STEVEN JERAL HARRIS
EMERALD BLUE OKIKI
I begin to survey the variety of vintage titles that are displayed. Different genres are scattered abroad, probably due to people picking for the best ones. I spin the wheels on my chair to manoeuvre down the aisle, excusing myself as I pass a couple of fellow book hunters.
Hmmm, this one seems interesting. An older title of course, but it’s written by a renowned author. Why not, I’ll give it a try. As I reach for the book another hand beats me to it. I quickly retract my hands and look up to realize who it is. It’s Kristie Cambridge who lives a couple of doors down from us.
She’s accompanied by two other girls who all look awfully cheerful and friendly, just like her. I barely see Kristie around the neighborhood anymore since she went off to college two years ago.
‘Iva, how’s it going?’ Kristie asks vividly.
‘Fine, I mean great,’ I stutter just a little.
‘Hey, Mimi, it’s Iva. Remember Iva Hill from down the street?’ Kristie asks one of the girls.
Suddenly it hits me, Mimi is Melissa Stone. Wow, it’s incredible how much she’s grown. I barely recognize her because I haven’t seen her since we were kids. She moved away about 8 years ago to Boston.
‘Yeah I remember; how’s it hanging?’ Mimi asks brightly.
‘Everything is okay,’ I reply, trying to appear cool and unnerved.
‘So, what cha been up to?’ Mimi asks.
I give myself a moment to think about that question. It should be a simple nothing but I don’t want to sound lame.
‘Just taking it easy, you know.’ I reply. ‘What about you?’
‘Working, college, the usual, I’m on vacation now.’ Mimi replies.
‘Hey do you still read?’ Kristie questions me.
‘Oh my goodness,’ Kristie says cheerfully, ‘Like Iva totally has the hugest book collection ever.’
‘Really?’ Mimi replies.
‘Like it’s huge,’ Kristie complements. ‘Mimi is going to school to be a writer, and quite the hard-core reader like you Iva.’
‘So what’s your genre?’ Mimi inquires.
‘Me? A little bit of everything.’
‘Cool.’ She replies. ‘You know I’m thinking about starting a local book club. And if you are interested you are welcome to join.’
‘A book club? Sounds like fun.’ I finish with a smile. I can’t help but feel a bit timid for the simple fact that I don’t talk to kids my age much. It must feel great having friends to hang out with at the mall, doing girl stuff.
‘So, are you doing anything tonight?’ Kristie asks.
Is she really about to invite me over, seriously? Okay Iva, calm down and don’t do anything nerdy or outlandish, just chill.
‘Not really, what’s up?’ I answer as calmly as possible.
‘We’re just going to hang out at my place. You can come over if you want.’
Wow, the last time Kristie invited me over to her house was her twelfth birthday party. I should be excited about the invite but all of a sudden a nauseous feeling hits me. This symptom is all too familiar. I just can’t believe it’s happening right now at this very moment. Why now? The dizzy sensation in my head shoots down to my stomach and I grab my chest in attempt to cease the sickness. I pause for a moment, trying to control it somehow.
‘Hey are you okay?’ Kristie asks with a hint of worry.
‘I’m fine, it’s just—’
There’s no use trying to resist anymore. Kristie and her friends flinch back, with disgusted expressions as my entire breakfast is dispersed all over the floor and my skirt. They remain statues for another moment before Kristie decides to step forward and place her hand on my shaky shoulder to comfort me. My entire body is shuddering uncontrollably as if it’s below zero degrees in here.
‘Iva, are you okay?’ She asks in a soft concerned voice.
‘My mom—,’ I stutter. ‘Please go get my mom.’
I can’t look her in the eyes. I just can’t. The overwhelming feeling of embarrassment is weighing down on them like an anvil.
‘Okay.’ She replies and begins her search for my mom.
The other two follow behind her. Nervous vomiting is just another problem I’ve been dealing with over the years.
Somewhere, deep in my mind, I’m desperately trying to wake up from this nightmare.
