“...I’m not giving up on you.” I was almost yelling into the phone. Vasha’s radio silence sent chills down my spine.
“Please say something...” I pleaded softly. I heard her sigh in exasperation.
“You already have. Farewell.”
The line disconnected and I dropped to the floor, wallowing in my own grief. My heart pounded so hard I thought it’d jump out of my chest any second. Tasting my own salty tears, I made no effort to stop crying.
Command me to be well
Amen, Amen, Amen....
Take me to church
I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies;
I’ll tell you my sins so you can sharpen your knife
Offer me that deathless death;
Good God, let me give you my life...
It’d been a while since I looked at myself in the mirror. I mean, really studied my reflection. It was easy to judge. I’m a mouse of a woman; 5’0 with short, disheveled sandy brown hair. My eyes are brown, too. Shit brown my brother Timothy always called them. I used to stand out pretty well with my lip and eyebrow rings, but the trouble with working for a big corporation is they don’t always approve of the alternative aesthetic. At least my multiple ear piercings were safe.
Taking one last look at my plain black tee shirt, I walked out of the restroom of PetSmart. Work was always a bitch, but today really sucked ass. I was stuck covering for yet another drunk, pretty colleague who’d had one too many mimosas the night before. The tips were good today though, so thank goodness for small favors. Duffel bag in hand, I had just exited cooperate enslavement when the sun hit my eyes. Squinting, I fumbled into the back pocket of my jeans for my cell, which started buzzing.
“Lo?” I bounded toward the bus station.
“Hey! Could you empty the dishwasher when you get home? Max roped me into driving him to work tonight.” I heard a crack in the background. My roommate and long time best friend, Elizabeth or “Liza” as she prefers to be called, was chewing bubble gum.
“Yeah, sure.” I boarded the bus and stuck my new hot pink headphones in each ear. “I’ll be there in twenty. Might be a little longer depending on how many stops we make, you know how it is.”
“Yeah for sure. Thanks again, Ceen. Love ya girlie!”
I met Liza six years ago at the charter high school we both graduated at. She started calling me “Ceen” because she’s always boasting I’ve “seen” it all. I swear if it weren’t for her three children, she could have had a promising career as a comedian. I made it to the bench just as the bus pulled up.
It’s always nice to catch a break. I’m used to hanging around for about fifteen minutes before I can snag a ride in this area. Without missing a beat, I hopped in and took a seat towards the back. As usual, I observed my surroundings. There were hardly any other passengers aside from the few homeless people passed out a couple rows in front of me, and a mother with her unruly son climbing the seats. Every so often she impatiently grabbed the waist band of his pants and yanked him back down, but the cycle continued.
“Just get off the damn bus.” I mumbled to myself, throwing my head against the headrest and closing my eyes. I got my wish as mother and child exited at the very next stop. I don’t like kids. No patience for them. Don’t get me wrong, I’d never want to see one hurt or anything like that...but the less I have to be around them, the better. I guess it’s a good thing Liza’s children only come by every other weekend. Admittingly though, I’ve got a soft spot for them.
I was right about the time frame. Roughly twenty minutes later, I exited a mere block away from the apartment I’m staying at with Liza and walked the rest of the way. As I turned my key in the door, I already knew nobody would be home. I heard Liza bickering with Max about some errands they had to run this afternoon.
Yes! Peace annnnd quiet.
I’m not lying when I say those two are in a constant fucking argument. If they can find something to fight about, they’re all over it. It’s usually for that reason I’m holed up in my bedroom asleep, or making plans to do something, anything, aside from sit here and play mediator. I’ve got to hand it to them though, they’ve got a pretty sweet place. Their apartment was renovated recently, and my favorite part of the whole setup is their kitchen. They’ve got stainless steel appliances and a double-door French refrigerator. Speaking of, it’s my turn to whip something up for all of us tonight. Glancing at my watch, I grinned and started making a beeline for the rest room to wash my hands.
Several hours later, I’ve cooked dinner for myself, Liza, and her shithead of a Fiancé, Maxwell or “Max” for short. He’s been emotionally abusing her for years, and I wish she’d just leave. “It’s not that simple, Francine.” She’d snap, and after awhile I eventually stopped trying.
Can’t help the unwilling.
I keep hoping she’ll wake up someday. While I’m living here, trying to get back on my feet, I remain cordial.
“Soups on!” I yelled into the living room.We’re not actually having soup, but it’s a term I heard on television when I was eight years old and I’ve liked saying it ever since. Yeah, I’m that Dork.
“Thank GAWD! I’m starrrving!” Liza rushed over in her ripped skinny jeans and bare feet. I looked at her for a second. Those bright blue eyes and wild curly Q red hair. I’d go crazy without her, I’m sure of it.
“Oop! By the way,” she pointed her fork at me as I leaned against the cupboard and dug into my own meal, “Max has to pull a double tonight. Wanna catch a flick? I’m dying to do something other than work for a change.”
“Can’t. Gotta talk to Katie.” My eyes are focused on my salad to avoid confrontation. Not that it was doing me any favors, because I could feel Liza’s glare boring a hole into my forehead.
