A Day in the Life of Katie LaVance
The alarm clock rang at its usual hour (also known as the crack of dawn) and I whacked it to make it shut up.
Violent? Maybe. But hey, it wakes me up.
I got out of bed slowly, reaching for the lamp on my desk and stretching in the process.
It wasn't enough of a stretch, so I fell onto the floor into my center splits and pulled on my feet to flex them. Oh man, that felt great on my calves.
Stretching ritual satisfied, I got off the floor and looked at myself in the mirror. Not too tall, not too short. White-blond hair in a messy whirl around my head. Green eyes, bright but sleepy. Shorts and tank top for sleep wear.
But I had to get ready for my day.
I pulled out my usual outfit: bright green sweater, white shirt, and floral skirt. Green's my favorite color, as you can probably tell. I left it on my bed as I walked out the door of my room.
I went into the bathroom which I unfortunately share with my little brother, Patrick, and started to put on my face cleanser. I looked at the clock on the wall. Five-fifty. Awesome. I was ahead of schedule.
After the cleanser was off my face, I opened my medicine cabinet and kissed the picture inside.
But I had little time to spare. I brushed my hair and my teeth, trying very hard to get rid of his image in my head.
At 6:10, I straightened my hair a little bit, just to give it some shine, and then I went to get dressed.
I pride myself in being a very put-together person. I always try to keep myself organized, impeccable, and poised wherever I go. My outfit was no different.
After I was satisfied with my appearance, I packed my gym bag. Wednesday was my biggest day for gymnastics, with five hours of class and practice combined. Plus, I had a competition the next weekend, so I was anxiously prepping for it. Green starry leotard, booty shorts and zip-up team jacket for cover up, two granola bars, an apple, and a 1.5 liter Fiji water. My bag, with its cute little monogramming, read "Kathryn E. LaVance" on one side and "North Street Gymnastics" on the other.
The E stands for Elizabeth.
I heard Patrick get up, thumping his feet on the floor like the wild animal of a twelve-year-old that he is. I can't believe I'm actually related to him. I'm much more like my half-sister Heather.
"Katie! There's no hot water!" he complained.
I grunted. "That's because you turned the shower knob the wrong way."
"I swear I turned it to the right!"
"Well, that's the direction for cold water, so have fun with that," I shouted back.
He moaned in response.
On the other side of the hallway, I heard my mom get up. Dad was on a business trip, as usual, but hopefully he'd be back in time for the competition. I really wanted him to see it.
"Good morning, sweetie," my mom said, coming into my room and giving me a hug. "Everything all ready for school today?"
I nodded cheerfully, and Mom kissed my forehead. "Okay. Heather's in charge of Patrick tonight, so you don't have to worry about bringing him to gym with you."
"Mom, he's twelve years old. Don't you think we ought to start giving him a little leeway as far as watching out for himself?" I asked.
Mom raised an eyebrow at me. "You really want your brother alone in the house? He'd burn it down."
This wasn't an exaggeration. Patrick is a walking disaster waiting to happen.
"Point taken," I said. "Penny's giving me a ride to gym today, right?"
My mother nodded. "I'll go check on that brother of yours. Hopefully he has figured out the shower."
I went into the kitchen and started to fix myself a bowl of oatmeal. It's my favorite thing in the mornings. It's just so wholesome and good. Especially with raisins in it.
Patrick followed soon after, dressed but with hair still wet, sticking to his forehead. "Katie, why do you always eat that disgusting stuff?"
I frowned. "Because oatmeal is good and good for you."
He shrugged and pulled out some Froot Loops and a bowl.
"Besides, eating oatmeal isn't as weird as eating cereal dry," I continued.
"Hey! Don't judge my eating habits!"
"Then don't judge mine."
I looked at the clock again. 6:55. We had to be out the door in twenty minutes or we would be late.
Our kitchen clock has triangles all over it, in the same exact shape as the head of a certain triangular-headed boy. I shook my head, trying to remove thoughts of him from my mind.
"Okay, kids, everyone ready?" Mom asked us as I put my bowl up by the sink.
I nodded, but Patrick squeaked, "I forgot my permission slip!" and ran to his room.
As Patrick emerged with his wrinkled slip, I put my shoes on. Green Converse. I don't like being too fancy for school. I picked up my backpack (also green and starry, like my leotard), my gym bag, and my lunch, and opened the door to the garage.
I hopped into the front seat of Mom's Camry, and quickly adjusted my hair in her rearview mirror.
