narrated by: Paloma
During the evening it’s just me and Linny. Mom works 9-9 at the Mini Sprout, and Grandma still works at the Pizza Palace. I had to quit working at The Red Mill after Eric laid off Mom, and with that, I lost my scholarship for working at a local business.
Oliver insists that everything is going to work out. But he isn’t the one left behind here, trying to stay positive, do well in school, and take care of a little sister.
I sign up for the free cooking contests whenever there is one in our area, bringing Linny with me. It’s our chance to eat, after all we relied on Oliver’s family for dinner.
We try to binge eat in secret so the other contestants and judges don’t disqualify us.
Mom and Grandma always say I’m a great cook, and should open my own bakery. It’s something I’d like to do, but I’m realistic enough on real world businesses and their fail rate. Not that I’m anywhere close to having the money to buy a property. Mom has been trying to encourage me to take it one step at a time, that business owners don’t just buy properties and make it. Sure, I could work at the Pizza Palace with Grandma, but it’s embarrassing enough having her work there. Especially with Meg and Peter working there.
The judging part of the competition takes a long time, there’s usually several tables to go through before it’s my turn. I think they should have an age limit, instead of just allowing anyone to enter.
Linny usually falls asleep on the sofa in the front hall while she waits. It’s like Thanksgiving dinner for us when we have these competitions, and we both get sleepy after we eat.
I manage to win this particular contest, I think the judge felt pity on me because the dessert to my side was extensively more impressive. I’m not complaining though, fifty dollars is fifty dollars. It’s enough to buy a few groceries to last until Mom or Grandma get paid.
While I make dinner, I usually let Linny to herself, it’s generally rainy here, and she’s always jumping in the puddles. At least she can clean up after herself, and take a bath when she needs without needing me to nag at her to do it.
Sometimes I forget that she’s just a kid, and could use boundaries, heck I’m still just a kid most of the time.
She came inside, too tired to eat, and wanted to just go to bed. Usually she stays up until Mom gets home, but was whiny that she needed to sleep, and now.
An hour later I was sitting down to attempt to catch up on my homework, when I heard a huge coughing fit from her upstairs.
And then a thud.
Without a doubt, the worst empty-panic-striken feeling in the world grabbed a hold of me as I flew up the stair case. I called for an ambulance, the operator assured me that she’d be fine. She was breathing, and even opened her eyes a little, and told me she was just tired. It only assured me enough to think she wasn’t going to die.
Mom met us at the hospital, with Grandma right behind her. It took a few hours just to get seen, you’d think an ambulance ride would put you at the top of the priority, but she was quickly dropped down when Linny sat up and said she was hungry for dinner.
A thousand dollars later, at least Mom said, we were released. They said she needs to eat more, and that her cold will be gone in no time.
Mom’s worried about the hospital bills. She sat me down to talk to me about college. She’s tried before, but I never want to listen. We can’t afford college, I know this, but Oliver’s family can’t ether and he got scholarships and loans. Mom doesn’t think I should take out loans for school. My dream job isn’t in a hospital or courtroom, but in a bakery, and that’s where I should put my focus and energy, she says.
She makes me so angry, I can barely look at her. I know she just wants to keep me around to watch Linny. It’s like she doesn’t believe in me that I could be a lawyer if I wanted. She just doesn’t get it, sure I like to bake, but I want to earn a living. I care more about having money than I care about freaking chocolate chip cookies.
Her boyfriend, Gideon is over all the time whenever Mom is, he fixes the television, something Grandma had to do. He even checked her oil on the beat up wagon, though he doesn’t know how to actually change the oil, Mom still has to pay to have that done.
Even Linny is warming up to him, she doesn’t even know our Dad, he died when Mom was still pregnant. She doesn’t see what a betrayal the entire thing is.
When the mail lady comes by to drop off the mail, and my letter from Eastborough University is in the mix, I know that this is my break. I can’t wait to show Mom that I can earn a decent living, that the bad luck of the Creelman family ends with me. I’m even generous in my imaginary scenario, I’d most definitely help pay Grandma’s furniture loan off, and pay their bills.
In the end, it’s a small letter instead. “We’re sorry, many exemplary students applied this year…” The generic letter that’s given when people aren’t really sorry at all, when what they really want to say is, “Paloma Creelman, you’re family is worthless, and we don’t think you’ll amount to anything.”
Notes: She really did try, but not until her junior year, and she never got that grade to go up past a D. She has quite a few skills as well, just didn’t get that homework done timely. Paloma is a *very* unhappy girl, which is only going to get worse when she ages up an realizes she didn’t get to go to college for certain. Linny really did have a giant coughing fit, walk out of the bedroom, and pass out! Scared the crap out of me! I thought the Grim was on his way in, but she was fine, just exhausted, and starving.