Thursday, November 22, 2012

I Had Not Eaten So Much!

I have learned that the film score soundtrack on Pandora makes everything more dramatic. Thinking about writing my last Art History paper, playing Tetris, Pinterest, and all other forms of procrastinating.

Picture this: There's Inception music playing all around (because headphones totally make me feel like I'm in the movie) and the blocks are coming down faster and faster and OH NO! that stupid backwards "z" shaped one snuck in and ruined my line! And then the music gets louder and suddenly, the world depends on whether or not I make it past level ten (please, no mocking).

And then, the pressure becomes too much and the blocks pile up as the levels increase.

END OF GAME

Thanksgiving should not be about worrying about school. It is about eating...and blurring over some of America's past...


This picture is all over the Internet right now and pretty much sums up Thanksgiving. I have never tried to fit so much green bean casserole, rolls, or chocolate delight in my stomach. And then, when my stomach is like, "Hey, I think I'm good now..." I go, "NO!!! WE CAN ALWAYS FIT IN THE STUFFING! AND...OH MY GOD! MASHED POTATOES! THAT TOO!"

Now, I kinda hate myself. But, I keep telling myself that tomorrow I will go to the gym...Ha. Ha. Ha. I wish I had a Jedi for a friend so they could do their mind trick and then I'd definitely go. 

But, really...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

There Was More Bite to This Book


Book Review

Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs is a paranormal-romance-mystery by Molly Harper. First off, I love paranormal books, romances, and mysteries. And all the power to the person who decided to combine the three. But, to me Harper's book is a little lacking in each of the genres, her characters, and plot line. 

The book is about a young woman named Jane Jameson who, after being hit by a truck and shot, is turned into a vampire by Gabriel. Jane was a former librarian until she was fired and given a restaurant gift certificate.

Vampires. This book has vampires. I didn't know that until several pages into the book. There was no indication whatsoever. Which, okay, vampires are mysterious, dark creature of that night. But, no. In the world of Jane Jameson vampires were long outed and are known by the human population and are apparently discriminated against. Bringing up the vampires early on would have been nice. And, to not explain it all in an extremely long information dump. 

Jane Jameson was a library and she's a pretty sassy character. I like sassy women, they're fun to read about. But, there comes a point when sassy turns just this side of annoying. She has a snappy reply for everything. Sometimes it's funny and other times not really. 

Now, Gabriel. It's a romance, there has to be a leading man. A dark, seductive man who steals the heroine's heart and leaves some of the readers a little hot and bothered. And, Gabriel was intended to be that man. However, as far as leading men go, Gabriel didn't quite interest me. He was overly aloof and condescending to the main character. There was no chemistry and I didn't find myself caring for him or his relationship with Jane.

There are a few characters that I wish could have had more screen time, like Zeb. Others, such as Jane's mother and sister, were comical and an uninteresting.

Overall I felt dissatisfied with the book. There were a lot of things being set up for the later novels and much of what was happening in the first one got rushed through. More time towards the back story about the vampires and more of base for Jane and Gabriel's relationship would have created more of an interest, at least for me, in the book. 

The romance was overlooked, the paranormal book was overlooked, and the mystery was overlooked. This book needed more attention and less info dumps.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chapter Five

“We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others that in the end we become disguised to ourselves.” - Fran├žois Duc de La Rochefoucauld

A week went by before gossip about Elliot Saunders died down. In that seem weak my migraines increased. I had one once a day. At some points I had to get up and leave class because I felt so sick. Never before had I spent that much time in the nurse’s office. No amount of ibuprofen seemed to help either.
     “Do you need to see a neurologist?” Zoe asked one day as we sat at our usual lunch table.
     I shrugged. Maybe I did need to see one. It could not be normal to have this many migraines in such a short time and who knew what the consequences were for taking so many pills in so few days. I began to open my brown bag that had been packed for me that morning. Sophie had put the contents together. Petya had been seeing to Mom and Dad…well I did not know where he was. I heard him come home, but he left early each morning.
     When I opened my Tupperware container I saw a note resting on my sandwich.
     Don’t eat the food tomorrow.
     Confused, I pulled out the small slip of paper and stared at it. The handwriting didn’t look familiar. I had seen Petya’s before. It had a certain, jerky manner to it. The words on the paper were smooth and soft.
     “You know, I talked to Elliot the other day,” Zoe said, having moved on from thoughts of a neurologist. “And, he completely ignored me. What, does he think he’s better than everyone else because his brother died?”
     I looked up from my note and at my friend. “Zoe, his brother died. It’s not a trophy. He’s going through a lot so I doubt he’s feeling too talkative.”
     She looked at me with a frown. “He should want someone to talk to.” Then her eyes locked in on my note. “What’s that?”
     “Huh? Oh, nothing,” I said, crumbling up the paper and dropping it into my lunch bag. “Just something from my mom about being out tonight.”
     Zoe nodded her head and then was on a new topic: her drama class. Apparently Mr. Smith was still not convinced about her theatrical flair.

