by Elizabeth Carey
I wore her jean jacket. I wore it to school. The old, worn-in, battered and bruised, Levi’s jacket, which I was not allowed to borrow, ever. No big deal though. No one will find out. I will have it back in the closet before she knows it is missing. I always borrow Mom’s clothes, and I always put them back before she knows they were borrowed, actually. So it’s fine. I will sneak it in my book bag. Hang it in the closet. Perfect. She won’t even know I wore it.
Where is my jean jacket? I know I hung it up in here after I wore it last week. It’s not in my bedroom closet, so it should be here. You know, Elizabeth left this morning without saying goodbye. She was in an awfully big hurry, and I know it’s not because she loves school so much. She took it. She wore my jacket after I specifically told her not to. How many times do I have to tell that girl to stay out of my clothes? She just does whatever she wants with no regard to what I have said.
I don’t even see why she doesn’t let me wear her stuff. All of her clothes are so much better than mine. Even that ratty, old, red flannel shirt that is three sizes too big. It’s so baggy, and when I tuck it into my Guess jeans, everybody tells me how great it looks. The beige over-sized shirt that hangs over my black leggings is so cool. Way cooler than any of my stupid stuff.
What is she thinking? I tell her time and time again to respect my things. I make sure she gets her privacy. I make sure the girls stay out of her room. It would be nice if she could extend the same courtesy to me. Elizabeth just never listens. She is so headstrong sometimes. I don’t know how to make her listen. This has got to be payback for what I put my mother through.
My friends say I look cool. I am cool. My friends think I have such good fashion sense. See, Mom should be happy I’m fitting in. It’s not like she buys me the new things that all my friends have. What am I supposed to do? My friends all have older sisters that let them borrow their clothes. I don’t. And you know what? I let my sisters borrow my skirts and other stuff. They run all over the house tripping over my skirts, which stretches them, they get grass stains on everything, and half the time they take my stuff without asking, but I don’t complain. I don’t get mad and yell at them. So it is perfectly fair that I borrow my mom’s clothes. There is no reason I should not be able to wear the jean jacket. It is so cool.
Well the jacket hasn’t made its way back into the closet. I wonder how long she plans on keeping this up. All she has to do is fess up. That’s it. Then we can just move on. Maybe she’ll even stop “borrowing” my clothes. I’m not even sure why she would want the jacket so bad. It’s just a beat-up, old Levi’s jacket. I’ve had it so long it’s practically falling apart. I should probably just give it to her. It’s the principle though. She needs to tell the truth.
The problem is I never put it back. The jacket is still in my stupid locker at school. I forgot it the first few days, but then my mom started asking about it. Well, I lied. What was I supposed to do? I told her that I did not have the jacket. I’m pretty sure she knows that I have it because she keeps asking where it is. But if I bring it home then she will definitely know that I took it, and that I have been lying for weeks. Then she will be really mad. I’ll be grounded, I’m sure. So, you see, I can’t bring it back. Maybe she’ll just stop asking me about it.
Okay, enough is enough. I know Elizabeth took it. I know from that guilty look on her face. She can barely make eye contact with me. I’ve given her numerous chances to fess up. She is stubborn. I think she would rather hold her breath until she is blue in the face than admit that she has the jacket. I’ve always said, Elizabeth will cut off her nose to spite her face. I don’t care about the jacket; I just want her to tell the truth.
She hasn’t stopped asking. Crap. She knows. I told her again. I don’t have that stupid jacket. I don’t even like it. Yeah, Right. She went to my Grandma’s. She went without me. They went without me. No room in the van. Sure. I know what she’s trying to do. She is so mad she went to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving with my sisters. I have to ride in the stupid white, Sunbird, the most embarrassing car ever, with my dad, even more embarrassing. She is trying to punish me and doesn’t even have any proof that I have that dumb jacket! I’ll show her. I can play this game as long as she can.
Two days ago I took the girls with me out to Mother’s house. It’s easier to get them out there before Ed and Elizabeth. He needs to pack the car with our Thanksgiving fixings without the girls under his feet. Besides, this gives Ed and Elizabeth a little father-daughter time. They don’t seem to talk at all anymore. Well, really, Elizabeth doesn’t seem to talk to anyone anymore. I hope that Thanksgiving isn’t awkward because of all this jacket business. I would really like us to get past this.
The past two days have been a little easier because I haven’t had to lie all the time. But now I have to walk into Grandma’s. I feel like a dog who’s been scolded. Maybe she forgot about it. Grandma greets me and smiles. She’s not mad at me. Grandma is the nice one. I’ll bet she never made my mom feel this bad about anything. Grandma looks the same as always, kind of fat, a big red afro on her head and her glasses at the end of her nose. Her house is so warm. Looks the same too, wood paneled walls, plush white carpet, long teal drapes. Nothing has changed. I can smell ham. Grandma’s favorite.
Ed and Elizabeth just got here. I hope they’re hungry, because, as usual, we have about eight pounds of ham. I will never understand Mother’s passion about ham. Elizabeth and I should talk. We should talk before tomorrow. I know this is a lot for her. I know that she feels guilty. I know she wants to tell me the truth.
I am taking my time getting to the kitchen. Brush my hair. Unpack my bag. Stare at the floor. Here I go. In the kitchen my Mom is waiting. There she is sitting at the table with a crossword puzzle. This green-walled kitchen. This is where I am going to die. She’s really gonna let me have it. I can’t look at her. Instead I do a room check. Making sure everything is in its place. Green Formica countertops. Check. Ceiling cracks. Check. Dust bunnies. Check.. Card table all covered in Thanksgiving stuff. Check. Ham. Of course. All there.
Alright, time to get this out in the open. I am going to give her another chance to tell me. Here she is. She looks miserable. I never should have let this get so big. She needs a hug. I need a hug.
She knows. Just say something! Stop staring at me and tell me you know! Then I won’t have to admit it. Let’s just get this over with! Wait, what is she doing? She’s getting up. Here it comes. Get ready. She’s gonna blow! She doesn’t look mad. Is she going to hug me?
Oh honey it’s OK! Poor baby. I just wanted her to tell me the truth. I just wanted her to learn a lesson. It’s not alright to take my things. It’s not alright to openly defy me. I didn’t want her to cry. She can have that jacket. I’ve missed her not the jacket.
I don’t want to let go. She’s crying. I’m crying. She says she’s missed me. Me too. Finally I say, “Mom, I took the jacket and I’m so sorry.” I really am. “It’s in my locker,” I say. “I didn’t mean to forget it,” I say. “I’m so sorry,” I say. I really, really, really, really am. My mom says, “It’s okay. I know you have it. You can keep it.”