Thank you so much to BLUECAT85 for this Lacey Retreat Romper, along with the kind words you said. You…you’re too kind, and I really appreciate it. Thank you so much.
And thank you to Nov07chick for this lovely dress…you said it would look good on Amber, which I completely agree with, but lord, this dress is made for an elder woman! She’s not quite there yet, but one day, one day…she will. ;~; There are no words. Thank you so much.
I never said goodbye.
Casting my head to the side, I brushed my fingers along the hem of the worn down couch I was curled up on, sighing heavily.
It had been nearly three years. Three years without his face around every corner, three years without his warm, gentle smile in biology class, and, the one that hurt the most, three years without someone looking at me with anything in their eyes but disdain. But then again, anyone could call his affection toward me a last minute ploy for attention before he left. Perhaps, knowing how much I liked-no, loved-was it love? I don’t know, but regardless, everything he did for me, said to me, and the things he made me feel especially, could’ve all been fake…but I guess I’ll never know, will I?
My heart felt heavy as I dragged my eyes up from the floor to scan the room I’d been sitting in since this morning. It was dark, but the light behind me fed enough light into the rundown room for me to see a decent outline of things. As usual, the first thing my eyes fell on was the stupid tv perched on a crate, right in front of the beat up couch that I somehow always ended up on. It hardly even worked, minus the first three channels, and all it was for was for show…if even that. It just kind of sat there and made an awful buzzing noise all day.
Next, I pulled my eyes over to the kitchen to my right. The counters were littered with dirt, grime, and empty bags of different things. We never had any food in the apartment, so my boyfriend usually grabbed some food on his way home from…wherever he spent the day. I wasn’t actually sure what he did, but it paid for the apartment that he let me stay in and fed me, eh, every few days, so it was good enough.
After looking around for a bit, it became too much. I found that thinking about too much these days was overwhelming because it left me with too many unanswered questions. Moaning quietly at how tired I was, I pulled my legs in closer, scooting toward the back of the couch. The sky outside was still dark, and though the huge window next to me made me feel anything but safe, I stayed in place, listening for any sound. There was none except for the jingling of a leash as Shane’s dog-Sir-walked over and plopped down on the floor below me. I let my fingers hang over the edge, slowly petting him for a moment. I could feel his ribs which sent the emotions in me flying in all different directions. I hated when Shane didn’t buy dog food-or food at all, for that matter-and left Sir with nothing to eat. Mentally, I made a note to make my way to the store later, but I took in a deep breath of air, knowing I would forget.
I was waiting for my boyfriend to come home….Shane. Well, if one could even call him a boyfriend. We were more like roomates with benefits, but he didn’t want anything more than that, and I guess neither did I…and plus, I had to remember the apartment deal. If I pissed him off, I could be out on the street in a second. I couldn’t end up where I started out.
I remembered the time we ran into one another with a shudder. It was merely three months after my graduation, and I had turned eighteen. If it was up to me, I would’ve been out of my parents the second midnight hit, but that wasn’t quite the case. My parents were basket cases about keeping me around and getting me to go to a “nice community college with lots of lovely people”-yeah right. I still hated them, I still hated my life, and most of all? I still hated myself.
But then one day, when I’d snuck out to buy a new pack of cigarettes to bum out in the barn around midnight, my car broke down at a random corner. It was dark, and though I tried not to be scared, I couldn’t help but nearly scream and run for the hills when a dark man approached me. He was standing in an alleyway when I’d emerged from my car, sighing, and he came right out. His voice was dark, sullen, and to be completely honest, scared the living shit out of me. But somehow, we’d gotten talking as he attempted to fix my car. I ended up staying up the whole night talking to him, and when he suggested the offer of staying in his apartment, I was one head nod away from my head falling off. It was weird at first, but who was I to complain? Anything at that point was an upgrade from the suffocating grasp of my parents.
And by now, things had fallen into a regular rhythm. Shane would come home in the early hours of the morning after leaving around 9 PM, usually with new women trailing behind him. I would hang around the apartment, sleep, and try to look for jobs or smoke. I don’t quite know I managed to fill all my days, but nonetheless, I did.
