Sneek Peek ~~ Chapter 6

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“‘Cheap knit crap from the dollar store’,” I mimic Tiresa’s self-righteous tone. “‘I’m even willing to buy you a decent dress’.” I scowl as I examine the black dress which had been purchased for the date with Wesley. It was more than decent—in fact, it had cost a bit more than I could reasonably afford—and would fit in with Tiresa’s and Mika’s engagement party, which was certain to be on par with a black tie affair. Now I just needed a new pair of shoes since the heel broke off my sandal.

I park my car just off Trafalgar Street and make my way down the crowded sidewalk toward Hannah’s Shoes, where I hoped to purchase the same sandals I bought for the date with Wesley. There weren’t many styles in my size, let alone could accommodate my fat feet, so I often bought a couple pair of the same shoes.

At a corner I run into Cat. “Cat! How are you?” I ask.

I was the first to befriend Cat, who has lived on the street for a decade. Initially, I felt sorry for her and gave her an old winter coat of mine, which progressed to spare change here and there, then invitations to have coffee. Feeling sorry for Cat didn’t do any good, however. Her mind half gone from alcohol and a successful career lost, Cat survives quite well on the streets, her brutal honesty put to good use and her “It could be worse” attitude keeping her afloat

She looks at me up and down. “I see you’re finally off your face,” she comments.

“Uh, yeah,” I stammer. “Thanks for checking in on me the other night. It was a pretty horrible night.”

“Try living on the streets,” Cat retorts unsympathetically.

I sigh. Typical Cat: unsympathetic at best, uncouth at worst. “Where are you headed?”

She shrugs. “Nowhere, last I checked.”

“I’m going shoe shopping. Want to come along?” I invite. She falls into step next to me, both of us shuffling along, me from my weight and her from having nowhere to go in particular and being older. “So are you going to give me back my sleeping pills?”

“Nope. Sold those to a drug dealer.”

“You didn’t!”

“It’s a living,” she shrugs and glances down. “What do you need new shoes for? Not going on another date, are you?”

“Tiresa and Mika’s engagement party.”

“Well, well, aren’t we the glutton for punishment,” she cackles.

I stop and stand aside to let another pedestrian pass by, the sidewalk is so packed. Most people avoid contact with Cat because of her smell and looks, but my size makes me little harder to circumnavigate in a crowd. “I’m just trying to keep the peace in the family for Mama Rose’s sake. Otherwise I wouldn’t go near the place, not for a million dollars.”

“The poor can’t afford to be choosey,” she intones.

I accidentally jostle her when another pedestrian rushes by. “Oops, sorry. It’s not about poverty. It’s about pride. I can live with being poor, but I at least like to hold up my head with some dignity. Having my ex and sister publicly rub their affair in my face isn’t worth winning the lottery.”

Sneek Peak~~Chapter 2

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Pa lives eight kilometers from my house.  It’s an easy drive distance-wise, but a hard one knowing what I’ll find at the end of the journey.

Pa doesn’t use his front door so I slip around the side to the sliding glass patio door—another tormentor to remind me of how I look.

I slide open the door.  “Pa?  It’s me,” I call.

“Right here,” he mumbles and stirs in his recliner chair.

“Did I wake you up?  I’m sorry,” I say.

“I dozed off just now” he claims.  There’s a crossword puzzle a pencil on his lap.  “How’s my girl?” he asks as I lean down to give him a hug and a peck on the cheek.

Pa is the most constant thing in my life, a sweet man with a fiery Scottish temper when aroused, which wasn’t often.  Though only 54, he looks a decade older from the trauma of fighting—and beating—cancer.  His body was still emaciated, though.

“What brings you by?” Pa asks with his warm smile.

“Can’t a girl visit her pa for no reason but that she loves him?” I tease.

Pa studies my face and I know I can’t hide this most recent hurt from him.  “Come on, now.  Tell me what’s wrong.  There’s no use holding it in, you know.”

I ease down onto the old sofa, its springs groaning in protest under my weight.

“Well?  Get on with it,” he orders kindly.

I burst into tears.  “Oh Pa!”  I sob.  “Tiresa and Mika are getting married.  I found out through Mama Rose, who wants me to go to the engagement party and the wedding just because they’re family.  It’s not fair.  Why doesn’t anyone take my side?  Mika abandons me and Abe and Fi and Tiresa stabs me in the back, but I’m expected to be nice and act like nothing’s wrong!”  I bury my face in my hands and let the tears flow.

Pa rises form his chair and comes over to wrap his arms around me.  Emaciated as they are, they are the strongest arms in the world to me.

“What did I do to deserve this?  I quit school to marry him.  I stayed at home to take care of the house and the kids, but I still wasn’t good enough.  Tiresa swoops in and steals my husband and now she’s trying to steal my kids and be their stepmum.  Soon Abe and Fi won’t like me and won’t want to see anymore.  They can give them toys and games and everything while I have to scrimp and save for months to buy things.  She did it on purpose.  She did it because she’s a mean, spiteful komo mai tainga!”  I didn’t know much of the Samoan language, but I did know the curse words.  “Oh, Pa, why does this happen to me?”

I continue to cry while Pa holds me, patting my back and murmuring something soothing yet unintelligible.  Continue reading “Sneek Peak~~Chapter 2”