In the summer, the grass is voluminous and the trees fill with green, the sky the prettiest shade of blue—everything alive and beautiful. But, in the winter, the grass is an ugly color of yellow, the trees bare, the sky grey; the world around me was still and quiet. Everything about the winter somehow seemed to be a good representation on how I felt.
I sat in my backyard on the edge of the brick path as the cold bit my skin. With a cigarette on my lips I took a long drag. I could feel the smoke go from the cigarette to the back of my throat and then fill my lungs. Between two fingers I pulled it away from my face, then released the smoke, causing a dense cloud to form in the air as if a forest fire erupted from my body.
Smoking cigarettes is disgusting. It makes you smell gross and every morning you wake up coughing up gunk from your lungs. But here I am being a slave to my addiction. My excuse right now is, "It's been a really stressful day and this is my way of winding down," but I make an excuse every time.
My mom smokes, but she doesn’t know that I do and I plan to keep it that way. At least until she finds out somehow. I do the same thing everyday after school; come home, go outside to smoke, then wash my hands and change my clothes so I don’t rink. Sometimes I wonder if she would even notice the smell since she’s a pack-a-day person. "Nose blind" is what some people call it. I call it being oblivious.
When I got my nose pierced in the spring without my mother's permission, she didn't even notice for weeks. I didn't even bother hiding it. The little stud glistened on the side of my nose and was definitely noticeable to everyone except her. When she finally did notice, she went off on me. When I told her I had gotten it done almost a month before, she fell silent and we didn't talk about my nose piercing again after that.
I honestly couldn't tell you why I try so hard to hide the fact that I smoke cigarettes from her. I guess I just don't want the confrontation. In the bathroom as I wash my hands, I look hard at myself in the mirror. I look just like her, with long, thick brown hair, blue eyes, and freckles over my nose and cheeks. I might look like my mother, but I aspire to not be like her.
You can say my life consisted of nothing but the term, “Same shit, different day.” On weekdays, I woke up early, took a shower, drove to school, suffered, then I came home to suffer some more in the lonely abyss of my room. I had friends once but they never really were my 'friends'. They were just a few girls that I sat at the lunch table with and listened to their bullshit conversations that never meant anything to me. One day, our table was full so I ended up sitting alone in the corner of the cafeteria. I don’t even think they noticed I had left. I've been eating lunch alone for three months now and they still haven't tried to talk to me.
Weekends were worse. Which says a lot considering I hate school and don't have any friends. I would sit in my room all day, either listening to music, reading a book, scrolling aimlessly through the internet, or sleeping. That’s all my life was.
While I did a whole lot of nothing, I was always imagining my life being different. I always wished I had someone in my life other than my mom who's not really there to begin with. I wished I had a friend to talk to about personal things that I would never even think about talking to my mom about. I wished I had a boyfriend a lot too. I craved the touch of someone, to laugh with someone. Loneliness engulfed me.
After I washed my hands and changed, I went downstairs to the kitchen to get an after-school snack. I paused for moment before walking through the entry way. My mom was standing in the kitchen in front of a mess of papers that were sprawled on the counter. I went to the fridge but nothing sounded good enough to eat. I closed the door and started walking away when my mom spoke. "How was your day?"
"Uh, it was a day. How was work?" I turned to look at her but she was still busy with papers.
Although she didn't look at me, the expression on her face read, 'Did you really just ask me that?' but she answered anyway. “It was alright. Just work. How was school?” she asked. I don't know why I decided to sit down on one of the barstools on the other side of the counter but I did. I knew I wasn't going to stay long.
I looked down and couldn’t help but stare at a weird spot that was on the kitchen floor—some sort of stain. Without looking away I said, “It’s the same as it always is.” She stopped flipping through papers to look at me. I took my eyes away from the spot and met hers.
“You should go join an activity of some sort. Join a sport, or a club. Get a job somewhere. I want you to socialize with people, Maia. You can’t be all cooped up in this house every weekend and after school.” She looked like she was forcing a concerning look, it just didn’t seem natural. I rolled my eyes. I knew I should do something with my life, I just didn’t have the motivation, and here she goes pretending to care.
