posted on 4-Jan-2002 9:38:34 PM
fdf903cd

Part 1

They say to dance is to be free. To have no worries, no cares, other than to let your thoughts go. And just dance.

Ha, what a load of crap.

Why did I start dancing? My parents wanted me to join the girl’s little league back when I was six and there was no way in hell I was about to do that. So I figured dancing would get them off my back. I didn’t honestly think that I’d still be doing it eleven years later. But here I am, doing my warm ups while listening to Julia, my dance instructor, go on and on about the fall concert. Julia has been my instructor since day one. I don’t think there was ever a time when she liked me, because there was certainly never a time when I liked her. She’s a bitch, plain and simple.

“Parker! Are you paying attention to me? You may be one of the top rated dancers in the west, but that doesn’t give you an automatic spot in the concert.” She yells when she notices me looking out the window.

“Yes ma’am, I am paying attention.” Is my reply.

Every year we have an annual fall concert at the end of October. Julia only lets the best dancers dance in it. I’ve danced in everyone since I was six, except last year’s. I twisted my ankle in rehearsal and couldn’t walk on it for three weeks. This year I plan to headline it. That’s only because if I do, my parents will buy me a new car.

My parents aren’t what you’d exactly call “supportive,” but more like “obsessive.” I guess that’s what happens when you’re the only child. They either focus all their energy on you, or none. I get “rewards” if I get the lead in a recital, get straight A’s, or close up their restaurant every night for a week.

“Back straight, Ms. Parker. We aren’t football players, we don’t hunch over.” Julia’s stern voice calls from across the room, where she’s helping another girl.

I straighten up and give her one of my world-class smiles.

She says I better “lose the attitude.”

I tell her that she needs to “put her hand up her ass and pull out whatever crawled up it and died.”

Guess who had to scrub the mats and put them back into the storage closet after practice.

Part 2

Working at my parent’s restaurant is the equivalent of being in hell. Whiny kids all over the place, customers complaining that their food is too hot or too cold. Sometimes I want to tell them all to shove it up their ass and drive off, okay, ride my bike off into the sunset. My best friend Maria tells me that these fantasies aren’t normal and that it would be in my best interest to go see a therapist.

My response: “Shove it up your ass.”

This usually results in a severe noogie, and sometimes a massive wedgie. Maria shows no mercy.

Tonight wasn’t exactly what I’d call a good night. I’ve all ready spilled two glasses of pop, messed up at least three orders, and no one has left me a decent tip. Maria tells me that my “bubbly personality is probably just too much for them.” I wind up one of the dish towels and whip her in the back of the leg with it. I show no mercy.

I’ve managed to perfect the art of balancing two plates on each arm. It took me many years and cost my father a lot of money, but in the end, I saw it as a good investment. If this dancing thing doesn’t work out I want to be a “professional” waitress. I want to travel around the country, going from restaurant to restaurant and stick up for all the waitresses in the world. If you think about it, waitresses have to put up with more crap than any other person in another job. You have to deal with bitchy customers and still manage to serve the food with a smile (and sometimes a little spit in their drink, but hey, they don’t have to know that).

So here I am, loading two plates on each arm and going through the “Employees Only” door backwards. Because you know, that’s the logical thing to do when you have an armload of steaming hot food and you’re about to enter a crowded restaurant. As luck would have it, or my luck anyway, I crash into someone on my way out and the food goes flying all over me. Great, a perfecting addition to my wonderful evening.

“Oh my God, I am so sorry.” Says the cause of my current situation.

Yeah, sure. I hope that one of these was your orders.

“It’s okay, don’t worry about it.” I say, using my “waitress voice,” as Maria calls it.

You can only watch that “The Customer Is Always Right” training video so many times before the theme gets imprinted into your brain.

“Let me help you with that.” The voice, a male one, replies.

At this point I’m on the floor sweeping the food into small piles with my hands. I don’t even bother looking up at whoever caused my unfortunate accident because in all honesty, I’m too tired to care.

“Uh, hold on, you’ve got some mashed potatoes in your hair.” I feel someone patting a napkin on my hair.

I take this opportunity to look up. If I wasn’t in such a pissy mood, I’d probably get all mushy inside over how hot this dude was. But I am pissed, so my true personality shines through.

“I said I can get it.” I say, through clenched teeth.

Apparently this guy has selective hearing because it doesn’t appear that he’s heard me.

“You have some right there too.” His hands moves toward my chest.

Whoa, buddy. Hands in new places. I swiftly move out of the way of his incoming hands and stand up.

“Thanks, but no thanks. I can get it myself.” I say, brushing the food off of my uniform.

“I’m Max, but the way.” He says, sticking out his hand for me to shake. I ignore it.

Someone give the boy a prize, he has a name. And apparently, no understanding of a pissed off waitress.

“I’m sorry to cut you off, but I really have to get back to work.” I leave him standing there, with his eyes full of confusion while I head into the back room to change.

No one said I had tact.

Part 3

September 1st.

Hell has risen.

In other words, it’s the first day back to school.

Maria and I have a plan for our senior year. We plan to be reckless, wild, and have the time of our lives. Well, actually, I plan to be reckless, wild, and have the time of my life. Maria’s just along for the ride. We also are one of the “brilliant” seniors who decided to wait until our last year to take gym class. In freshman year we thought we were rebels. We laughed at our other friends when they complained about sweaty clothes and dirty gym lockers. Now they shall laugh at us.

This year I’m taking AP Biology. I figure if I pass the exam at the end of the year, I can get my parents to pay for my trip to Europe. Plan ahead. That’s the key. When I walk into the Bio. room the smell of formaldehyde greets me. I immediately take the seat that’s farthest away from the teacher’s desk, because I fully intend to sleep my way through this class.

A short, stocky woman with graying hair walks into the room. She introduces herself as “Mrs. Andrews” but says we have to call her “Ms. Andrews” because she and her husband are no longer together. Apparently, he cheated on her with the babysitter thus leaving her as one pissed off Biology teacher who has friends in high places. Needless to say, she got everything in the divorce. I think that we’ll get along just fine.

“I’ll be pairing you off in twos. Get to know your partner, like your partner, trust your partner. You’ll be working together for the entire year. No complaints.” She picks up a piece of paper and begins reading off names.

I only tune in when my name is called.

“L. Parker will be working with M. Evans. You two take the seat second from the left in the back of the room.” Then she continues on.

“M. Evans?” Who the hell is that? The only Evans I know is Isabel Evans, Goddess of West Roswell High. The girl guys trip over themselves to get a glimpse of. I hate her.

“So, we meet again.” The voice of the person next to me says.

I look up to discover that “M. Evans” is the same guy that witnessed me in one of my moments of glory. Complete with french fries sticking in my hair. I hate him. I groan inwardly. This is not going to be my year.

After school I head to the dance academy. I’m the first one there so I take this opportunity to work on my pliès. I dance best when no one is watching. Then I position my feet and spin across the room. I let my hair fly free. I imagine that I’m performing in some New York theater in front of thousands of people. I’m interrupted by an “ahem.” I stop to see Julia watching me from the doorway.

“I was just practicing.” My voice sounds smaller than I’d like it to.

“Good form.” She critiques. “Just straighten your back a little.”

I do as she says. This is usually the only time Julia and I get along. When we’re alone.

“You know,” she says as she turns us toward the mirror, like we’re one person. “I was going to announce who I’ve chosen to headline the concert today.”

What kind of reaction does she want?

“I was going to say it was you.” She’s looking at my mirror eyes.

Shit. There goes my new car. Ah, well. I guess I’ll just have to spring for some new tires on the old 10 speed.

“Oh.” I say, for lack of a better response.

“And I still will say it’s you.”

Okay, what the hell kind of mind game is this? I make a mental note to myself to tell Maria that I was right, Julia is a pothead.

“Oh.” I need to get a bigger vocabulary.

“You just need to do one thing,” I raise my eyebrows in confusion. “I just need you to lose a couple pounds.”

I turn and look at myself in the mirror again. All 105 pounds of me. I turn to my side. Yeah, I guess I could afford to lose some weight. It’s definitely worth it to get a new car.

“Consider it done.”



[ edited 3 time(s), last at 12-Jul-2002 1:23:32 PM ]
posted on 4-Jan-2002 10:07:58 PM
Part 4

Goodbye Skittles, hello celery sticks.

Cleaning out all the snacks in my room was no small task. There was a lot of it. My parents call me Queen of the Junk Food. So this little “thing” that Julia wants me to do, lose weight, is going to be hard. But I want that damn car, so I’m going to do it.

I head downstairs to the cafe to see what Maria is up to. She has to work today and I plan to piss her off because I don’t have to. This is an ordinary occurrence, because in Roswell, everything’s ordinary. No aliens, contrary to popular belief.

“Liz, if you even start with me today, so help me God, I will kick you a new asshole.” Maria barks from behind the counter, without even looking up.

Damn. I slid into one of the bar stools and lean forward.

“Okay, okay. I’ll behave,” I give her an evil grin. “Give me a water.”

“A water? Who the hell are you now? Ms. Health-Conscious?” She asks, giving me a weird look.

“Julia wants me to lose some weight before the fall concert.”

I prepare myself for the words that will undoubtedly come out of her mouth. Whenever Maria goes on one of her fad diets, I always yell at her for being sucked in into the media’s image of a female. Before Maria has a chance to say anything the bells above the front door ring. Alex Whitman, my other best friend, walks in.

“Alex, buddy. What’s up?” I ignore the annoyed glances from the few customers in the restaurant.

Hey, they can write their little complaints down and shove them in that damn box all they want. My parents own this place, I get special privileges.

“Can someone tell me why teachers must assign homework on the first day back?” He asks, banging his head against the counter.

That’s one of the reasons I’m friends with Alex, he gets straight to the point. No bullshit.

“Because they’re underpaid and unhappy, and they figure if they have to suffer, we have to also.” I say, taking a sip of my water.

I have little theories on everything. Literally, everything.

“Speaking of school, has either of you ever heard of a kid named Max Evans?” I take the opportunity to ask this.

“Oh!” Maria squeals, “Max Evans. Yeah, he’s Isabel Evans’ brother. We were in the same U.S. History class last year. He’s so quiet that I almost forgot he was in the room.”

Where the hell have I been? This hot guy has been in the same school as me for years and I’ve never seen him?

----------

Ms. Andrews decided that there really was no point in waiting a couple of days for us to get adjusted before she started handing out assignments. Another reason why I think we’ll get along. She says that “shaping the minds of young people is more important than letting [us] get back into the daily grind.” I think her divorce has caused her serious emotional problems and that she should see a psychologist. I don’t mention this. She tells us that she’ll be giving each group of partners a topic on a certain genetic disorder and we have to work together and write a report on it.

Max and I get “Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva.” Whatever the hell that is.

“So, do you want to meet at the Crashdown later and get started?” I ask, still trying to pronounce whatever our genetic disorder is.

“Uh, yeah. Sure.” He says, shoving his notebook into his bag.

He grabs his stuff just as the bell rings, and runs off. He seemed so sure of himself before. What happened? Time to start planning Operation: Get Max To Come Out Of His Shell.

Part 5

So here we are. Max and I. Our books are sprawled out all over the table and we’re still trying to figure out how to pronounce our subject.

“What exactly is this disorder anyway?” My brain hurts. Too much thinking hurts.

“Something to do with extra bone growth.” He keeps his eyes on the book.

I’m just about to apologize to him for being a huge jackass, when the bell above the door rings. Tess Harding walks in. Tess and Isabel are the two “hottest” girls in the school. Every guy’s fantasy. I look up to see Max’s eyes following her across the restaurant. So much for that apology. I guess that “every guy’s fantasy” includes Max Evans. I hate him.

“Yeah, so will we be starting this report any time soon?” I ask, my voice is like venom.

No, I do NOT have a thing for him. It would just be nice for a guy to notice me every once in a while.

Maybe if you weren’t so fat. A voice in my head says.

Whoa, where’d that come from?

“Yeah, sorry.” He turns back to the book.

Sally, one of the waitresses, brings our food over.

Max: A cheeseburger, fries, and a Coke.

Me: A salad, no dressing, and water.

“Thanks.” I say, only because Sally is one of the few workers I can tolerate.

Max gives my food the once-over. What the hell is your problem? You’ve never seen a salad before?

“Is that all you’re going to eat?”

“I’m not really hungry.” I lie.

My stomach is growling for a cheeseburger and I cough to cover it up.

“Oh.” His eyes swing over to where Tess is sitting.

That’s right Tubby, eat up. The voice says.

I push away my salad. I’m not really that hungry.

Part 6

5 pounds.

That’s how much weight I’ve lost. It’s been a week, and all I lost is 5 pounds. How depressing. Julia says I need to “put more effort into it.” I get to the studio early because I need to work on my form. I’m spinning, spinning, spinning.

Come on, chubby! Work harder!

The voice in my head has gotten louder. I press on. Twirl, twirl, twirl. Stop. Hands up, slowly bring them down.

“Wow, Liz. You’re getting really good.”

I stop to see Sami, another dancer, standing in the doorway. I don’t take compliments well, so I just blush and mutter a “thanks.”

“What are you doing here so early?” I ask, because I usually get the place to myself for a half hour.

“Just wanted to work on my footing. Wow Liz, have you lost weight?” She’s putting her long blonde hair into a bun.

“A little.” I don’t want the attention.

“You look really good. God, I wish I had your self-control.” She replies, shaking her head.

She heads for the bars and starts her warm-ups. I can’t help but feel some pride. People were noticing. I looked good.

Don’t get too happy now, fatty. The voice says.

I get more compliments as more girls arrive. Is this what self-esteem feels like?

-----------

Max wants me to come over to his house and finish up our report. I think he heard that Tess put in an application for the Crashdown and wants to know her work schedule. So, naturally, I decline. I lie and tell him that I have to wash my hair. So color me stunned when he pulls up next to me in his Jeep while I’m out jogging. I give him my best “go to hell” look and he gives his best “caughtcha” smile.

“So, this is your definition of washing your hair?” He teases.

For some reason I can’t get over the fact that he likes Tess, so I reply:

“No, this is my definition of avoiding you.”

“Oh, come on Parker! Get in the car! Pam Troy is having a party. We should go mingle.” He pats the passenger seat.

I can’t stop staring at his eyes, which make my insides feel like mush. We’re going as friends. Just that. Nothing more.

“Oh, what the hell.” I hop in.



[ edited 1 time(s), last at 12-Jul-2002 11:44:16 AM ]
posted on 4-Jan-2002 10:34:18 PM
Part 7

Pam Troy’s house is huge. Like, White House huge. There’s all ready music blaring and beer cans scattered all over the yard. Did I forget to mention I’m wearing a sweaty, almost non-existent tank top, my Adidas pull-apart pants, and some old gym shoes? Okay, could I be anymore sexier? Oh well, it’s not like I’ll be picking up any fellas tonight. We walk toward the door, squeezing our way through couples making out. Just the visual I need right now. The door is all ready open, so we just walk right in. I take a glance around the room to see who’s in there. Typical. Stoners in one area, preps in another. To the left is the goths, to the right is the kids like me. The people who don’t fit in to a certain category.

“So, what do you want to do?” I ask Max.

I turn to face him, but he’s not there. Great, now I’m trapped at a lame-ass party at the house of a girl I despise. Thanks Max, I love you too.

“You want one?”

Some guy that’s carrying a tray with cups of beer on it is standing in front of me. Yeah, I could really see that helping with my diet.

“No thanks.”

Where the hell is that bastard? When I find him, we’re going to throw down. There’s going to be graphic violence and severe language. I would not recommend it for children. I wander around looking for someone I like and recognize. All the sane people are probably safely tucked away in their beds at home. I wish I were sane. That’s it, I’m finding Max and dragging his sorry ass home. I find him staring at a lava lamp. Great, he’s probably stoned.

“Max, come on. We’ve got to go.” I pull on his arm.

He turns around and laughs. Okay, no drugs, but definitely alcohol. Two words buddy: Tic Tac.

“No, we should stay here.” He slurs.

By the time I get him into his Jeep, on the passenger side of course, I’m nearly wiped out. I didn’t realize he was that muscular.

“I’m just going to drop you off at your house then drive home. You can pick up your Jeep tomorrow.” I say, starting the car.

I look over at him. He’s smiling at me like an idiot. I bet he thinks I’m Tess.

“What?” I snap.

“Has anyone ever told you you’re beautiful?” His grin grows bigger, if that’s even possible.

Yeah, he’s definitely seeing Tess. I don’t even bother with a reply, but just drive off. We ride the rest of the way in silence. His house is in the newer section of town. I bet his mom has doilies on everything.

“Well, here we are.” I say, unbuckling my seatbelt.

“Here we are.” I can tell he’s sobering up a little.

I get out and drag him to his window, open it up, and somehow manage to get him inside. Oh yeah, baby. I’m stealthy.

“You know what your problem is?” He sits on his bed and starts taking off his shoes.

“What’s that?” I sit next to him.

“You’re a bitch. Has anyone ever told you that? You need to let loose sometimes.”

And now he realizes that yes, I am Liz. Not Tess.

“Well, thank you for a wonderful evening Mr. Evans. I will see you bright and early tomorrow morning so you can pick up your Jeep.” I walk toward the window.

“Liz?” Something in his voice stops me.

I turn around. Bad move. He’s taken off his shirt and I really don’t need to see his muscles.

“Yeah?” I look anywhere but where he’s standing.

“Thanks.”

I wave my hand at him, and leave. I need to find me a man.

Part 8

I wake to the sound of someone beating on my window. The hell? I stumble to the window and push it open. Max is there.

