Sunday, May 15, 2011

Idea Garage Sale: Trina and the Zit that Would Not Die

The doctor called it a cyst.
Mom called it a boil.
Trina called it the zit that would not die, and there was no way she was going to school with it.
"You've already been to school with it for a month," said Mom.
"It was hidden under my hair then," Trina pointed out. "Now it's got black drawing salve all over it and a big grody bandage and nobody will not know it's there. I'd rather die."
"That could be arranged," said Ethan brightly.
Trina ignored him. Ignoring little brothers was the only possible way to deal with them. Her ambition was to get through an entire month without acknowledging his existence. It'd be a cinch, if they had a decent number of bathrooms.
"You can't stay home from school for a whole week," said Mom. "You'll spoil your average."
"Not if Sabrina brings me my assignments," said Trina. "These classes are a waste, Mom. I keep telling you. I should be in college right now."
Which led into that argument, and in the end Mom thought the idea of not going to school was done with. You'd think, thought Trina, that she'd know her own daughter better than that. Dad wouldn't have fallen for it. No way. But one of the reasons it was better to live with Mom than with Dad was because she couldn't keep ahead of her and prevent things from happening. As long as Trina got into Sabrina's car when she came by in the morning, Mom thought she'd wind up at school.
Ah, the innocence of adulthood.
"What is that on your neck?" demanded Sabrina as Trina climbed in through the open passenger window. The passenger-side door had jammed shut after Sabrina's older sister Callista had a little argument with a phone pole, which was a good thing, in a way, because now Callista was taking the bus and Sabrina had wheels. Just not doors.
"The zit that would not die," answered Trina, buckling up as they roared away from the curb. "The doctor said I had to wear this gunk for a week and come back Saturday to have it removed."
"It looks like tar," said Sabrina. "You're going around school like that for a week?"
"No," said Trina. "You're dropping me at the park-n-ride in the morning and picking me up there in the evening. With my assignments." She unzipped the side pocket of her book bag and passed over the forged medical excuse. "I'll call from a pay phone to back that up."
"And you're doing what all day long while I'm lying to cover your hiney?" inquired Sabrina.
"Exploring the infinite possibilities of real life," said Trina.
"That's great," said Sabrina. "But what do you do when your credit cards are full? And do I get to hide the shopping bags, too?"

You can tell this is old - what teen ager today even knows where to look for a pay phone?

Yes. I had a boil on the back of my neck covered with drawing salve, and drawing salve looks like tar. It didn't bother me much - grown woman, long hair - but the stuff would have sent most of the girls I knew in high school into prolonged spasms of life-ending despair. I still think it's a viably funny way to start a book. But starting with this situation, there were way too many directions to go and none of them compelled me: coming of age, action thriller, farce, morality play. And I don't actually like girls like Trina enough to want to go along with her for an entire novel. I'd be in danger of using her as a straw girl to make some point or other.

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