing.
She became acquainted with school, and despite her History teacher, Orie felt as if it was a second home for her.
Mother seemed to be overjoyed now that Essie was gone, but that joy was overturned later when she heard about Dannie. Mother thought Dannie was a boy, and started becoming even more difficult than usual. Several arguments, two pictures, and a phone call later caused mother to believe that Dannie was, in fact, a girl. The next problem was that Dannie was from the wrong side of town. Single mother household, working class neighborhood, average grades, wasn’t good enough for mother. Her mother wanted Orie to be friend’s with honor roll students, rich kids, anyone that didn’t include Dannie. It didn’t matter to Orie what sort of a background Dannie had. Dannie had accepted her for who she was and never judged her. She was always there, someone to have fun with. Dannie was her friend.
Orie and Dannie formed a friendship that lasted all through high school. They had their ups and downs, but were able to work their way out of those arguments. Mother let it be known that she was disappointed in Orie because she didn’t make the principal’s honor roll, missing it by point two points. The hitting had stopped, but the words felt much worse. Orie started escaping into her own mind, creating her own world in her head. People thought she was a ditz because she seemed to never to be able to comprehend anything, but the truth was, Orie’s mind was always busy thinking of other things. It was the only way for her to escape.
Freshman year passed as uneventful as uneventful could be, and being picked on was nothing new for Orie. Orie had realized a sort of interest in science, learning how things worked. It was either that or her science teacher had hypnotized her. It wasn’t hard, really, imagining herself to be just like him. It wasn’t his looks, it was his personality, which was easy going and understanding, and just seemed to draw her in. As for History, as long as you showed up to class and completed the homework, you passed the class.
Sophomore year the classes seemed to get a little tougher, as well as the people around her. Orie had PE with Dannie, but other than that, they didn’t have any other classes together, except for lunch, which they always had together. This year Orie needed to chose an elective. Freshman year it wasn’t required, but this year it was, and Orie just didn’t know which one to choose. Dannie went for drama, that was hard to figure out, but for Orie, it just wasn’t that easy. One afternoon she turned on her radio, and at that time Mariah Carey was singing a song about the memory that was shared between two people. It inspired her, because it reminded her of Essie and how Essie loved music, and that’s when Orie made her decision, choir would be her elective. She wasn’t as good as Essie, she admitted, but she enjoyed it, giving her a feeling of energy, a feeling of inspiration listening to the applause, the energy radiating all around her that made her feel good. She could count on her parents being there for the concerts, especially daddy’s smile as he congratulated her on a job well done.
Orie’s life was pretty ordinary. Never dated anyone, never invited to any parties, just stayed home and played with Biscuit and do housework. Her life centered around her mother and what her mother wanted to do, especially when daddy had to go away on business trips. Shop at the mall, grocery shopping, going to the movies . . . that was what Orie did. She could always rely on her mother to start lecturing her about something during these rides. “You’re getting awfully fat, Orie. You’re not exercising at all. That’s why no one wants to ask you out on a date. How are you supposed to get married and give me grandkids when you are of proper age?” That was when Orie escaped into a place that only she knew about. Feeling the sand beneath my toes, a little wet, a little cool from the waves coming on shore. The salt in the air as the breeze blows, the sound of seagulls flying up in the sky. I can feel the cool water as it splashes on my feet as I walk along the water’s edge. My paradise as I feel the warm sun shining down on me.
Junior year was here, and everyone was bragging about their driver’s license. Orie asked her daddy if she could get hers, but daddy refused in a way, saying that his princess didn’t drive because that’s what daddy was for. Anywhere she wanted to go, daddy would drive her. Orie didn’t think it would be a good idea to push the issue. Daddy was her only ally now, as Orie didn't want to bother asking her mother about her driver's license, not wanting to hear the proper lady lecture nor wanting her mother reminding her she would never pass because she's stupid. So much for trying to be independent . . .
