The Life as It Is
Jenny wasn't sure what she did last night. She was scared of Dockey and she was horrified of what she did. Everything was stupid. To sleep with the man, whom she didn't even respect just to hurt Tommy was dumb. She realized it in the morning, no she realized it earlier when they made love. Could she say, that what they did was love? No, it was dirty and she was ashamed. The life was hard on her. Her husband disappeared, Tommy didn't pay much attention and her father always was against their relationship. She was confused, that why Jenny left Samson and went to the church to think about a cess box she was living in.
The girl woke up late. Her face was swollen, her right eye was half opened, her lips were bruised and all her body was sore. Yesterday she decided not to go to school, 'cause if the teacher saw her that way, everything she did would be ruined. She woke up only because someone unstoppable hammered at her door. She lazily stood up on the cold floor and went to open the damn door. She knew who it was.
"Are you deaf, lazy bitch!" Mrs. Parker greeted her daughter. "Look at you! Told you not to play with boys!"
"Yeah, right! You don't even remember," the girl hissed.
"I do remember everything! If you ever… Listen to me, if you ever again lock me in the bathroom, I'll kill you with my own hands, do you understand?" she pointed index finger in Erin's chest.
"Go, buy me the cigarettes!" the woman demanded.
"What about the money?" the girl retorted.
"How old are you?"
"Mom, you should know it better. You were the one who gave birth to me." Erin replied.
A second later she felt a slap on her face smashing her sore lip again. It started to bleed.
"You think, you're smart, huh? You think, you can speak to me in such a way? I'll teach you how to respect your parents, who brought you up! Look at you! You're not a kid anymore. Yesterday you tried to fight with me, your mother! You haven't apologized yet! How dare you ask me about the money? If you're strong enough to fight with your mother you're strong enough to find the money. Go and get the cigarettes! I don't care what you do but don't come without them either!" she yelled at the girl, who stood looking at her disheveled mother wiping the blood from her lip.
Somewhere on the way to school:
Barry and Pat saw Toby approaching them. His cap was nearly covering his eyes because his face didn't look much better than Erin's. He shook hands with boys, who greeted them with a whistle.
Barry said: "Hey, dude! What's happened? You look like a mashed tomato!"
Patrick joked: "Yeah, ketchup looks better. It's not so many-colored as you are!"
"I was helping my old man and fell from a ladder." He lied.
"Of course! Liar! You fell from a ladder right on your face!" Patrick smirked.
"Shut up, jerk or your face will be the same as mine!" Toby smiled showing his fist to the twin.
"Where's the red-head? It's 10 minutes to nine, we'll be late for the first lesson and she's never late." Barry said worriedly.
"She won't come today. She's got a flu, said she'd stay at home. Let's go." Toby replied.
"And you know this because?" Patrick asked suspiciously.
"Saw her in the street yesterday when I went to my uncle, she didn't look very well." Toby explained.
"Ok. Let's go. I don't want Mr. Fredrick to bark at me again for being late. I already have one E for the test-paper, one more negative mark and dad goes crazy." Barry said and three boys hurried to school.
In a shop:
Erin let her messy, curly hair down, pulled the cap over her eyes and twisted the scarf over the neck and covered her bruised lips. It looked as if it was very cold outside. Instead it was snowing again and it wasn't more than 5 degrees below zero. She didn't have any money to buy the cigarettes, so, she pretended she was choosing something. She started to examine the goods. Suddenly Dokey and his guys came to the shop. The girl hid behind the shelf. Dockey threatened the owner. They've been talking for ten minutes but Erin heard the cries of the poor man and his apologies. He asked about his brother's death. The girl tried not to breathe. When men got outside, she took two packs of cigarettes and rushed out as fast as she could. She got her breath back when she was far from the shop and the howling shop-assistant.
Somewhere on the way to Reilly's diner:
Jenny walked slowly back to the diner. She was at Firecracker but Tommy wasn't there. Jimmy already knew everything and she was pretty sure rumors here go faster than people. The woman didn't care about the rumors, she was afraid of Tommy's reaction. She wanted to hurt him, she hurt herself instead. The life was complicated, though she had to be strong. Everyone made mistakes, she wasn't an exception. Jenny dragged herself along when she saw something familiar in an alley. Yes, a little, skinny silhouette with scarlet hair was sitting in baggy clothes on a parapet with her back to Jenny.
"Erin, what're you doing here?" She asked coming closer to the girl. Erin didn't turn her head. Blows of smoke were floating in the air above girl's head. "Are you smoking?" Jenny was taken aback. She took furiously the cigarette from the tiny hand and pressed it down with her boot.
"Hey! What the hell!" the girl hissed. "You're what, Mother Teresa? It's none of your f…..g business what I do. Yes, I'm smoking, drinking alcohol and taking drugs. What do you want from me?" Erin stared at her angrily.
This time Jenny saw that girl's face was a mess: "My God, Erin! Who did this to you?" She made a step to look better at girl's face and spread her hand to touch it, but Erin evaded Jenny's hand. "Is that Toby?"
"No! Why on Earth did you tell his father about that bet? Wanted to play mommy! What do you want from us, huh?" Erin yelled.
"Toby beat you up, wasn't he? I'll make him pay!"
"It wasn't Toby! His dad beat him up after that conversation with you! You wanted it, right? You, adults, always want to show us how powerful you are, but you can't even solve your own problems! Do you think we can? Do you think that all your crap you should pour on us? Is it fair?" the girl stood up. She was shaking and fighting the tears forming in her eyes.
"Erin, I'm sorry. I didn't know…" She apologized coming closer to the kid. The girl wanted to get away. Jenny grabbed her and hugged her, pressing the child's head closer to her chest. "Shhh. I'm sorry. Tell me, who did this?" She heard girl murmured through the sobs: "My mom!" Jenny held her tight while the kid was crying. She thought how horrible it was when your own mother didn't care at all. Her dad did everything for her, when mom died. The life was a crap, she was sure of this truth.
Erin freed from Jenny's embrace and started to rub her eyes to wipe the tears away.
"Oh my!" the girl said looking at Jenny's coat. Her lips cracked when she was sobbing and a small stain of blood now covered the woman's coat. "I'm sorry…"
Jenny didn't give a damn: "Don't worry. I'll wash it. Come on, we have to stop that bleeding and take care of the bruises."
That day Erin spent in Reilly's diner. The girl wanted to help Jenny but the woman refused her help. She sent the kid upstairs in the room, gave her some books to read and brought her lunch. Her father wasn't excited to see the red-head in his diner, but he didn't say anything.
In the evening girl thanked Jenny.
"Hey, you can stay." Jenny told the kid.
"No, thanks for everything. I have to go. I need to know how she is." Erin shrugged her shoulders.
"Fine. I'll be waiting for you tomorrow. Be careful." Jenny said.
"See ya." Woman run her hand over girl's head and Erin left.
After that, Jenny went to talk to Tommy about Samson and her stupid mistake. The conversation wasn't the best one, though she thought to herself that things could be worse. Sometimes the reality was ugly and nobody could make it better…