Excerpt for Two Minds by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Two Minds





Naakaree Spero

Introduction







Three years ago, I found myself sitting in a nursing class pondering on life and wondering what I was really doing there. I had gained some knowledge on different disorders and medical conditions. With my laptop open and my lecturer talking in the background, the idea of writing this book was born. I had always been a descriptive person with a big imagination, yet the idea of writing a book had never occurred to me. Then it kind of just naturally grew from there.

While this book is a work of fiction, I have drawn from different experiences in my own life and intertwined them through the story. I hope you enjoy my little creation. I certainly look forward to writing many more in the future.
















Chapter One


Lizzy



They say that you show one side of yourself to people you see from day to day, another to people you trust, and another that you only see yourself.


I have always found myself lost in the complexity of emotions. How a simple feeling caused by a multitude of different emotions such as love, loss, anxiety, hurt, and anger can manipulate itself to go from nothing, to exploding into this very large unfathomable state, that can just overwhelm a person to the state of inexpression, depression and everything in between. One look can change everything.


I don’t have many memories of my childhood before being in foster care. I have a vague memory of being someone’s daughter, someone’s something, and after that I only remember being bounced around from home to home. No one ever really wanting me, no one claiming me as their own. I guess when they found out about my condition, it was too much of a mess to deal with, so whoever birthed me thought they would send me off to a bunch of government funding sucking drug-addicts. Who was I to have any part in the decision? I was barely more than a fetus, right? An insignificant fetus with no input.

The homes they placed me in would always last about a month before something happened. As a teenager, it was often that man who was supposed to be a father figure to me ended up being a sleazy pig who would try to either start something with me or hurt me in one way or another. And of course, the wife would throw me out like some hussy, like it was my fault their scum husband tried to rape a defenseless child. How could they really think it was my fault? The abuse was always there. If it wasn’t sexual, it was physical or emotional.


I wish someone really would have wanted me for me; appreciated or cherished me for who I was, not just for the pension funding. Yet, once I turned eighteen, I finally was able to get out of that hell hole and into society. The only bad habit I took up was smoking pot. Well, apart from that, I picked up a bunch of emotional baggage and daddy issues. Add mummy issues to that, too.


Things had been going well apart from that. It was the summer of 2013, I had a job, a room-mate, and had a good group of friends. Oh, before I go on, my name is Lizzy and this is my story. It’s all kind of effed up, so read ahead at your own discretion.











As my feet hit the ground with each step, the wind whipped my mid-length blonde curls against my back. My heart raced, pounding within my chest. Everything flashed in front of me in slow motion, and then all of a sudden, everything whipped back into view and I was running for my life.

“Lizzy! Stop running! The longer you run, the more tired you’ll become. I’ll end up catching you anyway.”


As my breath caught in my throat, I felt my legs starting to slow me down, one muscle at a time. As my stride changed to a soft jog, I heard footsteps matching my pace. Suddenly, I was pulled to a stop as he gripped the back of my shirt.

“Lizzy, you cannot just keep getting high for free. You owe me, man!”

Sam held a blunt knife to my throat as he pushed me into a brick wall. People walked past not saying anything. This was a town where things like this happened regularly, the norm.

“Ok, but you know I only have enough money to scrape by as it is and you just won't let up.” I pulled away from the knife, releasing the dent it was making in my neck.


“Hey, that’s not my problem. You either come up with the money or start sleeping with the dealer.”

The thought sickened me.

“Now, look at me with those big blue eyes and promise me you will get me that money before I have time to change my mind and end up doing something unspeakable to that body of yours,” he said as he forced his hand up my top. “And trust me, it won't look the same once I do.”

“Ok, I know, I'll get it to you as soon as possible, promise.” I managed to spit the words out through harsh breathing. As Sam let go, I sprinted off to the car and drove home.


As I unlocked the door of my apartment and let it swing open, my best friend and housemate, Darcy, was sitting on her bed across the room of our open studio apartment.

“Hey, lover” she rolled onto her stomach and rested her head on her hands. “What’s up with you?”

“Not much, just a rough day, I guess.” I let out a sigh, throwing my keys onto the bench, “I’m going to go outside and smoke some hash.” I walked past Darcy and slid open the back door.

“I’m running to the shops,” Darcy yelled in my direction.

