Issue 93 Feb 2021
“So, how was your summer?” Lucy fixes her eyes upon me as we walk to school.
Butterflies flutter in my stomach and I resist the temptation to look down at the floor. “Fine, thanks.”
“Fine?!” She stops and whirls around, catching my arm with the strap of her rucksack.
“Yeah.” I rub my arm. “What about yours?”
“It was boring without you to hang out with. But I’m not the one whose parents took her on a cruise around Europe! Come on, Vicky, you can’t just say ‘fine’. Give me something to go on.”
I take a deep breath. This was the conversation I had been dreading. “What do you want to know?”
“Everything! For a start, did you make any friends?”
“You can’t just stay in your room the whole time.” Mum frowned at me.
I shrugged. “Of course I can. I’ve got a TV in my room, music on my phone and loads of books on my Kindle. I’m all set.”
The school smelled like waxed floors and bleach. None of my friends were in my classes. So far, eighth grade was a dud year.
I stood at the front of the class -- my back to my classmates. Picking up the black marker made me seethe. I hated math. Writing in front of everyone was like an appointment at the dentist. The marker in my hand tasted like the drill -- I imagined flecks of enamel flying into my throat. I suppressed a cough. My mouth salivated, and I swallowed. I glanced at the clock on the wall, one long minute until the bell, almost 10:00. Breathe.
“Okay, Tuesday, here’s your next question. What does x equal if seven x minus two x equals 25?”
Uh, what? I picked up the marker, tasted the metal again, and wrote the question out, my jaw clenched tight.
There should be a support group for people like me, people with my terrible curse…
I'd say, “Hi, I’m Tuesday, my parents named me after a Cheryl Crow song.”
“Hi, Tuesday,” all the others like me would reply.
“My taste buds are weird; I taste everything I touch.” I’d explain that to them, and that the couch tasted like soap.
They would nod; they’d believe me. It wouldn’t be a secret anymore.
The bell rang, pulling me out of my daydream.
I charged out the door, a smile on my face, freedom, and the taste of oranges dancing in my mouth as my hand pushed the wood open.
“Hi, Tuesday, how’s math?” Mika smiled at me, and then closed her locker.