The cab drove her into the city.  Leslie had given a car of her own, but after this morning’s fight she couldn’t drive it.  The keys were with him.  A form of punishment when he felt she needed discipline.  It was a laughable notion for Rachael, for she didn’t go anywhere. She had very little friends to speak of and didn’t know how to find her way out of the mental jail that Leslie had her in.

The drive was soothing in a way.  She sat watching her world turning into the peaceful nature of the suburbs into the urban neighborhood with strong visible interactions of life making movements and making changes in the things around them. It was an analysis that Rachel thought she could possess, wishing she had the ability to make the move to change her life; but instead her mind slowed and submitted back to complacent. She had to admit to herself it was easier to accept the conditions of her life, it required little effort for survival.

“Here?”  The cab driver was parked among the other cabs, waiting for her to get out and for him to further take a plethora of riders, not that he didn’t appreciate her hefty payment from the suburbs to the city.

“Sure.  This is good.”  Rachel paid him and walked out, rearranging her strap to her pocketbook around her shoulders for security.

It’s been a long time since she’s been to these parts of the city.  It wasn’t quite upscale and she didn’t quite know what to do.  There were plenty of things, but nothing that caught her eye. In fact, she felt out of place. What was once a comfortable hangout had turned into a young activist platform with signs of necessary events to make radical changes.  She was on the wrong block.  She grinned at onlookers pretending that she belonged in the middle of nowhere, then went down the steps to the first bar-like restaurant she could find.  It was located on the basement floor of what she believed was a brownstone.  The light was dim.  She walked all the way in, near the end of the bar, hoping to stay for as long as she could without being seen.

After two drinks, she relocated herself to a two-seater where she could see the outside backyard.  It was set up with more seating with small pleasantries of wild flowers and a garden hose tucked near a rose bush.  You could almost forget you were in a restaurant.  Rachel was indeed somewhere else far from home.  She almost wished that she could stay, that maybe this could be her brownstone.  Dazed from the ambience, she barely heard anyone around her as if the restaurant was empty.

“Excuse me, can I join you?”  The gentleness of the voice didn’t grab Rachel; her eyes still stared to the backyard of the restaurant.  She answered without caring.

“Sure, why not?”  Rachel spoke, then turned to look at the gentleness so not to be rude.  The lady before her was wildly free.  Her hair had a shocking purple tint, her makeup complemented with bright colors.  She wore an old worn out jeans with a white low-cut t-shirt.

“Do you mind if I smoke?  I’m Samantha.  You?” Samantha sat back in her chair as if she had known Rachel for years and was catching up on times.

“Rachel.”  The words barely came.  She was in no mood to converse.  She was on a mission to disappear from her husband or maybe to find one of her old friends.

“I haven’t seen you around here before.  New to the city?”  Samantha blew a puff to the side.

“No, I used to live around here.  Just visiting.”  Already Rachel thought she was telling too much.  She had been out of the city for too long and was getting careless.  Don’t tell your business was the motto that she was always taught.

“Oh?  Far?” Samantha said.

“Not quite.”  Rachel replied while looking away.  She wasn’t feeling like welcoming anyone into her world.

“Hey, let me buy you a drink.”  Samantha signaled the waiter and ordered two more drinks.

Wine was not often her pastime, but after marriage it had become routine in drowning out her sorrows.  Drinking something other than wine was substandard to her and it shouldn’t have taken her anywhere, but the cheap beer did the trick.  Seeing Rachel more relaxed, Samantha grinned and pulled her chair closer to the table.

“Like it?” Samantha chimed.

“It’s not what I’m used to, but thank you”.  Rachel didn’t feel like steering away from her love of wine.

“So, what’s so evil in your life that you have to look like that?” Samantha asked.

Rachel was shocked.  Did she look evil?  Her thoughts were in many places when her husband had said many times before that she looked evil.  Her mouth quivered as a smile pushed its way through.

“Nothing”.  Rachel said.

“Oh, come on. That’s what this place is for.  You spill it all out and then you forget about it ever happening.”  Samantha smiled.

“I don’t know you.” Rachel turned away to look at the backyard again.  The tears made its way out in silence.  The thought that someone cared enough to ask dissolved the mask she was wearing.

Samantha reached for her hand gently touching the surface.

“I know it’s hard sometimes, but it doesn’t have to remain that way.  Look at me. I’ve been in so much shit you won’t believe.  My ex was a certified.”  Samantha spoke with her hands caressing Rachels.

“That’s my problem.”  Rachel broke into tears wiping her face profusely.  “I hate him.  He treats me like his property.  I have no rights, no freedom.  I’m a slave in my own home.”

“Jeezus, how evil.”  Samantha had heard it all before, but every time was heart wrenching.

Rachel felt at ease.  Across from her sat a face of what she wished home was, someone to talk to, someone that cared, a true friend.  The afternoon came with much more man bashing from her than she thought she had in her.  It was a relief.  They decided to walk around the city to get their minds on better things, but night came and once again Rachel ended up at another restaurant, drinking and laughing with Samantha.