Young Adult is a story (told in four parts) about six, well frankly, young adults, figuring life out.
Now, to introduce The Players.
Jean Louise Burman is a senior trying to get into the college of her dreams.
It all looks possible until her family life gets in the way and she receives her ACT scores. Her world comes crashing down and she has to get tutoring from an aggressive and grouchy tutor, Ruth. With her sister's wedding, moving houses, and her father going back into the dating scene, will Jean be able to balance her hectic family life and even more stressful school life?
Ruth Murray is about to explode.
With harsh parents, a boyfriend that only wants sex, and a low self-esteem to boot, Ruth doesn't think that she will become much. But when the opportunity opens up for her to audition for Juilliard, she takes it. There's only one problem; Juilliard is thousands of miles away, and her parents refuse to pay for a plane ticket. Ruth then begins a tutoring business and has the unfortunate pleasure of tutoring Jean Louise Burman, who may as well be the most clingy person Ruth has ever met.
Linus Ashby just got his learner's permit.
He's also found documents in the basement that say he was adopted. Wanting to find out about his biological parents without his adoptive parents knowing, Linus goes on a wild search for a woman named Beth Armstrong, who might have some answers to his questions. He also finds himself in the spotlight after saving a girl from sexual assault, and he doesn't really know how to act at all when all eyes are on him.
Maeve St.Thomas is trying to fit in.
According to her mother, the only way to fit in is to be popular. But in her search for popularity, she gets introduced into the wrong crowd and is almost is raped, until Linus Ashby, a nobody, interferes. Maeve has never had someone stand up for her, and is intrigued by the somewhat dorky kid. She isn't sure if this is the way to fitting in, but she befriends Linus, and with that, finds out about what friendship actually is.
Akamai Iowani wants to be a musician.
It’s not working out all too well. He’s been kicked out of his apartment, can’t find a gig, and cant stay sober for more than a few hours at at a time. But when a kind woman lets him have a full time job at her bar, things are looking up. Except the part where he's working at a bar. Also theres this cute guy named Tyler, who’s a little stuffy, that Akamai is determined to loosen up.
Tyler Knock is making his way through life.
He still hasn't declared his major yet, he has a dead end job, and doesn't have a date to his brother’s wedding yet. He’s also confused with his sexuality. Is he straight? Gay? He doesn't have a clue, and there’s this guy who’s just started at work, who keeps flirting with him. And he might like the guy? Tyler is just a generally confused guy, who could use some coffee and wifi.
The first part-- this is exciting! You're seeing the characters for the first time! They're all new to you. You could like them, or you could hate them. That’s up to you.
In this part, we’ll be looking at our protagonists on the outside. What they look like on the outside, how they act around others, what they like to do. Their appearance.
We’ll be looking at Jean Louise and her insanely large family taking their family photos for the first time in seven years. We’ll also see Ruth and her passion for dance (and also features the author's ballet terminology skills, or lack thereof), Linus and his all too perfect family, and Maeve and her obsession with the material world. Also Akamai trying to look good to find a job, and Tyler realizing everyone is getting their lives together and he isn’t.
Man. That’s kind of daunting, Tyler.
Our house ran out of room a long time ago. For one thing, seven girls, three of which are teenagers, share two bedrooms and one bathroom. I mean, I love my sisters, and I could never see my life without them, but I’m pretty sure we all know that its way too cramped in here.
All seven of us are jammed into the bathroom and the noise in here is sure to give Jo a headache. The younger girls and Matilda are crowded in front of the mirror. Lucy is trying to brush her hair, and her elbow finds its way into Tilda's stomach, who is trying to apply eyeliner. Matilda jerks back into Nancy, who stomps around and then bumped into Annabelle, who then in turn punches Laura, thinking she was Nancy, who then pushes her way to the toilet where I sit, braiding Jo’s hair.
“Jeeaaan! Annabelle punched me!” Laura whines, her voice shrill and loud.
“ Say that again, I don’t think Jean heard you!” quips my twin, Matilda, who is aggressively rubbing eyeliner off her nose.
