Authors: Melody Carlson
?” I could feel her looking at me now, and I swear I knew what she was about to ask. “You—uh—you’re not involved in drugs, are you?”
I sighed deeply and shook my head. Here we go again. “First of all, Mom, if I was doing drugs, do you really think I’d tell you?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. But we’re supposed to ask.”
“Secondly, I’m not. Not that I don’t consider it occasionally—like when people push me too hard to be happy. I mean, maybe it would be some kind of escape from all this—”
“Oh no, Chloe, it would only—”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. ‘It would only mess me up even more.’ I’ve heard the speeches. I saw what happened to Caleb. And I’m not really into self-destruction. Not today anyway. But you might check with me next week, Mom. Maybe on Thursday. Right now I have homework to do. And then, of course, I
clean my room.”
She stood and smoothed down her Liz Claiborne pants, every pleat in perfect place. “Okay, then. I’m glad we had this talk, dear.”
I tried to hide my exasperation. “Yeah, me too.”
Then I did my homework. But instead of cleaning my room, I’ve been sitting here venting into my diary. And now it’s late. Sorry, Mom, guess my room will have to wait. Besides, it’s not so bad, really. I mean, I can still make it from my bed to the door without tripping—if I’m careful. And tomorrow I might go through and take out all the rotting food items. That should make her feel better.
green little circles
adhered to a bowl
rejected, dejected, subject to decay
once soggy and wet
now rotting away
but oh you are changing
growing fuzzy and green
yet no appreciation
will ever be seen
for you are so worthless
so sorry so sad
you rotten old cheerios
you are very bad
now get outta ray room!
Being alone makes you think more. But sometimes too much thinking makes you feel as though you’re going crazy. But if you
you’re going crazy, maybe you’re not—since they always say the crazy ones are the last ones to know. But I’m not so sure about that.
I think I miss having Caitlin around. As Pollyanna-like as she is and as much as I dislike those perfect girls with their sugary smiles, Caitlin was sort of like good medicine to me. Usually after spending time with her, I would try harder to be a better person. I know that sounds completely moronic, but it’s the truth.
Today a guy came up to me and offered me some speed. I can’t even remember exactly how I responded, probably something like, “Hey, I’m going about as fast as I want to at the moment.”
And he just smiled and said, “Cool.” Then he introduced himself and we talked for a while. His name was Spencer Abbott and he seemed like a pretty nice guy, really. Oh, I know how some people think that anyone who takes drugs is really messed up and dangerous. But mostly I think they’re just searching, like me. At least I think of myself as a searcher. The problem is, I don’t seem to be finding whatever it is I’m looking for. Or maybe I’m just not sure what it is I’m looking for or where to even look.
If I were to be perfectly honest—and that’s what I’m trying to do in this diary. If you can’t be honest with your diary then who can you be honest with?—I suppose I’m looking for love. Oh wow. It’s not easy to write
down. First of all it sounds so completely cliche, and on top of that, it’s so lame and pitiful—all things I despise. It hurts my head to even read those words. But that, I think, is the sad ugly truth:
Chloe Miller is looking for love
So does this mean I think my parents don’t love me? No, I’m sure they do—in their own impaired way—but their love often seems dependent on me meeting their HIGH expectations. And unfortunately,
I seem to do that less and less. Mostly it feels as though they ignore me or simply tolerate me—and then just barely. As if they’re counting the days until I finally grow up and graduate from high school and get outta their picture-perfect lives. That might be an unfair judgment on my part, but it’s just how I feel.
So am I looking for the love of a boyfriend? Someone to wrap his arms around me and pull me close and whisper sweet secrets in my ear? Well, maybe. Unfortunately, other than Spencer (who’s not bad looking) no one seems to be beating down my door. Would I get involved with Spencer? I’m not sure. And since I’m feeling desperate, who knows? But it would bother me that he’s so into drugs. And he is; I can tell. And I guess I’d be worried that I might get caught up in that world too—purely by association. I just don’t think I’m ready for that.
