Today's Reading


It's still light out when I get home, so I lower my blackout shades and block the horror of my exchange with Jake by watching Hitchcock's The Birds in my darkened bedroom. During a break in the movie's soundtrack of screeching and fluttering and screaming, I hear a knock at our front door. This movie always creeps me out, and I'm unusually nervous as I hit pause and head to see who's here.

The sun is low in the sky, and I squint at the beams of light streaming in through the bay window in our living room.

Jake made a fast departure when he dropped me off, and yet I'm hopeful he's come back.

When I fling open the front door, I picture my tall, lanky crush standing there. But instead, I find my petite and loathsome cousin, Lana, giving me a smug grin. I frown.

I can tell right away she's just finished filming one of her makeup tutorials. Every last one of her freckles is buried under thick foundation and her eyelashes look ready to crawl down her face like two spiders.

"Hello, Ricki." Lana's vivid lips are tightly pressed together. "I'm here to smack you with an epic proposition."

"As long as you don't literally smack me." I close the front door behind her. "Or attack me with a makeover blitz."

"It's not about that," she says. "Although your eyes would look epic with a little purple liner to accentuate your brown eyes. And those cheekbones—"

"I have no desire to put on one of your phony masks, Lana," I say.

"Hold on." She yells up the stairs, "Aunt June! Can we talk?" I marvel at the volume achieved by such a tiny creature.

"I'll be right there," my mother calls down. "Let me grab the new top I found for you."

Lana gives quick little claps and squeals, "Yay, new clothes!"

It figures my cousin is actually here for my mom. I curse the glamour gene that bonds the two of them together. That gene totally skipped me. Along with my father's dark hair and tan skin, I inherited a brain that blocks my ability to care about what clothes I wear. Lana says it's a crime I don't wear high heels because she loves tall girls who can rock a pair of stilettos, but I'm pretty sure a blurry photo of me would end up on some website with the headline, "SASQUATCH DISCOVERED IN FRESNO, CALIFORNIA."

"I'll wait for your mom to come down so I can tell you two together." Lana flings herself into my favorite spot on our leather couch. I can't help but think her bony bottom is going to ruin my perfectly formed butt groove. "You're both going to freak."

"I'm freaking already," I say in a dull voice.

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