I turned over the page, and wrote neatly at the top. "April 2, 2009". I tapped the pencil against my teeth. Thinking of what to write next. "Harrisburg, PA to Knoxville, TN, 10 hours." I decided to add "approx." Since I had fallen asleep, I wasn't sure how long it had actually taken Sango to get us to Knoxville. Next I wrote "Knoxville, TN to Atlanta, GA." I didn't fill in that time yet. Sango said it would take like four hours, but we were going to stop and clean up when we got close to Atlanta. Next I started listing all the things we had bought at Wal-Mart. Toothbrush, Hairbrush, Wool Socks (2 pairs), Cotton Socks (2 pairs), Sports Bra (2), Shorts (1 pr.), Hiking Boots (1 pr.), Magic Markers, Mascara, Eyeliner, Eye shadow, Lip Gloss (Strawberry), Trac Phone (1 cheap one for me. Sango's already got one).
"Hey, Sango, do you think anyone will notice that I'm not white?"
"Probably, Kagome. I mean Alice."
"Don't you think that's kind of a problem, since we're supposed to be sisters?"
Sango was quiet for a moment, seeming to think. I was starting to realize she was smarter than I had originally thought, so I just kept quiet and let her do her thing. "The easiest explanation would be that you were adopted. If that hurts your feelings, we come up with something different, though, Alice."
Sango was so crazy. I would love to be adopted. That would mean someone wanted me. "I'm cool with that." I worked on my portrait of Hello Kitty, coloring in her hair bow with my neon markers. Then I wrote my new name over and over in different colors "Alice" "ALICE" "Alice Della'Acqua" "ALICE DELLA'ACQUA." Practicing my signature.
"Is Alice short for anything, Alice?"
"No, just Alice."
"Good. Do you have a middle name?"
"Good. What's your birthdate?"
"Umm." I opened up the back cover of the notebook, deciding that I would use the last page for figuring. "September 1, 1992"
"Make sure you memorize that. Now, let me tell you about your family in Buffalo, New York."
We spent a long time talking about Buffalo, which was actually Sango's real hometown. It sounded pretty interesting. I'd like to go there some time, in real life I mean. And her parents sounded really nice. She didn't have any real brothers or sisters, just me. By the time we started seeing signs for Atlanta, I had to use the bathroom really bad, and was feeling pretty grungy, so I was really relieved when Sango pulled off the highway into a Flying J. She had promised me a shower.
Sango had me buy a coke and sit down at a table in the restaurant area, while she worked the counter, looking for a truck driver to give her some shower coupons. I saw her talking to a really big girl. Like over 6 feet tall. They brought their food over to the table. Sango really liked those burgers, she had eight of them on her tray. No fries, though. She must not know much about eating balanced meals.
"Alice, this is Jak. Jak, meet my little sister, Alice."
"Hi, Alice." Jak said. She had a really nice voice, kind of husky and low, with a sweet southern accent. I noticed she wasn't looking into my eyes, though.
"Hey!" I said, annoyed.
"When I get mine, they're going to be just like that." She patted her own chest. Her nails were beautifully done, dark red with little diamonds set into them, to match her lipstick. She had a really pretty face, with a pointy little chin and big, shiny black eyes. Her skin was a rich, beautiful brown color, like hot cocoa. She sure was big, though. Her hands were big, too. I thought of an old Seinfeld rerun I had watched one time. Man hands. I giggled. Then I thought, 'Oh, shit."
We talked while we ate. Jak really was a boy, though he claimed he had been born as both. Yeah, right. He was getting surgery to fix that, though. He said he really had to watch his figure. He was serious about it too. He was eating a big salad, with no dressing, no croutons, no cheese. Drinking iced tea. No sugar. Sweet 'N Low. Yuk.
Sango told Jak we were spending the summer hiking the Appalachian Trail.