Although we’re far away from the mall now, heading back home, the humiliation is still incredibly strong. I can’t believe I just made a complete idiot of myself in that café. I can’t get rid of the embarrassing tension because I’m steadily being reminded of it by the fresh smell of vomit on my clothes.
The ride home is a quiet one, uncomfortably quiet. Soon, I’m being rolled through our living room by my mother and into the bathroom while we remain silent amongst each other. She runs some water in the sink, dampens a linen cloth with warm water, and then proceeds to wipe off my face.
‘It’s okay honey. You just had a little accident, that’s all. I’m gonna get you all cleaned up.’ She says to me in a low voice as she finishes cleaning off my chin.
I’m not ignoring my mom on purpose. I’m just zoned out a little bit, trying my best to grasp reality right now. It feels like I just reached a whole different level of pathetic. It takes me a moment to reply to her statement, and when I do my words come out very meek.
‘I’m sorry I ruined your day.’ I tell her in a low depressing tone.
She lowers into a kneeling position, carrying a soothing warm smile, and settles her face at my eye level.
‘Why would you say that? You didn’t ruin my day. It was a mistake, that’s all.’
I lower my face, staring into my lap, and swallow down the burning lump in my throat before replying.
‘I just wish I was normal. Sometimes I feel so…worthless.’
Some people get caught in a moment and let their emotions speak for them, but that statement I just made couldn’t be more truthful. I do feel worthless, every hour of every day.
‘That’s the thing, you are priceless to me.’ My mom tells me as her eyes glistens.
‘I’m your daughter of course you would tell me that. But we both know the world will never accept me, not like this.’
‘Iva, stop worrying about other’s opinions okay?’
I let her words marinate for a couple of seconds.
She does have a talent for lifting my mood when I’m feeling down. It works this time but only mildly. I look into her bright emerald eyes and smile half-heartedly into them.
‘Okay.’ I reply meekly.
‘Now you’re going to take a nice bath, then I will get us some ice cream, and then we’re going to watch a movie, and we’re going to put this little mishap behind us, alright?’
I don’t respond with words, I just give her a weak nod.
She then stands and runs the bath water for me.
Minutes turn into hours, hours into days, and days into weeks. I haven’t left the house since the incident at the cafe, nor did I ever accept Kristie’s invitation officially. How can I show my face around her after that nightmare I created? I can’t find the strength to go next door and apologize to her, it would only make me look pitiful, and I feel pitiful enough.
I rather not embarrass myself like that again.
Therefore, I continue my life normally, well, what I know as normal. I stay in my room, avoiding further humiliation, looking out from my window and watching life advance. Soon Kristie’s vacation break is over and she returns to school with her friends. Seeing her being driven to the airport makes me wonder about how different my life would be if I’d been born normal.
Only if I were like everyone else, I’ll be traveling back to school right along with them. I can only imagine that. Fantasizing about a normal life has become my secret hobby over the years. But there comes a time when you have to say to yourself, enough is enough. I want a new life, and I want it badly. Then something new has come up that may be an indication of hope in my near future.
My mom receives a new job offer, one that pays twice as much as the editor gig she has now. She takes the offer without thinking twice. The place is a highly reputable publishing firm somewhere in New York, so she tells me. It’s located near the town she was raised in. When she mentions the possibility of us moving, I don’t take her word for it until the Realtor arrives to discuss the details.
In all honesty, I don’t care at all about this move.
Even now, as I stare at the fresh for sale sign resting on our lawn, there are no emotions to disagree with her decision. It’s not like I’m Kristie Cambridge who has lots of memorable moments here with her family and friends. I accomplished nothing here, why should this place even matter?
‘All set.’ My mom asks as she closes the driver’s door.
‘All set.’ I reply from the passenger’s seat.
She smiles, switches gears, and then hits reverse.
I’m totally grateful to be leaving 146 Pendale Drive and never returning.
Watch out for the next episode... New episode reads on Tuesdays.