Writing

Who Is Lex Gordon?

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“Hey, are you uh, ready to go?” I asked. I was about to go to lunch with Lex and I was still pretty sure this was some kind of crazy dream I would wake from.

“Yeah. Let’s go.” He said.

We walked into the cafeteria before he said anything in response to my explanation of Sloane’s behavior and my curiosity. Walking in the loud crowded room of students gossiping about the latest and guys pushing and shoving in the lunch line all seemed to come to a stop as we were spotted together. I immediately noticed Brittany and her clan of witches sitting closest to the exit. They always sat there so they could be the first in and out of the lunchroom.

I tried not to overheat from the embarrassment of being stared at like a zoo animal. I told Lex to head for the exit that led to the school garden. That was Sloane’s and my spot and I almost felt like I was betraying my best friend for ditching her but I knew she’d understand.

Lex nodded and we headed for the exit only to be blocked by Brittany as she stepped right in front of Lex. She didn’t look pleased as she stood there with her arms folded tightly across her chest. Her knuckles were white from digging her fingers in her arms with rage.

“What do you think you’re doing, Lex? Why are you with…her?” She spat the last word out in disgust as if he were trolling around the school with a stray dog. I felt like I didn’t need to be here for this conversation and thought I’d much rather wait for him outside.

I put my hands up, like the complete dork that I am, and said, “Hey, I really don’t need to stick around for this, ok. I’ll wait for you outside, Lex.” I began to walk passed Brittany for the exit and felt Lex’s cool strong hand grab hold of my elbow. I looked at him with a bit of shock and he shook his head.

“Don’t worry Lydia. This won’t take long.” He looked at Brittany and before he said a word to her, he slid his hand down from my elbow to my hand, folding it into mine. I thought I might just die right there in front of everyone. I forced myself to stay upright in fear of my knees giving out on me. Ok Lydia, keep cool, don’t make yourself look like a complete fucktard.

Lex tightened his grip on my hand and said, “Brittany, get over yourself. We are done. We’ve been done. What I do and with who is none of your damn business. Now get the hell out of the way and lay off, is that clear enough for you?” He looked like he wanted to shove her out of the way himself and honestly, I wouldn’t blame him if he did.

Brittany put her hands on her hips and said, “I’m just trying to save you from the social sabotage you’re about to commit. I mean, look at her, she’s ridiculous.” She spoke about me like I wasn’t even standing a foot away from her. Bitch!

“Why don’t you go take a good look at yourself, Brittany. You’re an ugly person. You’re mean and cruel and all that makeup will never hide that. Now get the hell out of the way.” He demanded.

I was shocked that Lex Gordon was actually here beside me, holding my hand, and standing up for me. This was my first real knight and shining armor experience and I could get used to it. Lex started walking passed Brittany, with me closely behind him, Brittany slightly moved to the side with an expression of someone who’s life just came down in shambles.

Once we were outside, Lex let go of my hand and I was wondering if he only held it to make Brittany jealous. He walked over to the bench by the flowerbed and I followed close behind. I felt uneasiness in the air around us and I wasn’t sure if it was his silence and weird behavior or my nerves.

As Lex sat down he patted the empty space next to him. I awkwardly sat down with my back stiff straight. This was all new territory and I sort of wanted to get this over with before I embarrassed myself far beyond saving.

I watched him as he looked down at his hands, those strong hands of his that just held on to mine just moments before. He let out a breath and looked at me with what seemed to be fear, but fear from what? He placed his hand over mine and held it in a way that someone would when they needed strength; at least that’s what I knew from my trusty romance novels and chick flicks. What do I know about this kind of stuff anyway? I shushed my thoughts just in time to hear Lex speak.

“I’m sure you’re confused and I hope you can see that I don’t care about what people think and…. Well, I like you.” I must have heard him wrong and I couldn’t force my lips to move. Lex Gordon actually likes a nobody like me? I didn’t even know he knew I existed. This person, this very handsome and sweet guy didn’t seem like the Lex from just a week ago. We passed each other in the halls of this school for the past two years and he never even looked my way. I, however, noticed him on many occasions. He acted like an arrogant jerk to pretty much everyone, even Brittany. There was just something about him that really intrigued me, perhaps I always knew there was a different side of him and I guess he chose to show this side to me, but why?

“Um, Lydia? Are you going to say something or are you going to just stare off into space?” He smiled and I couldn’t help but do the same. I could see so much warmth in his expression and it made me feel safe and comfortable.

“I’m sorry, I guess I was lost in thought. I’m not really sure what to say exactly. I honestly didn’t know you knew who I was. Why did you think you had to make up some story about a note just to talk to me? I mean, you’re Lex Gordon, all the girls talk to you without you having to do much.” I immediately cursed myself for what I just said. I didn’t want him to think I would be one of those girls.

Lex is really the only guy I ever liked. I never thought about boys much, besides them being annoying and gross most of the time. Lex just seemed so different from all the rest. He was smart, although he didn’t attend school very much. I overheard a couple of girls from one of his classes saying how the teacher had singled him out but he knew every answer to every question thrown his way. He always has this confidence radiating from him whenever I saw him and in truth, I envied him just a bit. I wish I were that confident.

“Hey, I know we’ve never spoken before but believe me, I noticed you long before this morning. I’ve seen you plenty of times. I know that you keep to yourself and that you only hang with Sloane. I also know that you hold your books close to your chest and you’re always looking down when you walk. I always wondered why you never held your head high, like you’re hiding from something. You’re beautiful and you should never hide by looking to the ground.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I didn’t have the heart to tell him my plans of confessing my feelings for him. I still wasn’t sure I wanted to tell him. I know I woke up with the intent to tell him but being here in this moment with him right in front of me was just too much for me to handle.

