Previous – Faded Rhythm
Minutes ago, I was inches away from sleeping with my neighbor. Until mom took it upon herself to bring everything Misa and I wanted to a crashing halt.
Prior to placing a hole in Misa’s front door with her lethal heels, mom crashed her convertible into Misa’s white jalopy. I grit my teeth, staring at the damage inflicted. How did I not hear this when it happened? The entire back end of Misa’s car is caved in.
By my estimate, if mom didn’t have her seatbelt on, she would’ve gone straight through the windshield.
Is it bad I wish that for her right now?
Hmm. Evil never dies.
I grab her purse from the ruined car and head back inside. Mom is laying on my couch in her spotless white dress, apparently nursing a migraine.
I remember what she said at Misa’s door, apartment 134, where’s his whores? Now I understand. She’s looking for my stepmothers, Tehanie and Lux. They previously lived in apartment 134 while Dad lived across from them in my current apartment. He told me about it the day I moved in.
That’s how they met—while he was dating mom…
But it’s how I know Misa and I are meant for each other. I’m pissed at mom for ruining everything we shared this evening. Misa needs a new vehicle, a door. Grim Systems lawyers will come and speak to her about what happened and make her sign a non-disclosure agreement. If we start a relationship, she’ll likely be terrified of my family. She may not trust our future kids to be with their grandma. Or avoid her altogether, causing distress on both sides.
I’m getting ahead of myself.
I turn the lights on and throw mother’s purse down by the couch. She leaps up, looks at me, then falls back down. Her arm drapes dramatically across her eyes.
“Turn the light off. It hurts.” She murmurs.
“Fuck your light.” I snap.
“You ruined my night! You crashed into my girl’s car, you put a hole in her damn door.”
“Your girl? Shh, Mili.”
“No! You shut up. Dad is on his way here—”
She looks up, slack jawed. “He is?”
“I don’t understand why you did that.”
“Because you need help!”
“No thanks to you and your father.” She slumps back down, curling into a ball. “Can I have a blanket?”
I go to my linen closet, throw her a blanket, then retreat to my bedroom. Mom will never understand that she causes her own misery.
It’s morning. I’m in the kitchen making breakfast, listening to my parents arguing. Dad arrived but mom refuses to leave with him, citing unresolved issues from the past which made her take pills from a stranger at her hotel bar last night.
While they go at it, I sneak over to Misa’s with a hot plate of waffles, whipped cream, and a side of strawberries. She said this was her favorite when we were talking last night.
“Hi!” Misa smiles. She’s already at her door with towel wrapped hair wearing that yellow dress I love.
We hug. Waves of relief wash over me in her gold light. She feels soft and smells like sweet grapefruit.
“Hey.” I whisper in her ear.
Ah. Thank goodness she’s not upset.
I remember her totaled car.
Misa stares at me like she already knows something is wrong. “What is it?” she asks.
“I have to tell you something… about your car.”
“What about it?”
“Well…. My mom took pills last night and lost her mind.”
“Yeah?” Misa stares at the hole in her door.
“She crashed into it.”
“Into what?” her gray-blue eyes widen. “My car?”
“I’m so sorry, Misa.”
She runs out the door. I chase after her to the parking lot.
Misa’s hand is over her mouth, staring at my mom’s rampage.
“My brother got me that car.”
“Grim Systems will replace it today, as well as your door. Whatever you want, no questions asked.”
“My brother got me that car.” Misa whispers again, shaking her head.
“I’m so sorry—”
I watch her shaking hands ball into fists at her sides.
“I’m sure he won’t mind…”
“HE’S DEAD!” Misa screams.
She storms past me and runs back into her apartment.
Misa mentioned a tragedy in her life briefly last night, then changed the subject fast.
I remember when I found her in the Crown People Search database. It said NLK in her profile, no living kin.
How did I forget she doesn’t have a family?
I follow her, knocking desperately at her door.
Tap, ta-tap, ta-tap, ta-tap, ta-tap.
She doesn’t answer.
I turn the knob, but it’s locked.
Tap, ta-tap, ta-tap, ta-tap, ta-tap.
I look through the hole. Her forever sunflower is standing inside watching me. It hops away on its little green stem to Misa’s bedroom at the sound of her crying.
Misa let me in.
I text her. No answer.
Please, I will make things better.
I call and call and call. All of them go straight to voicemail.
She hates me…
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