It Could Get Worse

Letting It Go Again

ng one meal a day, two on a good day. The skin on my hands is dry and flakey. My ribs poke out more than I like, and my thighs live a mile apart. I turn my head away as I start to slide on my pants. I don like looking this way, but this is what I can afford.

When I walk out of the locker room, and through the school its quiet. The hallways are already almost deserted. I notice somebody standing by my locker when I get in the hallway. They don hear me as I get closer. They
e tall with broad shoulders. ”Whatcha doing? ” Charlie spins around with a little smile.

”Hey, I thought you left. You changed your locker combination. ”

”Yeah, somebody took something from my locker. ”

”Oh shit, was it important? ”

”No, just some dumb shit. ” I eye his weird stance up and down. ”What were you doing at my locker? ”

”Oh, well, I was going to put this in there. As a little surprise. ” He lifts up a little piece of paper. I take the paper and unfold a picture of a dress. I look up at him confused. ”Thats the dress my ma… er, Maddison got for you. ”

”Oh, its nice. ” I give an awkward smile and look at the clock. ”Oh shit, Ive gotta get going. ” I tuck the picture into my pants pocket.

”Where ya going in such a hurry? ”

”Oh, well, I have an interview. Little part time work to make me look put together for college apps. You know. ”

”Oh, have fun I guess. ” I take my leave feeling like that interaction was awkward.

⇜ ⇝

I jog to the gas station where Charlie and I met this morning. I figured it was a safe place in the middle of everything. This place would make sure I wouldn see people from school, and people from home won rob me. Your next-door neighbor would bail you out of trouble, but would still steal your shit if you had shit to steal. My hands push the wrinkles out of my pants, and I grab a travel perfume from my bag. A spray of perfume, and a couple deep breaths and Im ready.

The cashier at the front doesn look up when I come in. I stand in front of him for a minute before speaking up. ”I have an interview set up for three? ”

”Okay. ” He walks off without another word, so I awkwardly stay where he left me. The cashier and a guy in darker jeans come back up front a few minutes later.

”Mona? ”

”Yeah, thats me! ”

”Come to the office with me, and we can start the interview. ”

”Careful, hes an asshole. ” The cashier whispers as I walk past him. I glance back, but keep walking forward.

”Have a seat. ” He motions to a chair when we get into the office. ”So, it says you go to Hendle High School? Senior? ”

”Yes. ”

”In any clubs or activities? ”

”Nope, I have a pretty open schedule. ” He runs through a few of the normal interview questions. What are your hobbies, are you a team player, what would you do with a problematic customer. I smile and answer with the peppiest crap I can think of.

”Well! ” He stands up and I follow. ”You seem like a perfect fit. Ill give you a call when I get a day for you to start, and we can set up your information then? ”

”Yes. Thank you very much. ” I shake his hand before he opens the door for me. I nod and smile at the cashier as I walk past the counter. The sun shines into my eyes as I open and walk out the door.

I got the job. I got it. No more relying on Charlie for food, no more stealing meals during holiday breaks, and I can finally buy my own soap. My phone buzzes, and I answer with a chipper hello. ”Mona? I need your help. Can you come over to The Brink? ” My mothers rushed voice sets off all the alarms in my head.

”The Brink? What the ** are you doin there? ”

”Hurry Mona. ” She quickly says in a hushed voice before quickly hanging up. I grip my phone and start speed walking away. Once I get out of view of the convenience store, I start running. My legs start to ache when I start going up the hill that meets the bottom of the one I just ran down. In the back of my mind, I go through everything that could be happening. She couldve gotten into some bad business. Or, she could owe money, or she could have been caught selling something. Maybe she was robbed, of what I don know. Or she could have gotten stabbed, or literally anything bad, and it would happen to her. I don understand what shed be doing at The Brink in the first place. The Brink is a strip club for the drug dealers, their bodyguards, and gang members. Why would she be there? Shes dating her live-in drug dealer and has never stripped in her life.

I stop in front of the dark, sleazy building of The Brink. I grab the front door handle when I hear my moms recognizable bitchy tone. I go around to the ally, and in the very back of the ally is my mom with some sketchy guy. Mom stands with her hands flailing around, and her feet shifting back and forth. Shes obviously high off her gourd. ”Terry? ” Her head whips my way.

”There you are, you little bitch. ” She starts walking toward me, so I meet her half way. She grabs my arm between hers and leans into me. ”I owe him some money. Pay for me. ” I look down at her, then back up at him.

”Seriously? ”

”Yeah, she owes me like $300. ”

”What the ** Terry? You
e sleeping with your dealer. Why the hell are you buying from other people when you don have money? ”

”Don talk to me like that you snotty ass. Frank stopped giving me as much, because he cares about me. ” She says in a whiney, mocking tone.

”I don have $300 **ing dollars you dumbass. ”

”Well, good luck then, because I use you as my collateral for everything sweetheart. ” She grabs a piece of my arm between her fingers and squeezes. I ignore it at first, but when I don react she twists my skin.

”Ow! God dammit woman. ” I yank my arm out of hers, causing her to stumble into the garbage bin. ”Look, I don know what shes talking about, but I don have any money to pay for her shit. ” He glances over at my mom hanging on to the side of the garbage.

”Sorry, but I need something. I won give her anything anymore since she doesn actually have a back up plan. But my boss needs something. ” As soon as his mouth closes, hes grabbing my arm, and dragging me out of the ally.

”Hey, what the **! ” I start to struggle, and he answers with a tired sigh.

”Hey, I still want to buy some shit from you dude. ” Terry stumbles over and grabs on to his arm. His arm flinches up hitting the corner of her chin. Her ass hits the ground, and then her entire body is down.

”I have nothing to do with this man. ” A finger touches the back of my neck, then another. The hand squeezes the back of my neck, and above me Leo stands holding me. The dealer quickly lets go of me without breaking eye contact with Leo.

”What are you doing Bill? ”

”Getting my payment from Terry. She put her daughter as collateral. ” Leo licks his bottom lip and glances over at my mother laying on the ground mumbling something. His hand gripping the back of my neck squeezes tighter, causing my neck to bend back more. I let out a little gasp from the shot of pain, and a little grin forms on his face.

”Well. ” He drags out the word as if pondering the situation. He takes his other hand and touches the bottom of my face. ”I guess I can help out someone as cute as you. Huh? ” His grip loosens, and he pushes me away by the neck. I stumble to the side. ”How much druggie owe you? ” I try to get my bearings while Leo pulls out his wallet.

”Come help me out Mona, you good for nothing. ” I slowly walk over to the pathetic 40 year old laying on the pavement. Theres some blood on her chin, but other than a bruise and a little cut she should be fine. I try to give her my hand, but she can hardly find it let alone use it to get up. I grab her by the elbow and pull her up. As soon as shes on her feet, she stumbles into me, and my arms hold her up by the sides.

”Jed, take Terry home. Lock her in if you have to. ” Some young kid yanks her out of my arms and starts stalking off with her.

”Hey! ”

”Mona you were supposed to get me shit! You stupid little b… ” She gets cut off when shes shoved into the backseat of a car.

”Drug addicts, huh? ” I turn my head to Leo, and hold myself by the elbows. ”Look, I know you don have that much money, and I do. ”

”Thanks. ”

”Its not free. ” He gives a chuckle. ”Im not sure what I want from you in return, but Ill get my money refunded in some way. ”

”I don have anything to give you. I have twenty dollars in my pocket if thats what you want. ” He laughs and rubs his face.

”I don need your savings, and don necessarily need money as my pay back. Just remember you owe me babe. ” He kisses my cheek and goes into The Brink. I release my elbows and allow my hands to shake. The tremor travels down to my toes. I owe Leo. I rush as far away from The Brink as I can.

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