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Authors: Mia Villano

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BOOK: Winter In August
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“Thanks, honey. Man, we are busy.” I sipped the steamy coffee, burning my tongue.

“We’re bursting at the seams today, sister.” I walked through the front which was full of New York’s richest, snobbiest women sitting and waiting for appointments. If you wanted your hair cut at Gino’s, appointments took a month, unless you were a regular or were willing to sit for hours until an opening came up. I lucked out getting in there and it was because I was so good at what I did. I finished top of my class at the Carsten Institute. I was starting to make money and loved my job. I schmoozed with the best and loved to hear how most of them spent their days. Their biggest problems were usually something I could only dream of, a maid quitting or trying to find a nanny for a baby a surrogate gave birth to.

Once I made my way to the back and set up for the first appointment, I ran to the bathroom and applied more lip stain and cover-up under my eyes. I was ready to start the day.

Rhonda already had her first client and smiled at me with her pink Mohawk hair. Besides me, she was the most sought after stylist in the place, and my mentor. I considered being across from her an honor, and she was a lifesaver. There were several times when Rhonda helped me out of a mess or simmer down a real bitch who made me almost lose my temper.

“Hey, Rhonda. How’s it going?” I asked, smiling at her.

“Baby, it's going fast and hard like my husband this morning, if you know what I mean,” she smiled back. The girl sitting in the chair laughed as she was getting highlights.

Rhonda gyrated her hips and danced around the customer. Everyone laughed except for the owner of the salon, Sven, who came out of his back office.

“Oh Christ,” I laughed, getting out my favorite scissors from a velvet case. I loved my coworkers, and my job and just about everything in my life. Well, almost everything.

“He can’t get enough of this stuff, baby,” she kept on. Rhonda was overweight and proud of her figure. She called her shape “curvy” and said her extra curves were more “cushion for the pushin”. She loved to wear tight fitting clothes and heels to work every day showing off every bump and bulge, and she flaunted her body off with pride. She and I got along well and we became friends right away.

“Okay bitches, let’s get to work and save the dancing for later, like when you are home alone with your husband.” Sven, the owner of Gino’s and Tabs husband, said in a stern voice. No one took him seriously. He had on a new hands-free ear piece so Tab could announce who arrived, who was ready, and who was bitching. He said the headset made him more professional, and he was becoming an ass using it for everything. He turned his attention to me.

“Hey, honey. You’re nearly late, but looking hot. Your ten o’clock is here.” Sven was six foot four, slightly overweight, and obsessed with his dachshund, Reggie. He shaved his head and wore the same looking clothes every day. He lived in jeans and a black t-shirt, black combat boots, and a black vest. The only time I didn’t see him in that outfit was when we went out together, and then he still wore all black. He said talking to me was easy, and he confided in me a lot. I asked him why his salon wasn’t named Sven’s and he said the salon was named after the love of his life of twenty-five years. Gino passed away from cancer and in his memory, Sven named the salon after him. He was a very private man, yet he liked to boast about his sex life to me as much as he could. He had a roaming eye and lately, a roaming penis.

“Thanks, Sven.”

“Rough night last night?” he whispered.

“You could say that,” I whispered back, feeling sick thinking about where I was a few hours ago. The thought of his big fat ass sticking out of the covers made me want to gag. Then I realized thoughts of the blonde guy raced through my head also. He might be good-looking, but I assured myself he was boring in bed and an ass like all the rest. Most of those rich bastards cared about getting off and didn’t consider what a woman would want. I assured myself Blondie was as bad as Marco, if not worse. And why was I thinking about him? That situation was done and over, and I prayed I wouldn’t see either of them.

“We’ll talk later. I have something to tell you. You aren’t going to believe who I met last night walking Reggie at the park. He rocked my world. Are you ready for Mrs. Spiegel?” I rolled my eyes at him.

“Yes, bring her back,” I smiled, taking one last sip of the hot coffee, and thankful I didn’t have to listen to one of Sven’s sex stories so early in the morning.

“Be extra nice. She caught her husband cheating and she’s been drinking this morning. On top of that, he was cheating with the nanny, and the nanny’s a guy. She’s ticked off, to say the least. Tab baby, send Gigi back,” Sven said into his headset.