Don’t eat the food tomorrow. What was that supposed to mean? And, who had left the note in my lunch? Sophie? But, why? It seemed like such an odd request.
     I walked into my last class of the day and sat down at my usual spot near the window. Mrs. Pruitt walked stood behind her desk and walked over to the chalkboard. She refused to get a white board for some strange reason. Mrs. Pruitt had just started writing on the board when a late student slid into the classroom.
     Elizabeth Adams, head cheerleader and fashion queen. Her dark auburn hair was pulled into a low ponytail and she wore a floral skirt, a button-up blouse, and a cardigan. As always she looked flawlessly perfect. Her biggest flaw was her need to be perfect. She had a lot of friends and secured her place as head cheerleader, which meant popularity. Despite her seemingly perfect life, Elizabeth did not have good grades and struggled to maintain her perfectly flawed demeanor.
     The only empty seat happened to be behind me and Elizabeth made her way over to it, smiling at everyone as she passed by them.
     “All right, now that everyone is here, let’s continue,” Mrs. Pruitt said, addressing the class and commanding their attention.
     I opened my book and turned to the assigned page.
     A tap on my shoulder startled me and I spun around to see Elizabeth watching me carefully.
     “Hi,” she said quietly.
     “Um, hi,” I replied, uncertain of what was going on. “Do you need a pencil?”
     Elizabeth shook her head. “No, no,” she answered.
     I raised my eyebrows expectantly.
     “I wanted to talk-”
     “Do you have something to add to the discussion, Miss Adams?” Mrs. Pruitt asked, turning to look in our direction, her brow raised. She did not look happy.
     Elizabeth sighed dramatically and rolled her eyes. “No, Mrs. Pruitt,” she answered.
     “Then, please focus on the subject,” our teacher instructed. “And, Miss Brown, too. Anymore talking and the class will have an essay due by tomorrow.”
I groaned along with the rest of the class. Mrs. Pruitt’s class was not one to talk in unless you were talking about democracy.
     Taking Mrs. Pruitt’s warning, I looked back down at my book and read along with what she was talking about. I had barely highlighted an important part when a piece of paper landed in front of me.
     I blinked and then looked around for the culprit. But, no one was looking at me. Then, I glanced over my shoulder at Elizabeth. She had an impatient expression on her face.
     Looking back down at the note, I unfolded it and read.
     We need to talk. Meet me after school in the parking lot.
     What was it today with people and notes?
     I looked back at Elizabeth, but she had her gaze on Mrs. Pruitt. Giving my head a slight shake, I turned back to my text book, wondering what Elizabeth Adams could ever want to talk to me about.

I stood outside in the crisp autumn air, my arms crossed over my chest. It was just a few minutes after the last bell and I had gone straight from my locker to the parking lot to meet Elizabeth Adams. Yet, she was nowhere to be seen.
     I had my headphones in and my music at a low volume just in case Elizabeth called out my name.
     From the school’s front door stepped Elliot Saunders. He had on a dark green, military jacket, worn-out jeans, and baseball cap. He looked like he was going undercover. His scuffed up Converse, shuffled across the asphalt as he walked towards a motorcycle at the far end of the parking lot.
     I watched his every move.
     Elliot didn’t talk to anyone, keeping to himself as much as possible. He ate alone at lunch, sat by himself during study hall, and never talked to anyone unless they asked a direct question. All the girls watched him, but he appeared to be oblivious to them all.
     “Avery,” Elizabeth said, stepping into my vision.
     I blinked, focusing my gaze on her face. Something about her attitude had changed. She actually looked serious.
     “You came,” she said, sounding a little impressed.
     “Do you need help with Democracy class?” I asked abruptly, ready to get home. I wanted to sit down in my room and do my homework. I needed a moment of sanity.
     Elizabeth snorted as if that were the stupidest question. “No. I want you to come with me. There’s something we need to talk about,” she told me, starting to walk towards a blue VW Bug off to my right.
     “You can’t tell me here?” I questioned, following after her.
     She shook her head. “No, we need to get away from the school,” she said. “I promise it will be worth it.”
     I looked at her hesitantly as we reached her car. “What is so important that we have to leave school?”
     “Jeez,” she said, sighing in annoyance and looking seconds from throwing a tantrum. “Just get in the damn car.”
     Against my better judgment, I obediently climbed into the front passenger seat. Elizabeth climbed into the driver’s seat and started the car. Pop music filled the space. She put the car in reverse and then screeched backwards before changing into drive and speeding out of the school parking lot.
     Just as we left I spotted Elliot watching after us.
Elizabeth drove quickly through the streets of San Francisco, which I did not feel all too safe about. The streets were not meant to drive fast on. A few times we narrowly missed a trolley car.
     “Could you slow down?” I asked as she drove towards the Golden Gate Bridge.
     As if to answer my question, Elizabeth pressed harder on the gas pedal. I groaned. We were going to die.
     She wove in and out of the traffic lanes. I turned to look out at the water. Red-orange poles were a blur as Elizabeth’s car made its way across the grand bridge. I could see Alcatraz in the distance, set apart from the Bay.
     “Elizabeth, where are we going?” I asked, feeling a little worried.
     “You’ll see,” she said cryptically.
     “No, tell me now,” I demanded.
     Instead of speaking, she nodded her head towards the sign that read: Sausalito.
     “What the hell? Elizabeth, turn the car around,” I said.
     She shook her head. “Nope.”
     I glared at her. “What is so important that you have to drive all the way to Sausalito?”
     “You’ll see,” she repeated.
     Groaning, I slid down in the seat and crossed my arms over my chest.

