23 October 2009

When Daddy gets mad

Wednesday 21 October

My dad almost never gets angry. I said this to someone once and the other person said, 'What does he have to get angry about, with his money.' That was very impolitic and I was offended. I do not think money has much to do with it at all. For one thing, many people with money are greedy and want more. My dad would probably rather get rid of some (and he does, to charity, but I won't go into that now). It's just that he has a positive mental attitude about most things. And if that's connected to money at all, it's that a positive mental attitude leads to money and not that money leads to a positive mental attitude, if you know what I mean.

Even so, I have seen him get mad a few times. Well-- more than a few times. He tends to become frustrated and irritated about injustices-- especially when they're directed at us or other she loves. He doesn't seem to care about other people's opinions or actions against himself. He says, 'Consider the source' --you know, because my dad is not an idiot and anyone who would think my dad is an idiot would be an idiot. An idiot's point of view is not worth considering. But he becomes simply warriorlike when something threatens his family or our happiness. I remember at our old house in Lewes when he woke up in the middle of the night and fired a live round out of the musket at two burglars who were creeping through the front yard to the house and then chased them round into the preserve and back along the beach with two Queen Anne black-powder pistols. One got away and one ended up in the pool, where he held him till the police came. And he pressed charges for 'trespass with criminal intent.' When I was in 5th grade the teacher assigned a paper on heroes and I wrote about Jesus, quoting all these miracles and unconditional love and the teacher said 'That's not what I had in mind' --and made me write another paper. Mother (our new stepmother then) marched in to school and insisted this was prejudicial and unfair and when the school administrators refused to take a 20-year-old stepmother seriously Daddy went in and read them a riot act. After all Mother had legally adopted us-- we were her children by then too. The result was that Mother dared the school to let her withdraw us and teach us at home, and when the school again suggested she was not capable of that, Daddy marched in and signed us out in one afternoon. We then were taught at home (by Mother) till we went off to England three years ago now.

The thing about my daddy is that when he says he's going to do something about it, he does-- and if you don't believe he will, you should watch him whilst he does it.

And of course I have seen him throw a hammer or a hatchet and over-rev the yard tractor and utter a few choice words and rant on about some awful politician. He was trying to hit a particularly nasty raccoon once at the house at Delaware and out of frustration fired the musket off at a tree, and the ball snapped the limb off about 15 feet off the ground which then landed on the fence and about 10 feet of it had to be replaced. And of course this made him madder-- I won't say what happened then (although the raccoon went on to live a long happy life, probably snickering every time he came back to the vegetable garden).

But at least once his frustration was exciting, even fun. This past summer we were out in the ski boat, just Daddy, Jessy and I, on Barnegat Bay. Daddy was taking us over to Tuckerton for lunch at Stewart's Root Beer stand. We were both in bikinis and Daddy was in some wild multicoloured shirt like something from the 50s. I was sitting in front and Jessy was half-lying across the back seat, right in front of the motor that made it hard to really hold any kind of conversation. I know it looked like my dad was some super-cool older guy with two cute chicks in swimsuits with him-- this is one thing we like to lend him and he's always happy to hang out with us like this. Anyway we were in the middle of the channel about halfway there, doing, I would say, about 35, when some fishermen in a 19-ft Whaler kind of pulled up along side. They only had us by about 5 MPH or so and it was not a big deal-- not every other boat out there has to be in a race, you know. But we were closing on a marker and the guy in the other boat didn't know that passing on the right, approaching a marker, means he has to either get in well ahead of us or go round behind us ('duck' us as it's called in sailboat racing). This guy figured he was important enough to cut in close and show us who really owns the bay.

Well, this set off Daddy, because of the principle of the thing. The Whaler cut in, much too close for comfort, about 20 yards at 35 MPH. Daddy snarled. I heard it. 'Idiot,' he said, and then pushed down the throttle. On the Sidewinder he had moved the front seats closer together and the throttle is actually on the left of the driving seat, down near the floor, so I could see it. He put it right down with his knuckles on the carpet. The big Buick engine roared up, the bow lifted, and Daddy swung it out to the left to pass him-- in the proper side of course.

The guys in the Whaler cheered, like they were happy to have a race. At once the guy driving it cut over in front of us-- where they should have been if they had been alone in the channel, but if someone is overtaking you the rule is that you hold course and speed-- not move over in front of him and speed up. So, it was a race.

The Whaler had a new outboard on it, and it was fast, but nothing beats the ski boat. We were up to 55 in about 5 seconds. I held on. Jessy squealed back there. The Whaler was no longer holding with us, but of course Daddy wouldn't let it stand with just a victory in name only. We were still accelerating-- 60, 65. Trimmed out flat, we were doing about 72 by the time he lifted the throttle a little. It was pretty scary up till then, but finally I laughed. I knew what he was doing. Of course we were in the proper lane of channel traffic and still obeying all the rules-- out in the middle of the Bay there are theoretically no speed limits. Daddy held it over 60 all the way in to the Tuckerton turnoff. Finally when we were idling up the long meandering back channel to Stewart's he said, not too loudly (because from a motorboat everyone else can hear everything), 'Sorry. I just got mad at him.'

We both giggled. 'We know,' I said.

'I just figured he kind of deserved that,' Daddy said.

Jessy leaned forward then, kneeling on the floor behind the two front seats. 'Can you get mad again like that on the way home, Daddy?'

I don't think any root-beer floats Stewart's could have had could have made that afternoon any better than that.


Because I can

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Daddy has been talking about putting up the pool for the year, which means draining about a third of the water, putting in that nasty pink chemical and covering it over with a lattice of PVC pipe and the big grey tarp. As with last year this depresses me. I can never let go of a summer. Yesterday was cool and cloudy in the morning but cleared into a sunny, warm afternoon, but Jessy and I were out doing errands and did not get home till after 4.00 when it was too cold for a swim. This morning I vowed I would not miss an opportunity like that. As soon as we got home Jessy and I stripped off and dove in.