I asked the only thing that came to mind at that moment.

“What about Brittany?” He looked at me with confusion.

“Um, were you back there when I told her we were done?”

“Yes, but you two were together for a long time. Don’t you still feel anything for her? Even just a little?” I know I’m not an expert in the love department but they were together for almost a year. Doesn’t that count for something?

“Brittany and I were never meant to stay together. She didn’t care about anything but making the whole school think we were some kind of celebrity couple. I don’t care about popularity and well, everyone knows she does. Hearing her talk about clothes and all the money her parents have got really boring way too quickly. I would be lying if I said we didn’t have fun or that I never cared for her. I just don’t find myself into playing her role anymore. I don’t think Brittany ever even asked me what I wanted. I guess you can say we were just riding the wave and I fell off first.”

“I guess I can understand that. I just…. Well, you seem totally different from your usual self. I, uh—”

“Lydia? How do you know who my usual self is if you’ve never gotten the chance to really know me?”

“I suppose you’re right. So…. Um, what now then?” Nice, Lydia. You couldn’t come up with something better than that?

Lex chuckled and took his phone out from his back pocket.

“Why don’t we start by you putting your number in my phone.” I did as he said and he dialed it so I could save his.

We both got up as the bell rang and I wished we had more time to talk. Well, not that I did much talking but I could definitely listen to him for a bit longer. Lex towered over me and I felt the urge to put my arms around him.

“So, can I expect to hear from you later?” He closed the space between us and brought his hand up to my face and tucked a wild curl behind my ear. I was frozen solid despite the sunshine beaming down on us. Lex brought his face down to mine and I could feel myself get weaker. I closed my eyes as I took in his scent and it made me think of inhaling fresh clean air, laying in a clearing, surrounded by tall beautiful trees. There was something so earthy to his scent and I found myself enjoying it way too much as I remembered him closing in on me. I sent a silent prayer to the universe that my first kiss would not happen here and not a second later, he planted his lips right on my cheek.

The minute he withdrew his lips, my hand reacted like a magnet and glued itself to my face as if to protect it.

Lex smiled down at me and nodded his head to someone behind me. I turned around to find my very annoyed looking bestie standing with her arms crossed about twenty feet away.

Realizing my hand was still resting on my cheek, I quickly dropped it and turned back to Lex.

“I, uh, should go talk to her.”

“Yea. Let her know I have the best intentions.” He asked with a smirk.

“Ok, yea.” I felt so awkward but I felt excitement too. He was a genuinely sweet guy and I was relieved.

Lex walked off as I forced myself not to race over to Sloane and fill her in. My best friend looked so annoyed but I couldn’t hide my smile. I wasn’t about to let her burst my bubble. I reached for my cheek again and I swear I could still feel the heat of his lips on my skin.

“So, do you care to explain what in the world is going on here? Why is he so interested in you all of a sudden? I swear Lyd, if he—” I held my hand up to stop Sloane from going on.

“Listen, I told you I didn’t understand it much myself but… Um, Lex asked for my number and he totally told Brittany off right in front of me!” Sloane laughed at that. She hated Brittany as much as the next girl.

“Well shit… Nicely done Lyd. You landed yourself the hottest and biggest jerk at school. I’m not buying his Mr. Nice guy act but if your cool, I guess I’ll be cool.” She hooked her arm through mine and we headed for our lockers. This is why I love Sloane. She has no filter but she’ll always back me up no matter what.

“So are you going to call him or what?”

“I don’t know, I’m still on the fence about him myself.” I said.

“Well, you’ve been crushing on him for a while and don’t you think it’s weird that all of a sudden he has these feelings he’s been harboring for you?” That last bit stung a little, I know she’s just as shocked about it as I am but would it be so out of this world for a guy like him to like a girl like me?

“What’s that supposed to mean Sloane?”

“Listen Babe, I didn’t mean that in a bad way, ok? Any guy would be lucky enough to have you. You’re totally hot and super smart. It’s just… Well, you know that Lex Gordon is known for sleeping with half the student body and let’s not beat around the bush here, girl. You don’t exactly have a lot of experience in the guy department.” She nudged her shoulder into me as if to silently apologize.

Who was I kidding here? She’s totally right. I don’t know anything about guys. Well, except for Sloane’s conquests but I always stopped her before she went into too much detail. A girl should keep some mystery behind closed doors. At least I think so anyway, even if it’s from your best friend from like, forever.

After Sloane and I parted ways to our classes, the day went by pretty quickly and I hadn’t seen Lex for the rest of the day. I was actually glad because I needed time to think before I bumped into him again. There were still some questions I had to ask him that I hadn’t thought of until now.

When I walked off campus and shot Sloane a quick text.

Hey, I’m gonna walk today, okay?

Alright, babe. Call me later.

You got it.

I was at my house in minutes. It was definitely one of the bonuses of living so close to the school. I walked up to the door and dug into my backpack for my keys. I could hear my parents screaming from outside. I stopped and pressed my ear against the door. I couldn’t understand much but I heard a few words here and there. In a nutshell, sounded like my dad caught mom in a lie.

I wanted no part of that argument and put my keys away. I pulled my phone out and started to dial Sloane but decided against it and pulled up the newest number added to my contact list.