I do my best to not get annoyed at my sister’s negative attitude.
“I heard you the first time, kiddo.” I tell her, finishing braiding Jo’s dark auburn hair.
“Well… are you going to do anything about it?!” Laura snaps.
I try my best to give her the “mom” look, you know, the almost steely glance, but it still some sort of warmth to it. Yes, that one.
Laura raises an eyebrow and I know it didn't work. Damn, I’ve been acting like a mom for seven years and I still haven't perfected, the look. I’m a failure to pretend moms everywhere.
“Suck it up, Laura Ingall. Also, Annabelle Lee, don’t be an asshole.” Tilda shouts over the din of the girls. Lucy’s little head whips back to look at me, her bushy red hair making her look frankly ridiculous.
“Jean, Tilda said a bad woord!!” Lucy tattles.
“Oh my God, you’re such a suck up!” replies Annabelle with her hands on her hips.
I feel Jo’s lungs heave as she lets out a sigh. I nod in agreement as I glance at my wrist watch.
“‘Kay girls, let’s go!” I say, moving us to a different topic before Annabelle could beat on Lucy anymore.
The girls file out and I get to quickly get to glimpse at my reflection in the mirror. I didn’t get enough time to my makeup, which is a little disappointing, but overall fine, seeing that Matilda got to do her’s, and she really wanted to, while I didn’t care either way.
When we all make it down the stairs, I’m surprised to see Dad sitting on the couch, tying his shoes. He looks just about the same since the last time I saw him, sullen and deflated. It appears like he’s lost some weight too.
I smile as I come up next to him. Hopefully a nice day with the girls will cheer him up.
“Hey Daddy,” I say quietly. He physically shutters in response.
“Hey little lady. How are you?” he whispers after a moment.
“Just great. Are you ready to go get family pictures?”
He looks up and stares at me with a little smile.
“I sure am. Are the girls ready?” he says, and I feel a flood of relief in my chest.
“Yep, got ‘em up early and washed ‘em,”
He stands up and the kids scramble to him for hugs and kisses. Jo stands next to the wall facing me staring at her shoes. Matilda stands next to her, leaning on the wall. She jerks her head to the side. I make my way over to the two of them.
“So, how’s the old man?” Matilda murmurs, looking down and brushing nonexistent dust off of her sweater.
“Fine, good actually. Way better since we saw him last time.” I lie, staring at Nancy who’s across the room, twirling to show dad her dress.
I don’t want to tell her the truth. She hasn’t actually directly talked to him for almost two years and if she really wants to know our poor dad’s doing she can go ask him. I…I just want them to be happy with each other again.
“Damn bastard. He’s doing just fine and he still can’t interact with his damn family? What an asshole,” she replies quietly, pushing herself off the wall, “Come on kiddos, we’re going to the picture place. Don’t wanna be late. Tell dad he’ll need to get in the car if he wants to come,” she tells the girls, walking to the car.
The girls giggle in delight and run outside to the car. Jo stands next to me as dad walks out and I lock the door. Jo watches me with fascination. I smile at her and she blushes and looks down at her shoes.
“Lets go, kiddo.”
As I sit in the passenger seat of the car, I get lost in my thoughts.
It’s been seven years. It’s been a little more than seven years since I was eleven years old. Its strange how that happens.
My family hasn’t really been the same since I turned eleven. We became disconnected. Our father had detached himself, my older sister Lizzie left for college and never came back, and our mother…our mother left us, permanently.
Suicide. Jo had found her. It changed all of us, but it hurt Jo and dad the hardest though.
Our mother’s death forced Matilda and I to grow quickly. Our father rarely left his room which left Matilda and I to raise our five younger siblings with only little help from our aunt Leigh. We managed it though. I’ve managed stayed positive, while Tilda has grown animosity toward our parents.
“Jean?? Jean Louise? We’re at the studio.” says Matilda. It feels like a slap to the face. My face flushes and I unbuckle my seat belt and escape our car.
