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Authors: Ann Dee Ellis

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BOOK: Everything Is Fine.
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No one answers her. No one is even looking at her except me.

She walks over. “Is this your first time?”

“No,” I say.

“It’s not?”


“Can I help you with anything?”


And then she leaves. Mrs. Dean looks over at me. “Mazzy, please.”

She looks like she might get mad.

So I get on my knees and put my head between them. The oranges start to fall out of the bikini top so I take them out and
put them by the mat.

Mrs. Dean acts like she doesn’t care.

I put my head back between my knees.

I kind of like sitting like that. I smash my face onto the mat — it smells like rubber bands and sweat.

The lady talks again. “Okay, concentrate on the breath. In through the nose and out through the nose.”

All of a sudden there’s a loud thunder of Darth Vader breaths in the room. I sit up.

No else is sitting up.

Instead they are all breathing really loud.

They are still with their faces on the mat but they are breathing really loud.

“Good. Good,” the lady in charge says. “That’s what we call the Ujjayi breath. Use it to set your practice. The breath will
rejuvenate and restart your system.”

I think about that.


The rest of the time is like that: we have to stand up, raise our arms, bend down, jump back, do a push-up, get on our bellies,
and then go into an upside down V, which the lady who is named Monica calls Downward Dog.

I have never seen a dog do this or Upward Dog, where you put your stomach on the floor and your head in the air.

The whole time we’re doing all this we have to breathe like Darth Vader.

Before I do a Downward Dog, I tuck in my shirt so it won’t come up.

Mrs. Dean watches me and makes a face like, “See? You should have worn a different shirt.”

But I just close my eyes and restart my practice.

Most of the time I don’t do what the lady says.

Some I do but I don’t if I think it won’t feel good like when she says, “Take the twist deeper; this is displacing stale blood
and moving juices through your digestive organs.”

Everyone twists and I think, stale blood?

For the next three things I just sort of do whatever I want.

Until this one: Modified Bridge Pose.

We are on our backs and she says we are going to do a Modified Bridge Pose. “This one,” she says, “is excellent for relieving

My heart jumps.

I look at Mrs. Dean again but she isn’t looking at me. She’s in a back bend.

I do the back bend and my heart won’t stop.

“Lower for a breath,” Monica says.

I lower.

“And now,” she says, “on the inhale, pop back up.”

I pop back up and start breathing like Darth Vader — even louder than Darth Vader.

I do it more than three times.

I do it like ten times while everyone else is doing a Fish Pose.

Then I do the next three things: I try to do a headstand and I can’t do it but I try; I touch my toes even though my knees
are bent and it hurts my back; and finally, I sit in reverse lotus and breathe.

That’s when class ends — with everyone sitting cross-legged and their faces on the floor again saying something out loud that
I don’t understand.

When people start getting up, I keep my face on the mat and think about the Modified Bridge Pose.

Modified Bridge Pose.

“Mazzy? Are you okay?” It’s Mrs. Dean talking, and I don’t want to get up yet.

But I do.

“How was that?” she asks.


“You liked it?”


She gives me another one of her looks and starts to roll up her mat.

I roll up mine too and Monica the yoga lady comes over and says, “It was nice to have you in class.”


“Did you enjoy it?”

Mrs. Dean is standing so close to me that we’re touching.

“Yes,” I say. “It was almost as good as the other place I usually attend.”

“Oh, where is that?”

Mrs. Dean clears her throat and I don’t.

Instead we all stand there and I notice that Monica has a tattoo of a star on her neck.

Finally, Mrs. Dean says, “Well, thanks for class. We better be going,” and then we leave.

: crayons on paper


Dad made me go back to school one week after Olivia was gone.

Everything had to go back to normal. “We have to move on.”

He went to work in his car and I went to school in the bus and Mom sat in the house by herself.

Part of this is Dad’s fault.


Everyone at school said, Sorry. Sorry about your sister. Are you okay? Sorry. Sorry.

My three best friends still ate lunch with me but they didn’t talk like they used to.

They just bit on their sandwiches. And bit and bit.

Before it all happened, we talked about boys and bras and how many fries we could get on a fork.

We also talked about gymnastics because we were all going to take it together.

After it happened, they just bit and bit and bit.

I’d rather watch


Oprah has a personal trainer named Bob Greene.

He has natural guns like Dixie’s old boyfriend Henry and he says anyone can get in shape. Anyone.

I wonder if Norma is anyone.

I also wonder why Dixie dumped Henry and what happens when people get dumped.

Oprah with guns: clay


After yoga, Mrs. Dean takes me to the Gap.

“I don’t shop here,” I say.

“Of course you do.” And she starts looking at something.

I sit on a place where they keep T-shirts until a lady with a nametag that says Fairy says, “You can’t sit there. Sorry.”

So then I sit on the ground by the jeans.

“Where’s Dixie?” I ask Mrs. Dean, but she is holding up a brown blazer in the mirror so she can’t answer me.

I say it louder. “I thought Dixie was going to come with us to yoga.”

“Nope,” she says, and holds up a gray one that looks like elephants.