Senior year had just started, and rumor had already commenced about the senior prank. According to rumor, the captain of the football team and a couple of his teammates would dress up like girls, attend the catholic girls school, make a videotape of their exploits, and present it during the homecoming game. However, when the day of the prank came around, they got as far as attending the catholic school, but all of them were turned in to the headmistress’ office before they were able to videotape anything. The entire exploit made the school newspaper.
Something else was going to happen, everybody just knew it, and sure enough, something did. The entire science and math building was locked due to a population explosion in frogs. The halls were filled with frogs, live frogs at that. The next day everybody wondered what happened to the frogs until they walked by another science room with a sign reading “Frog legs, sure were tasty, and yep, they taste just like chicken. If anybody is interested, inquire within.” It was found out later that the basketball team had something to do with letting the frogs loose in the building.
During that same year a certain question just seemed to get stronger. Why wasn’t she interested in boys? Why didn’t she get excited like other girls did? Was she sexless? She couldn’t talk to her parents about it because although she loved her daddy, he always made it quite clear that “queers” weren’t right. Her mother wouldn’t accept it because her mother always wanted the fairy tale wedding for her daughter, and basically, felt the same way as daddy, so who could she ask? The only answer to that question was Dannie. But how would she react?
Dannie came fumbling over with her backpack, put her arm around Orie, and said in an irritatingly grating voice, “Are you going to the prom? Who are you going with?” Switching back to her own voice, she said, “If I hear that one more time I’ll pour red dye in the swimming pool and tell everyone it’s the plague. So what’s up, chum?”
Working up as much courage as she could, Orie asked, “Dannie, I just wanna know if I’m supposed to be excited about boys. I just never get excited over them like all the other girls do.”
“Chum, don’t worry about what all the other girls do. Don’t do something that you think everybody else is doing or you think you have to do. Do something different, be you.”
“But, aren’t I supposed to be excited about boys?” Orie was starting to feel better, but she needed to be sure.
“Let me put it this way for you. There are billions and billions of people out there. Everybody has their own religion, taste, bathtub, and what have you. Do you think that those billions and billions of people out there like exactly the same thing or even wanna be like Joe, their next door neighbor who has this irritating pink princess poodle?”
“I know nobody wants to be like everybody else, but isn’t it normal?”
“What is normal, Orie? Is normal sleeping during History class? Is normal hoping you won’t get food poisoning from eating cafeteria food? What is normal?”
“I don’t know, but does it make me weird?”
“Chum, everyone is quirky in their own way. It’s one of the things I like about people. Everybody is different, and that may be just one of the things that make you different. It isn’t bad being different, right?”
“Right on, bud.” Felling better than she did before, Orie was no longer disappointed about not going to the prom, because she was different and it’s just like Dannie told her, there’s nothing wrong with being different. So the answer to all of those questions was . . . because she is different, plain and simple as that.
The prom came and went with the usual stories about “doing it” at the hotel, somebody getting drunk or a lot of somebodies getting drunk.
There was a day that seniors had planned to take off; called senior ditch day. The principal made it clear that any senior that didn’t attend class would receive an unexcused absence. Being a loner, Orie didn’t have anyone to be with or anything to do that day. Not only that, but with her luck, mother would find out and it would be war. Dannie had told her she would be there, which wasn’t the normal thing to do, so of course she would be at school.
Orie finally received her cap and gown. It didn’t have the gold ribbon that said she was a part of the honor society or on the principal’s honor roll, but she had earned that gown fair and square, and that’s all that mattered. She found out that Dannie didn’t have average grades after all. She was one of the top ten in her graduating class, and not only that, Dannie was also in the college prep classes.
Orie sat alone in her room holding her cap and gown, remembering the last time she worn a cap and gown. Essie seemed like a distant memory in a way, but if she ever got lonely, she would hear Essie’s voice, especially when she would look at the stars at night trying to find the brightest one. She didn’t tell anyone because they would think she was crazy, especially her mother. Her mother already wanted to find a psychiatrist to help cure Orie because Orie wouldn’t talk to her, and telling her mother she could hear Essie’s voice when she looked up at the stars would only add fuel to the fire. Maybe one day, one day in the future I will see her again. We’ll sit down, share a shake, and talk about all the years we missed being together. Is it possible to miss a friend that much?
