Love, Life, and the List(4)

By: Kasie West

This will be the last text I send you for 9 weeks.

That text was followed by: What will you do without me?

Probably get more sleep.

True. Me too. What happens if I like being without a phone? No. That can’t happen. Even if I like it, I would never let my parents know. They’d enjoy that too much.

I smiled and rubbed my eyes. I’ll miss you! Don’t like any hot Italian boys more than me.

You too!

Pretty sure I’m not in danger of liking any hot Italian boys in the near future.

Funny. I meant the missing you part.

I know. Safe travels. Call me from a pay phone if you ever get a chance. Do you think they still have pay phones?

I don’t know. We shall find out.

I stared at my phone, but there was nothing more to say, and it stayed quiet in my hand. It really was going to be a slow summer without Rachel and Justin. My finger, almost as if it had a mind of its own, swiped across the screen and pulled up a website I had saved as a favorite. Wishstar Art Institute Winter Program Application. The program of my dreams. The program that my art teacher told me would bolster my college applications and help me get into a really good art school. Plus, it was Wishstar. They had amazing instructors, and I was dying to spend part of the winter holiday with other artists. We would spend two solid weeks learning new techniques, working with all sorts of mediums, and being inspired by the speakers sharing their success stories. I wanted to meet actual professionals in the field and, along with bettering my own art, this would help me do that.

I studied the page again, like I had a million times in the last six months. I read through the requirements, which hadn’t changed. Age, experience, letter of recommendation, display/sales history. I was finally old enough. They only accepted high school seniors and above. And in the fall I would be. I had heard most attendees were college students and even older, but that wouldn’t stop me. I had experience—a whole portfolio of paintings I could attach. I knew who I wanted to write the letter for me. I had only one more thing to accomplish before sending off my application: display/sales. I had never had my art on display anywhere outside of school. And I had definitely never sold a painting before. But I had a plan. I smiled, excited by the thought again, and threw my covers back.

I shuffled down the hall into my bathroom, where I nearly tripped over my mom, who was lying on the floor. The cupboards were open and shampoo bottles and hairspray and window cleaner lined the floor next to her. In one hand she held a flashlight, which she was pointing under the sink, and in her other hand was a flyswatter.

“Uh. What are you doing?” I asked.

“Have you ever heard of a brown recluse?”

“The spider?”

“Yes. I was just making sure you didn’t have one under your sink.”

“Did you see a web under there? Or is there a sucked-dry mouse corpse?” I squatted down to get a better look and sent a bottle of conditioner toppling.

“No, I read a story about a teenage girl who got horribly disfigured by a brown recluse spider when reaching under the sink for her Herbal Essences. Then I remembered that’s where you store your extra shampoo. I figured I’d better check.”

“Mom.” I picked up the bottles on the floor and began shoving them back under the cupboard. “Stop reading horrific internet stories and immediately applying them to our lives. If I’m going to be horribly disfigured, it better be in my own original way.”

She sat up and gave me a stern look. “Abigail. Don’t joke about that.” Her dark hair stuck up in crazy waves around her face, like she’d rolled straight out of bed and into my bathroom.

I clicked off her flashlight and brought it to my mouth like a microphone. “Can I have my bathroom now? I need to use it.”

She sighed and stood. “I have to check the other bathrooms anyway.”

I locked the door after her and turned on the shower. My eyes went to the cupboard. I opened the door and peered in, then shut it quickly. I rolled my eyes. There were no spiders in the bathroom.

After a quick shower, I pulled on my standard summer wardrobe of cut-off shorts and a tank top. I arranged my blond waves up into a ponytail and went to the kitchen. The oatmeal was on the top shelf in the pantry, so I stood on my tiptoes and fished two packets out of their box, poured them into a plastic bowl, and added water. By the time the oatmeal was done heating and the timer went off, my grandpa was awake. His feet made a scuffing noise on the tile because he didn’t pick them up very high when he walked.

“What’s this?” he asked, coming into the kitchen. “The princess doesn’t need her beauty sleep today?”