“Please tell me you’re done with her, dude!? She’s toxic! Have you forgotten she’s the whole reason you’re living with us?”
I scoffed internally. If only she knew.
“Yeah, but she deserves to hear it in person.” The truth is, I’d been having passionate sex with my EX girlfriend for months after the huge fight between us caused me to pack up my shit and move in with Liza. Katie is a piece of work, but she knows my body. It comes when she calls. Of course that’s about to change, but Liza doesn’t know any of this. I have to be careful what I say.
“You’re too nice, Ceen. But I won’t stop you.” Within seconds she walked back over to the couch to join Max, who’s ungratefully shoveling food into his mouth and complaining about one of many things Liza “forgot” to do around the house. Never mind that she works a full time job and tends to his every whim on command.
I squinted at them.
Talk about your double standards.
It’s after 9 P.M by the time I’d made it to Katie’s. I always get nervous, knocking on this door. Four months ago I’d flown out of here after her sister chased me with a knife.
I always imagine beating the shit out of the bitch, but I’m slight in build, and she’s at least 5’6 and 350 pounds. It wouldn’t go well, so I stay away when she’s around. Just as I’m talking myself into leaving, the door flies open. My EX smiled seductively as she stepped out onto the front porch so she could get real close to me.
“Hey, Princess.” Katie purred lazily, lacing her arm around my waist. I resisted the urge to cringe and settled for screaming internally instead. I can’t stand her, I really can’t...but I can’t say no to the sex. At least, not until tonight. I planned on going after it and holding my ground. Mid thought, she started kissing my neck, the spot right behind my ear and I quivered with delight.
“I’ve missed you.” She whispered into my cartilage piercing, muttering sexy Spanish phrases along the nape of my neck as I sighed in sexual frustration.
Oh, Katarina....I can’t...
“C-can we talk first?” I gasped for air and managed to wriggle out of her embrace. Just barely.
“What’s with you?” Her green eyes narrowed into slits, but she backed off to stalk back inside and plop down on the baby blue sofa in her living room. I took a quick glance around. The place looks so different since I moved out. Spanish decor for starters. I see the PlayStation 3 she fought like hell to keep is on the coffee table, exactly where I didn’t want it to be since we lived in a shitty neighborhood. I don’t know why I didn’t notice before...but damn, we really are different people, with no business being in a relationship.
“Look...” I began, not really sure how to start. She stared at me intently, and I at her. I must’ve tried to break this fling off a hundred times before, but I just had to be successful tonight. She sat like a football player in her classic masculine stance. Head buzzed short, black wife beater (pun intended, she’s not a great person) blood red basketball shorts.
“Baby, let’s go to bed...I’ve been dying to touch you all day. You know you’ve been wanting this too, so what are we waiting for?” She rose to her 5’5 height and loomed over me possessively. Weighing around 300 pounds, I’d never been with a bigger partner before, but it didn’t bother me when we met. Unfortunately, it doesn’t bother me now. Nothing does when she’s seducing me this way. Before I could choke out an objection, she pressed her mouth on my neck, biting it hungrily and groping my chest. Giggling, I stumbled backwards into her bedroom and kicked the door behind us.
That went well. God damn it, Francine.
I left before Katie woke up. Careful not to stir her, I peeled her plump hand off my shoulder and slid out of her bed. Stuffing my charger and phone into my shoulder bag, I slithered out the front door in shame and quietly closed it behind me. I never learn apparently. Walking past my old neighborhood always gave me a sense of regret. Why do I keep giving into her? What does she do for me?
Nothing...except fuck my brains out and guilt trip me over leaving.
Just as I was giving myself the good ole customary kick in the ass, I felt my cell phone vibrate against my bag. Frowning, I fished it out as soon as I safely crossed the street. My heart stood still as soon as I saw who the notification was from.
SMS: Detka ))) (Russian for baby.)
It’s her, after days of not writing back.
I met Vasilisa about four months ago on a stupid dating app for lesbians. It’s not necessarily used for that purpose, but it’s something to do while I juggle work, Liza’s constant bitching and the bitterness I harbored toward Katie. That’s what I’m best at. Distracting myself. Honestly though, I never thought I’d get acquainted with someone actually worth meeting.Vasha is from Siberia, Russia and resides in the smaller town of Tobolsk. It’s cold, dreary and miserable even when the sun is out. Vasha says the sun mocks her as it shines bright in the sky, but never warms her pale skin. I wish I could let her borrow Arizona’s sun. I’m sure we could all use a break from heat stroke out here.I didn’t respond to the message right away. She always bums me out, leaving me hanging for days before popping back up. We’ve been friends for a minute, now, but I always feel something else when I talk to her.
