It Could Get Worse

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I stay with an old friends parents for the night. I don really want to deal with anybody in my life, and I don feel safe bumming somewhere. I don talk to their son anymore, but we
e on okay terms. We
e both just busy, and in different places in life. His parents let me stay over when Im needy. They don actually like me all that much, but they
e too nice of people to leave a teenage girl out on the streets.

I sneak out of their house two hours before any of us are supposed to be up. I don want them to wake up early and have to see me in their house. I also laid in bed restless almost all night, so there was no reason for me not to leave early. The earlier the morning, the colder it is. Im starting to wish that I owned a coat, or at least a thicker sweatshirt.

Its so interesting to see the streets still asleep around here. Not that the streets are busy normally, but theres almost always some drama happening on them. I guess yesterday mom and I were the drama. The feeling of Leo kissing my cheek makes my skin prickle, and I try and fold myself into my sweatshirt more. I don understand why hes always trying to flirt with me, and acting out when it comes to me. He was so happy to get rid of me when we broke up. Now, a year later, hes being so aggressive about it all. I fold my arms to fend against the cold and push it out of my mind. I can understand crazy. I walk to school and take a nap in one of the classrooms till people start to show up.

⇜ ⇝

Leo walks in after being out partying for the last two days. He left me a note and said don come looking for me. So Im surprised to see him back. I packed my things up and was going to leave. ”What the ** are you doing? ” He asks uninterested as he goes into the fridge.

”Well I was going to leave soon. I thought you were gone. ”

”Jesus, I leave for a few days and Im dead to you. I can leave you alone without you shitting your pants. I was hangin with the guys and having a good time for once. Now, go put your shit away. ”

”I was leaving whether you were gone permanently or not. ” He slowly rises out of the fridge taking a bite of leftover pizza.

”You were leaving no matter what huh? Where are you going to go? Your mom isn going to take you back. Hell, I wonder if she even remembers you by now. Its been a year. ”

”Leo, you treat me like shit. You get mad about everything, and anything that goes wrong is my fault. You leave notes and say things that make me think you
e going to disappear one day. Theres nothing stable between you and I, and Im sick of it. Im going to stay with friends until I figure out what to do. ”

”Are you breaking up with me? ” He stands to his full height.

”Yes. ” He starts laughing using only air and rubs his hand down his face.

”I thought you were just bluffing. Saying you were going to leave, and that youd be back tomorrow. You
e going to break up with me because I went and had fun with friends? ”

”No, that just showed me that I needed to. Im breaking up with you, because we
e not healthy. I don want to feel like this anymore. I don feel happy with you, and I don feel safe most of the time. I never know whats going to set you off. Im just done. ” I start to slide my bags onto my shoulders.

”Wait wait. ” He rushes over and starts grabbing the bags off the ground. ”You can go, I just got home. Come on lets talk and shit. ”

”No, Im done trying to talk about everything. ” I grab the bag from his hand, but he refuses to let it go. I try to push him off with my other hand. He yanks it back causing me to stumble forward. My phone starts ringing on the counter. Georges name pops up with his picture. We both look at it buzzing on the counter, and don look away until it goes quiet.

”Who the ** is George? ”

”Hes a friend. ”

”A friend? ” He steps into me, and the sudden intensity makes my hands tremble.

”Ye…yes, ” I stumble, ”he…hes just giving me a ride. ”

”A ride! You
e going to get into his car! What the ** is wrong with you. You
e trying to break up with me, so you can start seeing some other guy. We
e not even broken up yet, and you
e getting into another guys car? ”

”No, Leo hes just a friend, I promise. ” He swipes my phone off the counter and starts opening it. ”What are you doing? Stop it! ” I try to grab it out of his hand, and he shoves me away. The uneven weight of my bags makes me almost fall. As I catch myself on the corner of the counter, I hear the dial tone.

”Hey girl! You ready for me to come? ” Leo looks up from the phone and straight into my eyes. His nose flares and his eyes light up. He slowly sets the phone down on the counter.

