Monday, May 4, 2015

Miss Christina

Sometimes I bring her chocolate milk. When I see her swooping into the dining room like an angry flash of lightning, I find my way to her and sneak her the bottle of milk under the table. She smiles a toothless grin at me and tells Bobby next to her that I'm her favorite. As I turn away, she grabs my arm and pulls me down close to her. I can feel her breath against my ear. 'Honey, can you bring me another serving?' I look down at her plate that is still full of food. Her smile is anything but genuine but I have a soft spot for her.

Her voice is gravel and her skin is leather. Her hair is the color of tarnished gold. Her eyeliner is always smeared, her mascara clumps to her eyelashes. Her eyes are dark green and you can tell they have seen a lot. You can tell what she's seen has taken a toll on her. When she speaks, she speaks quickly and her words stumble over each other. She is the best at shit talking. She is the queen of the side-eye. She is mean as hell. Bold, careless, and reckless. She gets into fights with the men. She will scream and threaten to expose what so-and-so was doing with so-and-so behind the bushes or in the back of the parking lot. They will deny it and their faces get red with anger. Most times they look scared of her. Sometimes she comes in wearing a dress that is two sizes too small but she struts in with all the confidence in the world. You can't help but notice her, for good or bad. I tell her that she looks pretty. Instinctively, her hand goes to her hair. Sometimes she tells me that I'm pretty. She tells me about her son. She tells me he's 24, a real stud with bright green eyes. She says we should meet, we would be perfect for each other. I laugh and tell her I would drive her son crazy, he would get sick of me after a day. One day, she randomly tells me the religion she was raised in. I am shocked to find out it is the same as me. I give her a big hug and she hugs me back.

She likes when the juice is cold but hates when ice gets in the cup. When I pour her a glass, she looks at me expectantly. I tell her, 'I got you. I remember.' She is never shy to ask for seconds, thirds, fourths. She is never shy to ask if I could bring her a bottle of orange juice or chocolate milk from home. I often offer before she can ask me. She always calls me sweetie. She always tells me I'm her favorite. She never says thank you. I always call her Miss Christina. She beams.

I ask if I can take her photo. She suddenly gets shy. 'Where? How do I stand?' I load the film and she stands there awkwardly. Bobby walks by and makes a comment. She yells at him, without missing a beat, 'Shut the fuck up, Bobby. I will fuck you up'. He swats her away. I ask her if they are still sort of together. She rolls her eyes. I laugh and take that as a yes. She asks for a juice box. She poses with it. Click. 'Do I look pretty?' She asks. I smile at her. 'Of course.'

I ask her what makes her happy. She takes awhile to answer me. She shakes the juice box while she tries to collect her thoughts. For the first time, a wave of softness washes across her face.

"Living my life. If I wasn't happy, there would be no point in living...making sure my parents are happy, my kids, my friends..."

She pauses.

"Also, livin' la vida loca. Make sure you put that."

Read about Steven and Alfred.