I stand up straight, and I don't know how I do it, but instead of snapping, I smile and say "I'm fine." He looks at me, skeptical. "Lena, don't lie to me." I clench my fists. "Look, if Claudia being here bothered you, all you gotta do is tell me." he says. Do I really have to tell you Bruno?! I shake my head. "You're working, why would that bother me." I tell him. He doesn't turn his eyes away from me. I look in the mirror and play with my hair. He comes up behind me and puts his arms around my waist. My body kind of stiffens. I'm not used to his touch anymore. He holds onto me, tight. "Lena, I know I'm hardly home and I'm always working, but I love you, you know that right?" he says. I smile again, and kiss his cheek, breathing in his colonge. All the screaming, all the words that have been built up, run in circles in my head and I feel like it's going to explode. How can he not realize what he's doing?! Why doesn't he see that he's hurting me? "Of course Bruno." I say. He sighs. "I wish I could tell you that I'm gonna take you out to dinner, or go to the beach, or just stay home and watch a movie, but... I have to work." He says. I nod. "I know Bruno. I understand." I tell him. He looks genuinely sorry, and I can feel my heart breaking. Sacrificing is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. He leans forward, and I sublty turn my head. His lips linger for a few seconds, and I can feel his breath on my neck. He presses his mouth down softly on my skin, and leaves them there. My body tingles. My fingers instinctevly reach up to his soft, brown, perfect curly hair. His hands rest on my waist, and he pulls me towards him. I feel electricity throughout my whole body. He softly nudges my nose with his. I resist the natural urge to tilt my head up, and meet his lips. I can't. "Kiss me." he says, his voice coming out raspy and hushed. I don't move. "Please.. Lena." he says, pleading. I sigh, and wrap my arms around him instead. He squeezes me, his hands and face in my hair. "I think you should get back to work." The words get stuck in my throat. Having him here, showing me attention, feeling his kiss and touch, and not knowing when I'm going to feel all of that again is way worse than knowing him and Claudia are together in the next room. All I want is for him to go. I hear and feel him breathe deep. Without a word, he lets me go, and quickly exits the room. I collapse on the bed, fighting the internal emotional battle that is existing within me. I can feel us separating. The love is still there, but the fight, and drive to be with each other, is fading fast. I know he feels it. But were going about it different ways. He's trying to bring back what we had. To keep it alive. I'm breaking away and letting it go. Something as simple as giving him a kiss, would bring it all back for me, and I can't sit there and be in love with someone that's never there. I thought that I would be able to be by his side and always be there for him, but I obviously can't. 8 months of going to bed alone, coming home to an empty house, communicating through texts, not even phone calls, waking up and knowing the chances I won't see him today are great, has taken it's toll on me. So much, that tears and feelings are going numb. Instead of crying or screaming, it all stays inside, in that little bottle in the pit of my stomach. And now all I can do is smile.......
* * * *
I can't remember the last time I called Mami. Which I guess is pretty bad. I've been thinking about her a lot. I pick up the phone and dial her number. "Hola mija." Her sweet singsong voice vibrates through my ears, and everything in the world is right and normal, just by hearing her say those two words. "Te extrano Mami." I tell her simply. "I miss you more mijita." she says, and I can hear her smiling. I sigh. "Make sure this is really what you want." she says. I jump up, and stare at the phone. "How'd-- What do--" I stutter. "Lo senti. Pudeo sentirte mija." She says. I close my eyes. Explains how Ahmity feels me all the time too. "Mami, things aren't the same. I can't do this anymore." I tell her. "Make sure this is really what you want." she repeats. I scrunch my eyes shut and clench the phone. That's not helping me. Instead it's confusing me more than I already am. "Mamiiiiii.." I whine. She laughs lightly. "Ya estas grande mi hija." she says. I pout, sticking my bottom lip out. I remember when Mami would wipe our tears away, and someway, somehow she would magically make everything okay again. How I wish I was still that little girl, to get decisions made for me, and I was oblivious to grown up problems. Nobody said adulthood would suck this much. "I don't want to be here anymore." I whisper. "Es la verdad?" she asks me. I let the phone fall on my face. "Yes......." I say. Silence. "No......" I say. Silence. "This feels like the hardest decision I've ever had to make in my life. I love him, but staying here doesn't feel right anymore. But when I think about leaving, I get this deep sadness and something tells me not to." She listens, patiently. "It's all so different than I thought it was gonna be." I tell her. "He's different." I say, softly. "Whatever choice you make, you know I'm always gonna be there to pick you up if you fall, or stand back and watch proudly. Tu Mami nunca te deja." she tells me. I smile, my heart feeling light for a change. Leave it to Linda Osvala to make everything okay. "Thank you." I tell her. "No me das gracias mija, es mi trabajo." "Give Papi a kiss for me." I say. "I love you." she says, hanging up. My head's a little clearer than before. All the negative emotions I had before feel a little more buried inside, and not threatening to come out. I don't hear Bruno's guitar anymore. Sure enough, when I walk out to the living room, all that's left is an empty can of beer that he was drinking. I crush the can with my fist, than scream in agonizing pain as the can rebels. I whip it across the room, and plop down on the couch. The wind from doing this, brings out the smell of his cologne, from him sitting here. How pathetic, that all I have of him here is an aluminum can and a scent. I blow air out of my lips and cross my eyes. I need to get out of this house. That's what my problem is. The little shopping adventure wasn't enough. I call Ahm. "So are you gonna wear the dress?!" She answers on the first ring. I laugh. "You don't even know what I'm gonna ask you!" "Oh I know, It was only a matter of time, and I am SO DOWN!" She hangs up before I have a chance to say anything.
