o 359b4f51a22759c4 (7 page)

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We went into the dining room and Pilar gave Amalia a huge piece of lemon tart

and a glass of milk.

“Maggie used to love my lemon tarts,” Pilar told Amalia. She turned to me. “But I suppose you don’t want any tonight.”

“No,” I replied. “I don’t.”

I know I sounded rude, but I don’t care. Pilar has to learn not to bug me about eating. I thinks he wants everyone to be fat like her.

While Amalia ate, she explained that she could only stay a half hour. Tat her

mother dropped her off and would pick her up when she finished the family food


“I thought I’d stop by and see what’s going on with you,” she said. “You haven’t answered any of my phone calls.”

I told her I’d been really busy. I asked Amalia how her job was going. She told me all about the ice-cream parlour. I secretly vowed never to eat ice cream again.

Finally, Amalia finished her tart and we came up to my room. She threw herself

across my bed and leaned on her elbows “So tell me,” she said excitedly. “How was you date with Justin?”

There was no way I was going to give Amalia or anyone else a blow-by-blow

description of my disastrous night with Justin.

“It was all right,” I said. “the film was really good. But I’m not hat interested in Justin, not as a boyfriend.”

Amalia looked surprised. “Does Justin know that?” she asked. “I mean, he was

really disappointed that you weren’t at the rehearsal.”

“We’ll till be friends,” I told her.

I changed the subject by asking about the rehearsal. Amalia said it didn’t go very well. “It wasn’t the same without you,” she said. “You were missed.”

Truth Translation:
Vanish needs a lead singer. Not necessarily me

“Rico said to remind you that they want some new material from you,” Amalia


“I’m working on a song,” I lied.

Truth Translation:
I know that Rico and the rest of the band are sick of my old
songs. So what makes them think they’d like any new songs better?

Amalia asked when I would be able to go back to rehearsals. I told her not until after the benefit. She said that she wouldn’t schedule any rehearsals until I could be there.

“You still haven’t told me what happened on the date of why you and Justin are

‘just friends,’” Amalia said.

I just shrugged.

“Have you talked to him since Saturday?” she asked.

She wouldn’t give up. I never realised that Amalia was so nosy.

“It’s no big deal, Amalia. And I really don’t want to talk about it. It’s sort of boring.”

Truth translation:
Mind your own business.

Amalia was quiet for a minute. I probably hurt her feelings. I hope she’s learned a lesson about prying into other people’s business.

I changed the subject by introducing her to Zeke’s turtles.

She picked up Zeus’ and asked me, “Did you go out to eat or anything after the


I couldn’t believe it. She wasn’ giving up.

The doorbell rang.

Saved by the bell.

“That’s probably your mother,” I said.

I went downstairs with Amalia and said hello to Mrs. Vargas. She said what a

great house we had and they left.

In this big house

I am alone

It’s a prison

Not a home

I cant stay here

I want to disappear




That’s how I want to me

Maggie Blume

What a stupid poem.

I’m going to bed

One more day until the benefit.

I’m not looking forward it.

I’m not looking forward to anything.

Thursday 7/30

8:13 P.M.

What an awful day!

The only thing that’s going well is my diet. Lost another pound. All my jeans are baggy on he. Yes! I have definitely gone down a size.

Dragged at work. Mom wasn’t here when I came home.

I went to kitchen. Pilar wasn’t there.

A fresh loaf of bread was cooling on the counter and a chicken and vegetables

were roasting in the oven. The bread smelled wonderful, but I had to ignore it. I wrote a note:
Pilar, I already had dinner. Maggie.

Took some carrot sticks and low-fat cottage cheese from the fridge and brought

them to my room.

9:12 P.M.

Tried to work on song lyrics about abandoned animals, but they were awful. My

writing stinks.

Heard Dad come in around seven-thirty. He came up to my room and asked where

Mom was. Told him I didn’t know. Eh said dinner was ready. Told him I already ate.

11:04 P.M.

Mom still isn’t home.

last year Mom didn’t come home all night one might. Dad acted like is wants a

big deal and made up some story about how she probably had told him she was going someplace, but he’s forgotten. He never forgets anything so I knew he was lying.