To celebrate graduation, it was planned that everybody would go to the Aquarius Amusement Park, an amusement park filled with fun and games, both wet and dry. The outing for the seniors who bought tickets was planned for the day before graduation. With a little begging, Orie was able to get daddy to pay for her ticket so she could go, not having bothered asking mother because she knew she would object. To mother, if it didn’t have anything to do with school, what’s the purpose of going to such a thing anyway. When I was your age . . . and it would continue on from there.
Orie heard the familiar footsteps. “Heidi ho, ranger chum, ready for takeoff?” Dannie asked while leaning on Orie’s shoulder.
Orie had gotten used to it, and felt strange when Dannie wasn’t leaning on her shoulders.
“Dannie, please, don’t take this the wrong way, but can’t you just say good morning like everybody else does?”
“Good morning like everybody else does, and are you ready for takeoff?” Dannie could reply with a straight face to anything she said, which made it that much funnier.
“Smarty pants, and yeah, I’m ready. I just thought I’d sit out here and wait for the bus to arrive. Can you imagine we’re graduating tomorrow? Tomorrow . . . we’re going to graduate. I won’t be a kid anymore, I’ll be an adult. What are you going to do?”
“I’m graduating and then heading off to Harvard Medical School. I think I’m gonna be a shrink. Grams said I should be a shrink. I think grams is right. Do you think grams is right?”
Orie was shocked, eyes bulging. “You . . . you . . . you are gonna go to Harvard . . . Medical . . . School?”
“Yuppers, that’s me, I just don’t know if I should be a psychiatrist or not. I just thought I would figure out that part when I got there. I know, brain surgery, that’s the ticket, brain surgery. Whadda ya think, chum? Wanna be my nurse? We could transplant the principal’s brain with Herbert Hoover’s, how’s that . . . huh, ya wanna?” Dannie finished, wiggling her eyebrows.
The bus pulled up at that moment saving Orie from answering the question. They boarded the bus, and soon, they were on their way to a day filled with fun.
Dannie thought it was her turn to ask the question, “So whadda you doing, chum? What does your future hold? Madame Dannilina wants to know?”
Orie offered Dannie a strange look, “Dannilina?”
Then in a disgusted low voice, Dannie answered, “Yeah, can you believe it? Dannilina is my real name. I tell everybody my name is Dannie right up front. The first day of school is so embarrassing.”
“I’m sorry, and I think I’m leaning towards being a secretary, like an administrative assistant or personal assistant. The community college offers those courses.” Orie didn’t want to tell Dannie what she was really going to do with her life on the off-chance that what Dannie had told her was true, because she could have been lying.
“Cool, then when you graduate, you can come and work for me.” They both giggled and rode the rest of the way in silence.
As soon as they arrived at the amusement park, the first thing to be done was to be sure everyone had a ticket. After presenting the ticket at the ticket booth, it was a free for all, as long as everyone returned to the parking lot on time, preferably dry. Orie hadn’t worn a swimsuit underneath her clothes due to it being that time of the month. Can’t have everything go your way, right? Orie liked the Ferris wheel, and though it was small, that was where she went first, Dannie tagging along letting her dictate where they went. She gave Dannie an opportunity to choose, but Dannie relegated the responsibility to Orie. The Ferris wheel, carousel, bumper cars, the Yo-Yo, Zipper, and other rides encompassed Orie’s day. Orie was having fun. For the first time since she could remember, she was having fun. Dannie was having just as much fun as Orie. Hot dogs, cotton candy, ice cream, and snow cones supplied both of them with enough sugar to get them through their day of rides and fun.