A few minutes later we pulled into Muir Woods. Immediately, I unbuckled myself and jumped out of the car, slamming the door behind me.
     Around me the redwood trees soared up the sky and the air felt cool. I had not been out here in a long time due to Mom’s allergies.
     “Come on,” Elizabeth said, walking in front of her car. She turned and started towards one of the paths.
     I groaned in frustration and followed after her. We walked in silence for several minutes. Then, she stopped in the middle of the path and turned to face me.
     “How much do you know about your grandfather?” she asked abruptly.
     “Wha-What does my granddad have to do with anything?”
     She looked at me and then glanced over my shoulder. “Come out guys.”
     I spun around and saw two other people step out into the path. One was a man in his late twenties and another was a girl who looked a few years younger than me.
     The man had rugged features and a scar across his right cheek that stood out against his ebony-toned skin. His dark hair was pulled into a short ponytail and he had one eyebrow raised as if he expected me to talk. He wore men’s, white V-neck undershirt beneath a dark gray jacket. His jeans had holes in the knees and were tucked into a pair of combat boots. Around his neck was a single dog tag.
     The girl looked more put together with a school uniform consisting of a navy blazer, green and blue plaid skirt, and white knee-highs. She had her dark blonde hair pushed back with a plaid headband. She offered me a small smile.
     “This is her?” the guy asked, his voice as scruffy as he looked.
     “Yep,” Elizabeth said, coming to stand at my side. “Avery meet Simon and Chloe.”
     Simon scowled while Chloe raised her hand and gave me a small wave and a quiet, “Hello.”
     I looked back at Elizabeth. “What is going on?”
     “We need to talk to you,” she said simply.
     “And you had to drag me out all the way to Muir Woods?”
     She shrugged. “Chloe couldn’t get all the way to the Bay.”
     I turned back to Simon and Chloe who were watching me carefully. Well, Simon more skeptically than carefully.
     “You’re like us,” Elizabeth said.
     “What do you mean?” I asked.
     She looked to Chloe. “Try it out. She’s truly unique.”
     Chloe nodded her head and walked up to me, her gaze narrowing at me in concentration. I watched her, uncertain of what was going on. After a few seconds, Chloe frowned and stepped back.
     “Nothing,” Chloe said. “That’s impressive. I can’t even get a read on you or Simon when she’s around.”
     “A read?” I repeated.
     Elizabeth’s expression turned serious. “What I’m about to tell you is kind of strange, Avery. Up until recently I really didn’t know if you were like us. The way you acted…Well you hid yourself really well. But, Parker said he saw you and so I took a leap of faith in bringing you out here.”
     “Saw me? Who’s Parker?” This was all a little too weird for me.
     “You cancel out other people’s powers,” Simon said, jumping into the conversation.
     Chloe reached out and smacked him in the stomach with more force than I imagined a girl her size could. He doubled over and groaned. “What? She needs to know.”
     Elizabeth glared at him.
     “Powers? What is he talking about, Elizabeth?” I asked, slowly looking from the duo and back to her.
     She sighed. “We have…superpowers and so do you.”
     I looked from her to Chloe and Simon before bursting out laughing. “You have got to be kidding me,” I said. “That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. Trust me, if I had powers I would know.”
     “Not if your power was to cancel out other people’s abilities,” Chloe said. “You would never notice your gift.”
     “Do you ever get migraines? Are you immune to the advertisements?” Simon asked.
     How did they know? “Are you guys?”
     They all nodded their heads.
     “What…how…” I couldn’t even piece this all together.
     “That’s how they track us down,” Elizabeth explained. “The people who are immune to their mind control.”
     “Mind control,” I murmured.
     “I know it’s a lot of information,” Elizabeth said. “But, we need you.”
     “Parker was right,” Simon said.
     Who was Parker, and what was he right about? Need me? For what? I shook my head. “I want you to take me home,” I said, my tone even. This was all too crazy.
     “Avery,” Elizabeth began.
     But I cut her off. “No, I want to go home, Elizabeth. Now.”
    
