Fiction

Overnight

Do you ever feel like you’re just really bad at being young?

Trey disappears into the crowd and I find myself standing in the center of a room filled with semi-strangers, girls and boys that I’ve known for most of my life in some capacity but never actually had a conversation with. I get nods of recognition from some, looks of what I take to be shock from others, and, just like in school, ignored by the rest, which, to be honest, is the most comforting reaction possible. I find an open armchair in the corner of the room and plop myself down in it. It’s a good vantage point for surveying the scene and trying to push the thoughts of panicked parents/lifetime grounding/juvenile hall out of my mind.

“Hey!” A boy wearing a black T-shirt and black jeans over and sits down in front of my armchair of solitude. “Callie Poulin! No fucking way!” It’s Reggie, this kid from my art class whom I’ve spoken to maybe twice. “Callie Poulin at the motherfucking party!”

How do you respond to that? I go with “Yup.”

“Your art isn’t as shitty as you think it is,” Reggie says. His breath smells like beer and Doritos.

“I never said my art was shitty,” I say.

“It comes through in your work.”

This, I tell myself, is why I never go anywhere.

“You look beautiful in that armchair,” he slurs, tracing hearts on the plastic parts of my sneakers.

“You’re super drunk,” I say, in the kindest way possible.

“With love, maybe.” Reggie’s art, I should mention, is all “fertility goddess”-based. Boobs everywhere. Our teacher thinks it’s “remarkable.” I think he’s just obsessed with boobs.

“Can I tell you a secret, Reggie?”

He leans in and his Dorito/beer breath coats the air. “You can tell me anything,” he says.

“I think our love is forbidden,” I tell him, narrowing my eyes. “If we’re ever going to make it as artists, we need to keep this wild passion between us alive by doing the most dramatic thing we could possibly do.”

“Holy shit,” Reggie says. “You mean like—“

“Yes,” I say dramatically. “Celibacy.”

His face falls and he pulls back. “Yeah…” he says, and he furrows his brow, looking confused.

“I mean, that’s what a real artist would do,” I insist.

“I’m a real artist!” he says, defensive. Then he mumbles something about “inspiration” and wanders over to Tina Walsh, whose boobs are huge.

As I scan the drunken, giggling masses around me, I can’t help feeling like I’m doing this wrong. In the movies, this is the part where my true love comes to tell me something magical and we kiss, or I lose my virginity, or I get high and there are no repercussions, or I become the most popular girl in school by winning a dance-off. I’m 16! I’m supposed to be crazy and uninhibited! So why am I in this armchair, worrying about being caught, worrying about breaking my parents’ hearts, worrying about the way Bert is feeling his way under Glory’s shirt, worrying about Tina Walsh’s having to deal with the Mayor of Creepsville and his Dorito breath, worrying about Trey, who has seemingly disappeared, worrying about worrying? Do you ever feel like you’re just really bad at being young? Like you were born an 85-year-old woman and you’re just waiting for everyone else to catch up? This is my life.

“Whoa,” a voice says. “You all right?”

Trey is standing above me, holding a bottle of water, watching as my breathing moves from zero to 60.

“I’m fine,” I say between breaths. “I think it’s just the smoke in the room.”

He sits on the ground in front of the chair and takes my hand. This does not improve the panic situation. He hands me his water but I’m too nervous to drink it.

He says, “Do you know why I wear purple pants every day?” and I shake my head no. “I started having these panic attacks in like seventh grade, and they got so bad that my mom had to take me to a doctor and stuff.”

I keep nodding, trying to ignore the fact that (a) I am freaking out, and (b) Trey McCarthy is holding my hand.

“So I had to go to this outpatient thing every day and talk about feelings or whatever. And I went for a few weeks and gradually got better, you know? And then this one day I came in wearing these dumb purple sweatpants that my grandma had bought me for Christmas, and it was the first day in maybe two months that I didn’t panic at all. So I thought, you know, maybe purple pants were good luck or something.”

“Glory wouldn’t say so,” I wheeze.

“Glory doesn’t know about it. If you could not tell her, that would be good.”

“Why don’t you want her to know?” My breathing was coming easier now, but Trey’s hand stayed on mine.

“Because she’s like my sister, and I’m supposed to look out for her and shit. She doesn’t think so, but I do.”