The too familiar sound of a lock being shuffled out of place rang throughout the apartment, before it let loose with a sickening smack a few moment later. Following the click, Shane stumbled through the door, tripping and nearly falling on his ass as he made a less than graceful entrance.
Following him were two girls, barely dressed. They were holding bright red purses and bumming cigarettes in the entryway, scanning the apartment without moving their bodies. The one on the left shrugged and dropped her cigarette butt to the floor, nonchalantly putting it out of its flaming misery with the thin, slick bottom of her heel. The other girl shyly looked on, continuing to let the smoke waft up and mingle in with her hair, but I stayed where I was, watching intently to see if he noticed me-he usually didn’t.
“Follow me,” said Shane in a low, grumbling voice. He held his hands up to beckon the girls behind him, not even bothering to look at me. I knew it-he never did.
The two girls quickly closed up their purses, covering up whatever they were messing with while he stumbled about-no doubt tipsy. They made quick, bouncy steps to follow after him, but when they got to the steps and started climbing, Shane turned around, grunting.
“No,” he said sternly, pointing to the girl behind the other. “Not you.”
The girl’s-who I quietly noted was the one who stood shyly while the other stomped out her cigarette butt-face fell immediately, frowning. Not a single emotion crossed over Shane’s face, as he swiftly turned around and continued up the steps with one less girl. After a moment, I heard the slam of a door and that familiar click of a lock, and then a new sound-an exasperated sigh from the girl on the staircase.
She looked awkward. I mean, I’d be pretty awkward too if the guy I’d been following behind all night rejected me last minute. That’s why I didn’t associate with guys anymore, or anyone really for that matter. People sucked.
She stumbled to open her bag for a second before she emerged with it another cigarette-damn, this girl really needed her fix. I watched her slowly but surely retreat from the steps, but I was surprised when she-rather than exiting-went into our kitchen and sat down, crossing her legs and gently lifting the cigarette to and from her mouth. The girl-who I now noted, due to her stiller stance, had a scar across her eye and was considerably thin compared to the other girl Shane took upstairs. I knew what they were doing, and I shuddered, remembering how many nights Shane has asked me to do that with him on. Unless the apartment, my safe haven, is involved, I wouldn’t dare to go back to the dark place that started my life off so wrong.
I shuffled to get to my feet. The sun was starting to peek over the tips of the trees outside of the apartment, and considering I hadn’t moved for the entire night, I needed to get up and go out. Maybe I could finally go through with my idea of getting Sir dog food.
I made an ungraceful stance, pretty much falling to my feet when I tried to balance myself. What was wrong with me?! I wasn’t drunk off my ass like Shane!
As I balanced myself, my eyes landed on the girl in the kitchen who sat staring at me, gaping. What was her issue?
Shrugging, I took a few shaky steps, and then much swifter ones to the kitchen. I found myself acutely aware of the girl watching my every move, but somehow I found a way not to care. She looked so sweet, and for once, somehow, I felt like I had the upper hand. The girls Shane brought home didn’t usually stay here, so this was more than slightly drifting from the normal.
Struggling to remember what I came into the kitchen for, I stood and stared for a second before it came back-looking for any food anywhere.
I started by opening up the fridge-absolutely nothing. My hands clumsily skimmed over the handles of each cupboard, pulling it open, and sighing, exasperated, when I found not a single thing in any of the cabinets.
Suddenly, I turned my head around (and so did the girl at the table) as we heard a muffled scream from upstairs. My heart lurched, and I felt the need to sit down, curl up in a ball, and sob. I didn’t know if the scream was from pain or pleasure, but the memory of the pain I experienced drifted into my mind, causing my heart to twist. Not here. Not now.
I started feeling light headed, so I sat down at the table. My hands rested on the top as I took deep breaths.