“Hey.” He says.

Oh God, I can only imagine what I look like. My PowerPuff Girls pajama pants and a pink tank top! Not to mention my hair which is probably everywhere. And my breath, where’s a toothbrush when you need one?

“Uh, hi.” I’m confused.

“I just came to pick up my Jeep. Sorry if I woke you up.” He says, his face a little red.

He’s looking anywhere but at me, he probably remembers what an idiot he was last night.

“Oh, yeah, yeah. You can come in, just let me find the keys.”

Where the hell did I put those? Shit. There’s dirty clothes and junk all over the place. Is there anyway I could move that bra without him seeing it?

“So, you must have one hell of a hangover.” Payback’s a bitch, Max.

“No, not really. Surprisingly.”

I hate him. He sits on my unmade bed. Meanwhile, I’m searching everywhere for his keys.

“I swear they were right there.” I point to my desk.

I lay down on the floor and dig under my bed, because that’s usually where anything that’s lost goes. Hey, there’s that book report that I lost last year. Ew, a moldy peanut butter sandwich. Ah, ha! I pull out a set of keys and dangle them in front of his face.

“Here you go.” I hand them to him.

Why is he staring at my stomach? I look down. Great, my top has ridden up exposing my stomach. Is it just me, or do I just get more loser-like when Max is around?

“Sorry.” He blushes.

I bet he wishes I was Tess. Quick, quick, think of something to say.

“You want to come downstairs and have breakfast. It’s free.” I give him an innocent smile.

“Sure.”

-----------

I can almost hear the thoughts running through Maria’s head as she sees me, in my pajamas, coming downstairs with Max in tow. By Monday there’ll be a rumor that we did it, great. Like I don’t have enough shit going on.

“I’ll just have some pancakes, I guess. And some orange juice.” He says, sliding into the booth.

I pull my sweater tight around me and sit down across from him.

“Okay.” I look toward Maria. “Hey, Ria, come here.”

Maria is giving me that look, you know the one. The “what the hell is going on?” look.

“What can I get for you?” Her eyes are like death rays.

She always gets pissed if I don’t call her the minute something interesting happens in my life. This isn’t often, because nothing interesting ever happens in my life.

“He’ll have pancakes and an orange juice. I’ll have a bowl of fruit and a water.”

“Liz, you have to stop star...” Maria starts.

“Maria.” I interrupt. “I have my mother for these lectures. Just get the order.”

She leaves and I can feel Max wanting to say something.

“I’m trying to lose weight. My dance instructor wants me to.” It’s really none of his business anyway.

“You...” He mumbles.

“What? Speak up.” I say, leaning closer to him.

“I said you don’t need to lose weight, you look fine.” He looks down at the table.

Way to go Max. Every girl’s fantasy is to hear that they look “fine.” I mean, forget “beautiful” or “wonderful.” “Fine” just steals my breath away and makes my heart speed up. This boy needs some new pick up lines, stat.

“Try telling that to Julia, it’s the only way I’m going to get to headline the fall concert.” I push a strand of hair out of my eyes.

I don’t want an intervention about weight loss, because this isn’t 90210 and I’m not some 30 year old acting like they’re still in high school.

“So, you have a thing for Tess Harding.” I say, casually.

That ought to change the subject.

“No.”

What is it with boys and lying? Do they get some kind of handbook at birth? “Compliments & Lies for Dummies.”

“Could’ve fooled me,” He looks over at me. “It’s only so obvious. I mean, you practically drool every time she’s in the same room as you.”

“I don’t have a thing for Tess Harding, trust me.” His voice is low and convincing.

For one small second I believe him. But then I remember that all guys are assholes, and more than likely he’s lying.

“Whatever you say, dude.”

Part 9

93 pounds.

That’s how much I weigh now. I thought I looked good at 105, but I look even better now. I give daily thanks to that voice in my head. Mom says that I need to “eat more.” Dad says if I don’t start eating dinner again, he’s going to “ground me.” Maria and Alex say they’re “worried about me.” Julia says I need to lose “just a few more pounds.” I don’t give a fuck what they think, it’s my body and I’ll do whatever I want to do to it.

“Bring your leg higher, Liz.”

I stretch my leg higher. The fall concert is a week away and Julia is holding more rehearsals.

“Okay girls, that’s enough for today. Liz, see me after class.”

What does she want now? My kidney? A sample of my DNA? I move my way toward the front, saying goodbye to some of the girls.

“Yeah?” I’m annoyed because I’m going to a party tonight.

“Go through the solo once more, I want to make sure you’ve got it.” Why does she always have to pick on me.?

The music starts up. I’m dancing to “On My Own” from the musical Les Miserables.

And now I'm all alone again
Nowhere to turn, no one to go to
Without a home without a friend
Without a face to say hello to
And now the night is near
I can make believe he's here

Sometimes I walk alone at night
When everybody else is sleeping
I think of him and I'm happy
With the company I'm keeping
The city goes to bed
And I can live inside my head

On my own
Pretending he's beside me
All alone
I walk with him till morning
Without him
I feel his arms around me
And when I lose my way I close my eyes
And he has found me

In the rain the pavement shines like silver
All the lights are misty in the river
In the darkness, the trees are full of starlight
And all I see is him and me forever and forever

And I know it's only in my mind
That I'm talking to myself and not to him
And although I know that he is blind
Still I say, there's a way for us

I love him
But when the night is over
He is gone
The river's just a river
Without him
The world around me changes
The trees are bare and everywhere
The streets are full of strangers

I love him
But every day I'm learning
All my life
I've only been pretending
Without me
His world would go on turning
A world that's full of happiness
That I have never known

I love him
I love him
I love him
But only on my own.


----------

“Remind me again why we’re here?” Alex asks, well, actually he screams because the music is too loud.

“Because, I don’t think it’s normal for three teenagers to spend almost every Saturday night watching movies at home.” Is my reply.

Actually I heard that Tess Harding and her boyfriend Kyle Valenti are going to break up and you know me, I’m always game for some public humiliation on Tess’ part.

“Well, since we’re here we might as well see if there’s anything interesting going on. You know, catch up on all the school gossip.” Maria lives for gossip. She has stacks and stacks of The National Enquirer in her room.

Sometimes I’m embarrassed to be friends with her. We make our way into the living room where a large crowd of people are sitting around laughing and yelling at each other. This could prove interesting.

“What’s going on?” Maria asks, causing Tandy Harris, apparently the leader of it all, to look up and see who asked the question.

“We’re all playing the ‘Have You Ever?’ game. You know the one where someone says something they’ve done and if you have done it, then you take a drink. The drunkest person wins.” Tandy explains.

I look around the room for cameras, a director, and someone getting ready to yell “action.” This has to be the ultimate cliche of a high school party. Whatever.

“Let’s go see if there’s anything else going on.” I say, continuing to walk out of the room.

We soon find ourselves in what appears to be a den. Who’s house is this anyway?

“Oh, I have an idea!” Maria saying she has an idea is never a good thing.

Alex and I groan, because, well, this is Roswell and everything’s always the same. In other words, we groan because we always groan.

“Truth or dare!” She giggles excitedly.

Last time we played this game they made me tell them who I had a crush on and by the end of the week the rest of the school knew too. Needless to say, John Fields was not amused.

But since this party is lame and I don’t want to go back home and listen to my parents bitch (because that’s what they always do) I agree to it. And because I agree, Alex agrees.

“Okay, me first. Alex, truth or dare?” Maria rubs her hands together in anticipation.

She all ready knows he’s going to pick truth because he always picks truth.

“Truth.”

What a surprise.

“Who do you have a crush on?”

His face turns the same red color as my bed spread, which is bright.

“Isabel Evans.”

Yeah, you and every other guy in school.

“We should get you two hooked up.” Ms. Matchmaker strikes again.

“Alex, it’s your turn.” I interrupt because I know the last thing Alex wants to do is go into detail about his love life.

“Liz, truth or dare.”

“Dare.”

I always pick dare. And I always win, because there’s no dare I’m not willing to do. Believe me, they’ve come up with some good ones: toilet papering the principal’s house, spreading a rumor that I’m pregnant (this one didn’t go over too well with the parental units), flashing Alex’s dad. Those are just some of many.

Maria gets an evil grin on her face. This is never good. She whispers something into Alex’s ear and then he gives an evil grin.

“Is this going to involve me being naked?” I groan.

“No, this is even better,” Maria starts. “We dare you to go to Max Evans’ house, sneak into his bedroom, and steal a pair of his boxers.”

Maria says that I’m harboring feelings for Max because I’m constantly complaining about what an asshole he is. This must be her way of trying to get me to admit to them. If I don’t do the dare then I will be admitting it.

“Let’s go, I’m driving.”


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 12-Jul-2002 11:51:33 AM ]
posted on 4-Jan-2002 11:20:24 PM
Part 10

This seemed like a good idea at the time. Really, it did. But now, standing outside Max’s house, it doesn’t seem that way.

“Why the hell did we have to go back to my house and dress in all black?” I ask, looking down at my night garb.

“Because Liz, black helps us blend in with the dark.” Alex says, pulling a black beanie over his head.

“Okay, I got that. Why do we have to use walkie talkies and have code names?”

“We have to communicate to each other what’s going on. Honestly guys, it’s not really that hard of a concept.” He gives us a look that means we should know all this stuff.

Maria and I roll our eyes. Alex has seen Mission Impossible too many times.

“Okay.” Maria says. “What are our code names?”

“I got this one.” They both look at me. “Maria, you’ll be Cheetah and I’ll be Panther.”

“What about me?”

“Alex, you’ll be Dina.”

“Dina? What the hell kind of code name is that?”

“Just use it, we’ve got to hurry!” I lower my voice to a harsh whisper.

Alex and Maria stay around the front to keep a look out for cars while I head around back to Max’s window.

“This is Panther. Cheetah, Dina, do you read me?” I whisper into the little speaker.

“This is Cheetah. State your location.” Maria’s voice replies.

Sweet Jesus, now she’s acting like freaking Tom Cruise or something.

“I’m approaching the window.”

I pop the latch up and push open the window.

“Shit.” I trip over the ledge and fall in.

“Dina, are you there?” I whisper.

“I’m not Dina anymore. I’m Cobra.”

“Oh, whatever. I’m in.”

I pull my black beanie further down over my head and crouch down. The room is exactly the same as it was the night I brought Max back from that party.

“Cheetah, this is Panther. The room is clear.”

“Copy.”

This is probably the epitome of a guy’s room. There’s dirty clothes all over the floor, an empty Coke can on the desk, a sleeping body in the bed. I wonder if I should steal a dirty or clean pair. Wait, a sleeping body in the bed? Oh. Fuck.

“Cheetah, he’s in here!”

“Abort! Abort!” A voice whispers back.

“Dina, save yourself!” I whisper/scream.

There’s some weird static over the speaker, then nothing.

“Hello? Cheetah? Dina?”

No answer. Okay, just grab the boxers and get out. I crawl to his dresser, open up the drawer, and grab what I think is a pair of boxers. Now I just need to get out of here. The light comes on.

“Liz?”

Don’t move. Maybe he won’t see you.

“What are you doing here?”

Oh yeah, great plan Liz.

“Oh, um, Max. Hey!” I say, standing up.

Brain: Think of something, think of something.

“I was just looking for your Biology notes. You know, we have that test on Monday.”

“You do realize that it’s 1:30 in the morning, don’t you?” He asks, propping himself up on his elbow.

Brain: Nice job, slick.

“Well, I was up and just passing through the neighborhood. Thought I’d just get them now.”

“Okay.” He says this slowly. “Can I ask you something else?”

Brain: Ignore the fact that he’s dressed in boxers and a wifebeater shirt.

“Sure.”

“Why are you dressed in all black and who’s Dina?”

Brain: Hey, don’t look at me. I’ve got nothing.

“Okay, so I didn’t come for the Biology notes.”

He gives me a “duh” look.

“I’m here on a dare. I was dared to steal a pair of your boxers.”

He walks toward me. What’s he doing? He leans past me and pulls something out of his dresser and takes what I have in my hand out of it.

“You took a shirt. Here, take these.” He gives me a ball of cloth.

I look down to see that he’s handed me a pair of boxers.

“Thanks.” I say, for lack of anything better.

He’s so close I can feel the heat coming off his body.

I’m not Tess.

“I should go.” I turn around and walk back to the window.

“Good night Liz.” He walks toward his bed and lies down.

“Night, Max.”

Part 11

I’m debating whether or not to skip Bio. today. On one hand, we have that test. On the other hand, Max will be there. As if I he didn’t already think I was a loser, I had to go and pull that stunt with the boxers.

“Good morning Ms. Parker.”

Dammit, now I can’t skip because Ms. Andrews already knows I’m here. Thank you again, cruel world. I make a beeline for my seat and luckily Max isn’t here yet. I have something I need to give him.

“Okay, get out your pencils class and clear off your lab tables.” Ms. Andrews says as soon as the bell rings.

So maybe he isn’t here today. Good. Really, I’m happy.

“Mr. Evans, nice of you to join us.”

I look up and see Mr. Perfect sit in his seat next to me. Why does he have to be so great? He should have a flaw. Like maybe he has a bad temper, or he doesn’t shower often. Oh, hell. He could pick his nose and I’d still be interested in him. Wait. Did I just say that? Am I interested in him? I don’t need this. Not right now. I have to focus on dancing.

“Hey.” He says, getting his notebook out.

Okay, he’s playing it cool, so I can play it cool.

“I have to give you something.” I blurt out.

I reach in my backpack and pull out a bag.

“Here.” He looks at me. “It’s your boxers.”

He takes the bag and puts them into his own backpack.

“Thanks.”

Just ask him already! What if he says no? Okay, what happened to my attitude, my sassiness? Damn him for making me so nice.

“So, I was wondering.” He looks over. “Would you like to come to my dance concert on Saturday?”

He’s going to say no.

“Sure, what time is it?”

I’m not Tess. I’m not Tess and he said “sure.”

“It’s in the evening at 7:30.”

“Okay. I’ll be there.”

-----------

“Excellent, girls. Beautiful.”

Julia only gives compliments when she thinks something is honestly good. I have five minutes before my solo. The theater is packed. How did ballet get to be so popular?

“Liz, get in place onstage.” She nudges me forward.

I walk towards the center of the stage, waiting for the curtains to rise. I don’t think Max came. I didn’t remind him at all this week because I didn’t want to seem weird (which, of course, I already am to him). Just because he’s not here doesn’t mean anything. Maria saw me before, in my leotard, and told me that my “ribs were poking out.” I told her that although I know her intentions are good, she could “shove it up [her] ass.”

“Ladies and gentlemen,” The announcer starts. “Tonight’s closing number is going to be performed to the music of On My Own by Elizabeth Parker.”

The curtains go up. I dance. And I think of Max.

And now I'm all alone again
Nowhere to turn, no one to go to
Without a home without a friend
Without a face to say hello to
And now the night is near
I can make believe he's here

Sometimes I walk alone at night
When everybody else is sleeping
I think of him and I'm happy
With the company I'm keeping
The city goes to bed
And I can live inside my head

On my own
Pretending he's beside me
All alone
I walk with him till morning
Without him
I feel his arms around me
And when I lose my way I close my eyes
And he has found me

In the rain the pavement shines like silver
All the lights are misty in the river
In the darkness, the trees are full of starlight
And all I see is him and me forever and forever

And I know it's only in my mind
That I'm talking to myself and not to him
And although I know that he is blind
Still I say, there's a way for us

I love him
But when the night is over
He is gone
The river's just a river
Without him
The world around me changes
The trees are bare and everywhere
The streets are full of strangers

I love him
But every day I'm learning
All my life
I've only been pretending
Without me
His world would go on turning
A world that's full of happiness
That I have never known

I love him
I love him
I love him
But only on my own.


After it’s over, I bow and run off stage to my dressing room. I cry.

I cry because I’m not Tess.

Part 12

I passed out in English class today. All that I remember is getting up to sharpen my pencil. I woke up in the nurse’s office. Mom came and got me. She wasn’t pleased. She said it happened because I “look like a Holocaust survivor.” And that if I don’t “gain five pounds by next week” I won’t be able to “go to dance class anymore.” When we get home, I fix the scale so it will say that I’ve gained five pounds. What she doesn’t know, won’t kill her. Besides, it’s none of her business what I do to my body.

I’m glad that I came home because I don’t think I could take facing Max. How could he do that to me? Granted he doesn’t know how I feel, but he could’ve at least shown up at the concert. Screw him. I don’t need him to enjoy myself. As I’m lying on my bed my phone rings.

“Hello?”

“Liz, it’s me, Maria. What happened? Everyone at school is talking about how you passed out during Mr. Thomas’ class.”

Now I’m the subject of this week’s As Roswell Turns. I wonder what twisted lies people have concocted.

“What’s everyone saying?”

“It’s not good.”

“I can handle it.”

“They’re all saying that you have anorexia.”

I hate people. I am not some teen movie of the week. I am a person.

“So.”

“So? Liz what are you going to do?”

“At this point Maria, I don’t really care. They can all just...”

“...shove it up their asses, I know.”

Silence. Then she continues.

“We’ll get through this, right?”

She’s scared for me. She’s thinking the same thing that they are. She thinks I have an eating disorder.

“Yeah, we will.”

----------

The walk down the halls. Everyone is staring at me like I have some sort of disease. Like I’m somehow different. I’m still the same old Liz, I just passed out.

“Ms. Parker, welcome back. You partner can give you the notes you missed.” At least Ms. Andrews is the same.