Daddy was out raking leaves and pulled up with the yard tractor and the trailer-- with J.J. riding in it-- at the garden gate. I was in the middle of my constitutional 25 laps when they came up on the terrace. 'Oh,' Daddy said, 'what's this?'

'They're doing it again!' J.J. said-- little master of the obvious that he is. He hates when we're naked. He thinks there's something missing-- which there is, and not just our clothes. He is at the age when he is exceptionally proud of being male and thinks girls are silly and prone to immature, unmanly pursuits like swimming bare in the pool in front of him. I know Daddy encourages him in this attitude-- it's how he builds his gender identity, the same way Lisa builds hers by dawdling in the bathrooms when Jessy and I are getting dressed and mimicking us in pursuits like swimming bare in the pool. Daddy always enjoys teasing us-- at our age there is much less that he has in common with us and he just wants to stay a part of our routine lives. I know that deep inside he longs for when Jessy and I were just The Twits, those silly little girls he had so much fun with before nature made us grow up and leave that phase behind. He is our dad and to him it's not so much of a phase-- it's something he misses. So I think we do persist in what we do round here just to make sure he doesn't feel we've changed. After all it's only our bodies that have changed. We're still his twits.

By the time I got out the sun was beyond the roof of the house and a shallow shade was cast over the terrace. I was actually shivering. Mother sent Lisa out with two towels. Despite the mid-autumn chill I really didn't want to go in. For a while I sat in one of the chaises, staring at the sparkling aquamarine water of our precious pool, seeing how it went greyish in the coming twilight and reflected the even deeper grey of the salt-water bay just outside the garden wall. Out over the ocean, the sky remained crisp and clear for another half-hour and then went a brilliant purple-orange that was really stunning. It looked like the reddish-orange sky of Destin, the cloudy planet in 'Empire Strikes Back', deep and dense and distant, like you could jump off and dive into those clouds and then go sailing out over them for ever. I swear I got chills down my spine just thinking about that.

Lisa came out a little while later and found me reclining back in the chaise, with my gaze still up in the sky and the towel still wrapt round me and my hair still damp.

It's going to be a long winter.


17 October 2009

Speaking of sisters who love each other....

Saturday, 17 October 2009

I was sitting here on my bed typing and my little sister Lisa (who is 6) came in with two Oreo Cakesters on a plate and a glass of milk for me. 'Here you are, big sister,' she sang.

So I took this offering from her, shared one of the Cakesters with her, and invited her to sit with me on the bed. (She doesn't have on any pants either today!) So now I have someone to snuggle with under the blanket, before the fire, on this cold wet day.


Janine, the protectress of chastity

Friday 16 October 2009

Today I had a strange opportunity to find out a few things I'm not sure I wanted to know... but I am glad I know them.

I was walking the corridor in school towards lunch and happened to come up behind my sister... just a few steps ahead of me. I recognised her by her hair, of course, when the hall was crowded, and as it thinned out I found myself feeling envious of her again. I adore her hair-- it's thick and curly, natural blonde of course but very dense and deep golden colour, in curls that are as big as your two fingers together, flowing off her temples and past her ears and down well below her shoulders. Today she was in just jeans (nice snug ones) and a plain pale-blue pulli with a little black tanktop over it, and her black heeled maryjane shoes, not much differently than any other girl at this school really. I was in a skirt... as usual, not much differently than I usually am.

Jessy got about five yards ahead of me and did not know I was behind her. She has a very cute little prance, holding back her head a little, walking not quickly at all but almost as though she doesn't know how prissy she looks. She tends to walk slowly like she has all the time in the world. I tend to walk fast and it was hard to keep behind her. Guys at school tend to ignore me-- oh, they do look, and then they recognise (or assume) that I am just a stuck-up priss and avoid me. They usually find some way of putting me down-- I am too short, my nose is too long, my hair is a mess, whatever-- basically to avoid having to admit they feel inferior to me. Jessy doesn't come off as stuck-up. In fact guys are absolutely mesmerised by her. Well--

I went round the first corner after I realised she was in front of me and two guys spun their heads round at her so fast they bumped into each other. I sort of bumped into them and got round them. Two other guys were standing in a doorway and glanced at her as she passed. One of them said something I won't type here. The other said, 'Any day, man, Any day.'

'Not much there,' the first said-- I had just reached them then.

'The rest is worth it,' the second guy said.

'You got that straight.' They saw me then and went back into their classroom. I don't think they recognised me as her older sister-- I think they just tired of the scenery. Once Jessy had gone by there wasn't anything else they cared to look at.

In the front hall on the way to the lunch room a guy was standing with his girlfriend and turned to watch Jessy go by. The girl stopped talking to him, waited, and then said, 'Honestly, you can be such a pig sometimes.'

I hid a laugh at that.

Right before the lunch room doors there were two guys coming the other way. 'Well hello, precious,' one of them said to her.

She blushed (she told me later) and just smiled a little, to be polite. The other one turned and said, 'Well don't be scared, honey.'

She was past them to the doors. The first looked back at her and said, 'Mm, hm. Just as good from the back.' I was just about to where they were then and they turned back round and saw me there. 'Well, hello, precious,' the first one said.

I laughed. 'Good line,' I said. 'Used that lately?'

The second one laughed out loud. I was past them and went into the lunch room. A guy near the end of the queue turned round and stared at Jessy as she approached, looking her up and down as though she were a model or a horse to buy. She stopped, glanced over her shoulder, tossed her hair a little and started over to our usual table where her friends already were. The guy turned and watched her go. Jessy has a terrifically cute little bottom-- I have often said she is built like a ballerina or a gymnast and her muscles are toned from years of dance classes, working out and swimming. My bottom is good too for the same reason, but with Jessy, being as slender as she is, every curve of her body is more conspicuous. If a guy does not mind small-breasted girls she is absolutely the most gorgeous thing in the whole school.

