six small words

All day long I had envisioned stopping off at the CVS on the corner of Franklin and Lake Street to pick up a bottle of Rumchata. It was on the way to picking up Sophie and I was in dire need of a drink. And Rumchata was such a drink I could drink without any problems. None whatsoever. (Oh could I drink and drink that milky goodness.)

Just as I picked up the white bottle, my phone vibrated. I looked at the message from my mom: Hospice is saying any day now.

Instantaneously, I was suffocating inside that corner CVS store. I unzipped my jacket and looked at the message again. Six small fucking words that said so much. My heart started beating fast, the burn of vomit crept into my throat, tears fell from my eyes.

Take a deep breath, I told myself over and over again wiping away the tears.

I walked around the store cradling the bottle of Rumchata, trying to tell myself to remain calm, trying to remind myself I was inside a store and not in my car or home where I could react any way I wanted. I tried reminding myself that this wasn’t completely unexpected news. Clearly. Hospice had been visiting my grandmother for nearly a month at that point so I knew the news would come one day when I would learn there were days left.

I guess I just didn’t think I’d be inside a fucking CVS store buying Rumchata to drown my sorrows in whilst my four year old watched Dora that night.

Once I gathered enough strength and hid enough tears, I went to the counter by the door and purchased the Rumchata. I wasn’t carded, of course, because my hair had become quite silver the past several months.

I walked out of that corner CVS store and so badly wanted to open that bottle right then and there and take a swig.

Or ten.

But I had my sweet Sophie yet to pick up from daycare right down the street.

***

“Is everything okay,” Miss Carrie, the director at Sophie’s daycare asked when she saw me. I quickly averted my eyes to the log-in sheet and just nodded my head.

Sophie yammered on the whole ride home, but I’m not sure what she said. All I could think of was the impending holidays. Thanksgiving to be exact. It was Grams favorite holiday and I just couldn’t imagine it without her. It was the one time every year when everyone would gather together to feast, fight, and fart around. We laughed and cried on Thanksgiving. Voices and eyebrows were raised quite often. But we were all there, in one place, together as a family.

That was all going to change and realizing that made me nearly have to pull the car to the side of the road.

Gram was dying and so was our family.

***

Gram always remained a constant in my heart and thoughts, but I couldn’t have ever imagined a corner store having such a hold on me… but it did. Because from that day forward, every time I drove past that street corner, I thought of her.

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party

The smell of smoke lingered in the air, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find the source.

As we walked around the crowded house, a pillow of smoke appeared down a hall that I thought lead to the front door. The closer I got to the pillow, I could see through and beyond it and into the room where the smoke erupted from. A half dozen people sat in a circle on the floor of the otherwise barren room, candles burning outside of the circle, taking hits off a bong and passing it around. One girl caught my eyes and smiled and nodded as if to ask if I wanted some. I mouthed no thanks and kept walking like I knew what was happening, where I was going.

It was just like a scene from a teen flick where all the underage kids gather in someone’s home whose parents went away for the weekend and partied partied partied. Music bounced from every surface. You had to shout to talk to someone and you had to really pay attention if you wanted to hear what someone else was saying. Everyone had a cup or a can or a bottle in one hand and a cigarette in the other. The house soon became the inside of a smoking cigarette, and we were all the itty pieces of tobacco on fire or about to be set on fire and inhaled into someone’s system.

I don’t know what the fuck I was thinking going along with my cousin to this damn party. It’s just not who I am, even if I think it’s what I want. Still, I went along. Stupid girl that I am. I hoped maybe someone would notice me. I hoped I’d make eye contact with a guy who wanted to keep looking at me. I hoped he’d approach me and we’d talk and sneak away to a more private area. I hoped we’d get along fantastically and he’d want my number and we’d start dating. I hoped I’d finally find out what it was like to make out with someone.

None of that happened though. It never did.

I just followed Shayla around the party like my little sister toddles after Ma, telling her, in my mind, that we should leave: Let’s just go to White Castle and have some sliders. 

“Did you see him?” Shayla asked as soon as the cold air from outside smacked us in the face. “He was leaning against the sink in the kitchen. He’s wearing a black leather jacket.”

“I didn’t, sorry.”

“How could you miss him? He’s beautiful!”

Our feet crunched the dead leaves on the ground as we shuffled through the grass toward the back of the house.

“Where are we going now?” I asked.

“There has to be another entrance near the kitchen,” Shayla said with a smile.

Just then I thought I would vomit. I didn’t think I could go through with going in the house again. I started breathing heavily and forced myself to think of something other than feeling the tears well inside and the burn in my throat. How I wished I hadn’t let Shayla talk me into going out with her. How I wished I could be anywhere but there.

the interview

She sank into the depths of her memories and couldn’t stop the tears from raining down her face, her heart pulsating in her chest.

“I’m in the alley,” Marissa says. “On my way to school.”

