By: Dahlia West

Chapter 1

Daisy Cutter opened her wallet even though she already knew what she’d find. She counted out the $52 as though by some miracle more bills would appear. When they didn’t, she sighed and looked up at the Arrival/Departure screen on the monitor in front of her. She didn’t have enough for a bus ticket back to Nebraska, just as she hadn’t eight months ago.

She stuffed her wallet back into her jeans pocket and pulled out her cell phone. She frowned as she looked down at it. Matt’s number was first on the list. If she loathed calling her mama at this moment, she absolutely refused to call Matt. He was the whole reason she was here in the first place. She scrolled down and chose her mama’s number. Daisy tapped her foot as she listened to it ring, wondering what kind of mood the woman would be in as though she had any other kind of mood aside from ‘irritated’.

“Yeah,” came Sue Cutter’s perpetually haggard voice. Daisy’s frown deepened. It was, apparently, impossible to catch the woman in a good mood. Daisy wondered, briefly, if her mama had even bothered to look at the Caller ID before answering.

“Mama,” she said, keeping her voice light. It wouldn’t do to sass someone when you were about to beg for money. It wasn’t like Sue needed to be reminded that she and her daughter didn’t see eye-to-eye on anything.

Daisy’s mama was quiet for a moment, and Daisy wondered if she was simply going to hang up on her. Instead, she said, “Got your phone back.”

Daisy grimaced and glanced around at the other people in the terminal, people who had enough money to get where they were going.

“Yeah,” Daisy confirmed. “Thanks for keeping up the bill.”

Sue snorted, and Daisy realized that her mother had more or less simply forgotten about the phone. Sue Cutter wasn’t the type to throw money away, as she was about to remind her wayward daughter.

“Don’t got no cash,” she informed Daisy, “if that’s why you’re calling.” The story had been the same when Daisy called way back in August. She bristled, feeling both irritated and embarrassed. She was calling for money, but it wasn’t as though Daisy wouldn’t pay it back- eventually.

“Well, I’m not,” she lied and kicked a bench with her cowboy boot. She winced as her big toe throbbed.

“So, when are you coming back?” There was no mistaking the underlying tone in her voice.

Last August, Daisy had announced that she was finally, finally getting out of their shithole town. She told her mother, and anyone else who would listen, that she and Matt were headed to Sturgis, and if Daisy liked what she saw, well then maybe she’d move there.

Sue Cutter had not been impressed.

She’d told Daisy that Matt was nearly as useless as Daisy herself, and the sooner Daisy Mae put down the crayons and started focusing on a real job, the better off they’d all be.

Daisy adjusted her backpack and heard the colored pencils -thank you very damn much- clack together in the front pocket. Her mother had never found Daisy useful for anything- and her drawing even less so.

“Don’t see no point in spending money on something that don’t come to nothing,” Sue Cutter would repeat, often and loudly.

Daisy always resisted the urge to point out that stocking your fridge with beer for a guy who only stopped by a few times a month was just as pointless. If Earl Minor hadn’t rescued them from the Vista Valley Trailer Court by now, he wasn’t going to.

“I’m not coming back,” Daisy said in as firm a tone as she could muster considering she was flat broke and stuck in an unfamiliar city.

“Oh, really? Got your new career all worked out?”

Daisy wasn’t sure if her mother meant her art or something else. She spun on her heel and walked out of the bus terminal through the double doors that led out to the sidewalk. “Anyway,” she said loudly into the phone. “I was just calling to let you know I’m staying.”

Sue snorted. “What’s your new man’s name?” she asked sarcastically. “Cause Matt Clawson’s too busy with Steph Newtown to bother with you, not that he was ever any kind of catch to begin with. Boy, you sure can pick ‘em.”

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