My life’s always been screwy. I mean my mom was one of those druggie prostitutes and my dad was a musician. He was always on tour and my mom always had guys over to our apartment. Life kinda sucked, so when I was 14, I ran away.
I’m not homeless, if that’s what you think. ‘Cause I’m not. I have a job. I work at the super market six days a week, thirteen hours a day. On Sundays, my day off, I play guitar over at the park. My guitar, voice, and a hundred bucks was all I had when I left. I only spent one night in the park, so I’d say I did pretty good.
Boston’s a big city, so it’s easy to not be found by parents. That’s kinda a joke. I mean I’ve been here for 2 years and my parents haven’t come looking for me. I could say it bothers me they don’t care, but that would be a lie. I mean I do live with bunch of other kids like me, so I don’t ever get it shoved in my face that my parents suck.
There’s 7 of us living in this big forgotten town house. It’s one of those places you walk by and think “Gosh, what a lonely little place,” but forget about a few seconds later. I wouldn’t have ever found it if Sunny hadn’t found me in the park and invited me to live at the house.
Sunny’s the one in charge. He’s the oldest at 18. He has to keep a fake name ‘cause he ran away from an abusive family. Second in command is Slink at 17. Slink’s real name is John Paige, but he’s super fast and sneaky so we use his nickname. Meatball’s nickname is like Slink’s, ‘cause all Meatball does is eat. He’s as useless as dung and as stupid as a board. If you call him by his real name, Roger Town, he gets all mad. It’s like he thinks he’s so cool with his weird nickname. He’s sixteen like me an this other girl, Moon. Moon comes from this hippie family who kicked her out when they found out she was pregnant. She would be considered a newbie, but she already knew the group before she came here to live. In fact Sunny’s her baby daddy which is pretty funny if you ask me. I mean really, Sunny and Moon? But the real newbies are Bobby and Tony Marino. They’re 14 and ran away for some reason we aren’t sure of. Sunny’s still trying to teach then good english. We think they might be orphans.
“Um, excuse me?”
I looked up startled to see a customer. I had been yet again zoning out on the job. There is absolutely nothing interesting that happens at a supermarket.
“Are these coupons valid?” The man asked.
He looked all stuck up and business like. Some one who obviously didn’t know how to function like a normal person. He handed me the coupons.
“Yep,” I said looking at the date in tiny print on the bottom.
“Ok, great. Colby!” I was suddenly aware the man wasn’t alone. A boy my age stood next to him leafing through the latest issue of ‘Alternative Press’. The stuck up man whacked the music guy. “I told you that is crap. Put it away. If I see you looking at that again, I will punish you.”
The man’s eyes looked sternly at the kid who I guessed was Colby. Their relationship didn’t look healthy.
“But Dad,” Colby frowned, “it’s what I like.”
“Yeah but this rock crap isn’t good for you. You just got suspended. This isn’t up for discussion.” Colby’s dad turned back to me. “Sorry about my son. He’s just a bit confused on life. So what’s my total?”
“Thirty three seventy one.” I held out my hand and the man dropped his money into it.
“Dad,” Colby cleared his throat, “ I got to go to the bathroom. I’ll meet you in the car, okay?”
“Whatever,” The man took his bags and walked out not even noticing his son still stood at the counter.
“Sorry about my dad,” Colby looked glumly at me. His eyes were icy blue and surrounded by dark lashes. His dark hair was longish and silky, perfectly arranged. Kinda like that surfer look that was used to be in but more...clean.
“It’s okay, we get some pretty strange people in here,” I laughed.
“Thanks for understanding. My names Colby by the way. Colby Crowe.” Colby flashed a crooked white grin.
I melted a bit.
“My name’s Delilah Wilcox.” I smiled back.
“Hey there, Delilah. Where do you go to school?” he asked.
“Uh, I don’t go to school. I haven’t since I was fourteen.” Crap. It slipped.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable...” he blushed red against his tan skin.
“No, it’s fine,” I reassured him. “So you like alternative?”
“Yeah. Rocks my favorite.” He looked longingly at the magazine.
“So, like ‘Kings of Leon’?” I raised an eyebrow.
“No! Ew. Sorry if I offend you but they sound like they’re getting it on when they sing.” Colby gagged. “I like people like Stone Temple Pilots, Annberlin, Jimmy Eat World, Alice in Chains, and I’m a sucker for Muse.”
