My Stars Are On a Different Orbit

Chapter 2

I am, was…a was. A used to be. Something. A girl who had friends. A life, a school. I was an honors student. I could walk through the hallways smiling at the people I had grown up with. The teachers all knew me, or at least they knew me through Elena since she was a great student. Having her around to help me with homework made me into an honors student. She took time to check over my work, pulled me, and I mean pulled and dragged me through math, and helped me through the ups and downs with friends. The day before we moved, Elena told me Mr. Matz, her calculus teacher, had a sign in the front of his room that read: “You should always be a little out of your comfort zone.”

I just yelled at her.

“Really? Ya think so? Is moving getting far enough out of your comfort zone, Elena?” 

I knew as soon as I said it, I was being an ass, so I apologized and hugged her. Elena just held on to me, and we both cried. I guess I wasn’t thinking about her. That’s how it always is for Elena. She thinks about everyone else first. I’m so stupid. Even on her last night home, she was worrying about me. I know she’s going to make a great lawyer someday because she’s so smart and kind. Elena’s going to make a difference in the world. I just wish she was closer. It’s as thought someone took away the only solid wall I had to lean on.

You know I always, always talk about Elena like she’s my twin sister, even though she’s older. Does that make any difference? We have the same Mom, that’s for sure, and at least we both get how “Deborah” is, but I always thought that even if Elena and I were not related but grew up together, we would be close because of some of the stuff  Mom does. The yelling, mostly. It gets to both of us sometimes.

My friend Bree was at the other house one afternoon when Mom got mad at me because I forgot to pick my jeans off the floor in the bedroom. Mom must’ve stood in the doorway and yelled for a while because after she left, Bree told me I was being abused.

“Get out, Bree! Seriously?” I said. “She doesn’t hit me, not since I was really little!”

“But Meredith,” said Bree. “She stood there and hollered at you for about ten minutes about a pair of jeans. She called you ‘stupid” and that’s not right. My Mom would just tell me to pick them up because I know better, and that would be that. Geezus! I never knew your Mom was like that.”

“Well, okay, she is…sometimes,” I said. I was kind of shocked, but Bree didn’t say anything else, and from then on, I made sure she didn’t come over if Mom was home.

Later, I thought maybe Mom was mad a lot because she couldn’t be home like she used to be, but I just couldn’t quite work it out in my head. And then, she had a lot of trouble selling houses, and I think she was really frustrated about it. Dad was an assistant principal by then, so we were okay, but Mom’s the reason we moved to Preston. She got an invitation from a big-deal real estate company, and that was that.

I understood–in my head, I mean–why we had to move so Mom could develop her client base and sell more houses, but I wonder if Mom ever thinks about anyone else? Dad had to change schools. Elena almost had to change colleges, and as for me, well, I’m at a new school, too. Mom says everything will smooth out once I begin classes. She usually says things like that when something doesn’t directly affect her. She talked to the dean of students about putting me in honors classes, but I don’t know if it matters anymore.

Preston Central is a quality school, Dad says, but I think he’s saying that to try and make me feel better. He always gets this tiny tic on the inside of his left eye when he’s not exactly telling the truth. I learned that years ago when he said my hair looked great from a frizzy haircut that my friend Jenny insisted I get. Mom laughed and turned back to a book she was reading. Elena shrugged her shoulders and smiled. “I like it, really!” she said. But Dad said, “Well, it will grow out.” And his eye twitched just the slightest. I knew it was bad then. But it did grow out.

This time, I’m not sure. Dad’s principal at East Penn High School, and he loves his job. “Young people are the absolute future. They are our only hope in the world.” He says this without the twitch, so I know he means it. I used to be able to talk with Dad about a lot of stuff, not like Elena, but still. Now, I feel like I can’t really talk to him anymore. Maybe it’s because he’s head of a school now, and he’s so busy. He has a school cell that he has to take everywhere with him, and he works a lot of hours. I mean, he’s hardly ever home on time for dinner, and it’s like he has to go to everything at his school, like sports. I can’t really go even if I wanted to because his school is in competition with mine, and I don’t want to make things worse. That’s the last thing I need. Kids finding out my Dad’s principal at East Penn.

The one great thing Dad always says to me is that all of us girls are “special.”

I don’t think I’m so special, but I do like my long hair. I wrestle it every morning into a long, heavy braid that almost reaches to my waist, but I don’t do any of those fancy French braids, you know, the ones the sports girls wear. I’m not an athlete. I loved to watch Elena’s swim meets, and I used to go to all the football games at Valley, but that was just what we did on Friday nights. Anyway, I’m more of a jeans and T-shirt girl, and I don’t get excited about lots of makeup and stuff. Elena always said I had the best complexion, but, I don’t think I’m pretty. I’m just average, and I was so comfortable where I was. Now? It’s starting over. I know, kids move to new schools all the time, but I never thought it would happen to me. Now, Elena’s starting college, and my sophomore year is looming in front of me, and Mom’s busy, and, oh, I just sound like a whiner.

So. I look at the new student planner I bought, and instead of putting in birthdays, I mark off the days that are left in summer. I got a copy of the school calendar and have all the holidays checked off, too. My birthday next June is on the last page of the journal, and I look at it and wonder. What will my life be like by then? Who will I be? Maybe I will surprise everyone and kick ass, get involved.

Yeah, who am I kidding?