Sophie’s Father

“I have nothing to say to you.” Sophie’s father’s nose is six inches from his computer screen. “You’re lucky I haven’t sent you to a half-way-house.”

“Dad, I’m not an addict.” Sophie’s shoulder is leaning into the door frame. Her face is splotchy.

“Well, you obviously need professional help.”

“What I need is for you to care.”

“Oh I care.” He spins his chair around. “I care that my sixteen-year-old daughter is pregnant. Do you even know who the father is?”

“Daddy!” Sophie is crying again. “Don’t you know Isaac?”

He rubs his face, and stands up. “I’m sorry pumpkin. I don’t know why I said that. Of course I know Isaac. But, this baby, it goes against everything I’ve taught you.”

“I know Daddy.” She wipes her eyes with her sleeve. “I’m scared too, but I love her.”

“Her?

“Mhm.” She nods.

“You’re that far along?” He takes a couple of steps towards her, using his desk to support his weight.

“Five months.” She watches her arms hug her small round bump.

“I didn’t notice?” He grips his temples.

Sophie shakes her head.

He reaches his hand to her. “May I?”

She takes his palm, and places it on her belly. He sees her silent tears. He places one hand, and then the other, below her chin, and cradles her face in his palms. She sees her reflection in his wet eyes. He nods to her, and smiles.

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High Life

She’s missing? I’m sorry to hear that. Yeah, I remember her. She came into the bar alone. Looked like she was meeting someone, dressed for the clubs. Too be honest, I think she got stood up, cuz half way through her second High Life she ordered a shot, a Bookers. That’s 125 proof. I poured her a Jim Beam instead.

Some dude was watching her. He anticipated too much, and not in a generous way. More like the “I’m gonna get mine” vibe, you know? He knew when to go outside, so he could be there to light her cigarette. He knew to order her a manhattan, instead of a cosmo. He even knew she’d eat up that charming bull shit, holding open the door, pushing in her stool, like she was a princess, and making it big that he was spending money on her.

I told her to stay away from him, that he meant her no good. But, she puffed up that padded bra and said, “Excuse me?” He knew what I was up to, took advantage of it. Clever, huh? Put his arm around her waist, and asked if everything was okay. Like, I was the dangerous one.

They finished their drinks, and left together. I watched him guide her out the door, with his hand on her skirt.

Black Wingtips and a White Sundress

Becky tapped the toe of her Fluevog wingtips on the linoleum tiled floor. She pulled out the little piece of paper from the county clerks office, A23.

A soft voice giggled. Dahlia chatted with the man in a security uniform. She leaned against the door, and played with the hem of her white sundress. Dahlia’s eyes met Becky’s glare. She scurried into a plastic chair.  Dahlia took Becky’s hand, and leaned over to kiss the back of her ear. Becky slowly turned her head. Their tongues discreetly caressed each other’s soft lips.

It was just the two of them. None of their family had stepped foot into their new home, and they weren’t allowed in their old homes, the ones they grew up in.

Becky didn’t mind Dahlia’s clammy palms. She was nervous too, her toe still tapped the floor.

The speaker announced. “Number A23.”

Becky turned to Dahlia. “Ready?”

Dahlia smiled. “Till death do us part.”

Eight Ounces of Water

Niko’s firm shoulder cradled June’s head, and his broad hand held her close, their bodies intertwined. Beneath her palm, his chest rose, and fell, slow, and steady.  Her fingers played with the small patch of dark hair.  He wouldn’t wake for hours.

June unrolled herself from the warm bed. A cold breeze snuck in through the cracked window, collected some steam from the boiler, and tousled the fine hairs scattering her skin. She tiptoed to the bathroom, and wrapped herself in her oversized robe.

June closed the bedroom door, carefully lifting it so it wouldn’t scrape along the floor. It’s hinges squeaked, but Niko still slept.

In the kitchen, fuzzy orange light floated in through warped windows. She probably needed eight ounces of water. June put a glass under the tap. He was swimming right now, or her, like a tadpole. But it won’t ever breathe air. That’s what RU486 does, right? No air, just more water, down the toilet. Cold water wet her hand, and she turned off the tap. She set the glass on the counter, and wiped her hand on her robe.

Deep in the corner of her pocket, June found the white pill. Was she disappointed it was still there? Maybe if she was better, more deserving, not flawed just by being, maybe if she was one of those other women, not like her, those women who deserve a perfect baby, but not her.
It was already in her, damn it. Her fingers had already thrown it to the back of her throat. Her mouth had already swallowed eight ounces of water. Maybe too fast, she felt nauseous.

The Brown Jug

Kimi squeezes past the heavy door.  It slams closed.  She puts her hands into the pockets of her faded red jacket, the one with the ash burns, and waits for her eyes to adjust.  The Brown Jug is dark day, and night.

Kimi likes the stool by the wall, so she can rest her head.  “Hey no sleeping!”  A short round woman with dark hair, and light skin, shuffles against the sticky matt behind the bar.

“Double Jaeger, ginger back.”  Next to a white square napkin, Kimi tries to smooth out three crumpled five dollar bills.  “Keep the change.”

The cold black liquid goes down in one slow poor.  Holding the ginger ale in her mouth, she looks down the length of the bar.  She swallows.  Three heaps of clothes give her side glances before their gaze returns to the glasses between their fingers.  Her bar stool falls over.  The door slams her out of the cave that reflects too much.

It’s bright outside.  Kimi’s shoulders fall back against the wall, and her fingertips reach for cold concrete.    She sits, arms wrapped around her knees, her left ear sinks into her shoulder.  A few feet uphill, concrete surrounds a two foot square of dry dirt, where a tree once grew.

Wooden Door Beads

“What are you doing?”  Linda lay naked on the futon.  The wooden door beads swung into each other.

Jeff raised his voice, from the other side of the beads.  “What do you think I’m doing?”

“Are you coming home tonight?” She asked.

“I don’t know.” He said.

“Well, should I find another warm body to sleep with?”

“That’s it!  I’ve had it with you’re shit!”  Jeff threw the wooden door beads against the wall.

Linda didn’t see Jeff’s giant stride into the room.  She didn’t feel the futon sink, as he crawled towards her.  The wooden door beads were bouncing off the walls, and against each other.  When Linda bought them, at a little bead shop by the beach, they were hanging on the wall behind the counter. They were still, then.  Something wet made Linda scrunch her face.

“Look at me!

Linda blinked, and tried to open her eyes, but her eyelids wanted to shield her from the saliva, spraying from Jeff’s mouth.

“Look at Me!”

Thick black hair scratched soft pale skin where Jeff held his knee over Linda’s bare chest.  His sweaty palms cupped her ears, and his fingers dug into her skull.  Jeff noticed his reflection, in the television.  He jumped off Linda.  “Look what you made me do!”

Linda heard the wooden door beads crash against the wall, and the front door slam closed.  She lifted her head.  Her naked body still lay on the disheveled futon.  Her chest heaved, but no tear’s would come.