When Nixie walked in the house, it was quiet and she knew her mom was out working her night job. It seemed so empty without Serafina’s giggles as she so often watched her favorite sitcoms late at night. Nixie almost felt like she was the only thing that held a breath in this tiny house and she checked on Tania as her paranoia grew at the thought of her mom leaving her little sister home alone like this. Once she heard her light snores, she felt an instant wave of relief and went straight to the bathroom to take a quick shower.
Meanwhile, Serafina was halfway through her shift at Tease n’ Please, the local gentlemen’s club where she moonlighted as an exotic dancer for quick cash. Being the sole provider of two girls proved to be difficult when she worked day shifts at the diner alone so she found it necessary to pick up a night job. That’s where she makes most of her money and when she pulls out a handful of tips from her purse, she easily passes it off as tip money from the diner. Even so, she finds it difficult to make ends meet and Nixie finds herself doing the bulk of the housework while her mother works long hours earning extra cash.
She’s no fool to her mother’s true vocation, however she goes along with the charade as saying it out loud would only bring her disgust and humiliation. It’s not in her mother where she finds her disgust but in the repulsive thoughts of the dirty minds of men who show Serafina gratitude for the sight of her beautiful body in the form of crinkled cash. Nixie gathers that her mother hates it too from her crying outbursts and the pills she takes to control them.
Since she started her second job, though it may be her main source of income, she’s been exceedingly unhappy, breaking down at the sudden thought of her sad existence. Fearful of the example she sets for her teenage daughter, soon to be sixteen, she often denies the closing hours plastered on the front doors of the little diner thankful her daughter hasn’t tried to challenge her on it. She tells herself every month that it’s her last but the bills are so overwhelming and the pay is too good to pass up. ‘Just another month’ turns into five more just to keep up with every white envelope withholding large past due fees with her name printed on each.
It was easy for Nixie to pretend that her mom wasn’t stripping for dirty money from nasty men downtown since Serafina was good about separating her home life from work but tonight she would break that unspoken agreement between them. She stumbled through the front door with a strange man following close behind her, his hands gripping her small waist and a wicked grin resting along his sly face. The problem was, she was expected to encourage men to buy drinks all night at the club as part of her job and she was warned not to turn down a drink if offered making it very hard to remain sober by the end of her shift. Usually, her friend Tina accompanies her to the nearest late night cafe to sober up on coffee before they head their separate ways for the night. But Tina called out sick and Serafina was a vulnerable mess without her friend to steer her away from men with bad intentions looking for a free release. Being the first time she’s come home wasted and with an unknown guest, she was far from stealthy, unable to keep from waking the girls.
Fortunately, Nixie was quick to check on Tania to reassure her that everything was ok and she should close her eyes again. She waited a moment while her little sister drifted back into a deep sleep as the soft music playing from the pink boombox on Tania’s nightstand lulled her. Then she closed the door quietly behind her. She turned to face her mother who was shushing the man very loudly, unaware that she was the one making all the noise.
“Mom, what are you doing? Who is this?”
“It’s ok, sweetie. He’s just a friend.”
“Well, your friend has to leave.” Nixie faced the man who smelled of cigarettes and booze and said firmly, “Get out.”
“Nixie! Don’t be rude.”
“Listen, little girl, she invited me here and I’m not going anywhere until she says so.”
“Mom. Tell him to leave now or I’ll call the cops.”
“Can you calm down? He’s harmless. We’re just having fun.”
“You don’t even know his name, do you?”
“Hey, I’m the mom. Now go to bed, young lady.”
“It’s Bailey.” The man offered his hand as if Nixie would touch it knowing where he just came from.
“Bailey?” She scoffed. “I’m pretty sure that’s a girl’s name.”
The man chuckled, “It’s ok, I get that a lot.”
“It’s not ok. Apologize to him right now.”
“Fine. I’m sorry you have to leave now,” she said pushing him back out the door. “Bye.”
She slammed the door in his face, locking it and stomped off to her room without another word.
“What the hell was that?” Serafina stormed in her room after her.
“I just saved you from a possible rape, you’re welcome.”
“It’s not rape if I’m willing.”
“Go sober up before you embarrass yourself anymore.” With that, she shut her bedroom door on her mother and sighed heavily at how terrible this night turned out.
As if being used by Trevor and rejected by Charlie wasn’t enough, she now had to add her mother’s late night escapades to the list of unfortunate affairs that riddled her night. She wondered if anyone would remember her birthday tomorrow. What a sweet sixteen it’s looking to be.