Chapter 10 - New Rea;izations and New Hair
“Carlos, why is everyone afraid of me?”
“Carlos,” I said pointedly. Watching his hands shake, and it was not cold.
“Okay they are”
Carlos invited me in his room, “Imagine your worst villain character.”
“Alright, imagine their kid comes here.”
“I will freak out, for a second.”
“Good catch, these kids are scared because you are their worst villains’ kid. The one that killed so many people and made them live in fear, you are her daughter. Why would they be sure that you won’t do the same?”
“So, my mom is their nightmare, that doesn’t mean I am.”
“I know that…now, they don’t.”
“So, they won’t give me a chance?”
“Did not give the underground a chance.”
“Underground? Right you said if I passed, we would go see it. I passed, and I am accepted into the school.”
“My big mouth and I” Carlos scolded himself “right, going to hold me to my promise?”
“You bet I am”
“Okay, first want to see horses?”
“I’d love to”
Carlos sighed in relief
“Afterwards, we go to the underground”
He did not want to go, or did not want me to go?
“With your magic, it’s bumpy, with your father’s it’s easier.”
“So, we have to wait, or rather rollercoasters are fun!”
“I did not expect it to be that bumpy.”
“Hmm” Carlos moaned. “Look around.”
It sounded like he knew exactly what was going on but would not want to tell me or let me know. I looked around; it was bad. Absolute truth, it was worse than bad.
Coming from Manhattan, the dirty alleyways are strewn with empty cans of beer, wrappings of deli sandwiches mixed with the muddy brown water, or the subways with its graffitied walls, and where the homeless sat. This was bad.
The houses were made of cartons, wooden planks, and metal scraps. It was grey-brown and filthy, the dirt floors were rough. I felt the sand and pebbles rub against the sole of my shoe. There was a fenced-in marketplace selling all sorts of ragged clothing or handmade ornaments, it was full of flies. Some pots and other household items were also in the marketplace. I brushed a flyaway hair away and started walking. Beds were lined up on the roofs, I guess there were not enough houses for all the kids. Broken fire escapes were the way up to the roof. An out-house was off at the side. “This!? This is how these kids live!?”
“Yeah” Carlos giggled “What is the matter?”
“What’s the matter!? Carlos these are kids that could and deserve every chance to lead a life up there.” I pointed to the barrier, as a raindrop hit me. “These kids cannot see the sun. I am disappointed in you; you are not affected at all. Do you think this is a joke?”
“Why are you so affected?”
“Because…my sister lives here, I could have been living here.”
Carlos shifted uncomfortably. Biting his lips and trying not to roll his eyes.
“Come on, out with it” I waited.
“You are right, but that does not mean you need to get mad at me for not understanding you or for not thinking and feeling like you do. This is not russification; I can act talk like I want to, and you can believe and be what you want. What part of that don’t you understand?!”
I hung my head “None, I don’t want to, and I will not.” I vowed, “I thought you were different.”
Carlos looked down too, then he laughed cupping my chin in his hand. “Don’t take it so seriously, all I said was that we can each have our own opinions and it should not stop us from being friends.”
I looked at him, he looked at me, a slow smile spread across my face, “Crystal clear.”
He gave me his hand and I could see that he wanted to tell me something. I squeezed his hand
“I love you ba-.”
“Yeah, say it.” I urged him.
“I love you, babe.” He exhaled “Feels good saying it.” I jumped on his back. He ran down the street, picking up speed till he could not anymore, and we fell, giggling uncontrollably. The rain kissed our faces and it felt as if the whole underground was a brighter place for that moment.
We opened the door to a salon on one of the curbs. A girl of about ten stood in the center
“Hi, who are you?’
“I should ask you that I never saw you around here?”
“I am Diana.”
"Could not care less”
I cracked a smile “Okay, what’s your name?”
“Chloe, but everyone around calls me Cocoa,”
“Sweet, what do you do?”
“I dye hair and add some pretty stuff.”
I gaze around the room the walls were cartons yet painted in wild shades of colors. Two tables, one had metal scraps wire and beads, and the other one next to a chair. I could swear to be a hundred years old pots stood with different color dye in each.
“Which one should I do?’
“Probably blonde and a light purple streak.”
“No, I like it this way” Carlos interjected.
“This is girl time!”
“Get in the chair.”
The chair creaked as I eased into the old rotting wood and leathery fabric.
“Now close your eyes”
I did as I was told. I felt her hand rubbing my hair.
“You’re Melb’s daughter?”
“How did you know?”
“Purple hair and eyes, duh”
I laughed, she reminded me of Jaden.
“She is the coolest villain of all time. We all look up to her.”
“Up to her,” I repeated dumbfounded.
“Yeah, okay open your eyes.”
I do not know what she did, but it was amazing!
“You’re good, girl.”
She took scissors out of her dress and angled my front hair just so.
“You belong here, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do,” But how can I explain to a girl that does not know what love could do.
She looked at me then at Carlos, a bright pink flush crept up his cheek.
“Oh,” she drawled.
She went to the crafts table and came back a second later with a wire crown, beads placed like jewels. Its colors dancing on the wall, the rain has stopped.
“You know, I as queen will make sure that you are going to get out of here.”
Her eyes opened wide in the innocent belief that youngsters have. I knew then that I would not let her down, as my mother had done to me. I would fight for all these kids until I cannot fight anymore.
We passed a dim-lit diner, passing some teens huddled by the corner. I waved to Chloe till we were out of sight.
We entered the diner not to eat something just to sit, I would not touch their food even if they paid me to.
“Can we have a table?”
The girl manning the diner turned around smirking, “Sure-,” She began but stopped as soon as she saw us. She smiled when she noticed my hair though.
She stood facing us. I smiled a little too tight though, “Audrie this is your diner?’
She nodded. “Life isn’t fair, why did you come?”
“To sit and relax.”
“You came to the underground to sit, relax?” She laughed loudly. “You are crazy.”
“You say life isn’t fair, I say you are doing it for yourself. you got a sister and you would not even want to see her, that’s being unfair to yourself.”
“Give them a table.” She ordered.
Carlos and I sat down,
“You think they all deserve a chance?” he asked pointing at Audrie.
“Why did you dye your hair?” He said after a minute of thought.
“I don’t know, I guess I thought it would make me more liked turning my back to my mom.”
“I thought you said you are okay with your past?”
“I am but others are not.”
“A special girl that looks a lot like you, told me that you are who you are, and your situations and circumstances and past don’t make you. They are just here to help you grow and build a future not hold you back, in any way.”
“You are a great girl, the best you, and I can’t be happier that you are my queen.”
“What, you’re unsure?”
“No. I just want to find my Dads’ ember.”
“Because I want his blessings and I want a dad.”
“They won’t let him be free if you find him.”
“Who are they?”
“No. It is you, Carlos, don’t put it on your people.”
Audrie came over, “Want a menu?”
“No,” Carlos said the same second, I said yes.
“Here,” she winked, I nodded.
“We will go,” Carlos advised, “Throw it out,” He told me as soon as the bell chimed, and the door closed.
I turned the menu around falling a few feet behind Carlos, I thought she had written something, and I wanted to see if I was correct.
In black, on white, it read: meet me at the museum night I will give you the ember. Love your sis
Carlos turned to realize I was not behind him.
“It’s dirty?” he asked.
I stashed the menu in my back pocket. It reminded me of when I hid the note from Dave.
“No! nothing at all.”
Why do you think Diana dyed her hair?
Do you think she trying to fit in or trying to stand out and why?