Thanks (: Glad you like it.
“Come on Tesabel.” The sound of Glory’s nickname for me sounded sour coming out of Karina’s mouth. Almost everything sounded that way coming from her. Pity. She was a nice girl when she wasn’t out of her mind.
“I really want to stay in, I’m not in the mood to go out.” Shrugging her off, I scooted to the other end of her ratty couch and stared out the window at the dying light of the day.
“You haven’t been in the mood to do anything since you came back from that stupid apartment.” Karina crossed her thin arms and frowned at me, rolling her eyes in frustration. I was being very difficult but I didn’t care, I was tired of Karina before I even fought with Glory.
Glory, I had been thinking about her more than anything else these past few days. Even with Karina throwing herself on me every five seconds, I still couldn’t get my mind off of her.
You don’t even look at me.
Her words echoed in my head, driving me insane. She thought I didn’t look at her, an absurd accusation. I payed so much attention to her it was a surprise she hadn’t noticed.
“You aren’t even listening to me.” Karina whined, her face only inches from the side of my head now. “Why do I even try?” Throwing her hands up in frustration she stalked out of the room, finally giving me some space.
Why was I still with Karina when I clearly loved Glory was a question I asked myself everyday. Maybe it was because Karina needed me more than I thought about. I was actually part of her recovery plan. After she was released from rehab, she came straight to me asking for my help.
I’d only gone to rehab on my own but she was court ordered there after one to many overdoses and a terrible case of anorexia. When I met her she was barely a skeleton and was living off of cigarettes and water. So much had changed since then.
The more I came to her apartment the more she ate and the less cravings she had for her drug of choice, heroin. Such an ugly drug for such a beautiful girl. Maybe I thought I could save her? Maybe that’s why I starting paying half her rent and stay for entire weeks at a time even when I had a home.
But she was Beauty and a Beast. The good times were good but the bad times were worse with her. Sometimes she’d go through stages of harsh self criticism and I wouldn’t be able to leave her side for fear of her slicing her arms open again. It was all very scary considering that my heart wasn’t with her. It was only a matter of when I would leave her but I still knew it would be the hardest break ever.
Leaving wouldn’t suffice. I’d have to stay even after we were apart to assure she didn’t do anything rash. But until then I had to get her as healthy as possible.
I lifted my body from the couch and made my way over to the hallway, knocking on the bathroom door. “Let me in.” Without checking I knew the door was locked. What was happening on the other side was the only mystery.
“Why? You don’t want to talk and you don’t want to go out so I don’t want to see your sorry face.” Other than her voice the bathroom seemed silent and I leaned against the door to get a better listen.
“You know I’m not trying to be this stubborn, just come out and we can go somewhere.” I had to compromise even though I was not in the mood to leave the apartment for fear of running into Lana or Glory.
“You promise?” Karina’s voice was just on the other side of the door now and I could hear her breathing.
“I promise.” The door unlocked and opened slowly, Karina standing there. Her face looked red as if she had been readying to cry but it was calming to a nice shade of pink.
“If there’s something wrong why won’t you just tell me?” Now she played the caring part but I still couldn’t risk letting her in on my feelings.
“It’s nothing that concerns you. Put some pants on so we can go.” I kissed her cheek and laced my hands around her waist. I could still feel bones poking me from every angle but she had put on more weight than anyone could tell.
“Where are we going?” She asked, flitting her nose back and forth against mine. Strawberries themselves didn’t smell as sweet as she did right now.
“The studio. Its the only place I really want to be right now other than here.” Karina nodded knowingly and left me there, she knew I was telling the truth this time.
“And I will love you girl, the way you need
Ain’t no one gone stop us, Ain’t no one gone stop us
And I’m gone give you girl, what you fiend
I’m the drug in your veins, just fight through the pain.”
When I opened my eyes I saw the two people I’d been trying to avoid. Both of them whispered to each other as I signaled Karina to stop the track. Glory must have said something to Karina because she turned around and nodded, explaining whatever it was.
I pulled my headphones off and left the booth, unable to work with Glory watching me. She looked too good in her jean shorts and crop top. For her it was just a casual outfit but to me it was lingerie.
“Why’d you stop?” Glory asked no sooner than I stepped into the room. Lana and her had their arms linked together as they stood in the middle of the studio.
“I want to do that bridge over.” I lied, moving to the computer and highlighting the track I’d just recorded.
“Don’t delete that. It was perfect.” They way she said it seemed nonchalant but she meant it or else she wouldn’t have said it.
“Can I help you guys?” I asked spinning around in the chair and resting my hands on the armrests.
“Well, I was coming to record but I guess you’re busy here. I guess I’ll just book sometime somewhere else.” Lana shrugged and stuck out her bottom lip like she did when she didn’t get her way. “But, no biggie.”
“Sorry.” I said as Karina slid her fingers in between mine. Glory glanced at her hand, inhaling slightly, I barely saw it.
“Its fine. Now we can go shopping Glory and maybe I can meet your new boy toy.” Lana admonished, jumping up and down in her last season Louboutins.
“Actually, can I talk to you for a minute Glory?” The question was out of my mouth before I realized what I’d said.
“Um, sure.” Unlinking with Lana she moved towards the door and glanced back at me to see if I was following. As I moved in her direction Karina held onto my hand for longer than necessary, pulling me back for a kiss on the knuckles. Shaking her off, I moved into the hallway, pulling the door shut behind me.
“What’s up?” I asked, due to my lack of words. Glory typed on her phone, barely paying me any attention.
“Did you actually need something?” After a few seconds she looked up at me, her eyes full of regret. I said nothing, just watched her. She was glowing, a new tan layering her already perfect complexion.
Then I was upon her, swallowing her tongue, tasting her lips. Nothing could stop me now. Nothing except a swift slap to my cheek. The new flavor of her mouth left me and was replaced with the metallic taste of blood.
Before I could recover from the slap her lips were on me again, drawing the pain out with her tongue. Stunned, I just stood still until she wrenched her lips away from mine again.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Glory whispered harshly turning away from me and grabbing fistfuls of her hair. I stood against the wall like a scolded child, still surprised she’d kissed me back. “Do you think that’s what I want?”
