3v: Betrayal

Janelle “There! Finally done!” / Apollo “Took you long enough.”
Janelle “That’s no way to address your sister, Apollo. Why don’t you try being a little less boorish for once?”

You know, Janelle, with Apollo it came easier. We were never as close as we were when he was young, but he didn’t stay distant. And I didn’t have to force it. He grew close to me on his own.

Janelle “Finally… some peace and quiet. Anything’s better than that dreadful guitar racket.”

But you, Janelle… you only grew more distant. It’s like you didn’t want anything to do with me. More than that, it felt like something had turned you actively against me. I couldn’t say what, and I didn’t have any proof of that, but what else was I meant to believe?

Leo thought I was making things up in my head—it was my insecurities getting the better of me again.

Leo “My girlfriend is probably crazy. She’s always been a little off, but now I think she is truly crazy.”
Leo “Maybe if I let her sleep longer… it’s probably just the late night guitar playing getting to her.” 
B “I love this. All my boys, here together, laughing and having fun. But where’s Janelle?” 

I wasn’t crazy, I swear. I’m sure you’d affirm it. You started pulling away from me.

Maybe I shouldn’t have forced it. Like Apollo, maybe you’d have come back to me eventually. But something about the way you had started to look at me… it made me desperate, I think.

I started planning.

In the meantime, your brothers were bonding.

Apollo “Really, Hari? You hit like a girl. Fuck, no, you hit like you’re playing at a slap fight with your girlfriends. Get it together, man!”
Janelle “Alexia said women should be humble, subtle… but dammit, I’ll show them how a real girl hits. Hari just hits like an asshole, not a woman.”


B “You look great, Janelle! When’d you start working out with your brothers?”
Janelle “Go away, Mom.”


B “I’ll just sit over here, then. I’ll watch your brother.”
Leo “Hey, earth to B! Leave Janelle alone, she’ll come around eventually.” / B “Something’s made her hate me. I just know it.”


Leo “I’m serious, B. She’s a teenager. This is what they do. She’ll grow out of it, I swear.” / B “But what if she doesn’t? I’ve got to do something.”

I didn’t know what I could do to get through to you, Janelle. But I figured that something had made you turn away from something about me—it was personal, clearly, it was about me. I just had to make you see that being me wasn’t all bad.

Where was I most me? At home, maybe, now, but you were always seeing me at home, and clearly that wasn’t fixing anything.

And I wasn’t really dating anymore, and I wouldn’t have wanted to take you on one of those anyway—that would just be weird.

So the shop it was.

B “Here we are, Janelle! You haven’t been here since you were little, have you?” 
Janelle “This is so beneath me. I wish I had never come back. But what does Alexia always say? A lady can smile through anything?”
B “Alright! Here we are, the sales floor. It’s pretty simple to run-I’ve been doing it since I was your age, you know, so it’s not complicated. Maybe if you start with a bit of cleaning a restocking, and I’ll open up shop?”

It seemed to be going well. You were engaging with me. We weren’t chatting, really, but you were at least spending time in my general vicinity. Looking back on it, maybe that was more because we had driven over, and you had no way of leaving… But still! At the time, I saw it as a victory.

Janelle “Creator, I forgot how bad it was here. I can’t believe mother let our family be associated with this place.”
Janelle “What even is this crap? Last time I was here, I remember it at least being a lingerie store. But it’s practically a sex shop! Creator, I didn’t realize how low my mother has sunk… how low she’s been sinking our family.”

You didn’t do well with the customers, really. You alternately berated them or ran away from them, but I think that’s just because you could be shy. And you didn’t really have any sales experience—maybe that was my fault, I should have had you get a part-time job or something.

Janelle “No! You can’t see me! What if you’re from a nice family-no, there’s no way you’re from a nice family-but what if you know someone from a nice family, and you tell them that you saw me here?? All that Alexia and I want for me will be ruined.”
Janelle “Completely ruined.”
Janelle “That’s it.”

I don’t know what happened then. Like I said, we weren’t getting along great, but we were cohabitating, and that was far better than it was at the house. I practically couldn’t withhold my smile—only my years of sales experience kept a sultry look on my face instead a full-toothed grin. But something changed—whatever emotion in you that had been driving you away from me just bubbled and billowed until it overtook your entire face, darkened it into a sneer. I had never seen you like this before. I knew you had some opinions on the world, and you had your standards, but family had always been first for you.

Janelle “I am not doing this anymore, Mother! This is beyond beneath me. And it’s beneath you! And our whole family! Just because you’re a whore doesn’t mean you can drag the rest of us down with you!”
B “…”

Not anymore, I suppose.

Or maybe you thought you were supporting your family. Like you said, you felt I was dragging the whole family down, not just you…

I didn’t know you had felt that way. Did the rest of you kids feel that way?

B “Janelle, we have customers…”
Janelle “Customers? You mean these crass, dirty perverts who frequent your store to ogle your ass and hope for a chance to get you in the “backroom”? How many of them do you take back there, huh? I bet you cheated on Leo with every single one of them.”
B “Janelle…” / Janelle “No. I’m done with this. Screw what Alexia’s said about subtlety-sometimes you need a firm hand, and this is mine. I’m done with this. And with you. You can drag everyone else down all you want, as far as they let you, but you won’t drag me down. I won’t be associated with this shop, or this family, or you any longer than I absolutely have to.”


Janelle “A lady can smile through anything.”

She left.


B “I’m sorry about that, ma’am.”

I fought the urge to cry. And to take one of these customers, some of who, admittedly, would likely take me to the backroom if they had half a chance, to that same backroom. Creator, I was so hard not to fall back into those habits, Janelle. Only the thought of Leo back home—the thought of falling into his arms and sobbing instead of falling into someone else’s was only marginally more appealing, but it was, at the end of the day, more appealing.

So I finished my shift.

And then I went home.

Janelle “Fucking mother.”
Janelle “At least the rest of my family is amazing. My brothers…”
Janelle “I have to make sure they don’t get brought down by her before they get the chance to be something.”

And I fell into Leo’s arms. And I cried. And I woohooed.


And I didn’t feel any better at all.


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