The Wretched Life of M

Episode 3

Add text (1)The assembly…

Flatulence.  It’s a pervasive problem.  Especially when you’ve eaten your father’s special bean soup for dinner the night before.  As far as bean soup goes, my dad’s may be the best.  I love how it tastes… It just doesn’t love me.  So, I was on the bleachers, when it started.  My stomach growled, low at first.  I shifted in my seat, hoping that no one had heard it. That must have been the wrong thing to do.  I offended my whole gastrointestinal system.  The next rolling, growling noise caused a minor disturbance on the bleachers.  I tried to affect the whole “Oh my gosh!  I wonder who did that?” look, then glanced around the group as though trying to find the guilty culprit.  My stomach did it again, only louder.   Jon Taylor, the boy  seated ahead of me, turned around, shaking his head.

“What did you eat last night?” He asked, not bothering to keep his voice down.

My face flamed, my ears burned.  “What?”  I shook my head.  “That wasn’t me.”

Jon laughed, “Whatever, Max…  Just make sure to warn me before you let one rip!”

The angry, gurgling noise that followed, shamed me.  I dropped my head, not wanting to acknowledge that such un-girlie sounds could be emanating from my midsection.  And then I felt it—the intense pressure of gas building up…

There comes that moment where we have to ask ourselves, “What do I do?”  That was my dilemma. Was it better to sit and wait, hoping  my condition would go away? or Should I excuse myself to the bathroom?  Another resounding snarl and I made my decision.  I carefully worked my way down the steps, trying desperately to hold in the excess gas.

Principal Hightower picked up the microphone.  “Please rise for the National Anthem.”

Could the timing be any worse?  Tradition and respect dictated that I stand at attention.  A sheen of sweat appeared on my face and as the trumpet player hit a particularly foul note, it happened.  I farted. The screeches of my fellow students will be forever burned in my memory.

After the assembly…

April was waiting at my locker when I finally made it out of the gymnasium.  “Ryan asked me to go to bowling with him.”

“Cool.”  I tried to remember if April had ever mentioned liking him.  “I didn’t know you had a thing for him.”

April shook her head.  “It’s not a marriage proposal.  It’s bowling.  You know—going out, having a good time.”

I felt like I’d been chastised by my mother.  “I get that…  I just—”

“You just nothing,” April scoffed.  “I told you I was moving on.  Maybe you should consider doing the same thing.   Life is going to pass you by while you’re waiting for Jake to notice you.”

That hurt.  But the truth has a sting, doesn’t it?

“Anyway,” she continued, “Why don’t you ask someone to go with you and we can meet up there.  Bowling is more fun with a group.”

“I don’t need a date to go bowling.”

“Except that you’ll be the odd man out.”  April put her hand on her hip and then added, “Get a date or don’t come…”

 

Sometimes, April gets on my nerves.

 

“Ask Brandon, ” she encouraged.   “He’d say yes and you know it.”

I grabbed a strand of hair and twisted it around my finger. “He asked me out last week.”

“And?” April looked totally confused.

“And I lied.  I said I had plans…”

April rolled her eyes. “He doesn’t know you lied.”

“But—”

“No buts…”   Taking hold of my shoulders, April turned my body in the direction of Brandon’s locker.  “There he is,”  she whispered before walking away and leaving me alone with my insecurities.

It was with some trepidation that I made myself walk to Brandon’s locker.  An onlooker might have mistaken me for a prisoner, walking to the gallows.  Thank goodness, I remembered my deodorant. Brandon was standing with his back to me, his attention focused on pulling out several books from an overly stuffed space.  I tapped him on the shoulder.

“What’s up?” he asked, his face puzzled.

I cleared my throat.  “Um, yeah, I was wondering,” I cleared my throat again, “I was wondering if you’d like to go bowling with me on Saturday?”

Brandon looked down at his feet.  When he looked up, I knew.  “I’m sorry.  I’ve already got a date.”

I tried to look cool and unaffected.  “Maybe another time,” I said as I backed away.

“Yeah,” Brandon nodded, “Maybe another time.”

I quickly walked away, surprised by my disappointment…    Brandon has a date.

The Wretched Life of Maxine J Mattocks – Episode 2

Add text (1)The administration of Hanson High School may very well be what is left of the peace and love generation. I can’t help but wonder if Principal Hightower sat around a campfire singing Kumbaya. I watch as he walks down the hallway, his ill fitting suit hanging off of his too narrow shoulders. I’m certain he would be more comfortable in bell bottom pants and a turtle neck, throw in some huge sunglasses and a few beads… You get the picture.

It was Principal Hightower’s idea to institute our student ambassador program. What’s this you ask? Why it’s Hanson High’s version of the welcome wagon, complete with an insta-friend and tour guide. As one of the lucky few to be hand selected for this great honor, I am required to occasionally fulfill my ambassador duties. Today is one of those days. We have a new student. I glanced at the name on the little sticky note. Caitlyn Myers. It figures. I couldn’t be the lucky girl who gets to show the new hot guy around. Nope. Not me. I get stuck with the new girl. I looked up as the door to the guidance counselor’s office opened and watched as a redheaded doll literally floated into the student waiting area.

