Slammed, p.20
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       Slammed, p.20

         Part #1 of Slammed series by Colleen Hoover
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  Is it art like I was hoping now?”

  -The Avett Brothers, Slight Figure of Speech

  Chapter Nine

  When we enter the building, I immediately search for Will. Nick and Gavin lead us to a table on the floor, so much more exposed than the booth Will and I sat in. The sac has already performed and they are well into round one. Eddie goes to the judges table and pays her money and comes back.

  “Layken, come to the bathroom with me,” she says as she pulls me out of my chair.

  When we get in the bathroom, she backs me up to the sink and stands in front of me with her hands on my shoulders.

  “Snap out of it girl! We’re here to have fun.” She reaches into her purse and pulls out her makeup bag. She wets her thumbs under the faucet and wipes mascara from underneath my eyes. She meticulously applies my makeup. She’s extremely focused on the task. No one’s ever done my makeup before besides me. She pulls a brush out of her purse and pushes me forward, brushing my hair upside down over my head. I feel like a ragdoll. She pulls me back up and does some fancy handiwork as her fingers twist and pull at my hair. She steps back and smiles as though she’s admiring her accomplishment.

  “There.”

  She turns me to the mirror and my jaw drops to the floor. I can’t believe it. I look…pretty. My bangs are pulled into a French braid that hangs loose down my shoulder. The soft amber hue of eye shadow brings out my eyes. My lips are defined but not too colorful. I look just like my mother.

  “Wow. You have a gift, Eddie.”

  “I know. Twenty-nine brothers and sisters in nine years, you’re bound to learn a few tricks.”

  She pulls me out of the bathroom and we head back. As we approach our seats, I stop. Eddie stops too, since she has hold of my hand and is suddenly being jerked back. She follows my gaze to our table and sees Javi…and Will.

  “Looks like we have company,” she says as she winks at me. She tries to pull me forward but I pull her hand back. My feet are weighted to the floor beneath me.

  “Eddie, it’s not like that. I don’t want you thinking it’s like that.”

  She turns and faces me and takes my hands in hers.

  “I don’t think anything, Layken. But, if it really isn’t like that, it would explain the obvious tension between you two,” she says.

  “It’s only obvious to you.”

  “And that’s how it shall remain,” she says as she pulls me forward.

  When we reach the table, all eight eyes are focused on me. I want to run.

  “Damn girl, you look good,” Javi says.

  Gavin glares at Javi and then smiles back at me. “Eddie got hold of you, did she?” He wraps his arm around Eddie’s waist and pulls her to him, leaving me to fend for myself.

  Nick pulls a chair out for me and I take it. I glance up at Will and he gives me a half smile. I know what it means. He thinks I look pretty.

  “Alright we’ve got four more performers for round one. Next one goes by the name of Eddie. Where is he?”

  I look at Eddie as she rolls her eyes and stands. “I’m a she!”

  “Oh, my bad. There she is. Come on up Ms. Eddie,”

  Eddie gives Gavin a quick peck on the lips and bounces to the stage, her confidence pouring from her smile. Everyone takes a seat other than Will. Javi takes the seat to my left and the only available seat at the table is to my right. Will hesitates before he takes a step and finally sits.

  “What are you performing Eddie?” the emcee asks her.

  She leans into the microphone and says, “Pink Balloon."

  As soon as the emcee is off the stage, Eddie loses her smile and goes into her zone.

  My name is Olivia King

  I am five years old.

  My mother bought me a balloon. I remember the day she walked through the front door with it. The curly hot pink ribbon trickling down her arm, wrapped around her wrist. She was smiling at me as she untied the ribbon and wrapped it around my hand.

  “Here Livie, I bought this for you.”

  She called me Livie.

  I was so happy. I’d never had a balloon before. I mean, I always saw balloons wrapped around other kids wrists in the parking lot of Wal-Mart, but I never dreamed I would have my very own.

  My very own pink balloon.

