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Zeke wouldn’t give up. “What are they doing now?” he asked.

“Why don’t you ask them yourself?” I asked. “They’re both here. Call back on the house phone.”

“I can’t do that!” Zeke shrieked. “I’ll say I want to come home and Dad will yell at me for being a quitter.”

I’d like to help my brother, but what can I do?

I told him I was exhausted and had to get off the phone.

Everyone is getting on my nerves today.

After work I met Amalia at Hair Today. I couldn’t decide how I wanted Darlene to cut my hair. Finally, I followed her suggestion to have it short in the back, slanting to longer in the front. Amalia said it looks great and very :in.” I think it makes my face look rounder than ever, meaning fat, which it is.

As we were leaving Hair Today we spotted Sunny and Ducky coming out of a

lingerie shop.

I hadn’t seen either of them in ages.

“Cool haircut,” was Sunny’s first comment.

“Way cool,” added Ducky.

When I said I wasn’t sure I liked it, Sunny suggested I add a coloured steak to one side. (But I sued to put colours in my hair all the time. I’m a little sick of coloured streaks

—on me anyway.)

Ducky said that wasn’t my style. That everyone had to go with his or her own

style.

Right. If you have a style. Which I don’t.

Sunny studied me. “Hey, did you lose weight or something?” she asked. “You

look good.”

At last someone noticed.

“Maybe a little,” I said.

“You look like you’ve lost a lot of weight,” said Ducky. “Are you sure you’re

eating enough?”

“Of course I’m eating enough.” I almost added, “That’s my problem,” but I didn’t want to get into a whole discussion about food.

Sunny is model-thin. I wondered if she’s dieting too. Or is she one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to worry about what she eats?

I checked sunny over to see if she’d done any more body piercing. Her ears were studded with a bunch of earrings, which wasn’t new. She was still wearing a navel ring.

But she’d added something else on her stomach. A small rose tattoo with thorns and leaves circled like a half-moon around the ring. Maybe it’s one of those temporary tattoos.

I hope so.

Amalia asked Sunny and Ducky what they were doing at the mall.

Sunny held up a bag. “My mom asked me to get her a new nightgown and a scarf

for her head.” Then she threw an arm around Ducky’s shoulder and said, “Dad let Ducky and me run out of Bookstore Jail to run this mission of mercy.” she looked around and said sarcastically, “Aren’t malls the most exciting apace in the world? Almost as much fun as bookstores.” She added under her breath, “And hospitals.”

“Do you get the idea Sunny doesn’t like her job?” Ducky asked.

I wanted to ask Sunny how her mother was doing but decided to wait and ask

Ducky when she was out of earshot. (Ducky told me Mrs. Winslow wasn’t getting any better. I ache for Sunny.)

Ducky said they were on their way to Mario’s. that it was All-the-Spaghetti-You-Can-Eat night. He asked me and Amalia to come with them.

“Sure,” said Amalia. She turned to me and added, “is that okay with you?”

Food. Again!

“I’m here to shop,” I said. “Not eat.”

“Maggie ahs a hot date Saturday night,” Amalia blurted out.

I elbowed her, but it was too late. Sunny and Ducky were already quizzing me.

After they had the scoop about me, Justin and the film, Sunny said, “We’ll help you pick out something to wear, Maggie.” She looked me up and down. I ad come right from work so I was wearing dirty jeans and a red T-shirt with the HCA logo. I was dressed like a jerk and I felt like a jerk. I had thought of bringing something to work to change into before I went to the mall. But I couldn’t decide what it should be.

I may not like the way Sunny dresses, but at least she has style. I’m a mishmash of styles, which means
No Style
.

Sunny said I should go to the second hand store and buy something retro.

Pass.

We went into a boutique.

Ducky wanted me to buy tight, slim pants, a glittery T-shirt, an foxy high heels.

Pass.

Amalia held up a long, flowing skirt and said I should wear it with a string of beads she’d lend me. I didn’t even bother to try it on. I knew it would make me look like a balloon.

I picked up a short brown skirt and a velveteen top with thin black vertical stripes.

I figured dark colours and vertical stripes would make me look thinner.

