I stared at my appearance for another moment, still dissatisfied with what I saw. Exaspherated, I slammed my locker shut and walked to the nearest window. I peered out and saw my sister sitting on the hood of her car chatting with a few friends.
Ruefully, I watched as she joked and the people around her laughed. Camille had always been more prone to be social than me. In fact, she was just better than me in all. Her hair was silky smooth with streaks of natural blonde, her eyes a bright blue, a clear complexion, she was gracefully tall, and slim aswell.
It was so unlike myself, my matted hair and rather short in statue. My figure was rather dumpy, mother said I would grow taller and slim out, but I doubted it. How much I envyed my sister.
She spotted me and smiled, waving me down. I waved back and began to walk down the stairs of my high school. Yes I envyed her, but I loved her dearly too.
I looked around me, how I hated walking down these halls! Camille was on her last year, I only on my first, and people had come to know me as simply Camille's litte sister. I loathed that, no one ever seem to notice that I did have a name.
Right at that moment, I heard someone infact call my name, but I wasn't the least bit surprised, I knew that voice.
Smiling, I turned around to see Sean Cassidy coming towards me. He was one of the only people I was ever glad to see at school, and for good reason.
"Hitching a ride with Camille today?" he asked brightly and my smile fell slightly - why must everything revolve around her?
He noticed the change and immeadatley put an arm around my shoulder and gave me an affectionate kiss on the cheek.
"Don't look that way Bonnie, it was just a questiotn," he smiled.
I nodded and leaned into him, "Football practice today?" I asked, changing the subject to something other than Camille.
"Yeah," he said, "Which reminds me, I gotta go, see you later Bonnie," he said and quickly rushed down the hall.
I watched him go, his dirty-blonde locks standing on end slightly as he dashed down the hall. He was by no means the most handsome boy in the school, but he wasn't ugly either. He stood about half a foot taller than me, and years of football had given him a rather nice build. He was one year my senior, this being his second year. He was an old neighbor, living only a house down from ours.
This year we had started dating slightly, and of course everyone approved, or those that really cared. There was Sean's mother of course, and Camille. But as for my parents, they weren't exactly concerned with what went on with my life, it was all about Camille
Strangely enough, Camille wasn't even my mother's real daughter. Her real mother had died shortly after childbirth - leaving only Camille for my father to cling to. My parents had married about three years after, and I was born the next year.
My mother loved my father dearly, and she always tried to please him. Unfortunately, it meant doteing on Camille almost all the time. They both of course loved me and took relatively good care of me, but there was no question as to whom they prefered.
And I was perfectly alright with that, I didn't spite them at all. I was somewhat of a loner anyways. But it was a fact that the only people that ever really showed any affection for me were my neighborhood playmates.
Early on, I was always with Sean and his brother, David, and Jake who lived in the only other house near ours.
All three of our houses were comfortabley situated together back aways in the woods of Alabama. Mary and Sam, my two aunts owned the last two houses in the area.
My town was pretty small comparied to most, just about everything you needed was in walking distance. There was one Baptist Church which everyone attended, and if you didn't show up one Sunday our self-richous Pastor Samuel would personally point it out the next.
There was a Market that had all our needs, a gas station a few yards away, and miscellaneous other stores that kept us all content. And then there was Mike's, the local meeting place of the city.
Right after church every Sunday, half the town would pile into the resturant. Mike would change out of his button-up shirt and khaki pants and throw on his familiar outfit of faded jeans, a baggy shirt and his apron.
Mike's had been open for as long as I could remember, Mike had taken it over after his older brother had pronounced the family business tired him and he had moved to Atlanta. Mike himself was now still only a rather young twenty six, not bad looking either.
He always enjoyed teasing any person of the female gender. They'd order and he'd slip in a remark like, "Oh that Cherry Milkshake is as sweet as you," or something to the measure.
I was constantly in there, spinning around in the fifties-style chairs at the counter, or picking at the old musky-green colored wallpaper. The resturant was quite old, but Mike wouldn't listen to anyone about fixing it up.
