Monday, April 27, 2009

The New Uncle (short fiction)

My name’s Kim Jenkins and I have no brother or sister or father. My mother Jill had me when she was only sixteen, and I’m sixteen now, so duh, that makes her thirty-two. When Jill shows up at my school, (way younger than the other mothers—for that matter she’s younger than most of the teachers too), it’s no big surprise when everyone stares. People always stare at Jill, not just because she’s pretty, but because she lets it all hang out. You know the type? Hot? I do wish she wouldn’t show up at my school so often, but she insists. Her mother, (the grandmother I’ve never met who lives clear across the country in Coco Beach Florida), never paid much attention to Jill, so my mother's convinced she better pay attention to me. Since she didn’t do very well in school and dropped out so early she’s super proud because I’m a good student and on the chess team. 

We live in a two-bedroom stucco house near a noisy freeway that only has one tiny bathroom. My mother’s a bathroom hog. Every morning I have to pee so bad I end up sitting on the toilet next to her while she messes around with various electric devices she uses to make her hair and face as perfect as can be. I’d list her collection here, (which she keeps hanging from hooks above the toilet), but that would be boring.

Jill works for the L.A. police department. I guess it’s fitting, how obsessed she is with murder and mayhem. When she isn’t at work listening to 911 calls, or busy dating one of my many uncles, she’s watching reality crime shows. Serial dramas just aren’t real enough for her taste. The uncles are boyfriends. When I was little I went along with her and called the boyfriends Uncle So-And-So because I knew it made her happy. Now I roll my eyes when she introduces each new boyfriend to me. I’m intentionally rude and snooty. These guys come and they go so why should I get attached? Her latest boyfriend’s kind of different though. She usually dates cops and guys she meets in bars, but this new guy’s a teacher at my school. They met when she was wandering around trying to find Mrs. Rollins classroom. Mrs. Rollins is my advanced math teacher, and she’s also the cheerleading coach, and Jill volunteered to help her with some stupid fund drive. I always call Jill’s new boyfriend Mr. Morales. No matter how many times he asks me to call him Ramon, I refuse.

Tonight they went to some lame poetry reading. Mr. Morales is older than Jill. He’s forty-something. And bald. He’s her first bald boyfriend. And he’s sort of out of shape. And he’s into books and art and fine wine. Jill never showed any interest in books, or art, and her favorite drink is rum and Coke. I figure maybe she’s tired of dating cops with ex-wives from nasty divorces, cops that seem to always cheat on her. That’s the conclusion I’ve jumped to anyway. Mr. Morales is a widow with two kids. I met his sons last weekend. And now the oldest one, Victor, well he's been e-mailing me U-Tube links and texting me about this and that. Victor’s awfully cute; he has these impossibly long dark eyelashes. But how freaky would it be to be the girlfriend of one of my mother’s boyfriends? I don’t think it’s a very good idea. But, come on, Victor hasn’t even said anything to give me the idea that he would want to be my boyfriend, so why am I even going there?

I told Victor that I located my grandmother’s phone number on the Internet and that I was thinking about calling her behind my mother’s back. And he said that I should do it. He’s close to his grandmother and he said it would be nice if I had one to spoil me. But I haven’t dialed the number as of yet. I’m scared. If my grandmother did such a bad job raising my mother why do I want to contact her? It’s hard to say. Maybe it’s because I don’t have anybody accept my mother, and sometimes I feel that she's kind of lost. I wish I had a family. I stare at the phone number all the time. I look at maps of Florida and go to www.cocoabeach.com where dorky music plays and a virtual bamboo picture frame shows a picture of a beach with a discarded I Dream of Jeannie genie bottle lying open on the sand. I check out the weather stats and read about the nearby Kennedy Space Center. I wonder why our beaches in Southern California, (Jill’s a big beach nut so I’ve been to most in the area), don’t have sea grass growing up through the sand the way they do on the east coast. I imagine how happy my grandmother might be to hear my voice. But I have never worked up the courage to call. I would call tonight but I decide to wash my hair and go to bed instead. When I'm falling asleep I'm thinking that maybe the new uncle will turn out to be a good guy. Maybe he'll marry Jill. Maybe Victor and his little brother will be my brothers someday. Maybe we’ll all move into a big house where there will be enough bathrooms for everyone.


All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.

12 comments:

Kim said...

Oh so good. Looking forward to a continuation of this one!

The Things We Carried said...

Now, that left me wondering what would happen next :)!

lakeviewer said...

We have a narrator that can have lots of different twists and turns at her age; I wonder if her mom knows what she is planning.

Kirti said...

It really grabbed me in the beginning and I HAD to keep reading...looking forward to part 2...

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Thank you for expressing interest in hearing more about Kim. But this is a short, short story. A slice of life. And I feel complimented that you want more. That means I've done my job right.

Be sure to keep in touch. My book is coming out soon!

C. Michael Cox said...

Great job of capturing the 16-year old voice in this piece.

droL said...

This is a wonderful story. Looking forward to read a sequel.

I also have a short story blog, all originals, here:
THE BOOK OF SALAMATMy blog is kinda new, and there not not yet much contents, but is currently writing another stories for posting.

Hope to see you there! HUGS!

Lover of Life said...

I am totally engaged in this story. You are a terrific writer and I can't wait for your book!

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Thanks Lover of Life! The book will be out soon. I can't wait!

Lauren said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog! Wow, this story is amazing. Would make a great monologue. I especially like the last line.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Oh, this truly sounds like a sixteen year old girl!!! You have captured her voice, and characterized her so well that I believe you have described one of my former students!! I love it!!! I'd love to know more about her, and find out if she ever gets to move into that big house with all the bathrooms! She's a character worth following! Hope the move is going well for you! See you when you get back!~Janine XO

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Thanks, can't wait to be through and back in the game.