I don't think I've been posting enough fiction recently, so here's a story I wrote.
Take it from me, you should never make promises to someone who’s got a long memory. Promises are a little tricky sometimes. Okay, more than a little tricky.
When I was little, my favorite place ever was Sandra’s Ice Cream Shop. On Fridays after school, our older brother Bryan would walk me and my Siamese twin Tyler down to Sandra’s. Now don’t ask me what it’s like having a Siamese twin, because we got separated as babies. Tyler’s pinky toe is fake, but other than that Tyler is a normal boy and I am a normal girl.
Anyway, Bryan took us to the ice cream place for the first time when we were six. Tyler and I both picked mint flavor, and watched as the saleslady pushed scoopfuls of bright green ice cream into our cones. We each handed her three dollar bills and tasted the sweet, cold ice cream.
“I bet we’ll always be best friends,” said Tyler. “Hey, let’s pinky-swear it!”
“Why?” I asked. “We’ll always be best friends anyway.”
“Just ‘cause,” said Tyler as we sat down in the plastic chairs under the Sandra’s Ice Cream sign. “I like pinky-swearing.” We had learned to pinky-swear at school a few weeks ago, and had pinky-swore whenever possible. In fact, at our school, there was an ongoing argument between the kids who said “pinky swear” and those who said “pinky promise”, so pinky-swearing was a good way of showing our loyalty.
“Me too,” I decided, and held out my pinky finger. He grabbed it with his own pinky finger.
“I pinky-swear that we’ll always be best friends,” we chanted.
Tyler has the best memory of anyone I know.
“But like, everyone knows Jade likes Timothy,” said Genevieve.
We were sitting on the couch in the room that Tyler and still I had to share, even though we were twelve.
“Really?” asked Olivia W, leaping off the couch. She has a reputation for overreacting, and she has this long black hair that falls in her face constantly. “Are you serious, Gen? I’d never have expected it!”
Genevieve shrugged. “Yeah, opposites attract and stuff.”
Olivia C nodded thoughtfully. Olivia C is Olivia W’s exact opposite, super quiet. Maybe that means opposites do attract, with the two Olivias being good friends.
Olivia W flung her arms around to make her point, but really it just made her bracelets go clink, clink, clink! “Yeah, I guess, but still…”
The green doorknob turned—the whole room was painted pastel green—and Tyler pushed the door open. He stared. “Sky,” he said to me, “Why are so many of your friends in our room?” He looked curiously at Olivia W, who was standing near the couch, her bangles clinking.
I looked around the room and shrugged. “They aren’t ‘so many’,” I said. “Just three. You haven’t met Genevieve yet, have you?”
“Um, no,” said Tyler, frowning for some reason. “Hi.”
“Tell your brother to leave, Sky!” said Olivia W.
“We’re having a girl conversation,” Olivia C said with a giggle.
“Okay, whatever.” Tyler left, closing the door behind him.
“I swear he likes you, Liv,” Genevieve told Olivia W. “Liv” is Olivia W’s nickname. (Olivia C can’t stand nicknames, though “Liv” and “Gen” have a dozen names for each other.)
Olivia W punched the air. “Cool! I always wanted to get crushed on!”
That night I lay in bed, thinking about nothing more than whether Tyler did like Olivia W. I doubted it. On the other hand Genevieve had a good eye for figuring out who likes who...
A voice began speaking, and I clapped a hand over my mouth. I had completely forgotten that Tyler’s bed was right on the other side of the bedroom.
“’Always’ isn’t six years, Sky,” he was saying. Sleep talking? No, he didn’t talk in his sleep. “Don’t you remember we promised we’d be best friends, always? We’re twins, Sky. You do remember, right?”
I sat up, and saw that Tyler was very much awake. I guessed I had to answer. “Yeah, I remember. It was while we ate our mint ice cream. So?”
“So you pinky-swore that we’d always be best friends!” Tyler said.
“I know, but that was ages ago. We were little kids! You’re talking about Genevieve and the Olivias, right?” I prompted.
Tyler nodded, the beam of light from the window illuminating the top of his head.
“Well, Tyler, just ‘cause we’re Siamese twins doesn’t mean I can’t have other friends as well—“
“Not frickin’ friends who’re frickin’ mean!”
“Wow, two frickin’s in one sentence,” I joked.
“What. Ever. Tell your brother to leave, Sky!” he said in a falsetto. “Like I wasn’t even listening? I don’t like your friends, Sky, and it’s only going to get worse. Don’t forget, we’re Siamese twins. We were one person, once upon a time.”
“And don’t forget, even Siamese twins can’t choose each other’s friends,” I said. “Good night, Tyler.”
The next day at school I thought about what Tyler had said. Little things upset him so much! Even at the end of the school day I wasn’t sure whether Tyler had overreacted just like Olivia W, or whether what my friends had said really was just the beginning. Either way, I had to choose between my brother and my friends.
I decided to put off the decision.
“Do you want to get ice cream with us, at Sandra’s Ice Cream?” Genevieve asked just after school, when I was walking to the bus.
“Who’s us?” I asked.
“Me and like, the Olivias,” she said.
Oh man, did I have to choose so soon? Without thinking I blurted out, “Can my brother Tyler come?”
“Hmm,” said Genevieve. “It’d probably be more fun without him. Why do you want him to come along?”
I wondered how to explain it in a way that wouldn’t make Genevieve go, ‘You suck’, ‘stand up to him’, or ‘you’re too emotional’. After a moment I said, “I just think he’d like to come. He’s actually really fun!”
Genevieve shrugged. “Sure, he’s got to be fun if you think so, and he’s got enough taste to like Olivia.”
“Taste?” I laughed. “How does liking Olivia show taste?” It felt odd, talking about Tyler as a member of the opposite sex, as someone who might like a girl, as anyone but my other half.
When we got on the bus, I found Tyler and told him the plan.
“We’re going to Sandra’s. You can come with us if you want.”
“Well…” Tyler frowned, just like he had in our room.
I glanced at Genevieve and the Olivias in the next row of seats and lowered my voice. “Just give them a chance, okay?”
He nodded, uncertain.
We all got off the school bus at Tyler’s and my house, and walked over to Sandra’s Ice Cream. Tyler seemed to relax when we walked in the door under the Sandra’s Ice Cream sign. I got mango ice cream and Tyler got mint, but we each had a bite of the other’s. I hoped my friends wouldn’t think that was gross, but I realized that I didn’t care all that much. As we traded bites we shared a look that said silently: I swear that we’ll both make friends, and we’ll still be as close as we ever were.
Okay, so I got into WAB (Winds Across the Bay), and last night was the first rehearsal. The music is really hard (think triplets, sixteenth notes, trills, constant time changes), but I think it'll be easier once I practice it. The good news is that a very friendly clarinet coach sits right next to me, so I can follow her. And it's fun. If you play a wind instrument you should totally try it.
Today we went to Swim Team. There was a little kid named Clementine (not the Clementine any of you know; it's pronounced Clem-en-teen). She said to a girl named Lila: "Are you chewing gum?" I was pretty sure that chewing gum during swim team was not allowed.
"No," said Lila.
"I saw something bright orange in your mouth," Clementine told her.
"It was my tongue." There's no way Clementine could have mistaken a tongue for gum, unless Lila had recently eaten bright orange candy during swim team and it stained her tongue.
"It was really orange," said Clementine.
At this, Lila shot her friends Ridley and Abby a clever look and burst into obviously fake tears. She buried her face in her hands. "It was my tongue," she said. "I know it's different from other peoples', but please don't make fun of me." she kept fake-crying. Clementine looked like she wasn't sure whether or not to believe Lila.
"See what you've done?" said Ridley. "She'll be like this for two hours now! Lila's very sensitive about her tongue..."
Abby was pretending to comfort Lila. "There, there. It's okay, Lila. We'll get you a tongue transplant soon enough." Lila was a terrible actress, but Abby seemed like a decent one.
Some of Lila's other friends, and I, watched. I was horrified! Lila and Abby were putting on a totally unrealistic show-- and Ridley was trying to make Clementine feel bad-- just so Lila wouldn't stop having to chew her gum! And... a bright orange tongue? What kind of stupid story is that?
But a while later the teacher found out, and asked Lila to throw her gum away. I felt sort of satisfied.
Yesterday we had one of those homeschooled teen gatherings. We took a ferry to San Francisco, and we had no idea how much fun we would have there until it happened.
The other people on the ferry probably thought of us as insane. We stood on the top deck and deliberately faced the strong wind, talking loudly over it and eating candy. Our "chaperones" were on the deck below. The ferry sped along, and soon we landed at the ferry building. After playing around there for a while, seeing large mushrooms, sampling olive oil for no particular reason, and sneaking up on pigeons and pretending to feed them; we kept going.
