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Teens & Young Adult American

“Jack of all trades, master of none. Better than being master of one” she mumbles, pale brown hair knotted in her hand. 


Well, that’s just, excuse her french, bull shark!


Cameron, Cammie to her friends, has always been completely average. In looks, intelligence, attitude, and talent. 


It was sickening.


It was incredibly sickening because all of her friends were sickeningly talented.


Ariana was an amazing gymnast.


Alexie was an incredible athlete.


Pamela was a beautiful singer.


Alex was effortlessly beautiful.


Jamie was stupidly smart. 


When people looked at others they had labels. Little titles, awards that they subconsciously give to each individual. Like when someone was walking down the hall and you notice them. You think, ‘Oh, that’s Jake the chess prodigy’ or ‘that’s Vari the class president’. But when someone doesn't have a label you latch to other things to identify them with. 


Like ‘that’s Katy with the cat-eyed glasses’ or ‘there's Manny with the sprained wrist’. 


When people looked at her friends they saw beauty, talent, excellence, and intelligence pouring from their perfectly small pores. When people looked at Cammie all they saw was ‘the funny one’. The Class Clown. Jokester Extraordinaire. Ms. Smiles-A-Lot. 


...or even worse… ‘Noah’s little sister’.


Right! If it wasn’t...bad enough she was a disappointment to the human population because of who her best friends were but she was disappointing because of her brother's sheer perfection too!


Hmph.


Whatever.


Wait-! No! Not whatever! This was why she was doing this! Why she was still awake at 2 AM, sitting at her study with a list of hobbies she can improve on.


So...


Ariana was an incredible gymnast, heck she’s been practicing for ten years starting from when she was five... Maybe...Cammie was a natural? She could ask to go with Ari to her next practice, right? To at least watch and try to imitate.


NOT the ‘Funny One’


  • Gymnastics


Okay, Uhm...Alex was a very amazing athlete...so...Cammie could get in shape! Yes, Alex goes on jogs every morning (le shudder) and...Cammie can join in now. And eating healthier too!


Cammie spared her late-night bowl of cereal a wince. She can eat healthier...starting tomorrow. 


Next on the list


  • Get in shape


Nice! What else? Pamela was a great singer...and she can't carry a tune. But..ooh! The senior from her Culinary Class gives free flute lessons! He said it was to help himself practice. She can ask Ms. Bernson if she can rent one...surely she won't mind since it's’ not like it's for the band or anything. 


Alex was beautiful... Maybe....Cammie can take better care of her skin and hair? And chose her clothes more carefully. She didn’t have to wear sweats all the time...or jeans either… Would it kill her to dress up nicely? And brush her ridiculously thick and frizzy hair- yes, yes it would. Brushing her hair had to be done straight after a shower or else it’s frizz central…. Alex brushes and blow-dries her hair every morning (which Cammie’s mom says is unhealthy for anyone that doesn’t have Alex’s hair type- which is extremely greasy).


Alex could wash most mornings..and wear a nice dress and braid her hair neatly out of her face. Like Alex...yes..she could.


  • Be beautiful


And...finally...to be smart. She could do that. And really Cammie wasn't a bad student...she could pay attention in class if she stopped interrupting it. She could get better than C’s and B’s if she took notes and tried on her homework. Just..like...Jamie.   


  • Be smarter


She stared at the list and scoffed. What was she thinking? She can’t just say she wanted to do these things. She needed a plan of action, like with the flute lessons. 


After a bit of editing, the plan was soon...more like a plan…


----


NOT the ‘Funny One’

  • Gymnastics- to test if I have any control over these long meat sticks people call arms and legs. If not gymnastics, maybe dance, or… modeling? HAHAHAHAHA, just made myself laugh.
  • Get in shape- maybe I have some hidden talent for track and field! Running with Alexie every morning. 
  • Be beautiful- wash my face, take care of my hair, and choose cuter outfits. Might need to go shopping. Maybe ask Alex for a makeover…
  • Be Smarter- study, homework, no joking around in class- this might be the hardest. 


(and the last, one she didn't even dare let herself think about too much)


  • Be like Noah AKA a snotty obnoxious good at everything obedient to a fault twit…..hardness level? 10000000000000000-


-------


The first step is easy, mostly, sort of. Not really. Texting Ari was easy, getting her to bring Cammie along was also easy.


But that was because Ari was a night bird and evening napper. She responded to Cammie’s text immediately. 


The first real step, however, was waking up in the ass crack of 5: AM to go on an ungodly run, was not. 


Not to mention she bumped into Golden Boy 2.0.


“Where are you going?” 


Ah, Jake. 


“Jakie, why would you wake up at such a disgusting time of the morning?” Cammie shivered under her sweater.


“I always wake up at this time to watch the sun. You are the pig who sleeps in for as long as possible.”


Her eyelid twitches and she didn’t bother to stop the sigh from escaping her lips, “I’m trying to exercise more.”


