So Much Pretty

So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman Read Free Book Online

Book: So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Cara Hoffman
the delicate balance of the system and her family’s part as people who were from Haeden. People who worked. And were patient. Did not take handouts, did not take student loans, did not run up credit cards or miss payments. Did not make a move until they knew right where they were going and had a solid thing like her dad’s business.
    Wendy recognized the obliviousness of her friends, how they couldn’t seem to see the difference between each other’s houses, how they would eat a whole box of cereal at another kid’s house after school, not even because they were hungry, not even stopping to think where it fit in that family’s budget. And she hated it. Hated being the only one who saw it. Silently doing the math and making the petty point in her mind again, but never out loud.
    It was because of her father that the Whites were not poor, and her father was one bad back or slip on a ladder away from having to reconfigure the balance of the whole family. She didn’t want to be self-righteous. And she didn’t want to draw attention to their situation. But it was senior year, and people were applying for school. And that changed some things. Made her feel things.
    Every day she had to hear from friends who couldn’t wait to graduate and get out of this “hellhole.”
    “But there’s nothing quite like a hellhole to raise kids in,” she joked.
    And her friends laughed. All their parents said they had stayed there because of how safe Haeden was and how everyone knew each other. Yet that was what kids hated about it. Wendy wasn’t going anywhere soon and she knew it, but it wasn’t a big deal like the other girls made it out to be. It was stupid to make a fuss about something you had so little choice in. She thought it was funny that people wanted to be from somewhere big or dangerous. She could shrug off a couple of years at home and save money if she had to. Sometimes that made her feel tougher and smarter than her friends. Her dad always told her that was what built character.
    “Anything I want to do, I can do right here,” Wendy had told Jenny Hollis, walking home after swim. She felt good saying it. She was fucking sick and tired of Jenny talking about SUNY Geneseo and how great the campus was, and what she bought for her dorm room, and how “intense” it was going be when she was finally bilingual and a physical therapist. Wendy was sick of Jenny, too, her bright red hair and round pale face and double chin. She looked like an eight-year-old boy. And talked like she was always earnest or astonished. Like she was giving a pep talk—worse, like she was giving a pep talk and was also feeling kind of sorry for herself at the same time, keeping her chin up even though people had let her down.
    Jenny reminded Wendy of dogs she’d seen in obedience class who always looked out of the corners of their eyes at their masters, like they wanted to do something bad and the only reason they didn’t was because they had a choke collar on. Jenny wasn’t free or out of a hellhole because she was going to school. Jenny was spoiled. She thought her blob of features was pretty the way only rich girls could. Expensive shirt and no one notices you have weird-looking tits. Two years of braces and no one remembers that your real teeth were more crooked than the trailer trashyou won’t even talk to. It was gross. Wendy was freer and happier hanging out in her dad’s shop than Jenny would be trying to make people like her for her personality instead of the clothes she wore. Wendy wouldn’t miss this walk home at all.
    “Yeah, but don’t you want to see the world a little?” Jenny asked. This also annoyed Wendy—when people talked about “the world” as if Haeden were another planet. Wendy stared at Jenny and knew the girl couldn’t read her expression, knew that she didn’t think Wendy was pissed or that she had her own ideas. Jenny was starring in a play about Jenny in her own head.
    “Haeden is actually a part of the

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