Vicious Little Darlings Online - Katherine Easer

1

Where to?” the cabdriver asks. He’s middle-aged with cracks in his face and weary eyes and he’s squinting at me through the rearview mirror.

“The nunnery,” I say.

The cabbie doesn’t blink or laugh or say anything.

“It was a joke,” I explain.

He just keeps squinting at me.

I give up and say, “Wetherly College.”

Nodding, he starts the engine and pulls away from the curb, looping around the airport toward the nearest exit.

“You a freshman?” he asks, once we’re on the highway.

“Yeah.” I check his nameplate. JIMMY FORD, it reads. He looks about ten years younger in his license photo: fewer grooves in his face, perkier eyes. When he looks at me in the mirror again, I consider sliding over to the left side of the car, out of his field of vision, but decide it’s too hostile a move.

Instead, I roll down my window, letting in a blast of fresh dung. It’s 5:47 PM and still hot out. Aside from a couple of big rigs, the highway is empty.

Yup, I’m really here, in humdrum New England. Where there are cows. Brown ones, black ones, and spotted ones, all happily grazing next to the highway. I’m three thousand miles away from my crazy Lutheran grandmother’s crappy Spanish-style complex in the slums of Beverly Hills—south of Wilshire—with its peach stucco and fossilizing tenants. And now I’ll be spending the next four years at a women’s college instead of UCLA, all because Nana caught me with Brad Taylor, the most popular guy at my Lutheran high school. Nana basically gave me two choices: Wetherly (her alma mater) or a college of my choice, except she wasn’t going to pay for Option B and she wanted me out of the house by September. All I can say is, Brad totally wasn’t worth it. He was so not my type. I only hooked up with him because I was trying to see if popularity could be sexually transmitted. Turns out it can’t.

So I blew it. I screwed up the one blood relationship I had. Not that Nana even cares. She used to tell me I was just like my mother, and she hated my mother. But can I blame her? I hate my mother too. I haven’t seen or heard from the woman in twelve years, but if she called or visited me, I’m pretty sure I’d still hate her.

Jimmy turns on the radio and starts whistling along to “Close to You” by The Carpenters. Suddenly I feel like crying. Despite everything, I miss Nana. I miss the way she snorts whenever she laughs and the way she fixates on the TV during As the World Turns. Even when I think of all the mean things she did—like buying me a push-up bra for my tenth birthday even though I didn’t have any breasts yet, and telling me to wear makeup because God doesn’t like an ugly face—I still miss her. I guess it’s because she’s all I have.

“Hey,” Jimmy says, “what’s a pretty girl like you doing going to an all-girls school?”

I can’t help but snort. Pretty? I have skin like death—pale with visible blue veins—and dyed jet-black hair. I’m wearing torn Levi’s, a black tank, and combat boots. If pretty were the point, I would be wearing pink blush and a dress made of doilies.

“I guess you can kiss your social life good-bye, huh?” he says.

“No kidding.” It’s ironic: sex is what got me here, and now, for the next four years, I won’t be having any. But maybe that’s okay. Sex always seems to get me in trouble. Maybe I should make it my goal to be celibate until summer.

“Or maybe you’re one of those lesbians?” While looking into the mirror, Jimmy raises his eyebrows suggestively.

Now there’s a thought. If celibacy gets to be too hard, I could always become a lesbian.

“Sir,” I say, “if it’s okay with you, I’d like to meditate now.”

“Sure. Fine. Knock yourself out.” He turns up the radio.

I close my eyes and try to relax, but I can’t stop picturing Nana’s permanent look of disapproval. Here’s something I’ve learned from seventeen years of living: there’s nothing you can do to make someone love you.

When I open my eyes, Jimmy is exiting the highway. He makes a sharp turn and drives down a private, tree-lined road. It’s dark and eerie and feels as though time has stopped. We pull up in front of a sinister-looking wrought-iron gate with a plaque that reads WETHERLY COLLEGE 1871.

Wetherly. The name makes me think of Waspy