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Lauren Johnson

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By Lauren Johnson
Friday, January 12, 2007

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Rosa Cruz tries to find a way to give her the family the life they should be living.

I know almost everything about perfume. No, I am far from bragging. Actually, I'm starting to really hate perfume. Some out it is either too strong or too sweet or it just plain stinks. But if spraying it on a couple of rich folks gets the bills paid, I'll do it. My name is Rosa Cruz, and believe it or not things did not start out this way for me. I got good grades in school and did what I was supposed to do, for the most part. Then David and I became serious and at 17, I had my first child, Addison-Marie. He truly does love me, so when I was 18, we got married. That was also the year, I had to leave home, my parents kicked me out, they said they couldn't support a child so David got two jobs and I got this job. Now, I'm a 20 year old mother living from paycheck to paycheck but, I just don't know how I'm going to create a good lifestyle for my family the way my parents did.

Everything is the same day to day. Smile, suggest and spray. Over and over again, the same routine. Make sure you're nice to the customer and make sure you make a sale. The monotony broke one day when the most intriguing woman came along to the desk. She was tall and talked on her phone a lot and she chewed gum. Normally the women who come by here are reserved and older and they have an air of importance about them, ya know? They look down on you as if you were a sick creature walking on the side of the road. But this woman was loud and abrasive, completely unlike me.

"So, sugar? I have to go to my boyfriend's party tonight and he says he wants me to dress sophisticated?" She snorted a laugh. "Me, sophisticated? I told him honey please, I'm not making any promises, but I'll try." She looked younger than me but her voice sounded older, it was hard for me to tell how old she was. "Oh, well a sophisticated party, huh?" I started stammering, for some reason she made me nervous, I'm just not used to being around people like her. People like her, I mean young people. "I'm sorry, exactly what kind of party is this and what kind of scent are you looking for? Like a fruit based scent? Or an older person's scent?" She cut me off; she was a very happy person. "I am looking for a scent that exudes ya know confidence, but don't make me smell like one of those old people." I laughed. Usually the older customers buy strong smelling perfumes. "I know what you mean. Um, how about this one." I suggested Dior's Jadore and she loved it. She kept thanking me as if I had saved her life or something. I went home that night feeling as if I changed someone's life. I mean, I know it's just perfume, but usually when I sell some perfume, they buy it and leave, they don't ever thank me.

I picked up my daughter from my mothers and it was times like these that I wish I had friends that weren't in school or the money for a daycare or a babysitter. "Are you feeding her properly?" My mother always asks me this question and every time I give her the same answer. "Yes, mom. I do feed her properly, she just..." "Eats more here, because she knows she's not going to get any food when she gets home." "No. She's fine. I just took her to the doctor two days ago." "It's no wonder they haven't called child services on you." She was so dramatic. "Listen, thank you for watching her. I have to go, David's break is almost over." I was almost out of the door when she finally asked it. A question that she's been burning to ask every since I got pregnant. "Did you get pregnant on purpose?" She stood there with her hands on her hips. "Oh, my gosh." I whispered to myself, and I preceded in the most calmest tone I could. "No, mom, I did not get pregnant on purpose."

I took a good look around the room and that's when I noticed some things were missing. "Mom, where's dad?" "Don't change the subject." I took a look at the bar. It was half empty. "Oh, mom, what?" "Get out." "What?" "I said, get out. I don't want to do this with you right now." "But mom, where's dad?" "Leave!" I took Addison and left. I called my dad as soon as I got in the car, but there was no answer.

David came in later that night. That's when he got off. We literally had maybe six hours together before we would have to get up and go to work. "Did you get a chance to work on your paintings?" He whispered to me trying to find out if I was sleep or not. I was dead tired, but I missed him. So, I sat up with him for about a half hour talking. "I finished one more, when I got back from home." "So, do you want to tell me what was bothering you?" When I went to go drop off his food he saw that I was worried, but I didn't tell him why. "My dad is not in the house with my mom anymore. I think he might of left her, but then again, he would of called me. So, I don't know what's going on." "Oh, I'm sorry." "I'll try to find out more tomorrow, but my mom she's so upset and I don't know why." David held me and we went back to sleep, until it was time to get up and do the whole day over again.