“I mean, um, I don’t know.” I stuttered, my fingers finding my lips and caressing the spot she’d been just seconds ago.
“I didn’t mean you should try to get with me. I just needed something and this most definitely isn’t it. This just complicates everything.” Glory kept shaking her head and taking deep breaths but it didn’t seem to be working.
“I’m sorry. I just..” My words failed me again and it was becoming frustrating because I had no control over the situation at hand.
Snatching the door open she called Lana’s name and proceeded to dial a number in her phone. Rushing to her side, Lana looked to me for an answer as to what had just happened. I’m sure my cheek was bruising with no explanation.
“Let’s go. I can ask dad for his credit card pin.” Her upper east side voice came out and Lana pulled Glory away from me, giving me a dirty look.
“Jimi. Come over. I need to fuck.” Was the last thing I heard before they disappeared out of the hallway.
I can’t believe she kissed me.
“Glory.” Jimi called my name, bringing me back to the present. I blinked rapidly, looking around at the dim restaurant. “Are you okay?”
I wasn’t okay and I’m sure it was pretty obvious. For the past few days I couldn’t get Abel off my mind due to our little exchange. I couldn’t believe he patronized me like that and then hasn’t spoken to me since.
“Yeah. I’m fine.” I lied, picking up the glass of red wine and taking a long gulp. “Can I smoke in here?” I asked, peering around to see if there were any others smoking.
“Yeah. But I can tell you’re lying. There’s something bothering you.” I hated that he could read me so easily already, even with all of the barriers I had in place.
“I don’t want to talk about it.” I sighed, digging through my clutch for my last cigarette that had managed to disappear. I gave up on finding it inside of the tiny purse and threw my hands up in frustration.
“I’ll take that for now but only if you act like you’re enjoying yourself.” Jimi reached inside of his lapel and pulled out a silver cigarette case, handing it over to me.
“Thanks.” Popping the case open, I saw six cigarettes neatly arranged side by side. I placed one in between my red lipsticked lips and went back into my purse for my lighter, striking it once and lighting the tip of the tobacco.
“We can just leave if you want to. I can tell you’re not enjoying yourself.” Jimi scoffed, holding his hand up to call our waitress over.
“I’m fine really. You’re reading too far into it.” I took another angry drag, getting irritated with Jimi for the first time ever.
“No, its fine.” Once the waitress was by his side he handed her a silver credit card and told her to take a nice tip. When she disappeared, his eyes were back on me. “I just want you to be happy.”
Jimi spoke as if he’d known me for years, his hand snaking across the table and over my own trembling one. Puff after puff, I side eyed him as the cigarette disappeared before my eyes.
“Talk.” In one word he asked everything yet nothing at all. Jimi was giving me the choice to fess up about what was bugging me.
No matter how badly I wanted to shut him out I knew it would do no good. Another deep breath and I was ready. “I think I love him.” It felt strange and naughty to admit my crush to someone who had a crush on me. Lying would do no good so I told the whole truth. “I think I have for a while, but he is just so damn stubborn.”
“In what ways is he stubborn?” He was being as ambivalent as a stranger but I had no problem with it because of our closeness. I could feel his heartbeat against my back and it calmed me considerably.
“We’re stubborn in the same way. Neither of us wants to admit the connection but its there. For me at least.” It felt wonderful to tell someone but I could only wish we were talking about me and him instead of me and Abel.
“He’d have to be insane not to feel anything for you. I’ve known you only for a few weeks and I think I’m in love, I know that him living with you is driving him wild.” A gust of cool wind ruffled my hair and opened my eyes to peaceful scene.
The pool was the only light in the rather large back yard and it threw broken blue waves across every surface near it. Jimi and I were cuddled together on a small couch beneath the cabana. The air was beginning to chill and he held me close, staving off the breeze with his sturdy arms.
“How can you love me and you barely know me?” The thought of anyone loving me made me skeptical and uncomfortable.
“Because I can tell that you’re a good person. You just don’t know how to show it.” As he spoke I thought back on the ride from the restaurant.
I was cold, venomous even, but he was patient, offering cigarette after cigarette while I burned off my sudden bout of anger. I appreciated it fully and felt awful for letting him see me like that and for ruining the night he had planned.
“Maybe I can’t show it because its not there.” My self loathing was making a bold appearance and I wanted nothing more than to crush up a little bit of heaven and make the insecurities go away.
“Its there. I can see it. It’s what gives you that wonderful glow.” I could feel his smile, his chin gently resting on the top of my head. My hand went to his bicep that was wrapped around my waist, skimming my fingers across the hair there.
“Did you think you’d find me there in that club?” I was curious as to whether or not we’d still be here now if I’d stayed home from work that night.
“I had no idea to be honest, but I kind of wish that we had met sooner. Maybe you’d be comfortable with me by now.”
I’d been trying to pretend but of course he could tell I was faking it. No matter how much I wanted to I couldn’t relax around him. “I really try to relax but you scare me.” It seemed like the right time to tell the truth about everything. Lying was a daytime activity and had no place in the wee hours of the night.
“How do I scare you?” Jimi absentmindedly stroked his thumb across my thigh, my dress hiked up nearly to my underwear.
“Your honesty. And how much you feel. And how in tune you are with your emotions. And how you seem to have everything figured out.” As the list went on I felt him shake gently with laughter. “What?”
“That’s a lot of reasons.” He paused as the laughter subsided, shifting his legs before going on. “I don’t have anything figured out, at all. Trust me. And I am far from in tune with my emotions, I just say what I feel and it took a long time for me to be comfortable with doing that.”
“I wish I could be comfortable, anytime, ever.”
“Can I come in?” I whispered, my head resting against Glory’s door frame. I was worried about her. She’d been locked in here since our little fight the day before.
Silence was my response and I sighed, closing my eyes and dragging a hand across my face. The lock clicked audibly and I snapped my eyes open, wondering if I really heard it or not. When I tried the knob, it spun easily, allowing me to swing the door open wide enough for me to step inside.
The air in her room was thick with the smell of cigarettes even with the open window on the wall opposite me. Glory sat on the floor beside her bed, wrapped in her favorite faux mink duvet. Her head was rested back on the bed, eyes closed and lips slightly parted as she breathed slowly. I stood awkwardly for a few seconds, shoving my hands into my pockets and looking around.
