Author: Rachael Wade
Publisher by: Independent
Published on: June 22, 2015
Every woman in my life is supposed to be like Othello Station – a last stop. Unless they know how to keep their distance. I've managed to maintain a routine, one that works for me and one I have no intention of ever changing. But this dove came along. Soft and delicate, tainting my thoughts. I can think of twenty different ways to get rid of her. I need this dove to take flight.
But she won't fly away.
She won't release me from her cage.
Her wings ensnare me.
And now I want to get off this train. I wish I never boarded this ride. Because I'm about to crash and take this dove with me. But sometimes you can't stop the crash. Sometimes you just have to hang on and let the flames ignite. Let the fire burn.
Sometimes, the fire is what saves you.
Four excruciating flights of stairs later, I’m running the washer and dumping soap in the water. I know she wants to clean them, but I’m here, she’s not, and I already feel useless, tagging along while this girl tries to get her chores done. So I start sorting lights and darks, admittedly feeling a bit creepy that I’m really enjoying going through this girl’s underwear. I can’t help it. Imagining her in this stuff is downright torture. For a chick who doesn’t seem to put a lot of stock into image and fancy, expensive clothing, she sure has some sexy fucking panties.
If she really wants to make me useful, she should let me buy her some fucking groceries. Or a bedside table. Something substantial. Like putting me to work on that bed of hers. Now there’s an obvious area I could be of some assistance. “God, I’m losing it,” I exhale, emptying the last of the laundry into the washer. I lift the hamper and trudge back down the flights of stairs, slowing at the end of the hall when I see her face light up with laughter. She’s standing in the doorway, shaking her head while the bartender I recognize from the club leans on the frame, chatting her up. His face is deadly serious, but whatever the hell he’s talking about has her cracking up.
She straightens when she spots me, and the bartender follows her line of sight. “Hey, Grant. You remember Garrett from earlier, right? Garrett, this is my friend, Grant.” She waves in my direction, and I walk toward them, extending my free hand.
“Yeah. I remember.”
Garrett accepts my shake, his gaze sliding from me to Mira. “Well, I’m off to finally eat dinner. Chow.”
“What’s on the menu tonight?” Mira asks playfully. “Cute little orphans from Somalia?”
Garrett’s response is deadpan, making Mira’s smile grow even wider. “Only their tears.” His hands find their pockets and he nods in my direction, then turns to wander down the hall to the stairwell.
“Well.” I stand there, waiting for her to move from the doorway. “He’s a ray of sunshine.”
“It’s all part of his charm. His humor is dark and twisted, but he’s really just a big teddy bear. Oh!” She jumps and reaches for the clothes hamper when her gaze lands on the empty basket. “I meant to come up with you to wash those, sorry! Garrett showed up to return an album and I got sidetracked.”
“I already threw them in the wash. You’re good.”
“You didn’t have to do that.”
“Yes, I did. You shouldn’t be lugging that damn thing up and down those stairs by yourself. It’s ridiculous.”
“It’s called life, Grant. Do you have a maid? Are you super privileged or something?” She pinches my shoulder with a smirk and steps aside to welcome me back in.
“I work for my money. Always have. So does my mom. If having nice things and having other people do my mundane chores means I’m privileged, then I guess I am. I have the money to pay for those services. I have it because I earn it. I’m not spoiled.”
“I’m not saying you are.”
“Yes, you are.”
“So, people who have less money than you don’t earn their money? You think they’re less than because they can’t afford to have others do things for them?”
“Mira, slow down.”
“You’re the one getting defensive, here.”
“You’re putting words in my mouth.”
“You’re insulting me. I do my own laundry. I cook. I wear old clothes. I don’t have much, I know that. It doesn’t make me crazy or less than. Just because you can’t understand my way of life doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with it, Grant. You don’t hear me making comments about your nice clothes and the fact that you drop money like it’s nothing on hotel rooms you don’t need and tips that could support a small army.”
“Uh…you kind of are, right now.”
“Because I’m feeling attacked.”
“Mira,” I take a cautious step toward her, wanting to touch her but afraid she might karate chop me in half. “I’m not good at this shit. But I think you’re misunderstanding me. I’m not insulting you or saying you’re less than. I just want to help. I don’t like to see you struggle. I don’t like to see any woman struggle. My mom did, for years, before she met my dad and had me. She told me stories. About how most days, she didn’t know where her next meal was coming from. I hated hearing those stories. After she had me, she went to nursing school. Said she never wanted to be in that position ever again. Especially after having me. It didn’t matter that she had my dad’s support. She knew at any moment, things could change, and she could be right back to where she started, only with a child to raise.”
“Okay,” she relaxes a little, letting me rub her shoulder, “I can understand that, I guess. But this whole you wanting to help me thing…you don’t know me, Grant.”
“We don’t have to know someone to help them. And I do know you. I’m standing in your apartment.” I take a playful step forward, bringing my other hand to her other shoulder. “I’ve seen your panties. I think that makes us friends.” Her cheeks turn beet red and I revel in the power, the corner of my lips curling into a pleased grin. The sensation feels strange, so damn foreign, because unlike with colleagues or acquaintances on the street, it isn’t forced. This grin is natural, so light and easy.
“You still don’t get to pay for everything. Or wash my delicates.”
“But you’ll let me slice your carrots.” I hold her gaze and bite my lip to keep the grin from spreading. It’s trying damn hard, especially as Mira’s cheeks turn even redder.
“That’s different. Letting you help me cook is all about efficiency. It saves me time. I’m perfectly capable of slicing my own carrots.”
“Slicing your own carrots isn’t nearly as fun.” I had to go there. I just had to. She walked right into that one.