Day 14: Senior Year at a new school

Written by Julia Smith

Dear Vodka

First week at a new school was … can I say? I was the shiny new toy in the preschool game room that everyone wanted to play with. Despite the fact that my nerves were shot, I felt really positive and ready to take on this new journey. Theo offered to pick me up along with Ellie whom he regularly dropped off at school every day before he went to university. It made me feel a load better knowing that Ellie would be at my side. I called Chloe before I left just to check in. I told her all about Theo and Ellie. She promised to see me soon. I can’t wait to see her. For now, though, my new friends were doing a pretty good job at keeping me happy. What more could I ask for? Life is great. I asked Ellie if we could look for Aiden. The moment I said his name, her coffee went from near-ingestion to on-the-floor-in-a-nice-brown-puddle-of-shock! I was confused until she started interrogating me about how I knew ‘The Aiden Clark.’ What? Apparently, Aiden is super popular and no one infiltrates his group but his close friends, which is three guys named Matt, Jonah and Connor. Who knew? Oh well, he’ll probably act as if I don’t exist if he bumps into me at school. Ellie warned me to stay away from him. It’s not because he’s some bad boy or anything; she just said that whoever gets close to Aiden ends up either going mental or dead. Okay. Hold the phone. Seriously? That’s a bit much! However, Ellie told me that Aiden’s parents both died in a fatal car crash of which he was the only survivor. Also, his best friend was treated for mirror-touch synaesthesia and because Aiden played lacrosse and got injured all the time, his best friend could feel his pain. It eventually drove him crazy. Literally. I couldn’t stop thinking about Aiden. He must feel pretty crap about what people say about him. Why didn’t he tell me any of this? I think I know why. Aiden didn’t know that we were going to be attending the same school. That would mean that he didn’t mind having me around. I suppose Matt, Jonah and Connor are really special if they’re around him all the time. I still think, however, that just because those horrible things happened to his parents and his best friend, it doesn’t make Aiden a bad person. It simply means that he has been very unfortunate. I’ll understand if he doesn’t want to be around me anymore. It will break my heart a bit too. Ciao for now! XOX


Day 13: Sunday Lunch with the Familià

Dear Vodka

I woke up extra early this morning and sneaked into Mum and Dad’s room. The sun was just rising and I convinced Mum to walk down to the beach with me in her sleepy state. Dad was already up, fixing a pipe under the kitchen sink. Dad has his own plumbing business. He would always joke about me taking over the business and Mum would cover my ears, whispering into them that princesses don’t do such things. I wonder if she still thinks I’m her princess.

Mum was okay with me inviting Theo and Ellie over for lunch. In fact, she drove straight to the supermarket after I asked. She looked excited. She looked alive and healthy. She looked like my Mum. We sat on the beach in complete silence at first. After about two minutes, Mum burst into tears. I noticed the few grey streaks in her long strawberry blonde hair. I noticed the veins in her hands as she put her hand in mine and kissed it over and over again, repeating the word ‘sorry.’ I began to cry too. I embraced Mum and I could feel the bones in her back through her clothes. She’d lost a lot of weight ever since I moved out. We sat on the beach for quite a while, pouring our hearts out; allowing our tears to fall onto the sand and watching as it made splotches in the sand. It was therapeutic.

I now know why Mum’s been so distant all these years. Mum had quite the life as a teenager before she met Dad. She was a wild flower, partying day and night. She was rebellious. She lived in the moment, too afraid to think of what the future would bring. When Mum turned sixteen her dad died of a heart attack. It was sudden and it completely tore her apart. He was her favourite person. She blamed herself for not spending enough time with him. For abandoning her relationship with him because she wanted to be a teenager and ‘live life.’ She slipped into depression.

When I was born, Mum still had that hurt inside of her and she resented bringing me into this world ever since. As a result, she suffered from postnatal depression. She was afraid that I’d turn out like her. She said that I reminded her so much of herself and she couldn’t bear to watch me grow up into the person she was. That’s why she pulled away.

I was shocked. All these years I’ve been my mother’s biggest fear. All these years I’ve resented her for something she had no control over. Mum asked for my forgiveness but I simply embraced her and said ‘sorry.’ We walked back to the house which was one road away from the beach. Thomas and I helped Dad prepare lunch while Mum made dessert. In our household, Dad’s the cook. The only thing Mum’s good at in the kitchen is making dessert. For the first time, I felt like I belonged. I felt a sense of home in my own home.

Theo and Ellie arrived just as we were finishing up. Theo helped me set the table while Ellie entertained Thomas with her talk about electrical engineering. Apparently, Ellie wants to study electrical engineering in England. It came as a complete shock to Thomas who is studying industrial engineering in England. I reckon they’ll get along well even though Ellie’s my age. Theo is three years older than me but age doesn’t matter in our family really. Mum is eight years younger than Dad anyway.

