Monday, January 20, 2014

City Meets Girl

Hi guys :) my life is really busy at this particular moment in time... because of finalssss! So there isn't much news I want to share about my own personal going ons. I don't think there will be that many posts this week but I couldn't not post this for you guys :) I'm not sure how many are following the story but here is the second chapter!

Hmm, I haven't done a state of the union in a while so I think I'm just going to summarize a couple + points in my life.
+Vampire Weekend! <3 I absolutely love Vampire Weekend! They're upbeat sort of sarcastic music is growing on me and some really good study music!
+Google plus hangouts! Perfect for a late night econ study sesh
+Snapchat filterssss! so coool!
+exercise! (I've gained so much weight.....)
+Dress shopping! (all them junior girls are excited about dress shopping and I have to wait at least another MONTH, no fairrrrr)
+notecard making > studying (hehehehhe stat)

Enjoy the story!


Small town, Big Me

         Hans hands me the first paycheck. I haven’t been doing anything, except learning. It’s hard waking up that early but I’ve mostly gotten used to it. I’ve met most of the quirky townspeople while working my shifts. I haven’t met most of the bumheads who wander in because they’re not married or they’re waiting for these legendary parties to begin. Ashley still hasn’t given me more information on those. I haven’t found out anything more about Hans or Ashley and Ray has only visited me once, merely to pick up coffee. For a guy who was so interested in me earlier, he hasn’t followed up. Maybe he decided that my story was just too much for him.
         “You’re doing well,” he says, snapping me back to reality.
         “I haven’t visited Betty at the bookstore yet but I will soon. I need to read up on mechanics to learn how these machines work.”
         “Go easy tiger,” he says playfully punching me. “It’s your first week here. You can afford to slow down.”
         “Thanks Hans.” Ashley isn’t in the office yet and it just feels a lot emptier. “How are you related to Ashley?” It’s about nine in the morning and the busy morning coffee rush is over. The smell of distinguished cologne has finally disappeared from the confines of the café. “Is she your girlfriend?” A bemused smile rolls across his face.
         “No, not exactly. We’re old friends and bound to get married one day.”
         “Oh,” I say, trying not to make it obvious that I’m disappointed. There’s no chance I would settle down here but it’s still disheartening to hear. “Did you guys go to the same high school?”
         “Yeah, I left for college, just the state school over the hills. I came back when they needed a new owner for this place. Life isn’t exciting but it’s nice around here. What about you? What is a young, pretty girl like you doing in this town?” I blush, against all my efforts, and push hair back behind my ear.
         “You think I’m pretty?”
         “Is that all you heard?” He laughs and I can’t help but to laugh along, as if I’ve forgotten everything.
         “I moved here because I needed to slow down,” I say, tempted to repeat his words. “I’ve always been a tiger.”
         “That doesn’t surprise me.” Hans doesn’t ask any more questions and I look at the machines once more. I wonder what he does all day, what anyone does all day. I hear the bell ring and my attention buzzes. We haven’t had a single customer after the rush between seven and eight. Most mornings are slow. I peek up and cross my fingers that Ray wanted a coffee, or just to see me, during the morning. I can’t imagine that he actually has patients in the morning, or ever.
         “That’s Mindy,” Hans whispers to me. I immediately turn around but realize that Ashley isn’t at work yet. Ashley fills me in on who everyone is and some juicy bit of gossip that Hans usually doesn’t include in his introductions. Usually none of the more exciting people turn up in the afternoon hours.
         “Good afternoon, Mindy.” She’s by herself but I can already tell that I don’t like her. I’ve met almost the entire town in my first week but very few people have been around my age. Mindy has reddish orange hair and almost everything about her is a scarlet tint. Her dress only comes to her mid thigh and her ruby red heels are frighteningly high. I haven’t seen anyone here dressed like that. I shudder at the memories it brings back. I’m back to wearing “mom jeans” in a faded blue color. I can tell Mindy is judging everything about me. I look out the window and see her cherry red convertible parked outside. Girls like her are dangerous and usually bad news.
         “I’ll just get the latte with whip cream.” Her voice isn’t nasally and annoying as I thought it would be. She’s still full of hot air and herself.
         “Mindy, you know we don’t have that, yet.” Her eyebrows almost have a seizure when she hears the yet. She leans up close to the counter and Hans looks like he’s having a good time. I wonder if she’s still in high school.
         “Daddy says . . .” she starts to say. I tone it out. I’ve met too many girls like her. “I graduate this year.” Her story is just as predictable as anyone else here, except maybe Hans. He just has an air of mystery to him. I can’t figure him out. Mindy, on the other hand, is a younger version of Ashley with a lot more money. She’ll be part of the PTA club and buying thousand dollar dresses to make up for the lack of excitement and fulfillment. She’ll marry someone like Ray’s uncle right out of high school.
