When I got home that night, I really started to feel like I could do it. I could be something on my own. I’d even convinced the bartender to let me try mixing a couple drinks! She had to walk me through the whole thing of course, but it was kinda cool. Getting to be on the other side of the bar.
I got home that night and felt really good. I really thought I could turn things around. Prove to my Dad and brother that I could actually do things on my own. That I didn’t need someone to do everything for me.
“Thanks Avery… For letting me stay here. I know I’m pretty awful sometimes. I guess I kinda forget you’ve been on your own a long time. I never had to do it, you know? Daddy always did everything for me.”
“I know Ari. It’s no problem. Just have to make sure we remember our boundaries. And you have to pull your weight… get a job.”
“I have! I got a job at that bar you told me about… The Lounge. They said I had to start with dishwashing – but I could probably be a bartender soon. I know it’s not much but it’s something, right?”
“It’s awesome, sis. I’m proud of you. When do you start?”
“Okay, so you’ll be home tomorrow when I’m off? I’d really appreciate if you could cook something up for when I get home, and maybe take the garbage out. I have to go to bed now though.” He paused and looked at me, smile growing across his face. “I’m really proud of you.”
= = = = = = = = = = =
I felt accomplished that morning. It was honestly probably the most work I’d ever done on my own. Yeah, Avery had asked me to help him out a bit – but he wasn’t home. I’d done it on my own mostly. Now he’d be able to come home to a cleaner house.
So obviously, I decided to treat myself to some time out. A guy I’d met the other day at the Lounge invited me to go back, so I agreed. He was handsome, older, nice, and I’d done everything I needed to for the day. And it was my last day of freedom before I joined the working world. Is that what people call it?
He was really sweet. Gentle. Friendly. Let me rant about my family. Told me all about these cool parties he goes to for work. He’s a DJ. And he was really affectionate. So when he asked if I wanted to go back to my place, I told him yes. I was sure he wouldn’t be like Marcus was, and bail the moment we were finished. And besides – it was my final day of freedom, and Avery was at work.
“Thanks. It’s my brother’s. I’m just staying for a while until I can find something for myself.”
“He’s not home?”
“No. He’s at work. For a while. No one’s home.”
We were having fun. Enjoying each other’s company. Whatever. I didn’t think it was a big deal. I know it’s not my bed, technically, but I was going to clean the sheets. It’s just sex.
Until Avery came home early, of course. He walked in. Just walked into the bedroom! Sure, it’s his room. But even if I hadn’t been doing what I was doing, what if I’d been changing, or sleeping, or something else. Like, why would you just walk in if the door is closed. He was expecting me to be at home all day…. Why not at least knock?
But of course… It’s going to come back on me. It always does.
I cannot believe this is my life.
I genuinely thought she was doing better. Making better choices. Not only thinking of herself for once. I really, really did. And then I leave work early because I was going to surprise her with cupcakes. To celebrate her getting a job.
What do I see?
Her. In my bed. With someone. Naked.
Just in case you were wondering…. On the list of things I never in my life wanted to see. That was probably number one. So I leave the room and wait. Because what else am I supposed to do?
Finally, this guy comes out. Tries to sneak out like I didn’t know he was there! What a treat. I stopped him and asked him to leave. To not come back. Thankfully he was pretty reasonable. He looked familiar too – but I couldn’t place it. Seemed to old for her though. Damnit, I wish she would just think before she does things. Just once!
Once he left, I sat down with Arizona again. I felt like this was a conversation I’d have a million times with her and she’d probably never understand.
“What the hell were you doing?!”
“Avery, I know you don’t need me to tell you what I was doing.”
“Arizona! I mean in my house. In my bed! Does this guy not have a house? How long have you known him? You just let a stranger into my house?”
“He’s not a stranger. His name is Dominic. He lives in Windenburg. He’s a DJ.”
“Oh my God, Ari. Dominic? Dominic Fyres?”
“I don’t know his last name. I didn’t ask.”
“He’s married, Arizona. He’s married. And has two kids. I used to babysit the younger one. Before I moved out.”
“No he’s not. You’re obviously not thinking of the same person.”
“I’m not wrong, Ari. I knew I recognized him, but I couldn’t think of why. Now I know.”
“I really thought I was doing better, Avy. I really did.” She looked heartbroken. Sad. The same as she did when she first came to my door. I sighed, trying to rack my brain for something that would make sense in this situation. She spoke again, “I’m sorry Avery. I’m so sorry. I didn’t think it was a big deal. I would’ve washed the sheets. He didn’t tell me he was married!”
I rubbed my head with a frustrated groan. “I know sis.” I paused. Looking her in the eye.
“You can’t stay here anymore. I’m sorry.”