As a thank you for all your support, I wanted to share my latest story with you – free of charge! I’ll be posting weekly episodes of The Wretched Life of Maxine J. Mattocks on my website as well as Wattpad.
Hope you enjoy!
I walked out of the girls bathroom, toilet paper conveniently attached to the bottom of my shoe. As usual, I was completely clueless. It was the snickering and the pointing that finally penetrated my thoughts. Glancing over my shoulder, I found the source of my humiliation. So, I did what any rational person would do – I performed a dance of sorts – a little hop-step-scoot thing, hoping to detach my toilet paper train. Fortunately, it worked. Only my little dance was captured on someone’s phone…
By the way, I’m Maxine J. Mattocks. Don’t forget the period that follows the J – because that is officially part of my name. Maxine, J with a period, Mattocks. No middle name, just the letter J followed by a period. Weird, right? You’d have to meet my mother to understand.
You can call me Max. Most everyone does. Okay, that may be an overstatement considering that most people don’t really see me. I’m the girl at the dance, hovering near the wall, hoping that someone will notice me and maybe ask me to dance… Only, that’s not going to happen. I mean, why would it? In a box full of crayons, I’m beige. Boring and safe. Heck, even the bullies ignore me… Like I said, beige. I fade into the background.
“Oh my gosh!” April squealed as I walked into class. April is my best friend, a bit over dramatic but loads of fun. She stands up and does this wonky kind of River Dance.
I laughed at her antics. “Working on some new moves?”
“Just trying to get down all that fancy footwork you had going on,” she teased.
I was completely confused. “What?”
Laughing, she held up her phone. “The TP Tango – I thought I’d wet my pants!”
I watched in horror as my little hop-step-scoot thing played out before my eyes.
I hate school lunches. No matter how many times I’ve tried to eat one, I just can’t make myself do it. The thought of eating sub-grade food makes my tongue jerk in that I’m going to be sick kind of way, which is why I bring my little brown bag with me. My lunch may be boring but at least I am certain I can identify its contents: a turkey sandwich, a small bag of chips and an apple. I don’t have to worry about the fake meat hiding under a sea of gravy or the very real possibility of a cockroach being cooked in the rice. Let me guess… You like school lunches… And you don’t believe that bugs have been cooked in the food you’re being served. Yeah, I didn’t either until I saw the lunch lady scoop out the biggest cockroach I’ve ever seen, toss it in the trash, and you guessed it – continue serving the contaminated rice. Anyway…
I was sitting at my table, emptying my brown paper bag, when something cold touched the side of my neck. I couldn’t stop the shrill eek! that escaped my lips as I spun in my seat.
Nick pounded Jake Bennett’s shoulder. “What did I tell you? Freaking oblivious!”
Jake laughed. “Really, Max. You’ve gotta be more aware of who and what’s around you.”
I glared at both of them.
Nick ruffled my hair. Of all the things my brother could do, he chooses to ruffle my hair, not so subtly reinforcing my little sister status. Ugh! And in front of Jake, no less. Jake Bennett, my brother’s best friend and the guy of my dreams. I think I want to die. Instead, I pick up my apple and take a huge bite.
Nick hands me a bottle of water. “See ya later, Max.”
I just nod because it’s too hard to talk with a mouthful of apple.
Placing her lunch tray directly across from me, April sits down and promptly licks her lips. “Mystery meat! My favorite!”
“What exactly is that?” I asked as I leaned forward, examining the contents on her tray.
“Oven baked chicken breast.”
“Oh, right…” I felt my tongue jerk.
“Was that Jake?” April asked, suggestively raising her eyebrows.
I rolled my eyes. “And my brother.”
“I noticed him, too.” April looked across the lunchroom. I didn’t have to ask what had caught her attention. I knew. My brother Nick sat at the same table everyday with his buddies. She finally turned back to me. “Do you think he likes me?”
I shrugged. Nick might be my brother but he was still a guy and guys were a huge mystery to me.
“My cousin says a guy won’t pay a girl any attention if he doesn’t have a little competition.” She took a bite of her chicken breast and stared at me. “What do you think?”
I shrugged again.
“I’m taking her advice. I’m moving on.”
This piqued my curiosity. “What do you mean?”
“Nick,” she patiently explained, “sees me as an extension of you. If I don’t do something, I’ll always categorized as your friend. If I start dating someone, maybe he’ll see me as a potential date.”
“I don’t understand how that’s going to get you noticed…”
“I didn’t say it’s a perfect plan,” April huffed. “But, it’s the best I’ve got. I’m hoping Nick will notice that I’ve moved on and if I’m lucky, maybe he’ll miss me.”
“Oh,” I answered as I removed the cap from my water bottle and took a long drink.
Tilting her head just so, April mimicked holding her cell phone. “Nick?” She smiled, nodding her head. “I’d love to go out with you.” She bit her lower lip, batting her eyes. “Seven o’clock would be perfect.”
I can’t help it. I try not to laugh but April’s antics have me cracking up and before I know it, water spews from my mouth and nose. Not only am I coughing, I’m struggling to catch my breath. I know I look like I’m having some sort of fit. Seriously, at this moment, I’d be okay with disappearing.
“Are, are-” April can’t get the words out due to the fact that she is now laughing at me.
I didn’t see my brother walk by but I heard his voice. Making matters worse, Jake is laughing, too. “Can’t take you anywhere, can we?”
And then I feel it – a hand patting my back. Brandon Miller’s voice tickles my ear.
“You’re okay,” he soothes.
I’m not sure, but I think his concern is worse than my brother’s (and Jake’s) indifference. Nodding, I push my chair from the table and without a backwards glance, I take off for the bathroom.