FYI: This is about my fifth draft, and is the final draft that will be put onto Tapas. It is not professionally edited. If you would like the copy that is, you will have to purchase it.
They say that you show one side of yourself to people you see from day to day, another to people you trust, and reserve one side all for yourself...
I have always found myself lost in the complexity of emotions. How a simple feeling caused by a multitude of different emotions such as love, loss, anxiety, hurt, and anger can manipulate itself to go from nothing to exploding into this very large unfathomable state, that can overwhelm a person to the state of in expression, depression and everything in between.
I don’t have many memories of my childhood, before being in foster care. If I do, they are locked away somewhere in my subconscious. I have a vague memory of being someone’s daughter, someone’s something, and after that, I only remember being bounced around from home to home. No one ever really wanting me or claiming me as their own. I guess when they found out about my condition, it was too much of a mess to deal with.
The homes I was placed in would always last about a month before something would happen. As a teenager, it was often the man who was supposed to be a father figure that turned out to be a sleazy pig that would try to start something sexual with me or hurt me in another way. And as it always went, the wife would throw me out like some hussy, acting like it was my fault that their scumbag husband tried to rape a defenseless child.
I wished someone really would have wanted me for me, appreciated or cherished me for who I was; not just for the pension funding. Yet, once I turned eighteen, I finally was able to get out of that hell hole and into society. When the time came, I took nothing with me except for the only bad habit that accompanied me on my journey, smoking pot. Well, I did take a bunch of emotional baggage as well, but who’s keeping tabs.
It was the summer of 2013, I had gained myself a job, a room-mate and had built a good group of friends.
“Lizzy! Stop running! The longer you run, the more tired you’ll become. And I’ll end up catching you anyway.” Sam called for me as I ran from him, desperate to get away with my crime. The wind whipped my mid-length blonde curls against my back. My heart raced, pounding in my chest. All of a sudden, I was pulled to a halt.
“Lizzy, you cannot keep getting high for free. You owe me, man!”
Sam had me pinned against a brick wall, not allowing me to budge an inch. People walked past and looked, but didn’t say anything. This was a town where things like this happened regularly, the norm.
“Okay, but you know I only have enough money to scrape by as it is and I need my weed.” I pulled my shirt from his grip.
“That’s not my problem. You either come up with the money or start sleeping with the dealer,” he said, the thought sickened me. “Now, look at me with those big blue eyes and promise me you will get me that money before I have time to change my mind.” He grabbed my chin to turn my face toward him, “I don’t want to have to do something unspeakable to that body of yours, but I will if the need arises.” he said as I once again pulled myself from his grasp. “And trust me, it won't look the same once I do.” he scoffed.
“I'll get it to you as soon as I can.” I managed to speak the words through harsh breathing. As Sam let go, I sprinted off to my car and drove home.
As I unlocked the door of my studio apartment and let it swing open, my best friend and housemate, Darcy, was sitting on her bed across the room.
“Hey, friend” She said as she rolled onto her stomach and rested her head on her hands.
“What’s up with you?” She continued.
“Not much, just a rough day, I guess.” I let out a sigh as I threw my keys onto the bench. “I’m going to go outside for a smoke.” I gave her an unenthusiastic smile as I walked past her and slid open the back door.
“I’m running to the shops,” Darcy yelled in my direction, a few minutes later.
As she left the house, I looked over the veranda, watching the neighbors was one of my favourite pastimes. I did it often as they made for some pretty interesting entertainment.
As I watched, I couldn't help but allow my frightening encounter from earlier to get to me. I had no idea how I was going to pay back my drug debt. I tried to always put some money into savings from my weekly paycheck, in an effort to stop myself from slipping back into the system. I had no desire to become just like one of the people that claimed to have raised me. Darcy was pretty good with letting me pay the rent as I could. Her parents owned the place and were pretty relaxed about the whole thing.
I refused to turn out like one of those dropkicks. I was going places, making a life for myself. And I figured that would start by picking up more work at Kerry’s Cafe. I sighed as I thought how the pot was the only thing calming my PTSD tendencies, which were of course caused by my childhood, constantly making me a mental wreck.
I must have fallen asleep at one point, sleeping through the night and well into the next day. When I woke, I rolled over and checked my phone for the time. A text message from my boss Kerry displayed itself across the screen.
