Anaya huffed as she looked at the clock. The sounds of dishes and her co-workers closing their stations while she still had desserts coming in. She grunted and… huffed.
Working at a five-star restaurant, Anaya had lost her passion for food. It was once a free-formed art that had now became tireless routine. Almost robotic. When she had first got back into the city, she went to the first place that she could start working. While her family had begun their jobs in the restaurant, she was behind in the efforts of finding a career for herself. A career that she could change people's lives, however this wasn’t what she had in mind. At All. She allowed her personality and her father's pull to get employed there and over the months; she had started to slowly regret it. Tonight, as she continued to plate foot and put orders in the window, she had begun hated the prison that she called “work.”
She needed an escape, just for a moment. Away from the chaos of fine dining, sprint far, far away from the orders of the executive chefs, bi-lingual co-workers; she wanted calm. When she lived on the west coast, calm and slow environment was an environment she had thrived in. Reflecting back, she took advantage of the serene and it bit her in the ass. She had now winded up back into the city in which she had ran away from. The fast pace, the coldness of the concrete, she had to adapt. In adapting, a part of her was aching to be freed. She wanted her west coast soul back. She wanted the sea life to wrap around her spirit and never wanted it to let go.
“The last order is in.” Her co-worker had came into her window as she begun to put her stations food away.
While living over in the west coast, the peace that she had gotten at work was what she had missed the most. She lived in her truth of what she believed life was meant to be. Free from judgement. Free from restraints. Free to prioritize what was important instead of being told what was. From her family to her job, everyone had a say as to how she was supposed to act, think and behave. It was exhausting to say the VERY least. She began to wrap the last items and the last dessert came through, she had begun to go into her head and dissect a question of “why was she even here?”
She had gotten in by the reputation of a family member that after so many years; made an impression the company. He was a slave-horse to the corporate “big-wigs” and being a submissive employee, he was very likable. Very good at his job; however in her eyes, he would never progress. He would stay still and never move from his position and that caused her frustration. More than what the job had given her personally. How could he not see that he was a empty-minded slave to the corporate slave owners, people who would never see him as equal? Who would never give him the appropriate praise that one would get with a job that requires high volume of work? As he would happily and excitedly say “hellos” and “good mornings, boss” to the cast of managers, chefs, and anyone that was in a higher position than him, he would continue going back to his routine of follow instructions and directions like an obedient dog. Once a great and powerful man was now a passive, mousey, shell of his former self. That made her wonder about her own life and the direction in which it was currently taken.
“I gotta get out of here.”
She had previous training in other jobs such as retail but restaurant was not a path in which she wanted to take. Or still be on. She wanted to figure out what is it that she was extremely good at and make a career of it. As years had continue to go and situations that life had played out, she was left following a path that she didn’t even have a interest in. Food was just that, however, this job made her look at it very differently. Normal things that a human would eat were now things that were overprices and boudgie. Lettuces had now had a name and toppings were prepped based on the cost, volume, and time in which it stayed edible. Things like this made her want to scream, the practices in which the business had put into place only showed how careless a business could get. How pretentious it could get? All in which made her sick. Made her mad. Made her want to start a revolt. Yet, she was there, trying to get a small piece of their pie, which paid her bills by acting like everyone else. Shackled to the endless debt and responsibility that life entailed for her. She felt like a prisoner. Trapped. She had been aching to be free from it all. As Anaya shined her station with chemicals she was sure that would give her cancer, she struggled to make it work. To stay focused on the prize, which was to save up and move back to west coast. There had been moments where she would get spurts of optimism; however, as many times as reality had hit her, she allowed pessimism and depression to barrel in and destroy any hope that she may have had with her ever trying to reach her goals.
She had looked on her phone and their was a familiar number that had messaged her sometime during her work day. She cringed as she saw it was the past knocking on her door, inquiring about her life and who she may be dating. It had been 2 years since she allowed someone in and it ended terribly. She had returned back to the East Coast because of a failed relationship, one that left her heart in pieces. She had tried to heal however, as she got up from the random John and Jan’s places of Philly; she was still broken. She was constantly racking her brain, trying to figure out where they had gone wrong on the path towards forever. To silence the noise in which the break-up created, Anaya filled it with orgasms. Like a shot of expresso, she soared high and when the past had came back and mention the failure that they had experienced, she crashed hard. She wanted to respond, lash out and curse him out until there was no air left in her lungs. Logic would have been the “fist” to his arguments and she would had came out swinging. She didn’t have the energy. She was empty. She just wanted to go home.
She had clocked out of the job and made her way to the double doors, ones that reminded her of the feeling of relief after a long exam. She made it through yet another 8 hour shift and she felt…empty. Thrills were no longer there. The thrill for life was being sucked out of her, leaving her soul-less. She was a zombie and walking down the familiar streets of the city, everything was a blur. Aimlessly, she walked while reflecting on the night. She could hear the convos of anger and sadness take ahold in her head. She wanted so much more out of life. She wanted recapture her fearless attitude and free-spirited that she was known for having. She wanted to smile again. She wanted to feel warm inside and feel a heartbeat again. She wanted to live again.