At the end of the day, both were very tired, very full, and very happy, even with the knowledge that Orie had to tell her mother what she had done. Her mother had the talent of turning something fun into something bad. ‘You should have taken along your own food, made better choices, not eat so much sugar, or just not gone at all.’ Orie believed she was the only one who took down the Christmas decorations right after Christmas, which she felt took away all of the fun and turned it into a chore instead.
Later that night, arguing was heard in the house. What the argument was about didn’t matter, mother just wanted an argument.
It was the last day of school and everybody was excited. School was done, tests were already taken, but why everybody needed to be there, even though it was a half day at that, nobody knew. The only thing anybody could come up with was to sign yearbooks.
Going home early gave Orie the extra time needed to prepare for graduation. She found a hair salon within walking distance of her house, choosing to go there instead of the high priced salon that her mother liked. Orie just couldn’t tell the difference why they were so expensive.
After two mall trips, she was able to find the right dress to wear underneath the gown. She looked in the mirror, and at that moment, she swore she could hear Essie’s voice call her talk to her. She closed her eyes, and as she did so, she heard my golden princess. Orie escaped into her imagination, but before she could get too far, her mother called her. It was time.
The graduation ceremony was all right. It just wasn’t the same without Essie. When Orie had the chance, she escaped into her imagination and heard Essie give the speech instead. The applause shook her back to the here and now. It was time to receive the diploma, and feeling just a little nervous and a little proud, she walked up the stage to shake hands with her principal and accept her diploma. She had done it, she had made it through childhood. And now, see if she can make it through adulthood.
Daddy had to take a business trip to Hawaii, so with college registration done and nothing else to do, Orie left with her family for Hawaii. The colors, the smells, the atmosphere, it was all so magical. She took a tour of the Del Monte factory then went to see a point on Maui that she just couldn’t comprehend. Her father said it was because Hawaii was liberal. Orie just thought somebody must have been stoned when they named that point. The most fun Orie had was walking the sidewalk by the hotels, seeing the souvenirs displayed in the windows, looking at all the colors.
Daddy’s business finished in very little time, two days in fact, and during that time, Orie and her mother attended a seminar on time-sharing to go to a lodge that reportedly had the largest meringue. They also shopped at one of the largest malls in America the following day, number four she thought she had heard.
They made arrangements to go to a luau the last night of daddy’s business. You couldn’t go to Hawaii without going to a luau, it would be unconstitutional. Wearing the appropriate clothes for the trip, the tour guide immediately announced himself as Cousin Charlie, and he would see to it that everybody was taken care of. Needless to say, it was a fun ride on the way to the luau.
Upon arrival at the site, it was announced that the bar was open with the best Mai Tais around. Everyone was also aware of the fact that it was the only bar around. The sun started to set, the music began, and the food was ready to be served, everything was perfect. The dancing, she loved the dancing, especially the Tahitian dance. There was just something about that drumbeat. She tried to imagine herself up there Tahitian dancing and was almost willing to go up there and try it, but Orie just wasn’t sure she would be able to move her hips that fast. It was also a day that started a turn of events that would change her life, forever.
It was a little cool that night, and Orie bought a sweatshirt to help keep herself warm. She offered to buy her daddy a sweatshirt, but he declined. They all noticed that their bus to get to the hotel was cold as well.
The next day, Orie and her family boarded the plane that would take them back home.
She came back home with a completely new set of memories, a time she would never forget, mostly because her mother hadn’t started any argument or said anything to hurt Orie. It was a good time.
When the first day of the class came, she was nervous, excited, and scared all at the same time. She lost track of Dannie after graduation, guessing that Dannie was right. Looking back at the night of graduation, she was thrilled to get back at her mother for all those times her mother said Orie was lying. Dannie’s mother was none other than Tatiana Burke, supermodel and every girl’s dream. Tatiana was the one that every teenage girl wanted to strive to look like. It was rumored that Tatiana retired from modeling to take care of her kids. That was where the news stopped. Well, Tatiana was now a very successful children’s book author. What clenched everything for Orie was when Dannie made the valedictorian speech. Her mother didn’t talk to her for the rest of the night, but Orie didn’t mind, she had gotten her revenge. Oh what a sweet memory.
