My name is Dixie.
I’m not gorgeous or anything, but I started hanging out with the hottest girls in school my sophomore year, so I reached the status of being popular by default. Or at least I was popular. That rank has changed. Some people say I’ve made a mess of my life. I don’t know. Maybe my stepsister Maggie’s description is more accurate. She’s a huge Kelly Clarkson fan, so it didn’t surprise me when Maggie dragged up some of her lyrics to describe me. She says my life is a “beautiful disaster.” You be the judge... Maggie and I were friends long before we became stepsisters. We met on the first day of kindergarten. Maggie’s skinny body was topped with a mop of bright red Irish curls and I was round with baby fat and strung with two straight blond braids. We sat at the same little table and drank juice and ate cookies together, stuck our hands in Play-Doh, and fought over the dinosaur puzzle. After that, no one could separate us. We took every class together. We shared ChapStick, hairbrushes, and one bout of lice in elementary school. We bought our first bras together when we were twelve. We tried out for cheerleading together even though we knew we wouldn’t make the squad. We walked for March of Dimes and ran track together in ninth grade. We finished each other’s sentences and each other’s sandwiches. We slept at each other’s houses, talked all night, and cried on each other’s shoulders many a time. We did everything together. Then we became sisters. My mother married her father.
You would think that would have made us closer. I mean, we were already closer than sisters, but something happened when we moved in under the same roof and had to share a bedroom. Or maybe it was already happening before then, and living together made us face it straight on.
You see, Maggie and I weren’t exactly popular at school in our early years. In fact, we were pretty much invisible. We blended into the walls and floors. Nobody took any notice of us. No one invited us to parties or commented on our clothes, or asked what we thought of the latest Reese Witherspoon movie. We weren’t as bad as the losers or the nerdy kids who kept their noses in their laptops all the time; we just weren’t important to anyone. All that changed when Maggie got on the news one day. I would tell you more about that, but that’s her story, and this is mine. What matters is that suddenly everyone noticed us. We had boyfriends and invitations to parties and everything. The weird thing is that after years of yearning to be popular, Maggie rejected it all. She became known, recognized, but still more or less a loner. I’d had enough of that life. I embraced my new visibility, and left her behind. By the middle of tenth grade, I was hanging out with Heather and Tammy, two cheerleaders that held the school in the palms of their hands. Maggie and I still hung out in classes, since Heather and Tammy weren’t in any honors courses, but after school we went our separate ways—her to study with Webb, a boy from our neighborhood, while I met up with Heather and Tammy and hit the mall or went to their houses or to the pizza parlor or whatever. Despite that, Maggie and I were still OK with each other. We were still friends, just with differing interests. Maggie barely noticed anyway since she was so hung up on Webb. I think she was glad I had someone else to hang out with. It wasn’t like our parents just met and got married. They had some secret past they wouldn’t share with us. All we know is that they were in high school together, and that they dated at least once back then, but how Mama ended up marrying my daddy, Richard Chambers, and Maggie’s dad ended up marrying Mallory has some undercurrents that Mama wouldn’t share with me or Maggie.
Anyway, whatever happened between our parents in high school was rekindled when Maggie and I got the two of them together. That was back when we were in tenth grade. During the summer between eleventh and twelfth grade, they got married and we became sisters. Which brings me to our senior year. That January, Heather and Tammy and I got Asby Ford, popular juvenile delinquent, to make us fake IDs so we could go to a bar to hear a new group called Blind Reality that Heather kept raving about. And that is where my beautiful disaster began.
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Author of Six Novels CALA Winner Christy Award Finalist International Speaker Writing Instructor
Conference Keynote Magazine Editor
Email: Michelle at MichelleBuckman.com