Home > From Twinkle, with Love(10)

From Twinkle, with Love(10)
Author: Sandhya Menon

The more I think about it, the more I wonder if my mother and I are related at all. I bet I was dropped on her doorstep, like Harry Potter, and she just hasn’t figured out how to tell me yet.

I walked off to my room to look for my lightning bolt scar. Because that is the only way any of this makes sense.

And I didn’t even get my cup of water.

Love,

Twinkle

Five

Thursday, June 4

Artsy Fartsy


Dear Kathryn Bigelow,

Maddie’s in the bathroom. She always drinks way too much Sprite when we come here and then spends 10 percent of the time peeing. So I’m just hanging out, sorta painting (that’s the best I can do) and petting Roux, the adorable red Lab that belongs to the lady who owns this place. He keeps putting his gigantic head in my lap every time I pick up my brush and looking at me, like, You can’t resist this, Twinkle. Let’s be real.

Anyway, I’ve been subtly probing Maddie’s interest in Brij all night by asking sly questions, such as, “Hey, wasn’t that binder Brij made so cool?”

Maddie’s entire face lit up. “Oh my gosh, yeah, it was! Do you think he does that for every subject or just econ?” (Do I know Maddie or do I know Maddie? I asked Brij the EXACT SAME question in the library because I knew she’d want to know.)

I played it casual. “Oh, I’m pretty sure he’s a well-rounded organizer. Rumor has it he even has those Post-it flag thingies and a personalized memo pad.” Maddie was practically fanning herself. They should make a Hallmark movie out of their budding love story.

So now I’m trying to figure out what the best way would be to get Brij and Maddie together. I have to be sly, though. If I try to force it, Maddie’ll buck and run. Kind of like those wild horses that can never be tamed. They always end up kicking some well-meaning horse whisperer in the head and getting put down.

Hmm.

Thursday, June 4

Still at Artsy Fartsy, 2.5 Sprites later


Dear Claire Denis,

Maddie’s in the bathroom again. My field of sunflowers looks like a toxic waste dump, which might turn out to be a cool statement on society’s unthinking gluttonous exploitation of our planet’s natural resources. Maddie’s looks like Monet helped her paint it. It’s so unfair. Why did she have to luck out in virtually every department?

Hold on. Roux’s chewing on my journal. He is such an attention hog.

Okay, I’m back. The owner lured Roux away with a shriveled pig’s ear, which is apparently a canine delicacy? Dogs seriously have no standards.

So, anyway, Maddie and I were talking and being all open and honest, and she told me how she went to get fro-yo with Hannah, Victoria, and Francesca the other night. What sucks is Hannah’s having a birthday party at Victoria’s parents’ cabin in Aspen in two weeks but it’s on the same night that Mr. Tanaka has a gallery showing in Denver, so Maddie said she couldn’t go. Hannah didn’t understand and thought it was because Maddie was mad at her about sitting on her turkey sandwich that one time (it was in a sandwich bag, but still). The way Maddie tells it, Hannah pitched a little fit.

I knew I shouldn’t say what I was thinking. Hadn’t I learned my lesson at Mr. Tanaka’s birthday party? But the words were out before my brain could sound the alarm. “Why do you hang out with her?”

Maddie looked surprised. “What?” Her gold eyeshadow and purple silk dress made her look like royalty. I felt a little dowdy in my clothes, tbh, which was crap because it’s what’s inside that matters and I’d been proud of my T-shirt and glitter Keds at my house, parental comments aside.

“You can’t go because it’s important that you support your dad. So why can’t she understand that? Hannah sounds like a total jackass.” I stopped talking all of a sudden and my eyes went wide. Papa should have replaced my filter when he replaced our fridge’s because mine is obviously completely worn out. Speaking up about her dodging my call must’ve unlocked something reckless in my brain.

Maddie’s cheeks turned this light pinkish color. (Unlike mine, which turn a deep shade of purple instead. Dadi calls it my baingan, aka “eggplant,” look. I think she means it in an endearing way, though.) “I can’t just stop hanging out with her,” she said, stabbing her brush on the canvas, her charm bracelets clinking angrily together.

“Why not?” I was thinking “in for a penny, in for a pound” at that point, which, in retrospect, was totally stupid. I should have changed the subject to syncope in older adults to take Maddie’s mind off the fact that we are so far apart now on most issues that we practically live on different continents.

“Because!” Not meeting my eye, she kept stabbing at her canvas. “If I want to hang out with Victoria and Francesca and that whole crowd, I have to hang out with Hannah, too. It’s sort of a package deal.” She glanced sideways at me. “And Hannah is … She gets, I don’t know, possessive. Maybe it’s because she’s an only child and she gets lonely.”

I wanted to say, You so don’t have to put up with that.

Or: Is that why you won’t hang out with me around your other friends? Because Hannah won’t let you?

Or even: Hey, you may have noticed, but I’ve got a BFF spot vacant. No friendship with Hannah required.

But my fearlessness evaporated and I didn’t say anything. We painted in glum silence until Maddie sighed and put her brush down. She bumped my knee with hers under the table and smiled when I looked up. “So, you never told me how your meeting with Sahil Roy went.”

I let my breath out in a whoosh. Okay, so she didn’t pick up when I called to talk about it, but this was progress—at least she was asking now. “It was amazeballs.” I filled her in on the gender-swapped Dracula idea. “And he gave me a DVD of the original movie to watch at home.”

Maddie sat up straighter and clutched my shoulder. “Ooh! You guys should watch it in my home theater!”

Maddie’s home theater setup is epic. You didn’t need to shell out twenty bucks for a movie ticket at the real theater because you got all of that in much more lux surroundings at her place. “Are you serious?”

“Absolutely! How about tomorrow night?”

“Sure!”

She grabbed her cell off the table. “What’s Sahil’s number?”

I’d memorized it in case I needed to call it at any point, so I gave it to her. She typed in the message, her fingers flying over the keyboard. Her phone beeped almost immediately.

Sounds good! How about 7?

I nodded and she confirmed with him and then set it aside. “Done.”

“Thanks, Maddie.” I clapped my hands together (gently, so the brush didn’t spray paint all over Maddie’s expensive dress). “This is going to be awesome. Sahil’s cool. I think I’m gonna enjoy working with him.”

She raised an eyebrow at me, teasing, and I waved her off (still being mindful of paint and silk). “Nah,” I said. “Sahil’s just Sahil.” Even if he is cute and totally gets my need to punch back at the patriarchy with excellently made movies.

“Riiiiight,” she said, arching her eyebrow even higher until it nestled into her bangs. “I forgot you’re holding out for the other Roy brother.”

“Shut up!” I said, laughing.

She’s right, though. I am holding out for Neil. I am holding out for that shiny, non-groundling future self I’d always pictured, the one people can’t just ignore. That future Twinkle Mehra? Maddie would never leave her behind.

Love,

Twinkle

Thursday, June 4

My room


Dear Valerie Faris,

I hung my toxic waste dump painting on the wall. It goes well right next to the shelf with my vintage 1950s Kodak Medallion 8 camera. (Dadi bought it for me at a flea market four years ago to remind me of “the vast unknowingness of the human experience and how you must always strive to capture it, Twinkle.”)

Oh, wait. My computer just dinged with an incoming e-mail. I love e-mail. I know most people my age are all about the texts, but as someone without a cell phone, I have to take what I can get. Brb.

OH MY GOD. YOU ARE NEVER GOING TO BELIEVE THIS.

   
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