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Inconsequential (Book 2 of J+P series)
YA Fiction, dealing with relationships, emotional abuse, cutting, and finding true love. Perry is back for her sophomore year, anxious to bask in the freedom and independence that college brings. All summer she anticipated being reunited with her friends who have been a huge support system in her life. But this might be her last year.
Perry’s tyrant parents threaten to remove her from school if she does not excel. She has to achieve high grades and be accepted into the highly competitive junior year Life Science classes in order to stay. She can’t imagine leaving this school or her friends – so failing is not an option.
Her plan is to keep her head down and not be distracted by the opposite sex. But will obstacles get in the way of her success? Will she be able to ignore her hormones and the guys on campus? Is she smart enough and studious enough to make the grade?
“You are going to Jared’s room for a study session?! Ooo I feel something brewing!!!” Jen teased.
“Stop it and go have sex with your boyfriend or something! Leave me alone. I am struggling with physics and he is so smart at it. I just need to tap into that brain of his.”
“Perry, first of all, you can use a crib sheet on the test – why bother studyin’? Just make a kickass crib sheet. Second, you want him, not just his brain. And third, I think I WILL go have sex with my boyfriend. Thanks for the suggestion.” I rolled my eyes at her.
“Don’t forget to doll up. You know you want him!!!” Eye roll number two.
“Go away you sex fiend! Leave me alone.” Jen skipped down to her room with a smile on her face.
I loved Jen to death but I barely saw her. Teasing each other just made me miss her more. She and Edward were inseparable and their hormones were out of control. She believed everyone should be having sex regularly. I was not trying to join her sex nation. I had already made a kickass crib sheet, and had my notebook, so I pinched my cheeks and spread some lip gloss on before heading to the guys side of the dorm.
Jared was waiting at the entrance, leaning against the door. He looked breath taking. He was lean with broad shoulders, brown messy hair, and a striking profile. It took my breath away seeing him standing there. Ok, study session, no feelings for him. Feelings for him led to hurt and pain last year. This year is about grades and staying at this college. Physics, physics, physics. Just then he looked up and saw me. He smiled at me and I melted. What was this pull that he had on me? I hated turning into such a marshmallow around him.
“Hey Jared. Thanks for helping me tonight.”
“Glad to help. Greg is out shooting hoops with David so it should be quiet in my room.”
All alone with Jared. Grades, Staying here.
“Great.” I followed him to his room and sat in one of their old chairs. I felt goose bumps growing on my arms and my stomach felt all jumbled. Maybe this was a bad idea. How much would I end up learning when my body was screaming at me how excited it was? I was torturing myself by being here. But maybe I was wrong, maybe I could pull it together and do this. I unpacked my book, crib sheet, and notes. “I worked on my crib sheet today and I think it covers everything.”
“Crib sheet? You don’t need a crib sheet for the test. Let me see that thing.”
“Careful with it. Yes I do need it.” I stated.
“What the heck Perry!” Jared flipped the crib sheet over in his hands, lifted flaps, and pulled out the accordion-style folded panel with my most prized equations. I gleemed proudly at my piece of art. I had worked hard and hoped it would be a huge help on the test. “This thing is multi-layered. Why are all these sections colored differently?”
“To keep sections organized.”
“Ten bucks says they won’t let you use this.”
“What? No way. They totally will. It’s still single paged!”
“Yeah, POP-UP single page. “ He laughed and shook his head in disbelief. He then put the crib sheet up high and settled in next to me in another chair. “All you need is one equation. All the rest can be derived from that one equation.”
“Jared, that will take me the whole test period! My brain is not super physics brain like yours. I can’t derive like you. I need cheat sheets!”
“You don’t Perry, trust me.” Jared spent the next 2 hours trying to teach me how to derive tons of equations from just one. I spent those 2 hours resisting his teaching. It was actually an enjoyable argument and a fun study session. In the end, I didn’t learn much but I felt reconnected with Jared.
“Thanks for teaching me nothing.” I joked as I was packing up.
“Hey, I was teaching you plenty, you just turned your ears off and got stubborn.” he poked me in the ribs. “But, you’re welcome and anytime you need something, let me know.” He wrapped me in a hug and we said goodnight.
When I made it back to the room I noticed Molly was still up. “Well, how did the study session go?” She inquired.
