o 359b4f51a22759c4 (8 page)

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The hairdresser blew out my hair. I don’t look like a new woman. I look like the same sloppy, dull Maggie. I put on the black lace mini dress, but it doesn’t look right.

And the outfit I brought for my fate with Justin isn’t dressy enough. Mom was right. I should have bought a new outfit. New I’m wearing the dress I wore to the premiere of Dad’s last film. It’s longer than I remember. Too long. Nothing I can do about it now.

We’re leaving for the benefit in ten minutes.

As far as I can tell, Mom hasn’t had a drink all day. I’m keeping my fingers

crossed that it stays that way.

11:30 P.M.

The benefit’s over. Finally.

I could tell Mom was nervous when she and Dad and I met in the front hall to go out to the limo. Dad said Mom looked beautiful. “What difference does it make?” she replied. “The benefit’s gong to flop. That’s what they get for scheduling it the same night as three other benefits.”

Dad said something about it not having to be a flop. Mom turned her back on him and walked out the door while he was still talking.

By the time Dad and I climbed into the limo, Mom had opened the car bar and

was dropping ice into a tumbler of scotch.

Dad sat across from her. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to drink before the evening begins, Eileen, dear. Do you?”

Mom took a big gulp of her drink and said sarcastically, “Hayden,
dear
, I think it’s a splendid idea.”

I didn’t want to be in the limo. I didn’t want to go to the benefit. I didn’t want to be with my parents. I thought,
I could just jump out right now and run into the house.

They can’t make me go
. Then I pictures the animals in the shelter and Laddie’ loving, trusting eyes. I had been working on the benefit too. I had to go. Especially if Mom was drinking.

And drunk she did.

When she poured her second drink, Dad said, “Eileen, I want you to stop this

right now
.”

Mom kept pouring and replied, “Hayden, I want you to mind your own business

right now
.”

As I wrote that, I had the strangest thought. Did I sound like that when Justin was trying to get me to eat? No. I was angry, but I didn’t yell. Besides, Mom and drinking is the opposite of me and eating. Mom is out of control. I’m taking control of my life. She’s doing something that’s bad for her. I’m doing something that’s good for me.

I just wish I hadn’t been so rude to Justin. Even of he was pushing me to eat, I didn’t have to bark at him.

By the time Mom was pouring her third drink, Dad couldn’t even look at her. He

complained about L.A. traffic and wondered if there was any way to get us to the hotel faster. We pulled up in front of the hotel as Mom finished up her forth drink.

As I climbed out of the limo behind Dad I heard him say to himself, “I’m going to have the bar taken out.”

“You should have done it long ago,” I mumbled.

I knew he heard me. His back stiffened, but he didn’t say anything.

When we walked into the hotel, Dad headed over to a big producer buddy of his

and Mom headed for the bar.

I looked around. The dog and cat posters were hanging just the way I had

imagined them, “They look perfect,” friendly voice said. It was Janice. Lana was behind her. They told me I looked beautiful.

“You’ve lost some weight,” said Lana. “It’s becoming.”

At that moment I was incredibly proud of myself. This was my reward for not

eating a greasy Juanita’s Burrito. At least I can do something right.

“Where’s your mother?” Janice asked.

I didn’t want to tell Mom’s friends that my mother had gone straight to the bar, so I said I didn’t know.

Janice said I had been a great help with the benefit.

“You’ve done a lot of filling in for your mother,” added Lana. “We’re really

grateful to you.”

I wondered if they’d still be friends with Mom after the benefit.

As they went off to look for Mom, I heard Janice say, “She’s a nice girl but...”

I couldn’t hear the rest, but it’s easy to imagine. “She’s a nice girl but she’s so unattractive.”

The next person I saw was Piper. She was standing with a friendly-looking dark-

haired man and pointing to the poster of Laddie. I had the happy thought that he might adopt Laddie.

When the man left, I ran to Piper. “Laddie’s photo looks great,” I said. “Was that man interested in adopting him?”

“I don’t know,” she said. And walked away.

I felt awful. I wished I could disappear.

