Don't Look Back

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It was T, Tony, Gator, G, Honey, a girl named Janice and a guy named Nelly. We were all sitting in the hotel's cafeteria after just finishing breakfast. It was 10:00 AM, and far from the time we had to be in New York.

But that was the problem--I wasn't so sure anymore if I should go to New York or not. 

"So you leaving?" Honey asked. She looked sincerely concerned, as if she was going to miss me. I smiled, and shrugged my shoulders.

"Can you rap? If you could, you could just stay on tour with us." Gator said. Everyone laughed, including me. The only thing I could really do was draw, and that wouldn't be helpful on a rap tour. 

T was sitting next to me, and had earlier slipped my hand into his. I squeezed his hand and felt a lump form in my throat when I thought of not being able to do that anymore by tonight. I seriously did not want to go back home. 

But T kept telling me that I should just go for now, and he'd come back for me. He said we'd be back together soon after I went back home. But I still didn't want to go home and face my mother's wrath. 

"I'm just not feeling going there, you know? I'm not in the mood to be around my family." I said to them. T stroked my hand with his thumb and I felt a little more comfortable. Then he leaned back to whisper in my ear.

"By midday, the whole world gonna know we together 'cause of those pictures. When you go home, you could show off and make everyone jealous." He whispered. I giggled, thinking of Camilla's face when she saw those pictures. But then I immediately apologized to Camilla in my head--it wasn't very nice to want to  make her jealous. 

 We talked for a little while longer, and then I finally decided I would go home. I couldn't hide from them forever.

The whole crew didn't come with me, and I didn't go home on the tour bus. We hired a cab to drive T and I to the airport. By the time we were in LA, it was 3:30 PM. We still weren't on the Westside, though.

T didn't come out of the airport's lobby. We both stood in a corner, staring around us and down at the floor. It was hard to leave him; I felt like I'd known him for years. I could tell it was hard for him to leave me, too. We couldn't even look each other in the eye. 

Suddenly, he took me by the chin and lifted my head up. Finally, we were making eye contact (well, barely, because he had sunglasses on). In that moment, looking into his pretty brown eyes and seeing those soft lips of his pout, I began to cry. It was just so sad to go; I didn't think I could do it.

"Take me back on the plane, T. I'm not leaving you." I said. I wasn't snot-crying; the tears were silently rolling down my cheeks. I'd wipe them, but they still came, two at a time.

"You know you can't come back. And I'll be around, Jay-Jay. I promise." He said, holding me by the waist. 

"What do you mean you'll be around?" I asked, confused.

"Just look out for me. I'll pop up some time soon." With that, he pulled me closer to him, and into a soft, sentimental kiss. It lasted just a moment, for T's alertness of the people around us kicked in and he pulled away. Then he hugged me, and made the cab driver take me back to the Westside. 

Once we were in my neighborhood, I got more and more sad. I saw a couple of people from my area and building, and I turned my head when I saw them. All I wanted to do was go to New York with T, and stay by his side forever.

But no one got exactly what they wanted in life.

The cab pulled up a block away from my building (I didn't want to be spotted as soon as the car pulled up) and helped me get my bags out of the trunk. I thanked him, and walked snail-slow to the building. Every step I made took about thirty seconds; I seriously didn't want to go inside of my apartment. 

But soon, I got there. There were boys sitting on the steps, and when I pulled up they looked me up and down with some sly smiles.

"Long time no see, Jay." One of them said. 

"Somebody's looking nice." Another one said. Before, this would've made me blush wildly, and I would've texted Camilla all about it. But now, I didn't care. I had a boyfriend that none of them could ever top. 

I passed them confidently and entered the building. When I got to my front doorstep, I drew in a deep breath, and then used my key to unlock it.

The house felt so empty; was anybody home? I called this aloud, only to receive no response. When I got to the kitchen, I realized why. My mother was alone at the table, sipping tea. Keron wasn't home. I could tell; he'd be in here with her if he was here.

She looked me up and down, making my body shiver. I stood there, staring at her, for a long time. Finally, she put down the cup, and pointed a finger toward the back of the apartment, where my room was.

When I had a puzzled expression on my face, she began to explain. "Your things," she said, "are packed and ready to go." I was still confused. She'd packed my things? 

"What do you mean they're packed and ready to go?" I asked. She couldn't be saying what I thought she was, right?

"Jaydi, you left on your birthday. You lied to me. You formed a relationship with someone you knew I wouldn't approve of. You ignored your best friend when she tried to help you do the right thing. I didn't raise you to be that way, and I'm not going to have the whole damn neighborhood know that I have a senseless child. Get out of my sight, and get out of my house." She said this sternly and with passion.

It took a moment, but finally I turned and went to my room where all my furniture was gone. She'd probably sold everything. There were suitcases and bags lined up against one wall--it was all my belongings, sitting there. 

I'd expected her to curse me, to beat me brutally, to throw things at me. I even thought she'd let Keron beat me, or even take me outside and beat me in front of the whole neighborhood. But this? Throwing me out?

Uh-uh. I'd never dreamed she'd do that. 

One by one, I took all of the bags and dragged them by the door. Once I had figured out how to hold them with only two hands, I went to go say goodbye to my mother.

But 'goodbye' wasn't what came out. Instead, I said this: "I know you'll never understand me. No one will. But that's okay--it's good to be different. Don't worry about me while I'm gone; I have a place to stay, and people to stay with. I'll be okay. And you'll hear about me later on today; I'll probably be breaking news. But I'll tell you this: don't come back crying to me when I'm living the good life and you and Keron are still living here in the hood."

With that, I walked back to the door, half confidently and half guiltily, and began to leave. My mother called me an 'ungrateful bitch' and threw a glass cup at me. I missed it just in time and headed out the door with my bags.

I took out my cell phone and called a taxi to take me to the airport. But I didn't tell them to come to my address. I told them to come to Camilla's. 

I rang her doorbell. She buzzed it, but didn't come downstairs, expecting me to come up to her apartment, but I didn't. I just stood there. I knew she'd come down to see who it was.

Camilla was wearing a short denim skirt and tank top when she came down to me. Her hair was combed back and in a ponytail. She was surprised when she saw me; I knew it was because I looked pretty. I'd gotten new clothes and makeup during the time I spent with T. 

"What do you want?" She asked. She was trying to sound disgusted with me, but I could already see the envy in her eyes. For the first time, I looked better than her - that was enough to boost my confidence sky-high.

"Camilla, we've been friends for some time. We've always had each other's backs, and that's cool. That's what friends do. But you showed me you didn't have my back when you came here and snitched on me. But that's fine, I just take it as a signal that we don't have each other's backs anymore. So when you see me living the big life and enjoying my self, call someone else's ass for help." I said slowly.

Just as I finished speaking, the cab pulled up. I took my bags and he helped me put everything in the trunk. The whole time, Camilla stood there in astonishment. When I got in the cab and he pulled off, she'd probably been standing there still, but I didn't look back. There was no need to look back.

I was moving forward.

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