Max isn’t here yet. Maybe he hasn’t heard. I really don’t need another “I’m here for you” speech. Plus I’m pissed at him for not showing up at my concert.

“Hey.” He says as he sits down.

I’m not going to give him the satisfaction of me acknowledging his presence.

“Liz.”

I look up to see Mandy Isaacs, the girl who sits in front of me and is also in my dance class.

“Yeah?” I’m expecting another speech about eating disorders.

“I just want to say that you did such an amazing job on your dance solo on Saturday. Also,” She looks around. “I hope you’re feeling better. I heard about yesterday.”

I give her a small smile. My smile that means “I appreciate it, but please leave me alone.” She takes the hint. Max stiffens next to me. I think it just hit him that he forgot my dance concert. Ha, bastard.

“Oh, your concert. I totally forgot. I’m so sorry.” He says, turning towards me.

“Oh, you weren’t there? I didn’t even notice.”



[ edited 1 time(s), last at 12-Jul-2002 11:55:53 AM ]
posted on 7-Jan-2002 6:18:22 PM
Part 13

I hate working, have I mentioned that yet?

“Here’s your order. If I can get you anything else, just let me know.” I give my fake-smile and head towards the back room.

What’s worse than working? Working on a Friday night.

“Will the rush never end?”

Maria pops out from the bathroom.

“Just think of all the tips we’re making, though.”

Money is all Maria has on her brain 24/7. She gets it, then immediately spends it. Maybe that’s why she can’t afford a car and is still driving around in her mom’s Jetta. I guess I shouldn’t talk though, because I’m still using my 10 speed.

“When do you get off?” She’s sniffing Cedar oil, like she always does when it gets crowded.

“In 30 minutes, you?” I ask, looking down at my order pad and seeing how many orders I have left.

“I close tonight.”

I laugh, because Maria always gets stuck closing.

“Liz, someone’s sitting at table five.” Jose, the cook calls.

I shove my way through the crowded restaurant to table five. Guess who’s sitting there.

Tess.

“Welcome to the Crashdown, I’m Liz, I’ll be your waitress for tonight. Can I take your order?”

“Uh, hello, Liz,” She looks at my nametag. “I’ll have a Will Smith and a Coke.”

I look over at her companion. Isabel Evans.

“I’ll have the same.” Isabel adds, not even looking up at me.

I quickly jot down their orders and leave for their drinks. I bet Max uses Isabel to get to Tess. I wouldn’t put it past him.

“Here you are.” I set down their drinks.

“You’re Max’s lab partner, right?” Goddess Isabel speaks.

Yes, that’s what I go by. I go around introducing myself as “Max’s lab partner.”

“It’s Liz, actually.”

“Do you know anything about dissecting starfish?” Isabel asks, causing me to give her a weird look.

Hello, I’m Max’s lab partner, and I dissect starfish.

“Yeah, kind of. That’s what we’re doing right now in class.”

“Max was complaining earlier that he didn’t understand what exactly he needed to label. You should go over and help him when you get off.” She says, more as a command then a suggestion.

Okay, so now I’m suppose to take orders from her?

“Um, okay.”

-------------

Remind me again why I’m doing this. Why I’m riding my bike through the streets of Roswell at 10 p.m. to help Max Evans, a guy that barely knows I exist, with his Biology homework. I set my bike against the wall of the house and knock on his window. He walks up.

“Liz? What are you doing here?”

“Isabel said you might need help on your Bio. homework.”

He opens up his window for me. Once again, I manage to make an idiot of myself. I trip over the ledge and fall to the floor.

“Ow.”

He reaches down and helps me up.

“You kind of have to watch out for that ledge.”

Thanks for telling me that after my face had a personal introduction to your floor.

“So, what do you need help on?” I ask, walking over to where his books are.

----------

I can barely keep my eyes open. I’m lying on Max’s bed, while he’s reading to me something about starfish and a water vascular system. Who the hell cares? When am I ever going to use this in real life? I’m going to be a waitress, remember. I just need to know basic addition and subtraction.

“So, are there male and female starfish?” He asks, his feet propped up on his desk.

“Yeah, but you can’t really tell once they’re dead.”

Max looks at me like I’m weird because I actually knew the answer without looking in a book.

“I like to read.” I reply, like it’s obvious.

“Oh.”

I lie back on the bed.

-----------

Shit. What time is it? I glance over at my clock. 2 a.m. Wait a minute, that’s not my clock. Where am I? My head is still full of sleep. Oh. Max’s house. Wait, why am I at Max’s house? All that I remember is talking about a dead echinoderm. I must’ve fallen asleep.

“Max?” I whisper.

I hear a snoring noise. Where’s that coming from? I slid out of the bed. After my eyes adjust to the darkness, I notice Max lying in a sleeping bag on the floor. What should I do?

“Max?” I whisper louder.

Nothing. I lie back in the bed. It smells good. It smells like Max.

Part 14

Laughter. That’s what I wake up to. I pry my eyes open and look for the source. Imagine my surprise to see Max sitting there, eating Lucky Charms and watching cartoons. This boy does not cease to amaze me.

“Morning.” I croak.

He looks over with milk dripping down his chin and smiles.

“Good morning, you want some breakfast?” I ask, offering me his bowl.

“No thanks. What time is it?”

“Uh, almost eleven.”

I’m sitting here, in Max’s room, in Max’s bed, like this is normal. Like watching cartoons, while he sits there in his boxers eating cereal, is normal.

“What cartoon are you watching?” I scoot to the edge of the bed.

“Recess.” He says. “But I could change it to the PowerPuff Girls if you want.”

He looks up, his face is dead serious. I burst out laughing. Then he laughs.

“You’re such a jerk.” I punch his arm.

We’re flirting. No awkwardness, no uncomfortable silences.

I’m not Tess.

“Shit, I just remembered I have dance at noon.”

I hop up and start looking for my shoes.

“Oh.” He sets his bowl down.

“Do you know what I did with my shoes?”

I start looking frantically, throwing clothes all over the place. I have to get out of here because I’m not Tess and I don’t belong here.

“Are you okay, Liz?” His voice full of concern and confusion.

“Yeah, I’m fine. It’s just that Julia gets angry if I’m late.”

I find them next to a long forgotten Spanish book.

“Do you think you could give me a lift home? If I ride my bike, there’s no way I’ll be able to get home, change, then ride to the studio and make it on time.” I ask, putting my shoes on.

“Yeah, sure. Just let me change.” He says, standing up.

He somehow manages to find a decent outfit (do guys even call their clothes outfits?) in a random pile on the floor, then goes into the bathroom attached to his room. I take this opportunity to snoop around, because hello, who wouldn’t? I go scan the books he has on his bookshelf. Nothing too interesting. The nightstand. Wonder what’s in the drawer. I look towards the bathroom door to make sure it’s clear then slide it open. Typical guys stuff: deodorant, cologne, car magazine, condoms, batteries, a remote. Wait, condoms? Gag me with a spoon. He probably already has his and Tess’ night planned out. It’s too bad she’s still with Kyle. I bet he hates that.

“You ready?” His voice asks from the bathroom door.

I slam the drawer closed, and turn around.

“I was just looking for some deodorant.”

“Okay.” He gives me a weird look.

-----------

Oldies. That’s what Max makes me listen to on the way to my house. He says there’s “nothing like a good dose of Aretha Franklin to get you going in the morning.” I look at him like he’s an alien. Hey, this is Roswell after all. He then insists on taking me to the studio after I get dressed.

“Oh, come on.” He says. “It’s the least I can do for you. You helped me on my Bio. homework.”

I eventually give in. I lie and tell my parents that I stayed at Maria’s. They yell at me for not calling, but I don’t think they really mind. They had the whole place to themselves. Gross imagery. Scarred for life. When Max sees me in my leotard he tells me that I’m “too skinny.” And by this point, you can probably guess my response:

“Shove it up your ass.”

To which he replies:

“And what exactly should I shove up my ass?”

He’s really starting to annoy me. No one else questions my witty comebacks. I hate him. We pull up to the studio and I start to leave.

“Can I come in?” He asks suddenly.

What?

“What?” I ask, turning to face him.

“Can I come in and watch you? You know, since I missed your concert. You never let me explain. Milton, my boss, made me stay late and reorganize the whole filing system.”

Why does he care what I think about where he was that night? And why does he want to come in and watch? I bet he just wants to see a bunch of girls in skin-tight outfits dancing around. Guys are so horny.

Part 15

I’ll be fine. Everything is perfectly normal except the fact that Max is here.

“You can just sit there.” I point to the chairs against the wall.

He walks over, and sits down next to three parents. Okay, if I can just get through this without making an ass of myself, I’ll be fine.

“Parker. Position, now.” Thank you, Julia.

I get into place by the bar and start my warm-ups. I sneak a glance at Max. He sees me looking and smiles. I bet he’s thinking “just five more minutes then I’ll leave.”

“Okay, we’re going to go through the first number. This is the one that’s going to be in the winter concert.” Julia says from the front of the room.

We get into our places. I’m not really on my mark today. I think it’s because Max is watching. Why does he have this effect on me? I don’t want him to look at me. I want him to look at Tess so I can go back to living in my head. The rest of rehearsal is basically a series of screw-ups on my part. I’m not really at my best today. I bet Max thinks that I should reconsider this dancing thing. I’m beginning to think that too.

-----------

Julia is mad. She is pissed because I messed up too much today. She continues to embarrass me in front of Max by telling me that if I don’t lose another few pounds, I won’t be able to headline the winter concert. Then she says that I should stay later and practice. She leaves.

“Well, um, she seems...” Max starts.

“Like a bitch, I know.”

“Liz, don’t listen to her. You are too skinny as it is. I don’t think you could afford to lose anymore weight.”

“Please don’t start on that “the first step is admitting you have an eating disorder” speech. I’ve heard it way too many times.” I start for my bag.

“Aren’t you going to practice?”

Great, he’s like freaking mini-Julia.

“Why’s that?”

“Because.” He says.

Another witty comeback brought to you in part by The Men’s Guide To Repartee.

“Nice answer, but unless you have a better reason, it’s not going to happen.”

He looks at me. I mean, really looks at me. And I know that no matter what he says next, I’ll dance.

“I just want to see you dance.”

-------------

On my own. That’s what I’m feeling, so I decide to dance to that. I walk over to the stereo, press play, and get into position.

And now I'm all alone again
Nowhere to turn, no one to go to
Without a home without a friend
Without a face to say hello to
And now the night is near
I can make believe he's here

Sometimes I walk alone at night
When everybody else is sleeping
I think of him and I'm happy
With the company I'm keeping
The city goes to bed
And I can live inside my head

On my own
Pretending he's beside me
All alone
I walk with him till morning
Without him
I feel his arms around me
And when I lose my way I close my eyes
And he has found me

In the rain the pavement shines like silver
All the lights are misty in the river
In the darkness, the trees are full of starlight
And all I see is him and me forever and forever

And I know it's only in my mind
That I'm talking to myself and not to him
And although I know that he is blind
Still I say, there's a way for us

I love him
But when the night is over
He is gone
The river's just a river
Without him
The world around me changes
The trees are bare and everywhere
The streets are full of strangers

I love him
But every day I'm learning
All my life
I've only been pretending
Without me
His world would go on turning
A world that's full of happiness
That I have never known

I love him
I love him
I love him
But only on my own.


I’m crying when it’s over, because I know that Max will never love me like I love him.




[ edited 1 time(s), last at 12-Jul-2002 12:03:48 PM ]
posted on 7-Jan-2002 6:43:55 PM
Part 16

He puts his arms around me. He doesn’t ask any questions, he’s just there. I wrap my arms around him knowing this is the closet I’ll ever get to him.

“Liz.” He whispers.

“Shh.”

We stand like this for a few more minutes, then I pull away.

“You ready to leave?” I wipe away my tears.

I pick up my bag, and head for the door. He follows. The ride home is silent. He is probably freaking out because I look like a busted a water pipe and I can’t stop my tears. What happens now? How could I let myself become so obsessed with this guy? How could I let myself fall in love with him? He pulls the Jeep to a stop in front of the restaurant. Silence.

“Thanks for the ride.” I move to open the door.

“Are you okay?” His voice is soft.

“Yeah.”

----------

Toyota or Saturn? That’s right. The time has come for my parents to buy me a new car. My first car. Now the question is, what car do I get?

“Honey, I think you should go with the Camry.” Mom says.

Note to self: Do NOT get the Camry. We’re walking through the rows of cars while the dealer carries on about how great his deals are and how low a down payment we can put down. We’re not even listening.

“No, I don’t want a Camry.”

And then I see it. On the other side of the lot. A burgundy Pontiac Sunfire. The perfect car. I walk over to it and glance around the inside.

“I want this one.” I say to my mom.

An hour later we finally get out of the manager’s office. Mom hands me the keys to my car. God, it feels weird to say that. My car. Goodbye 10 speed.

“Drive carefully, I don’t want you to crash it on your fast day of owning it.” She says, in typical mother fashion.

“Yeah, yeah. I’m going to go pick up Maria and go to the mall.”

----------

Things are different. Max and I are drifting apart. Not that there’s much to drift away from, but our fragile friendship that we worked to build up is falling apart. I can feel it. There’s only one thing left to do. Party.

---------
I’ve been wondering. How is it that you can go to a party and not know who’s house you’re at?

“Maria! Don’t spill that on my floor, or I swear to God, I will have to kick your ass.” I yell at Maria while turning a corner.

Maria is drinking a steaming cup of green tea and it’s threatening to spill.

“Don’t worry, Liz. I won’t ruin your precious car.”

I’ve been pissing off everyone lately. If they so much as sit in my car, I’ll yell at them not to mess it up. I’m anal like that. Hey, I’ve worked hard to earn this car. Okay, not really, but I still don’t want to see it ruined.

“I’m just saying.”

“So I’ve been meaning to ask you,” She starts. “What’s going on with you and Max Evans? You two seem to have gotten close. Any sparks?”

“Maria. Max Evans.” I point to my face. “This? Not going to happen.”

“But you like him, I can tell.” Damn that best friend vibe.

“Yeah, I do. It’s more than that.” Her eyes go wide. “I don’t know, it’s confusing. But I know that it would never work out.”

We get to the party, which is at a huge house in the ritzy section of town. Maria tells me that she needs to go look for some guy that’s in her History class. She has a crush on him, I can tell. What was his name? Mitchell? No, Michael. That’s it.

“You want one?” Some guy I recognize from school asks.

Beer. What the hell. Screw Max. Screw Julia. Screw everyone.

“Sure.”

He hands me one, and I gulp it down. Alcohol tastes like shit, but it numbs the pain. I grab another one to sip on. Two drinks later and the room is starting to get blurry. I’m laughing at nothing.

“Hey. I’m Mark.” A kid in a red t-shirt says from next to me.

He’s not Max, but then again who is. Except Max of course. This makes me giggle even more.

“I’m Liz.”

“Yeah, I’ve seen you around school.” He says, taking a gulp of his beer.

Yeah, he probably noticed me on the “Girls To Avoid” list in the guy’s bathroom. We have one, why wouldn’t they?

“You want to go upstairs?” His voice seems far away.

The world stops.

“Sure.”

Part 17

I’m flying. That’s what it feels like. Why haven’t I gotten drunk before? It’s so great.

“Where are we going?” I ask, holding onto the railing.

This Mark guy is pushing me upstairs.

“In one of the bedrooms.” He says, his voice deep and threatening.

An alarm goes off in my brain. This is bad. I shouldn’t do this. But he keeps pushing me and I can’t stop him.

“No.” I force myself to say.

“Come on.” He pushes me harder.

We get into the bedroom and he pushes me on the bed.

“I said NO.” I cry out.

“Oh come on, you know you want it.” He says, a cruel smile playing on his lips.

And then I’m screaming. Not just because of this creep, but because this is what my life has been reduced to.

“Shut up, bitch.”

My cheek explodes. He hit me. He hit me.

“You scream again and you’ll get it worse.”

Is this how it ends? If they could bottle up virginity, I wonder how much it’d sell for? It’s funny what’s going through my head right now.

“Please, just don’t.” I hear my voice say.

My head hits the nightstand. He punched me. He punched me. Then it happens. Like a saving grace, there’s a knock on the door. A banging.

“Liz! Liz, are you in there!” It’s Maria.

“Maria!”

He grabs my arm. He squeezes it until it goes numb and I don’t think I’ll live through this.

“You tell anyone about this, whore, and I’ll make you pay.” He growls into my ear.

The door flies open. Maria is standing there, with some guy.

“Dude, just leave her alone.” He says.

There’s sirens coming closer.

“Please.” Maria cries. “Just leave her alone.”

And before I know it, the guy tackles Mark to the floor. And the darkness surrounds me.

Part 18

Hate You.

I hate you,
For being so sweet,
For everything you do,
For making my insides feel what they’re not suppose to.

I loathe you,
For your beautiful smile,
For your wonderful smell,
For the way to seem to know me so well.

I despise you,
For your tender touch,
For letting me feel this way,
For making me appreciate all you have to say.

But most of I hate you because I love you.


It’s pretty weird how philosophical you can get lying in a hospital bed. I woke up here. All that I remember is watching some guy beating HIM up. Then, everything went dark. I found out later that “some guy” has a name. Michael Guerin. You know, the guy Maria has a thing for. From what I understand, Maria saw me going upstairs with HIM and wanted to stop me before I did something I would regret. Luckily Michael was with her. I was rushed to the hospital and the doctors diagnosed me with a “concussion.” I guess when I hit my head it did more damage than I thought. I “woke up” this morning in a room filled with flowers. What I mean by “woke up” is that the drugs finally wore off. They said I’ve been in and out of consciousness all weekend and today I finally was coherent.

