Authors: Sue Seabury
Tags: #middle school, #self discovery, #high school, #love triangle, #jokes, #biology, #geography, #boyfriend trouble
Copyright 2013 Sue Seabury
All rights reserved.
Photo Credits Dreamstime.com
Cover by Rita Toews
Be sure to check out the first book of Jane’s
adventures in love and mathematics entitled, Miss Calculation.
This book is the copyrighted property of the
author, and may not be reproduced, copied or distributed using
digital, mechanical or other means for commercial or non-commercial
purposes without the express written consent of the author. Thank
you for your support.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
places and incidents are either the product of the author’s
imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual
persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely
Like all of my stories, this one is dedicated
Strange but true scientific fact: Goats have
“No, really, Jane. They look natural. They
I feel like I got goat contacts rather than
beautiful blue ones.
Notice to all friends/boyfriends/counseling
professionals and any persons whose opinion holds any weight: Do
not say this to someone who has just gotten a long-desired but
non-refundable pair of contact lenses.
Of course, this is exactly what my so-called
boyfriend Ned said about my one and only Christmas gift from my
And my so-called friend Diana.
And even a so-called professional high school
counselor. With a name like Miss Kindley, you would think she could
have come up with something a little nicer.
However, in an attempt to be positive in the
New Year, I will say that Christmas was not all bad.
Nearly all, but not totally all.
It was a little bit of a bummer to find zero
gifts under the tree with my name on them. But when I put those
lovely little blue bits of plastic into my eyes and didn’t feel
anything poking me in the nose or chewing at the back of my ears,
it was well worth the skimpiness under the tree.
Instead I had these sharp-edged thingies
digging into my eyeballs, but what did that matter when I looked in
the mirror and saw - at a distance greater than twelve inches -
myself, without an ugly metal cage on my face or light glinting off
coke-bottle glass, blocking my now vibrantly blue eyes.
So after getting, “they look natural.
Really,” from my nearest and dearest, the rest of the population of
Nottingham Senior High was silent on the topic.
I still haven’t decided which is worse.
As for the rest of the vacation, other than
sixty-two glorious minutes spent in the best consignment shop in
the entire world, it was anti-climactic. My mom wanted to visit
some really annoying people back in Beckett where we used to live.
Since I complained so loudly, she gave me the gift of a full hour
at the Shabby Chic Shoppe. Even though she did not give me any cash
to fulfill my dreams, since we made the trip after Christmas, the
clearance rack was about as dreamy as it could be even for someone
with my budget.
I didn’t get to see Ned at all over the
break. And that is because he went to - this is still hard for me
to say - Paris with his family while I was stuck in boring old
Connecticut with mine. When he came back, I demanded he describe
the couture experience and to not skip a single detail.
He thought for a second. “I dunno. They just
dressed like regular people.”
Even my fashion-blind boyfriend could see
this assessment did not satisfy.
He squinted with concentration. “They’re
small. The guys are, like, real tiny.” He pinched his fingers
together to illustrate.
Groans of agony escaped me at the complete
waste of his having visited the chic-est city on the planet.
But that was after break.
The day before the break began, I gave Ned
his Christmas gift: a snow globe of the tree at Rockefeller
It turns out the Noggins are Jewish.
To compound the insult, I asked skeptically,
“Noggin and Quinn are Jewish names?”
“Not quite Abromovitz, but yeah. My mom’s was
actually traditional. She was Rachel Schwartz, but that didn’t fit
with her hippie tendencies so she changed it.”
“I like it. Thanks.” Ned proceeded to kiss
away my embarrassment.
So things got better.
Ned gave me an oil painting of the two of us,
drawn from a picture taken at the rez. Painted, I logically
inferred, by his artist mom.
My initial feeling of utter lameness in
exchanging a three dollar plastic ornament in honor of a holiday he
doesn’t even celebrate for a signed oil painting by a real artist
quickly plunged into the deepest mortification after I said, “If I
don’t see her, be sure to thank you mom for me.”
[Awkward pause #2]
“My mom? I painted it.”
“You painted this?”
Ugh. “Oh, Ned, it’s not that I don’t believe
you painted it.” Even though the tone of my voice implied exactly
that. I guess there are some upsides to being locked away in your
parents’ attic for years on end. “It’s just, you never said
anything...You’re such a great artist! I am so impressed!”
I gushed a while longer, but the damage was
So then came the Paris announcement.
Visible waves of jealousy wafted off me for
quite some time. Setting aside his total lack of fashion sense, for
heaven’s sake, the boy doesn’t even take French!
Ned held the snow globe up and jiggled it, a
smile plastered on his face. It was quite possibly an attempt to
divert my attention away from the idea of doing him bodily
After a minute, he said, “Let me see what I
can do about getting you invited to come with us to our New York
apartment for spring break.”
That perked me up a little. Even though it
was way in the future, highly conditional and not Paris, I was
excited about it.
Strange but true scientific fact: The average
person blinks 11,500 times per day. That works out to over 4
million times a year.
I think I am ahead on my blink allowance for
So after offering her non-complimentary
remarks about my eyeballs, the school counselor Miss Kindley went
on to offend my other senses. She had brought a tuna sandwich for
lunch. Then she had more to say that was not exactly music to my
ears. She pronounced me “acclimated.” I didn’t have to go see her
Although I was sort of glad to have passed
her normalcy test, I couldn’t help feeling kind of dismissed
Miss Kindley told me very kindly to come
visit her any time I wanted.