“Shit, I’m late!” I yelled, jumping out of bed and running to the bathroom.
“Shut up,” I heard Darcy groan in response. I Ignored her, brushing my teeth with one hand while pulling my jeans up with the other.
Moments later, I was rushing out the door and down the street. I noticed the hustle of people. Probably trying to get to work like me. I weaved in and out of the Sydney crowd and into the small café where I worked. Though, unexpectedly, I was stopped in my tracks by the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. There she was, novel in hand, sipping a coffee. I couldn’t take my eyes off her auburn-brown hair as it fell perfectly past her shoulders. I shook my head in an attempt to snap back to reality, realising I had better head back into the kitchen to get my apron, the uniform we were required to wear over our own clothes. Personally I hated it, but it seemed to be pretty popular amongst staff; having the option to wear your own clothes.
“You're late!” My boss was looking at me, unimpressed and in no mood for excuses.
“Sorry, I slept in.” I attempted to apologize but knew it would not make any difference today.
“Lizzy, you’re my best worker, so I’m going to cut you some slack this time, but I can only give you so many chances before I’m forced to give your job to someone that obviously needs it more than you do. And trust me, I have a long line of applicants.”
I gave her a pleading smile as I quickly tied my apron around my waist and got behind the coffee machine. I turned to see my coworker and friend, Aaron, looking at me in dismay as he handed me a huge list of orders. “I have never been so happy to see you!” He said as he handed me a list of coffee orders. “I have been here since seven AM and it has been flat out the entire time.” he continued.
I gave him a look of sympathy as I got the coffee machine ready for the next order. “Lucky I am here now then,” I said, cleaning out the filter basket.
About an hour later, the busy period had finally died down. I looked around to see if the beautiful girl from earlier was still in the shop. To my delight, she was. I curiously took some glances in between wiping down tables and sweeping, when suddenly she peered up through long lashes, revealing big hazel eyes. She must have felt my eyes on her, I thought as I looked away embarrassed. She looked at me as she took a sip of her coffee; the action causing me to feel butterflies in my stomach.
After a few moments of me moving from job to job around the shop floor, I headed back to the coffee machine to attend to the building line of customers. As I prepared the machine, I felt eyes on me once again. I looked up and saw the beautiful girl watching me, a smile present on her face. “Hello, what can I get for you?” I asked routinely, soon regretting that I didn’t say something clever or charming.
“Dirty Chai, please,” she said as she gathered change from her wallet. I stood there, staring blankly. “That’s all,” she continued in a sweet voice, as I fumbled for my next action. She placed her money on the table. Clumsy from the effect she had on me, I fumbled over it several times before managing to put it into the cash register. Looking up again, I saw the not-so-pretty face of an impatient older woman waiting to be served. I quickly stood up straight and took her order. Subtly trying to find hazel eyes.
“Did you get that?” The elderly lady said rudely, waving her hand in front of my face.
“What?” I asked, absentmindedly.
“I said, I want a cappuccino and a chocolate chip cookie.” She said, growing more impatient by the second.”
“Okay,” I replied, smiling slightly. She huffed and walked away, shaking her head. Order ready, I put the lid onto the takeaway cup, smoothing down the edges in hopes of avoiding it coming loose as these lids have the tendency to do. I began to walk it over to hazel eyes, though In my haste, I squeezed the paper cup a little too hard and the lid came flying off, spilling the coffee all over the front of my white t-shirt.
I cursed under my breath, as I held the shirt away from my skin. I ran to the kitchen mouth first, “Bloody paper cups!” I yelled, slamming through the swinging doors. Kerry looked at me, observing the situation.
“I can only guess what happened here. Are you alright?” She looked me up and down.
“It’s those stupid lids again. My chest is on fire!” I flicked my shirt to ventilate some airflow within the oven that was my shirt. “Shit like this always happens to me. You need to invest in some better cups, Kerry!” I expressed miserably.
“Well, you are clumsy.” Kerry shook her head at me, “But I agree, those cups do need to be replaced. They are a safety hazard. Show me your burns.” She said, and I lifted my shirt in response to her words. She looked and then proceeded to say, “They don’t look too bad, although just to be safe, go tell Aaron to remake the coffee, then you go to the doctors. Here is a wet tea-towel for the burns.” I stared at her, not wanting to leave as I really needed that money. “Go on, get!” She said gesturing with her head for me to leave. “Come back for your afternoon shift at three.” she continued as I exited the swinging doors.