“Get better soon! We miss you!” -Mr. Vile’s 5th period Spanish class

“We love you! Feel better!” -Principal Bryant & Vice-Principal Moore

“Can’t wait to see you back in the lunch line!” -The WRHS Lunch Ladies

There’s dozens more. I guess word gets around quick. I don’t even talk to these people, except the lunch ladies of course. They admired my ability to eat and keep down the “Cook’s Choice” meal on Wednesdays. This was, of course, before I went on my diet. I haven’t seen them much anymore. Mom and dad have been in and out and they’re really starting to piss me off. I know they mean well, but you can only hear that “we were so worried about you” spiel so many times.

“Liz, you have a visitor.” Nurse Laura says from the doorway.

“Okay.” I prop myself up, and turn of “Rosie.”

Maria walks in with a bouquet of yellow roses. My favorite flower.

“Ria, you didn’t have to do that.”

“Yeah I did. And not just because of you, the floral shop was having a two-for-one sale. I’ve got my own bouquet at home.”

I laugh, because that’s so typical of Maria.

“What’s up? How are you feeling?” She asks, pulling up a chair by the bed and sitting in it.

I’m getting tired of people asking me how I’m feeling.

“I’m good, you?”

“Great, in fact.”

“So, what exactly are they saying about me at school?” I wave my hand at the flowers. “That I have cancer or something?”

“You want the truth?” I give her a “duh” look. “Everyone knows what he tried to do.”

Even more wonderful. Now, not only am I anorexic, but I’m an attempted-rape victim. Maybe if I’m lucky, by the end of the year I can become a certified whore.

“Liz, you have another visitor.” Laura returns.

“Okay, let them in.”

Who is it now? Max.

“Hey.” He says as he walks in.

Why do I always look so crappy when he sees me? I have a HUGE red mark on one cheek, and a bluish-purplish bruise tracing my jaw-line and going up to my hairline on the other. How sexy can I get?

“I’m just gonna...yeah.” Maria leaves the room.

We’re alone.

“How are you?” He asks, sitting in the chair formally sat in by Maria.

“I’m fine.”

Awkward silence.

“What’s up?” I ask, looking out the window.

I’m wondering why on earth is Max Evans visiting me.

“I heard what happened.”

Yeah, you and everyone other person within the 20 mile radius of Roswell.

“I’m sorry.” He says, his voice low.

“For?”

“I’m sorry you had to go through that.”

He moves to the bed and hands me some flowers he had behind his back. Yellow roses. How uncanny.

“It’s over and done with and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.” I say, hoping to get past this whole experience as quick as possible.

“I miss you.” He says suddenly.

What?

“What?”

“You’re the only person who let me copy off their Biology homework.”

We both burst out laughing. Leave it to Max to say something to break the ice.

“How’s the new experiment going, anyway?”

He blushes.

“I caught my shirt on fire.” He answers, biting his lip.

I laugh even more.

“What have you been up to?” I prop myself up on the pillows.

“Nothing really, just school and work.”

Now’s the time to ask him.

“Can you do me a favor?” I ask quietly.

“Sure.”

“Tell your friend Michael that what he did for me, I can never thank him enough. I can’t even describe my appreciation.”

He smiles that smile that makes me tingle.

“I will.”





[ edited 1 time(s), last at 12-Jul-2002 12:14:28 PM ]
posted on 12-Jul-2002 12:50:17 PM
Part 19

Mothers. I love their natural instinct to take care of their young, but please. You can only drink so much broth before you want to carve a hole in the brick wall with your spoon to escape.

“Mom, I said I’m fine.”

“I know sweetie, I just want to make sure you’re okay.” She says, adjusting a picture that hangs on my bedroom wall.

“I’m fine, trust me.”

She fluffs up my pillows and pulls up the blanket even more. I don’t even know why, I’m not sick. Ever since I got out of the hospital, she’s been suffocating me with attention.

“Okay, okay. I’m going. Remember, your father and I will only be at that conference for three days. Are you sure you’re going to be okay?” Her voice is filled with concern.

I give her a look.

“I get it. Goodnight honey.” She kisses me of the forehead and I try not to wince at the pain it causes.

That ugly bruise has gotten even uglier. It’s taken on a life of it’s own. Pretty soon it’ll be leasing the rest of my face and building low-rent housing on it.

“Night mom. And don‘t worry, I‘ll be fine.”

After she leaves, I push off the covers and crawl on the window onto my balcony. This is the only place I ever feel truly comfortable. I pull out my journal. I’ve been keeping a journal for as long as I can remember.

December 12th, 2001

I’m Liz Parke, and lately my world seems to be falling apart.

You know how sometimes you want to draw something, but you suck at drawing? And you can picture it really clearly in your head, but when you put the pencil to the paper, all that comes out is a picture that looks like it was drawn by a second grader.

That’s what my life feels like.

I know what I want, but I just can’t seem to get it. Let’s start out with dancing. I’ve been dancing for over a decade, and I’m still not good enough. Not thin enough. I’ve been building my life around having a dance career, but lately it doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen. What am I going to do? What’s going to happen to me?

Then there’s the latest installment to the soap opera that is my life.

HIM.

The guy that attempted to rape me. Like I wasn’t already going through enough, this asshole tries to manhandle me. Literally. What would it be like if HE had succeeded? Would I be a different Liz? Would I look in the mirror and see someone I didn’t recognize?

And finally we get to the thing that is always on my mind.

Max.

I don’t even know why I’m bothering. I love him. There, I said it. I love him. When did this happen? When did my semi-annoyance for him turn into this infatuation? I know things will never advance (romantically) for us. Okay, so it’s not like he’s an alien or something. But he has a thing for Tess Harding. This incredibly beautiful, popular girl at school.

I want him to see me as beautiful.

I want him to look at me and see who I really am. Naked from my mask that I wear all the time. I should tell him.

That’s it.

That’s what I’m going to do. Even if it ruins our friendship, I have to tell him. I can’t go through the rest of my life wondering “what if.”


----------

More whispers. The first day back to school is even worse than when I came back from passing out. Why? Because this time I bear scars. Not just physical (yeah, the bruise is bigger than ever), but emotional. I feel so small when they stare. I just want to shrink or become invisible. Max isn’t in school today. I guess this made it easier because I don’t have to worry about him hearing the whispers. After school’s over, I meet Maria in the parking lot. My parents didn’t want me to drive today, so I got a ride with her.

“Hey chica, how was your day back?” She asks, as we sit in the car.

“What just happened to six hours of my life.”

She laughs and I’m glad she laughs. She’s the only one who’s treating me like normal. I want to be normal again.

----------

A little make up. That’s what I need. Just some concealer and you wouldn’t be able to see that bruise. Who am I kidding, I’m stalling. I’m about to go to Max’s house and tell him I love him. Not a smart thing to tell a gorgeous guy when you look like you had a run in with a rapist. Haha, that was a joke. Get it, because it...oh, forget it. My nervous banter is starting to scare even me.

Off I go. I ride my bike, because riding it helps me clear my head, and prepare for what I’m about to do. I glance over my shoulder a lot, because after my little “experience” I find the streets of Roswell a lot more dangerous.

“Liz?” Max says when I knock on his window.

“Hey. My parents are out of town, so I thought I’d just pop in.”

“Come in.” He says, opening his window a little wider.

This time he gives me his hand, so I don’t do a repeat and smash my already hideous face into the carpet.

“Thanks.”

I look around his room. It’s still the same, even his bed is unmade.

“I actually just wanted to drop off some notes from Biology. You know, since you weren’t in class today.” I say, pulling the notes out from my back pocket.

He laughs.

“What?”

“Nothing, it just seems like all we ever talk about is Bio.” He says, taking the notes from me and setting them on his desk.

I laugh nervously.

“I wanted to tell you something too.” My voice is weak and I’m not sure if I can do this.

He stops laughing. He knows it’s serious by the tone of my voice.

“I...” Breathe. “This is so hard to say.”

We sit on his bed.

“Go on.” He gently nudges.

“I wanted to thank you for the flowers.”

God, I’m so weak.

“Your welcome. Is that what you wanted to say?” He looks at me skeptically.

Yes, because thanking someone for flowers is such a hard thing to say.

I’m not Tess.

Tears form in my eyes. I can’t do this, because I’m not Tess and the only thing that will happen is that I’ll leave here with one less friend and a broken heart.

“Liz?” His voice is so soft, I can barely hear him.

“Max.” I say even softer. “Can I stay here tonight? I don’t want to be alone.”

“Of course.”

I cry. For some reason being with him in his room is too much. It’s like a little kid waving a treat in front of a dog’s face. The dog wants it, but knows he’ll never have it.

“Liz, lie down.”

I crawl under the covers while Max turns off his light. Then there’s warmth. He lies down next to me, wraps me in his arms, and pulls me close to him. I cry harder.

“Shh, it’s okay.” He whispers into my ear.

This hurts. I can’t stand being so close to him, and not having him. Eventually, I drift off to the sound of him.

Part 20

One, two, three. Leg up, hands around, spin.

“Excellent, keep going.” Julia’s voice coaxes.

Bend down, slowly come up, tip toes.

“Almost there.”

Spin, spin, spin. Bow.

“Beautiful.”

The winter concert is on the 24th, that’s two days away. I’ve been practicing for three hours everyday for the past two weeks. Julia has been pretty considerate to me ever since “the incident,” as I’ve come to call it.

“You’ll be more than ready for this concert. Just come in tomorrow, and we’ll work on it for an hour.” She says, her voice unusually kind.

“Okay, see you later.”

I grab my bag and walk out to my car. I’m meeting Max at the Crashdown in fifteen minutes. Things have changed between us. Since that night, when I stayed at his house, things are different. Not particularly in the way I want them too, I still haven’t told him how I really feel, but we’re closer.

“Hey Liz, you want a burger?” A voice calls when I enter the restaurant.

“No thanks, Michael. I’m not really that hungry.”

I finally went up to Michael and thanked him personally for saving me. I always thought that he was that rough, badass kind of guy, but he’s really sweet. Of course if you tell him that he’ll deny it, but I know he is. Plus I think he has a thing for Maria, which definitely makes him okay in my book. He came by a few weeks ago and asked if he could have a job. Two hours and one interview later he was our new cook. Mom and dad love him, he’s the only cook who has perfected the “Galaxy Quest” burger and made it taste decent. Many have tried, few have succeeded.

“You want something else? We need to get something in that little body of yours.” He says, half-joking, half-serious.

“How about a chef salad?”

“You and your salads.” He mumbles, then goes back to work.

I’ve lost more weight. Last time I weighed myself (this morning) I weight 84lbs. Julia is proud, she says that by summer I’ll be a shoe-in for the Los Angeles Dance Academy. Everyone else doesn’t see it as a good thing and my parents force me to eat whatever they’re having for dinner at night. I’ve discovered the art of self-induced vomiting. I can eat something I wouldn’t normally eat and not have to worry about it staying in my body. No one has discovered my secret yet and I don’t intend for them to.

I walk behind the counter, up to the order window, and prop my elbows on the ledge.

“Mikey.” I say. “Has Max stopped by yet?”

“No, not yet. And don’t call me Mikey.” He playfully punches me on the arm.

We laugh.

“What are you and Maria doing tonight?”

Michael and Maria have taken a step in their relationship. They haven’t admitted their feelings for each other (even though it’s obvious), so they basically “date” without the boyfriend/girlfriend label.

“She’s dragging me to some lame chick movie.” He says, acting like he won’t enjoy it.

This makes us laugh harder. The bell above the door rings, and we both glance over. Max.

“Go on.” Michael tells me.

I think Michael knows about my feelings for Max. Somehow, he figured it out, and I’m scared that he’ll tell him.

“Hey.” Why does he always start out with “hey?”

“What’s up?” We take seats by the counter.

“Isabel and I got into another fight. Apparently I ate all the Fruit Loops and she was craving a bowl. So imagine her annoyance when she picked up the box and it was empty.” He rolls his eyes.

“Never piss off a woman Max, how many times do I have to tell you that?”

“I have some other news too.” His expression suddenly changes.

“Yeah?”

“Tess and I are going out on a date.” He says with no warning.

The air leaves my body.

“What? I thought she was still going out with Kyle.” I manage to act nonchalant.

“They’re in the “off-again” stage.”

“That’s, um, that’s good. I have to go.” I jump off my seat and run to the bathroom.

I puke. There’s nothing to puke up, so it’s more like dry heaves.

I’m not Tess.

Part 21

The bitch is back. That’s right. No more of this love-sick Liz that you’ve grown use to. Max doesn’t love me and I’m not going to sit around all day and sulk. Screw him. Screw Tess. They can both screw each other for all I care.

“Are you almost ready honey? The show starts in 45 minutes.” My dad asks from the entrance to my room.

I pull my hair into a tight bun and walk out of the bathroom.

“You look beautiful.” He says with a smile.

I blush.

“Thanks dad. Can we go now?”

-----------

Here we are again. Onstage, getting ready for the curtain to open. I can hear murmurs from the crowd. I’m all alone onstage. In life. The music starts.

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat
But always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you'll give fate a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they're worth taking
Lovin' might be a mistake
But it's worth making
Don't let some hell bent heart
Leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out
Reconsider
Give the heavens above
More than just a passing glance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
(Time is a wheel in constant motion always)
I hope you dance
(Rolling us along)
I hope you dance
(Tell me who)
I hope you dance
(Wants to look back on their years and wonder)
(Where those years have gone)

I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you'll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
Dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance
(Time is a wheel in constant motion always)
I hope you dance
(Rolling us along)
I hope you dance
(Tell me who)
(Wants to look back on their years and wonder)
I hope you dance
(Where those years have gone)

(Tell me who)
I hope you dance
(Wants to look back on their years and wonder)
(Where those years have gone)


-----------

Fun. That’s what I plan to have tonight. All the girls are going out to Gretchen’s and for once I’m going to go with them. Gretchen’s is a local ice cream parlor and they serve the world’s best ice cream.

“Okay, everyone ready? I’m driving!” Virginia, one of the dancers, says.

This is followed up by a chorus of “yeahs.” We must be quite a sight. Here is a good 20 girls, all dressed in leotards, with their ballet shoes still on, heading into the ice cream stand. I’m cracking up at some lame joke that Ali just said, when I see them. Max and Tess. They’re sitting together at one of the booths. Don’t let them see you upset.

“Wait, wait.” Ali says. “Remember that one time Liz told Julia that “even though it was her time of the month, she didn’t need to be a bitch.” And we all laughed and she made us stay after and scrub the mirrors!”

I can’t help but laugh. We have some good stories.

“Liz, how can you be such a bitch to her and still manage to headline a concert?” Stacey asks.

“My charismatic personality helps me.” I say, doing my best snob impersonation.

I giggle so hard that I snort. This feels good. I’m not even worrying whether Max has looked over at me yet. We walk up to the counter and see that Taylor, a guy from our school, is working. Perfect.

“Hey Taylor.” I give him my “movie star” smile.

“Hey Liz.” He blushes.

The girls are looking at each other, knowing what I’m planning to do.

“So, how’s business tonight?” I ask, licking my lips.

“Uh, good. I guess.”

I wink at the other girls.

“So, what flavor would you suggest?” I lean against the counter.

“Um, the vanilla is really good.” He says, nervously.

“Can I have a taste test?”

He takes a plastic spoon and scoops up a little vanilla, then turns to hand me the spoon. I hope Max is watching. I lick the spoon, with Taylor still holding it. His cheeks have surpassed blushing and are now just like a tomato.

“Mmm. Tastes good.”

The girls giggle.

“Could you do me a favor?” I put my had on his.

“Sure.”

“Could you give me and my friends some free ice cream?”

“Sure.” He says, staring at me while pulling out twenty something cups to put the ice cream in.

We’re all sitting at a table, joking around, and being normal. I sneak a glance at him. Tess gets up and walks toward the bathroom. Max’s eyes follow her and somehow get to me. I quickly look away. I don’t want him to notice me. I’m not Tess, so I shouldn’t be noticed. I suddenly feel the need to leave.

“Shit, I just remembered I promised my parents I’d help them close tonight. I have to go.”

This is followed up by a chorus of “oh’s” and “stay’s.”

“I really have to go.” I say, standing up and throwing my garbage away.

“Thanks for the free ice cream!” Virginia laughs.

“Bye Liz!” The rest of the say.

I push the door open and walk out into the freezing night. I’m not normal. I can’t hang out with the girls and pretend I’m normal. It hurts too much. I go home and puke up my ice cream.




posted on 12-Jul-2002 12:55:17 PM
Part 22

Gym class. Getting naked in front of 15 other girls, changing into a sweaty, gross uniform, and then being forced to play kick ball. This should be illegal.

“Running, sweating, and embarrassing myself in front of 30 other people. God, I love gym.” I say as I pull my “West Roswell High” shorts up.

Maria giggles as she puts her hair up.

“At least we have it last period. It could be worse, we could have it first and go through the rest of the day smelling like old cheese.” She says, rubbing her hands with lotion.

We head out into the gym. Everyone else is starting the warm-ups. Maria and I hurry to our positions.

“Okay, we’re going to divide into two teams. Count off.” Mr. Dawson, the gym teachers says.

“One.”

“Two.”

“One.”

Maria and I end up one the same team because when school first started, we took seats that would ensure we’d always be together. The freshman have yet to figure out this concept. Therefore, they complain.

“If you’re a one, you kick first. Twos, out in the outfield.” Dawson yells.