I find that is often the case, which is probably why I am a little jealous of her. I have the opposite problem and because I dress so modestly, not choosing to show off what only God can claim responsibility for, I look like I am trying to hide myself. But Jessy cannot be accused of showing off at all for she has so little it would seem like a silly accusation to make. Instead she is blessed with sheer beauty, a pleasant happy face, indelible yet modest smile, brilliant blue eyes with long thick lashes, that hair-- oh, that hair! -- and a trim little middle a guy could just about close his hands round. What I presume is the real attraction is that she is petite, like that-- she is cute but also seems vulnerable, breakable, and-- dare I say it-- submissive. I don't know why but guys always seem to prefer a submissive, even stupid girl, someone they can quickly and easily dominate physically and then emotionally since, I guess they assume, it's the same thing. Strange as it seems to girls like me, many guys seem to believe that they are so irresistibly desirable that any 'sane' girl would do anything just to bask in their attention. We hear it all the time-- any time they assume a girl is too 'stuck-up' they will come at us with, 'I have what you need', as though we should be desperate for someone, anyone, to give us that experience. They don't realise that a girl doesn't always think like that-- in fact very few of us do. We want guys for emotional reasons, often social reasons, but even when we have them we rarely need the sex, at least not straight away. We get the guys of our own dreams and then become very careful, lest we break the bubble. We believe that if our guys love us, they will let us proceed on our own schedules. And that's another thing-- a woman's schedule is not subject to what a man wants. It comes from nature, or from God. Some girls are ready for sex at 14. Most-- in fact maybe 95 percent-- are not. Some of us are not ready for it at 18.

I'm not ready for it, and I happen to know for sure Jessy won't be before I am unless she happens to be married first (which is a distinct possibility). But these guys won't ever be sensitive enough to what a woman wants to be aware of that, or the reasons why. Sometimes I amuse myself with imagining what my sister would be like in the clutches of some awfully amorous guy and what he would do when he got her to what he thought was the point of no return. She would lash out in a fury that he would never forget. You just don't mess with Jessy-- and the LAST thing you want to do with her is to assume she wants what you want just because you want it. She is NOT submissive at all. In fact she is a lioness... and you just don't mess with one of those or it's the last thing you ever do.

Jessy stopped to sit at the usual table and right before they all saw me coming two more guys came by and stopped right behind her. I held my breath-- I could tell by the guys that this wouldn't be good. 'Hey,' one of them said to her, 'you're, um, Jessy, right?'

Josie and Rita looked up and saw me then. All our eyes went wide.

'Yes,' Jessy said to the boy then.

He was not bad-looking, actually almost cute, and would have been really appealing if not for the extremely baggy jeans and South Pole hooded sweatshirt. 'Yeah, well, um, you want to go out sometime then?'

Jessy got a little red, and then she saw me. I hesitated, suddenly looking round the room for anyone else to talk with so I didn't have to step past this and interrupt. 'Oh,' she said, 'well, um-- I mean-- What's your name, then?'

The guy told her, and then began some facile attempt at introducing himself, saying he was into ska, liked 'boarding' and wanted to go to New York 'where the real action is.' I realised she did not know anything else about this guy at all, and all he knew about her was her name. I do not know how he had got that information.

This unfortunate encounter was doomed to be just another instance of 'possession by attention' so I stepped in to bail her out. 'Hey,' I said, and stopped right beside her.

She turned at once as though she had just seen me. 'Hey,' she said. 'We're sitting here, then?'

'Sure.' I turned and pulled out the chair next to hers lest these two guys take up with her at the table as well.

Jessy turned to her new admirer and with the most gelatin-sweet smile you ever saw said, 'Well, I'm sorry, but I really should eat. Maybe we'll chat later.'

'Oh, yeah, right. I got you then.' And he turned to go.

His friend immediately slapped him on the back as though he had made the most admirable conquest. 'Gettin' into that!' he said.

'D*mn straight,' the first idiot said. 'I'll be getting deep into it.' And they were gone away then.

'Sheesh, child,' Josie teased her as we sat down. 'You really know how to pick them!'

I laughed. 'Well what could be said is that they really know how to pick Jessy.'

She looked at me. 'Did he say what I think I heard him say?'

The other girls laughed. '"Deep into it",' Rita repeated.

'Oh, can you wait?' Josie teased. We all laughed then.

Jessy went bright red. 'I really don't know him at all,' she said. 'He just came up to me, and--'

I rubbed her back. 'You did fine, love. Welcome to the wonderful world of rude guys.'

She was still blushing. For a moment she leaned over as though to lean on my shoulder. Then Josie suggested we all go up for something to eat.

I do worry about my little sister. I know I often go on about how gorgeous she is, as though I have some kind of weird attraction to her. Well, my attraction to her is that she is a kind of role model to me, she is beautiful and virtuous and clever and sweet, and she is my sister, so naturally I adore her. She is my closest relative and always will be. And I know she admires and respects and feels attracted to me in the same way. We are each other's soulmates. And I will always worry about her, how she is doing in school, in her job, and in her love life. And if I can protect her from harm and evil I will.

The idiot in the South Pole shirt is about the worst example of a guy I can imagine that would show interest in her. He is evil-- probably put up to it by peer pressure, not his genuine feelings. He sees Jessy as a potential conquest, a shot at having a nice blonde virgin all to himself. This is the kind of guy that makes me want to get out the bow and arrow and go hunting, like Diana, the goddess of chastity, to find this guy in the woods and put an arrow where it'd make him never be able to abuse another girl again.

The lesson is simple-- if you mess with my sister, you have me to deal with. Good hunting.


14 October 2009

The Gothic Virgin

Tuesday 13 October 2009

There is a girl called Sarah who sits next to me in one of my classes and who is what is commonly called a Goth. She wears all the black clothes and the ugly black bulky boots and keeps to herself a lot. Since I have got to know her a little I have never seen her with any boys in any kind of relationship that you could call a relationship. For that matter she seems to be such a loner that I do not see her with any girls either. As part of class activities I have had to meet her and to work with her on projects and have found she has very pretty eyes-- behind all that dark makeup-- and she has a pretty smile-- if she would do it more often. It makes me wonder why anyone would want to present herself the way that she does when a more flattering makeover and the right clothes would get her all the best attention anyone has a right to.

