Home > The Mixtape(5)

The Mixtape(5)
Author: Brittainy C. Cherry

“Did you talk to your management about letting me perform during your show tonight?” she asked me, reminding me that I had a show that night.

“I am his management, and the answer is hell to the no,” Tyler remarked.

Cam released an annoyed huff. “When are you going to fire him?”

“Never,” I replied.

“You hear that? Never. I’m just waiting for the day that he fires you,” Tyler said.

She hissed in his direction, and he hissed right back at her.

She moved her lips to my ear, and my body slightly revolted from her simple touch. I was almost certain her eyes were locked on Tyler to prove some kind of point to him. That she had control over me, not him. “Last night was fun,” she commented, her voice smoky and dry. Fun? Was it? I’d drunk too much to truly recall. Her hair swayed back and forth, brushing against the nape of my neck. “I have to get to some meetings. I’ll see you tonight.”

I didn’t say anything to her. She didn’t expect any form of communication from me. Cam and I didn’t talk. Well, she talked, I didn’t, which was fine for her. All she ever wanted was to have someone sit and listen to everything she said. While she needed someone to listen, I needed someone to stay. At night she’d lie beside me, and for a few moments in my life, I’d pretend that the world wasn’t crashing around me and I’d feel less alone.

Crazy how loneliness led people to places they probably didn’t belong anymore.

Cam tossed on her dress with a smug expression and a look of control over me. “Bye, Ty,” she said, snatching the coffee from his hand and working her hips left and right as she exited the room.

Tyler looked disgusted from the sight of her leaving my room. “This is your daily reminder that you don’t need to share a bed with the devil,” he commented. “Anyway, get a move on. We got to get going. You should’ve already been showered.”

He moved over to my closet doors and swung them open, revealing a massive space filled with more designer clothes than any person should’ve ever possessed. There was a huge kitchen-style island in the middle of the closet with pullout drawers revealing expensive watches, designer socks, and jewelry that was worth more than most people’s house mortgage.

“I was thinking, maybe we should reschedule the concert.”

“You’re joking, right?” he asked, exiting my closet with an outfit for me. “You’re the one who agreed to this performance tonight.”

That wasn’t a lie. The concert was my idea. After reading so many articles about how I was falling apart and a complete mess, I felt as if I had to prove I was doing okay—even though I wasn’t. My career wasn’t simply my own—I had a team of people depending on me to keep making music. From my manager, to my PR team, to Kelly, to Ralph, who thankfully had survived the car crash with only minor injuries. People’s livelihoods depended on me. When my record label gave me the option to become a solo artist, it was a chance to make sure my team all stayed employed.

Still . . . I didn’t know how to be a solo artist.

Hell, I didn’t know how to exist without my brother.

“This is a good opportunity, Oliver,” Tyler said, as if he could read my troubled thoughts. “I know it’s not gonna be easy, and if I could take your place on that stage and perform, I would. But the best I can do is be backstage with you, cheering you on with Kelly—who, by the way, is getting you some breakfast as we speak. So, go shower and wash the seed of Chucky off your body.”

I headed to the en suite shower, which had three showerheads—rich people problems—and did as Tyler told me. I wanted to argue more about why the performance that night didn’t matter, because I honestly didn’t see the point. I was part of a duo, and ever since Alex had passed away, it was apparent to me that Alex & Oliver was over and out.

Like the many articles had stated, who would want Oliver without Alex?

As I stood in the shower, I hoped it would wash away my buzzing headache, but it didn’t. I thought it would wash away my loud thoughts, too, but it didn’t. I wasn’t lucky that way. I hadn’t found a way to quiet my mind without alcohol in a long time.

When I got out of the shower, I didn’t look in the mirror. Most of the mirrors in my house were covered with sheets. I hadn’t looked in mirrors in such a long time, because in every single one, Alex was staring back my way.

 

 

2

EMERY

What’s for breakfast?

I scrounged through the cabinets in search of something—anything—to make for Reese. We used our last eggs and sausage links for dinner last night, and we wiped the side of the peanut butter jar nicely with a spatula to have an after-dinner snack while we read books from the library.

Think, think, think, Emery.

I pulled out a loaf of bread along with an almost emptied jar of jelly and set it down on the countertop.

We had one piece of bread left in the loaf along with the two end pieces, though Reese refused to eat the end pieces, no matter how much jelly I’d slap against them.

“That’s not real bread, Mom,” she’d argue again and again. “Those are the butt ends. That’s what the birds by the lake eat.”

Though she had a point, she didn’t have much of a choice that morning. I had only $12.45 in my bank account, and payday wasn’t until tomorrow. Half that money would go toward rent, while I’d use the other half for budget-friendly meals. We didn’t have much wiggle room in our lives at the moment, since I’d lost my one job at the hotel as a line cook.

Ever since then, I’d been working nights at a sporadically busy hole-in-the-wall bar called Seven. Needless to say, the job hadn’t been pulling in the money much, and I was still waiting to hear back from the unemployment office about income from losing my job.

I took out a knife and shaved off as much of the “butt end” as I could to make it look like a normal piece of bread. Then, I covered it with grape jelly.

“Reese, breakfast!” I called out.

She hurried out of her room and came rushing to the kitchen table. As she slid into her chair, she wrinkled up her nose and grumbled. “This is the end piece, Mom!” she sassed, completely unimpressed by my gourmet meal.

“Sorry, kiddo.” I walked over and messed up her wavy charcoal hair. “Things are a bit tight this week.”

“Things are always tight,” she groaned, taking a bite before tossing the rest of the sandwich down on the plate. “Hey, Mama?”

“Yeah, sweetie?”

“Are we poor?”

The question echoed in my ears and hit me in the gut. “What? No, of course not,” I answered, a bit shocked by her words. “Why would you even say that?”

“Well, Mia Thomas from camp said that only poor people shop at Goodwill, and that’s where we get all of our clothes from. Plus, Randy always gets McDonald’s for breakfast, and you never let me get McDonald’s breakfast. Plus, plus, plus,” she exclaimed excitedly, as if she was getting ready to list the biggest bit of proof to showcase our poverty level, “you gave me the butt ends!”

I smiled her way, but my heart began to shatter. It was something my heart had done over and over again for the past five years, ever since Reese came into this world. It shattered because every day I felt as if I was failing her. As if I wasn’t enough, and I wasn’t giving her the life she truly deserved. Being a single parent was the hardest thing I’d ever had to do in my life, yet I didn’t really have a choice in the matter. The father was definitely never going to be in the picture, so I’d learned to handle everything on my own.

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