I guess in a sense, raw cereal wasn’t that bad! I joined Ashlee for a raw feast and it was quite filling. I had never known Ashlee, well this side of her anyway. She was in her bra and she wasn’t dressed in something that I found peculiar about her. In the few times I saw her, she had always worn long sleeved tops and I had always wondered why. We were getting awfully cosy after the cereal munching and she reached out to hug me. As she stretched her hands, I noticed cuts along her hands. Some seemed shallow but two seemed so deep that they must have hurt the time they were fresh. I took hold of her hand and took a closer look. She tried to pull away softly and I let go of her hand. She seemed to cave into this world of guilt, loneliness, fear and resentment soon after. She looked like she was about to cry a river and I wondered why because clearly I hadn’t done anything to hurt her. “Yah I know, you are wondering why I have wounds on my hands. Well they are not the only ones, there are all over me, I just cover them up. My mom passed away, nine years ago, when I was just ten years old. She was killed by my dad! Had an argument that got physical and my dad pushed her down the staircase and that was the last of her. I can still hear her crying, every day that my dad beat her up. ‘Lying bitch, which slime bag did you sleep with today? Look at me, look at me!’ He accused her of being a prostitute because his best friends said so. Every day, I would hide in my room, hoping the noise would stop, the screaming and the beating but I guess it’s only the fantasy of a child for her parents to come to their senses. I heard my mother tumble down the stairs, like a rolling boulder with no voice. She had locked me in my room before he came home; I guess she knew it was time to go! ‘Ed saw you at the department store, what were you doing there?!’ I remember my mom’s terrified voice, ‘I had just gone to buy pain killers, I didn’t mean to go out. I am sorry. I-” After that I just heard slap after slap, thuds as her body was shoved into the walls, gasps for air in the midst of consuming tears and drowning streams of blood. After that I heard one last hit and then she tumbled down the stairs and that was the last I ever saw of my mom alive. The neighbours called the police but my dad was gone, they found my mother and then found me! They found my dad later, trying to run away in his car. I testified in court, against my own father, and he was locked up for 55 years without a chance of parole. I wished life would be easy after that. Moved in with my mom’s sister soon after, stayed at the house I stay in right now. She had no kids! She had pancreatic cancer and didn’t even know it until it was too late. She tried as hard as she could to stay alive for me but she died when I had just turned sixteen. Tried to find work but I wasn’t good at anything, never had a sane mind after all that. School went down the drain no matter how hard I tried to get an education. Broke, distant and alone, I became addicted to alcohol and that led to cocaine as I couldn’t find satisfaction in alcohol. Buy it whenever I find money, social grants and stuff and it’s not much. When I am broke I get cravings, my blood is alive with hunger for more but I can’t buy any so I cut myself. The pain helps me to take my mind off the cravings. No one cares for me, no one! Only my mom, she took a lot for me and look where it got her! She never got to tell me that she loved me before she died! My dad writes letter after letter saying he is sorry for what he did but I can’t forgive him. I won’t forgive him! He took the carpet from right under my feet and for that he must burn. That house is all I can hide in, all that I feel free in. The world has robbed me of everything. Lost my virginity trying to get money for the next experience. So many times I have given myself to men even when I don’t want to but something inside me just calls out for the next experience. I have tried to stop a million times but I have gone back to get more a million and one times. Sorry, I shouldn’t be telling you this. Sorry!” Ashlee stood up and went to my room and put on her clothes and walked out without saying goodbye, tears rolling down her cheeks with a void stare in her eyes. I was speechless, really just speechless, shook to the inner essence of my being. I was locked in a state of bewilderment and a sunder sense of confusion. I really didn’t know why I was confused; at most I should have been happy. At least I wasn’t alone in a crazy world. I was pulsed to life by a knock on the door. I came back into consciousness and figured I had to go and open the door. The person knocked again and I jumped at the door. I opened it with a mild irritation in my mind only to feel like a wet chicken when I saw that it was Detective Ross. “Detective, what do you want?!” He smirked a bit, “To come in firstly!” I moved aside and cued him to come in and he gladly did. He looked around the apartment with a sabre sharp eye, trying to find something to start off with. He sat down and looked at me and I had just closed the door but I was still standing by the door. “Miss Miles, you have been spotted with a certain character, looks to be in his teens, always in black, not Caucasian! Who is he?” I figured he was talking about Corey but what struck me the most was the fact that I was being watched. “One of my sources actually told me he left this apartment just a