Bruno's humming stops, and he freezes when he enters the kitchen. His eyes dance back and forth between me and Eric. I don't think he knows who to look at or speak to first. I try and pull my dress down a little to cover some of my thighs. He decides on me and his gaze slowly travels down. He meets my eyes and I see fire behind them. Eric saves me. "How's life treatin ya these days?" he asks him. Bruno turns his head, but his eyes stayed fixated on me. Eric snaps his fingers. Bruno's body jumps and he pays all of his attention to his brother. As fast as this happens, he shakes his head and furrows his eyebrows. He smacks Eric's hand down. "You're not Dad, stop trying to act like him." he says. Eric kind of smirks. The pull each other into a brotherly, loving hug. I can see their emotions crawling out of their pores. Eric swallows, and Bruno is kind of shaking. He grabs Bruno's head and leans his forehead against his for a second. I know he doesn't care that I'm here, but I feel like I'm intruding on something very private. Plus, it'll give me a chance to slip away and stall. As I back away, Bruno goes "Lena Osvala, stay right where you are!" I freeze. Dammit. They both clear their throats, and I know their fighting back tears. "The Smeezingtons." He laughs and shakes his head. "I see you've done pretty good without me." he tells him. Bruno runs his fingers through his hair. "It still woulda been nice if you were here." he says. Eric shrugs. "Like I said." he tells Bruno. "What have you been doing with your life?" Bruno asks. Eric sits back at the island and stirs his cereal with his spoon. "Not a damn thing." he says, with a smile on his face. Under different circumstances, I know Bruno would of busted out laughing, but right now, his face remains as cold and hard as it was when he stepped into the massive kitchen. "Come on B, I thought you were over it." Eric says, seeing the expression on his face. "Yeah, maybe I would be if I knew you left to do something that mattered instead of sitting on your fat ass for a year." Bruno says. If the words hurt me, I can't imagine how Eric feels. He drops the spoon. "Watch yourself Jr." he says. Bruno clenches his fists. Eric shakes his head. "That's not the point. Bottom line, you had to grow up." he says, shrugging nonchalantely. Bruno glares at him, his usual soft brown eyes, hard. "When Dad left, I took over as your 'manager' so to speak." Bruno clenches his jaw in addition to his fists. "I made sure you stayed out of trouble, found gigs for you to play, arranged countless meetings, that you ALWAYS missed with labels and producers, spread your name to whoever I could, found connections, gave up MY gigs for you. I laid everything out for you on a platter, and half the time, you just walked right by and didn't even notice." Bruno stares at the counter. "I can't count the number of times I had to make up excuses as to why you didn't show up to perform somewhere, I got that you were young. I got that sometimes you got absent-minded, especially with such a big-ahem-distraction." he says, turning his eyes over to me. I turn into a tomatoe. "But, the excuses can only go so far. And the only thing I could think of doing, in order to help YOU, was leaving." I can almost hear Bruno's teeth grinding. "So you're just following Dad's footsteps." Eric stays quiet. "You promised me, you wouldn't be like him, you said you would be there as long as I needed you..But since you lied and that's the road you've chosen, than you can be just like him and stay out of my life!" Bruno turns around to leave, but Eric grabs him. Bruno tries to punch him, but Eric holds him down. "I came back didn't I?! I'm not like him Bruno! I left but I came back." Bruno growls deep in his throat and tries with all his might to break free from Eric's grasp. "When the one person that you depend on for everything leaves, what are you forced to do?!" Eric yells, squeezing Bruno tighter. "Get off of me Eric!" Bruno grumbles. "I said I would be there as long as you needed me, and I was! But you didn't need me anymore.. You needed to grow up!" Bruno breaks free. I back away further than I already am. He scares me when he's mad, especially with his face red and that vein poppin out of his neck. Eric is breathing heavy. "You didn't need me Bruno." he says, in a raspy voice. "You needed to be without me." I look back and forth at them, holding my breath. "Look at you! Look at what you have, what you're doing, what you have accomplished!" Bruno continues to stay red-faced. Eric sighs. "Who helped you get all this?" he tries. "Nobody helped me, I got this shit on my own!" Bruno yells. Eric smiles. I smirk. Clever clever Panda Bear. Bruno realizes what he just said. "I'm sorry Bruno. If you think it was easy to leave my little brother out here, you're wrong." he says. "Get out Eric." Bruno says. "Bruno--" I squeek. "You shut the hell up!" he screams at me. I cover my mouth. "No." Eric says. Bruno flies at him. His size doesn't come into play, when he knocks Eric to the ground. They wrestle on the hard kitchen floor, while I stand there, shaking and not knowing what to do. Eric pins Bruno to the ground. Bruno's fists fly up and one of them connects with Erics face. Bruno manages to get out from him, and goes crazy