“Did you come in just to bother me with your presence or do you actually need something?” Poison dripped from each drawn out syllable as she spoke.
“I, uh, just wanted to tell you something.” Walking over, I sat down beside her, prompting her to scoot away from me. “Glory, don’t be like that.”
“You’re the one that’s being like that.” She mimicked me, a frown implanting itself on her lips.
“Really. I only came in here to say that I was sorry for the way I acted yesterday.” She mumbled something under her breath and opened her eyes, staring out of the window. “It was uncalled for and I just wanted to apologize. Okay?”
“Whatever.” Glory nonchalantly answered, covering her face with the duvet.
“I know I was an asshole before but can you not be one now. I’m trying to make things better. I know what I said and did was uncalled for but so is this right now.” Frustration got the better of me and I gave her a gentle mouthful.
Glory dropped the blanket and looked over at me, pupils dilated to the size of a marble. She was high. Off what I had no idea. “You were still wrong.” Her nose went up in the air and she pushed herself off the floor, stumbling slightly.
“Are you okay?” I asked, watching as she swayed over to her dresser.
“Fine and dandy.” She performed a cute little dance as she said this before leaning over the top of the drawers and sniffing.
“What are you taking?” I interrogated, standing and going to her side as fast as my body would let me.
“Woah there, Mister The Flash.” A giggle fell from her lips as she pawed at her nose. “Chill, its just some quaaludes. No biggie.” She shrugged and gestured to the remaining lines.
“How many lines did you do? Your eyes are the size of a CD.” I exaggerated with good cause, crossing my arms.
“Really, Abel, just chill. I’m o-kay.” Glory placed a hand against my chest, to comfort me and to steady herself. “Have some, maybe you’ll stop being a colossal cunt.”
My eyes voluntarily rolled back in my head as I huffed, “You’re starting to piss me off. I’m just trying to make sure you’re okay.” Instead of taking the dominant approach, I simply softened my eyes and took a deep breath, staring her down.
“And I told you that I am okay.” Glory visibly relaxed, crossing her arms and digging her big toe into the carpet. “Just trust me okay? I know what I’m doing.” Her head lolled to the side and her tender brown eyes bore into mine. It was the first time in a while I’d seen her without her contacts and it kind of caught me off guard, stealing my breath.
“Okay.” I croaked, unable to breathe normally now. They were returning, the feelings. Immediately I turned away from her and pushed my hands back into my pockets. I couldn’t stay here alone with her for much longer.
“I know you’re just looking out for me but loosen up. Really.” Her voice grew closer and I paused, tensing my body. I felt her hands on my sides as she embraced me from behind, her face resting on my mid-back. Glory locked her hands around my torso and nuzzled her nose just below my right shoulder blade.
“Uh.” I was still at a loss for words, making it impossible for me to break myself of this situation so I could get myself together. It had been this way a long time and it was only getting harder as time passed.
Glory was supposed to be like a sister to me but I struggled to think of her that way. In the beginning it was easier because she seemed so much younger than me, but for the past few years as I watched her grow into exactly what I wanted her to be.
The perfect girl.
For one, Glory hated taking handouts and always wanted to make her own money; something that was rare to find in women these days. She also very smart about a lot of things, almost a walking fact machine. And to top it all off she was gorgeous. Though she was born in France, her face held a certain oriental appeal that I just couldn’t get over.
“You sure you don’t want any?” Glory offered again, releasing me and walking around me, towards her closet.
“I’m fine.” I assured her, looking over my shoulder at the remaining lines, debating whether or not I should get rid of the rest of it.
“Suit yourself.” A shrug rolled off her shoulders and she proceeded to tug the bottom of the dress she wore up and over her head. Only a black bra and thong remained, giving my eyes full access to what I’d made a habit of dreaming about.
“What are you doing?” I asked, covering my eyes with my forearm, aching to just touch her. Emotions were flooding my brain now, each one screaming out a different command.
Tell Her How You Feel.
I shouted at my internal thoughts, telling them to shut up and stop distracting me. They didn’t stop all together but they quieted down enough for me to think.
“Abel?” Glory said my name aloud, grabbing my attention.
“Yes?” I replied, shifting my weight from foot to foot. I was getting antsy just knowing she was anywhere near nude in this close proximity.
“Take your arm down.” I stayed resolute, still blinding myself to keep from exposing myself. “Really. Just look at me.” When I didn’t move, I felt her hand on my arm, tugging it away from my face.
My eyes rested on hers, resisting the urge to look at her and touch her. Neither of us moved for a long time, probably for different reasons.
“Do you think I’m attractive?” Glory spoke with a timid voice, her mouth barely moving.
“Yes of course.” I answered quickly, a compliment falling out of my lips before I could catch it. “You’re stunning.”
“Even with these scars?” She was unflinching, unafraid of what I saw. It was strange to see her this open and I wondered if it was considered taking advantage of her. I nodded in response to her question but she only squeezed her eyes shut. “You didn’t even look at them. You don’t even look at me. Just get out.”
Confused about what had just gone down I knitted my eyebrows together, trying to discern what she meant by I don’t look at her. Of course I look at her. I even look at her when I’m not supposed to, I just don’t like her to know it.
“What are you waiting for? Just leave.” Glory crossed her arms over her body and turned away from me. “Close the door on your way out. And don’t come back.”
I woke early the next morning with the worst case of cotton mouth I’d had in ages. Rolling my face out of my pillow I looked around at what I’d done last night.
On the floor beside my bed all of the bags from my clothes were folded and arranged by color. My closet was slightly ajar and I could see that I’d also assembled my closet in the same fashion.
The one thing I’d done that took the cake was certainly something new. On the wall above my bed I’d used a ballpoint pen and began to draw perfectly straight horizontal lines. They were no longer than my forearm but there had to be at least one hundred of them, drawn so close together that it appeared to be a solid square of ink. Abel wouldn’t be too happy about that.
In order to remove the fog that hung over my mind I took a cold shower and washed my hair. I’d promised Jimi I’d call him when I woke up so after I exited the bathroom I dialed his number and put him on speakerphone.