As she left the house, I looked over the veranda, lighting up, watching the neighbors as I often did. Worry spread across my face. I had no clue how to pay back my drug debt while still putting money into savings and paying rent. I grew up with dropkick guardians, and I wouldn't end up the same way. I was going places, making a life for myself. I figured I would just have to pick up more work at Kerry’s Cafe. Ideally, I would quit pot. It wasn't getting me anywhere and was taking all of my money. The hard thing about that plan was lately it was the only thing relaxing me. The PTSD from my childhood made me a mental wreck.


The next day, I woke up to a text message. It was my boss Kerry.

Shit, I’m late! I jumped out of bed, ran to the bathroom and brushed my teeth with one hand while pulling my jeans on with the other.

Moments later, I was rushing out the door and running down the street. I noticed the hustle of people, probably trying to get to work, the same as me. I ducked out of the crowd and into the small café where I worked. Then, the most beautiful girl I had ever seen stopped me in my tracks.


There she was, novel in hand, sipping on her latte. I couldn’t stop staring. Shaking off the daydream, I ran to the kitchen and grabbed my apron.

 “You're late!” My boss was looking at me, unimpressed.

“Sorry, I slept in.”

“Lizzy, you are my best worker, so I’m going to cut you some slack, but I can only give you so many chances. Now get to work, before I change my mind!”

I quickly tied my apron around my waist and got behind the coffee machine. I glanced up and saw my coworker and friend, Aaron, looking at me in dismay as he handed me a huge list of orders. God, it was a busy day.

Once the busy period disappeared, I looked around to see if the beautiful creature I had noticed earlier was still in the shop. To my delight, she was. I took some sneaky glances in between wiping down tables and sweeping. Again, the gorgeous brunette peered up through long lashes, revealing big hazel eyes. As she eyed me, she took a sip of her coffee. I couldn’t help but feel butterflies form in my stomach.

Flattered, I moved my eyes down and continued my job. After a few moments, I headed back to the coffee machine to start coffees for the building line of customers. As I prepared the machine, I felt eyes on me.  I looked up and saw the gorgeous hazel-eyed brunette looking at me with humor all over her face.

“Hello, what can I get for you?” I asked routinely, soon regretting I didn’t say something clever or charming.

“Dirty Chai, please,” she said as she gathered change from her wallet.

I stood there, staring blankly.

“That’s all,” she said in a sweet voice that made me feel as though I was melting into a puddle on the floor. She placed her money on the table and, clumsy from the effect she had on me, I fumbled over it several times before managing to put it into the cash register.




Looking up again, I saw the not-so-pretty face of an impatient older woman waiting to be served. I quickly stood up straight and took her order. Meanwhile, I subtly kept a lookout for hazel eyes.

Order ready, I popped a lid onto the take-away cup, smoothing down the edges to avoid it coming loose as it always tended to do, and began to walk it over to hazel eyes. In my haste, I squeezed the paper cup a little too hard and the lid came flying off, spilling the coffee all over the front of my white t-shirt. Extremely embarrassed, I glanced around hoping no one was looking. Of course, multiple people were. The whispering and laughing began. To my humiliation, I took myself, and my second-degree burns, and ran through the back to the kitchen.

“Bloody paper cups!” I yelled, slamming through the swinging doors. Kerry looked at me, observing my situation.

“I can only guess what happened out there. Are you all right?” She looked me up and down.

“Well, my chest is on fire, if that’s what you are wondering.” I flicked my shirt to ventilate myself. Rolling my eyes, I continued “shit like this always happens to me..

“Well, you are clumsy” Kerry shook her head at me, and then as if hesitant about what she was about to say. With one more look she decided to go ahead with it. “Show me your burns.” I lifted my shirt. She looked and then proceeded to say, “They don’t look too bad, although just to be safe, go tell Aaron to remake the coffee, then go to the doctors. Come back for your afternoon shift at three.”

After thinking for a moment, I decided that was a fair call and nodded in her direction before walking back out to the counter, trying my best to cover the stain with my apron. With everyone watching me, I proceeded to give Aaron the orders before heading out of the cafe to call the doctor.


In my rush to get home and avoid more people staring at the big brown wet patch on my front, I didn’t realize there were fast-paced footsteps behind me until someone grabbed my arm and pulled me to a halt. I turned to see hazel eyes admiring me.


