I have been ruminating this little freakish chapter for a few years now. It is part of something bigger, a Christian novel - spoiler alert - Jenna is not a witch/voodoo queen/lesbian or anything else you may assume...I am praying over this...I have ideas not yet brought to the page. There are serious situations in this world, lives that are not neatly tied up at the end of a twenty minute plot or a light novella. Life is often complex, difficult and raw. It is my intent to bring Paper Angels to the culmination God would have me bring - confident in the knowledge that the story will bless - and not curse.
Character Sketch: Cassidy
Cassidy is a young woman currently caught up in a series of events that have left her confused, trapped and dependent on an abusive man who means her nothing but harm. So focused on survival, God has to come in under the radar in the form of Jenna to reach Cassidy.
Falling Down - chapter one
Cassidy clutched the magazine tightly as rain slid from its glossy surface to drip in frigid wavelets down her exposed chest. Behind her the city bus belched a wheeze of diesel as it rumbled slowly away. She shivered as she searched the pendulous gray clouds for a sign of summer sunlight. Her heels clopped heavily on the wet concrete as she stepped out onto the quiet street. Cassidy pulled her thin cotton poncho around her as she picked her way through broken glass that littered the sidewalk outside the row of bars and bookstores at the edge of the college campus. For a moment she studied the low row of adobe buildings that marked the graphic art department.
“Maybe someday I’ll trade my play dough posse for a PC and a degree.” Cass reached into her handbag and fumbled for the keys to the daycare center where she worked. “Come on, this is the smallest bag I own. Where are my keys?” She opened the purse wide, brought it up to her face, and gave it a shake. “Hello, I know you’re in there.” She shook the bag again, listening for a familiar jingling noise. A small shiver formed between her shoulder blades and coursed down both arms as she realized there was no sound of metal on metal emanating from her bag. Cass took a deep breath and looked down the street. The shiver intensified as she spotted two figures walking quickly down the street in her direction. One of the young men met her gaze as she tucked her purse reflexively under her arm. He tagged his hoody clad partner on the shoulder and the two broke into a run. Tossing her purse toward the advancing pair, Cass screamed loudly and bolted down the sidewalk in the other direction. “Leave me alone!” she screamed, glancing over her shoulder to see if they had taken the bait. A wave of fear course through her veins as the two ran past the purse on the ground without even slowing down. Kicking off her shoes, Cassidy broke into a sprint. She screamed again as she heard the footfalls of the two men gaining on her. Suddenly, Cassidy was yanked backward as one of the men caught the edge of her poncho. Struggling against her attacker, Cassidy ripped at the poncho as the fabric tightened around her neck. Cassidy screamed loudly, lunging forward with all her strength as the thin cotton material tore away from her body. "God Help me!" Cassidy saw the slick concrete sidewalk rushing up at her as she lost her balance. A bright white light exploded in front of her as pain seared through her forehead before Cassidy lost all consciousness.
Stepped on - random chapter
Jenna gently touched Cass's cheek. Even under layers of that pixie pink paint she loved the prior nights torment was evident.
"Cassidy. What." Jenna placed her hand over Cass's manicured fingers.
"Um, you know how it is. That dresser. I left the bottom drawer open." Cass's moss colored eyes welled under her heavy sable lashes.
"Ay Chica. You know I love it when you lie...but not that way." Jenna blew her a quiet kiss across the candlelit table as she rose. Turning to a small aquarium Jenna lifted the lid and pulled something small and reptilian from the red lit container.
"Jenny Girl, why you got to be playin' wif dem dinosaurs." Cass flipped a heavy coil of hair over her bronzed shoulder and set her chin defiantly as she spoke.
"Ghetto chic. I love it whispered in my ear. But you are not ghetto. So don't speak it." Jenna placed the chameleon on her arm - smiling as it slowly made its way to her shoulder in a series of stop motion steps.
"Sorry. I was just trying to break up the mood." Cass tapped her pink nails on the glass table lightly as though she were playing a gentle melody.
"De Nada. To borrow your groove. I gotcha a lil su'um su'um. For my girl." Jenna reached under the table and produced a rose colored shoe box with crimson lip prints on it. "Go ahead. Open it."
"Listen. Jenn, you didn't have to do anything. I just need an ear."
"Open the box. You know you want it." Jenna leaned in close, her gardenia perfume wafting in the air above the table. Cass slid her chair back slightly and lifted the lid. Within the box a pair of glossy pink three inch stilletoes beckoned Cass to put them on.
"Lawdy mama. What am I gonna do with these?" Cass cheeks reflected the pink of the new shoes as she smiled at Jenna.
"Hey, these shoes are made for walkin'. Put 'em on and do your thing. Just don't touch the heels." Cass put her hand over the box as she spoke.
"Why, am I gonna rub the gloss right off?"
"Yeah baby. Right off." Jenna turned suddenly serious. She grabbed Cass by both arms. "Don't touch the heels."
"Ok. I won't." Cass stared into Jenna's chocolate eyes searching for more explanation for a moment then turned quietly toward the door. She paused in the doorway and threw Jenna a half hearted smile before she stepped out into the chill night air.
As she walked the flight of stairs to the small apartment she shared with him, she clutched the shoe box to her chest. Maybe he was asleep. She turned the door quietly, her breath coming in small gasps then she breathed a long sigh of disappointment as she saw him sitting there on the couch surrounded by empty beer cans.
"Lose your watch again?" His eyes glittered serpentine in the lamplight.
"Sorry honey. I got you a present."
"I hope I can eat it off you cuz you know there aint no food here."
"Baby. You can lick these right off me." Cass dropped her coat on the floor to reveal a micro mini and mesh stockings. She quickly slipped the pink heels on being careful not to touch the bottoms.
"Now that's better. Can you dance in them?"
"You know I can." Cass swallowed hard as she gyrated her hips in front of him. She placed a pink clad foot in the center of his chest and pressed lightly - recoiling slightly as he groaned with pleasure. A few droplets of blood welled up in the heel print and his eyes glazed.
"Push it harder. You know I like the pain."
Cass took a deep breath and put more of her weight on the heel. He groaned again and his eyes closed. Drool pooled on the cushion by his mouth.
"You like that baby?" Cass smiled and touched his jaw with the toe of her shoe, but he lay there silent. "Come on, don't play me." Cass bent over him. She tensed, waiting for him to grab her like he always did. He lay there. Unresponsive. "Baby." Cass shook him then let out a small scream as he slipped lifeless off the couch.
"Don't touch the heels." Cass stared mutely at the gift from her friend. Jenna told her once he was the only reptile she hated. What had she done.
"I'm sorry baby." Cass kissed her lifeless abuser on his cooling cheek." these heels are made for walkin. I guess that's what I'll do." She picked her coat up and stepped in to the night air.
Post mortem spoiler alert...
Jenna is not a murderess....and neither is Cass. I'll spin it out and make it a sweet read at some point but for now....its still in my brain.