Authors: Stephen Chbosky
Tags: #Social Issues, #Emotions & Feelings, #Epistolary fiction, #High school students, #Juvenile Fiction, #Bildungsromans, #Diary novels, #Coming of Age, #Homosexuality, #Epistolary novels, #Friendship, #School & Education, #Death & Dying, #Adolescence
My dad really hopes he will make it to the pros and play for the Steelers. My mom is just glad he gets to go to college for free because my sister doesn't play football, and there wouldn't be enough money to send both of them. That's why she wants me to keep working hard, so I'll get an academic scholarship.
So, that's what I'm doing until I meet a friend here. I was hoping that the kid who told the truth could become a friend of mine, but I think he was just being a good guy by telling.
September 11, 1991 Dear friend,
I don't have a lot of time because my advanced english teacher assigned us a book to read, and I like to read books twice. Incidentally, the book is
To Kill a Mockingbird.
If you haven't read it, I think you should because it is very interesting. The teacher has assigned us a few chapters at a time, but I do not like to read books like that. I am halfway through the first time.
Anyway, the reason I am writing to you is because I saw my brother on television. I normally don't like sports too much, but this was a special occasion. My mother started crying, and my father put his arm around her shoulder, and my sister smiled, which is funny because my brother and sister always fight when he's around.
But my older brother was on television, and so far, it has been the highlight of my two weeks in high school. I miss him terribly, which is strange, because we never really talked much when he was here. We still don't talk, to be honest.
I would tell you his position, but like I said, I would like to be anonymous to you. I hope you understand.
September 16, 1991 Dear friend,
I have finished
To Kill a Mockingbird.
It is now my favorite book of all time, but then again, I always think that until I read another book. My advanced english teacher asked me to call him "Bill"
when we're not in class, and he gave me another book to read. He says that I have a great skill at reading and understanding language, and he wanted me to write an essay about
To Kill a Mockingbird.
I mentioned this to my mom, and she asked why Bill didn't recommend that I just take a sophomore or junior english class. And I told her that Bill said that these were basically the same classes with more complicated books, and that it wouldn't help me. My mom said that she wasn't sure and would talk to him during open house. Then, she asked me to help her by washing the dishes, which I did.
Honestly, I don't like doing dishes. I like eating with my fingers and off napkins, but my sister says that doing so is bad for the environment. She is a part of the Earth Day Club here in high school, and that is where she meets the boys. They are all very nice to her, and I don't really understand why except maybe the fact that she is pretty. She really is mean to these boys.
One boy has it particularly hard. I won't tell you his name. But I will tell you all about him. He has very nice brown hair, and he wears it long with a ponytail. I think he will regret this when he looks back on his life. He is always making mix tapes for my sister with very specific themes. One was called "Autumn Leaves." He included many songs by the Smiths. He even hand-colored the cover. After the movie he rented was over, and he left, my sister gave me the tape.
"Do you want this, Charlie?"
I took the tape, but I felt weird about it because he had made it for her. But I listened to it. And loved it very much. There is one song called "Asleep" that I would like you to listen to. I told my sister about it.
And a week later she thanked me because when this boy asked her about the tape, she said exactly what I said about the song "Asleep," and this boy was very moved by how much it meant to her. I hope this means I will be good at dating when the time comes.
I should stick to the subject, though. That is what my teacher Bill tells me to do because I write kind of the way I talk. I think that is why he wants me to write that essay about
To Kill a Mockingbird.
This boy who likes my sister is always respectful to my parents. My mom likes him very much because of this. My dad thinks he's soft. I think that's why my sister does what she does to him.
This one night, she was saying very mean things about how he didn't stand up to the class bully when he was fifteen or something like that. To tell you the truth, I was just watching the movie he had rented, so I wasn't paying very close attention to their fight. They fight all the time, so I figured that the movie was at least something different, which it wasn't because it was a sequel.
"You see. Even Charlie stood up to his bully. You see."
And this guy got really red-faced. And he looked at me. Then, he looked at her. And he wound up and hit her hard across the face. I mean hard. I just froze because I couldn't believe he did it. It was not like him at all to hit anybody. He was the boy that made mix tapes with themes and hand-colored covers until he hit my sister and stopped crying.
The weird part is that my sister didn't do anything. She just looked at him very quietly. It was so weird. My sister goes crazy if you eat the wrong kind of tuna, but here was this guy hitting her, and she didn't say anything. She just got soft and nice. And she asked me to leave, which I did. After the boy had left, she said that they were "going out" and not to tell mom or dad what happened.
I guess he stood up to his bully. And I guess that makes sense.
That weekend, my sister spent a lot of time with this boy. And they laughed a lot more than they usually did. On Friday night, I was reading my new book, but my brain got tired, so I decided to watch some television instead. And I opened the door to the basement, and my sister and this boy were naked.
He was on top of her, and her legs were draped over either side of the couch. And she screamed at me in a whisper.
"Get out. You pervert."
So, I left. The next day, we all watched my brother play football. And my sister invited this boy over.
I am not sure when he left the previous night. They held hands and acted like everything was happy. And this boy said something about how the football team hasn't been the same since my brother graduated, and my dad thanked him. And when the boy left, my dad said that this boy was becoming a fine young man who could carry himself. And my mom was quiet. And my sister looked at me to make sure I wouldn't say anything. And that was that.
