|This is about a young girl who's spending part of her summer in an alternative community of hippies filled with double wide mobile homes and a bunch of wackos. Its not to that point just yet though. The story is intended for kids around the age of 12 give or take. Please read and review!!
After only two months Aunt Helen decided to be an exotic dancer. She signed up for classes at the Theater of the Arts. Her class began at 3.00, when I got out of school, so she picked me up and dragged me along. I was only ten at the time.
Watching from the behind the glass window, I could see the dancers prancing around like drugged gazelles in their leotards. Aunt Helen’s leotard was unflattering. It hugged her in all the wrong places and she ended up looking like a rotten purple grape that was about to burst. I was mesmerized and horrified all at the same time. Every ten seconds, Aunt Helen would wiggle her fingers at me, scrunching her big cherry red lips to blow me a kiss. I’d wave back, sinking lower in my chair. It took all my self control not to pretend to grab the air kiss, shred it into a million pieces, and stomp it onto floor. It was humiliating.
Besides sticking out like a sore thumb, all seemed to go well as Aunt Helen stuck the poses and wiggled her body with the others. That was until the tricks and jumps came. Helen, being her size and all, wasn’t all that flexible. The only muscle I’d ever seen her stretch was her mouth whenever she ate. It was a total catastrophe. She pulled a handspring while attempting to twirl, and knocked the scrawny instructor over when she threw her arms out. I was just glad Aunt Helen hadn’t intended on leaning on her. It was me who ended up having to give my aunt all the support, not Mom. If you ask me, I think she needs a therapist.
Her healing went fine. Aunt Helen had moved in what little stuff she owned with our family right after the “accident” so I always had to check in on her. She lost all desire to take anymore exotic dance classes, she told me after she’d fully recovered. Though she did write a poem for the blind and deaf while she was bedridden, she mostly sang which was pretty funny to watch. Well, it was funny.
Four days after her recovery she tried out for the opera choir. Since Aunt Helen was a little big boned, Mom thought she would do well as a singer. Her lungs could hold gallons of air. Grudgingly, I agreed. For the most part I thought it was fine. They would hear her voice sounded like a dying cat and dismiss her like it was nothing. She ended up taking me out of school again for “emotional support”.
Halfway through the exercise, I saw Aunt Helen drop her song book and shift from hip to hip as if she had an itch that needed scratching. Her face looked paler than usual. The instructor, who wore a black suit with a dashing red rose, seemed content on ignoring it. Great, I thought as I was covering my ears. She won’t draw attention to herself that way. Five seconds later there was a huge thump that sounded like an elephant had just keeled over. I looked up, scanning the group of confused choir singers in mid-song. Someone was missing. Aunt Helen had fainted.
It took six water bottles and a slap in the face to get her up. Finally, consciousness seemed to seep into her body and her eyes fluttered open. She frowned.
“What are you doing here, Lauren?” She asked. “Shouldn’t you be at school?”
I only blushed as more and more choir members gathered around in a circle big enough to contain her. I kneeled down over her, waiting for everything that had happened to come rushing back to her. Then, she began to speak.
She brushed her hand on my cheek. “I…I,” she whispered.
“Aunt Helen?” I could feel my eyes begin to sting with tears that threatened to fall. This was worse than some dumb soap opera.
“I feel in my heart, that my true calling is…ice skating.”
The next thing I recall are my hands starting to go limp. I felt my head go light and airy. My eyes started to roll back in my head. But I didn’t faint. I wish I had. I don’t think I’ve ever been so embarrassed in my life.
* * *
Dad lost his job one week before summer break. So, all my dreams of traveling to a remote island paradise kind of just puffed up in flames right then. It didn’t take long to find out why Dad was acting funny and when Mom found out I knew she made me swear I wouldn’t tell my brothers. I just shrugged it off. Mom kept shooting me glances whenever the boys were in the room. Like I would scream, “We’re poor aren’t we!?” any second. Which I did, but at least Johnny and Erin were at soccer practice.
I threatened to tell unless Mom and Dad told me everything. So they sat me down on the living room couch and broke the news. ALL the news. From the job downsizing to our new vacation: Hippieville.
On Saturday afternoon Mom made me and the boys pack up our belongings. I just packed like it was a normal vacation. Camping wasn’t half bad. I figured this would be like an extended camping trip with a bunch of Dad’s colleagues from the office. We would all meet at __ Springs somewhere in the dense jungle of our city’s backyard. Not much of a vacation.
“Who’s coming?” I asked Mom as she threw a bunch of junk in her suitcase. She’d been acting funny all morning.
“Oh, some of your dad’s friends. Y’know the Dunkleys’ and everyone.”
I groaned. Mr. Dunkley was the most boring and stiff man in the entire universe. He always looked like he had a rod up his butt.
“Be nice, Lauren, it’s only for a few weeks, two, maybe three.”
I didn’t know it but three weeks would feel like three years.
I hadn’t spent a summer with Aunt Helen since the whole fainting episode. All I knew was that whatever she was doing, I didn’t want to be involved. Aunt Helen hadn’t had a halfway normal job since she was fired from Burger King after burning pickles along with half the kitchen. She had been seventeen then.
Mom once said she got her sister a job at the office but after two hours of stapling papers she screeched at the boss like a monkey and stomped out in a huff. I decided from then on that Aunt Helen was bonkers.
“A whole summer?” I whined, when Mom had started packing my bags. “A WHOLE summer with Aunt Helen?”
“Lauren,” Mom said, half begging. “Give her another shot, she’s your aunt. She really misses you guys since you’ve been gone.” Its funny how people you haven’t seen in forever suddenly want you around.
“Mom,” I said, rolling my eyes, “She lives like five blocks away, why can’t she visit or something? Not like she ever stays at her house. She’s too busy wrestling lions in the Sahara.”
“Well…she doesn’t live there anymore,” she said, wincing a little.
“Oh that’s a surprise,” I huffed. “Where does she live now, underground?”
“Sorry. I know she’s your sister and all, but I have a reputation to uphold. My friends wouldn’t talk to me for a week last time she walked me to school.”
“That was in elementary,” Mom reminded me. “Plus,” she stopped rifling through my things, letting her hand drop on my shoulders. I avoided her eyes. “Those wouldn’t be real friends, would they?”
Sometimes it seems like moms are in a different dimension. Like they see normal things like report cards and tooth paste in a different light. Now, don't get me wrong, I love Aunt Helen. But Mom is probably oblivious to how wacko she is 'cause they're sisters. But trust me. When I say Aunt Helen's got a screw loose, or she's lost her marbles, I mean it. Three years ago, she lived with us. I don't think I've ever seen her the same again.
* * *