We go to the outfield. Have I mentioned how much I suck at kickball? I’m lucky if I can kick it pass first base. Twenty minutes into the game, Max comes in the gym. Okay, why the hell is he in here? Doesn’t he have to make out with Tess in the eraser room? I haven’t spoken to Max outside of Biology since he told me that he had a date with her. And even then, it’s just about the labs we have to do. He’s called and stopped by, but I’ve managed to avoid him. I can’t be close to him and not feel like I’m dying inside. My team is now up to kick, and I hope Max gets out of here before it’s my turn.

“Mrs. Green wanted me to give you this.” I hear him tell Mr. Dawson.

Mr. Dawson reads the note.

“Parker, it’s your turn!” Brian, the pitcher from the other team, yells.

“I’m coming, I’m coming!” I yell back.

He rolls the ball and suddenly I fell dizzy. Somehow I kick it and someone pushes me toward first base.

HE’s pushing me up the stairs.

SHE’s pushing me to lose more weight.

I’M pushing the food up my throat.

Then it hits me. What’s the point. And I’m falling. I remember everything that’s happened these past few weeks. I remember the winter concert, the trip to the ice cream parlor, the sweater mom and dad got me for Christmas, counting down to the new year at Maria’s house. Then it’s gone.

-------------

Liz.

I can hear someone calling my name.

Liz.

What’s the point.

“Liz, please, wake up.” It’s Maria.

What’s the point. If I leave this place, this half-way between, then I’ll go back to Max, to Julia, to everything that I hate. I could just stay here. And fall.

“Liz, please.” It’s Max.

I don’t want to wake up, and have him leave me again. And so here’s my choice: I fall. It’s better than reality. It’s more real than reality. It’s less painful than reality. And I like it. I love it.

“Liz.” It’s an unrecognizable voice. Or maybe it is, but I don’t want to recognize it.

It’s the end of my world.

Part 23

Blurred. Everything’s blurred.

“...be okay?”

“...doesn’t look good...”

Voices crowd around me and I can’t pick out which one is which.

“...two weeks...”

I feel like I’m in the ocean, floating along, with no land around me. But it’s okay, because I like floating.

“...flowers...English class...”

Sometimes I can sense people around me, other times I just hear the voices. I like it here. There’s no heaven, no hell. Just this in-between place.

“...can’t hear you...”

I see faces. Unfamiliar faces. Unrecognizable. Some part of me tells me that I know the faces. But it’s safer for me if I don’t see them as they are. It’s less painful.

“...time to say goodbye...”

“....can’t...”

Beep. Beep. Beep.

I can hear it. Sometimes more than others.

Beep.

I don’t know what it is, though.

“...don’t cry...”

Beep.

My grandmother died a year ago. I can see her now. She’s smiling and calling me Honey Bear. She’s trying to tell me something else, but I don’t hear her because of the noise.

Beep.

“....won’t make it through the night...”

I want to dance again. I want to spin. And spin. And spin. I want my hair to fly around and kiss my face. But I don’t want to leave my in-between world.

Beep.

“...heal her...”

“....not safe...”

Honey Bear.

Beep.

“...have to...”

“...be quick...”

Then I’m being ripped from it. Like a baby from a womb and I don’t like it. I want to go back. I want to be safe.

“...Liz...”

Leave me alone. Let me float.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

It’s getting closer. Louder.

Honey Bear.

Louder. Louder. Louder.

Closer. Closer. Closer.

“...someone’s coming...”

Beep.

HONEY BEAR.

It’s screaming.

BEEP.

It hurts. Oh, God, it hurts. Let me die. Let me go.

“Liz, please.”

Max as a little boy. Max playing baseball. Max laughing. Max crying. Max riding a bike. Max holding hands with Isabel and Michael. Max sleeping. Max seeing Tess.

What’s happening to me?

Max knocking on my window. Max laughing at one of my jokes. Max watching me as I sleep in his arms.

Images flying at me.

Beep.

Tess. Tess. Tess.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Then it all clicks into place.

“Liz?”

My eyes open.

“Max?”

It’s the beginning of something else.

Part 24

I have memories. I remember waking up and seeing Max standing over me. Looking into my eyes. He said my name too. I said his name. Then everything went black again. When I woke up later, the room was dark and the light from the nurse’s station was flooding in. I think I made those memories up. The nurses came in to check on me and said that my parents just left at the end of visiting hours, but that they had called them as soon as they noticed I was awake. I think they would’ve said something if Max had come. I lied in my bed for hours, staring at the ceiling. How did I get here? The only thing I remember is playing kick ball in gym class. Everything after that is blank. How long have I been here?

“She woke up a few hours ago. It’s a miracle, we didn’t think she was going to make it through the night.” One of the nurses says in the hall.

“Lizzie?” My mom walks into the room.

“I can’t believe she’s awake!” Dad follows behind her.

I smile, I can’t talk because my throat feels like it’s on fire.

“Don’t try to talk sweetie, they have a tube running down to your stomach.” She sits on my bed.

My body feels tired. I just want to go back to sleep.

“We’ll let you rest. We’re just going to make some calls.” Then they’re gone.

I close my eyes. I want to go back to my in-between world. When I wake up next, there’s light filtering in through the blinds. Someone is holding my hand.

“Hey chica, you really had us all scared.” Maria smiles.

I want to say something to her, but the tube is still there.

“Why don’t I help you sit up?” She pushes the button that lifts the bed.

I have IVs stuck all over my arms. I’m having food pumped into me. I’m getting fatter. I just want to be thin, I just want to dance.

“Here, write on this.” She hands me a pad of paper and a pen.

“How long have I been here?” I write.

I hold the paper up for her to read.

“A month.”

“A MONTH!!” I write.

“Yeah, it’s been a while.” She gives my hand a squeeze.

“What happened to me?” I’m writing frantically, I want answers.

“It was gym class, remember?” She goes on. “You kicked the ball, then just stood there. Tommy Gibson pushed you toward first base, but you never made it. You just passed out. We tried everything to get you to wake up.”

She’s crying now. I want to go back to my in-between place.

“I thought you were dead. The ambulance came and the put you on the stretcher. All the kids came out of their classrooms and watched. The rumors started. Drugs? Alcohol? Anorexia? Bulimia? Every day it was something else. Cancer? AIDS? I’d come here every afternoon and sit here. Why her? I’d ask. You got worse. They didn’t think you’d make it. Your parents already had funeral arrangements.”

“I’m sorry I put you all through that.” I write.

“Oh, Lizzie. It’s not your fault. You didn’t know what you were doing to yourself.”

“What?” I write.

“Liz, they diagnosed you with Anorexia Nervosa. You were literally starving. You almost had a heart attack.” She says, and I notice a hint of anger in her voice.

“I’m still sorry.”

“I love you. And don’t ever do that to me again.” She takes a tissue off the nightstand and wipes her eyes.

“I love you too. How is everyone? What’s been going on? You need to catch me up on all the gossip.” I write quickly.

She laughs. I think she’s relieved that I’m acting normal. But I really want to go back to my in-between place.

“Let’s see. Pam Troy and Gary Benson are this month’s ‘on-again, off-again’ relationship. Isabel Evans won Snowball Queen. Talk about a pun.” She giggles.

I wonder how I survived a month without hearing that giggle. How I survived a month without sitting on my balcony. How I survived period. I want to float again and feel safe.

“Michael and I are officially dating! Also, rumor has it that Tess Harding is pregnant with Kyle Valenti’s kid.”

“School? Will I be able to graduate?” I write.

“Yeah. Your parents have already discussed it with the school board and you’ll definitely be able to.” She says, putting her hand on my arm.

“Biology?”

She rolls her eyes, because she knows what I really mean.

“He hasn’t visited you. He asks about you every once in a while at school, but he’s never came to see you.” She looks away, not wanting to see the hurt in my eyes.

Tess. Tess. Tess.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Flashes.

“You okay Liz? You kind of spaced out there.” She shakes my arm a little.

“I’m fine.” I write.

“Well, your mom said the doctor will be here in a little while. Why don’t you rest up?”

Maybe I can go back to my in-between place.



posted on 12-Jul-2002 12:59:29 PM
Part 25

The whispers are back. I’m walking down the hallway at school. I’m back. Everyone is staring at me. “What happened to her?” they ask. I just want to disappear, and have things go back to the way they were before. I want to be invisible.

“Welcome back, Ms. Parker.” My teachers all say.

“Thank you.” Is my continuous reply.

I dread Biology the most. I’m hurt. I thought Max and I were friends. The least he could do is send flowers, a card. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be a Hallmark. It could be one of those Dollar Store cards. Maybe a fake tulip. Something. Anything.

“Ms. Parker, glad to have you back.” Ms. Andrews says.

She is the only teacher that is treating me the same as she always has. No “special treatment.” I take my seat in the back and wait for class to begin. Max walks in. I know this because I’m faking like I’m copying the notes off the board when I’m really staring at the door from the corner of my eye. He stops suddenly when he sees me. He probably didn’t expect me back. He probably thought I had died weeks ago. He probably is pissed because I’m back and now he doesn’t have that extra space to lay out his books. Screw him.

“Alright, just copy these notes, then we’ll review them.” Ms. Andrews sits at her desk, her legs propped up and a chocolate bar in her hand.

Max riding a bike. What the hell? I shake my head to get the images out. Where did that come from? I need to get a new obsession. Like, someone I know I’ll never get, but I won’t have to worry about embarrassing myself in front of them. Nsync? No, I can’t tell them apart from the Backstreet Boys, that could be a problem. Leonardo DiCaprio? No, too full of himself. Oh, I know. Chuck Norris. I mean, come on. He’s older, so I’ll look more sophisticated. And hello, Walker, Texas Ranger. The man’s got skills.

“Mrs. Chuck Norris.” I doodle on a piece of paper.

Seriously, how pathetic am I? A half-snort, half-laugh erupts next to me.

“What?” I snap at Max.

“Chuck Norris?” He raises his eyebrows.

“Tess Harding?” I shoot back.

My voice has more venom in it then I had intended. He winces, then looks away. I smile to myself. Good. He deserves everything I plan on giving him.

-----------

I feel like I’m back to where I started. My parents have decided that I can’t drive until I gain 10 more pounds. My bike tires are still flat. Maria is staying after for French Club (whatever the hell that is). Alex is watching Isabel Evans at her cheerleading practice. Guys, all they think about are the 3 S’s. Sleep, Sex, and Sports. So here I am, walking home. It seems a lot longer than it did freshman year. See, freshman year we were “too cool” to ride the bus. Thus, we walked. This coming from the same people who considered french-rolling your pants and wearing a ponytail on the side of your head cool.

“Liz Parker? Is that you?” Someone calls from a car stopped in the street.

Just keep walking and act like you don’t hear it.

“Hello? Liz, I already saw your face. I know it’s you.”

I turn to the source of my annoyance. Dylan Moore. One of my good friends from grade school. We haven’t really talked in forever, just an occasional “hi” here and there.

“Dylan Moore. Long time, no see.” I say, a smile on my face.

“You need a ride?”

I glance at the path ahead of me. It’s a long way home and the New Mexican heat is giving me pit stains. Doesn’t exactly scream “attractive.”

“Sure.” I say, walking over to the passenger side.

I sit in the front and buckle my seatbelt. It’s the law. Oh, what the hell, I’m a rebel. I unbuckle my seatbelt.

“So.” He starts, and I know where this is going. “I heard what happened. A group of us went and visited you every Monday. We would sit there and fill you in on all the comings and goings of Roswell. Needless to say, it was pretty dull. Basically we all took turns to see who could land the most Skittles in your mouth.”

I whip my head around to look at him.

“Kidding, of course.” His cheeks turn red.

Most of the ride is spent in silence. I bet he feels stupid. He’s probably just trying to be nice to the little “anorexic” girl.

“I was wondering,” We’re in front of the Crashdown. “If maybe you’d like to go out sometime, with me.”

He’s stuttering. He’s nervous. He’s tense about asking me out. Elizabeth Audrey Parker. What are the chances of that? Max Evans, eat your heart out.

Part 26

Happy. You are looking at a happy woman. I have a date tonight. Yes, hard to believe, but I do. Dylan is taking me to Senor Chow’s. It’s a swanky little Mexican restaurant in town. Have I mentioned how hot Dylan is? He has light blonde hair and the most beautiful blue eyes. He’s exactly the opposite of Max, which is what I’m looking for.

“Liz, Dylan will be here any minute. You better hurry.” Mom calls from the hallway.

“I’m coming.”

I take one last look in the mirror. I hope I’m not overdressed. Maria convinced me to wear this deep red sundress she bought from American Eagle. Then she curled my hair and did my make-up. I actually feel like a princess. My version of “dressing up” consists of a clean pair of jeans and a polo shirt.

I walk unsteadily downstairs. These sandals aren’t a part of my normal apparel either.

“Oh, girl, you are looking good.” Jose says from behind the fryer.

“You better watch yourself, Jose.” My dad laughs from the order window.

“Thanks.” I blush.

I walk out into the restaurant and take a sit at one of the bar stools.

“Someone’s looking snazzy.” Alex sits next to me.

“Well, when you’re me, what can you do? It’s hard being so glamorous looking all the time.” I sigh dramatically.

“You have a date?”

“Yeah.” I blush.

Why do I keep blushing? It’s just a date.

“Well, he’s here.” He says, pointing to the door.

I turn and look around. I don’t see Dylan anywhere. Max. Alex thinks I have a date with him. Isn’t it obvious that he is so in love with Tess? I bet that Tess’ love child is his. Wait, is she even pregnant, or was that just a rumor? Note to self: separate the fact from the fiction.

“Uh, no. I’m going out with Dylan Moore.”

“Oh, Dylan. He’s a good guy. Have fun.” Then he leaves.

Please don’t let Max see me, please don’t let Max see me.

“Hey.” He sits next to me.

Why does he make my stomach feel this way?

“Hey.”

He leans his elbows on the counter and looks anywhere but at my face. He smells good.

“Why are you dressed up? You have a date or something?” His voice sounds weird. Different.

“Actually, I have a date. Does that surprise you that I, Liz Parker, could get a date?”

“I, I didn’t mean it that way.” His voice gets softer and I regret being such a bitch to him.

We’re quiet. And all the sudden, I don’t want to go out with Dylan, I want to stay here and smell Max.

“Liz, you ready?” Somehow Dylan snuck up behind me without me noticing.

I glance back at Max, who gives me a warm smile.

I’m not Tess.

“Yeah, I’m ready.”

“Liz?” Max says.

I turn to look at him.

“Yeah?”

“You look really great.”

I smile and walk away.

Part 27

Beep.

“Michael, I have to hear her. I can’t just let her die.”

“It’s not safe, Maxwell.”

“I have to do this.”

“Fine, just be quick.”

Beep.

I gasp. What was that? My room is dark and my body is covered in sweat.

“Why was I dreaming about Max Evans and Michael Guerin?”

Okay, Liz. Calm down. You are not going crazy. Just backtrack. The dream looked like it was in a hospital room. Think. Max and Michael were talking about healing someone. Focus, just try to picture the dream in your mind. Who was on the bed? Oh, God. It was me, I was on that bed. That couldn’t have really happened. For one thing, Max never came to visit me in the hospital. And they couldn’t just heal me, it’s not like they’re God, or aliens, or something. But why did I all the sudden get better. The nurse said it was a “miracle.” Was it really? I need answers.

I hop on my bike, the tires newly fixed mind you, and head toward Max’s house. How crazy will he think I am? I mean, honestly, I’m going to his house to ask him if he has magical powers and if he healed me. Hello, Roswell Mental Ward, we have a pick-up for you.

Knock, knock.

“Michael, dammit. I told you, we’d all look at the book tomorrow.” He says, not even looking up, while he opened the window.

I could still run away. He wouldn’t necessarily see me.

“Liz?”

Damn, too late.

“Hi.”

He looks at me expectantly.

“I just wanted to stop by and say hi.” Knowing I’ve made a fool of myself once again.

He continues to stare.

“So, how are things going?”

“Liz, you do realize that it’s almost three in the morning, don’t you?” He glanced toward his clock.

“Can I come in?” I want to get my crazy theory out.

“Sure.” He pushes the window open.

Did I mention that he’s shirtless? Not exactly the type of scenery I need right now.

“Okay.”

And, as you can predict, I trip over the ledge. When will I learn? He catches me. I can barely feel my flimsy tank top separating us from friendship (if we’re still friends) and well, you know. I pull away.

“Is something wrong?” His tone makes me feel even worse about being a bitch to him earlier.

“No, everything’s good.”

Yeah, right. Like he’ll buy that. I just strolled over here at 3 a.m. to see what’s going on. How’s the weather? Did you catch ER the other night?

“Actually, I wanted to talk to you about something.”

He sits on his bed, waiting.

“Um, could you put a shirt on?”

He gets up and grabs the closest shirt he can find. No questions asked.

“This is going to sound so lame and stupid. And you’ll probably never want to talk to me after this.” I bite my lip.

“Go on.” He urges me to press on.

“I had this dream earlier, that’s what woke me up. And in my dream you and Michael were in my hospital room. You know, when I was in there. It was dark outside, I remember because the moon was out.” Memories from the dream started flooding back. “You were talking about healing me, or something.”

He’s silent.

“I really just thought that maybe I was going crazy. Like, one color short of a rainbow. Or one crayon short of a pack. Or, uh, I forget, but I know there’s others.”

“Liz?” He interrupts.

“Right, sorry. I’ll stop rambling. Anyway, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. But then I thought, how in the hell did I get better all of the sudden? I was literally on my death bed. And then BAM, I’m better. I’m not a really religious person, so I don’t think Jesus, or God, or whatever performed a miracle. I just wanted to know: is what I’m saying make sense, or should I start filling out forms for our local mental institution?”

