Tag Archives: high school

Growing Up George: Ch. 2 Cilantro Seeds

You ever get the feeling you’re capable of more than people give you credit for? It’s like I always surprised people that I could read and write.

And then there’s the opposite. People giving me too much credit because they expected a lot outta me. They expected me- little George from the Barrio- to grow up and become Cesar Chavez and then president and come back, repave the alleys and build a bridge to paradise. And I couldn’t even figure out who my dad was. Much less, college scholarships.

Not that I was even trying. Not for the scholarships, anyways.

My auto shop teacher knew a guy and I was going to start working there twelve, maybe sixteen hours per week. Help my aunt with the bills. Get a decent phone. Maybe buy my own ride. Eventually get a girlfriend. Girls didn’t want to ride bikes by that age. It’s like they grew up too fast and that killed part of the magic. But you couldn’t date a freshman cause then you knew eventually you’d break up cause you’d be 18 and she’d be like 15 or 16.

But if you had a nice ride, then you couldn’t lose. You’d get a girl your own age and if you really liked her you could get really down with her in the car. But then if it didn’t work out, eventually she’d go to college or move closer to the city and you wouldn’t even have to break her heart. That’s what the guys on the varsity team said.

I was going to try out for varsity soccer that year but I wanted the job more than the extracurricular credits.

I guess what I wanted was the girls. Or maybe just one girl.

Cindy Nuñez had moved to the other side of the neighborhood along with her seven brothers and sisters back when we had started middle school. She didn’t speak English back then but she didn’t have to say much to get to know her. It didn’t take her long to fit in or become popular because she was so sweet. Her straight long brown hair just barely covered her bare waistline when she’d wave at you and then turn around hurrying off somewhere. I had been studying her summer schedule and figured out she always went grocery shopping with her oldest sister on Wednesday mornings.

So the following Wednesday, I asked my aunt Matty if she needed anything from the store.

“I just went Monday.”

I was afraid she’d say something like that so I had drank half the milk and orange juice the night before, and poured the other half down the drain.

“Yeah but we’re outta milk.” I opened the fridge. “Looks like we’re outta o.j. too.”

“Already? Jeez Louise, are you training to become a wrestler? You’re already tall enough. Stop drinking so much milk.”

I was really only like four inches taller than Aunt Matty, which wasn’t saying much.

“I was thirsty.”

“Alright alright, that’s not how I meant it. Here, get me cilantro seeds.” Aunt Matty handed me a ten dollar bill.

“That’s alright, Tía. This one’s on me.” I had been weeding out my neighbor’s yard and had about twenty dollars on me. I reached for the car keys by the door.

“What are you gonna take the car for? It’ll fit fine on your bike.”

I clenched my mouth and looked up at the ceiling with my eyes closed. Took a deep sigh.

“I did some work on your car last night and want to see if it’s running good,” and I shot out the door.

“Mentiroso!” she yelled behind me, liar, and I heard one of her rubber chanclas that she wore hit the door, but I was already backing out of the driveway in a cloud of dirt.

I scanned the grocery store parking lot and saw Cindy’s sister’s Corolla there under a magnolia tree. Checked myself in the mirror. My hair was too long and bushy, beyond the help of gel. I slapped on my Pirate’s cap and glided inside. I had to extend my two minute trip inside to be long enough to bump into her.

Luckily, she was in line at the register reading tabloid headlines when I walked in. Everything else seemed to fade in her presence. Sounds became faint and echoed, like when you’re under water. She was wearing her hair in a bun and had a strappy red camisole on. If I said her name, she’d turn around and smile, and I’d have enough to live on for another week. But then she might expect me to say something back to her, and I wasn’t prepared for that.

She must have felt someone staring at her because she looked up and our eyes met. I felt the soles of my shoes melting into the floor. She waved.

“Hey George. Are you trying our for varsity this year? I just got an email saying the girls’ tryouts are tomorrow and Friday.”

“Uh. Yeah. Of course.”

Because, duh, the girls’ soccer players always went to the guys’ games and vice versa and Cindy had played defense the year before. How could I have forgotten that minor detail?

“Good luck!” she went on, “Hopefully I’ll see you around then.”