  I was so excited! So ecstatic! So thrilled! I couldn’t believe my mother bought me something! She’d never bought me anything before! I played with it for hours. It was full of helium and it danced and swayed and floated as I drug it around from room to room with me, thinking of places to take it. Thinking of places the balloon had never been before. I took it in the bathroom, the closet, the laundry room, the kitchen, the living room. I wanted my new best friend to see everything I saw! I took it to my mother’s bedroom!

  My mothers

  Bedroom?

  Where I wasn’t supposed to be?

  With my pink

  balloon…

  I covered my ears as she screamed at me, wiping the evidence off of her nose! She slapped me across the face as she told me how bad I was! How much I misbehaved! How I never listened! She shoved me into the hallway and slammed the door, locking my pink balloon inside with her. I wanted him back! He was my best friend! Not hers! The pink ribbon was still tied around my wrist so I pulled and pulled, trying to get my new best friend away from her.

  And

  it

  popped.

  My name is Eddie.

  I’m seventeen years old.

  My birthday is next week. I’ll be the big One-Eight. My foster dad is buying me these boots I’ve been wanting. I’m sure my friends will take me out to eat. My boyfriend will buy me a gift, maybe even take me to a movie. I’ll even get a nice little card from my foster care worker, wishing me a happy eighteenth birthday, informing me I’ve aged out of the system.

  I’ll have a good time. I know I will.

  But there’s one thing I know

  for sure.

  I better not get any

  shitty ass pink balloons!

  When the crowd cheers for her, Eddie eats it up. She’s bouncing up and down on the stage and clapping along with the crowd, forgetting all about the somber poem she just performed. She’s a natural. We give her a standing ovation as she comes back to the table.

  “That felt so awesome,” she squeals. Gavin throws his arms around her and picks her up off the ground and kisses her cheek.

  “That’s my girl,” he says as they sit back down in their seats.

  “That was great Eddie, guess you’re exempt,” Will says.

  “That was so easy! Layken, you really need to do one next week. You’ve never had one of Mr. Cooper’s finals before. They aren’t fun, believe me.”

  “I’ll think about it,” I say. She did make it look easy.

  Will laughs and leans forward. “Eddie, you haven’t had one of my finals either, I’ve only been teaching two months.”

  “Well, I’m sure they suck,” she laughs.

  They call another performer to the stage as the table grows quiet. Javi’s leg keeps brushing against mine. Something about him gives me the creeps. Maybe it’s the obvious creep factor. Throughout the performance, I keep drawing myself in more and more until I have nowhere else to go, but he somehow keeps getting closer. Just when I’m on the verge of punching him, Will moves in and whispers in my ear.

  “Trade me seats.”

  I hop up and he slides over as I take his seat. I silently thank him with a look. Javi straightens back up and glares over at Will. It’s obvious there is no love lost between the two of them.

  By the start of the second round, everyone at our table is dispersing amongst the crowd. I spot Nick at the bar chatting up a girl. Javi eventually sulks off, leaving just Will and I at the table with Gavin and Eddie.

  "Mr. Cooper did you see-"

  “Gavin,” Will interrupts him. “You don’t have to call me ‘Mr. Cooper’ here. We went to high school together.”

  A mischievous grin c
rosses Gavin’s face. He nudges Eddie and they both smile at Will. “Can we call you…”

  “No! You can’t!” Will interrupts again. He’s blushing.

  “I’m missing something here,” I say as I look from Will to Gavin.

  Gavin leans forward in his chair and puts his elbows on his knees. “You see Layken, about three years ago…”

  “Gavin, I’ll fail you. I’ll fail your little girlfriend too," Will says.

  Everyone’s laughing now, but I’m still lost.

  “Three years ago, Duckie here decided to start a prank war with the freshmen.”

  “Duckie?” I say. I look at Will and his face is buried in his hands.

  “It became apparent that Will, I mean ‘Duckie’, was the one behind all the pranks. We suffered at the hands of this man.” Gavin laughs as he gestures toward Will.

  “So, we decided we’d had enough. We came up with a little plan of our own, now known as Duckie’s revenge.”

 
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