“Same! I mean, I hate Kings of Leon, and I love those bands too. That’s so weird.” We grinned at each other.
“Crap.” Colby looked down at his phone. “The devil’s calling. We’ll more like texting anyway.” Colby looked back up at me with sad eyes. He whipped out a pen and gestured for my hand. I watched him scribble his number on it. “I got to go, but shoot me a text. I wanna hang out, you seem cool.”
With a flash of straight white teeth, he was gone.
I gazed down at my hand in wonder. I mean who was this kid with the corny music jokes. He was a lot like me, and even though I just met him, watching him walk away pulled my heartstrings. And when I talked to him, I felt smart. The effect was lingering. I kept watching until his black clothed body disappeared. I would have kept looking but my boss Smithers started yelling at me.
“Delilah! Clean up in isle 12!”
But really, I could care less.
________ * _______
“What the hell?”
That was the first thing I said when I walked through the door. Bobby and Tony were yelling in Italian about god knows what. It sorta sounded like singing. Meatball’s dog was barking like crazy. Slink was reading, and Moon was yelling about how she needed quiet or she’d go into early labor. Then Sunny was trying to get everyone to just shut up.
Slink looked up from his book and yelled over the noise. “They’ve been doing this for a hour. Sunny can’t get them to shut up.” He kept reading.
“O-kay,” I shook my head then screamed, “EVERYONE JUST SHUT UP!”
The room went silent and my voice echoed on the walls. The twins probably didn’t understand a word I said, but got the message from my tone. Slink kept reading and the others just got quiet.
“Moon, go make some dinner. Meatball, help her. Slink you’re fine where you are. Sunny calm those kids down, please!” I grabbed my temples.
Meatball jabbed Tony who was standing next to him. Tony just smiled and said “Yes, suck my penis.”
“Meatball! What the heck? How did you get these kids to speak English, and more importantly why was that your choice of words?” Sunny stared Meatball down.
I didn’t have time for this so I ran upstairs to my room clutching my cell phone. And yeah, a bunch of orphans can have cell phones if we all have jobs.
you- Hey, it’s delilah. from the store
I down hard on my lip as I sat cross legged on my bed. My hand buzzed and I almost threw my phone across the room.
Colby Crowe- Hey, so I was wondering. Think u can get out for 12, tonight?
Was this a date? How do I act all cool? I don’t wanna be all desperate. Thoughts like that ran through my head for a minute then I decided what to do. I’d clean my room and when I was done I’d text him. I’d say I was playing guitar, ‘cause that’s cool.
No more than five minutes had gone by and my phone buzzed.
Colby Crowe- U thr?
You- yeah sorry. and yeah, i’ll make it.
Colby Crowe- sick, see you at the common then ;)
Oh.my.god. He did the wink. Is that flirting? Or is he being friendly?
Only after I sent the text did I realize how stupid ‘yeah’ was for an answer was when he gave a wink. I was going to send another message, but that would be even worse. So I left it as that. Maybe he’d think it’s mysterious. But an answer like ‘yeah’ said more ‘whatever boy, I totally don’t think your hot and we shouldn’t even know each other. Which in my book was false. I definitely did needed to look hot to make up for my mistake. Maybe then he’d not think I don’t care and it’d be all good. Only one problem, I didn’t know how to look hot. I’m pretty natural, so I need a glitzy girl.
______ * ______
It was after dinner, and Moon was shaking her head at me in front of her vanity. We had tried tons of different styles and none of them ‘fit’. At least that’s what Moon said. I watched her have another ‘light bulb’ as she calls it. That’s when she decides on a style and starts all over. Her hands moved around my face, and I kept still.
“There!” she grinned. “Look at you!”
I stood up in front of the mirror. My hair was in an athletic looking long pony tail. It fell to my mid-back in carmel waves. My green eyes were popping in long lashes and my lips shimmered in the light. I was wearing a tight black tee and dark skinny jeans. Over that was my black North Face fleece from when I had a family. Luckily I had remained the hight of five eight for the past few years.
“Wow,” I thanked Moon, “I look like me. Casual, but now I look pretty. Thanks.”
“Idiot. Your like the prettiest girl in Boston. All I did was gloss your lips.” Moon snapped her gum.
I blushed as I left the room and checked the time. Crap. I had like fifteen minuets.
I ran all the way there, not breaking once. I put my hands on my knees and looked around for him. Crud. I didn’t see him.