”Hey, lover boy. Shes staying here, so I don want you calling her again. ”

”What? Mo.. ” He hits the end call button and shoves the phone away. I hear the thud and snap of something breaking as it hits the floor.

”You think you can cheat on me, and I won find out? ”

”Id never cheat on you! He meant to pick me up; thats it. ” His movement is so quick I hardly see him coming until hes holding onto my shirt. One of my bags falls from my arm. He lifts me up and puts his face inches from mine.

”You **ing bitch. I can make your life hell you know. I own you and your mom. Do you know how much money she owes our dealers? Im gonna be a gang leader as soon as I prove myself. ” My chin starts to tremble and tears break free. ”You gonna cry like the **ing bitch you are! ” He screams in my face. I try to stop my eyes, but the more I try to stop the more I cry. Theres a sudden little jingle from the other side of the counter. Leo sets me on my feet. ”Go grab it and tell me whos calling you. ” My jello legs stumble, and hardly work as I go to the other side of the counter. I see Georges picture before I pick it up, and my body starts to shake. I turn to tell him whos calling me, but hes right behind me. He towers over me, his chest puffing up and down.

His fist flies out and connects to my cheek bone. I fall onto my side. My phone slides away. ”Get up! Say who it is. ” He grabs me by the front of the shirt again and screams in my face, ”Say it! ” When I start to cry instead of speaking, he hits me again, and again.

I don remember how long he screamed at me, and how many times he hit me. I just remember feeling like I was stuck in time. It felt as if everything froze, and that first hit kept replaying over and over. I couldn even answer him, because anytime Id say anything it would make it worse.

After what felt like a lifetime, I heard a whisper of salvation. Georges voice saying my name, but Leo yelling over him kept me in my place on the floor. ”You can go. I don want to date an unloyal **ing bitch. ” He spits on the floor next to me and kicks my bag into my side. I hear the bedroom door slam. As soon as the door is shut, George is by my side. He grabs my arm and starts whispering to me. I can make out what hes saying. All I can think is that his voice means Im safe. I lean into his shoulder after he helps me sit up.

He picks up my bags and helps me walk out. As I get to the door, I pause and take a last look at what I used to see as my home. I grab the frame of the door and hear his keys jingle on their hook. I grab them and we rush out. George gets us into the car and drives away as fast as he can. Hes no stranger to the hood, but I guess we
e not normally involved with the dangerous people in the neighborhood. As we drive away, I lay my head down on the open window. I take the car keys out of my pocket and hold them in my hand. I was there as he saved up for that car. He worked extra hours and jobs with the gang to get a nice vehicle. I chuck them out the window and start to cry. My finale goodbye to him.

⇜ ⇝

The day drags along, as if it doesn want to end. The history teacher won stop droning on, and math follows suit. By the time the last bell rings I feel as if Ive been here for days. I drag myself to my locker, tired from the long day. My mind wishes for sleep, and my body is working ahead. The sight of Charlie on my locker, when I round the corner, brings me back to reality. Im spending time with Charlie tonight, and Im meeting his parents. My brain starts to cry, ”Hey. ”

”Hey, Ill meet you in the car after you change? ”

”Yeah, meet you out there. ” He smiles and leaves. Charlie gifted me the outfit this morning. The long, dark blue dress looks so out of place in my gym locker. I get it out and notice the back is open a lot. Of course, it fits. Its amazing how well that woman can remember numbers and sizes. The dress is silky and feels nice when I slide it over my skin. There are long sleeves on the dress, with a thigh slit on the right leg. Its pretty small and unrevealing, but I like it. I throw my hair up in the best bun I can do and spray some perfume on. Theres some wedge high heels in the dresss bag. The duplicate of myself in the mirror makes me scoff. I look like a little kid playing with grown up clothing. Im such an imposter.

Well, you
e just a kid, aren you? You can even take care of yourself. Look at you. The dress is your size, yet you hardly fill it out. The sleeves meet your wrist perfectly, but slack everywhere else. Its the perfect length for you, but the sides don touch you. Its pretty pathetic. A little girl pretending to be more than she is.