I tried my best to conceal the stain with my apron as I went to talk to Aaron. With everyone watching me, I proceeded to give him the orders before heading out of the cafe to call the doctor with one hand while holding the wet cloth to my stomach with the other. In my rush to get home and avoid more people staring at the big wet patch on my front, I didn’t realize the fast-paced footsteps behind me, until someone grabbed my arm and pulled it. I turned to see hazel eyes.
“Hey, are you okay?” She batted her long eyelashes.
I gestured toward my stomach, “Not really,” I said quickly, trying to not feel the pain of my burns as I made conversation.
“Do you need help getting to the doctors?” “I assume that is where you're going...” she offered.
“Do you have a car? because if not, I think I can just walk myself.” I said in a rush, feeling the pain grow more intense.
“I do,” She smiled and peered toward a purple car parked on the street, shielding her eyes from the sun.
“Okay sure, thanks.” I gave her a weak smile.
“I’m Kattie,” She offered as she opened the passenger door for me, swiping the mess of clothes and take away food rubbish off the seat.
“I’m Lizzy,” I said, as I got in, shutting the door behind me.
“Sorry about your coffee.” I offered sincerely once we were a few minutes into the drive.
“Don’t worry about it. I probably shouldn’t have been trying to have more than one coffee in a sitting anyway.” I smiled, causing her to say, “How about next time you're at work, you make me another.”
“I actually have to work this afternoon again at three, so if you're free then, how about you come round?” I said.
“I plan to hang out with you until then, so that sounds good.” She said
Taken aback by her assumption, I looked away to hide my reaction.
“If that's okay with you, of course,” She followed, trying to see my face.
“It’s okay,” I smiled, glad she had some manners after all, and secretly intrigued that she was so forward and wanted to hang out with me, as I did her.
We walked to the doctor's office from the car, talking the entire way, until we had reached it. “Here we are,” I said, pushing open the door and seeing all of the sick and coughing people sitting around. I covered my mouth instantly. I hated the doctors. I cursed Kerry under my breath for making me come here. I gestured to Kattie that we should sit over by the magazines, as a spare spot presented itself. She smiled at me as she slumped into the chair. Her shiny hair draped across the back, causing the scent of flowers to waft by my nose, and causing butterflies to appear deep in my stomach. A piece of her hair brushed against my arm, causing me to shift as a reflex.
She didn’t seem to notice my jerk movement as she continued to flick through a magazine.
I picked up a magazine as well and started to flick through as the doctor called me, “Lizzy…” I got up hastily and Kattie followed. I walked behind him into the room, taking a seat across from him. “How can I help you?” He asked routinely.
“I had a mishap at work,” I responded, looking at my shirt.
“Oh? and what happened?” He asked, looking where my eyes were.
“She burnt herself making me a drink,” Kattie spoke up.
“I work in a cafe,” I informed him, “I spilled hot coffee on myself.”
“Ah, I see, well let's see those burns,” He said, and I lifted my shirt to display the red patches that were all over my entire front. I looked down to see that bubbles had appeared on parts of my skin.
“It appears you have second-degree burns.” He said, wheeling backward on his chair and turning to his computer. He added the symptoms to my file and prescribed a cream. “You will need to apply this twice a day.” He said, handing me the tube. “The directions are on the packet. And no more work for you until this is a little better. I would say in 3-5 days.”
Great. Kerry was expecting me back at work at 3 pm. 3-5 days? What would I do about money… I stood and headed toward the door. “Thanks,” I said as I walked out, Kattie following close behind.
“Well, at least you get a little holiday,” She offered, sympathetically.
“I really need the money...” I said in return to her comment.
“I’m sorry.” She offers apologetically.
“It’s not your fault. Those cups are crap. Besides, I’m just going to go in anyway. I can't afford the time off.”
“But the doctor said”
“I know what he said” I cut her off.
A few hours later I was back at work. The rest of my shift that day went very slow. I was still in pain, but unfortunately, as I couldn’t afford the time off, I had applied bandages over the cream and went on with my day.