punching him and screaming at the same time. I know how he feels. He let me do that to him once upon a time. He knew I needed to get all my anger out, and that's what Eric's doing. After some minutes, Bruno collapses and Eric catches him. Bruno's face is wet from tears, and he starts hyperventillating. I unfreeze from my spot in the living room and run to him. I grab his face. "Bruno! Breathe baby! Breathe!" He goes from hyperventillating to whimpering. I try to hug him, but he pushes me. I didn't think I could hurt anymore, but he proved me wrong. I back away from him. He flies from the kitchen to the bedroom. Eric stands there, sweaty and out of breath. What just happened? We both stand there, me with a stunned look and him with a grim expression. He sighs. "Go to bed Lena." he says. My feet stayed planted. "He's not gonna kick you out of your own bedroom." he says, with a small smirk. I hope he's right about that. I point to one of the many guest bedrooms down the hall for Eric, than brace myself as I walk down the other hall, towards Bruno. I open the door, cautiously. The lights are on. He's sitting on the edge of our king size bed, his feet dangling above the ground. I walk past him, to the closet where I can't wait to get out of this damn dress. I can feel his eyes burning holes in me. I get dressed quickly, and walk without saying a word to my side of the bed. I get under the covers. "Claudia has a broken nose." he says simply. My lip curls automatically. Damn she moves fast. "Any idea how she got it?" he asks. "The bitch deserved it." I say in a low voice. He whips around. "Really?! Cause from what I hear, maybe it should be the other way around!" I feel heat rise up and hit me in the face. "All she's doing, and all she's EVER done is try to create problems between me and you, because she wants to take you away from me!" I jump right into it. No more bullshittin around. He puts his hands on his head. "God Lena, I thought we were over this fuckin shit! This is old! All of this is old! Old drama, old us!" I whip the cover off of me and sit up. "No Bruno, it's not old. It's new! All of the BULLSHIT I go through everyday is NEW! New house, new situation, new problem... A new you." "What the fuck are you talking about?!" "IT'S NOT JUST CLAUDIA! IT'S YOU TOO! YOU'RE NOT THE SAME BRUNO! NOTHING IS THE SAME!" "OF COURSE IT'S NOT THE SAME! WERE MOVING ON! TO BIGGER AND BETTER THINGS BUT HOW CAN I ENJOY IT WHEN YOU WALK AROUND ALL THE TIME WITH A FUCKIN SOUR FACE!" "You.... Not we. You.. have moved on to bigger and better things." I tell him. He pulls at his hair. "I can never fuckin win with you! It's always something. You're always mad or upset over something! Well I'm sorry I'm not perfect enough for you Lena!" He yells. "I don't want you to be perfect asshole!" I shove him as hard as I can. He doesn't really move. "WELL THAN WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU WANT?! WE LIVE IN THIS HUGE HOUSE, WE HAVE MONEY, I GIVE YOU WHAT YOU ASK FOR?! WHAT IS THE FUCKIN PROBLEM!?" "YOU, BRUNO! YOU'RE MY PROBLEM! I DIDN'T ASK FOR LUXURY! I DON'T WANT A HUGE HOUSE! I DON'T CARE ABOUT MONEY, CALL ME SELFISH BUT I JUST WANT YOU!" He covers his face and lets out a scream. "I promised you I would always stand by your side, through all of this. I've always been the one that supported you from the beginning. And I've stayed true to that." I tell him. His curls aren't in place like they usually are. They're sticking up in all kinds of directions. His cheeks are rosy and he's got sweat on his forehead. His lips are pursed together. "Is it too much to ask for you to pay attention to me?" I say, sadly, biting my lip. He stares me in the eyes. "What do you think I'm doing Lena?!" he says, waving his hand around, referring to the house. I scrunch my eyes shut, and pull at my hair. He's not getting it. I sigh and shake my head. "When did it ever become about money and material things, Bruno? That's not what you set out to do." I say. He goes crazy. He jumps up from the bed and punches the closet door. I jump, my eyes wide. "EVERYTHING I DO IS FOR YOU! I KNOW I'M NOT HOME ALL THE TIME, I KNOW WE DON'T SPEND TIME TOGETHER LIKE WE USED TO, I KNOW THINGS ARE DIFFERENT, I KNOW! I KNOW ALL THIS LENA! BUT THE TIMES I DO GET A CHANCE TO BE WITH YOU, YOU SHUT ME OUT. I BARELY GET A HUG, FUCK, YOU DON'T EVEN WANT TO KISS ME!" I watch him, pace back and forth. "YOU PUSH ME AWAY SO WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?!" "YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO TRY!" I scream back at him. He puts his hands over his face and bangs his head against the wall, than leaves it there. "You can yell and punch shit all you want, but bottom line.. YOU DON'T TRY!" I can see his back muscles tense underneath his white v-neck. "You can keep buying me expensive things and bigger houses and nicer cars all you want, but that's not trying Bruno." He keeps his head against the wall, rubbing it back and forth. I see him cringing. "You only buy me things to shut me up, and try to make it as though that's your way of caring about me. But why all of a sudden when Claudia comes in the picture, I see the old loving Bruno?" He whips around at the sound of her name, and at the same time, my lip curls in