“I think she can handle herself.” I nod in the direction of Bert, who is sitting alone in the corner, holding a bag of frozen peas on his cheek.

“There you are,” Glory says, rushing in from the kitchen, drunk on some awful-smelling concoction that she’s holding in her red plastic cup. “Let’s go, this party sucks.”

“What happened with Acqua di Bro?” asks Trey.

“We made out for 45 minutes, and then he said, ‘I really like you, Lindsay.’”

Oooh,” Trey and I say in unison, a studio-audience reaction to a major burn.

“It’s 4:30 anyway,” Glory says. “We need to move.”

We leave as a party of three; either alcohol or Bertlessness has caused Glory to embrace Trey as her sort-of-brother, even allowing him to hold her up as she stumbles down the street, swearing at nobody in particular, reeking of cologne.

We get to his car and he helps her into the backseat. “She’ll be OK,” he says.

“I’ll be fine,” Glory slurs, resting her head against the window.

“I have to get her back into my house,” I say, starting to panic again.

“Don’t worry about it,” says Trey, and for the rest of the ride home, for whatever reason, I don’t.

***

The station wagon stops at the end of the street, and Trey and I shake a now-sleeping Glory awake. She doesn’t look happy about it.

“Worst party ever,” she groans. She is sober enough to make her way down the sidewalk with minimal help from me and Trey, and together we get her into the house, up the stairs, and into my bedroom, where she gives us both a hug and tells us we’re her “OK best people,” whatever that means. We somehow accomplish all of this with the precision of CIA experts, silent and untraceable, not even allowing a piece of glitter from Glory’s shoes to hit the carpet.

As I walk Trey back to the front door, I notice that my house is dark and silent, just as it was when I left. The only thing I can hear is my father faintly snoring. They never even knew I was gone. All that panic for nothing.

We sneak out onto the front steps, closing the door quietly behind us.

“Thanks for everything,” I say.

“Yeah,” he says. “It’s not a big deal.”

Just as I’m about to say something about getting away with it, the front porch light flicks on.

“Callie?” It’s my father’s voice. Oh shit oh shit oh shit.

“Cremation, not burial,” I tell Trey. “Don’t let anyone read any poetry at my funeral.”

My father opens the front door with a horrible look on his face. “Callie Marie Poulin, just what the heck do you think you’re doing?” Oof, triple name. I am dead beyond dead.

“It’s not her fault, sir,” says Trey.

My father knows Trey through Glory’s parents. He used to shovel our sidewalks for five bucks when he was in elementary school.

“Trey?”

“Hi, Mr. Poulin. It’s my fault that Callie’s up so early. I just came over here to tell her that I’m in love with her. I thought it would be more romantic if I did it you know, at sunrise.”

My father looks at me, and I look at the stairs, because if I move my head my brain may explode from embarrassment.

“Well, uh,” my father says, “we, uh, declare our love at a reasonable hour in this family. So, uh, go home, Trey. And you go back to sleep, Callie.” He shuts the door and leaves the two of us on the porch, and I start to look around for harps and angels, because I’m pretty sure I’m dead.

“Well, I’m out,” Trey says, as if nothing has happened.

“OK.”

“I guess I’ll come back later today to pick up Glory,” he says. “And to declare my love at a reasonable hour.” He smiles and walks down the street.

Glory is asleep when I make it back to my bedroom, the disappointing smell of Bert hovering around her. Soon she will wake up proclaim the night a failure, and I’ll agree with her. But when Trey picks her up in the morning and I wave at him from my window, I will silently be thanking her. ♦

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46 Comments

  • soviet_kitsch April 5th, 2013 3:11 PM

    “Like you were born an 85-year-old woman and you’re just waiting for everyone else to catch up? ”

    GET OUT OF MY HEAD

    • love_soup April 5th, 2013 6:48 PM

      1st- ikr ikr ikr ikr
      2nd- i love regina spektor

    • diniada13 April 7th, 2013 7:35 AM

      YES OMGGG
      and I never thought I’d meet Regina Spektor fans on Rookie. She needs more recognition here.

      • Ella W April 8th, 2013 6:36 PM

        Have just googled/youtubed Regina Spektor. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for helping me find her. She is amazing, and I am already in love with her music.

  • finnfloats April 5th, 2013 3:19 PM

    “…we, uh, declare our love at a reasonable hour in this family.