“Hey, I didn’t get your name.” She batted her long eyelashes.

“My name is Lizzy,” I said quickly, trying to not feel the pain of my burns.

She looked at me, the corner of her mouth twitching into a smile. “I’m Kattie.”

Feeling embarrassed, I said, “It's nice to meet you, Kattie, but if you don’t mind, I'm a bit of a mess right now and would like to get home so I can go to the doctor and ease this pain.” I indicated at my shirt and turned to start walking again.

“Wait, could I at least get your number?” she asked politely but with urgency.

“Yes, of course,” I replied. I kept glancing at her as I entered my number into her phone, trying to figure out if this was real or some kind of joke.

“Well, it was nice to meet you,” she shouted out behind me as I fast-paced it down the street.

I raised my hand into a wave without looking back. Sounds rude of me, but keep in mind I was in a fair bit of pain, both my skin and pride.


The rest of my shift that day went very slow. I was still in pain, but unfortunately my burns were not bad enough to take time off work. I had burn cream all over my chest and it was making my shirt stick to me. I was flustered thinking about my encounter earlier with Kattie and how I had handled it. I felt so rude walking away like that. Also, how did I even know she was into me? I wasn't even sure what I was into. I wasn't quite sure why I was thinking about her; the way her soft hair draped over her shoulders, the way her tan skin was flawless from her face to her fingertips, her eyes so rich in colour: yellow with a mixture of brown and hints of green.

I was deep in thought when Kerry interrupted me.


“Lizzy! What are you doing just standing there?! Go get a cloth and start wiping tables!”  

Startled, I grabbed the nearest cloth and hurried back to work.

The day continued to go slow, and by slow I don’t mean a lack in orders. I mean the time literally seemed to just drag on. I watched as couples, friends, and individuals drifted in and out of the store. Just faces drifting in and out. The only face that stuck in my head throughout my six-hour shift was Kattie’s.
















Chapter Two


Darcy


As I sat in writing class, I couldn’t help but admire my fellow classmates. Their creative minds were alike, yet so different. All having a different take on things as well as different writing styles. I couldn’t help but get inspired.

The teacher's voice fluttered in the background as I took in my surroundings. The smell of the old wood and dusky roof and the feeling of the summer breeze blowing in through the 1950’s windows of the historical studio lifted my spirits. Summer had arrived and it felt good. My daydreaming was brought to a sudden halt as my name was called.

“Darcy, what do you think about what we just read?” my teacher asked, mock interest spread across his face.

 “Uhhh, I think it was great. The author really showed what he was thinking,” I murmured, hoping I could get away with that answer.

“She. The author is a woman. We will pick this up next time.” He slammed the book shut and the bustle of people heading toward the door pushed past me.

I picked up my books, shuffling them all into a pile and cradling them in my arms, and then I headed outside into the sunshine, closing my eyes and taking in the warm fresh air. Mmm … this really is my favourite season. Eyelids still closed, I began to walk, loving the way I felt, almost like I wasn't human. I was just one with nature, and then boom!

Just like that I fell to the ground, dropping my books everywhere. My eyes were open in an instant, and I was sitting on my ass, books surrounding me.  Well, this couldn’t get any more embarrassing. As I looked up, the entire class was watching me, giggling. Two guys even high-fived each other. Trying not to think about the embarrassment I had just endured, I walked, eyes open this time. I saw flowers in bloom, the birds were chirping, and the sun was shining. As I walked down the driveway of the studio, the local shopping center came into view. Before me sat rose bushes and a memorial ground. I often sat there and basked in the sun, writing and taking in the warmth.


Upon my return home, I spotted Lizzy sitting eagerly on her bed, looking at me, a beaming smile on her face.  My curiosity got the better of me.

“What's that smile all about?”

“I met someone,” she said, failing to hide her excitement.

“Oh?” I prompted.

“I met her at work. Her name is Kattie.”

“Work? She works with you? Wait. Since when do you date anybody? What happened to ‘I take people for my own pleasure just like those bastards took me when I was a child.’?” I blurted, confused.

“No, she was a customer. I'm tired of being lonely and I'm not dating her … yet. Well, when I say met her, I mean humiliated myself numerous times, burnt myself, and then basically snubbed her when she ran after me. And on that end of things, when I fall in love, nothing else matters,” she said with concern.