I saw one of the volunteers from the shelter head in my direction. I hid behind a big plant before he spotted me. After he passed by, I decided to get a diet soda. As I headed toward the bar, I noticed that Mom was there. I gave up the soda idea fast.

I looked around and wondered what I should do next. The re was another half

hour of mingling before dinner and the auction.

I noticed Dad with a group of his buddies. He signalled for me to join them. But I didn’t want to listen to him schmoozing. And I certainly didn’t want to be the subject of his bragging.
Maggie is a great musician. Next time you come by she’ll pay for you
.

I caught Dad’s eyes and pointed to the other side of the hall, as if I had something important to take care of.

I did. I had to avoid Piper, who was coming toward me.

I pushed through a crowd of gorgeous, glamorous people and made my way to a

corner of the room. But Piper had followed me.

“I’m sorry I walked away before,” she said.

Why was
she
apologising to
me
?
I
was the one who had walked out on
her
.

“I’m sorry about yesterday,” I told her. Tears came to my yes. I couldn’t help it.

don’t cry
, I ordered myself.
Don’t cry
.

And I didn’t.

“I came down on you pretty hard,” Piper said. “But I’m worried about you,

Maggie you seem to be losing a lot of weight awfully fast. Have you been dieting? You might want to talk to someone—a doctor, a counsellor—about it. They can be a big help.”

I wanted to tell Piper to mind her own business . But I couldn’t. not when she was trying to be nice to me even thought I hadn’t been nice to her. “I’ve been watching what I eat,” I replied.

A waited approached us with a tray of cheese sticks—one of my
former
food passions. They smelled good. Piper took a bunch. “We can share these,” she said as she piked them on a napkin.

They smelled familiar and good.

I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and I was hungry. I thought,
If I eat a cheese stick
I’ll have to eat less at dinner. But that’s okay. Moms aid the hotel food was terrible. I’d
father have a cheese stick than a piece of overcooked chicken
.

I reached for a cheese stick. As I was about to pick it up, another thought came into my head.
Cheese sticks are fattening. If I eat one, my diet will be over. I’ll gain back
all the weight I lost
.

I dropped my hand by my side and looked up.

Piper was staring at me.

I guess I had been looking at the cheese sticks and thinking about them for awhile.

“Are you sure you don’t want one?” she asked in a soft voice. She sounded so

kind.

I almost blurted out,
I do want one, but I can’t. I just can’t do it
.

But that would have made me sound like an idiot.

“Piper Klein,” a voice called.

An elderly woman was hurrying toward us. “I’ve been looking all over for you.”

“A big-time donor,” Piper whispered in my ear. “I have to go.”

She handed me the napkin of cheese sticks and was gone. When a waiter passed

me with a tray of empty glasses I put the cheese sticks on the tray and hid in the bathroom until dinner.

At long last the lights dimmer, and people began finding their seats in the dining room. I sat with Dad and some people he hoped would invest in his next big film project.

Dad noticed I didn’t eat my salad (too much dressing) or the potatoes, which were drowning in cream sauce. He said I wasn’t eating enough lately and that my dress was hanging off me. I told him that I would buy some new clothes that fit. He said that wasn’t the point.

I don’t get it. He wants me to look perfect so e can show me off to his friends.

Then he criticises me for losing weight,

I decided he was upset about Mom and taking it out on me.

Before the auctioneer started the auction, Mom made a speech thanking her

committee. Unless you knew her, you wouldn’t know she’d been drinking. To me she sounded half asleep. She also tripped a little on her way back tot eh table. I thought a heard Dad mumble, “Close call.”

People spent a lot of money on the auction items. The benefit was a success.

Thanks to everyone on the benefit committee, except Mom.

The ride home was awful. Mom poured herself another drink. Dad picked up the

phone and made a couple of business schmooze calls. but the three of us didn’t say a word to one another all the way home.

I was glad Zeke wasn’t there. For his sake.

Everything is so confused in my mind. I know it’s wrong, but I’m beginning to

hate my parents.

At home Dad went to him room and I came up here to mine. Mom is still

downstairs. I’m sure she’s drinking.