More silence. Should I leave? He’s probably trying to think of ways to get me out of here and make a quick call to the police. Hello, Roswell PD. I have a pick-up for you.

“Liz.” He gets up and walks toward me.

“Max?”

“I have to tell you something.” He pauses, then looks up at me. “I’m not from around here.”

“Where’re you from?”

He points up toward the ceiling.

“Canada? I knew it. Alex always said that there was something weird going on up there.”

He raises his hand higher, meaning he’s not from Canada.

I realize what he’s trying to say.

“You’re not an, an alien I mean. Are you?” I ask, rolling my eyes.

Okay, now who needs to be locked up.

“Well I prefer the term not of this earth.” He laughs, I don’t. “Sorry, it's not a good time to joke.”

I’d so say.

“Yeah, I am. Wow, it's weird to actually say it.” He says, looking down at his carpet.

Oh my God. He’s crazier than I am. I have to get out of here.

“Liz...” He says, when he notices me leaving.

“Um, Max, you know, I have, I'm gonna get in trouble if my parents find out I’m gone.” I half-sprint, half-walk toward the window.

He reaches for my hand. And my stomach still does that flip-flop thing. I love him.

“Liz, listen to me. You can't talk to anyone about this. Not your parents, not Maria. No one. You don't understand what'll happen if you do. Liz, please? Now my life is in your hands.” His voice is so overcome with emotion that it’s all I can do not to hug him.

And I leave him again.

posted on 12-Jul-2002 1:07:12 PM
Part 28

Max is an alien.

“....every detail.”

What?

“What?”

“I want every detail of your date with Dylan. I mean, we’re talking what he ordered, what you ordered. What color were his socks? Everything.” Maria babbled.

“Maria, I didn’t sit there and record everything he said and what he wore.” I roll my eyes.

“Did you two, you know?” She gives an evil grin.

“Maria!” I hit her shoulder. “We both know that Dylan is not that kind of guy.”

“And?” She says.

“And what?” I start cleaning the counter.

“You never said that you weren’t that kind of girl.” She teases.

“Who said I was?” I laugh.

I actually did have a good time. First we went out to eat, which I had to order something semi-fattening to put off his suspicions (I threw it up later). Then he took me to see a movie. It was something really guyish. I didn’t pay attention, I just went over the periodic table in my head. Then we went out for ice cream (this time I got the least fattening thing) and just talked. It was good not to have to talk about my weight with someone. He told me about his plans for college, I told him about my dancing.

Maria looks at me, waiting for a response.

“Alright, I admit, we had hot pig sex in the back of his car.” I keep my face serious.

“Yeah, and I’m gonna pass English this semester.”

“Okay, seriously, we had a really good time. And we’re going out again tonight.” I’m scrubbing a little too hard on the counter, why am I getting embarrassed?

“Two dates in two nights? Whoo-hoo, girl.” She hits me on the butt. “Go get ‘em, tiger.”

I laugh. That’s Maria for you. I’ve never met anyone with so much pep.

----------

Max is an alien. I can’t seem to get over that. Is he telling me the truth? I mean, it’d make sense, but this is Roswell and I’m sure everyone has at least said once that they’re an alien. Is he like, three feet tall and green? Will he hurt me?

“Earth to Liz?” Dylan waves his hand in my face.

“Sorry.” I mumble.

“So did you want to do the karaoke or not?”

Me singing is not a pretty sight. We’re talking howling dogs, glass breaking, the works.

“I don’t think the world is ready for that just yet.”

“Oh, come on. You can’t be any worse than her.” He points to the lady now possessing the stage. “Her vocal chords should be removed.”

It was true. She was an acquired taste. Although, I must admit, I enjoy her version of “My Heart Will Go On” more than Celine Dion’s.

“What would I sing?” This of course is a hypothetical question, because there’s no way I’m going to go up there and sing. Half the school is here.

“Hmm.” He acts like he’s thinking deeply.

He flips through the song book, and points to a spot.

“This one!” He holds his arms up, like he just won something.

I look over. No.

“I do not think so.”

“I dare you.” His smile is so sinister.

He knows that I can’t turn down a dare.

“Damn you.” I walk up to the stage and wait for Ms. Celine “My Heart Will Go On, But My Singing Career Won’t” Dion to finish.

I really don’t want to do this. We’re talking public humiliation here. Shit, for all I know Max and Tess could be here. Max. He’s an alien, I can’t think about him anymore. For all I know, he’s a lying bastard that’s just trying to get in my pants.

“Here you go.” The microphone is handed to me.

I step up. Everyone is watching, waiting. Here we go. If I’m going to do this, I’m going to go all out. Dancing included.

I love myself
I want you to love me
When I'm feelin' down
I want you above me
I search myself
I want you to find me
I forget myself
I want you to remind me

I don't want anybody else
When I think about you
I touch myself
I don't want anybody else
Oh no, oh no, oh no

You're the one who makes me come running
You're the sun who makes me shine
When you're around I'm always laughing
I want to make you mine
I close my eyes

And see you before me
Think I would die
If you were to ignore me
A fool could see
Just how much I adore you
I get down on my knees
I'd do anything for you

I don't want anybody else
When I think about you
I touch myself
I don't want anybody else
Oh no, oh no, oh no

I love myself
I want you to love me
When I'm feelin' down
I want you above me
I search myself
I want you to find me
I forget myself
I want you to remind me

I don't want anybody else
When I think about you
I touch myself
I don't want anybody else
Oh no, oh no, oh no

I want you
I don't want anybody else
And when I think about you
I touch myself
Ooh, oooh, oooooh, aaaaaah


By the time I’m done, I have tears rolling down my face from laughing so much and the crowd is standing up and cheering. But I’m still thinking of Max.

Part 29

Here we are again. Biology. Where it all began.

“Have one partner hold the petri dish, while the other records the data.” Ms. Andrews says, walking around the room.

I write down everything I see in the different quadrants. Max and I haven’t spoken except with the necessary words to complete the lab. I don’t want it to be like this. He saved my life. I don’t want us to go back to being casual friends. I want him to know that his secret is safe with me. I don’t care if he is three feet tall and green.

“Maria says that one of my best qualities is being able to keep my mouth shut when it needs to be.” I write on a note, then pass to him.

He opens the note and smiles. Then he scribbles something down and passes it to me.

“Thank you.”

----------

Dance class. This is my first time back. Mom and dad haven’t seemed to put the connection together between dance class and my little “problem.” Thus, I’m able to continue dancing. Thank god, I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t able to dance.

“Welcome back, Ms. Parker. Now, just because you’ve missed a month or so is no excuse to slack off.” Of course, Julia hasn’t changed.

“I wouldn’t dream of it.” I roll my eyes.

“Then let’s see your warm-ups.”

I start off slow, it’s weird but I can notice a difference. I have more energy and I can dance longer without breathing very hard. But I don’t have “the body a dancer should have.” As Julia would say. Julia wants to see me after class. She tells me that I’ve put on a little extra “padding.” I told her that my parents won’t let me do anything until I gain some weight. She told me the secret is to wear baggier clothing. She makes me stay an hour late and work on my dance numbers.

----------

PROM. The most important four letter word in a teenage girl’s life. West Roswell High’s is in two weeks.

“So are you going?” I ask.

“What would I do? Stand in the corner, and blend in with the streamers?” He laughs.

“We could...” I start.

“Yeah?” He looks up.

“Liz! Someone’s here to see you!” Mom calls from the living room.

I leave Max and the pile of Biology-based books in my room and walk out to the living room. Dylan is standing there. Dylan is standing there with a bouquet of red roses.

“Hey.” I say, still not sure of what’s going on.

“Hey.” He smiles.

Mom gives us an “I’ll leave you two alone look” and walks out of the room. I think I know where this is going.

“Uh, so Dylan. What brings you here?” I don’t want him to ask.

“I, uh.” He blushes. “I came to ask. Man, this is so embarrassing. I wanted to know if you’d go to the prom with me.”

Shit. I can’t say no. I mean, we’ve gone out on four dates. It’s not like we didn’t have a good time either. It was fun. But I don’t like him like that.

“Um, sure.”

I guess it isn’t as important as I thought it would be. I always thought that you go to prom with someone you love. Like it was some life-altering experience. You know, like how it is on tv? Welcome to Reality! Population: Everyone But You. Dawson’s Creek my ass.

“Hey Max.”

I jerk my head around to see Max standing in the doorway. Did he hear? Does he know?

“Hey Dylan.”

Awkward pause.

“What are you doing here, Max?” Dylan asks, I don’t like the tone of his voice.

“We were just studying for our Bio. final.” I spit out.

Why do I feel like I have to make up an excuse? All we were doing was studying.

“I should go.” Max says quietly.

Then he’s gone. And I feel different.

“That guy kind of creeps me out.” Dylan says, sitting on my couch.

Max isn’t that judgmental.

“He’s a good guy.” I don’t mean to sound so defensive.

He looks at me. Max would never look at me that way.

“Whatever you say.” He laughs, but it’s not a real laugh.

Max loves Tess and I’m not Tess. I’m Liz. And I love Max.

Part 30

Kill me. I hate shopping. Especially dress shopping. Who really wants to look at their fat ass in three different mirrors at the same time? Goodbye self-esteem.

“Just try this one on!” Maria whines.

It’s probably the ugliest dress I’ve ever seen. It’s some type of turquoise ensemble with fringe on the side. You couldn’t pay me to actually put that thing on.

“Uh, no. I’d rather go to the prom naked.”

“I bet Dylan would like that.” She snickers and I punch her arm.

“So, you finally got Michael to go with you. I must say, I am surprised. I thought after that speech about how commercialized the prom was that’d he would never go.” I scan the racks and racks of dresses, hoping to find one that doesn’t make me look like the Incredible Hulk.

“I used my powers of seduction.” She says, in a matter-of-fact voice.

“So, in other words, you begged?”

“Hell yeah.”

I turn around, and start going through another set of dresses.

“Oh my God.” I gasp.

“What?”

“Look at this dress!” I hold it up for her to see.

“Girl, that is the dress. How much is it?” She looks for a tag. “Damn, $200, but it’s worth it. You’d look hot as hell in that thing. Go try it on.”

She pushes me into one of the dressing rooms. I slip on the dress. It’s long and black with spaghetti straps and no back. I look horrible in it.

“I’m coming in!” Maria pushes the door open before I can object. “Whoa.”

“That bad, huh?” I glance down, self-consciously.

“Hell no, girl. You are looking fine. And I mean that in a strictly non-lesbian like way, of course.” She winks.

“Of course,” I laugh. “So you think I should get it?”

I bite my lip.

“Definitely! Come on, we haven’t got much time to find some shoes.” She hurries out and shuts the door behind her.

I turn to look at myself. My arms look like two fat sausages with a tiny rubber band on them. I’m no Isabel Evans and I’m definitely no Cindy Crawford. But most importantly, I’m not Tess.

-----------

“Once Upon A Time.” That’s the theme of our prom. The school wouldn’t shell out the additional funds to have our the dance at the Tumbleweed Ballroom. So, the committee decked out the gym with globs and globs of blue and yellow streamers. Every girl’s fantasy.

“You look really beautiful, Liz.”

I look over at Dylan. I must say, he is looking pretty hot in his tux.

“You look good too.” I smile.

I glance around the room. Michael and Maria are standing by the punch table, arguing. Maria is upset because Michael gave her a corsage that doesn’t match her dress.

“Um, could you get me some punch?” I ask. I want time to walk around by myself.

“Sure.” He walks off.

I head off toward the stage. Isabel is surrounded by a crowd of guys. Alex is one of them of course. She’s going to win Prom Queen, everyone knows it.

Tess and Kyle are dancing together. Well, I use the term “dancing” loosely. Mating is more like it.

“Ladies and gentlemen.” Pam Troy’s voice fills the room.

300 plus eyes look toward the stage.

“It’s time to announce this year’s Prom King and Queen,” She starts. “West Roswell High’s Prom King for the year 2001 is Dylan Moore!”

Dylan waves at me from the punch table and makes his way toward the stage. He lowers his head so Pam can put his crown on. He’s grinning like an idiot and I have to laugh because he looks so silly with that thing on his head.

“And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for. This year’s Prom Queen is Isabel Evans!”

Surprise. Cat-calls and whistles come from random places in the crowd as Isabel makes her way up to the stage. She looks beautiful, I must admit. She deserved to win.

“And now, as accustomed, the King and Queen will have their dance together.”

Dylan leads Isabel to the center of the gym and they sway to the music. I’m alone. Michael and Maria have settled their differences and are now smiling like love sick fools while dancing. Hell, even Kyle and Tess are dancing decently. Or as decent as they can get.

Find me here
Speak to me
I want to feel you
I need to hear you


“Hey.”

I turn around. Max.

“Max, what are you doing here?” I look around, to see if he has a date.

“I just thought I’d come and chill with the paper mache flowers.”

I laugh. He’s wearing a tux and carrying a yellow rose.

You are the light
That's leading me
To the place
Where I find peace again


“Would you dance with me?”

Does he even need to ask?

“Of course.” I whisper.

You are the strength
That keeps me walking
You are the hope
That keeps me trusting

You are the life
To my soul
You are my purpose
You are everything


He smells good. Like I remember. Dylan smells like he sprayed a little too much Calvin Klein for Men on.

“What made you decide to come?” My head is resting on his shoulder.

“Isabel wanted me to see her win Prom Queen.” He laughs.

And how can I
Stand here with you
And not be moved by you
Would you tell me
How could it be
Any better than this

You calm the storms
You give me rest
You hold me in your hands
You won't let me fall


“A brother’s gotta do, what a brother’s gotta do, eh?” I can feel his hands on my back.

“My work is never done.” He whispers into my ear.

I never want to leave this place. His arms. I can feel his chest rising and falling against mine. His hands are moving up and down on my back.

You still my heart
And you take my breath away
Would you take me in
Would you take me deeper now

And how can I
Stand here with you
And not be moved by you
Would you tell me
How could it be
Any better than this


Now his hands are in my hair. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe you do have a special moment with the one you love at your prom. But maybe that moment is all you get. One last hurrah or something.

And how can I
Stand here with you
And not be moved by you
Would you tell me
How could it be
Any better than this

Cause you're all I want
You are all I need
You are everything
Everything


He sighs. Maybe he realizes that this is it. This is our goodbye.

You are all I want
You are all I need
You are everything
Everything

You are all I want
You are all I need
You are everything
Everything

You are all I want
You are all I need
You are everything
Everything

And how can I
Stand here with you
And not be moved by you
Would you tell me
How could it be
Any better than this

And how can I
Stand here with you
And not be moved by you

Would you tell me
How could it be
Any better
Any better than this

Would you tell me
How could it be
Any better than this


But it can’t be. I won’t let it.

“Max.”

He pulls away and looks into my eyes.

“I love you.”


posted on 12-Jul-2002 1:13:17 PM
Part 31

I said it. Now I feel naked. And he’s staring at me. I know what he’s thinking, too: “Oh God, this psycho is in love with me.” I shouldn’t have said anything. I should’ve just gone on with my life, always wondering “what if.”

“Come with me.” He grabs my arm and pulls me out into an empty hallway.

It’s dark and I can barely see the outline of his face. I guess it’s better this way. That way I don’t have to see his face after he tells me that he thinks we should “just be friends.”

“What did you say?” He whispers.

“I love you.”

And he’s kissing me. One of those life-altering kisses that makes you think you are on television because it’s so perfect. His lips are soft against mine, just like I imagined they would be. He’s pulling me close, his hands are tickling my back. He pulls away, our foreheads touching.

“Max?”

I want answers. I deserve answers.

“I’m an alien.” He says.

“I know.”

He’s looking at my eyes. He’s afraid that it will change everything.

“I’m different than you.”

“I know.”

He leans against the wall and slides down to sit. I slide down next to him.

“Tell me everything.” I say, putting my hand on his arm.

He sighs.

“Isabel, Michael, and Tess are aliens too. We barely know anything about ourselves.”

Oh God. Isabel, Michael, and Tess are aliens too? I had assumed that it was just Max.

“We do know a little. We were created to protect Earth from enemies sent from our planet. We’re pairs. Isabel and Michael. Tess and I. That’s why I went out with her that one time. Because we all tried to fulfill our destinies. It didn’t work out, as you know. Michael wanted to see if things would work out with him and Maria. Tess wanted to stay with Kyle. And Isabel couldn’t stand the thought of kissing Michael.” He laughs.

“What about you?” My voice is so low that even I can barely hear it.

“I’m scared.”

I stand up. He stands up.

“You don’t have to be.” I whisper.

He takes hold of my hand and we walk back into the gym together.

Part 32

I’ve never felt like this before. This complete. Like everything is in place. His hand is warm in mine. His thumb is gently massaging the back of my hand. I wonder if I look as goofy as I feel.

“Liz, there you are! I’ve been looking all over for you.” Dylan comes out of nowhere.

He sees our hands.

“Liz, what’s going on?” He’s hurt.

“Dylan, I, we, um.” I don’t know what to say.

His eyes are glued to our intertwined fingers. I didn’t know it was possible to feel so good and so bad at the same time.

“I see.” He turns around and leaves.

“Max?” I whisper.

“Go on.”

And I’m running after him. Through the crowds, through the cliques.

“Dylan!” I yell.

He doesn’t stop. He’s running as far away from me as possible. I didn’t want it to be like this. I didn’t want him to see what he saw. I know what it’s like to be hurt in that way and I don’t want him to be hurt like that. We’re outside now, in the parking lot. He stops and turns around.