I walked four blocks up to Jamison Park while I continued to glance down at Lex’s number. I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do until I sat down at a bench. I stared down at my phone that felt more like a ten-pound weight in my hand. I decided to settle for a text message rather than set myself up for an embarrassment from hearing his voice.

So, I punched in the message and wished I were way smoother with my approach.

Hey.

I must have sat at that bench for about ten minutes before my hand buzzed. I was actually afraid to look down. Before I could read the message, my phone started ringing. Holy shit! He’s calling me! Okay, now what? Didn’t he know the unspoken rules of text messaging? If I wanted to call then I would have done that first.

As the vibration became more of a flaming sensation, I quickly picked it up and said, “Hello?”

“Hey Lydia. You didn’t answer my text so I thought I would just give you a call. Is that okay?”

“Uh, yeah it’s fine.” I had to appreciate his interest in wanting to talk to me. Whether it was real or not was something I would have to find out sooner or later.

“Are you busy right now? Do you want to meet up?” He asked.

I wasn’t expecting him to want to get together right now and I wasn’t exactly ready to be alone with him. Being alone with him in a school full of students was one thing but without a friendly bell to save me had me thinking twice about agreeing. Although, today was different, right? I made a vow to myself to stop being afraid of life and I intended on keeping it, one way or another. There was definitely nothing good waiting for me at home and I’d rather be anywhere in the world than back there.

“I’m at Jamison Park. Do you want to meet me here?”

“Sure, I’ll be there in five minutes.” Five minutes didn’t give me very long to get myself together but I didn’t have much of a choice.

“Ok.” I said, letting out a lengthy breath.

My heart sped as I thought of his lips on my cheek and wondered what it would be like to kiss him. I blushed at my own thoughts of being that close when they were interrupted by the crunch of grass behind me. I held my breath as the footsteps got closer.

I exhaled, rubbed my now clammy hand against my jeans and got up. Lex’s smile made my heart feel like it was about to burst. I tried to be casual and placed my hand on my chest as if to keep it from flying out and landing right at his converse sneakers.

“Hey, are you okay?” He said as he walked over to me and pulled me in for a quick embrace. I was taken aback by his boldness and wondered why he continued to be so forward with me like we were old friends. I wasn’t exactly complaining as I nearly melted into the warmth of his hug.

“I’m okay, you got here quickly. That was more like two minutes.” I said as he held my shoulders and took a step back to look down at my face.

“Yea, I was just a few blocks away. So, what are you doing here all alone?” He asked as we both sat down on the bench.

“My parents are having it out with one another. I didn’t really want to walk into that so I came here.” I wasn’t sure why I blurted that out but his kindness and the way he looked at me made me feel as if I could tell him my deepest secrets. I told myself to save those secrets for another time. I didn’t want to scare him off just yet.

“I’m sorry. I know the feeling. Do you want to talk about it?”

“Not really. I just want to stay away until it dies down.”

“Okay, so what do you want to do in the meantime? Why don’t we go into town and grab a cup of coffee?” I kept trying to put the missing pieces together as I looked at this new and improved version of Lex. There was no trace of that arrogant guy that walked the halls. Maybe this was the universe’s way of finally throwing me a bone and showing me his kind side. If this were a new Lex, I wouldn’t mind him sticking around.

“Okay, I’d like that.” I reached for my backpack and he reached for it before I could.

“I’ll take this for you. My car is right down the street.” He said as he tossed m bag over his shoulder.

We made it to his black two door Honda and I thought how lucky he was to have parents that care enough to buy him a car. My parents on the other hand, not so generous. Lex opened my door for me and I wondered if he was always this polite when he was trying to impress a girl. Either way, it was working.

The drive was quite comfortable and I rather enjoyed having his company even if there were no words spoken. The town square wasn’t far so we arrived in less than fifteen minutes. Lex parked close to the square entrance and jumped out before I even had a chance to unbuckle my seatbelt. He walked around to my door and opened it for me.

“You ready?” He said and held his hand out for mine. As I placed my hand in his and let him help me out I thought how unreal this all felt.

We arrived at Coffee Bean Cafe and it seemed like half the town square were jammed inside. The cafe was fairly big with small couches on both sides outside of the entrance. Inside were round table along the walls and large couches placed strategically throughout the middle. There was a small space for the aspiring lyricists to express themselves as people enjoyed their teas and latte’s.

Lex opened the door for me and I walked into the dim lifted coffee shop. The atmosphere in the room was a serene one and I found that I quite enjoyed it. There was instrumental music playing just loud enough to hear but not so that it overpowered the person reciting their work at the mic.

I walked close behind Lex and when we reached the the barista he turned to me

and asked what I wanted. I asked for a green tea and he ordered a vanilla cappuccino with extra whipped cream. We moved to the side so the next person could order and waited for ours.

The barista handed Lex our drinks and I noticed that she leaned in a bit as Lex grabbed them.

“Why don’t we go sit outside?” Lex handed me my tea and grabbed my hand with his free one and led the way out.

We walked out and made our way to sit at one of the small couches. I sat down in the corner, leaning against the arm of the couch wishing it would magically open up and allow for more room. Lex sat beside me so our sides were brushing against each other. I have never been this close to a boy so many times in one day and I wasn’t sure if my body could stand the rush.

I sat there quietly sipping my tea, not really knowing what to say. Lex leaned forward, rested his elbows on his knees and turned his face to look at me.

“You really don’t say much, do you?”

