CHAPTER 1: Alex
A weight shifted on the bed that was not her own and Alex stirred, then blinked, lashes thick with medicated sleep.
Dark eyes peered down at her, a cigarette dipped lazily between full lips. The girl contemplated her as if considering whether to mark her forehead with a kiss or the cherry of her cigarette Ash Wednesday style. But this place was far from holy grounds and this girl could make a priest blush.
She dragged on her cigarette, removed it and leaned down, full lips trailing smoke against Alex’ ear, “Welcome to Dysfunction Junction.”
Alex blinked again and the girl was gone. Maybe she was never even there.
The dim memories of yesterday rose like a minnow on a lake surface, setting off a ripple that stretched back decades. Alex felt it coming and pressed it back into the deep pool of her mind from whence it came until it drifted and divided into ebony eyes that taunted her down into her dreams.
CHAPTER 2: Tanya
Tanya watched the new girl sleep– What was her name? She looked so peaceful. Of course, who wouldn’t after the valium cocktail they give in detox.
Perhaps because her own dreams are filled with the waking nightmares of crack addiction, Tanya does not sleep.
She took a drag on her cigarette and stared into a past only she could see. Trunks stacked with Rodeo Drive treasures stood like sentinels against the stained walls of rehab, all that remained to bear witness to the stark reality of a life gone horribly awry.
The former wife of a famed singer, Tanya was squatting a foreclosed mansion she had long lost the right to live in with a handful of homeless hangers-on who were prostituting her any way they could to get what needed to be gotten.
A deal was struck with the now former husband’s manager to get them out and get her help. The whole troupe was generously dumped at the rehab center. Within a matter of weeks all were reabsorbed by the streets that birthed them, save Tanya. She never talks about those days and it would be easy to believe it‘s all a fabrication of bored addicts craving fantastical lives–
She can‘t possibly be that Tanya. Oh yes, that Tanya who breathed rock star status, kidnapped a doe-eyed college student with her famous husband, kept her shackled in the master walk-in and pumped her full of drugs and sexual fantasies.
She gathered her legs from beneath her and crossed the distance to Alex’ bed in two strides, moving with the easy grace of a chestnut filly. Tanya fingered the tag on her suitcase, the one dropped off yesterday.
She’s asleep again, her lashes curving delicately against lightly freckled cheeks.
Arrived in a limo, they said. Tanya doesn’t really give two shits how Miss Thing here fell from grace. They all did eventually.
Yet, looking at her she felt a twinge, something she hadn’t felt for so long she can’t even begin to define it. Later she’d discuss it with her therapist and be surprised at what she discovered but now all she can say for certain is, this girl has never seen the streets.
It has a way of marking you.
Even if your clothes came from Rodeo Drive or the Neiman Marcus fall line up, it had a way of creeping up beneath like rotten vegetables under Chanel 5. It’s stamped all over Sam, she can smell it on Cat, but Elise and Beth don’t have it. Neither does this girl. Never seen the streets.
“Yea,” she said softly, unaware she’s even speaking out loud. “I never thought I would either…”
Tanya considered her the way one might a painting in a museum exhibit, unsure what exactly to make of it. She reached over and traced Alex’ lips softly with her fingertips, allowing them to linger…
“What the hell are you doing?”
Sam stood in the doorway, a cherub faced former crack addict with a shock of white blond hair surfboard waxed into a pixie. She wore a tight black t-shirt with Make Me scrawled across it.
Her arms are laced with cutting scars and various tatts of scriptural quotes as if just maybe she could instill self-love through yet another needle, so out of place with her soft features it gave her the look of a fallen angel.
“I’m not sleeping next to a corpse tonight,” Tanya said, straightening. “As if…” she granted Sam an icy stare, “It’s any of your fucking business.”
Sam’s face tightened. “I’ll be downstairs,” she said, leaving abruptly.
Tanya smiled. She scooped up a worn leather satchel draped on the shared desk and left the room in the manner she was accustomed, like silk moving across bare skin.
Dysfunction Junction © 2019 Valerie Heidt
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