XII

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On her last year of middle school, Lalisa’s parents died in a car crash, leaving her with a devastated older brother. A search of comfort turned wrong later changed him into a much more different person than the older brother she had always known, but it didn’t necessarily mean that she started hating him just then.

Lalisa who had always loved her brother who as far as she knew loved her too, couldn’t help but to care for him whenever he came home stumbling high as a kite. She was the one who cleaned up after his mess in the morning before she went to school as he was passed out. And she was also the one left wondering where all their stuffs had gone away to until one day she found him selling their mother’s golden necklace to a vendor as she was hanging out with her friends.

But the time that she had spent going in and out of many clubs uptown in search of her missing brother and her decent social skills had resulted in her getting close with the nightlife regulars and the people working there. It was even to the point that wherever and whenever they saw her, they’d greet her like she was a long lost friend. Then the owner of a pretty well-known queer club her brother frequented—she’d never known what his sexual orientation was, and she didn’t want to know—saw this. He saw the potential that a pretty girl with good social skills had in their field of business, and decided to offer her a ‘job’ there.

Much different from her brother, that was how Lalisa found her place in the nightlife. Losing hope for her brother, she found another hope in this place. That was why it was hard for her to leave. But it was either that or living her whole life in fear and nothingness. Literally and figuratively.

She heaved a sigh, and continued to move towards the club’s entrance. Every night, there would always be a pair of bouncers standing here, guarding the entrance. She used to be the one to call them whenever some costumer made a hassle inside. But it was morning, and the club’s pair of intimidating and gay men were absent.

She sighed as she remembered the couple.

Lisa continued to walk inside and found the dimly-lit inside of the club empty save for two waitresses, a bartender, and a couple of customers here and there. She didn’t really know the two waitresses much, so she just waved at them, and walked to the bar.

Good morning,” she greeted the bartender who was wiping a few glasses.

The handsome guy behind the bar lifted his head and looked at her, surprised.  “Morning, Liz. Why are you here? You’re on vacation, right?” His eyebrows furrowed in confusion.

Lisa gave him a bitter smile. “I need to talk to the boss.

He smiled back at her. “Ah, he’s in his office as usual,”  he said.

Ice, the bartender, was a handsome gay man in his mid-twenties. He along with the bouncers of roughly the same age had always treated her like a little sister. And to her, they were also much like the older brothers she’d never had but always wanted. So it didn’t surprise her when he said:

You should come back soon. We miss you ‘round here. It’s just not the same without our little Lalisa running the place,” and topped it with a laugh.

But his words and the way he said it squeezed at Lisa’s heart. Her stomach felt like it was being pulled by an intensified gravity force, and there was a lump at the back of her throat. How was she supposed to tell him that she wasn’t coming back?

She'd planned to just tell everyone later, maybe by coming over before the night shift started tonight. But it was taking all of her to not spill everything to Ice now.

Yeah, well, of course you all won’t know what to do without me,” she joked with him instead, and he laughed.

Sure, sure,” he went along. “Now, shoo. I need to finish cleaning these babies or the boss will have my ass.” He waved his hand at her as if he was shooing a stray cat away from his dinner table.

infinity. // jenlisa.Where stories live. Discover now