Her heart starts beating faster and faster.

“I see something. A shadow,” she shrieks. “And now I can feel a pull on my arm!”

Tears start forming gray dots on her orange shirt.

“The grip on my arm gets tighter and tighter and soon I’m hauled into darkness.”

Marissa starts sobbing and trying to catch her breath.

“There’s a pull on my hair. My head is being snapped back.” Marissa moves her right hand to the back of her head atop her short hair. “He won’t let go of holding my hair and pulling my head back!”

She shakes her hand off of her head.

“I’m wearing a Hello Kitty dress. It’s my favorite, and it gets ripped off,” she says, tugging on her orange top. “And then I’m pushed onto the ground. It’s cold and kinda damp. And I feel his knees pin down my legs.”

Marissa jolts her body erect. Her eyes still closed, she places her elbows on her knees, fingers on her forehead as if to drum out a headache. Snot runs from her nose and adds to the discoloration of her orange shirt.

“I start screaming and crying louder and louder but nobody can hear, nobody can see what’s happening.”

Marissa starts rocking back and forth.

“The next thing I know,” she continued, dropping her hands into her lap and opening up her eyes for the first time since Dr. Axelrod started the session. “I’m alone—at least I think I’m alone,” she said to the cement floor. “—in this stinky, clammy darkness. I can feel my eyes trying to open and adjust to the darkness and that’s when I notice the thin yellow line to my right. I crawl toward it, every bit of me aching.”

Marissa grabs her stomach as she continues to rock.

“I realized the light was outside of the darkness. I was in a garage. The light was the alley. I tried lifting the garage door but… I just couldn’t.”

Marissa stops crying. She takes in a deep breath and wipes her face and nose with the tissues in her lap. Then with a deadpan look, she finds Dr. Axelrod’s eyes and says, “I was next door to the house I grew up in. I was nine years old. The fucker who raped me was never found, but I’m pretty sure it was my older brother’s best friend.”

“Did you tell anyone you thought it was the friend?”

“I didn’t know or think it was him until much later,” Marissa said, her lips forming a grin. “His best friend’s name was Stan.”

“Like your husband?”

Marissa smiles for the first time during the interview.

******************************************

Karianne

Most everyone else was long gone when I went into Andrew’s office and just looked at him.

He sat at his desk with his back to the huge windows overlooking the streets 18 floors below. I could see my reflection in the window as well as the reflection of his spreadsheet on the computer screen. I just stood there leaning against the open door until he looked my way.

“What’s up?” Andrew finally said.

My eyes bored into him, telepathically telling him that this was it: I wanted him, he wanted me; he was to take me—right then and there.

It worked.

After a second of looking at me with a raised eyebrow, he stood up. A smirk washed over his face as he looked me up and down and saw that I was barefoot. No shoes, no stockings.

Soon he’d find out there was no panties.

Our eyes locked. I stepped forward, releasing the door so that it closed, but the door had failed to latch.

He moved in closer.

I just stared at him.

This was it. I could turn back. But I didn’t want to…did I?

What about Jason? What about him? What the fuck about him? It had been months since he last wanted sex. Months since he last made a move. And I was damn tired of being rejected. Fuck him because I was a maniac and I was about to fuck Andrew.

Andrew knew it, too. He pierced me with his eyes as he moved closer and closer to me. He put his hand behind my head and moved it closer to his. Our mouths met.

Finally.

I had never in my life kissed someone with such hunger.

There was no turning back.

Within a second, he had me up against the door which smacked shut. His hands were quickly discovering there were no panties to remove as he hoisted me up so that I could wrap my legs around him. He swung around carrying me to his desk, pushing away its contents as he sat me down.

“Take off your fuckin’ pants,” I begged.

***

It was near 10PM when I finally made my way home to the studio apartment on the third floor of a walkup building on the Lower East side of Manhattan that I shared with Jason. I felt so alive, yet so dirty. Sleeping with a boss wasn’t exactly something I had on my bucket list. Especially my married-with-kids boss. Yet, a fantasy was fulfilled by having sex in an office–I couldn’t deny that. And I wanted to do it again.

But I didn’t want to lose Jason.

I loved him so much. I know that sounds crazy because when you love someone as much as I love Jason, you don’t fuck someone else. I get that, but… I would love to fulfill my fantasies with him, but he won’t even take his shirt off unless the lights are out in the apartment. And the lack of sex is weird. And no, I don’t think he’s sleeping around on me the way I am him. I mean, I didn’t intend for tonight to go down the way it did and I haven’t cheated on him before. It wasn’t premeditated. It just happened. (And it felt amazing. And, honestly, if something doesn’t change with Jason, I can see doing it again.)

What the fuck am I doing with my life?

I’m 33 years old. I should’ve been married with kids already! But I’m not. I’m fucking my boss while being engaged to a man who doesn’t even touch me anymore!

Who am I? Who have I become?

*************************************************