“You can’t run away from trouble. There ain’t no place that far.” – James Baskett
I put on my top hat and looked at myself in the mirror one last time. What am I thinking? Am I really dressing up for a guy I’m not even supposed to be interested in but secretly am to notice me? I don’t even know what I’m going to tell him. I don’t really feel like being dishonest but he’s our only way out. Paul isn’t a bad guy, he’s actually pretty great and that’s why lying to him makes it that much harder. I don’t like lying to anyone, especially Paul, because he’s… Paul. The girls constantly tell me he’s interested in me but I never told them that I share the same interest towards him. If I would tell them I have any shred of feelings for this man they would never leave it alone. Once we’re out of this town those feelings won’t matter anymore anyways. I won’t miss anybody from here, not even my mother. She and I haven’t been close for a long time. She hasn’t spoken to me for a while now, not even on my birthdays. Four years ago, she was dating a guy called Jack and he had raped me multiple times. When I confided to her about it, she said I was a liar and she hasn’t spoken to me since that awful day. What I never understood is that she always believes these men she dates but never believes her own daughter. Mum was a different type of person; she was cold and always craved attention from everyone except for the ones that should actually matter. I wonder sometimes what Paul sees in my mother, what any of them see in her. I love mum but I’m not going to miss her. I feel like I lost her long ago, I guess that’s why it doesn’t hurt anymore. I looked away from the mirror, took my back-pack, shoved it under my bed and pulled the covers down to hide it. My mother didn’t speak to me but she sure did love to snoop in my things whenever I wasn’t home. I shut my door and locked it from the inside. I started doing that for a few weeks now, I usually come in at night threw my window to not wake anybody up and it’s been working fine. I walked into the kitchen and found two plates of blueberry pancakes on the table.
I heard Paul say from behind me. I turned around to see him holding two mugs. He smiled and gave me a cup. We both sat down across from each other and started to eat. We sat at the table without talking which never happens. I was almost done my plate and ready to leave the table when Paul finally spoke.
“Is something wrong Rose?”
“No… I mean everything’s fine.”
“You know you can tell me right?”
“Yeah, I know it’s just… everything’s fine.”
I took my dishes and went to put them in the sink. I started to rinse it and felt Paul’s presence behind me and I turned around to face him.
“Why aren’t you telling me what’s wrong? Did something happen?”
“No… I need to ask you something but I don’t know what to say or ask… I don’t know.”
I put my arms around him, I could tell he was surprised but he returned the hug. I could just imagine the girls faces if they saw us holding each other right now but I don’t know if I was ever going to see him again after I explained everything to him. I wanted to hold him for the second time ever as long as I could, if he said no I knew I’d never see him again.
“Rose, you can tell me anything.”
I turn backwards holding on to the pole and see the time, it was almost four am and the club was going to close. This is probably going to be my last dance and all night I gave it my all. Pablo knows I’m one of the best dancers here but he told me before this last dance of the night that he hadn’t seen me dance like that in a while. I danced for myself tonight and nobody else and it felt great. Pablo’s my manager, friend and also lover at times. Although he’s a lover to almost all the single dancers and some who are taken as well. I started stripping when I was thirteen, Pablo found me and asked me to join him when I was only fourteen. A lot of people wanted me at the time to become the star of their club but Pablo had something to him that the others didn’t. I guess I found him hot at the time so I chose him. While people started to leave; I go to the back and join the girls. Alisha’s sitting smoking a cigarette with Ethel, Jenna and Sugar are laughing about something and like always I see Lisa changing into her school outfit. Lisa’s the type of person who looks innocent but is the dirtiest one of the bunch. I look around and don’t see Hannah or Candy anywhere; I guess they already left. I sit on the sofa and close my eyes for a second to soak in on what I’ll be missing out on.
“I’m ganna go.” I said.
“Alright, see you Monday.” Ethel replied.
“I’m ganna go for good, girls.”
“You mean leave the club? Does Pablo know?” Lisa says putting on her black skirt.
“Yeah and no I’m ganna go tell him. Just wanted you girls to know first.”
“I’m ganna miss you two legs.” Jenna says as she gets up, pulls me off the couch and hugs me really hard.
“Why you going?” Alisha asked.
“I got some stuff to do. I’m going to write you girls when I got the time.”
I put on my leopard jacket, walk towards the door to leave but Ethel jumps in front of it. All the girls hug me and kiss me goodbye. I hate goodbyes. Now it’s time to go see the only guy I ever loved or at least I think I do. I walk until the exit, go outside and walk up the stairway. I get to his door and knock. I hear him say come in, so I go inside and shut the door. Pablo isn’t in the room; I sit and wait for him to come out of the bathroom. The door opens, a girl comes out, she walks past me and leaves the room shutting the door. Pablo comes out and smiles at me.
“You came to get your money?” He says while putting his shirt back on.
“Yeah, and to talk to you.”
“You made two grand tonight, you did good.” He says not paying attention to what I said.
“Pablo. I’m leaving the club.” I say taking the money from his hand.
I wake up to the sound of hip hop blasting in the other room. I put on my jean shorts and a white tee I had on my bed post and walk past my baggage for tonight. I enter the living room and see Skins rolling a joint.
“Skins, can I take the weekend off?”
“Ya know that nobody takes weekends off Gem.”
“I know, but my grandma is getting worst.”
