High School Soap Opera
The next morning it’s not that I’m sick so much as sick of the drama at school. I can’t even imagine trying to get through the day, but that’s what I have to do. Somehow I managed to piss off both of my closest friends, and everyone else at school is… I just can’t. I get out of bed and slowly brush my teeth.
Usually I check my email and text messages on my phone before even getting out of bed, then I look at Twitter while I eat breakfast. Today, I don’t care. I don’t want to see that Josette never called or texted me. I don’t want to know what Talie’s saying on Twitter. I don’t even want to check my weather forecast app. I swish around some mouthwash and then go to the kitchen.
“Going to school in your pj’s?” Dad asks, mixing sugar into his travel coffee mug. “That’s certainly going to make a statement.” I close my eyes so he won’t see me rolling them, but he gets concerned. “Are you feeling okay?”
Do I look like I feel okay? Instead of vocalizing my sarcasm, I decide to go with it. I can really use this to my advantage. “I’m fine,” I say, but I intentionally shuffle and stumble as I walk to the fridge to get the milk. Hook.
“No, you are not fine. Why don’t you tell me what you want for breakfast and then go back and lie down?” Line. “If you’re not up for going to school, you can stay home today and rest.” Sinker. That was easy. I should fake sick more often. He didn’t even ask me if I would be missing a test or anything.
“Um…” I hesitate as if I’m contemplating the idea. “Yeah, I probably shouldn’t drive like this. Could you bring me just some cinnamon toast and a glass of milk?” He smiles, and I say, “Thanks, Daddy.”
“Uh oh, you only call me Daddy when you’re sick. Go lie down, I’ll be right in.”
I go back to my room and climb into bed. The sheets are still warm, and I flip the pillow to the cool side. I straighten the sheets a little bit so it looks like I made the bed before getting back in. I hear the sounds of breakfast from down the hall. The ding of the toaster, the cabinet opening and shutting, the fridge opening and shutting a few times.
It’s actually Mom who brings in my breakfast. The toast and milk are on a tray she got on her honeymoon in Florida. It’s the same tray she’s used when I’m sick since I was a little girl, and I feel kind of bad that I’m letting my parents think I’m legitimately ill… but not bad enough for me to have a miraculous recovery. I sit up and she puts the tray on my legs.
“Do you want me to stay home to take care of you?” she asks, sitting at the foot of the bed. I move my feet over to give her more room. “I could call work…”
“No,” I say quickly. “No, I’ll be fine. Go to work. Call me on your lunch if you want to check on me.” I bite into the toast. It’s buttery and cinnamon-y and I can tell my father made it. Mom doesn’t use enough cinnamon. I miss the days when he used to make a family breakfast every morning.
“I don’t want to wake you if you’re taking a nap.”
“If I’m taking a nap I’ll turn the volume off and you can leave me a message, and I’ll text you an update when I wake up.” Why is this so difficult? Just go to work!
“Are you sure, Jenna? Let me see.” She leans over me with her hand out.
“No, Mom.” I say, leaning back. I can hear the exasperation in my voice, and I know that I wouldn’t be talking like this if I was sick. I try to sound more tired. “I don’t think I have a fever.” She felt my forehead anyway.
“Cool as a cucumber.” She sits there without saying anything for a few seconds, then stands up. “Okay. Eat your breakfast. I’ll call you at lunch. I love you, Honey.”
“Love you too, Mom.” I pick up the glass of milk, and Dad comes in before I’ve swallowed a sip. He brings me an orange and sets it on the nightstand. He’s definitely more of “an orange a day” than apples. I raise the toast in… well, in a toast. “This is awesome, Dad. You’re the best.”
“You’re welcome, Peanut,” he says with a smile. For a second it feels like old times. Like when Mom brought in the familiar tray, I feel like a little kid again. “Just wanted to say good-bye, I’m heading out.”
“See ya later.” I wave. A few minutes later I hear their cars as they drive off, and I am alone. Yes, a three day weekend is exactly what I need.
