Tag Archives: Stella Morris

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ForgeTown 1.16 – Sleep Tight, Stella

Buoyed by her success in settling down her restless and homesick son, Kath crossed the hall and knocked on Stella’s door. A baseline thumped spasmodically behind the door. Overtones of a whiny pop diva’s voice bled through like a mosquito on speed. Kath winced. Stella knew she couldn’t stand that song.  It was, she realized, probably why Stella listened to it incessantly. As acts of rebellion go, it wasn’t the worst. Deeply irritating, of course, but Kath could do irritating too. She grinned. You’d have one less problem without me, girl? Ha!

She knocked as she pushed the door open.

“Mo-om! What about privacy? Why can’t I have a lock on that door? What kind of hell is this you’ve brought me to?”

Kath raised her hands in front of her to fend off the attack.

“Woah!” she said. “A, I knocked; B, who said you couldn’t have a lock? The fact is the door doesn’t currently have a lock, that’s all. And C, what kind of tone is that to take with your mother, missy?”

Oh God, she sounded like her mother. In the bad old days. Still, she couldn’t back down now.

“And could you please turn that ‘music’ down? My ear drums are going to split.” Had she really just done the air-quotes thing around ‘music’? Yes, she had.

Stella, curled up on her bed, looked small in this big new room. She was clutching her iPod. Her ever-present notebook was beside her on the bed, its pages scrawled with tiny writing. She flipped its cover closed as Kath approached. It took all Kath’s self-control not to reciprocate the preteen’s eyerool. Stella did, however, turn the volume down on the auto tuned mosquito noises.

“Thank you”

“I’m never going to get to sleep. It’s too loud out there.”

Kath mentally pictured the street outside: empty sidewalks, roomy yards, token streetlights dripping weak spots of light onto the sidewalk for the occasion late night dog walker; a far cry from the busy Waterville sidewalks that had nudged up against the kids’ bedrooms bringing city lights, thumping baselines from vibrating, pimped-out Honda Civics and snatches of shouted conversations that had been an education in colorful vocabulary for every neighborhood kids down through the generations.

“Too loud?”

Stella bolted out of her bed and stood, hands on hips by the window.

“Listen,” One palm up, she indicated the offending outdoors as if her mother must be not only hard of hearing but also hard of thinking.

Kath listened.

Nothing. Well, apart from the insects doing that come-and-go chirping thing she associated with movies about country life. There were some shirrings of air conditioners too, but apart from that…then there was a scuffle as if something was digging in the flower bed outside.

“What’s that?” she asked. Stella dropped the drama queen act and stared back at her, wide eyed.

“Cats?”

“Maybe it’s a possum,” Kath said. “Out here in the wilds of Pennsylvania, they might have possums. What is a possum anyway?” Kath struck a dramatic pose. “What does a possum even look like? Are they carnivorous. Are we on the menu?”

Stella looked like she might crack a smile.

“Possum!” she repeated, letting the smile break through, briefly.

“Would it help if I let you have the iPod and headphones for tonight?” Kath asked.

She thought she saw a hint of the little girl Stella had been until about two months ago, when this move had come up and she had vaulted into the teen years. A wave of softness flooded over her, then Stella arched an eyebrow at her and mumbled. “thanks,” and the moment was over.

“It’s going to be–“Kath began.

“Fine. I know. So you keep telling me.” Stella threw herself back down on to her bed and scrolled studiously through her music, her back to her mother.

Kath slowly and silently counted to ten — which, she remembered somewhat belatedly, only ever served to make her angrier — then decided to let her Angry Young Woman stew. A thousand opening lines died on her tongue and she turned back to the door.

“Sleep tight, Stella,” she said.

After she closed the door Kath waited for a moment on the landing. From behind the closed door, she thought she heard the faintest, “And don’t let the bugs bite.”

Forgetown Episode 1.04 – How Stella Lost Her Groove

ForgeTown Cover“I’m going to kill you, you little creep!”

Yeah, that’s what I said. Top of my voice too. I know Kath’ll be all ‘pipe down, missy, what about the neighbors’, but I don’t care. The little snot was dangling a bird — a dead bird — right in front of my face. Who wouldn’t yell?

I don’t want anyone in this stupid town to like me, anyway. I don’t even want to be here. I was dragged —no choice — like a prisoner transfer, against my will. Really there should be a Geneva Convention for kids or something.

I know, I’m being a total cliche: pre-teen drama queen. I can’t help it.  I’m the one who’s had her whole life ripped out from under her. I was all set to start the coolest middle school on the face of the planet…ok, probably the coolest middle school on the planet. Granted I don’t know all of them. In fact do they even have middle schools in other places? I mean, like, do they have middle schools in England? I’m guessing probably. But what about China? Or Thailand? We did a whole unit on Thailand with Mrs Murphy last year but nobody ever thought to tell us whether or not they had middle schools. They made us learn all about the boring system of government and the food and drink but seriously, no adult thought that we’d be interested in where the kids in Thailand spend most of their waking lives?

Anyway, I was so over that school by half way through last year, but then I was supposed to be going Boston Latin and that’s like super cool and Olivia was coming, and both Emilys and, OK McKenzie Gravas was going to be there too, but none of her evil gang of friends made it, so we might have been able to turn her away from the dark side…

Now I’m here with stupid Robbie dangling dead birds in my face and laughing like a maniac and I’m going to some unnamed public school with who-knows who else. And oh yeah, here comes Kath, round the corner of this ugly new house, and she’s got ‘that’ face on. What do you want to bet I’m the one who gets in trouble for ‘making a scene’ while sweet little Robbie will get a pat on the head and a quick ‘tut tut’?

It’s all right for her. She’s an adult. They make friends no problem. Meet in the market? Oo, we’re new here, we should be friends! Leaving church? Oh hi there, you must come to the parish picnic, let’s be friends. And this, this summer was going to be great. We were finally old enough to be allowed to take the T all the way to the Common. We were going to do picnics and hang out at the pond and pretend we were movie stars. And now I’m going to be in my room, a recluse, with no-one to do anything with. I”ll have to spend the whole summer on Instagram with Olivia and the Emilies. I’ll probably get so pale I’ll get sick from Vitamin D deficiency and have to miss the start of school because I’m in hospital undergoing some special light therapy and then I’ll be The New Kid for the next three years, even though I only came two weeks late. Oh God.

“What are you two doing?” That’s Kath. She hates it when I call her that, but what am I supposed to do? She’s always been “Mommy” and I can’t call her that now. Changing what I call her is weird anyway, so why not just use her name?

“Is that a dead bird? Oh God, Robbie, get rid of it and go inside and…I don’t even know if we have running water yet so you can wash your hands. Oh Robert Julio Morris, how could you do this?! Stel, you OK? Young man, come with me. We’re going to the car. I’ve got some Purell. Don’t make this day any harder than it has to be!”

She hugged me! Robbie’s giving me that ‘help me’ look over his shoulder but there’s nothing I can do when she’s in a mood like this. Ride it out, little brother, and I’ll see you on the other side. Poor kid.

And that’s my mother for you. Completely unpredictable. How is a girl supposed to know what to do with a mother like that?