The Naz & Roz Chronicles - Chapter 17
We’re back to the Naz & Roz blog series. Do enjoy this one.
And if you haven't noticed, the blog series now has a cover! Isn't it so perfect? The girl. The piano .... yes. All of it. Compliments of Sasha Elle, who designed this for me last week. So thanks so much to her. And when this is finished, I will compile the series into a book, and you can download it from my website.
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Naz and Roz Blog Series
Comes Back Around
“Miss Dunsworth, what is the square root of—”
“Pass,” Penny muttered.
“You can’t just pass a question because you don’t want to answer it, Penny.”
She sighed. “Pass.”
Light laughter filtered through the classroom, but Penny was more interested in staring out the window. She would much rather do her studies online, or even with a tutor at home, but the chick who came around every once in a while to check in on Penny, and her living situation being fostered with Roz and Naz said it would be better for her to be in school.
The only good thing about this hell was the fact that Roz had allowed Penny to pick what school she wanted to attend, and then Naz came in to drop a whole bunch of money to make sure Penny had just enough freedom to breathe here.
Sticking her hand up, the teacher’s gaze drifted to her. “Yes?”
“I want to go see Mrs. Canns.”
The school counselor.
The teacher’s lips pursed like she was considering refusing Penny’s request, but the woman eventually nodded with a jerk of her thumb toward the door. It took Penny no time at all to pack up her shit, and head out of the classroom, leaving the rest of the teenaged idiots behind her. She was only here because she needed to be—she needed a fucking diploma.
That was it.
She didn’t have friends.
Didn’t want them.
No one here would ever understand Penny, or her life. She was the weird one—the freak. In gym, they noticed she only wore long sleeve shirts, and black leggings. And so, the rumors about what she was hiding under her clothes started. Not that they were wrong, she just didn’t care to indulge them. The group of High Bitches In Charge and their merry band of fucktoys for boys made it their mission to piss Penny off at least once a day, and that was a feat.
You know, considering Penny felt nothing.
Most of the time.
She didn’t go to the counselor. Instead, she headed outside through an exit door, and pulled a small metal case from her bag. Flipping it open, she found a handful of cigarettes, and two joints. She’d save the weed for later … maybe.
Roz didn’t like it.
Naz didn’t have an opinion.
It soothed her mind.
It was the only time she didn’t have to think.
Lighting up a cigarette, Penny let the smoke soak into her lungs as she stared out over the west side of the parking lot. No doubt, the school already had her on camera coming out to smoke, and someone was on their way to drag her back inside. Security, likely.
She didn’t want to go back in there.
She didn’t want to be here at all.
And not just here … but here.
That was when Penny realized her depression was back, and better than ever. It wasn’t like it had gone away, really, but it became far more manageable over the last year. She didn’t know what it was like to live without depression. At three years old, she had her first moment of suicidal ideation. Here she was at seventeen, and she was still looking out at the road thinking … how easy would it be to just run out in front of traffic?
Yeah, that’s exactly what depression was.
A goddamn bitch.
“Penny Dunsworth, get back inside the school right now!”
She didn’t do as the security guard told her. Instead, she stood, slinging her messenger bag and purse over her shoulder before she darted into the parking lot without a look over her shoulder. She didn’t have a car here—still didn’t know how to drive.
Not that it mattered.
She didn’t mind a walk.
Penny just didn’t know what she was walking toward anymore.
“Do you ever work?”
Naz didn’t look the least bit surprised to see Penny standing in the doorway of their living room. “Do you ever stay at school like you’re supposed to?”
“Idiots again, or …?”
Penny shrugged. “Bad thoughts.”
That was her way of letting them know without actually saying something about her depression. She kind of felt like it was a check on herself, in a way. If other people knew she was having dark thoughts, she was less likely to act on them with self-harm, or something of a similar nature. It didn’t always work, but it helped.
Especially with Naz and Roz.
They didn’t judge.
Naz folded his arms behind his head, and eyed her from the side. “I do work, actually. And do you know what else I do?”
“Get phone calls from the school when you skip out. I figured you would be coming home, so I said I would be there to meet you. I should be on the other side of the city, though.”
“You have to stop skipping school.”
“I would if I could do it online.”
Naz lifted a brow. “You’re supposed to socialize. It’s a good thing to learn.”
“I do. With you, Roz, and people around here. That school is annoying.”
“Is it, or is it—”
“I hate that school, and the people in it.”
“You chose that school.”
Penny rolled her eyes so hard it hurt. “Because I had to.”
Naz pursed his lips. “Two days at the school, three days at home online.”
“Oh, we’re bartering now?”
“Everybody gets something they want.”
“What will the social worker say?”
“Fuck her,” Naz said, “her shit doesn’t work, anyway.”
He wasn’t wrong.
“Two days there, three here,” she agreed.
Naz nodded, clearly pleased. “You only have a few months left to go before you graduate. At least try to make it until then.”
“Yeah, but then what happens?”
He was silent.
“Well,” he finally said quietly, “that’s the beauty of it, Roz. You can do whatever you want.”
But could she?
Could she really?
“I don’t … know what I want,” she admitted.
Naz gave her another look from the side. “Yeah, I imagine that’s a big part of the problem, huh?”
More than he knew.
Penny didn’t understand her purpose.
Why was she even alive?
“And you didn’t answer me—where is Roz?”
“Getting a massage right about now. She worries all the time. About the baby, me … you. She rarely even takes time to play the piano lately. So, I set up a day for her to relax, and nothing more. Which is why I am here right now, and she is not.”
“Are we going to tell her I skipped again?”
Naz scowled. “Probably not.”
“I’ll try to do better.”
She expected a but will you?
Instead, he smiled. “The best you can do is all we ask for, Penny.”
Yeah, she knew.
It’s why she was still here.
That, and … “Did you guys pick a name yet?”
“We were thinking Cross, for my father.”
“I like it.”
“Roz is going to ask you to be a godmother.”
Penny just blinked.
Naz said nothing as he pushed up from the couch until he came to stand in front of her. “And I thought you would like to know, before someone calls and tells you.”
“Yesterday, your father was found murdered in the prison kitchen. Apparently, he washed dishes to earn privileges. They’re not really sure what happened … but dental records confirmed the identity this morning.”
Naz let her have the moment.
She almost wanted to ask if he did it.
He’d said he could make it happen, after all.
A part of her wanted to have a breakdown right then and there. Her fragile mental state could never be trusted to handle something like this. Another part of her felt a sick sort of glee to know one of her monsters—the biggest of her demons—was dead. The rest of her felt nothing at all, but that wasn’t unusual.
An old friend, really.
Penny decided to ask, “Do you think God forgave him for what he did to me?”
Naz considered that. “I don’t know.”
“Well, I never will.”
“I’m sure he died knowing that.”
It’s what he deserved.