Home > Very Bad Things

Very Bad Things
Author: Alexis Winter







“I’m moving to Paris.”

“Right, and I just bought a house in London. We should summer together in Spain.” My best friend Xana laughs before biting into her eggs Benedict. I don’t laugh. “Wait,” she says around a half-chewed mouthful of eggs and English muffin once she realizes I’m not joking. “Are you serious?”


She chews furiously, swallowing the bite. “Paris as in France? The country?”

“One and the same.”

“Why? How?”

“I don’t have it all figured out yet, but I will.” I shrug. “And you know why. The last two years for me have been a nightmare, for lack of a better word. I need a change of scenery, change of pace.” I glance out the window of our favorite brunch café in downtown Chicago. I love this city, always have, but ever since I lost my mom and my fiancé less than six months apart, it feels like this place is a haunted tomb to me. A constant reminder of what my life could have been, what it should have been.

“You can’t just up and move to another country, Daph. People like us don’t move to Paris. It’s one of the most expensive cities in the world and last time I checked, you’re not a secret millionaire.”

“I know but people do it every day.” Her lack of enthusiasm is a little frustrating, but I know it’s only because she’s worried about me. How would I feel if she just up and told me she was moving halfway around the globe tomorrow?

“What people?”

“I don’t know, people! I watch House Hunters International all the time and people are constantly relocating to other countries.”

“Yes, those people usually have a job that is already there or transferring them or they have family there to help them.”

“Yeah, well, I can easily find work. I can be an au pair, teach English, work in a pastry shop, or any number of jobs.”

Her face softens a touch when she sees my frustration. “Daph, listen, I’m not trying to be a Debbie downer who rains all over your parade, but running away to Paris isn’t the answer to your issues with Chicago and what you’ve gone through. What about that job at Crestwood Academy you applied for? You were so excited about that opportunity.”

“I haven’t heard from them and it’s been months. They made it sound so promising after that second interview, but then poof”—I make a motion with my hand for emphasis—“nothing.”

“Did you reach out to them?”

“Twice. No response.”

“Well, it is the end of the school year so maybe they’re just swamped. You know how it is being that we’re both teachers and going through it ourselves at the moment. Speaking of, I’ll be spending my Saturday night and all day Sunday grading my freshman biology students’ finals. Fun, fun,” she says sarcastically.

Xana and I met in third grade and have been inseparable ever since. As the always outgoing extrovert, she immediately befriended me. We bonded over the fact that we both thought Scooby-Doo was a far superior cartoon to any of the Nickelodeon ones. We went to the same college here in Chicago and both studied education.

“I can’t imagine teaching middle schoolers or high schoolers, they’re so intimidating.” I shudder at the thought of feeling constantly judged by teenagers every day.

“Nah.” She laughs. “You just have to know how to handle them. Most of the time they laugh and think I’m being super corny when I try to be cool. Sometimes, though, they can be little shits. I won’t lie. So are you doing tutoring this summer again or summer school?”

Every summer we usually pick one or the other, either tutor privately or teach summer school in our district. It’s not exactly like you make enough teaching at a public school to get by. Most of us have summer jobs to make ends meet.

“Um, about that.” I pick nervously at the wadded-up napkin on the table in front of me. “I may or may not have told the school that I wasn’t coming back after this year.”

“You quit?” Her eyes practically bug out of her head.

“Yeah, I guess that’s the correct way of putting it.”

“Jesus, Daph.” She drops her fork and rubs her forehead. “Why? Did you actually put in your notice and tell the district?”

“Yes, and because I—well, first I thought I was getting that job at Crestwood. They dangled that carrot pretty close so I thought I had it, but then after not hearing anything, I realized that moving to Paris was a better idea anyway.” I smile, really trying to sell the idea to Xana as a thought out plan and not an impulsive decision that I’m very close to regretting.

“Okay, well, I’m sure that your administrator will be more than willing to take you back. You’ve worked at Davis Elementary for three years. They love you there.”

“I already booked my trip to Paris,” I blurt out, knowing I’m only going to add fuel to Xana’s panicked fire.

“You what?”

“It’s just a fact-finding mission. I’m going for a week to explore and see the city.” It’s more than that; it’s the closing of a door. The end of a story that I never even had the chance to start.

“Alone? When?”

“Yes, alone. I leave next Monday.”

“You’re not going to sign some lease when you’re there, are you?” She eyes me suspiciously.

“No, it’s just a trip. You know I’ve always wanted to go there and that was where Carson and I planned to honeymoon. I figured it would be the final chapter in that part of my journey, a farewell of sorts.”

“Yeah.” She smiles. “I like that idea. I do worry about you traveling alone, but I think it will be the closure you need. Plus, you’ve talked about Paris for as long as I can remember.”

Paris has been my dream since I was in fifth grade and watched Funny Face for the first time. I begged my parents to take me, but when you grow up below the poverty line, that’s not really a realistic dream. My mom tried letting me down easy; she didn’t want to destroy my dream of going there someday even though there was no way we’d ever afford it. Instead, she bought us both berets, croissants, and cheese and we would pretend we were sitting at a Parisian café on our back porch. My gaze drifts away as I smile, remembering the one time she indulged us and bought real macarons from a local bakery.

“I bet your mom would be so happy right now.” I don’t have to tell Xana where my mind went just now. She already knows. Not only did I lose my fiancé Carson in a tragic car accident two years ago, but I was still mourning the loss of my mom to cancer just five short months before he passed.

“She would be… Carson too.”

“Did you tell your dad?” I can see the apprehension on her face as she asks.

I nod, finishing my tea. “Yeah. He was happy for me and I promised I’d send him a postcard from Paris.”

“How are things going with you two? Have you seen him lately?”

“Not since he moved, no, but we’ve been working on our relationship over the phone.”

When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, I didn’t think he was going to be able to go on, especially not after the doctor told us there was no hope. But then, three months after she passed, he told me he was in love with one of the hospice nurses and he wanted to marry her and move to Florida to start a new life. I stopped talking to him and only after Carson died three months later did we talk again. I couldn’t go through that loss and the loss of my mother alone, but I in no way had forgiven my dad for moving on so fast. I pushed him away again, then would reach out and attempt to understand, only to push him away again.

Hot Books
» House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1)
» A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire
» From Blood and Ash (Blood And Ash #1)
» A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime
» Deviant King (Royal Elite #1)
» Den of Vipers
» House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2)
» The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air #
» Sweet Temptation
» The Sweetest Oblivion (Made #1)
» Chasing Cassandra (The Ravenels #6)
» Wreck & Ruin
» Steel Princess (Royal Elite #2)
» Twisted Hate (Twisted #3)
» The Play (Briar U Book 3)