Status: In Time

To Caress My Day

Chapter 264: No. Not You.

Thursday night Neon Jungle was walking into Twig's apartment for another monumental occasion, and because they heard through the grapevine their girl was feeling down over her mother’s cancer. No way were they gonna stay in the background and wait for her to call them, instead, they conspired to drop in on a much-needed sleepover. So what better time for a girl’s night than to watch the broadcast release of their new music video on TV with their bestie?

Congregated around the TV on the living room rug in wait for their music video to come up, they all chattered amongst each other with giggles and laughter in the mix in the meantime. It was a lively period that was needed for all of them, considering what Twigs had been going through all alone since Simone had moved out and moved off to California. She needed some support, a shoulder to cry on, and probably someone to preoccupy her somber mind from the disease. Neon Jungle was more than happy to take the job on and felt it made the rainy overcast day feel much brighter than it was.

In a long oversized white T-shirt with a black print in the center and matching leggings, Amira waited until the laughter waned before doing a mental check on Twigs. It would be a cold solemn shift to the mood, she knew, but she needed to assess her girl. If she was falling into a pit of infinite depression, then they needed to know. “So Twigs, how are you doing these days? Like REALLY.”

Twigs let out a dispirited sigh, her brown orbs descending to the cup of tea in her hand. She’d rather not go there, dissecting her life and all the crises that have come with it. She wanted to go back to relishing in Neon Jungle’s presence. It was such a good distraction, a welcoming surprise when they dropped by unannounced when they did. Twigs NEEDED this! But of course, she couldn’t avoid reality forever. “Um, I’ve been working, you know? Been spending a lot of time in the studio, as much as they’ll let me. I think my mom’s cancer has softened them a bit because I have been granted more time than usual. I don’t know where else I can run off to since I can’t see my mom as much as I’d like to. Then again, I…I wouldn't be able to keep it together around her and that’s what she needs from me the most.”

“To be honest, Tahliah, if I were you I’d put a whole tent down in the middle of that studio! Make some more bomb-ass music, it’ll help with coping with your mom’s cancer. It won’t cure anything, but it can lessen the pain a bit.” Jess motivated her gloomy friend as she smoothed down the front of her long-sleeved oversized black button-up top that also matched her leggings. “And I ain't trying to pressure you, boo, but your EP1 has literally been on repeat in our household since it dropped!”

Surprised that Jess favored her EP1 that much, Twigs tried not to smile as she asked. “Really?”

“DUH! What kinda friends do you think we are?” Amira laughed, playfully threatening to chuck a small couch pillow Twig’s way.

“Probably the lame unsupportive types that are undeserving of her!” Shereen jokingly accused Twigs with a feigned glare. Shrugging out of her cardigan, she wore a black cropped tank top underneath a long-sleeved crop top fishnet top. As soon as she had entered the apartment, she wanted out of her cute purple-blue floral skirt with black horizontal lines across for a pair of cozy gray sweatpants.

“NO! Never!” Twigs laughed at their many sneers that were more like grins. She knew they were only ganging up on her as a joke, not because they believed she believed that about them. Of course, she didn’t! They were the best friends anyone could ask for.

From within the kitchen where she snuck off to, Asami was combing through Twig's many cupboards in a long-sleeved button-up that was horizontally divided into lavender on the top half and a creamsicle orange on the button half. She was frowning with worry at the barren state of each cupboard she opened and even the fridge, especially because she was dying for dinner. Not wanting to interrupt their conversation but concerned she might just drop dead if she didn’t get something to eat, Asami called out to Twigs. “Hey, Twigs, where’s all the food? I’m starving to death!”

Twig’s stomach sank at the reminder of her absence of food. Cheeks flushing out of embarrassment, her wide eyes flew towards the kitchen as she floundered to come up with an explanation that wasn’t the truth. Anything but the damn truth that she didn’t have any money to feed herself at the moment much less a group of her friends since her landlords upped the rent! “I…well, I haven’t…it’s been a long day and I…I forgot t-”

Out of everyone else in the room, Amira knew exactly what was going on and why Twigs had no food. It was a conversation the two had before after Simone had moved out of the apartment and to the United States. They had always split the bill on literally everything, and that was a way of life Twigs could afford then. But now with Simone gone…money was tight, and Amira was starting to see how tight it actually was. Deciding to come to the rescue once again, she raised her arm and declared in a loud voice to be overheard by all. “I’ll call for delivery for dinner just so long as you guys fork up some dough along with me! Do we have a deal?”

It didn’t take long for Amira to get a response.

“Hell yeah!” Shereen cheered, throwing both fists up in the air with excitement for a mouthwatering feast.

Jess was already deep within her wallet counting up the bills she had tucked away inside. “How much are we talking? I’m willing to go all out tonight if you’re all willing!”

“At this point, I’ll file for bankruptcy if I have to to get some food in me!” Asami added in from within the kitchen where she was giving up on her quest for food.

Delivery sounded heavenly to Twig's ears. However, she was positive her wallet wouldn’t allow her even that small luxury. Still, she couldn't see herself eating the food her friends paid for without her help. It wasn’t right! With a tense frown, Twigs was set to get up and find her wallet for the meager pocket change she had sitting inside, but then a hand reached out to grab her wrist, stemming her from moving.

It was Amira who told her with a firm look. “No. Not you.”

There was no point in disputing. Twigs couldn't without any money to hold her ground in this. Having no choice in the matter, she silently sat back down like a good little girl. She felt bad, but what could she do?

When Amira rose up to go make the call in Twig’s bedroom, Shereen corralled everyone back into the conversation they were having before a famished Asami interrupted. “But seriously, Tahliah, you gotta make more music! If not, you deserve to be arrested and lethally injected if EP1 is all you’re gonna give me to live off of for the rest of my days! Seriously, you can’t do me like that!”

And just like that, Twig’s bummed mood was boosted by the compliment to her art. Rather than resist the smile, she freed it to stretch across her face and displayed her teeth. “Wow, it’s really that good, huh? Well, then it’ll be a shame for me to end things there. I promise you guys I have something in the works as we speak.”

“Oh my god, that’s not fair! You gotta tell us when!” Asami whined as she returned from the kitchen to sit cross-legged back in her spot, her brown eyes imploring Twigs to give them ALL the details.

Holding up a finger to hinder Twigs from responding with some evasive reply, Jess jokingly threatened. “And I swear to god I’ll throw myself out your window if you give us the runaround! Don’t make me.”

Deciding they deserved more considering they were feeding her tonight, Twigs yielded to their begging with a smile. “Alright alright, I’ll give you this much, and only this much! I’m working on my second EP right now and if everything goes as planned I’m scheduling to release it hopefully this year.”

Three sets of squeals sounded off at the exact same time from Neon Jungle. Their grins lit up the room as their eyes sparkled with barely contained excitement. “Fuck, we can’t wait!”

Having overheard the whole conversation from down the hall, Amira appeared to rejoin the group still sitting around the TV that sounded off soft tunes from the music videos being aired. “Well, I can’t wait until the first single drops off of your EP so I finally can get a taste of what’s about to come this year!”

Now that was something Twigs was willing to share more of! Leaning forward with an excited grin, she revealed. “Actually, I’m planning to reveal the first song through a music video on my YouTube next month!”

Once again, Neon Jungle burst into high-pitched squeals of excitement. They could hardly keep themselves composed.

And once again, Amira didn’t want to be the one to dampen the mood, but Araceli had been on her mind all night. She had to know what was going on there. “What about Araceli, Tahliah? How has she been doing these days since we last spoke?”