The ride back to San Francisco was silent. Not once did Elizabeth try and talk to me about what had happened in the woods. I could not wrap my mind around it. They were crazy. That had to be it. No way did I, or they, have superpowers. It was impossible.
     When we pulled in front of my house I quickly moved to get out of the car, but Elizabeth reached out and grabbed my hand.
     “Avery, don’t tell your parents or anyone,” she said. “And, look at your grandfather’s work. Parker said that’s where you would find your answers.”
     The elusive Parker.
     I didn’t say anything. Instead, I climbed out of the car and walked up the front sidewalk to my house, not looking back. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Chapter Four

"Labels are for filing.  Labels are for clothing.  Labels are not for people." - Martina Navratilova

The next morning there was no one in the kitchen. I had not heard Dad come back home last night and Mom had gone to bed early. Now, at six-thirty, not a soul except me wandered around the house. Or, so I thought.
I walked up to the fridge and looked at each shelf, trying to decide on what to have for breakfast. Eggs? A bagel? Waffles? So many choices.
"Good morning, Miss Brown," Petya said, startling me.
I hit my head on one of the shelves and stepped back, rubbing my head. When I looked at the woman she had a brown bag in her hands with my name carefully written across it.
"Morning," I said hesitantly. Rarely was I ever alone in the same room with Petya. Usually Mom would be there or sometimes Dad. Never just the two of us.
"This is for you," she said, handing me the bag. "It is your lunch. And, I have already made some breakfast."
I looked at her, narrowing my eyes, but took the bag from her. "Where's my mom?"
"She is still upstairs," Petya answered. "I will take her her breakfast. I put your food on a tray in the living room."
This all felt too weird. Whenever did Petya make my breakfast?
I went into the living room and saw an omelet waiting for me on the coffee table along with a cup of orange juice. Sitting down, I flipped on the television and went straight to the news. The newscasters were talking about Evan Saunders. There were no new leads on the murderer. I changed the channel, looking for the weather when I found a talk show and on it were Evan Saunder’s parents.
Leslie Harper, the talk show host, hammered them with questions, specifically about any flaws that Evan might have had. His parents answered, but looked a little dazed by all the lights and questions. I sat and watched, my omelet growing cold. It was hard to take my eyes of the car crash playing in front of me. My heart broke as the two parents tried to make it through the interview and yet I wished that they had stayed away from Leslie Harper. Anything and everything about Evan Saunders would soon be top gossip. Who had killed him might fade into the background as his flaws became prime gossip.
I finally took a bite of my omelet. It had a strange taste. I looked down at and bits of peppers. Maybe Petya had added something different to the mix. Shrugging, I ate half of the omelet and drank my orange juice. All the while watching as the Saunders were interrogated by Leslie Harper.
I stood and picked up my plate. After scraping the last half of the omelet, I put the plate in the dishwasher and then grabbed my lunch. Petya was gone now. As I stood there in the kitchen I realized how empty the house felt. I wished that Dad was there to sit at the kitchen table and drink his coffee while looking over some briefs. What had happened to my parents?

"Did you see his parents on TV?"
"I wonder who did it."
"Do you think they'll find the killer?"
"I told my therapist all about! She gave me some prescriptions."
"My parents want me to start going to counseling."
All anyone at school could talk about was Evan Saunders and his parents on the Harper Show. I walked to my locker, pulling out my headphones. The sound of music would hopefully drown out the people around me.
Music filled my world with heavy basses and drums. Nothing could break through the sound. I pulled books from my locker and shoved them into my backpack. Zoe would be waiting for me at our usual meeting spot, the half-way mark between our two lockers at the water fountain. I closed and locked my locker and then turned to start walking.
"Oh," I said when I smacked into someone.
Hands gripped my shoulders, keeping me from falling back.
I looked up to see a guy my age looking down at me. He had dark blonde hair, nearly brown, and it was cut close. His light hazel eyes had a dull look to them. He looked tired, dark circles under his eyes. His features were smooth and handsome, classic. For some reason he seemed familiar.
Then I noticed that he was speaking, but I could not hear him over my music. I held up a finger, signaling for him to wait, and then pulled a headphone out. Music blasted from the little bud.
"Sorry," I said, referring to me running into him.
"My fault," he said, his tone monotone. He dropped his hands from my shoulders. "Could you point me to room one-oh-two?"
"Down the hall, take a right, and it will be the first door on the left," I instructed.
"Thank you," he said and stepped around me.
When I looked away from his retreating figure I saw several people looking at me. Someone stepped towards me, but then Zoe was there pulling me along through the crowd.
"Oh, my gawd!" she exclaimed, clinging to me tightly.
"What?" I asked.
"That was Elliot Saunders! The brother of the guy who died! He's going here now! Can you believe it!" she asked.
"Evan Saunders's brother?" I asked. No wonder he looked familiar. He had lighter features than his older brother, but there was still a family resemblance.
"Yes!" Zoe looked up at me, smiling. "He is so cute!"
"Zoe, his brother just died," I reminded her.
Instantly her face went solemn. "True," she murmured. "I wonder what flaws he has. Maybe we have some in common and then we could connect over them. I could be Angel Zoe."
I rolled my eyes in disgust. Of course that's where her mind went.

