The Game Changer The Final Score
Author:L.M. Trio

chapter 3

(Jesse)



The smell of Cuban coffee from the nearby café and the heat from the morning sun feel good against my skin as I stroll down 7 Avenue towards The Blue Martini. I love living in Ybor City. The exotic blend of aromas, flavors, sights and sounds of this city make me feel more alive. There are plenty of galleries, shops and restaurants nestled among the red brick buildings with their wrought iron balconies and cobblestone streets to keep me busy. Mya and I moved here immediately following our freshman year.

We heard about Ybor City from a couple of our classmates that were in the art program along with us. We found a cool studio apartment on top of a cigar shop. We fell in love with it the second we saw it. The light that pours in through the huge wall-length windows is perfect for Mya while she’s sculpting, and me while painting. There is plenty of space for the two of us and all of our supplies. We each have our own room on opposite sides of the apartment, which are enclosed by huge sliding wooden doors for privacy. In the center of the two private rooms is a large living area that opens to the kitchen.

The studio is decorated with our own paintings and sculptures. We agree the final outcome is pretty awesome, giving the apartment an artsy edge to it. It’s our own personal gallery. We visited antique shops and yard sales on weekends, searching for unique pieces of furniture, and we refurbished everything to our liking.

I began my hostess job at The Blue Martini shortly following my move to Ybor City. My manager, Cheryl, and I hit it off immediately. She’s willing to work around my class schedule, and I make a decent amount of money.

Cheryl was kind enough to let me use The Blue this year for my annual fund raising event at no charge. The Blue Martini is a trendy restaurant/lounge in town. Last year, I held a small, last minute fundraiser at my school, with the help of my teacher. I somewhat dropped the ball, but managed to bring in a little under five hundred dollars for the Olivia Martell Foundation. At the time, I was having a hard enough time keeping up with my studies; not to mention, I spent a good part of my year reeling from my break-up with Luke.

As time goes on, I find myself in a much better place; starting with moving into our own apartment and landing my job at The Blue. I felt so confined, living in that small dorm room Mya and I shared. At first, it didn’t matter to me, but as time passed, I needed to get out. I’m finally getting myself back on track. I’ve been hoping to expand the fundraiser and The Blue Martini will be the perfect spot to reach my goal.

My art professor is helping with the plans, giving me some tips, and several of the art students are donating their work for sale at the event. It’s a win-win situation for the students. We will make twenty-five percent profit from any art work that is auctioned and the rest will go to the foundation. It’s a way for the students to get their work out there to the public, and it’s also exciting anytime someone is willing to pay for something you create. The paintings and sculptures are being auctioned off, while jewelry, pottery and other donated items will have sale tags attached with part of the proceeds going to the foundation. I was touched by the many local businesses willing to donate their services and gift items to the fundraiser. Mikey was able to get tickets to several Rays’ games, along with some autographed MLB memorabilia to add to the items up for the Chinese Auction.

He was recently promoted to the Double A Montgomery Biscuits and will be leaving soon. It’s great for him. He’s doing so well and the way things are looking, he’ll be in the majors in no time. I’m sad that he won’t be spending his season in Florida like he did last year.

Spring hasn’t gotten any easier for me. That’s why I’m thankful to have a lot of things occupying my mind. It’s hard sitting around feeling sorry for myself when there is so much to do. Between studying for finals, organizing the fundraiser, and working on my paintings to sell at the event, I have definitely overextended myself. To top it off, I work three nights a week at the Blue and spend one afternoon a week volunteering at the Washington Elementary School for an after-school art program for students.

I’m looking forward to this evening. A lot of planning went into this night. I step into the restaurant and Bo, the afternoon manager, greets me by the door. I stop in to say hello to the crew prepping in the kitchen before heading up to the VIP lounge. The lounge has been reserved for me this evening. Some of the students stop by to drop off their work. Tickets were sold through school and many of the local businesses in town and I’m expecting a decent turn out.

I check my watch, anticipating Deanna’s arrival from Phoenix. She’s flying in for the weekend and she’s bringing her new boyfriend. She met him right before winter break and they began dating soon after. She seems to be happy and she’s thrilled for me to meet him.