Lunch was delicious and the conversation was pleasant. It was like heaven having my family and friends all in one place. Mum was extra happy and open. She told us about how she met Dad while Dad shot carrots at Mum, telling her that she was embarrassing him. Mum simply laughed and continued with the story. After lunch, we played a game of Scrabble and I won. Obviously!

Ellie, Thomas and Theo and I took a walk on the beach whilst Mum and Dad tidied up in the kitchen, reminiscing over their younger years. It just happens to be my luck that Ellie attends the same school as me. Yippee! Theo studies Applied Chemistry at the local university. They live like ten minutes away from Mum and Dad’s. Guess I’m moving back in!



Day 12: A Little Bit of Sunshine

Dear Vodka

No one likes to wake up early on the weekend, especially when it’s your last weekend before school starts. However, if I was going to keep up my yoga routine, I’d have to make the sacrifice. Plus, today was my first group therapy session. I felt kind of anxious but also really excited. I was silently praying as my dad (Paul) drove me to the youth centre three blocks away from our house that it wasn’t going to be anything like it was in the movies. Little did I know that the universe has a funny way of making things happen!

A refreshment station was set up at the entrance of the meeting room. I poured myself a glass of mango juice since there was still some time left before the session started. If there was one thing I valued, it was being punctual.  As I turned, someone bumped into me. I looked down at my jeans, which was completely drenched in juice. I looked up in horror at the person standing in front of me. It wasn’t just any person, might I add. It was a gorgeous being with the softest-looking head of shoulder-length medium-brown curls. The sunlight creeping in through the windows above shone on his tan skin, emphasising the strong curve of his jaw. The sunlight made his eyes appear almost cat-like. They were a beautiful green, almost olive. I quickly apologised, realising that I must have been staring at him for a bit too long. I couldn’t help but stumble over my words as I apologised. He quickly put me out of my misery when he introduced himself as Theo. I was about to introduce myself when a girl who looked related to Theo came running in our direction. She was beautiful, with her dark hair set against her olive skin. She is just about my height. If it weren’t for her big round brown eyes, I’d say she looks exactly like Pocahontas.

The session was complete poppycock. The only thing that made it bearable was Theo, who sat across from me. He kept on glancing my way, making weird faces. I couldn’t contain my laughter and at one point, I burst out into laughter. The coordinator then realised that there was a new member in the group and I was forced to introduce myself. I soon learnt that the girl was indeed Theo’s sister. Her name is Ellie. Even her name is beautiful. Geez! I might just fall in love with her but not in that way. She just has this radiance about herself. Like a ray of sunshine in the dark. I couldn’t understand what they were doing at group therapy but I soon learnt that their mom, who just happened to be a therapist, thought that it would be healthy for them.

They invited me over for Sunday lunch next week. I figured I’d return the favour and invite them over for lunch tomorrow. Fingers crossed. I hope I can figure things out with Mum before then.

I guess you could say that I had a positively successful day today. I feel so happy. So content and fulfilled. This is the start of all things great, Vodka!



How is this life? Chloe

I am Chloe Vollenhoven and I cannot complain.

And yet, somehow, I find I still have a closet full of things that leave me wanting. Just spent the week in beautiful Portugal. I live in a country that may not be there soon enough. Not the way it’s going. And I know, I just know I’ll be told not to worry about it. To enjoy my ‘childhood’ because it will soon be over.

My childhood was over a while ago already. You just failed to notice.

Being here in Europe and being able to walk about late at night after our dinners have been such a far cry from what I’m used to back home. This is freedom. Safety. I hear my parents talking late at night. Seriously considering moving us all back to Germany. For me. For Jack. For our future. I honestly don’t know how I feel about it.  Angry perhaps. Because I want to do something. I want to fight. In my gut, it feels like running away.

Nothing that people have done out there has worked. Not all the protests and marches in the country can possibly change what’s happening now. Have we gone past the point of no return?

Last year I was so in love. My whole life revolved around planning my outfits for dates and making sure my phone credit didn’t run out so I could text my friends every detail of our magical dates as it was happening! I cared about getting my period for the first time and having my boobs painfully fill in my chest. I cared about all the additional hair maintenance I now have to deal with. I cared about dad being away from us. I cared about mom crying all the time. I cared about Jack and how lonely and confused he seemed. I cared about school and making new friends. I cared about my music.

Now that all seems so superficial. And I know we aren’t being told everything either. Not with the news and journalists being controlled by our corrupt government. Are there no United Nations violations being perpetrated? Are we part of the UN? Is that how it works? Do we need to be apart of the UN before they can step in and do something? Why don’t they do something now while people are dying? While children are being murdered. Children not much older than my six-year-old brother. Girls not much younger than myself. Is it really running away then? For our own protection. To prohibit our family from becoming statistics of murder, police brutality and rape?

