The Young Birds


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Chapter One | If I Was A Side Order, I’d Be A Dip!

This is for the outcasts.

You weren't ready for this type of generic beginning. Beware of the movie references! Movie references everywhere!

I think that they are running out of ideas for movies - their inquisitive twists and unidentified plots that tend to attract the shit out me is lacking it's usual entertainment. I have seen more movies then a projectionist and learnt the entire trilogy script of both Mad Max and Star Wars - you can either say I have no life or I have a pretty proficient memory. I guess I have read a fair share of books if it counts as only a few pages of them actually being read - I tend to do that. Only because I would probably be celebrating my eighty-fifth birthday by the time my eyes meet the final chapters.

The year was 1995, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City was bombed, Michael Jordan returns to NBA, a bunch of crap happened in out of space and summer was just behind me, tickling my back, right at the moment my mom declares that I am a young girl with an old problem stuck in a decade that really couldn't give a fuck.

"What are you going to do with your life Tempy?" a question I am immune too. "Sleep, drink, forever wishing I was a part of the X-Men" I would think but never say.

Living in old Tacoma, Washington - it was the same routine, I was in the prime of bunking off my last year of high school, my mom would either be too hungover or too concerned about my great aunt Mara's welfare to give it any cognisance - I would befriend the moon at night and turn a cheek at the sun through the day. I would be awaken with toppling fresh bedding placed onto my face by my aunt Mara and she would leave my room five minutes after bleating on about how it stinks of self-pity and desperation.

I am sloppy. I can be a mess, a non-negotiable kind of mess. It's alright though, I am quite aware of this due to the reminder that aunt Mara shrills into my mind every day like an alarm clock.

My mom - the birther who had cradled me through my infant years, expressed her thoughts on aunt Mara's tragic but realistic opinion. Either way in which ever way she would like to call it, she can't physically do anything about it. You see? Mara pays for our rent, due to my mom losing her job months prior and old aunt Mara would rather be caught dead then to be imprisoned inside a retirement home.

"That can be arranged" I thought.

On an infuriating kind of level, I know agreement dwells within my mom on what Mara occasionally has to say - but refuses to admit it and in my own words, she can't, because it would be a bit rich coming from a woman who has no job and likes to drink late.

But! On a more significant note, I can't argue with that, my mom has been through a lot these past few months and it's my job as a daughter to be sympathetic. Even when It's negatively regarding me.

She and my dad are in the progress of getting a divorce - yes, It wouldn't be a book if the main character came from a broken home.

Even though the papers will make it official, I still have somewhat hope that there marriage will find itself again, for her benefit, not mine. But let's be practical here.

My dad never really took an interest in my life to begin with. He thinks of me as a burden more then my great aunt Mara does.

He sometimes calls through the week and asks after our well-being - probably only because he feels forced too.

He's either doing it for her or doing it for me, either way, he's still asking and he's still calling.

I pretend I don't care but I do miss having him around.

This has taken a toll on my mom, I like to assume more then me. Considering the fact that she has lost her job and her favourite name at the moment is Jack Daniels. Speaking of which - she decided to change her own name from Kaitlyn to Kadie. I really do think she's lost the plot.

I am not too sure how this whole love bubble thing works but all I know now is that my mom officially claims herself as a widower.

"Your father is dead to me Tempy, therefore I am widowed" she states as I laugh.

"Does that mean he has to be dead to me too then?"

She begins to swill the wine around in her fourth glass and ignores the question while listening to Stevie Wonders Signed Sealed Delivered for the thirty-fifth time that evening.

I did find myself awake that night, after searching through my mom's alcohol cabinet she stocks near the fridge. I usually take a quick glass from the Bourbon Whiskey bottle - that I try not to forget to fill up a little with water so that it doesn't look as if some is missing.

I wasn't sleeping well and I guess instead of counting sheep, I was counting hours towards a time that I should be waking up too.

I light a cigarette that I had stolen from my aunt Mara's hidden stash underneath the couch and held my head out of my bedroom window - I hear my door creek open and I see it's my mom.

"I guess your awake" she says. "I can smell the smoke from down the hall!"