“Great, I didn’t learn a thing,”
“He tried, but he is too smart for me. I need someone less smart to tutor me.” The insane statement that just came out of my mouth was honest but absurd. “He didn’t want me to use a crib sheet. Can you believe it?”
“Really? Why?” She asked.
“Something about deriving all equations from one. Like I said, too smart for me.”
She laughed. Just then our room phone rang and we both jumped. I grabbed it and answered.
“Where the hell have you been?” It was my mom. I had forgotten to call her back and she sounded angry.
“Mom, sorry, I’ve been busy. I have a big test this week and just got busy studying.”
She could care less about my excuse and I knew she’d react that way, but my instinct was to defend myself. Unfortunately, it only led to a bigger fight in the end.
She spent the next 10 minutes arguing over my irresponsibleness in not calling her back and 20 minutes bragging about the incredible achievements she accomplished at work and how all her bosses adored her. “Then I presented the Williams project to the group and they fell in love with me. They could not stop talking about what a great job I had done on my slides and talk. You should really be proud of me.” All I could say was “That’s great, sounds like you’re really happy.” The last 5 minutes were her reminding me that we had 4 weeks of the fall semester remaining and that every grade counted. She never asked how I was doing, if I was happy, if I was feeling well. This was a call about her and she wanted an audience. When it ended I felt unimportant and uncared for. I wished so badly that I could tell her about my study session with Jared. I wanted to share the things that made me happy, but I knew it would be met with scolding. If I didn’t make the grades, she would blame him for distracting me. “I need to go to bed Mom. Goodnight.”
“Aren’t you going to tell me you love me?”
“Ok, I love you too then.”
God dammit. Even the end of our conversation pissed me off. Why couldn’t she say those words to me first? What if I didn’t say “I love you?” Would she never say those words to me on her own? I hung up the phone but headed straight for the bathroom.
“Perry, you ok?” Molly shouted after me.
I waved her off. I was mad and I needed space. I had enough to handle here, I didn’t need to be her cheerleader too! I ran into the last bathroom stall and slammed and locked the door. I slid down to the ground and felt the hot tears on my cheeks. I don’t even know how long I sat there. I didn’t want Molly to see me all a mess. I had tried telling others about the turmoil between my mom and myself but no one ever believed it. In fact, they would just look at me and not say anything. In hindsight I think they were trying to stay out of it, but it felt like my concerns were not valid because they wouldn’t even comment on what I had confided in them. I had learned to endure it and keep quiet. Sometimes I wished the abuse was physical so it was visible to me and others. The emotional abuse was something felt inside. It hurt just as bad, but outsiders could not see it, making it hard to believe it. I did not want Molly inquiring about it. I am not sure I could explain it to her. Maybe it really was all in my head?
I needed the pain inside to go away. I needed to be embraced in love. Was I so undeserving of that? I must be an awful person to not be worthy of love. I wondered if my lack of relationships with the opposite sex was because I had been taught that I don’t deserve love. I took some deep breaths and splashed some cold water on my face.
Trusting Strangers follows a 7 year old girl and her family as then travel from their hometown in a Chicago suburb to the lush Smoky Mountains. It’s their first vacation, but it will be their most memorable one. As their vacation is coming to an end, an unexpected life-changing event leaves them stranded in the tourist town of Gatlinburg, with no money to extended their stay. The family find themselves having to trust in strangers.
This biographical tale is a part of my childhood that has introduced some amazing characters into my life. When I retell the story to people they remark “how incredible!”, “you have got to write that story down!”, and “you just don’t hear about this kind of event these days!”.
“Mom, do motel’s have TV’s?” I asked.
“Lots of motels do, I am not sure about the one we are staying in. But it’s all we can afford so we have to make do with whatever is there. Got it?” she replied.
I nodded and said a silent prayer for a TV.
Mom walked in and talked to a guy in the office. It was strange how the office was in a separate building from the rooms. She returned to Jerry and me with a key and a smile.
We headed over to a door marked 150. I wondered if there were 150 rooms here. To me it looked like just ten. What a strange number system. Jerry and Mom started crying about dad. I didn’t know why they were getting so upset over it. He was going to be fine. Every inch of my body knew he was going to be ok. How could they be sad when he was going to be fine? I told them they needed to stop crying and they got mad at me and told me I didn’t even know what a heart attack was. I couldn’t believe they said that. I knew it was when your heart stopped working, like what happened to Mr. Dumas when he died, but I just knew dad would be fine, no question in my mind. Jerry and mom looked pretty irritated with me.