I miss Deanna terribly. It seems as if it’s been forever since the last time I saw her. Talking three times a week isn’t the same as spending time together. I’ll admit, I’m mostly to blame. I keep myself so busy that I’ve been slacking off in the frequent communication department. While I take one last walk through the remainder of the restaurant just to be sure everything is in place for tonight, I receive a text from Deanna, stating that she just arrived at her hotel.

We meet up at my apartment and head to the Green Iguana for lunch. Jeffrey, Deanna’s new boyfriend, seems nice enough. He’s friendly, but may be just a bit uptight for someone like Deanna. He’s pre-med and comes from a family of doctors. Deanna has a bit of a silly side, and although they seem to enjoy each other’s company, I’m not convinced it’s in his nature to let loose every once in a while. She seems to go for the serious, straight arrow kind of guys. They’re very nice and seem to adore her, but they just don’t seem to be a match for her personality. Mikey will hate him, I decide, but, it should be fun to watch.

“So, what’s my job for tonight?” De asks enthusiastically as we finish our lunch.

“You don’t have to do anything, just enjoy the night. I’m so happy you’re here, you have no idea,” I reply. Just the fact that she flew in to be with me for this important night is enough. She did the same thing last year, even though the event was much smaller.

“I want to help. This is our thing, it’s our fourth fundraiser. I love being a part of it,” she says with a look of disappointment.

“De, I didn’t mean to upset you. I would love for you to help me. I’m just so grateful you are here that I didn’t want you to be tied up working.”

“I want to,” she demands.

So I assign her and Jeffrey to the job of collecting the tickets at the door and she seems to be happy to have an assignment. I figure they’ll only have to sit there for about an hour and then they can enjoy the party.

After lunch, they head back to their hotel to rest up and I head home to do the same. With the excitement of seeing Deanna, though, and in anticipation of the evening, I’m too wound up to rest. My mind drifts, remembering our first fundraiser at the bowling alley, which in turn, makes me think of Luke and the night he came up with the idea. Unconsciously, I wipe my dampened cheeks. It’s been awhile since I shed tears over Luke. I busy myself so much that I don’t think of him nearly as much as I did.

That first year, it consumed me day and night. I hurt so badly. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t pop into my mind at some point, but it’s not nearly as painful as it was then. It seems as though it’s a world away. I struggled for a long time. As much as he hurt me, I still held out hope that he would try to get in touch with me. I expected an explanation. I even thought about writing him, but I never followed through. No, he’s the one that destroyed what we had. It’s been nearly two years. If he loved me, he would have gotten word to me.

Mikey and Deanna never mention his name anymore. It’s a request I made clear early on, they honor it to this day.

I grow angry at myself for thinking about him now. I have a big night ahead of me, and things have been going pretty well lately. I even managed to go out on a couple of dates this year, nothing serious, but an occasional dinner or movie.

I must have dozed off because the next thing I know, I’m being awakened by Mya barging into my room. “Why are you still sleeping? Get up. Can I borrow one of your dresses?” she asks casually, as if she always wears a dress.

“Why, what time is it?” I ask, jumping from my bed. Glancing at the clock on my nightstand, I realize I better get moving. “Yeah, sure. Take what you want. Just not the one hanging behind the door; I’m wearing that,” I say as I leave the room, heading for the shower.

“Shit. That’s the one I want.” She laughs, searching through my closet.

“Too bad,” I holler back, pleasantly surprised that she is wearing a dress. I know better than to question her. She’ll change her mind in a second if I make a big deal out of it.

I’m shocked when Mya steps out of her room into the living room later. She’s toned it down quite a bit, even if it is just for the night. I can’t help noticing how very attractive she looks, although I know better than to tell her.

“You look nice,” I say casually as we head out the door. She smiles at me appreciatively as she holds the door.

We arrive at The Blue around six; an hour before the start time. My dad flew in for the occasion and is already sitting at the bar, waiting for my arrival. He looks rather handsome in his blue dress shirt and sport jacket.

“Hi, Sweetie… Hi, Mya… You girls look beautiful tonight,” he says as he greets us.

“Thanks, Mr. Martell,” Mya responds.

Now that Mya and I have been friends for so long, my dad and Deanna have gotten to know her better and have come to accept her for who she is. Once they learnt more about her, they realized she’s basically a nice girl with a few issues, but hell, who has more issues than me?