“Honestly, I’m not really used to hanging out with anyone other than Sloane.” I said and hoped it didn’t make me sound like a total antisocial loser. Lex raised an eyebrow and took another sip of his drink.

“Why don’t you have any other friends? Is your crazy overprotective friend trying to keep you away from the world?” He said, playfully.

“Sloane is not like that. She might be a little forward but she’s kind and probably the most loyal person I’ve ever known.” I said.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean it like that, really.”

“I know.” I said, awkwardly. I felt like such a dork. This was going as well as I’d hoped. I put my tea down and leaned back next to him. I leaned to the side just enough so I could look up at him.

He looked at me and his face seemed to relax a bit and I was glad. He seemed so innocent in this moment. I tried not to think too much into what the future might hold for two people who are as different as night and day. What I did know was that I wanted to know more about this new Lex Gordon he claimed to be.

I sighed and wanted to break the bit of tension I seemed to create and decided to ask him about himself.

“So, do you live with your parents?” He looked a little uncomfortable before he answered.

“I live with my mother. She’s never really home because of work so I have the house to myself mostly.” I wondered why he told me that last bit but decided not to sit on that thought.

“What about your dad?” I asked.

“He lives in Arizona with his other family. We don’t really get along.” He said with a hint of anger.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I live with both my parents but my dad travels for work so I don’t see him as much and my mom—” I broke, not knowing what to say about her. She’s a drunk? She brings new guys into our home way too often? Oh yea, he’d love to hear about that.

“Uh, well… My mom doesn’t work so she’s mostly at home,” Is all I could manage to say.

“Do you have any siblings?” I asked. He said nothing, he just shook his head no and looked down at his cup. I had to wonder what bothered him about that question but left it alone.

“What about you? Any sisters as pretty as you?” He teased.

I smiled and shook my head. I could have told him that I did have a baby brother but my alcoholic mother drank and chain-smoked through her whole pregnancy only to give birth to a stillborn. I figured that was probably best kept to myself.

I looked at him and asked, “Can I ask you a question?”

“Why this sudden interest in me? I just don’t get it. You’ve never seemed to notice me before today.”

Lex sat up straight and turned as far as the little space would allow so he could completely face me. He grabbed both my hands and held them firmly in his. I noticed how smooth his skin was against his and how small my hands looked in his.

“Lydia, you have to know that I’ve always noticed you. It’s taken me some time to build up the courage to talk to you but here I am and I’m telling you now. You’re special and I want to be the one to show you that. So let’s get passed that, okay?” He spoke to me with so much sincerity. I didn’t know what to do or say to him. It was strange to hear him speak of me this way but I couldn’t deny the feelings that grew within me. I couldn’t help feeling stupidly shy in that moment and bit my lower lip.

Lex let go of my hand and pushed my curls behind my ear and tracing it with his thumb. He continued to run his thumb down my jawline and touched the corner of my mouth. He stopped there when I let out a breath I hadn’t notice I had been holding. He leaned in closer and traced his thumb across my mouth. I dared not move as he moved from my top lip to the bottom and closed the space between us.

I drew back and remembered where we were when my back hit the couch. Lex placed his hand behind my neck when his lips finally found mine. This is it. Your first kiss, I thought to myself.

Lex’s lips softly pressed against mine and it was as if my lips were not my own. They seemed to know what to do as Lex kissed my top lip, then the bottom, until he brought his other hand to my back and deepened the kiss. My hands had a mind of their own as I wrapped them around his neck. He opened his mouth and I followed suit. His tongue danced with mine and a sigh escaped me.

Lex drew his face back only for a moment and looked at me like I was the only girl in the world. I leaned into him, urging him to kiss me again and he did just that. Sloane was so wrong about the first kiss always turning out to be a disaster. This was certainly no disaster.

I felt another breath escape me as my body felt things I never knew before. Lex brought his hands up to my face and I let my hands find their way to settle on his chest, I playfully tugged at his shirt and he held my face gently but firmly as he kissed me again, taking another breath out of me each time.

Nothing else mattered now. I was blissfully lost in this moment. Whoever he was before, whoever I was before, it didn’t matter.

© Stephanie Cardozo and Stephanie Cardozo, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Stephanie Cardozo and Stephanie Cardozo with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing

Living In A Nightmare

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“Uh, mom? Are you okay?” I asked as nicely as I possibly could.

“I’m just fucking perfect, Lydia.” She slurred her words and stumbled around my room as if she were searching for something. I was hoping she would get whatever was on her chest out so I could settle in bed. I was in no mood and sleep began to linger.

“Your father just left. He said he wants”— Her words cut off by the flow of tears that just started. I was confused by my own feelings for my mother as I sat there and watched her cry. I hated her for being a drunk but my heart ached for her whenever she was hurt in any way. No matter what she will always be my mother and nothing will ever change that. Might as well make the best of it.

I led her to my bed so we could sit down and talk. She could barely stand up and it would have only been a matter of time before her knees gave out on her. I rubbed her back to comfort her even though what I really wanted was for her to get the hell out of my room and sleep off the whiskey.

“What’s wrong? What happened with dad?” I asked as I continued to rub her. She looked up at me with red puffy eyes and mascara stained tears.

“What happened with your dad?” She asked as if I should already know. She shrugged my hand off of her and got up with clenched fists. “What happened with your father is that he’s a piece of shit. I should have left him years ago.” She kept pacing my room in a way that made her look more like a crazy person who’s lost their way.

“Uh, mom? Maybe you should go lie down? You look pretty tired.” I suggested and immediately regretted it as she spun around to face me and stepped up as if to stomp an ant.

