The apartment building stands above me like a bouncer denying me access. I take a couple extra minutes to lean on the wall outside, building up my reserve. The handle of the building feels as cold as what it harbors. The stairs feel as if they laugh with each creak and groan, for they know what they lead to. The shabby front door to my childhood home seems to warn me not to enter. My hand twists the knob only to feel it stop short. I pull a little. ”When the ** did she start locking things? ” I whisper to myself out loud. I start trying to figure out how to get to my room on the third floor when the door swings open with a slight protest. My shabby mother stands in the door. Her face says smug, while her body says dying. I try to walk past her quickly, but she slams her arms up on the sides of the frame.
”What the hell are you doing here? ”
”Well, Im still your underage daughter, so sometimes I come here to sleep in my room. ”
”Thought I told you to get lost a couple months ago. ”
”Yeah, and I don have another place to stay right now. I wouldve stayed out longer so you didn have to see me, but I have homework to do. ”
” Her throat attempts a snort, but something else in her throat chokes it out.
”You don do homework. I told the school to stop sending your shit here, but they said something about me being your guardian or something. I got your quarter report card baby. You
e about as dumb as I said youd be. ” This time, her laugh comes from her nose and makes it out.
”You gonna let me in? ”
”Why should I? ”
e technically my mother, and if you weren going to then what was the point of opening the door anyway? ” She steps back and raises her arms up to her chest, as if in surrender. I stride in, trying to get to my room quickly.
”I just wanted to know when you normally sneak in. ” She says before slamming the door. ”Oh yeah, my guy told me that you were in here. I can only assume youve been doing it often. You come here for food? Money? ”
I give off a cold, quick laugh. ”Money? ” I turn to face the deteriorating women. ”Food? What food and money? All you have in this place is garbage and drugs. ”
”Don start mouthing off to me. You
e lucky I didn slam the door in your face. I let you in, because I feel bad for you. When I was your age, I found my own place to live, and here you are. Still trying to feed off your mother. You didn even last a year by yourself. Whats going to happen when high school ends, and your rich friends realize you
e garbage? Huh? What are you going to do then? ”
”Normal people live with their parents till they graduate highschool, you know. They don kick them out when they get into 10th grade. Also, with the education Im getting at my fancy school I can go to college. ” She starts laughing deep from the belly and starts walking toward me.
e just white trash in a nice uniform. At the rate you
e going youll be a highschool dropout. Even if you don , and you
e able to get into a college. How are you going to pay for it? You can even pay for your own place now. ”
”Stop acting like you made it on your own. Dad is the only reason you have this apartment. He saved your sorry ass from the streets for some insane reason. You didn lift a finger or give a dime. ”
”Don put him to such a high pedestal, little girl. If hes so perfect, why isn he here? ” I roll my eyes looking away from the hatred burning in her eyes. She lets out a disgusted snort and turns to leave. ”Not that I have to remind you why hes gone. Do I? ” Her cold shoulders turn, and go into the living room as far away from me as she can. I stand for a second steadying my breathing.
As soon as I hit my bed, I want to give up on doing any work. Her stupid comments on my grades and future echo in my head. I yank my backpack off the crusty, old carpet and dump it out on the bed. My math book sits underneath the rest of my books with a black smudge on it. Its wet with black pen ink when I touch it. The inside of my backpack has the blown up pen all over it as well. I slide the book onto the floor and notice a couple spots of ink on my blanket. My ears burn as I grab a pencil from the pile, and start on something other than math.
Half an hour in and I hear the front door open, and close. Some hushed voices and the TV volume goes up. I lay back, and my eyes find the crack on the ceiling. I follow it from one corner to the other and back. I close my eyes after one worksheet and three read pages.
A little ray of sun shines into my eyes and blinds me as I wake up. Its as if it reminds me that the day holds little annoyances for me. I pull out my deodorant from the small pocket on my backpack. I brush my teeth when I get to school, and I pull my messy hair back into a braid. Lucky for me, its normal for me to take showers after gym every day. I notice a slight smell coming from my gym bag that holds all my clothes. I might need to do laundry, but the ten dollars in my wallet says differently. I have to wash my uniform and a nice outfit for tomorrow. Its just a convenience store, but Im desperate and can ** this up. When I used to stay over at Charlies when his parents were gone, which was most of the time, his maid would wash my clothes all the time. She used to live near us, before she moved to a nicer apartment. When I started staying the night there, she would do my laundry.
e not going to notice Im using a little extra soap. People around here don even know what laundry soap looks like Im sure. ” She used to say with an eye roll and a little smirk.