Deanna and Jeffrey arrive shortly after. My dad is thrilled to see Deanna. He misses the days where we girls hung out at the house. The thought gives me a jolt of guilt for leaving him alone the last couple of years. To brush the negative thoughts away, I walk them around and introduce them to several people that helped make this night happen. My art professor for one, he is in charge of auctioning off the art work tonight, and Cheryl, my boss who’s allowing me to use the beautiful VIP lounge for the night.

Mikey arrives shortly after seven, bringing along two of his old teammates from the Stone Crabs. Of course, he lights up like a Christmas tree as soon as Deanna comes into view.

“So what do you think of the Bozo De is with?” Mikey whispers to me the second we have a minute alone.

“He’s nice. We had lunch this afternoon… He seems like he really cares about her,” I answer.

“Really? I talked to them earlier… Seems like an asshole to me. Where does she find these guys?” he asks while staring in her direction.

Deanna glances over at us at about the same time, almost as if she senses we are talking about her. Mikey raises his glass to her and smiles.

“Be nice. We’re going out afterwards, right?” I say, reminding him of the plans we made earlier in the week.

“I don’t know. I’ll see,” he says, quickly changing the subject. “J, see the guy with the gray shirt I brought?” He points in the direction of his two former teammates. “His name is Ian; he asked me to introduce you to him. He’s been eyeing you up all night.” He laughs. “He remembers you from one of my games last season when we hung out after. He’s still with the team and he lives locally.”

“I’m not sure, Mikey. You know… the whole…” I stop myself before saying, the whole baseball thing. I don’t need to finish the sentence, Mikey knows what I’m about to say.

Thankfully, we’re interrupted by Mr. Sinclair, my art professor, informing me that the auction is about to begin. Every piece of artwork has a minimum bid of fifty dollars.

The sculptures go first, followed by the paintings. Most of the items are selling in the hundred to two hundred dollar range, some slightly higher. The last painting up for auction is one of mine. It’s my favorite; an oil painting of downtown Ybor City at night. The bidding starts at fifty dollars, upped to seventy five, then one twenty five. The price creeps up.

“Two hundred,” Mikey bids, someone calls out three. Mikey raises him to three fifty and I laugh, knowing Mikey hates to lose, but besides that, he knows it’s going to a good cause. The person hollers out… five hundred dollars.

“Who the hell is willing to pay five hundred dollars for one of my paintings?” I whisper to Mikey and Deanna.

“I would, but this guy must really want it, you’ll paint one for me, right?” Mikey laughs as he lets the guy outbid him.

Everyone congratulates me on my sale and the crowd begins to clear. I’m excited to celebrate with my friends, but then, Mr. Sinclair calls me over. He’s standing next to a well-dressed, very handsome man, who looks to be in his early to mid-thirties.

“The man that bought your painting has asked to meet the artist. Jesse Martell, this is Frank Simone. Mr. Simone owns the Frank Simone Gallery on 8 Avenue.”

“Yes, I know it well. I’ve been there several times.” I stick my hand out for him to shake. “It’s nice to meet you. Thank you so much; you’ve made my night,” I say appreciatively, honored that a man of his stature in the art business purchased my work. Not to mention, he owns one of my favorite galleries in the city.

“No, thank you. You’re work is beautiful. I bought another of your pieces earlier in the night. You’re very talented.”

I can feel myself blush. We talk awhile longer, discussing our love of art. He asks questions about school and my studies and I tell him about my internship at the Cape May Museum. I must admit, he seems quite impressed with my knowledge of Art History.

When we finally have a lapse in conversation, I realize that the place is almost emptied out and my poor friends are cleaning up. “I’m sorry. I’m holding you up. I didn’t realize it was so late. I better help my friends with the clean up,” I look over at them. “They’ve already done so much to help me with this. Thank you again, Mr. Simone, for purchasing my paintings. I hope you enjoy them,” I say as I turn to leave.

“It was nice meeting you, Jesse.” He pulls something out of his jacket pocket. “Here’s my card. Stop in to see me. If you’re interested, I probably can use you in the Gallery.”

“Really? Great. Thank you,” I reply, taking the card from his hand before I make my way towards Deanna, who’s been watching me from across the room.

“JJ, he is hot! Do you know him?” Deanna asks, meeting me halfway.

“He owns the Art Gallery around the corner. I’ve been there several times, but I’ve never seen him there,” I answer, glancing back over my shoulder to steal another look. He’s in the process of having my portraits wrapped and carried out for him. “I cannot believe he just paid that much for my work.”