"How come I never get to sit in front?" Patrick complained as he got in and buckled his seatbelt.
"Because you aren't the oldest. Once I go to college you can claim the front seat."
Patrick sighed. "I'm old enough to sit in the front now, though!"
Mom got in and started the ignition. "Okay. First stop, Otto H. Adjacent Middle School."
Even though the high school starts ten minutes before the middle school, Patrick still got dropped off first because it was closer to our house. And Danville High was closer to Mom's work. Therefore, she just had to travel in a mostly straight line.
Once we arrived there, Patrick hopped out, nearly forgetting his lunch in the process. He waved goodbye, and we pulled away from the curb.
7:30. Right on schedule.
As we drove away, I commented to my mother about Patrick, as I often did. "I don't know how he functions in such a mess. How can he do anything without being organized?"
"I don't know how he does it, Katie. It's probably best not to question."
I crossed my arms and looked out the window. Everywhere I looked, I saw triangles.
We pulled up to my school, and the first thing I noticed was Phineas, standing in front of the building. He sticks out like a sore thumb - how couldn't I have seen him?
"Bye, Mom, I'll see you when you get home," I said, making sure I had everything before walking into school.
"Hi, Katie!" Phineas said cheerfully, waving to me.
I waved back, put a smile on my face, then rushed inside, eager to reach my locker. It was 7:41, and I had fourteen minutes until the bell rang. Plus, it would help if I weren't staring at him for too long. I'd never be able to focus on anything really important.
Since the lockers are organized by grade level and last name, I'm not really near any of my friends. Mine is on the second floor, right near the stairs, next to my English class.
I quickly put my gym bag on the shelf, then grabbed the novel we were reading - Jane Eyre - and put it in my backpack, right next to my English binder.
I saw Adyson and Holly pass by as I closed my locker. "Hey, guys!"
"Hi, Katie!" said Holly. "Adyson has a birthday surprise for Django, and she's trying to hide it. Wanna be part of our entourage?"
I nodded, and stood in front of Adyson, who was trying to hide a cake. "What flavor is it?" I asked.
"Red velvet. It's his favorite. Hopefully we'll have the chance to surprise him with it at lunch!" she replied. "If I can hide it for that long."
"If you can hold off eating it for that long," Holly commented, and I giggled. I knew how much Adyson loved to eat.
Adyson arrived at her locker, and Holly undid the combo while I stood guard, watching for Django. Luckily, he wasn't visible until well after Adyson had shut her locker.
"Hey, Holly, Katie," Django said as he walked over to us. "Oh, hey, you," he said to Adyson.
"Oh, look who showed up," said Adyson sarcastically. "Nice to see you again." She hugged him and smiled.
"I think it might be a very special day today," said Django.
"Oh, really?" Adyson replied, giving him a bemused expression. "I can't seem to remember what it is."
Django was about to retort a comeback, but the bell rang.
"Bye, guys! See you at break!" Adyson said, running down the hallway in the other direction in order to make it to her math class.
Holly, Django, and I walked down the hallway, back to English class. I actually have a surprising amount of friends in that class: Milly and Irving are in it too.
Well, it's not like I call Irving my friend or anything. But I pretend to have a crush on him. And he pretends to ignore it.
I sat down in my usual seat - front row, all the way to the left. It isn't assigned seating, but we usually pick the same spots anyway. Irving plopped down behind me.
"Hi, Irving," I said in a dreamy way, knowing that Milly was probably looking at us.
He said his usual "hi" back, then immediately unzipped at his backpack and tried to get his huge, unruly binder out of it.
"Good morning, everyone," said our teacher, Mrs. Stevenson. "Today, we're going to be starting the creative assignment associated with this unit - Jane Eyre." She began passing out the rubric, and I studied it as she continued speaking. "You are going to select one scene from the novel, and put yourself in the place of one character. If it helps, you can substitute other characters in the scene for other people you know. You are going to select a medium to express this in - be it illustration, dance, song - and then write a page describing how you think the character feels in the scene, based on your analysis of both the scene and yourself."
I looked on the paper and saw that it was due on March 25th - exactly a month from today.
I already had a scene in mind.
I opened the book, and flipped through it until I got to the chapter I wanted: Chapter 16.
It contained a scene in which Jane compares herself to Blanche Ingram, and convinces herself that Mr. Rochester could never love a homely thing like herself.
"Hey, Katie, what page does Chapter 16 start on?" Irving asked me.