Smile, suggest and spray. Back to the same ol' routine. It wasn't until after my lunch break that I saw her again. The strange woman from the other day. "Darlin' you were absolutely right about the perfume, everyone loved it. And my boyfriend loved me wearing it haha!" "Oh, that's great news, so I take it you had fun at the event?" "Boy did I? Tell me what time do you get off?" I hadn't been asked to hang out in such awhile I didn't recognize it when it was happening. "What?" "Oh, I'm really bad at this. My name is Sari. Do you want to hang out sometime? I don't have a lot of friends and my boyfriend has been really busy. I think it would be a good idea for us to be friends. I mean unless your crazy or a kleptomaniac." I laughed, she was so weird. "My name is Rosa and no, I can assure you that I'm not a kleptomaniac, I get off at 5." "Groovy." When I say groovy, I sound like a dork, when she says it she sounds cool. My boss came by and gave us a look. I'd been chatting too long and Sari saw her too. "Now what is this new Prada perfume I've been hearing about." She said it so loudly, some of the girls at the makeup section laughed. I went to go get the Prada collection when I remembered.

"Oh, but I have to go pick up my daughter first." "No problems, well bring your little girl along. Oh, we can go to Friendly's." Oh shoot. She must of saw the look of disappointment on my face, or realized that I'm not a perfume girl at Bloomingdale's by choice. I just can't pick up and go to Friendly's. "Oh, or um, we can do something else. I'm not picky.

I..." She started to sound like me when I ramble. "You can come over to dinner at my house." I quickly suggested.

"Groovy. I'll meet you back here at five." "See you, Sari." "See ya, Rosa."

I felt great. She's seemed like so much fun. I liked being around her. I couldn't wait for David to meet her. "This is my mom's place she watches Addison for me while I'm at work." "That's a pretty name." "It shouldn’t take too long." "Take your time." When I came in my mom had been crying. "Mom? Where's Addison is she okay?" "She's fine. It's just, I worry about you, what would you do, if your father and I weren't around anymore?" "Mama, where's Daddy tell me." Addison walked into the room, she was still so small and could only say a few words. "Grandpa in hospital," she told me. "What sweetheart?" Then my started crying again. "He was admitted three days ago and he refuses to see any visitors. Even me!" "Why?" "I don't know." I went into the kitchen and called the hospital and it was true , he wouldn't answer his phone or see anyone. I called my dad's primary doctor and he told me that my father had been admitted and he's being treated for phenomena. And I understood, he didn't want anyone to see him weak. I suggested to mom that we write him a letter, she calmed down and said ok. I asked her if she wanted to stay with me or one of our cousins but she said no and that she'd be alright.

I walked outside and introduced Sari to Addison. When we got home Addison was really excited to be there. But I think she's just like that all of the time. I learned a lot about her, that she likes tangerine lip gloss. She's 21 and seriously in love with her fiance Mike. "So, you have a husband huh?" She noticed my wedding ring. "Yes, I do." I smiled a bit.

