Words are only words. How bad can they be?
|Catsup dripped onto the yellow paper sitting open on the table. The large plastic drink container sat on one folded tip and warm salted fries were scattered across the top. She could feel herself salivate. The suit-clad man with the expensive shoes was talking on his cell phone barely touching his food. She was hopeful this time.
"I'm in the middle of lunch, can't this wait?" He grabbed a hot fry and chewed it carefully listening to the phone pressed against his ear.
"OK! I'll be there in 10 minutes."
Her eyes widened as he stood with the tray. He had not placed the fries back in the cardboard container or wrapped the sandwich. She walked quickly up to him.
"I'll take care of that for you, Sir" and she reached out for the tray.
"Great. Thanks." and he walked purposely out the door never noticing she didn't work there.
She took the tray outside shoving fries in her mouth as she did. Yesterday she had scored some chicken at Kentucky Fried before the manager had chased her out. She pulled her baby blue Ski jacket closer around her. When she had stormed out of her house cursing at her Mother, it had been a bit tight, now it could be wrapped around her. She buried her teeth into the cheeseburger, her long blond hair falling into the fries. She grabbed the drink and sucked down the cold Coca-Cola relishing it. Minutes later she was done, burping loudly and attracting disapproving looks.
She held her stomach. She had eaten to fast and now it was bloated and hurting. She burped again quite loudly. She saw the guy behind the counter scoping her out. Time to get moving. She left the tray where it was and headed out the side door not really knowing where. The faded jeans were frayed from dragging on the ground. They had fallen down around her hips as the weeks on the street took their toll.
She headed to the Barnes and Noble. They had warm places to sit and read in there. She had been there last week and had been chased out of there as well. She thought, perhaps, she was getting smelly although she couldn't smell herself. She hadn't had a real bath in weeks. Gas station bathrooms were her place to clean up.
Approaching the thick wood doors with the paneled glass, she could almost feel the warmth waiting for her. She was so cold all the time now. She waited outside until a couple walked in and she walked in right behind them. She found she was less noticeable if she went in places with other people. She made her way to the back where the art books were kept. There were never a lot of people there and that was where one of the chairs was. On the way back, she grabbed a couple of teen magazines to look through. The smell of coffee permeated the air and the thought of holding a real coffee cup in her hands sipping it while cinnamon rolls cooked in the oven taunted her memory.
She had been so angry when she left home. She was so tired of being told where she could go, and with whom. Her every move had been scrutinized and critically judged. She watched as a Mother and her daughter looked at Craft Magazines together. Mom and her painted ceramics. They use to make those fancy gift jars too and fill them with cookie dough. Then, they would take them to church and give them to this lady who would give them to shut-ins. Shut-ins. She felt shutout.
She wasn't so angry anymore. She was tired all the time. Hungry. Hungrier than she had ever been before. All these old men kept hitting on her. If she was a whore, she could make lots of money. They kept telling her she could. Her and her boyfriend had never done that. They'd kissed and felt each other over their clothes but that was all. She thought about Greg. His dark brown hair, his athletic build. He was a gymnast. He had big shoulders, a thin waist and was so very strong. His long eyelashes and eyes pulled her into him. The magazine lay unread in her lap. She wondered if he missed her. She had left without even saying goodbye. When her parents said he was to old for her and she couldn't see him anymore, the anger just took hold. He probably was worried about her.
She remembered how he would just barely touch her jaw line stroking it and calling her kitten. He was so strong yet so gentle with her. He was a senior and she was only a freshman. Was that such a horrible sin?
A thought came to her. She wondered if she went back home if they would let her see him again. Maybe he wouldn't want her anymore. She could call and just ask, "If I come home, can I see Greg?" The thought of hearing her Mother's voice was a compelling one. Maybe she just wanted to go home. Sleep in her warm bed with the feather bed. She could shower for an hour in her bathroom. Not many girls had a bathroom all of there own. She thought of the spare change jar her parents kept where she could grab change to pay for incidentals like cheeseburgers and strawberry malts.
Then the words her Mother had thrown at her surfaced. "This is my house, my rules, you have nothing. If you don't like it then get out." The anger resurfaced again. Who would tell their own kid to get out, just because they liked a boy older than them self. No, she couldn't go back. Tears welled up. She had been told to get out. She loved Greg. He was her first love. He was a good boy. He didn't even believe in sex before marriage and had taken her to church but all her parents saw was that he was older and muscular and they wouldn't listen to her. They wouldn't try to get to know him. They were wrong. His being older wasn't a bad thing.
They had told her to leave. If she went back, she would never feel safe again. When would they tell her to leave again? How could she ever feel safe there? If she called, went back, would they tell her to leave cause she didn't eat her broccoli or stay on the phone to long, or get a C on a paper. How could she ever trust again? She felt betrayed. She had thought that no matter what she would be loved and then she had been told to get out.
"Miss, are you going to buy that magazine?"
The words snapped her out of her thoughts. "Uhmm, I was just looking at it."
"We are happy to have customers look through potential purchases. Do you intend to purchase?"
She didn't say another word. She put the magazine down on the floor and walked out into the cold.
"Hey pretty girl, are you looking for a good time?"
He was probably in his mid thirties. Wore a baseball cap and smelled of beer. He had a small belly that hung over his jeans. His jacket was some baseball jersey type thing. He glared hungrily at her, as though she was an uneaten cheeseburger on yellow paper. She thought about the cold and how good a warm shower would be. Looking down the street at the motel with clean sheets, warm beds and showers she paused. She wasn't going home. They had told her to leave. She wanted to be warm.
She looked at him, "I don't know what a good time is, I've never had one." She looked at the motel again and he caught her look.
"Why don’t you come with me and we'll get us a nice warm room and I'll show you a good time"
She took a deep breath. "Sure guy. I mean, how bad could it be?"
Barnes and Noble was closing down, the last of the patrons getting into their cars to go to their warm homes. They curiously glanced down the street at the motel where the street had been closed off. Some grumbled under there breathe about the inconvenience of the traffic.
As the detective took pictures of the young girl's bruised and battered body, he turned to his partner and said, "This is as bad as it could get."