“Why?” Practiced head tilt, purposefully widened eyes. He looked irresistibly adorable...manipulative bastard.


“Since I’m a lazy pig, remember?” Cammie grabs a water bottle and poked a finger at her little brother's soft cheek. He, like Noah, was also perfect. And she was also compared to her little brother...but she could never resent him the way she did Noah. “You jerk.”


She peeks into her sports bag, just to double-check she didn't forget anything. There were whistles, an extra water bottle, and a jacket. Phone too, she was set. Good to go!


“Until we meet again, weirdo” she ruffled her kid brother's head and his little hands latched onto her wrist. Big hazel eyes looked up at her, almost desperate. “What?”


“You’re not running away, right?”


She choked on air, quietly. She’d be dead meat if she woke up her amazing big brother, her mom would chop off her tongue and fry it into a hamburger. 


“What? No! I was joking.” She hesitates, “Why would you think such a thing?”


Jake looked up at her, critically almost. Like scanning her for behavioral signs of lying. “You cried until 12: 05 AM last night.”


“What-”


“The walls are thin,” Jake said primly “don’t bother lying.”


“Well-”


“It was because of what mom said last night, wasn’t it?”


Dammnit, the kid was a genius. But...Cammie was an excellent liar. Prodigy at lying, really.


“Don’t be silly. It hurt my feelings a bit but I was crying because I was staying up too late watching sad movies.”


He didn't seem to buy it.


“I’m sorry for being so loud” Cammie apologized.


She wasn’t. She had mastered the art of crying quietly.


“You weren’t. I just suspected because your breathing was wonky. You simply proved me right.”


...little brat. 


She flicked Jake’s ear lightly, “Bye-bye, Jakie.”


Jake simply huffed and crossed his skinny 9-year-old arms on the counter, waiting for the next early riser. 


“You better be back, or I'm telling mom.”


...Tch. Why was she thinking about dumb stuff like that? Uh...anyway, mission report. The job was fine, for the first two minutes. But then Alexie’s warm-up ended and Cammie was sweating, panting, and gasping- getting shape- that was harder than expected. 


The gymnastics weren't much easier either. It was hell. It sure wasn't some hobby you can casually take hold of. It was a lifestyle. It was the way you dressed, the way you are, the way you breathed, everything. It was definitely not a hobby. And Cammie was definitely not a natural. 


When she got home she glared at the list, specifically at the whole physical talent and gymnastic grace bit. Not that she was giving up on getting in shape, or in gymnastics, but...she was not in shape.


That left beauty, smarts, and obedient twerpy perfection.


Could these even be considered hobbies?


Of course, self-care was a hobby. Studying was a hobby. Being ‘the perfect daughter’ could be a hobby. Really...she didn’t want to call the list what it really was.  


She would be wasting time, she realized, if she did each one by one. Tomorrow she’ll jog (or at least do her best, fitness had to be earned) shower, pretty herself. When she gets to school she'll contact Flute Freddie and not interrupt class once. She’ll be everything.


And she does. 


She goes on the morning jog, showers, and wears something Alex would have approved of. Flute Freddie was ecstatic to finally have a student. Ms. Bernsen was fine with letting her borrow one as long as she helped clean the band room after school every Wednesday. And during class, she bit her tongue. The entire time. 


She wrote actual notes- her wrist hurt actually- and she finished half her homework during class. The notes, the fun kind, she used to toss to her friends and get scolded for tossing were nonexistent. 


And when she got home she went straight to the room to finish her homework, helped her mother prepare dinner, and was silent. Hmm, maybe she can be Golden Girl 3.0.


It was terrible. Her tongue actually hurt a bit for all the times she had to bite it to keep from laughing or saying anything sarcastic. Her wrist still hurt and the braid was unfamiliarly tight on her scalp. 


But...hobbies- yes, these were hobbies- weren’t acquired overnight. It took time. She can be that person. The one that could play the flute and run more than a block without getting winded. She could…


Ari touched Cammie’s brow, her silky hair slipping to frame her oval face “You...Cammie, I don’t think you were built to be a gymnast.”


Cammie didn’t even like gymnastics, so...why did it still hurt to hear those words?


“I-I think you’re right,” Cammie forced a laugh “but I totally rocked those costumes you people wear.”


Ari smiled, obviously relieved that Cammie wasn’t offended, “You did! Do...you want to join me and my mom for Sunday yoga?”


Cammie hugged Ari, pretending that her giggles were why her voice sounded weird “I’ll have to ask my mom! I hope so!”


Ari looked startled, “What? Are you leaving?” Cammie nodded, still smiling “But-I mean, you can stick around. No one minds...we can-”


Cammie thinks if she stays any longer she might burst into tears. “Eh, you actually reminded me about the Spanish quiz.” 


“...how?”


Another laugh, another hug, walking away backward “Beats me but thank you anyway!”


The tears fell when she was little ways away from the studio. It was silly, really. Predictable, even. Gymnastics isn't a hobby, it was life for some girls.. It was stupid to cry about something that was going to happen eventually. But it still hurt. It seemed to prove something she’s been desperately trying to deny, her lack of worth.