* * * *
I turn my head to the side, staring at myself in the mirror. "I look fat." I tell her. She smacks me on the butt on her way past to sit in front of my vanity. "Only this part mijita." she says, referring to what she just slapped. I frown. "I don't wanna go anymore." She ignores me and fixes her hair. I look at her, wishing with all my heart that I had her confidence right now. Her long wavy hair has every strand perfectly placed. Her purple dress dips low in the front, showing her cleavage, making her boobs look huge, and stops right below her ass cheeks. Not much left to the imagination, but the way she pulls it off, looks sexy and classy, not slutty and trashy. Her black and white zebra pumps finish off the outfit. She puts lotion on her face. How I envy her. Not a stitch of make up and she looks like she could be a model in magazines or on runway. I run to the bathroom and put on eyeliner and mascara as fast as I can. When I look in the mirror, I feel like my old self. The one that covered herself with make up so nobody could see the real her. The one that was too insecure about who she was. The one that felt ugly. The one one I hated. I stare for a minute, than smile. That was horrible. I scrunch my eyes and try again. There. That looks more natural. Not that a fake smile could really look natural, but hey, I'm already half way there with the make up, might as well come out with the whole sha-bang. I walk out of the bathroom and Ahmity shoves some sparkly black pumps at me. "I will break myself." I tell her bluntly. "You gotta learn sometime baby girl." she tells me with a wink. I sigh. Only cause she's my sister. Only cause she's my sister. I slip them on. When I stand, I kind of wobble. She stands back and looks at me. "If I was a dude, I would TOTALLY hit it and stick with it!" she tells me. I laugh a little. She grabs me by the shoulders. "Are we gonna have fun tonight?" she asks, peering into my eyes. I stare back, seeing Mami. "I'm gonna try." I say. She shakes me. "Are we gonna have fun tonight?!" I smirk. "Fuck yeah!" I tell her. She throws her arm in the air screaming "Whoooooo!"
The familiar smell of alcohol and sweat overpowers my nose when we walk into The Club. I make a bee line for the bar, but Ahmity drags me to the dance floor. My blood freezes. "Ahm!" I yell, trying to get free from her grasp. She ignores me and keeps pulling. She's dancing away, her hair whipping from side to side. I stand there, awkwardly. I've never been to the dance floor sober. "Come on Lena, loosen up!" "I was trying, but you dragged me away!" I yell, over the music. "I mean without alcohol! You don't need that shit!" she yells back, her arms over her head, dancing. She grabs my hands, and tries to make me dance. I look around at all the people in their own little world, not caring about what anybody thinks or how stupid they look. Ahmity has her eyes closed, moving to the music. I shake off this stupid self conscious hold I have over myself, and slowly start moving to the music. It takes a minute, but after that, I'm full blown dancing and shaking my ass with Ahmity and all the other people around me. She was right. I don't need alcohol. The more I dance, the more I stop thinking. It feels so, freeing. I don't want to stop. I look over and see Ahm dancing with some gorgeous chocolate guy. I feel someone grab my arm. I look up, way up at a blue eyed, blond haired beautiful stranger. He smiles, and pulls me closer to him, dancing with me. I immediately get tense, and start to pull away, but images of Claudia and Bruno pass through my head. Her giggling, him smiling, the two of them laughing together, them flirting like I don't even exist. I let my body go limp, and he pulls me up against his body, still smiling. I smile back, the both of us dancing. His hands roam down my back, to my waist. His other hand is in my hair. Before I know what's happening, I feel his lips on my neck. I feel so much on a high, that I don't stop him. His tongue travels down to my collar bone, than lower to my chest. My hand instinctively reaches up to his hair. When they do, my eyes pop open. Blonde hair. Not brown. Straight. Not curly. I push him off and push my way through the crowd. I get to the bar, and Travis, the bartender already has a shot for me. "Here Lena, you look like you might need this." he says. I sling my head back, swallowing it. The Patron burns my tongue and throat. I sit down at the bar stool. It swivels, and when it stops, I'm staring into Claudia's blue glassy eyes. She has a devilish smile on her face. "I was just waiting for you to mess up." she says. I glare at her. "I knew all my hard work would pay off!" She throws her head back and starts laughing, excuse me, cackling. I shove her and she goes flying into the bar stool behind her. She stands up, but makes no attempt to hit me back. I clench my fists, waiting. She