First we went to this awesome fountain that is right across the street from the ferry building. The fountain has a path of stepping stone type things, so you can walk through the fountain and between the jets of falling water. There are also railed walkways at the top of the fountain, so you can look down. You have to get a little wet to enjoy the fountain, but only a little. But after hanging out there for a while, Brigitte noticed a seagull wing in the water. Someone pointed out that there was also a seagull HEAD. Suddenly walking between waterfalls of seagull-marinated water that a hobo or two had probably bathed in wasn't so appealing.
We wanted to go up the glass elevator in the Hyatt hotel, but there were some workers carrying signs out front, marching in a circle. STRIKE! Hotel workers unite! said the signs. We decided to ask the strikers why they were striking. Someone explained that at Hyatt they had to work very hard. While one person at another hotel might have to clean 14 rooms, they had to clean 30. Then we spent five minutes marching in a circle with them, holding signs. The strikers were definitely glad we wanted to help. After five minutes, according to some of the other kids, management decided that if a bunch of teens were helping out, too many people would side with the strikers. So a woman in an important-looking suit came and said, "Hi, we want this to be an educational experience for you, so you should know both sides." The other kids and I stopped for a while to listen. The woman said that at this hotel the workers did not have to work harder than those at other hotels. She told us that they had been trying to reach a compromise.
"She was talking, but she wasn't really saying anything," Evelyn said later, multiple times. We all agreed (after we left the strike area, worried that some of us would side with management and others with the workers) that she hadn't given us any real information. She had just talked about how they were hoping to work toward a compromise, and how the workers did get treated okay.
Either Brigitte or Ursula (Like a good blogger, I forget who I'm quoting!) said that she had helped the workers, but felt like leaving when she noticed cameramen and thought she might get on TV, and someone she knew might see it.
And (reminded by Evelyn) we met the World's Funniest Toilet. It had AUDIO INSTRUCTIONS! Is that ridiculous or what? It also had lots of rules to prevent homeless people from settling down in it, so the doors would open every 20 minutes and whoever was in there had to leave, and then it would automatically clean the floors and toilet seat. And only one adult is allowed in at a time, but kids under 10 must be accompanied by an adult. Still, the audio instructions are definitely the funniest.
I did my audition today for Winds Across the Bay, a winds/brass/percussion band, and it went great! I'm looking forward to being in the band! The conductor said that every month some professionals come in and that a professional clarinetist will help us! Is that cool or what.
Mom is singing "Shoot the buffalo" in the background. (Co-op people will know what I'm talking about. The rest of you... must be bewildered.) It's a hilarious song we heard on a CD of historical songs from the railroad era, and it's about two things: dancing and shooting buffalos.
Last weekend we went kayaking on the American River. We had an awesome time flying through frothy rapids and playing around at the campsite. Once, my boat flipped over! I bumped into a rock and the current tipped my small kayak over. I was okay, though, because I swam the rest of the rapid and climbed onto the boat of Clem, who helped me recover my boat.
Each afternoon we played at the campsite. It was super hot, but that was easily remedied:
There was a bit of fighting:
And a bit of civilized talking:
I solemnly apologize for being gross:
So the mornings were spent kayaking and the afternoons spent playing. At night, after Rafie told dirty jokes (and Ev and I tried to ward off Solomon and Greta so their innocent minds wouldn't be corrupted) the three big girls (Ev, Clem and I) slept in our own tent! We went into the three-man tent (which anywhere from three to seven kids would hang in at a time) to tickle each other, sing Tom Lehrer songs, discuss why Clay Bump is a bad name for a dragon, and fall asleep.
This is a picture I took when Clem was bending over and her hair fell in front of the boy Sasha's face. Doesn't it look like he's wearing a wig?
Yay! Even for homeschoolers, the school year has begun. So many classes and activities. I'll be quite busy. The other day at Co-op we went to a place called Pardee House and learned about the Pardees, some that lived in Oakland from 1869 until 1981, from a strange old guy who said things like:
--"Do you know what a dictionary is?"
--"Oh, but you kids probably didn't even know that women weren't allowed to vote back then." (I was absolutely sure that even six-year-old Greta knew that.)
--And "Do you guys know right and left?"
He wore glasses, had a wrinkly face, and was even smaller than I am. I drew a caricature of him:
Next to him I wrote his name and c. 4'8" tall.
Later, on Evelyn and Arina's requests, I drew in speech bubbles of the underestimating things he had said. After the tour we tried to figure out how to say "the teacher thinks we are stupid" in Latin. ("Gramaticus cogit, stulti sumus?")
I know that this is mean and you should not do it, but you know, he was sort of treating us like we were half the age of the youngest person there. So, sorry docent.