Camille worked there sometimes after school too, not that she needed the money. I guess it was just something to keep her occupied, she never seemed to fit in with our dull town.
She was a brilliant writer, and had a great passion in the arts - a passion which I greatly shared. Drawing was the one thing I had to my name, but hardly a soul knew it. I was always extremely self concious over my drawings, even when Camille prasied them.
I had learned early on not to bother to show my parents, my pride never outlasted the crictal comments, or just plain dismissal that I was even showing them something. That played a large part in my secrecy, I didn't want to be let down like I had been so many times.
I was startled out of my thoughts by my name being called again. I looked around me in the bright afternoon and saw Sean in his gym clothes waving to me, jogging with the rest of the team.
I smiled and waved back and began to make my way to Camille's car. It was a rather nice day despite the humidity. The dampness made the Magnolia bloom's scent even more potent and I took a deep breath and inhaled the wonderful smell as I was walking.
I group of people brushed past me, talking avidly and I looked over to see Camille now sitting alone in her car scribbling furiously into a notebook. I smiled at the sight, as I had said, she was a wonderful writer, and when some idea came to her, she wasn't letting anything stand in the way.
She didn't notice as I walked towards the car, even with the popping noise my flip-flops made. It wasn't until I got into the car that she noticed I was there.
"Hold on Bonnie, you know how it is," she murmered to me and I nodded even though she didn't notice, I knew better than to interrupt anyways.
I watched curiously as she wrote, seemingly already absorbed in it again. I wondered if it was another play, maybe the beginning of yet another one of her stories?
I looked up to the Magnolia tree that was providing a comfortable curtain of shade. There were at least fifty blooms on it, the delicate white petals of the flowers sitting elegantly still in the windless air, providing an oddly beautiful contrast to the deep green leaves.
My gaze was once more upon Camille but she was as absorbed as ever and I decided I would have time to go pick me a Magnoila flower for my room. They had always inspired me, there were countless sketches and paintings of them hanging in my room, but I always loved to have a fresh one in a vase beside my bed.
I got out of the car and stood for a moment gazing at the tree, searching for just the right bloom that was far enough down so I could retrieve it. I eventually spotted one just a few feet above the giant tree's base and drew out my small pocket knife.
Smoothly I cut the stem and put the knife back in my pocket. I was careful to remove the leaves without touching the petals. How easily they bruised! That was what I had found so fascinating about them. The petals looked so strong and tough sitting among the riggid leaves, but in reality, they were so very delicate.
My grandfather was the one who had first noticed my obession with them. I had been eight at the time and already my drawing skills had been impeciable. I remembered the hot, muggy day he had visited like it was yesterday. He was my Mother's father, my grandmother had died before even Camille had been born. Grandaddy Pete had also been among the few who ever got to see my drawings.
It was a Saturday when he had arrived, and I had gone out into the woods, despite my mothers instructions to be present when he arrived. I had always liked him, and of course I wanted to be there, but my love for my drawings had overridden anything else for the day.
I had taken my sketch book and walked along the familiar path leading to one of the many Magnoila trees in our town. Clutching the book in my teeth, I had climbed my way up to the middle of my favorite tree and had made myself comfortable.
I always enjoyed seeing anything I drew in different elements, in this case, I had left the house early in the morning so I could capture the bloom in the morning mist. Everytime I had come out, the lighting hadn't been right, or the mist had lifted, but that morning - it was perfect.
I sat in that tree for at least three hours, not budging a bit, concetrating on getting the petals shape perfect, and the shade of the leaves just right. By the time I had finished the picture to my satisfaction, the blazing afternoon sun was shining off the deep leaves.
I had heard someone approaching and had quickly scrambled down, I had completely forgotten about Grandaddy Pete coming and I thought it was my mother coming to find me. But it was Grandaddy Pete himself that was walking along the trail.
"Hello Bonnie," he had said, smiling in his charactaristically broad way. "Thought I might find you here, your mother's having a fit."
