Wednesday October 16, 2013
"Alright girls, time to clean up!" Sis Canasta's overly cheery voice cut through the babble of the girls around me. I slid off the table I was sitting on chatting to Gabby and winced. My knee still wasn't completely healed from my fence climbing expedition on Friday. Karyn saw my cringe and her eyebrows wrinkled minutely then relaxed. My eyes flickered to Gabby. She didn't seem to notice. She and Lainey were the only ones at this place I was worried about having the guts to say something to me about my occasional wincing, dirty face, unwashed clothes, etc. All the other girls, being the obedient children they were, automatically began scraping up trash off the floor and pick up the paint covered newspapers off the tables. Gabby slipped out nonchalantly through the back door; I followed after.
"You left your vest in there, smart one," I said, coming up beside her.
"Yeah, I know, I did it on purpose." I couldn't blame her, the baby pink, puffy, life-preserver did not match her "Gabby" style. She sped up and turned into the gym. Inside the boys were playing a game of basketball. Her eyes automatically locked on Jason. He jumped and slam dunked the ball into the net. She squealed and jumped and down, clapping.
"Hey, Gabby, can I go to your house tonight?' I asked, rocking back on my heels.
"Sorry, you can't, I've got homework." She said, not really paying attention to what I was saying.
"Alright, see you at school then," I said, turning to leave.
"Yeah," she said absent-mindedly. I sighed. We didn't go to the same school.
The door creaked loudly as I left the gym, but no one heard over the din of squeaking sneakers and rattling of basketball hoops. Sister Babcock called to me in the hallway.
"Emily, dear!" Her high-pitched, squeaky voice called. I groaned mentally then turned around.
"Sister Babcock! How are you?"
"Wonderful, dearest, wonderful," she began wringing her hands vigorously and glancing wildly around the room.
"Is there something I can help you with?" Her actions were something I had seen before in adults who managed to scrape up enough courage to ask me about my personal life.
"I-was-just-wondering-you-were-looking-kinda-skinn y-lately-I-was-just-going-to-ask-if-you-had-been-g etting-enough-to-eat-lately-but-if-I'm-being-intru sive-you-don't-have-to-answer-if-you-don't-want-to ." Her words came out so fast and in one breath I thought she was having a stroke.
"I do not need your personal input on my life, but I am doing perfectly fine thanks for asking." I left the building without another word.
I finally arrive at my night job. I cinch my black hoodie even tighter around my face and walk like a gangly teenage boy. The dark alleyway is forebodingly dark, even for me. the 2nd street lamp flickers twice and I freeze. Then I kick the dirt with my right shoe 5 times and cough twice. A once invisible doorway appears out of the brick wall to my left and swings open. Out of it comes a deep, gravely, voice.
"Fighter, better, or trainer?" It seems to boom into my very chest.
"You know full well, Leon, I'm a fighter, and no one but the Boxer can afford a trainer in this ring." I begin to walk inside but Leon's deep voice stops me again.
"HALT." This was strange. Leon normally let me right in.
"Leon?" I asked, my voice cracking slightly.
"What be your name fighter?" The clarity and depth of his question shook me to the core. Where was the joking tone always hidden behind his voice? I pulled myself together and stood squarely in front of the door, puffing out my chest.
"My name is Jacqueline Fowler, my ring name is Wings, and I fight to win."