Monday morning. Wake up. Put on Mom's lime green sweater.
Go downstairs for breakfast. Dad is reading the newspaper. I
can barely make out the headline, Marie Jane Sandi… I look away. Dad looks up. There are lines below his eyes and more on his already wrinkly forehead.
"Good morning Jasmine. How did you sleep?"
My lips are glued together, as usual. I nod my head in acknowledgment.
It takes me all my energy to pry my lips open and feed the tasteless food into it.
I chew and chew, but the stuff wouldn't go down. I finally spit it out into a napkin.I hear the scraping noise of the chair and feel myself
getting up. I smooth the front of my sweater and start to leave.
"Jasmine…" Dad's voice sounded far away, as though echoing off the back of the wall.
I turn to him, but not hearing him. Silently pleading for him to finish quickly.
"Jasmine… I know you miss your mother. But don't… don't be like this. Let's talk. Let's talk, please."
I can feel a stabbing pain on my side. I can feel the drip in my eyes, ready to fall. I turn around and my legs carry me out the door.
"Jasmine wait! Don't go. Wait! Wait…"
Dad's voice drifts away.
Cristy is waiting for me at the bus stop.
"Jazz? What's wrong?" She asks when she sees me. But there is a certain wariness to her voice. Her eyes expand when they look at me, as though not to miss any little detail.
I shake my head and wipe my eyes.
She is still staring at me.
The bus pulls around the corner, splashing water on our pants. I cover the sweater with my bag.
We arrive at school. Nobody speak to me. First period is Art. People are opening paint bottles and bringing in cups of water. Ms. Gomez is explaining something on the board. She is opening and closing her mouth, but no sound is coming out. Oh how I envy her. I want to open my lips but they won't move.
Ms. Gomez passes out pieces of paper. She gives me that wary look I am so used to.
"Are you doing okay Jasmine?"
I nod. I can hear a buzzing in my head, and it's getting louder and louder. I cover my head with my hands. It subsides. I take out a pencil and start to make shapes on my paper. Brenda is saying something to Ms. Gomez and pointing at me. I strain to hear her, but the buzz is getting louder again.
Ms. Gomez walks over and points at my sweater. It's so loud I can't hear a thing.
Ms. Gomez is saying something to me and shaking her head. I cover my head and try to make it go away. Brenda is coming towards me too. She grabs one side of my sweater and pulls. I cling to my sweater.
Brenda pulls harder. I can feel my grip loosening. She's trying to make me take the sweater off. The buzz is diminishing and I can hear again.
"-not the uniform and you know it! I'm tired of you getting away with everything! So your mother died! So what? She probably deserved it too! You're a spoiled brat! Nobody likes you. They feel sorry for you that's all! That's why you get to get away with everything. It's so unfair! If I can't wear a hoodie, then neither can you!"
She pulls and I pull. There is a ripping sound, something gives way and I feel myself hit the floor.
Brenda is holding a piece of my sweater.
I feel my legs carry me up and out. Ms. Gomez is calling after me.
"You need a pass to be out in the halls! Jasmine!" Her voice too, is drifting away.
I walk down the stairs and out the school building. I realize my hand is shaking. I walk for a while. It's nice and warm out here. I like to watch the birds and the squirrels. At least they don't stare at me.
I go into the fabric store. The salesman in the red uniform gives me strange looks but I turn my back on him. I scan for lime green fabric and find them in a corner. It does not look anything like the shade of my sweater. I look more but cannot find my color. I walk out.
It is beginning to drizzle. I can feel the drops falling on my head. I stare down at the hole in my sweater. The rain drizzles on it, as though to fill the gap, but it's not doing such a good job. I walk on, and a bench comes into view. I Sit down, debate what to do.