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My Makeup was Dirt
I stood up and glanced out my bedroom window, and making a disgusted face I turned away. Rain pelted from the skies above my home in Keep Going, Kentucky. This particular Tuesday reminded me of the day of Dad’s funeral seven years ago. It almost always rained on Tuesdays, no matter how hard we wished it would not, so I felt puzzled on why today’s in particular, sparked the memory of Dad’s funeral.
My feet shuffled to the front door. Mom sat at the kitchen table drinking coffee, and I just knew she would have something to say. I really did not want to talk to her at all. She and I did not get along so well now, we never had, but things had gotten worse after Dad’s unexpected death. Hoping it would help, Mom married Robert Smith, an accountant in the city. Robert bored me even when he did not talk of his job.
“Grace,” she said, I turned to look at her, “Do you have to wear those clothes?” I made a growling sigh. And with a scowl she examined my combat boots, torn jeans, black tee shirt, and my wild, golden-red hair that I had styled with some garden sheers last summer.
“Mom, I wear these clothes everyday. I’ve been your kid for 17 years, you should be used to it,” came my annoyed-yet-steady tone.
“Why don’t you wear the clothes I bought you? I thought they were cute.”
“They are cute--that’s the problem,” I snapped, pulling my keys out of my pocket and opening the door.
“Grace,” Mom began before the door slammed. Once outside I heard my name, Grace Anastasia Sparks, resonate throughout the grey world.
“It’s Sparky!” I shouted. Only somebody like Mom would name his or her kid something terrible like Grace Anastasia. To me the name sounded like a heap of lace and sparkly, fuchsia bows; it about made me sick. When Mom remarried, she changed her last name, but I retained my identity and insisted that my last name remain Sparks. I jumped into Dad’s old Jeep and gripped the steering wheel. Dad had evened out my wild side; he had comforted and befriended me. But now all had changed.
By the time I reached the public high school, a real gush of precipitation poured from the clouds. I strutted inside and flicked a crystal raindrop from my eyelash. Despite my own crabby attitude everyone else acted happy enough. My combat boots thudded on the laminate flooring on the way to my locker. Bright and cheery Penny bounced up to me and started blabbering animatedly about her prom dress. Her prattling soon blended into the rest of the school’s chatter. Another girl came up to us and joined in her conversation of frills and dresses and prom dates. This topic irked me so I slipped away to find some of my guy friends who I could expect to talk of things other than prom.
I needed to talk to David, the only person I trusted completely since Dad’s death. Standing on tiptoe, I peered over the mass of students; my eyes searching for him. Someone tapped my shoulder; I whirled around to find tall, dark, and handsome Carter. Nearly every girl in the school worshiped the ground his feet walked on. Yet, somehow, he had found interest in me, who could not have cared less. Maybe he liked me because of the fact I did not chase after him…
“So, Grace… you want to come to the prom with me?” he asked.
“No,” I said turning away. He grabbed my arm. “Get your grimy hands off me!” I shrieked.
“Ah come on Grace, be a sport! We all know you’ll have no date if you don’t come with me,” he said. Still gripping my arm, he pulled me close.
“I wouldn’t go to a prom with you even if my life depended on it,” I growled. Nothing could make me go to a prom, especially if I had to go with…him. I pushed away from him, but he would not let his grasp slip. And then, in one swift motion, I shoved him with all my strength, sending him stumbling backwards. He caught himself as I stalked forward.
“That was uncalled for,” he said to me. Anger danced in his hazel eyes. By now people had begun to gather around us, forming a circle. They waited expectantly for a brilliant fight. I would not let them down.
“Oh yeah?” I asked, infuriated. Next, I launched myself at him and punched him square in the head. His hand flew to his face. Then he pulled his hand away, and I saw the red blood on his hand, the blood pouring from his nose. He lunged towards me and pinned me in his arms and began shaking me. Gasping for breath, I smelled the rusty scent of his blood near me.
Someone’s big hand grabbed the back of my shirt and dragged me away from Carter. I lowered my eyebrows and glared at Carter out of the corner of my eye. Harsh reprimands flooded my ears. Detention awaited me for after school, but Carter had gotten to go home with his bloodied face, such a baby.
Surrounding teenagers dwindled away as I left for my class. But there stood David Shipman, over a foot taller than me, with short blonde hair and smiling eyes, the same blue color as my own. He grinned and shook his head at me.
“Well Sparky, got in enough trouble to go to class?” he asked in good humor as we started down the hall.
“Eh, I guess so. You didn’t have to wait for me you know,” I replied.
“I wanted to see you beat the snot out of another poor soul. It never gets old you know it?” he paused. “And I have a question for you.”
“Really what’s that?” I asked, pausing in my step.
“Grace… would you come with me to prom?” I looked at him in horror and then laughed.
“That’s real funny David.” I started walking again and did not miss the disappointed look in his eyes. “You weren’t…joking?” I asked rhetorically. “You do know Carter just asked and got beat up don’t you?” David half-smiled at me.
Why did he have to go and ask me to prom? I lamented as I pulled out of the parking lot. Dad’s Jeep went a heck of a lot fast heading home than it had in a long time. Finally, I veered off the road. Sure I felt mad, but speeding would not help anything. My foot slammed on the car horn and one long blast sounded. My body vibrated with the noise.
“This is ridiculous!” I shouted in deep frustration. After a while I calmed and with extreme reluctance I started home. Stealthily I opened the front door of the house, my teeth clenched together. Smells of warmth and chocolate resonated through the room. I dropped my drenched school bag on the ground and walked over to the counter to grab a cookie and I crammed it into my mouth.
“How was detention?” Mom asked in a sweet tone.
“It was great mom just great,” I replied, my voice reeked of sarcasm
“Get rid of that attitude Grace,” she commanded.
“Make me,” I threatened. I stared at her, unmoving, with menace.
“You better straighten up and you better straighten up now,” I heard her say before I shot out the door again. With speed I mounted the hill behind our house, and I continued to run into the woods. Losing focus, I tripped and fell the ground. Mud squished and bubbled coolly beneath my fingers. Examining my hands, I thought about my “I-do-not-care” persona. Did I, in a twisted way, care what people thought? I had a nonconformist attitude. No one saw through me, and everyone thought I wore blood and dirt for makeup. Only David knew I even had a softer side.
Friday night I waited by the door for David’s arrival. I wanted to go to prom for David, because I loved him. And if everyone had something to say about it then at least I had caught him or her off guard one last time before graduation. My own pride would not hinder me from doing something with the person I loved most.
When he pulled up I ran outside to greet him. He smiled broadly.
“You sure you still wanna come?” he asked.
“Have I ever backed out?” I asked smiling. He laughed.
“You look…beautiful Sparky,” he said, his eyes glimmered in the sunset. I wore a more casual black dress, about knee length, and some camo flats. My hair looked a bit more fashionable the way it spiked. On my lips I wore a little gloss; it felt cool and smooth on my mouth.
Strangely I felt a bit nervous heading into the prom. David took my hand and I smiled, not having trouble enjoying myself. I felt… beautiful.
New York, New York
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thanks so much!!