The next morning, I find my dad in the kitchen, hunched over a cup of coffee, chuckling to himself as
he reads the Sunday Funnies. I try not to be annoyed by his constant good cheer, a side effect of dating
Marisol's mom, Leslie, or to compare his happiness to my sometimes loneliness, which feels more
pronounced today because of last night's run in with Danny. Instead, I pull a water bottle from the fridge
and play the role of the good daughter by asking, "Fun night?"
He sets down his newspaper, a somewhat goofy smile on his face, and says, "Yes, it was. How about
you? How was prom? Did you try those dance moves we practiced?" By moves he means the Electric Slide
and Moonwalk. Apparently, crowd pleasers in the olden days, and the only two dance moves I'm insanely
good at (chalk this up to weird genetics), a fact I did not make public last night.
"It's homecoming, Dad. Prom's not 'til May. And, yeah, we danced. It was grand." Grand is a lie. At
best, it was okay. And we only danced after Danny and Tamara left, making it a less panic-inducing event
to toss my body around in foolish positions. Not that Danny would have bothered to watch anyway. After
Tamara's M-bomb, he avoided me like a plague.
"And where were you when I got home last night?" I turn the conversation towards his recent habit
of missing my 1 a.m. curfew. This isn't the first time I've broached the subject. Nor is it the first time
he pretends not to hear me, while staring at something more interesting outside and/or taking dramatic
slurps of his coffee, a behavior that once drove my mom crazy and now drives me crazy. "Dad? I asked you
"Huh?" He glances at me, like he's surprised to find me still standing there.
"Last night? Curfew? Where were you?"
"At Leslie's. You know that. And I don't have a curfew. You do." He gives me a look, one that lets me
know I'm crossing the line, that irrational parent line that says, I'm the guardian of your whole existence,
and you better not question me if you want to enjoy the lifestyle you've grown accustomed to.
But I've never cared about crossing that line, so I step over it and say, "If you're not around to notice
I'm making curfew, then maybe it isn't all that important." He gives me another look, and this time, I give
it back. The thing is I'm not trying to be a terrible, controlling daughter; I just hate coming home to an
empty house. And isn't this how it's supposed to work, anyway? Kids have curfews and loving parents are
actually home to monitor those curfews. "What if I never came home last night? Who would have known?"
"Susie." His tone is serious now. "I trust you to make your curfew. I don't think you need me to
stand guard. And you have your cell phone for emergencies." He holds my stare for a second, and then
returns to his reading, a clear sign he's telling me to move along. Fine.
"Marisol's coming over... if you care." Even though he's still staring at the paper, I can see his eyes
roll, but my snottiness does not elicit a comment. I open the fridge again and grab the first green vegetable I
see. Not exactly a cucumber, but it'll do. When I turn around, releasing a heavy sigh, my dad glances up
and gives me a quizzical look. "What are you going to do with that?"
"Bags." I point grumpily to the puffy, peanut-sized spots beneath my eyes.
"You're sixteen. You don't have bags," he says.
"Be Fabulous says you can have bags by the time you're sixteen."
"And when did you start reading mindless magazines?"
"Leslie bought me a subscription," I say, sweetly. And then, for the hell of it and also because BF
says sometimes to get what you want--in this case, a little R.E.S.P.E.C.T.--you have to make a scene, I
stomp off to my bedroom, slamming the door shut behind me.
A short while later, Marisol discovers me lounging on my bed, trying to become one with the zucchini.
Well, the peanuts beneath my eyes are trying. The rest of me is very un-Zen-like, obsessing over last
"Mmm." Marisol plops down beside me and playfully bites my arm. "Still raw."
"Tell me about it," I say.
"You know, I'm pretty sure there's a reason why magazines specify using cucumbers."
"Why?" I open my eyes. Marisol hovers above me, a smile on her lips. I wonder if having a
psychologist for a mom means you're destined to be well-adjusted.
"No clue. You smell edible, though," she says. She tosses the zucchini slices across the room to Mogley,
my dog, who until that moment was happily dozing on a sunny spot of carpet. He sniffs the produce, before
nudging it aside, and resuming his nap. Marisol looks disappointed. "So, about last night, not exactly over
This is the beauty of Marisol. She doesn't avoid uncomfortable conversations. This is also the problem
with Marisol; she's always up in someone's business, typically mine.
