The next few days were so dull and repetitive I wanted to cry. Wake up, pick out a depressing outfit, go to the salon, sit around wasting my time totally because Paula couldn't even be bothered to teach me anything, pick Lidia up from school, have lunch, have a nap, go to the salon for the afternoon, waste more time, rinse and repeat.
Once again hooked on Camels and energy drinks, I spent up all my cash and debated with myself. Should I use my hidden debit card? And what would I do when that ran out too? Paula clearly wouldn't be paying for my vices. She didn't smoke herself. I had to stick my head right out of the window or go out to the street for a fag and even then she turned her nose up at the smell.
Once I'd been at her place for a whole week I couldn't resist. I took my card and made my way to a phone shop while she was doing some highlights.
"Back in a minute," I said cheerfully.
Paula frowned. "You're not meant to leave, Kiara, what if the phone rings?"
Fat chance of that happening. "I'll only be a minute," I repeated before I was out of the door. I didn't take orders from her, no way.
The phone shop was all the way on the outskirts of the city center and I had to walk through winding narrow streets and ignore eye contact with passersby. A couple of boys gave me an odd look and I wondered if they knew me, if they'd heard about me. I definitely hadn't heard about them.
The city center made me wary but today there weren't many people out. Just old bags with their tartan shopping carts and the odd Civil Protection worker meandering around pretending to work.
"Good morning," the fat woman behind the desk at the Yoigo shop perked up when she spotted me. I'd never been in here before.
"Hi," I mumbled. The shop was too small to pretend to look and leave, so I got straight to the point. "I need a phone."
"Of course. Would you like to see our catalogue?"
I barely remembered how much was on my card. Two hundred? Less. I'd spent a chunk on that car share ride.
"Oh…" I flicked an unruly strand of hair behind my ear. "D'you sell Samsungs here?"
If I couldn't have an iPhone, a Samsung was the next best thing. But the prices! I never gave money a second thought when I had it, and now I was destitute I couldn't help but bug my eyes out.
Determined to sell, the Yoigo woman tried to twist my arm and get me to buy the most expensive model which I couldn't afford anyway.
"That one," I pointed out a rose gold phone at random because I liked the look of it. "I'll take that one." It was one hundred and twenty euros, and I'd have twenty left over for a Sim card. I'd find a way to get some cigarette money out of my aunt.
"That's not a Samsung, it's a Huawei," she informed me.
A Huawei. I wanted to recoil in horror and get the hell out of there but I couldn't. "I'll take it. With a Sim card," I sighed sadly.
It turns out they were doing some sort of special offer and when you bought the phone they gave you a free Sim card to go with it and fifteen euros of credit. So that was that. After signing a paper and handing over both cards, debit and identity, all I had to do was go home and set it up.
Paula was coldly furious. "You said it would be a minute and you've been gone almost an hour, Kiara. I can't have you wandering off on me."
I rolled my eyes and swung my Yoigo bag around. I was eighteen. Who did she think she was to boss me around?
"And you've bought yourself a phone? For what? Who's going to call you?"
"Loads of people," I smacked my lips and plugged the Huawei into an outlet on the wall. I suddenly couldn't wait for it to charge. I was itching to get back out into the virtual world.
"Oh yeah? And where were all those people when you were in Valencia? Did they call you then?"
"Nope, because they didn't know where I was." But you wait and see, you old witch, I thought bitterly. I'd have dozens of guys wanting to call.
Paula shook her head. She shook her head a lot, as if she couldn't believe I was her blood relation or something. I couldn't either. I was far more glamorous.
"And I'm guessing you spent all your money on that phone?"
"Nope." I had spent all my money, but not just on the phone. I'd withdrawn my last twenty and bought myself more cigarettes and energy drinks to tide me over two days. Soon as the two days were up… I didn't want to think about that right now.
"You seem to know what you're doing," Paula said in a tone that indicated she didn't think I knew what I was doing. "So I'll leave you to your own devices."
I didn't bother to reply. I switched my phone on though you were meant to let it charge first, and started setting up a new instagram.
But it was hard to do so because I had no good photos. Imagine that! I used to have hundreds of photos. Thousands of them. I even had portraits of them in my room, from my quinceañera and sixteenth birthday and all that. Now they were all gone unless someone had them on Facebook, and they were old anyway. I couldn't use them.
I didn't have a good photographer. When Lidia got back from school and we were done eating chicken nuggets and chips and fried eggs I locked myself into the bathroom. I washed my face and nabbed some of Paula's cheapy mascara and blush. I smeared watery gloss round my mouth and rubbed my lips together.
My hair looked alright let down and curly, having got some of its bounce back, so I spent ages and ages snapping selfies until Paula herself hammered on the door and said we had to be going.
I didn't even complain, though she nagged me endlessly about not loading the dishwasher up after our meager meal. I was jumped up and secretly thrilled. Within hours I'd have hundreds of private messages, invitations, prying questions about my personal life…
Except it didn't happen that way. The first guy who followed and messaged me was Lolo the cokehead and he wasn't looking too hot. I was still mad at him for calling me a slut and all sorts of things last year in that hotel, the same hotel I'd stayed in last week but with the old owners. He'd treated me like a cheap tart and the memory stung.
But I couldn't be picky now. I decided to meet him tonight. He'd pick me up at my aunt's place when he was done working and we'd go for a drive.