“You think I should what? Why? Because I’ve been drinking? Well guess what Lydia? I have never been more sane in my entire life. Your father is a cheating piece of shit and you can go with your precious daddy when he moves his shit out of here.” She said angrily as she stepped closer to me, forcing me to step back until I fell onto my bed.

“Mom, I never said I wanted to live with dad. Is that what you want? Do you want me to go?” I asked, a bit surprised that she would even suggest that since we barely even spoke on a daily basis. She stepped even closer, looming over me and placed her clenched fists on either side of me for support.

Her whiskey breath showered over my face and I turned my face away for fresh air. It was moments like these that I wished I could be anywhere else in the world. I knew my mother had her issues but this was just ridiculous and I wanted to be as far away from her as possible.

“What? You don’t like it when I get all up in your face like this? Huh?” She continued as she leaned in even closer. I had no room left to lean back and found myself lying down on my bed with my mother over me. Her hair brushed against me as she kept poking at me with her words, waiting foe me to react.

I was never much for violence, especially against my mother but she was seriously pushing my buttons and I couldn’t stand the smell of alcohol any longer. I pushed her off me and she landed right beside me on my bed. I got up quickly but to my surprise, even in her drunken state, my mother grabbed a hand full of my hair and pulled me down on the floor.

“You stupid little bitch! How dare you put your hands on me!” She screamed as she jumped on top of me and wildly began releasing her rage. I put my arms up above me to shield my face from her fists. She continued to use me as a punching bag and for a moment I thought, This isn’t really happening to me is it?

I felt a punch to my rib that felt more like a kick as I felt the air leave me. “Mom please! Stop!” I yelled as I kicked my legs up to get her off of me and she only seemed to get heavier as she sat on my midsection.

“You think I don’t know what you really think about me Lydia? I know what you really think of the woman who brought you into this world!” She continued to scream as she hit at my arms.

I wasn’t sure what she was talking about but I didn’t dare say anything as she clawed at my arms, trying to get to my face. When is this going to end? I thought to myself. “Mom, please stop.” I begged as pools of tears formed in my ears.

Much to my surprise, she let her hands drop and sat beside me, crying hysterically as if she were the one getting beat.

“I— I’m so sorry Lydia. You think of me as some terrible woman while you put your father on a pedestal. Well guess what? He’s not so fucking perfect like you make him out to be, ok. I deserve to be treated with respect. I deserve to be loved.” She sobbed as she raked a shaky hand through her hair. I was scared to move from where I lay and I could feel the aches radiating throughout my body. There will definitely be bruises tomorrow, I thought as I slowly pushed myself up with my elbows. I wanted nothing more than to escape her, to escape this hell I was in.

“I found your journal.” She said, suddenly turning the sobbing off. I looked her in utter shock and thought, No wonder she went all ballistic! I wrote about how I felt, knowing she was sleeping around and how I felt like I had no mother at all, just a strange woman who I was stuck living with.

“I know that you hate me, that you think I’m a whore. Well, blame it on your father.” She looked straight at me and I instantly felt the urge to move back but instead, I sat there, frozen. “I found out your father was having an affair about a year ago. I bet you thought your dad was so perfect, huh? Well, your father has been screwing someone else for over a year.” She looked at me as if I should somehow be sorry for her but in a way, I guess I didn’t blame my dad for wanting to find happiness somewhere else. My mother had been drinking long before all this and she wasn’t an easy person to live with.

I wasn’t sure what I should say or more so, what I shouldn’t say. I just wanted her to get out of my room.

“Mom, I”— I started but she cut me off with eyes swimming in alcohol and sadness.

“Save it, Lydia. I know you’ve always loved your father more than me. Maybe I’m too tough on you sometimes but my parents were tough on me too and it’s the only way you’ll learn to survive in this world.” She said as if she were laying out the secrets of the universe.

What a huge load of bullshit, I thought to myself. How could she just sit there and tell me all this while drunk out of her mind? I wondered how much longer my mother would live if she kept going on this way.

“Remember something, Lydia,” she began as she pushed herself up from the floor and walked to my door, “I love you and I would give my life for you, but I won’t live an empty life for much longer.” She stumbled out of my room without another word.

I immediately got up and locked my door and hoped she would pass out for the rest of the night. I looked down at the silver doorknob and made a silent wish for the lock to keep the demons out. I turned around to see what a mess my room had become and quickly started cleaning up.

I bent down to pick up some frames that fell from my dresser and picked up a photo of both my parents and me. We went out for a boat ride in downtown Miami, it was one of those tour boats that take you around to see celebrity homes. I was twelve years old and we looked so happy then. I wondered how far back their problems really went, if it was always screwed up between them.

I wasn’t sure when I started crying but it got harder to look at those familiar smiling faces once they were covered in teardrops. I wiped my eyes and finished cleaning up, not knowing if I felt more pain in my heart or my body. I hated her for doing this to me and I hated her even more because I still loved her.

I turned my bedroom light off and my purple lava lamp on and climbed under the covers. The warmth of my bed felt being kissed by the sun as I nestled into fetal position. My ribs and arms still hurt although the throbbing slowly began to fade. It was in that moment, under the safety of my sheets that I truly let go of the pain in my chest. Tears streamed across my nose and on to my pillow and I dug my face in as I let out a cry that didn’t seem like my own.