Paying for the pictures was fine, Dad managed to go up to the lady at the front desk, and even managed some small talk with her. Waiting our turn for pictures was a little difficult, Annabelle has always been a little impatient and it didn’t help that a family next to us had a crying baby. I felt horrible when Matilda had to apologize for Annabelle telling the baby to “shut it’s mouth hole”. It also didn’t help that Nancy had to go on and on about this boy in her English class to Jo, who looked like she was trying not to cry. But the hardest task was when we actually had our picture taken. No one was able to keep their eyes open when the camera flashed, and even if that did happen, they weren't smiling. It was impossible.
Eventually, we take alright pictures, with only Matilda frowning in it, and Laura blinking. After the pictures develop, we go out to diner that’s only a block away from our house. The girls munch away on macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets. Lucy sits on my lap and occasionally eats some of my salad. Its nice, domestic even. It feels right.
When we get home, Nancy and Annabelle fight over the TV remote and Matilda ends up turning on some stupid kids show. Laura goes up to her room to read, and Lucy and Dad play checkers. Everything seems fine, in fact too fine.
I realize eventually, after watching Dad and Lucy for about half an hour, that I do not know where Jo is. I check our room, but she’s not there. I check the backyard, where I often find her, by herself, sketching. I have no idea where she could be.
“Hey, Jean. Could you go check on Jo? I saw her go to the bathroom when we got home, but she hasn’t come out yet.” calls Matilda from the couch, Annabelle lying knocked out on her chest.
So, that’s where she is.
I climb up the stairs and down the hall to the bathroom, where I then very quietly knock on the door. From the other side, Jo sniffs loudly.
“You okay, Jo?” I ask.
There’s another sniff. “I’m fine,” she shakily replies.
“Come on, kiddo. I know somethings up. Tell me,”
“Nothing, Jean. Leave me alone. Let me pee in peace.”
“I don’t believe you. I’m coming in,” I reply, opening the unlocked door.
Jo is body is hunched,sitting on the counter of the sink, staring at her reflection in the mirror. Her face is tearstained and her nose is running.
“You don’t have to worry about your looks Jean,” mumbled Jo, “You look like freakin’ a million bucks all the time, and I’ve never seen you have acne, and….and… and you aren’t a ginger,”
“Is this what this is about?” I question Jo.
“Yes, of course it is. What did you think this was about? Everyone in this family looks like model in this family, but me. Everyone’s got clear skin, and nice hair and constantly get complimented, and then there’s me, who everybody constantly brushes off!” Jo hisses, her body physically shaking.
“Jo… you’re beautiful, alright? Gorgeous, even. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I mean, seriously. And you’re also extremely creative! And talented, and…and.. intelligent, okay, kiddo?”
Jo looks at me for a moment with a sad look on her face.
“Okay.” she sighs, pushing herself off of the counter.
I know that I didn’t help her very much by the look on her face, and it breaks my heart. I decide that the best I can do is be supportive.
“Bring it in,” I smile, opening my arms for a hug. Jo looks anxiously at her feet and then to me.
Suddenly, the doorbell rings. Jo slips past me and darts down the hall. The girls are making a commotion.
The front door is open by the time I’m down stairs. A young woman with brown hair and brown eyes is standing there, a huge grin on her face.
“Oh my gosh, Jeanie Lou! Look how much you’ve grown!” she says. Her voice is familiar. I haven't heard it in such a long time.
“Lizzie?” I guess. The girl nods happily. She’s Lizzie. My sister. My sister that I haven’t seen in seven years.
Dad is crying, happy tears I can only guess, as Lizzie happily enters the house. Behind her is a tall dark haired man who looks just as excited. Dad invites them to sit on the couch, which they do.
I haven't’ seen Dad like this in such a long time, and I can’t help but feel overjoyed. He’s talking to Lizzie and mystery man, and the girls are interacting with them. It’s nice. Comforting, even.
I walk over to the couch and listen to my sister talk. Her voice is just like I remembered it, melodic and gentle— and oozing affection.