         “Brie, c’mon, are you there?” I blink a couple times and realize that I have a job to do. “She ordered a decaf with whip.” I nod and press the button. Three minutes later, the coffee is done and I pour the cream on. I hand the coffee to her and she doesn’t give me another look. Hans rings up the order and chats with her for a couple more minutes. I wonder if he’s into girls like her. We don’t say anything.
         Ashley saunters in around twelve thirty. She’s wearing dark sunglasses and looks like she had another rough night.
         “You can’t keep doing that,” Hans says in a low voice. I take it as my cue to leave. I know Ray usually goes to the diner to eat lunch so I head over there. I blame it on the friendless situation of this town but deep down, I know it’s not so innocent. The waitresses exchange glances once I come in. I can see them picking straws to see who’ll take my order. I’m not popular around town but I didn’t realize that I was this hated. I look around casually but Ray is nowhere to be seen. I sit down in the far corner and wait for someone to give me a menu.
         “Have you seen Ray?” I ask the waitress even before she hands me the menu. “I haven’t seen him much.” I saw him last week but that’s not important in the long scheme of things. Hilda, today’s waitress, wears an apologetic look as she asks me if I want anything to drink.
         “Sorry Brie, he hasn’t been here in a long time.” Hilda avoids eye contact. Ray isn’t popular around here either. We don’t have that country feel or the satisfaction from living here. I order a small plate of eggs and an apple cider. None of the other people here are alone. I wish I had friends, anyone to talk to. I leave half an hour later. Any longer would be a crime to these people. I walk to the little bookstore around the corner. Betty is engrossed in another book and I try my best not to disturb her. The selection of books is small but there is no other alternative. I pass the section with cookbooks and the paperback romantic novels. From the corner of my eye, I spot a mechanics book in almost perfect condition about coffee machines. What are the odds? I take out a fiver from my ratty purse and pay her.
         “Good catch,” she says looking up from her book. She’s a frail old lady and yet we do the same amount of work. I walk back to the apartments and run up to the second floor. Elevators make me feel uneasy. My legs feel restless from the lack of exercise in the morning. I sit on the bed and start reading about how to make lattes and operate the machine.
         I wake up with a startling jolt. The watch reads two, in the morning I presume. The phone is ringing. I barely get any phone calls but there’s something that prevents me from cancelling the contract completely. Who in the world could be calling at this time? I sit up and try to think back to when I fell asleep. The mechanics book is still open and the light is humming in the background. I grimace while thinking about the gas bill for this month. I let out a sleepy yawn and the phone stops ringing. I hop off the bed to turn off the light when the phone starts ringing again. It’s probably an emergency. I have no choice but to pick up.
         “Hello?” Anyone could tell that I just woke up.
         “Hey Brie,” I can hear a familiar voice. I can almost see Ray with a childish smile, just waiting to say ‘Hey Brie.’
         “Ray, what do you want at this time?”
         “You never finished your story.”
         “I was work in five hours!” I can hear him laughing in the background.
         “You sound so serious, city girl.”
         “Well I did get a job in the past week.”
         “I tried calling before! You didn’t answer.” I figure that’s probably true. Even if my job is barely strenuous, I’ve still come home exhausted. “Can we meet somewhere?” I take a deep breath.
         “There’s nowhere open.”
         “Your house.” Is he trying to pull something? My suspicion spikes up but I’ve missed human company way too much.
         “Fine, ring the doorbell when you get here.” I try to comb out my hair but like usual, it’s not cooperating. I pull a sweater over my nightgown and put a kettle on the stove. Exactly twelve minutes later, we’re sitting at the kitchen table drinking tea. I only have two mugs and two chairs so it’s partly fate that I never have any guests over.
         “What do you want?” I ask, letting out another yawn.
         “I was bored, city girl.” He’s in his work clothes and looks as nice as ever. I’m a bedraggled mess, literally.
         “Is the city girl thing going to be a norm?”
         “Yep.” He doesn’t look tired at all. I wonder why he can’t call me at a normal time like any other person in this town. “So we have a story to continue, don’t we?”
         “I don’t know where I left off. Can we just eat lunch somewhere tomorrow?”
         “My stomach can’t take another beating at the diner.”
         “Can’t you come over for lunch at my house then?” He and I both know that I would’ve never let him in if he called at one in the afternoon. Ray has a devilish grin on his face. He’s enjoying this moment way too much. I sigh but know that there’s no point in resisting. “Where was I?”