Anyway we have already progressed to where we say hello to each other in the corridors regularly. A few people whom I do not know well have asked me, 'You KNOW that girl?' When I say that of course I do they will say, 'Isn't she a little weird?'

I laugh at this, the way I laugh at anyone who judges my friends before knowing them as well as I do. The other day I answered someone, 'She's only unique, the same way we all are.'

The girl then said, 'But you're so straight and prep, and she's so....'

'What?' I asked with a smile.

'Weird.' And that wasn't meant as a good thing.

Monday afternoon I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something that I always like to do. Jessy was going to Josie's-- they have the same history class and are partners in the group project. Josie's mother picked them up at school and off they went. I was dangling my car keys from my fingers and watching them go when my friend Sarah happened to be walking by. I turned, just perceiving her out the corner of my eye, and she made a smile at me and said, 'Hi, Janine.'

She always says hi to me because I am one of the few people who say hi to her. 'Hi, Sarah,' I said. Then something occurred to me. 'Hey. Do you need a ride or something?'

She stopped. Two people right behind her had to dodge her. For a moment she just stood there staring at me, like she couldn't believe I'd asked that. She had on a little black miniskirt over black-and-white tights in a skulls-and-stripes pattern, a long-sleeved black jersey and over it a loose black tanktop decorated in an abstract design of silver and lime-green gel pen, about three chains of varying styles round her neck, black leather wristlets and those horrid high platform boots with buckles up the back of her leg. Her hair (today) was dyed partly turquoise-blue and the rest jet-black, pulled off to one side and left hanging ironed straight like a cartoon of a witch. And, of course, there was that makeup-- bright pink here, pale blue there, black here, there, everywhere, with her pretty lashes done wickedly thick and separate almost like little spikes coming out of her eyelids. By contrast I was only in my pale tan pumps and navy tights and a plain white sweatshirt pulled down low over a khaki skirt.

'I usually just walk,' she said to me.

I shrugged. 'I know,' I said. 'But I go right by you.' --meaning where she lives. I've seen her walking along the road. She lives down along one of the shore access roads where almost no one else from school goes. Why I have never thought to offer her a ride when we've been friendly in school for a month till now is anyone's guess. --or just a sin. 'I'm going to B-and-G's,' I said. 'I mean-- I could murder a Dr Pepper right now.'

She laughed. (When was the last time you saw a Goth girl laugh?) 'I probably could too, but I don't have any money--'

'I'm buying,' I said, and then turned from the kerb. 'Come on.'

She shrugged and then looked about herself, as though she were nervous about being seen going off anywhere with a natural-blonde priss.

In the Regal I put in the clutch to start the motor and she said, 'I didn't know you drive a stick.'

I shrugged. 'My dad insisted that I learn.'

'This is a cool car,' she said, looking round at it.

I suppose the Regal is very unlike her-- it's a light blue metallic with a white top and white leather seats and there's nothing even remotely Goth about it. I admit she looked really odd sitting where Jessy usually sits. But I always accept friends the way they want to be accepted. I believe that's a form of Christian love. 'It's technically my dad's,' I told her. 'He collects Buicks. This is the one he lets me use.'

She smiled. 'My dad won't let me have one,' she said.

'Well,' I teased her, as we started off, 'you've got those boots. He probably thinks you can walk home in those.'

She laughed. 'I....' But she stopped.



I laughed. 'No, tell me.'

'I've never met anyone like you.'

I shrugged. 'So? I've never met anyone like you. It doesn't mean we're not friends.'

'Yes,' she said, and smiled again, as though really proud of herself all of a sudden. 'It doesn't.'

I drove and she sat there, staring out the window most of the time and occasionally looking down at my leg. I don't think she'd ever seen a priss in a skirt drive a stick before. Actually I am pretty good at both-- being a priss in a skirt and driving a stick. At one light we pulled up next to some boys in a pickup truck and they, of course, looked down at us. I had my window open a little and they leaned out. 'Hey!' they yelled. 'You girls looking for a party?'

It was not even three o'clock! --what kind of party would that be? I ignored them as the light had gone green and we drove off. Beside me Sarah laughed. 'Not your type?'

I laughed too. 'Not yours?'

We both laughed hard then. Fortunately the guys in the red pickup truck turned left. After another minute Sarah asked me, 'You don't date much, do you?'

'No,' I said.

'Why not?'

I shrugged. 'I don't feel a need to be attached to someone who isn't really a part of my life. And anyway no one ever asks me.'

She made a sound like scoffing at me. 'I can't believe that,' she said. 'You're a....' And she would not finish.

'I'm a what?' I asked, pretending I would be offended.

'Nothing. Well-- what is the expression? You're... a regulation hottie.'

I laughed out loud. 'Oh, you are too funny!'

'What?' she asked, looking worried.

'Sarah... dear Sarah. I am NOT a "hottie".'

She shrugged. 'I would have assumed guys would think you are.'

'No. Guys don't like intellectual chicks. You of all people should know that.'

She shrugged again-- she does it a lot. 'Some guys do. I know guys who do.'

I nodded then. 'I guess you do. Anyway, as I said, I do not care to date.'

'Okay,' she said.

At the B&G we got out and went through the shop, choosing soft drinks for ourselves and stopping at the counter. Sarah started to open her black-and-grey canvas bag and I stopped her. 'No, love,' I said. 'On me.'

She got a little red-- if you could tell. 'Thank you,' she said softly.

In the car we opened the drinks before I started the motor again. 'You don't date either,' I observed.


'Why not?'

She shrugged again. 'I guess I would rather be friends,' she said. 'And anyway no one ever asks me.'

I lifted an eyebrow at her. 'That surprises me too.'


'I would think most guys would think you are hot.'

She made a face. 'Not around here. These guys are....'

I held up a finger. 'Don't be cruel,' I cautioned.

