2. Spark

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Of all the men Ray brought home, Trenton was the worst. Outside of the often visible and audible PDA they engaged in, he never seemed to leave. Reagan, now 15, usually ignored her mother’s company, since they never stuck around long anyway.

Reagan stood in the bathroom, snapping pictures of herself in the new striped shirt she’d purchased with her first paycheck. She’d felt him creep past a few times, but ignored him. If he was hovering for the bathroom, he could wait; this was HER house.

The last time he walked by, he lingered in the doorway. Even though he was obviously homeless, his clothes and shoes were always brand new. “Don’t you think those shorts are too short?” he said. Reagan turned to see his eyes snap back upward to her face.
“What?” she said. Normally, she’d answer respectfully, since he was an adult, but she didn’t take kindly to her mother’s company talking to her. At all.
“You got…a lot going on. I don’t want anyone getting the wrong idea about you,” he said. By now, he was obviously looking at her body with more than concern. Reagan reached the handle and slammed the door in his face.
 
She remained there for the rest of the afternoon. Alma marched up the stairs and banged on the door with all the strength her palm could muster. “Reagan Mae Dobson, you better get the hell out my bathroom before I tear this door off the frame!”

Reagan opened the door, now clad in her grandmother’s robe. “I thought you had somewhere to be. Why are you in my robe?” Reagan tried to open her mouth and tell her grandmother what happened but she closed it. The only thing she felt was shame and couldn’t handle whatever her grandmother would say. She crossed the hall into her bedroom and shut the door.

Alma was on her heels, joining her in the room before the latch could catch in the doorframe. “Reagan, talk to me,” Alma said. She knew something was wrong with her granddaughter and she feared the worst.
“Trenton told me my shorts were too short.”
“Well, who the hell is he? If I bought them, they’re okay.”
“No. It’s not that,” Reagan said, folding her arms across her chest. She couldn’t shake the disgust that snaked up her spine. Alma sat on the bed next to her granddaughter, patient as she waited for her reply.
“It was the way he…looked at me. Like he does when he follows Mah into another room.”
“Lust,” Alma sighed. Beneath the surface of her smooth cocoa skin, she was fuming.
“Talking about he didn’t ‘want anyone to get the wrong idea about me’,” Reagan said. She roughly wiped away the tears that had begun to fall, annoyed she’d become this emotional again. Alma pulled the girl into her chest and held her. “You didn’t do anything wrong, Reagan. You’re a good girl, you always have been and I promise that it will never happen again, as long as you are under this roof and there is breath in my body.”

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Handsome

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The cardboard box in Marie’s front seat jingled as the car came to a halt. It had recently been filled with her personal items from a cramped desk after she was emailed a layoff notice. She sighed as she yanked her purse from beneath it and left the car.

Woody’s was her normal haunt on the weekends, a means of celebrating her often short-lived weekends with her friends. During the week, like this particular Wednesday, the place resembled a ghost town.
“Whiskey, please. Make it a double,” she said, perching on one of the lesser worn stools at the end of the bar. The bartender, one of the weekday workers, poured the drink swiftly and slid it in front of her. Marie downed the drink in one gulp.
“Another one, please.”
“Looks like you had the same kind of day I had,” said the man several seats away.

She hadn’t noticed him, at first. She’d been too preoccupied with her drink choice before deciding it didn’t matter; it wasn’t as if she had to work in the morning. Now, looking at him, he was far more attractive than his surroundings. “Well, I just lost a really cushy job. Of course, they wanted me to finish the day first,” she said, taking a sip from the fresh glass in front of her.
“I guess we both learned how little we matter today,” he said. His words stung a little deeper than she expected.
“I’m sorry. My girlfriend…she left me today,” he said, shaking his head before sipping the clear drink in front of him.
“Her loss,” Marie said, raising her glass and taking a sip as well. The man wiped his hand on his jeans before extending it to Marie, leaning across the seats between them.
“Jefferson,” he said with a grin.
“Marie.” Continue reading

Photograph

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“I wanna meet this girl who’s been occupying all my baby’s time,” Ricky’s mother, Phyllis, said. Before her son could reply, the waiter returned and deposited their brunch in front of them.

“Things are still new. I don’t wanna chase her away,” Ricky laughed before scooping potatoes into his mouth.

“Tell me all about her.”

“She’s wonderful, really. Smart, funny, gorgeous. She keeps me in check.”

“I love her already.” Time with his mother was precious to Ricky, since he’d so nearly lost her at the beginning of the year. The one thing she wanted was to know her son would be taken care of. He hadn’t told his mother, but he’d already begun falling in love with Alex.

“You should bring her to the barbecue this weekend. I promise, no grilling,” Phyllis said, mimicking the Boy Scouts pledge.

“I’m going to see her tonight so I’ll bring it up. No promises,” Ricky said. He was excited that his mother was excited about his new relationship, especially since she had been so negative about the girls he liked.

“Just promise me you’ll try and make this work. Treat her with all the respect and dignity you show me,” Phyllis said, taking her son’s hand. Ricky smiled and nodded, giving his mother a squeeze back.

“I promise.” Continue reading

DSW

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It was inevitable that I’d sell my body for money. Most of the girls I graduated high school with went on to procure dance cards to gyrate under hot lights the day after our matriculation. It was just the environment we’d become products of: most of our mothers were slaves to their vices, leaving us defenseless in homes throughout the county. One way or another, a man would make us victims, by force or voice. Continue reading

More of the Same

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The stove’s clock changed to 10:52 silently. The flat was dark, except for the dim light that shined in from outside. Sonia sat at the dining room table, spinning her 3rd glass of cognac between her fingers. The last 6 years had been the same: her husband would walk out the door for work and manage to find his way between the legs of a young co-ed. Marcus was beautiful and charming in the beginning. He’d lavished her with gifts and trips, promising that she was the only woman he’d ever loved. They consummated their relationship in the balmy waters of Santorini & they were inseparable from then on. The first year they were married was everything she’d hoped. He spoiled her, prompting to her to quit the measly desk work she’d believed was her career. He helped her mother & sister move to a better home in a better community and doted on his wife, loving her as largely as he could. Continue reading

The Trouble with Diamonds: Fourteen

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Dorian didn’t feel right about Noelle’s plan. “Let me come with you,” he said again, his hand reaching out for her. “No. You’re my ace in the hole. If this goes south, I’m gonna need you.” Her words stirred him, wondering if they were meant for more than just tonight. Before he could speak or move, she was out of the car and walking into the darkness. He huffed and pulled out his cell phone.

The risk was just too great. Continue reading

The Trouble With Diamonds: Twelve

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Everything had happened too fast. Bullets ricocheted through the room as Dorian grabbed Noelle from the floor. “We gotta go! We have to go now!” he screamed at her. He never released her hand as he began to run through the pane glass window and down into the icy river. Continue reading