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Return to the Costa

Return to the Costa

Mila J

Update: 2021-04-25

Chapter 1 Bridges Burned

  • "...custom-made," I murmured soothingly to myself. "Red - no, blue, brings my eyes out. V-neckline. Long sleeves…"
  • Or sleeveless; now I had no bingo wings to speak of, long sleeves were unnecessary. Not that I was ever self-conscious, but the past few months the fat had melted right off me like it was never there.
  • "- sleeveless," I decided with quiet satisfaction. "Ending above the knee."
  • Now I'd figured the dress out, it was time for the shoes. Espaghetti heels, the same shade of blue, paired with a new Louis Vuitton minibag, and I'd look good enough to eat.
  • Everyone would fling themselves at my feet, they would throng round, clamor, ask a dozen questions. A whole string of attractive guys would offer me the world. I'd form a shiny new crew, or perhaps it would be better to fly solo for a while. Yes, crews always brought unnecessary drama. I didn't need extra hangers-on or yes men this time. All I wanted was to be adored, idolatred, admired, secretly and openly envied.
  • "Kiara," they'd swoop in as soon as they saw me. I'd be regaled with juicy, unimportant, thrilling, dirty gossip. I'd be reborn. This time, I'd do everything right. And the whole -
  • "Kiara!" More forcefully this time. Not an admirer. My roommate, if I had to call her that. Bianka, Jessi, Lourdes, there'd been so many I couldn't keep track, and felt no need to anyway.
  • "K-"
  • "What!" I flared up. Bad enough to be laid up in this pathetic slab of concrete which masqueraded as a single bed, but even worse to be interrupted in the middle of a nice daydream. Or nightdream. Whatever.
  • Bianka/Jessi/Lourdes coughed lightly. "It's just I couldn't sleep. Not with your mumbling."
  • "Sleep," I harrumphed. I couldn't even imagine a scathing, withering comeback. Most of these girls were so pathetic it wasn't worth the time. Orphans or victims or outright freaks.
  • And I hadn't been mumbling. I'd been plotting, hatching schemes, masterminding the comeback which would take place in precisely twenty-four hours. Because today was March 2nd, and tomorrow was my eighteenth birthday, the day I'd yearned for and held to my chest the last few months. The day I would leave this godforsaken girls' home in the middle of nowhere.
  • The day I would come to take back what was rightfully mine.
  • ***
  • "Kiara," my caseworker Janell commented the next morning as I took a seat across the table. I noticed the sleeves on my dark tracksuit were frayed and worn, not exactly the most glamorous outfit for my eighteenth birthday, but things would get better. My attitude was positive. They couldn't exactly get worse.
  • After a few days in police custody for minors, which was a traumatizing affair, I'd been bundled on a bus and transported all the way to some part of Valencia like livestock. Sodding Valencia! If I had to be kept under lock and key I would've preferred to be in familiar surroundings, where my surname held some sort of importance, but due to understaffing and government cuts or some other trivia, this was the only place they could shuttle me off to on short notice.
  • Of course I'd cooperated with the police, inventing this cock and bull story about Yunai kidnapping me, keeping me hostage in his Marbella chalet, beating me senseless, threatening to kill my whole family, even raping me a couple times, until I was well and truly sure he'd be put behind bars for years and years.
  • These conversations had been meticulously recorded, notes written. I got slightly carried away with the details, embellishing until Yunai transformed into a psychopath reminiscent of true life documentaries, but no matter. The police wanted him gone.
  • "I tried to escape," I'd stated truthfully enough as soon as the topnotch painkillers wore off and I was being questioned.
  • Obviously I left out the awkward details about me willingly leaving La Linea to be with him, and about our past liaisons before any of this mess happened, because they didn't make me sound good. Just to put the cherry on top I told them about our days in Galicia and Barcelona and other places I could remember, how Yunai had forced me to be his drug mule and carry firearms for him, until I wasn't sure who I was incriminating anymore. All I knew was that I needed to survive and if by doing so Yunai had to go down as a pedophile and abuser, well, so be it. I was just a poor defenceless girl.
  • "Kiara, are you listening to me?" Janell prodded when it was clear I wasn't. Why did people do that?
  • "No," I replied honestly.
  • The famous government paycuts meant Janell had to be doing six jobs at once in this home, and hopefully wouldn't waste too much time with me. All I wanted was for her to give me my money and piss off to go talk to rape survivors or something. There were all sorts of namby-pamby therapy groups here and plenty of counseling on the side.
  • "As I was saying, today you turn eighteen and are no longer under our custody," Janell pursed her already thin lips until they were almost nonexistent. She didn't look too pleased. "Have you thought about what you'll be doing when you leave?"
  • I stared back at her dumbly. There had been assessments, many assessments. I'd pretended I could barely read or write because these assessments were obviously a trap. I was absolutely determined not to work or study. There must be millions of poor wretched people begging for jobs, all rotten teeth and tattered clothes and hollow cheekbones, so why not employ them?
  • Remembering how one of the younger counselors had almost cried with frustration hearing me fumble simple four-letter words for a whole half hour, I smirked to myself.
  • Another one had asked questions about my home life, my sexual history, probably reckoning that I acted out due to being touched up at a young age. The look on her face when I claimed to be a virgin was priceless. Saving myself for marriage, I'd told her. Why make their jobs easy? These people were being paid to do this, I wasn't.
  • "Hem," I cleared my throat, sensing holes being burnt in my face. Lately I got distracted easily and zoned out. It wasn't deliberate.
  • Janell didn't say anything. One of her tactics was to stay silent and wait for me to talk.
  • "I've got plans," I shrugged a shoulder, small smile twitching my lips. Did this woman really think I was going to confide in her? She was an underpaid social worker, I was me. We weren't the same. Janell knew nothing about my world and never would.
  • "...plans." Janell sipped from a plastic cup of water, wrinkling her nose slightly. "Well, as we discussed last week, you will be receiving 519 euros a month in government benefits. The first payment entered your bank account today."
  • Not exactly a large sum of money. Pocket change actually. I was hard-pressed to make that stretch a weekend, especially if I went out clubbing two nights in a row.
  • Janell's mouth set in a hard, unforgiving line as she handed me some papers and a drying pen. "Sign here, here and here," she instructed briskly. "Your personal belongings will be handed over to you on the way out."
  • For once I was caught unawares. My mouth hung open then shut again. My eyes darted round the bleary office. I'd been counting each long, torturous day, at least a hundred of them, ticking them off until I could escape, and now the moment was here I felt…
  • Cold dread knifing my stomach. Because it was easy enough to lie in my cold bed and imagine beautiful wardrobes, designer goods, wild debaucherous parties and handsome men rushing after me. But it was quite another to find myself in the street - literally - with all my bridges burned.
  • I picked up the pen with a steady hand. I scrawled my signature three times. I left the office, and at the front desk was handed a couple of useless shiny brochures and a cardboard box of my personal belongings - six changes of clean underwear, socks and a couple of outfits I'd purchased with my weekly allowance.
  • On the way out I threw everything into the trashcan and started walking.