The best part about being home alone all day is that I can watch Spruce Ridge while it’s on. Awesome! But I have to wait until 1:00 for that. After washing dishes and finishing my Gatsby essay and my Social Studies homework, I call the school and ask them to have my teachers put together the work I’m missing and any weekend homework assignments so that I can pick them up after school. I know! I’m probably the only teenager in the world who would actually do that, but as much as I say that I don’t care about college, I don’t want to get stuck at a crappy school just because I didn’t get good grades.
But once that’s out of the way, I start doing more normal stuff, like singing my favorite songs into a hairbrush and watching daytime game shows and bad talk shows. I’m strangely excited that there are two paternity test episodes in a row. I love when the guy is so sure that he’s not the father even though she claims to have never slept with everyone else, and then it turns out he’s not and he’s all like, “I TOLD you so!” and then she starts crying because now her mom, who is there supporting her, and all of America knows she was sleeping with two guys around the same time, and then she admits that she was sleeping with this guy’s friend… That happens on the second episode.
Then Spruce Ridge comes on. I didn’t miss much last night. Adaire bought Candace a drink at the club, Olivia sent John to buy her a new toothbrush, and on his way to the store, John attacked Dolf on the street for serving Candace, who is Olivia’s younger sister, with divorce papers. See, Candace is 18, and she wanted to rebel against Olivia, who has been her legal guardian since their parents died in a boating accident eight years ago. So she married Dolf, who wanted to sleep with her (she said she was waiting for her wedding night), and four days later he filed for divorce. After she embarrassed her sister like that, Olivia forbade her from staying at home, so she moved in with her friend Monet.
But John’s a pretty good guy, despite a checkered past, and even though the sisters aren’t speaking at the moment, he can’t let Dolf go by without defending Candace. Today starts with the fight scene, which is awesome. I’ve been waiting for Dolf to get what’s coming to him for a long time, he’s such a dick.
“Yo, what the hell, man?” Dolf says from the ground after taking a punch to the face. It starts to bleed, probably more than is realistic for that kind of injury. John swings again, but Dolf rolls to the right, and John’s fist lands on the sidewalk.
“Ouch!” John cries out in pain, and I laugh. If this wasn’t on TV, you know he would be cursing right now. Somehow there’s no blood for him. The props department missed that one. He shakes out his hand like he would if he had a cramp. Dolf takes this opportunity to… wipe his face on his sleeve? John punches him again, hitting his shoulder. Dolf really should have capitalized on John’s “cramp,” so he deserves that, even though it barely touched him.
And after six words, we’re on to the next scene. Because in soap opera time, a fist fight lasts a week but a baby is born and three years later he’s a teenager. The fight was during the day, but now we’re back to the night club. Candace takes a tiny sip of the wine Adaire bought her. Just watch – on Tuesday she’ll still look like she has a full glass.
“How is that wine?” Adaire asks Candace. “Only the best for the prettiest girl in the room.” Ugh, gag.
“You’re probably old enough to be her father, Adaire,” I say aloud. “Stop pretending you like her.”
“I don’t normally drink wine,” she admits, probably trying to sound like she drinks something pink and fruity like a cosmo or daiquiri.
“No,” I say, “because you’re 18 and finally got the fake ID Monet’s been trying for months to make you get.”
“But this is…” she continues, “tasty.”
“Oh, come on, even I know you don’t use the word tasty to describe wine!”
“Ah! What do you usually drink?” Adaire has a brandy, like all debonair men on soap operas seem to like, but it sits untouched on the table. He picks up the glass and holds it so it looks like he’s drinking it, like a light smoker holds a cigarette while talking but doesn’t actually smoke it. Oh, Candace, will you ever learn?
“Never mind me,” she says, and she crosses her legs. “I want to hear about you. What do you do for a living?”
“What,” I ask, “besides trying to pick up underage girls?”
