Twisting Fate: Ch. 8

Tuesday, July 16, 2019



A few days later I’m working the early night shift at Lulo when I get the call. It’s the first time Ben has allowed me to work since the accident, and I had to threaten to leave if he made me stay home another day. Ever since writing my letter to Jennifer’s parents, I haven’t been able to let my phone out of my sight, anticipating their call.

 I’ve never felt more desperate in my entire life. I hate it.

Now, as an unfamiliar number lights up my screen while I’m pouring a round of shots for a group of college dudes, I nearly drop the bottle I’m holding as I scramble to answer it. I cringe at the eagerness in my voice as I greet whoever is on the other line, hoping it isn’t some stupid sales call.

“Is this…is this Jasmine Youvella?” a woman’s voice asks.

I can’t tell whether she sounds scared or sad. Maybe both.

“Yes. Yes! That’s me. Jasmine.”

“My husband and I..we um…well, we got your letter.”

“Hey, yo, what’s taking so long?” one of the dudes asks.

I sandwich the phone between my ear and my shoulder so I can give him the bird while I finish up making his drinks.

“I’m sorry. Is this a bad time?” the woman on the phone asks.

“No, sorry! Of course not. I can talk,” I insist.

I finish making the drinks and slide the tray down the bar to the impatient college jerk. He throws a wad of cash at me, most of it winding up on the floor on the other side of the bar. Asshole.

“Are you sure? I can call at another time. Perhaps…”

“No!” I nearly shout. 

Ben peeks his head out of the office. “You alright?” he asks. I nod, and swat him away.

He steps out of the office when he realizes I’m on the phone, and crosses his arms over his chest. 

“Who are you talking to?” he asks.

“No one! Go away! I’m fine!” I say.

“I think maybe I should call you another time,” the woman says.

This time, she hangs up before I can protest.

****

Her mother catches her as she hangs up the phone. Her escape plan is complete. She’ll be leaving, and she won’t be coming back.

“Who were you talking to?” her mother asks.

“No one,” Jennifer says.

Her mother smiles sadly, takes a cautious step toward her daughter, and then wraps her in her arms.

“Please be safe,” she whispers.

****

“Who were you talking to, Jasmine?” Ben asks, his voice and gaze stern.

“I told you it’s none of your business.”

“Actually, while you’re on the clock, it is.”

“Since when?”

“Since I’m the boss.”

I roll my eyes. 

“Tell me who it was Jasmine or I’m sending you home for the night.”

“You can’t make me go home.”

He takes a step closer to me and looks hard into my eyes. “You want to test that?”

“Mmm. I like where this is going.”

He’s the one who rolls his eyes this time. I grin. 

“It was the parents of the dead girl,” I tell him. “I took the doctors advice and wrote them a letter.”

“You did? When?”

“A few days ago.”

“Why?”

“Because. It seemed like the right thing to do.”

He gives me a skeptical look. I know he can tell I’m not telling the whole truth. If he presses any further I’m prepared to give him some sob story about almost dying and not feeling worthy of receiving this second chance and blah, blah, blah. 

But he doesn’t.

“Right,” he says. “Get back to work.”

And then he turns around and retreats back into his office.

****

The light is on in the room upstairs. Jennifer can see it through the cracks in the ceiling, hear his footsteps above her head. The sheets have been ripped from the bed, the mattress still askew. She screams and throws her phone against the wall in front of her.  It leaves a tiny crack in the wall before shattering into pieces on the floor. 

She was supposed to be safe here. She was supposed to be free.

But instead she has only replaced one prison with another.

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