Alexandra The REALLY Great

My mother was a survivor. Raised in a divorced family with a father who died young, she gave birth to me out of wedlock. My father deserted us before I was born and I have no idea what became of him. But my mother fended for herself, raised me on her own, and worked hard to bring me up right and provide a roof over our heads.

It wasn't always easy, of course, especially for me who spent a lot of time bouncing around from whatever apartment my mother could afford at the time to my grandmother's house (she often watched me), to other babysitters' houses. As a result, I learned to adjust and to go with the flow as best I could. I trusted people even as an introverted and shy kid, not willing to put myself out there too much or get to close to folks because chances were I wouldn't see them again.

My mother took me away from Hillsboro more than once, usually when she hooked up with some guy who swept us up on some pipe dream adventure that never worked out and Mom and I would slink back to Hillsboro to start anew all over (this was repeated several times).

My grandmother got sick when I was twelve and we moved in with her. I spent a lot of time with Nana and I considered it a gift to have had the chance to witness life's final act when she passed away at home with my mother and me by her side.

My grandmother put her house in a trust for her two daughters. This seemed like a reasonable proposition, especially since my Aunt lived in Canada and told my mother we could stay in the house for as long as we needed, but I worried about the arrangement because my mother was estranged from her sister with plenty of bad blood between them and I had a feeling deep in my gut that things were going to go bad sooner or later.

In the meantime, I attended Hillsboro High and I felt like my mom and I had finally established roots. She had been in the same steady (though low paying) job (clerk at the dry cleaners) for a few years and she assured me that we wouldn't be hitting the road anytime soon, promising me that I could graduate from the high school I was now attending.

I was a middle of the road type kid - not among the most popular, but not stuck among the losers either although most knew I once lived in one of the tenement apartments by the canal and that I currently washed dishes at Hillsboro Pizza. Still, I hung around and socialized with enough kids to be noticed, showing up for the sporting events and dances even though I wasn't an athlete and didn't have many (dancing) dates!

Nana's house wasn't a palace by any stretch of the imagination but it was a fairly nice (though older) ranch in a fairly nice neighborhood and it gave me a new status that I hadn't enjoyed previously. Just when I started to forget about all the drama of my past and began to feel settled in with my routine, the rug was pulled out from under us without warning.

I came home one day to find my mother sitting on the living room couch with her head buried in her hands.

"What's wrong?" I asked, fearing she had lost her job or somebody we knew was dead.

"We have to move," my mother announced, looking up at me with tears rolling down her cheeks.

"What are you talking about?" I asked with annoyance. "Nana left us the house."

"She left us and your aunt the house," my mother clarified.

"Yeah? So? She's in Canada."

"She's coming back," my mother sighed.

I sat on the couch next to my mom and gave her a long look. "What's going on?"

"She's coming back," my mother repeated with a grumble. "She's kicking us out. She wants to live here with her kids."

"She can't kick us out!" I protested. "It's our house too."

"Apparently, not quite," my mother informed me. "Turns out she's the custodian of the trust and that gives her more power. She has the authority to force us out."

"That sounds shady to me," I frowned.

"I already checked it out," my mother said. "It's legit. She can do it."

"But why would she do it?" I lamented.

"Because she's a bitch," My mother replied.

We didn't have a lot of money. The taxes on the house, the upkeep, the bills, and maintaining our fifteen year old car on the road all prevented us from saving money so I knew we were going to have a tough time making a security deposit and first/last month's rent on any apartment, even with my help.

We had sold off, given away, or thrown out most of the stuff from our last apartment since Nana's house was well furnished and stocked. So now we had nothing to take with us except our clothes and personal affects and – worst – we had nowhere to go.

"What are we going to do, Ma?" I asked nervously.

"We'll figure something out," she said bravely. My mother always had a fighting survivor's spirit to her. "My sister can go to hell. She's not going to defeat me."

A few days later, after I had stressed myself out full of angst, my mother announced she had found a solution to our problem.

"What's that?" I asked as we sat at the kitchen table eating supper.

"We're going to move in with Audrey," my mother announced proudly.

"Audrey?" I asked with disbelief, staring at my mother.

"It will be okay," my mother assured me, sensing my apprehension.

Audrey was my mother's good friend. They grew up together and worked at the pickle factory together several years ago. Audrey married young and had a daughter Alexandra who was around my age. The marriage didn't work out so my mother and Audrey were sort of like kindred spirits as young single mother parents.

Alexandra and I spent a lot of time together in younger years – my mother dumped me off at Audrey's place and Audrey brought Alexandra to wherever my mother and I were staying when one or the other needed babysitting assistance.

Alexandra was not exactly the girl next door type. She was pretty enough for a girl but she was also tough and bossy and I tended to be passive around her but she taught me how to play cards and chess. I suppose we related to one another because we were both bounced around and we didn't have Dads. Alexandra was into crazy music at an early age, stuff I never heard of before (or since!). She was definitely different that me in her attitude, outlook, tastes and behaviors – loud to my quiet, undisciplined to my more well-behaved nature, angry to my submissiveness.

Me being a boy and Alexandra being really the only girl I knew, it was natural that I would develop a crush on her even at a young age but Alexandra talked about other boys (she made them sound older and much cooler) and I felt rejected. Neither of us were particularly happy kids so I suppose we enjoyed the misery of each other's company.

Our moms started leaving us together alone, figuring we no longer needed to be "babysat" but wanting us to have some company. I'm not sure if that was exactly a good idea given the circumstances. We watched movies on the cable that were way above our maturity level and Alexandra never worried about getting caught doing stuff she shouldn't have been doing – stealing a cigarette or a beer, for instance, even at age twelve. I was never that bold.

Alexandra had no qualms about talking about sex either – especially when it came up in the inappropriate movies we'd watch, many with nude scenes.

"Do you like her tits, Marsh?" she'd ask. Or "She has a nice ass, don't you think?" And on the occasions we saw full male frontal nudity, she'd get all excited. "Wow, look at the size of his cock!" she'd laugh. "To bad your dink isn't that big!"

I found it quite embarrassing and unfair. I mean, she never saw my dick – how would she know?

Anyway, I was mostly intimidated by Alexandra and I really didn't mind it when our parents eventually stopped dumping us off with one another – maybe they realized that we were getting to a certain age and probably shouldn't be left alone together anyway.

I'd hear my mother comment about Alexandra from time to time – how she got suspended from Greenville High School and was attending the local charter school but I hadn't thought to much about her until my mother gave me the latest update – that I was about to move in with her!

"Where are they living now?" I groaned, recalling how Audrey's rented apartments were just as dumpy as ours.

"Oh, Audrey's been in a house for a few years now," My mother said, trying to butter me up. "There'll be plenty of room for us."

I wasn't going to give my mother a hard time about this but I wasn't exactly thrilled with the idea of being around Alexandra again either – she kind of scared me!