7 comments

Christmas

I sent my last three dollars to a girl I met at the karaoke bar last night. Her name was Gina, I think, and her eyes were green. They looked yellow in the lights, though, and she smelled like vanilla and cold metal spoons. She was jarring, with big front teeth and a personality like nails against styrofoam, but she needed money for her bus fare. I had three dollars in my bank account, and now they are hers. I hope she realizes I will not be buying Christmas presents this year. I mean, it wasn’t like I had a whole lot to work with to begin with, right, but at least there was the option. I could have bought gum. I could have bought a pack of cards. But now I’m sitting on my bed in an apartment I can’t pay the rent for and I’m starting to think my mistakes started way, way before Gina and the karaoke bar. 

I moved to this city because my mom said, “Your vibes would match so much better!” meaning, “Your laundry is burning a hole in my pocket!” 

And it was. I am not a savings person, see, I don’t like the idea of having extra money. It bothers me. It makes me feel ungrateful, like I’m wasting time on something I don’t have. I moved to this city because it was, in essence, expensive and exciting and gosh, I was almost twenty eight years old and I needed to leave, didn’t I? My best friend, this guy named Big Pete, sat with me on the porch the day I moved out of my mom’s house. He took a long sip of his drink, looked at me, and said, “You’re doing this for me, too, you know.” I asked him why. He slung an arm around my shoulders and said, “Cause I’ll never get out of this town. I’m trapped.” 

So, basically, I escaped one prison to find a new one. That was probably the first mistake, and the second one was the fact that, well, remember my best friend? I felt bad. I couldn’t leave him where he was. He was so smart, so clever, a talented musician… He deserved more. I brought him to the city with me. He’s my roommate. And, see, the thing about best friends is, they aren’t always the best people to live with. My best friend collects dolls. They scare me. He puts them in the bathroom. I get freaked out. I knocked over a priceless princess, one time, sitting on the porcelain. I’d eaten a little too much dinner- okay, a lot too much dinner- and I was reaping the consequences. Sitting there, reading a magazine, I reached over for the toilet paper and my hand grazed the feet of this doll instead. Of course I knocked her over. Of course my best friend was mad, I understood that, it’s just that when he moved out, he left me alone with my feelings and my thoughts and also, most importantly, the rent. 

Mistake one, city. Mistake two, choice of first roommates. Because he left. And I was low on cash then, too, but the third mistake was that instead of apologizing to Tony for ruining his life- as he said- I decided to get a new roommate. Two of them, actually, and it was this weird couple I met one day while I was getting donuts from that place behind the subway station. Her name was Noel. His name was Willow. They both had blonde dreadlocks. Sometimes it was hard to tell them apart, but Noel was from Boston so she couldn’t include the “r” sound when she was talking and Willow was from Mars, allegedly, so he didn’t really talk at all. He just stared at me when he wanted something. Like, one time, he walked out of their bedroom and set his foot on the counter and I said, “Hiya, Willow, you need something?” He blinked twice. I opened the fridge. He pointed at the milk carton. I handed it to him and he turned around and walked back into the bedroom. Never saw the milk carton again. I have my suspicions that he was just really into cardboard, or dairy, or both. Like I said, a very weird couple. Noel was in a band. Not a good band, but they practiced in our apartment. 

The day they started covering “Sesame Street” songs, I had to reevaluate the rooming situation. The day Willow brought home a colony of rats named after the seven dwarves, I had to say goodbye to both of them. Only, see, they didn’t really understand the concept that I wanted them to leave. 

“Willow, Noel, you’ve gotta go. I’m sorry.” 

Willow bit into a bar of soap. Noel started playing her drum kit. 

I tried again, “I can’t room with you anymore. We are very different people, and while I appreciate your friendship, it’s not working out.” 

Noel broke her drumstick over her head. Willow growled. 

I laughed, it seemed surreal. “Guys, please.” 