I step out of my room into darkness. All the curtains are pulled closed keeping any light out. I try to get my phone out, so I can see, but I trip over something first. I assume its a body, because where else would someone pass out? A light in the kitchen flicks on, and I untangle the laundry basket from under my legs. My moms landlord leans against the sink, the small yellow light of the kitchen illuminating behind him. ”You okay kid? ”
”Yeah, fine. ” I grunt, grabbing my bags off the floor. ”This place is dark and messy, you know. ”
”You try convincing her to clean anything. Its impossible. ”
”I tried that when I was kid, got me a ”teaching ” on how everything is, where its supposed to be. ”
”Are you going to school? Why do you have so many bags? ”
”Where else am I supposed to keep my stuff? ”
”In your room like a normal kid. ”
I give a cold ha, ”You tell bitchface that. I don technically live here. I was kicked out years ago for being too old to still live at home. ”
”I can try and talk to her about it if you want. I don want to overstep, but I am her boyfriend. ”
”Right. ” I walk over and open the front door.
”Mona! ” I turn as he pushes off the kitchen sinks and stands with his arms awkwardly crossed. ”Im not trying to replace or pretend to be your dad or anything. You know that right? ”
I actually genuinely start laughing.
”Don worry Frank. I don care who or what my mom is doing. As for the dad stuff, Im an adult. I don think my mom being with someone would make me feel worried about that. Also, you
e not dead, so you can pretend to be him, can you? ”
”Here, itll make me feel better. ” He hands me a twenty. I take it of course. Its not like I have the privilege to turn down free money. I pull the handle up when I leave to make sure it closes and leave.
The wind died down compared to yesterday. My thighs thank the warm sun as I walk to school. I don know why Frank thinks hes so special just because he got my mom. Anybody could have her. He acts as if being with her is a treat. Im her daughter; I know what its like being around her all the time.
Across the street a dad walks hand in hand with a little girl. Her pigtails bounce with the little gallop she puts into each step. Their hands swing just slightly opposite of their bodies. The dads mouth moves as he tells her some story, and she smiles at him all the while.
I pull my coat up higher on my neck and cross my arms. Its suddenly chilly out here.
As I walk up the stairs of the school, I see a familiar white uniform. He stands at the door talking into the office intercom.
e not going to let you in, you know. ” He spins around, a sour look on his face as soon as he sees me.
”What are you doing? Here to return the uniform you stole? ”
”What? Why do you think I stole this? ”
”You expect me to believe that someone like you can afford to go to this school? ” I suddenly become aware of all the people passing us. Theres a giggle behind me. Eyes burn on me.
”Do you wanna keep your voice down? ” I say stepping closer.
”Trying to hide that you
e a thief? ” He scoffs. Three people stop a few steps back and start to watch the scene. I walk up next to him. The whispers get louder as a few more people stop to watch. I take my badge out and scan it, and the door opens.
”Mona Drift. ” I shove my badge in his face. ”Im a student here ass. ”
”You can come in young man. Come straight to the office. ” The principle says over the intercom before buzzing him through. He rushes past me bumping my shoulder a bit. I go after him, but try not to make it look like Im following him. He doesn notice me tailing him as he heads to the office. The principle stands behind the front desk. His eyes say tired as does his stance. Some adults in school just give off the vibe that they wanted anything other than this. Then somewhere came in the universes cosmic ** you, and they **ed them.
”Sir, there has been a theft of one of your students uniforms. I also believe they might have taken their ID. ” I cough and step up next to him. ”Why did you follow me? Sir, this is the thief. ” I look at the principle and chuckle. He sighs and rubs his cheek.
”Whats your name young man? ”
”Oliver, sir. ”
”Well Oliver, I don know how you came to this conclusion, but I can tell you that Mona here is a student. Shes gone here for four years now, and she definitely is paying enough to be here. Now, if that is all that you came here to say. I suggest you get to your own school.
” He nods. As he turns to leave, he glares at me. The glare lasts only a second, but it makes me feel like I should stand up for myself. I turn to follow the asshole when the principle stops me.
” I turn to face the six-foot man wearing a cheap, black suit.
”I don know what kind of trouble you
e causing, but don drag this school or me into it. I have let you off with a lot of stuff because of who your grandmother is, but my favors don last forever. ” I nod and walk out feeling embarrassed.
When I get to my locker before lunch Charlies there. Though, hes not at my locker. He placed himself a few lockers down with friends to make it seem coincidental. I see the fall of their plan come down the hallway. The owners of the lockers force the group to move. He looks at me, and for a second he blushes a little as if he was trying to impress me and messed up. Then his face turns smug and he acts like he wasn looking at me. I take my bag, brushing past him as I go into the locker room. The bell rings quietly above my head, as I pull my shirt off. You can hardly hear the bell in here. Which doesn make much sense since getting dressed, and undressed normally takes a while.
I stole some soaps from one of Charlies girl friends. We used to share a locker before she dropped our gym class. Shed bring in these fancy soaps and tell everybody how shed bring them some. So, when she told me she was dropping the class, I hid the soap in my bag. She didn notice of course, never even asked me about it.
The hot water runs down my arms and burns the back of my legs. I have gym right before lunch, but I hate showering with a bunch of people around. I don care if people see me, but I don love it. Especially girls at this school with their perfect bodies that money probably bought. Im lucky if my legs are shaved under my stockings. I scrub my short hair thinking about how much better it would look if it was still long. When my mom first told me to find a place to live I realized how much soap long hair uses up. So, I had Lil cut it short to save me money.