So what is it then? Maybe I just need a good friend or two. Someone who understands and accepts me—someone I can talk to. Caitlin was a little like that, but in some ways she always seemed “above” me. Not that she was snooty. Because despite that she hung with the cool crowd, like my brother, she was actually nice. Maybe the problem is that she’s so much older. And, yes, because she seems so perfect. Impossibly and impeccably perfect.
Oh, I know how she tells me about her flaws and her mistakes and regrets. Like yesterday, she e-mailed me about her horrible roommate in college, saying how she’d really like to just drop-kick her over the nearest goalpost, etc.—well, you get the picture. So, I suppose Caitlin’s not so perfect. But then she’s not here, either.
It has occurred to me—for some reason
this week—that I could try talking to God. (That’s what Caitlin calls it. She hardly ever says “praying” even though I know that’s what she means. But she calls it “talking to God.”) Still, like I’ve already said, this just feels really weird to me. And for a long time, I’ve had some sort of very real blockade that I can’t seem to get around. But now I find myself thinking about it—
. But still I haven’t done it. I’m not sure that I even can. I mean, exactly how do you start something like that anyway? Do you just say, “Hey, God, I wanna talk?” It sounds so strange, demented even. And did I mention
? So maybe I am losing it. Maybe that’s just where I’m heading these days.
OFF TO CRAZYVILLE
there she goes again
off to crazyville
with her red balloon
and a fat baboon
she talks to herself
and says she talks to god
and that he’s listening
but all she really hears
is the ringing in her ears
and the singing in her brain
as she walks out in the rain
with no shoes on
there she goes again
off to crazyville
Okay, here’s the latest weird flash.
Chloe Miller is talking to God
! Is she crazy? Losing her mind? I’m not sure, but here I am starting to write about myself in third person. That’s probably not so good either. Okay, chill, girl. Just chill.
It all started yesterday—on Friday the thirteenth even—I should’ve known better than to go to school on such an unlucky day. But I did. For at least half the day anyway. I ended up skipping the second half. Hey, I didn’t say I had suddenly become perfect or even a Christian—I only said that I’ve taken up talking to God. And I suspect he may not even like what I’m saying to him because frankly, he hasn’t talked back. But I suppose I didn’t expect him to. Not really. The surprising thing is that I’m still doing it.
I went to school yesterday telling myself to be thankful that it was Friday and I’d have two whole days to recover from a seriously deranged week. I’ll spare you the details except to say that Tiffany Knight has targeted me for her whipping girl. She hardly allows a day to pass
without some lame attempt at making my life miserable—as if I need any help in that particular area! But I was just minding my own business, thinking about a new song I’m working on and whether I have enough nerve to take my homemade audiocassette down to the new coffeehouse in town. Or maybe I should just see if I could get up there on that little stage and read a poem for starters. I’m still not sure. Isn’t it ironic that I try to escape such abuse and public humiliation at school, but then I’m willing to climb onto a live stage and actually invite even more? Sometimes I astound myself.
But back to Tiffany. It was fourth period, choir, and Mr. Thompson had just asked anyone who was interested in auditioning for a small girls’ ensemble (to start rehearsing some special songs for the Christmas concert) to stay afterward. Naturally, I stayed. So did Laura. And to my disappointment, Tiffany and several of her monkeys stayed as well.
Hey, it’s a free world, I told myself. Although I’ve never heard Tiffany sing, since she’s in the first soprano section and I’m in second soprano (although I can sing anything between alto and soprano). Still I couldn’t imagine how anyone as mean as Tiffany could possibly have a voice worth listening to.
So, I nonchalantly moved down to the front
row, where we were supposed to wait our turns, and began doodling in my notebook. One by one the girls stepped up and sang a few bars from a song we’re working on right now called “The Falling Leaves.” Most of them were acting pretty self-conscious and seemed embarrassed about singing solo, and some were really messing up badly. Each time someone squeaked or hit a wrong note, Tiffany and her cohorts would break into giggles. Mr. Thompson warned them to be quiet, and I even tossed them a dark look. Okay, that was a mistake.
But I was relieved when Mr. Thompson called on Tiffany next. I think he figured this was one way to shut them up. Well, Tiffany strutted down to the piano like she was the queen of the choir and started to sing. And I have to admit she was okay, but nothing to be particularly proud about. But when she returned to her seat, she looked at me as if to say, “Top that.” I just rolled my eyes and went back to doodling. Her three friends sang next, and one was okay but the other two were pretty hopeless.