“I can. You’re great. This is so awesome,” she responds.

“Who the hell was he?” Mikey asks protectively as he watches him exit the room.

“He owns the Art Gallery around the corner,” I answer, while De pulls my arm to rush towards the window to catch another glimpse of Mr. Simone as he leaves the building. Two waiters are placing the portraits into the backseat of a black convertible Mercedes that is parked in front of The Blue. Mr. Simone tips them and climbs into the driver’s seat.

“He gave me his card. He said he may be able to use me in the gallery.”

“You’re going to see him, right?” De asks as we watch him pull away.

“Probably. I’ll wait a couple of days… I don’t want to seem over anxious.”

After cleaning up, we decide to head over to the Green Iguana again. My dad and Cheryl seem to have hit it off and are downstairs having a drink at the bar. I thank Cheryl and kiss my dad goodbye after making plans to meet up tomorrow.

The rhythms of the Latin music coming from the various clubs, fills the warm air as we walk the streets to head to the Iguana. Mikey’s friends left earlier in the night, due to an early practice in the morning, which forces him to bond with Jeffrey since it’s just the two of them tagging along with me, De and Mya.

The music fills the room as people crowd the dance floor. A table opens up just as we arrive and we quickly snatch it up. As we finish our second round of drinks, a slow song fills the room.

“Come dance with me; we need to catch up,” Deanna says, grabbing a hold of Mikey’s arm as she drags him to the dance floor. Mya, Jeffrey and I watch as the two of them dance and talk intently on the floor as if they are the only two in the room.

“So, does the Superstar walk on water, too?” Jeffrey asks sarcastically, breaking the silence as we watch Mikey hold her close on the dance floor.

“He thinks he does,” Mya snaps, causing us to laugh.

“So does Deanna. It’s always Mikey did this, Mikey does that,” he says, attempting to imitate her voice.

“I know what you mean, but you have to understand… they grew up together, they’ve known each other since they were little,” I say laughing sympathetically.

“Oh, I know. I’ve heard all about it,” Jeffrey replies, laughing. I can’t help noticing a twinge of jealousy in his voice, though. When they finally decide to rejoin us, Deanna takes Jeffrey’s hand as they take a walk outside.

“I thought you guys forgot about us,” I say, teasing Mikey.

“Not quite. Guess what I’m stuck doin’ tomorrow?” he asks. I shake my head, having no clue. “She begged me to take him golfing so that she can spend the day alone with you.”

“You agreed?” I ask, amazed.

“Of course,” he answers.

“That was so nice of you. I’m shocked.”

“Yeah, well. I have my moments,” he jokes as he downs his drink and turns to Mya. “So what got into you tonight? You look pretty hot. You look like a girl for once.”

“Moment over,” she says dryly to me while giving him the finger.

“What?” he asks innocently. “I’m just kiddin’. You look good. I was complimenting you.”

“Thanks. Is that what that was?” she replies sarcastically just as Deanna and Jeffrey rejoin our table.

After another round of drinks and setting up plans for the next day, Deanna and Jeffrey decide to call it a night. Mikey had Jeffrey doing numerous shots and they are beginning to take effect. Apparently, on Mikey as well. His glazed-over eyes follow Deanna until she is no longer in sight. I notice his mood change once she’s gone. He orders another round of drinks from the waitress. I can tell he’s up for an all nighter, but I’m tired; it’s been a long day. Somehow, he manages to coax Mya to hang out and drink with him. If you’re looking to drown your sorrows, Mya is the perfect person to do it with, I think to myself as I say goodbye.

“Don’t drive home if you’re drinking,” I warn Mikey before heading towards the door. He smiles and holds up his glass to salute me.

Later, I replay the evening in my head as I climb into my bed. It was a good night, I decide. I sometimes forget what it’s like to have a good night. I’m happy with the success of the fundraiser and proud of myself for the sale of my paintings.

I’m so exhausted from the busy week that I conk out the moment my head hits the pillow. When I wake, I realize that I didn’t hear Mya come home last night. I creep through the living room, expecting to find Mikey asleep on the couch just as he’s done in the past when he’s had too much to drink and am surprised to see that he didn’t stay. I know he had a lot to drink before I left, and by the looks of it, he seemed as if he was planning on having a few more.

