Musings of a Pataki

Susie Greenleaf

August 2003

I never believed in Peter Pan, Santa Claus, the tooth fairy ... any of it. It was bullshit, plain and simple. A little boy who never grew up and flew around stealing children out of their nurseries? That's kidnap. I'd press charges if those were my kids he'd decided to take. And Santa Claus ... I'm sorry, but some old man that sees every good and bad thing I do? Can we say "Stalker?"

I'm Helga "Made of Steel" Pataki. I don't cry; I tease those who do. My mum's a drunk (you think those really are smoothies?); my father's obsessed with his stupid beeper company and Olga. There was never a second thought thrown in my direction. I'm not smart; I'm not exceptionally pretty; I'm not especially talented; and I just don't give a damn.

And then there's my perfect, beautiful older sister. She can't just screw up once and let me die happy. Oh, no. She's a gifted writer, dancer, singer, actress, pianist, student, friend, and daughter. The Perfect Daughter. That's Olga Pataki.

Not only do I have a Perfect Sister, but also I have a Perfect Best Friend: Phoebe. She's pretty and too smart for my own comfort. And of course, she's been seeing Gerald for who knows how long.

This has all led to all this pent up rage at the age of ten. Makes you wonder where I'll be at eleven. Probably with my room painted black, my hair dyed freakish colours, ditching class all the time and shooting birds with a B.B. gun.

Oooh, and wouldn't *that* be fun. And when I'm twelve I think I'll progress from birds to cats.

Now go thinking that I'm all evil and I hate the world and I'm going to shoot my classmates when I'm thirteen. No freakin' way. I haven't gotten that bad.

Though, I'm beginning to wonder.

I know I don't have that much to complain about; that even though my parents royally suck and my sister annoys the hell out of me, I've still got it pretty good. Better than most. So you don't have to remind me, all right? I know. I get it.

What I don't get is, even though it's not as bad as other things, why I even have to put up with it at all. I'm only ten. Ten. That's kind of young to be cynical and bitter towards everything and everyone, don't you think? Ten and I'm sort of screwed for life.

I mean, I was seeing a "child psychologist" for a while this year, wasn't I? They got all out of order because I hit Brainy; more to the point, because I *always* hit Brainy. Principals don't approve of that sort of thing. Neither, apparently, do psychologists. She said I was angry. But I'm not angry. I'm *pissed*. At what? Who knows. Everything.

Nothing. It doesn't matter any more.

I feel lost, when you get right down to it. Floating, drifting slowly away from everything ... even sanity, at times. There are other people; they have anchors, securing them, holding them down. Keeping them safe.

And I ... I have no anchor. No one to hold me down and keep me from drifting away. I suppose it's my own fault for having no anchor; always pushing people away and acting like none of it mattered; pulling on this bad girl, stay-the-hell-out-of-my-way-or-I'll-beat-you're-face-in mask, so that no one would bother with me. I haven't needed anyone for ten years. Why start now?

But Dr. Bliss bothered.

So did Arnold.

Arnold, the boy I hate, love, and fear the most.

Arnold was the first to concern himself over me, the stupid, self-righteous prat. He sheltered me for a brief moment under his umbrella, and later offered me his crackers. I'm not saying it was the crackers or the umbrella that resulted in my eventual obsession. But … I don't know, the fact is that he was doing those things for *me*, without caring what the other's opinions might be. That's why everyone loves him. Not because of the way his emerald green eyes reflect the morning sunlight when he turns his head to just the right angle, or the way his hair sticks up in every direction, or his weird, football shaped head (though that does help a great deal) … but the way he cares and loves and helps those in need. That's why *I* love him. He's the only one who knows there's another Helga in here somewhere; he's the only one who will ever try to fish her out. He sees what the others don't, won't, and probably never will.

If I could have an anchor, something to keep me from floating away, it would be Arnold. He is steadfast, constant, secure. But he won't become my anchor. I won't allow him to be. A variety of reasons, but mostly because I don't deserve him. I don't; it's as simply as nothing else in my life is.

Simple. What I wouldn't give for that sort of lifestyle.

Instead, I'm Helga "Fear Not Pain" Pataki. Now get the hell out of here before I rearrange your face.