"Uh...page 191. Why?" I responded.
He looked me in the eye. "I have a feeling that we're doing the same scene for this project, Katie LaVance."
I sighed. "We probably are."
"Unrequited love sucks, huh, Katie?"
"It sure does."
So together, we formulated our idea for how we would present our projects. Irving wanted to sing, and I wanted to draw out the scene.
"Ferb is too hard to draw!" Irving complained. "And besides, I'm not really an artist."
I shrugged. "Neither am I. I'm just following what Jane does in the book."
"Then again...it never says that she drew Rochester. At least, not here."
"Yeah, Irving, you'd have to draw Gretchen and yourself. Not Ferb."
He sighed. "I think it would be eons more apparent that my sexuality is not exactly...common...if I drew it out. If I sing, I can say that I'm talking about my feelings for some random junior chick like I always do when questioned."
"Oh yeah." I'd forgotten about that insignificant little detail.
One of us in love with Phineas, the other of us in love with Ferb. What a mess of hormones we were.
I was very glad for English class to be over. I could tuck away all of my desperate feelings and continue the day, cool as a cucumber.
The rest of the morning passed without incident. Before lunch, I helped Adyson retrieve the cake from her locker, and we carried it down to the cafeteria.
Django's eyes were covered up by a blindfold when we got there, and Adyson set the cake down in front of him. It was actually pretty cute - it had red piping paintbrushes on it, with "HAPPY BIRTHDAY DJANGO" written in bold letters.
"When can I take this thing off, Holly?" Django complained.
"Right...now!" Adyson said, poking his nose in a cutesy way. Holly took the blindfold off, and then he was able to see the cake.
"For me? Aw, Adyson, thanks!" he said, giving his girlfriend a hug. "I knew you wouldn't forget my birthday."
"How could I? You've been reminding me for the past month!" Adyson said, with a smile.
Now that the cake ritual had been completed, I swiftly removed my prepackaged salad from my lunch bag. Mom had forgotten to get the vegetarian Cobb salad - again - and so I had to pick all of the ham out with a napkin. I don't even like touching meat. It grosses me out. I'd be a vegan if I didn't exercise as much as I do.
"Want some cake, Katie?" Django asked me, offering me a piece.
I shook my head. "No thanks. I don't like to eat a ton of sugar on gym days. It just makes me hyper and unfocused."
"So, Katie, I saw you talking to Irving during English class today," Holly said, smiling eagerly. She and Adyson shared a look.
I sighed. Time to get my Irving mode on. "Yeah...it was great. We're doing the same scene for the Jane Eyre project...I wonder if he's doing it about me..." I giggled in a smarmy way, and twirled some hair around my finger. I waited until the others had all gone back to their business, then I quietly stopped and began to eat my salad.
Evan, one of Django's artist friends, stopped by our table. "Happy birthday, Django! Are you going to get your license now that you're sixteen?"
Django shook his head. "I still have another two months left on my permit."
"Well, I gotta go. Bye!" she said.
Adyson visibly relaxed after she left. I think she's afraid that Evan will steal Django from her.
"How's everyone's day been?" I asked. "Obviously yours has been great, Django."
Adyson rolled her eyes. "Montgomery gave us a pop quiz on eighteenth-century Japan. I hate that man. A lot."
"Doesn't everyone?" Holly asked. She had him next period. "Thanks for letting me know, Adyson. I'll study."
"Aw, man! Now Holly's gonna break the curve!" Django said, and we all laughed. Even I did, though I don't take AP history.
The only honors class I take is French, which is my one glorious class with Phineas. And just Phineas. No distractions or interruptions from other friends. They all take Spanish...even Isabella, who is fluent. I didn't ever question it, just thanked my lucky stars that I had one class where this could happen.
I walked into French and sat down in my seat behind Phineas. I usually hate assigned seating, but this time it worked out in my favor. I could stare at the back of his head and smell his shampoo all period. If I so chose. Which I usually prevented myself from doing.
"Bonjour, Katie!" said Phineas.
"Bonjour, comment ça va?" I replied.
"Ça va bien, merci," he said, before turning around and opening his notebook.
It took a considerable amount of self-control to keep myself from slipping into Phineasland. Where he could whisper, "Ma cherie, je t'aime..."
I snapped myself out of it and took beautiful notes on what Mademoiselle Fuji was telling us. We were going over the difference between imparfait and passé composé, which I didn't exactly struggle with, but it wasn't easy.
