At Last | Teen Ink

At Last

May 10, 2021
By Anonymous

Author's note:

It's really cool, and you should read it.

Fall in Harlem, New York was as beautiful as ever as Sam and her best friend, Flora, were sitting at a coffee shop, talking amongst themselves. The sweet, crisp smell of coffee fills their lungs, releasing a calming feeling. The modern art on the walls of the café creates a welcoming feeling, making the aura of the room peaceful.  
The sight of skyscrapers and people walking out of the giant, clear window of the shop adds more to the aesthetic, making the environment feel cozy.  
The two women laugh as they reminisce of the times, they used to ditch school and come here. The soft, luxurious fur on the chairs sways with each laugh that comes out of their mouth. Their laugh echoes off the walls, causing others to look back at them often, before returning to their hot drinks. Just as Flora was about to bring up another memory to add to the nostalgic moment she is sharing with Sam, a young-looking server walks up to their table. The server wore a shirt that read, “Tia’s Shop”, blue mom jeans, an apron, and a nametag that read, “Alana”. 
     "Is there anything else I can get you ladies?” she asked as she eagerly pulled out a small notepad and pencil from her pocket.  
Of course! You see that guy over there”, Flora asked as she pointed to the server behind the counter, making coffee drinks, “Get his number for me, and I’ll leave you a rather handsome tip.”  
A pale shade of red crosses her cheeks as the guy looked up at her and scurried to the back. She has been trying to get his number all week, and he has been avoiding him the whole time. Each time he sees or even hears Flora’s voice, he stops what he is doing, and runs to the back. 
“Please, don’t pay her no mind”, Sam said as she let out a nervous laugh as she kicked Flora under the table. “Can I have a vanilla cappuccino to go and the check please?”  
  “For sure! Just give me 10 minutes,” Alana eagerly responded. She placed her notepad in her pocket, collected the empty dishes on the table, and scurried to the back. 
“So how’s your love life going”, Flora asked as she took a drink from her cup. 
Flora knew about Sam’s troublesome love life.  Ever since they were in high school, Flora noticed how Sam became overly dependent on the guy she was in a relationship for happiness. It was as if she based her self-validation on being in a relationship, as it was one of her many vices. 
“It’s going really good”, Sam explained, “The date with John didn’t go as I planned, but I found an ad on Craigslist about a love doctor. I was going to head there after we leave, and I was wondering if you wanted to come along.”  
She pulled out her phone and showed the ad to Flora. Flora grabbed the phone and observed the ad; an uneasy feeling creeped across her body the longer she looked at it. The ad read, “Lady Diane: love doctor, counselor, and maid” and the location of her estate, which wasn’t far from where they were. She gave the phone back to Sam and before she could express her concerns to her best friend, Alana came back with Sam’s drink, the bill, and a note from the barista she had eyes for. 
  "See Sam, I knew he’d come around.”, she said confidently as she unfolded the note. “All you have to do is be patient, Sam. ‘Please leave me alone before I call the cops.’ Yeah, I think it’s about time we leave.”  
They quickly grabbed their items and headed to the love doctor’s estate. They arrived in front of a tall, mate black, elegant looking skyscraper. As they entered the building, they felt eyes on them. If looks could kill, they would be dead where they're standing. The interior of the building has black and red furniture that looks as if they were imported from another country, with a velvet red carpet that covers the entire floor. They walked over to the reception desk, where the receptionist, Elias, supplied a shallow greeting. 
 “We’re looking for a Lady Diane”, said Sam, barely containing her excitement. 
“Are you two Flora and Samiya”, Elias asked while looking them up and down in disgust. 
Flora and Sam looked at each other as Flora began to speak. “Yes, but how did you--” 
“Right this way, please”, Elias interrupted as he came around the desk and led them down a long corridor. 
Poitriats of a Black woman with long, white hair filled the halls. The woman wore a long, red silky dress that was accompanied by golden jewelry, and was absolutely breathtaking. After walking for what seemed like ages, they reached two large, tall red doors. Elias waved them goodbye, turned on his heels and began walking down the mile-long hall, back to his desk. Flora stared at the handles on the door as an uneasy feeling invaded her body once again. She had a terrible feeling about what was on the other side of the door.  
“Don’t just stand there”, Lady Diane said on the other side of the door, “Come in, darlings. Have a seat. I have been waiting for you.”  
