Exchange Student VII
“I met a boy.” These are the first words I say to my sister after the usual greetings.
The hesitation in her voice is not unexpected because I know what she is thinking so instead of waiting for her response, I continue. “But it’s okay. I’m okay. Don’t worry about a thing.”
She’s still quiet, but I hear a soft sigh. She stares at me on the monitor, trying to make sure I am fine, her wide hazel eyes sparkle with tears.
“Just don’t say anything to Mom or Dad. Most especially not to Dad,” I say, then begin biting the side of my thumbnail.
“You’re so far away,” she says finally. “If anything happens like the last time.”
I smile, trying to put her at ease. “Nothing will happen. I’m stronger now. Sometimes I’m not like me at all.”
I then ask her how things are at home, unsurprised to hear that with me gone, Mom is pressuring Bobby, my little brother.
Thoughts swarm in my head, busy buzzing bees. I am lucky to be here. I am lucky that my Grandmother could pay for my ticket and give me some spending money. I am lucky she could pay for my room. I am lucky to be away from Mom. I am lucky. I am lucky.
“Where are you?” my sister asks.
“In my room.”
“No, you’re face blanked out for a moment. Where did you go?”
I bite my lip, look away from the monitor, from my sister’s knowing gaze and then shrug. “I was thinking how lucky I am right now.”
Her hand reaches out to touch the monitor. If we were together, she would stroke my hair and then hug me, tell me everything is going to be all right, because it is.
“I wish I could be there to see you in your play,” she says. “Maybe someone can take a video and upload it?”
I smile. “That’s a good idea. I’m sure someone will. I’ll send you the link.”
“Be safe. If you need me, call me. If you get down . . .”
I roll my eyes. “I’m fine. Really. Don’t worry about me. But I’ll call you if I need to.”
Appeased, she smiles.
After we say goodbye, I sit by the window, watch the drizzle. The roadway sparkles under the streetlight like glass crystals. I press my face to the pane, let the coolness seep into my cheek. I am not the girl I was before. I am stronger. Even if the veneer feels brittle, I know I can become steel.