I'm Here To Save the World, But Who
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2001-08-03 00:48:01 (UTC)

Krystal a.k.a. Supergirl

I was being harsh. I didn't really mean it. Well, not all
the way.

I just wish that for a little while--a few minutes one
morning, maybe--Mom and Dad could switch places with their
old selves. Mom would be normal again, and Dad would be
happy with his nice, cozy, unrenovated store. Then I could
tell them what's really on my mind AND NOT FEEL SO GUILTY!

My life is a total wreck. I have stopped being Krystal
Winslow. I have morphed into a new life-form. Supergirl,
here to save the day.

Yes, parents, you can create one in your own home! She
requires no maintenance! She disappears when she's not
needed! She doesn't speak unless she's spoken to! She
changes all her plans at a moment's notice whenever you
want her to! She slices, she dices, she even makes curried
fries! Imagine the possibilities!

I am sick of it. First of all, I have to watch every word
that comes out of my mouth. Dad flies off the handle at the
slightest thing. He's so overworked, he barely comes home.
And when he is home, all his attention is on Mom. I could
dye my hair white, march through the house in diapers, and
burp to the tune of "The Star Spangled Banner," and he
probably wouldn't notice.

I tell myself to be reasonable. I try to understand. But
sometimes I can't. Sometimes my parents push me over the

Like today.

After work, I was exhausted. Nevermind that I'm legally not old
enough to have a real job. I was at the store for five hours, on my
feet practically the whole time. I did inventory, swept the
stockroom, and helped customers.

Before lunch, I managed to avoid Dad pretty much. Afterward, I saw
him too much. He yelled at me for leaving crumbs on the carpet. He
yelled at me for creasing the cover of On The Road. He accused me of
interrupting him while he was talking to a customer. (I didn't. I
said "Excuse me.")

Did I get paid? No. Did Dad at least thank me? No, unless a grunt
counts as "Thanks."

But I put up with it. I knew he was under pressure. I wanted to help.

Around 3:30, I biked home. My leg muscles ached, but I didn't really
care. I was excited about seeing Mom. We hadn't had "alone time" for
so long.

The door was locked, and no one answered when I rang. When I let
myself in, I found a note on the kitchen table:

Gone to support group meeting.
Then to Dr. Merwin's office for follow-up
Visit. See you for dinner! Love, Mom.

So much for alone time.

Oh, well. What I really needed was rest time anyway.

My legs creaked as I walked up to my room. I was about to plop down
on my bed when I saw a shoe box on my dresser.

I hadn't put it there. I didn't even recognize the store name printed
on the side.

Inside it was a pile of jewelry. Weird jewelry. I dug my finger in
and sifted through clunky wooden necklaces, enormous rings, rainbow-
striped bracelets, huge brass belt buckles.

Awful. Every single piece. I mean, if I tried my hardest to create
the most hideous jewelry in the world, I could not come close to the
collection before me.

A folded note had been tucked in the corner. I picked it up and read:

Retro, huh? Can you believe I saved this stuff?
I'll never wear it again, and I thought some of
it might be back "in." Enjoy! xxxooo, Mom.

Heirlooms. A whole boxful of heirlooms.

The ice sculpture was practically a puddle.

I felt my headache rage back. Full blast.

I stuffed the note and the jewelry in the box, then lay down on the
bed. I closed my eyes, figuring I'd rest for a few minutes.

I woke up two hours later, at the sound of the back door closing.

"Anybody home?" called Dad's voice.

"I am!" I called back.

I could hear the clattering of pots and pans in the kitchen. I shook
off my sleepiness and walked downstairs.

Dad was furiously turning the salad spinner. "I only have until seven
or seven-thirty. My new assistant manager called in sick, so I have
to go back."

I asked if I could help.

Seemed like an innocent question. Well, not to Dad.

He opened the spinner and began ripping the lettuce with his
hands. "I was kind of hoping..." RIP! "Some dinner..." RIP! "Would
have been prepared." RIP!

"Sorry, Dad--"

"Weekend homework again?"

"No. I was just resting."

Dad flung the leaves into a glass bowl. "You know, we're all very
busy here honey--"

"I know, Dad!" I opened the fridge and took out a bottle of juice.

"You don't have to speak to me that way, Krystal--"

"I just said--"

"In a family we all have to pull our own weight--"


"I'll get it!"

"I'll get it!"

I ran out first. I could not stand being in that kitchen one more

Mom was at the door, arm inarm with Mrs. Mattson. We all chatted for
awhile as I helped Mom inside.

Dad swooped into the front hall, wearing a kitchen apron. "Welcome

He and Mom hugged, so I let go. Then they walked into the kitchen
together. I tagged along.

"We're not quite ready for dinner," Dad said. "I put soup on the
stove and I'm microwaving some leftovers. I'll help you to the
bathroom, while Krystal does her share in the kitchen."


I griited my teeth. I wlaked into the kitchen and calmly stabbed a
cucumber to death. Then I threw together a salad and set the table.

Be grateful, I told myself. This will be our first family meal in

"So," Mom began as we sat down, "what did you think, Krystal?" Can
you believe I actually wore that jewelry back then?"

Dad said something so dumb I nearly choked. He kind of chuckled about
how IN STYLE all that kind of stuff is.

All I said was, "It's a little different, Dad," and he looked at me
as if I'd just said I was going to bomb his store.

"Don't worry, I won't offended if you throw them out, Krystal," Mom
said. "I just thought you'd want to look at them. Actually, I think
you'd really like my beautiful old madras cotton dresses--"

"Uh, thanks, Mom," I replied, "but you don't have to leave
me...surprises. Really."

"Oh, I don't mind--"
"In fact

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