Bought: Highest Bidder(5)

By: Lauren Landish


I’m about to walk off when my phone dings. Quick to see who it is, I whip it out. It’s Mom, I think anxiously. She finally responded to my text. Instead, I’m greeted by a message from my roommate Callie.

Calgurl182: Gonna be studying hard for my exams. Please be quiet when you come in from work. Thx

I grin at the message. When I need to get a paper done, I study hard, but Callie takes studying to a whole new level. And with exams coming up, I know Callie’s level of anxiety must be through the roof. I can totally relate to her not wanting to be disturbed.

After making a mental note to be quiet as a mouse when I enter our tiny apartment near campus, I flip over to my last text with my mom and my grin slowly fades.

Hey Mom, I know I told you about landing my dream job recently, but things are really tough right now financially. I’ve had to pay for so many things, a used car, clothing, rent, tuition… all these things have left me a little strapped and I’m not sure how I’m going to afford to pay for my next semester. I hate to ask, but can you help me out? I’ll pay you back as soon as I get the chance.

Love you,

Dah





Staring at the blank space where her response should be, I feel dejected. I wasn’t expecting much from her, but she could have at least responded and let me know that she cared, even if she can't help me out financially. I’ve had to pay for college myself. Which was fine when I had a job, but this internship doesn’t pay anything, and I couldn’t keep my retail job and also work here. I’m fucked. I was hoping my mother would be able to help me out. But this is the third text I’ve sent about money, and she hasn’t responded to any of them. She sure as hell reminded me that she was going on vacation with her new boyfriend though.

It makes me feel like I’m low on her priorities. But maybe she just can’t handle dealing with added stress right now.

She’s been distant lately, and I know even before she started dating this current boyfriend she was having a really rough time. The last few years while I’ve been at school, my mother has grown apart from me. I can’t help but wonder if it’s because I remind her too much of my father. I hope not, because it’ll only make me feel worse, maybe make me resent my father more, if that’s even possible.

Just thinking about him sends a shiver of apprehension down my spine. I don’t know if I’ll ever forgive him for ripping our family apart. For letting what happened to me, happen. Even now, I still can’t fathom it. My father was supposed to be my protector, my guardian. He let him hurt me. That fact shakes me to my very core, and occasionally, I suffer nightmares over it.

It’s been better lately though. I swallow thickly and grab my coat.

Stop bringing this up. I’ve had a relatively good day, and I don’t need to screw it up by living in the past. I’m never going to get over it if I keep wishing things had turned out differently. What I need to do is quit worrying and figure out a way to pay for my tuition next semester. I square my shoulders and nod my head at the thought, feeling my confidence come back. I’m going to make this work and have a life I’m proud of.

Just thinking about my money woes stresses me out. I can’t help but think I’m going to be worn thin by having to work in order to pay the bills on top of doing this internship. That's not even factoring in the time I'll need to study for school.

I need to figure something out by next month. After finals, there’s the holiday break and I can do something then. I’ll find a way to keep this internship and pay for my classes.

Steeling my shoulders with resolve, I walk out of the office as I think to myself, One way or another, I’m going to find a way to make some money on the side. Even if it kills me.





Chapter 3





Lucian





My sister loves this part of the city, the hustle and bustle of Main Street with the crowds always walking by. I don’t understand it. We could go anywhere, but she always asks to come to this particular cafe.

I take off my jacket and sit at a bistro table hidden in the shade, back in the corner. With my back to the stonewalled building, I can at least face the crowd.

We’re still outside so she’ll be happy, the crisp fall air rustling the newspaper in my hand. I place my forearm on the edge of the page and look out past the crowd while I watch the cars pass.

I grew up in the city. Only a few blocks from here actually. It doesn’t make me like the city any more though. I huff a humorless laugh. Maybe that’s why I don’t care for this environment.

Too many reminders.

“Can I get you anything?” a waitress asks. Her sweet smile stays in place as she waits patiently with her hands clasped in front of her.