Neither of our parents were there the next morning when Zeke and I got up the

next morning. Pilar made us go to school anyway.

When we came home, Dad was back but Mom wasn’t. He said she was on a trip

with Janice. He said she had called his office the day before to remind him that she was going on the trip, but his secretary had forgotten to give him the message. She would be home the next day.

Later I overheard Dad talking on the phone. He said, “Let her sleep it off, Janice, and I’ll comfort her in the morning. I want to keep it from the kids.”

I wonder where Mom is not.

I wonder what excuse Dad will make this time.

Friday 7/31

3:00 A.M.

Mom still isn’t home.

Tried to sleep. No luck.

I went downstairs around midnight. Dad and Pilar were in the kitchen. I stopped at the closed door and listened before going in. Dad was telling Pilar that he was going out to look for Mom and that she should call the hospitals. I wondered if Pilar did that last time Mom disappeared.

I pushed the door open. “Is there anything I can do?” I asked.

Dad seemed surprised. I daw the saddest look in his eyes. This time he didn’t

make up a story. He said that he was going to look for Mom, that he was sure he would find her, and that I should go to bed and get some rest.


Alone with a bottle

Where will you go?


Alone with a bottle

Are you happy? Don’t you love us?


Alone in a bottle

Who do you love?

Not me


Where are you now?

I am alone

Maggie Blume

5:30 A.M.

Dad just came in with Mom. I heard him trying to get her to go up the stairs to her room. She was crying. Dad was telling her to keep quiet. She yelled that he should leave her alone.

What would have happened if he hadn’t found her.

Friday, 12:31 P.M.

Mom is not up this morning.

She was sleeping by the pool when I came home from work.

Work. What a disaster.

Piper noticed that I was tired this morning. She asked me if I was okay. I said I was fine. She said I liked pale. She was eating a bagel with cream cheese and offered me half.

Told her I wasn’t hungry.

Which I wasn’t.

She asked me again if I was okay.

Doesn’t anyone mind their own business?

Fed dogs. Put Laddie in run. Fed cats. Put another dog in run. Swept floor.

Suddenly Piper screamed from the back of the shelter, “Maggie, bring two

leashes. Quick!”

I grabbed a couple of leashes. As I rushed toward the dog run I heard barking and snarling. Laddie and a black Lab were fighting. Piper was trying to separate them. “Stay there!” she yelled. “Throw me a leash.”

I did. She managed to put in on the black Lab. Laddie ran to me. “Bring him in,”

Piper ordered.

I clipped on the other leash and led Laddie to his crate. A big tuft of hair was missing from his neck. I could see his skin but he wasn’t bleeding. Laddie lay dawn in his crate, put his chin on his folded paws, and looked up at me. His eyes were loving, not accusing.

Piper came in. she put the other dog in his crate. He growled at Laddie.

Laddie whimpered.

“Well, that was a pretty big mess,” Piper scolded me. “Don’t you know enough to clear the run before you put a new dog out?”

I was surprised that Piper was scolding me. Didn’t
know how terrible I felt about what had happened?

“Sorry,” I said. “I didn’t do it on purpose.”

“Of course you didn’t do it on purpose. I just don’t understand how you could

make such a stupid mistake.” She studied me. She still looked angry but her voice softened. “Are you okay?” she asked. “You always look so tired.”

you I’m okay.”

Piper has some nerve to criticise how I look. She’s not so great-looking herself.

“Give Laddie some water and come back to my office,” she ordered. “I’m going

to warm up some soup. I want you to eat something and take a break.”

She headed for orifice.

As I poured water for Laddie, I started to cry.

I couldn’t stop.

I didn’t want Piper nagging me about eating. An I didn’t want her to see me

crying. There was no way I was going to eat soup.

I was all tingly and nervous—like small electric shocks were going through me.

I couldn’t stay in that place another minute.

I brushed the hair out of Laddie’s eyes. He looked up at me sadly. “I’m sorry I let that dog out when you were in the run,” I said softly. “And I’m sorry about your hair,” I patted him and said god-bye.