I hate it here.

And I hate myself.

Sunday 8/2

4:30 P.M.

I don’t know where to begin. I’ve been crying for hours. If I write maybe I can finally stop.

I know it’s just a statue, but it meant so much for me.

I have one of the wings on my desk. The rest of the statue is in tiny pieces.

I’m going to try to write down what happened from the beginning.

I was still awake when I heard a big crash from the family room. I knew Mm was

down their drinking. I was afraid she’d hurt herself, so I ran out of my room.

Dad had heard the crash too. He pushed past me on the stairs to get to the family room first.

When I got there is aw the broken statue and Mom staggering around. There were

broken pieces everywhere.

“The angel statue!” I cried. “You broke it.”

“What was the stupid thing doing in the middle of the room anyway?” she slurred.

What Mom was calling “that stupid thing” was my favourite thing in the while

house. Sometimes, when I was a little id and upset about something, I would talk to the angel.

Now the angel and child were in a thousand pieces on our family room floor.

“Eileen!” my father shouted. “Don’t move. You’ll but your feet.”:

Mom was in her stocking feet. Dad’s feet were bare. I was wearing slippers and

hard soles.

“I’ll get her,” I told him.

“Be careful, Maggie,” he said.

I stepped carefully through the glass and reached for my mother.

She told me to leave her alone.

“There’s glass everywhere,” it old her. “You’ll hurt yourself. Let me help you.”

“Get a hold of yourself. Let me help you.”

“Get a hold of yourself, Eileen,” my father ordered, “or I’ll call the police.”

My mother laughed at my father. It was a horrible laugh. But she let me guide her to the bar stool.

She sat down and I went to the closet for a broom.

My father shook a finger in my other’s face. “This has gone too far. You’d better straighten yourself out, Eileen.”

“I’ll tell you what I’d better do, you cold fish,” she said. “I’d better have another drink.”

She reached for a bottle that was n the bar. He grabbed it away.

“I’m not going to let you destroy yourself,” he said in a controlled, angry voice.

“Of this family. It’s about time you admit that you have a serious problem.”

“I DO NOT HAVE A PROBLEM!” She shouted.

She got off the stool and left the room.

I thought my father would run after her, but instead he turned to me. “And you,”

he said in the same angry vice. “I don’t even know you anymore. Quitting jobs left and right. And not eating. This crazy dieting has to stop. You have a problem too, young lady.”

“I don’t have a—” I began to say.

I stopped myself. That was what my mother said about her drinking. And she had

a problem. But I’m not like my mother. Or at least I never want to be.

I don’t know what to say to my father, so I didn’t say anything.

He was staring at me as if I were a stranger. “What happened to my beautiful,

talented, kind hearted daughter?” he asked sadly. “What’s happening to my family?”

I was really angry at my mother at that moment—I still am—for making Dad so

sad. But what bothers me more is that I’m disappointing him too.

I used to feel that I could make up for some of Mom’s shortcomings, that I could be better than her. That I could make Dad happy. Now I know that I can never be good enough for him.

Dad suddenly exclaimed, “She must have a bottle in her room.” As he ran from

the room he told me to leave the mess, that Pilar would clean it up in the morning.

But I didn’t leave it for Pilar. I wanted to sweep up the remains of the angel and child myself. It was a ritual of respect for all that statue had meant to me.

I started to cry when I picked up the angel wings. I’m still crying.

7:30 A.M.

The phone woke me up a little while ago. I listened to the answering machine to find out who was calling me so early in the morning.

“Hey, Maggie,” said the voice. “What’s going on? Who don’t you write to me?

Why Don’t you call me? I know you’re there. Pleeeease pick up.”

It was Zeke. I suddenly missed him very much. I wanted to talk to him.

As I picked up the receiver, I reminded myself that he was just a little kid. That I shouldn’t let him know how bad things are at home. And, most of all, that he shouldn’t come home. He was much better off at camp.

I said hi. Then I told him that I hadn’t answered his email or phone messages

because I was really busy with the benefit.

BOOK: o 359b4f51a22759c4
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