Truth to tell, I could have used a good
session right then and there.
But, since it is better to be considered
normal, I put an acclimated face on. All of a sudden, my eyes were
feeling a little prickly. I guess I’m still not used to wearing the
contacts for long stretches yet. I started blinking rapidly. I bid
Miss Kindley a chipper au revoir and then went to find a nice,
quiet corner to fall to pieces in.
I didn’t find one. All the girls’ rooms I
checked were occupied and after the third one, I got over it a
little and figured I should really go to class.
As soon as I got home, I took Mom’s handheld
mirror outside so I could get a real look at my eyes since the
two-watt florescent bulbs in the school bathrooms had told me
They were a bright blue, but I didn’t think
they were totally unnatural looking. No more unnatural than Meliss’
totally fake green eyes. Unless they were real. But they couldn’t
be. Everyone is just used to hers, that’s all.
I still wanted to cry though. After all the
begging and pleading and not getting a single other Christmas
present just so I could have these contacts that feel like I’m
wearing sand in my eyes and no one, most importantly not even my
boyfriend, thinks they look good.
The laundry pile was calling to me.
When I first lay down on the clothes, a plan
to confront Ned and Diana and demand that they explain exactly what
was wrong with my contacts was foremost in my mind. But as the
relaxing scent of lavender in the fabric softener worked its magic
on me, I decided that the topic wasn’t worth revisiting. Forget
about it. They’ll get used to them, just like Meliss’.
Anyway, they’re not returnable.
Strange but true scientific fact: If you laid
out a lifetime’s worth of discarded eyelashes end to end, you would
have a trail 98 feet long.
Think of all those wishes. Think of all those
Ick. Do not save. Throw them away.
Ned refused to cooperate with my plan to
forget and move on. During lunch, he kept staring at my
He recoiled. I guess it did come out pretty
harsh. His left eye was wandering ever so slightly. “Nothing.”
“Yes, it is something. So just tell me.”
“Oh, it’s just...I liked the way your eyes
Well, if that doesn’t beat all. I hated the
way my eyes would be blue one day and gray the next. It made it
hard to know what to wear.
“These are pretty, don’t get me wrong. I just
thought it was kind of neat the way they looked different all the
time. I could sometimes even read your feelings, like a mood ring.
It was cool.”
My motto for the new year is never ask a
question that you don’t want to know the answer to.
I needed to say something nice to him. He
looked so sorry, even though he was being complimentary to the
“It’s okay. Thanks for being honest.”
Ned was still eyeing me warily.
“See?” I said. “You don’t need my eyes to
change color. You can tell exactly what I’m thinking right now,
can’t you?” I hacked out a pathetic seal bark to prove that I can
laugh at myself.
Ned took my hand, running a finger along the
top of my nails, possibly checking to make sure they weren’t sharp
enough to pierce his skin. “Sorry. I should never have said that.
Your new eyes are beautiful. And I love it that I don’t have to
worry about squishing the frames into your face anymore.”
With that, he leaned over and gave me a
lovely kiss that erased all thoughts of non-refundable gifts from
The final grain of sandy discontent about my
contacts was thrown by beautiful, naturally baby-blue-eyed Hannah.
We meet up most Saturdays for math tutoring.
I caught her staring. To get it over with as
quickly as possible, I hissed, “Say it.”
“About my eyes. Go ahead.”
Hannah considered me with her perfect
peepers. “They look way better than your glasses.”
Before I could thank her, she went on, “And
they look totally natural. Really.”
Strange but true scientific facts about
octopi: They spontaneously regenerate lost limbs. They do a better
job of camouflage than a chameleon and if they could live longer
than five years, they would dominate the earth instead of humans
because they are smarter.
I never thought I would be jealous of a slimy
invertebrate, but there it is.
The spring semester is here. Goodbye mean
Mrs. Rochel and her scary-bad cooking and crazy mood swings. I am
taking wood shop instead. I know: carpentry doesn’t sound like a
thing to get worked up over. Hair and clothing coated with saw dust
is not normally a look I go for.
But I am kind of excited about it because,
unlike home ec, it’s something I know nothing about. I might
actually learn a thing or two.
Applying this same principle, I am only
moderately blithe to be exchanging typing for art. Just because I
am quite the artiste doesn’t mean the teacher will recognize my
innate talents. Mrs. Rochel practically hated me for mine with the
Also, the electives’ teachers in this place
don’t hand out the A’s just for showing up, the way it’s supposed
to be done. So I’m not holding my breath.
What is that expression about the frying pan
and the fire?
And do they hire electives teachers directly
from a mental institution as part of a rehabilitation plan?
I am terrified I might lose a limb, so intent
on demonstrating the dangers of power tools is Mr. Krakowicz.
He has a story for every piece of equipment
from the table saw to the screwdrivers of friends, acquaintances
and - most importantly - former students, who, with just a moment’s
inattention managed to mangle, maim or permanently remove part(s)
of their body. He alternates these stories with really bad, corny
and sometimes racist jokes. It’s actually worse than just straight
horror stories because we are forced to listen to find out if the
person really lost an eye, funnily never had one to begin with or
didn’t deserve one because he was [insert unpopular ethnicity of
the day here].