After showering, I try to quietly open the squeaky bathroom door and am startled to find Mya standing outside, waiting to use the bathroom.

“Did you let Mikey drive home last night?” I accuse.

“What do I look like, his mother?” she replies sarcastically.

“No, but, he was drinking… A lot. How much longer did you stay?”

“Till closing,” she says dryly.

“Mya!” I shout.

“Relax, princess. He didn’t drive home,” she says slyly as she nods her head towards her room.

“Mya, you didn’t?” I ask, mortified.

“Yep. You never told me Mr. MVP was so good in bed,” she replies casually, giving me a devilish grin.

“I told you before, I wouldn’t know. We’re just friends; always have been. I cannot believe you. Now what?” I ask, shaking my head in disbelief.

“Jesse, not everyone is like you. Some of us are totally cool with having a one night stand. That’s it! We both get it. He was feeling bad about Little Miss Cheerleader being in love and I was just… feeling bad, as usual. So, why not? It was fun and I have to admit, he lives up to his reputation. Not that I would ever tell him that,” she says, giving me a wink.

“Mya!” I screech, embarrassed by the way Mya is so casual about sex. “I cannot believe it… You and Mikey? You despise each other.” We laugh as Mya shrugs her shoulders, heading into the shower.

Not long after, I step from my room, dressed and ready to meet Deanna. Mikey is sitting at the counter, eating a bowl of cereal, and Mya is nowhere in sight. His head is resting in his hand, looking as if he has been run over by a truck.

“Good morning,” I say cheerfully, entering the kitchen. “Sleep well?” I add, giving him a wink.

“Don’t start,” he grumbles.

“Start what?” I ask, playing innocent and trying desperately to hide the grin that is forming on my face.

“You know what,” he shoots back. “It’s not a big deal. She’s cool about it. Not everyone is like you.”

“Oh my God!” I say, unable to control my laughter. “Did you two rehearse that? That’s exactly what she said.”

“You know what I mean and don’t go blabbin’ to your sidekick today.”

“Why? I thought it’s not a big deal,” I continue the bantering, knowing he’s not in the mood. The funny thing is, he’s already agitated. If the hangover isn’t enough, the thought of spending the day with Jeffrey has to be making him feel just as bad.

After my teasing, Deanna meets me at one of my favorite little cafés. We order lattes and muffins and not even two minutes into the conversation, I can’t help but blurt out Mikey’s rendezvous with Mya.

“Mikey and Mya don’t even like each other! She is Mrs. Dark and Gloomy and he is Mr. Optimistic and Positive,” Deanna squeals. “Mya did look pretty last night, though, wearing normal clothes, rather than Goth-ing it up as usual,” she weighs in.

I nod my head in agreement and we laugh about it, although I notice a hint of jealously that Deanna tries to hide.

“I’m left out of everything. The three of you spend so much time together. I should have never gone to school in Phoenix.” She pouts.

I feel bad and try comforting her by reminding her that Mikey is away most of the time, especially now, since he’s playing ball with his new team. Not to mention, she would have never met Jeffrey if she didn’t go to school in Arizona. She half-heartedly agrees; although, not convincingly.

I laugh to myself wondering how long it’s going to take before they both realize they are happiest with each other. I’ve been watching the same scene play out since high school. Mikey hooks up with some random girl, Deanna gets jealous. Deanna falls for someone, Mikey gets jealous.

We shop in some of my favorite boutiques as we stroll along Seventh Avenue and find some really nice things. I’m enjoying spending the day with Deanna. It feels good having her here; I miss her. I, too, secretly wish she never attended school in Phoenix, but I don’t say it aloud, since I know she feels bad enough about being so far away.

***

(Deanna)

Later that day, we pick up a late lunch and find a spot in the park to eat.

“I was thinking… Why don’t you come spend the summer with me?” JJ asks.

“I would love to, but I can’t,” I reply without giving me an explanation. I can tell by the look on her face she is waiting for me to elaborate, but, I’m afraid to have this conversation with her. “JJ, I need to go home. My mom needs me. Why don’t you come home this summer for awhile?” She begins to shake her head, disagreeing with the suggestion. “My mom would love to see you, and I’m sure David would love for you to come home… It’s been a long time,” I say softheartedly.

“I… I… can’t… I have work… I can’t go home… Is Maria okay?” JJ stutters. I see that the mention of home upsets her.

