Here is the beginning of a young adult story I’m working on. I appreciate any comments and criticism. It’s inspired by the Riot grrrl movement of the 90s which I have been researching. A one-line summary: When you feel all alone in the world and then someone comes from out of nowhere that you identify with immediately…
“She’s a Dude” isn’t the final title. I don’t have one yet so that’s the best I can come up with for now!
“Don’t freak out, I want to try something. I promise it won’t hurt,” she assured me. The gleam in her eyes told all: pain was going to be involved, and it was going to be great fun.
“Like hell it won’t hurt!” I was not convinced. Attacking me with tweezers was a favorite pastime of Ashley’s.
“C’mon Jordan, it’ll be fun. You’ll be amazed at how different you look when I’m finished with you. Who knows, maybe a guy will even ask you out.” Why it mattered whether or not I had a boyfriend was a mystery to me. In fact, I don’t know how the two of us ended up so different. As far as I knew, we both had the same biological parents, but one peek into our bedrooms and you’d wonder if one of us had come from a different planet – that was me, the oddball. My bedroom was tidy, plain and contained a few of my favorite things: video games, a couple guitars, and posters of my heroes – namely female musicians. On the other hand, Ashley’s room looked as though a mall had thrown up in it. Shopping bags littered the floor along with stylish clothes, a crapload of makeup, hair accessories and girly magazines. It was incredibly rare to find less than five thongs on the floor at any given time. Sexy guys with glistening muscles hung out all over the walls. I didn’t like them staring at me when I entered her room, so it wasn’t very often that I ventured inside.
According to Ashley, I was not a normal 16-year-old girl. She was only a year younger but claimed to be an expert on how I should be acting, dressing, and enjoying things other normal teenage girls do. Even my mom and dad tended to side with her. Well today would not be the day I gave in.
“I don’t care about any guys asking me out! Me and my unibrow are fine, thanks.”
“Jordan, you will THANK me when this is over with. Here, just hold still while I -” The shrill call of the telephone interrupted Ashley’s mission. “I bet that’s JOSH!” she squealed, racing out of the room. I could hear her muffled yell down the hall – “This isn’t over yet, Jordan!” Saved by the freaking bell.
I was able to avoid Ashley the rest of the evening as she performed what was considered her greatest talent in the Sedgewick household: gabbing on the phone. Unfortunately, I wasn’t so lucky the next morning. She was waiting to ambush me outside my door. “C’mon Jordan, I’m tired of my friends teasing me about my dude-sister. You can borrow some of my clothes and I’ll put some makeup on you.” We were only into the first semester of school and already I was ruining her ninth grade reputation.
“MOM!” I screamed. “Ashley is hindering my education- she won’t let me go to school!” Five minutes later I was sitting on the school bus, in my favorite corner – the very back left corner. It was here that I was least likely to be noticed. Baggy jeans, hooded sweatshirt, no makeup and my ever so boyish pixie cut. Just the way I liked it. No fuss. I had even been mistaken for a guy before. I could tell the girls in my gym class were uncomfortable changing around me in the locker room. And on the first day of school, I knew that when my name was called, the curious eyes of other classmates were all wondering the same thing – ‘Is it a he or a she? Maybe it will speak and we can find out…’
During my ninth grade year it wasn’t long before I was used to hearing the rumors about my supposed gayness. This year in tenth grade people had grown tired of talking about it because it was old news. Generally people left me alone – except this year my sister had joined me at Riverview High School, so she made a point to separate herself. Instead of choosing to just not acknowledge me, she faced the challenge. She made it a point to tell others how unbelievable I was, and that she was sure that I had been secretly adopted. Apparently I was “confused” and torn up after a guy had broken up with me. The truth was, I had never had a boyfriend up to this point. But that was the story – I was angry at guys.
And now here I was, absentmindedly calculating the value of x. I was in an advanced math course, and getting tired of people exclaiming how great it was for a girl to be in there, because “most girls aren’t good at math and science.” Sure they were. But girls have been told all their life that “girls generally aren’t good at math and science, and guys are.” I thought that was bullshit. Men’s and women’s brains were different for sure, which would explain various strengths and weaknesses. The differences are the way we use our brains – the strategies and processes we use to solve problems. It’s basically a complicated issue where nothing has ever been proven on who has superior brain power. I didn’t care that I was one of two girls in the class. I was glad to be a model of sorts for other girls to look up to. But in high school, it wasn’t necessarily a cool thing. Mr. Cooper was fiddling with his papers and sneaking glances at a classmate of mine, Lisa. She was definitely showing some leg today. The loudspeaker crackled.
“Will the following students please come to the office: Jordan Sedgewick…” I wasn’t paying attention to the rest of the names – I was surprised because I hadn’t done anything wrong this time. Usually I had been called to the office over minor misdemeanors like dying my hair an inappropriate color, or the one time I actually wore a skirt. It had a patch sewn on it that said, “BITCH.”
Mr. Cooper nodded and I grabbed my things, leaving the equations behind. After what seemed like ages, I stepped into the office waiting area and sat down. Ms. Neilson, the secretary, peered down at me from her rhinestone spectacles. “Jordan, he’ll see you in a few moments.” Her cool, crisp voice irritated me. It had a slight nasally twinge to it.
“Uh-huh, any idea why I’m here?” I tried to sound nice.
“Just be patient.” She squinted her beady little eyes and frowned. At that moment, the door banged open and before I could see who it was, Ms. Neilson’s expression told me this was somebody I might like. Her eyes looked like they might pop out of her prune face. As for the lips, well they were pursed so tight you would have thought she’d sucked on ten lemons.
“Yeah. I guess I need a schedule or something while I’m stuck in this shithole,” a bold, defiant voice announced. On the ground were two enormous black combat boots, well-worn and scuffed. My eyes traveled upward, taking in the ripped plaid pants, dirty leather jacket with a multitude of patches and safety pins, and finally the most wicked mohawk I had ever seen. Seven glorious blue spikes towered above everything in the office. I almost forgot – it was a chick. She turned her head and began to study me with narrowed eyes. I couldn’t stop staring – her nose ring was shiny, and I liked shiny things. Her pretty face and delicate features contrasted the clothes and hairstyle she sported. The careless way she leaned against the wall with her arms crossed said “Who gives a fuck?” The whole package screamed of raw, aggressive attitude. She was fearless and I wanted in on the secret. Ms. Nielson was speechless.
“Riley Skinner,” the girl informed us.