She smiled. 'All right. I was going to say "unenlightened".'

I nodded. 'Yes. There's that, true. But some are all right.'

'I suppose so.' She looked at me a moment. 'So what is this about this so-called girls' club?' she asked.

At last something I wanted to talk about with her! 'It's just a group of girls,' I said. 'We get together and plan things, and raise money for charity.'

She nodded. 'It sounds like one of those sororities in all those movies.'

'Like in "Greek"?'

'Yes. I don't really watch it, but--'

'No, neither do I, not any more.'

'So it's a club for all the pretty girls. The....' And she stopped.

'The prisses?' I smiled.

'Well... yes.'

'I don't look at "priss" like a bad thing, you know. In certain ways, it should be the very best thing. Well-- you know.'

She nodded. 'I know what you mean.'

We met eyes. 'Do you?'

She nodded and sipped her YooHoo. 'You're all the good girls.'

'We are, Sarah. I mean-- that is sort of the whole point.'

She turned and stared out the window. An older guy got out of a pickup truck, sort of stared at her as he went into the store, and then gave up on her. I imagine most men treat her like that... from appearances. 'I used to be a good girl,' she said, as though I were not there.

I smiled a little. 'You're not now?'

She shrugged. 'No.... Well-- I still am--' She got red. 'Parts of me are.'

'The important parts?'

She turned and looked at me. I could not be sure but her eyes seemed wet then. 'Yes. Those parts.'

I was suddenly moved to reach over and pat her hand. 'Well that's something that matters, then. So long as you keep yourself.'

She nodded and met my eyes again. 'That's what I keep telling myself.'

I smiled right at her then. 'You're not wrong,' I said softly to her.

'People don't believe that I am,' she said.

'I would have believed it, even if you didn't say.'

'I would have believed it about you too.'

I laughed. 'I should hope so!'

'Yes, but you-- you could have anyone. They must be ready to kill themselves over you. You know, which one--'

I was nodding. 'I know. But none of them will.'

She made a smile then. 'You know, you're really not how I expected you'd be. You seem... stronger.'

'I am, hun.'

She smiled more, right at me. I don't think any other girl has ever called her 'hun'. I call everyone 'hun'. Just then she caught sight of the little cross dangling from my mirror. 'So, you're Christian, huh?'

I nodded. 'Of course.'

'I used to be.... Now-- I'm not so sure.' She looked down. 'You'd probably say I'm going to hell then.'

'No Christian would say that,' I told her.

She looked at me again. She felt awkward, being with me, but she was also very brave. She doesn't shrink from the obvious-- she doesn't live in denial. This is why I respect her. 'Well... people have said it.'

'Your family?' She nodded. 'Other people?' She nodded again. 'Sarah, people do not judge. I mean-- they do, but they shouldn't. They must not. We're all here to love each other.'

She nodded again. Now she did blot her eye. 'I just wish....'


'Nothing. Really, nothing. Can we-- Can you just take me home?'

'Of course.' I started the motor and we headed out. I knew mostly her way home as I have seen her on the road. Almost to our turn she pointed and I turned down a narrow road, bordered with the wild tall grass that's all over along the oceanside, riddled with mosquitoes in summer and seething with cicadas and locusts on hot nights. Her house is a small white bungalow on a raised foundation with a three-car garage out back where her father repairs small engines as a hobby and sometimes as a job. A little black dog ran out to greet the car as I turned in.

'Sorry,' Sarah said, looking away for a moment. 'It's not much, but--'

'It's nice,' I said. Truly it looked like the many houses on Long Beach Island and in Lewes where I grew up.

'It isn't, but....' Then she turned to me. 'And sorry about before. I just....'


She stared at the cross on the mirror. 'Nothing. I shouldn't have--' She blotted an eye. 'You are....'

I waited and then she finished herself.

'You are a good friend,' she said.

I smiled at her. 'So are you. I'm sorry if you ever thought I wouldn't be.'

'No,' she said. 'I mean-- I did think you would be... just not....'

I frowned. I don't like to make her feel uncomfortable but sometimes she stops like that and I really think she should finish her thought. None of her thoughts are irrelevant. 'What?'

She met my eyes then. 'Just not to me,' she finished.

I smiled and took her hand in the car. 'But I would be,' I told her.

She nodded. 'I know. And thanks.'

We smiled at each other. 'See you tomorrow,' I said.

'Yes.' She squeezed my hand and got out.

I watched her stoop down and greet the little dog, pick him up and then turn him towards the car to wave his little arm at me. I laughed and waved back, like to a child. Her mother came to the door then and waved at me. I hooted the horn a little as I reversed out.

Sarah isn't weird at all. That's the tragic part-- that she thinks she is, and yet she is totally normal. I have not yet asked her about her reasons for doing the whole Goth fashion thing, but I learned something about her this afternoon-- that if not for the black clothes and bizarre eye makeup and hairstyles, and if not for those boots, she could be one of us. She could be any other member of the girls' club. Oh, I don't think I will 'convert' her or anything like that. But there is something just under her surface that's trying to claw its way out, and I think she wants to be free of something. It's said many Goths are just in hiding, and if no one comes looking for them they will stay under cover, burrow even deeper, and close themselves off to the world. I don't believe that's ever a good strategy, for Goths or for anyone. It could be said I hide from the world too-- I'm the priss, the 'good girl', with this facade of my father's money and reputation and the house and the shiny blue car and the beautiful sister and our nice clothes and English education and all that. But anyone can know that about me-- I don't even wait to be asked (such as with this blog!). I know some people are not so bold. They need to be asked, to be drawn out, to be welcomed into the world. And as part of that process they need to face why they have been in hiding. It's how the divisions are mended and the injuries are healed.

I will ask Sarah.