“Looking for me?”
I whirred around and saw him leaning up against a tree. The moon light shone on his hair turning it blue. I ran towards him.
“Hey,” I grinned.
“That was quite the run. Are you planning on being an Olympian?” Colby laughed at my blank look. “No, but seriously, have you ever ran track?”
“No, I kinda dropped out before high school.” I frowned. Talking about my academics always upset me.
“Oh, well you’d be good.” He could really tell I didn’t feel happy.
“Thanks,” I mumbled.
“Sorry to upset you.” He winced.
“No its just- I’m gonna tell you something I’ve never really told anyone outside the house and my boss.
“When I was 14 I ran away from my ‘famous’ parent’s ‘cause I hated my life with them. With out parents I really couldn’t get into a new school. I had a hard time getting a job anyway. But ‘cause I’m a drop out, I realize I can’t be much more than what I am now. I’m stupid and a cashier.
“But, when I’m with you...I don’t feel dumb.” I looked up at him.
“Oh,” he blinked, “I’m sorry.”
“But then,” I turned away close to tears, “I think ‘Why am I telling my life story to a guy I barely know anything about?”
“Hey,” I felt his arms slip around my waist and draw my close. I twisted so I was facing him and flung my arms over his shoulders and cried into his shoulder. I felt his hands on my back, strong and comforting. He stayed holding me for what felt like forever and a second at the same time.
“I think you’re smart. This is coming from a doctor’s high honor roll son.” Colby rubbed my back.
“I used to be smart. I was in all honors classes and got straight A’s. I, like, forgot it all until I met you. It all comes back when I see you.” I blinked up at him.
“You’re re- whoa.” Colby cocked his head.
“Your eyes, they’re gorgeous.” He wiped a tear from my cheek. It got quiet for a second. Not the awkward type, but the kind type. “But I think I have a lot to tell you about my life after what you’e said.
“My mom died when I was three. I don’t remember much besides she was pretty and nice. She’d hold me when I cried and laugh at all my jokes. When she died my dad got super unhappy. He went to counseling for a while and it was okay for a while.
“Then I started to realize how my friends had moms and I didn’t. I got mad and started to do stupid stuff. I got suspended a lot. My dad, being the conservative he is, was super angry and counseling soon grew too small for his needs. He started taking things out on me.
“At first he yelled. Then he threw stuff. Then he started to hit me. So now I’m a ‘bad boy’ and my dad is abusive. Music is pretty much my only escape.”
“That’s so sad.” My eyes were huge.
“It’s life. I have two years until I’m free. I just have to hang on.” Colby shrugged as he set out a blanket for us on the ground. I sat on it so I was leaning against a tree and he joined me.
“You need to get help.” I looked into his eyes and searched them for fear. I could just barely see it buried down deep. “You can come live with us at the town house. There’s seven of us, well almost eight, and we are open to people who need help. I bet Sunny would let you come. He had the same problem as you.”
“To be honest, I’ve been working on filing for emancipation.” He looked scared.
“What do you mean working?”
“Well, I need...evidence. Like I can’t show in a court with out evidence of his abuse. I need a photo or video of me with bruises or something. He doesn’t always leave marks on my skin that’s large enough. And he does, it’s sorta hard to get a photo of myself and get it to my lawyer with out him finding out somehow.”
“Oh,” I whispered. “I’m so sorry.”
“Yeah but that’s a bit grim for our first date. Don’t you agree?” He forced a smile.
I blushed. “It’s a date?”
“Oh. Crud. I’m going to fast, sorry. It’s just I thought...”
“No, sh.” I smiled. “It is.”
And I kissed him.
Now, this isn’t where I tell you it was my first kiss, ‘cause it wasn’t. I could go on for pages about how sparks were flying and I saw stars. But I won’t ‘cause this isn’t that type of story and I’m not that girl. That’s Moon’s story. But I will say that his kiss was safe and warm. I didn’t feel used, or uncomfortable. It was right. I liked it.
And Colby didn’t ask for more. He gave me one kiss then let go. Not like a greedy wolf, but like a... oh Lord, I don’t know. But I did know that I liked this kid.
We talked and sat by the Common for hours. We talked about music, movies, food, and people. We were, like, the same, but different too. I left when the sky was turning pink between the buildings and I remembered I had work and Colby’s dad would kill him if he found out where he was.
