If Women Had to Give Birth
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P.S. I Like You(5)

By: Kasie West



Nobody responded.

I walked into my room … Well, half of it was my room. The clean half. The half with fabric samples and color palates pinned to the walls. Not the half with magazine clippings of makeup ideas and cute celebrities. Although I had found myself appreciating that half every once in a while.

But with Ashley not here now, I was free to flop down on my bed and pull up YouTube. I searched for an instructional video for the Blackout song. It wasn’t a well-known song so I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find someone teaching the guitar part for it. I had to scroll through several pages, but finally I found one. I positioned the laptop on my dresser.

I kept my guitar stowed under my bed in a hard case. It wasn’t a precaution. With two younger brothers, it was a necessity. I slid it out and opened the case. This guitar, my baby, took me six months to earn. I had given up every Friday night to watch the neighbors’ two-year-old twin boys. They were more difficult than any kids I’d ever watched. And considering the nickname I had for my own brothers, that was saying a lot. But it was worth it. This guitar was everything I’d dreamed it would be. Its tone was perfect. And playing it made me feel like I wasn’t as awkward as usual. It made me feel like there was something I was meant to do. This. It made everything else disappear.

Well, it made everything disappear for a little while. I was positioning my fingers for the first chord when the door to my … our … room slammed open.

“Lily!” Jonah said, running in and sliding to a halt in front of me. “Look! I have a loose tooth.” He opened his mouth wide and pushed on his top right tooth with his tongue. It didn’t move at all.

“Cool, buddy.”

“Okay, bye!” He was out just as fast as he came in.

“Shut my door!” I yelled after him, but either he didn’t hear or didn’t want to. I sighed, got up, and shut it. Then I focused back on the video and my guitar.

Two minutes later, there was a knock and then my mom appeared. “Your turn to unload the dishwasher.”

“Can I just finish this?” I ask, nodding down toward my guitar.

“I can’t start dinner until the sink is empty and the sink can’t be empty until the dishwasher is.”

I considered fighting for five more minutes but then I glanced up at my mom. She looked even more tired than usual.

“Okay, I’ll be right there.” I closed my eyes and played one more strum, letting the notes vibrate through my arms. My whole body relaxed.

“Hurry up, Lily!” my mom called.

Ugh.



The next morning before school, I stopped in the kitchen to grab some cereal. Mom had already dropped off Jonah and Wyatt, and was folding laundry in the den. Ashley was still getting ready (it took her hours) and my dad was at the kitchen table, reading a newspaper.

I took a box of cereal from the pantry and was pouring some into a bowl when I saw something on the counter that made me shake my head. Two necklaces lay on the beige granite, a piece of paper beneath each one. The necklace on the right had two checkmarks on the paper. The one on the left had two checkmarks.

“No,” I said.

My dad peeked over the top of his newspaper. “Just vote. It’s not a big deal.”

“You say it’s no big deal but then you make it a big deal. Whose friend did you rope into voting this time?” I asked, noting there were already four votes without mine.

“Voting is a privilege. There is no rope involved. It’s all in good fun.”

“Then they’re both equally pretty. I vote for both of them.”

“Nope. You have to choose.”

“You and Mom are weirdos. There is no hope for any of us when you two do weird things like this.” I poured myself some milk and sat down at the table. Dad’s newspaper was still in front of him as though he were reading. He was just trying to lull me into a false sense of security. Pretend like the competition didn’t matter.

“You know Mom is not going to leave you alone until you vote,” he said.

“Sure. It’s Mom that cares. Just tell me which one is yours and I’ll vote for it.”

“That would be cheating, Lil.”

“Why did you start this tradition? Mom doesn’t take over your job and try to outdo your fancy carved furniture.”

Dad chuckled. “She’d win for sure.”

I took a bite of cereal. To get his mind on a different track, I asked, “Why do we still get the newspaper? You know you can find these same stories on the Internet … yesterday?”

“I like to hold my words.”

I laughed, then stopped when I saw something on the page he held in front of him that changed my mind about newspapers.

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