    This is brilliant! Pixie, you are wonderful. <3

  • RhiaSnape April 5th, 2013 4:19 PM

    So good! Trey is the kind of character that I tend to fall in love with a bit haha.

    • Lacenailsmermaidtails April 8th, 2013 5:43 PM

      I know. I would love to meet a ‘Trey’ and be with him.<3

  • Erykaneisha April 5th, 2013 4:20 PM

    I was feeling guilty that I didn’t go to school and got REALLY worried about the stuff I was going to miss, blah blah… but then I read this and I feel way better, haha. I slept through all 6 of my alarms accidentally!

  • Annie at Cher Ami April 5th, 2013 4:22 PM

    This is so rad Pixie! You like, read my mind about the worrying thing, I’m always like that! <3

  • Julliettes Blog April 5th, 2013 4:29 PM

    This was really funny, but also really dramatic and AMAZING!

  • serena05 April 5th, 2013 4:32 PM

    “Do you ever feel like you’re just really bad at being young? Like you were born an 85-year-old woman and you’re just waiting for everyone else to catch up?”

    This is possibly the most accurate thing to ever describe me.

  • stripesrock139 April 5th, 2013 4:39 PM

    This was beautiful (:

  • Wren April 5th, 2013 4:46 PM

    awww this is great ! <3

  • sugarmilz April 5th, 2013 5:35 PM

    I actually love this! Describes me so much!

    Sugarmilz.blogspot.co.uk

  • Eryn April 5th, 2013 5:52 PM

    THIS IS SO GREAT. I definitely feel as though I’m not good at being young. Yes, I love this!

  • MoniMonster April 5th, 2013 6:04 PM

    This is basically how I felt during my WHOLE teens and some of my early twenties. Now I’m almost 30 (whoa) and I have to admit, since I’ve been about 22 I’ve been growing younger and younger instead of older in my head. Don’t worry if you feel all too mature and ‘reasonable’ now… you’ll probably have the fun later on- and if you experience it in a similar way that I get to- I feel like Im more aware of what a privilege it is, and how I’m kind of allowing myself to be a bit crazy and less reasonable… it is so much fun and because I have a ‘bit’ more life experience I can channel the letting go and enjoy it even more. So dont be scared, don’t feel like you’re missing out… you will get there. It will be awesome. I promise!

    http://monimonster.tumblr.com
    goo.gl/gbd89

    • sepiawriter April 6th, 2013 12:11 AM

      This actually does make me worry less about missing out.
      Because honestly right now I’m a teenage grandma and that freaks me out a bit.

      • MoniMonster April 6th, 2013 4:02 AM

        I have self-portraits I drew when I was 14-17, and I always looked like a 45-year old high school teacher for history or maybe religious education. I was super precocious, did REALLY well in school and at the same time had almost no friends because I had social anxiety. Part of that I can now ‘blame’ on my parents, (they are both Latin teachers at the high school I went to)… they just raised me in a way that didn’t match the outside world. Moving away for Uni and starting fresh in a new, creative environment helped lots. Now, I still do well but I am also able to feel the connections to the fun stuff out there ;). I learned to let go of the 45 year old inside of me, because I WILL GET THERE SOON ENOUGH!! (aaaah scary) . And it’s not always important to do the absolutely perfect right thing, sometimes the thing right for the moment you’re in NOW turns out waaay more fun. Whilst still being somewhat reasonable :P. And as a teeanger / young person growing up I think one is allowed a certain amount of selfishness that might come with throwing some of the old-lady ways overboard. Otherwise, how can you be grown-up at some point if you don’t actually do any of the growing? It’s all a process and if you allow yourself to just let go sometimes… as I said above. awesomeness awaits. Eyes open. fun.

  • unicornconnect April 5th, 2013 6:09 PM

    I totally totally totally SUCK at being a teenager. I’m like, hey isn’t life supposed like 16 candles?
    Apparently not.
    Excellent story!!!!!

  • sophiethewitch April 5th, 2013 6:12 PM

    “Our relationship is based on mutual mortification.”

    I love this so much.

  • Melissa @ WildFlowerChild April 5th, 2013 6:18 PM

    Stop it! this is amazing!! My college years aren’t even this fun.

    <3 Melissa
    http://wildflwrchild.blogspot.com

  • Maggie April 5th, 2013 7:03 PM

    I’m only here for Bert. JK I’m here for everything, because this story ruled.

