The Precious Dreadful
I don’t know if this is even my story to tell. Corey and I swore all those years ago we wouldn’t ever. But it’s starting to come out on its own now in all sorts of ways. So I’m kind of like, “F promises.”
Besides, it’s not as if we’re friends anymore. I haven’t even seen him since that summer we were seven.
And what’s a childhood vow worth at practically sixteen? Nothing? Everything?
My brain does this warp-speed thing, especially when I think about telling. But I should start at the start. I’m Teddi Alder. Ordinary.
Everything about me is halfway. Five six, I’m stalled between jockey-little and catwalk-tall. Sophomore year ended yesterday, so I’m officially midway through the obstacle course called high school. I’m also half a virgin. So.
About the story, I could say it’s a riddle wrapped in a mystery, some creature lurk-deep in the swamp of memory, but that’s a little too Stephen King. A little too Friday the 13th, and
it’s not quite like that. Nope, not a horror story, not exactly. But horrible enough.
Shoot! My alarm’s about to bleat. Not sure why I even bother to set the freaking thing anymore. I haven’t slept a full night since I was about seven.
I slide through the curtains strung up in the doorway of my room. Polyester panels offer zero privacy, but at least they don’t creak the way a door would. Silence helps me slip undetected through my mother’s room to downstairs. No real challenge there. The woman slumbers deep as a dead thing.
I head to the bathroom for a quick whiz and parts-washing, drag a brush through my hair, swipe on deodorant, veto mascara. Snagging clothes draped on the bathroom door hook, I dress.
In the kitchen, Binks eyes me from stoveside. Tail beating half speed, he noses his squeak bone, gears up for a morning howl. Administering a preemptive ear scratch, I select a container from the cabinet. “Why can’t you eat the dry stuff?” Peeling back the lid, I hold my breath, dump moist chunkage into his bowl, and say, “Filet mignon, my ass.”
As he goes to town, I grab an apple from the basket on the counter. Bruised and a little mealy, but it’ll do.
One hand on the broad, metal handle of the front door, I pick with my fingernail for the millionth time at the PLEASE COME AGAIN! sticker, a vestige—like the heavy glass door itself—of our apartment’s former life as Mike’s Mart, the Alder family
store. Leaning back against the door, satchel shoulder-slung, I scan the kitchen, extra shabby in the slatted morning light.
“I hate it here.”
Parting the ancient venetians, I peer across the driveway. The pool won’t open for hours, so all’s quiet; just Jimmy the Park Guy, spearing chip bags and assorted crap from the grass.
I step out, relishing the blast-furnace pulse on my face. Summer vacation has begun.