Monday, November 15, 2010

AJ Silent Voice Week 26: Big Girls Don't Cry

AJ Silent Voice

Picture 1

Picture 2

AJ Silent Voice’s Choice: Picture 1

Big Girls Don’t Cry

Mandy screamed in agony as I splayed out my winning word...”actuate.” She hated me right now, I could see it in her face.

“MOM!” she yelled. I laughed loudly and she scowled. Her hands folded in front of her chest and, before I knew it, she’d dumped the board over into my lap. Mom came in just in time to see the pieces fly, but she wasn’t concerned. This was a common occurrence in our house. Mandy was smart, like, really great at math and science, but she sucked at anything like this. And Mandy didn’t like to suck...or to lose.

I put the board slowly back on the table and began to scoop the pieces out of my shirt and pj pants. By this time, she’d come out of her fit and was helping me pick up the ones that fell on the ground. While I was busy searching for the few I knew had skipped under the couch, she was snickering.

“What’s so funny there, little sister?” I asked. She hated when I called her that, so I made a point of doing it often...and around a lot of people...especially at school. Being her senior was sweet justice. All her straight A’s couldn’t come close to touching my status above her.

When I’d finally reached the strays, nearly dislocating my shoulder trying to reach under the couch, I stood up and saw the source of her joy. There, on the board, were the words, “Boo You Whore.”

“MOM!” I yelled. She pissed me off when she started with the name calling, and she knew Mom wouldn’t like her language, but she did it anyways. I called out to Mom again, but just as she rounded the corner, Mandy swept the letters away and began packing the game up.

“Chicken,” I muttered, and she shot me a go-to-hell look.

“I don’t even know why you girls play that game. You always end up arguing.” She dried off the glass in her hand and put it in the cabinet above her.

“No, we don’t argue. Mandy just loses every time, then decides to be a baby and throw a fit.” I plopped down on the couch and snatched the remote off the arm of the chair just as Mandy reached for it.

“Whatever, Anna. You cheat. Mom! She cheats and everyone thinks she’s so good at it but it’s not true! She doesn’t even get good grades! She’s a cheater!” Mandy said, her arms flailing and the corners of her mouth turning down into the most unattractive pout.

“I don’t think she cheats, honey. You’re both good at different things. That’s good,” Mom said. Her optimism only fueled Mandy’s anger.

She huffed down into the chair beside me. “It’s just a stupid game. It’s not like it matters.” She took one look at the television, then at me, then scanned the room to see if Mom had left before retaliating.

“It’s true, you know. You’re stupid. Everyone at school knows it. They tell me all the time how lazy you are and that the teachers don’t even like you. Your friends don’t even like you.” The sing-song tone to her voice made me nauseated, and I could feel the heat rising in my chest.

Her words hurt, and I wanted to cry even though I knew they weren’t true. But we were locked in this struggle for power and I’d be damned if I let her see me lose it. “Like you’d know, Mandy. Why would a senior even talk to a fish?”

She cackled, the witch that she was, and blew off my insult. “You’re the only one who thinks like that. It’s just a stupid grade, Anna. It doesn’t mean anything. Besides, they like me better than you. Why do you think I have a date with Chis tonight? He’s your ‘friend,’ right?”

At that, the tears came of their own volition. Mandy knew I liked Chris, like, really liked him. And, I knew she didn’t. He wasn’t her type at all, not that she’d dated enough to even have a type, but she was just doing it to be nice. She wasn’t even doing it on purpose to hurt me. Mandy just felt bad every time she told him no. What started as a nice gesture had now become a weapon. And over what? A game of Scrabble?

I sniffled, and she turned towards me now, jerking her eyes away from the television. “What? What are you crying about! God, Anna. Don’t cry, geez. I didn’t mean it. I was just joking.”

“Shut up.” I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand, then the bottom of my shirt, till my tears were dry. Mandy was just staring at me like I’d grown a third head or something. “What? Just leave me alone, okay?”

She shook her head and went back to watching television. During the commercial, she asked, “You’re not going to tell Mom what I said, are you?”

“Maybe.” And I was being honest. She was so crappy to me sometimes that I wished Mom and Dad would make her stop. But it was my word against hers, and she always seemed to win. She knew it too, but it took a lot for her to convince Mom I was lying, and even though I didn’t want to admit it, I think it made her feel bad.

In a moment of weakness on my part, she snatched the remote out of my hand. Clicking off the button, she got up and stood in front of me. “Look, I really didn’t mean it. I mean, if you want me to, I’ll tell Chris I’m sick or something.”

I smiled, thinking of all the evil things I could tell Chris about why Mandy had blown off their date. He’d hate her for sure now. Or at least I hoped he would. My luck, he’d try harder.

“I don’t care what you do, Mandy. Give me back the remote.” I reached for it, but she pulled it back, just out of my reach. “Give it to me!” I yelled.

Mom’s voice echoed through the living room. “Girls! Don’t fight! Share!”

Mandy stuck her tongue out at me and swung the remote by her thumb and forefinger, right above my head. “Scream louder next time, Anna. Dad might wake up. Then I’ll tell him what a cry baby you were being.”

I ignored her comment, but inside I seethed. I hated her. A few loose tears fell down my face, and once she realized I was crying again, she rolled her eye and huffed. I didn’t want the stupid remote anyways, so I stood up and shoved her hard in the chest. As I made a bee-line up the stairs to my room, I heard her behind me.

“Wait. Anna, wait! Wait up!” she yelled.

I stopped and turned toward her. “What?”

“I’m sorry, okay? You can watch whatever you want. Don’t go upstairs and stay. You always do that,” she said.

“What do you care? I can do whatever I want.”

“I’m sorry, okay? Please, just come back downstairs. I’ll make you some mac and cheese, you know, with the bacon things you like. Then we can watch a movie or something.” Her pout was exaggerated, of course, but the emotions behind her eyes were real. For as much of a bitch as Mandy could be, she really didn’t mean to. I knew that, but some days it still didn’t make it feel any better when she aimed it at me.

It was a constant push and pull between us. I wondered if we’d be this way our entire life. I hoped not. I wanted the chance to be friends minus the teenage angst and hormones. I sighed heavily and nodded my head. We walked down the stairs together, her arm linked in mine while she yammered on about what movies were on the television.

She picked “A Knight’s Tale” and made our mac and cheese, and we sat side by side on the sofa until the credits rolled.

“So, um, I’m going to call Chris and tell him I have too much homework. Maybe we could play scrabble again, or go to town or something.” She seemed so awkward sitting there, like asking me to spend time with her was uncomfortable. I chuckled, knowing full well Mandy didn’t do the emotional thing unless she was PMSing, and she definitely didn’t do the sisterly bonding thing either.

“Okay, what gives? Why do you want to hang out with me all of the sudden?” I asked.

Mandy sat down and lowered her head before she spoke. “When you got up and walked away, I realized that you were going to be gone soon, and I wouldn't fight with you whenever I wanted to. Maybe I needed to make sure I got some good times in before you ran out on me and did your college thing.”

“Aw, Mandy,” I sighed.

“I’m gonna miss how easy you are to piss off! I’m going to miss I don’t have another sister.”

I sat down and threw my arms around her before she knew it. For a moment, she leaned into me and really relaxed. But that moment passed, as they all did, and she was shoving me away form her and announcing her disgust.

“Um, hello! Personal space!” she yelled.

I laughed and she smiled a bit, and we decided to play a rematch of Scrabble. Even though we both knew it would turn into World War III, we didn’t care. This was us. We wouldn’t have it any other way.