My legs burned. I rubbed the rippled indentations on my calves. There was nothing soft or plush about this floor. It was more like a Brillo pad rather than a teddy bear. This wasn’t anything new to me. Too numerous were the times I had rolled around on this floor with Angel, almost rubbed my knees raw trying to scoot away while she crawled after me. I didn’t notice the pain then, or I just didn’t care. Her hunger and energy thrilled me. She had a sex drive that rode to infinity. There was no energy anymore, no hunger, no Angel.

Not that I gave a shit. I was far more interested in getting my little purple case open. I didn’t want to think about her. The bitch didn’t deserve my thoughts. She wasn’t thinking about me. She was probably busy worrying about herself. So why should I devote more time to her soft brown eyes. Her hair was almost the same shade, crimped and wavy from being in braids most of the time. I could still feel her warm lips kissing the valley between my breasts.

I took two of the red and yellow pills, trying to erase her image that was branded in my brain. It was just a close up of her curves, the ones between her soft breasts and smooth hips. I remember when she got her belly button pierced. It couldn’t even compare to her tongue ring. There was no feeling like that in the world. Damn it. The selfish wench wouldn’t get out of my head. I tried two of the white ones with red letters. They would help. Something had to.

She was gone, never coming back. I didn’t want her back. Why would I? I wasted over a decade of my life with her. Then she just up and left, no explanation. Damn that. I didn’t even know why. I couldn’t remember any argument or disagreement. I didn’t recall hurting her in any way. Of course, I never could figure out what the hell she was thinking. She was the textbook definition of a confusing woman. Nothing was as it seemed. One minute everything was great and the next she was pissed at the world. Angel changed her mind like she changed her clothes, two or three times a day. There was no pleasing her. Angel could be so fucking sensitive. That chick was enough to make you lose your mind, especially never knowing where you stand in her complicated world. You go around thinking that everything is fine. Then one day she says she doesn’t want to be with you anymore and you are just supposed to take it with no reason to wash it down.

I washed it down, along with three more red and yellow pills and two white pills with the red letters. I added a white one with blue letters because the three pink ones from an hour ago just weren’t hitting the spot. I’d gotten a better effect from Skittles. My heart still hurt and my soul was on fire. I took an extra swig of Absolute. What did I do wrong? She was the only woman I ever loved. It was over because she said so.

Because she said so sounded like some shit my mother dished out. The idea of her way or the highway didn’t apply to my mother. My mother was like the Queen of Hearts from Alice & Wonderland. All ways were my mom’s way. Moving out didn’t help. AT&T let her reach out and push all of my buttons. Nothing was ever good enough for her. You could give her a check for ten million dollars and she’d complain about it not being cash. That woman could give Jesus a migraine.

I could never come close to pleasing my mother. Everything about my life offended her. To her my life was like opening a Rubbermaid container with leftover tuna salad that had been sitting in the car for two weeks in July. That especially included my relationship with Angel. My mother thought I cared too much, giving more than I was receiving. Angel wasn’t deserving of me. She was too selfish and wouldn’t ever change. My mom would be pleased. She was right. The sheer thought of it made my head throb. I took two white pills.

“Tabitha, what the hell?” A blur resembling Marq stood in the doorway. He took the bottle and the purple case from me. It didn’t matter. My eyes got heavy and I began to sink into the “plush” carpet.

I opened my eyes and glanced around the room. My right arm was taped, with a tube springing from it. The left one felt like a pin cushion and I couldn’t tell if I had been sleeping on a bed or on the garage floor with my jacket as a pillow. A chill ran through my body, touching everything in sight with its icy fingers. Pulling up the blanket from across the edge of the bed, I licked my lips. The taste of charcoal urged me to lean over the side of the bed and let go of whatever was left in my stomach.

A figure got up from a chair in the corner of the room. It waddled over and buzzed the nurse. The form fitting sweater showed off huge, sagging breasts. Her ears were pointed and barely covered by her short, dirty grey hair. The pointy nose reminded me of one of Santa’s elves.

“Yes.” A voice, muffled by a cross between static and potato chips, filled the room.

“Miss Jefferson is awake and has thrown up on the floor.” The elf walked into the bathroom and came back with a damp cloth. She reached over to my face.

I snatched the cloth from her. “I can wipe my own damn face.”

“You always have to wake up with an attitude, don’t you?” Marq followed the nurse and orderly into the room. “How do you feel?”

“How the hell do you think I feel? I feel like somebody decided to have a barbecue in my mouth and then cleaned up by shoving a vacuum hose down my throat.”

“Sounds about right.” The nurse wrapped a strap around my arm and pressed a button on a nearby machine.

I turned away from Marq’s confused glare. My stomach was slowly smoldering. My head throbbed. The orderly cleaned up my mess. He had salt and pepper colored hair, more on his face than on his head and looked ten years past retirement age. The nurse stared into the computer screen, lines and numbers giving her a colorful show. She had two chins and crumbs on her cheek. The potato chips must have been good. They both left the room after a few minutes.

“Are you going to tell me what happened?” Marq’s normally hazel eyes were dark with red rivers flowing through them.


“Because I’m your fiancé.”

Details, details, details. What was he doing home anyway? Marq was not due home for another two days. That was when he could get time off from the tour. No reason to try and get home earlier. The great thing about birthdays is that if you miss one, there is always another the same time next year. Who celebrates the twenty-fifth one anyway?

“You scared the shit out of me. What the fuck was going on in your mind?” His knuckles began to turn white as he clinched his fists tighter.

Why would he care? He was so busy living out his musical dreams. How could he pass up being the opening DJ for the biggest tour of the year? It was a great opportunity. What would it matter if he was going to be away for a year, which turned into two more when new offers came in, and only able to come home once in a while for a couple of days? I could always fly my mother out to stay with me until he got home. If not, I’d have Angel to keep me company. She could help me plan the wedding. I was obviously going to be okay with everything, so he left. That was when things with Angel changed. Our already close friendship got even closer. The lines of a typical friendship were crossed.

“Tabitha?” Marq grasped for my attention.


“Are you going to answer me?”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Don’t I deserve and explanation?”

“Why? I didn’t get one.” The throbbing increased exponentially. She left me. She left me with no excuse, not caring that it was my birthday. Why should that matter to her? Years of friendship and a few more of something way more intense didn’t even matter. At least I wouldn’t have to see her again. She was on her way to San Francisco, three thousand miles away.

“What the hell are you talking about?”

I looked over at the elf in the corner. “Does that have to be in here? It’s weird and I want it gone.”

“Tabby, she is here to watch you.”

“What the hell for?”

“You tried to kill yourself!” His voice vibrated, painfully in my ears. The charcoal felt like it was going to come up again. My efforts to stop it were fruitless.

I slowly pulled my head up. It seemed to weigh more than a bowling ball. I closed my eyes for a moment. Focusing on the door, I saw a figure. Her hair, the same color as her eyes, was crimped and wavy. She had taken her braids out.

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