“And I thought I had problems,” I smiled.

* * * * *

I stayed in with Harper that evening, ordered organic take-out, and watched our favorite movies. I loved Moonstruck and could recite the entire movie by heart which drove Harper nuts. She, was stereotypically obsessed over the Notebook. I hated the movie but sat through the sappy crap for my best friend. Spending the night with Harper and doing what she wanted was the least I could do after abandoning her the night before. We fell asleep in Harper’s bed, and though I would not admit this truth to her, I did sleep better. Her bed was so soft and cozy, and her little candle type lights everywhere were relaxing. Perhaps she was right about my room and its effect on me.

The next morning, I hesitantly helped her pack for another overseas trip, cooked breakfast, and promised to behave while she was gone. Harper always worried about me when she had to leave.

While we were sitting in the living room drinking coffee and finishing up breakfast, she turned to me in her standard white turtleneck and jeans.

“I’m worried about you, Gabby. Spending the night with Marco Fitzgerald has me concerned.” She grabbed my hand, and I flinched.

“Stop Harper. You’re like a mother hen. Stop worrying.” I moved my hand, uncomfortable with anyone touching me. I nervously stood and walked to the kitchen to get more coffee.

She jumped up and followed me. “I can’t stop worrying. I see so much good in you, Gabby. You need to be good to yourself.” We stood in the kitchen facing each other. I noticed the legitimate concern on her face.

“I’m fine. Please, Harper. Don’t do this. I’ll let you know if there is something wrong.”

“That’s the thing. You won’t until it’s too late, and I have to find you unconscious. I can’t go through that again and neither can you.”

“Trust me this time when I say I have everything under control. That was five years ago and I won’t ever let that happen again.”

“Text if you need to talk, Gabby. We can facetime or I’ll call. You seem to be a little depressed and drinking more, and I believe I know why,” said Harper. She was so adorable when she worried about me. She would get a concerned expression on her face; it was like I was talking to someone much older than me. Knowing she was there for me if I needed her was reassuring. She kept me from going out of my mind, and I loved her for that. I didn’t know where I would be without her.

“You won’t ever see me like that again. I’m a different person now. Trust me.” I tried to convince her I was perfectly fine. Maybe, I was trying to convince myself I was fine. On the outside, you could never tell what I had been through or what I had been going through. I was a tough-talking party girl, in control. On the inside, I was anything but in control. I was still a complete mess and I hid it well, at least I thought I did.

Chapter 4

A
fter
Harper left, I went online to pay a few bills. I noticed one of the bills was due on a date I would never forget. Five years ago my life fell apart, and the nightmare seemed so clear in my head still. I was planning on living in Ohio the rest of my life. I was happy, in love, and hoping to get married.

I had been totally enamored with Kris Graber since the first day of school. Kris went to school with me from first grade until high school graduation. He came from a working-class family in Ohio and lived down the road from me. Kris’s dad retired from the military, and his mom worked as a schoolteacher. We were in every class at St Frances Elementary and attended St Bernard’s High School together. He was gorgeous, and I even thought so when he lost two front teeth when we were both seven years old. I loved him from the first time I spotted him eating a peanut butter sandwich and drinking chocolate milk. I’ll always remember that day. He noticed I had forgotten my lunch and shared his sandwich with me. He was the one that helped me get over my mom and the one person I confided in when I thought I had no one.

My mom, Daniella or Danni as everyone called her, was a stay at home mom. She was always waiting for me every single day after school without fail. She and I were so close. I remembered coming home from school on the bus like I did every day. I would run into the kitchen where my mom would be sitting there waiting for me with a snack. One snowy winter day in February promised hot soup, and I ran in to see my mom after a bad day of being bullied by a kid on the bus.

“Mom, Mom,” I yelled, throwing my backpack on the table and expecting the familiar aroma of the soup simmering on the burner. Chicken with stars was always my favorite and before I left for school, she promised to have some waiting for me.

