I put the car in park and got out. I grabbed the package from the passenger seat and walked toward the building. I'd delivered there before, but never at night.
When I rang the doorbell, Imani answered. She gave me a familiar weak smile. Although her smile was indifferent, her eyes looked happy when they saw mine. I knew she felt what I did. The other times I'd seen her were similar to now. I didn't say much because I knew we weren't alone. I walked in and set the package down on the table.
Her boyfriend, Damien walked in the room and said
"Hey, Vato, you got the stuff"
They called me Vato, even though I wasn't Mexican, I was Hispanic, and that was close enough for them.
"Yeah it's right here"
He cut open the package with a pocket knife and took some white powder on the sharp edge.
"Taste that baby" he said as he pushed the knife in her face. She snorted some off the knife and nodded
"It's good, baby" she said, her voice quivering slightly. There was an unspoken thing between us. A thing that made me feel weird. It made me worry about her when I didn't see her for a long time. And think about her before I go to bed. She made eye with me and when I looked back at her she smiled weakly. I had to go, but I couldn't leave without knowing when I would see her again. I left a piece of paper with my number on it on the table under the place mat. I made sure she saw me put it there too.
"Aii, I'm out" I dapped him up and exited the building. The only thing I could do now was wait. I hope she could find a second to text me. If she texted me tonight, then I would know for sure.
When I got home, I saw my sister in her bed, doing homework.
"Meli, how was school"
"It was good. Same old same old" she said as she stood up and hugged me quickly.
"The same is good" I said. I walked out and went to Vales room. God knows where she is. I couldn't help but worry about her. I'll never forget the first day of 7th grade, it was Valentina's first day of 5th grade. When I went in the cafeteria and heard some boys talking
"She's so fine. Imma ask her out today after school." The boys said loudly as they watched my little sister walk by.
After school, I went up to him confronted him about what he said. When I got close to him I realized how big he was and that he was probably an 8th grader.
"Stay away from Valentina De la Rosa, she my little sister"
"Or what" he said , relentlessly.
"Or-or I'll beat you up" I stuttered.
And that day, on my first day of 7th grade, I got the shit beat out of me.
I got my ass kicked, but I knew I did the right thing, my dad taught me how to defend the women in my life.
When I told my mom what happened she was pissed that I was fighting, but I stood by my actions. When Valentina got home that day she said
"Bruno, you are so embarrassing, I can't believe you did that to me, now everyone thinks we're crazy" her Spanish accent still thick.
When she looked at my face her features softened and she went to the sink and wet a rag, she dabbed my face and when I winced, she sighed.
"I'm sorry Bruno, gracias por defenderme hoy" (thank you for defending me today)
I thought back to this story today, when I left Imani's house. It didn't matter that I got beat up, because I was defending someone I cared about. I had to do that now, today as an adult, even if I got beat up. Giving her my phone number was the first step.
When I heard the front door slam, I went to the living room and saw Valentina storm in.
"Kinda" she sighed.
I looked at her face and got a good look at her sad eyes. I'd seen this look before.
"Is not a boy, is it?"
"Oh my god why do you and Mami always assume I'm mad about some idiota i don't even like him!" (idiot)
" Jesus, it is about a boy, I don't know if I can cope, Valentina"
"Leave me alone, Bruno, I hate you!"
"Yeah yeah, I'm going to bed, buenas noches" she moved closer and I gave her a kiss on her forehead. With that I went to my room. I looked in the bathroom mirror, I saw the slight scar from a cut on my right cheek. The tattoo on my lower neck that lead to my chest was a vibrant contrast to my tan skin. My skin wasn't dark like Valentina's, or really tan like my mom. It was like my dad's, slightly tan but pale. I wasn't super tall, or muscular but I was an average height and had a lean build.
I took off my shirt and jeans and put on some basketball shorts, laying down in bed felt so good, and my eyelids felt heavy.
Hours had passed when I heard an abrupt ringing and I patted the space next to me to find my phone. When I grabbed it, I saw that an unknown number was calling, "do I answer?" I thought.
"Hello, who is this" I said
"Vato? Is that you" I heard her say in a whisper.
"I need you to come get me" I heard her breathing heavy and she sounded like she was in trouble.
"Are you ok?"
"Listen, can you come or not? I don't have anyone else to call" She said frustration evident in her voice.
"I'm on my way now"
What the fuck was I going to do? Could I really help this girl? Was this a mistake? I wasn't sure about any of this, but I got in my car and drove to her. In less than 15 minutes u was there and I texted the number
"I'm here" at 1:43 am
The fact that people are reading this is wild
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