Home > Tilly in Technicolor

Tilly in Technicolor
Author: Mazey Eddings


Chapter 1

Panties in a Twist



“Tilly, are you sure you have enough underwear?”

I stare at the massive lump of underwear shoved into my suitcase. Are thirty-nine pairs enough? What if I pee and/or crap my pants multiple times a day for the next three months? What if I absolutely demolish my underwear, turning pair after pair from sturdy to crotchless, and Europe suddenly experiences a massive underwear shortage?

“Can never be too prepared,” I say, nodding at my mom and fishing out the last handful of underwear I have in my drawer. I try to wrestle them into the pocket of my suitcase, but they won’t fit without busting the seams, so I stack them on top of the six boxes of tampons I’ve packed. Size super because I don’t do anything by half measure.

“Good girl,” Mom says, smiling at me like I just came up with a cure for global hunger. “There’s hope for you yet.”

That look and her words send a sharp mix of shame and annoyance dancing across my skin, making it prickle. I turn away, crawling into my closet and pretending to search for a pair of tennis shoes while I gulp down a frustrated scream trying to claw its way out of my throat.

It’s moments like this that confirm how badly I need my life to change. I need to leave this house. Get out from under my mom’s thumb. Get the hell out of Cleveland.

Which is exactly what I’m packing for: my great escape.

Or, as much of an escape as a trip around Europe financed by my parents while acting as my sister’s lowly intern can be. I’d rather not get lost in the semantics of it all.

“Have you programmed our calls into your calendar?” Mom asks, in that perfectly practiced casual tone that means she expects me to have forgotten and is going to be let down but not surprised when I prove her right.

“Of course,” I lie. It’s hard to force myself to do things I really, really don’t want to deal with, and my scheduled calls home to my parents while I’m away are pretty high on my list.

This trip is a combination of a birthday and a graduation present with just enough built-in structure that my parents agreed to it. They’re paying my way to Europe, and, in exchange, I’ll be traveling around the continent for the next three months with my sister, Mona, as she tries to grow her start-up. Mom plans on meeting me in London when it’s over to spend a few days there before taking me home … likely kicking and screaming.

The trip doesn’t come without a few catches, one being weekly check-in calls with my parents, where I tell them how much I’m growing as a person and learning so much, la la la.

The second is that I’ll technically be Mona’s intern, but I think that label is more for my dad’s sake and his big dream (read: capitalist-inspired nightmare) to see his two daughters become some sort of heavy-hitter business moguls.

“I told Mona to set an alarm on her phone to remind you to take your medicine. I’ll text you, too, so you don’t forget,” Mom says, her words pinching at a soft spot between my ribs.

“I’ll remember, Mom,” I mumble, my cheeks burning. The problem is, I do have a tendency to forget to take the tiny little pills that help me with basic tasks like remembering, one of ADHD’s fabulous ironies. But I also don’t need my mom recruiting my perfect older sister in this endless plight to make me feel as helpless as a two-year-old.

“And Tilly, please make sure you listen to Mona while you’re gone. I know you tend to wander off and do your own thing or get lost playing on that laptop of yours, but she’ll know how to navigate better than you will and the whole point of the trip is for you to gain some life experience. You wouldn’t want to cause a scene while you’re away.”

This is the point where I shut down.

Back still turned to her, I squeeze my eyes shut, gripping my hands into tight fists and biting my lip to tamp down the swell of feelings. I’ll be out of here soon.

No more gentle, disappointing sighs when I forget to do something. No more glances of weary defeat—an acknowledgment of a shared burden—between Mom and Dad when I get worked up and emotions pour out of me with the force of a waterfall but none of the beauty. No more comparing my consistent failures and shortcomings to perfect Mona’s endless successes.

Mona is five years older than me, and we used to be super close. Best friends. But then she went off to Yale for college and was never quite the same. She traded her silly personality and long flowing dresses for a crap ton of power suits and more sweaters with elbow pads than one person has a right to own. Every visit home on breaks and holidays, she was a little different. Less fun. Way more serious.

Instead of fangirling with me over Supernatural or Doctor Who, she started discussing market trends with Dad. Neighborhood gossip with Mom.

Mom says she became a true New Englander. I think she became a stuffy dud.

As if attending an Ivy League university (completing an accelerated MBA program, no less … gag me) wasn’t enough, she started her own company during school, partnering with some genius engineering-business double major named Amina. The duo developed a bougie, eco-friendly, organic, nontoxic, insert buzzword here nail polish brand—excuse me, I mean luxury nail lacquer … because, apparently, the word polish isn’t classy enough.

After graduating last year and winning seed money in some highly competitive women in business competition (which Dad went ahead and made his only talking point and entire personality), Mona moved to London, where Amina’s originally from, and the pair have been growing the business there ever since.

They named the company Ruhe, which is a German word that “doesn’t translate exactly to English” meaning nothing around you bothers you. I’m pretty sure she found it on some BuzzFeed article about fancy foreign words without an exact translation. I am once again requesting that you gag me.

Mom and Dad might as well have set up a Mona altar in our living room for how much they worship her accomplishments.

“Oh Tilly, don’t get upset. I’m not criticizing you,” Mom says, walking over to where I’m scrunched up in the closet, back rounded like a turtle shell. She rubs lightly between my shoulder blades and my muscles lock. “You know that your ADHD causes these issues, not you.”

My mom talks about my diagnosis like it’s a separate entity from me, some awful parasite hijacking my system and changing who I actually am.

“Dr. Alverez told us it can cause impulsivity. Recklessness. I just want you to be aware of those things so you can overcome them,” she continues, rubbing soft circles on my back that make my skin crawl and my body shudder. I don’t like soft touches.

I want to scream. I want to blow up. I want to say Stop, Mom. Just stop. Stop laying out all the things you’d change about me and blaming them on a diagnosis.

ADHD hasn’t “changed” me, which is how my mom views it. It is me. It’s an undeniable and simple fact of who I am. Like my black hair or my gray eyes or the bump on the bridge of my nose. It exists in my DNA, probably right between my hopeless romantic gene and the raunchy sense of humor allele. It’s woven into who I am. It’s not some disease that needs to be cured.

I duck and roll away from her touch, standing up and doing a bizarre spin and leg kick like I’m a modern dancer. I sashay toward the door.

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