As they walked in, the atmosphere grew thicker. Goosebumps ran up the girls’ arms, and the hairs on the back of their neck stood up. Lady Diane sat at her desk, staring directly at them while blowing smoke from her cigarette. 
“You’re the woman from the paintings”, Flora exclaimed, trying to lighten the mood, “And we’re sorry to keep you waiting, I guess.” 
  “Not you, Flora. I’m talking about Miss Samiya. In fact, today’s session is going to be all about her. I can get you tomorrow, and we’ll discuss how you should stop bothering that poor barista boy”, Lady Diane stated as she took a long drag from her cigarette. 
 “Excuse me, but how do you even--”, said Flora. 
“Elias”, Lady Diane screamed, making both Flora and Sam jump, “Make yourself useful and show Miss Flora the way out, would you?” 
              Elias appeared behind Flora, grabbed her bag, and gestured to her to follow him. Flora gave Sam a concerned look, causing Sam to return a reassuring smile. They exchanged goodbyes, and Flora went on her way.  
“Back to you now, Miss. Samiya”, said Lady Diane, “It seems as if love isn’t your friend, but I’ve had the thing just for you. She walked over to her desk and wrote something down on a sticky note. “This is an attraction spell. I want you to repeat this three times when you wake up and three times before you go to bed.  I want you to do this until you get what you need, and I do recommend that you be patient; good things come to those who wait.” She walked over to the large, glass window by her desk, and began drinking from her wine glass. 
Sam looked at the paper in a confused manner. ‘I do not chase, I attract. What belongs to me will simply find me’, read the note. She came here for relationship advice, a potion, even! Not some silly affirmation.  
“Are you sure this is going to work”, asked Sam agitatedly. 
 Suddenly, Lady Diane whipped around her desk and walked over to Sam while waved her finger at her. “Don’t you dare question my work, girl”, she hissed. “Of course, this is going to work! It’s not like Tinder or any of those other dating sites are going to do you any good. If anything, you’re making yourself look like a fool.” 
With that being said, Sam never questioned her again. When the session was over, Sam grabbed her things and practically ran home, excited to say the affirmation. She said it everywhere she went, even at work. She noticed the attention she was getting from the affirmation, and so did Flora. Flora advised her to refrain from saying it so often, but Sam brushed off her advice and told her that she had nothing to worry about. Nothing to worry about, yet. 
Two weeks later, while they were working out, Sam met a guy named Austin. They hit it off quickly, and Austin asked Sam on a date. Flora felt uncertain about Austin, but Sam told her she was being delusional. As Flora sat at home waiting for the marathon of their favorite TV show, “RuPaul’s Drag Race”, to come on, Sam went on a date with Austin at Tia’s Caffe. 
“It’s true”, Austin said as he let out a loud laugh, “I used to wear the whole get up: emoji pants, emoji shirt, and even the emoji bucket hat. But can you really blame me? Emojis were popular at that time, I used to think I was the coolest guy ever while wearing it too.”  
“I can’t believe I used to be attracted to guys like that”, she exclaimed while laughing, I mean, what were we thinking?” She laughed even harder, which earned her quite a few stares from the staff. 
As they continued to talk about their cringy fashion failures while they were in high school, Sam spotted Flora at the counter, holding a box of donuts and a Frappuccino, talking to Alana. She called her over and introduced her to Austin. Flora noticed that Austin became a tad bit annoyed when she walked over but brushed it off. They talked a bit about their plans for later tonight and the latest drama occurring on their favorite TV show.  
“You’ll never guess what happened, girl. Widow Vondu (A character on the show) totally called out--”, Flora began to speak. 
“Ah! Wait”, she exclaimed, “Don’t say another word! I’m going to use the bathroom right fast, and I’ll be right back. Don’t say anything!” 
Flora watched as Sam hurried to the bathroom and suddenly felt eyes on her. She turned to the right, just to see Austin’s deep, brown eyes staring at her. This went on for a minute or two before he started small talk. 
"So”, Austin started as he took a bite of his salad, “It seems that you two are close.”  
Although every nerve in her body told her to get up and leave, she decided to engage in the conversation. “Yeah, we’ve been friends since third grade. She’s my better half,” she explained as she let out a slight laugh. 
Flora answered more of Austin’s prodding questions as she fought her urges. With each question, her urges grew bigger and bigger.  
“Do you have any other friends”, Austin asked. 
Flora shifted uncomfortably in her seat. “Well, I actually--” 
“I guess not, Austin interrupted while taking a sip from his drink. “Have you tried making other friends? I mean, it’s not hard.” 