Slow and steady, everything is fine. Slow and steady, everything is fine. Slow and steady, everything is fine. I repeated my mantra in my head, willing myself not to break down right now. I needed to focus on the tasks at hand- getting Sir food and trying to ignore the more quieted but still audible screams coming from upstairs. I needed to fill the silence, and before I could help it, I blurted out, “Who are you?”
The girl looked at me weirdly, cocking her head to one side as if wondering what caused me to talk to her. We’d never met before. Looking at her more closely, I became aware of how startlingly young she was. She could even be younger than me…and I was merely 20. Where did that scar come from?
“Reese,” she shrugged, looking down into her purse, presumably for another cigarette.
I was right. I watched her intently as she lit up another cigarette. What were her circumstances? God, maybe she could tell me where Shane always went at night, and maybe she could tell me how she met him. Did she meet him at his “work”? Where did Shane work? I knew we didn’t have long-Shane never lasted long with the women he brought home. Basically did what he needed, then dismissed them. I was quite aware of this, and I needed to be fast-and damn, did I want a cigarette.
“Where did you meet Shane?” I asked, oddly bold. Maybe it’s because I was drinking the night before and a hint of it was still in my system.
“At the…the…” she became antsy, either unsure how to answer or not wanting to say anything.
“Do you know where you are?” I asked silently, shoving as much compassion into those six words as I could to make me seem likable. I even gave a small half smile, but I pushed it back down when she replied.
“Shane McCarty, right?” she asked. I nodded solemnly. She’s not going to give anything up.
“And you are?…” she prompted a moment later as I tried to get up.
“U-uh-“ I stuttered. Do I tell her my real name? What do I do? “V-Valerie…” I muttered. “And we’re not dating,” I added for good measure. She exhaled. I hadn’t realized she was holding her breath in.
“So, you’re just another one of us?” she asked, suddenly quiet again.
I gazed down at her, confusion twisting my face into a weird fashion. Another one of them? Of who?
“What do you mean?” I asked silently, and suddenly, when her face crinkled into horror, the question of how old this girl was started nagging at me again.
“N-n-nevermind,” she said quickly, standing up abruptly. “I’ve said too much. I have to go now.”
“What?” I asked, watching her pack up her things and head for the door, mild frustration coursing through me. Where the hell was she going so quickly? What imaginary line did I overstep?
“Nothing,” she shrugged, turning her back to me. When she reached the door, she hesitated, but then turned around once more. “Just tell Lei-“ She bit her tongue. “Tell the other girl I left.”
With that, Reese closed the door as one last scream of pleasure sounded through the eerily quiet house. There was a moment of shuffling before the door upstairs unlocked, and turning to face the stairs, I noticed my mouth was hanging open. I closed it promptly.
Well, I guess that was the end of that. I could never seem to get any information out of any of the women he brought home, and Shane sure as hell wasn’t interested in telling me how he earned money and paid for me to live here too. He definitely had to have some ulterior motive that I simply wasn’t interested in inspecting, so I let it go with a sigh, picking myself up and heading for the stairs. Halfway up the stairs, I nearly ran into something.
“O-oh,” I stuttered as I lifted my eyes to meet the gaze of the other woman. Damn, she was intimidating. A bit on the bigger side, but intimidating no less.
She kept walking past with her lips pursed, but I swore I could see a slight flush on her pale cheeks, and whether it was from the acts she was just invested in or knowing I knew what she’d done, it was still there, reminding me she was still human. Then I remembered what her friend, er-whoever that girl was-wanted me to tell her.
“Oh, and the other girl here wanted me to let you know that she, er-“ The woman kept herself busy, grabbing up her bag and shoes just like the other girl, even in the same fashion. “That, um, she left,” I murmured, finishing silently. She shrugged slightly, not even bothering to look up. When she left, I had no choice but to pick up the pieces and finish my walk upstairs. I needed to keep my goal in mind-find money, get Sir food. I wouldn’t fail this time.