fixes her hair, smiling. "Hit me bitch!" I want her to, so I can go ham and give it to her worse than last time. "As soon as I tell him what I saw, he's gonna be all mine." She says in my face. Fuck it. My fist slams into her nose, and I hear it crack as a gush of blood oozes out. She screams, and grabs her face, falling to the floor. I grab her hair, and swing my fist again. I can feel her nose move like Play Do. Definitely broken. She tries to scratch me. Didn't she learn last time, how much I hate girly fights. I lift my knee and it connects with her chin. Another crack. I hear commotion behind me, and I already know what's coming. I get one last kick in, before I'm being lifted in the air, and literally tossed out of The Club. I stand up, and punch the door, screaming at the top of my lungs. My ankle twists, and I almost fall. I kick off the black pumps, and let myself fall on the curb. I take a deep breath in, and it comes out shaky. I hear the music get loud, than muffled again, as the doors open and close. "Lena!" Ahmity comes trotting towards me, her heels making a click click sound on the cement. "What happened?!" She looks confused, and I know she has no idea what happened. I open my mouth, but nothing comes out. "Lena, you're bleeding!" She screams. I look down at my leg. Eww. "That's not my blood." I say. Her eyes get huge, and before she has a chance to say anything, Claudia and two tall, sturdy looking guys come out. She's holding her face crying, blood dripping down her hands. Ahmity puts the pieces together. "What the fuck?! It was supposed to be my turn!" She says, and crosses her arms, pouting. I look up at her, and of all the things I do... I laugh. Crack up, actually. I hold my stomach, and have to catch my breath. She sits down next to me, laughing too. "This is so not fair, You know how long I've been waiting for that girl?" she says. I start laughing again. After we calm down, she askd what happened. I tell her, and she stares back at me with an 'uh oh' face. I don't want to agree with her, but my heart drops into my stomach. Everything in my gut tells me, Claudia is going to blow it up way bigger than what it is, and he's going to hang onto her every word, and not even give me a chance or hear me out. I stand up. "I just wanna go home. I'm never coming here again. This place is cursed." I tell Ahmity. She laughs, and puts her arm around my shoulders as we walk to the car. "You know I'm there if you need me, to back you up, punch a bitch, you know whatever." she says, smirking. I ruffle her hair. "I know." I tell her. She's always gonna be there. My rock.
* * * *
I don't know why I'm expecting anyone to be there when I get home. The clickety click sound my heels make echo off the walls. I sigh, and drop on the couch, taking them off. They land with a loud thud on the hardwood floor. I lay my head back, and close my eyes, when I hear a rustle in the kitchen. My blood freezes. It's either Bruno, or someone to kill me. Either way, I'm dead. Who ever's in the kitchen, clears their throat, and my heart beats faster. I know that voice anywhere. I run to the kitchen, and Eric's sitting at the island, eating a bowl of cereal. When he sees me, he drops his spoon, and holds his chest. "Lena!" He closes his eyes, and breathes. "How the hell did I scare YOU, when you're in my house?!" I yell, than throw myself at him. He laughs, and squeezes me so hard I can't breathe but I don't care. "What are you doing here?!" I scream in his shirt. He pulls away. "Before I answer that, what are YOU doing wearing a dress like that?" he says, raising an eyebrow. I shrug. "I went out." He mimicks me. "You're not even 21 yet." he says. I look down. "Does Bruno know you went out like that?" he asks. My blood boils. "Bruno doesn't even know I'm alive, let alone where I go, and definitely what the fuck I wear!" I clench my fists so hard, my nails dig into my palms, leaving little half moon shapes. "What?" he says. I take a breath. Keep it down Lena, I say to the emotions threatening to overflow. I sit next to him, lean my head against his chest. He scratches my head. "What's going on kid?" he asked, generally concerned. I sigh, than spill out 8 months of pent up frustration and feelings. When I'm done, he has his eyebrows furrowed. He stays quiet, taking it all in. I wait, watching him. He opens his mouth to say something, than closes it, narrowing his eyes. I hear something, and my ears perk up. The front door. I hear his soft humming, and I turn slowly. "Lena!" Bruno shouts at the top of his lungs, and my name vibrates and echoes off the walls. He comes closer to the kitchen. Why is he home? And is this a good thing or a bad thing? I can tell him before Claudia gets to him. Good thing. I can tell him. Bad thing. "Ooooh shit." I say, as Bruno turns the corner and enters the kitchen...........................................