Recklessly Impressive Pt. III-A Short Story

“Wait, what?” I blurted out, hardly able to talk without spitting.

“Brothers,” She quietly repeated herself, almost whispering. Momentarily, I watched her stare at the navy carpeted floors beneath us, avoiding my eyes.

I felt a wave of nausea temporarily engulf the pit of my stomach. I braced myself in dreaded anticipation of that sick, unsettling sensation. Then, to my surprise, it passed seconds later, almost as suddenly as it had begun.

“Well,” I paused. “I’m not going to lie…I’m having a lot of really conflicting thoughts right now…”

“I know.” I watched my best friend hang her head. “I’m a really bad person. I already know it, I know what you’re going to say.”

“I mean, yeah, you kind of are,” I admitted. “That’s really messed up, and you probably shouldn’t be doing it. But it’s also kind of cool, not gonna lie. How many girls can say they’ve actually been with two brothers?

Selena patted her nose with a Kleenex, careful not to get the tissue material caught in her nose stud. While I hadn’t quite made her smile, I noticed that the corners of her mouth were turned up more than they were before. “You really think so? Does this make me hashtag #goalsasf*ck?”

“No,” I replied slowly and carefully.  “Hashtag #slutgoalsasf*ck’ maybe, but not goals goals.” I  told myself it probably wasn’t a good idea to glorify her behavior any further.

She furrowed her brow, looking both confused. “What?”

“It’s a goal that you can tell someone like me, because I’m not going to judge you. But it’s kind of a trashy goal, like I wouldn’t write home about it,” I replied. “But I’m both super repulsed by and super proud of you.”

Selena breathed a huge sigh of relief. “See, I knew I would feel so much better after talking to you. Phew, I feel so much freaking better, it’s not even funny.”

“I would say good, but I’m definitely not trying to encourage you to call me out of my house at the crack of dawn on a regular basis,” I said. I felt relieved. I honestly thought I’d heard the worst from her at that point. Stupid me.

“Sorry about that,” she answered quietly, before sitting up straight. “I’m so glad I told you  the truth about what I’ve been up to. Now that you know about Alex and Michael, I was hoping you could help me make a really important decision.”

“About?” I prompted her. I felt a lump forming in the back of my throat.

“Really, Jade?” Selena laughed, nervously. “I mean, which guy do I make my full time investment? Duh. What did you think I was gonna ask you?”

“Selena,” I began. “Have you lost your f*cking marbles?”

“What?” She threw her hands up in the air. I knew from previous experience that I needed to cover my ears and move farther away from her on the couch. “How are you going to give me a pat on the f*cking back and tell me it’s cool and then start treating me like there’s something wrong with me?! Dammit, Jade, what the f*cking f*ck!”

Her voice rose with every word she spoke. Seconds after she’d finished, we were interrupted by the sound of her baby son screaming and crying from his bedroom.

“I hope you’re happy,” I hissed at her, getting up to rush down the narrow hallway that led to his bedroom. “Stephan, I’m coming!”

By the time I reached him, his fine black baby hair was damp and stuck to his scalp. His chubby, naturally tanned cheeks were red, his blue eyes were too. I thanked God nearly every time I saw him that he looked like his mother.

“Come here, Stevie,” I cooed, lifting him up into my arms. He always felt heavier than he looked. “It’s okay, honey, it’s okay. Come on, we go see Mommy.”

“Stevie, Mommy’s sorry,” Selena said as she saw me approach the living room with Stephan in tow.

“Whatever, Selena. I hate when you scream like that, you sound like you’re freaking twelve,” I chastised her.

“I’m sorry,” she replied, her tone subdued and sincere. “I shouldn’t have yelled. I was just upset that you weren’t taking me seriously. I meant what I said about, you know, having to choose… I really like Alex, but Michael is just….really amazing. I love how together he is. Thirty one, it’s a great age.”

“You’re really trying to tear apart two brothers, Selena?” I began again. “You’re really trying to make some great karma for yourself aren’t you?”

“Oh stop with the karma,” she protested. “Don’t you think I deserve to be happy, Jade?”

“I don’t care about ‘deserve’, I think you need to get your life together,” I replied, trying to sound stern. “Selena, you have a son…It’s one thing to be fooling around with these guys, but you have to think about Stephan first…”

“Look, I’m going to choose between them regardless of whether or not you help me,” she retorted, with a flip of her curly black mane. “At least if you help me, it’s more likely to be an okay decision. You know?”

