Recently I finished writing the first draft of my first novel. It’s 185 pages handwritten and barely 100 pages typed, but it’s probably the biggest accomplishment a 14 year old girl could make. It took me awhile to start the second, mostly because I didn’t know what was going to happen. Every time I started to write the intro to the new story it would melt slowly into meaningless walks in the park and morning routines. It wasn’t until yesterday that I actually sat down and planned out what would happen in the first place. I never thought I had it in me to plan a book from start to finish like that. Afterwards I started writing once again, this time with a goal in mind. What about you, fellow novel writers? Do you like to know where you’re going while writing a new book, or do you prefer the adventure of not having a clue in the world as to what may happen?
Let me give you an idea of what the weather is like outside. Hailing. Hailing so loud and so hard that I can barely hear myself think. I kid you not, these ice balls of death are the size of marbles. Luckily Alexandra (my sister) and I arrived home before the storm hit. Wait? Did it stop? It sounds like it. People are emerging from the shelter of stranger’s houses and walking on their disgruntled way.
I’m sorry I haven’t been able to post in a few days. Exams are upon me and I have to study. Or, I was trying to study. Out of my five classes for this term we are either at an extreme low level of work because all we’re doing is review, or the opposite, working our asses off to finish off whatever we have to before exams. Or, even worse, actually doing an exam. I woke up more tired than I usually am because I couldn’t fall asleep (I’ll explain later). I trudged to school in my new haircut (quite nice if I may say so myself). Then after half an hour of my friends gasping at my new bob, I started my first class, English. The English exam runs from Monday until Friday for a total of five hours. That’s five hours too many if you ask me, especially at the very end of the year when I’m ready to quit everything. The topic of the exam is entertainment, and how media desensitizes us.
A few hours later I did my last Geography test, which I was barely awake through. But before we started scribbling wildly at our bubble sheet Mrs. Zix explained what we’d be doing for the next three days, a project worth ten percent of our grade. Yippee.
And now I’m home, ready to pass out. I can remember about ten thousand things I should be doing right now, but first I need to tell you about yesterday.
The started off with me making my mom coffee, because she said that she would cut my hair when she woke up. So she got up and a few hours later she took a good five inches off my previous do. I haven’t had it this short since when I was learning how to print. Dang, I looked fine.
Next I read the book Anne (my friend) lent me. It’s the Darkest Powers Trilogy by Kelly Armstrong. It’s quite good, but it gives me strange dreams if I read it before bed. Later I went on the computer, completely ignoring the fact that I had a test to study for. I checked my e-mail, because my friend Cindy still has my book from half a year ago and I want it back. She didn’t reply but I did find something else. It was a message from Stumble Upon. I signed up for it years ago. My password dated as far back as I could remember. So I started stumbling through the web, finding the most interesting things. Like a website where there was a play list for every situation and a site that made hipster text posts easy
But I also found a website full of the freakiest urban legends that drifted around the internet. This I will not link to, because it was scarring. One depicted the story of a Sponge Bob episode where Squidward committed suicide. Then I tried to go to sleep. Then I tried harder. And then I gave up and went downstairs for some tea. Then I read a book about vegetable gardens, went back upstairs, and still couldn’t sleep. When I woke up I felt my soul was crying for the bed like a lost lover.
Well at least I’ll learn never to do that again. That’s the good thing about mistakes, you seldom repeat them after you’ve tasted the consequences. For instance. I’ve lost half of my study notes for Geography because I’m so disorganized. I’ll make sure to keep them all in the same place next year, but in the meantime, I’d better go find them.
Today was supposed to be senior skip day, the day where all the seniors pack up their things and head to the beach. I don’t know what the big deal is over it, but some schools in the city have made severe punishments to keep kids from participating in it. My school took a different approach. They called off the afternoon and made a baseball game between the teachers and the seniors.
My friends and I, Anne, Jacinda, Esther, Jericho, and a few others who came and went, sat in the rickety old bleachers and cheered. Jacinda, Anne and I are the sort of people who cheer for everything and everyone, singing to the songs and fist pumping. Esther is the one who says, “Who are these people? Do you know these people? I don’t know these people,” and shakes her head. She’s tiny and bony, less than half my weight, and walks with dancers poise, like she may take flight at any moment. Anne is loud and the most immature fifteen year old I have ever met. She had a baby face and it’s often red from laughter as she tries to make Esther punch herself (stop punching yourself, why are you punching yourself?). Jacinda is a year older than us, but she’s from the Philippines where kids go to school a year after Canadians. She’s sweet and she loves books and movies. She’s also one of those girls who isn’t afraid to talk to people or be close to them. She screams for absolutely no reason much of the time, which generates many perplexed glances toward our general area. Jericho is smart, very smart. He’s also shy. But he’s very nice.
I spent the baseball game with them. Before the game Jacinda drove us back in her mom’s van because she has a learners permit. It was strange. I’ve never been in a car with a driver who’s younger than 30. In a year I’ll be doing the exact same thing.
There was a hot dog eating contest between two homeroom teachers because they were tied for points. It was a bit sickening to watch, seeing as I’ve been vegetarian my whole life, but there were sardines on one of them so I wanted to see the reaction of the person who had to eat it. The crowd was so big that I could only see one person stuffing their face, but I’m sure it would have been priceless.
The game ended half an hour before the end of the school day. Jacinda left and Anne, Jericho, Esther and I made our separate ways home. Anne lives five minutes away in the condos parallel to the school, Esther goes to a bus stop outside of an old folks home, and Jeri bikes. I have to walk to my sisters middle school and take the bus with her from there, then it’s a twenty minute ride from the suburbs to downtown and a ten minute walk home.