I cried so hard that my body shook and I wished it would just stop. I wanted to be freed from the pain that weighed so deep within me. How could someone be so cruel? And where was my father? My sweet, kind, and loving father who was supposed to protect me from times like these. I threw my hand over the side of my bed and felt the oversized stuffed cat he gave me and pulled it under the covers. I held it close to me in desperate need of protection. I closed my eyes and accepted that this was my life whether I wanted it or not. At least in my dreams I could escape this nightmare.

© Stephanie Cardozo and Stephanie Cardozo, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Stephanie Cardozo and Stephanie Cardozo with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Inspiration, Writing

The Old Oak Tree

This is a story I wrote for class this week. It’s new territory for me since I had to use fantastical elements.

I hope you all enjoy and I love getting feedback so don’t be afraid to shoot some my way! 🙂


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The Old Oak Tree

Katrina lay on her bed on a fine Sunday morning. Glancing out her window she wished to bask in the sun as she heard the laughter of her two younger brothers outside. A week had past before the last time she had enjoyed the rays of the sun. She hadn’t left the house after her mother had forgotten her birthday just days ago. After all, turning sixteen was becoming a woman around these parts. Her father, gone for two months now without so much as a friendly note finally hit her. “Papa would never have forgotten my birthday.” She said as she threw her arm across her eyes.

Getting up from her full size canopy bed, she breathed in the thick air in her room. No freshness in this room, she thought to herself. Staying in her white nightgown she washed her face and walked down to the kitchen. Her mother made her frustrations clear as she slammed every dish, threw every drawer shut, and swung cupboards with force. Katrina knew it was the absence of her father that angered her mother but she dare not say it aloud.

“Mama, that smells great.” She said, gingerly.

“Go fetch your brothers for me, will you Katrina?” Her mother demanded.

“Yes, Mama.” She grabbed a piece of toast from the table and hurried outside.

The day was warm and inviting as she opened the creaky screen door. Stepping onto the grass with her bare feet felt more natural than wearing shoes. Standing there in front of her little country home, she wiggled her toes into the dirt, closing her eyes up to the sky and inhaled deeply as if it were the first breath she had ever taken.

“Katrina! What on earth are you doing girl? Didn’t I ask you to fetch your brothers?” Her mother yelled through the screen door.

“Sorry, mama.” She replied and walked to the garden just past the lake near their house, where the boys often played. Katrina stared down at the ground as she continued past the old oak tree, reaching her hand out to touch her fingertips across the bark. Feeling pulsating warmth, she withdrew her fingers and continued walking, thinking nothing of it.

“Trent! Marcus! Where are you?” Called Katrina. Hoping her brothers would come out without having to walk any further, she continued calling out for them but they did not answer.

“You boys come on out before mama has our hides!” She shouted. Sighing heavily, she continued onward and couldn’t help noticing how much the grass had grown. The further she walked, the taller the grass was. The hem of her nightgown clung to the growing weeds she hadn’t seen there just moments before.

Pulling up her nightgown, she walked past the tall bushes that hid the garden and spotted her little brothers running around the small lake on the other end. The entrance seemed to have sprouted full-grown roses over the past week, lifting her hand, she cupped one and inhaled its sweet perfume. “How did you grow so quickly?” She whispered to the rose. Shaking her head, she let the flower go and walked towards her brothers.

“Come on boys! Let’s get on home before mama shows up!” She called out. The two dark haired, rosy-cheeked boys ran to her jumping and pulling on her nightgown.

“Kat! Do you see all the pretty flowers? They weren’t there last time and now they’re everywhere!” Said Marcus.

Katrina looked around the garden and while it normally sprouted a few flowers, there was an immeasurable growth that simply was not there before. In awe, Katrina walked towards the sunflowers. Her heart beat faster and with each step as the earth seemed to breath beneath the soles of her feet.

She walked on and suddenly, tulips began growing where she stood. Shooting up from beneath her were the most beautiful bed of yellow tulips. Startled, Katrina jumped forward and again, flowers sprouted where she stood. This time, the most beautiful shade of purple calla lilies.

“Wha—what’s happening?” She said, looking at her brothers in confusion.

“Kat! Kat! You can do magic!” Shouted her brothers in unison. They laughed and jumped, circling around her as they laughed and touched the flowers surrounding her.

“Magic? No, stop this nonsense!” She said, more to herself than her brothers.

“Katrina! Marcus! Trent! You get your behinds back here right now!” Yelled their mother from outside the garden. Katrina knew she was in for it now.

“Let’s go! Mama’s gonna beat us till we bleed if we don’t get home right now!” She said to her brothers. She grabbed Marcus by the arm but he pulled away instantly screaming in pain.

“OW! You cut me! Why did you cut me?” Yelled Marcus. Holding his arm, he dropped to the floor crying and calling out for their mother.

“MAMA! MAMA!” Marcus cried. Katrina crouched down to comfort her brother but she caught glimpse of her hand that now sprouted vines with thorns. She quickly stood straight, looking over her body as the vines swirled around her hands, up her arms, around her torso, and down her legs and feet.

“You’re a WITCH!” Trent yelled the last word at his sister with such fear and hatred; he seemed so much older than his ten years of age.

“NO! NO! I’m no witch! Please, Trent! Marcus? I—I don’t know what’s happening to me.” She said. Breathing heavily, she tried to calm herself and will the vines away but her hammering heart would not allow it.

“What in God’s name is this?” Katrina heard her mother’s words behind her, causing her heart only more fear. The vines moved slowly, beginning to grow thicker and longer in time with the beat of her speeding heart. With tears now streaming her face, Katrina turned slowly to face her mother.