They scooted closer to each other. I didn’t know what to expect. I stood up and went to their bedroom door. If all went to worse, I was planning on walking in and packing their suitcases myself. I glanced back at them. Willow and Noel looked at each other and smiled, very eerily. It was at this moment I realized that this was the third mistake. I reached for the door. Noel said, “I wouldn’t do that.” Willow kissed her. She was still laughing. How she could laugh and kiss him didn’t make sense, so I opened the door. A huge, gray cat lunged at my throat. I think Willow and Noel continued to kiss each other as I tumbled to the ground, catching my hands on anything I could, but I’m not sure. The cat’s claws lodged in my throat. They tore at my jugular vein. I died, momentarily, and when I woke up again there was a trail of blood drooled down my shirt and I could hear Willow saying something, which was odd because, as I mentioned, he didn’t talk. He was from Mars, he couldn’t. 

But he said, “I think the apartment is ours, Noel. We can tell the police he died in an accident. Just chuck his body out the window. We’ll say he thought he could fly.” 

Then I heard Noel, “Good idea. Come on.” They found me sitting on the bed. I told them their dead grandmothers said hello from the afterlife, and then I stood up and walked out, still holding the tatters of my face in between my fingers. That night, Noel and Willow disappeared. They didn’t take anything but the cat. 

As for the fourth mistake, I don’t wanna say. But I will. I said I’d be honest, didn’t I? I bought a plant. A huge, beautiful, leafy green plant. That was not the mistake. The mistake was meeting the person who sold me that plant, whose name is now tattooed inside the crook of my left elbow. Her name was Beata. She had purple eyebrows. She shook my shoulders when she talked to me, and made food art. Waffles, bananas, sausages, it was all like paint to Beata. And the way she worked was that she drew me in. She made me think she loved me, and then raided my life. Beata’s real name was Sara. She was from Arkansas. She stole my credit card information and drove away with my laptop two weeks after I met her. I have one of her old paintings. It was made of coffee splotches, and when I look at it I cry. 

I make very bad decisions, I think you can tell by now. People walk all over me and I don’t know what to do. I’m lost. It’s a big city, and my bed is warm. Sometimes I think it’s better this way. I hope Gina made it home. I wish three dollars was all I needed to get to mine. She’s gonna go to her people, whoever they are, and they’ll have a wonderful holiday. She’ll buy presents and laugh about me, how easy it was to get my CashApp. I’ll feel it, I’ll feel her talking about me. She’s the only one who will be. Has my mother forgotten about me, too? Twenty nine Christmas’s, and all I was was burnt pockets and potential.

I left, though. 

 Isn’t that the best gift I could give her? 

November 27, 2021 20:57

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

7 comments

Aman Fatima
07:42 Dec 16, 2021

Amazing story.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Antonio Jimenez
06:06 Dec 05, 2021

Amazing work as always. You are talented writer. I just posted my first story in a while and would love some constructive criticism if you have the time. Thanks!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Ruth Porritt
09:09 Dec 01, 2021

Hello Rhondalise, I just read through your profile info, and I'm so glad you're not leaving! :) I greatly enjoy reading your work, and I particularly enjoy the similes that you construct. Many thanks, and catch you later, Ruth

Reply

Rhondalise Mitza
21:04 Dec 02, 2021

Hi, Ruth! Thanks for reading! I left a comment on your latest story :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Keya Jadav
04:00 Nov 28, 2021

This is such a marvellous piece. The struggles of this man are described amazingly, connecting to the hearts of the readers. I liked the little humour inserted in between. Hard to believe he gave his rear dollars to Gina. My fav line: and all I was was burnt pockets and potential. It was a great read!

Reply

Rhondalise Mitza
21:04 Dec 02, 2021

Thank you, Keya!! How've you been?

Reply

Keya Jadav
05:48 Dec 03, 2021

Hey! I am great. Just caught up in some school stuff lately. What 'bout you?

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply