I Wanna Be You
Wendy McGritt and Mindy Collins were better known to most as Winnie and Minnie, said as a dual identity only the closest of friends can display. Winnie and Minnie had been best friends since the third grade when Winnie had been hit in the head and knocked over by an errant dodge ball and Minnie had been the only one to offer her a hand up. Since then, the two of them, even though they came from different sides of the tracks had been inseparable. There was nothing they didn’t do together. They even looked a lot alike, both brunettes with long, straight hair, wide spaced blue eyes and full, pouty lips. They were very pretty girls. Only Minnie was just a shade prettier than Winnie, her eyes were bluer, her lips fuller, and even her breasts were a bit larger.
Mr. McGritt, Winnie’s father had just enough money to think that he was better than most people. He certainly thought he was better than Sheila, Minnie’s mother who was the standard issue, hard working single mom. Minnie lived in a trailer, while his daughter Winnie lived in their beautiful colonial style home in the Thalia area of Virginia Beach. For the life of him, Jackson McGritt could not figure out why his daughter Winnie was still friends with that trailer trash, Minnie, after all these years. He knew for a fact that Winnie’s grades had suffered due to her friendship. What he didn’t know was that Minnie was a straight “A” student, while his daughter was only an honor roll student.
Mr. McGritt had tried, unsuccessfully for years to get Wendy involved in activities that specifically didn’t include Minnie. He had gifted Winnie with many valuable things and assured her a place at Virginia Tech. He was trying to separate his daughter from her best friend.
Minnie had no idea that Mr. McGritt felt the way he did about her. She could barely remember life without the McGritt family and truly loved her best friend, Winnie. Minnie had done her best, worked so hard for her grades, to ensure that she had a good reputation, she had to, or else she was just the girl from the trailer park that was Wendy McGritt's trashy little friend.
To her mother’s delight, Minnie had earned herself a full scholarship to the University of Virginia! It was scary to Minnie that for the first time in life she wouldn’t be with Winnie, but it also gave her the chance to get out of Winnie’s shadow. It allowed her the fresh start she truly desired.
After school on Friday, Winnie and Minnie arrived at Winnie’s house where Minnie would spend the night with her, since Sheila would be working over night as a nurse at the local hospital. On the way to the kitchen the girls breezed past Mr. McGritt who barely contained his scowl when he saw Minnie. Mrs. McGritt was much friendlier toward Minnie and quickly hugged her just after she had hugged her own daughter Winnie. Unlike Mr. McGritt, Deborah McGritt, felt sorry for Minnie with her used clothes and awful little trailer. She was happy that she had made the right choice by marrying a stable man whom provided a good home and life style for her and their daughter.
In Winnie’s room, she and Minnie were putting on makeup for the movies that they would be attending later that night. Winnie watched Minnie, she knew that Minnie was prettier than her, anyone with eyes knew it.
Sighing, Winnie, stood behind Minnie and started brushing out her hair for her,
“You’re so pretty Minnie,” she said.
Minnie glanced at her through the mirror,
“Oh thank you, Winnie, so are you!”
“Yeah,” Winnie sighed again, “But I’m not as pretty as you.”
Minnie turned around to look at her friend and grabbed her hands warmly before saying,
“Yes you are!” But both of them knew that she was lying.
Minnie looked around Winnie’s huge room, full of so much stuff! No matter how many times she had been there, she could never quite imagine having so much stuff and secretly wondered why anyone would need it.
She pushed Winnie into the chair and braided her hair into a lovely French braid. Smiling she looked at her best friend. How fortunate she had been to find someone like Winnie! Winnie loved her unconditionally; she would miss her terribly when they both went off to college.
At the mall, while they waited before the movie started, Winnie hated the way people looked at Minnie. They would just stare at her in awe as if she were a queen in their mist with her shabby clothes and Wal-Mart purse. Winnie couldn’t figure out what they saw when they looked at Minnie, but she didn’t like it. She wanted them to stare at her, instead.
The next afternoon, the two girls arrived at Minnie’s house on foot because Winnie was not allowed to leave her car parked in the mobile home community. Minnie was quiet as she unlocked the door to her home, knowing that her mother would be napping after her over night shift. When she opened the door, the living room was clean and tidy just as she had left it. The bright curtains made the room so happy along with the many plants that her mother and she tended to so lovingly. It was a small home with its set of limitations, but it was their home and they made the best of it.