The camera fixes on Adaire, and he smiles like he has a secret that he doesn’t want her to know. There’s a music cue that sounds like there is something mysterious amiss. After an unnaturally long pause on his face, the commercials start.
I haven’t had lunch yet, so I turn the volume up and go to the kitchen to make a peanut butter and banana sandwich. I finish just as the show comes back on. I hurry back to my room with my plate and another glass of milk. John is with Ambrosia now. Wow, he’s having a busy day! I hope he doesn’t forget to buy Olivia a toothbrush before he goes back to her place, I like her.
Ambrosia has been fighting with John over shares of Adaire’s real estate and construction company for months. Technically they went in on them as equal partners when they were dating, but then John’s gambling debts grew out of control and his bookie sent some thugs to rough him up. Ambrosia said that she would pay off his bookie as long as he considered it a buy out and promised to sign over the shares to her. He said yes, and she paid his debt, but then when she tried to get him to sign the papers he said he never promised her that. He was drunk and blacked out and doesn’t remember the conversation. Since that night, Ambrosia has been trying to come up with the perfect plan to get the shares.
They are in her living room, and she is trying to play nice with him. She apologizes for all of the bad blood between them and wants them to be friends. I wonder if she’ll finally succeed this time. She invites him to sit on the couch next to her. At first he refuses, but when she offers him a drink he sits down. He doesn’t see her slip something into the glass, and soon he is starting to relax. She leans over and kisses him, and he pulls away. He’s with Olivia now, after all. He takes another sip, and this time when she kisses him, he grabs the back of her head and kisses back. What is she doing?
I don’t have to wait long to find out. The screen changes to show the bookcase, and zooms in on a flashing red light. Then we see her computer on top of her desk, and they are in the background making out on the couch. On the laptop screen, John takes off his shirt and lays Ambrosia back. She’s totally going to blackmail him! Well, there’s certainly no way he can refuse to give her the shares now.
Now we’re back to Candace and Adaire.
“I own a company,” Adaire says slyly. “It’s very boring, I assure you. I’d rather hear about your job. You must be a model, right? Pretty girl like you…”
“You’re such a skeeze!” I yell at the TV.
“What did you just call me?” Adaire asks. Wait… what? “Did you just call me a… a skeeze?” he asks, and I just stare at him. Then I realize that I’m not in my room anymore. I’m in the night club!
“How the F did I get here?” I ask. And why did I just say F instead of the real word? I am standing a few feet from Adaire and Candace’s table, and they are looking at me expectantly. I wonder if anyone else saw me appear out of thin air. I turn around, but there are no cameras in sight. This is not a set, it’s real. “Um… I’m sorry, I’ll be leaving now.”
There’s gotta be a bathroom to hide in. I don’t see it, so I go up to the bar. The bartender is really hot, and I can’t believe I never noticed him before. He’s probably an extra that doesn’t have speaking lines. He comes over to me when he’s done with the couple down at the other end.
“What can I get you?” he asks. When he smiles, he looks a lot like Jason Priestley in the original 90210 – I was a kid when it was on TV, but SoapNet shows the old episodes. “Hey?” he asks when I don’t answer. “Thirsty?”
“What?” I ask, snapping out of it. “Oh, um, no. Could you point me toward the bathroom?”
“We don’t have one,” he says. Huh?! I know they don’t show soap opera characters using the bathroom, but how can they not even exist? That’s just inhuman. He laughs, and I wish he would let me in on the joke.
As if in reply, he points over his shoulder to a sign that reads: BATHROOMS ARE RESERVED FOR PAYING CUSTOMERS. I sigh in relief, but then I start to panic. I don’t have a purse, and I reach into my pockets but they’re empty too. Damn, I really do have to go now, but I have no money to buy a soda.
I’ve decided to post my NaNoWriMo novel on my blog this year, chapter by chapter. I hope you enjoy it! And remember, this is all about having fun and writing a whole lot in a short period of time, so please don’t give me “corrections.” I’m not planning on going for publication anyway. Start at the beginning: Chapter One