“Shit.” Colby looked glum at his feet. “My dad’s gonna freak. But I had a great time. Can I meet you here tonight at six? I wont be grounded then.”
“Er...,” I frowned, “I have work. I don’t get off until seven.”
“Cool. I pick you up at seven at your work. Bye.” He kissed my cheek so quickly, I didn’t really know if it happened. And he was gone.
I ran home pretty quick. The house was quiet at five in the morning. It’s pretty much the only time people sleep. Therefor I love the mornings. I had an hour until I needed to punch in at work and I was starving. I figured a quick snack and a shower was what I needed.
I walked quietly into the bathroom and turned on the shower. Nice and hot. Next I turned the dial on the shower radio. Soft alternative notes filled my ears and the steady beats soaked into my skin with the steam of my shower. But, because our water system sucks, the water got cold quick. I threw my hair into the usual long pony and dabbed a bit of gloss on my lips.
After pulling on my work uniform (black dress pants and a whit teeshirt) I went to eat my breakfast. Usually I’d have juice and toast, but I didn’t have anytime left if I was to walk to work on time. In stead I poured myself a cup of milk, snagged a fun-sized milky-way -best snack ever invented if you ask me- and left.
The day at work was long enough to begin with, but having something to look forward to after made it a hundred times worse. I mean, the only real friends I had ever had since I moved here were the people at the house, but that’s it. So iI never really made plans with people. I was like a loser robot. I got up, went to work, came home, went to sleep. Repeat. But I can add that that getting no sleep the night before doesn’t help much. I had never really liked coffee so that wasn’t much of an option to give me a boost.
The gist of the story is that I got bored, so I decided to cause some havoc. In the morning, nothing good goes on at the store and all of us are bored crazy. So I went up to the fat-fuck that people call Bob (He’s the guy in charge of the security cameras. I’m pretty sure he’ll flirt with anything that has a face.), and started to flirt with him. Once I was sure he was all worked up I asked him to do me a favor and shut down the camera’s for a few. He agreed, and the store was all mine.
I went around crossing out labels and writing slurs in shaky writing, smashing tomatoes on the ground, and asking the few costumers we got awkward questions. It kept me busy for a few hours, but I got tired of being an idiot by noon. I had almost done half of my time in the jail they called work, and I didn’t think I could make it the rest of the way.
By about four, I was trying not to bang my head on the cash register. I think I had heard enough crappy light rock music to last me a lifetime. That’s when Moon showed up with the twins.
“Hey.” Moon popped her gum.
“Hi, Moon. What are you doing here?” I raised my eyebrow.
“We’re hungry.” She yawned as the twins crouched near the candy display. I looked at them. “Oh! Not Mario and Luigi. Us.” Moon smiled at her huge belly.
“Moon. They’re names are Bobby and Tony.” I frowned at her.
“Yeah whatever. It’s not like you can even understand them. Anyway, here.” Moon handed over a carton of ice cream, peanut butter, and bread. After she had paid, I noticed the twins looked pretty sad about not getting food so I pitied them. I mean would a pregnant lady really share her food? Especially if it’s Moon? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
“Here I’ll pay for this.” I pulled out two dollars from my pocket and handed the twins a kit-kat each.
They both grinned and said, grazie (My mom spoke a few words of Italian ‘cause she said the clients thought it was sexy. I guess the whole guido thing was in, too, so that explains it. My mother never worked hard to learn anything if it didn’t involve sex and money. I picked up on some simple Italian after a while.). Then they went off and sat on the benches near the doors and ate. I felt pretty happy doing a good thing.
Moon Popped her gum. “So, how’d it go?”
“Oh,” my eyes got big, “It went good.”
Moon looked annoyed. “So you’re telling me that I left home to get food and hear that?”
“Well then tell me more!”
“We kissed and I’m going on a date with him tonight.” I grinned.
“Where?” She squeaked.
“I don’t know! He won’t tell me...it’s like a secret. All I know is he’s picking me up after work.”
“That’s sooooo romantic,” Moon blinked her big silver eyes at me.
“Yeah,” I bounced on my toes and shot a look over at the twins. “Er, Moon, maybe you should take Bobby and Tony home now. They’re getting into the produce.” I bit my lip.
“Oh, shit. Well sorry I gotta leave you to this boring...stuff. Anyway, good luck!” Moon gave me the thumbs up before waddling over to the twins and ushering them outside the door. I looked glumly down at my hands as “Walking On Sunshine” played for the millionth time.