CHAPTER 1: AVA
She paced her small apartment. Her heart was racing. The phone was pressed to her ear is anticipation, but her body was weak with angst.
“We hear you. Maybe you should talk to someone about your anxiety?” her dad said. Ava looked around her empty cell of an apartment through tears.
“I don’t like it and I don’t understand. I also don’t know why you can’t talk to someone about your anxiety or depression or whatever without…” her mother paused. “Look, you’re trippin’ and I’m not paying for you to talk to someone about how to be a girl. I gave birth to a boy! I want to make sure you’re okay. All of this other stuff is ridiculous.”
The line fell silent.
“Okay,” Ava murmured.
“Is it not possible to address these things one at a time? Go to the counselor to talk about anxiety then down the line deal with whatever other issues you need to address?” her dad tried to negotiate. A flurry of emotions silenced Ava.
“Hellooo?!” said her mother, prompting a response.
“I…I don’t know. These feelings don’t exist in a vacuum. They are jumbled and intertwined with one another.”
“But what is hard about saying, ‘Okay, I am going to address my depression. Now my anxiety,’ without taking on any gender related issues?” her dad asked.
Not knowing what to say, Ava responded, “I can try.”
“Look, I love you with all of my heart! So, when you tell us that you can’t even shower, that sends red flags to me. I just want to make sure you can take care of yourself,” her mother said.
“The last thing we want is to get a call saying that there has been an accident,” her dad interjected.
“But this other stuff…I can’t support. Whatever you do on your own is your business, but I gave birth to a son and his name is David.”
Talking to her parents was never an easy thing. Conversations would quickly turn from laughing about mundane things to chastisement over her “lifestyle.” Ava sat in her chair after the call ended and fought back her tears. Her feelings of wanting to not exist intensified. What is the point? She wanted to sink into a dark oblivion. The gut-wrenching sadness made her body heave.
“Why do I have to feel this way?” she asked herself.
“I’m really sorry that you have to go through that,” said Autumn. “It isn’t fair that you aren’t support the way that you need. Just know that I am always here for you!”
Ava and Autumn were driving to dinner. They met a few years back and instantly connected. They have the type of friendship where their time spent together is filled with deep conversations, laughter, and mutual support. Ava talks about all of her boy problems with Autumn.
“I just don’t understand what is so hard about supporting your child,” Autumn said taking quick peeks at the GPS.
“I don’t either. I mean, I could be out here on drugs and hurting people. However, I’m not. I do what I need to. I go to school, make good grades, and am a good person. I just…I don’t know.”
“Well how is the dating going? You were talking to that one guy, right?”
“Ooof, girl! Which one?” Ava joked. Tristan. Kyle. Jonathan. Jason. They all ran together in her mind. Every guy acted the same.
Autumn laughed, “The one you were supposed to go on a date with this week.”
“Oh! He disappeared.”
“Wait. Hold on, what?” Autumn asked in confusion and she took the exit.
Ava looked out the window at the town that she only came to when it was date night with Autumn. “We had planned on the day, but that day he never responded to me. I still haven’t heard from him.”
“I hate men. They just don’t know what they want.”
“Honestly! What is the point and wasting each other’s time talking about a date plans that you won’t follow through with?” Ava asked.
“It makes no sense.”
Autumn pulls up to the restaurant. “I am so happy that we are together! I am looking forward to having this nice dinner and catching up.”
They text regularly, but their schedules rarely allow them to go out to dinner. When they do get the chance, Ava never gets home before midnight. Both women gathered their belongings before getting out of the car. Ava checked her phone. 6:07 p.m. No new notifications. She sighed. They walked into the restaurant.
“Table for two?”
They both nodded in agreement. As they followed the host to their table, Ava looked around the small restaurant. A family with two kids. A couple. A group of guys. One of the men looked at her. She quickly averted her eyes to refrain from making eye contact. She approached the table, sitting opposite of Autumn.
“Oh, I’m so excited for this food,” Autumn mentioned settling into their corner of the restaurant.
“Me too!” Ava said as she also settled after checking her phone again.
“Can I get you anything to drink?”
Both women looked at one another.
“I’ll have sweet tea,” said Autumn.
“Water,” Ava followed.
The host walked to the back of the restaurant. Ava and Autumn grinned in anticipation of opening the menu. Ava had so many things on her mind, and she knew that Autumn did as well. No matter how much they talked, there was always more that they were dealing with personally. Although Ava would disclose some of the issues that she was dealing with, she didn’t want to dump them all on Autumn.