I always smile when people ask about David. "That's sweet." I didn't have to bring David lunch today because he was doing two shifts at his other job at the bank, he'll be home earlier tonight. "So, Rose what high school did you go to?" "I went to Cheltenham High School." "Really, I went to McDevitt. It was alright. I never really got along with anyone there. I mean, I got along with them, but I really didn't like them. Ya know. Now I'm working on being an actress. I used to be a dancer but I think acting is a better fit for me." I started to get the meal together and I had my back turned to her. Every now and then I would turn to face her. "Yea, I know what you mean. Well I barely graduated, ya know with Addy and all. So, David and I decided we should get married and we've been doing this ever since." "So what do you two do, for fun?" "Well, Sari, you need money to have fun. And he and I are kind of artistic. He's into English and I'm into..." "You're an artist!" she shouted. Addy laughed and cooed a little. I turned around and she was holding one of my paintings. "This is excellent work Rose." Now, the thing about my art. I think it's good occasionally pretty good. But I'd never say excellent. I laughed. "David says it's excellent, but he's my husband so." Her eyes were as wide as saucers. "No, no, no, no, no! You don't understand." She was starting to freak me out a little. "This is really good work. I mean, I feel something in my soul when I see this." she began to tear up a little. "Is this, is this of her." I saw which painting she was holding. It was the one I've done of David falling asleep watching Addison. I started it a week after we brought her home and didn't finish it until the end of that month. He didn't want to leave her side.

I paced and paced. I almost forgot to put Addison to sleep, but she quickly reminded me when she started making her fussy noises. Sari left around nine, she said she had some important work to do. "I'm home," he whispered. He always whispered he's home when he thinks I'm up and Addison is asleep. "I befriended a buyer today." He looked at me half hearing what I was saying. "An art buyer. The woman from my job, she came back today and we became friends and she found out that I paint. She wants to add my collection to her boyfriends. That's where she went the other night. He was opening his gallery, and he's looking for new talent." I said it so quickly. Sometimes I talk really fast but David always understands me. "That's great. That's that's." He kissed me. "She wants to create prints and the whole nine."

I went to work the next morning for fear that this whole thing may be a scam. I wouldn't want to be scammed and out of a job. Sari practically ran up to me the next day. "What are you doing here?" I smiled at her. "Working." "No, no. Quit this stupid job. Art is now your job. Because my boyfriend loved your work he wants you to sign on with him." I felt light headed and like it was all a sick joke or a lie. I called David who called his friend who's brother is a lawyer. We all met at Mike's gallery, Sari's boyfriend. I'd been painting since I was fifteen or sixteen, so I had a good amount of works that I could sell to him. After the meeting with our lawyer, who happened to be doing this as a favor. He told us that there was a good chance that I could quit my job and do this full time with the kind of pull and contacts this guy has.

From that meeting on, everything happened at once, a week later my father was released from the hospital. My grandfather died and within a couple of hours of his death my grandmother died. I said it was spooky. Sari said it was awesome. I understood what she meant, but I told her not to say that in front of my mother. David was able to publish his novel and we were able to move to a better neighborhood. "You see." Sari began to explain to me as we were buying perfume at Bloomingdales. "Mike's work was okay. He really wanted to work in directing, but everyone in his family was an artist so he felt pressure to be an artist. But when I met you. You clicked and now it's almost as if his family has adopted you and their next generation artist. I mean having all the money in the world doesn't make you a good artist and that's what you have."

A year had passed and Sari and I were sitting in the VIP section of a club. Mike and David were friends with the owner. They were both in England Mike was meeting with some executives and David went to meet with the publishing company there. I don't know what for.
"So, what's new?" I asked Sari. "Mike and I are getting married in three months. You'll be my maid of honor right?" "Of course!" I responded.
"Oh, and don't tell David yet, but Mike's been given the green light to turn his book into a movie." I held back a scream. "Mike's going to direct it!" "Oh my gosh! I thought it had to be a bit hit seller before.." And before I could finish my sentence she held up the New York Times Best Seller list. And number 2 read, my husband's novel, A Lesson to Learn by David Cruz.
I screamed.

"Sari, thank you. Thank you so much. For being my friend." "What are you kidding me? You and David have more talent in the tip of your pinky finger than Mike and I will ever have. Now, you two have talents all we did was brought them to light. And in exchange, I got a friend. Two friends. You befriended me when no one else would. And that I thank you for." "That's because you wear tangerine lip gloss, honey." I told her. "I know, I'm quirky." Sari told me. "I know, you're my quirky best friend."

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Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 1/13/2007
Good story! :)

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