There are four minutes until class starts when Annie walks in. Her curly hair is the dustiest shade of blonde. The roots are greasy, and the curls are frizzy. Observing her profile, one can see that Amanda’s stomach curves outward, protruding past her modest breasts. A purse hangs on her side, and a pink backpack attaches to her back as well. Everything that hangs on to Annie clings onto her. Superfluous and unnecessary, she hardly notices its weight.
Jeremy slaps a newspaper down on her desk, “I didn’t know beasts wrote for the school paper.”
She takes a seat, staring at the desk.
“Shut up, Jeremy,” Kelly yells across the classroom, where the white walls are decorated with anti-smoking posters and a presidential timeline. Kelly, a senior candidate for Prom Queen, still lacks the status to actually quiet the muscular football player.
“No, no. I’m all for women’s rights but that’s just disgusting,” Jeremy justifies. “That’s not right.”
My boyish self sits quietly across the way, reacting to the news that Annie doesn’t shave her legs. We all know this because she chose to write about it for the school newspaper. The twelve-page school paper, usually bypassed by most now haunts the students with her confession. Sitting across from her in American Government, I imagine a leg similar to my own under her cheaply made, faded jeans.
A couple boys nod in agreement; some girls too. With the teacher still absent, Jeremy continues, “What about your armpits? Jesus fucking Christ, that takes two seconds. What are you trying to prove?”
“You think she’s trying to prove something?” Kelly defends, “Maybe it’s not a political statement or a reflection of laziness. Maybe its just hair.”
Mr. Stoik, the teacher, walks in sternly saying, “Newspapers down. I don’t want to hear about it.”
Annie dismisses his comment and refutes both Jeremy and Kelly: “Funny isn’t it? A little hair on my legs, and I’m the beast.”
Her blue eyes, on the verge of tears, glance in my direction. I notice her eyes purely frustrated with herself, with her own inability to articulate her passion.
During class, I contain my nerves and excitement, shaking my foot underneath the desk constantly. Once the bell rings, I run up next to Amanda in the hallway.
“Amanda, I just wanted to say that I think what you did was really cool.”
“No, Amanda, I’m serious,” I say, stepping in front of her so she recognizes my sincerity. “And I was wondering if we could - I mean if you would - want to get coffee sometime?"
She stops to look at me. Her eyes appear as a perfect blue in the midst of uneven skin and dishwater shaded hair. She blinks once then responds, “No.”
She turns to her locker. “Excuse me, Kyle.” A sophomore with acne sits in her way, and as he stands up, I can spot half of his Superman boxers. We stand in front of a row of blue lockers, being pushed by the whispering crowds walking past.
“Rough day?” Kyle asks, although I cannot decipher whether the comment is a question or a statement.
She nods, grunts actually. About to turn the dial of her lock, Annie notices the bolt has already been broken. The door opens, and a pile of bananas fall out from her locker.
“Who?” Kyle asks in dismay.
“What?” I say shocked.
“Real clever,” she sighs but her tone is firm. “I’m an ape. Get it?”
She grabs the banana, peels the yellow skin and takes a bite. A casual but sensual mouthful, a quiet but protesting nibble. An understatement but it’s mesmerizing all the same.
My mother knocks on my door when she gets home from work and asks, “Everything okay dear?”
I peek out from under my black covers, as my eyes adjust to the dim lit room. I stare at my mother. She’s a slim woman in her forties, wearing a pencil skirt, high heels and a tan blazer that appears a hue lighter than her leathery skin. My mom stands at the doorway, afraid to step into my room. An empty black room, only a giant poster of Fiona Apple hangs above my twin bed.
“I picked up pizza on my way home for work. I got half vegetarian, just for you.”
“You know, your father and I have our Botox appointments in thirty minutes but we shouldn’t be back too late.”
I roll over on my side and grunt, “Can you close the door please?”
She does, and I pull my covers over my head to think about Annie’s flawed legs.
I should paint her a portrait, trying to portray her frazzled hair and the peach and pink hues of her skin as infinitely perfect. Disheveled but not ugly. I’ll write her a letter, listing everything I want to know - her grandparent’s names, her favorite season, her best friends as a child, her thoughts on Malcolm X and organic farming. No, no, I’ll convince her to run away with me, taking her to mountains so we can be perfectly alone but hand in hand. I’ll donate money in her name. I’ll sponsor a child in
Instead, I wake up to gray skies and the patter of a spring drizzle. I skip showering in order to sleep longer and leave my two-story condo without a mumble to my parents. The intensity of the rainfall increases. My rain jacket shields my upper half but my jeans are now heavy and fall off my scrawny waist. Up ahead, a yellow umbrella comes into sight. Knowing its owner, I run up for cover, asking “Mind if we share?”
Slightly annoyed, Annie accommodates me, and my right side is kept dry by her umbrella.
“You know, I wasn’t kidding when I said what you did was really cool.”
“And Annie -” I stammer, with my hands in my pockets and my head tilted toward the pavement. “I wasn’t kidding when I asked you to coffee.”
She looks up, blinks once and then stares back down at her feet unconvinced.
“So what’s your answer?”
“I don’t know your intentions. Not with everything that’s been happening. I mean, you saw the bananas.”
In the most beautiful way, she makes sense. That’s why I fell in love with her. Four months ago, her logic left me drooling in infatuation. On the first day of American Government class, she argued with Mr. Stoik that fashion magazines were holding our fascist government in place. She insisted that everyone turns the page of their Cosmo, blindly giving all the power to wealthy men with corrupt intentions. My heart started racing, my mind started thinking naughty thoughts.
“And besides,” she adds, grabbing back my attention. “I don’t need a man.”
I step outside of the umbrella’s shield and hop in front of her. Standing outright in the rain with the gray sky as my backdrop, I insist “But Annie -- ”
Witnessing her crystal blue eyes confused, my brown eyes laugh at her intelligence for the first time.
“Who’s the man? Who’s the woman?” I say, lifting, my pant cuffs to reveal a muscular calf, smooth and hairless.
She looks at me, her head tilted in confusion staring at my leg without blinking at all. “What? Why’d you do that?”
“For you,” I mutter, feeling the rain pound down harder. Boisterous thunder makes a loud crack so I clarify my words over the noise: “I did it for you.”
Sally Weigel is a sophomore at DePaul University. While majoring in English, she spends her free time writing. Her first novella Too Young to Fall Asleep was published in 2009 by the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography (CCLAP). She enjoys riding her bike and reading Richard Brautigan novels.
Photo by Adam Lawrence.
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