Memoir By: Rose Walder
I stare at my Chromebook, open to a Quizlet list. Tomorrow is my Spanish final, and I’m studying with all I can. My phone is at my side, and my earbuds are plugged into it. It sits on top of the kitchen table, to the right of my Chromebook. In the living room, my friend Ellie sits on the couch, studying for her exams in the next week. I sigh, still staring at the screen. Downstairs I can hear Ryanne, Ellie’s sister, Timothy, Her brother, and my little brother, Austin, playing on the exercise equipment. I know that Dad doesn't like it when we use the equipment with people at our house. But Dad and Mom aren’t home, neither are Ellie’s parents, as they all went to a meeting at church.
I stand up, grabbing my phone, but I’m to late. It falls to the floor and my earbuds come disconnect from it. I pull them out of my ears and wrap them around my hand. I put my phone in my pocket and walk to the door of the basement. I can hear the slamming of feet on the treadmill, and can tell it is going way to fast. I walk down a few steps.
“Austin?” I call over the railing. I sit on the step and pear through the wood slats on the side of the stairs. He rolls his eyes, but comes over to me. Ryanne continues to make the speeds higher on Timothy, who is running. “You guys probably should do something else.” I say. “You know that Dad doesn’t like us to use that stuff with other people. Plus, at those high speeds, it’s dangerous.” I place the earbuds on my hands on the step next to me. Austin sighs.
“But it’s fun.” He complains. I shake my head at him.
“And could lead to serious injury. You know what Dad says.” He rolls his eyes at me again and walks back to the treadmill. I stand and walk up the steps. The slapping of feet on the treadmill belt stops. I reach the top of the stairs and shut the door behind me. I sit down at the table and reach for my phone. Then I realize that my headphones are still on the stairs. I stand up and walk to the door. I open it, but stop when I hear the voices that are in the basement.
“She’s so ugly.” The girl voice says. It’s Ryanne. My brother snickers.
“I guess.” He agrees.
“She’ll never get married ‘cause nobody likes her.” I hear another voice say. Timothy. I feel bad for whoever they are talking about. Ryanne can be brutal sometimes.
“Well Marshall likes her,” I hear my little brother say. Marshall is a 2 year old that I babysit. And then it clicks. They are talking about me. I put my hands over my mouth to stop myself from saying anything I’ll regret.
“Sounds like true love,” Ryanne teases. “Can you imagine?” They all laugh. My face must turn red, because it begins to feel really hot. When they all stop cackling, Timothy brings them all back to the point.
“But seriously, nobody likes her.” Timothy declares. Austin laughs.
“Not even her friends!” He says, almost sadly. I breathe in sharply, remembering my meltdown the other day when I was worried about how I thought my friends Anna and Ella were ignoring me. He must have been listening. What a nerve he has to mention to that to people we barely even know. I feel my eyes start to fill with tears.
“Anna and Ella are so much nicer than she is.” Ryanne says. Timothy starts to butt in, but Ryanne continues. “And at church she says hi to me and acts like she’s so nice but she’s just weird. I mean like, Anna and Ella are only friends with her because they feel sorry for her.” I feel a single tear slide down my check. I wipe it away. All these hurtful words are what I’m afraid of, and what I fear people actually think of me. I hear someone mess around with some of the old toys we have. That includes one of the magnetic dolls we have where you can add all the clothes and accessories.
“This looks just like her!” Timothy says. Ryanne laughs.
“You mean it’s ugly like her?” Now Timothy and Austin both cackle with laughter. “It just needs red hair!” I can hear the clinking of magnets and wood as they put things on the doll.
“Give it a skirt and shorts over top. And a…” Austin must be looking for something. “That shirt.” I hear more clinking. Timothy gets up and starts to walk towards the stairs. I jump up from where I’m sitting, step down the few steps to my earbuds, grab them and dash up the steps to the kitchen. Behind me, I expect to hear silence, like they are sorry for the things they said, and the fact that I heard every word. Instead, I hear laughter. I shut the basement door behind me, and lean against it for a second. I look at Ellie, but she’s in her own world with her headphones and doesn’t notice the stream of tears falling down my face. I straighten up from the door and speed walk to the stairs leading up to where my sister’s room is. When I get to the stairs, I hear all the laughing and words in my head again, and I feel the tears fall onto my shirt. I run up the stairs, down the hall and and barge right into Em and Kate’s room. Kate is there, on her bed, and looks up as I come in. She sees my tears and motions for me to sit next to her on the bed. After I sit, I’m wrapped into a hug.
“What happened?” She says, still holding me close to her. I struggle to breathe through my tears, and manage to stammer out a quick version of the words and pain I went through before I fall backwards and cry and cry and cry. I flip over onto my stomach so that no-one downstairs can hear my sobs. Kate rubs my back, and tries to tell me that they are wrong, but I don’t hear it. All I can hear is the laughter from my brother and people that I thought were nice.
“They just laughed, Kate, just laughed.” My body is on autopilot, and takes in quick breath. “They don’t even know how much it is hurting me.” I sit up, and Kate wraps me in hug. When she let’s go of me, she has a odd, determined look on her face that I have never seen before. She stands up.
“I’ll be right back, sweet-pea.” She winks at me, and my sad lip twists up a bit at the mention of her nickname for me. She leaves the room, and I’m left alone. I grab a blanket on her bed and wrap it around me. The words that have been said about me circle around my head. I close my eyes. They hurt, and sting from all the tears that I have cried.
A few minutes later, Kate comes back.
“They said that it was just a joke.” She reports. When I look at her face, I can tell she doesn’t believe it, just the same amount that I don’t. She wraps me in another big sister hug. “You can’t let what another person says about you hurt your feelings. People are always saying and thinking things, and you just have to face that people won’t always like you. But they don’t matter. What they said was all wrong. You’re beautiful, and nice. You know that what they said about your friends isn’t true.” She stops, and looks at me from an arms length away. “You do know that, right?” I sigh. “Anna and Ella have been your friends for years, hon. You don’t have to worry about them not liking you. Besides, if they don’t, it’s their loss.” She taps my nose. “Take a deep breath and get back to your studying. Don’t let them see they hurt you.” She pulls me off the bed. Squeezing my hand, she nods to the door. I walk towards the door and turn around.
“Thanks, Kate.” I say sincerely. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.” She nods, and picks up the book she was reading. I turn the door handle and walk down the hallway, down the stairs and to my Chromebook. I pop in my earbuds, and do just what Kate said. I act like nothing happened. Though, something did happen. I don’t think that the words they spoke will even leave the back of my mind.