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The Fighter

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Olivia found the moving box quickly, despite her fatigued mind and muscles.  Retrieving the newspaper-wrapped Mr. Coffee, she rinsed out the carafe and placed the machine lovingly onto her tiny excuse of a counter. Then she groaned as it dawned on her, “Of course. I have no coffee filters. Just fucking great.”.

With a resigned sigh, she grabbed her phone, money and keys, threw on a hoodie and left her newly “all mine” apartment on foot.

Winding through the elm-lined park, she guessed the direction of a convenience store. No – correction. They called them bodegas here. She rolled her eyes and kept walking until she finally found one. It was small and dingy with crowded aisles of canned meats and Ramen, but approximately zero coffee filters.

She left empty handed, dejected and too tired to keep looking. Frustrated tears began to fall.

Coffee filters were such a simple need. But nothing in this damn place was ever simple.  People were rude and self-centered. Drivers were kamikaze assholes with a Kill-Or-Be-Killed mentality. She dodged potholes large enough to eat a small child during her morning commute, and every day there were new piles of human excrement to step over in the office door alcove. Rats counted as roadkill. The idealistic non-profit job furthering the musical minds of inner-city youth turned out to be a 6 days per week grind. There wasn’t enough money for both rent and food. She wanted more. Better. Something not THIS.

Olivia stopped at a park bench, tucked her knees into her chest and broke. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.  She had left everything behind.  The unfinished doctoral degree. Jack, her now ex-boyfriend, who decided long-distance was too inconvenient and tossed aside 3 years with one 10-minute phone call. All her family and friends.

She was alone. And she was so, so tired of being strong.

Mid-sob, her phone rang. Olivia dug into the kangaroo pocket for the red flip phone and saw her sister’s number.  Sniffling and clearing the tears from her voice, she tried to answer cheerfully.  She and Alex exchanged pleasantries, but her sis didn’t miss the undertones.

“You sound sad, Liv.”

“I’m okay, Alex. My life isn’t terrible here.  It’s just hard right now.”

Then Alex said the words Olivia had been beating down for weeks.

“Come home. You’re miserable there. We love you and we’ll take care of you. COME HOME.”

Olivia feebly choked out the words, “I can’t.” and changed the subject.

When she climbed her apartment building stairs again, she swiped angrily at her tear-streaked cheeks and thought… no, this was not what she signed up for. But she’d be damned if she would pack up and leave, running home to safety, simply because things got HARD.  If she gave up, that meant one thing. She was a failure.

In Olivia’s book, failure was the dirtiest word of all. It was time to stop wallowing and fix it. This wretched place would not beat her.

Just watch.

__________________________________________
read to be read at yeahwrite.me

What is Yeah Write?  It’s awesomesauce, that’s what it is.

47 responses »

  1. Funny, if there’s one change I could make in my life that would still give me Noah – just with a different biodad – it would have been to go home. I ran so fast, determined to do it MY way, the somewhat mentally ill way, the ignorant immature way, the one away from my nosy mom (as she should be) and my perfect sister (which I no longer think she is). Olivia, though, she’ll do it. She’s doing it for the right reasons. Terrific writing.

    Reply
  2. Well written. There is such a fine line between proving that we can make it on our own and enjoying the safety of home. Sometimes its so hard to choose the right path, isn’t it? Then again, both paths are probably right depending on which one you choose.

    Reply
  3. Ka Pow! This is a punchy and fantastic read. I had lots of emotions. Where is she? Bodegas? I am sure I should know, but I don’t get out much. Or at all. The description of the frustration and determination is fantastic. You nailed it. I love Olivia, though she’s a bazillion times braver than I am. Fuck that boyfriend. She needs a local.

    Reply
    • OOOh, it’s punchy? I like it! Bodega is a term used for newspaper stands, little convenience stores, etc in the northeast. (Mostly NYC/NJ/PA) I dig that you love the character!

      Reply
  4. Powerful and realistic story! At first, every day is a decision in a place like that.

    Reply
  5. Well, I have a lot of hope for her, and I admire her determination, but I’m also glad she has people at the other end of the line inviting her to come back to them with love and not judging.

    Reply
  6. Maybe this was intended to be fictional, but you just wrote my life. Are you following me? This was great.

    Reply
  7. Great story! I was rooting for Olivia all the way. Loved the ending.

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  8. I think Olivia will make it on her own terms — great set-up for her! Now I want to know more…

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  9. It’s always something simple, like coffee filters, that make the move and its stresses come down on you. Oh, how I know this too well.

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  10. really great story. my cousin moved to NYC 12 years ago and i’m still telling her to come home (we’re like sisters). i thoroughly enjoyed all the detail in this of life alone in the big city. spot on. i want more.

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  11. This was great! I really felt for Olivia. I did have one question though–Why didn’t she just use a paper towel?
    😉

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  12. Love it. I think Olivia will make it, but give her some coffee, okay? I’m just going to go ahead and picture her with a big ol’ cup. . .

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  13. sisterhoodofthesensiblemoms

    I love the grit in this. I feel like I know Olivia and I’m rooting for her, not giving her an escape hatch. That is too patronizing for her. Ellen

    Reply
  14. Great story! I admire Olivia and feel proud of her! I want to know what’s next for this brave woman … maybe for next week’s Yeah Write?

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  15. As someone who has both gone home and refused to come home at different points in her life, this was great. Loved the imagery.

    Reply
  16. This was really good. I want to read more. I think almost everyone has been in Olivia’s shoes. Also, not having coffee filters is like not have toilet paper. It just breeds cranky discontent. Apartments should come pre-stocked.

    Reply
  17. yeah, it's me.

    keep it coming, peach – love it!

    Reply
  18. So tired of being strong. Great line. This was well done – you capture the emotions, the sadness but then when she fights them off, it sounds real. To sit for a minute and not be strong, to be vulnerable, is sometimes what it takes to realize one’s strength isn’t always a choice. Sometimes it’s just who we are and we need a break from it so we can get the strength to be strong again. I really enjoyed this.

    Reply
  19. Love that she has the balls to move away from her family and will not run home as soon as life gets tough! Want to read more about the tough chic!

    Reply
  20. This is how I felt when I moved to New York, on a $50/week stipend doing crap production work for A&E channel. I always wanted to pretend I was in high school and just call my dad to pick me up and bring me home, but I COULDN’T of course. Because that would mean I failed. Well written and resonant.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Cindy. You get it exactly. And in those moments, Instead, you grab the phone or grab a glass (bottle) of wine. 🙂 50/week?!?! That is unheard of! And look at you now..

      Reply
  21. Love the attitude and perseverance of Olivia! I have never had the guts to move that far away from my roots, but I imagine I’d have many moments like this if I did!

    Reply
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