I wrote, "Imparfait is used to tell background information, feelings, or other information not crucial to the action of a story. Example: 'J'étais en amoureux avec Phineas.' Passé composé is used to tell the actions of a story. Example: 'Mais Phineas et Isabella sont sortis, et je suis restée chez moi.' "
Looking down at my examples, I immediately erased them. What if someone were to find my notebook? I quickly replaced the names with the characters from that movie "Early Evening". I knew that they had a love triangle just as complicated as mine.
The bell rang, and I packed up with just a quick "au revoir" to Phineas. I had to refocus. My gym coach was really strict. Besides, if I was unfocused I could land a flip wrong and hurt myself.
After a quick trip to my locker to collect my gym bag, I met my teammate Penny in front of the school. She was a senior, and had organized a carpool for those of us on the highest team who couldn't drive yet.
"Hey, Katie. Ready for gym today?" she asked me.
I nodded happily. My embarrassing notes in French class were nearly forgotten.
Another girl, Danielle, came over to us, readjusting her wrist brace. "Hey guys, what's up?"
"Not much," Penny said. "Just waiting on Olivia."
I looked at my phone. It was already 2:40. I hoped Olivia would hurry up, because I wanted to get to practice early.
Finally, she arrived, and we beelined for Penny's white minivan, which she called Bubba.
"Okay, has everyone entered Bubba?" she asked.
We all nodded.
"Is Bubba going to kill anyone?" she asked, referencing our seat belts, and basically asking if they were buckled.
We all shook our heads.
"Okay then, Bubba is leaving the station!" Penny cried, backing up triumphantly.
As we drove up to North Street, I put my hair in a ponytail, and helped Danielle with hers.
"Man, I can't wait until I'm done with this brace," Danielle commented. "My wrist doesn't even hurt anymore!" she complained.
"That's what they all say," Penny warned wisely. "But trust me, your wrist is not done healing until the doctor says it is. My sister was out for eight extra months because she took off the brace and screwed up her wrist again."
I knocked on wood. I'd never hurt myself at gymnastics before, and I planned to keep it that way.
When we got to the gym, I took a quick bathroom break and then put on my leotard and booty shorts. I didn't need the jacket now, I only brought it for later.
I found an empty corner to meditate in for a second. I'm not religious or anything, but I do like to conjoin with some sort of higher power to help me be a good gymnast.
My coach, Darla, suddenly called for all of us to come onto the floor. "Senior team! It's 3:15! Let's get going!"
We all ran a lap around the gym, then started to stretch. I was a teeny bit sore - I'd been working really hard on my routine the day before. But my center splits felt just as good as they had this morning.
A good hour of trampoline was exactly what I needed. Besides floor, it's my best event. As I bounced up and down, preparing to do my flips, my mind never wavered for a second. I knew exactly what I had to do, and I was going to accomplish it.
I did my four best tricks, and the girls applauded for me.
Now it was Olivia's turn. She did three of the same tricks as me, but differed on the fourth and didn't land it quite as well as I had landed mine. Plus she didn't straighten her legs enough.
At around 6 pm, it was time for our break. I ate my granola bars (gluten-free, thank you very much, they're Kind bars) and my apple, and had some more of my water, and as usual, I remained a silent observer while the other girls talked about their love life problems.
"Gosh, Penny, I bet you and Graham Kelley had fun at Winter Formal," moaned a girl named Carissa. "I've been hoping he would ask me to every single dance ever, but he's never asked me. Even when I drop audacious hints."
Penny laughed. "I dunno, Carissa, Graham Kelley is not the nicest of dates. He doesn't exactly leave space for your personal bubble when you're dancing with him, and he tries to do all those wacko dance moves that are just plain nasty. Like, I don't want some guy's butt in my face, you know what I mean?" she said, taking a bite of a banana.
"But he's so cute," Carissa cried. "You know what I mean, don't you, Reagan."
Reagan nodded solemnly. "He's like a god. The way his bangs are always in his eyes..." Carissa and Reagan sighed together.
I frowned to myself as I took a bite of my apple. I'd seen Graham Kelley, and he was nothing compared to Phineas. Even if Phineas' head was shaped like a Dorito.
I didn't care.
I practiced my floor routine for Darla, and she definitely approved of it. Though she did tell me to make sure that my back walk-over wasn't too slow, because otherwise I'd be off the music.