The school buzzed with excitement. Elliot Saunders at our school. Everyone wanted to ask him about his brother and his flaws. Did he have to go to counseling? Did he have eating issues? Which medicine did he prefer?
However, Elliot Saunders responded to no one. He only opened his mouth when necessary in class. So, when lunch time rolled around, most of the student body was a little disgruntled by the latest celebrity.
 I had just finished my lunch, the one Petya had packed me, when the intercom came on and Mr. D made announcements. I groaned. Another assembly. Zoe and I walked together. She talked about Elliot and how seemed so antisocial. I did not say a thing. Instead, I thought about my parents. Had Dad come home? Was Mom doing okay?
It was strange to think that my parents were having trouble. I knew they would be at marital counseling soon. Would that be enough? What had gone wrong? I looked at Zoe, wanting to tell her about my parents, but then she said something Elliot and quickly changed my mind. It was better to keep my problems to myself.
 I sat down in one of the uncomfortable chairs next to Zoe, who kept chattering away. She really needed to lay off the coffee. Mr. D stood on the stage, looking out at us. Next to him was Elliot Saunders, looking sullen and hostile.
"As most of you know, we have a new student at our school," Mr. D began. "I hope you all will welcome him. Mr. Saunders has been through a hard time and so I expect you all to help him deal with his loss." Mr. D turned look at the guy. "And Mr. Saunders if you should so much as need a counselor, please let any faculty know. We are here with you through this hard time."
Really? Mr. D had made a spectacle of Elliot and his loss. I could not believe what I saw. I watched Elliot Saunders for his reaction and saw his jaw clench.
"Thanks, but no thanks," Elliot said, his tone just like it had been when he spoke to me earlier. Emotionless and even. Only when he addressed Mr. D his tone seemed more icy.
Mr. D looked taken aback, but recovered quickly. He looked back out us. "Students, I ask you to befriend Mr. Saunders in his time of need. Death can cause the best of us to think things. If any of you need to please contact one of the counselors. Now, back to class."
I watched as Mr. D turned back to Elliot, but he had already hopped off the stage, grabbing his backpack from an empty seat up near the stage. Students stepped aside to let him walk by. When he passed by us I looked right at his face, seeing the tense look on his face. He kept his gaze straight ahead and a little towards the ground. He made eye contact with no one.

Chapter Three

"Before you can break out of prison, you must first realize you're locked up."  - Unknown

