As I walked through the door to my job I was bombarded by Joy as she hugged me tightly. Every line of her body screamed stress as she held me back at arms length.
"Ava, when are you going to move in with me? I told you that it wouldn't bother me one bit to have you there, hell you would rarely be there with as much work and school as you are keeping up with. "She looked at me with a dark look as she moved away for me to follow her.
"I know Joy, but I figure he will either die of alcohol poisoning or I will push him down the stairs. Either way I will be rid of him. I am really trying to save all that I can, while trying to be as independent as possible. I may not care too much for his bullshit, but I am taking care of myself and providing for myself."
She stopped moving completely and looked at me. "I can't believe you just said that. I wouldn't charge you anything to stay with me. You would be able to save more if you stay with me. What is so bad about that? YOu think you wouldn't have freedom, the ability to come and go as you please? Ava, try a better excuse this time, I am not falling for another half thought out lie."
I looked at joy in shock. My meek and mannered boss who never raised her voice, was yelling at me. I knew I had been lying to her, but she had never called me on it. I looked at her for a moment before I sighed. "I made my mother a promise to watch out for my step father no matter what happened. I know he has put me through so much, but I feel like I would be letting her down if I just gave up ya know. So yes, he gets violent sometimes but he is still the man my mother chose. That is the real reason that I haven't left, because I promised my mother. That was the reason I decided to wait it out. Soon enough I will be done with school, I will have my degree and I will be gone. No one wants to see this town in the rearview more than me."
She looked at me shocked. "You put up with that jackass of a mouth breather because your mother asked you to? I get it now but still I don't know why you haven't left. You don't have to be here. You could take your forensics classes anywhere. I can't stand the calls from the hospital saying you can't come in again. Ava it's heartbreaking. Do me a favor and work back in here in case they don't pick him up. Goodness knows that the last time was almost more than I could take."
I nodded and set up to restock the back room, then my phone began to ring.
Voice* Hello Ava, I wave wanted to speak to you for sometime now. How are you?
Me* Um, fine actually. Who is this?
Voice* I am Thomas' boss and I would really like the chance to speak with you. I really hope that you will come with Thomas tomorrow.
Me* Do you have a name or are you trying to keep me in the dark?
Voice* I have a name, but if I have piqued your interest then come see me and I will tell you my name and so much more. We can use a woman of your talents. If you can make it thorugh the initial hell w plan to put you through that is. Of course I have every confidence in you.
Me* You know nothing of the hell I have endured. You could try your hardest and never break me. I have been raped, beaten, stabbed, hospitalized, starved and hung by my arms and thrashed. Don't tell me you know anything about putting anyone through hell, because I have lived it.
Voice* Yes Ava we have watched you for a very long time, and we know the hell you have lived. We want to train that anger, turn it into a weapon you can use.
Me* I'll think about it, but my curiosity isn't that strong sir. That was taken from me a long time ago. Now I have to work so I can keep on track today.
Voice* Be careful Ava, when you go to do your training today there will be an ID card waiting for you even if you don't take our offer you are going to need the skills you're learning to stay alive.
The line went dead and I turned on the radio in the corner to drown everything out. I shrugged off the feeling of dread that tried to fill me. As the beat moved through me I smiled, it was times like this that I felt the most clear, the most free. I moved to the music and smiled as I started to put things away. The beat helped me to work faster than I usually would and the headache I had started to disapate. After stock I cleaned and polished the back room. I smiled as the music changed and I started to dance around as the tempo picked up I laughed for the first time in a while. I felt hands grab mine and I looked down to see Joy's son dancing with me. He was an exuberant little boy with his mom's chubby cheeks and sweet demeanor.
As we danced I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket, I quickly pulled out my phone and turned off my alarm. I gasped as I saw how late I was for my workout and school. I kissed Joy's son, quickly changed and walked out of the back when joy ran at me and handed me a package that had my name written messily on it. I opened it and found a note.
I know you didn't get a vehicle so consider this yours. Now get to the base and enjoy what I set up for you.
I tipped the package and a set of keys fell into my hand, I smiled to myself. I walked out of the building and clicked the alarm and smiled as the lights flickered on a brand new red Chevy truck. I giggled and jumped up and down then opened the door. The smell of new truck hit me as the heat permeated from the truck. I jumped in and put the key in the ignition and shivered as the engine roared to live. I giggled as I put it in reverse and backed out of the parking lot. I turned the music on and went to the base where an ID was supposed to be waiting. As I pulled up to the gate and handed them my driver's license he nodded at me and handed me a package before he opened the gate and let me through.
I pulled over and put the truck in park and opened the package. Inside was two beautiful purple pistols and a military ID. There was a note wrapped around a thigh holster, I took it off and read it.
I figured you would like something with flare, now pull out the GPS and follow the directions to the gun range. There is someone there waiting for you to do two hours before you go to school. Now don't be late and the guns you can also keep.
I smiled, pulled out the GPS and turned it on. I followed the directions and smiled as I approached the range, turned off the engine and grabbed the package Tom got me as I got out. I walked over to the guy loading weapons on a small table. He looked at me and smiled.
"You must be Ava. I am Chris, I am here to teach you to shoot the pea shooters Tom gave you. I see you brought the whole package. Well then how about we get you holstered and quickly go through the basics. Now I am going to get the holsters for you the first time, after that princess you are on your own." He quickly holstered the guns then attached them to my sides and then smiled. "There."
I smiled at him. "Alright now, how about you walk me through how to load these so called pea shooters so I can get to some practice in before I have to go to school. You go through the process and I will try to keep up."
He nodded and went to work on two fully unloaded weapons. He loaded each clip in turn and placed them into the weapons before he cocked the hammer back, loaded the weapon and removed the safety. I watched in awe at the fluidity of his movements, years of practice made his movements graceful. When he was done he looked at me and opened his mouth, I put my hand up to stop him, moved over to the table and put my guns down and copied each thing he did and then put each weapon down carefully.
He looked at me with his eyebrow raised and nodded. "Tom said you had talent, he didn't tell me it was a photographic memory and a mimic response. That is something that may come in handy. Now I am going to teach you to--."
I quickly picked up one of my shiny purple guns and pointed it at the target furthest out on the field. I gently squeezed the trigger and popped off a couple of shots. I put the weapon down, turned my back and slightly moved my head his direction. I raised my eyebrow and nodded. He moved over to the table and put his gun own and then moved down the field to the target. I kept my back to him as he brought the target sheet up and put it down on the table between us.
"Impressive, you have watched people shoot before. Well, I really think you need to meet with Tom tomorrow. You have raw potential that could take you places. Have you learned any hand to hand?"
I nodded. "I usually sneak in and practice hand to hand with the troops. For the first week I just kinda watched, then I started to joing in. After that I would pay for a Karate lesson here, Tae Kwon Do lessons there, Ju Jitsu, Kung Fu and any other I could find. I have learned a lot of things so far. Of course I am no where near where I want to be, but I've had a good start."
He nodded approvingly. "Excellent. Well then, just meet with Tom and he will be able to set you up with everything you need. Now get to school before you are late. Hopefully I will see you on the range again."
I smiled and walked away to my new truck. I smiled as the engine roared to life. What started as a crappy day was turning into one of the best days of my life.