Sheila had a pot of homemade spaghetti simmering low on the stove when Minnie went into the kitchen with the cute little wrought iron dinette set that sat perfect in the corner. She glanced in on her mother who was sleeping and gently closed the bedroom door.
In her own room, Minnie had posters of all the places she hoped to travel to after she had gotten her law degree, many of those places, Winnie had already been to. Her bed was neatly made with the beautiful butterfly spread that had cost her two full months of allowance and baby sitting jobs.
Winnie felt cramped sitting in the corner of Minnie’s twin bed. She had gotten used to Minnie’s tiny little box-shaped room, but still did not like it. But she did like Minnie’s mother. Sheila was warm and funny and so accepting! Both she and Minnie were able to come to Sheila with questions about life, love and even sex, to which Sheila always answered openly and honestly.
Minnie’s father had been a young sailor in the Navy during Operation Desert Storm, where he had become a casualty of combat. Minnie didn’t remember her father, but adored the picture she had of her as a baby lying in his strong arms while he stared down at her wistfully. Her father told Minnie how much in love they had been and that he was a wonderful man and Minnie had gotten his determination and brains.
Winnie shared dinner with Minnie and her mother that night as the three sat and ate companionably together. Sheila’s cooking was always good. It was never catered or frozen. Winnie didn’t know where she found the time when her own mother rarely cooked a homemade meal between her many different functions and when she did, the only thing memorable about it, was that Deborah decided not to cook again for a while.
The three of them ate and talked while Sheila congratulated Minnie on making all A’s again on her final progress report. Watching mother and daughter interact, something miserable burned inside of her, Winnie knew how proud Sheila was of Minnie. She watched the open way in which they hugged and laughed. Nothing between the two of them felt fake or forced like it did at her home. Her family dinners teetered between being very quiet and very formal.
It was so easy for Winnie to see how much Sheila loved Minnie. If just once, Winnie’s mother hugged her that tightly or for that long, Winnie secretly wished.
After dinner, Sheila drove the girls down to the Virginia Beach strip in her rag tag car that barely huffed and puffed the entire way there. She waved at them as she turned off and left them standing at the corner of Atlantic and 17th Street.
Underneath the bright lights and the breeze rolling in from the Atlantic Ocean, the girls stared in wonderment at all of the foot traffic. It was May and beach season was nearly upon them. It seemed as if every teenager in the Virginia Beach area felt it, and had arrived at the strip for a Saturday night of fun.
Minnie took Winnie’s hand and practically skipped down the strip. They whizzed past a psychic shop, an aromatic pizza parlor and an adorable haunted house. Winnie could see all of the eyes watching them, or more appropriately watching her best friend. So many people watched Minnie and Minnie didn’t even realize it. Winnie wanted to scream! She wanted to stomp and yell, “Look at me! I’m here! I am here and I am pretty, too!” But she didn’t. She just stared at her best friend and knew that she would never be as pretty, never match up to this trailer trash whose mother loved her so much, who made superb grades in school, who was happy just living the shitty life she had been given.
Suddenly, Winnie hated Minnie. Truly hated her! She had everything that Winnie did not have. Everything!
It was just past 10:30 P.M. when Jackson McGritt received a call from the Virginia Beach Police Department. There had been an accident involving his daughter and he was needed immediately at the ocean front.
He rushed down there as soon as he could, and noticed that Sheila Collins was already standing nervously outside of the restaurant where they had both been pushed back by the police. A crowd gathered around them and watched as bright yellow crime scene tape went up and traffic was being diverted away from the intersection. There was a loud gasp as coroner’s van arrived and was directed to the back of the building where it drove out of sight. A body bag lying on a stretcher was pushed through to the spot where the van had disappeared to and suddenly there was movement from the restaurants front door.
Cuffed and roughly pushed forward, a young woman was coming forth, her long brown hair covering her blue eyes. The cops made a human barrier as they tried to get her to the waiting police car that would take the young suspect to the city jail.
Sheila’s heart tumbled down quickly. She could not believe her eyes. What had happened? Feeling just as confused as Sheila, Jackson took a deep breath and felt suddenly dizzy.
Right before they shoved her into the back of the police car, the young girl, just three weeks shy of being a high school graduate, glanced over at Jackson and Sheila. She ran her tongue over her dry lips and screamed, a huge ragged scream,
“I’m sorry, daddy! I had to, I wanted to be her and she wouldn’t let me!"