When I arrived home after school I immediately went to my room. I needed some time alone. Quietly, I walked down the hall to the last door on the right and stepped inside the room, not bothering to turn the light on. My room was my safe haven. Posters covered almost every inch of the wall along with photos I had taken over the years. A large pile of books in varying sizes pressed against the wall sat nezt to my full-sized bed.
I dropped my backpack next to my bedroom door and then shuffled over to my unmade bed. I fell onto it and just lay there for a moment, taking in deep breaths. My head had begun to hurt and I knew a migraine would not be far off. There was some medicine in my bathroom that I could take for it, but I did not really want to.
Sighing, I rolled over onto my back and looked at the ceiling. A poster of a man sitting with a guitar stared back down at me. Jack Johnson, my dad's favorite artist. I rested there for a moment, closing my eyes tightly. The migraine had begun to sink its way into my head. My neck grew tense and the pain pulsed behind my left eye. Finally, I gave up and went to take something for it. But, it was not any special medicine. I had found a simple bottle of ibuprofen and stashed it away in my bathroom.
I took two pills and washed it down with water from the bathroom sink.
Ibuprofen was the only medicine I took, and only if absolutely necessary. I never told my parents about my migraines. Who knew what would happen? I looked up at myself in the large bathroom mirror and wondered about the girl who looked back at me. Was she truly normal? What did it mean to be normal in a flawed world? Or, was I different for my immunity?
I stepped away from the mirror, not wanting to think any more about what it meant to live in this new world. The best thing I could do was pretend. True, it was not an ideal existence. Still, it kept me safe from that horrible medicine. No matter how much I wanted to just be my normal self, I never would get that chance. The only way to survive was to be outwardly similar. As long as I resembled the world around me I could still be me, even if it was not very much.
"Dinner!" Mom shouted, knocking on my door.
All ready?
When I walked into the dining room Dad was already sitting at his usual spot with Mom right next to him. They were discussing something. I sat down in my chair and looked at the food. There were some of my favorites: potatoes au gratin, chicken, and green bean casserole. Then there were the things I hated: green peas, cranberries, and salad. I piled food onto my plate, Mom watching me carefully. Dad moved like a zombie as he scooped some potatoes onto his plate.
Something didn't feel right, but I couldn't understand what it was.
"Do you like the food display?" Dad asked, looking up at me with tired eyes.
I frowned. "Um, yes?"
Mom nodded her head. "Mr. Davidson called an hour ago and told us about that poor girl from your school," she said, buttering a roll. "He wanted to make sure that all the students were getting the food they needed and for us parents to make sure you eat healthy." Mom stopped buttering the roll and looked right at me. "How are you feeling, Avery? Is there anything you need to talk about?"
 Anything? What about how I take fake medicine? Or, that society manipulates us? Maybe, I could tell her that I just want to have a normal conversation with her and Dad without feeling like they're just waiting to pounce on a new flaw?
Instead, I shook my head. "No." At that moment I should have pretended. I should have suddenly felt like my physical appearance was horrible and that I desperately want to go the gym. But, I'm too tired. I took a bite of potatoes au gratin and looked down at my plate.
"Mrs. Brown, is there anything I can get for you?" Petya asked, walking into the dining room.
Mom shook her head. "No, thank you Petya."
I looked up at the woman and that's when I see the younger woman standing at her side, looking obedient. She couldn't be more than a few years older than me. Her wavy, blonde hair was tied into a loose bun and her unnaturally colored eyes stared straight ahead at the distant wall. She wore a simple, black, knee-length skirt and dark blue, button-up blouse. She looked severe with her high cheekbones and lips in a thin line.
"Come, Sophie," Petya said, addressing the young woman,
Only then did she move. Her gaze flickered over my parents and then she looked at me before turning to face Petya. "Yes," she said.
"Petya is training her," Mom explained once the two were out of the room.
"Oh," I said.
"Petya is such a saving grace," Mom continued.
Next to her Dad ate his food silently. Without knowing it, a tension had built up in the room. It would be difficult not to notice the way my parents acted around each other. I had a gut feeling about what their next flaw would be.
"How was school?" Mom asked, her smile a little too bright and her tone a little too eager.
I barely opened my mouth when Dad suddenly sat back from the table. He threw his napkin down and stood up. I watched as he stalked out of the dining room. There was some stomping and then the front door slammed shut.
Mom's smile wavered and then she dropped her silverware. She covered her face with her hands and rested her elbows on the table. Never had I seen her look so uncomposed.

Chapter Two

"Now is the age of anxiety." - W.H. Auden

I was sitting in the living room when I heard the news about Evan Saunders. He had been a student at Berkeley High School, just thirty minutes or so away. The anchor woman said that the eighteen-year-old had gone missing a week ago. His body had finally been found early that morning. There were obvious signs of struggle, but no suspects had been called out.
“Isn’t that terrible? I want you to be careful. Who knows when they'll catch the person responsible,” Mom said while walking through the living room and towards the kitchen. Following after her was Petya, a short woman with a thick accent from some Eastern European country. She was also my mother’s personal doctor. That was one of the first things to gain popularity. Hospitals literally rented out doctors to the people who could afford it.
Sadly, my mother was one of those people.
What about the people who couldn’t afford doctors? Even more importantly, what about the people who really needed doctors, but couldn’t afford them?
Of course, I couldn’t bring this up to my parents.
“They have no idea why he was killed,” I told her.
On the TV screen there was a scene of the Evan’s family. He had two other siblings and both of his parents. I felt my heart break for their loss. And then the clip was over.
Now, on the screen was a middle-aged man dressed in casual clothes sitting a table across from a teenage girl. It was an ad for something. Probably something to help teens communicate with their parents. Not wanting Mom to hear it and get any ideas, I turned off the TV and got up off the couch, taking my empty cereal bowl with me. I had a few more minutes before school to kill.
Walking into the kitchen, I saw Petya and Mom looking over a catalog. I was a little curious about it, but knew better than to ask. If I did it would only mean that I would be dragged into the latest, fashionable “flaw.”
So, ignoring the two, I went straight to the sink and rinsed out my bowl. I had barely made it to the doorway when Mom said my name.
“Yes?” I asked turning to look at her.
“I was just wondering, how are the pills working?” she asked glancing up at me before looking back down at the catalog. She pointed to something in it and Paula nodded her head.
“Yeah,” I told her, trying to look convincing.

