It's a Routine

Submitted for Contest #45 in response to: Write a story about change.... view prompt

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Jennie was quite hot-tempered for an 18-year-old. Her mood swings made it even worse. One moment, she's a kind, friendly pink princess, and the next, she converts into a homicidal, creophagous demon. She doesn't have that attitude with certain people, like her best friend, Riya. 


Altogether, it isn't her fault. She acquired it from her parents. Typically, pupils do what their elders do. They obtain traits and habits from those surrounding them. Social interaction changes everyone. Humans slowly modify their characteristics to match those around us, so I can't accuse Jennie of much. It's a lot of pressure, being an adult that grew up under irascible parents' supervision. Taking business in school was something she didn't desire, so she never learned how to do taxes, manage her salary, manage her bank account, invest smartly in the stock market, and a bunch of other adult stuff. 


Jennie graduated from BASIS Phoenix amid the years of the coronavirus. She did her final few months of school on the computer, sitting at home, on her bed, with a pint of ice cream. She had a bright future, probably going to Harvard, MIT, Yale, or any other prestigious school, but every day, when she logged into the Zoom class, she zoned out.


She focused on something else in her room, and her teacher would call on her to provide an answer to their question a few times, but she wouldn't acknowledge her teacher, for she didn't worry about her grades anymore. Her teachers used to cherish her because she was a bright student with a bright future. They called on her a lot at school, sometimes too much, and she would answer spontaneously, mostly with the right answer.


Jennie always had the highest marks in class and was popular. A countless number of her peers held her in high respect. Now, she has suffered a total decline in interest in her studies and friends. In return, her friends have lost complete interest in her. Some of them tried to reach her through her phone, but she simply disregarded them and went on with her day. She didn't yearn for her buddies, except for Riya, of course. She required time with herself. 


Meditation has become something of great interest to her. It relaxes her, along with her quick-temper. She enjoys doing breathing exercises. She also fancies screaming. It's a routine.


She initiated her daily session of screeching in her backyard. Mostly, it was for different reasons. Sometimes it would be her being joyful, enraged, anxious, exhausted, etc. Sometimes it would be a mix of complex emotions. Once, she felt like she experienced every unique emotion all at once. She called it the Franken effect. This time, the Franken Effect came back again. That was the reason for her screaming in the backyard. She also switched locations. She went inside her house, at the park, on the road, at a friend’s house, in the school bathroom, and a myriad of additional locations. Each emotion combined with each scene and atmosphere gave various sensations. 


As Jennie screamed, her thoughts seemed to go away for a small amount of time. It was the only time that she had a getaway from the evils of the world. It was the only time she had to herself. She started to cry. It was amusing, having some alone time. She truly needed it. Most of the time, she was surrounded by people. At school, she always had friends around her. At home, she had her mom bringing food for her, comforting her, assisting her in her homework, etc. Her father worked most of the day, but when he came home, early on Mondays, he played video games with Jennie. These people cared for her, but she didn't realize it.  


She stomped her feet on the pavement and then eyed the pool. It was almost sunset, but it was very hot. It's typical for the temperature to be 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Arizona. Her parents would be home soon. She checked her watch. It flashed "7:26 PM" in bold characters. Under the time, it said "August 6, 2020." She took a deep breath. A few deep breaths. Screaming certainly calms her, no matter the circumstance. She went inside her house after 10 minutes. Her huge, fancy house. She was a privileged young lady, but she didn't discern it. 


"Jennie! How was online school?"


"Fine."


Her father groaned. The same useless answer. Fine. He put his hands on his hips and raised his eyebrows. 


"Fine," he glanced at her, to see if that word affected her. It didn't. He resumed his, what Jennie called, blabbering, "I see how you want to do this," he crossed his hands over his chest and pouted like a small child having a temper tantrum, went into the kitchen, with the hope that Jennie will come after him. He paused for a few seconds. Nope.


Jennie rolled her eyes and went to the front of her house to talk to her mom. She was much more serious than her dad, with a stern look permanently planted on her face. In situations that don't require showing much emotion, she doesn't want to reveal her emotions. She keeps that "look" on her face at all times unless it is an emergency and she must show emotion. Jennie always wondered why her father married her mother. They were polar opposites, with nothing in common. They fought a lot, too. Jennie thought that it didn't bother her, but it did. Seeing her parents fight made her think that being violent (her parents fought verbally and physically) is normal, so she got into fights at school but got sent to detention or got suspended. She didn't know why. We can't blame her.


"Mom! Hey!" Jennie called to her from the door, waving her arms as her mom took a glimpse at her. 


Her mom had a youthful face, despite being nearly forty years old. Old age didn't seem to affect her as much as it affected Jennie's dad. Compared to her mom, her dad looked like he was 50 when he was about the same age as her mom.


"Hey, honey. Would you mind assisting me in bringing these groceries to the kitchen?" 


Without a word, she walked to the car, making sure she didn't step on the cracks in the bricks. She still did that. As a kid, that would be her favorite game to play. Now, she loves playing video games with her dad, but she still believed that the cracks in the bricks, or concrete, would make her drown in lava. It's ridiculous, but it's the only part of her youth she could remember well. She drowned in the lava many times. Her feet were too big, as an adult.


