I've been finding reasons to stick around at work longer. Cleaning the floors, gathering the dog towels. Sometimes I'll sit on the floor and clean all the dog brushes, one by one until they're all neatly stacked in the drawer and there's a huge pile of multicolored dirty hair in a pile. I'll read a book on the front couch while the sun is warm on my face, my dark brown eyes melting between the pages. My jeans are itchy with dog hair but I still can't go home, not yet. It'll be obvious to my mom that I'm stalling and she'll remind me what time it is, Oh yeah jeez I just got wrapped up in my book, and I'll grab the car keys and drive home.
I keep counting down the days until I'm back in school. Surrounded by books and people who won't ask me how my family is, people who won't judge me based on my brother's actions. Away from the condescending emails of my biological dad, away from the sad text messages from my step dad saying he misses me and hates working nights. I really love him, it's funny to think that at 21 we're finally becoming close. At night I drive around and listen to familiar songs that make me feel warm. They fill my blood like hot chocolate and leave my mouth feeling sweet. A song reminds me of a boy who held my face so close that I thought he was going to swallow my breath. He brushed my cheek so gentle, and kissed me very soft, the song Slumbering Heart by Rilo Kiley was playing on his dashboard and my hands were shaking. I had fruity gum in my mouth and he didn't have any, but he didn't need any either.
I look at all the Christmas lights and wish we had a tree. I could put up my own hello kitty lights in my room but those remind me of something I'm trying not to think about right now. So I turn my space heater on and I write, or I read. Sometimes randoms will text me and this is a nice distraction. I don't get phone calls anymore, so I usually read to the point of exhaustion so I won't have to think about this.
All my dogs snuggle up against my legs and I scratch my scalp, my hairs getting long and I'm looking washed out. My mom tells me my hairs too dark. When I'm stressed out (which is often these days) I bite down (hard) on my bottom lip. While brushing my teeth I notice my peppermint tooth paste is stinging the inside of my lip. I lean into the mirror for inspection, I count tiny indentations from my crooked top teeth, I make a mental note to cut this shit out.