“So… you might have all already guessed, but this is my fiancé, Wes,” Lizzie gushes, and Nancy squeals with delight.
“Whens the wedding? Where’s the wedding? Who’s going to be the flower girl? Can I be the flower girl? Who’s the ring bear? Can I be the ring bear?” Nancy asks, jumping up and down with excitement.
“Whoa, calm down kiddo. Let Lizzie finish,” Matilda urges. Lizzie smiles and takes Wes’ hand.
“Well, I figured now is a better time than ever, so we think we’re going to get married in February of next year. We don’t know where exactly the wedding will be yet. I don’t see why you couldn’t be a flower girl.”
Nancy squealed in delight. “Oh, this is great! I’m going to be a flower girl, I’m going to be a flower girl!”
“Chill,” Tilda sighed, glaring at her.
Eventually, the little ones went to bed, with some aggressive pressuring from Matilda, who shoved them all up to their bedroom, helped them into their beds, and them promptly slammed the door shut. The rest of the night,we all talked. We caught up with each other. It felt good in my head, even though I felt an unpleasant feeling in my stomach.
Lizzie had left us all those years ago, and now she just decides to pop back into our lives like nothing happened. My stomach lurches thinking about it. She just left one day for college and never came back. She didn’t even call, or communicate to us that she was even alive until Christmas two years ago when she sent us a post card from Malibu wishing us a “totally radical christmas, dude”. And even then, we didn't know if that was actually her or not. It could of been a stalker.
But I am grateful for her presence here tonight. Its got dad talking and smiling, and crying what i can only guess are happy tears. He’s also been outside of his “quarters” of the house more today than in two years, making this the longest time he’s been outside since the Christmas fiasco of 2009.
He is certainly smiling more than the Christmas fiasco of 2009, thats for certain. I’m pretty sure everyone is smiling more than they were during the Christmas fiasco of 2009.
It’s almost 3am when dad tells me to go to sleep. I drag Matilda with me, up the stairs, down the hallway and to the left, into our bedroom. I carefully close the door as not to wake up Jo, who’s bed is located directly next to the door.
Matilda peels off her brown sweater and changes into a tank top as I lay down on the bottom bunk of our bunk bed.
“So, kind of a dick move for Elizabeth to play on us huh,” Matilda quips, turning off the light and hopping to the top bunk’s ladder and climbing to the top bunk.
“I guess,” I reply after a moment of thought.
I mean, if I had had the option to run away three months after my mom committed suicide all those years ago, I think I would of taken it. I also have to take into consideration I was eleven at the time, and eleven year old me would do something crazy like that in a heartbeat, but eighteen year old me, present day me, wouldn’t. I would never abandon my sisters. I love them too much. Besides, I don’t think I could live without them and their constant noise.
“This family is so fucked up,” Matilda whispers, into the newly darkened room.
“But you love us all the same, right?”
“Course I do, Jean. I just… I can’t deal with people like Liz and Dad, who think that they can just run away from their problems and then return seven fuckin’ years later and act like nothings happened.”
The two of us are quiet. Time passes, and from the darkness, I hear muffled sobs.
“You okay,Tilda?” I ask quietly.
“… yeah,” Matilda replies, her voice quivering. “But you know… Liz just reminds me of mom. So much.” the pain is evident in Matilda’s voice.
There’s more silence. I’m at a loss for words. Sleep then takes me prisoner.
A soft padding sound comes from above awakens me, which I can only guess is Matilda. My eyes adjust to the dark and I can see Matilda’s shadow leaving the ladder and coming in my direction. I roll myself close to the wall, and Matilda then lies down next to me.
We used to do this when we were younger, maybe at about eight or nine. That was back when my hair hadn’t lightened, and the only difference between Matilda and I was our eye color. Those were simpler days, ones which I miss from time to time.
Back then, I was terrified of the dark. I would climb into Matilda’s bed in the middle of the night and sleep. As time has passed, Matilda has been the one to climb into my bed.
“Thanks, Jean,” she utters into the dark.
“Of course, Tilda,”