“Looking forward to it.” Well, that was stupid. What a loser thing to say. ‘Looking forward to it.’ The words resounded in my head for like the next forty-eight hours. Cindy had just giggled and held up a magazine that said someone important had broken up with someone less important. I shrugged and went on my way.

‘Looking forward to it.’ Man was that stupid.

 

flash fiction by Ave Valencia

When Izzy Met Lizzy

Izabella, or Izzy, as her mom called her, had a way about her that instantly attracted people to her, old and young.
If she was going to the store, she would knock on her elderly neighbor’s house to see if she needed anything.
If she was going to the library, she would ask the little kids in the ghetto apartment complex if they wanted to go with her.
They’d always say yes, and off they went across the street like a trail of ducklings.
Her mom was a project manager and was always getting reassigned to different cities, ever since her parents divorced when she was six.
Izzy also attracted the wrong kind of people.
Society’s dregs.
Sometimes older men would offer to walk her places, and of course, being the sweet darling that she was, she’d say yes.
Her mom wasn’t aware of this, working 60+ hours a week as she did.
Sometimes older men would offer to buy her drinks.
And of course, she’d say “no,” but if they insisted a little, if they got her hung up on some silly personal story, then she’d walk into a food joint with them, and before she knew it, she’d had three or four drinks.
Then someone would text her, she’d look at the time, she’d excuse herself gracefully, or as gracefully as one can excuse one’s self in slurred language, and the guy would call her a cab.
Then one night the guy got in the cab with her.
She can’t remember how many she’d had to drink that night, or the guy’s name.
She’d seen him a few times at the library.
He seemed respectable enough.
Maybe 23? 25? years old.
He told her he was in college, but she can’t remember which one.
Anyway, that night was Izzy’s 16th birthday.
Her mom had called her a few hours earlier to cancel dinner plans.
Her dad hadn’t returned her voice mails.
Izzy could have been with her friends, but she felt frustrated.
She knew that soon her mom would get re-assigned to another city and once she left, all her friends could care less about her.
So she stayed up late drinking with this sort of stranger.
When they got out of the cab they had been making out for 15 straight minutes.
Izzy looked out the window as the guy paid the driver.
“This looks like my old house I used to live in when I was 12,” she said excitedly.
The guy got out and opened the door for her.
Izzy laughed.
“I don’t live here.”
“It’s alright. You can stay with me tonight.”
Izzy looked at her cell phone as if still expecting her dad to call back any second.
She frowned as she gave up on that idea and bounced out of the cab.
The following two weeks, Izzy was busy packing and she never ran into that guy again.

At Pine Valley High, Izzy had trouble making friends.
It was the middle of the school year and her cheerfulness seemed to rub people the wrong way.
It was too late to try to join any teams.
She was the only one in her class who had a driver’s license, since the state she was coming from had a lower age requisite to start driving than the one she was now living in.
Then there was Lizzy.
Lizzy was the quiet studious type.
Nothing in common with Izzy.
She had a relatively small group of friends and would often run into Izzy while walking home.
Izzy would offer her a ride.
On one occasion, Izzy told Lizzy she hadn’t gotten her period.
Lizzy gasped in disbelief.
“Do you think you’re pregnant?”
Izzy looked down embarrassed.
“Have you told your mom?”
“She’ll kill me,” said Izzy. “She’s been saving for me to go to college since I was five. No way in hell will she let me keep it.”
Lizzy started giggling.
“What’s so funny?” asked Izzy, annoyed.
“Your mom thinks you’re gonna get into college.”
Izzy floored the accelerator and turned the music up.
She got on the first on-ramp of the interstate south.
“Where are we going???” asked Lizzy.
“To find the guy.”
“Izzy, you don’t even know where this guy lives, let alone his name!”
“I know where he likes to eat.”
Lizzy turned the volume down.
“You’re gonna get me in trouble. Take me home.”
Izzy pulled over on the side of the freeway, got out of the car, and started kicking it.
She didn’t notice Lizzy was crying inside.
The sun was setting and Izzy’s rage seemed to fill the sky a fiery red.
Finally Lizzy got out of the car and yelled, “It’s OK! You’ll be alright! I’ll take care of you!”
Izzy turned around with drops of sweat glistening on her forehead.
She couldn’t believe Lizzy was willing to stick her neck out for her.
They had only known each other for a couple months.
Then she turned around and threw up.