“I don’t like people, mom,” I said. She laughed a little, put her papers down, put her elbows on the counter and gave me her full attention. What is with her today?
“I know you don’t. But whether you like it or not, people are everywhere and you’re going to have to deal with them your entire life. I heard Brew’n’Cup is hiring. You used to love that place,” she said as she pulled away and started messing with her papers again. “I know a lot of people go there and it would be a good opportunity to meet some friends.”
“I’d probably drink all of the coffee just to keep myself sane. You don’t want me to go into cardiac arrest from too much caffiene now, do you?” I looked back down to the spot on the floor (whatever it was) and took a deep breath.
“Stick to decaf.” I could hear a smile on her face. We never really talk about anything, so having that conversation weirded me out enough to get up to leave. “Go! Have a life!” mom said as I walked away.
After freshening up my school-day makeup, I grabbed my keys and headed to the coffee shop. "Why am I doing this?" I asked myself as I drove. But I kept driving.
I used to go to Brew'n'Cup when hardly anyone did. It used to be a peaceful place where only a few people were inside at tables and there was never a line. It was the perfect place to read that wasn't my bedroom.
In the fall, when school started again, I guess some cheerleader had gone there with her mom, and she decided that Brew’n’Cup had to be the next big thing. The news spread all over the school that it was, “Just the cutest place ever!” and it became the Starbucks of our small town. I lost my favorite place. It’s kind of crazy how fast ‘word-of-mouth’ works. I wasn’t excited at all to go there let alone work there, but I knew my mom was right about me getting a life.
I pulled up in front of the coffee shop, and was lucky enough to get a parking spot right in front of the door. I got out of my car and everyone’s chatter from inside was dulled, but once I opened the door, a noise of voices stung my ears.
For a second, when the bell for the door went off, I expected everyone to stop what they were doing and look at me, but they didn’t. Relief. The line to the counter was three people long. Great, I’m going to be standing here for forever. Three people doesn't sound like a long wait, but it looks like there's only one girl working today.
I casually looked around the room of middle-aged women, old folks, and teenagers. As I scanned the room, my eyes locked on a pair of blue eyes that were looking right back at me.
He was absolutely handsome. The type of guy that you usually see playing the lead role in a romance movie. His jaw looked strong and he had nicely defined cheekbones with slightly rosy cheeks. His dark hair was cut short on the sides and a longer and wavy on the top.
He smiled and a lump in my throat grew as I quickly looked away. His eyes were so beautiful. It was as though the blueness of them pierced something in my chest. I didn’t know what was happening to me. I had seen many handsome guys in the past and made eye contact with them, but this was affecting me to an extreme level of anxiety and giddy-ness.
While my heart was still beating a little faster than it should have been, it was finally my turn at the counter. When I asked the girl working if I could have an application, I, for some reason, expected her to give me a dirty look, but instead, she gave a calm smile and said, “Sure thing.” I took the application from the girl, said thank you, and turned around towards the door.
'Don’t do it, Maia, don’t look over there,' I told myself. I couldn’t help it though. Curiosity killed the cat. I looked back over at the guy and he was looking right at me. He smiled again. 'Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!! Are you sure he’s smiling at you?' Still walking to the door, I looked to the side of me to see if he was looking at someone else. No one on that side seemed to be looking at him. That smile was for me, which made me walk a little faster to the door.
The door when you’re going out of the coffee shop is opened by pulling the handle and I had forgotten that fact. Instead of pulling the handle, I ran right into the door while trying to push it. 'Shit! What are you doing?! Ahh you’re such an idiot!' I looked up to see if the cute guy had seen.
Yep! He definitely just watched me walk into a door. He chuckled and mouthed the words, “Are you okay?” I didn’t need caffeine to go into cardiac arrest, this boy was doing the job. I smiled and gave him a thumbs up. 'A thumbs up, really? You probably looked stupid doing that.' I opened the door the correct way (pull, not push) and hurried to my car. I should have never left my house.