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Lessons Learned

By , Flemington, NJ
She struts into the laundry r¬¬¬oom hoisting a turquoise clothes basket and a furrowed brow. Slamming the basket onto the table she opens the machine and dumps her filthy clothes into the dark hole, adds a hunk of soap, smashes the door shut and punches the start button. She turns to stomp away, her hip length blonde hair swinging weightily over her broad shoulder, when she stops suddenly and turns around. She tip toes back to the washing machine and peers over it noticing the girl in the corner talking on her cell phone. Hailey presses her fleshy thighs into the cold metal trying to hear the girl’s conversation.

“Yes, I’ll be there mother… Yes he will be dressed appropriately… Okay Ma, love you too… Bye.” The girl ends the call cursing under her breath and then plunks down in a plastic chair against the wall. Hailey seizes the moment.

“So! Having rich parents too much for ya again?!” The girl notices for the first time the set of eyes hidden beneath black and blue circles watching her from behind the washing machine. She shivers as the malicious stare moves toward her.

“Hello Hailey.” She averts her eyes to the floor hoping Hailey will just go away.

“Hey Dixie! Or is it Trixie?”

“It’s Brittany actually,” she drops her voice, her confidence scurrying away, and crashing into brawny girl who stands before her. Hailey snorts.

“Close enough! So! What’s the deal with mommio? She don’t like your new boo?”

“I’d rather not talk about it.” She shuffles her feet on the tile floor in conspicuous anxiety.

“Come on Trix! You know you can trust me!” She smacks the girl on the shoulder waiting for a reply.

“I said I’d rather not talk about it.” For the first time she looks into Hailey’s dark eyes challenging her.

“Well then! No need to be sassy kido!” She slaps her on the shoulder again, making her wince, and then spins on her heels to glide out of the room. Hailey opens the door as a man walks toward her and tips his head at her. She repulsively slams the glass door in his face clanging the bell obnoxiously above her.

Hailey revs her engine waiting for the traffic light to change. She thinks about her own mother, her scrawny body, bruised and broken. Why her mother stays with Don, throwing her life away, pretending like nothing is wrong is beyond Hailey’s comprehension. As soon as she turned 18 she walked out. So many nights she spent shivering beneath the overhangs of creepy old doorways, pick pocketing passersby for scraps of change, watching her decaying reflection in grungy windows. When she found the guy outside the convenience store strumming a cheap guitar she put on a show, and that’s where her troubles began.

She fell head over heels in love with the black haired teen and his old guitar. But the most important part is that she realized that no matter what happens in life, if she doesn’t live her life the way she wants to live it, she isn’t happy. It was in those darkest and loneliest moments on the streets that she realized that she was happier than she had ever been before.





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