disgust. "There you go bringing her into this again. SHE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH US LENA!" "YOU THINK I'M DUMB?! I SEE THE WAY YOU FUCKIN LOOK AT HER! THE WAY SHE LOOKS AT YOU?!" His eyes drop to the floor, and I see him swallow. "WHY DOES SHE GET TO SEE YOU EVERYDAY, WHY DOES SHE GET TO HUG YOU, AND LAUGH WITH YOU, AND TOUCH YOU, WHEN I'M SUPPOSED TO BE YOUR GIRLFRIEND?! HOW COME YOU CAN MAKE TIME FOR HER, BUT NOT FOR ME?" He shoves his hands in his pockets. "SHE MAY NOT HAVE EVERYTHING TO DO WITH US, BUT SHE'S A BIG PART...Aside from you." I say, clenching my fists so hard, I can feel my nails digging into my palms. Silence. "If you don't love me anymore, and she's the one you want to be with, just say it. Don't string me along like a damn puppet!" He doesn't say anything. Why isn't he saying anything? I take a shaky breath in. "If you.. love her, please, just tell me.." He throws his head back and runs his hand along his neck. "I don't love her Lena.. God." he says. He closes his eyes, and scrunches his eyebrows together. "Than what is it? Why does she mean so much to you?" I stand there, waiting. Waiting to hear his answer. A low growl sounds from deep in his throat and rubs his face viciously. "I don't love her." he says, but it sounds more like he's trying to convince himself, rather than me. "I'm..... sorry Lena." he says, looking at me with sad eyes. My body starts to shake. Sorry? I hate that word. I hate it! Sorry doesn't mean anything! Sorry only means you did something wrong. Sorry is a way of hoping somebody will forgive you. But in reality, it doesn't mean a fuckin thing. "Sorry?..." I say. "For what?" I ask. He swallows again. "I was going to tell you, but everytime I thought I got the chance, something would tear me away." My heart is in my throat. "Tell me what.. Bruno." I say, through gritted teeth. Please no. Realization sets in, before he even says it. "I don't... I didn't mean.... It wasn't--" He rubs at his eyes and face. Oh god. "I've been..... sleeping with Claudia." he says lowly. I already knew he was going to say it, but actually hearing it from his mouth, slaps me in the face, and I feel like my heart and lungs are about to explode. I can't catch my breath. I see him reach for me, but I turn and run locking myself in the bathroom. I cover my mouth, to muffle my screams as giant tears form and fall to the floor. My breath gets caught in my throat and I start to hyperventilate. I hear the doorknob turning. I cough and try to breath through my nose but it's not really working. I go back and forth between sobbing and choking, laying on the soft rug in front of the sink. I don't deserve this. We've been through so much together. We were supposed to work this out. No. I don't deserve this. The bathroom door burst open with a bang. I crawl away from him, while he stands there, his chest puffing up and down. "G-g-get-cough- away-cough-f-from-cough-me!" I spurt out. He doesn't listen. I feel his hands touch me and I kick and punch him, screaming. He holds me down, and I see his face. He's crying. Puffy eyes, red faced and crying. "I'm sorry.." he says, but it comes out more like a gasp. I collapse in his arms, because I'm tired. I'm so tired of all of this. We lay there on the bathroom floor, his arms around me, rocking back and forth, feeling each other's sobs rock through our bodies. I have the back of his shirt balled up in my fist. How could he? Why? I don't hold back my feelings anymore. I cry and cry and cry. I don't know how much time passes when I realize I'm just laying limp in his arms, unmoving, the same as him. I stare at his red-rimmed brown eyes. All of this is too familiar. Memories of the day he forced me to talk to him at my house, cloud my vision. Slapping him. Screaming, telling him I hated him. Him holding me until I couldn't fight anymore and collapsed in his arms. I let out a low chuckle. Funny. The way we started is the way were ending. I attempt to lift myself up. Peter Hernandez and Lena Osvala are done. I stand fully, looking down on him. He looks up, his forehead wrinkling. No words are said. He knows. The damage was done. Things weren't going to change. He could promise me and say it a million times over, and as much as everything in my entire being wanted to believe him, I knew, they just weren't. With lead in my heart, I drag my feet as I make my way to the closet. This massive closet. I reach my hand up to one of the shelves. I don't see it but I feel my old blue canvas bag. I pull it down. It's heavier than I remembered. I open it. Three pairs of pants, 5 shirts and a pair of shoes. They're wrinkled and old, but they're clean. I quietly pull on a pair of the old jeans, and an old bluish purplish top. Last, but not least, my old red Nike high tops. I shake out my hair. All that crying and sweating had it matted down to my head. I swallow and look around the room, my eyes resting on the bathroom door. He hasn't moved. My nose burns and I blink away the tears threatening to squeeze themselves out. I pick up my blue canvas bag and sling it over my shoulder. I left Brooklyn almost 4 years ago with just this bag and the contents in it. Tonight, I'm going back home.........................................................................