“She’s fine,” I reply apprehensively, stalling with my news.

I know David would be thrilled to have her home for the summer. It’s been almost two years since the last time she was home. My mom and dad have only seen her a few times since she’s moved to Florida. It was during their visits to attend Mikey’s games.

“I don’t know, maybe I’ll come and visit,” She exclaims, but I doubt there is any truth to her words.

“Will you at least come and stay for a couple of weeks this summer?” She asks me.

“Yeah, sure,” I agree with empathy while taking her hand. “J, there’s something else I need to tell you.”

I can instantly see her face go white and her body tense up. She knows what’s coming even though it’s been a long time since I’ve spoken of him to her.

“He’s home,” I say bluntly with a sorrowful smile.

She tries to hold back, but her eyes betray her and begin to fill.

“When? Have you seen him?” She manages to choke out while grasping my hand tightly.

I know it tears at her heart to hear his name and I feel for her knowing what she has been through. Even though she doesn’t talk about it, I know it’s upsetting to her that she hasn’t been home to visit David or my Mom and Dad. My Mom and she were close and in some way it helped her with the loss of her own mom.

“I haven’t. It’s only been a little over a week. He’s not home-home. He’s on a work release program. He gets picked up at a halfway house in AC in the morning before work and has to be back when he’s finished for the day. He’s working at the garden center. Mr. & Mrs. McKnaulty tweaked his hours so he gets to spend an hour or two a day at home before heading back in the evening.”

I can see that she is filled with so much emotion. “Your mom and dad must be so happy… and you,” she says, brushing away the wetness from her cheeks. “Is he okay?” She asks, her voice quivering.

“They’re relieved he’s out of there. My mom’s not sure if he’s okay or not; she says he’s different, she’s worried. She can’t tell what he is feeling. He’s quiet, he doesn’t say much. She is hoping that he is just a little overwhelmed right now and doesn’t want to push,” I answer sadly.

“What does Mikey think? Has he seen him?” She asks, trying to steady her hands.

“He thinks he just needs some time. JJ, I know this is hard for you. You told Mikey and I that you didn’t want to hear his name, but now… I just thought you should know.”

“Has Mikey seen him?” She repeats, not commenting on my previous statement.

“Yes, Mikey sees him as often as he can. He was there the day he was released.”

She nods her head as if she has expected this all along. She’s quiet and I can tell that she is processing our conversation although she has barely said anything.

“Are you okay?” I ask.

“Yeah, I’m fine. I’m happy for him. It’s just strange hearing about him, but it was a long time ago. I’m fine, really,” She answers casually, trying to convince me and herself. “I hope everything works out for him. I’m happy for all of you. I really am. I know it must have been hard on you,” She adds awkwardly, trying to maintain her composure.

She knows I can see through her façade, I know that it rips her apart to hear his name. She doesn’t ask any other questions, and I don’t offer any other details in fear of making her more upset.

***

(Jesse)

Mikey calls later that evening to check on me. I dismiss it as if it is old news and I tell him I’m fine. Later that night, while lying in bed, I come to the conclusion that my dad must know as well. I can only assume they are all trying to protect me.

Suddenly, my body begins to shake uncontrollably and the tears begin to flow. There are so many emotions running through my body, relief that he is safe, angry that he didn’t contact me, hopeful that he will, scared that he’ll never be the same, sad at the way it ended, and once again, angry that he didn’t try to fix it, and angrier that I still care so damn much that he didn’t. Around and around it goes until I finally cry myself to sleep.

The next day, after a restless night of sleep, I get up bright and early, although my first instinct is to stay in bed. I have to keep my mind busy with other things. I cannot go down that road again.

I step into the Frank Simone Art Gallery a little after ten in the morning and ask to speak to Mr. Simone. He’s happy to see me and offers me a job on the spot. This is the much needed distraction I was hoping for. Frank, as he asks to be called, believes it’s time for me to start getting more exposure and he says this is the place to do it. He is well respected in the art community and is known for discovering new talent.

When I relay the information to my art professor, he assures me that this is an opportunity of a lifetime for someone my age. Dad and Deanna are ecstatic when I tell them the news, but, at the same time, disappointed that I won’t be able to have time to get home this summer. Between working at The Blue at night, the Gallery during the day, and finding time to paint in between, when will I ever find the time to go home?

At least that’s what I convince myself.