The phone rang aloud as I towel dried my hair and stood in front of my closet trying to figure what to wear. Tossing the towel aside I sat on the bed and stared at the sill ringing phone.
After three more rings I was sent to voicemail. “Yo, I didn’t answer the phone so tell me wassup.” Jimi’s voice preceded the sound of the tone prompting me to leave a message.
Picking up the phone I turned speakerphone off and held it against my ear. “Hey Jimi, its Glory. You told me to call you so I did.” Behind me the door opened and I quickly hung up the phone.
Snatching my towel up from the foot of the bed I covered myself and looked up at the door. “Jeez Abel, its called knocking.” I grumbled, wondering what he’d seen.
“There’s some guy at the door for you and breakfast is ready.” Without making eye contact with me, Abel slipped out of the room and left the door cracked.
Quickly I replaced my towel with one of my overlays that went to my kimono and doubled as robes. I figured that it was only Jarvis from downstairs coming to return my access card to the gym facility.
Stepping into the hallway I could already tell it wasn’t Jarvis by the way Abel stood tensely outside the kitchen. As I got closer to the corner I could see a gift bag with tissue paper overflowing from it and I knew who it was.
“Jimi.” I smiled, quickening my pace and stopping in front of Abel. Jimi also held a plastic bag in his hand and a smile on his face.
“Hey Glory. Sorry I didn’t answer your call I was carrying your things.” I was shocked to see him here but that didn’t cover up my happiness. “I brought you breakfast.”
Behind me I heard Abel’s unforgiving grunt and his footsteps retreating into the kitchen. “Come on, we’ll go to my room.” I instructed, reaching for the gift bag before Jimi pushed my hand away and picked up the bag.
“Lead the way.” He smirked and followed after me to my room where I sealed the door behind us. “How did you sleep?”
“Pretty good.” I shrugged and sat on my bed Indian style, patting the spot beside me for him to join me. The bed shifted when he sat down, leaving a two foot gap between us.
Before I could move closer he sat the plastic bag between us and pulled out a styrofoam container. “I hope you’re hungry. I had Lila make you crepes and stuff.”
When he popped open the container I nearly forgot my next questions when the smell of food hit my nostrils. Over the top of the crepes was a beautiful smelling strawberry topping that made my mouth water. “Who’s Lila?” I inquired as I identified the rest of the meal; bacon, scrambled eggs and sliced peaches.
“My housekeeper.” Jimi replied matter of factly as if having a housekeeper was a normal thing that everyone did.
“Oh.” I nodded my head slowly, licking my lips. Reaching into the plastic bag again, Jimi handed me a fork with a flourish.
I began to eat slowly, watching Jimi watch me. His eyes followed the fork to my mouth then stared at my cheeks as I chewed. It was very uncomfortable so I held my hand over the lower half of my face as I consumed the next forkful.
“Don’t.” He advocated, gently grabbing my wrist and pulling it away from my face.
“Then don’t stare so hard. Its weird.” I retorted quickly, setting the fork down in the container and crossing my arms.
“Fine.” Jimi threw his hands up in the air as if he’d offended me. “Sorry.”
Picking up a piece of bacon and biting into it, I stared at his eyes willing him to break the gaze. He held fast until I finished the bacon but as soon as I lifted a peach to my mouth he gave in.
I dissolved in laughter, nearly spitting out the peach as I did so. Jimi sat confused as to what I was laughing at. “Why?” I laughed even harder now and he looked worried.
“Why what?” The fact that he didn’t see any wrong in what he was doing made me feel bad for laughing.
I covered my mouth and took several deep breaths to stop laughing. “I’m sorry. Why do you watch me like that?”
“Because I think you’re perfect.” Jimi said this in an even tone, like it was a quote from the Bible.
“Well, I’m not. But if I were perfect I’d tell you. Okay?” I was serious now, his compliment making me self conscious.
I watched Jimi’s curls retreat down the hallway, his face turning back towards me halfway to the elevator, grinning. Waving at him again, I bit my bottom lip and sighed. What was he doing to me? His visit was fun and I had no objections to it but it was strange.
We spent the whole time just talking and playing games together on my iPad. I learned a lot about him, like how he didn’t have real parents and how he came to be as wealthy as he was.
The man he called his father was just a smart businessman who couldn’t have children so took Jimi under his wing. A Mister Steve Stonewell, owner of a branch of BMW motors was the man responsible for Jimi being as smart as he was. Jimi told me about how when he was seventeen he’d just been kicked out of his fourth foster home and Steve gave him a place to stay until his eighteenth birthday.
After graduating from high school and becoming a legal adult, Jimi received an apartment from Steve with one years rent paid. He didn’t say why exactly but he was having trouble keeping a job so Steve then offered to let him in on his business. By the time Jimi was twenty he had managed to earn 4 million dollars after taxes and was still helping Steve build his empire even further.
I could tell he really cared about Steve but he said they barely spent time together outside of work. It was sad really and I really felt bad for laughing at him after that, so we just kind of stayed quiet for the rest of his visit.
More than a few times we’d ended up just staring each other in the eyes and I would wait for the kiss but it never came. It was almost like he was afraid.
“What are you doing?” Abel spoke from beside me and I came back to my senses. I’d just been standing in the hall, watching where Jimi had retreated into the elevator.
“Nothing. Just saying goodbye.” I mumbled, coming back inside the apartment and closing the door.
I missed Jimi already and our whole visit felt unfinished without the kiss. Walking into the living room I plopped down on the couch beside Lana, resting my head on her shoulder.
“Where’d your friend go?” She asked, picking up a gummy worm and biting it in half.
“He had to go.” I didn’t know if he was going home, or to work or what but I did know he wasn’t here anymore.
“Sounds like you wanted him to stay.” I felt her move and when I looked up she was staring right back down at me.
“Yeah, kind of.” Lana could read me all the time so it was no use trying to lie to her or myself.
“Do you like him?” Her hand rested on my knee and she rubbed it slowly, waiting for my answer.
“Maybe.” I shrugged and gnawed on my lower lip; I hadn’t really thought about it but I guess since I craved his kiss it meant I did. “Yeah.”