         “You just finished childhood and now you’re getting to how and why you’re here.” His voice is animated and lively. I’m a bit jealous to be honest.
         “This is a very long story, so I’ll tell you one part, okay? And then I need to sleep.”
         “Fine, fine,” he says taking a long sip of tea. “Don’t you have any biscuits?”
         “Why are you so demanding at two in the morning? Anyways. Let’s see. I couldn’t go to college because I had almost no funds and Talla was threatening me. There was only one logical thing to do. I pretended to give up on college and scoped out my real mother. It took a few months of research to find anything solid on her. Her name was Abigail Peters and she retired from the show biz. She was working as a waitress in Los Angeles and I knew this was my one-way ticket out of this hellhole I was in. I laid low for a few more months. I stole fifty dollars every two weeks and soon I had enough for a bus ticket and some emergency funds.”
         “Are you serious? You left San Francisco for this unknown dangerous place at fourteen?” Ray has a better memory than I gave him credit for. He did go to college after all.
         “The plan was to have her take me in and raise money somehow for a college education. We can see that worked out swimmingly.”
         “Did you find her?”
         “Of course. Of course I found Abigail Peters with a bit of luck and Google searching. She was horrified that I was there. She didn’t even really remember me until I graphically described the events that had taken place when she was a showgirl. Abigail lived in this ugly trailer by herself, which was sort of a relief. It was stupid of me not to call her first. I was, justly, worried that she’d tell me not to come. She was my only hope, except in my memory she was an angel figure. You know, with streaming blonde hair and a golden heart. I had made up incredulous stories about her and how she was a secret agent that was pretending to be a showgirl. At fourteen I was too naïve.” I pause. I don’t know why I’m telling him this. I don’t know why I let him in. I had a resolve not to talk to him ever again. I need a new friend, I realize once again.
         “You can’t just stop there. Where’d you go?”
         “Well I lived in Los Angeles for exactly six months. I convinced Abigail to let me just stay in her trailer for three months. I was hoping that as my mother she would feel sympathy and compassion for me after a set period of time. She may have been apprehensive at first but I believed she would come to love her only daughter. I was wrong and after three months she kicked me out.”
         “What did you do for the three months that you were there?”
         “Abigail didn’t remember my name and during this point in time I was Gina Sweetie. It sounds just like a name a hooker would choose,” I say with a little smile. “I tried taking some classes at community college but it didn’t go down so well. Even those classes are expensive for a kid who doesn’t have any money. I was saving my money like a maniac. I didn’t trust Abigail enough, and for good reason. I was on the news a couple times because my father was extremely worried that his genius child had been kidnapped. I’m sure the search would’ve gone longer had Talla not existed. I don’t think I would’ve left home if Talla hadn’t existed. Abigail did me one favor though by not turning me into the police. I mostly worked at the restaurant Abigail worked at and learned what it was like to live in LA. There was a steep learning curve. Gina was a sweet girl who was too innocent for her own good.”
         “There are scholarships though and grants and other ways to get to college.”
         “I didn’t even have an address okay? I didn’t have any of my school records with me. To anyone else who met me in LA, I was basically a run away.” I am always defensive about college. All these savings are going towards that anyway.
         “Okay, sorry,” Ray says. His face is pinkish and it’s sort of endearing how embarrassed he is. “So did you go back home once Abigail kicked you out?”
         “No, I became someone new. I was incredibly hurt when Abigail told me my three months were up and that she was going to call the police on me. I was Isla Peters after that. Isla was still fourteen, nearing fifteen, and had no place to go. Los Angeles is a scary place, especially for a homeless kid. I was lucky though. I hung around a flower shop all the time because it was sheltered and in the middle of main street LA. There aren’t many other slums or homeless people there. The shopkeeper, Diane Winslow, was a compassionate lady who could’ve been my mother. I’m sure if I were her daughter, she would’ve just taken my word for it. Diane gave me a home and a job. We lived right across from the beach and it was one of the happier times in my life.”
         “Why did you leave Diane?”
         “I had to leave.” I turn away from him momentarily.
         “Describe Isla to me.” He seems to sense it too. He leans back but his hands are so close to touch. I don’t reach out.
         “Isla, the girl who loves the beach. That’s who Isla really was. I would arrange flowers in the morning and sometimes carry a basket out to the people on the beach and sell them. Isla was a beautiful girl—,” I start to say. I can smell the ocean breezes and the way my hair has tangled up, but in a natural wave like motion. My feet are buried under the hot sand as I sit there contemplating everything. The seagulls cry out above and circle the air just like lifeguards. People are shouting everywhere but I don’t hear anything except the calm and serenity of the ocean waves.