“Haha! I call bullshit! And what is this about burns?”

Lizzy was the biggest player in the way of sex. She had been taken advantage of so much as a kid that her ultimate plan in life was to take back what was hers, her virginity.

“Oh, yeah. I spilled her coffee on me and had to go to the doctor. Tragic, I know.”

“Oh, lord. Can you even go a day without injuring yourself? I also have some big news,” I said, trying not to let the excitement overtake me.


After sitting in silence for a few seconds, she blurted out, eyes wide, “Well? What is it?”

“My dad called and he is taking me to Greece with him,” I said quickly. “He has business over there, and the inspiration I could get there ... it would be great for my writing.”

“Oh my god. That is so exciting! I know you have always wanted to go there! When do you leave, and how long will you be gone?” she questioned me.

“Well, that’s the thing. I leave a week from today, and I’ll be gone for three months.” I watched her face go from excitement to worry.

“Oh, a week isn’t even long enough for me to hang out with you before you go. I have to work almost every day this week, and today is Monday. And who will help me pay the rent? I'll have to pick up more shifts at the cafe.”

I could see her face processing the information and her worry growing more intense. “If this is too much for you, I can stay,” I added. “Plus, I could pay rent from Greece. I wouldn’t leave you stranded.”

“No, no! You can't stay on my account. I was just processing. We will just have to hang out every night until you leave.”

“Sounds like a plan.” I smiled at her sympathetically.

“Let's start tonight! I will go and get the chips and the movies, and you take care of the popcorn.”  Grabbing my arm in one hand and the keys in the other, she pulled me out the door and into the car.

As Lizzy’s alarm went off, waking me, I rolled over. She must have hit snooze because it instantly shut off. Opening my eyes, I spied her texting and that smile was unmistakable; she was texting Kattie. Happy for her, I wolf whistled and winked in her direction. She threw a pillow at my head, hitting me right in the face. “Bitch!” I laughed, flipping my middle finger up in her direction. She threw a cheeky grin my way and rolled over turning her back to me. “Don’t you have to get ready for work?” I blurted.


“In a minute,” she said in a snappy tone.

Ignoring her, I swung my feet over the edge of the bed and stood up, stretching my arms above my head and then behind me, each vertebra of my spine cracking. I loved the sound.

“You’re gross.” Lizzy had a look of disgust spread across her dimple-cheeked face.

“Why?” I asked innocently, knowing exactly what she was referring to. If there was one thing I loved more than cracking my back, it was annoying her with it.

“You know why! You and your disgusting bone cracking. Your back, your neck, your fingers, where will it stop? You will have swollen joints by the age of twenty and no one will ever come near you.”

“No one comes near me now anyway.” I started laughing.

“Exactly,” she muttered, trying to show her point by being serious, but instead bursting into laughter, her deep dimples showing. I had always been so jealous of her dimples. I threw a pillow at her head and kneeled down to get my suitcase from under my bed.

“You little shit!” she shouted.

“Come help me get the rest of my suitcases from the storage cage.” And by storage cage, I meant the metal cage that was assigned to each unit in our building and was located in the parking lot downstairs.

“Fine, but then I really have to get ready for work.”

We headed out the door, the automatic safety setting locking it behind us.

Standing in front of the cage, I realized I didn’t have the key for the padlock. “Lizzy, would you mind running back upstairs and getting me the key?” I asked sweetly.

“Ah, why didn’t you bring it?” She stood there eyeballing me before huffing up the stairs. I couldn’t help but laugh at her in her little pajama bottoms. She heard me laugh, and she wiggled her butt. “Shake it, baby,” I shouted out, laughing. After a few seconds, she ran back down the stairs, alarm displayed all over her face.

“I hope you have the key for the apartment, otherwise we are screwed.”

Patting myself down, I realized I didn’t. Shit.

“Well?!” my blonde friend urged me for an answer.

I shook my head, defeated. “Call the landlord.” I looked at her phone.

“Why don’t you? It's your fault,” she accused, eyebrows furrowed.

 “Because I don’t have my bloody phone!” She really knew how to rile me up, god dammit.

 “You’re so annoying; do you know that?” She glared at me, shaking her blonde curls from side to side.

“Just do it,” I urged. I really didn’t want to fight the last few days I was here. I watched her Google the number and then call.