“How can you like him? You’ve only known him for like a day.” Abel dropped into the recliner and crossed his arms, staring me down.
“Its been three days and I do believe I can like whoever I want. I wasn’t even talking to you.” Rolling my eyes I stood up and snagged one of Lana’s gummy worms.
“Wait,” Lana called me to sit back down but Abel was being far to bitchy for my tastes. I made my exit, getting to the door before he began to talk again.
“Let her go. I think she’s just mad because he doesn’t want her.” When I turned back to face him, he had a smug look on his face.
“What the fuck is your deal? You act like I’m not a normal adult. I’m allowed to like people and some people actually like me. You’re just mad because you have that shitty relationship with Karina.” We were both aiming to hurt now but my responses were only in retaliation.
“Fuck you.” Abel squinted his eyes, my insult hitting its mark perfectly. “I’m just saying that you don’t know shit about this guy and you think he’s going to like you?”
“Abel, stop.” Lana warned him but he began to talk over her.
“No, because she’s going to fall for this guy and he’s going to treat her just like Leon does. Speaking of, where has your master been?” The words were like salt on wounds and I gasped in response.
“Shut up. Just shut the fuck up. You’re a fucking piece of shit and you know it. You know its not like that between me and Leon. Why the hell would you even go there?” I was shouting now and I could feel all the blood rushing to my face.
“I’m going there because its true, that’s why you’re yelling now. I know exactly what the fuck you guys are like.” Knowing that he’d won his battle, Abel turned his attention to his phone.
“Fucking fuck you, you fucker.” I had nothing else to say so I rushed to my room and slammed the door. “Ahhhhhhhhhh!” Screaming as loud as I could, I sunk onto the floor and threw my face into my palms.
Minutes passed and someone knocked on the door. “What?” I snapped, wiping away the tears that had begun to fall out of nowhere.
“It’s me Lana. Are you okay?” Her voice was soft and I felt bad for acting so rudely.
“Yeah. I’m fine.” I lied, pushing myself onto my feet and dragging my forearm across my face.
“Okay. Just call if you need me.”
Walking over to my mirror I lifted up my shirt and twisted around to look at my lower back. The scab on the burn was still hanging on for dear life and I reached around to pull it off. Wincing as I did so, I removed the dead skin and tossed it in the trash, wishing that I’d never told Abel.
I confided in him and he used it as a weapon against me. I don’t know why I thought to tell him after I had the situation under control but I just had to tell someone.
The burn had come from Leon, among other things I’d received from him. Leon is my ex boyfriend who from time to time likes to rush back into my life and shake things up. The worst part about it was the fact that he didn’t love me. Many times he told me how much he hated me and how he couldn’t stand me but my love for him blocked it from my mind.
About two weeks ago he’d decided to waltz back into my sights because he was broke. Of course like a fool I gave him a place to stay and allowed him to use me for sex.
For the entire six months we’d been together he’d been beating me and mentally abusing me and I got away. But I was still weak for him. It took two days and he was beating my ass again.
I don’t even remember what I did to upset him but all I knew was that he was mad. When Abel finally broke the lock on my door and kicked Leon out I was already pretty beat up. A swollen eye, bruises on my neck and a cigarette burn on my back that was particularly nasty.
Even though I knew he was only trying to make sure I didn’t get hurt, Abel’s input wasn’t needed. I had a good feeling about Jimi and I wanted him to be good so bad that I couldn’t imagine him being bad.
“Where on earth have you been?” Was the first thing I heard when I unlocked the door of the apartment. Lana shouted at me for what seemed like the first time ever, her voice preceding her appearance.
Stepping inside the door I moved over to make room for Jimi to step in as well. Lana came around the corner in a flurry of hair rollers and bathed in the scent of nail polish. She stopped in her tracks when she saw Jimi beside me, her attitude simmering down slightly.
“I have been calling you like crazy.” Though her voice had cooled the seriousness hadn’t changed one bit.
“Oh shit. Jimi where is my phone?” I asked turning to him with wide eyes, I had no idea where I’d left it. I hadn’t even thought about it until she’d mentioned it just now.
“Hold on. Its here somewhere.” Jimi set down the myriad of bags in his arms and patted his pocket, finding it in his coat. Handing it back he offered Lana a weak smile. “You nearly left it in the car.”
“Its dead. I’m sorry, I haven’t even bothered to charge it.” I wondered where Abel was because he was usually the one to get in my ass about something like this.
I could tell she was holding back a lot of what she wanted to say because Jimi was here and for what seemed like the hundredth time I thanked God for giving me him.
The three of us had been standing here awkwardly for an eternity so I broke the silence. “Jimi, this is Lana. Lana, Jimi.” My introduction seemed out of place but both of them nodded in acknowledgement of each other. “Um, I’m just going to say goodbye to Jimi then I’ll accept my sentence.”
Lana crossed her arms, careful not to ruin her polish, eyeing both of us before vanishing into the living room. Once we were alone I turned to Jimi and smiled boldly.
“Thank you again for everything.” Jimi stole my line right from my lips, saying it before I could. I didn’t understand why he was saying it but I blushed anyway.
“For what? You’re the one who just treated a peasant like a princess for no reason. I didn’t even need all of things and I really wish you would take them back so I didn’t feel so bad.” I looked down at my hands and twisted my fingers around timidly.
“Don’t feel bad, please, it makes me want to buy you more things. I refuse to take these back.” Jimi stared down at me with a strange look in his eyes that was in a way, sort of intimidating.
“Why? What did I do to deserve all of this? What do I owe you? Just why, why did you do all of this?” I fired off the questions back to back because I really hoped I hadn’t gotten myself into something I couldn’t handle.
“Because I thought maybe you’d want to be friends now.” The sincerity in his voice scared me because it was tinged with sadness.
Blood rushed to my face and I dropped it into my hands in embarrassment. “Really? If you wanted to be my friend all you had to do was ask, now I really feel bad about accepting all of this.” Why did he feel like he had to bribe me, he was a really nice guy.
“I dunno, it just seemed like you really didn’t want to be my friend back at the club.” The cool skin of his fingers brushed against my cheek, opening my eyes as a result.
