Genesis: Part 1
genesis n 1: an event that is a beginning; a first part or stage of subsequent events
Keesha pushed her fingers through the tight, short cap of curls that adorned her head. Dark sunglasses sat on the bridge of her nose and as she passed a store window, she glanced at her reflection. Dressed in a pair of skintight, faded jeans and a cropped t-shirt, she looked nothing like the girl whose framed photographs covered the mantel at the house she just left. What was that house called? Oh, yeah, the Ward House. The house where they wanted her to fit into the mold of the prim, proper girl she used to be.
Hell, they could forget about that, Keesha thought as she walked away from her reflection. She squared her shoulders and continued to walk as far as her legs would carry her. Far away from the disappointed eyes of the man who called himself her father. Far away from the anger she sensed that boiled deep inside the younger guy, named Justus, and farther still from the calm patience she read on the sweet old lady who never demanded anything from her. She felt a twinge of something when she thought of Mary Mae Ward, but she refused to give into it. She just kept walking and hoping that she'd walk so far, that the strangest one of all—Jason—would never find her.
She pulled a tube of lipstick from her pocket and smeared the red across her full lips. Her fingers encountered a stash of bills as she returned the lipstick to her pocket. Life as she knew it began in a hospital room a few months before. There were a lot of things that didn't make sense to her and plenty more that she didn't remember, but counting wasn't one of them. The money in her hand would take care of her until she decided what she wanted to do. Besides, considering the way she left the old Keesha's bedroom, she doubted if the Wards would welcome her back with open arms anytime soon.
Keesha shoved the wad of money back inside her pocket. She glanced at the name in the windows, Jake's, and then she went inside. The space bounced with restless energy and it pleased her. A few guys gave her the once over as she walked in, but nobody bothered her. And best of all, nobody hovered over her.
She went to the bar and claimed a stool. The curly blonde behind the counter came to her and asked, "What's your poison?"
"I'm thirsty," Keesha told the bartender. "What do you suggest?"
The older woman shrugged. "Beer is always good. Think you can handle it?"
"I don't know," Keesha answered honestly. "Let's find out."
The woman left and quickly returned with a mug of the frothy brew. She slammed the cold glass down in front of Keesha and pushed a bowl of pretzels towards her. "I've never seen you in here before," she said, wiping down the counter.
Keesha sipped the liquid. It stung as it eased down her throat, but it soothed her restlessness. She took another sip and decided she liked it. She reached for a pretzel. "I don't think this the kinda place I'd go to."
The woman gave her a curious frown. "What do you mean by that?"
Keesha shrugged. "Nothing. Listen, do you know where I could find a place to stay?"
"I rent rooms upstairs. I'd rent to you if you could pay for it, but first thing's first... You're not running from the law, are you?"
"No, I'm not running from anything. I'm just starting."
The woman nodded and extended her hand. "I'm Jake. I'm the boss around her and if you have a problem, you come to me. What's your name?"
"Keesha what? You got a last name?"
Keesha thought about that for a moment and then shook her head. "No. I'm just Keesha."
"Nice to meet you," Jake said, shaking her hand. "While we're at it, do you need a job?"
"Probably," Keesha answered, swallowing more of the beer.
"I could use another waitress. Interested?"
"Sure. What do I have to do?" Keesha asked.
"Follow me," Jake advised. "I'll teach you everything you need to know."
"What do you mean she just left?" Jason asked, running an agitated hand through his blonde locks. His eyes narrowed as he looked at Justus and Mr. Ward. "Why didn't anyone try to stop her?"
Justus and Keesha's father answered him with silence. Jason knew that they blamed him for what happened to Keesha. Hell, he blamed himself. He knew that AJ was a liar. He should have warned her. AJ's skill at manipulation was at the expert level and Keesha, the innocent that she was, was no match for him. But dammit, why did she have to get into that car with him?
Jason groaned and turned away from the angry stares of her father and cousin. A soft sigh wafted down to him and he looked up to see Mary Mae standing on the staircase. Fresh wrinkles creased her brow and large circles darkened the flesh underneath her eyes. She beckoned to him with one hand while she leaned heavily on the banister. "Come here, Jason. Come and you'll see why no one stopped her."
He climbed the stairs two at a time until he stood just behind Mary Mae. His hand closed around her elbow and he followed her down the hall to Keesha's bedroom. She pushed the door opened and step aside. What Jason saw shocked him. "Who did this?" he asked.
"I don't believe it," he murmured, crossing the threshold. His gaze darted around the wrecked room. Broken glass littered the bed. Clothes were thrown all around the room. The dresser was upended and a chair was broken. He turned to Mary Mae and saw the tears in her eyes. "Why would she do this?"
The older woman shook her head. "I wish I knew. Dr. Jones said she wouldn't be the same, but none of us wanted to accept it. I guess she had all that she could take."
A torn photograph of Jason and Keesha's trip to Paris lay underneath a pile of glass. He started to reach for it, but Mary Mae stopped him. With a shaky voice, he said, "I should help you clean up."
"No, just leave it for now."
"But it's a mess," he said. "When she comes back..."
"Baby," Mary Mae said gently, "it's not a question of when."
"What do you mean?" he asked. "Of course, she's coming back. Where would she go?"
"At my age, I thought I knew everything, but that is a question I can't answer."
Jason's chest constricted and he sucked in air. He moved past Mary Mae out of the bedroom. "I can't give up on her. I'm gonna find her and when I do, I'm bringing her back."
"Jason, don't... She's not the same and without meaning to, she'll break your heart."
He nodded. "I know she's different, but deep inside, she's still the same Keesha who loves me. Because I love her, I can't give up. True love never dies, Mary Mae, and I'll find her. I promise."