10 October 2009

About uni

Friday, 9 October 2009

I have been on the fence about uni for about three months, sitting on all six acceptance letters and worrying about having to make up my future. I have been telling other people and myself that I've narrowed it down to either University of Delaware or University of East Anglia in England. Then I got a lovely instant message from Shirley, one of my friends from HOH over in England. We tapped into our computers for half the evening and when we had signed off (too late for her, nearly 11.00 pm here) I stared at her last message for about five minutes doing nothing else. 'See you soon!' she had typed to me. I got a tear in my eye. Straight away I opened Safari and looked up the university web site. Naturally I made sure my first message had gone through and been received before sending the other one.

The second one was to U Delaware.

My whole system has been upset for about three days and this morning I finally got the email to settle my tummy. Of course I had let a few key people know of my decision, but the email from Shirley was worth all the wait. So we have a tentative date to lunch the day after I arrive-- next September! It's good because I will be here or working the ice-cream shop in New Jersey all summer first. Classes start at Michaelmas. I will have three or four friends from HOH there, as UEA is sort of the local school, and Shirley, who will be one year ahead of me (for having continued to 6th form at HOH when I had to return to the US for 11th grade) wants to be my roommie. I will be among familiar people and in a land I love, and Daddy and Mother have promised to visit often and to request my presence home to Terncote for every holiday. In the meantime Jessy and I shall plan a visit over our Easter break-- and I will have shopping to do and people to catch up with. I am excited-- and eager for the challenge of making it work.

Thanks be to God.


Wet black cotton panties

Wednesday, 7 October

The weather continues variable. Yesterday it was windy and cold, horrid really. Salt spray whipped up in the Bay and blew against my windows. Half the chairs in the terrace were blown across against the garden wall. Mother said the table tipped over once and the umbrella which is canvas over a wooden frame went over and carried the table with it till it landed in the flower beds and the wooden umbrella frame broke. As I write Daddy has it down in the garage to glue it.

Then, of course, today was warm, hot really, still, sunny and hot. I ran into the house with Jessy and Josie and we all started getting out of our clothes like we did the other day. Only this time the competition was even fiercer! I had the skirt and my top off by the time I got out the back doors and Jessy was tripping over her panties as she skipped down to the pool. Her friend Josie, however, beat us both and bounded spread-legged, mid-stride, into the middle of the pool. I gave it over and dove in with my panties still on. Those two laughed but really I didn't care. I've done it before, you know.

To make good on my promise I just began swimming my laps from where I came up. I always swim true competitive crawl stroke, with a combination flutter/scissors kick that my father taught me about ten years ago. And I do proper flip-turns at each end, every twelve and a half metres. Josie said she was impressed and actually tried to stay with me for a few laps, but she gave it over and ended up lounging in the corner with Josie.

When Mother got back with little Lisa they came out onto the terrace. Jessy told her about my frustration at not getting out my my panties fast enough and Mother just laughed. Then Lisa accepted the dare-- who dared her, no-one knows! --and undressed right there beside the pool. Josie cheered her on. She and Josie have a kind of unspoken symbiosis, as though they are twin sisters of different mothers, somehow. Lisa adores her and Josie is always doting to Lisa, making her feel welcome as one of us even though she's ten years younger and gets scarcely any of our references. Lisa does things-- like this for example-- as a way of earning Josie's respect and acceptance, the same way she does to gain Jessy's. That leaves me to be the 'wet blanket' always keeping the others in line, but they do heed me when I have some sense to say and we're never at opposite ends of anything where propriety is concerned.

After my 25 laps I rested in the other corner of the pool. I really should have timed myself because I really think my time today was better than most. I stopped timing myself long ago-- there really isn't any point. I don't compete any more and am probably too old to join the high-school team now. And I'm not going to focus on sport at university.

We lolled round the pool till it started to cool off too much and then all repaired to Jessy's room for the usual Facebooking and Twittering. I have not updated my Facebook in ages and actually dared to put on some of the pics we took last time we jumped into the pool like that-- of course we're naked in the pics but they don't show anything terrible! Some colleges look at that, you know. I went on MySpace and responded to the usual email requests. One girl from Connecticut told me she had seen me at the Shore this past summer and wanted to know where I shop. Another girl who is 14 asked me if I have ever done any babysitting for strangers. Many of the others asked me what my plans are for attending concerts this fall and I did tell her about Hey Monday coming to Philadelphia. I dispensed my usual brand of long-winded advice and updated the page with a few dates and stuff. That's the kind of thing I get, you know... thanks to Daddy of course.

Oh, and I did get out of the wet panties and put on some dry ones, and a flannie as a cover-up, for supper when Daddy came home. Josie stayed and then her mother collected her after we had played Pictionary with Lisa. That's the kind of thing I prefer to do... thanks to myself, of course.


05 October 2009

Another mid-night hugfest

from Sunday, 4 October 2009

For the last few evenings I have been sitting up in my room typing online and writing in journals and sending email-- probably making up for having been out-of-touch when I was sick last week. Usually I am in my cover-up shirt-- as I have described it to so many people online, it's a men's shirt from like the '70s in white cotton and decorated in blue ruffles and stuff round the collar and little tuxedo buttons. I thought it was a women's shirt when I found it on the rack at the thrift shop which Jessy and I visit often, just for fun. But it buttons the other way-- so it's a men's. It is almost my size being only a little too big and it makes a good swimsuit cover-up, and so I have used it on the beach or round the house for over a year now. Jessy has another shirt for the same purpose but hers is a faded bright red and a little heavier, almost like a flannie.

Sometimes I wear the cover-up shirt round the house, maybe with socks if my feet are cold or sandals or even shoes if I feel like it... and nothing else. It's acceptable enough if I keep it closed. For a while I was using a little silver belt round my waist to hold it closed, but that got awkward because the pleats down the front get twisted and wrinkled. And I'd rather not have to iron something I used only as a cover-up, you know.

I was sitting here last night typing like crazy when I heard Lisa saying something in her bed. She gets tucked-in round 8.00 and normally goes out like a light. Here it was past 9.30 and she was up and upset about something. I got up, wrapped my arms round myself to hold the short closed, and tiptoed into her room.

'Hey,' I whispered. 'Are you okay?'