I shifted Stephan in my arms, setting him on my lap so that I wouldn’t have to carry him any longer. He sucked on his left thumb while I bit my nails pensively. “I mean that is true. If I help you out though, you have to really listen to me. I’m not getting invested in this whole thing if you’re not going to really listen to what I think. God, this is so f*cked up…”

“I always listen!” Selena glared at me. I couldn’t tell if she was feigning being insulted, or if she was serious. Her frosty blue eyes made for a magnificent poker face.

“Selena, you never listen,” I corrected her.

“Okay maybe sometimes I don’t,” She admitted.

“I’ll meet them,” I continued. “and I’ll let you know who you should pick. What if I hate them both?
“If you hate them both, I don’t want either one,” she assured me.

“You absolutely, 100% promise me now?” I desperately needed to confirm her sincerity.

“I will, okay? Pinky promise.” She offered me her little finger, and we linked our pinkies together. I won’t lie, I definitely felt my confidence increase, if only slightly, as the result of this exchange.

Selena slid closer to me on the couch and kissed me on the cheek, before also kissing her son’s face. Stephan reached out to touch her mouth and she kissed his little fingers.  “Dios Te Bendiga, Preciosito,” she said, before giving him one last kiss. Part of me thought it was weird for her to be giving her son God’s blessing after talking about her extravaganzas with two, full-blood brothers. I told myself that this was my best friend, who I loved unconditionally, and that I should try my best to refrain from being too judgmental of her.

Selena laid down on the couch next to me and laid her head down on my lap. “I’m so glad you’re going to help me. Now I’ll be able to sleep tonight.” She closed her eyes. I always noticed how her long, naturally black un-mascara-ed eyelashes were. In a matter of minutes, I heard her breathing thicken as her chest begin to rise in slumber.

“No, honey,” I gently scolded Stephan, as I carefully pried the handful of my wavy dyed-auburn hair that his determined little hands had grabbed on to out of his grip. His lower lip began to quiver. I had a matter of seconds to stop the tears from flowing.

“Shhh, Stephan,” I tried. “It’s okay honey. You want me to sing you a song? Rocka-byeeee Steeeephaan, on the treetop…..”I rocked him back and forth as I sang to him, as softly and quietly as I knew how. He passed out even more quickly than his mother. I felt like I was seeing double, with my best friend on my lap and her mini-me in my arms.

I closed my eyes, and I prayed. “Please God, please help me through this sh*t she’s always putting me through. Pretty, pretty, pretty please with a cherry on top. Love Jade. Amen.”

Who are We

We keep odd hours
as our minds come alive at random times.

We know it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission
as we pursue our reckless dreams.

Our conflicts are our treasures
gifts made out of content, the most precious material

Our worries inspire us
the what if’s make the best creations

We rarely make plans
when we do, we never follow them

We enjoy the finer things in life
like Swedish Fish, good conversation, and watching strangers ride the bus

We may sometimes lose our way
ignoring the sound of our own voices.

We will always come back

Recklessly Impressive Pt. II- A Short Story

I continued to speed the entire way to Selena’s apartment complex. By the time I pulled into the parking lot behind her building, I was sweaty with a racing heartbeat. I parked my Honda even more crookedly than I normally would have and raced up the stairway that led to the back entrance of her apartment.

I quickly skimmed my key ring for the tarnished gold spare key she’d given me the day she moved in, during the first trimester of her pregnancy with Stephan. At that time, her then beloved-boyfriend-now-strictly- baby-daddy Thomas was living  with her part time. By part time, I mean he was there from seven p.m to about eleven thirty on most week nights, excluding Friday and sometimes including the occasional Saturday sleepover. He was forty seven years old, a criminal lawyer with twin daughters in high school. Selena had been practically walking around with hearts in her eyes instead of pupils over him. I’ll admit that he was attractive. He reminded me of George Clooney- if George Clooney were slimey and morally repulsive, that is. I was hardly shocked when he broke her heart via text message. He told her that he wanted to end their romantic relationship and go back to his wife on a full time basis. Selena was beyond devastated. I literally had to move in for about a month and a half to take care of her. What hurt her the most was that Thomas hadn’t wanted to meet Stephan at all, claiming that he didn’t want to “get attached” to his infant son. The only slightly redeeming thing about him was the fact that he sent Selena a big fat check every month for child support, rent, and keeping her mouth shut. To my knowledge, his wife and family knew nothing at all about the affair, never mind his secret love child.