I clutch my bag protectively against me as I look around the airport. I almost forgot what it felt like to do this alone. Ahmity was more than upset when I told her the previous events that took place last night. I didn't get a chance to see her to say goodbye. I wanted to get out of L.A. as fast as I could. I sigh. My emotions are all over the damn place. One hour, I'm fuming thinking about our screaming match, the next, I can't stop the tears, and another I'm laughing as if this whole fucked up situation doesn't effect me. But I can't get rid of the nauseous, gut-wrenching feeling in the pit of my stomach as the same line echoes over and over in my head. 'I've been sleeping with Claudia'. I tighten my grip on my canvas bag. How could I have been so fuckin stupid?! Why didn't I see this coming? My nose burns as I blink away tears to clear my vision. My phone vibrates in my hand. Ahmity. "Hey." I answer. "Still waiting?" her sing song voice says back to me. She sounds so much like Mami. I sigh again. "Yeah, feels like the more I want to get out of this city, the more it wants to keep me here." I say. "Well..than maybe you should say." she says, quietly, almost under her breath. I grind my teeth. "No." I say, coldly. She backs down. "I just can't believe you guys are.. actually over." she says, blankly. I shrug, forgetting she can't see me. "Lena, are you sure you don't want me to come with you? It's only a matter of packing a bag, which I can do in 2.5 seconds!" "No Ahmity, please don't do that. It's not like I've never been on a plane by myself before." I tell her. "That's not what I'm worried about." she says. I stay quiet. "I'm aware that you're perfectly capable of taking care of yourself, but I'm not so sure you should be alone right now." she says. I swallow. "I'll be fine Ahm." I say, unconvincingly. "I know you mama's. I know you'll let your thoughts and emotions eat you up inside." I stare at the swoosh on my red Nike high tops. "Ahm.. I'm fine. I just want to forget... all of this." I say. "All of what? The only guy you've ever been in love with? All the stuff you guys have been through? Or how bout the 4 years you guys spent living with each other? I'm sorry mijita, but you can't just 'forget' that part of your life and how important it was.. is.. to you." I hang up the phone, biting my bottom lip. I love my sister. And I'm positive that those words are the right ones I need to hear, but right now that's not what I want to hear. I want someone to tell me that Bruno is a fuckin piece of shit and I don't need him. I want someone to tell me I can block out everything that's happened between us. I want someone to tell me it's going to be okay. Lena Osvala, you're going to be okay. I put my head in my hands. Who am I kidding? Ahm is right, like always. I can't just snap my fingers and expect that, that chapter of my life will just.. go away. No. I have a long hard, depressing road ahead of me, and that's what I think that I'm dreading the most. I stand quickly when my flight is called. I take a look around the L.A. airport. I'm half expecting Phil and Bruno to come running through the crowd towards me, yelling and screaming, and flinging me over his shoulder. A lump forms in my throat as I realize that all of that, good times, laughs, joking around, secrets, confiding in one another, our friendship, is all over. My flight is called for the last time, and I quickly make my way to the exit. "Did you want to check that with the rest of your luggage ma'm?" the flight attendant looking at the tickets asks me. I hug it close to me. "No.. it's all I got." I tell her. She nods understanding and wishes me a safe flight. I get halfway down the ramp when I hear "LENA!" I turn quickly to see Eric running towards me. He flies into me and scoops me up easily in his arms. "Don't go, please don't go!" he says in my hair. I try to swallow the lump in my throat but it only gets bigger. "I have to." I say. He tightens his arms around me. "Please.." I squeeze my eyes shut. "Eric put me down." "He did a shitty thing, but I know he's sorry. Just don't run yet." he says. I struggle until he releases me. "Sorry? Do you know how much I despise that word?!" He gives me a look that says he does. "I love Bruno... but this was seriously the last fuckin straw! And I'm not running! I didn't run away from this GIANT problem for a year! I stayed by his side, I supported him, I went to bed alone every night FOR HIM! But only to find out he's fucking some bitch?! I KEPT MY PROMISE TO HIM ERIC! BUT HE DIDN'T HE KEEP HIS! SO I'M NOT RUNNING! I'M GOING HOME!" I can't see from the tears, and I'm pretty sure everyone's looking at me scream like a crazy person, but I honestly could care less. Some goodbye that was. I turn as quickly as I can, and run down the ramp into the giant plane that awaits me. I find my seat and throw myself down, covering my face with my hands and start bawling my eyes out. A few people ask me if I'm okay, and I nod, wiping my tears away like an idiot. Someone gets me a glass of water and I take a sip just to be polite. I assure the small crowd gathering around me that I'm fine. My face I can feel, is a tomatoe. They take their seats and I lean my head against the window. Goodbye L.A. The plane shakes, signalling our take off. I watch Los Angeles get smaller and smaller, and I let this sad heavy feeling overwhelm me, as I know I'm closing this chapter in my life, and when I get to Brooklyn, I'm opening a new one. Without Bruno.
