Erased: Chapter 13

Erased, a novel

Chapter 13- The Jack in the Box

Kayla- I stood at the center of a room full of bouncing lights. I'd never noticed how much of a role light had to play among club hogs until now.  Surely I'd become less of a participator and more of an observer.  Even standing in the middle of the packed lower level at The Jack in the Box, I felt chilly.  I bobbed my head and kept my two step going to the beat, but I was no fun. I wanted to be bubbling over like Jennifer and Cassandra and the rest of the rave, but I'd learned to lean into my new and still emerging self.  If there was anything for me to enjoy, it was watching Cassandra pretend not to be in her forties.  It wasn't the way she dressed or her speech; she knew all to well about all of that.  No, it was something else.  It was like walking into an empty house that had been boarded up and condemned.  You could almost instantly tell it hadn't been lived in for a while.  We got along well, that wasn't the thing.  It was all just my observations, and I didn't dare share them with Jennifer.  The two were closer than I'd first considered.  They shared stories I hadn't been a part of, and had a keen taste for the high life.  It didn't bother the closeness between Jen and I; it only challenged me to see the part of her that was still searching and maybe even hurting.  Yet, she didn't have the odd odor that Cassandra had.  Still I had willingly agreed to come to Geneva, and I had even dressed the part.  We all were dressed the part; looking light on our feet, and with nothing but a cellphone pouch in hand with some cash stuck inside.  Of course I was also carrying my favorite lipstick in one of my bra cups.  A girl has to consider these things, and so I didn't opt for a halter or the low back dress like my friends. 

Eventually, a tall dark-skinned suitor captured Jen's attention, and they slowly started moving left of our center.  Just then the jockey skipped a track with a loud scratch and the crowd went wild.  In all the fever, I lost view of them and almost every other group that had surrounded us for the last hour.  My eyes quickly scanned the room, and landed on a man standing in a corner near a hall that led off to the ladies room.  He wore a black jacket over a white collared shirt and a dark blue pair of jeans.  He was holding a drink with large beads of water running from it.  I adjusted my eyes quickly back to my immediate surroundings and hoped he hadn't taken note of me.  I don't know.  Something said he wasn't security, but surveillance and perhaps not the kind you want to lock eyes with.  Instead, I changed my step to a walking kind of groove, and nudged Cassandra to follow me.  When we spotted Jennifer, she was back against the wall.  I didn't understand it, and besides that I couldn't allow it.  I tapped her shoulder, and rudely broke up the sweet nothings I was most certain the bald, bearded man was speaking into her ears.  I held her hand and we exited the box leaving the Jack behind.  On the outside, the car was still parked where we'd gotten out, and the driver quickly made his way back into the driver's seat. I made my way pass the car still holding onto Jennifer's hand, and Cassandra didn't bother to follow.

"What are you doing?" I knew I sounded like a parent but it didn't matter.

"It's just a fun night out.  Loosen up a little."

"Really.  And is that what you would tell Derek?"  I'd fought his case before, and I wanted to believe they would make it, but the truth was that I was starting to have my doubts.  Still I felt like if she'd changed her mind that he should be the first to know, and since he'd dropped her off at the airport and they'd shared several kisses, and even a long stare; I knew he would more than frown at her words.

"What if it's over?" She'd let a tear slip away, and had turned her back to get rid of it.  

"It can't be.  You love him and he loves you."
"But sometimes it's not enough Kayla."  She spoke with her eyes still turned away from me.

"Then you have to tell him." 
"I've tried.  It's hard." I held her by the waist and leaned my head on her shoulder.  

"What about the girls?"
"I don't know.  That's what's hard."

"I get it, but you have to face this.  The longer you wait, the more everyone gets hurt.  Promise me you'll talk to him."

"I will...  It's just... well, we got this dream of us growing old together, and.."

"You don't have to say it.  I know the dream." Naturally, as we both reflected on the dream our feet began to move and we made our way to the car. Cassandra had already dosed off and her head was hung back on the top of the seat between the two head rests.  We each entered the car on opposite sides and sandwiched her.  As we rode back, I wondered about the word dream and the word growing, and contemplated which had gotten our feet moving again.  Dream had a lot of sizzle, but growing carried with it life.  We didn't speak again that night even after we'd made it back, but there was always and still something between us that kept the friendship strong.  This night it had been both the dream and the growing.

Jennifer- I slept most of the next day.  My heavy heart and limbs kept me in bed, but regret kept my eyes closed.  I finally sat up after the sun had gone down.  My phone was blinking.  It was all emails and texts alerts.  I started with the emails.  One came from my team; pictures of the set up from Jeff's party.  I was pleased to see it had come alive just as we'd discussed.  Another from my associates was to remind me and confirm my Monday morning meeting.  I shot back my confirmation, and moved through the rest of the messages.  I had more texts than emails ironically.  One each from Cassie and Kayla, one from Derek, and the others from clients.  I left Derek's for last.  The girl's seemed easiest and less fussy, and I instinctively opened those first.  I was wrong.  Kayla had texted me at 8am to say she had decided to go to a hotel.  There was no explanation, but she did promise to meet me on Monday.  We were working on some things together, and I'd invited her along.  Cassie's text was the latest and was on a much lighter note: "Want to order some pizza?" I text backed, "Definitely!" It was an hour later, still her response was nearly sudden.  A simple, "Okay".  I didn't ask about Kayla, and moved on to shower.

I stepped out into the open air of reality still hopeful, but prepared to see it changing.  The lights were on in the den, and I could smell the pizza.  It was the food I always ate with friends and close family.  I took a small step down, and saw that Cassie had ordered more than we could possibly consume; an array of single slices with different toppings.  Everything was fresh, and still held the heat. Cassie and I were both dressed for bed.  She was wearing socks though, and I remained barefoot.

"What happened to Kayla?"
"Who knows.  She's sensitive.. you know that."

"I do." I'd left the subject alone and broke two tips off of two different slices.

"So... what happened last night?" I could hear that Cassie's question was precursored by the statement she always used in her emails, "Just following up." I didn't answer all at once, and something said, "Don't speak with your mind full".  I didn't question it and literally waved her investigation off.  She was an easy relent, and we started passing comments about the pizza instead.  It certainly made for more fun as I listened to Cassie critique and tell me what would have made each one more special.

When I returned to my room, I read Derek's text again, but did not return the message.  I thought instead to go over my presentation and get a handle on choice words.  Finally before I slide back down under the covers, I reflected on the dream again.  It was still a delight, and it by itself without my demands caused me no pain.  So that was the way I decided I would interact with it moving forward.  Right before I closed my eyes, I wrote the words, "Love you" and hit send.  It was hard to describe, but even from where I was and without an immediate response, I knew I was loved and felt it too.

Meet Cassandra beginning in Chp. 8

Erased, a novel

Copyright 2018 by Natisha Renee Williams, All Rights Reserved 

Grace Call Communications, LLC Copyright 2018