'Janine?' she called from the darkness.

Without putting on a light I shuffled in and sat on the side of her bed. 'I'm here, sweetie. What's wrong?'

She sniffled. 'I had a bad dream,' she said.

'Awww, sweetie....' I reached out and she put her arms up and we hugged. I hung onto her nice and snugly for a few minutes without even saying anything. She is known for being a willingly snuggler and will happily hang onto any of us for as long as we can stand it. She nestled her head upon my chest and wrapped her little arms round my middle and made a very nice little package to hang onto. 'What was it about?' I asked her.

'Something was chasing me,' she whispered. 'I was outside looking for Mummy and you. I couldn't find you... and something came out of the bushes outside.'

'Awww.... Was it dark, in the dream?'


'Sweetie,' I said with a little smile. 'But you are never outside like that in the dark. You know it's only something like a dream then. When you woke up in your own bed, you knew you were safe and sound.'

She sniffled. 'I thought I heard it in my room,' she said.

'Shhh, shhh.... We both listened for like a full minute. Nothing came but the faint sound of Jessy typing away on her computer down the gallery. She had her headphones on and we could not even hear the hiss of her music. 'There's no one here but you and me,' I said.

'Will you sleep with me?' she asked.

'Oh, sweetie.... I will be up a whole longer. And this is your bed. You'll be fine here.'

'I don't want to be alone,' she said.

I gave her a big squeeze and then held her out in front of me. Her well-browned little body was as dark as the shadows of the room. 'But you are never alone,' I whispered to her. 'There is always someone here to care for you. You know that.'

She nodded and blotted her eyes. Then, impetuously, she put out her arms and caught me for a hug, this time reaching inside the shirt. It was only inadvertent, you know, but for a moment I felt strangely womanly, as though in that one moment Lisa were my own child. She lay her head right on top of my breast and sighed with her eyes closed. I wondered if she imagined the same thing too.

Mother and Daddy have their room on the other side of the main tower, in the same place as mine but down the other wing. Beside them is what was intended for the lady's parlour, now being used as J.J.'s nursery. The three of us girls are all up here in the north wing. If Lisa cries out, it's sort of implied that it's my job to get up and go see to her. Mother would never hear her, and of course their door is usually closed at night. My door (the one on the north gallery) is always open. Lisa has often wandered in late at night or early in the morning to snuggle with me, or sometimes Jessy, and she knows she is never unwelcome. In that way then I am sometimes the substitute mother down here.

When I was Lisa's age, my stepmother was our nanny and she was about the age I am now. I remember on the few times I had bad dreams she would tiptoe in to my room and ask in a gentle whisper if I were all right. Of course I loved my mother and trusted her implicitly, but I always felt special when our nanny came in to comfort me. She had a sweet, affectionate way with Jessy and me that came from loving us by choice-- she was not our mother, yet she chose to love us anyway, and I think we always felt comforted by that. Lisa is not my child, she is in fact only a half-sister, and I know in many families there is sometimes animosity between half-siblings over who gets the most attention. We have solved that in this house by making sure that we all pay attention to all the others. No one is immune to getting a hug round here. And as I have written before, no one is immune to getting scolded by someone older round here. Lisa has accidentally called me 'Mummy' more than a few times., because she accepts my authority and my affection, almost as though she had two mothers. I have never minded it. In many ways she is sort of a plaything for me, the one I get to practise playing mummy on myself. After all when our nanny became our stepmother none of us doubted that she would turn out to be as wonderful as she has, for she had experience in caring for us out of love. I know that, if God grants me the opportunity, I will have children and love and guide and hug them with all my heart. I believe that's the purpose of life. I only hope that from having been so attentive to little Lisa, I will be as good to my own children as my mother was, as our stepmother has been after her. and that they will adore me as much as I have adored my own mother, and my stepmother after her. There is a lot of love in this family.

I tucked Lisa back into her covers, bending down and kissing her forehead. She sighed, shifting her bottom into the bed a little, and smiled up at me. 'I love you, Janine,' she said softly.

'And I love you, sweet little princess. Do not worry about scary creatures in the night, all right? And if you are worried, you just run down the hall to my room and come in with me. Okay?'

She nodded. I was still bending over her and I saw her look down at me. From that time last year that little J.J. innocently touched me I know there is a certain appeal to how I look when I am assuming a motherly role for these little ones. It's because I am sort of built like Mother is. Jessy has the body of a ballerina, lithe and lovely-- she gets it from our own mommy. But I have the 'assets' (how I hate that term) that smaller children tend to associate with actual mothers, and since they have not seen their mother's own 'assets' since they stopped nursing, and since they see mine so much (as you must know) I think they tend to assume straight away that I am the second mother round here. But I don't mind. As I have told them before, I cannot help what God wanted me to look like. In fact maybe He let me look like this on purpose to be able to reassure a small child who wakes up in the night, too far from their own mother, so that she may feel she is safe and loved and home where she belongs, with a big sister who loves her for all the right reasons.

I returned to my room and sat back on my bed, in the dull bluish glow of the laptop screen, and felt a little shiver. I always get that shiver when something that has just passed has just gone so unbelievably RIGHT that I'm almost embarrassed or afraid to admit it, like after making a good impression on front of someone famous or acing an oral presentation in class or coming in from some really lovely date with a terrific guy who actually likes me and wants to see me again. It's God's way of patting me on the back-- 'Servant, well done.'

The next question I got on an AOL message was 'bra size?' Oh, well.


04 October 2009

Some rejuvenation

Saturday, 3 October

Now that I have got over the headcold (which was so awful I stayed home from school on Tuesday... and missed church for Michaelmas), I suppose it is time to get outside again whilst the weather still allows it. The day was expected to be cloudy but when Jessy and I awoke it was actually very lovely, sunny and clear with a very light breeze and, most importantly, warm. She came in when I was washing in my bathroom. 'Are you going out?' she asked me.

'Is it warm out?' I asked back.

'Does a fish live in the water?' She giggled.