The days that followed were pretty weird, and that's putting it lightly.After Liza swore up and down she was getting rid of Max since he backed out of the engagement the night we caught a flick at the Theaters, she came crawling back to the apartment on her knees begging him to reconsider. I didn’t get it, but she didn’t get my life either. I suppose separating yourself from the situation really comes in handy when you need it to. Which is exactly what I’d been doing. Pulling doubles at work, getting lost in any task involving bathing, drying, and primping up dogs for their doting owners. Katie was constantly blowing my phone up, and ignoring her was getting to be a massive pain in my ass.We hadn't spoken much since the last time we fucked, and I wasn't looking forward to exchanging words. Couldn't she just leave me alone? That'd be worlds easier than having to dodge her constantly.“Any plans this weekend, Franie?&rdq
I didn't sleep that great, and was dragging ass to get ready for work the next afternoon. The truth was, I felt guilty and didn't feel like concentrating on anything except for my racing thoughts. Despite everything that happened, I couldn't help but feel like this was all my fault. I knew Katie and I weren’t good together and had no business continuing any type of contact after we broke up. Especially not a sexual arrangement, but here I was several months later. Doing just that. She’d made the last four 1/2 years of my life a living hell and I'd been more than happy to move out once it was all said and done.So what was I doing? Why couldn’t I just call her and end it, like Liza suggested multiple times? Was I afraid of confrontation?No, it's because I’m a coward. No way around it. I took a deep breath, smoothing out my bather’s smock as I began walking out of my room in a hurry. I wasn'
I considered playing dumb, but I knew it was useless. If Liza was asking you something, she already knew the answer. I didn’t doubt she knew exactly who Vasha was. I felt my cheeks get hot, and I fiddled with a frayed string near the pocket of my checkered pajama bottoms. Keeping my back turned, I replied; “What's to tell? She's a friend. A good friend...” I sounded a lot more collected than I felt.“Really, that's it? Weeeeelll, she’s liking a lot of your pictures on Facebook, for being “just a friend.” Liza teased playfully, and handed me her Samsung Galaxy to see for myself.I snatched the phone out of her hand so fast, then.What gives? Vasha said she didn’t have a Facebook.I immediately clicked on her profile. It was empty, aside from a few hilarious looking cat videos. Must’ve been made recently. I clicked on her profile picture, and Liza craned her n
Roughly a week later, I finally had some time to Skype Vasha without interruption. We'd been almost inseparable since the night she asked me to keep our video chat running through sweet WhatsApp messages, and I'd gotten in the habit of sending most of mine through voice since she was always asking to hear it. In general, we both knew we were growing closer but rather than point it out we were just enjoying it for now. I couldn't complain and wouldn't anyway. Aside from working, eating, and sleeping when I could, Vasilisa was quickly becoming the center of my Universe.“How do you curse in English, detka?” Vasha covered her growing smile with a pale hand and giggled into it. I loved how the corners of her striking green eyes turned up slightly when she smiled.“If I tell you, you can’t laugh.” I teased, making light of the fact she couldn’t stop laughing at any English words I had been trying to teach her for
One month later “Are you really sure you want to leave?” Liza looked on from the doorway as I shoved clothing by the fistful into my oversized maroon suitcase.“You knew I was moving out for like three weeks, dude.” I gave a lighthearted laugh, and used my weight to shut the top of my suitcase. I’d have stayed forever if it weren’t for Max continuing to treat my best friend like shit. I just couldn’t be around that anymore. Besides, at least Liza wouldn’t have to cover for me when Katie continued to show up, unwanted. Which happened more often than either of us could tolerate. I wound up having to change my number and banned her from all my Social Media accounts, but she just wouldn’t quit. At least threatening to call the police got her to stop popping up at my work.“I know...it just sucks I don’t want you to go, Ceen.” Liza mumbled, and I glanced over.
A little over a month later“Why did we start doing this!? I'm so fucking stupid.” Vasha was screaming at me, violently throwing her head back to down a shot of vodka while I sat in stunned silence. She was acting so unpredictable, I wouldn't have even needed to see the half full bottle of liquor that was sitting on her desk to know she was completely wasted. From the looks of it, my girl was on a bender with no intention to stop. Her black hair was disheveled and her dark sweater seemed loose from yanking and pulling on it. Vasha narrowed her eyes at me viciously when all I did was drop my jaw from the whiplash.“ANSWER ME!” She screeched, accusing me of sleeping with everyone I know and calling me a bitch. I winced from her words as she continued without missing a beat. “Why would you do this to me? I love you Francine. Who are you fucking? Katie? Or is it Liza!?” She waile
I was so out of it by the time I had to be at work, it's an honest to God miracle that I could concentrate on my tasks without fucking anything up too badly. Near the middle of my shift, I fumbled with a few tools and wound up losing my grip on something. I silently cursed as I heard it clang onto the tile floor beneath my feet.Shit. “You good, Francine?” Krystal, one of the early morning groomers stooped to retrieve a brush I dropped before I had the chance to look around for it. She stood up and offered to hand it over.“Yeah. Just tired....thanks.” I mumbled, not even bothering to take it back. I grabbed another one from my drawer and began gingerly brushing out knots in my Yorkshire terrier client, Lolly.“If you say so. I’m here if you wanna talk, girl.” Krystal nodded at me, and stashed the brush next to my station before disappearing behind the heavy plastic doors to get