And You Thought Your Family was Weird (2015 NaNoWriMo)

(Being written for NaNoWriMo 2015; contains the first chapter of the story) Kristin Fernando is a girl who's addicted to social media. But when her parents divorce and she's shipped off to stay with her cousins, she learns the meaning of family as well as why using social media isn't a good idea.

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1. Prologue - January 3, 2014

I find myself standing in line to board an airplane that will take me from my hometown of Shawneetown, Florida to a city called McDermitt, Arizona. As I'm standing in line, I'm staring at a picture of me and my friends on my Strawphone. The picture was taken at a New Years Eve party three days ago. In the picture, Alison Weaver, Mercedes Wood, Stefanie Doyle, Deanna McCoy, and I cheered as we were waving glasses of root beer and wearing glasses that said "2014" on them. None of them know that I'm leaving, which is sad.

"Why am I doing this again, mom?" I said as I turned to face my mother. "Do I have to leave home and stay with people who I haven't seen in years?"

"Kristin, you know why I’m sending you away," mom said as she sat up in her seat, which was near the line. "Your father and I are getting divorced and I don't want it to affect you."

Sad to say, though, my parents are getting divorced after 19 years of marriage. I would like to remind them that I was around for 15 of those 19 years. Even though mom didn't want the divorce to affect me, it did. I haven't seen dad since the week before Halloween, as no one knew where he was.

That was, until rumors were spread online that dad was seen with a younger woman, who appeared to be a few years older than I was. The idea that Dad would leave mom to chase after a younger woman, especially a woman who appeared to have a disability, made me sick. I can't believe dad would betray me like that! How dare he!!

"Look, Kris, I know it's been hard for you the past few weeks, but trust me, it will get better," mom said.

"How do you know?" I said.

"I have a surprise for you," mom said as she reached into her handbag and pulled out a package. "Something that will help ease the pain of the divorce and you leaving your friends."

"Mom, you know I hate surprises," I said as I stared at the package. (I always made it a point to know what I would get for my birthday and Christmas; surprises were not allowed.) "I already got a book from you for Christmas and another book for my birthday, so why would I need another present from you?"

"Just open the package," mom said with a sigh. "We don't have a lot of time. After all, it will be an hour before you leave and I want to make sure you receive your gift before you go."

"Oh, OK," I said reluctantly as I unwrapped the package. Inside the package was a hardcover book with 200 pages, two sections labeled "morning" and "night", and even had the name "Kristin" on the front cover next to a flowery design.

"You've got to be kidding!" I said as I stared at the book for a long time. "What is it?"

"It’s a diary," mom said as I stared at the diary.

"A diary?" I said nervously. "You mean..."

"It’s a diary," mom said, "a book that no one can read except for you."

"Well, I think this is going to be a problem,” I said as I stared at the diary. "I already have a blog on WordPress, a blog on LiveJournal, a Facebook account, and a Twitter account. So what would I need a diary for?"

Mom said, “You need a place to write down your private thoughts.”

"Private thought?" I laughed. "Who has private thoughts? Privacy is a privilege, not a right. Plus, having private thoughts go against today's social norms."

"I don't care about today's social norms," said mom. "I do know you love to blog about anything and everything. Why would you want every Tom, Dick, and Harry to know everything that’s going on in your life? Why would you want to expose yourself to a public that will only eat you alive? You’re a person, not a reality show.”

“And what if we become like the Kardashians one day?” I said in protest. "What if we become famous? Everyone will want to know about us, and there will be cameras following me wherever I go. I won't have time to have any private thoughts."

“You’re not Kim Kardashian, Kristin,” said mom. “You’re not just going to expose everything about yourself to the world on your blog. Even Kim has a life outside reality TV; she doesn’t write down every detail about herself on her blog.”

“When last I checked, you have a blog too,” I said. "And you use that blog every day."

"Not every day," said mom as I stare at her in shock. As far as I knew, mom did have a writing blog on the site Blogger; it was mainly used for discussing her many writing projects. She kept her personal life away from her blog. "There are times that I don't always want to blog, and there are some things that I don't blog about. But we're not talking about my blogging habits; we're talking about yours."

"What about my blogging habits?" I said. (I usually blogged whenever I wanted, as opposed to the once-a-day rule that was the norm for bloggers.)