At that moment Petya looked up at me. Sometimes I get the strangest feeling like she can tell that I’m lying. But, I don’t know how she would ever know. I act just like everyone else, constantly berating my body and worrying that there’s something else wrong with me. Really, I just don’t like Petya. She’s literally making money off of problems that my family doesn’t really have.
Quickly, I moved out of the kitchen.
“I’m going to head out a little early,” I told Mom while reaching for my backpack in the hallway. That’s when I noticed that the other half of my parental unit was missing. “Where’s Dad?”
“He’s upstairs,” she said. “The pills he’s taking really knocked him out last night.”
“Is he going to be okay?” I asked while moving to the kitchen doorway, frowning at the thought that Dad was still out cold. Sometimes I worried about the people I cared for crossing the thin line between harmless flaws and true problems. What if my dad didn’t wake up from his sleep? What if the pills he had taken were too strong? I shook my head, wanting to clear my mind of those morbid thoughts.
Mom looked up at me and nodded, offering me a reassuring smile. “He’ll back to his normal self in no time. Petya said that the pills would really help with his sleeping problems,” she said. Then, she looked at Petya. “I don’t know what we would do without you. Henry didn’t even realize he was having such difficulty with his sleeping until you asked.”
I turned away so I could roll my eyes. I wanted to tell them that Dad never had sleep problems. That this was all in his head right now, and who knew what those pills were doing to him!
“’Bye Mom,” I called before stepping out the front door.
“’Bye!” Mom called back. “Be careful!”

By lunch time the news about the kid in Berkeley had spread all over the school. People were wondering what had happened, who could have killed him.
“I wonder if it was gang related,” Zoe said as we sat down for lunch.
Zoe Hartley is the closest thing I have to a friend. She's a bit eccentric and has been told she has ADHD. She bounces off the walls like a pin ball. Personally, I think it's the coffee she's always drinking.
I shrugged. “I hope they find the person, though,” I said while pulling out my Tupperware container with my new diet salad and then my fake pills for my newest problem, anxiety. If I didn’t find a better alternative to Smarties, then I was really going to have a flaw. The kind that comes with tooth aches and dentists.
“Did you hear about Harriet McFarland?” Zoe asked while pulling out her own Tupperware container filled with her vegetarian food.
“No, what happened?” I asked as I pulled out two Smarties.
“Apparently she was so worried about her figure that she became addicted to going to the gym,” Zoe informed me. “She over did it one day and collapsed.”
“Is she okay?” I asked before washing my two “pills” down with water.
Zoe nodded. “Yeah, she’s in the hospital. Her parents are going to send her to a therapist in order to overcome her body issues.”
I frowned at the thought. If I remembered correctly, Harriet was a tiny girl, maybe a little over five feet. She barely had had any meat on her bones. What kind of body issues did she have? She looked like a freaking supermodel half the time.
“I hope she gets better,” I said.
Zoe, though, was already focusing on something else. “Do you know what Mr. Smith told me?” she asked while stabbing at her tofu lasagna furiously.
Really, she needed to chill back on the caffeine.
“No, what?” I asked looking up at her curiously.