“If you wanted I could have given you my number and we could have hung out without you wasting all of this money.” Explaining this I slowly nibbled on my lower lip, looking up into his eyes.
Jimi chuckled heartily, bringing a hand to the back of his neck. “Anything I do is a waste of my money, they only way I wouldn’t be wasting money was if I didn’t spend it at all. Plus, if I were going to waste money I’d rather it be on you than me.”
“Maybe you should just go, I mean I have to clear things up with Lana and it seems like neither of us is going to give in.” I shrugged and pushed my fingers through my hair, drawing his eyes to my hand.
As he spoke his eyes inspected my hair calmly, “Maybe, just promise you’ll text or call or something.” At last he finally broke his gaze away from my hair and bought it back to my eyes, a smile crossing his face.
“Promise.” I nodded and opened the door wider to allow him to step around the bags and into the hallway. “And thank you for everything again.”
I’d thanked him at least twenty times today and it still didn’t seem like enough. The small shopping spree we’d gone on the day before had cost him a handful of hundred dollar bills and caused him to write a check for our food just this evening.
“Wait.” I whispered, stepping closer to him and pressing a kiss to his cheek. “Thank you so much.” And before he could protest I slipped inside and closed the door, staring down at my bags.
Hooking them all on my arms, I made my way into the living room, dropping them in front of the couch. Lana was concentrated on taking out her rollers without ruining her nails but she still continued to scold me.
“We came last night when you were supposed to be off so we could get food and Mama Thai tells us that you left with some guy. Abel was pissed. I just texted him saying you were home and he’s on his way back now.”
“Where is he?” I asked, reaching into my bag and lifting out the stack of colored shorts.
“He went out with Karina when we couldn’t find you. I think they were just at her place.” I rolled my eyes at this information, now I didn’t want him to come back because nine times out of ten he would be high.
“Oh. Great.” The sarcasm in my voice was evident and I tossed the clothes back into the bag, readying to move into my room.
“There’s some pasta in the fridge from last night if you want it.” Lana offered, testing her nails by touching them to her lower lip.
At the mention of food I made my way into the kitchen even though I’d eaten just an hour ago. Reaching into the fridge I grabbed the cardboard cylinder that was full of Italian take out and popped open the top, placing it into the microwave.
While I waited for the food to reheat I walked back to my room to grab my phone charger. Seeing that it wasn’t plugged into its normal spot on the side of my bed I realized that Abel must have borrowed it.
I made my way back into the hallway and twisted Abel’s doorknob to find that it was locked. Kicking the door I spun around and went to my room, snatching my debit card up from my dresser.
It only took a few seconds but I finally managed to slip my card through the side of the door and disable the lock. With a chuckle I slid the card into my pocket and walked inside, picking up my charger from his desk. Before I left the room I paused and sniffed.
The air was pungent with the smell of expensive perfume, choking me the more I inhaled. I held a hand over my mouth and nose as I retreated from the room. Just when I reached the threshold Abel stepped in front of me.
“Perfect.” He grumbled, grabbing my arm and pushing me back inside onto his bed. “Just who the fuck do you think you are?”
“What?” I whimpered, trying not to inhale the fumes that clouded the room.
“I was fucking worried. You just left work with some random dude and then wouldn’t return anyone’s calls.” Though he was angry, you could hear it in his tone, he never raised his voice above a normal decibel.
“My phone was dead because my charger was locked in your stupid room.” I finally spoke aloud, drawing air into my lungs and immediately regretting it. “What is that awful stench?” I couldn’t take it any longer and I threw my arm across my face to keep most of the scent away.
Abel went to his trashcan and looked inside, checking something. “Don’t worry about it. I just want to know where you were.” He then crossed the room to his east wall and ran his fingers across the part of the wall that seemed to be stained.
I rolled my eyes and stood up, taking advantage of his slight distraction and edging out of the room. I paused in the hallway to give an answer, “I was out with a guy named Jimi. You could have simply asked if I was okay before you went off like that. Jeez.” Before he could further argue I retreated into my room and locked the door to make sure he wouldn’t return.
Once I was in my room I took a deep breath of fresh air and flopped onto my bed. I finally put the pieces together about the smell.
Abel must have fought with Karina again, badly. She was notorious for throwing things when upset. I guess this time it had gotten so bad she had thrown something of her own in a fit of rage.
I don’t even know why Abel still fucked with the girl, she was crazy as bat shit and didn’t know how much was too much. Hell, she was even more childish than I was.
Scooting up to the head of my bed, I then rolled over and opened my bedside drawer. Inside was a multitude of pill bottles, each with a different type of pill and a different name.
Instead of choosing one in particular I decided to play Russian Roulette and choose one with my eyes closed. I plucked a random bottle from the drawer and opened it, dropping two of the pills into my hand.
The small white circles I held were Ritalin, one of my favorites. Placing them on the top of my beside table I used the bottom of the pill bottle to crush them crudely.
Closing the top I dropped the bottle back into the drawer and pulled my debit card from my pocket. Using the thin edge of the card I continued to cut the chunks into a fine powder. Soon three lines of white stared back at me, taunting me to inhale them without hesitation.
And that’s what I did.
I love this. Glory seems relatable but Jimi is a little creepy. Cute but creepy. Amazing so far.
“Coming to the stage now is our very own Emi.” Mama Thai’s voice over the speakers announced my arrival to the stage, the spotlight moving from her to me within seconds.
For a few seconds my chest tightened and I was caught in the awe, what Mama Thai like to call my opening face. I had no idea what it looked like but I could feel it surface each time I went on stage.
The entire floor was silent and I could feel dozens of pairs of eyes on me. Then the music began, strummed quietly from just below the stage. My lungs relaxed and I took a deep breath, closing my thickly lashed eyes.
Bells dotted the slow music that was produced from a type of violin, altered to sound like an authentic Chinese instrument. The dance I knew so well began with me spinning around and allowing my kimono to billow about me in tonight’s blue waves.
My arms went to my side before I brought my hands in to frame my face as I began to sing,
“Běifāng yǒu jiārén, juéshì ér dúlì.
Yí gù qīng rén chéng, zài gù qīng rén guó.
