Juniper Sturdevant and her new beau have been locked inside their downtown studio apartment for almost the entire weekend. Needless to say, what began as a romantic lovers’ weekend has taken a turn for the worse. It seemed a good idea at first. They would spend a couple days spoiling each other to make up for an argument that the two of them really couldn’t remember the cause of at this point. That argument forgotten only because of the new one presently brewing to replace it. Once again, Juniper has made her best friend the topic of their conversation. And as always, she’s displeased with what little concern he has towards what he describes as her “damsel in distress” lifestyle.
“You could try to be a little more understanding, you know? I thought you had a cousin that went through something like this?”
“Exactly, and that’s why I can tell you it isn’t help unless she sees it as help. Otherwise you’re only enabling her and giving attention to a bad situation.”
Juniper rises from the couch and walks to the kitchen for a glass of water. He can tell she isn’t the least bit happy with his response, no matter how truthful it may be. He follows her to the kitchen. She’s leaned against the counter drinking her bottled water. He rubs her shoulders.
“Think about it, Jun. The last time she was in a mess she came running and crying to you about how badly he’d treated her. But then after about – what was it? 3 days? She went running right back over there. The only one that was still upset about it was you. She dumped all that emotional garbage on you then returned to the source.”
“As thought provoking as that sounds, I refuse to turn my back on my best friend.”
“I’m not saying turn your back, Jun. But do you see what this is doing to us? We’re supposed to be enjoying spending time together. Instead your friend with her psychotic codependent relationship has pulled us into that circle.” He kisses her forehead. “Right now, she’s with him and probably not the least bit concerned about what’s going on with us.”
“I know. I’m sorry.” Juniper finally succumbs. Her anger subsides. She returns his kisses. “I’m just not sure how to be there for her and at the same time watch her keep making the same mistakes over and over, you know.”
“You can’t help someone like that. If she doesn’t care more about herself than to let that guy continue to treat her so badly, you caring more about her than she does is getting both of you nowhere. When she’s had enough, she’ll do something about it. Simple as that.” Jun continues to playfully sulk over his candor. He lifts her from the ground and she wraps her legs around his waist. “I am so jealous. You are such a better friend to her than the girlfriend that you’re being right now. What do I have to do to get some of that attention?”
“You can…get a couple of your civilly unsocialized cousins to casually bump into him one night after they shut down the bar.”
”You asked. “
“How about instead we plan to go to that thing you’ve been asking about next weekend.”
“But, you said you’re strapped for cash this month-“
“I’m sure I can manage with some creative finagling. Besides, I don’t doubt you’re worth every penny.” They share a kiss.
“Hmmm. In that case, let me thank you in advance.” He and Jun continue with their playful affections. Their lover’s spat setting the stage for a finish that made the argument a catalyst for a dramatic, passion-filled finish.
Meanwhile, three doors down…
“Will you please get off of my phone! I don’t have all that unlimited this and that. I have a plan that calls for some discipline in how it’s used. And I don’t appreciate you talkin’ up all my minutes about that ugly long, lanky boy!” Maria leans over in her chair trying to peer down into the other room. Her sixteen year old daughter ignores her tirade and continues with her conversation. “Did you hear me, Valissa?!?! GET OFF MY PHONE!
“Ugh, Larque let me call you back. She trippin’. How much sense it make anyway to take my phone, tell me I have to use yours then holler about get off the phone. It’s like she forgot why she got me my own darn phone in the first place, you know. But anyway, call me back tonight and tell me what Dennis and them was talkin’ ‘bout. Bye.” Valissa walks to the living room and returns her mother’s cell phone. “Why we just can’t get a house phone?”
“Girl, who do you think you talkin’ to like that? I know what I’m doin’. You talk on this phone so I can keep up with exactly who you talkin’ to and how much time you spendin’ talkin’ on the phone. Now, I don’t want no more police comin’ over here questioning me about you and I ain’t got no idea-“
“Oh, blah blah, blah.” Valissa sighs under her breath and plops down on the couch adjacent to her mother’s chair. She grabs the remote and starts to change channels on the television.
“What exactly do you think you’re doin’? I was watching the news.”
“News comes on again at six and ten. This show only come on this station at this time.” Valissa ignores her mother and starts laughing at the television program.
“Lawd, have mercy! This child gonna be featured on the ten o’clock news if she don’t stop actin’ like she crazy around here! I can’t go to jail! I can’t do it! Help me, Holy Ghost!”
“Well now, I wouldn’t be watchin’ this program if somebody hadn’t demanded I get off the daggone phone. I bet even the ‘Lawd’ got sense enough to see that.”
Maria stares with a dumbfounded look on her face. “If I had known any number of years ago that you would turn out like this in spite of all that I’ve done to raise you to be a respectful young lady-“
“Yeah yeah yeah. Save that mess, Maria. You’ve worn that one out. Try again.” Valissa laughs again at something amusing on the television, not really taking her mother seriously at all. “What you should be talking to the ‘Lawd’ about is gettin’ daddy to take you back so we can move up out of this stank neighborhood. Movin’ me away from all my friends. Then trippin’ ‘bout me talkin’ to ‘em on the phone. Looks like you won’t be satisfied until I’m some dried up ol’ nobody like you with no friends. Just sittin’ ‘round worried about who I’m talkin’ to… Just, psst. Be gone. Poof.” She returns her attention to the television.
“Valissa, we wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t gotten your sassy behind in trouble in the first place! I did what I had to so that you wouldn’t end up like most of them other kids you’ve been hangin’ around with-“
“Whatever! Lots of folks get in trouble, Maria! Have you ever thought that I was tellin’ the truth?!?! That it really wasn’t my fault!?!? NO!! All you can do is compare me to your precious Janine. Who by the way did what??? Got grown and got up out of here!!! She don’t even call, much less come by for a visit. Does she even know we’ve moved? Do you even know her number, Maria? Huh? Uh, NO!!!” Valissa stands and throws the remote on the coffee table. Maria is speechless. “But guess what? I ain’t gonna disappoint you. I’m gonna follow in her footsteps. The first chance I get, I’m gonna do exactly like Janine and disappear.” Valissa storms to her bedroom. Maria jumps at the sound of the door slamming. She sits there processing all that her youngest child has just told her as a tear streams down her face.
These are only two of the tenants of Millford Estates at 1855 Millford Lane. Two tenants among others who smile and pass each other day in and day out. Each one quietly living their own version of a life of organized chaos.