  She reached her limit and could no longer hide the feelings within her. “Why is that any of your concern”, she asked annoyedly as she shot up from her seat. 
“Woah”, said Austin nonchalantly, “I was just wondering. I didn’t mean to upset you.” 
Sam came back from the bathroom to find Flora grabbing her things and leaving. When she asked what happened, Flora said goodbye and Austin gave her an innocent shrug. They continued their date and went on several more after. For once in her life, Sam finally felt happy in a relationship, and Austin felt the same. It was the love the coveted for. Flora brought up the altercation she and Austin had at the caffe, and once again, Sam brushed it off. Each time all three of them were together, Austin would shoot a dirty look at Flora, causing her to flip him off. Whenever she and Sam made plans, Austin would always come up with a lie or guilt trip Sam about how they ‘never spend any real time together”, even though they’re around each other all the time.  
  After three more months of dating, Austin asked Sam to be his girlfriend. Shortly after that, he asked her to move in with him. Flora noticed that this was a major red flag and his developing uncanny obsession with her best friend, and brought it to her attention. Not only did she brush it off, but she accused Flora of being jealous. This caused their 12 year-old friendship to flush completely down the drain. Flora deeply cared for her best friend, but she was at her limit. They cut each other off and went their separate ways. 
This didn’t last any longer than a month or two, for they couldn’t stay away from each other. They met up at the caffe and exchanged apologies. Flora then invited Sam to her coworker’s birthday party, which Austin didn’t seem too fond of . Sam ignored him, went out and had the time of her life. After hours of drinking and carrying on with friends, the party ended, and Flora took Sam home. 
“Alright, Flora”, Sam yelled, hanging half way out of the front door to her apartment, “I’ll catch you guys later!” She came completely inside, hung her rain jacket on the coat rack, and turned on the light just to find Austin sitting on the couch. 
“Do you have any idea what time it is, Samiya”, he calmly asked as he slowly stood up from the couch and walked towards her, “We agreed that you’ll be home at 12, sharp. Did we not?” 
Sam began walking backwards, trying to get away from him as she tried to calm him down. She explained that she meant to text him earlier, but her phone died before she could. He placed a hand in her hair and started twiddling it between his fingers. 
“I’m just worried about you, Samiya”, he explained in a menacing tone, “Look at what you’re wearing, and at this time of night? You know how the world can be, Samiya. How awful it could be for a girl as beautiful as you to be out dressed like this. Who were you around, hm?” 
With each touch, she shuddered. She explained that she was out with Flora and a few of her coworkers. When she mentioned that there were a few men at the party as well, his whole demeanor changed. He tightened his grip on her hair, and drug her to the bathroom, for “the touch of another man made her dirty, and she had to get clean.” He held her down under the scorching hot shower and aggressively scrubbed her skin with an exfoliation cloth until it started to bleed. 
“Austin”, Sam screamed as she struggled to breathe, “You’re hurting me!” She kicked, screamed, and scratched, trying everything in her power to get him off her, but nothing seemed to work. 
"This is for your own good, Samiya”, he said through gritted teeth as tears fell down his face, “We wouldn’t be in this predicament if you would just love me, and only me! I do everything for you! I even adorned you in every finery I could get my hands on! Why are you letting other guys touch you or even talk to you if you love me, Samiya!  This is all your fault, Sam! Why can’t you just love me like I love you?” 
Meanwhile, Flora raced up the stairs to their apartment, trying to get to Sam. Initially, she came to give Sam back the handbag she left in her car. After hearing Sam’s agonizing screams in the stairwell, she sprinted to her best friend’s rescue. She barged through the door and ran to the bathroom, where she saw Austin holding Sam under the water, with a bloody cloth in his hand, ferociously scrubbing her skin. Flora grabbed the metal paper towel rack that sat on the bathroom counter and bashed it over his head, knocking him out. She then grabbed Sam, and they ran back to Flora’s car and called the police.  
When the police arrived, Austin was nowhere to be found. He disappeared without a trace. Sam learned to be happy with herself, and stopped chasing relationships, however she gets love letters in the mail, from who she believes is Austin. Trust your gut, and pay attention to red flags, they’ll never steer you wrong. 

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