On the last day of tenth grade, my best friend Po and I made a pact. We would change our labels that had stuck to us since preschool—bookworms, goody-goodies, and teacher’s pets.
We were all done with that.
Since that day we’ve vandalized neighbors, skipped school, and worn crop-tops and hip-huggers. It both gave us chills to know that boys stared at us in awe, the nerd image completely gone. And the groups of girls, approving our profiles, saying that “we had passed initiation,” inviting us to hang out at lunchtime and smoke in the bathrooms after class.
And summers were thrilling.
Po and I had big plans to expand our “rebel” reputation. Our favorite joint to hang out at was Skateland—after hours. When the place closed up for the night, we retreated from our hiding places, snagged some skates, and had the entire rink—arcade, snack bar, and all—to ourselves.
The employees never could figure out why the vending machines were always empty.
But there was, of course, the cons.
Po’s mother and mine were both heartbroken. When I came home at three in the morning after a night out, Mom wouldn’t say anything. She just glanced at the cigarette in my hand and put on her bravest face. Blank, expressionless.
I heard her talk to her pillow at night. “Why am I losing my sweet Carys? Isn’t this divorce hard enough on me?” And then the slam of her palms against her oak bureau, and all the tears rushing out. She couldn’t stop sobbing sometimes.
When she fell asleep in her big king-size bed, I tip-toed into the room and sat on the edge of it, looking at all the photographs of my father she just couldn’t throw away.
After many of those sleepless nights, Po’s ma found out about a great program to help whip us into shape.