Perhaps they are right after all. Perhaps, at seventeen I shouldn’t be thinking about the things that lurk in the dark. Perhaps if I can regain some of the superficials before alongside Charlie and her beau Aiden, perhaps then I too can live in relative ignorance.

It’s time to go. We’re about to board our flight to Germany now. The airport is a bustle of early risers off to somewhere. I wonder how many of them know the darkness in my mind?

NEW: Book of the month!

First going to watch the Netflix series.

Day Two: “Not all those who wander are lost”

Dear Vodka,

So it’s a new year and I guess it’s time to fill you in on all the details of my last moments as “Charlie Chopsticks”…

It took a mighty long time for me to convince my overbearing mother to allow me to go to the party Chloe had invited me to. No wonder I decided to live with my grandmother instead! Marianne (my mother) wanted to know every single detail- from where the party was to what colour underwear I was wearing. Geez! I understand that parents need to know these things but she goes wayyy overboard sometimes. My dad finally stepped in and convinced her that I would be fine. After all, Chloe’s grandmother was dropping us off at the party. Thank the good Lord for grandparents! Speaking of which, I’d call Grandma Lilith later in the day to tell her I’d be home by Sunday. I could only take so much of my parents, even though my dad was pretty cool. That was one more thing Chloe and I had in common. Two hours later, her gran fetched us and we arrived at this lavishly decorated double-storey house. Woah! These people are living the life. Chloe said that it was some Rockerfellar-guy’s house. I zoned out after about a minute because she wouldn’t stop talking about him. Bleh! I’m glad that she has a boyfriend that makes her happy and all but, in my opinion, most of them are hormone-dominated morons with an ego the size of Mt. Everest and the IQ the size of the field mice my cat, Lava, catches. Nevertheless, we had a great night. Well, at least I did. Chloe was basically M.I.A all night. I met some quirky musician-ny people. A couple of bookworms too, but I wasn’t there to talk about the great injustice done to J.K.Rowling when E.L James received best writer, instead of her, even though the mention of it infuriated me. So, I escaped to the punch table. But lo and behold! I wasn’t that naive. I knew that some nitwit spiked it but I drank it anyway. I remember dancing wildly to the music, after taking shots with a group of guys who looked like jocks. There were three of them. Two tried to shove their tongues down my throat but the third one didn’t, so I stuck with him and ditched the other two (after kneeing their magic spots)… I think his name was Aiden. Yeah. I must’ve passed out after all the dancing because I woke up on a soft surface. It was the living room couch. Aiden was sitting on the edge of it, while my honey coloured hair hung over the armrest. He just smiled when he saw me awake and handed me a glass of cool, soothing water. Oh, how I wished he would put his lips to mine but he did no such thing. Hello!!!? My brain yelled out at me. Oh, right! Guys are morons but Aiden wasn’t…I hope? It would be nice to have at least one more friend here besides Chloe. At least I got his number. Bonus!? We left the party at 6 a.m. to go to a nearby coffee shop. We talked about the party but mostly about our families. Chloe didn’t open up much but she didn’t have to for me to know that things were a bit complicated from her side… Gotta get some rest now… XOX Charlie

Day One: New Year. New Me.

Dear Vodka,

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 17 years of living in this pale-skinned body of mine, it’s that New Year’s resolutions never work.

So, in instead of wasting my energy and time on trying to “improve” my life, I took a walk down to the beach to clear my head. I sat there for what must’ve been an hour before I was rudely interrupted by some girl. I had to admit, after setting my plain brown eyes on her green ones, that she was beautiful.

I ignored her nonetheless. After all, in a few hours time, it would be a new year. I wasn’t going to spend it on anyone other than myself. Especially not on one I didn’t know. Even though I remained stationary to get the most from the sun I watched her turn and walk away.   She looked so lost.  I tried but simply couldn’t focus on clearing my mind from that minute.  Who was I kidding? This was not how I really wanted to end the year.  So, I got up and went after her. Plus, I was new to this area and basically a pariah because of my tendency to not initiate contact with anything that wasn’t a book or laptop. This was my chance to change that. Cleo – no, Chloe. Yeah, Chloe and I could totally be friends and I’ll tell you why Vodka! She was carrying a copy of To kill a mockingbird by Harper Lee! The girl has good taste. Confession time: I love that book, which meant that we were gonna get along just fine.

You know, Vodka, I seriously think that sometimes that guy upstairs just gets a thrill out of my misfortune.

After two hours of conversing with Chloe Vollenhoven, who invited me to a party later that day, I felt sort of liberated.

That was until….oh snap! I’m supposed to be asleep by now. I hear my mom’s footsteps approaching my bedroom. I’ll tell you more tomorrow…


Charlie                                                                      Author: Julia Smith