…….Cassandra poured the hot steaming coffee into them and, carrying both mugs, walked to the dinette in the corner.
“Come over here and sit.” She instructed Alma.
Sighing, Alma got slowly to her feet. She walked over and slouched into one of the kitchen chairs. “Ya want some milk for your coffee? I think it’s still good.” Alma waved her hand at the refrigerator. “Naw, I like mine black. Thanks anyway.”
“Yeah, me too. My Ma always said she liked her coffee and men the same way; ‘hot and black’. But she never dated black guys as far back as I can remember.”
“It’s just a jokey expression, Alma, and highly inappropriate to say to you.”
“Whatever.” “You got a fresh mouth on you, ya know that?”
“So?” “So if we’re gonna be roommates, you’re gonna have to watch your tone. I don’t put up with fresh kids.”
“Roommates?!” Alma exclaimed. “What’re you talking about?”
“You can’t stay here and be on your own. It’s not safe. Hell, you can’t even remember to lock the doors.”
“It’s none of your business what I do.”
“Well, I’m makin’ it my business. Here’s the deal so listen carefully. You’ll move in with me. I got two bedrooms and two bathrooms. There will be rules. You will not skip school.” She paused. “What grade are you in anyway?”
“I’m a junior.”
“You will finish school. You can’t have any failing grades. You will have a reasonable curfew. Since I work at night sometimes you will be on a honor system. You will not lie to me, ever. If you break the rules you will be grounded. In exchange I pay the rent, food and clothes for you. If you want spending money you’ll have to get a part time job. If you do get a job I expect you to save part of your pay.”
Alma stared at Cassandra, in shock. ‘Why is this broad doin’ this for me. I don’t get it. She’s gonna take me on? She can’t ever find out how relieved I am. How much she’s saving me.’
“Well, what’s it gonna be?” Cassandra asked.
“What if I say no?”
“Then I’m callin’ child protective services and they’ll put you in foster care until you turn eighteen.” “You wouldn’t!”
“I would and will.”
“Well, that’s not much of a choice.” Alma sulked. “You sure got a lotta rules.”
“Oh that’s just half of them. I’ll make up more as we go along.”
“I’m not goin’ into foster care.”
Cassandra stuck her hand out. “Okay, then, do we have a deal then, roomy?”
Alma stared at her hand. She tentatively took Cassandra’s hand and shook it. “Yeah, I guess so.” “Try not to be so enthusiastic, will ya? Your obvious joy is gonna make me cry.”
Alma gave Cassandra a tiny smile. “And you call me ‘sarcastic’.”


Two days later Alma sat in the living room amidst a few boxes, all her clothes on hangers, and two suitcases. The trailer had come furnished so she didn’t have to worry about getting rid of the old tattered furniture. She sat and thought about the last few days. Cassandra had given their landlord notice that she, Alma, was vacating her trailer.

She informed him that she would be moving in with Cassandra. She’d also met with Alma’s school and explained that Alma would be living with her. That any school notices or correspondence should be sent directly to her. Since she had left the school with the impression that Cassandra was Alma’s aunt hopefully CPS would not get involved.

‘I can’t believe I am moving in with such a cool lady.’ Alma thought. ‘I gotta figure out a way to get her to lay off so many rules. Geez, school every single day? And she’s got a smarter mouth than I do and that’s sayin’ somethin’.’

There was a knock on the door and almost immediately the door opened and Cassandra walked in. “Hey, kid, you ready?”
“Yeah, let’s blow this joint.” Alma grinned at her.
“I parked my car out front so we can load these boxes and the suitcases into the trunk. We can lay your clothes on the back seat.”
Alma picked up two handfuls of hangers while Cassandra picked up a box. “What ya got in here? Bricks?”
“Some books, some other junk.” Alma frowned. “But we can leave anything you don’t want to be bothered with.”
“I was just joking with ya, Alma. You can take anything you want. We got plenty of room over at my place.”
“I can’t believe you gave me the big bedroom.” Alma said as they walked out to the car. “Why not? Is all I do is sleep in there. Besides young girls have got a ton more stuff that I do.” She laughed. “Believe it or not I was a ‘young girl’ once myself.”
“You’re not that old.”
“Gee, thanks.”
They trooped back into the trailer for the rest of Alma’s things. “Better take a last look around. See if you missed anything.”
Alma stepped into the kitchen and opened the cabinet door above the stove. “I almost forgot the quarter jar.” She shook the jar and the quarters jingled merrily.
Cassandra looked over Alma’s head and spotted the mug with the “World’s greatest…” on it. “I think you should take this along.” Cassandra said as she reached up and took down the mug.
Alma stared at the mug, “I don’t care about that. It’s just a stupid old mug that I bought my Mom on Mother’s Day.”
“Well, I’m taking it with us. I kinda like it.” “Whatever.” Alma glanced away and pressed her fingers to her eyes.

Cassandra turned away to give Alma a minute. She opened a box and pushed the mug inside. She straightened up and glanced around the room. “It’s funny, you know, how life works out.”
“What’d ya mean?” Alma asked.
“Well, here we are two girls on our own being roommates and all. And both of us had crushes on the same guy at the same time.”
Alma gasped. ‘She knew I was in love with her boyfriend? How did she know?‘
“You knew?! How did you know?”
“Baby-girl, Cassandra knows everything so you better be careful.”
Alma stood and gazed at her in awe.
“Oh! That reminds me. Ever bussed tables?”
“Uh…no.” What’s Cassandra up to now? Alma wondered. There’s no keepin’ up with this chick. “Well, you can learn. The diner lost their bus boy and dishwasher and I put in a word for you. It would be the evening shift three nights a week and weekends. No Sundays. What’d ya think?” “Really? A real job like you have?” Alma asked.
“Yep. But here’s the deal. Your grades can’t drop at all and you can’t quit the cheer squad. Curfew still applies.”
“Everything’s a ‘deal’ with you.” “Take it or leave it.” Cassandra grinned at her.
“What’s it pay?” “Minimum wage.”
“I’ll take it!” Alma crowed.


The next segment will appear Monday. Hope you return to find out what happens to Alma and Charlie and the rest of the women living outside the walls…..

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Author's Bio: 

Author, playwright, and poet, Trisha Sugarek has been writing for four decades. Until recently her writing had focused on stage plays that ranged from prison stories to children’s fables. She has expanded her body of work to include two books of poetry, a group of children’s books and her debut novel, “Women Outside the Walls”.

Newly released, a series “ShortN’Small” short plays, small casts which are used in classrooms in this country and internationally.

She has enjoyed a thirty year career in theatre as an actor and director. Originally from Seattle, she has worked in theatres from coast to coast and her plays have been produced across the country. Trisha lives in Savannah, Georgia with her three golden retrievers.

Trisha’s plays and books can be found on her web site at: www.writeratplay.com