A memory from Valley Center

Perks of Being a Wallflower cover

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My legs were splayed out in front of me. My pajama bottoms led up to my bare feet and my toes stretched into the sunlight. I had set my book facedown in my lap. The yellow cover stared up at me. I held my prized coffee mug in both my hands, warming my palms with the heat. The mug had been a gift from my piano teacher, years ago. Musical notes spiraled around the cup.

I was sitting on the step in front of my parents’ house. The stone under my bottom had just begun to warm from my body heat. It was morning, so although the sun shined on me, the breeze still raised goosebumps on my arms. Next to me was a nearly empty teapot of genmaicha. The neighbor’s animal sanctuary sprawled in front of me. The goats came right up to our fence to munch on my mother’s morning glories. They stared at me, daring me to scare them off.

Behind me, the house was quiet. No. That wasn’t right. Mama was cooking. The sizzle and pop of the frying pan was an uneven, staccato beat on top of the low muffle of the television coming from the living room. She had defrosted the bacon last night. This morning, she would burn half the package for my breakfast – exactly how I liked it.

I rarely had bacon nowadays, not since I had left for college. I never had breakfast in the dining commons. The eggs were slimy and the bacon was floppy. And there was no rice.

My mother used to make bacon for me every day during high school. “Luna! Asagohan!” she’d yell over my alarm clock. The sound of the familiar sizzle and pop – and the whistle of the tea kettle – was the only way I’d get out of bed. I’d trudge over to my dresser, my alarm clock strategically placed far enough away that I had to get out of bed to turn it off, and rubbing my eyes, leave my room.

I would sit alone at the dining table. My mom would set a bowl of last night’s white rice, a little dry but always sticky, a plate of crispy and burnt bacon, and a separate plate for the overcooked fried egg. I never ate the yolk.

As I sat at my parents’ door step, I felt content. Even though I had read this book a dozen times, even though the book dealt with mental illness and sexual abuse, and even though the book paralleled some of the emotional turmoil of my own high school career, I felt content.

It was peaceful at my parents’ house. After breakfast, I would get dressed, maybe walk around my parents’ property. Gone are the days when I could lock myself in my bedroom. My grandmother had moved into my room, and I’d been sleeping on the couch in the living room, watching Law & Order: SVU until late at night.

Nothing to do except finish this book. I took another sip of my tea.

“Luna! Asagohan!”

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