Vrr. Vrr. I break out of my thoughts and answer my phone. ”Hey, are you done yet? ”

”Yeah, just got done, Ill be out in a couple minutes. ”

”Cool. The care is warm and waiting. ” I avoid the mirror and the sad reflections it tries to offer my eyes. I reach for the handle, as it swings open for me. Lil and I almost bump into each other before I move to the side. She gives me the stink eye and sits on the bench behind me.

”Why do you look so stupid? ”

”Im having dinner. ”

”With your boyfriend? Lol. ” She says completely monotone. ”He get you that dress? Obviously he doesn know that you don look good in anything that shows skin. ” I scoff and leave. My fingers rub across my neck, chest, and exposed leg as I walk outside. My skin screams to be covered and hidden away. When I get next to Charlies car I almost make up some excuse to leave. But, he opens the door and I get in anyway.

”You look great. ” He says with a kiss on my hand. He wears a dress shirt and pants, but nothing too fancy.

”Why am I wearing, like, a cocktail dress while you
e wearing choir concert attire? ”

”Because my mom knows Im good for nothing and expects nothing. While she doesn know you and will expect a lot. Also, she thinks its a womens job to dress as perfectly as she can for all situations. I don want to hear one complaint from her about your appearance, so I told Maddison to just go all out. ” The drive is quiet minus the song quietly playing. My anxiety makes me unable to say anything. I can feel Charlie is anxious, and somewhere else entirely.

He pulls up into the driveway, and theres another car there for the first time. The other car is fancier than Charlies brand-new sports car. My hands start sweating in my lap as I realize what Im doing. Im letting this rich, fancy boy who gets whatever he wants, because his parents have whatever they want bring me home. Me, the trashy girl with an eating disorder, because she can afford to not have one. Me, the girl who slept at a home of those who hate her instead of on the street. The person who has personal connections with drug dealers and gang members. ”This is a mistake. ” I whisper to myself. Charlie looks over almost a full minute after, as if he forgot I was there.

”Well, lets get this started so it can end, huh? ” He gets out of the car slamming the door a little more than needed. I don get out. I keep sitting and staring at that new car in the driveway. Its as if its never been touched by a human. Its so perfect it looks fake. Charlie taps the hood of his car, breaking me out of my trance. He motions for me to get out. My hands slips when I grab the door handle. As soon as my foot touches the driveway, my heart sinks. My feet tell me to run for my own sake. Out of all the mistakes and all the stupid things, Ive done. This is going to take the cake. ”Why are you taking so long? ”

”Just composing myself. ” I try to smile, but can tell if my face moved when I told it to. I see a face peeking out between the curtains on the second floor. A little white woman stares down with a sour expression. Shit, she knows.

When we walk in the door, I can smell dinner and flowers. The smell is so amazing I feel like Ive never smelt before. Charlie shuts the door behind us as his mother comes down the stairs. I suddenly feel like Im not over dressed for dinner. Shes wearing a long black dress with a trail. The sides have a nude cloth over them, and her hair is down and flowy. Shes very skinny and tall. She walks over to us and stands in front of me. Her face is flat and cold, but her eyes try to say she doesn care about any of this. ”You
e my sons… ” she ponders as if forgetting the word, ”girlfriend, I presume. ” It feels like a question, but I feel stupid for answering.

”Mona. ” I smile. Her hands are folded behind her back, so I don offer a handshake.

”Eve. ” She turns and beacons us to follow her with a finger. She sits in the middle of a smaller couch. Her presence takes up the couch, while her body only takes up the spot between the cushions. Charlie and I sit on the slightly larger couch across from her. When I sit down my butt starts to hurt already. This is the hardest couch Ive ever sat on, and I grew up with an uncle that used a pile of blankets on top of a plastic bin as his couch.

”So, Mona, thats an interesting name. ”

”Thank you. ”

”What made your mother decide on something so unconventional? ” My brain freezes at its first test.