  • Kaetlebugg April 5th, 2013 9:27 PM

    a) I love this but b) I wish every non-party-girl could be, like, rewarded with a Trey . . . so to speak.

  • Kaetlebugg April 5th, 2013 9:28 PM

    not that I’m judging people for partying, but in this story it kind of seems like the narrator’s reward or consolation prize or her own version of a happy ending is Trey and I have to say how nice would that be if that was how it worked in real life!

  • Codi Skeet April 5th, 2013 11:19 PM

    adored it. <3 Codi

  • Clairebearscare April 5th, 2013 11:42 PM

    I didn’t want this to end.

  • sepiawriter April 6th, 2013 12:12 AM

    “Do you ever feel like you’re just really bad at being young? Like you were born an 85-year-old woman and you’re just waiting for everyone else to catch up? This is my life.”

    YES.
    This is also my life.

    I read this just in time, and I loved seeing people in the comments saying they feel like that. Yay for not being alone!

  • Humkat1 April 6th, 2013 7:24 AM

    Thank you so much for this. It left me smiling with the knowledge that it’s not just me like that!

  • NotReallyChristian April 6th, 2013 12:25 PM

    To be continued, right? RIGHT??

    • Maggie April 6th, 2013 1:53 PM

      RIGHT????????????????????????????

    • Audrey Pfister April 7th, 2013 7:54 AM

      I hope so!!!!

  • Shanti April 7th, 2013 5:39 AM

    asdfghjkl;fnajofiuaswygtdeqihjopuewryuiwbhrn this is REALLY REALLY GREAT pixie you are great I love you this NEEDS TO CONTINUE I am already so in love with all of the characters omg

  • llamalina April 7th, 2013 2:11 PM

    god, this was perfect.

    “Worst party ever,” she groans. She is sober enough to make her way down the sidewalk with minimal help from me and Trey, and together we get her into the house, up the stairs, and into my bedroom, where she gives us both a hug and tells us we’re her “OK best people,” whatever that means.

    i loved this part, i feel like i’ve lived it a thousand times. i love the characters, i love the story, i love this.

  • eireann April 7th, 2013 5:48 PM

    “Do you ever feel like you’re just really bad at being young? Like you were born an 85-year-old woman and you’re just waiting for everyone else to catch up? This is my life.”

    True. <3 Adore this story!

  • Lacenailsmermaidtails April 8th, 2013 5:41 PM

    I am really bad at being young. I’m glad someone understands and feels the same way.

  • Ella W April 8th, 2013 6:23 PM

    This is one of my favourite short stories on Rookie! Callie is literally me, except I have never snuck out for a party.

    Plus Allegra, that is a super good drawing you’ve got going on there!

  • Jolala April 9th, 2013 2:55 PM

    So. Effing. Tute.

  • amy dee April 12th, 2013 9:11 PM

    I just found out about this website today and decided why not make an account, ya know? YOLO. This is the first story I read and it is spectacular! I loved every bit of it, and wanted to read more!! I am definetly looking forward to read much much more!
    I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but…

    THANK YOU YOUTUBE ADS!

  • meels April 16th, 2013 9:20 AM

    please follow up this story!!!!

  • Ezgi Celebi April 22nd, 2013 12:52 PM

    why Pixie? wHY.. WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT. This is beautiful :’c

  • Ginny Mannox April 29th, 2013 7:49 AM

    All the people in my school drink and party, except me.
    I hate these feeling that I get when I’m on a party.
    And I can’t understand why they like these things.
    But this story is so romantic and I hope there is a “Trey” on my next party.
    And because of reading this wonderful story, I was too late for school.

  • lililavender June 17th, 2013 10:20 PM

    this story is perfection. Lovely, to know that there are so many of us 85-year-old teenagers out there!

  • wpaigej June 22nd, 2013 2:53 PM

    this is cute and funny. totes feel the 85-yr-old mindset.
    “I really like you, Lindsay.” That reminded me of Nick from Freaks and Geeks.

  • Elimy July 9th, 2013 10:00 PM

    This is amazing!!!

  • Posseh July 18th, 2013 10:59 AM

    “Cremation, not burial,” I tell Trey. “Don’t let anyone read any poetry at my funeral.” this part made me laugh sooo hard