Jamie is in her final year of high school, and she has nothing to show for it - no friends, no accomplishments - and she knows it. Will anyone be able to pull her out of her self-loathing and get h...
I didn’t belong anywhere, because I couldn’t be categorized. Even in school, I had no friends. I sat at the back of the classroom, keeping to myself, writing mostly. Sometimes, I’d stare out the window and write a story about whatever was out there. But the story never had a happy ending. And that was because I hadn’t experienced one. I didn’t think you could write stories about things you hadn’t known. After dad left, I would lie awake at night, hoping to hear the creak of the door. Sometimes, I’d think I heard something, and I would rush downstairs, ready to welcome him back and forget he’d been gone all those months. But that door never really opened, and it kept me shut inside this world, hoping that one day my happy ending would come.
That was a long time ago. Still, nothing has changed. Eighteen, and no prospects. No hope. Here I am, desperately searching for an escape from an alcoholic mother, shitty grades and a severe lack of social interaction. I still write sometimes. But usually, I just kill the characters off to end the story. I don’t know how else to tie up all the loose ends. Writing isn’t enough anymore. So my second escape of choice? Why, sex, of course. Now, I know, you’re probably sitting there, shaking your head disapprovingly. I bet your lips are currently uttering a near silent ‘slut.’ But hey, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. And boy, have I tried it. In all the time I’ve been alive, I have only found two things that I am fantastic at: writing a depressing story, and intercourse. And you can judge me all you want, but I’m happier for it.
The only downside to my newfound happiness is the rumors that tend to circulate about me. Obviously, being the loner that I am, no guy wants to actually admit to having had sex with me. But I’ve had sex with a lot of them; jocks, stoners, even members of the school band. I don’t even hit on these guys; they come to me. But naturally, someone will see a guy with me on occasion. So, of course, I often get the muttering of ‘whore’ and a range of other unoriginal names when I walk down the hall. School would probably be hell if I cared what any of these idiots thought of me. However, nothing could be worse than home, so school is practically heaven.
Today was no different to any other day. I fell asleep in math, and Joey, a jock, whispered that we should catch up later under his breath during English. I told him I couldn’t be bothered. The truth was that I just wanted some peace and quiet. So, after school, I walked to the Belleville Coffee Shop. I used to go to Dunkin’ Donuts until the assholes from my year made it their prime after school hangout spot. The Belleville Coffee Shop was a tiny shithole, and it was an almost half hour walk from school, but it beat having to put up with the rowdy yelling of my peers.
I sat at my usual table at the back of the shop, ordering a black coffee on the way. I hunched over my notebook, chewing on the end of my pen, trying to block out the Spice Girls song that was playing over the radio in the shop. Growing tired of the girls wailing that I should ‘spice up my life,’ I pulled out my CD walkman, and stuffed the headphones in my ears. As The Clash blasted in my ears, I began to write, occasionally sipping on the coffee that the elderly lady had so kindly brought to my table.
After a couple of hours of getting nowhere and writing down little to nothing, I walked home. Many were afraid of the streets of Belleville once dusk set in, but I was used to it. On the contrary, I found the walk quite soothing. It helped me get up the courage for what I was about to do – face my mother for the first time today. So I reveled in the crisp January air, sucking in what felt like the thousandth cigarette that day, smiling and flicking a coin at the homeless man I saw on the corner of Joralemon Street every day. He was in a drug haze, staring straight ahead and rocking back and forth slightly, but I knew he appreciated the gesture. I turned right onto Liberty Avenue and too soon was I standing in front of my house, dreading what lay within.
As I stood on the front porch of the modest house, brushing the accumulated snow off the shoulders of my coat, I heard a yell. ‘Jamie? Is that you?’
I sighed and took a deep breath. ‘Yeah, ma. Hold on, I’m coming.’ I took off my boots outside the door and stepped inside the chilled house. Mom and I were a little strapped for money, so we hadn’t been able to use the heat a lot this winter. Just another reason to add to the list to sit inside the coffee shop as many hours of the day as possible. Especially after the ridiculous snow storm last week. I wouldn’t have been surprised if we’d been turned to icicles and had to wait for people to notice we hadn’t left the house for a couple of days and come and thaw us out. Come to think of it, I’m not sure if anyone would notice.
I padded down the hallway in my socks and into the kitchen. There sat my mother, at the kitchen counter on a bar stool, scotch in hand. I glanced at the clock: 5:30. Within an hour, she probably wouldn’t be able to stand. I had to give it to my mom, she was committed. And getting drunk was serious business. ‘How was work?’ I asked casually, moving across the kitchen to put some water in the kettle.
‘Busy,’ she replied shortly. Mom was a mortgage specialist at Sovereign Bank in North Arlington. She absolutely hated it. Actually, there weren’t a lot of things she liked. I put it down to the extreme alcoholism and depression. Unfortunately, the two seem to go hand in hand in her book. ‘I can’t believe how stupid some people are with their money.’ She said, rubbing her hand across her forehead. I really couldn’t believe she had the audacity to say that, based on the amount of money she spent on scotch alone. I quickly stirred my coffee and left the room under the pretence that I had lots of homework.