"I am over him." The stress is on the entire sentence, like if I say it with enough force, it might be true.
"Then, what was last night about?"
I'm not quite sure how to explain my behavior last night, but I give it a shot. "It's like my brain says
get over him, because he dumped me, and he's only spoken to me twice since September. And he and
Tamara have been together now for, like, eight months. That's a long time. But..." Suddenly, I am incredibly
hot. I pause to push my comforter off my legs and roll onto my belly, trying to find a comfortable position,
but no matter if I move my legs here or there, I still feel oppressed by my own skin.
"But?" Marisol prompts, impatiently.
"But... my heart." I sigh, frustrated. "I just don't really have any control over my heart." And this is
the truth. This is the conclusion I was drifting towards before Marisol opened my bedroom door. When
it came to Danny Diaz, my heart just didn't understand logic, or, apparently, time. I should be over him,
but I'm not.
Usually, in these situations, Marisol is brimming with good daughter-of-a-therapist-advice, but right
now she's silent. The only noises between us are Mogley's weird dog-snores and the whooshing of stirred,
ceiling-fan air. Finally, she says, "You know, Danny was the first guy you ever really let yourself
like. And he really did like you back. It's not like you imagined that. But it ended too soon. I mean, normally
what happens is you date and if you don't like each other, you break up. But if you do like each other, you
keep dating. You two had, like, no natural relationship cycle..."
Hearing Marisol say natural relationship cycle makes me laugh.
"Why is that funny?"
"I just think you're really taking to your psychology class, that's all." This year Marisol's electives
include psychology and cinema, all for the sake of figuring out whether she wants to be a movie critic or a
therapist. The two occupations are eerily similar, she says, except with one you only get to psychoanalyze
"Focus," Marisol says, sternly. She pinches my upper arm. "I'm serious. You lied to Danny and that's
what killed your relationship--"
"Almost relationship," I correct, because I hardly think a few kisses and non-tutoring hangout
sessions constitutes an actual relationship.
"Okay," Marisol says, "your almost-relationship. So, it makes sense that you would have some
unresolved issues about the whole thing. You two haven't even really talked about what happened."
"But that's not true! We talked about it in Mr. Murphy's classroom." Just bringing up that last real
conversation with Danny makes me a bit queasy. I can still recall how empty his penny-colored eyes
looked when he said he didn't trust me anymore. "I begged him. And he still dated Tamara, like, right away.
If that doesn't say everything, what does?"
"Yeah," Marisol sighs, "you did beg, and he is dating Tamara, but think about this: He was so mad
at you in that classroom. You don't bother to get that mad at someone, unless you really care. And intense
feelings like that don't magically disappear just because you start dating someone else." She crosses her
legs, her forearms resting passively on her thighs, like she's about to meditate on my situation. "What you
need to figure out is if you still want to be with Danny."
I feel annoyed with her. What difference does it make if I want to be with him? He certainly doesn't
want to be with me.
"All I'm saying," Marisol continues, "is that if you still have feelings for him, you should tell him, so
you can let all this go."
If she thinks that's a good idea, she must be losing her mind. "And how will that help me let it go?"
"Because," Marisol says, slowly, "you're running around lying to yourself and everyone else. You
have feelings for him. Tell him and let him decide what he wants to do about it. You know, it's been eight
months, maybe now he's really ready to listen and understand why you did what you did."
I'm about to protest, when I think: Wait. What if she's right? I mean, even if Danny and I don't get
back together, I still want him to believe that I'm sorry for everything that happened. And if he believes
that, then maybe, just maybe we can be friends again. Maybe you can just tell a guy how you feel and let
him decide for himself? No big deal, right? But does high school really work like that? Or would I tell Danny
about my feelings, only to have him reject me and tell Tamara, who would give me hell for the rest of the
year? Should I risk it all for the slim chance that something might change? Or should I stay quiet and
miserable? It had been eight months. How much could he still hate me if he asked me to save him a
yearbook picture? And if he's really over me, why was he so upset when Tamara mentioned Marc was my
date to homecoming?
"Just think about it," Marisol says, yawning. She leans back against a pillow and closes her eyes.
Twenty minutes later, she's fast asleep, with Mogley tucked against her thigh. I am awake. Above us, the
fan continues to whirl, the circling blades as fast and sharp as the questions inside me.