Francine waited to hear her mom’s car go down the street before she got out of bed to make some breakfast. She wanted to enjoy her solitude before her brother woke up. Staring in the fridge she tried to remember what leftovers her mom had told her about. The cool temperatures floating out from the fridge made her decide quickly to create an egg and cheese quesadilla. Her cotton nightgown was not exactly keeping the morning chill away. She placed the egg carton, quesadilla shells and cheese on the counter, so she could quickly jaunt to her bedroom for a sweater. On the way she checked to see if the heater was on, yep, set at seventy degrees.
Sitting in her favorite chair in the living room, eating her breakfast while watching a YouTube video Francine heard her brother get up. As usual he headed straight to the bathroom and would likely be in there until he had taken a shower. Francine was enjoying a video from one of her favorite makeup girls, while she waited for her friends to wake, so they could start chatting via the airwaves. Maybe someone would want to go to the mall later, if her mom could give her a ride or maybe Frank could take her.
Francine had just celebrated her fifteenth birthday. Her mom and dad had booked a hotel room downtown for her and her friends to celebrate. It had been a fun day, starting out with shopping, then pizza and cake before heading to the hotel pool. She had lots of friends, well, I guess they were friends. Francine was a popular sophomore at her high school. She naturally excelled with her studies without too much work, which was good because she juggled playing basketball and singing in the choir. Fortunately both of her parents lived fairly close to the school, so if she had to, she could ride her bike back and forth. It became much easier once her brother got his driver’s license and mom gave him her old car.
Sitting in the chair, Francine’s black hair rested upon her shoulders. She had inherited her dad’s dark hair and her mom’s emerald eyes, it was a striking combination. Playing sports helped to keep her in shape, while all her social activities kept her more than busy. So far, she felt really lucky that her skin was still clear, maybe it was her dad’s Italian roots, giving her a slight olive complexion. Her brother took more after her mom with lighter skin and brunette hair.
Agitated that her brother was still in the bathroom, she decided she would use her mom’s bathroom instead of waiting on him. “Whew..” she felt relieved as she headed back to the living room. Passing her mom’s bed the cover of a magazine caught her attention, “The BEingness Project, Your Personal Journey Home…”. Stopping she thought, “that’s odd, mom never reads magazines. Books yes, lots of books, too many books, but, not magazines.” While the title did not intrigue her the fact that it was a magazine in her mom’s room did. Picking it up, she opened it.
Her face screwed up in a puzzled look, there was nothing on the page. It was totally blank. “Well, that’s stupid,” she thought. She was just about to close it when right before her eyes words appeared on the page.
“Are you happy,” asked the words.
Francine jumped with a squeal, dropping the magazine to the floor.
“What the heck was happening? There was no way she actually just saw words appear on that page. This was crazy!!” she screamed in her head while staring down at the magazine.
Standing there she listened for her brother, thankful he was in the shower, so he had not heard her yell. Looking at the glossy blank back cover, she wondered if she should open it again to see if it was real. Slowly, she leaned down, picked up the magazine and held it, trying to decide if she wanted to open it or not. Curiosity won out. Pulling the front cover back she glanced at the white page. There it was, “Are you happy?” Nothing else, just those three simple words.
Laughing out loud, she said, “yeah, I’m happy, I think.”
“What do you mean by, I think,” typed the letters.
“OMG, what the hell is happening?” she blurted out.
“Are you yelling at me,” shouted her brother from the hallway.
“No, just singing to myself,” she quickly lied.
The words on the stark page stared at her, waiting for an answer.
“Well, I don’t know if I am really happy. I think I am. I’m not unhappy, just not sure how I really feel most of the time,” she genuinely responded.
“What do you like to feel,” appeared upon the page.
“I like to feel happy, but, not the pretend fake happy, the kind I always feel like I have to be when I am at school or with my friends. There are some friends, where it is okay for me to be unhappy, even sad and quiet, but not many,” she shared, as she sat down on the edge of the bed.
“Why do you pretend to be happy,” inquired the magazine.
“Because that’s what you’re supposed to do, especially when you are popular like I am. We’re never supposed to be sad or down. So, you learn to pretend,” came her response before she really thought about it.
Talking with the magazine was weird, for she found herself being way more honest than she normally was, for some reason it felt safe, comfortable and easy to be her real self. Sitting on the edge of her mom’s bed she found herself feeling like she should put the magazine down and run, for this was crazy, yet, she was completely compelled to stay in the conversation.
“What would happen if you were your real self all the time,” asked the page.
“People might not like me,” she quipped
“Why? Don’t they have different feelings and emotions too,” flowed the response.
“Yeah, but, I’m the popular girl, I can’t be like the others. I have to be fun, always happy, cool and ready to be the good time. I have to be good at everything,” she sighed.
“Hey, where’s the Chai tea,” yelled her brother.
The interruption jolted Francine. She could hear him coming down the hall to mom’s room. Quickly she closed the magazine, put it back on the night stand and stood up, pretending like she was headed towards the hallway.
To be continued… 6