A few weeks into school Orie felt she was doing pretty well with her classes, thinking she had nothing to worry about. She also finally got her driver’s license, which had taken her two tries to get, but she finally got it. She received daddy’s old car in celebration and as a reward. The car was still in good working condition and it had all the basics, radio, AC, and power windows. She noticed, though, that daddy seemed to be coughing an awful lot since they had come back from Hawaii. Hoping it was just a stubborn cold that wouldn’t go away Orie didn’t worry too much about it.
It was a couple of months into the quarter when mother told Orie that daddy had cancer. He went to the doctor’s office for a check-up, and the result was a blood and urine test because the doctor had noticed something suspicious during the examination. Orie needed to put her life on hold until daddy got better.
A hospital was found that specialized in chronic conditions such as cancer and AIDS. The first part of the therapy wasn’t so bad Orie thought. Everything seemed to be fine. She and mother would visit daddy, he would say hi, they would spend a little time together, nothing out of the ordinary. Then when the therapy stopped, she noticed her daddy behaving funny. He would talk about mice running loose in the hospital, mother getting lost in the garage and not being able to find her, and nurses running around naked, it was all very strange. Orie tried not to think too much of it, but it was in vain. She couldn’t escape into her own mind anymore because daddy was always there. TV became her salvation. It was a time that she could escape and pretend to be the characters on TV. It was a historical drama that she just fell in love with; she just had to watch the show. For one hour once a week, she was somebody else, anybody else but Orie MacCreadie.
Everyday they visited daddy, talking to him, helping him with whatever, and giving him all the love and support she could. It seemed to take a long time, but all of their efforts were rewarded because after a check-up, he was found to be in remission. They immediately left to see daddy’s family, his sisters and his parents, as it had been a long time since they had visited with one another.
They left with good memories and funny stories of daddy’s childhood. Nobody knew if it would last, although everybody was hoping it would, so they wanted to do anything they could to let him know that he was loved. Life seemed to get back to normal; his hair was even starting to grow back. During his remission, he would visit the doctor once a month. For a while, he was doing just fine but . . . it didn’t last very long. The cancer seemed to come back with a vengeance. Two rounds of chemotherapy didn’t do anything except make daddy sicker and weaker. There was one last strategy. While daddy was in remission, they had harvested his bone marrow for future use. The last strategy was to transplant that bone marrow. Daddy agreed.
The chemotherapy seemed to be harsher than it was in the beginning. She remembered daddy telling her that he used every ounce of will to keep the pills down. It became too much for him though. The hallucinations, the delusions, seemed to be worse. Nothing he said made sense. She remembered daddy being the kind, gentle, and strong man reduced to a . . . a child. This round proved to be too much for him. He just wasn’t strong enough; he didn’t have any fight left in him. God called him home two months after they started transplant procedure.
The cemetery wasn’t so bad. Orie just went along with whatever mother did or decided. Not knowing anything about it, she just agreed, feeling nothing as well. Everybody was there for the day of the funeral, grandmother, aunts, uncles, coworkers, everybody.
The day of the funeral was when everything just seemed to hit Orie. She couldn’t stop crying no matter how hard she tried. The tears just seemed to keep coming. At the site, after the pastor read the passage, as Orie threw the rose on daddy’s casket, she remembered the goodbye song from the Sound of Music. It replayed itself repeatedly in her head.
They had a get-together after the services, talking, eating, and drinking. After everybody left later that night, she sat on her bed with Biscuit. “Well, Biscuit, it’s just you and me now. Daddy won’t be there anymore to defend me or tell me how to talk to mother. No more little princess. I have to do it myself now, I have to do it myself.” The tears came again, and Biscuit stayed by her side, not moving, just laid there with her mommy.
