Just Watching | Teen Ink

Just Watching

February 15, 2010
By Penelope GOLD, Hillsborough, New Jersey
Penelope GOLD, Hillsborough, New Jersey
13 articles 0 photos 14 comments

Favorite Quote:
There comes a time when you have to stop thinking of yourself as the main character in your own story, but as the suppporting character in someone else's story.

Today was okay, I guess. I give it a seven out of ten. Things have been better...and worse.

On the up side, I had no homework today. But that was kind of a down, too, because I got so bored I started eating every stash of food in the house. I felt really gross so I turned on the TV and thought I could just take a little break, but even that didn't work today. The pixels started to separate on my third bag of cheese doodles, so I turned off the cable.

I tried to think of something else to do, only I couldn't, so I just stared out the window, watching the leaves stir in angry maelstroms of wind. Watching. It's what I do best really. Observations are my forte. According to most people, I never look at things the way other people do. Those drawings that are both the old lady and the young woman? I saw both of them at the same time, saw the girl morphing into the hag, not just each one by itself.

But I was tired of just watching. I wanted to actually go out there.

Then I realized.

I could.

So I put on my winter coat that's not fashionable but still my favorite, and a scarf, too, a fuzzy periwinkle one. I swung over the garage steps and pulled the door shut slowly behind me. I didn't want Mom to ask me where I was going, because I didn't know. Mom likes to have plans. She is a Planner. Spontaneity isn't really her thing, so she wouldn't know that interrupting me would probably keep me from stepping over the threshold. I love her and I don't like doing things that she deems wrong. But this wasn't wrong, it was just a little walk. I had my phone on me, she could get in touch if she needed to, and I with her.

But that didn't keep me from feeling a little guilty as I stepped outside.

I tried to forget about her as I walked up the driveway to the street. This was for me, not Mom.

The wind was fierce and thick on my back, like a wall was sliding up behind me and pushing me forwards. My hair got in my face, and for the first time I noticed that I had it down. I haven't worn my hair all the way down in public for a long time, not since second grade when those mean girls called me Medusa. It seems funny now, looking at it from behind. What a silly thing to get worked up about, to cry about...

Who really cares what people think? Not me. Not me, the tough girl, the strong one, the one who wants to be alone...

But I do care. A little bit at least. I care when those pretty-baby skinny girls act all superior. Why does that bother me? It shouldn't. It shouldn't disappoint me to look in the mirror. But it does. It shouldn't make me feel so worthless when people ignore me while the stupid airheads get all the attention. But it does. They're stupid things to get worked up about, to cry about...

I brush the tear away with the back of my hand, and it sails away on the winter breeze. Somewhere else that tear might become a snowflake, and a little girl might catch it on her tongue and when it dissolves, she might taste a bit of sadness and wonder why...

The neighbors were in their front yard, playing with their dog. It was the cutest puppy I'd ever seen, and I don't like dogs much. I'm more of a cat person. But my heart melted a little around the edges to see that little family, Daddy, daughter, and puppy, all jumping around and laughing in a living Hallmark card. The little girl was in a cute pink jacket and hat set, and the dad was in his fleece, hands shoved in his pockets like a cool guy. The dog yapped and licked the girl's face. She giggled.

I stared at her in wonder. Who will she grow up to be? Am I looking at the future president, or maybe the owner of a large company, or a doctor that will save a person's life? Or will she just be ordinary, an average person living a normal life, bear 2.3 kids and live in a suburb house with her high-school sweetheart? Or will she have a less fairytale-esque story, lose the boy she loves, then live alone? Little kids are fascinating. They have everything open to them and they don't even know it.

I was watching her try a cartwheel when I noticed the dad looking at me looking at his kid, then I noticed that I had stopped walking and was standing right in front of their house just watching, and that I was just watching again, and the dad was starting to Back Away Slowly, his black-hole pupils never leaving my face.
So turned on my heel and speed-walked down the street. The wind helped me along, moving me ahead and obscuring me with a nice leaf tornado.