We had both slept naked and so didn't put anything on... of course. Daddy had been up early and had already skimmed the pool. He believes in doing a little each day-- he calls it is 'exercise', though he does plenty o other things too and has always been in exceptionally good shape. The pool tends to get salty, especially with the weather we have had over the last week, but when I dove in this morning it was just about perfect. Being on the eastern side of the house it warms up early in mornings, even when you don't expect it to be a warm day. The house tends to block cooler western and south western breezes and the garden wall keeps it warm close to the terrace blocks... or in the water of course.

I did my 'usual' 25 laps, 312 metres of crawl stroke. To someone who has never tried it I can only say that swimming naked in the pool-- and I mean actually swimming, not just lolling round-- has got to be the most delightful thing in the world. I have remarked to some people-- usually online, though with others too-- when they wonder if it is 'arousing', that yes, it definitely is, but I don't think they understand what the arousal is really like. I would not say it is sexual. There is that, of course, in every form of excitement, tingles in certain places, goosepimples on the chest, bottom feeling tight, legs quivering, you know how that is. But I would rather say it is physical. The physical activity of swimming pretty much dispels the pent-up energy-- you have something to do and something to concentrate on, and even if it's hard, such as it was for me round lap 18 today when I was coming off six days of rain during which I felt too awful to do much more than sleep, you cherish it. Swimming is never a burden for me. I could do it all day if my body would allow it. My record is about 125 laps of this pool, nonstop-- that's like a mile, and I only stopped when I realised it was like a mile (and yes, it was naked too). I would do more if I had nothing better to do. What I am calling arousal is that very fine little vibration you get all over your whole body, feeling the water envelop you like sweet syrup round every part, feeling the chlorine in your face as you pump arm-over-arm, feeling it sweep by you and break round every leading-edge of your body as though you are sleek shiny porpoise perfectly at-home in your favourite environment. And yes, your heart quickens and your skin creeps with something like arousal, but it's everything together. It does NOT make me feel horny. It makes me feel acutely alive. That's the best way to describe it.

Mother came out, with little J.J. and some gardening things, and Jessy and I spent maybe half an hour going round the gardens that surround our pool pulling leaves and other bits out of where they do not belong. J.J. teased Jessy about being bare, as he often does, and in the course of her labours Jessy had to crawl in past the bluebells she ended up right on her tummy in the loamish soil and emerged blotted with bits of it all over her. 'Ha-ha,' J.J. taunted. 'You've got it on your....' And he pointed.

Jessy giggled, looking down at herself. I won't say where it had got to-- but it wasn't anywhere most people have to worry about getting dirty! She stood there blotting things off herself and J.J. was only pointing. 'Im a mess,' Jessy said.

'There's more,' he said, pointing. She bent farther and looked. 'On your....'

'Just say "crutch",' she said gently to him, and I saw her pulling a little stick out of her maidenhair. J.J. wrinkled his nose at her. 'It's only part of me,' Jessy said in that sweet tone.

'Why is it fuzzy?'

Jessy only laughed. 'Because it is. It's what God wants me to look like. You know that.'

He nodded-- he has heard that before. 'Well this is what God wants me to look like.'

Of course J.J. does not go in for our girlish antics. Today he was working in the yard with blue jeans having big thick patches on the knees, a Batman t-shirt and an important-looking black canvas belt with a few packets of this and that and his water-pistol mounted on it. He takes work seriously, you know. 'And you are very sharp and handsome,' she said, and bent down and kissed his head. 'I am glad I have such a good brother.'

He shivered from the kiss and turned to go back to where Mother was weeding a little.

Later in the afternoon it became cloudy and I came up here and typed a little. I have had this awful assignment on the Norman conquest to do and it's been dragging so long-- my first draught was rejected my the teacher for not having enough sources. I learned all this when I was at HOH! --why do I have to cite sources when it's just common knowledge. But my history teacher does not have the benefit of having gone to school in England. It's different there. Would you have to cite sources to say that the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia?

Round 3.00 I heard an airplane coming in low over the Bay out back. Daddy was out back raking down by the water and cried out, 'Holy cow! Look at this!' I bounded up and ran to the window. At that moment an old-fashioned biplane went buzzing right by the house, about 100 feet off the water and barely 300 yards from my window. It pulled up just north of us and circled round above the fishing wharf, and we could hear it going round again past the road. 'Wow,' I said.

Below me, Jessy emerged-- fortunately with a shirt on-- and I grabbed mine off the chair and ran down to the little parlour. Out in the garden Daddy had his mobile phone up, taking pictures. The airplane wasn't exactly circling us, you know-- he was just buzzing the general neighbourhood, but I knew Daddy wanted to take pictures for two reasons. One was because it was an amazing sight-- when was the last time any of us saw a 70-year-old airplane fly by like this? And the other reason was that the pilot was technically breaking the law-- flying too low and performing what could be called stunt flying over a populated area (if you can call our road 'populated'!). So his pictures would get the airplane's number. The airplane went wide round the whole community and then went round way south of us, dropping down low again and buzzed straight up the bay, very low this time, ripping right by our house. Jessy and I stood holding our arms folded in front of ourselves, mainly to keep our cover-up shirts closed (hah!) and Daddy stood with his arm extended snapping pictures. The pilot looked out for a split second and waved. I think maybe he thought Daddy was waving, but then he must have realised that he was taking pictures and just blew out of sight around to the north and west of us, towards the airport actually, maybe feeling worried that with the pictures we could report him. That's Daddy's way-- if there is anything that could be taken as a threat to our security here, he will counter with a kind of offence against the offender. This is how he has dealt with invasive paparazzi all these years and it's actually enabled us to live a pretty normal life.

After that bit of excitement Jessy and I came back in, because it was getting chilly. I had socks on for a while. Josie came over after supper and the three of us, and Lisa, went down stairs to watch Branagh's 'Much Ado' (Jessy's choice). It was a pleasant day, all the more so because it was the first nice day I've had since before I got sick. I only hope tomorrow will be better.