* * * *
I feel someone gently shaking me. "Miss.." I open my eyes, and groggily look around. The people are filing out of the plane. We've landed already. I stretch. The friendly stranger smiles at me, than grabs his carry on to follow the rest of the crowd out. I finger my 'iBelieve' bracelet as I wait for the line to settle down. My feet stay planted, and I don't want to leave the plane. A part of me is scared. I grew up and Brooklyn and I've lived here my whole life, but I've gotten so used to living this certain life with Bruno, I don't know what to do here. I shake my head. No. No more Bruno. I sling my bag over my shoulder and force myself to stand. When I finally get off the plane, I breathe deep. A slow smile starts to creep across my face. Brooklyn. How I've missed you. I stand still in one spot for a minute, and watch the people scramble about. Everybody always seem to have somewhere to be, and in such a hurry to get there. Not to mention how crowded it is. L.A. has it's fair share of people too, but the atmosphere is different. Everyone there is more carefree and fun. I snap out of my trance and start walking toward one of the many exits in the Brooklyn airport. I feel eyes on me as I walk. I shake it off, convincing myself that I'm being paranoid, but than 2 girls, about my age, stop me. "Are you Lena?" they ask. I resist the urge to roll my eyes. "Yup, last time I checked, that was me." I say, trying my best to sound cheery. "See, I told you!" the short blonde one says, hitting her taller, brunette friend. "Are you really dating Bruno, from The Smeezingtons?!" My heart pitter patters in my chest. Wow, all the way across the country. I never really got to sit back and really see how big he's gotten. "Uhm, no.. I'm not." I say, forcing the words out. They both look at me stunned. "So you guys broke up?!" I start to feel uneasy. "I gotta go." I say, and quickly walk away. So the stares I'm getting are real and I'm not just being a crazy bitch. People know who I am. And I'm pretty sure that those girls are just the beginning of what is to come. I sigh, heaving my heavy canvas bag to my other shoulder. I didn't tell anyone but Ahmity that I left. Eric must have figured it out. So there's no one here to pick me up. I push open the heavy glass door and step outside. My hair blows back from my face from the New York breeze blowing about. I sigh, and start walking towards the Brooklyn train station.
* * * *
My stomach does all kinds of cartwheels and flip flops when the taxi turns onto my familiar old street. It gets worse when he stops in front of my house. My house. I stare at it through the closed car window. Not much has changed. It looks like Mami might have taken up gardening in the past 4 years, judging by all the beautiful flowers and bushes in the front yard. But other than that, it's still the same homey house I grew up in. "So, we sight seeing, or you gonna pay me?" my driver says with a wink. I snap out of my daze and chuckle lightly. "Sorry." I say, handing over the money. "No problem doll." he says, and jumps out of the car, jogging a little to my side to open my door. "Thank you." I tell him and he tips his hat, and zooms off. I walk slowly, taking in this weird familiar feeling. When I get to the front door, I shakily pull out my old house keys from my bag. The door is the same, let's just hope the locks are too. I take a deep breath and stick my key in and turn. I let it out with a smile when I hear a clicking sound in return. I open the door, and immediately want to start crying. I drop my bag with a thud. The furniture is different, but in the same spots. A flat screen t.v. replaces the old bulky one we had. There's carpet instead of our old hardwood floors. I breathe deep. It smells exactly the same. A light flowery scent and tortillas. My smile widens. I take my shoes off and leave them by the door. I run my fingers slowly on the couch as I walk by. So many memories, of every single thing from my childhood hit me at once, and some tears manage to squeeze themselves out. I walk slowly up the stairs, looking at the pictures on the way. The same ones. I turn left when I get to the top, and stare at the door to my old bedroom. I swallow than turn the knob. Wow. My turquoise walls stare back at me. Everything's exactly the same as when I left. Not one thing has been touched or moved. I sit on my bed, and lean back against the wall. I never thought it would feel so good to be back here. I hear the front door open, than shut. Mami's humming stops. My heart leaps in my throat. I walk to the top of the stairs to see her looking down at my bag and shoes. Her hair falls like a shiny silk blanket down her back. My heart hurts from the love I have for this woman. She turns around and looks up. Her eyes immediatley fill with tears and her hand covers her mouth. I fly down the stairs and into her open arms, almost knocking us both down. She kisses my face over and over again, wiping my tears and hers. "I love you." I say in her shirt, breathing in deep. She squeezes me like she never wants to let go.
