Excerpt from the book, “Behind the Fake Smile” ~ Cut Chapters
Why do I have all this hair on my arms? Chelsea thought as she looked around at her friends at their lockers and didn’t see any hair on their arms. She hadn’t noticed until Hannah said it, but now it was all she could think about.
“Mom?” Chelsea exclaimed, “Why do I have so much hair on my arms?”
Ava looked at Chelsea’s arms seeing mostly peach fuzz, “Honey, it’s white hair, and you hardly have any look at mine. I have to shave mine because it is black.”
Chelsea looked at her mom’s arm hair and thought, I don’t want thick and black arm hair.
That night, Chelsea decided to shave her arms as a preemptive strike against the possibility of black hair growth.
“There, that looks better,” she said as she examines her handy word. Her arms were now covered in tiny cuts everywhere instead of little blonde hairs. She put a few small band-aids on the cuts and slipped into bed after washing off.
The next morning, she awoke to someone bangs on the front door and then the ringing of the doorbell over and over.
Chelsea was startled and looked at the clock on her bedside table before bouncing out of bed. The rude knocking and repeated rings had to be Hannah, the mean girl-next-door who Chelsea carpooled with for softball.
“Oh NO, I slept through my alarm!? Chelsea yelled to an empty house as she quickly threw on pants and a tank top, grabbed her shoes and duffle bag, ran outside, and jumped into Hannah’s mom’s car. Hannah’s mom welcomed her and asks if she was ok. Chelsea explained that her alarm didn’t go off causing her delay. Hannah was up in the front seat, snickering.
“We almost left without you,” Hannah said as Chelsea started shoving on her shoes in the backseat, her heart still racing from the adrenaline rush she got waking up.
Why do my parents make me play softball? Chelsea thought to herself as she tried finger brushing her hair out, I hate this sport and hate having to see Hannah. When arriving at softball practice, Chelsea and Hannah walked up to the rest of the team. Chelsea set her bag down on the ground in the dug-out and joined the group in getting ready.
Hannah declared loud enough for the entire team to turn and look, “What are all of those cuts all over your arms from? Oh gosh, did you shave your arms?”
Chelsea looked up and down at her arms and said, “Yes, I did,” then she turned and walked away as she had finished getting ready. She didn’t have to hear one more squeaky word from that bratty girl as she left.
Of course, I shaved my arms, thought Chelsea. You made fun of me for having too much hair, and now it’s because I have too little. I swear, am not playing again next year if I have to be on her team.
During practice, she began counting down the number of times left in the season that she would have to put up with the class snob as she put the bulky, metal frame mask over her face and crouched back down.
Hannah was the pitcher, and Chelsea was the catcher. Chelsea hated to be the catcher, but nobody else wanted to be in the line of fire from Hannah’s wild pitches so she didn’t really have a choice. For some reason, everyone thought Chelsea and Hannah were friends, including their parents, who frequently would have the entire family over so Chelsea and Hannah could see each other more. Chelsea hated every moment of being around Hannah and her snide, passive-aggressive remarks, insults, and overall entitled behavior.
After practice, Chelsea was ecstatic to go home and decompress in her room. She was just beginning to settle down for a good read when she heard her mom calling from downstairs.
“Chelsea, someone is here to see you,” called her mom. Chelsea bounced down the stair to the entryway, excited to see who it is and equally disappointed when she saw Hannah standing there.
“Let’s go and hang-out with the boys,” said Hannah.
“Why?” Chelsea asked, annoyed.
“They want to play soccer with us,” Hannah said with a smirk, knowing that Chelsea loved playing soccer. She was good, too. She could run circles around the boys and Hannah. “Okay,” Chelsea said, as she darted out the front door with Hannah following behind her.
She, Sadie, and Hannah had a neighborhood full of boys at an almost 10:1 ratio but neither of them minded. Sadie, Chelsea’s older sister, didn’t bother playing outside so she didn’t really know the boys that well; Hannah was getting to the point where she spent most of her time flirting with the boys, and Chelsea could care less because she could only see most of the neighborhood boys as the same kids they grew up with. They would stick up for her when Hannah was being her usual, nasty self because Chelsea was one of the guys to them. Except for one boy, in particular, Jake, who would follow Chelsea around.
Jake was the only boy taller than Chelsea, and she welcomed his presence since she didn’t feel like the giant, skinny girl when he was around. He was sincere and shy and playful but sweet, and maybe someone Chelsea like-liked instead of just liked. It was hard not to when he had such wavy hair and moss green eyes.
After a round of soccer at a field across the street from Chelsea’s home, the group of five boys, Hannah, and Chelsea sat down for a good rest. When a lull in the conversation appeared, Hannah, ever the opportunist, looked over at Jake and Chelsea and said, “Jake, did you know Chelsea shaves her arms?” Hannah smirked, as though this would be funny. Chelsea scowled at her.
Well, there it is. Hannah trying to embarrass me when she knows that I like Jake! Chelsea thought as she began seething with adolescent rage towards Hannah.
Jake looked at Hannah, clearly not amused that she was trying to hurt Chelsea. He gave her a once over and with a parroting tone said, “Hannah, maybe you should too. Have you seen your arms?”
Hannah grew red with embarrassment and indignation before checking her arm hair. Jake let out a hard laugh as he grabbed Chelsea’s arm and started running towards the treehouse in her backyard.
When they were enough away to not be overheard and it seemed like no one was following, they slowed to a walk and Jake let go of Chelsea’s arm. Jake looked at Chelsea as they walked, growing closer to the treehouse. “Why do you even hang around her? She is so mean to you,” he said, looking away.
Chelsea looked at him then shrugged, “She’s mean to everyone, besides my parents like her parents so they make us play together.”
He looked at her hands and tentatively took hold of the one closest to him, “Well, don’t ever let her change you into someone mean. I like how sweet you are to everyone. It makes you the prettiest girl.” Then he looked up from their joined hands and kissed her gently on the lips. She flushed and they stopped walking altogether. What was only a second felt like forever before it ended. She was still looking at him, but he was looking away, his ear turning bright red. “I’ll, um, see you,” he said as he let go of her hand and went racing down the street towards his house, the treehouse long forgotten.
Chelsea’s head was spinning. She just had her first kiss, WITH JAKE! All she could think about was his words and that kiss. A big smile plastered on her face as she went home and sunk into bed, too giddy to sleep.
As exhaustion overtook her brain in the wee hours of the morning, her last thought was, did he really just say I was prettier for being nice and kissed me? The internal screaming was abundant.