Even before birth (B.B.), I was the queen of assholes. I held my throne in my mom’s placenta. The whole time I judged the state of her organs. Was her uterine wall really wearing spring colors during the fall season? Ew.
My resting bitch face was perfected at 9 weeks. My mouth was cast down into a grimace and my eyes spoke hints of irritation. Some refuted that it wasn’t a resting bitch face but it was an at work bitch face. When a perfect scowl developed on the sonogram my mom and dad assumed it was an error, maybe a cloud or a gas pocket. But was it, parents? Was it a gas pocket?
No, this was no mistake; this was no vegan forgetting to bring reusable bags to Whole Foods; this was the beginning of an era: the bitch era. More specifically, my bitch era (not to be confused with yours).
December had fallen at our fur lined boots. My birthday was four steps into the calendar decorated with snowflakes and candy canes. This year, my mom would probably have my party on a Saturday and she would give me invitations to give the whole class. We usually wrote the names on them the night before at the dining room table. I would not be inviting Natalie Rosetti this year. Not even if my mom told me I had to like last year. If she did I would ‘accidently’ throw her invitation into the gutter by the bus stop. No one would know and I’d tell mom that she had to go to church or something. But I’d have to tell her when she was busy, she knew my lying face too well. My smile would take over before she even had time to think about believing my lie.
Natalie was getting on my last nerve. At recess she hit me with a dodgeball ‘by accident’. I saw her out of the corner of my eye, her white shirt that said “$POILED” rippled and moved towards me. She thought about doing it for a while, I could tell. She was just jealous because my mom packed me Lunchables for lunch, while her mom packed mayo-drenched sandwiches that smelled even worse than they looked. She laughed when she threw it. I heard it; I know I did and this was it. As the textured red rubber ball impacted my cheek, I knew her ruling. UNINVITED-with no chance of parole. I held my cheek, looking for Mrs. Feldman, but she was inside the classroom.
After weeks of enduring Natalie’s loud breathing and her smell of mayo, she uninvited herself to my birthday party, really. She did this to herself. I’d even sacrifice a potential birthday present to take her down.
I returned home from school with a huff. Grandma Ellen’s car was parked by the curb in front of the house. I ran up the gray concrete steps and forced myself through the heavy navy blue door.
“Hiya, honey” Grandma said. Her hands lifted from her tea cup and drew me to her.
Her smile beamed. I knew I was her favorite. She only had my brother to choose from and he was awful.
“Do you know where your mom is today?”
“Nope” I said, looking for spare oreos in the pantry. I thought my mom bought a new package just for me.
“She’s having a baby, dear. You’re going to have a new baby sister” she said, placing her teacup on the warped wood table.
I thought my mom would have given up the idea. She already had me; what more did she need? Okay, I was there for the baby shower and I have seen pink folded onesies waiting in a corner of the spare bedroom, but still.
A sister. I did want a sister. But I wanted a twin sister. Mom stopped telling me that was impossible months ago. I needed a Mary-Kate to my Ashley Olsen. I was definitely an Ashley. The color pink had a magnetic effect on me and anyone within a five yard radius of the playground could attest that I was no tomboy.
This sister would come out like a baby, like John did. If she was anything like him, I prayed for an alien abduction or something simpler like a baby swap at the hospital.
As the milano cookie’s chocolate coated my teeth, my mind discovered something, something deeply, deeply troubling. My forehead wrinkled, “Grandma, what about my birthday party?”
She took a long sip of her tea. I almost repeated the dire question, in case she did not hear me.
“I’m sorry dear, but no party. Your mom will need her rest and my help with your new sister.”
Strike one, sister.
I wanted to scream the key phrases dad used in the car. The ones he yelled at that rollerblader moving too slowly through the crosswalk on Portion Road.
This new sister was already ruining things. I already had my birthday dress picked out. I was going to wear my hair in pigtails like Britney Spears. She was stealing my birthday and they were letting her do it.