“Dylan, please.” I say.

“How could you do that to me Liz? I thought we had something special. Granted we’ve only gone out a few times, but we had a good time. At least I did, did you?” There’s a glimmer of tears in his eyes.

It’s too late, I’ve already hurt him.

“Yes, yes I did.” I’m ashamed to look him in the eye.

“Then why?”

“I love him.” Tears are flowing now from my own eyes.

It’s starting to rain. Ha, the weatherman said that it’d be clear skies all night. Bullshit. Nothing is how you expect it to be. He nods. I know he’s holding in his own tears.

“Goodbye Liz.”

----------

Now I’m running. Through the streets of Roswell. My shoes are in my hands, my hair is all over the place. I’m holding the train of my dress, hoping I haven’t ruined it. I need to get away from this. I run across the street and narrowly avoid getting hit by a car.

HONK.

I don’t even know where I’m going, or where I’ll end up. The tears are blurring my view and I trip over a crack in the sidewalk, ripping a hole in my dress and gashing my knee. I sob, but keep on running. My knee feels like it’s on fire. And I’m finally where I knew I’d ultimately land, somewhere in the back of my fucked up mind. The cemetery.

Claudia Elizabeth Parker
Beloved wife, mother, grandmother...
April 1930 - October 1999


I lie down next to the tombstone.

“Grandma.” I whimper.

Of course, I know there’ll be no response. She’s gone and it’s over.

“I’m so scared and confused. I wish you were here.”

I lie there for what seems like hours. What a sight I must be. My hair has dirt in it, my makeup is all ruined, my mascara is running down my face, and my $200 dress is ripped and dirty. I glance at my watch. 1:30 a.m. It has been hours. Some prom. I can’t help but laugh at how this all turned out. Worst night of my life combined with the best night of my life. I sit up.

“Goodnight grandma.” I kiss my hands and place them on the cold piece of rock.

This is all I have left of her. I pick up my shoes and start walking home.

---------

The lights are off. I guess my parents are more trustworthy than I gave them credit for. The ladder is cold beneath my feet as I climb it. The blood on my knee has dried and now it’s crusty. I’m thinking at least a 30 minute shower is in order.

“Ow.” I gasp, when I land on the balcony. Damn knee.

“Are you alright?”

“Shit!” I yell.

I turn around, Max is sitting on one of the lawn chairs.

“Sorry.” He blushes.

“No, it’s okay. You just scared me.” I laugh.

We’re silent for a few moments.

“What are you doing here Max?”

He stands up, then sits back down, then stands up again. I wish he’d make up his mind.

“I wanted to make sure everything was okay. Since you never came back, I was worried.” The blush spreads to his neck.

We both sit down.

“I just wanted to make sure he was okay.” I say, he looks at me. “Yeah, it didn’t go so well. He left and I took off, just to have some time to myself, thus my appearance. How long have you been here?”

“Two hours.”

Damn. I look down at my hands, which are filthy, and try to act casual. I cross my legs and wince once I remember the huge gash on my knee.

“Can I?” He looks over and I know what this means to him.

I nod, too afraid to speak. He puts his hand on my knee and my body turns to jello.

“Will it hurt?” I ask.

He looks up and smiles.

“No.”

And then it happens. I could feel everything he was feeling. I could feel his loneliness. For the first time I was really seeing Max Evans. I saw me as he saw me. And the amazing thing was, in his eyes, I was beautiful.

Part 33

“Miss! Miss! Can you come over here for a moment.”

Another Saturday night brought to you in part by the good old Crashdown Cafe.

“One moment, sir.” I call back.

The place is packed. I’m balancing two plates on each arm while trying to fill up a cup with Coke. Damn Agnes called in sick, so now Maria and I have to serve the whole restaurant on our own. Tell me again, why didn’t my father hire Tess when she applied?

“Miss!” The guy calls again.

I swear to God, if he doesn’t shut up, I’m going to take this Will Smith burger and shove it up his---

“Liz! Your cup is overflowing!” Michael says, from the order window.

Dammit. This is not my night. I take the cup, barely able to hold on to it, and head to the guy’s table.

“Here you are, sir.” I say, my voice dripping with sweetness.

“It’s about time.” He snaps.

Hey buddy, you want some spit in your refill?

“Sorry about that sir, we’re a little understaffed tonight.” I explain.

Apparently, he doesn’t care.

“That’s nice. Could I get some ketchup?” He doesn’t bother to look up.

“Yes, sir.” I walk away.

I walk back into the kitchen and lean against the refrigerator.

“Mikey, Mikey. What a night!” I sigh.

“Hey.” He walks from the sink to the fryer. “What’d I tell you about calling me Mikey?”

He flips the burgers quicker than any other cook I’ve seen work here. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

“Admit it, Mikey. You like the nickname. It gives you a sense of security.” I laugh.

He doesn’t. I glance over at him to find him staring at me.

“What? Do I have something sticking out of my nose?” I cross my eyes, trying to see if there is in fact something sticking out of it.

“Thank you.” He says.

“For?” I give him a “what the hell?” look.

“For getting me this job, for everything.”

This is the first time we’ve ever really talked seriously. Usually he called me a “lazy bitch” and I called him a “selfish jackass.” I smile.

“It’s no problem.” I walk over and pat his shoulder. “Now, you better hurry. You know Maria will be pissed if you don’t have her orders ready.”

He laughs.

“Elizabeth Audrey Parker! Get your butt out here!” We laugh harder her yelling.

“Destiny awaits.” I sigh dramatically and walk off.

-----------

Scrub, scrub, scrub. Another night of closing. It’s usually worse on weekends because it’s busier.

“Turn it up, Michael.” Maria yells.

A few seconds later, the volume of the radio goes up louder.

“Liz, it’s your song!” She squeals.

For some reason, Maria got it into her head that this song, that’s playing right now, it’s the story of my life. Of course, it is probably the exact opposite of me, but once she gets something in there, it doesn’t come out. Her mind is like a steel trap.

She doesn't own a dress,
Her hair is always a mess,
If you catch her stealin’,
She won't confess,
She's beautiful.

She smokes a pack a day,
No, wait that’s me, but anyway,
She doesn’t care a thing about that hair,
She thinks I’m beautiful.
Meet Virginia.

She never compromises,
Loves babies and surprises,
Wears high heels when she exercises,
Ain’t that beautiful.

Meet Virginia.

Well she wants to be the Queen,
Then she thinks about her scene,
Pulls her hair back as she screams:
“I don't really wanna be the queen.”

Her daddy wrestles alligators,
Mama works on carburetors,
Her brother is a fine mediator for the President.
Well here she is again on the phone,
Just like me hates to be alone,
We just like to sit at home,
And rip on the President.

Meet Virginia

Well she wants to live her life ,
Then she thinks about her life,
Pulls her hair back as she screams:
“I don't really wanna live this life.”

She only drinks coffee at midnight,
When the moment is not right,
Her timing is quite unusual.
You see her confidence is tragic,
But her intuition magic,
And the shape of her body,
Unusual.

Meet Virginia

I can't wait to,
Meet Virginia,
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Well she wants to be the Queen,
And she thinks about her scene,
Well she wants to live her life,
Then she thinks about her life,
Pulls her hair back as she screams:
“I don’t really wanna be the Queen.
I don’t really wanna be the Queen.
I don’t really wanna be the Queen.
I don’t really wanna live this.”


Of course, she substitutes “Virginia” for “Liz.”

“I don’t know how the hell you think that’s my song.” I throw a sponge at her.

“Just pay attention to the lyrics, sweetie.” She takes the sponge and throws it through the order window.

“Dammit! Who threw that?” Michael’s face appears through the hole.

Michael doesn’t find our after-hours antics very amusing. It usually ends with him giving us a lecture on how we should “act our age.” Then we turn the hose on him until he starts screaming like a little school girl. It’s highly amusing.

“Hey, Liz!” He calls.

I turn around to see what he wants. The last thing I see is a Key Lime pie, which happens to be on special this week, coming at my face.

“Aw, hell no.” I swat blindly, hoping to hit him.

“Sucker!” I hear Maria laugh, then what sounds like a high five.

I duck behind the counter. I will not fall for that one again.

“It’s not fair.” I yell. “It’s two against one.”

“Life’s a bitch!” Michael yells, I can’t tell where he’s at though.

I slide on the floor, Key Lime pie all over my face, hair, and chest. This was my last clean uniform, dammit. I’ll get revenge. The bell above the door rings.

“Oh, no. I’m not falling for that!” I yell. “You want me to think that you left, when you’re really hiding under a booth or something.”

I pick up one of the cherry pies from a tray under the counter. Carrying it very carefully I slide back to the opening of the bar. I can sense someone on the other side. Ha, thought they could outsmart me. I stand up and slam the pie into someone’s face.

“Payback’s a bitch.” I laugh.

“Liz.” I turn around to see Michael and Maria standing by the “Employees Only” door.

Shit. If they’re standing over there, then who did I hit?

“Mmm, cherry. My favorite.”

Max.

“Oh God, I am so sorry. I thought you were Michael.” I grab a towel and hand it to him.

Michael and Maria have succeeded in stealthfully slipping out of the room. Uh, some friends. He laughs.

“Looks like you fell victim too. What flavor are you wearing?” He asks.

“Um, it’s...” I cut off by his lips hitting mine.

His hands wrap around my waist and pull me close.

“Key Lime.” He says, our lips still touching. “My other favorite.”

I’m not used to this. Having someone like him. It scares me, because it’s somewhere I’ve never been. But is it too scary?


posted on 12-Jul-2002 1:22:13 PM
Part 34

“Tell me everything.” I say, looking up at the sky and its stars.

“About?”

“Everything.”

He just laughs. He took me to this place in the desert. He said that it’s the only place he’s ever seen his mother. So here we are, lying on a huge rock, a blanket underneath us, just looking at the stars. This is like one of those lame ass cliches that they use in every teen movie.

“We found this book, with our supposed destinies in it. It’s like, coded or something, so we can’t understand it. But basically we were genetically engineered, meaning we were made to be sent here.”

I look over at him, to make sure he’s okay with telling me this. He’s just looking at the stars.

“We were in these incubation pods up until the mid 80’s. Then, we broke out. First Michael. He waited for us, but hunger and thirst drove him out into the desert and he was picked up by this guy named Hank. Hank was an asshole. He disappeared a while ago and since then Michael’s been living on his own.” His hand tightens around mine. “Then Isabel and I broke out. We immediately left. The Evans’ picked us up and adopted us. Tess came out last and went looking for us. She was picked up by they Hardings.”

“You can stop, you know, if you don’t feel comfortable telling me.” I say gently, he glances over at me.

“I need to tell you.”

I lift our hands up and kiss his.

“We didn’t recognize each other for a while. A few years, actually. Only Isabel and I knew each other. When we started school, that’s when we realized that there were four of us. And we haven’t told anyone since. Except you.”

I sit up while he moves his hands under his head.

“Why?” I ask, pushing a strand of hair out of my face.

“It was you.”

I lie back down next to him and he wraps his arms around me. And I feel safe.

“What made you decide to tell me?” I whisper.

“I just felt that it’d be okay. That you wouldn’t tell anyone.”

“Do they know that I know?” I’m scared that they’ll think that I’ll tell their secret.

“Yeah.” I wait. “They’re glad.”

----------

I’m once again woken up by the sound of incessant tapping on my window. Okay, what’s the deal with people knocking on my window? We DO have a door downstairs, you know.

“Maria, I’m tired. What do you want?” I push open my window.

Ali, from dance class, is standing there.

“Um, Ali. I love you and all, but why are you knocking on my window this early on a Sunday morning?”

She looks around nervously.

“I’m selling...” She mutters.

“What?”

“I’m selling cookies.” I give her a look. “What? My little sister is in Girl Scouts and she broke her leg so I promised her that I’d sell her boxes for her.”

“And you want me to buy some?”

“Yes, now.” She holds up some boxes. “What’s it going to be? Carmel deLites or Peanut Butter Patties?”

I can tell that this is absolutely the last thing she wants to be doing right now. But, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to milk it for all it’s worth.

“Service with a smile, or I’m not buying.”

She plasters on a smile, tilts her head, and repeats herself.

“Miss, I’m selling cookies to earn money for starving children in Ethiopia. With your small contribution, you could help one kid eat, plus enjoy our delicious cookies for yourself. We have many varieties and I’m sure that you can find one that you’ll love.” Her voice is full of fake enthusiasm.

“Why don’t you just send the cookies to Ethiopia?”

“Hardy har har, now just buy one so I can make it to dance class in time.” She’s pleading now.

Oh, hell. I grab my wallet off the desk and hand her the money.

“You can keep the cookies for yourself.” I say, and then, off her look I add, “I’m not really into cookies.”

----------

Times almost up. I’m getting the feeling that something big is about to happen. You know that feeling? You don’t really know what it is, but you can sense it.

“Okay, the summer tour is coming up. Now, some of you won’t be joining us because you’ll be going to the Los Angeles Dance Academy.” She looks specifically over to me. “Only my best dancers will be going to the academy.”

I won’t be joining some of my fellow dancers at the academy.

“This doesn’t mean that the people in the tour will be able to slack off. It’s going to be hard work. Very hard work. So if you don’t think you can handle it, leave now.” Julia says, crossing her arms.

No one leaves. I won’t be joining them at the academy because I won’t have the strength. Lately, I’ve been feeling really weak. Julia says that this is a good thing and just means that I’m “losing more weight.” I have to hide it from my parents and everyone else. It isn’t easy. But I know I won’t be going to the academy. The realization hit me while I was taking a shower this morning. It’s not fair really. Ali, Virginia, and the rest of the girls will go. But I’ll stay here. Maybe even got back to my in-between world.

Part 35

It’s over. I come home from dance class to see my parents, my Uncle Matt and my Aunt Jessica sitting in the living room. This is a surprise because they live in Ohio and rarely come out here to visit.

“Hey, what are you guys doing here?” I set my bag down and walk over to the couch.

They’re looking at me, but they’re not seeing me. They’re seeing just my outward appearance.

“Sweetie, sit down.” My mom says.

This isn’t good. This isn’t good at all.

“What is it? Did someone die?” I’m getting scared.

Dad looks at his feet. Uncle Matt picks at his fingernails. Mom takes small sips out of her tea cup. Aunt Jessica looks at me and keeps smiling that “I don’t really want to be here” smile.

“Lately,” Mom starts. “We’ve noticed some changes. Actually, it’s been this way for sometime now, but we’ve just started really paying attention. Things aren’t getting better.”

“What are you talking about?” I ask, even though I know what she’s talking about.

The air is thick in here, like when you were little, and you hid under the covers to get away from the monsters and you were under there so long that it got hard to breathe. I want to get out.

“Liz. You aren’t gaining the weight back. You can’t hide it under baggy clothes. We waited. We gave you time to get the weight back, but you haven’t.” Mom says, running her fingers through her hair.

Oh God. They know my secret.

“What?” Is all I can manage to say.

“Don’t play dumb with us. You think I can’t hear you throwing up your meals?” She’s crying now.

My mother doesn’t cry often.

“You don’t know what you’re talking about.” I’m exposed.

“Stop it, damnit!” She screams.

Dad gets up and sits down next to her. He puts his arm around her shoulders.

“Liz.” He says.

I’m wondering why Matt and Jessica are silent. Maybe they know when to fight a battle and when to step aside.

“Why are they here?” My voice is cold, calm.

“That’s what we’re here to discuss.”

I don’t like his tone.

“We’ve been talking about this since you got out of the hospital.” Jessica finally speaks up.

“Talking about what?”

Here I was, thinking that I was being so sly, when all along they were “talking about this.” Like “this” or my “problem” was something that people talked about everyday. Like the weather, or the news, or something.

“Something triggered this. Your anorexia. Something made you want to lose all this weight. Did someone at school say something?” Dad is using his hands when he talks. He only does that when he’s upset.

Julia. I have to protect Julia. As much as I hate her, she’s my only salvation. The only one who understands why I need to do this.

“I don’t have anorexia. I’m fine. I’m just on a little diet. Everyone goes on them.” Mom’s yelling again and I’m afraid people in the restaurant will hear.

“Would you listen to yourself! 78 pounds is not “just a little diet.” No one your age should weigh that much!”

I bite my lip. I don’t want to say what I’m thinking, because I know that if I say it, I can never take it back. I swallow the lump in my throat.

“So...so what are you saying?”

--------

Graduation. A time for saying goodbyes. A time to leave childhood behind. A time to get the fuck out of school.

“These colors do nothing for my complexion.” Maria complains.

The girls are forced to wear yellow gowns and hats, and the guys are forced to wear blue gowns and hats. If you ask me, I think the guys get the better end of the deal.

“Just be happy that our colors aren’t pink, or something equally hideous.” I’m under my bed, looking for my shoes.

“I don’t mind the ensemble so much.” Alex says, holding up his own gown.

“Of course you don’t, you get the blue.” She smacks him upside the head.

I haven’t told them about the incident with my parents and my aunt and uncle. I haven’t told anyone, not even Max.

“Okay, are we ready?” Maria smiles. “This is it guys, what we’ve been waiting for. An event twelve years in the making. From pimples to last minute essays, from girlfriends and boyfriends to bitchy teachers. We’ve had tears, we’ve had...”

“Maria.” I interrupt.

“Yeah?” She looks over.

“How long have you been waiting to give this speech?”

“The tenth grade.” She admits.

“Why don’t you just keep it to yourself.” I laugh

She tackles me on the bed and starts tickling me.

“Aw, girl. You shouldn’t have gone there!”

