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Choose Your Own {Ending}

I turned 13 years old the day of my release from Glenview. There was some debate as to whether I could return to school without accepting the recommended medication, but my hippy parents had agreed to my going there on the sole condition I didn’t get addicted to anything that would require the use of insurance. “Even without medication,” my doctor had told me, “you can control these inclinations.” Once home, I summoned the will to join the average teenage girl’s life of secrecy and safety, along with those friends of mine who’d mastered vomiting silently in upstairs bathrooms or passing off scars as bicicyle accidents. As if any suburban girl over the age of 12 was still riding her Huffy! Thus began the year I pretended to be normal, the gist of which I gathered from The Gap commercials and Hubba Bubba packaging–both so bright and enticing, taunting me. Life is meant to be cheery, they said, and I believed them, despite the contradictary voices.

Normalcy, even if only in pretense, freaked my mom out, though. She had always been my champion when it came to the Voices. Long after she outgrew her “Go With the Flow” frame of mind, she accepted and protected my uniqueness, even when, as a girl, I would often interject unhelpful phrases into her adult conversations. “What a lovely lawn,” my mother had once exclaimed, no doubt to draw comparison with our own not-lovely lawn, a place where even “spring boquet mix” seeds couldn’t survive. “Thank you,” Mrs. White responded. “It’s all natural, you know.” “That’s not true,” I remarked. My voice had been calm, but too loud. It was a rude, false accusation, but I couldn’t keep from saying it. “Ignore that,” my mother had said, stroking my head as though I were a cat, “she hears voices.”

Given my mother’s encouragement, my father’s diffidence, and an apparently overwhelming acceptance by the small community where my parents had landed after it was no longer “dope” to live out of your van, my voices and I should have thrived during the shift from adolescence to pubescence. But what is tweendom without rebellion? My friends wore ripped jeans and smoked Camels in the girls locker room; I locked myself in a room with Ted, Darby, and Mr. K. –those were their names; not ones I would’ve chosen, but, as with most other things up to that point, I hadn’t had complete control–and ordered them to stop influencing me. “I’m normal now,” I told them, “but you’ll always be in my heart.” I wanted to let them down gently, but, as Ted pointed out, my words were as meaningless as a hallmark card in the discount bin. “Actions speak louder than words,” I overheard him tell the others, “first time she’s called a name or doesn’t get an invite to the big party, we’ll be jerked right back into her life.” Fearing he was right, I hummed the Dr. Pepper jingle to remind myself what was at stake. Man, I wanted to be a pepper, too.

Adaptation didn’t come easily, especially with constant sympathy smiles from my mother, who was suportive but not sold on the normal idea. Without Mr. K’s expertise, school went from being a walk in the park to running through mud at night in a tunnel with no shoes on. I sucked at Math and Science, couldn’t care less about History, and only remembered the silly, useless parts of English that never made it onto the quiz, like the first person who diagrammed a sentence (Reed/Kellogg) and the number of irregular verbs in the average dictionary (a ltitle less than 500). I went through a couple weeks of withdrawal from academic prowess, before realizing that bad grades were as much the norm as bad behavior. “Radical,” I told myself in the mirror, applying a double layer of Hershey Kiss lip gloss. “You are such a slacker.”

If doing poorly on tests was a shock to my system, imagine the increased heart rate whenever I ignored a teacher, laughed at a friend, or talked back to my mother. “I don’t know what’s gotten into that child,” she’d say to my Dad, who would nod and grimace, despite being high as a kite and wearing headphones. Showing no interest in my mom’s theory about a new wave of feminism “influencing young girls today” made Darby cry, which I made sure happened only in the privacy of my bedroom–newly decorated with James Dean posters I’d found in the attic and a “Keep Out” door sign I’d painted in menacing purply-black letters. It only took a few days of pretending to be normal to know girls and their mothers most certainly did not drink raspberry tea out of mugs they’d made together while chatting about the political injustices of minority groups, especially if you were the minority group in question. As much as it hurt Darby, I stuffed cotton balls in my ears and chose to write in my secret diary rather than engage in dinner conversation with the enemy.

Surprisingly, I was a total bitch without a shred of help from Ted. In fact, I hadn’t heard a peep from him since he’d insulted my long term goal of growing up sane. As a child, I hadn’t had the balls to walk across a street by myself until learning to trust that Ted’s over-functioning bravado could flash a smile and push up a chin quicker than you can get to the gummy insides of a tootsie roll pop. The only logic I could come up with to explain my sudden ability to be stubborn and volatile without his assistance was that the whole point of teen resistance was to convey nothing to anyone, a level of controlled ambivalence that was probably the only personality trait that actually and distinctly belonged to the real me.

Everything was going well until the new chemistry teacher, whose wardrobe could easily have been borrowed from Annie Lennox, showed up. I spent most of every 5th period working up the nerve to ask her to the end-of-the-year dance, appropriately themed “Dreaming of You.” I wondered if she liked the Thompson Twins as much as I did. If only we lived near a beach, I mused, counting the pinstripes on the back of her suit as she wrote on the board.

[Guess what?  This story is unfinished.  Feel free to “choose your own adventure” and finish it in your head.  If your ending is any good, leave it in a comment for the rest of us to read.  I can only imagine what you perverts will come up with.]

3 responses to “Choose Your Own {Ending}”

  1. Sam Sam says:

    Whoa…this is excellent!

  2. Avatar The Tailor says:

    Nice work, Rosie.

  3. Avatar henri+rosie+gracie says:


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