How could I uninvite Natalie if there was no party to be invited to? She had to pay for hitting me with that dodgeball. Mary-Kate would never steal Ashley’s birthday; she would be too busy playing soccer with in the backyard to care.
“Do you want to go watch TV, honey?” She stood up, putting the cup into the filled sink and starting the faucet.
I contemplated what good the TV would do. I would not forget this. I never would let my mom forget either. I was robbed. Robbed of presents and cake and being the birthday girl. They would have a Dateline special on me this Friday. A girl who had everything taken from her.
I would not be speaking to my mom for some time. She would see. She would learn about what she had done. Dad would be my favorite parent now. I started drawing him pictures and even wrote I love you on the white computer paper he used to print out receipts and train tickets. No, that wouldn’t last long, Dad being my favorite. I’d do something terrible like use up all his computer paper he needed for work to draw pictures and he would scream into my face. I’d cry uncontrollably and run into my room and then it would be all over. I’d be a little orphan child with a red afro and red dress and no favorite parent.
Grandma hung the chunky white phone up on the wall.
“They’re coming soon!” She beamed, starting to wash the dishes piled in the sink. Mom hated when she washed the dishes because she left crumbs on the plates and the cups would taste like soap for days afterwards.
I didn’t tell Grandma not to bother because maybe she could be my new favorite parent substitute. Yes, this could work. I clapped my hands together and formed a triangle in front of my face like a fashion designer stepping back to marvel at his models.
“Honey, can you get me another washcloth from the linen closet? This one is too wet.”
I nodded. I would think more. If they were coming back soon, what could I do to really get mom back for leaving me to die, birthday-party-less and alone? I had to send a message.
I handed grandma a new towel to soak up the bubbling dish water. The clock in the living room chimed and I heard the bolts and gears work. John ran laps in the kitchen, passing again and again over the puddle forming by the sink. Grandma didn’t stop him and I was glad. Maybe he would fall and break his annoying little neck.
I looked out the window and into the backyard. Little piles of snow were melting in the late afternoon sun. Dad filled the birdfeeders up yesterday and they were already empty, even though I couldn’t see any birds. Maybe John was eating the birdseed again, weirdo.
The shed waited for me to notice it, a treasure calling to the house for me to come inside and join it for an early dinner. PERFECT. PERFECT. I resolved my plan. I would hide out in the shed and make EVERYONE think that I ran away! My stomach lifted, powered by the pure joy of a good plan.
I had to do it when Grandma wasn’t looking. She couldn’t be in on it either. She would think I was some kind of baby, hiding just to scare everyone. I could wait in there for a couple of hours. I searched for provisions in the pantry.
Grandma turned off the faucet and wiped her hands on her smock shirt. I waited with my eyebrows raised.
“Enough, John” she grumbled and moved into the living room where her crosswords were. She would be occupied by numbers and words for at least a half hour.
I opened the backdoor slowly, carefully. My motions were seamless. I was a surgeon ready to perform a life-saving procedure on a sick patient with no options left.
The shed was colder than I expected. I shut the door but I could feel the winter chill from underneath my purple parka. I sat on the lawn mower and looked at the wood floor. I should’ve brought a book out here. I looked at each line of the wood floor and counted. I wouldn’t go back until I heard sirens and cries. They had to cry for me to go back. I’d say I was kidnapped by a man with a long white beard and overalls. Mom would have a birthday party for me everyday just to make it up to me, her precious child that was almost taken from her.
I tossed a tennis ball in the air.
Maybe I should go to sleep.
Maybe I should see if they’re home yet.
I crept up and could see out of the shed’s screen window. They were sitting at the kitchen table, grandma, dad, mom, and a little blanket ball in mom’s hands. THEY HAD NO IDEA I WAS KIDNAPPED BY A SANTA CLAUS LOOK ALIKE.
I swung the door open and trudged up the deck stairs. What kind of horrible, EVIL parents didn’t know when their child was KIDNAPPED?