They spoke to her dad in the kitchen for a while, played video games, and had a great time. Her mom sat on the sofa, watching them play GTA 5 on their PS4. Her parents didn't mind the cursing because they cursed as well. 


"You are an annoying shit!" called a character Jennie's dad was fighting.


"Oh, yeah? Let's see about that!"


He continued his shouting until it was Jennie's turn. She was much calmer about the game than her dad. Her mom smiles for a split second when she rages, but immediately catches herself and returns to her "look."


After the game, they had dinner. It was Italian Manicotti leftovers from when they ate at Pubblico Italian Eatery. It was Jennie's preferred place to go. Anywhere else her parents took her was very modern. Pubblico Italian Eatery had a more cabin-like feel. She liked it better there.


In the middle of her dinner, Jennie's father cleared her throat. 


"Jennie, your mom and I have been talking about this. We need you to move out."


Jennie almost spit her Fanta out of her nose.


"What?" she asked, making sure she heard her beloved father right. 


"We need you to move out, Jennie," he repeated.


Jennie stuttered, "W-W-Why? Did I do something wrong?"


Her father shook his head, reaching for her arm and patting it, "Dear gods, no! It's just that your mother and I feel that we have to provide for our only child for a limited amount of time."


"That doesn't make sense!"


"Jennie, calm down," her father responded, rubbing her arm as if that's going to help, "We just want the best for you. You have to provide for yourself now. You're a grown adult, honey."


She looked at her mother, enraged. How could they do this to her?


"Fine," Jennie said, enraged.


She went to her room and started packing as much as she could. No one came into her room. Two hours later, she had everything she needed. She went downstairs, not daring to take a look at her parents, and went out the door, making sure to leave it wide open. She trudged to the road, going to her best friend, Riya's house.


It was a 5-mile walk. It took her 1 hour to get there. When she did, she knocked on the door. Riya opened it, eyes immediately darting to her backpack.


"Jennie! What happened? Are you okay? Are you ignoring me? Why aren't you answering your messages?"


Jennie beamed. Riya never held a grudge against anyone. 


"Why are you smiling?"


"It's nothing. I need to come in. It's an emergency."


"One second, let me see if my mom will allow it. You know, with the coronavirus thing," she added at the look on Jennie's face. Normally, her mom allows Jennie to burst in whenever she wants to. Then, she realized the situation.


Jennie tapped her foot on the placemat that said, "Wipe Your Paws!" She did, except she didn't have paws. 


Riya came back, "She says you can come in."


"Hi, Mrs. Hernández."


"Hello, Jennie, " she replied, with her thick Spanish accent, "What's the emergency?"


"My parents kicked me out."


Everyone stopped. Riya stopped on the stairs. Riya's two brothers, Juan and Jose, even stopped playing their video game. Mrs. Hernández put her spoon down and ran to Jennie, patting her down.


"Jennie, are you okay? What did they do? Do they not like you?"


"Yes, I'm okay, thank you. I was wondering if I could..." she trailed off, not knowing how to ask them if she could stay there until she gets a job.


"Yes, you may stay here. Sleep with Riya. She has a king-sized bed," she replied without looking.


"Cool," Jennie bounded up the stairs, telling Riya to follow her with her hands.


They flopped down on her bed. Riya didn't know what to say. She was stunned. Jennie's parents seemed so nice. They always cared for Jennie. Why did they kick her out?


"Why did they kick you out?" Riya asked in a hushed tone.


"I don't know. Something about it being because I'm an adult," Jennie rolled her eyes, waiting for a response.


"Oh my gosh. I'm so sorry. I don't know what to say, Jen. I need to help you. What do I do?"


"You really don't need to help, Riya," Jennie said, with starry eyes. She kicked herself, "I should have signed up for a job at a fast-food joint when she was 16. I could have made money for my college tuition and buying an apartment. That's my fault. But, can you help me find a job?"


Riya pulled her in a tight hug, "Of course. Anything for you, Jen."


Jennie started sobbing. Riya knew she needed some alone time, so she left the room, still worrying about Jennie. 


Jennie cried for about an hour before regaining her composure. She had an amazing best friend that would never leave her side, even if she ignored her. Jennie decided to check her phone for the first time in two weeks. She had one124 notifications from iMessage, 98 from Snapchat, and 361 from Instagram. She opened the ones from iMessage first. At the top was Riya. She sent her a message every few hours saying, "What's up?" One day, she wrote a whole paragraph for Jennie:


Jennie, what's wrong? I really hope you are doing okay. I mean, you're not responding to anyone's texts and it has been about two weeks. Please talk to me. Tell me that you are alive and well. I couldn't imagine losing you. Are you ignoring me? What did I do wrong? I promise I will fix it. Just, please. Tell me what happened. We can solve it together. I promise. Can you please tell me why you aren't responding? If you just don't want to talk to me anymore, tell me, girl. It's okay. I will understand, whatever the reason. I promise. Just, please tell me what happened. I need to help you. You're my best friend. I have to help you. It's my duty. 