About an hour later, the landlord showed up and let us in. At this point, Lizzy was not happy. Not only was she forty minutes late for work, but she wasn’t even ready. On the phone to work, I overheard her pleading with Kerry to let her still have the shift. Hanging up, she pulled on her white t-shirt and blue skinny jeans, her typical attire. Her style was relaxed but still stylish.

I felt really bad. Not only had I made her late, but I put a damper on our time left together. I sighed, and went to finish getting my suitcases ready.







Chapter Three


Lizzy


Yesterday was a disaster. I was over an hour late for work and Kerry wasn’t having a bar of it. My performance at work was dropping and Kerry was noticing. I had to pick up my game if I wanted to keep my job. Today I would do better, starting with clearing the debts in my life. A clear mind equals good work.

I finally had enough money to pay Sam back for the weed and I wasn't wasting any time. I threw a jacket over my black top, leaving yesterday's ripped jeans on. First stop, Sam’s place.

“Sam! Over here!” I saw him through the open door watching something on TV. I reached into my back pocket and pulled out the money I owed. Sam got close enough for me to slide the money into his hand.

“Anytime you want a hit, just let me know.”

“No thanks. I think I’m done with that.”

“Fair enough. Catch you round, Lizzy.”

I turned on my heel and headed for the café.

Ah, first coffee of the day. “Caramel latte, please.”

“No problem, Lizzy. It will be ready shortly.” Aaron wrote down my order on a take-away cup. “Hey, are you able to work at two?” He looked hopeful.

“Umm, yeah, shouldn’t be a problem. I'll just need to head home and do a few things first.”


Turning around, I scanned the room to find a seat, and to my surprise spotted Kattie. The memories of the way I last acted when I saw her made me want to turn and run away. Although we had been texting back and forth a little since, I still felt like running. Just as the thought came into my head, she looked over at me.

“Lizzy!” she said.

I could hear excitement in her voice. Before I had a chance to gather myself, her arms were around my neck. Out of instinct, I wrapped my arms around her waist.

“Listen,” I started to say, her hazel eyes looking up at me through those lashes. I felt weak at the knees. “I want to apologize for the other day.”

“You already apologized.” She looked at me blankly.

“Yes, but over text. I wanted to apologize in person.”

She laughed at my response and her smile just made me melt.

“I was hoping I would see you here. What are you up to today?” she asked.

“Umm, I actually have to work in two hours,” I said as I looked down at my phone.

“What are you doing after work?”

“Umm, nothing.” I stared blankly at her, wondering where she was going with this.

“Would you like to go for a walk?”

“Where did you have in mind?”

“I was thinking we could go get a bite to eat and then walk near my place. Maybe go to my house after that for a bit? See what happens?”

As the words left her mouth I was instantly hooked. “It’s a date.” I smiled at her awkwardly, still not having the hang of the whole dating concept yet. I instantly regretted using the word date.


“What time do you finish?” she asked.

“I should be done around six.” I looked at Kerry for confirmation. She nodded.

“Ok, I'll swing around at six, then.” Kattie flashed me another one of her brilliant smiles.

Work went fast, and before I knew it, Kattie was there waiting for me. As soon as I saw her, I couldn’t help but smile from one side of my face to the other. I skipped over to her, calling out to Aaron as I did. “Leaving, Aaron. See you next shift!” He chucked a grin my way and continued cleaning up.

Dinner was so lovely. We ate, we talked, and we laughed. Her hand occasionally touched mine across the table. Suddenly, she looked at me with urgency.

“Would you like to come to my house?”

I looked her dead in the eye and nodded ever so slightly. Moments later, we walked hand in hand along the street, making occasional eye contact, her smiling at me, giving me a look I couldn’t quite work out. I felt so happy. It felt like a scene from an old movie. Perfection.

As darkness fell upon us, we stood outside of Kattie’s house in the warm night. We didn’t even notice the temperature fall. The street lights reflected on her honey-brown hair, bringing out her highlights. As the cool breeze sent a chill through the air, she lit up a cigarette and inhaled. She exhaled into the night air.

“Would you like one?” she offered, holding one out to me. She looked so natural, so relaxed.

“I’ll have a few drags of yours,” I replied, taking hers from her hand, not breaking eye contact.


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