This time, however, there wasn’t an answer, there wasn’t any soup, and there was no mom. I ran all over the house trying to find her but she was nowhere to be found. There was not a note from her, and her car was in the garage. The television had been left on, and a cup on the table still had coffee inside.

I was terrified and didn’t know what to do. Where could she be? This had never happened before. She couldn’t be at the neighbors, she never visited them. Panic-stricken, I called my dad to tell him my mom was not home. He assured me he’d come home right away. When my dad found me, I had thrown up all over, and was hysterically screaming “Mommy, please come home, please come home,” over and over.

That evening when she hadn’t shown up, and my dad had called everyone he knew, we found a note in the mailbox. She said she was leaving us and going to be happy for once in her life. She requested we not come and find her because she needed this time to herself. She said she might be back someday, but she had to go for a little while. She told me, she loved me and would see me soon. I held on to the hope she would be back. Each day I prayed she would be in the kitchen when I came home from school. I said my rosaries diligently every night and prayed to St. Jude, the patron of hopeless cases. I asked Santa to bring her back on numerous Christmases. But, I was always heartbroken. My sense of security was crushed. Seeing my friends with their moms tore me apart. I hid my pain as best I could through pretending to be tough. I hid my pain well in front of people, then when I would be in the privacy of my own room is when my true feelings would surface. Many nights I cried myself to sleep, hoping somewhere she could feel the pain I was in, and come rushing back to me.

As the years went on, I tried to forget her. I gave up all hope she would be back. Forgetting your mother was hard to do on holidays, especially Mother’s Day. I blamed myself, thinking I hadn’t been a good enough daughter, that I was the reason she’d been so sad. I always remembered my mom being upset and crying most days. Nothing made my mom happy except the trips she and I would take to the New Jersey Shore. At times, my mom would put me in the car and take off to a cottage she rented on the shore, and we would stay there either a week or two. The Jersey shore was the one place I remembered her being genuinely happy. My mom was a different person when she was there. She would actually smile, put on makeup, and dress up. I didn’t understand why the Seaside Cottages made her so different. When she left, I begged my dad to go there and search for her. One weekend, he left me with my aunt, drove to the New Jersey shore, and came back disappointed. He said she wasn’t there and if my mom wasn’t at her favorite place I knew I had lost her forever.

The heartbreak and stress of losing her led me to fall into a deep depression in which I would eat myself crazy. The sweet motherly things she did for me were no longer going to happen. I was never going to come home to a snack she prepared for me, have her sing me to sleep, or go on a road trip with her. My dad would fill the house with junk food, bread, and cheese. He thought food would help me feel better. It didn’t make me feel better but did fill a void in my life.

I was left home alone quite a bit during those times, and the pain and fear of the unknown made my life worse. I had this strong fear my dad was going to die from his drinking and abandon me like my mom.

Though I didn’t tell anyone but Kris, no one knew what problems I had. He always looked out for me, always took care of me, and made sure I was okay. As we grew older, I confided in him about what was going on in my head, and because of his acceptance, I was a little more secure. He helped me at the electrical store, we did our homework together, and I spent many nights at his house eating with his family. He was not only my boyfriend, but he was my best friend in the world.

Over the years, he grew into this gorgeous, perfect guy the girls were smitten over. Yet, he only had eyes for me. Standing six foot four, muscular, and with a laugh that melted anyone’s heart, Kris was the man of my dreams. He played every sport in high school and loved chocolate pudding with whipped cream and bananas, cheeseburgers, and hot Dr. Pepper. He was my first love, first kiss, and first blowjob. On the way to an amusement park after senior prom, I decided to try blowing Kris while he drove. In no time, I succeeded in getting him off, and he came all over my new Britney Spears T-shirt. After that, we spent every chance we could together and explored each other’s bodies like a map in an atlas. I decided my senior year, I would one day be Gabby Graber and spend the rest of my life with him. We planned on going to college together, living together, and getting married on the beach. His senior year, he didn’t get the football scholarship he hoped for and instead enlisted in the Marine Corps. I remember crying and begging him not to join the Marines and he wouldn’t listen. He was hell bent on enlisting and nothing I did or said changed his mind.

BOOK: Winter In August
6.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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