I climb out of the backseat of my stepfather's station wagon. Standing on the driveway I bite into the donut he bought for me I and watch the coconut flakes fall onto the asphalt driveway. Trying not to lose sight of the tiny flakes at my feet, I chew and swallow, somehow managing to push the dry mouthful past the lump in my throat. I take another bite.
“Hi, how was school today?” My mothers calls down to me from the doorway.
“Fine.”, I mumble.
“You're not allowed to talk with your mouth full”, my little brother taunts, still buckled into the back seat.
But it wasn't fine. It was terrible.
How will I survive tomorrow, I wonder. I can’t go back.
I hold the next bite in my mouth, waiting until I'm sure I’ll be able to swallow again. I lose sight of the flakes, my vision obscured by the tears.
I try to hold back, but I can’t. It comes in deep heaving sobs.
"What is it? What's wrong?", my mother asks, alarmed, now coming down the steps toward me.
"I want Dad to come back", I sob. "I want my friends, our old house, my backyard, my crab apple tree."
"Come on, now. What happened?"
I tell her everything. How everyone at my new school hates me, how the girls in my class started an ‘Against Rachel Club’, just like in the book, "The Against Taffy Sinclair Club", which is where they probably got the idea.
"They don't even know me! The teacher said she lost her package of gold stars and they told the teacher I took them. She asked me if I took her stickers! She asked in front of the whole class!”- I break off sobbing harder. "I...I tried to explain to them I didn’t do it but Katrina Benoli said she saw me cupping something in my hand when I went to the bathroom. She even showed the teacher how I did it and I never did!”
"Come my love", she encircles me in her arms.
But nothing anyone could do or say could set things right. The ball's been rolling for some time. Things at home were unpredictable: the fighting, the anger, the emotion, the uprooting...the end of the world as I knew it - the abrupt realization that my parents made mistakes and they wouldn't always be able to protect me.
* * *
Tonight my mother calls me to see how my day was. She asks me the usual questions and I give her the usual answers. I feel as though I am living the movie Groundhog Day. I start to turn away from the conversation. I turn off. I can’t face the questions and I tell her I'm going to bed soon, even though it’s only 8:30 pm. She calls me back to tell me to watch some show on TV on how to meet a guy. This makes me want to slit my wrists, yet here I am, setting my TV to record it. I’m a robot. I barely exist.
The phone rings again, only this time my willful control was no match. I scream and throw the phone across the room. “FUCK OFF!”, I yell to no one and everyone and mostly myself, pulling at the hair on either side of my head. I let go, breathing fast, and disentangle my hands from my hair. I sit back down on the couch softly and write this down, barely looking at the screen, cause this is what I remember: coconut on ashphalt.