It's dark and everyone's in bed. Dishes in the sink, laundry on the couch. My debris-scattered home welcomes me like a weary parent, smiling underneath the dark circles collecting around its eyes.I jog upstairs  to my room, and Bettie, my shady Siamese cat I named after Bettie Page, slinks behind me with loose skin and a lazy smirk.

My life is a tangled collage. My home life is the background.I am the subject and the focal point. And Max? Well. Max is what makes the collage such a work in progress.  I scoop up Bettie in one hand and dig around in my purse for a cigarette and my lighter. Bettie yowls when I flick the lighter and retreats behind my bedside table. I puff away and look out my shoddy bay window at the tiny world. I am a genie, I am a goddess, I am a heroine, I am invincible. I am the most beautiful girl on the planet, and nobody can have me but dear Max. I am I am I am........

And I hear footsteps. Jesus Christ. I snuff the end of the cigarette and hide it behind my back just as my Mom comes in, curlers loose, slippers threadbare, the look of a mother long given up on her family, her life, her looks. My big sister Lauren is behind her, cautious. She is my protector at home, the only person in my family I care about. She is beautiful and strong. I love Lauren.

  "I smell smoke." my mother narrows her eyes and barrels ahead of Lauren into my room. "Patricia,What on earth is wrong with you?" She is unsteady on her feet. Lauren grips her shoulders. "Mom....Trisha's fine. Its time for bed. Did you remember your medicine?" On her way out of my room, shuffling my mother to where she rightly belongs, she whispers to me. "I'll be in later."

UGH. Patricia. I hate that name, and I hate my mother trying to act like a mother when its Lauren who carries the weight, who dropped out of college to keep her, my mother, and I from starving. Ugh. Why does she even bother? Why does she put all of this on my sister? Stupid whore. I relight my cigarette and pretend I'm back in Max's car, where I belong.

The End

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