Alex joins her and soon we’re sprawled out on the bed, our limbs so tangled that I can’t tell whose is whose. I’ll miss this.

Part 36

They always make graduations sound so exciting. Like, it’s some huge deal. In reality, however, it’s just a bunch of over-energized teenagers sitting in a pack, waiting for their name to be called so they can go on with their lives and start their careers as the next “Employee Of The Month” at McDonalds.

“...Haylee Brown...”

I don’t think the kid in front of me is wearing anything under his gown. This scares me.

“...Terri Corrson...”

Why does my name have to be so late into the alphabet? At least I’m not Alex and I don’t have to wait until the W’s.

“...Maria DeLuca...”

I look up to see Maria, literally sprinting to the podium.

“That’s my baby girl!” Ms. DeLuca yells from her seat.

“Work it!” Alex calls from the back.

I laugh.

“I knew you’d pass English!” I join in.

She does what I assume is a victory dance. Hey, we’re white people, we can’t dance.

“...Isabel Evans...”

Of course she’s looking as perfect as ever. I look over at Alex who is so obviously in love. Poor guy. We need to find him a woman, preferably human.

“...Max Evans...”

I still get that feeling when I see him. My hands get all sweaty and I start smiling for no apparent reason.

“Go Max!” Maria screams.

“Whoo!” I yell with her.

We’re getting looks from the rest of the class, but we don’t mind. This is it, it’s all over after this.

“...Michael Guerin...”

Maria goes crazy now. Jumping up and down. Michael acts like he’s embarrassed, but I know he’s really glad. He’s happy that he has someone to shout for him at his graduation.

“That’s my Mikey!” I cup my hands and holler.

He’s blushing even worse now.

“...Tess Harding...”

I yell for her, because I’ve realized that she’s really not as bad as I made her out to be. What’s that old saying? Never judge a book by it’s cover. That’s it. They go through the I’s and the J’s, and so on, and so forth.

“...Elizabeth Parker...”

I stand up and make my way toward the podium. It’s my turn now. It’s the end of something fucked up. And the beginning of something new and scary.

“I love you, girl!” Maria’s voice yells somewhere in the audience.

I didn’t realize how embarrassing it actually was to have someone scream something at you when about a thousand people all have their eyes directly on you. I give Maria a small wave that says, “Please shut up now.” I take my diploma from Principal Bryant and walk back to my seat. It’s over. Twelve years just to get a piece of paper that says “Blah, blah, blah, you graduated, blah, blah, blah, welcome to the real world.” It’s funny how it all ends. Twelve years of friendships, twelve years of homework, twelve years of bells and walking to and from classes. God, I’m starting to sound like Maria.

“...Alexander Whitman...”

I’ll definitely miss this.

---------

The time has come to tell them.

“So, why did you drag Alex and I here?” Maria whines.

There’s many post-graduation parties tonight and she wants to hit as many of them as possible.

“There’s something important I have to tell you.”

We’re sitting on my balcony. Me in my lawn chair, Alex on the ledge, and Maria leaning against the wall.

“Is everything alright?” Alex is concerned a little.

“Important” to me means world-shattering. “Important” to Maria means sale at the mall.

“I’m leaving Roswell.” I say.

“Yeah, we know. We all are.” Maria is bored and annoyed and she desperately wants to leave.

“No, I’m leaving at the end of the week.”

They both turn to look at me, all looks of annoyance are gone now.

“What? Why?”

This is hard. How do I tell them that if I don’t leave, then I’ll be hospitalized? How do I tell them that I’d rather kill myself than eat?

“My parents have come to a decision. They said that I wasn’t putting on enough weight. They’re sending me to live with my Uncle Matt and my Aunt Jessica. There’s some type of eating disorders specialty clinic by them.”

They both look down and I realize something. They knew. They knew my secret all along. I wasn’t fooling anyone with my baggy jeans and my sweaters. With my eating than “going to the bathroom.” They were just waiting for someone to do something.

“How long will you be gone?” His voice is barely audible.

“A month, a year. However long it takes me to get recovered.”

There’s something scary in all of this. I don’t want to get recovered. Being recovered means gaining weight. And I don’t want to gain weight. I just want to be skinny. That’s all I ever wanted.

“So, you’re just leaving? That’s it?” She’s angry.

“Yeah, that’s it.”

“We gave you time, damnit. We pressured you, we did everything they told us to. And you still haven’t gained weight. We suffered. Did you know that? That we suffered too?” She’s crying.

I didn’t stop to think how this had affected them. I was just thinking about myself the whole time. I don’t want to gain weight.

“That’s what I’m leaving for. To gain weight.”

“You don’t realize what I’m getting at. It shouldn’t have been like this. If you would’ve just ate when we told you to, it wouldn’t have been like this.” She’s barely able to hold onto her emotions.

Before I can respond to her, she grabs me, and hugs me. I hug back and before I know it, Alex has joined in. THEY want me to gain weight. They’re the enemy. The people that want me to gain weight. I’ll go to that clinic. I’ll make them happy. But I won’t gain weight. Now I have to tell Max.

Part 37

I’ve decided something. I’m making this “vacation” for me. So I can discover myself. Not like that, perverts. Who I am. Who I want to be. I’m on my way to Max’s house. It seems like this has become a routine. But a good one. Maria and Alex left to go to a party, but I didn’t want to go. I know Max didn’t go to any because he’s “the responsible one.” I need to get him drunk again.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

“Michael, I told you, I’m not going to a party.”

Why does he always assume that it’s Michael? Should I be scared that Michael sneaks into his room this late at night sometimes? Hehe, I joke of course.

“Oh, Liz.”

He shirtless.

“Um, hey.” I blush

He’s mine. This beautiful, wonderful, amazing boy, no, man is mine.

“Can I come in?” His room is dark. I must’ve woken him up.

“Sure.”

He reaches out his hand and I reach for it. My foot slips and I fall, landing with a thud.

“Ow.”

Old habits die hard.

“Are you okay?” He helps me up off the floor.

“Yeah, that ledge is a bitch.”

We laugh. I look around, everything is the same. Will it be the same when I come back? Will I come back?

“I have to tell you something really important.” I start.

He leads me towards the bed and we sit down. He’s shirtless. Okay, how can I concentrate when he’s not wearing a shirt?

“Is something wrong?” He’s so gentle.

I want him to yell at me like Maria did. I want him to know, without me telling him. Does he see it? What they see? The protruding bones? The way I’m always cold? How my skin is rougher? Does he know that the thought of leaving him makes me sick to my stomach? He’s everything to me.

“I, um.”

I’ll miss him. Then I tackle him. Literally. I push myself on top of him and start kissing him. I’m pushing myself against him as much as I can. I want him. And he’s kissing me. His fingers are in my hair, on my back.

“Liz.” He whispers between kisses.

I kiss his lips, his eyes, his hands. It’s funny. If you would’ve told be six months ago that I would be second-basing it with Max Evans, I would’ve told you to shove it up your ass. Now, here I am, literally handing him my virginity on a silver platter. I pull off my shirt. I should’ve worn a better bra. Little duckies? Who the hell has ducks on their bra? Only eight year olds. I wonder what would happen if his parents caught us. Here we are, rolling around on his bed, half naked. His skin feels good against mine. Safe.

“Liz?” He pulls away.

I taste salt on my lips. I hadn’t realized that I’d been crying. I look down and brush them away.

“What is it?” He pushes the hair out of my face.

“I’m leaving Roswell.”

“What? Why?”

I have to bite my lip from letting more tears fall. I have to be strong. He’s going to be ashamed of me and I know it.

“I’m going to live with my aunt and uncle. My parents want me to go to an eating disorders clinic that’s by them.”

He’s silent. But it speaks volumes. He knew too. They all knew. If they were so “concerned” about me, why the fuck didn’t the do something sooner?

“I have to go.” I look around for my shirt.

Suddenly I feel more uncomfortable than I ever have in my life. I’ve exposed myself more than I ever have in my life.

“Oh, God.” He whispers.

He probably just realized what he was doing and what a mistake it was to be with me. Goodbye Liz, hello Tess.

“I get it. I’m leaving.”

Where the fuck is my shirt! Screw it. I’ll just ride my bike home like this. It’s not like I have anything left to hide anyway. I open the window. He grabs my arm.

“What!” I’m pissed.

“Liz, look in the mirror, just for a second.” He pushes me in front of his full length mirror. “What do you see?”

Damn, is my ass really that big?

“I see someone who needs to lose some weight around the ass region. I see someone who’s boobs are too small and someone who’s stomach sticks out too far.”

He’s standing behind me, looking at my ugly body.

“I see someone beautiful.” He says.

“You must be looking in a different mirror than I am.” I laugh.

“I see someone who’s scared.” He continues. “I see someone who, for some reason, decided that her body wasn’t good enough. Someone who decided that she wasn’t wonderful, when she really is.”

And I know he’s telling the truth, because I saw it when we connected. Why can’t I feel that way? I want to feel that way. And then I get it. I want to get better for him. I want to see myself the way he sees me. So I know how he feels.

“I want to tell you something.” He says.

I turn around to face him.

“Remember when you were in the hospital? You know, when you passed out in gym class?”

“It’s kind of hazy at the beginning, you know being in a coma and all.” He smiles. “But I remember some of it.”

“Well, I know you thought that I never came to visit you,” I give him a questioning look. “The flashes. But you need to know that I did come and visit you. Every night. I couldn’t come during the day because it was too dangerous. I can’t get noticed. I have to blend in.”

He came? All this time I thought that he had just said, “screw her,” and gone about with his life.

“You came?”

“Yeah.”

Part 38

I hate packing. You take everything you own, try to shove it in boxes, tape the lids down, then you have to haul them into a truck. There’s also the emotional part of it. You know. You go through everything to see what’s trash and what’s worth keeping and you end up reading old notes, looking at pictures, all that sad, mushy stuff. I leave tomorrow. I don’t know if I’m coming back. I want to come back, though. To Maria. To Alex. To Max. Maria and Alex are taking me some place. They won’t tell me, “it’s a surprise.” After that, I’m going to Max’s.

“Liz, Maria and Alex are here!” Mom yells.

“I’m coming.”

Mom, dad, and I spent today talking about things. Like when I was little and stuff. It was fun. Or about as much fun as you can have spending time with your parents. You want to hear something weird? This morning I went to the studio, to say goodbye to the girls and Julia, and there was a new teacher there. Gwen, that’s her name, said that Julia had quit to work in a studio in New York. I guess she finally got her wish. In the end though, I wish I could’ve said goodbye to her. I walk out to the living room and no one is in there. I hear noises in the kitchen and walk in to see my dad showing Maria and Alex his new George Foreman cooking grill.

“Set it, and forget it!” He’s saying.

If there is a God...

“Wait, listen to this.” Maria yells. “You ain’t George Foreman, so why you all up in my grill?”

At this point she proceeds to snap her fingers and bob her head side to side. Of course, she’s the only one laughing and my dad and Alex are giving her strange looks.

“I thought it was funny.” She murmurs.

“You all ready?” I ask.

They look over.

“Yeah.” They say in unison.

They blindfold me and Maria drives us around. Maria isn’t what I’d call a “great driver.” Hell, Maria isn’t what I’d call a “good driver.” One time she got pulled over by a cop for swerving too much. He thought she was drinking and driving.

“We’re here.” She announces.

I take off the blindfold to see the bright yellow sign of Waffle House. I laugh.

“You shouldn’t have. Really.”

“Come on, it’ll be fun. Remember that one time we came here at like, two in the morning, and we just talked and laughed?” Alex says from the backseat.

We go inside. The place is filled with truckers. We go to a back booth.

“So, why are we here?”

“For the food, of course. We all know what delicious meals they serve here at the Waffle House.” He looks at me like I’m a moron. I just shake my head and look at the menu.

“Hello I’m Shirley and I’ll be your waitress for tonight. What can I get for you?” A tall redhead asks.

----------

It concerns me that the Waffle House has it’s own songs. For example, “Having Fun (At The Waffle House).” Is nothing sacred?

“Okay, for old times sake. Anyone up for truth or dare?” Maria gives us a sinister grin.

We groan.

“Come on!”

We give in eventually because this is probably the last time we’ll do this.

“Alright. Maria, I dare you to go get one of those trucker’s phone number.” Alex is so unoriginal.

She goes over there, hikes up her skirt in the process, puts on more lipstick, and taps a fairly large trucker on the shoulder. We can’t hear exactly what she says, but five minutes later she comes back with not only his phone number, but also his home address.

“Bow down to the Queen.” She says as she sits.

“I don’t think so Maria. Liz will always be the Dare Queen.”

Three hours later, we’re still at it. By now, I’ve line danced to “Boot Scootin’ Boogey,” sang “Achy Breaky Heart” while standing on the table, asked a truck driver to buy me an order of hash browns, and many other embarrassing things. I’ll miss them. They drop me off at home and we hug and kiss. My parents and I are leaving for the airport at 4 a.m., so this is the last time I’ll see them.

“I love you guys.” I try to fight the tears.

“I love you.” They both say.

“You promise to call us?” Alex is trying to be the strong one.

“Of course. And if I don’t, you can fly out to Ohio and kick my ass.”

Maria is crying hard now and it’s making it hard for me to fight my own.

“I’ll miss you.” She says, wiping away her tears.

We leave each other crying. I’m glad that Maria has Alex. I know that he’ll help her through the rest of the summer.

----------

Knock. Knock. Knock.

He opens the window.

“Hey.”

Some day we’re going to get passed this whole “hey” greeting.

“Sorry if I woke you.” I’m shy.

Why am I shy? I practically raped him the other day.

“No, I was up.” He helps me into his room.

We sit on the bed. Neither of us sure of what to say. We’ve come a long way.

“I think this will be good for me.” He looks up. “The trip, you know. So I can sort things out and ‘look for myself.’ Not in that way, though. Not that there’s anything wrong with that...”

“Liz.” I look over. “I know what you mean.”

We’re quiet.

“I want to give you something.” He gets up and crouches down to get something out from under his bed.

I knew I should’ve given him something. I’m no good at this girlfriend/boyfriend thing. He comes up with a box and hands it to me. I start to open it. His hands stop me.

“No, don’t open it till you’re on the plane.”

“Um, okay.” I set it down on the floor.

What now?

“I’m going to miss you.” He whispers.

I hug him.

“I love you.” I whisper back.

And then he says them. The words I’ve been waiting to hear for so long. The words that mean more from him than anyone else.

“I love you.”

We lie on his bed and eventually fall asleep.

----------

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Oh my God. I’m dying. I can’t breathe. They’re going to pull the plug. This is it. It’s over.

“Liz! Liz! Wake up.” Someone is shaking me.

My eyes focus on a face above me. Max.

“What?”

“The alarm is going off.”

“Oh.” I’m sweating. How embarrassing.

“Are you okay?” He asks, his eyes concerned.

“Yeah, just a nightmare.”

“It’s time for you to leave.”

I glance at the clock and sure enough it’s 3:30 a.m. I’ll be in Ohio in a few hours. Miles and miles away from Roswell. From everything I’ve ever known. I pick up the gift and stand up. We walk towards his window. This is our goodbye.

“Don’t forget me.” He says in a joking way, but I know that he means it.

I hold on to him. I never want this to end.

“I’ll never forget you.” I whisper gently.

And we kiss. A bittersweet one. A longing one. A last one. I’m shaking now, because I’m trying so hard not to cry. Not to be weak in front of him. I pull away.

“Goodbye Max.”

“Goodbye Liz.”

I climb out and start to walk away. But something makes me look back. I wish I hadn’t. He’s crying.

---------

Seatbelt. Oxygen mask. I’ve probably heard this same speech a thousand times. So I tune out what the flight attendant is saying and dig around in my backpack for something to do. My hand hits something. Max’s gift. I open it. A CD? A burned one for that matter. I pull out my CD player. I’ve always wanted to ask one of the flight people why they make you turn off your CD player. I mean, it runs on batteries. If a puny CD player messes up their systems, then they need to get some new equipment. I pop the CD in and push play.

Now that she's back in the atmosphere,
With drops of Jupiter in her hair, hey, hey,
She acts like summer and walks like rain,
Reminds me that there's time to change, hey, hey.

Since the return from her stay on the moon,
She listens like spring and she talks like June, hey, hey.

Tell me did you sail across the sun?
Did you make it to the Milky Way to see the lights all faded?
And that heaven is overrated?
Tell me, did you fall for a shooting star?
One without a permanent scar?
And did you miss me while you were looking at yourself out there?

Now that she's back from that soul vacation,
Tracing her way through the constellation, hey, hey,
She checks out Mozart while she does tae-bo,
Reminds me that there's time to grow, hey, hey.

Now that she's back in the atmosphere,
I'm afraid that she might think of me as plain ol' Jane,
Told a story about a man who is too afraid to fly so he never did land.

Tell me did the wind sweep you off your feet?
Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day?
And head back to the Milky Way?
And tell me, did Venus blow your mind?
Was it everything you wanted to find?
And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there?

Can you imagine no love, pride, deep-fried chicken,
Your best friend always sticking up for you?
Even when I know you're wrong.
Can you imagine no first dance, freeze dried romance, five-hour phone conversation?
The best soy latte that you ever had . . . and me.

Tell me did the wind sweep you off your feet?
Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day?
And head back toward the Milky Way?

Tell me did you sail across the sun?
Did you make it to the Milky Way to see the lights all faded?
And that heaven is overrated?
Tell me, did you fall for a shooting star?
One without a permanent scar?
And did you miss me while you were looking at yourself out there?


I’m not Tess.

But you know what. I’ve realized that it’s not so bad being me.

The End.