He looks up at me and motions me to sit down. Skins’ a mean ass guy and doesn’t leave anybody do anything he didn’t tell them to do or say but he was very attached to his grandmother who had passed away recently. Skins’ a heartless guy until grandmothers are involved. His grandmother had taken him in when he’s parents were killed, taught him to be a great man but when she passed he changed into the guy I know today.
“Take the weekend off. Here take this.” He said handing me over a bag. “Sell it today, that way you have your money for the weekend. Say hi to your grandmother from me kay Gem?”
“Thanks Skins, it means a lot.” I say giving him a kiss.
I got up, went downstairs and waited for my taxi. I arrive at the hospital a few minutes later, I go inside and see the sick people. I hate hospitals but I needed to say goodbye to my grandma. I get to her room, open the door and see her sleeping. I walk to the side of her bed, sit down on the chair and hold her hand soflty.
She moves in the bed and her light blue eyes look up to me.
“Loyal, you’re here.”
Loyal’s my mothers name and my grandmother always called me that.
“Yes I’m here. How are you feeling?”
“I’m great. How about you sweetie? Are you still trying for a baby?”
“I’m fine. Yes, you have a granddaughter.”
“Oh my, I’m so happy.” She says with a large smile. “You take good care of her now. What’s her name?”
“Gemma? What a beautiful name.”
“Yes, It’s alright. I’m leaving grandma and I won’t be seeing you anymore.”
“Leaving? I knew this day would come, don’t cry Loyal, your daughter needs you more than I do. I love you.”
“I love you grandma. So much.” I said holding her, still crying.
I sow on the last letter on my shirt “P”. I put on my black shorts and my new “Don’t give up” shirt. I walk to the other room and see Max sitting on the couch. I sit on his leg and kiss him on the cheek.
“You slept half the day Elizabeth. How can you sleep half a f””king day? That’s not normal!”
I get up and go to get orange juice. Today’s the last day I’m ever going to see him again and he’s acting like an asshole. If only he knew he would never see me again maybe then he would enjoy my company today. I walk back to him and put my arms around his neck. He puts his hand up and pulls me over onto the couch.
“Sorry. I missed you last night you came so late, I hardly see you anymore you’ve been gone a lot with those friends of yours.”
“I know I’m sorry. They’ve just needed me more than usual, that’s all. Right now I’m all yours.”
He pulls me up to him and kisses me. I loved him but I was going to leave him either way. It’s more of a love hate relationship. The girls don’t even know I have a boyfriend, that’s how little they know about me. He pushes me over his arm and gets up. He takes me, throws me on the bed and starts to kiss me again. He puts his hand on my chest and pulls on my new shirt.
“Be careful for the shirt, I just made it.”
“Come on Elizabeth. It’s just a stupid shirt.”
He pulls the shirt off and pushes himself on me. He wasn’t acting like his normal self for a while now, he had started to become mad and much more aggressive.
“Max you’re hurting me.”
“Max, stop it.” I say pushing him off.
He falls off the bed and screams.
“What the f””k is wrong with you?”
He pulls me off the bed and tries to kiss me. I try to push him off and try to run to the bathroom but before I get there he pulls me and throws me into our dresser.
He pulls me up and slams me into the wall. My whole body’s aching.
“Stop f””king with me Elizabeth.”
Max puts his hand around my neck and gives me a hard kiss.
“I need to… say something…” I said before I blacked out.
It’s eleven in the evening and I look outside the window from my room. Why did I accept to join this crazy adventure? I’m a grown man. I’m not a child, a teenager that could do anything he wanted, I have responsibilities but something inside me couldn’t say no to her. To those eyes and that smile. Rose was something alright. I feel like an old man trying to be with a young girl like Rose. I know she and her friends are using me but I don’t mind it. It beats being stuck here with Gabrielle, Rose’s mother.
“They’re going to be here at midnight. I’ll wait in the garage for them.” Rose says from across the room.
I turn around and look at her and nod. I go to take my suitcase and bring it into the garage.
“Do you want me to bring your bag?” I asked Rose who was sitting on a wheel.
“No, I have it already.” She says pointing at her bag on top of the dusty leather couch.
“Why does your mother have a leather couch in here?”
“It belonged to my dad. She never threw it out. It’s the only thing left of him.”
“It’s alright... Are you okay with this?”
“Yeah, I am.”
“Are you sure?”
“Positive. I’m going to go make something for you and your friends to eat in the car.”
“Oh, O.K. Thanks.”
I leave the room and fix a few things for the girls to munch on during the trip. At midnight, I go into the garage, two girls are sitting on the sofa, one’s sitting on the trunk of the car and Rose’s standing beside the wheel she was sitting on before.
“Hello Paul. I’m Gemma.” A girl with blonde hair says getting up from the couch.
“It’s nice to finally meet you. I’ve heard so much about you.”
“You have?” I say wondering what Rose must have said.
“She’s joking. Paul, you’ve met Gemma.” Rose says walking towards me. “The girl over there” she says pointing to the girl on the couch “that’s Elizabeth, and that’s Alice.”
“Are we going or are we making friends?” Alice says jumping off my car.
“It’s true we should be going.” Elizabeth agrees.
“Paul can you take a picture of us before we go?” Gemma asks.
“Everyone in front of the couch!” Gemma says pulling the girls arms.
Gemma places the girls and gives me the Polaroid. She runs in the picture, I count three, two, one and snap the picture.
“Alright. Everyone in the car, I’ll get the bags.” I tell the girls.
Rose’s friends get into the car; Rose opens the passengers’ door and mouths to me: thank you.
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