Nìng bù zhī qīng chéng yǔ qīng guó.
Jiārén nán zài dé.”
I could see men in the audience who knew some Chinese and could make out what I was saying, but the second half of the song I always repeated the lyrics in English for those who couldn’t. I had a few moments in between the verses to make my way around the stage and then down the stairs into the crowd.
I moved through the aisles of tables, making eye contact with a few men as I made my way towards the VIP table where my journey would end. Each of my performances went in this order. Enter on stage, sing one song for the audience then sit at the VIP table to make my tips.
Tonight the candle that sat in the middle of the VIP table had been extinguished but I could see a red glowing circle in the darkness, most likely a cigarette. In the low lights I could barely make out the head that smoked the cigarette but I took no great notice to it, finishing my song.
“In the north there is a beauty; surpassing the world, she stands alone.
A glance from her will overthrow a city; another glance will overthrow a nation.
One can not know whether it will be a city or a nation that will be overthrown.
But it would be difficult to behold such a beauty again.”
Applause filled the room as I took my last bow before the spotlight returned to the stage to encircle Mama Thai. She gave my name one last gush before moving on to the next girl.
Turning my attention back to the table I bowed my head once again, holding my palms together in front of my chest. “Hello.” The cigarette moved in a vertical fashion giving me the impression he was nodding in response. “Do you mind lighting the candle?” I asked politely, even though I really had no fuss about what he looked like I would still like to look him in the eyes.
No sooner than my question was asked did a flame appear, touching to the wick of the scented candle. The man holding the match looked little like a man and more like a boy.
His dark curly hair rested untamed atop his custard colored skin that had no wrinkles whatsoever. He couldn’t have been a day older than nineteen. Through each of his eyebrows were two shaved slits that gave him an even younger appearance.
“Emi.” The sound of my name in his rather deep voice surprised me because I’d been in a world of my own. I hadn’t realized how long I’d been standing there or the fact that while I had only barely acknowledged his appearance I found myself attracted to him.
“At your service Mr…..” I let my sentence trail off, asking for a name. Looking into his eyes I noticed that his irises weren’t as dark as they seemed but instead engulfed by his pupils which were the size of saucers.
“Call me Jimi. Please.” Jimi leaned forward and took my hand into his, leading me into the booth with him. I sat a few inches away from his left leg, careful not to get too close.
“Jimi.” I nodded and gave a demure smile as a compliment. “If you don’t mind me asking, how old are you Jimi?” Usually I steered away from this question, especially with my older looking clients but the question held a different appeal with him.
“Just turned twenty-one today. I’m actually here to celebrate.” Twenty-one? His baby face betrayed his true age, making it seem implausible that he was as old as he said.
“Oh, well happy birthday to you. Would you like a drink? Champagne perhaps?” I suggested, knowing that if he bought an entire bottle I would have made more than enough money tonight.
“Whatever you like.” Jimi rested an elbow on the table, his cheek in his palm allowed him to gaze at me sideways. “Emi.” He said my stage name again, trying to place the name to my face.
I raised my hand, holding two fingers in the air to signal for a bottle of our best champagne. “Do you like my name or something?” I asked sweetly, folding my hands in my lap.
“Actually, if you don’t mind me saying, I don’t. It doesn’t fit you.” Jimi squinted his eyes and sucked on his bottom lip.
“Oh.” I sighed, my eyes dropping to the tablecloth.
“Don’t take it wrong. Please. I just don’t think you look like an Emi. I really like you.” He tried to fix what he’d started quickly but began to ramble. “I mean I don’t really know you but I like you. A lot.”
“Please, don’t worry. Even if I was hurt by what you said I’m not allowed to show it. But its fine. Really.” I assured, placing a hand on his bicep and giving a crooked smile.
The waitress arrived with the bottle of champagne in a bucket of ice and two crystal wine glasses. “Enjoy.” The girl urged before disappearing in a flourish of the sleeves of her kimono.
“So, how have your other celebrations gone?” I inquired as I stood to pour our drinks with the correct procedure I’d been taught.
“What other celebrations?” Jimi asked with genuine confusion, his eyebrows coming together.
“With your family and friends.” I glanced around to make sure no one was watching as I sipped the champagne. I wasn’t supposed to drink in the open because I was underage but Mama allowed it as long as there were no cops in the building.
“I didn’t celebrate before now because I had no one to celebrate it with.” At first I thought he was joking but his expression told it all. “I don’t have either of those.”
“I know you have some friends somewhere.” With his looks I knew if he didn’t have guy friends he had girlfriends.
“Nope. None.” He shook his head and swallowed the entire glass in one gulp. Before I could stand to refill his glass he already had the bottle in his hand, drinking from the mouth of it.
“Oh. Would you like a friend?” After making sure no one was watching I took another longer drink, draining my glass.
“Only if her name isn’t Emi.” It sounded bad but I knew he was just trying to get me to tell him my real name.
“Well, if she’s in here then her names going to be Emi.” As long as I was on duty I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone my real name.
“What if we got out of here?” Jimi bargained with me, taking another swallow from the bottle.
“You may be celebrating but I have a job to do and money to make.” I explained this to him, quietly and as polite as I could but it seemed to have no effect on him.
“How much money do you make a night?” Jimi was being a little forward and was coming off as rude but I couldn’t let him know I was offended.
“That’s none of your business.” I stated evenly, trying to stay cordial. Just when I thought he was going to make me lose it, Mama Thai appeared.
“Hi. How is your guest, Emi?” Mama smiled wide, her wrinkled face making her small eyes nearly invisible.
“Fine, just a little curious is all.” My response gave nothing away but hopefully let him know that he was being a little too eager.
“About what?” Mama turned to him to find out what he wanted to know and I prayed he would change his mind on what he wanted to ask.
“How much Emi, here, makes a night.” Jimi flashed a wide smile that charmed Mama but only succeeded in making me squirm and swoon all at the same time.
“Oh.” A feeling of satisfaction washed over me when Mama got a confused look about her. She wasn’t going to give it up that easily.
“I was going to rent her. However much she makes in a night I’ll give double to you and her each.” Jimi urged with a straight face, the bottle resting in between his legs as he reached for his wallet.
