Shana Snell lived in the trailer to our right and was the only girlfriend I had. She'd befriended me, a scrawny girl with red-rimmed eyes and a single battered suitcase, on the day I returned to Canyon.
Grandma Danner had put me on a Greyhound bus, folded a photo into my hand and promised that my mother - this woman in the picture - would be waiting for me at the other end. She'd given me one last long look, then turned and walked away without a backward glance.
No one had been waiting when I had arrived, so I sat on the curb, shaking despite the heat, and waited.
Two hours later, a long-haired man reeking of stale cigarettes and motor oil pulled up in a battered old Chevy.
"You Layla?" he'd asked through the open window.
"Yes sir," I'd said.
He'd jerked his head, motioning to the passenger seat. "Get in."
What choice did I have but to go?
He didn't say a single word to me on the drive to my mother's trailer. Instead, he bobbed his head and sang along to the Country Rock blaring through the radio. I'd clutched my backpack tight to my body and willed myself not to cry.
The ride had turned bumpy when we made the turn into Shangri-La, as smoothly paved pavement gave way to broken concrete and overgrown grass.
Everything was gray that day, the sky, the ground, the color of the man's tank top, and the ashes of his cigarette falling carelessly onto his stained jeans.
Haphazardly strewn amongst the scraggly lawn were gray trailers of different sizes and shapes, of varying conditions. Most of them were old, weather beaten, and sagging into the ground, their air conditioning units drooping from graying windows. Older model cars, half of them on cinder blocks with their hoods up, were parked in the dirt in front of them.
Topless men with giant, pale guts were sitting on lawn chairs, clutching beers and watching their naked babies run through the narrow streets.
I'd swallowed hard as the man rolled to a stop in front of a particularly battered trailer with a torn, frayed and sun-bleached red awning.
"This is it," the man had said, bobbing his head and drumming his fingers against the steering wheel to the beat of the music. "Get out."
"Is my... mother here?"
"Hell if I know, kid. Now get. I've got places to be."
I'd thanked him, dragged my suitcase out onto the dirt and watched him drive away, his tires kicking up a big cloud of red dust behind him.
No one had answered when I knocked on the trailer's door, but it was unlocked so I peeked in.
I'd spent a fair amount of time living in RVs before, when I accompanied my daddy on the Rodeo circuit. Daddy was a big star so we always got the best one, roomy with shiny new floors, polished counter tops, hardwood paneling, and my favorite - fancy overhead LED lighting that I would spend hours adjusting with the remote control to make it just-so. I'd loved being on the road with him.
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How We Were | ✔️ (Complete)Romance
[WATTYS 2016 WINNER!] [COSMOPOLITAN Featured!] Trapped in her white trash hell, Layla Danner is failing at life. Her friend Peyton? Everybody thinks he's perfect, a staggeringly rich, handsome, and well-mannered story book prince. But they don't kn...