Just when everybody thought that would be the end of it, well, the government proved them wrong, and it certainly did in this case. Everything that had daddy’s name on it needed to be changed to mother’s name, and she needed a death certificate to do that with. Orie wondered if they had enough death certificates, as they were nearly out. Taking care of all of that paperwork took a couple months to complete, but was finally able to breathe at the end.
Orie needed a chance to think. Think about what to do with her life, how to tell daddy that she remembered him and loved him. It came in a strange way, actually. It came in the form of a music video she watched. This particular artist was not daddy’s favorite by any stretch of the imagination. It wasn’t so much that daddy liked the artist, it was the message that the artist was always saying in his music. Believe in the future, and the children hold our future in their hands. Children . . . it was the children that daddy liked most of all. She remembered how he would play with them, talk to them, be with them, it was only with the children that he did that with. That’s it, that’s what she will do. No more personal assistant, it will be preschool teacher from now on.
“Mom, I think I’m going to be a preschool teacher. I actually know what I’m going to do in life now.” Orie was both proud and happy to make the declaration.
“You don’t want to go to medical school? It would make daddy very proud of you if you became a doctor instead of a babysitter.”
“It’s not going to be a babysitter, and I have no desire to be a doctor. I’m horrible in biology. I’m going to take classes to be a preschool teacher. The community college has the classes.”
“Don’t you want to honor your father? It would be a great honor if you became a doctor. Won’t you at least consider?”
Let’s try the guilt trip why don’t you. “Mom, I thought about this, and I have made my decision.” Orie was becoming irritated with the conversation. She was nervous at first when she told her mother about her choice in life, not knowing how she would react. Now she was angry that instead of saying I wish you good luck, she argues against it. ...Typical, mother.
“Well, if you don’t want to honor your father then that is your decision to make. I just hope you realize how hurtful it is to know that you don’t want to honor him.” Sniff, sniff.
“Classes start again in August, so I have to go now to register.” You have no idea who daddy was, do you. If you knew you wouldn’t have said that.
“Fine, just be sure the bills are done. And I left the banking statement on the desk for you to do. Tomorrow morning I have some phone calls for you to make.”
Of course you do, I forgot I’m your slave.
Orie left the house to go to the community college, and took as much time as possible to register for classes, not in any hurry to return home. When Orie returned home, she didn’t see mother anywhere, and was glad of that. She then entered the office and started working on the household budget. An hour and a half later, everything was done, and Orie realized it was time to cook supper. She found something in the fridge that was easy to prepare, and getting it out, readied it to cook.
Mother returned not long after Orie started cooking. “What are you cooking? It’s not a microwave meal, is it?”
“No, I’m cooking kielbasa and vegetables. We haven’t had it in a while, and I thought it would be a good supper.”
“I wanted chicken for supper. You should have asked me before you started. But since you cooked that already, I suppose we’ll have that. You are a very inconsiderate girl.”
If you don’t like it, cook it yourself, bitch. I know I promised you that I would stay and take care of mother, daddy, but I don’t know if I can do that. How do you get to know someone that has been a stranger for most of your life?
Supper was eaten in silence.
Orie woke up as usual and expected Biscuit to jump down on the floor and excitedly wag her tail, greeting her first thing in the morning. She turned around to look at Biscuit. “Biscuit, Biscuit, hey, you wanna go outside, huh, you wanna go outside?” That question usually got Biscuit’s attention, but Biscuit just lay there, motionless. Not knowing what else to do, Orie got dressed, got her keys and wallet, and picked up Biscuit to take to the vet’s. Orie heard her mother scream something, but she wasn’t paying attention.
Once Orie got to the vet’s, they told her what she already knew. They let Orie say her goodbyes before taking care of Biscuit. Now with the two most important people in her life gone, there was nothing left for Orie. Orie’s only solution to the problem was to change. No more being a weakling, no more taking what everybody gave, no . . . no more of that. Now, Orie was truly left to fend for herself, and nobody would ever again be able to push her down without her fighting back.
