My aunt asked me to come over to read with her newest foster child. The girl is eighteen. She’s got sculpted, fashion model-quality cheekbones. High, breathtaking cliffs. Her skin is olive-y. Not brown, not green, and not yellow, but some easy and soothing combo of all three. And this blended olive color as it is on her smooth, soft skin gives the girl an effortless, sultry air. And now combine all that with those cheekbones and the result is delicious.
She draws her hair up. Usually in a misshapen bun, squashed onto the center of the top of her head. A flattened, grapefruit-sized ball of frizzy hair. Planted there. Planted and stationary. Until she turns her head. And then, it lists. Just enough to contribute a touch more attitude to the attitude she already spews.
The girl is sullen and so frequently bitchy. Her rare smile is a tiny oasis in the driest desert. When she allows a smile or a gentle word to escape, I feel surprise. I am quenched briefly.
She speaks, purposely it seems, at a lower than normal volume. And when reading aloud she reads at a level often barely audible. One must tune in carefully to hear, thus giving her the attention she demands.
She has learned to control it all. Figured out the loopholes to get by on the least effort possible. She knows the whether and how-to of being nice. She’s adept at the manipulation of time, so she never does for too long anything she doesn’t want to do. She’s mastered the modulation of her voice and tone when speaking to one person or the other to get her way. And she knows the precise time to increase the volume of her voice, drawl her words just a tad, or give a coquettish blink of her eyelashes. There’s almost a twinkle in her eye when she’s putting on the act to get what she wants, even sometimes when the act has her being miserable. She seems to be enjoying herself.
And then it’s gone. Bored and boring, dull, tired, and numb. Like an ox.
When she doesn’t get what she wants, the world is to blame. Never her. Fault will be announced. Damages will be voiced. It will be well known that she has been wronged.
“I’m not gonna drink it,” she whines when the “wrong” beverage is brought home as a gift for her from Daddy’s trip to the doughnut shop.
“I’m not gonna drink this. It’s not what I asked for,” she blasts toward the kitchen.
She pushes her lips into a pout, slides the drink several inches away from her, brings her eyelids to slits and states, “I’m not. I’m not going to drink it.” She says it a few more times in a variety of ways and then, twenty minutes or so later, picks it up and sucks on the drink’s patient, pink straw.
When it’s time to go, I gather my stuff and call goodbye to my aunt.
To the girl I smile, “See ya tomorrow.”
She replies with a bland and resentful, dismissive, “Yeh,” and turns to go to her room. I leave, closing and locking the door behind me.