We live in an okay area, not too bad, but not too good. There are people who walk around in high end, fashionable clothing, and there are those few who look dirty and walk funny. But my neighborhood is green, that’s what I like about it. And the smell of old trees, moist soil, and gardens in a windy city like mine is always sweet. The bleeding hearts are blooming and the perennials are emerging. The trees arc over the street and leaves splay over parked cars. It’s starting to feel like summer.
Since I prefer not to mention names, I’ll call my school Kaluga Heights. It’s a large school, with perhaps one of the best curricula in the province. The teachers are great, it’s nestled by a beautiful field full of tall grasses and forest, and it has a terrible reputation. Nobody likes Kaluga except for the teachers who have been their for half of their life. It’s not even that bad. Still, no one has anything good to say about it. “The druggies go there” and “it’s too big, the teachers forget your name” are some of the things you here flying around. So I was a bit scared coming in this year as a freshman. But after a few months, I realized I had nothing to worry about. And as the year comes to the close, exam jitters start to creep up on us, and the summer smells like mowed grass and chlorine, it only seems right to look back on this past year and all of the memories it brought with it.
Like my English class for example. You may be surprised that English is my lowest mark. Currently a 93, I’ll give you that, but still four marks away from ruining my strait 90s. His name is, hm, let’s go with Mr. McDowell. Mr. McDowell is loud, obnoxious, and takes every chance he gets to start on a meaningless rant that takes up two whole classes. It was all fine and dandy before second semester started. But then kids failed and classes changed. Three kids transferred to our class, my friend Nancy, a boy named Derek who is (as far as I know) in jail, and a boy named Melvin. Let’s just say this, Melvin is either a genius or an idiot. I cannot begin to explain all of the stupid things he’s said, from calling Lysander from A Midsummer Night’s Dream Salamander, suggesting that Athena’s Roman name was Minervana, and going on about winning the lottery as a 50-50 chance, because you either win or you don’t. These aren’t even the bad ones. The reason I think that he’s a genius, is because it works every time. Mr. McDowell goes on a half hour rant about how stupid he is and how if he wrote down every stupid thing Melvin said, he’s have a best-seller. Melvin and about four other boys yank the gingerly held steering wheel and drive the gullible Mr. McDowell off course.
It’s hilarious. Even after you’ve told us about every single time you’ve punched a guy in the face, I hope you’re my teacher next year. And Melvin, well, I just hope you make it to grade ten English.
Math is the hardest subject for most kids in freshman year. Every class we sit down and take pages of notes, an hour of homework everyday after that. Mr. Christie is a retired fire fighter who says ‘the dilemma is’ and ‘so as a consequence’ in literally every circumstance. He also says ‘yesterday’ like an American. Brayden and Daniel are two boys in my class (also in my English class) who have an ongoing joke where they burst into fits of laughter whenever he says ‘dilemma’ or ‘consequence’. It’s the most ridiculous thing ever. Along with that they keep trying to convince Mr. Christie that -0 is a number. They tape ‘negative zero’ all over the classroom, tape his computer mouse to his desk, and wrote on the board, ‘SO AS A CONSEQUENCE’. It’s been there for a month or two. Mr. Christie doesn’t even seem to question that his room now reads, ‘negative zero’.
The Official Wall Of Negative Zero is at the back of the classroom. Posters, made by Daniel and Brayden, cover the wall, and a t-shirt reading ‘❤ -0, because real numbers are doing it wrong’, is stapled on. It was designed by Daniel and paid for by Mr. Christie.
So sure, we all remember that fight that made everyone in the cafeteria rise like a wave in unison, scrambling to get a better view. And we all know that everywhere smells faintly of marijuana. We all make sure to stay out of that one hallway without the camera, and we all complain frequently about everything Kaluga Heights has to offer. But to tell you the truth, Kaluga is my home and my family. It’s a family that isn’t perfect, but what family is?
As far as I know, every teenager of this generation knows someone who cuts. In fact, self harm is so common that it doesn’t come as a surprise to me when I see someone’s arms slashed with fresh slices. It’s cruel reality, to live in a place where physical pain distracts you from the real pain inside you. But how would I know? I’m fortunate enough to have never done it myself.
I have a friend who was once very close to me, let’s call her Flora. Actually, I still like to believe that we’re quite close. But let’s be real, the only time I see her is in class. But it’s come to our attention that we don’t spend enough time together. So my happy go lucky friend, let’s call her Anne, convinced her to come with us to enviro club. Flora was the DJ and she controlled our science teacher’s computer. Then when we were dancing like idiots and the two boys in the club were occupied, she started scratching her arm. She asked us if we knew how to tell if something was infected. When she rolled up her sleeve we saw her wrist, scarred and an angry red, a fresh cut, much deeper than the others, still wide open from the previous morning. Get it checked out, we told her. She rolled her sleeve back down and was quiet for the rest of lunch.
She’s beautiful and talented and has the worst self esteem ever. In her eyes all she sees of herself is fat, ugly, and stupid. Flora’s life definitely isn’t perfect. It’s like life gave the girl lemons but took the liberty of squeezing the juice in her eyes first. And maybe there isn’t a quick fix for depression, but I want there to be.
In the summer she’s moving away. Maybe because her mom is too stressed. Maybe it’s to get away from everything in this city that ever did her wrong. And I hope to god it will be a clear slate, where she can start over. Because when I see her again in 5 years, it would be a blessing to see her scars finally healing.