Orie came up with a routine to help keep things organized in her head. She would wake up early to walk around the block, because even without Biscuit, it still felt good, took a shower, cooked breakfast for her and mother then left for classes. Her classes finished at mid-afternoon, which would gave her time to go home, cook supper, and then after cleaning the kitchen, she would work on whatever homework she had. It was up to her mother to leave out the food that she wanted Orie to cook. If her mother didn’t, well, then it was Orie’s choice. The weekends would be the time they would spend getting the house picked up, cleaned up, bills paid, and such. Orie didn’t have a job because her father had had a good job and provided the necessary means for his daughter to pay for college. Daddy believed in education.
For a while it was working, things seemed to be normal, until her mother wanted to talk. “Why don’t you talk to me?”
“Mom, what..?” Orie was confused.
“Why don’t you talk to me? I am your mother, you know.”
Orie was perplexed. “There is nothing to talk about.”
“Nothing..? Absolutely nothing..?”
“No, Mom, nothing...”
“So you don’t have classes to talk about or gossip to talk about?”
“You wouldn’t understand the subject matter, and I don’t pay attention to gossip. I never have.”
“I would understand the subject matter because I am very intelligent. How dare you call me stupid?”
“I didn’t call you stupid.” Thinking for a minute, she then said, “Alright, I have a child study to finish. One of the subjects we have to cover in the study is about Piaget. How would you approach it?”
Mother wasn’t expecting that question, because if Orie ever found out the truth, it would be that her mother barely passed any of her classes, and the question was above her understanding. Attempting to cover herself though, she replied, “That would be something that you would need to figure out for yourself. You never talked to me. I think you need a psychiatrist.”
Orie was getting frustrated with this conversation, and if her mother wanted no holds barred, well... “I never talked to you because you never listened to me. Never! I cannot remember a time that you even attempted.”
“How can I listen . . .” slap, “if you don’t . . .” slap, “talk to me?” slap, and mother walked away in tears, leaving Orie standing in the kitchen, too numb to move.
Communication between the two had slowly progressed, but it took a long time to get to that point. It was on the basic level, weather, health, anything of interest, but it was communication. Orie talked to daddy every night about mother. At the height of her anger, she would silently blame daddy for leaving her to fight mother all by herself.
Orie was on the way to the bookstore, realizing that she needed a birthday card for her mother. Along the way, she was suddenly stopped, kissed, and whoever it was just left. No hi, no introductions . . . just left her there wondering what had happened.
A couple days passed before Orie met up with him again.
He sat behind Orie in English class. “Hi, my name is Chase, what’s yours?”
“You kissed me like that and you don’t even know my name? Do you do that to everyone?”
“No, I don’t do that to everyone, just cute short blondes.”
Orie laughed a little before answering, “My name is Orie.”
“Well, Orie, how would you like to play pool with me tonight?” Chase asked as he draped his arm around her shoulders. Chase was taller than Orie, about five feet ten inches tall she guessed, black hair, brown eyes, well built, could very well have been a cover model. Orie wondered if she just became lucky. Maybe . . . Chase would prove her wrong and cause Orie to rethink her previous assessment of herself, just maybe.
Mother didn’t seem too excited about meeting Chase, in fact, was disappointed when she met Chase. Mother just seemed to stay in the background, not saying anything. They really hadn’t said anything to each other after that night, always keeping the conversation to a bare minimum.
Two years of dating, and they were talking about marriage. Orie fell in love with the idea because for her, it would be a big step forward in her life, and to prove to her mother that she was worth something.
It was the day before graduation when Chase called Orie to say that he couldn’t lie to himself any longer . . . that he was gay. Orie hung up the phone that night feeling like an experiment. That porcelain doll that she’d put up on the top shelf to keep safe and had only taken down on occasion just to be sure it’s still in one piece . . . that’s how Orie felt that night. It was only her first relationship, but Orie wasn’t too sure she wanted to continue dating or have another relationship.
Two years of hard work had paid off in the end. Orie graduated with an associate’s degree and on the principal’s honor roll. One-step forward, with many more to follow.
To be continued in part 3.
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