I spotted my key, turned it in the lock, and pushed open the door. I found my best friend perched on the living room couch, smoking her Marlboro Lights. She was slouched over, which caused her to appear even shorter and smaller than usual. Her curly black hair and skin the color of coffee with a ton of cream in it made her an exotic beauty, even in her current state.  Her eyes were almond shaped like her Puerto Rican father, and deep blue thanks to her Irish mother. Tonight,they were also swollen and red. “Hi,” she said quietly. I watched her crush the remaining cigarette butt in the ashtray on the coffee table in front of her, and immediately light up another. “Sit down.”

“I don’t want to sit,” I said, standing in front of her with my hands balled into fists at my sides. “Tell me what’s going on.”

Selena took a deep breathe, and offered me the pack of cigarettes. “You want one of these first?”

I exhaled heavily. “Yeah..that’s probably a good idea.” Some people consider themselves to  be social smokers. I was a long-established, Selena smoker. She never failed to test my nerves. I helped myself to the pack, bending over so that she could give me a light.

“Speak,” I said, taking a drag of my cigarette.

“So,” She began. “ There’s this guy…”

“Selena, are you serious?” I sputtered. “Am I really here right now because ‘there’s this guy’?”

“Just listen to me,” she pleaded. “I need you to listen.”

“Whatever,” I mumbled.

“There’s this guy,” She tried again. “His name is Alex. I met him on Facebook. We’ve been hanging out for a few months…”

“What’s a few months?” I interrupted.

She gulped. “Two and a half months…he’s kind of sort of my boyfriend, actually…”

“ Your boyfriend?! Selena, you promised!” I exclaimed. “Your therapist said it wasn’t a good idea for you to be in a relationship right now. You promised you’d listen!”

“Yeah, well..f*ck my therapist, I guess, right?” She tried to force a giggle.

“It’s not funny, you’re not even really laughing.” I shook my head and sighed. I wanted to feel disbelief, but the truth was that nothing surprised me anymore, not when it came to her. “I don’t know,man. What’s he like? What does he do? How old is he?

“He’s nice,” she said,slowly. “Really nice. He’s twenty-four like us, a manager at the Stop & Shop. He’s in law school right now.”

“Oh, another man of the law,” I snorted. “Beautiful.”

“You don’t have to be so negative.” Her tone was defensive.

“Whatever, do what you want. I know you will anyway,” I shot back at her.

“Well, there’s more to the story, actually…” She paused. “I don’t actually know what I want.”

I flicked the ash from my cigarette into the sparkly, purple ash tray on the coffee table. “Keep going.”

“There’s this other guy,” she continued. “That I think I may really like.”

“You’re upset over that? It’s been two and a half months, it’s not like you’re married. You’re allowed to change your mind,” I said. “Tell me about this other guy-what’s his deal?”

“His name is Michael,” she said, blushing at the sound of her own voice saying his name. “He’s thirty-one, and he works downtown as a paralegal.”

“So when did you start only f*cking attorneys?” I replied.

She smiled as best as she could. “Yeah, yeah…that’s not funny, either.”

“It’s true,” I replied.

“There’s just one more thing.” Selena began to shake, and I saw her crystal blue eyes fill up with tears. “It’s…it’s  a bad, bad thing.”

“Oh, jeez,” I said. “And the waterworks come on in three, two, one…Seriously, what’s the matter? Why are you crying?”

“I can’ say it, ” she cried. “You’re going to think I’m terrible.”

“I already think you’re terrible,” I said, trying to half-joke. This only made her cry harder. I took a deep breathe, assumed what I’d long ago dubbed “the position”; I rested one hand on her back, and used my other hand to gently stroke her hair away from her face. “I’m just teasing. Come on, you know you can tell me anything.”

“Alex and Michael…they know each other,” she managed to say.

“So?” I shrugged. “It’s a small world.”

“No, like they know each other really well. Like really, really well.”

“What do you mean?” I asked. “What are they, best friends or something?”

“No…worse” I watched Selena tremble as she tried to keep her emotions from overtaking her. She swallowed the tears that were building up in her throat. “Brothers…”

Recklessly Impressive Pt. I- A Short Story

She called me up crying at approximately three in the morning that Saturday.

My boyfriend Mark groaned when my iPhone began to ring. “Is that your f*cking alarm?” he grumbled, referring to the timer I always set to wake the two of us up for work during the week. “It’s Saturday, why is that going off?”

“No, it’s not my alarm, ” I snapped, crankier from my sleep having been compromised than from his words.  I never took them personally. I knew that he loved me; he was just extremely impatient at times. “Sh*t,” I said,  as my best friend’s name and picture played on my caller ID screen. “It’s Selena.”

