The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland(3)By: Rebekah Crane
Vous avez mangé
Ils ont mangé
“This is exactly why she needs to go,” my mom complained, still talking about me like I wasn’t in the room.
The conjugating is a habit now. My grade at the end of the year was practically an A+.
“When you get back, all of this will be a memory. You’ll be a different person,” my mom said the night before I left, as my boyfriend and I sat around a bowl of organic vegetables and dip. I’ve been dating Coop for two years. His real name is Cooper. I’ve never told him, but I think both options are pretty terrible. Coop sounds like a date-raping football player who crushes beers on his head. And calling him Cooper sounds like I’m hollering for a dog.
I snapped a carrot in my mouth and nodded at my mom. The crunching sound was so loud in my ears it blocked out what everyone was saying.
When I’d eaten the entire bowl, I pulled Coop up to my room and we made out. It was the high point of the evening. And Coop isn’t that great of a kisser. He’s kind of slobbery, like a dog named Cooper.
When I got bored, I conjugated verbs. Kissing and conjugating go well together. They’re both French.
No. Going home isn’t an option, so I pick a dresser to unload my clothes, separating them into shirts, pants, and underthings including the pile of bras my mom packed. She set my bag at the foot of my bed the day I left and said, “There. All done.”
In French, fini.
She should have used those words years ago, but my mom isn’t one for letting go of things.
I take the bottom bunk, thinking it will be easier to get out of this place if it lights on fire and if I can get past the locked door. When I pull the sheets and quilt my mom has packed for bedding from my bag, my whole body sags. The tiredness is back, like gravity just doubled and my knees want to give out, but I force myself to make the bed, sure to do hospital corners like my mom taught me.
When I’m done, I stare at my neat work. A mosquito buzzes in my ear and I smack my hands together trying to kill it, but I miss. It’s back within seconds.
“Damn it.” I shake my head clear. But my bed sits there staring back at me. It’s as if there are a pair of eyes and a body and lungs just under the sheets, trying so hard to breathe. Trying hard but failing. Because, in the end, we all fail. We all sink to the bottom, no matter how many times someone tries to pull us back to the surface.
When I can’t stand looking at my finely made bed any longer, I mess it all up. I tear out the hospital corners and stuff the thin pastel flower quilt back in my bag, not caring if it’s folded properly, just that it’s out of sight. I sit down on the bed, out of breath, my chest heaving hard.
I’d rather freeze every night than sleep with that stuff.
“Fini,” I say. Shit. Talking to myself again. I look around, making sure no one saw me. But I’m alone. My family is across the country in Arizona and I’m in the middle of Michigan. I try hard to be sad about that fact, but it’s as if I’m grabbing for something that isn’t there. All I get is a handful of nothing. I’m just empty.
I walk out of the cabin into the swamp-like hot day, unsure of what to do next. But one thing is clear. I’d better stop talking to myself or people here will get the wrong idea.
Dear Mom and President Cleveland,
The odds of finding love are one in 285,000, but the probability of getting married is 80 percent. There seems to be a discrepancy here.
My parents told me a few months ago where exactly I would spend the summer. My dad put up his hand and pointed to the center of it.
“It’s right here, Zander. That’s where the camp is located,” he said. “Get it? Michigan is shaped like a glove.”
I didn’t respond so my mom added, “Arizona is miserable in the summer anyway. It’s a million degrees. You’ll like being away from here.” She looked at my dad with thin, tight lips. “Even if it is undesirable that you should be carted halfway across the world without your parents.”
“We agreed on this together, so don’t start with the hyperbole, Nina. The camp isn’t in India,” my dad said.
I watched a fly struggle in a spiderweb as my parents fought at the dinner table. I understood the fly well. No matter which way it turned, it was caught. What’s the use in fighting? You only end up more tangled.