Wasn’t that just it?


If you had nothing to give...you were worthless?


Wait-no, that was stupid. She was barely through the list. This was just one hobby…

“Hey!” Cammie poked Alexie’s cheek softly “You never said what your plans were.”


Alexie scrunched her nose thoughtfully, “I didn’t? Well, I’m working out.”


“I was talking about after your practice.”


“I was too,” winked Alexie “I have changed my schedule a bit.”


Ughhhhhhh, did this ginger really have to work out moooore?


“Why?” whined Cammie “Why would you do that?”


Alexie grabbed one of Cammie’s hands (their skinship was strong, it wasn’t uncommon to find them both cuddling and dead asleep during assemblies) and swung their hands. Up! Down! Up and- “I did that for us! So we can work out better.”


Cammie choked, she did that a lot when she was surprised, “I’m working out this afternoon too?”


Alexie swings their hands, “No, I just cut my run in the morning so it can be more like a warmup. I’m doing my workout in intervales. A briefer run in the morning, practice, then some stretching and weights at night.” Alexie was still smiling and talking and swinging their hands but Cammie had stopped paying attention.


There was nothing accusatory about Alexei’s statement...so why did she feel so guilty?


Like she burdended Alexei?


It was because...she did, didn’t she?


The salad she bought with Alexie earlier did nothing to settle her stomach...she could use some carbs...but no...better not. She had to be healthy.

--

“About time you put in some effort,” her mom snorts, patting Cammie’s head “you used to look like a hobo.”

--

“Paying attention to your studies?” her dad raises an eyebrow “about time you start taking after your brothers.”

--

Ms. Russo looks at her, “Are you okay?”


“I’m fine.”


“Well… you have been a very good student recently…”


“Thank you, ma’am,” Cammie didn’t have the energy to smile, or act like she wasn’t on the verge of tears... but somehow she did.


“Well...if you need to talk just tell me. But I really like this new of yours-”


She nods and packs up her stuff, Ms. Russo just blinks. “I better get going.”


---

“Are you okay?”

---

“Hey...Cammie? You seem a little tired , lately. Did you want to tone down the workout?”

--

“You haven’t had breakfast- hey, young lady! Where do you think your going?”

--

She...she doesn't know.


These hobbies were draining her. But...a bunch of people like this new her...so...it was working. Studying, that wasn’t a real hobby, was it?


No...none of this was a real hobby..right? She was just...so desperate to be better and hid her ugly insecurities under the guise of finding talent, a hobby. 


She’s done this before.


Piano- abandoned.


Dance- abandones.


Photography- abandoned.


That's why she stuck with it this time. Hoping that something will change.


Staring at Flute Freddie she knew nothing has.


“Ah- no,” Freddie corrects “here let me show you the song again. See how these notes-”


He was so patient...a saint, truly.


He looked... frustrated. It was in the crease of the brow, the slightly forced laugh. He had every right to be frustrated- she messed up on this part many times before.


Freddie snaps his fingers, “You paying me any attention?”


“No.”


“...are you okay?”


No.


It was back.


Tears tingled at her nose and burned her eyes, ugly sobs escaping her. Freddie jumps back. Cammie covers her face with her hands.


Can she just...do something right?


Have one thing she can be good at?


Was it...was it so much to ask?


Did she have to have this on top of her uselessness too?


“Cammie?”


Right. Freddie. But that didn’t sound like Freddie...she looked up and met big brown eyes. She glared at her brother “You're not Freddie.”


“He called me,” said Noah, giving her a bar of chocolate “I suspected you might need this.”


Of course he knew, of course he did. He was a genius. A frickin-


“It’s back,” he whispered, on his knees in front of her seat “isn’t it?”


Yes...her depression was back, full force. It has been for a while. 


“No...stupid-head.”


Noah sighs, looking at her critically. He was also an athlete on top of being a genius. It makes sense that her big brother would be here after school but it was Monday and they don’t meet Mondays... Cammie looks away.


“I’m going to sit on this chair,” Noah points at Freddie’s vacated chair “and wait until your ready to talk.”


“I don’t like you” Cammie bit into the chocolate, tears still streaming down “so- don’t be nice or I can’t-”


“I’m not going anywhere.”


She scowls, but rests her head on the side of his bicep, “I….-.”


‘I miss you’ 


“I’m fine.”


“I’m still staying here,” Noah whips out his laptop and starts typing. He was clearly willing to wait her out.


That only made her cry harder.


January 26, 2021 18:50

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1 comment

Carole Cobos
17:54 Feb 01, 2021

alternate ending; “He called me,” said Noah, giving her a bar of chocolate “I suspected you might need this.” Of course, he knew, of course, he did. He was a genius. A frickin- “It’s back,” he whispered, on his knees in front of her seat “isn’t it?” Yes...her period was back, full force. It has been for a while.

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