I've been in Chicago about two weeks now, and I've sent Chris one letter. I haven't sent any to my parents, but I did call them from a payphone. My mom was frantic and began sobbing right when she heard my voice, then became enraged, screaming at me to get home now. When I talked to my dad, he was much calmer. I know he's upset by my leaving as well, but I think he understands. He told me to be careful and know that he will still love and accept me when I decide to come back. I thanked him and asked to speak to Chris, but he wasn't home. Dad said that Chris hardly showed any emotion when he learned of my escape, but he has hardly been home since I left and when he is home, he locks himself in his room. I feel a sting of guilt and make sure to write in my next letter to Chris that he needn't worry about me and he needs to carry on just the way he did before I left.
I've done a few odd jobs to earn a bit of money. An elderly lady paid me to paint her a sign for a nail salon and I've sold a few paintings and drawings of caricatures to the tourists. I even painted a little girl's face when I went to Navy Pier. Her parents gave me a whopping fifteen bucks. I realize now that as long as I'm in places of tourism where lots of people visit every day, I could survive on art jobs. I don't need to pay for electricity, television, a phone bill, insurance, or a heating bill. I don't even need to pay for wifi because the hotel provides it and if I need it at other times, I could just slip into one of the many coffee shops and cafes that offer it. My only needed expenses are food, supplies for my art jobs, any extras products that may be necessary such as deodorant or tampons, the hotel room, and transportation. I'll soon eliminate the transportation fare because I'm planning on purchasing a bicycle for myself with a basket for my bag.
I enter Duffy's for the second time today and smile at the band. Matty, the bartender, nods to me and smiles. I wave and slip into a seat at the bar, pulling out my book. I've seen the group of five that were here the first night about four other times since that night and I've dubbed them the nickname "The Cool Kids" in my journal because that's exactly what they remind me of. The type of kids in high school that everyone wants to hang out with, but may be outcasted a bit because they're different, even if it's different in a good way.
Just as I begin reading, the bell above the door jingles and someone walks in. I think nothing of it and don't even bother looking up. That is until they slip into the seat next to me and I can feel them looking at me. I glance up and see a shock of long, nearly-white-blonde hair falling over this petite girls shoulders and contrasting harshly with her short black dress. She presses her lips together in a thin smile and I recognize her instantly. She is the same girl that looked at me the first night I was in Chicago, and she's part of the The Cool Kids' group.
I smile at her as well and look back down to my book. "What are you reading?" She asks in a voice that's just as stunning as her appearance. I glance up at her and lift the book so she can see the cover. "Ah, Tuesdays With Morrie," The girl nods and smiles approvingly, tossing her long, effortlessly beautiful hair over her shoulder. "It's an amazing book isn't it?"
"Yes," I smile and nod. "It's incredible. I've been reading it nonstop ever since I left." I let it slip and immediately bite my cheek, hoping she didn't catch it. I can see in her shockingly light brown eyes that she did catch it, but she chooses to ignore it and instead says, "It makes you question the meaning of life, doesn't it?"
"Yes," I say slowly and I look down at the book. "It does."
"Good evening ladies," Matty smiles at us when he approaches us, the skin around his bright eyes wrinkling sweetly. His caring, elderly state reminds me of a beloved grandfather. "I see my two favorite girls have finally met."
"Oh yes," The girl smiles at me. "I'm surprised we've never spoken before. She has an astonishing taste in books."
I smile and look at Matty, who chuckles jovially. "So girls, what can I get ya? I assume the usual for you, Tatum?" I smile and nod and the other girl asks for the same thing. She's never tried it before.