Prompt: (Make sure you go and read the rest of the stories…)

It hadn’t rained in more than a week, and Jamie’s feet kicked up dust devils as they scuffed along the road. Her denim jacket was slung over her shoulder, flapping against her back as the gusts tore across the dirt farms that lined the road. Rising over the rolling hills to the east, the moon was waxing to full. Its glow made chiaroscuros on the ground through the dust, reminding her of their house in New Orleans and the last time she saw Billy, strewn on the floor like the debris of a past life.

He’d come home early from the clubs that night, the only Friday in memory that he didn’t reek of cigarettes and whiskey. Some women hated those smells, but to her they were what sawdust and grease were to her mom – the smell of her man, coming home to her after a hard day’s work. This night, however, his shirt was still neat, the black cotton buttoned at the wrist instead of rolled to the elbows, and he moved like a man who’d sloughed off a heavy skin. His steps were light, and his smile was real, although it wasn’t for her.

This had only been a short-time thing, he’d said, right? He’d gotten the call that night, that Melissa – the one who’d left him to go find herself and had sent him down to the land where you had to be living the blues to play the blues – was back, and it was time for him to go to her. Jamie hadn’t waited for him to finish his pathetic story, but was up and on her way out of his life before he could tell her how sorry he was that it had worked out this way. The kids she’d grown up with didn’t give a crap if you were a boy or a girl – you fought, or you hid behind your mom’s skirts. Jamie’s mom hadn’t worn skirts long enough for her to hide behind if she’d wanted to, and her dad would have popped her one if she’d tried. It wasn’t a life of comfort, and while she’d thrived on those streets, she’d wanted more.

She’d thought that Billy was more, him and his bass and love in the early morning light and their studio apartment, but he was just another loser from the streets, waiting to get beaten because he didn’t know how to stand up for himself. Jamie didn’t know if Melissa was the nursing type, but she’d left Billy with enough bruises that the Elephant Man’s mom would have hesitated before going in for a hug, and then slipped out the door while he was still crying.


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