“There you are.” Mrs. Friedman signaled for me to join them.

Painting a smile on my face, I walked over and officially welcomed my new charge. “I’m Max and I’ll be your tour guide. If you have any questions, just let me know.”

Mrs. Friedman cleared her throat. “Maxine is an exemplary student and by far, our most trusted ambassador.”

I gritted my teeth, trying desperately to keep my smile in place. Exemplary student? Most trusted ambassador? Good grief! I sound like the president of the APA. What? You haven’t ever heard of the APA? The Apple Polishers Association? Yep. You know the group… Just go ahead and pound another nail in my coffin.

I pull Caitlyn’s schedule from her fingers and motion for her to follow. “Hmmm. It seems we have some of the same classes.”

*****

Don’t you just hate it when you really want to dislike someone but you can’t. That’s me with Caitlyn. I don’t want to like her… Only, she’s that girl. You know the one. Pretty and doesn’t know it. Funny and not fake. Yep. That’s Caitlyn Myers and I’m just a tad bit envious. I mean, it’s her first day at Hanson High and she’s having no trouble making friends. In fact, I notice that the lunch line has become the Caitlyn Myers entourage. Everyone seems to be caught up in the Caitlyn moment. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when Nick and Jake sat down at my lunch table.

“What’s up?” I raised a questioning eyebrow and took a bite of my ham and cheese sandwich. Nick grabbed my bag of chips.

Jake glanced around then scooted his chair a little closer to mine. He leaned in and I swear my heart skipped a beat. Oh my goodness! Was this really happening? He opened his kissable mouth; the beautiful sound of his voice turned into a screeching nightmare. “About the new girl… Do you think you could introduce me?”

I grunted. Truly, it’s all I could manage. My throat felt as though it was being squeezed, making it impossible to breath. I glanced at Nick and saw it in his eyes. Pity. If there is one thing I can’t stand, it’s pity. Painting on a smile, I answered. “Sure, Jake.

“Cool.” He leaned back in his seat, completely unaware of my breaking heart. What a jerk…

I took a steadying breath. “By the way, her name is Caitlyn.”

He turned his attention to the lunch line and smiled that self confident smile of his, the one I’ve always loved. “Yeah, I know.” And then, as though he remembered he’s sitting at my table, he turned to me and said, “Oh, by the way, you’ve got mustard on the side of your face.”

Really? The wretchedness of my life amazes me…

*****

Jake Bennett has been my dream guy since middle school and I guess when it comes to dreams, I’m Brandon’s.  I’ve known Brandon Miller for as long as I can remember. We sat beside each other in kindergarten. He always tried to help me color my pictures. I didn’t want his help. What I wanted was for him to turn into a bird and fly away. Now don’t get me wrong, I like Brandon. He’s sweet and nice and you know, kinda good looking. He runs cross country and I think he still skateboards. He’s got this incredible smile. But he’s just not Jake… I didn’t even notice that he was waiting by my locker until I practically fell on him.

“Walk much?” Brandon teased.

“As little as possible.” I forced myself to laugh, hating that he had witnessed my klutzy moment.

Brandon pushed his hands into the front pockets of his jeans. “Do you think you’d like to go to the movies with me? Maybe Saturday?”

I bit down on the inside of my jaw. “I’ve,” I paused, “already made plans. I’m sorry.”

He shrugged. “Alright. Maybe another time.”

I watched as he walked away and wondered why I had lied. I didn’t have plans. I never had plans. Sleepovers at April’s don’t count. Brandon had actually asked me out on a date and I freaking blew him off. Why? Because he’s not Jake Bennett. And because, I’m obviously touched in the head.
After school, April and I stopped by the Youth Center. A crowd was gathering near the skateboard park so we hurriedly found a seat on the bleachers. My mouth dropped open as I watched a skateboarder fly into the air, tuck his body, grab the board and rotate—not once but twice—and then make a perfect landing.

The crowd cheered.

“Brandon’s amazing, don’t you think?” April squealed.

“That’s Brandon?” I asked.

“Of course.” April shook her head. “Who else could make skateboarding look so hot and sexy?”

“Brandon Miller? Hot and sexy?”

April touched my forehead. “No fever.”

“I’m not sick.” I blew out a puff of air.

“Well, when was the last time you had your eyes checked?”

“My eyes are fine!” I insisted.

April tossed her hair like one of those models on television. “Must not be if you haven’t noticed that chiseled jaw or those rock hard abs.”

“And when did you notice all those changes?”

“I don’t know,” April smirked. “Probably while you were mooning over Jake.”

As Brandon took off his helmet, the crowd moved in. Guys were patting him on the shoulder while the girls vied for his attention. I stood up, trying to get a better look. Observing Brandon in his element was an eye-opener. It was like seeing him for the first time. He wasn’t that irritating little boy from kindergarten, that’s for sure.

The Wretched Life of Maxine J. Mattocks

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!

EPISODE  ONE

Add text (1)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.