* * * *
I scoot closer to her, if it's even possible, on the couch. I let the steam from the homeade mexican hot chocolate she made me warm my face. She sips her coffee, staring at me smiling. "Que pasa mi hija?" she says, moving some hair out of my eyes. I try not to let my face fall, but there's no fooling her. I hate for the breakup with me and Bruno to be the first topic we talk about, but it's the reason I'm here so, I guess there's no way around it. "I just needed to come home." I say, vaguely. She tsks and burns holes in me. I laugh, and lean my head against her shoulder. "He cheated on me Mami." I say, quietly. I feel her body stiffen up. Yeah, I don't think even Mami expected that one. She doesn't make a sound, and listens patiently while I talk. "I'm trying not to blame myself, but honestly, how could I have not seen it? Why did I just sit there and let it happen? I should've said something! I should've done more!" Mami grabs my face. "You didn't do anything wrong. If you're going to live under my roof again, you will not blame yourself for something that was not your fault." she says, calmly. "Men are idiots. Boys are even bigger idiots. It sucks, and no matter what you do, or say you should've done, they will always fuck up." I stifle my laugh at Mami's language. "Now I know right now everything's fresh and you're hurting. I know you how bad you're hurting mijita, but you and Bruno are best friends, before any of those feelings and hormonal things got in the way, you two were, and still are best friends. Nothing will change that Alena." I shake my head. "No mami, I'm not friends with him. He's nothing to me now." I stare her in the eyes to let her know I'm serious. She looks back at me, with understanding, but clearly not believing my words.. She's wrong. Bruno threw away everything he had with me. All of our childhood memories, all of good times, all of our laughs, and our love. No matter what happens, were done and I'll never be able to talk to him again. I stare at the hot chocolate in my cup. It's the same color as Bruno's eyes. His big chocolate brown eyes. Well.. Maybe she's right. Mami's always right. About everything. We've been through our share of hard times, but we've always overcome them. Maybe this is just bigger than I'm used to. And I'm handling it the only way I know how. Running. Like Eric said. I am running. I shake my head. NO! I'm not running. I came home. I stayed in L.A. and dealt with as much as I could handle without exploding. No. Me and Bruno will never be anything. Not lovers, not a couple, not friends. Were over and everybody's just going to have to get used to and accept the fact that the inseperable Bruno and Lena, seperated. Forever. She grabs my hand, smiling down at me. "You have grown so much Alena Michelle." she says, with proudness dripping from her voice. My face starts to turn red. "I've always been grown up Mami, it's nothing new." I tell her. She shakes her head. "No mijita, you've always been mature. But now, I see. You're a grown woman." She tucks a strand of hair behind my ear. "Pero que flaca?! Que te paso?" she says, with her eyes big. I laugh, and hug her. "At least this didn't go anywhere." she says, smacking my butt. I laugh harder. "That's here to stay for life." I say, and we sit there, in each other's arms, laughing and laughing. I laugh so hard, tears start coming out. At first they're happy tears, but all too quickly, I start sobbing. I can't control it. My body shakes, and Mami rocks me back and forth, humming softly in my ear. I don't feel like I have to hide with her. I can let my emotions flow and she'll sit with me as long as I need, until I'm okay. A mixture of her flowery scent, and the warm homey feeling of being here, calm me, and I stop crying. I sigh, and I feel.. empty. But that's okay. I'm going to be okay.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
** 3 years later**
I open my eyes and not 2 seconds later, my alarm on my phone goes off. I smirk. My internal clock never fails. I stretch my arms high above my head and let out a yawn. Time for work. I get out of bed, happily humming while I tuck my bright blue sheets in. I fluff my pillows and with a small skip turn to head to my bathroom to take a shower. It's been 3 long, interesting years since I came back to Brooklyn. So much has changed, including myself. I look around my apartment and smile. It's not huge, but it's enough for me. I remember the day I moved in. I was beyond ecstatic! I loved living with Mami, but I knew I couldn't be there forever. Besides, this place practically begged me to live here. I think the thing I love about it most, is that it looks and feels nothing like Bruno's apartment. Not one bit! I turn on the shower and let the water get hot. Steam starts to fill the bathroom and I slowly step in, letting it semi scald my back. I hum louder as I wash up. I chuckle slightly. I don't know why I bother taking showers in the morning. I come home smelling like dogs and cats everyday. Not that I mind it too much. I love my job. I don't even see it as a job. I've been working at the humane society for 2 in a half years. And I love every second of it. I finish up and dry off. I don't put much though into my outfit. Just some jeans and a plain tee. I throw my wet hair up in a messy bun, some eyeliner and out the door I go. "Hi Lena!" I hear as soon as I step foot on the sidewalk. I turn to see Ruby, my neighbor. She's waving out the window. I laugh. "Shouldn't you be in school?" I ask. She makes a face. "Lena, the last day of school was last week." the 15 year old says, rolling her eyes. I gasp and cover my mouth. "Oh dear.. I'm so sorry! How silly of me!" I say dramatically. She laughs, flipping her light brown hair. I smile. "Don't get into trouble while I'm gone!" I tell her, pointing a finger. I hop into my blue Nissian Altima, anxious to get to the humane society. The radio blasts as I pull onto the street. 