She stabbed at her food some more, not managing to pick up any of it onto her fork. “He told me that I don’t have any theatrical flair!” she cried angrily, drawing the attention of some people sitting further down at our table.
Smiling to myself, I pushed my salad around. It was supposed to be a special salad, one that helped ease anxiety. Really, it was just a normal salad.
“I am filled with so much freaking theatrical flair!” She stabbed her food a few more times before giving up in a huff.
If only Mr. Smith could see her now.
Zoe is a tiny person with a large personality. At first glance she looks like the last person who would consider herself flawed. She seems so confident. Except, that I know how deep her insecurities run. Her father left her at a young age and ever since she's been trying to make up for that missing part of her life. That was her first issue, the one that started it all. I think sometimes that she just wants to prove that there are other things "wrong" with her in order to bury what she calls the "daddy issue."
While my world is certainly strange, it is fairly normal. The day to day things like school and work still happen. People don't all look the same. They just happen to be brainwashed. School revolves around the same subjects that they always have. There are sports and other activities.
I should make this clear: In my world there are no flying cars, hover boards, or time machines. Only large companies looking for the next dollar.
Just as I was thinking of something to say to Zoe, something to comfort her, an announcement came on over the speakers.
"There will be an emergency assembly after lunch period," Mr. Davidson said over the intercom.
Zoe and I looked to each other.
"Wonder what that's about," I said.
She shrugged. "No clue."
By the time Zoe and I reached the assembly it was pretty packed full of students. We squeezed past most of the football team - who were all beefed up on helpful steroids and "natural" products - until we located two vacant seats.
"Settle down, settled down," Mr. Davidson said while walking out onto the stage. He raised his hands into the air to silence the rowdy crowd. Slowly, the roar turned into a silence.
I looked around before turning back to our principal.
"As you all know recently a student has been admitted into the hospital due to an obsession to perfect her image," he began.
Mr. Davidson never needs a microphone. His voice carries easily and his mere presence commands for obedience. No one messes with Mr. D.
"If any of you feel that you are unhappy with your image, or that you, too, are on the verge of becoming addicted to unhealthy ways to keep your body in a certain condition, please do not be afraid to ask for help," he said. When he looked out at us it felt as if he were looking at each and every one of us individually. It kinda gave me the creeps.
 "Now," he continued, clapping his hands together, "I believe you have all also heard of the young man's murder in Berkeley."
There was a mass nod of heads, myself included.
"Students, please take caution while walking around," he instructed. "Berkeley is not too far from here. So, please be careful. And, if anyone feels some anxiety or other issues relating to the matter, again, please feel free to come to any of the staff." Mr. D looked out over us once more. "All right, you are all dismissed."
There was a scurry of bodies moving to leave the large auditorium. I trailed after Zoe, thinking over Mr. D's words. How many students would feel that they needed to talk about their newfound issues revolving around Harriet's problems? Or, about the dead boy? I shook my head, a feeling of disgust settling in my stomach.
Wrong. This was all so wrong.

Chapter One

(This is a story I decided to put on my blog.)
"They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they'd make up their minds." - Winston Churchill

In my world everyone has problems and no one is happy unless there's something wrong with them. If they can't find it immediately then they go searching for something. Anything. Everyone wants to be flawed. It's the new craze. Companies make bank off of people and their insecurities. They always have. There have always been commercials to make you feel ugly. There have always been doctors to suggest that there's something wrong with you. Even, when you're beautiful. Even when there's nothing wrong with you.
In my world everyone wants to be perfectly flawed. It's the new trend.
My flaw is that I don't have one. This isn't to say I'm perfect looking. If you're expecting me to tell you that I'm a five foot, eight inches, perfectly curved, teenage girl then you are seriously wrong. I'm not ugly, and I'm not pretty. Just average. In fact, I will give no hints of what I look like physically. There's nothing about me that makes me stick out in the crowd.  However, while others around me where craving to wear glasses in order to have flawed vision, I had twenty-twenty vision. While my peers went through so many disorders I lost count of their names, I didn't. That's not to say that I'm not insecure. Because I am, just like any sixteen-year-old. I feel sadness. I feel anxiety. I'm human after all.
The reason my peers are all flocking to the latest doctor isn't because there's something wrong with them. It's because they want something to be wrong with them. And, if they look hard enough and pay enough money then they'll find something.
The hallways of my school are filled with people comparing their troubles.
It's sad because you can't tell the people who have real problems from the ones just looking to have issues in order to have a higher social status.
I was wrong earlier to say that I'm not flawed. Because there is something wrong with me. With my brain to be more correct. While the rest of the world is persuaded by subliminal messaging in commercials, I seem to be immune. And, for a while I went along being just normal. My parents were a little worried and took me to a shrink. They wanted there to be something wrong with me. And that's when the doctors found out about my immunity. I was quickly given a medicine that would make just like everyone else.
And, for a while I tried to take the medicine. Deep down, I didn't want to be the freak who everyone stayed away from because I didn't go running towards the latest therapy craze. It's strange to think that that's how my world operates. But, the medicine didn't work all the way. I always felt so fuzzy headed and...wrong. One morning I decided not to take it. I couldn't handle the strange buzzing in my head each time a commercial for some skin product came on. It was like my brain was fighting against itself. One half of my brain, that part of me that was real, didn't want to comply with the newest fad. Then, the other half , the side affected by the medicine, was urging me to go to the therapist to discover that I was actually OCD, or that I had issues with my parents.
Ever since then I've been pretending. I found a pair of glasses and acted like my vision was suddenly horrible. I carried around a pill bottle in order to overcome my sudden tics. If anyone looked close enough they would see it's just Smarties.
Soon, I blended in with my peers.
My name is Avery Brown.
Welcome to my world.


"Perfectly Flawed" by Otep