"OPEN THE HELL UP!"
"Huh?" I question the gravely voice, half awake and half asleep, still.
"I SAID OPEN THE HELL UP! I GOTTA TAKE A LEAK, LADY!"
"Mom, just--" Mom. Parents. Home.
Gone. They're gone.
Well, they're gone from me anyway. I open my eyes tentatively, grimacing as flourescent light burns into them like fire. It wouldn't have been her anyway. She never woke me up in the mornings.
"I SWEAR TO GOD I'M GOING TO KNOCK DOWN THIS FUCKIN'--"
"Just shut up, ok?! I'll be out soon, just hold on for a sec."
"YOU'VE GOT A MINUTE," the guy yells, banging his fist on the door for effect. I roll off of my stomach to my knees, rubbing my sore eyes. I can't keep doing this. It was kind of fun at first, moving from place to place, sleeping in a different store every night. But I can't keep up like this. Not to be picky or anything, but sleeping where people excrete their bodily waste isn't exacty a hotel expierience. I sit up fully, quickly snapping my frizzy black hair into a ponytail, and slide my backpack across my shoulders. I slip on my Converse, hurriedly tieing them, and step to the scratched mirror of my temporary room. I look over my face inquisitively, and grip the sides of the white sink tightly. My dark brown eyes have huge bags under them, more bloodshot than ever. I splash some water on my face, taking a quick sip of it. I look myself over in the mirror--really look-- and swipe the loose tendrils of hair behind my ears. I want to cry so badly right now, but I won't. I won't be weak. I am afraid. I'll be honest. I don't know what I'm doing here. I just know that that house is never going to be where I belong.
"No, no, no," I say to myself quietly, tapping my foot, biting hard on my lip, pressing the heels of my hands to my eyes, trying to stop the tears. You can do this. You don't need to go back. You're seven-teen years old. Don't be weak.
"MINUTES UP, BITCH YOU BETTER--" The door fly's open and cuts him off as I push past him into the store, rolling my eyes in annoyance. He looked like a decrepit skeleton that'd had skin cancer ridden flesh stretched across it. I look back to see his hunched over body slipping a needle out of his pocket, and locking the door behind him. Christ. The blonde at the counter files her long nails as she longues back on a plastic chair, legs crossed, cleavage popping out of her low buttoned shirt. Her pink glossed lips smack as she chews her gum as loud as she possibly can.
I find my way to the snacks aisle, dragging my hands across the prices. 'Ticket to Ride' plays in the backround from the stereo next to her. My older sister by 4 years, Diana, would always play the Beatles on family road trips over the holidays. They were terrible. We'd get lost, Mom and Dad always fighting violently in the front seat, and Olive, my younger sister, turning green from car sickness. As soon as Di reached her slender arms from the backseat, her dirty blonde locks falling into her face, and slid in a CD everything felt better. It drowned out all the chaos in the car, in my head. She told me that music changes everything, that the perfect song can save your life. And she always did know the perfect song to play. The memory of my sisters spreads a lazy smile across my face.
And the remembrance of how we aren't together now, how I broke us apart brings me back to the hot general store just as fast.
A sigh escapes my lips. Water. A really, really big bottle of water. And two packs of onian and sour cream potato chips. Then I'll be gone. To the next store, the next grimy floor, the next where ever for who knows how long. I snatch up my food, pressing the water to my face though it's practically lukewarm, walking to the counter.
"Oof," I grunt, the heroin shooting bathroom bum crashing me in the shoulder. A mix of chemicals and piss attacks my nose as his filthy brown jacket brushes my skin. I fight the urge to gag, audibly. He chuckles hoarsely.
"Hope you won't be too upset, sweet cheeks."
Undoubtedly high. He picks up his pace, tripping over his bare feet out of the door. I smile politely at the girl. She keeps chewing, and looks me over with a judgmental face, eyeing my sweaty skin, worn, muddy converse, wrinkled blue jeans, black tank top. I scowl. You don't look too classy yourself.