When I stopped again, panting,(how pathetic) I was at the cross between Starview and Murray. That kind of ugly squat red house that Mom said we almost bought instead of our own. And even though our house is quite a bit easier to look at, I like this one better because it has the most spectacular view I have ever seen.

From here I can see everything below, because by now I've climbed halfway up the mountain. I see all the patchwork squares of farmland and the little houses and churches and corporate buildings. Everything is so crystal clear from this spot, like the whole world is in high-definition. Only this time the different squares of color don't peel away from each other in my eyes. Everything is nicer here, more natural here. The tones are softer and I'm not hungry or sick anymore, just comfortable. I sit down in the middle of the street because no cars come here anyway, and I watch the view for a while. But this kind of watching is different, because it's like studying a picture. Nothing moves around or is dramatic, the whole landscape is peace and quiet, with swishy wind-sounds in the background. There is no TV white noise, or arguing brothers and sisters, or laughing happy children, or anybody. It's just me and the world.

My hair was starting to get knotty and my butt was a little cold from sitting on the harsh asphalt. I could hear a car coming so I stood up. A little coup zoomed up the hill, engine roaring, beat-box booming. Raced right past and up higher, still slicing through my walk like a machete. I was shivering, then, so I decided to go home. It's too tiring being happy.

The little girl had gone inside too, when I walked by a second time. The wind was still strong as ever, though. The wind doesn't have a home to go to.

I stomped into the laundry room, then remembered I had wanted to be quiet. I immediately set my dial to tip-toe, skipping over every creaky spot in the hardwood flooring. I got to the den and sat down at the computer then thought for a while.

Then I started to write.

And while I was writing I wondered: What if the little girl was just an illusion? What if she was like that picture, and was really an shriveled, wrinkly, old grandma? How am I supposed to know if I am seeing things the right way? A lot of my opinions aren't the same, what if my view of the world isn't either? It must be, because my version of the world doesn't make much sense. Someone else must have a better idea.

I remember that I haven't taken off my scarf yet, and move to do so. My fingers touch the fabric and pause. I forgot a possibility for the cute little girl. She could end up dying young, or old, or even at a middle age like thirty, but she would always die. That was the one constant thing in her life, the one thing she could always really count on. No matter which path she chose she was always going to end in death. Everyone was.

I twine the weave around my knuckles, folding the material into the creases of my fingers. I pull a little, and the scarf tightens around my neck. Not enough to cut off all my air, but a little bit. A millimeter of air gone. Another pull, a centimeter vanishes. One more and I've lost an inch of my oxygen. I loosen the scarf and take a deep breath...

How vulnerable I am. I try to deny it. But so much happens that I can't control, so much happens from so far away, but I can only see it coming when it gets close. I can't hear all the cars. Maybe next time I choose to do something it will be the end of me. It's a scary thought.

But still, it's another stupid thing to get worked up about, to cry about...I wish I could give my tears to the wind, but my legs are frozen to the wheely chair. And besides, no little girls deserve sad snowflakes, not even the ones with puppies that can offset the balance.

I blow my nose and toss the tissue at the trashcan, miss, then get up to put it in the basket. I take off my scarf, hold it for a minute, then draped it over my shoulders like a stretched-out shawl. I flip my hair into a bun, turn out the lights, and close the door...

The drafty house feels clammy and wet on my exposed neck.

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This article has 3 comments.

on Feb. 8 2011 at 7:39 am
_helenhorton SILVER, Springfield, Ohio
7 articles 3 photos 34 comments
Wow, this is a really descriptive, and lively story! The verb and adjective usage make it seem like i'm in the background in the story. Great! (:

luvdance said...
on May. 9 2010 at 9:41 am
wow you have really descriptive writing that's an awesome piece of writing...good job

on Feb. 18 2010 at 10:27 am
~Wolf-Woman~ PLATINUM, Carthage, Missouri
24 articles 10 photos 31 comments