At 8:15, Heather pulled up in her silver Hyundai, with Patrick in the backseat. Heather's a senior at Danville University, but she lives in an apartment with her boyfriend and only really comes home to babysit Patrick.
"Hi, Katie, hop in," she said, helping me with my gym bag and backpack. "I made you breakfast for dinner. And I made veggie sausages for us and meat sausages for Patrick - so everyone's happy. I found a new brand, they're actually really good."
"Hey, Patrick, how was your day?" I asked him, turning back to look.
Patrick was playing his Gameboy in the backseat. He paid me no attention.
"Okay then. How about you, Heather?"
Heather shrugged. "Mine was okay. Gavin was sad that we had to miss Wednesday Night Fun Night at Veggie Grill, but I told him I'd make it up to him. I'm going to make him shish kabobs tomorrow. He can't complain about that."
We arrived at our little bungalow-style house, and Heather parked in the driveway.
"Okay, Katie, why don't you go change, and I'll heat you up a plate," Heather told me, and I gratefully ran to my room to take off my sweaty leotard.
I put on a baggy T-shirt and some old sweatpants, and went back to the kitchen to eat my dinner. Eggs, hash browns, and veggie sausages. My sister knows what I like. Probably because she eats the same things.
"So how was your day, Katie?" Heather asked.
I shrugged and stuffed more hash browns into my mouth. Even with a snack break, I was starving. "Can I have some orange juice? I think Mom got the O Organics kind."
Heather poured me the glass. "Have any tests at school today?"
"Nope," I replied, before taking a sip. "But we got our math tests back today, and I got a B+."
She smiled and ruffled my sweaty hair. "That's good. Eat up, Katie, or you're gonna feel horrible in the morning without enough fuel. You've been practicing hard."
I nodded, eating a bite of veggie sausage. Heather was right - they were better than the usual brand.
"How much homework do you have?" she asked.
"Not a ton. Just reading a chapter for history. It won't take me long."
As soon as I'd said this, Mom walked in the door. "Hello, girls. How are you?"
"Doing fine, Wendy," Heather said. She always calls Mom Wendy because her mother is still alive and well, and now lives in Bogota, Colombia. "Just made Katie some dinner. Eggs, hash browns, and veggie sausages. And this brand has more calories in it...so you don't have to worry about her missing nutrition."
Mom smiled weakly. "Just as long as this vegetarian diet doesn't harm her in any way, I'm fine with it."
"Look at her. She certainly looks healthy," Heather said. "Katie, why don't you go do your homework if you're done eating."
I handed Heather my empty plate and went back to my room.
Mom and Heather were probably going to argue about me becoming a "hippie" like Heather. But I admired Heather, for having the courage to be herself. I wanted to be just like her, and she definitely supported me.
I read my history book for about half an hour. By then it was 9:30, so it was time to take a shower.
I thought taking a shower would help clear my head a little bit, but now all of the things I'd been trying to avoid all day came rushing back. It was a little overwhelming, really, the depth of my secret. I knew I loved Phineas. But I also knew that it wouldn't be right for me to take him from Isabella. They were the true soulmates, and I was the broken outsider.
Just like Irving. I supposed that's why we got along so well. But even if he wanted to use me as an excuse to appear straight, I'd say no. Because it would just be unnecessarily uncomfortable for both of us.
I got out of the shower and looked at myself in the mirror. I was like Jane. The forgotten extra, the "bloom of friendship that paled in comparison with the rose of love".
I put the T-shirt back on, and some shorts, and brushed my teeth hurriedly before climbing into bed. I reset my alarm clock, thinking that it would ring out in a few short hours, and that I'd have to repeat the whole mad cycle again. I'd be lost in this never-ending circle of being alone.
Just like every night, I cried myself to sleep.
A/N: So that's my image of Katie. This was based on the novel A Day in the Life of Ivan Desinovich, which goes through the day of a Russian man in a Soviet labor camp. I kind of wanted to do the same thing with Katie, using a day punctuated by random moments thinking about Phineas, and explaining why the heck her only lines in "Secret For A Reason" were to talk about Irving. She doesn't know that Adyson and Holly also know Irving's sexual orientation.
The French can be translated as such:
"Hi, how are you?"
"I'm good, thanks."
(you should know ma cherie je t'aime...)
"I was in love with Phineas."
"But Phineas and Isabella went out, and I stayed at my house."
Also, the quote about the bloom of friendship is taken from Chapter 41 of Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery. The novel is in the public domain, but I wanted to credit her anyway.