“Why not? You said.”

Mrs. Dean sighs and puts the blazer back. “Dixie had a little accident today so she couldn’t come.”

“What kind of accident?”

“It’s not important.”


“Because Dixie is always messing things up.”

Mrs. Dean holds up a pink shirt now that makes her face all red.

“That makes your face all red.”

Her face gets redder in the mirror.


“You’re welcome,” I say.

“Why don’t you get up and look around a bit? I’ll buy you a new outfit.”

“No thanks,” I say.

She holds up another shirt and it is green.

It looks like baby poo. So I say, “What did Dixie do?”

She sticks her chest out and pulls the sides of the shirt around her. It doesn’t look good.

“It doesn’t matter what Dixie did.”

Mrs. Dean looks at me and then walks to another part of the store.

I keep sitting there.

I think about Dixie.

I also think about Dixie’s accident.

I wonder if it was like our accident or not that bad.

Mrs. Dean comes back with a stack of clothes and says, “Okay, let’s go. Get up. We’re going to the dressing room.”

I sit there.

“Get up, Mazzy.”

I still sit there.

“I said, get up.”

The lady named Fairy is looking at us and so is a girl who looks familiar, and I wonder if she went to my school.

“Mazzy,” Mrs. Dean whispers. “Now. Please get up right now. Make this a bit easier for both of us.”

Then I remember. The girl’s name is Holly.

I get up and say, “Hi Holly.”

Holly says, “Hi Mazzy.”

Mrs. Dean smiles.

So I say, “I don’t usually shop here.”

Mrs. Dean stops smiling and grabs my arm.

I do a karate chop in the air and then we go to the dressing room.


“Colby, what if they’re old vampires?”

“How old?”

“Like grandmas.”

“Are they hot?”

“Pretty hot,” I say.

“How hot?”


“And they are vampires for sure?” he asks.



“What?” I say.

“Your story doesn’t work. When you get to be a vampire, you don’t get old.”

“You don’t?”

“No, stupid.”

“Not at all?”

“No. You become immortal. You don’t age at all.”

Colby gets up from the sprinkler.

“Duh,” he says.

Then he says, “So no. I would not make out with an old vampire.”


In the dressing room I try on a jean skirt, three T-shirts, a pair of jeans, a striped thing, and four pairs of shorts.

“Well,” Mrs. Dean says, “I love them all. How are we going to decide?”

I’m standing there in my underwear, which is lacy, and my bra, which has oranges in it. Mrs. Dean hasn’t said anything about
the oranges again.

“I like the skirt and the T-shirts,” I say. And I don’t really like them all that much but I guess I should get some stuff
for school.

“What about this?” She holds up the pink striped thing.


“Why not? You looked so cute in it.”

“No. I hate it.”

And I’m being rude. Mom would say, “Mazzy, don’t give her the satisfaction.”

But for some reason I can’t help it. Mrs. Dean is on my nerves. She’s acting like she knows me.

I karate chop at her and she backs against the wall.

“What was that?” she asks, like I was really going to hit her.


She looks at me for a while and I don’t care.

Then she says, “You heard from your dad?”

I want to karate chop again so I do.

She sighs and says, “Mazzy, honey, you’re acting like a little kid. You need to act your age.”

I close my eyes, and we are both standing there and standing there until finally she says, “Well, I’m going to go buy these.
You get dressed.”

“All of them?”

“Yep. Today is your day and I thought you looked great in everything but maybe not these.”

She puts a pair of shorts on the hook.

“I liked those.”

She ignores me and says, “I think your Mom would agree that these are very flattering clothes.”

I feel something sick in my stomach.

She’s folding everything and I’m sitting on the bench still in my underwear and oranges.

“I’ve been wanting to do something for you and Roxie for so long and this turned out to be a fun idea.”

I pick at the lace on my panties.

“Don’t you think it was fun?”

Fun backwards is NUF.

“NUF,” I want to say, but I don’t. I don’t want to act like a little kid.

She starts humming again and then says, “Okay, get dressed and I’ll meet you out by the checkout,” and then she’s gone.

I wonder what my mom would say if she was here.

I wonder if Mom would like these clothes even a little bit.

I wonder if I look like Mom at all.

I look at myself in the mirror.

Stand up and look at everything: my face, my arms, my stomach, my legs, my butt, my everything.

This is everything.

And I don’t look like her.

I take the oranges out and jump on them so that juice gets all over the floor.

I smash them and wipe them all over the walls and then someone says, “Hey, what’s going on in there?”

Some shoes are outside the door — right next to the door — almost in the stall.

I freeze.

A knock on the door.

“Is everything okay?”

“Yep,” I say.

The shoes are still there.

And then they leave.

I push all the orange leftovers into a pile in the corner of the dressing room and put the shorts we aren’t buying on top
of them.

Then I get dressed and leave.


When I get home from yoga with bags from the Gap, I go straight to her room.

She is in her yellow nightgown and she is looking at the ceiling.

“Mom,” I whisper.

She keeps looking up, and I sit in the chair by the bed.

BOOK: Everything Is Fine.
7.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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