'You spin my head right round, right round when you go down, when you go down down..' My heart lurches a tad in my chest. I quickly press one of the presets to change the station. I don't hate the song. The song is epic, I mean look who wrote it. I just can't listen to it. Not unless I want to remember all the memories that come with it. Too late. As I stop at a red light, my mind is already thinking of that day at the studio with Bruno. When he sang that line out loud, and Phil freestyled to it, and Phred killed it on the keys. Than he made me sing it. In front of them. I blink to clear my thoughts and pull into the parking lot to the humane society. I can hear the barking echoing loudly against the kennel walls from inside, clear as day all the way from my car. I smile as I walk towards the back door. As soon as I step in, Mickey greets me. His big black and white paws pound on my shoulders as he jumps to eagerly kiss my face. I laugh, scratching his floppy black ears. "What are you doing out?" I ask him. He nudges my cheek with his wet nose. I tell him down and he obeys. I point to his kennel and he drops his head. He slowly and dramatically walks to the open kennel door, turning to look at me with sad eyes. I smile, but keep my firm stance. He walks in, and lets his big body flop down on his blanket. He lets out a whine as I lock it. "You're naughty. I'm gonna have to put an extra lock on your door if you don't stay put." I tell him. He lets his tongue hang out, and lifts his paw in the air, trying to be cute. I dig in the many bags of dog treats we have laying around and toss him one. He catches it and munches happily as I walk away. "Hey hey hey!" I feel two arms wrap themselves around my waist. I turn laughing. "Hey Donnie." I say. "Good morning muh beautiful lady!" he says, bowing slightly. His light brownish reddish hair falls over his forehead messily as he stands up straight. His blue green eyes twinkle. I know Donnie likes me. He's tried on several attempts to take me on a date, but everybody knows, I care about my friends, family and job. Everything else is just a waste of time. "What's going on for today?" I ask him. "Well... There's this fancy restaurant I've been dying to try out.. But no one to go with." he says, sticking out his bottom lip. I giggle. "I mean with the animals." I say, with an amused smile. He laughs, than his face turns to one of concern. "We just got a stray mommy, she looks like she's about to pop." He says. He looks on the desk at one of many clipboards. "Lab pointer mix, dehydrated and really skinny. Doc's going to check her out soon." he says, going into professional mode. I nod, than make my way to the back. I see her laying on the table. Skinny is an understatement. I walk up to her and she looks at me with sad scared eyes. I pet her head and I feel her shaking. "Hey mama, how them babies doing?" I tell her softly. I let her sniff my hand, than slowly I inch it towards her belly. She whines and tries to lift herself up. "It's okay girl, I'm not gonna hurt them." I tell her reassuringly. She watches me as I rub her bulging stomach slightly. I can feel the puppies. "Lena.." a reprimanding voice rings behind me. I scrunch my nose. Dammit. Dr. Pearce emmerges from the swinging door. He looks at me with a scolding expression. "I know, I know, I'm not allowed back here unless I'm called or needed." I say, disappointed. He smiles warmly. "I know you love these animals, as they do you, but I'm trying to keep my shelter up and running. No rule breaking." he says. I sigh and give spotted Mama one last pat before I go up front. Since I'm not certified as a vet tech, I'm not allowed to go back by the injured or sick animals. But that doesn't mean I listen. I've been yelled at more times than I can count. The day goes by as usual, walk in, appointment, walk in walk in, appointment, check up. Whenever I get a free minute, I run to the kennels, playing with the dogs, teaching them new tricks and cleaning up after them. Normal people would turn their nose up at this kind of job. But I honestly love it so much and I haven't been this happy in... years. 3 years to be exact. Since the day I left L.A. I sigh and make my way over to the puppies ready to be adopted. I spot a new one. A rotweiler. He's jumping around, pouncing on a squeak toy. I kneel down in front of his kennel. "Hey boy." I stick my finger in through the holes and he immediately chews on it. I laugh as his baby teeth and tongue tickle me. I watch him for awhile. He has so much personality. Donnie comes up next to me. "What's this one's name?" I ask. "He doesn't have one yet. Nobody could agree on one." he says, laughing. I smirk. "He needs a strong name." I say. Donnie agrees. For some reason Geronimo keeps sticking in my brain. "Geronimo." I say outloud. As if he already knew, the pup snaps his head up and looks at me. Donnie raises his eyebrows. "Wow... " he says. I smile, looking at the newly named Geronimo stand with his head up proudly, looking at nothing in particular. "So what does that make, a thousand and thiry seven you've named so far?" Donnie says. I push him. "Shut up... it's only a hundred and eight, but who's counting?!" I say, and we both crack up laughing. I spend the rest of my day filing, filling out paper work, cleaning kennels and sneaking short play sessions with Geronimo. I'm slowly but surely starting to fall in love with him.
