She slung the bag over her shoulder and turned to the exit.
“There is one thing I’d like to ask of you, though,” he said.
She paused, glanced back.
“Be patient with my girl,” he said. “She’s not always easy to get along with, but she’s worth the effort.”
Angela nodded and said, “I can do that.”
Three mornings later, Angela awoke with a rash covering her entire body. Her face was bright red, the skin stretched tight across her skull. She had to clench her fists to stop herself from scratching.
She searched her cupboards for some kind of lotion that might help, but of course she had nothing. She stood under a cold shower for a while. That didn’t help, either.
She carefully dried off and tiptoed to her bedroom. A little light was flashing on her phone. Message waiting from Genesis.
“Hi,” Angela replied.
“Sorry I haven’t been in touch lately,” Genesis texted. “Work’s been crazy.”
Angela scoffed, tempted to call Genesis on her bullshit. But she wasn’t really one to talk, so she resisted.
“It’s fine,” Angela said. “I know the feeling.”
“So… lunch?” Genesis asked.
Angela glanced down at her arms, smeared with red welts that itched like crazy. She didn’t want Genesis to see her like this, but if she said “no” again, Genesis would certainly get the wrong idea.
“Sure,” Angela replied.
“Cool,” Genesis texted. “I’ll pick you up at eleven.”
Angela threw on a hooded sweater and the baggiest pair of pants she could find in her dresser. She laced her sneakers loosely but even walking across the room was an ordeal.
She took the stairs on step at a time, clutching the railing to keep the weight off her feet. Her hands were raw by the time she reached the bottom. She pulled her hood up over her head and stepped outside.