"I know you've been diligently writing in your blog everyday for the last four years, but you're holding back on some of the things that happened to you," said mom. "You've made up things on your blogs that are untrue, and you've kept secrets about yourself from people, which is not a good idea."

"And that's why you gave me the diary," I said.

"Yes," said mom. "I gave you the diary because you need to have a safe place to let out all your thoughts without having to worry about repercussion from spammers, trolls, and cyberbullies."

"What are you talking about?" I said.

"You're hiding who you are," said mom. "You never let anyone see the real you."

"But no one's interested in the real me,” I cried out. "They don't care about my heritage or my family's customs or even my background. Why do you think I never wrote about my quinceañera? It’s because no one's interested in that!" Well, I had to force myself to calm down (as I have a bad habit of rambling whenever she was stressed), then said, "No one's interested in you unless you do something extraordinary or were born special. I'm not special; I'm just an ordinary girl. No one likes an ordinary person."

"Well, you are who you are for a reason, Kristin," said mom. "The minute you pretend to be something that you're not, you lose the essence of who you really are."

Well, I hate to say it, but it was true. I have, on a number of occasions, made up some crazy things about myself on my blog, things that were untrue. I won't get into detail about what those things are, but I knew that no one would be interested in a normal girl Kristin Fernando, who lived with normal parents in a normal neighborhood, attended a normal school, and had normal friends. People wanted to read an exciting story about a girl, not a boring normal story. (God knows we have too many of those!)

"So, why am I really going to McDermitt?" I said. "I don't know anyone there. You're not sending me to stay with a bunch of strangers, right? Or am I going to some sort of boarding school in the middle of the desert?"

"Neither," said Mom. She then said, "Do you remember your cousins Tybalt and Cassandra MacPherson?"

I frowned, wondering who Tybalt and Cassandra MacPherson were. For all I knew, they could be strangers and I would be stuck in a place where I didn't know anyone. "No?” I said hesitantly.

"You don't remember them?" mom said in shock. "You don't remember Tybalt, Cassandra, and your cousins Velvet, Nader, and Jacquala? You don't remember when they used to live in Gormsey, Georgia and we always visited them during the summer and Christmas vacation?"

I then pulled up another picture on my phone; that picture was taken during Christmas in 2004. In that picture, the MacPherson family and I were sitting on the couch, with Tybalt holding little Velvet and her brother Nader on his lap, his wife Cassandra holding baby Jacquala in her arms, and I'm sitting between them. "You mean, I'm staying with...them?" I cried out.

"That's right," said mom. "When Cassandra learned that I was going through my divorce, she offered to take you in. She and Ty will be able to provide you with a stable home while I handle all the nasty details of the divorce. Also, do you want to stay with your father and his new...girlfriend?"

I shuddered, as I had met Belicia Deltorrez once and the woman left a bad impression on me. Belicia was described as a deadly eel with narrow brown eyes, short dark brown hair, and nut-brown skin. She was tall and often wore risqué clothes, mainly white and red. Also, Belicia was 22 years old, which was seven years older than I was. I did not like her, nor did she like me. I made sure to tell dad that when he asked me if I liked her.

"There's no way that I want to even be in the same room with Belicia," I cried out. "In fact, I just don't see myself staying with dad for the weekend, let alone living with him."

"Good," said mom. "Now I know you want to stay here and keep going to school with your friends, but I'm afraid it's not going to happen. I not only have to sell the house, but I also have to take care of Aunt Faye and find her a place to stay. I don't have time to worry about you and whether something will happen to you at school."

I said, "But I don't want to leave you, mom. I don't want to leave Northview High or my friends. This isn't fair."

"Well, your father decided to leave us for Belicia, so I think that's unfair," said mom. "But don't worry, Kris; it's not forever, just for a few months. Who knows? Maybe you'll like living in McDermitt."

"Sure, mom," I said as I put the diary in my bag and stood in line. I knew that no matter what the outcome was, I wasn't returning to Shawneetown, nor would I see my friends. I knew that my time in that world was over.

Yet I had no idea that as I said goodbye to mom and boarded the airplane, I was going to need the diary my mother gave me and the stability that the MacPherson family would give me...

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