"I guess your not asleep"

A moment of silence passes as she stares at me through the door. "Do you want to cut some stuff?" she finally says.

Muddled but interested - I then find myself sat with my back pressed up against the side of my mom's bed with her frolicking around, scattering an entire album of antiquated photos onto the floor. She slams herself next to me, almost spilling her glass of Rosé.

"Me and your father in college" she says as she hands me a photograph.

"I wasn't aware that you both attended the same college?"

"We didn't, I would sneak him in and we would wait until someone found out" she tries to contain her childlike behaviour.

I brush past a few photos laid across the floor as my mom reveals a pair of scissors and begins to snip my dad out of them. "They say you can't cut people out of your life Tempy, I say always carry a pair of scissors" she continues.

"But you never know when your going to need those photos again?" I say.

"You never know anything anymore, at least that's what I've learnt!" she begins to sway from side to side almost like the rhythm of a song is playing in her head.

I look over my shoulder and see that aunt Mara is eavesdropping, our eyes meet and as she pulls a disorientated look before heading towards her room. I then feel a hand grip on my forearm.

"I am worried about you Temps!" my mom says alarmingly. "I don't want you to be like me but your already becoming half of what I am"

"I have always been half of you"

"And the other half is eager to get out!" she continues. "I haven't seen you spend time with any of your friends for months, you hide away in your room and you miss school like it's a game of dodgeball"

I never had the kind of friends you could just call round for - sometimes they were just busy with there own lives and yes, friends can have other friends. And me? I became what I like to call a side order - you know? I was on the menu but I was optional and not particularly needed nor wanted. The meal happened to be enough and my little side order dish self was nothing but left over food that became trash as well as a gift for the outdoor ally cats, but it's okay - I enjoy the company of cats.

"I am sure you can find something to do with your friends!"

"I am a side order to them!" I proclaim. "I am hummus!" I then say with heated passion.

"That's not really a side order sweetheart"

"Great!" I groan "I am not even good enough to be a side order! I am a middle eastern dip! A dip that people tend to only open up at family gatherings and then throw away because no-one has exactly touched it, it's just been prodded a few times with breadsticks and cucumber!"

"That's not true, I quite like to save the hummus in the fridge!" my mom states to try and make me feel better.

"Perfect! Store me away in the cold darkness! It will be like shoving me straight up your vagina and back into your womb again!" I cry in a sarcastic rage.

"And maybe then I will birth a child that doesn't overact!" my mom, the woman who is currently slashing old photographs in half more vehemently then Freddy Krueger, has the nerve to say I overact.

I have to give that one to her though, I do tend to overact, especially when it comes to my health. Whenever something even momentarily feels uneasy in my stomach I convince myself I have Cancer and only three days to live.

But whatever - It happens sometimes, you fall behind your friends and next minute you find yourself strapped amongst your bed sheets with a dip of garlic sauce because you've become nothing other then a freaking side order. I guess that's just who I am, I wouldn't order me either.

There's something else you need to know about me, my name is Temperance Underwood but people call me Tempy and when I say people, I mean my mom. It's a strange name I know but I never asked for it. My aunt Mara is Russian and from a place I can't pronounce - she likes to call me nogi from time to time, which from what I have learnt, means legs in Russian or something like that. She doesn't label me this word because my legs are exceptional, she calls me it ironically, because my legs are plump, short and humorously easily to make fun of.

I spend my time relating real life moments to fictional movie scenes, in which the sentence "what did you say?" bounced around a lot because my attention would be drawn to whatever was unfolding on behind them. Either that or they would say "what the hell are you talking about?" after I make a movie reference on something they have never seen nor heard of.

I am rather plain looking and put it this way, I weigh a lot. And I am not talking about the kind of size that can be considered appealing, like a coco-cola bottle - but the kind of size that has me looking like a chunk of wood. My boobs are too big for my own good because I am not considered attractive - does it make you uncomfortable when I talk about my boobs? No? Good, because my boobs are almost large enough to wrap around my head and use as a hood on a rainy day.