Jennie cried harder. Her best friend really cares about her. There were other messages, from her other friends. She didn't bother to open those. Jennie closed iMessage and opened Snapchat. A bunch of random strangers added her, but she ignored them. There were 24 snaps from Riya. They were all streaks, which is the only thing Riya uses Snapchat for, anyways. Last, she opened Instagram. All of them were likes, comments, follow requests and DMs. She spent 30 minutes accepting the requests and replying to the comments. When she was done, she put her phone in her pocket and went downstairs to talk to Riya about her texts. 


She was playing a racing game with her brothers, evidently uninterested in the game. She was waiting for Jennie. She was ecstatic when she saw Jennie coming down the stairs. Riya was practically bouncing up and down. 


"Jennie, Jennie! Are you okay now?"


"Yeah. Hey, what were those texts all about?"


"What texts?" Riya asked with concern in her voice. After a few seconds of Jennie staring her down, she slapped her palm to her forehead, "Oh! Those texts. I was really worried about you Jen. I thought that you di-" then she caught herself, slapping her palm to her forehead harder. "Sorry."


That's when Jennie pulled Riya into a tight hug.


"Riya. Bad girl. I would never pass away without your permission."


Riya laughed. It was an ugly laugh. The laugh that makes anybody else in the room laugh. It brightens the mood. 


Riya wiped away a happy tear, "I know."


They sat there, watching Riya's brothers play their racing game and curse in Spanish. 


"¡A la verga!" Juan screamed. Riya winced, and Jennie winced along with her. 


Riya taught Jennie some curse words in Spanish. She didn't have to use them, because she just cursed in English, and they understood pretty well. Most parents do not want their child to cuss, so they do it in private, but Jennie's and Riya's parents did not care what their child says, as long as they are kind and do well in school, but Jennie's parents probably didn't care about her anymore. 


Jennie went upstairs and changed into her pajamas, flopping down on Riya's bed without a word to anyone. Her train of late-night thoughts didn't allow her to sleep until around 2:00 AM. 


I need to change myself. I get mad too easily.


How?

Get Riya to help. She would help with anything.


You're lucky to have Riya.


Yes, I know.


With that, Jennie was going to change herself. 


✽✽✽


When she woke up in the morning, she just got her mouthwash and didn't brush her teeth. She quickly ate the breakfast of bacon and eggs that Riya's mom prepared for her and woke Riya up.


"Riya," Jennie whispered, "Get the heck up. I have a plan."


Riya didn't budge.


Jennie shook her.


Didn't budge.


Jennie screamed in her ear.


Didn't budge.


Jennie poured a glass of ice water on her.


She budged.


Riya got up, spitting water out of her mouth.


"Jennie, what was that for?"


Jennie got up without uttering a single sound and pointed to the backyard. 


"You're helping me get rid of my hot-temper."


Riya bounced up and down once again.


"Yay! Finally, you want to get rid of it. Let's start with your fighting."


"Fine."


They went to the backyard in their pajamas, feeling the hot Arizona air.


"First, I'm going to be a bully that punches you."


"That's lame, Riya."


"Just pretend."


So they pretended. Riya fake-punched Jennie. She fake-punched back.


"No, no! You have to stop them with words, not violence. Try again."


Riya fake-punched Jennie. She fake-punched back.


"No, no!! You have to stop me with words. Say something. Roast me."


Riya fake-punched Jennie.


"Stay still," Jennie put a finger up, tapping her head, "I’m trying to imagine you with personality."


"Yes! You did it!"


"Huh?"


"You did it! You used words, not violence!"


They practiced until sunset, without any break for having lunch or drinking water. When they finished, they sat down on the concrete, fanning themselves. They were running around a lot. Jennie checked her Apple Watch. She had 34,631 steps. She realized that she didn't need to scream today. Riya was her meditation.


When they went inside, Riya's mother was screaming.


"Madre! What's the matter?" Riya shouted.


She pointed at the screen, crying with joy.


The news headline read:


CORONAVIRUS VACCINE HAS BEEN TESTED AND PROVED WORKING. CITIZENS MAY NO LONGER FEAR.


"Oh my gosh!" Jennie and Riya screamed in unison. 


Jennie said, "My life has changed a lot in these two days."


Riya nodded, "Change. I like that word."

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7 comments

Roohe Khan
18:19 Jun 09, 2020

Aww, this is such an emotional and powerful story. I really like how you put your thoughts onto a screen, and there were so many emotions and messages described in this writing. I absolutely love this, and thank you so much! :)

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18:57 Jun 09, 2020

❤🌸

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06:31 Jun 13, 2020

WOW....Great story, Noor! I enjoyed reading your story! Your writing is so good and I love the way you describe everything!😊😉 The ending was really good! Keep writing and have a great day Noor! :))))

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16:59 Jun 13, 2020

Thank you for your kind comment! You too! ~noor a.

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01:15 Jun 14, 2020

No problem, Noor! I'm glad! :)))))

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Rhondalise Mitza
14:28 Jun 12, 2020

Good way for anger management! :D

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14:34 Jun 12, 2020

Agreed.

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