"I'm impressed, ladies. You're both gonna have buns of steel by the time your done with that ordeal." He gave Sango a couple of coupons for free showers. He had plenty of them, in the big wallet on a chain he had. I thought that was funny. He really should be carrying a little purse, right? But a free shower's a free shower. I made sure to say thank you, because he was really nice. He even did my nails for me, whipping out a manicure kit, and filing my nails so they were nice and smooth and even. He had noticed I liked pink, so he painted them a nice, light pink, and even stuck a little crystal flower on the corner of my pinky nail. Cute!
As he worked on my nails, Jak told us he was a licensed cosmetologist. I was so jealous when he told us that! I love to do hair. His hometown was Rocky Mount, North Carolina. His mom ran a beauty shop there, and Jak cut hair and did facials and artificial nails. Jak said he had always wanted to get away, to see the world and travel, so he had signed on with a big trucking company that promised to send him to truck driving school for free.
"Girl, listen to this. This here is a good lesson for you." Jak looked at me hard. Whatever he was going to say must be really important. "Always read the fine print."
"Always read the fine print. I went to their school, which was pretty bogus. The papers I signed say the school's tuition cost like a billion dollars, and now I've got to work until it's all paid back. Turns out I hate driving truck. The beauty shop business must be in my blood. But there's no way I can pay the company their stupid money back, so I'm stuck working for them for two more years. I thought they outlawed slavery in this country." He mumbled something that rhymed with "bucket".
"Gee, Jak, that really sucks. Can't you just take off or something?"
"They'd sue my ass. Plus I need money to pay for my medical bills. You wouldn't believe how expensive that is. I guess I'm stuck driving truck for a good long time now." He perked up a little when a cute guy walked by. "At least there's plenty of hott guys that I can hook up with at the truck stops." He stood up. "Time to say bye-bye, ladies." He waggled his fingers at us. He was following the cute guy. Jak had a lot of self-confidence.
The showers were nice and clean, and the water was really hot. I was in heaven! Next to taking a nice hot two-hour bath, with lots of Mr. Bubble, a long hot shower is my second favorite thing on earth. Sango had a big backpack, the kind real serious hikers carry, and it was stuffed with shampoo and conditioner and all that good stuff. When Sango got dressed, she wore faded jeans with hiking boots and a cute tee shirt with a skull and cross-bones on it. She looked great, but I kind of missed the leathers. I changed into clean jeans and a clean tee shirt, too.
"Don't want to show up on this guys doorstep looking like a couple of biker chicks." She sat me down at the same table we were sitting at earlier. Jak came over and watched while Sango gave me a mini-makeover, sipping his iced tea and offering a lot of advice. I think Sango was getting a little annoyed. She was obviously no slouch with makeup herself. "Look down." She stroked on a layer of mascara. "Now look up."
"Your boyfriend get away from you, Jak?" She asked. "Hold still, Alice. This is going to sting a little." She took out a little bottle like nail polish comes in, and brushed some sticky goo on my lips. It did sting, but not too bad. "Lip Venom. It makes your lips look puffy." She covered the Lip Venom with a coat of pink lip gloss.
"We're meeting up later. I'm just killing time. Gotta keep my logbook legal, like I always tell my dispatcher when she tries to bully me. Stupid bitch."
Sango finished up, giving me her compact so I could see what I looked like. Wow! What a difference makeup makes! I've always avoided it. I have enough trouble with boys and men. But all that eyeliner and mascara and stuff really makes my eyes look big and blue. My lips looked, well, to use Jak's phrase, really hott.
"Thanks, Sango. You too, Jak. This is amazing. I never thought I was pretty before!"
"Thanks for all your help Jak. I guess it's time for us to hit the road."
Jak fished around in his big ass wallet, and handed me and Sango each a business card, white with zebra stripes on it. "This here's my cell number. I spend a lot of time in the south, there's a pie factory in Tarboro I load out of all the time. Give me a call, we'll have us some girl talk." He looked back over his shoulder and winked as he walked away.