         “You are beautiful,” Ray says with more conviction than the first time he politely complimented me. He never saw me as Isla. I would do cartwheels along the sand without any care who saw my underwear peeking out from the long skirts I always wore. I always greeted the people peddling cotton candy and life vests along the ocean. Ray reaches out and holds my hand. I freeze and time stops around me. I forget about Isla and the life I had by the sea.
         “I went swimming every morning and wore flower crowns on my head. I was the type of girl you see on the cover of fashion magazines and the one that tourists ask for pictures with. I was carefree, Ray.” He holds my hand tighter. “I never wore shoes despite the warning signs depicting broken glass and bloody feet.”
         “Stop it, Brie. Brie, Brie.” The lull of his voice brings me back to the present. I shake and his hands move to my shoulders. Can’t see that my memories hurt me? Can’t he see that at all? “Brie, you don’t have to say anything more. Come here.” It’s three thirty now and all signs of logical function are gone. I stand up and sob into his shoulder. I barely know him and yet here I am. I’m not Isla anymore. I’m not carefree. I’m not free. The tears come gushing out. I know that I’m Brie now and Brie doesn’t cry. Nothing make sense to me anymore.
         “Shhhh,” Ray says. He leans to kiss me and I impulsively reach out to touch him. Our lips touch but he jolts away. He runs his fingers through my hair and we don’t talk about what just happened. His voice is calming and I feel myself dozing off. I don’t want to remember any more. I don’t want to remember any more.
         I wake up the next morning with puffy eyes. I’m in my own bed and I freak out when I see a sleeping Ray next to me. We’re both fully clothed and I feel a sense of relief. I shake him awake and glance down at my watch. It’s seven thirty. There aren’t any missed calls but I know this time is the rush hour.
         “Shit, what happened?” He seems almost disappointed that I’m still wearing a shirt.
         “I’m not sure,” I lie. “I have work though.” The emotional girl is gone. In her place is the regular Brie I’m used to. I brush my hair a couple times and change into faded jeans and a long red shirt. He leaves with me and I see the mugs from yesterday. We walk to work together but neither of us says anything about the events that have taken place.
         “I’ll see you around,” he says with a little smile. I try to smile back, but I can’t. Hans doesn’t seem angry and I watch in awe for a moment as he works the coffee machines. It’s hard to believe that a man of that capability and acumen can’t make a latte. I wonder why Ashley doesn’t work the register. He definitely has a more complicated story than he cares to share.
         By week three, I can finally work the coffee machine into submission. I’m making lattes and all sorts of cool drinks that weren’t available before. Business is booming and Hans seems proud of me. I slowly teach Ashley in the afternoons when there aren’t any customers. She’s coming in to work by eleven in the morning now. Things seem to have gotten better. In my three weeks here, I haven’t had any run ins with Mindy. I rarely see Ray. After that one night he barely ever calls me anymore. Sometimes he comes to pick up his coffee and check in on how I’m doing. He’s the only person in this whole town who orders his coffee black. He doesn’t ask about my past anymore, which is a good thing.
         “Do you want any help with the people around town?” Ashley asks one afternoon. She can make lattes and other frothy drinks now. We’ve added some caramel and vanilla to our toolbox. Hans still doesn’t talk much. I haven’t learned anything new about either of them.
         “Who exactly is Ray Concha?”
         “Now you stay away from that boy,” Ashley says. Her calm demeanor suddenly flares into rage. “Stay away from Ray. I know he seems like a nice guy but he’s not.” I think back to the way other people cower in his presence.  I wait for Ashley to continue.
         “I’m friends with Ray, Ashley, relax.”
         “How much has he told you about himself?”
         “He told me about his uncle,” I challenge her. “He seems really open about everything.”
         “It’s not your story to tell,” Hans abruptly interjects. “Ashley, do not tell her.”
         “Tell me what?”    
         “Do you want to know why Ray came back to this town?”
         “His father needed surgery but they didn’t have money. Ray’s only here as long as his uncle is out of town.”
         “That’s partly true,” Ashley begins to say. Han’s face becomes pale with anger.
         “Ashley! Do not tell her!”
         “She is part of this town too. She deserves to know.” I feel shivers running up my spine. What could possibly be so bad? “It’s true that his father needs surgery and that his uncle is a complete scumbag. Did he tell you about college?” Hans begins to rap his knuckles against the counter.
         “Yeah, well sort of. We skipped that part.”

         “That’ll be enough Ashley! Get back to work!” It’s the first time I’ve ever heard Hans yell.

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