”My grandmothers name was, uh, Marian. She was given the nickname Mona when she was younger, and my mother decided to name me after that. ” That sounded like bullshit. Did that sound like bullshit? Oh **, why would they nickname her Mona? That makes no sense.

”Interesting. ” She turns her head and starts addressing Charlie about his grades. The real story of my name is a lot more embarrassing. When I was a kid, I asked my mom, while she was drunk, why she named me Mona. She said, ”Because thats the only good thing to come out of you. ” As a child I didn understand what she meant, but once I got older I figured it out.

”Mother, my grades are fine. Stop freaking out about it. ”

”Im not freaking out about anything. Your grades are fine, but we want great. Or at least good. You have Bs and a C. Think you can figure out how to fix that so I don have to keep worrying about it? ” He sighs and mumbles something resembling a fine. She shakes her head slightly. She opens her mouth, but her husband walks into the room. He walks over and sits in an armchair to the right of her. Hes a similar height to her. His hair is short all around, but longer in the front. Its styled into a sort of flat quiff. He wears a grey suit without the jacket on.

”Hello Charlie. Whos your friend? ”

”This is Mona, my girlfriend. Mom insisted I bring her, did she not tell you? ” Insisted…

”Im sure she mentioned it. Hello. ” He nods to me.

”Hi..hello. ” I quickly correct. My face burns when Charlie looks over at me a little. Charlies parents start to talk to each other about their trip.

”You good? ” Charlie whispers while only acknowledging me with a slight turn of the head.

”A little nervous, but fine. ”

”No kidding. ” Somebody walks in and announces dinner is ready. They all stand. His father takes Eves hand and walks her to the dining room. The dining room has a wooden table for six with matching chairs. Theres a long chandelier hanging from the ceiling, and the floors are a dark stone. Charlie pulls out my chair for me. He sits next to me, and his parents sit together on the other side. They bring in a bowl of soup and drinks for everyone.

”Im assuming you
e in the same grade as Charlie? ”

”Yes, Im a senior as well. ”

”What college do you plan to go to? ”

”Im… ” Should I lie or say Im undecided? ”Im thinking of going to NSU. ”

”Thats not a bad school. ” Charlies father chips in. They both take their napkins and lay them in their lap; we do the same after. Classical music plays in the background, but not loudly enough to cover up the awkward silence.

”We saw Ashley on our trip. ” Pipes up his mother after minutes of silence.

”Good for you. ” Charlie responds coldly.

”Don be rude just because I brought up your ex-girlfriend. ” He has an ex-girlfriend?

”Why are we talking about this? ”

”Ashley is part of a good family. ”

”Yeah, Monas dad does business overseas too. There are a lot of good people in life mom. I think you need to stop crushing over Ashley. ” Eve taps her husbands hand.

”Don be rude to your mother Charlie. ” He says after wiping his mouth. I try to disappear and eat my soup as quietly as possible.

”Mona. What do your parents do? ”

”My dad is doing business overseas, and I have a stay home mother. ”

”So she takes care of you when your father is away on…business. ” I nod. ”Why do you constantly eat here and not at your home then? ” Eve leans forward a little bit and his father lets out a little cough. ”I keep track of how much money Charlie spends on food. I don mind if he has friends over and they get food, but according to my records you were over here almost every day. At least on the weekends you were here consistently. I know Charlie isn eating that much food, I mean look at him. ” My throat feels so dry, but I don dare touch my drink. Their servers come in with our main meal. They slide the plate in front of me, and I feel the need to give it back. I avoid looking at it, but then theres Eves eyes staring me down. I glance over at Charlie, but hes texting on his phone. ”Mona, I don mind if you eat here often. I don . I just want to know about you. Im just a protective mother, and I want to know what my son is getting into. You understand. ”She leans back into her chair. ”It doesn look like you eat much either, so I can help but wonder. ” She takes a bite of her steak.