Then Laura was called down, and I quit doodling and smiled at her as she took her place by the piano. I think she saw me too. And then she sang with a boldness and confidence that was totally cool. I started clapping as soon as she finished, and a number of other girls joined in.
But of course not Tiffany and her monkeys.
Then it was my turn. Emboldened by Laura’s brave performance, I went down there and gave it my best shot too. And once again, applause followed. Mr. Thompson smiled and said, “That was great, Chloe.” And I felt pretty sure that I’d be picked. About that time I noticed Tiffany and her tribe getting up to leave.
“I’m hungry,” said Tiffany. “And my ears are starting to hurt.” I’m sure she was aiming this one at me, or maybe Laura. But bolstered by the applause and Mr. Thompson’s praise, I ignored her, staying behind to listen to the rest of the girls try out. And from then on out we clapped for everyone regardless of her performance.
“Good job, girls,” said Mr. Thompson as he closed the piano. “I’ll post the results on my office door, right after lunch.” Then as I was about to leave, he said, “Chloe, can I see you a minute?”
“Sure.” I walked back over. “What’s up?”
He smiled again. “You really have a fantastic voice. And I’m curious about how comfortable you’d be doing solos now and then?”
I grinned. “Are you kidding? I’d love to. Music is my life.”
“I thought so. Well, great then. I won’t keep you from missing all of lunch.”
So feeling as if I’d just won the lottery—or better yet a Grammy—I headed off toward the
cafeteria, even though I didn’t feel hungry. But just as I turned the corner, I saw them: Tiffany and her thugs. I thought maybe I was overreacting at first, because I felt certain they were waiting for me. But then I countered that thought, thinking I was just being ridiculously paranoid—I mean, what were they going to do? Mug me for my lunch money? It’s a shame I didn’t go with my original instincts because I could’ve made a getaway if I’d tried. But I didn’t. Instead, I just kept walking.
“I don’t know what makes you think you’re so hot,” said Tiffany, coming right up beside me. Then she gave me a sharp shove.
“Hey!” I yelled, hoping someone down the next hall might hear me.
Then Tiffany’s friend Kerry pushed me from the other side. “You think you’re so tough!” she snarled in my face. And then in a blur that I can’t even completely remember—it was like a scene from a bad teen flick—the four of them had me up against the lockers. I can still feel the indentation of the lock imprinted into my spine.
“You are a loser, Miller!” Tiffany slapped me across the face.
“Yeah,” echoed Kerry, and then she actually punched me in the stomach.
I just glared at them, hating them all like I’ve never hated anyone or anything before. I even
tasted the hate, or maybe it was just the blood from where my lip was cut, but it tasted like metal and it felt like pure hate.
“You’re a total misfit!” said Tiffany. “And this school would be better off without lowlifes like you slumming it up.” She gave me another hard shove, banging my head against the locker with a loud bang. They all backed away, laughing hysterically like a pack of hyenas. Then they ran out the door that led to the courtyard. I just stood there fighting back tears of rage.
Then I turned around and kicked the locker with my Doc Marten, and the sound echoed throughout the hallway, maybe throughout the entire school. Why hadn’t I thought to kick them or to defend myself? Why had I just stood there and allowed them to beat on me like that?
I marched over to the emergency exit, knowing full well that I would set off the alarm, and I walked out of there. Then I ran. I left that school determined to NEVER go back there again. Not ever! And for the first time I could actually understand why our school has a metal detector. Because right then and there, I felt certain that if for some reason I was forced to return, I would come back armed and ready to defend myself. And a life sentence in prison seemed like a small price to pay. At least I figured I might be in a cell all by myself.
A normal person would probably wonder if I told anyone about this little altercation—like my parents or someone at school or even the police. But what good would it really do? Naturally, Tiffany and her thugs would deny it. It would be their word against mine. And they look so sweet and innocent and “normal” in their little designer-of-the-week outfits. And of course I look like, well, like me. Besides, no one witnessed the crime.