"$4.45," she drawls boredly, and I move to slide off my bag. Sifting through it, I hear the fake doorbell go off behind me, a gasp escaping the girls mouth. I look to her as she takes her lip between her teeth and adjusts her top even lower, then turn slowly, and take a few seconds to understand exactly why the blonde is so preoccupied.
I think I'm looking at the most beautiful guy I've ever seen.
He's about 6 ft, lythe and lean, but ripples of muscle are outlined from beneath his white shirt. His green eyes are almond shaped, and hios mouth is pink and full. He wears dark jeans, a canvas brown bomber jacket. He looks around briefly, like he thinks someone could be watching him, and crouches down by the magazine section, his face shadowed by a faded blue baseball cap, a large hand grazing his chiseled jaw, not looking to give a damn about the two hypnotized females at the register. Two. Except that's not possible. Because there are two people here, and only one of them is taking part in staring at some random guy, and I'm certainly not taking part in this, because I should be freaking gone by now.
Because I wasn't--I mean, I didn't--just...never mind.
"Are you going to pay?"
My head snaps back to the blonde, her face expectant and slightly annoyed. I mumble out an apology, unzipping the space on my bag reserved for my wallet. And it's empty. It's empty. No.
My eyes go wide.
"Shit," I hiss under my breath, gripping the counter she's drumming her clickety nails on impatiently. No, no, no, you have got to be fucking kidding me. It has to be here somewhere.
I fuck fuck fucking cannot have lost my fucking wallet.
There's not enough air in this shitty store, or this humid state, and I think I'm going to puke all over this floor. Maybe it's in the bathroom, maybe--
Hope you won't be too upset, sweet cheeks. Well pardon me sir, but I'm pretty fucking pissed.
"Do you, um--maybe, I--I," my words stumble out incoherently. She stares at me, and rolls her eyes.
"If you can't pay, than can you please--"
"How much," a husky British accent speaks up next to me. I whip my head around, and it's the guy from before, but his face isn't shadowed by his hand anymore. His green eyes are dark, a broad jaw set and clicking with impatience. Her smile leaves nothing to imagination, stretching out her gum as she chews.
"$4.45, sweetie." The girls boobs are basically hanging out if her bra by this point.
It's just the slightest but awkward for me to be standing here.
His aggravated eyes move down to her chest, and he smirks slyly, biting down slightly on his pink lip. And the entire time he hasn't even looked to the person he's paying for. Screw this.
"Ugh, never mind," I huff angrily, storming to the door and connecting my hands with the hot plexiglass. It doesn't budge. I push again. What the hell? I shake the door repeatedly, and only receive a screechy clanging from the rigid door. A burst of laughter sounds behind me. The blonde is covering her mouth, shaking her poofy head in pity. At me. The guy laughs.
"I think it might be pull," he says sarcastically. I turn away angrily, pull the handle harder than necessary, and the door slams into the stand of gum.
"Watch it!" the blonde shrieks. I ignore her annoying voice and trudge out to the deserted gas pumps, dirt kicking up around my shoes. Slowing as I reach the small amount of shade from one pump, I plop down with my bag between my raised knees. My whole body feels too hot, my insides and my skin. From the setting Texas sun, casting orange and pink hues to a darkening sky, and anger. And not just from that asshole British guy, and that ridiculous blonde. From everything I've been trying to leave behind; all of the bull. We get taught at a young age that everyone loves an underdog, that the good guys always win, and the bad guys always lose. Except, in the real world, the pretty guys end up with the pretty girls and everyone in between gets screwed over. People tell us these things when we're small because its nice and they think it's what we want to hear. But we're children. We don't know what the word pain is and we certainly don't know what the hell we want to hear. If they'd just tell us the truth in the present it'd save so much false hope in the future. Cause what about then what about when it doesn't end up this way? What then? What about when your perfectly happy big sister downs a king sized bottle of aspirin, your dad beats up the boy who deflowered your little sister, and your plastic parents finally have own up to the fact that for the past 26 years, they weren't even close to being in love anymore. Not even close.
Something heavy and crinkly sounding hits and rolls off me to the ground: the potato chips, and my water bottle.