Then I walked out of the shelter.

Maybe Dad’s right about me.

Maybe I
a quitter.

9:08 P.M.

Mom came out of her room from a “nap” at around four o’clock this afternoon.

She didn’t say anything about her disappearance last night. Neither did I.

Her face was puffy and she had big circles under her eyes, but she wasn’t

drinking. I told her there was a bunch of messages on her machine, reminded her that the benefit is tomorrow night, and asked if there was anything I could do to help.

“Oh, I suppose so.” She sighed.

We checked the messages together. She said she had a splitting headache and

asked me to go over to the HCA office and do a few things for her.

As we walked down the hall together she caught a glimpse of herself the mirror

and said sadly, “I look really awful.” I looked at our side-by-side reflections. “O hope we both look a little better by tomorrow,” she added.

Mom’s right. I’m ugly. But at last I’m not fat anymore. And I’m going to be

thinner. I may not be perfect, but I can try to look it.

Message from Zeke on my machine when I came home from HCA. More

kvetching. I don’t know why, but his message made me start to cry. I couldn’t listen to the whole thing. I miss Zeke. But I’m glad he wasn’t here for Mom’s disappearing act last night.

Mom’s in the family room now. I peeked in a little while ago. She was reading a magazine and drinking a glass of wine. I hope that’s all she drinks tonight. It would be so embarrassing for Dad—me too—if Mom missed the benefit tomorrow.

I wonder what would be worse: Mrs. Hayden Blume, HCA benefit chairperson,

as a no-show. Or, Mrs. Hayden Blume, HCCA Benefit Chairperson, shows up drunk.

I’m sick of the benefit.

I’m sick of life.

I’m going to bed.

Saturday 8/1

1:34 P.M.

Justin just called me on Mom’s line. He said he called on the family line because I hadn’t returned his calls and he wanted to be sure I was okay. “Are you sick?” he asked.

“No,” I told him. I explained that I’ve been very busy with the benefit and my job I didn’t know what to say next. But he kept the conversation going by saying he missed me at the band practices.

“Maggie, are you not coming to band practice because of what happened at

Juanita’s?” he asked.

I didn’t know what to say. What came out was something like: “I wasn’t feeling

very well that night, I’m sorry.”

“If you were sick, then
sorry,” he said. “You had an upset stomach and I was pushing you to eat. I wish you had told me.”

“That’s okay,” I assured him. I liked that he said he was sorry, even if his apology was based on a fake upset stomach.

I was thinking Justin and I might try again. But then he ruined everything by

saying we should go back to Juanita’s another time, when I can enjoy the food.

I didn’t bother to tell him that I’d
enjoy the food at Juanita’s.

Why Can’t people go on dates without making such a big deal about food?

There was another call on my mother’s line. It was the HCA office with a last-

minute question about the benefit. I told Justin I had to go. I was relived to have an excuse to end the call.

Now that I’m writing about the phone call, I realised that Justin
to call me.

The band doesn’t like rehearsing without a lead singer, and we have a gig next Saturday night. Justin wanted to make sure he wasn’t the reason I wasn’t going to band rehearsals.

Amalia probably told him to call.

If I just skipped a few more rehearsals, maybe they’ll replace me. I hope so. Justin can take the new Vanish singer to Juanita’s an they can stuff themselves to their heart’s content.

Feeling wonderfully thin today, I fit into a size-two black lacy mini dress that was tight two months ago. Not it’s loose.

Had handful of dry cereal and some grapefruit juice for breakfast. Won’t eat again until benefit.

Mom still sleeping. At least she’s home.

Dad went into office for a couple of hours. Asked me to keep an eye on Mom.

Be glad when tonight is over.

5:29 P.M.

Mom got up around two. She took a long swim and showered. Then harasses

came and gave her a massage and a facial. After that, her hairdresser came to do her nails, hair, and makeup. “I feel like a new woman,” she told me. She looks it too. She’s a beautiful woman—when she’s not drinking.

BOOK: o 359b4f51a22759c4
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