”I invite her over. ”

”Sorry? ”

”I invite her over, mother. I get lonely, and I ask her to come over a lot to keep me company. Shes fun to be around and is there for me. So shes over a lot, because I ask her to come over. Shes not trying to mooch off of you, so you can stop trying to intimidate her into spilling some big secret. Her grandmother is one of the founders of our school. She has money, so you can calm the ** down. ”

”I don appreciate the language, but its fine. Why didn you tell me your grandmother helped start the school? It isn , uh, Marian is it? ” She smiles as if she knows its all bullshit.

”No, thats on my mothers side. ” I smile feeling uncomfortable. While fighting the urge to tell her to take her food and shove it up her ass.

”Do you visit your grandmother often? She must have some amazing property. ”

”I don . My father is busy a lot as is she. Ive only met her a few times. ” She gives me a little nod and continues eating. I take a bite of potatoes and instantly feel nauseous. Before we
e all half way done with our main meal the servers come out, and take the food away. They give us a salad and a small desert.

”I enjoy having my salad after my meal instead of before or during. ” His father pops in. ”Oh, I don believe I introduced myself did I? I always forget people don just know my name. ” He laughs a little which receives him a small smile from Eve and a scoff from Charlie. ”Im Edward, but call me Ed. ”

”Mona, obviously. ” He smiles and raises his eyebrows quickly.

”Charlie, will the two of you be joining us after dinner? ”

”Probably not. ”

”Oh, and why not? ”

”Cause I don wanna I guess. ”

”Because I don want to. ” She corrects. ”Charlie, we don come home very often. We also won get to meet your girlfriend very often either. Stay and spend some time with us. ”

”You guys sit and do the same thing every time you come home. No, Ill take Mona home, so we can do homework or something. ” The servers come and take the last of our meal from us. As soon as theyve walked away with the plates Charlie gets up. He leaves his chair pushed out and starts pulling my chair out before Ive even prepared to stand. His parents slowly stand and follow as Charlie pulls me to the front door.

”It was nice meeting you Mona. Maybe well meet again. ” Eve keeps her lips pressed tightly when she smiles. Her head always looks a little too heavy for her neck. Charlie yanks me out the door with him. The sun is almost completely gone as we get into his car.

He pulls out and runs over the curb, and starts driving like an asshole. ”Slow down. ” He looks at me, as if I just called him some offensive slur. ”Whats up your ass? Calm down. ”

”Whyd you let her talk to you like that? You didn say shit. I had to **ing stand up for you, otherwise she wouldve kept walking all over you. ”

”Im sorry I made you, my boyfriend, stand up for me. I was trying to be respectful and not say anything that would make them hate me. What was I supposed to say, though? I have been staying at your place, and eating there all the time. ”

”You couldve told her I invited you over. Its not like its a secret that I invite you over. ”

”Well it is to everybody else. Im not going to say anything about you in case you don want her to know it. ”

e ridiculous. ” We sit in the quiet for a little bit, until he starts to slow down and go the speed limit.

”I noticed you said she insisted you invite me to dinner. Did you want me to meet your parents or was it just that you can tell her no? ” He doesn answer me for a while; he just stares ahead strangling the wheel.

”I didn want you to meet her cause shes a bitch. Its not about you. ” He pulls up to the sidewalk in front of Lils house. ”Theres a party in a couple of weeks. Did you want to go with me? ”

”Is there a dress code? ” He smiles. ”Yeah, Ill go with you. ” He kisses me goodbye and drives off. I stand on the sidewalk and watch him leave. I stand on the sidewalk for another minute after his car is out of sight.

The dress rubs on the side of my stomach as I walk home. Once I get into my neighborhood, I feel more insecure. The dress lets in a lot of air and so does all the parts that my body doesn fill out. I get catcalled a few times, and a couple of guys try to stop me thinking that I might be trying to sell something. I walk a little faster and say nothing back. By the time I reach the apartment, I just want to sleep. My mother says something to me when I come in. It involves the words useless and whore, but I don stay and listen. I go straight to my room to sleep.

My mind keeps going back to how Eve looked at me. I was pretending I was something else, and using all the fancy names in my list. She still saw past it, though. She still looked at me like Im less than. How many people are seeing through me?

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