"Thought you'd want these," a rumbly male voice speaks. My head snaps up to the shadow casting above me, and make a sound of disgust when I realize who it is. His baseball cap is gripped in his hand now, dark chestnut curls swept back from his face. He raises an eyebrow at my response, dark green eyes brightening as he leans with his hands in his pockets against the pump.
"Money well spent, obviously."
I pretend not to be paying him any attention, my eyes fixed on the hand that's picking at my chipped nail polish.
"Shouldn't you be making monkey with that blonde by now?"
"Shouldn't you be throwing yourself against another locked door by now?"
I can practically hear the arrogant smirk spread across his face.
"I didn't see the freaking 'pull' sign in the door, okay?! Excuse me for being near sited." I can hear him chuckling softly next to me. I shake my head as I cradle it in my hands, wilting in the heat.
"Why'd you even pay for me, anyway?"
"Cause the both of you wouldn't shut up," the guy states matter of factly. He smirks, "Although that blonde was pretty damn fit." I roll my eyes and stand up, shoving my food into the bag. I've had enough of this one sided conversation. Thankfully the bum decided to leave my map intact. I unfold the huge thing, my eyes narrowing in concentration, deciphering the distance between Texas and Los Angeles. My stomach falls. So far, I have 1,500 more miles to go. The bus option is crossed off since I have no money, and there's no way I'm going to be able to make it on foot unless I happen to be the reincarnate of Moses. I could hitch hike, but getting kidnapped and raped isn't really my thing.
Jesus, I'm screwed.
I ball the map up in my fist, trying to control my anger, "Goddamnit!," I yell, letting out a puff of air.
I whip around, the closeness of his voice startling me. He's only a few inches away from me, close enough that I can smell the muskiness his cologne. His darkening eyes fall briefly to my lips, a hand lightly gripping my hip. My skin feels on fire beneath my clothes.
"Easy," he says huskily. I stumble back, uncomfortable in our proximity. What the hell just happened?
His smirk is gone, replaced by a serious stare. Directed at my map. I fold it up quickly and stuff it into my bag, crossing my arms. He licks his lips and looks directly at me. He holds up his arms, as if saying he doesn't mean harm.
"I'm not gonna hurt you for it, I just need to see it, alright?"
"Yeah, why would I believe that? I don't even know you."
He rolls his stupid green eyes, "Yeah, exactly. So you also don't know how I really, really need that map more than you do." He clicks his jaw again. His eyes flick to my bag, then to me. I scrunch my nose.
"I've already gotten my money stolen today. I'm not taking a chance on the only other thing that could get me out of here. And why can't you just get your own? Theres like a million general stores on this highway." He runs both hands through his locks.
"It's complicated, love." Did he just call me love?
"Did you just call me love?"
"God," he mutters angrily, "Just fucking give it to me, okay?"
"No!," I yell at him, "Are you not listening? Get you're own damn map, Dora." His dark brows come together, like he's not sure if he's amused or confused, with the smallest hint of a smile in his face. But in a split second it's gone, and the cloudy anger of his thundering voice returns.
"Give me the fucking map!"
"Oh my God, how many different ways can I tell you, it's mine asshole! I'm not giving it to you!"
He steps towards me. I take a step back. He takes another step, and this time keeps walking.
"You really, do not want to test me, right now," he rumbles lowly, towering above me. His boots crunch into the rust colored dirt as he backs me up.
"I've been driving this empty ass highway--" I'm sorry what? Driving? "--for about a week straight so I'm already pissed the fuck off--"
I put my hand out in front of his chest, halting him and myself.
"Wait, driving, you've been driving? Like...you have a car with you?"
His green eyes narrow. "Why?"
Holy fucking shit. Holy fucking shit.
"Where are you going? West? Los Angeles?"
He glances around ever so briefly, and crosses his arms.
"Why?" he replies, still guarded. A grin spreads across my face
"Can I c-"
"No," he answers before I've even asked.
"You didn't even hear what I was going to say!"
"You were gonna ask if you could come with me. Right?"
I glance at the ground and nod.
He shakes his head, starting to turn back, "No."