"Yes. He is." That's all my sister could say. And I could see this boy at home doing his homework and thinking about my sister naked. And I could see them holding hands at football games that they do not watch. And I could see this boy throwing up in the bushes at a party house. And I could see my sister putting up with it.
And I felt very bad for both of them.
September 18, 1991 Dear friend,
I never told you that I am in shop class, did I? Well, I am in shop class, and it is my favorite class next to Bill's advanced english class. I wrote the essay for
To Kill a Mockingbird
last night, and I handed it in to Bill this morning. We are supposed to talk about it tomorrow during lunch period.
"Nothing." And he is hilarious. "Nothing" got his name when kids used to tease him in middle school. I think he's a senior now. The kids started calling him Patty when his real name is Patrick. And "Nothing"
told these kids, "Listen, you either call me Patrick, or you call me nothing."
So, the kids started calling him "Nothing." And the name just stuck. He was a new kid in the school district at the time because his dad married a new woman in this area. I think I will stop putting quotation marks around Nothing's name because it is annoying and disrupting my flow. I hope you do not find this difficult to follow. I will make sure to differentiate if something comes up.
So, in shop class Nothing started to do a very funny impersonation of our teacher, Mr. Callahan. He even painted in the muttonchop sideburns with a grease pencil. Hilarious. When Mr. Callahan found Nothing doing this near the belt sander, he actually laughed because Nothing wasn't doing the impersonation mean or anything. It was just that funny. I wish you could have been there because it was the hardest I've laughed since my brother left. My brother used to tell Polish jokes, which I know is wrong, but I just blocked out the Polish part and listened to the jokes. Hilarious.
Oh, incidentally, my sister asked for her "Autumn Leaves" mix tape back. She listens to it all the time now.
September 29, 1991 Dear friend,
There is a lot to tell you about the last two weeks. A lot of it is good, but a lot of it is bad. Again, I don't know why this always happens.
First of all, Bill gave me a C on my
To Kill a Mockingbird
essay because he said that I run my sentences together. I am trying now to practice not to do that. He also said that I should use the vocabulary words that I learn in class like "corpulent" and "jaundice." I would use them here, but I really don't think they are appropriate in this format.
To tell you the truth, I don't know where they are appropriate to use. I'm not saying that you shouldn't know them. You should absolutely. But I just have never heard anyone use the words "corpulent" and
"jaundice" ever in my life. That includes teachers. So, what's the point of using words nobody else knows or can say comfortably? I just don't understand that.
I feel the same way about some movie stars who are terrible to watch. Some of these people must have a million dollars at least, and yet, they keep doing these movies. They blow up bad guys. They yell at their detectives. They do interviews for magazines. Every time I see this one particular movie star on a magazine, I can't help but feel terribly sorry for her because nobody respects her at all, and yet they keep interviewing her. And the interviews all say the same thing.
They start with what food they are eating in some restaurant. "As ---- gingerly munched her Chinese Chicken Salad, she spoke of love." And all the covers say the same thing: "---- gets to the bottom of stardom, love, and hissther hit new moviesttelevision showstalbum."
I think it's nice for stars to do interviews to make us think they are just like us, but to tell you the truth, I get the feeling that it's all a big lie. The problem is I don't know who's lying. And I don't know why
these magazines sell as much as they do. And I don't know why the ladies in the dentist's office like them as much as they do. A Saturday ago, I was in the dentist's office, and I heard this conversation.
"Did you see that movie?" as she points to the cover.
"I did. I saw it with Harold."
"What do you think?"
"She is just lovely."
"Yeah. She is."
"Oh, I have this new recipe."
"Do you have some time tomorrow?"
"No. Why don't you have Mike fax it to Harold?"
Then, these ladies started talking about the one star I mentioned before, and they both had very strong opinions.
"I think it's disgraceful."
"Did you read the interview in
"A few months back?"
"Did you read the one in
"God, it was practically the same interview."
"I don't know why they give her the time of day."
The fact that one of these ladies was my mom made me feel particularly sad because my mom is beautiful. And she's always on a diet. Sometimes, my dad calls her beautiful, but she cannot hear him.
Incidentally, my dad is a very good husband. He's just pragmatic.
After the dentist's office, my mom drove me to the cemetery where a lot of her relatives are buried.
My Aunt Helen would always let us kids stay up and watch
Saturday Night Live
when she was baby-sitting or when she was living with us and my parents went to another couple's house to get drunk and play board games. When I was very little, I remember going to sleep, while my brother and sister and Aunt Helen watched
I could never stay awake when I was that little, and I wish I could, because my brother and sister talk about those moments sometimes. Maybe it's sad that these are now memories. And maybe it's not sad. And maybe it's just the fact that we loved Aunt Helen, especially me, and this was the time we could spend with her.
I won't start listing television episode memories, except one because I guess we're on the subject, and it seems like something everyone can relate to in a small way. And since I don't know you, I figure that maybe I can write about something that you can relate to.
The family was sitting around, watching the final episode of
and I'll never forget it even though I was very young. My mom was crying. My sister was crying. My brother was using every ounce of strength he had not to cry. And my dad left during one of the final moments to make a sandwich. Now, I don't remember much about the program itself because I was too young, but my dad never left to make a sandwich except during commercial breaks, and then he usually just sent my mom. I walked to the kitchen, and I saw my dad making a sandwich ... and crying. He was crying harder than even my mom. And I couldn't believe it. When he finished making his sandwich, he put away the things in the refrigerator and stopped crying and wiped his eyes and saw me.