“I feel bad when I and Christian move out of the house. You’ll have to do all the chores by yourself.” A lighthearted remark Nickel said one day. Being the youngest sibling and the only girl had its advantages. I was the innocent child who could do no wrong. Christian was the golden child who had a job, was top of his class and had a girlfriend. Nickel is the middle child, the troublemaker, and the class clown who skateboards without a helmet.
We all had our chores, Christian was the neat one and his bed was always made, his hair gel put away on the counter. Nickel had to clean up after our dog since he was the one who wanted her so much. They both traded off on duties. I was so much younger than them. All I learned was how to fold my clothes and make my bed.
When they left, I was all alone in a house too big for me. I was suddenly expected to do everything they did and more, I wasn’t the innocent girl anymore, I was a young woman that couldn’t be trusted. Not allowed to close my door unless I was changing, but not my brothers. They were allowed to close their door if they felt like being alone. But once they left all the attention was on me. Suddenly, I didn’t want the attention. I didn’t want the expectation to clean up after my stepdad without complaining. I had to be ladylike, dress like a lady, wash the dishes, and do my chores all alone.
Lunch is after this, I’m so excited. What am I gonna talk about? Maybe how we played dodgeball, that was so fun. I love playing games in PE. It’s perfect weather. It will be a great day if we get to debate today in the 6th period. Does Gabby understand-
“What’s the answer to example 28, Erin?” Mrs. Hoang stared straight into my soul along with all the people in front of me. She asked me 10 seconds ago, shoot.
“Uh, I’m sorry Mrs. Hoang. I was daydreaming.” I stuttered as the words came out because everyone is looking at me and my palms are sweaty now. I can’t remember what I was thinking but it’s not algebra. But I was honest about it, that’s better right?
She imitates my stutter back to me and tells me that this is a learning place. Ask me the same question again.
The screen protector just perfectly blocks my view of the main reason I’m stuck in this.
My face is so bright red, you can see it over my mask.
I can’t see the board.
“OF COURSE! Of course you can’t!” Now it’s just overkill. I’m already on low HP.
We move on eventually, my face stays pink and my hands can’t quite grip the pencil.
Daydreaming about how fast I’m going to leave this room.
Erin, the youngest of the house. She is always trying to imitate me or be older than me. The middle child has few perks. I was the youngest before Erin and her mom came into our lives, but they are okay.
Erin likes to play games with me, I pretend I don’t like it to my dad but I appreciate how much she pays attention to me.
One time she convinced me that we should switch clothes for the giggles and laughs, I wore her purple night dress and superhero pajama pants. She wore my Tupac shirt and superman sweats, paired with the blue beanie. She enjoyed it way too much for a girly girl.
I taught her how to skateboard when she was six years old. I love skateboarding but I won’t wear my helmet.
We sat out in the tiny parking spot squeezed in with apartments standing tall next to me. Since I won’t wear my helmet, I had to convince Erin to put it back on after her mom disappeared into the kitchen.
She proceeded to fall and made her head bleed, she laughed and told me she was okay until her mom pointed it out. I got in trouble.
Being the middle child is fun because I get to slip into the cracks unnoticed. Until there is too much unwanted attention on me.
Don’t Wear Red
Everytime we treat ourselves, spending the day at a nail salon, my mom repeats the same phrase: You’re not allowed to get red. I want to get red. I think it’s a beautiful color since my great-grandma wears it. I always whine and ask why not, she gives me the look. The look means you know why, and don’t ask again. The reason is it’s a mature color she says, only meant to be worn by women, not girls.
But I want to be like my mom and grandma, so I keep asking. After a while I only want to wear it out of rebellion. After turning 12 years old, my mom allows me to wear press on nails that have red on them.
I feel so grown up and ecstatic at the promise of wearing a mature color.
It only continues as I get older and older. Getting to wear other clothes and shopping for myself. My mom doesn’t like my style, she accuses me of trying to look older. It’s not true of course, I’m just copying what my friends are wearing, but they want to look older.
Around Christmas time is the time where I could wear a red dress and red nails to family and friends parties, but now I don’t want to wear red. I like the opposite. I wore blue and white for Christmas because I learned my mom was right. Red is a mature color only meant for women that want the men to stare and talk to them, I don’t want that. So I wear blue since I want the girls to look at me and give me compliments that make my cheeks turn red.
Ally and Her Big Dog Tyson
Ally is my moms friend. I don’t know how they met but she’s always been in the background. Ally lives close to my elementary school in a 2 bedroom house by herself that smells like cigarettes and perfume. She has a dog, named Tyson, like the famous boxer. Ally told me that she saved Tyson from a shelter, and Tyson protectors her. I never asked what he was protecting her from.
I stayed at Ally’s house once when my mom and stepdad needed some time alone, she was so nice to us. She ordered my favorite sushi from a good restaurant usually reserved for birthdays only. She had a glass container full of thin mint oreos. Tyson would let me hold him like a big warm brick while I slept in the guest bedroom or sometimes I would fall asleep watching the barbie movies in her room.
She used to be a hairdresser that worked from her garage. Her bedroom has so many hair brushes and she gave me a green one that smelled like her house. She has many photos up on the wall of a man and her, but he doesn’t live with her. Ally always seemed frail for a woman with a big personality. Mama told me it was because she smokes cigarettes and to never start smoking.
I try to listen closely when Ally steps outside to take a call on her phone, she paces back and forth. When the call is over she calls Tyson outside to sit next to her and doesn’t say anything else. Ally blasts music for me to dance in her house and slide down the wood floors with socks on. Ally seemed like it was only her and Tyson in the world together, and I was her friend, and not just my moms daughter.