Mom opened the door to our headquarters for the next few weeks. It was very dark and stale in the room. We set our stuff down near a dresser and even in the darkness I could make out a TV! All was good and I said a silent prayer in thanks of the TV.
Mom opened the blinds and we all went silent. Room 150 didn’t look so bad in the dark, but in the little bit of light…
The window was only a foot tall by 2 feet wide and was filthy and covered in spider webs. Dust from the disrupted drapes danced in what little sunlight the window provided. The ceiling had those square panels people put in their basement, most of them were stained yellow or brown. The carpet was dark brown plush but was ratted together as though it had many things spilled or leaked upon it. The blankets had cigarette burns and holes throughout it. And the air was stale and musty. I did not even want to look in the bathroom for fear that it would be worse in there.
My mom did not say anything. Did she not notice how crappy this place looked? It felt so unclean and bad. The thought of sleeping in this bed made me want to cry. I needed to be brave and endure this so Mom did not have one more thing to deal with.
I was longing for my bedroom back home. My pink bedroom, with my single bed, my white furniture, my soft tan carpet that had no spills, and no grime.
My blanket that was clean and white, free of cigarette holes and burns. I missed Christine. It had been almost two weeks since I last saw her. I wondered if she had made a new best friend. I wondered if life would be different when I went home. I wondered if people would make fun of me because I sounded like the Tennessee people with their southern accent. Would we ever get home? This whole situation was beginning to feel like a really bad nightmare.
I sat on the corner of the bed, because I didn’t see any marks on that part of the blanket. Mom announced that she needed to make a phone call. I hoped it was to a fancy hotel to make reservations for us. I was surprised that she got up and left the room.
“Where are you going mom?” Jerry asked.
“There are no telephones in the rooms of this motel. I have to use the payphone in the parking lot.” she replied and pointed toward a graffiti covered payphone.
“Are you kidding me? Mom, what kind of place is this? Do we have to stay here?” Jerry pleaded.
“Sweetie, come on. It’s just for a little while. Maybe when Clive and Cathy’s guests leave they will welcome us back . Let’s do our best to make this work till then. Please?” she replied. No hotel reservations for us.
He nodded and then turned away from her with his head down. A few minutes later Mom returned and told us she was letting the hospital know we had switched locations. Great, now that makes it official.
Mom spent the day with us walking around Gatlinburg. I am not sure if she just needed a day to reassure us that all was ok, if she needed a mental break, or she was trying to keep us out of the motel till bedtime. Whatever the reason, we had a fun day. We didn’t see any of the attractions, because they all cost money, but it was fun walking around this quaint town together. The only thing that would have made it better was Dad.
We returned to the motel. It was dark. Luckily, this hole in the ground was in a sweet little town and not in a bad neighborhood, but this must be the place that people with hardly any money stayed at when they visited this town. Mom said they were doing renovations, trying to make it nicer. They could only get better, this place was pretty disgusting the way it was.
After I changed into my pajamas, Mom told me to brush my teeth.
The bathroom. I opened the tattered door that felt like it was made out of cardboard and flicked on the light. The bathroom looked as though someone had attempted to clean it up for us. How nice. But at closer inspection, the mirror had a crack at the top, the faucet had green build up around where the water came out, the toilet had black stains close to the rim of the bowl, and the tub had lots of owies in the coating. I hope mom doesn’t ask me to shower while we stay here. Darn, if this place had a swimming pool I could count that as my shower!
Brush teeth, use the potty – exit quickly.
Mom had bought a bag of Cheetos while we were in town, so we all munched on some and watched TV before attempting sleep. There was nothing worth watching. Mom said ,“Time for bed guys, I am pretty sure the bed linens are clean. They just have owies on them. Please do your best to get to sleep.”
“Well, it doesn’t look too clean to me.” I muttered before lying down. I refused to let the big blanket touch me – sheet only. I knew sleep would be hard to achieve tonight. I was so used to the weight of a blanket on me that I felt naked lying here with just a sheet, but I couldn’t bear the thought of pulling that cigarette burned and stained blanket all around me. I listened to the TV for as long as it took to fall asleep. I think I heard two long adult programs and a little bit of late night news before I conked.