Conversation flowed naturally throughout the night. The sun set and they both sat alone in the once busy restaurant. Once they realized that they would have to leave soon, Ava checked her phone. Text Message from Simon. Ava laughed along with conversation as she unlocked her phone.
“Hey, sorry I have been busy all day. Are you still at dinner with your friend?” Simon’s message read.
“Yeah, we are about to leave,” Ava responded with an ounce of renewed joy.
While Ava always enjoyed her time with Autumn, there was a void that their friendship could not fill. There was something very affirming for Ava about getting the attention of a man. It validated her identity in ways that she sometimes did not understand.
“Can I come over tonight?” said Simon.
A rush came over Ava and she almost didn’t even hear what Autumn was saying to her.
“Oh yeah! Of course,” Ava responded to both Simon and Autumn.
“Good. I want you so bad,” Simon said along with a suggestive emoji.
Ava blushed and looked up from her phone.
“Do you need to use the restroom before we go?” Autumn asked.
“Oh no. I’m fine. I can watch your things.” Ava responded.
“Okay, I will be right back.”
Ava used this as her time to get more information from Simon.
“How bad do you want me?” she asked.
She eagerly watched as the screen showed Simon was typing. Then it stopped. Ava looked over her shoulder to the restrooms to see if Autumn was coming back yet. Her phone vibrated. Ava looked down to see a picture of Simon standing in the mirror naked. One thing about Simon…he was not shy.
“This bad,” he said.
Ava still could not get over seeing Simon naked, no matter how much she has seen it in person or how much he shows off to her.
“Let me know when you make it home and I’ll head over.”
“Will do.” Ava responded smiling.
“Are you ready?” Autumn asked as she walked up behind Ava.
The ride home was filled with just as much conversation as the ride there. Except this time, Ava was excited to see Simon. Once they made it to the parking lot of Ava’s apartment, the ladies said their goodbyes and told each other how much they enjoyed themselves. As Ava walked up the stairs, she texted Simon.
“I’m home. I’ll go ahead and shower.”
Ava started the shower. Hot. She put on some music to get her in the mood. Jill Scott. You love me…especial-ly different… Ava settled into the water with excitement but kept a close eye on her phone. The shower was just what she needed. She imagined opening the door to see all 6 feet 4 inches of Simon standing there waiting to lift her up. He would kiss her deep. He always remarked how he loved kissing her full lips. He would lay her back on the bed. He would press himself up against her body.
“Do you feel that,” she could hear him say in her ear as he guided her hand to where he wanted.
Your cologne…and your hands… She would close her eyes and feel his mouth all over.
“Got me feeling like Ms. Jilly from Philly,” she said to herself laughing.
She turned off the water and dried off. She decided to wear something special for him. She wanted to feel sexy and knew he would like it.
“Out of the shower. You almost here?” she texted him.
Fishnet stockings. Panties. Hair tossled. She was ready. Walking to pour a glass of wine she checked her phone. No new messages.
“All dressed up for you,” she sent with the same suggestive emoji that he sent to her earlier.
Ava poured a glass of Merlot. …or a glass of Merlot. Ava smiled as she said the lyric. She swirled the wine and inhaled deeply. The smell of wine relaxed her entire body. She thought back to her first sip of wine, when she wondered how anyone in her right mind would drink it. Now two years later she is that person drinking it and getting deep enjoyment from it. One sip. Ava sprayed a room mist and made the bed.
“Not sure there is a point in making the bed but oh well,” she said to herself.
Another sip. Ava looked in the mirror to make sure she looked good. Another sip. She checked her phone. Nothing. Another sip. Ava paced her kitchen still humming along to the music but getting nervous. She checked her phone again. Nothing.
“Hey, are you still coming?”
Ava downed the rest of the glass. Five minutes went by and Ava could feel a pit her stomach. She poured another glass. She took the glass to the couch. The room was dim and she sat alone in lingerie. She slowly sipped on the wine. Hoping that he would still show. As she swirled the last sip in the glass she sighed.
“He’s not coming,” she said in the quiet room through tears.
Ava’s thoughts raced at this realization. Why isn’t he coming? Why would he tell me he was coming then not show up? I guess he wasn’t actually thinking about me all day. Why do you do this to yourself? You look dumb waiting here half naked for a man that doesn’t even value you. You’re going to be alone forever. He was never into you. He is probably with a real girl.