Since Shane’s apartment only had one bedroom, I slept in his room…but we never actually slept together. When he wasn’t home (which he usually wasn’t), I slept in here, but most nights I found the couch downstairs far more comforting than the bed in which he stripped women of their dignity on a daily basis. I stayed with him because he was fine to me, but recently his advances were coming just short of forceful, and I found myself being more careful around him.
When I walked into the room, it was slightly hotter than the rest of the apartment, and the thought made me flush a deep crimson. Avoiding eye contact after spotting Shane pulling on his jeans, I quickly scurried over to the dresser. My hands grazed the top until I spotted the handle I was looking for, the one that held all my money. I pulled it carefully open as to not disturb him.
Swiftly, I picked up my bras, and underneath I found the rest of the cash I took from home all those years ago…I had just about thirty dollars left. Shame crept over me, but I had to push it back down as I grabbed all thirty dollars. I felt like feeding Sir would make me feel slightly more whole, rather than the husk of a woman I was simply living in. Or maybe-
“Hey,” Shane breathed in my ear, suddenly appearing behind me. He threw his arms onto my ass, but I shrugged out of his embrace before he grabbed my hips, pulling me close to him.
“You’re drunk,” I said quietly as I smelled his breath. He was happy because of his previous release, but I needed to be careful before that happy façade faded and he was back to his normal self.
“You’re fuckin’ sexy,” he snarled, reaching to grab my ass again. I shrieked and jumped away, but he kept a strong hold. Why wasn’t he passed out yet? He was an angry drunk in the end, no matter how happy he was to start. And the fact that he just had sex with another woman wasn’t making me too comfortable.
“And you’re drunk,” I repeated again. When I stepped out this time, he started to let me go, but instead leaned down and kissed my neck hungrily.
“Let me fuck you,” he said quietly, then erupted in a fit of laughter as he lifted his head.
“You’re disgusting,” I said, pulling away against my restraints. In my head, I scolded myself. I was cutting it close. When he came to his senses-which would definitely be soon-I would be out on the street for making a comment like that. I was used to him making a pass at me, but he was more urgent this time. Why?
“And you’re hot as hell.” He leaned down again, kissing my lips this time. Before I could think or even move for that matter, he shoved his tongue past my slightly parted lips, invading a space that I didn’t want him near. I just wanted his apartment…did that make me a whore?
He let go and I gulped, reveling at the thought. I was a whore.
“N-no, please, not right now,” I said, gaining back some of my focus. Sir. Food. “I want to get Sir some food.”
“Sir?” he asked, managing to slur one word into a barely audible noise.
“Your dog,” I replied, turning around.
“Baby, stay,” he said.
“I said, stay!” he growled, moving forward to me. There, that was it. That was the mood change, the mercurial drunken state he somehow always found himself in. Of all of the people I could’ve housed with, why him? I shook my head, frowning as he took a nose dive for the floor. He was so drunk he could hardly even make a move at me, thank god. Grabbing the money out of the drawer in lightning speed, I darted out of the room. He was definitely passed out, but I couldn’t be sure when he would wake. He usually forgot about his passes at me, so I was good…for now.
I got home much later that night, around midnight or so. I went to the grocery store to get the food like I’d intended, but the food was expensive-more than the thirty dollars I had-so I ended up buying a pack of cigarettes and, taking a hint from Reese, spent the day bumming the entire thing in an alleyway, and then now I found myself back to the place that started me in this chapter of my “life.”
Finding an unwanted scowl on my face, I closed the door and sauntered over to the couch, plopping down. I started drifting off, the smell cigarettes dancing across my nose, willing me to sleep, but then suddenly awoke when I heard the oh-so-familiar jingle of a collar as Sir McCarty made his way over, slow as ever, and plopped down below me. His skin hung even more due to lack of food, and I sucked a breath in, regretting my entire day. No, not my day-my entire life. I was a failure, and the only person to ever believe in me-the only person to ever care-well, he was gone, and I was as good as dead to him. That would be better to think about than my failure to feed Sir once again, so with the image of Denis’ smile as he encouraged to me throw the skee ball dancing across my mind, I let go of the day and succumbed to another night of pointless sleep.