My room was upstairs. It was nothing special. Ivory colored walls, almost completely covered with posters – amongst them Nirvana, Sex Pistols, Blink-182, The Cramps, The Clash, Green Day and Stiff Little Fingers. One corner had a desk, piled high with stories I’d never finished; another, my bed; another my stereo, which was plastered with stickers. I was tired, so I spent an hour lying on my bed, thinking about whether Joey would be in the mood again tomorrow. I had some serious tension that needed working out. I wondered if any of his friends knew that he slept with me. I wondered if anyone I’d slept with hadn’t been embarrassed about it. ‘What a bunch of pussies,’ I said aloud as I lit a cigarette and opened my bedroom window, wafting the smoke outside. My mother, of course, smokes like a chimney, but if her daughter does, it’s utterly unacceptable. We are never short of hypocrisy in this house. Never.
Upon realizing how hungry I was, I decided to venture downstairs, even though I feared the state of my mother. I’d made it to the refrigerator without seeing my mother when I heard her walk crookedly into the kitchen behind me. I ignored her and rummaged through the freezer for something to eat. Nothing. I moved across to the cupboard. Nothing. ‘Ma, there’s nothing to eat.’
‘I want some dinner, and there’s nothing to eat.’
My mom simply sat there, staring at me. I hated her when she was like this. It wasn’t like it was even my mom behind those eyes; like she’d been replaced by some horrible stranger with no heart in that chest, and no brain in that head. Hollow. ‘Okay.’ She said slowly. She seemed angry. She seemed as if she was racking her brain for something to be angry about. ‘You didn’t clean the kitchen this morning.’ Her words all strung together so that I had to blink and process what she’d been trying to say.
‘I didn’t have time ma, we were running late this morning, remember?’ We were running late because she was still drunk when she woke up. She’d needed me to help her get ready and make her breakfast.
‘Don’t speak to me in that condescending tone,’ she slurred. ‘You should’ve done it. I told you to.’
‘But ma,’ I began.
‘You should’ve done it.’ She repeated.
I sighed, a sign of my giving up. ‘I know ma, I’m sorry.’
‘I told you to,’ she said again. ‘I told you to.’
The woman I barely knew stood up slowly, leaning on the counter. ‘I’m sick of you,’ she muttered. ‘You’re so selfish.’
I frowned. Here we go. Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the guilt parade! Today, we have two of our favorite regulars! In the innocent corner, we have Deborah Gunn, prizewinning mother! And in the guilty corner, we have Jamie Gunn, worst daughter in the world, and selfish moocher!
‘What do you do for me, Jamie? I do so much for you. I put the food on your plate. I am a good mother!’ As per usual, she sounded more like she was trying to convince herself than convince me.
‘There is no food on my plate tonight, ma! I’m cold because there’s no heat! The front door won’t even lock because you broke the deadlock a couple of weeks ago! God, we don’t live in Connecticut, someone could come in and murder us!’ Not that anyone would give a fuck.
‘Fine then!’ She yelled, nearly falling over. ‘If this isn’t good enough for you, you can get out, you ungrateful bitch!’ Even though this was a weekly routine, the whole ‘get out’ game; that hurt.
I don’t think any kid should hear their mom call them a bad name. Sure, do it behind their back, but never to their face. Your parents are supposed to be the ones who love you no matter what, even if no one else does. Nobody loved me, not even my mom. I wasn’t even sure what I had done to stop her. Maybe I spilled one too many drinks in toddlerhood. Maybe she just needed someone to blame for dad leaving. I don’t know. Either way, I found myself walking down the streets of Belleville for the third time in two weeks, looking for a place to stay the night. I settled on Belleville Park, but I thought I should try and get some food first.
And so I found myself in the Belleville Coffee Shop for the second time that day, ordering some kind of pastry, and more coffee of course. As I sat munching my pastry ravenously, tapping my pen on the table trying to think of something to write, a boy walked in the door abruptly. He slammed a note down on the counter and ordered a coffee, sitting at the table across from mine. He instantly started rummaging through his backpack and pulled out a sketchbook. I think he felt my eyes on him, because he looked up. I quickly looked back down at my notebook and pretended to write. When I looked up again, he was still looking at me. Except he didn’t pretend not to be. He looked at me calmly, then when I tried to smile at him uncomfortably, he looked back down, bending over his sketchbook, looking absorbed in whatever he was doing. For the first time ever, I knew exactly what I wanted to write about, I just wasn’t sure how it would end.
Hey guys, I hope you liked the first chapter!
I have a clear vision for this story, I have it mapped from start to finish. I'm really excited about it.
This story is quite intense and real, so I hope you all like it as much as I do!
Please rate and review, it really does help a tonne! Tell me what you think of Jamie, her mother, the stranger in the coffee shop, whatever you want :)