“Mama? Please, help me.” She whimpered.

“What have you done to my boy you witch!” Cried her mother, running to where Marcus lay.

“Please mama, I’m no witch!” Cried Katrina, reaching her thorn wrapped arms out to her mother.

“You stay away from us you hear!” She shouted to her daughter. Katrina took a step towards her, only to be stopped by a blow to the head that knocked her off her feet. Katrina lay on her back with a piercing pain coming from her forehead. Reaching her hand up, she winced at the touch of her fingers and looked down to find blood.

Dazed and confused she glanced beside her to find what struck her. A rock with a hint of her blood confirmed what hit her and she stared at her mother with rage.

“How could you mama? How could you strike me?” She asked as she stepped closer. Her mother clung to her brothers who cried into her bosom.

“Stay back, witch! God will strike you down if you harm us!” She shouted.

“And what will he do to you for striking me with a rock, mama?” Katrina asked.

Her mother stared at Katrina as if she were a lowly demon from the pits of hell and not the daughter she had raised all these years. Clutching her boys, covering their eyes so that she may shield them from beholding such horror from their sister, she wormed backwards until her back hit the tall bushes that surrounded the garden.

The vines that covered Katrina continued to grow and inch forward towards her family.

“Why do you cower away from me mama? Can’t you see how I need you?” She said as she gestured at the vines.

“Katrina, can’t you see how you’ve frightened your brothers? Look at yourself!” Her mother cried. Katrina stopped where she stood, looking down at her now foreign body. The vines continued to grow, moving past her, digging into the earth and shooting back out towards her mother.

Katrina stared wildly at the vines and willed them to stop from reaching her family but she couldn’t stop them. Forgetting the blow to her head, she realized how terrifying this must be for her mother and younger brothers.

“Mama, Marcus, Trent. I’m so sorry. I don’t know how to stop it.” She cried into her hands. She felt the growth of the vines continue as she cried hysterically, begging them to stop. Katrina cried harder and harder, looking up slowly through blurred eyes, she watched the vines wrap around their bodies.

“NO!” Cried Katrina, reaching out for her family, a forceful wind came behind her and whirled around her, making her red wavy locks look like an untamed fire. The wind sent flowers flying everywhere as the vines wrapped tighter around Katrina’s ankles, planting her safely on the ground. Looking down at her feet and to the vines, it dawned on her that it was as if the vines were protecting her.

Trying desperately to see past the flowery whirlwind, Katrina could only catch a glimpse of three still bodies that looked more like trees wrapped with thorny vines, vines that came from her. The wind stopped abruptly and what Katrina saw would haunt her until the end of days.

The life squeezed out of her family, the vines were the only thing keeping them standing up right as their heads lulled to the side. Blood began streaming from each thorn-pricked wound on their bodies and yet Katrina found them strangely beautiful. Not a second after that thought, flowers began sprouting from the vines around their bodies.

Frightened and confused, Katrina moved back, breaking free from the vines around her feet. She turned and ran out of the garden with eyes squeezed shut. She ran until she felt the warmth of the old oak tree in front of her house. The tree seemed to speak to her in a language she did not understand.

Moving closer to the welcoming bark of the tree, Katrina lifted her hand and placed her palm down firmly. She felt overwhelming love, comfort, and understanding flowing out from the bark and into her heart. She stepped closer and placed her tear-dried cheek to the bark as she exhaled coolly, trying desperately to understand what was happening. Listening with her heart, her eyes opened wide with surprise as she heard a voice she had yearned for too long.

“Papa?”
© Stephanie Cardozo and Stephanie Cardozo, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Stephanie Cardozo and Stephanie Cardozo with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing

Sober Lovin’

party-lights

My phone rang for the tenth time in the last five minutes and I didn’t need to read the caller ID to know it was Jenny. “Can you please let me get ready? What the hell do you wear to a Luau anyway?” I asked with more frustration as I looked around at my entire wardrobe thrown on my bedroom floor.

“Come on, Raven! Don’t be such a loser! This was the perfect party theme to get tons of hot bodies to my place! It’s summer and I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to swim with some hotties.” She said, giggling like a child in a candy store. I didn’t think I knew anyone more boy crazy than my best friend. I sighed and continued to rummage through the pile on my floor, tossing everything to the other side of the room.

“Jenn, I don’t have anything that’s Hawaiian. What the hell am I gonna do?” I asked, a little panicked now.

“Raven you’re hopeless, ya know that right?”

“Whatever, just tell me you have something I can borrow?”

“Alright, I’ll be right over.”

Twenty minutes later I opened my front door to find Jenny holding up a fuchsia colored strapless dress with black flowers.

“I love it!” I said, taking it from her hand and letting her in.

“You’re the best, Jenn!” I said, giving her a squeeze. I quickly slipped on the dress and was delighted to see how nicely it hugged my chest. The last thing I wanted to worry about was my boobs falling out.

“Well damn, Rave. You look hot!” Jenn said, passing me black sandals.

“Thanks.” I said, twirling in the dress.

“Uh, Jenn? Whose idea was it to have a Luau at night, anyway?” I asked, laughing.

“Texas heat is bad enough during the day, it’s tolerable at night and after lots of fruity drinks. So let’s get the hell out of here. I heard Mike was going to be there.” She nudged my shoulder and started heading towards the door. I sighed, grabbed my clutch and hoped I wouldn’t have to face Mike.