At that I had looked hopelessly past him and into the direction from which he had come.
But he didn't seem to want to linger on the topic on my mother. "You like Magnoila trees?" He asked looking up at the one I had climbed down from.
I nodded and he had noticed my sketch book. "What do you have there?" he had inquired and I hesitated to give it to him, but handed it over after a moment.
I had waitied while he surveyed it, expecting the same rejection I received from my mother from her father.
But he hadn't rejected it, he seemed to be intriged by it.
"Yes, the perfect flower for you Bonnie, and you represent it so well." He had smiled, "Just wait, you'll be such a pretty thing when you get older," I had been surprised by the comment, no one had ever called me pretty. "Just like this flower, you see Bonnie, it's so beautiful, and yet so delicate - Well, why am I telling you this? You know it all." He had paused to look at me again.
"Have you shown any of your other drawings to your parents?" he had asked and I had quickly expressed my feeling against it.
"Well you keep drawing your Magnoila flowers Bonnie, I'll be expecting to see them next time I visit." He had said and then we had both gone back to the house.
The sad thing was that he had died a few months after that day of a stroke. I still had all my Magnolia pictures I had drawn for him displayed on my wall, and the one I had drawn that day I had transferred to my wall. A sort of shrine to my grandfather that I had loved so much, though no one really understood why, no one else knew of that day in the woods.
Sighing, I dragged myself from my grandfather's memory and resumed my pruning of the flower and slowly climbed back into the car.
Camille seemed to of been long done with whatever she had been writing, it tucked safely in her bag. She was watching me with a smile.
"You and your Magnolia's," she said simply and started the car.
It was a Friday and Camille had a shift at Mike's. I went in with her to get a chocolate milkshake from Mike for my walk home and a wet papertowel for my flower.
"One chocolate milkshake coming up," Mike said cheerfully and began scooping some ice cream into a large silver cup.
After he had finished he brought me my paper towel and watching as I carefully wrapped it around the exposed part of the stem.
"Pretty little flower, isn't it?" He asked and I nodded in agreeance.
"Hey Bonnie?" Camille began, coming in from the back of the store with her apron on and her hair already tied back.
I looked to her as a signal I was listening. "Mom's taking my car later on today so come back at about nine and we'll walk home, ok?"
I nodded, "Be back at nine, Camille," I said and grabbed my milkshake. I nodded towards Mike and backed out of the store, balancing my milkshake in one hand and examining my flower for bruises in the other.
When I was satisfyed that my flower had sustained no damage I began to drink my milkshake. I held my breath as I passed the medium-sized cemetary that was at the end of the town.
There must have been at least fifty soliders from the civil war resting in that graveyard, and I always felt the need to hold my breath, lest the pasing ghost of the men long forgotten enter my body.
Sean had laughed in amusement when he had first discovered the reason for me holding my breath every time we passed the graveyard, but had let me keep my fantasies, so he had called them.
I let out my breath as I came to the end and kicked up a bit of dirt as I took another sip of my shake.
My house was only a few hundred yards away from the town, a fifteen minute walk that I had traveled too many times. What dismayed me was that there was only one lone Magnoila tree for me to pass as I walked. The rest of the trees that made up the heavily wooden path were mainly Pines, Oaks, and Elm trees.
I kicked up a bit more dirt and happened to look down with my flower in the foreground of the curtain of dust that was quickly gone. Intrigued, I set my chocolate shake down a ways away and grabbed a handful of the dirt.
I threw it up and let most of it fall until there was only the smallest specs floating smoothly down and set my Magnolia flower in the foreground of it again. I liked the contrast it made, surprised I had never made the discovery before.
I wiped my hand on my pants and retrieved my milkshake and became intranced with a new idea for a painting. I was glad that I didn't need to conciously tell my feet where to go, because I would of surely walked into the woods as the painting consumed me.
The chalky red color of the dirt was the perfect background! I continued to kick up dirt and marvel at the portrait it made, not caring how dirty my feet became.