May 14, 2017

“Jess, I love the name Roger,” Janise my best friend continues to persuade me into liking the name she has picked for her baby boy that should be arriving in less than two months. We’re sitting in a coffee shop that she has owned for the past five years. It is very much a small town coffee shop, not just a pass by for coffee, no it seems to be a destination for anyone who comes in. We sit at a small table by the front window, sun beaming in on us in our usual spot.
“I told you I’m just not feeling that name. But it’s not up to me.” I played this lie off like many others with a small smile that doesn’t touch my eyes. What Janise doesn’t know is that the name Roger haunts me in the deepest part of my heart. Whenever I hear the name Roger I can never unsee my hands bathed in blood. But this is not my call to make, I will just have to deal with it. Like I have dealt with everything else, push it to the back of my mind and pretend that it doesn't bother me, something I have done for several years now.
A steady beep comes to our ears reminding Janise about the muffins that she put in the oven after the morning rush. Stumbling to her feet she makes a beeline to the kitchen before she burns the muffins again. On the off chance that they don’t burn they are my guilty pleasure. Those muffins and her famous coffee are my all time favorite treats. As she tends to her probably burnt muffins based on the charred smell that invades my nose, I stroll over to the front counter looking at all the sweets through the glass barrier. “They aren’t that burnt. I got them just in time. I swear pregnancy brain is getting to me bad,” Janice yells at me from the kitchen in the back. Ha pregnancy brain, one would think she has been pregnant her whole life if that is the case I said in my head sarcastically.
I lean onto the counter that is normally much too tall for me, but thanks to my red stilettos it is now the perfect height. Janise is still in the kitchen as I wander over the the newspaper stand by the door. I grab the one on the top for Guntersville Alabama. Not much happens in this small town but that’s how I like it. For some odd reason I look down at the next newspaper and my heart drops. On the front in all black and bold are the words Local Father Given Life in Prison, Seattle, Washington. I’m all the way across the county from that disgusting place. Why is there a newspaper here? Time seems to slow as I am taken back five years earlier.
My parents hated when I would listen to them argue. The argueing seemed to be happening more often in these confines of this seemingly happy home. To an outsider looking in we were a beautiful family. Mom was the perfect wife and mother, Dad was the loving, caring husband and father, while I was the sweet innocent daughter. But all three of us knew the truth. None of us were happy. As a result of this I stand around the corner to the living room on the night of my sixteenth birthday listening to yet another argument.
“Felicia, I told you I can’t do this anymore. Stop crying” the rage in my father's voice sent a vibration through my body that rested in my stomach.
“Honey I know that this has been hard for you to give up your dreams to raise our daughter but I thought things were fine. You can’t leave us. I won’t let you” I could picture the tears streaming down her face trying to reason with him.
“Oh trust me, I know and that is why I have to do this. I’m sorry that everything has to be this way. Say hello to everyone up in heaven for me. At least I know you will be there. After this I won’t”. A ringing so loud it seemed to deafen me for a few seconds after it rang through the house. My hand rested on the red splattered wall that was once a clean white, as I saw my mom's body lying limp on the hardwood floor, with blood covering her chest. My dad’s gun was in his hand, he wiped his free hand on his face as he continually gaze down at her lifeless body. A scream I didn’t know I was holding escaped the confines of my mouth as my father walks away, crushing my heart with every step he takes.
Tears start to blur my vision as Janise comes walking in with a platter of muffins in her hands. “Hey look what I have for my hot best friend.” Janise stops mid step as I try to push the tears to the back of my eyes. She has only seen me cry once after a long night at the local bar that I’m not proud of. “Jessica. Are you okay?” I know I should tell her about my past. All of it but I can’t, no one needs to have those images in their head. I don’t need nor want the sympathy.
“Oh yeah I’m fine. Um, I should get home to let Shelby out to go pee. I’ll talk to you later.” Bending down I grab the newspaper that is infested with my father's fate on it and walk out of the coffee shop without a second glance. I grab my keys out of my purse and hop in my Chevy Malibu. Pulling out of the parking lot I know I have no intention of going home. I just need to forget about all of my past at least for a little while. I head to the local bar even though it is only twelve in the afternoon. It’s a short drive to the bar, a place that has become my home away from home since my father’s murder trial began. “Jimmy line up some shots it has been a long day.” He doesn’t say a word he justs nods and lines up a few on the counter. With only one purpose on my mind I slam the first shot down, one by one, forgetting about my past. Forgetting the weaknesses and the demons I have had to bear after the night where all my nightmares began.

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