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Story a Day: Day 19 – “Secondary Meeting”

“Hello, Ms. Blakemore,” two young kids greeted her as she walked through the youth center.

She smiled and waved at them. This was so much different than her last teaching job. Of course, none of her students there would be seen in a place like this. They’d had nannies or whatever to watch them after school. And if they got into trouble, their parents got them out of it. She’d basically been a glorified babysitter there. Here she actually saw she made a difference. At the school and the time she put in here at the youth center.

Her father didn’t see it that way, but there were a lot of things they didn’t see the same these days.

She stepped into one of the rooms set up for those who needed a quieter environment to study. There were basketball courts outside and a small sparring area on the other side of the main room. She’d seen Toby over there along with his wife and their tiny baby. The cop was here several times a week helping those kids who needed that to get their aggression out in a safer way. She supposed he was her brother-in-law now since her brother had married his half-sister.

She wasn’t any help with the more physical activities, though. but, in here, she could usually be some help. As long as it wasn’t some really advanced math, she could usually help the kids get a grip on it. She might not have enough knowledge to teach a more specific subject. At least that’s how her dad seemed to see it. Not that she’d rather work with the younger kids.

She pushed that thought away, something she’d been doing more with anything that had to do with her father, and approached the only kid in the room. “Hello,” she greeted. “What are you working on? Do you need help?”

The girl looked up at her, serious brown eyes wide. Hadn’t anyone ever offered her that before? “That’s okay,” the girl whispered.

Usually if someone said they didn’t need anything, Carisa would move on. But, something about the girl pulled at her. maybe it was the tears she saw her battling back. Or maybe it was that she reminded Carisa of the vague memories she had of her oldest sister. Though Adriane had been younger than this girl when she died.

“I’ll be around if you do need anything. Or if you just want to talk.”

She’d just started to walk to the front of the room, when the girl spoke up. “My foster dad thinks I should just get this stuff. Just because he’s good at math and science. But I…I don’t,” she stammered. “That’s why I come here to do it. And my sister picks me up on Thursdays for dinner. My foster parents don’t really like her, even though she’s doing good now.”

Carisa smiled a little to herself. Apparently once the girl started talking, she just kept on going. She headed back to the girl’s desk and sat at the one next to her. “What’s your name? I’m Carisa. Or you can call me Ms. Blakemore. Either’s fine, but I prefer the first myself.”

“Alexa,” the girl said, looking shy now. Apparently it had been easier to talk to Carisa’s back.

“Well, Alexa, let’s see if we can help you work through these problems. Then, you’ll be done when your sister gets here.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Today’s Story a Day prompt was to write an interaction between the protagonist and a secondary character. This will either be before Jayla & Carisa’s story starts or right at the very beginning. Alexa’s older sister is Jayla, so this is setting up how her and Carisa will meet. Not sure how much they’ll like each other right off, though.

Story a Day: Day 16 – “Turning Point”

Jayla had always thought if the cops showed up at their door it would be with handcuffs and an arrest warrant. It made her not even want to answer the door. But, she hadn’t done anything wrong. She was clean. She had been for…well, a couple days at least. It was harder to get anything now. But she wouldn’t go crawling back just because he’d give her access to drugs. The price she paid for them was too high. She couldn’t do it anymore. Especially with everything Mica had been doing to keep her safe from that man.

That ate away at her. He was her little brother. She should be the one protecting him. Him and their younger siblings. And yet she could barely take care of herself.

One of the cops knocked again, and she knew they weren’t just going to walk away. Whatever they were here for, they’d see it through. And even though the younger one kept looking over his shoulder, she didn’t think they looked like they were expecting trouble. Mica wasn’t here anyway, so they wouldn’t be able to arrest him even if they wanted to. He should have been. She’d been expecting him. Maddix was at school, along with the other two. So, this shouldn’t be about them. That only left her.

Had that bastard sent them after her? Did he think that would get her back? No, she thought she’d rather do some time than go back to letting him have any control over her, her mind or her body. She couldn’t do it anymore.

She slipped off the door chain, flipped the deadbolt and other lock then finally swung the door open. “Yes, Officers,” she said as sweetly as she could, cocking out one hip. Some things were hard to leave behind.

“Is Anna Dunn here?” the older man asked.

Jayla barely kept from scoffing. Her aunt Anna had never lived here, not really. She’d moved in for a month before she’d gone away, too. She didn’t care about them, hadn’t even cared about their mother. But, they’d been able to put off social workers when they stopped by the house and Jayla had faked it well enough over the phone.

The Coyotes helped them out more than any blood family ever had.

“No,” she finally answered him. “What do you want?”

“When will your aunt be back?”

“Don’t know. Don’t care. Now tell me what you want before I shut the door in your face.”

The older officer’s eyes flashed. Yeah, she’d run into him before. She didn’t care what he thought of her. But, it was the younger one who said, “We’re sorry to inform you, Miss Dunn, but your brother, Mica, was found dead this morning.”

“What?” No. That couldn’t be right. he was just off with some of the other guys, trying to keep their neighborhood safe from the trash the Pumas kept trying to bring over. “You’re lying to me.”

“We aren’t, Miss Dunn,” the young officer said, “I assure you. Do you know-”

But she was already swinging the door shut in his face, her legs buckling on her. She ignored the next knock then the sound of arguing that came through the door. Finally footsteps retreated, and the first sob broke through. It couldn’t be true. It couldn’t. If Mica was gone, who was going to protect them? Who was going to make sure Maddix, Konner, or Alexa weren’t the next victims of this life. It couldn’t be her. She wasn’t strong enough.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Today’s Story a Day prompt was to write about a turning point in a character’s life. This works well since I’m planning on starting to write Jayla’s back story today as part of my plotting for her story. This actually happens during Healing the Heart, though off the page, which is the second book in my Gilbert, Co series. And relates to what the characters were discussing in my Day 14 story, Nightmare.

Story a Day: Day 14 – “Nightmare”

“I had a nightmare last night. I woke up and started writing…”

Jayla looked up when her youngest brother trailed off. His face looked slightly darker than usual. Like he was embarrassed by his admission. “You still doing that journaling stuff?”

He shrugged one shoulder. “Gail and the therapist both say it’s good for me.”

Jayla tried not to let the resentment surface at the mention of the woman’s name. She understood, really she did, why that woman and her husband hadn’t wanted to take her in along with her younger siblings. They hadn’t tried to block her access to them and had given them a good home. Something Jayla never would have been able to give them. She still couldn’t even if she was in a better place now, but she still needed to get through college and find a job and a house. And by then even the youngest, Alexa, would just about be out of school.

“Then, you should probably keep it up. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.” She wished someone had given her tools to handle her own nightmares better. Sometimes it didn’t even feel like they went away when she woke up. “Did you want to talk about it?”

He met her eyes for a moment then shook his head. “No, I’m fine now.”

If he wouldn’t talk about it with her, it probably had to do with Mica. And that time in her past she’d rather just forget about. He and Maddix had been old enough to have an idea what was going on, and what their older brother had sacrificed his life for. Alexa had been kept insulated from that as much as she could be. Jayla was thankful for that at least. She didn’t want her baby sister to lose her innocence the way she had. She was nearly the same age Jayla had been when her own nightmare had started.

Jayla would do whatever she could to protect the young girl from ever having to face that. That was a promise she swore to herself she’d never break.

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