I put the outfit on and studied myself in the three-way mirror.

I thought the skirt was snug. Amalia, sounding a little doubtful, said that if I really thought it was snug, I should try the next size up (a size four!) and that she’d get it.

I told her no to bother. I sucked in my stomach and silently vowed that it would fit by Saturday.

I ate a salad while they gorged themselves on spaghetti.

Amalia pointed an enormous forkful of spaghetti at me. “This is so good,

Maggie,” she said. “You have to taste it.”

“No, I don’t,” I shot back. “leave me alone.”

She looked hurt, but I don’t care.

Maybe now she’ll stop trying to fee me.

I’m exhausted.

I’m going to sleep.

Friday 7/24

1:02 A.M.

Goal: Forget about food. Don’t eat.

Called in sick. Staying home from work today.

Nervous about date.

Nervous about Mom and benefit.

Nervous about date.

Nervous about writing new song for Vanish.

Nervous about date.

Tried on skirt. It almost fits.

2:30 P.M.

Why can’t Pilar mind her own business?

Mom and I were working on the benefit in her study. Pilar came in to see hat we wanted for lunch. Mom said she’s have an omelette. I said I didn’t want anything, that I wasn’t hungry.

“That’s not healthy,” Pilar said. “You’re a growing girl! You have to eat.”

“I don’t want anything,” I repeated.

Pilar glared at me and told my mother, “Mrs. Blume, it is not healthy.”

“Well, you know these young people, Pilar,” mom said. “They like to be thin. It’s fashionable,” She smiled at me and said we should go shopping for a dress for the benefit. I reminded her of all the work we still have to do if there’s going to
be
a benefit.

And that I’d rather shop for a dress next week. (My goal is to fin
comfortably
into a size two by then)

I made loads of phone calls for Mom.

Better go back downstairs. If I’m with Mom, maybe she won’t start drinking.

4:09 P.M.

I was too late. Mom started drinking lunch. My staying home didn’t make any

difference on that score. After lunch she said she was tired and went to her room. I worked on the benefit alone. I only needed three more items for the auction and we can have the program printed up. Hmm. Someone has to write all those items up. Better call the HCA office and see who can do it.

10:16 P.M.

Lost another pound.

I reached my goal.

The skirt fits.

Why am I so nervous?

NERVES
Wired.

Tightly wound wound tight?

And bound

To thoughts

That imprison

My heart can’t take wing

While I am bound

Here

On the ground

Tightly wound

Maggie Blume

Another depressing poem by Maggie Blume.

Whatever made me think I could write poetry?

I’m going to resign from the staff of
Inner Vistas
when we got back to school.

How could I have thought I’d be editor someday?

I feel like I’ll never write a good poem or song lyric again.

I’m a failure.

I can understand why Dad is disappointed in me. I disappoint myself.

I’ve decided not to wear my new skirt. It fits, but it makes me look fat. Amalia is going to come over tomorrow to help me pick out something from my closet.

Good night.

Bad night.

Saturday 7.25

6:30 P.M.

Justin is going to pick me p any minute now. I’m so nervous. Maybe writing in

my journal will help me stay calm.

Mom had a major hangover this morning and was in no shape to talk on the

phone. I handled benefit business for her. Lots of phone calls.

Amalia came over this afternoon to help me pick out what to wear tonight. I wish she hadn’t bothered. She drove me crazy. For example, I put on my purple satin pants.

“My hips look
huge
in these,” I groaned.

“Are you crazy?” Amalia explained. “They look great n you.”

I hate it when people tell social lies just to make you feel better. Why wouldn’t she admit that some of my clothes made me look fat for an outfit she’d contradicted me.

Then she got really serious. “I think you’re dieting to much, Maggie,” she said. “You look
so
thin it’s not healthy.”

I told her that I have tiny bones. That I’m supposed to be think. She argued with me about that. She was pretty annoyed by the time she left. But not as annoyed as I am with her.

I decided to wear the brown skirt and velveteen top at all. I changed my nail

polish from pink to

Uh-oh, Justin’s here

Sometime After Midnight

The good news is my date with Justin Randall is over.