“We don’t usually do this.” Mama Thai was standing her ground though I could tell his offer was somewhat appealing to her.
“Fine. Triple for you and triple for her.” Both of our jaws dropped at his new offer, words failing both of us.
“Emi?” Mama looked to me now, pleading with her soft brown eyes. I knew the money would be greatly appreciated for both of us but I couldn’t get past the stipulations of the whole agreement.
What did he mean by ‘rent’? Would he want me for company, to have a real celebration or for sex even? I couldn’t stop worrying but the beckoning of the money gave an answer before I could protest.
“I’ll do it.” My voice didn’t sound like my own, it was bold and strong, sealing my fate easily while I shook in my boots. What had I gotten myself into?
I took my time pinning my hair up tonight. Not because I had time to spare but because I was deep in my thoughts.
In front of me on my vanity table was the only item I cared for. To me it was worth my life but to others it was just a simple necklace. It was very commonplace. Something you’d find in a department store for very cheap, though it meant the world to me.
My hand drifted to the chain and I lifted it from the table, the sun charm on the end dangled before my eyes, hypnotizing me. I had no idea who it belonged to before me but I knew it was the only thing that was mine.
Ten years ago I woke up in a room filled with other children, children just like me. None of us had any one looking for us and many of us had no idea who we were looking for. I fell into both categories; whoever my parents were didn’t want to find me and I knew nothing of them. The only thing I knew was this necklace.
“Emi!” Mama Thai’s voice startled me from my trance and I dropped the necklace on the floor.
“Yes, mama?” I replied turning and bowing my head. Instead of staring at her violet painted toes, my eyes searched the floor for where my necklace had fallen.
“It is almost time for you to go on stage and you’re not even wearing your obi yet.” She clucked her tongue at me and stepped across the room towards my dresser.
Taking advantage of her turned back I shot my hand down and swiped the necklace from just under my seat. I sat up just as she turned around and approached me.
“Stand.” Mama Thai ordered me to my feet. Turning away from her, I lifted my arms out to the side as she wrapped the fabric around my waist. “Do well tonight, we’re losing money because Kikuya is still missing.”
“Yes, ma’am.” I nodded obediently and sucked in a deep breath as she tightened the obi around my torso.
This used to be my favorite hikizuri but the silk was losing its vibrant color along with my interest. Of course I had many more but this one always brought in the most tips. Why, I couldn’t tell you but it was a proven fact. Maybe it was because I started hosting in this kimono and all of my regulars remembered the black fabric.
In the beginning it was glamorous and exciting but now it was all just a routine now, it was no longer fun or exhilarating. All of the men who were so interesting and different were now just the same old song repeated over and over again.
The gentlemen in these ‘gentleman’s clubs’ were little more than that. Smart, rich men who were alone. Some old, some young. All I knew were the tips.
I started out trying to be genuinely nice and remember everyone’s name and occupation but that quickly became tired. It was my job to provide company for the lonely, not a potential friendship even though it was what I craved the most.
But nothing about this job was designed to help me make friends, only money. As soon as I realized that, the lights and the fascination all died down and left me the same girl I’d been in the beginning.
Boring, plain, simple Glory Onuki.
Another week had passed far too quickly and I was packing my bag for work. The soft melody of some instrumental began to play and I hummed along quietly as I stuffed my hair pins and combs into the small backpack I used for work.
Due to the long hours I worked Mama Thai had come up with the brilliant idea that the days you worked you stayed in one of the rooms available in the rather large building. Seeing that I worked Friday and Sunday I usually just stayed for the weekend and left Monday morning.
It was nearing six p.m. and I was finished packing my bag already but had yet to get dressed. I was the only one present in the apartment of the three people who lived here. I missed the other two dearly even though they hadn’t been gone for long.
Lana and Abel, my only two friends outside of the Tea House. Both of them were older than me and I guess by this aspect felt responsible for taking care of me. At the moment they were probably on their way home to get me so we could grab a bite to eat before I had to go.
It was the same as every other Friday afternoon. The two of them would book studio time and work on their little music gig they had going. To me it was just one of their many pastimes but to them it was a way out. Each week they went faithfully trying to piece together something that a recording company would find appealing.
I actually liked everything they’d allowed me to listen to but the best stuff was the stuff they tried to hide from me. The flash drives hidden around their rooms that were never meant to be found by me were their real songs. The ones that held meaning to them.
The instrumental I was listening to was off of one of the famed flash drives. Abel’s I think. I must have heard it hundreds of times since I discovered it the week before. I wonder what they would do if they knew I’d been listening to their supposed best kept secrets.
Even though I was curious I didn’t want to find out, so I went to my laptop and closed the song before pulling out my very own flash drive and stashing it away in a pair of boots under my bed.
Just as I did this I heard the front door unlock, signifying that they were home. Without hesitation I ran towards the front of the apartment, throwing my arms around Abel who in turn scooped me up in a bear hug.
The leather of his coat was cold from the outdoors but just underneath I could feel his warmth, heat emanating from his face and neck. For a few seconds I lingered and took in his smell of designer cologne mixed with his own signature scent.
Once he released me to my feet he kissed my cheek and stepped aside to let me get a good look at Lana.
“Oh my God. What did you do?” I stared in wonder at the change in her appearance. The dark locks I’d grown used to were replaced by a bottle blonde that made her look even more innocent, if that were possible.
“Do you like it?” Lana’s voice was quiet and careful, waiting for my approval. By the look on her face I could tell her attitude was contingent on my answer at this very second.
“Of course. I love it.” Instead of prolonging her misery I nodded and took a step forward into her arms, accepting kisses on both of my cheeks. Her scent was one of a fresh meadow filled with every flower known to man a few that weren’t. I was sure it came from her pores because she had never in her life bought a fragrance but always gave off the sweet smell.
The two of them together were the two living things I cared about. They were like the brother and sister I hadn’t had. For a second I stared at them both, smiling as wide as I could.
“Do you want to get food or are you just going to stand there?” Lana giggled and tucked a piece of hair behind her ear.
thinking of either starting this story over and recycling a bit of it
just starting a whole new story. what do you think?