Junior year of high school, people said that this was going to be the best time of my life.
If it is, then I am screwed…
When her father had abandoned their not so little family two years ago, her mother told her it was for the best. When, only a few months later, her mother had found out she was pregnant for fifth time, she had told her eldest daughter that it was a blessing. When her mother insisted on moving three hours away from the only home she’d ever known, she had told her seventeen year old it would be an adventure. The night before the start of her junior year in her brand new high school, Crowley High, her mother had regaled her with stories from her own junior year, reminding her that it was the best time of her life.
Variel Estevez, age seventeen, knew that while her mother tried to be optimistic about all of these changes in the past two years, the underlying truth was far from what her mother spoke of. Her father leaving, her new baby brother Elian, and the move to the yellow house on the corner of Burkes Way and Crest Corner were just the latest in a long line of life altering changes that were not for the better.
Two weeks into her junior year, she found her mother constantly telling her that it was going to be the best year of her life. Seventeen, junior year, a gorgeous young girl at the prime of her life, poised for flight. Although she knew she was being rude, Variel just nodded to placate her mother every time she said a variation of those words.
In reality, Vary, the more Americanized nick name she’d adopted from her father at age five, prayed that her mother was wrong. This hellish nightmare that constituted seven and half hours of classes a day, mountains of homework at night, and the care and management of her three younger sister and radically younger brother could not be the best parts of her life; it was simply too much for Vary to fathom most morning. To continue the list of horrific things about junior year, there was pressure for college applications, she hadn’t made a single friend in her two weeks at school, and she just didn’t fit in.
Her mother chastised Vary about her melodramatics almost every night when her eldest daughter gave her a daily report.
“Now Variel, stop being such a drama queen. Every single teenagers feels like they don’t fit in. You’ll find your niche soon enough Niña. Don’t worry that pretty little head of yours. Go try out for a club, ask to study with a cute boy!”
Vary sighed haughtily and nodded to her mother before returning to either homework, food preparation, or caring for one or more of her siblings. While her mother worked day and night shifts at the newspaper she had been transferred too, Vary had been charged with taking care of her siblings. On top of homework and school and simply getting through her days, Vary’s mother had announced her desire to get back into the dating scene.
One Sunday evening after the announcement, Vary was readying her little sibling for bed. Unlike Marisol, Irena, and Lupe, Eli didn’t complain about classes, homework, social life, or his desire for anything more. At just a little over a year old, Eli was finally sleeping through the nights and was working one words with more than one syllable. It was peaceful taking care of him, a few moments of reprieve from the hectic world of her eleven to fifteen year old sisters. His dark eyes were full of sleepy blinks as she changed his diaper one last time, snapping him back into the cotton onesie. Vary spoke to him softly. Instead of a lullaby each night, she found a solace in unloading her problems to him. He offered no judgment, just a calming sort of silence permeated with baby giggles or snores.
“I still haven’t really made friends with anyone Eli. It sucks. I just wander around the school like a ghost. All the teachers keep harping about college and grades and I feel like there is so much pressure on me to do all of this and more. I don’t even know if I want to go to college. Don’t tell Mama that, she’ll hang me.
“I know she says that this is supposed to be the best time of life. It had better not be. Or I’m royally screwed for the next fifty to seventy five years.
Junior year of high school, people told me that this was going to be the best time of my life.
Damn straight it was!
Ingrid’s older sister Charlotte had bestowed this wisdom to her ‘baby’ sister during the middle of the summer before junior year. Ingrid, tossing her flaming red hair behind pale shoulders and smiled and replied, “Of course it will be!”
All her life, Ingrid had had the best of everything. Since her oldest sister was out of college by the time she had started high school, there had been no competition in who the favorite daughter had been. And why should junior year of high school be any different?
At almost seventeen, her birthday was at the end of September and one of the biggest events of the year, Ingrid was everything a teenager could want to be. She was five foot five, the perfect height to wear three to five inch heels to school every day. She swam recreationally and rode horseback since she was six. Her body was toned and slender, allowing for all the latest fashions to fit perfectly on her 115 lb frame. Flaming red hair with the slight wave to it and emerald green eyes complimented the pearly pale complexion of her perfect skin.
Her mother’s death at age six had spurred her father to give his girls the best. He’d risen to the top of his law firm and had started his own, Madison & Co. Therefore, money had never a problem, especially with their dual sets of wealthy grandparents to watch over her and her sister as they grew up. There was a chauffeur to take her school in the morning as well as to the higher end malls in the larger city of New York, New York when she desired a new outfit, or some high end makeup. Her room was all her own, large and pink and white with a walk in closest that many a magazine had photographed. She was a champion equestrian and the belle of every dance she’d been to thus far in her high school career. Her father bought Ingrid er every heart’s desire, no matter the cost.
While her father’s desire to date again had caught her off guard, Ingrid didn’t see it going anywhere. All her father needed was Ingrid and Charlotte, Mrs Nilson, the house keeper, and Johnson, their driver.
Junior year, much like the years before it, would play out perfectly. She would be dropped off to school in a remarkable perfect first day outfit, with perfect hair to match. Ingrid would charm every teacher and bat her eye lashes at every cute boy who passed her way. Acing her classes, along with horseback riding, September would finish out with her perfect birthday party, where every present would be a check mark in her list. She had already started taking college applications and knew that Princeton, much like her sister and mother before her, would be her choice for colleges. She ran the homecoming committee and the prom committee for this year.
Nothing could ruin this year for her, nothing. Junior year would be the best year yet, she thought as she sipped at her mint julep by the poolside.