Dad made sure he was home with Justin picked me up. I was afraid my parents

would embarrass me. But they didn’t. I don’t think Justin could tell that Mom had been drinking. And Dad didn’t ask him what his parents did for a living or remind him of my midnight curfew.

We made out escape pretty quickly.

Justin looked incredibly handsome and relaxed. I felt incredibly ugly and nervous.

I didn’t know what to say.

Once we got in the getaway car, he started a conversation by asking me how

things were going at my new job. I told him about Little Guy and the photographs we took for the benefit. Then we talked about Vanish and some of our rehearsals. Justin does a great imitation of Rico.

By the time we reached the theatre, I was more relaxed.

I was on a date with Justin Randall! And we were clicking.

People were lined up around the block for tickets to the film, but Justin already had ours so we breezed right in. he headed straight for the refreshment stand. “This is our first movie together.” He ordered two popcorns with butter without even asking me if I wanted one. I hate it when people do that.

“No butter of salt on one of those,” I told the counter guy.

“But that’s the best part,” Justin protested.

“It’s the way I like it,” I said.

Justin shrugged his shoulders and handed me my popcorn

The film was so good I don’t think he noticed that I didn’t eat anything. When I was tempted to have some popcorn, I would imagine the solid fat stuffed into the little holes of each kernel. I was determined not to eat anything until dinner. And I didn’t.

After Maxie Benox’s first number in the film, Justin put his arm around my

shoulder and whispered in my ear, “See why I think you sound like her?”

He kept his arm around me until the film was over.

I wished that the movie would go on forever.

After we left the theatre, someone shouted, “Hey, Justin.”

Justin looked around and waved. “There’s Frank,” he said. He took my hand until we pushed through the crowd until we reached a group of seven Vista kids. I’d seen them around school but I didn’t know any of them. When we got outside, Justin introduced me.

“Maggie’s the lead singer of Vanish,” he said.

A few of those kids were at the Battle of the bands. They said they loved my

singing. They don’t know how I sound now and that I haven’t written a new song in a month. That I probably never will.

“Come on over to the bowling alley with us,” Frank said. “We’re going to eat and roll a few.”

I hoped Justin wouldn’t accept. I’ve only bowled a few times. I knew that I would make a fool of myself.

“Can’t,” Justin told them. “We have a dinner reservation at

Juanita’s.” He put his arm around my waist. I sucked in my breath she he wouldn’t feel my roll of fat.

“Juanita’s!” exclaimed Frank. “Way cool!”

“Have you been there?” Justin asked me.

I shook my head no. I’d heard of Juanita’s and knew that it was a trendy Mexican restaurant.

“If it’s your first time, order a Juanita Burrito,” someone said. “It’s stuffed with rice, beans, chicken, and cheese. And they have the best salsa ever.”

“And don’t forget the guacamole,” Frank added.

“All this food talk it making me hungry,” said another guy. “let’s go.”

There were gone and it was just Justin and me again. He had made dinner

reservations and had turned down a chance to hand with his friends. This was a real date.

Juanita’s was just around the corner from the theatre. It was a good thing we had reservations. The place was mobbed.

We followed the mare d’ past tables piled with plates of overstuffed burritos. How could one person eat all that food?

Our table was in the corner. We’d barely sat down when the brought us hips and

salsa. Justin ordered quicklime. I
never
eat avocados. They taste great, but they are loaded with calories. And chips are greasy. I decided I wouldn’t eat until the main course.

I wasn’t going to gain back all the weight I lost in one meal.

Justin tried to get me to order a fruit smoothie, but those are loaded with calories too. I saw one on another table. It looked amazing, but I had to show some RESTRAINT.

I ordered a diet soda.

Juanita’s was noisy and the air was heavy with food smells. It was hard to be

heard without shouting.

The waiter handed up menus. “I think we know what I want,” Justin said. He

looked at me. “Juanita’s Burritos, right?”

Wrong.

“I’d like to see what else they have,” I said.

The waiter left and I scanned the menu. Justin tome me all the great dashes he had eaten there. All fattening. How come he’s not fat?

BOOK: o 359b4f51a22759c4
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