Jenn drove way too fast. The suburban homes flashed by while the music blasted in her Chevy SUV. I couldn’t help but think back to the last time I saw Mike. It was another one of Jenn’s legendary theme parties; only that time it was Lingerie. I remember settling for hip hugging jeans and a lacy bra.

I walked in to Jenn’s place and it was well after everyone had plenty to drink. There were guys dressed in silk robes, top hats, and bedroom slippers, all the while holding plastic chalices to the air, and surrounded by girls in their tiniest garments.

I figured I had to play catch up and walked past everyone and straight to the kitchen. I opted for three shots of Goldschlager and chased it down with an iced cold Budweiser.

I barely had anything to eat so the rush of the buzz was coming quickly and the music sounded sweeter than when I first walked in.

“Hey.” Said an unfamiliar voice. I turned around to find a tall tanned pretty boy smiling down at me. I recognized him right away. Mike Wilson, Nancy’s ex boyfriend and one of the hottest guys in town. He was always at every party and always had Nancy on his arm, except for that night.

Smiling, I said hello and handed him a shot of the golden-flaked liquor. He tossed it back and pulled me to the living room where half naked bodies were swaying left and right. The DJ was playing all the right songs and as Mike wrapped his hands around my waist, he pressed his body against mine as we moved in time with the music. The room seemed to spin with every move and I wished I hadn’t taken so many shots.

Mike pulled my long curls to the side and whispered in my ear. The music was so loud, I wasn’t sure what he said but I smiled anyway. He lead me passed the crowd, passed the kitchen, and finally stopped in front of one of the bedrooms. I was pretty dazed at that point but I knew what his mission was. He opened the door and kicked the couple already occupying the bed out of the room. Surprisingly enough, they gathered their clothes and left.

“Come on, beautiful.” He demanded. I said nothing when he threw me on to the bed and said nothing still when he locked the door and flicked the light off. I knew I shouldn’t have been there with him. I didn’t even know him. He obviously didn’t care about me. I wasn’t sure what emotion I felt more, lust or guilt? The guilt was pulsing through me but once Mike was above me, I no longer had control.

He kissed me hard with intent and wasted no time unbuttoning my jeans and peeling them off. I giggled and kissed him back, wrapping my bare legs around his waist, urging him to continue. The shame of giving myself to someone I barely knew slowly disappeared when I pulled him into me and lost all traces of my sensibility.

It ended as quickly as it began and before I knew it he pecked me on the forehead, pulled up his pants and left the room. Confused and embarrassed, I stumbled over to where my jeans were and jiggled them on. I bent down to find my shoes but I was too drunk and blinded by the darkness of the room. I walked over to the light switch and nearly screamed when I saw a guy passed out on the floor face down in puke.

Sobriety came quick and I just wanted to get out of there. I spotted my shoes by the dresser and bolted out of the room. I headed straight for the nearest bathroom. With my heels in one hand, I locked myself in and stared at my reflection. With tears running down my face, I could only utter one word, “Pathetic.”

“Hello! You okay?” Jenn asked, slapping my arm.

“Uh, yea. I’m good.” We were sitting on Jenn’s driveway.

“Are you sure? You look like you could really use a drink.”

“Yea, I guess I could.” I said, walking behind her, I tried to shake of the memory of the last time I saw Mike all those months ago. The room was colorful with plastic blown up palm trees and fishnets with seashells on the walls. Jenn really outdid herself with the decorations, I thought. I was looking up at the pineapple lanterns when I spotted six feet of gorgeous staring at me.

Looking around the room, positive this beautiful man was looking at someone else, there was no one behind me. I smiled at him and decided now was a good enough time as any to grab a drink.

“Hey, Rave. More people are arriving and heading out back to the pool. Do you want to come?” Asked Jenn.

“No thanks. I think I’ll just hang back and go say hi to Kevin.

“Yea, okay.” She said and walked outside.

I spotted Kevin by the table filled with fresh fruit and bite sized burgers.

“Hi Kev!” I nearly yelled over the music as I gave him a peck on the cheek and shook his boyfriends hand.”

“This is Taylor. Found him at the beach.” Kev winked with a sly smile.

I couldn’t help noticing that guy from before. He was now by the couch chatting up a couple of girls. A sting of jealously came over me as I wished to be one of those girls.

“You know Raven, you could go talk to him.” Said Kevin, giggling with Taylor.

“I don’t know. Who is he anyway?” I asked, eagerly.

“That’s Mark Wilson. He’s Mike Wilson’s twin brother.”

I nearly spit my heart out when I heard those words Mike in his face and I immediately wanted to leave.

“You okay, Rave? Feeling a little shy? Chuckled Kevin.

“No, I’m fine. Just need a drink. It was nice to see you again Kev and nice to meet you Taylor.” I rushed over to the kitchen, poured myself another drink and tossed it back. Out of all the guys here, why did I have to be attracted to Mike’s brother! His twin no less! Oh, the horror hit me and in low places.

I walked out to the front porch and sat on the white cushioned swing. There I sat, looking down at my cup and tossed the liquor out, vowing to myself that I would no longer let myself be consumed by drinking or by lust.

“Mind if I sit?” Asked a male voice. I sighed as I looked up into Mark’s kind face.

“Go ahead.” I said, walking back in to enjoy the rest of the party with a bottle of water at hand.

Author Note: Are you interested in what happens next? Let me know in the comments below! I will post a part two! xo

© Stephanie Cardozo and Stephanie Cardozo, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Stephanie Cardozo and Stephanie Cardozo with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.