The corner of my mouth tugs up at the memory of Leos reaction to my hair cut. He was so mad that I did it without telling him. Of course, as soon as he was mad Lil was apologizing for cutting it. I remember thinking it was weird how much she kissed his ass. But, I brushed it off. I brushed everything off back then. Don mention it, and it won become a problem was my mantra back then. I get out and dry off with the same towel Ive been using since I started high school. I got it as a gift from Leo when we started going out. He said he wanted me to have something in his house, so I would feel more comfortable staying there.
Lunch is half way done when I get out of the locker room. I take my time walking out trying to decide whether I should go sit with Charlie, or not. I don have to decide though, because hes in front of the locker room door when I get out. His back leans against the wall, not doing anything but staring at his shoes. ”What are you doing? ” He glances up, he licks his lips as his hands push him off the wall.
”Where were you? I thought you were going to come to lunch, then you didn . ”
”Well obviously, I was in the locker room wasn I? ” He gives me a fake little smile.
”Why were you in there and not at lunch? ”
”Wasn hungry, and I wanted to take a shower since I have gym. ”
”Well, I wanted to ask you a question. ” His head does a little dip.
”What? ” He pauses, slowly crossing his arms.
”Are you mad at me? You
e giving me some attitude. ”
”What would I be mad at you for? As my friend you haven done anything to me recently to make me mad. Have you? ”
”You broke up with me two days ago. What do you mean, ow? ”
”Moooona. ” He says holding out the o as he gets closer to me. His hands fall on my hips. His arms pull me into him, as they snake around my waist. His right hand rests on my butt while the other holds me to him. ”You know I overthink sometimes. When Im harsh, Im not serious. We talked yesterday. I thought we were okay. ” He kisses my cheek and then my ear.
”We did talk, and I said that we probably shouldn get back together right away. ”
”Were you serious? ” He pushes his bottom lip out with a little laugh. He takes a step forward causing me to take one back. ”Baby. ” He starts kissing my neck and takes a few more steps back. ”You know I love you. ” He whispers into my neck between kisses. I glance down the hallway, unable to see the main hallway. What a perfect spot for him to talk to me. The locker room is so tucked away into the back its unlikely that anybody would see us. ”Hey, I want to make it up to you. Why don you come over tomorrow? ” His right hand slides up my skirt a little.
”Charlie. Im not having sex with you. ” I push his hands off of me. ”You don even feel bad for breaking up with me all the time. ”
”Sure I do. ”
”No, cause if you did. You would stop doing it. When people actually feel remorse, they try not to feel that way. So, unless you love to make mistakes, then you don regret it. ”
”I just get into moods. Mona, its not about you. ” I shake my head and look at the floor. ”Hey, ” He grabs my hand and kisses it. ”I didn mean for you to come over for sex. I mean, I wouldn be against it, but that wasn what I was thinking. My parents are coming home and wanted me to bring over my girlfriend. I thought you could come over, meet them, and have dinner with us. ”
”How do they know that I used to be your girlfriend? ”
”They keep track of how much money I spend on food. Since I was buying food for both of us they figured it out. Will you come? ”
”I don know. Im not even your girlfriend anymore. Why would I come? ”
”Mona, Im asking you to please take me back. Isn this the kind of thing you wanted? ”
”To meet your parents? ”
”No, for me to be out front about our relationship. To show it off. Im trying to take this to the next level, but I need you to come with me. I can try to do better if we
e not together. ” He puts his hand on my cheek. ”Please come, Id really like for them to meet you. ” He tilts his head to the side after a pause.
”Fine. ” I say with a chuckle and sigh.
”Great. ” He slides in and hugs me. ”So, girlfriend, do you have something to wear? ”
”I have clothes if thats what you mean. ”
”No, I mean my parents are pretentious assholes who dress up for dinner in their own home. I don want my mother saying anything about how you dress. Not that you dress bad. You
e very sexy. ”
”Do you want me to pick up something just for your dinner? ”
”No, let my maid. She knows what my mother will accept as okay. Are you fine with that? ”
”Yeah thats fine, but tell Maddison not to pick out anything ugly. I want to make your mom happy, but not at the expenses of looking stupid. ”
”Your maid. ” He makes an oh face and nods.
”Alright, well Ill bring you the outfit on Friday. Youll have to change after school, and you can drive home with me. ” I nod. His lips brush my cheek right as the bell sounds. The hallway starts bustling with bodies rushing off to class. He boops my nose and leaves.
”Should we just change our name to Terry? We
e still acting like our mother; you see that right? He was obviously just using you not to feel lonely. ”
”Yeah, well, I don have the privilege to worry about that. A free meal, clothes, and somebody to help me? What better am I going to get? ” I hear the click of shoes coming down the hallway. I stop talking to myself and walk off to class. I keep reminding myself that its best for me to be with Charlie. I need somebody. Anybody is better than nobody.