O N E
“Mara. Mara wake up.”
Someone was roughly shaking her shoulder, bony fingers digging into her flesh. Mara was instantly pissed off. With a groan she rolled over and looked up at the waif standing above her. Her aunt almost looked like a sleep paralysis demon. Nice.
“What?” Mara bit out as she moved her long hair out of the dried drool on the corner of her mouth. Glancing at the clock she groaned. The red lights on the thing read 8 o’clock in the fucking morning, a short 4 hours since she had gotten into bed. This woman could not be serious. “What could you possibly need Hestia?”
The woman looked nervous as she scratched at her neck and pressed her dry, cracked lips into a line that made her hollow cheeks even more pronounced. Her hand moved away from her throat and started pulling at a piece of greasy, stringy black hair that fell into her face. She looked awful, smelled awful, but Mara was not surprised at all. Her aunt had been missing for a few days now. Probably on a nice little vacay bender with her man of the week and her best friend, heroin. Mara raised her eyebrows as the woman just stood there, scratching her neck.
“Get the fuck on with it Hestia I’m -”
“You have to leave.” Hestia blurted. Mara’s eyebrows raised even further, mouth curling into a frown. “Jay don’t want you here no more.”
Mara stared at the woman’s sunken face. She looked like she was sad to have been delivering the news, but not sad enough that it mattered. Mara could have argued to stay, should have argued honestly. She also could have told her aunt to go fuck herself and went back to her bed on the couch with the promise of dealing with Jay later. But this wasn’t her first rodeo, and she was done trying to make a case for herself. She rose from the couch and started moving.
“Look, Mara. I know you been through the ringer with your mom being how she was and everything. I mean I get it, she was my sister.” The woman almost sounded compassionate. Almost. Mara felt like she could throw up. “-and everything but I can’t be all you got. You got friends here in the city right? Somewhere to stay?” Hestia was still twirling that nasty piece of hair, eyes trained on the cracked linoleum in the kitchen. “I hate to put you out but Jay says you been takin up his space. And he pays for this place...I need him y’know?”
“Hestia. Shut the fuck up. You have no idea what it was like for me. No idea what she was like. ” Mara’s voice was raspy and it sounded almost....defeated? Interesting, because she couldn’t feel a god damn thing. Her head was pounding though, and that made it really hard to concentrate on her situation. “I don’t care. I really don’t. Get out of my way.”
Mara pushed the bony woman out of the way and went for the cabinets. She had just saved up enough money to get a fair amount of groceries and she’d be damned if she was going to leave them here. Grabbing a reusable bag that she had stashed underneath the sink she quickly packed with no regard to anything that may deter her from her mission of getting the fuck out of this house. All the while her aunt continued to babble behind her and unsurprisingly she heard none of it.
Looking back, it’d have been hard at the time to distinguish if it was her sleep deprivation that gave her a steely wall against feeling her emotions or if that had been her final tipping point into mental instability. Without saying a word Mara had broken eye contact, tugged on her boots, and grabbed her few belongings strewn about the small, disgusting apartment. She was still shoving things into a duffel bag as she closed the door behind her. She was going somewhere, but her brain was too tired to let her know where and decided to just make her legs move in that direction instead.
Mara could not stand walking in the snow. Not even on a good day. It’s not like she was new to it or anything. Mara was a lifer in the great state of New York, so she had seen all too many days like this one. There was snow on the ground, snow falling from the sky, snow coating every conceivable surface that it looked like the street and buildings were painted a sterile white. It made her head pound. She usually avoided taking cabs because they were too expensive, but today was a different story and she flagged one down anyway.
On a normal weekday, Mara would have slept until 1 or 2 in the afternoon no problem. When she woke, she’d have gotten up, brushed her teeth, and went to the club to help the boys out with inventory for some overtime. That usually took until about 7 in the evening, and they always had the guys in the kitchen make them something for dinner, and then she’d change and work her night as a cocktail waitress. The problem was that right now it was approximately 8:10 in the morning. Going to the club at this time of day was a crap shoot. It’d be a real stroke of luck if anyone were there - and Mara was just not having a conventionally “lucky” day.
As she shoved her belongings into the cab and shut the door, Mara decided that the club would be a good starting point. If it was closed, she’d figure it out from there. When she gave the address to the cabbie, he looked at her with surprise in the rearview. She just looked at him and nodded and he turned away, driving slowly along the too white street.