Today, I’m introducing a new feature to The Literary Game. My whole intention here is to help writers grow. I think the opportunity to switch things up once in a while and showcase talented new writers fits well with the whole mission here, so without further ado…
by Natalie Hernandez
His words replayed in my head the whole ride home, “I hate to disappoint you, but I ain’t shit. Honestly, I’m just a druggy who’s nice with words but suffers from a crazy short attention span.” The rattling of the subway was the soundtrack to my questions, first one being, What the fuck did he mean by that?
Was that his way of telling me that I had been wrong this whole time? I mean sure, he always told me I was too pure to be held by him, but he loved his vices; and once I remember he told me I was “as pure as imported cocaine,” so I know he’s capable of loving me.
His boys warned me, multiple times; but I confused it for jealousy. They couldn’t wrap their small, drug infused minds around the fact that their King had found a good one. Sure, I endured a couple bruises and punches here and there, but he was high. I was in love. We always met each other halfway, even through detours.
The sudden halt of the train jolted my tiny body and I jumped out of my seat; just three more stops and I would finally be home. At this stop, people coming in from work rushed into the subway like roaches entering the free world-all in packs, stuck together like a fresh pack of Newports.
Mmm…Newports. That smell always reminded me of the long nights Christian and I had on my front porch when we were seventeen. Crazy, to think that both of us would be nearing twenty five this year; and I’m the only one who kept my sobriety a promise. Christian could never, and I knew that…but I had to be the one giving him the benefit of the doubt. His mother walked out on him and his sisters when they were young; his father was never around—and his “boys,” were more like his children. Sucking him out of his money like leeches, just to feed their vices.
Christian once said he fell in love with me because I was nothing like the people around him; and while he was absolutely correct—he never knew the reason why I loved him so deeply.
He was the exact replica of my father: a drunk. The only difference both of them held, was that Christian fed more into the needles and baggies than he did the bottles. I honestly would not have minded if he were just an alcoholic; I know how to deal with those. But drug addicts? I don’t think I had ever met one until he came along.
Before him, I was just Seline. A 16 year old girl trying to get myself through high school with straight A’s, but the only thing straight about me was my edge. I never drank, never smoked; because I had seen what it was doing to my father. Witnessing addiction first hand was the only sign I needed.
But things changed my senior year. Christian had just transferred from a school in Brooklyn to my school in Queens, and I could tell it wasn’t by choice.
“Yo. What’s good love? I’m Chris.”
I looked around, making sure he wasn’t talking to me.
“Yes you, Ma. What’s good? Talk to me. Fuck with me, what’s good?”
“Class, please turn in your papers when the bell rings. Enjoy your day.”
I picked up my books and walked to the front of the class as quickly as I could, trying to avoid him.
Damnit, I remember thinking. This kid moved like Spider-Man, and he was definitely up to something…something nobody at Newtown was ready for.
When I arrived at my locker, he was standing close by. I decided to break the ice, giving him a cold stare.
“My names Seline. I’m 16, and whatever the fuck it is you want, I don’t have it. “
He looked surprised, but his lips curled into this very sexy smirk.
“Oh. So shorty has a name huh? Well, I think Seline should come chill with a real one, let me show you around my city.”
I scoffed. “Excuse me, YOUR city? You’re not even from here, shut the fuck up.”
He laughed. The sound of his laughter brought me back to my favorite summer, it was refreshing; yet…terrifying.
Weeks went by, and Christian and I became closer. I introduced him to my parents; under all the pressure in the world.
“Me lo tienes que traer a la casa por lo menos una vez, para conocerlo bien./ You have to bring him home at least once, so we can get to know him better.”
My poor mother. She had no idea that she’d be reconnecting with the teenaaged version of my father all over again. His clothes constantly reeked of marijuana, but it slowly became my favorite cologne.
After school one day, we walked to my house; hand in hand. He was doing something he’d never done before—playing with my fingers.
“Babe, you good? We don’t have to go if you don’t want to; I’ll just tell her you got sick or whatever.”
He shook his head, and straightened his jacket.
“Nah, it’s all good. I just haven’t done this shit in a while, meeting a girl’s parents or whatever. You don’t get it yet babygirl, but I’m no good for you.”
I laughed it off, and continued to walk.
To my surprise, the night went insanely well. We ate, talked, laughed. My mom seemed to really like him, constantly giving me smiles and nods of approval whenever our eyes met.
“Gracias Senora Ruiz, esta comida le quedo diivina/ Thanks Mrs Ruiz, the food was amazing.”
I had never heard him speak Spanish before, but I felt my eyes fill up with delight. After he went home that night, my mom and I sat down for a talk.
“Mija, I like him for you, a lot. He reminds me of your father.”
She nodded in his direction; where he was sitting on the couch; nose buried in a Dean Koontz book.
“I know Ma, that’s why I was afraid of bringing him here. I knew you’d think that.”
She looked at me, shocked. “Porque dices eso?/ Why do you say that?”
“Because Ma, he’s a lot like Daddy. He has vices. He drinks, smokes, he’s not the ideal guy for me, Mami. But I like him.”
My mom shook her tiny head of blond curls in disbelief. She kissed my forehead and said, “Goodnight mi vida, te quiero.”
I’ll always remember that night like it was yesterday….and next month would be seven years since that day. I’ll never forget he’d write me poems and raps and slip them into my bag every morning on our way to school. He’d buy me anything I ever wanted, and I never had to ask twice for anything.
His mom said I changed her son into the man she’d always knew he would be. But what she didn’t know, was that he was the exact image of my dear father. An addict, dependent on vices that would probably kill him, sooner than later.
When I got home, I showered and slipped into my favorite pair of leggings and an oversized hoodie, one which I’m sure belonged to Christian.
I heard my phone ring from the other room, and ran to get it.
The name Adrian displayed on my screen.
“Seline? Seline…Seline!….Christian’s dead.”
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