I crack my neck, and stand to my feet. My day is done. I go to say goodbye to my new found love, only to see him snuggled in a corner, with his squeak toy between his paws. I smile and walk outside. The sun is starting to go down, and the sun is casting a soft pinkish orangy glow across the parking lot. Before I can put my hand on my car door, someone else's pushes it off. I roll my eyes playfully as Donnie leans against my car. He twirls my keys around my finger. My jaw drops. "How did you get those!?" I exclaim, clutching my purse. He laughs, his chest bouncing. "Relax.. they fell out of your coat pocket this morning. But lucky I found them." he says. I try to snatch them out of his hand. He holds them high above his 5'10 frame. I try to jump and get them, but I get nowhere near. He laughs. "Donnavon!" "Go on a date with me." he says. "NO!" I say in his face. He smiles and leans closer, our noses touching. "Please." he says, softly. His breath softly carresses my lips and my eyes flutter, threatening to close. It's been so long since my lips have been that close to someone elses. To his. I pull back, shaking my head to rid all thoughts of Bruno and this apparent date Donnie wants to take me on. "No.." I repeat. "Welp, guess it looks like you're walking home." he says, strutting towards his truck, my keys still in his hand. "Donnie stop playing and give me my keys." I say, sternly. He keeps walking. "Donnie!" He gets in the truck and shuts the door. I roll my eyes. He'll never do it. The truck starts. He's going to get out. Any minute now. The truck starts to reverse. "DONNIE!" I scream, my heart stopping. It keeps going. He's almost out the parking lot. "OKAY!" I yell in fear. The truck stops, and he rolls his window down. "What was that?" he asks, smugly. I chew on my bottom lip. Damn him. "I'll...go onadatewithyou.." I mumble. "What?" he yells, pretending he can't hear. "I'LL GO ON A DATE WITH YOU DAMMIT!" I scream, the irratation getting to me. He laughs, and his eyes twinkle. He tosses me the keys. "I've been waiting 3 years for you to say that." and with that, he races off.
* * * *
I make a face at myself in the mirror. Ugh. I do not miss this. Getting ready, making sure you look good, worrying if this matches this. I groan. I pick up my phone and call Ahmity. "Bueno!" she answers. I smile. Her voice instantly calms me. "Que haces Hermana?" I ask her, plopping down on the couch. Who gives a crap if I'm late. "I'm being a lazy fat girl, watching t.v. and eating jerky." she says, and I hear her chew. I smile. I miss her so much. "I wish I was there." I say. "You do?" she asks, surprised. "I miss you, that's what I mean." I say, realizing that I just said I wished I was in L.A. "I miss you too hermanita. What's your agenda for tonight?" she asks. I scrunch my nose. "I got a date." I say, without enthusiasm. I hear her spit out her jerky. Damn. What a good waste of jerky. "YOU WHAT?!" she screams. I feel my face get red. Wow. That hasn't happened in a long time. "Tell me, tell me now!" she says. I laugh and tell her the events of Monday evening. She gasps and screams and giggles the whole time. I keep an amused smile on my face the whole time as she starts to order me what to wear, how to do my hair and how to act. I listen and do what I'm told. "Okay, let me finish. I'll send you a pic when I'm done." I tell her, laughing. "You better, and it better be hot!" she threatens. "Love you!" I tell her. "Love you more!" she sings back and than I hear a click. I smile, than sigh. I flick on the t.v. to MTV to listen to some music while I do my hair, than I hear it. My whole body freezes and my heart doesn't know what to do with itself. I turn slowly to look at the t.v. His leather jacket. His white tee. His chucks. His curly hair. His fedora. His voice.
'Beautiful girls, all over the world, I could be chasing but my time would be wasted they got nothing on youuuuuu baby
Nothing on youuuuu baby, They might say hi, and I might say hey
But you shouldn't worry about what they say,
Cause they got nothin on youuuu baby
Nothin on youuuu baby' ...............................................................................................................