few minutes ago. Care to tell me what he was doing here?” I looked at the detective and tried to find words but under my tongue lay agitation and in my mind was a vivid memory of why everyone hates policemen. “Last time I came to you, you kicked me out! I have nothing more to say to you. He is my, hmmm guardian. Yes, guardian. Now if you don’t mind, go and fatten yourself on doughnuts and coffee like most of you do. Until you have something credible to ask, stay away from me. I don’t have time for you or your kind so please leave!” I opened the door and waved for him to leave. “I don’t want to ask you again Detective, leave now!” The detective stood up and rubbed his cheek with a disbelieving smile cutting across the right side of his face. As soon as he was out I banged the door behind him and savoured myself in the moment. I wish he had listened to me earlier, but I guess the reason why policemen are put through police academies is so that they become as thick and hard headed as the people they are fighting. Ashlee was still plaguing my mind like an unpaid bill! I walked over to the couch and sat down, trying to come to grips with what she had told me but deep down inside I still couldn’t believe a lot of it. There was a knock on the door again. I was now seriously infuriated, “I told you detective, leave me alone or I will call the- Oh dang, you are the police! Just leave me alone damn it!” The person knocked again, harder this time. I got seriously agitated and I jumped at the door. My tongue was already harbouring rotten words of insult that I wanted to cast into the person behind the door but as soon as I swung it open I felt ashamed, it was Joe! We stood at the door staring at each other. “Sorry about last time Joe, I shouldn’t have broken down on you. I am sorry.” He rolled his eyes and I knew he didn’t take it too seriously. He came in and gave me a hug. In that moment he lifted me up and swung me around and I almost felt like laughing. He was in a good mood and I was curious why! He read my mind, “My aunt is coming home tomorrow, she is fine now, and I missed you as well!” He put me down and pulled me over to the couch. We both sat down and looked into each other’s eyes without a word. A part of me hated what was happening for obvious reasons but another part felt natural in the moment. I guess a lesson I learnt in all this was that ‘no matter where you are, you must face a moment of truth there and then.’ Truth is, I felt weird when I was around Joe, like I could trust him and that I needed not fear judgement. He looked at me and I liked the way he looked at me. He made me feel special. “Joe, I know you might think I am crazy but my life is crazy right now!” He put his left hand on my mouth and I took it as a cue to keep quiet. “Actions, actions. Don’t be quick to judge. You might not know the hardships people don’t speak up. It’s best to observe with a cool head!” Those words from him sunk deep into my mind in ways I didn’t think they would. He looked at me with no judgement and what struck me the most was that he actually came back. I held his hands and made a request of him, “Joe, you have become a very special person to me. I would honestly like, if I live till better days, to spend more time with you and get to know you more and get into all the corners that make you who you are. I think you can tell that everything isn’t alright with me and I need to find a way through. I need to find a way to forgive myself, my dad and everything that has happened to me. I really need to find some inner peace before I can let you into my door.” I honestly thought that he was going to be mad angry at me but he nodded his head with the lovely eyes still looking at me without a shift in mood or intensity. “All the time you want, I will be here till you come back.” He reached over and gave me a hug and in that moment I felt warm inside. It was nice having someone who cared in this situation. He stood up and walked towards the door. I felt like stopping him but I saw the need to let him go because I needed to be alone at that time. He left with a waving hand and soon enough my voice was mine alone. Ashlee was still bouncing in my head but not as much. It was almost four o’clock in the afternoon and I was thinking about things that had happened the day before. I needed to go and see Ashlee, see how she was doing. I took a short shower and figured a change of clothes was necessary. A little stack of dirty clothes had built up so I figured I had to go to the basement to do the laundry when I was back. I dug into my clothes in the closet, trying to find something comfy to wear. In the process I met a small little purple purse. A little note was sticking out and I pulled it out and unfolded it. ‘For a rainy day!’ It was in my handwriting and I immediately knew what was inside. I had been saving for a new entertainment system in my car for two years and I was just about $100 short. I opened the purse and I was greeted by a thick stack of neatly folded notes. I didn’t need to count it because I knew it was a lot. I smiled a bit and pulled out a hundred dollar note and shoved the purse back into its hiding place. I got out of the apartment and out of the building and made my way to the department store across the street. I bought cool drinks and a lot of snacks and started on my way to Ashlee’s house. I didn’t know however where exactly she lived so I had to figure it out somehow. I passed Joe’s house and saw him standing by the window starring at me. He seemed to know who I was looking for and wrote something on a piece of paper and showed it to me, “Down the road, left turn, Number 6, third house on your left!” I blew a kiss to him and started walking towards Ashlee’s house and after five minutes I was there. I knocked on the door and there was no response. It didn’t sound like anyone was in there. I knocked again and I was almost scared out of my pants when Ashlee came silently from behind me and rubbed the back of my neck with a feather. “You scared the living daylights out of me! Where were you?” Ashlee smiled and went over to a bench facing the road and sat down. “I don’t get guests so I am not always a very good welcoming person. Come sit with me!” She seemed fine now and I went and sat next to her. I gave her a drink and some chips. She fought hard to hide the smile on her face and I figured no one had ever done what I did for her. I don’t think she even knew how to say thank you but circumstances seemed to not put her across as nothing more than a victim of cruel fate.
“So what made you come to these parts of town? You don’t seem to have it bad at all.” I noticed she had judged me from appearance as someone who didn’t have it as bad as she did. Maybe I didn’t but I think our stories weren’t that far off. “Let’s just say, our stories are not that far off from each other. My mom died from breast cancer and my dad, well I just don’t like talking about him anymore. My life just crashed down and I don’t know if I can pick it up anymore. A lot of weird things have happened to me.” Ashlee seemed indifferent now and she was constantly rubbing herself and I just figured it was cold since it was a bit chilly outside. “Hey lets go for a walk or something. This place is boring!” I agreed with her in that moment and nothing seemed more interesting than a walk. She stood up and made her way out and I followed. We turned on the corner I came through and we were in Joe’s road. She couldn’t help but stare towards his house as we approached it. Joe wasn’t by the window anymore but somehow I knew he was close. We walked past his house and soon enough he appeared at the corner of my street and his. He didn’t make too much effort to meet us, and I sensed Ashlee getting all mushy. “Hello ladies, I take it you are hunting for something. I think I saw it run down that corner but I can’t remember what it is though. If I get a hello hug from both of you I am sure I can remember what it was!” Ashlee knew this was her chance and she didn’t waste time. She gave him a hug that seemed like a back rub and a method of leaving breast prints on his chest. She really had it bad for him and I sort of felt guilty in the moment. They finished hugging and Joe turned to me and I opened my arms he fell right into them. We held on for a second too long and I could sense a black hole erupting in Ashlee’s heart. I pushed Joe away trying to cover up what was already too obvious. She smirked and looked aside but I knew something had shut off in her. She then looked at me, “Let’s go to that place again, and hang out there!” She didn’t wait for my response. She had already started walking and I followed but I waved good bye to Joe. Joe waved back and started walking towards his house. Ashlee never said a word while we walked to that run down house. We got there and she walked straight in and camped on the couch. Jamey came into the room with a baseball bat in hand and I thought he was thinking he was being invaded. He breathed a sigh of relief and didn’t seem moved by our presence. He just turned back and went to wherever he was. “Hey, you want to do it again? My treat! Double what we had the other day!” I hesitated to respond because I didn’t want to do drugs. She read me and winked at me, “Don’t be a sissy, it won’t hurt a single bit!” I didn’t want to aggravate the situation with her any further and I wanted to show her that I wasn’t a sissy. I agreed and offered to make it my treat. She called Jamey who came into the room with a half annoyed face. “Do you have the stuff, double?” He nodded his head and put out his hand and I took it as a cue to pay up and I pulled out a twenty and gave him and he smiled in a creepy way. He pointed to the kitchen and I figured we had to do the rest ourselves. Ashlee jumped and headed to the kitchen and I got up and followed her. She pulled the white powder from its hiding place behind an aged refrigerator and took out two small packets. She cut one open and split it up. She took a pipe and sniffed her share up really fast. She passed the pipe to me and I regret up to this day what I decided to do that day. I sniffed my share up as fast as she did and in a split second she cut up the second packet and divided it again. I sniffed first and damn I felt like a god in that moment. I felt my heart racing faster and I felt confident. Ashlee sniffed her share and rubbed her nose with her fingers. I could tell she needed more to get to feel what I was feeling. We went and sat in the lounge and I could feel parts of me that I never thought were alive. Like a symbiot, I had just found the host I needed to truly live in a sense. All the time Ashlee looked at me with an occasional smile. In the moment she asked me a question, “What is your full name Rose?” “Juniper Trinity Rose Miles” I answered and continued to try and realize this world I was in.