I stepped outside of our bedroom and  into the hallway with the flashlight setting enabled on my iPhone. Why is she calling me so early, I thought to myself, annoyed. Something better be seriously wrong for her to be hitting up my phone right now. I paused and felt guilty for only a few seconds before sliding the phone to “answer”.

“Hello…” I mumbled, practically delirious from my sleep disturbed stupor.

“I need you right now,” I could hear her gravelly, cigarette-y voice, slightly muffled by the sound of her crying hysterically.

“Selena,” I said, trying to sound stern. With her, I had to be. “What’s going on? Are you okay? Are you sick? Is something wrong with the baby?” I instantly thought of her beautiful ten and a half month old, my god son, Stephan. My heart began to pound hard in my chest, like the beat of a drum played by a musician with plenty of anxiety and no rhythm whatsoever.

“No,” she sobbed. “It’s me, Jade. It’s me.”

“What’s going on?!”  I repeated, almost yelling.

“I just feel so guilty, I can’t sleep,” was her response, so full of tears I could just about understand it.

“Guilty?” I repeated.  I could feel my stomach churning, full of  little fluttering butterflies. “Why do you feel guilty? You mean you’ve done something wrong?”

“Yes,” she gasped, choking on her words. “Please come over. I’ll tell you everything- I need to talk to you so bad, please.”

“What have you done?” I demanded. “Calm down right now, and tell me what is going on. You’re scaring the sh*t out of me, you know that?”

“Just come over, please. I can’t sleep, I need you to come and be with me.” I could hear the desperation in my best friend’s voice. I hadn’t heard her sound this way since the night/ early morning she found out that she was pregnant with Stephan. She had called me around the same time that day.That’s when it dawned on me-

“Wait…you’re not pregnant again,are you?” I blurted out.

“No , I’m not f*cking pregnant,” She practically barked-cried at me. “Would you please stop asking me offensive questions and just come here? I need to talk to you. I already told you, I need you to come and be with me. Please just get here.” The call ended suddenly.

“Your calling me at this ungodly hour is more offensive than my questions,” I muttered to myself. I walked back into the bedroom so that I could get dressed.

“What was that all about?” Mark wanted to know. He was sitting up in bed with his arms crossed. Just as I expected, he wasn’t annoyed anymore; he looked more amused, like an innocent civilian watching a train wreck about to happen.

“Something’s wrong with Selena,” I told him, quickly throwing on my black Charlotte Russe sweatpants with holes and splatters of kelly green paint from the time we  painted our bathroom together.  I had gone to bed half dressed, sporting a royal blue t-shirt that cleverly read F*ck You, You F*cking F*ck.  “She says she needs me to come be with her.”

“Don’t even tell me her ass is pregnant again,” He snorted, rolling his eyes.

“She said she’s not,” I replied. I hovered over him for a kiss, which he promptly planted on my lips.

“Good luck with that one,” he said, and kissed me again. “I love you.”

“Thanks, I’ll need it. Love you too,” I replied.

See, I told you he was nice.

I collected my purse, my cell phone, and my car keys and headed out the door to my black 2013 Honda Accord that I had purchased on Craigslist just six months prior. I turned the key in the ignition, shifted the gears, and embarked on the eight to ten minute journey to Selena’s apartment. I was going a solid twenty to twenty five miles over the speed limit to try and cut my time in half. As much as I loved my best friend,  I felt myself resenting her mildly for leaving me in suspense. Here I was, at 3 am on a Saturday morning, practically sleep-speeding to go and see her without a damn clue as to why.

“I hate this girl right now,” I said out loud, to no one in particular. “I love her. But God, I f*cking hate her.”

 

Her Story

The sweetest little girl who wore frilly dresses with lacy tights that she needed help putting on. Who went home ‘sick’ because she was afraid of the little boy who growled like a lion during circle time.

The frustrated young girl who cried because she couldn’t read her own handwriting. Who stood and talked to the teacher to avoid recess with the other kids. She rushed home to write stories after school.

The teenage girl who found her best friend in middle school. Who flirted with her gay guy friend because he made her feel safe. She was the most popular nerd in the drama club.

The sixteen year old girl who left her hometown and met her forever friends. Who made many teachable mistakes in love. She never felt pretty , but thanked God she was smart.

The college girl who finally spread her wings. Who fell in love with a broken heart. Who learned to tell everyone where they could go…in the most diplomatic way possible, of course.

The young woman who had so many dreams. She rarely went to sleep before the morning time. She was hopeful, because she trusted.

Oh, how she trusted.