My shabby hair falls just below my collar bones, although you can't particularly see the collar bones themselves. You are quite able to tell that I don't take very much care with it, due to the fact that it's been dyed blonde yet my roots are a dark brunette and my ends are split. Somewhere in-between all that there's probably left over signs of a very ill-treated dandruff problem I had last summer. I can explain this. When my mom was giving birth to me, I guess my head wouldn't fit fully through, The doctors had to use a Ventouse - which is a suction cup that fits on the top of a babies head and helps pull them out in the midsts of a struggle. But usually that's too comprehensive for me to explain to people so I simply say...I was yanked out by a vacuum cleaner.

Anyhow, my head was pretty damaged by it. I suffered from severe headaches at an early age and was marked with a gigantic black bruise on the very top of my head for the first few months of my life - It's why I hate my old baby photos, It looks like I am constantly wearing a Kippah even though I am not Jewish.

Later on in life, my head became increasingly delicate. This resulted in my skin becoming dry, flaky and produce dandruff and still to this day, it happens every now and then.

That's the reason I dyed my hair blonde in the first place to make the dandruff less noticeable, because when I had my darker hair - It would almost look like the night sky with thousands of stars scattered across it.

And by stars, I mean dandruff.

I feel like no-body really wants to read a book about a girl who's naturally gross - and I am not saying that for you to scream relatable out loud because every single time I watch a movie that involves what the script writers would like to demonstrate as a rather unattractive nerd - is never actually an unattractive nerd - they just threw on a pair of glasses, a ponytail, a sweatshirt and called it a day.

But I can assure you that I am naturally gross - I have my entire anatomy for proof.

But this isn't one of those kind of stories where I suddenly get pretty nor is it one of those kind of stories where I say I don't get pretty and then do.

I promise - I don't lie.

"You are the biggest liar I have ever crossed paths with!" my mom calls from the next room.

Okay, I lied about having bad eye sight that one time just so I could get glasses.

We are falling behind here. What were we talking about again? Oh yeah! My mom claiming that I am becoming like her.

"Summer vacation begins next week and I am not going to watch you waste it!" my mom says before handing me a brochure.

Gig Mansion the title read and then Summer camp underneath it.

"Gig Mansion?" I blurt out. "Summer camp? You want me to attend a Summer camp?"

My mom nods. "And it's not what you think so before you jump to conclusions, hear me out Temps. It's for the adolescents, ages between sixteen and eighteen and It's not about silly hide and seek games and finger painting, it's for people like you"

"And what is the definition for people like me?" I ask.

"Troubled, mentally unstable. Perturbed by anything that even remotely involves having a social life. Young adults like that"

"Are you trying to send me away to Arkham Asylum that's been disguised as a children's Summer camp?" suspiciously, I say.

"It's not a Psychiatric hospital Tempy! It's in Gig Harbour, downtown! Which is just under twenty minutes away - It looks like a great opportunity. You will meet new friends, be out in the wilderness! Sing camp fire songs!" my mom then chortles to herself.

"Mom!" I cry in anguish.

"I am kidding! There maybe a few campfire songs - but I refuse to let you waste this Summer. It might even help kids who try and drink out of there mothers alcohol cabinet!" she then says.

"How long did it take you to figure that one out?" I ask.

"Round about the time when my whiskey started tasting like water!"


"You are going to enjoy yourself, It'll be like a vacation you never asked for! No ifs or buts or hell no's! You are already signed up, the money has been paid, the bags will be packed, so you are going!" she states.

"Not if I kill myself before hand!" I groan.

"Well don't make too much noise - I am trying to concentrate on removing your father from the wedding we unfortunately had to share" she says as she continues to cut through the photographs. "Now I just look like I married myself" I then overhear her as I saunter my way out of her bedroom.

I am troubled and I am a youth - It was like Tom and Jerry. I was Jerry and my troubles were Tom. He'll chase and chase, I'd give him a bruise or two, he'd chase me into some mouse hole and give up for the day - then he would completely repeat himself afterwards. I know I have my issues but I highly doubt a Summer camp is going to help them but with saying that, Tom never did actually catch Jerry.

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