She heard a familiar song play in the air that made her look from the ground in which she had been down awhile. A cover-band was playing a classic Neo-Soul piece and something inside her made her look towards the direction in which the tapping of drums were coming from. She had noticed a alleyway that the music had been coming from, an alleyway in which she was not familiar with. She had walked the same path for years but somehow, she never noticed the alleyway and the black, circled roof that was in its brick walls. She was nervous by even taking a walk down, since she had experiences in which her life was in jeopardy by being in a alleyway. Her breathing started to go faster and her senses were heightened. Should she follow the bass guitar and saxophone blaring from the bricks of this place? She had begun to walk closer and she had saw that there was a young woman standing outside of the door.
Her height was no taller than a middle schooler but her statue assured her that she was not at all young. She had been wearing a form-fitting black cropped vest and tight black pants. She had noticed that she was very cute by the shape of her green eyes and full lips. Causing her to be more nervous, she pulled out a cigarette and inhaled.
“Do you need a light?”
Her voice reminded Anaya of her first girlfriend, a woman raised in Brooklyn. Old Italy was there that she had met the first woman that would make her reconsider her heterosexuality.
“No, I got it.” As she put her purple lighter in her pocket, she couldn’t help but notice the waitress’s smooth olive skin. She immediately pictured her ex, getting out of shower and moisturize her whole body, making her softly shutter.
The young woman smiled as Anaya said thank you and her smile made Anaya instantly weak. She missed her ex so much that she had attempted to get in contact with her; however, she was not answering to any of her passes. Nor accepting her apologizes, making it very certain that the future of their relationship was indeed over.
“I have never seen you around here, first time coming?” The young woman asked.
“I never known for this to have been here, ever,” Anaya answered.
“Yeah, Lived here in the city for years and never knew that this was even here?”
The young woman looked at her and said, “We have been here for years.”
Her makeup was pristine, something out of a magazine and as she inhaled her cigarette; Anaya swallowed hard. She watched the smoke escape her dark purple stained lips and she smiled.
“You should come inside,” she said.
“Uh, exactly what is this place.”
“It’s called Noir Lounge.”
“Why isn’t there a sign that says you are here?” she asked.
“It’s not for everyone to know,” she replied.
She looked at the mystery surrounding it. It was strange that she never noticed the lounge in her travels home. The black velvet covering on the roof made her wonder what else she would find inside. It was though the young woman had read her thoughts as she began to walk in, she looked back at her.
“I don’t have money to go in.”
She broke into a smile, much bigger than the last and said, “Don’t worry, you’ll be covered.”
Something had told Anaya to not go inside, since she was brought up knowing not to go into mysterious places. Especially when she didn’t know anyone in the Lounge.
“Sweetheart, It’s ok,” the young woman had said, again noting her uncertainty.
The young woman extended her hand and she accepted. Soft. Cold. She must have been in a freezer.
Black was the entrance with a glimmer of light at the end of the small hall. She gasped by how beautiful the inside was while staring at a porcelain white celling and the chandelier that hung down in the middle of the room. The sound of the band that were playing covers of modern day playlist was bellowed out by the acoustics of the lounge. It wasn’t a hall, yet appeared as grand as the ones that were in the city. There were people of all shapes and sizes, sitting throughout the club; enjoying the band play. Couples sipping on drinks, friends blowing smoke into the air. She couldn’t believe that she what she was witnessing people from different walks of life just conversing. Laughing. Planning. Living.
“Where have you been all my life?” she thought.
They had made their way to the part of the lounge that had a bar. She tried to inhale but as she looked at what appeared to be thousands of top of the line liquor, she forgot to. Vodka that had been distilled for years, cognacs that were years old; she had to blink twice.
Anaya snapped out of her shock as she was presented with a drink. She lifted the high-ball glass and smelled her favorite drink; Bay Breeze. A taste of Paradise to remind her what happiness felt like.
“How did you know that this was my drink?”
“Your aura just read it,” she said as she continue to put away the glasses at the bar.
An jazz rendition of “Feels Like Summer” from Childish Gambino began to play and she turned to draw her attention in. Summoning her.
“I can’t believe this place exists and I never noticed,” she continued to ask herself.
Only instruments was what brought her down from the high stress of the restaurant business. She opened her lungs to the ambience of the lounge. Anaya noticed that there was a empty booth that was facing directly towards the front of the stage. She had gotten up and begun to head towards the table.
“Thanks again for bringing me here, umm,” while trying to figure her name, the bartender answered, “Michelle, my name is Michelle.” Her eyes continue to glimmer emeralds as she became a new friend. A friendly face. A face in which she couldn’t erase as she sat down in the booth.
A waitress came and asked for her drink choice. She told her another Bay Breeze and beer, noticing her apple bottom as she walked away. The female essence had always distracted her, at times, where she should had focus on things that had taken important precedence. Her goals and dreams were place on hold in the pursuits of love and a lasting relationship. She always forced it, as a child would force a round peg into a square. Her ex was just that. A square to her hexagon of a life. They tried, boy, did they but it didn’t work. Now, she was left back into the city that she never wanted to be in the first place, rebuilding herself.
This job… Her broken heart… Her uncertainly about her current place in life caused her to cry. A tear fell in her drink, feeling hopeless. Anaya just wanted to get out of this sludge-like runt her life had currently fell into. Yet, she continued to question, How? Or even will she even know what love would feel like again? The band continue to play and as the drinks started to flow, her mind began to forget about the hurts and pain that she had been experiencing. The waitress had place a hookah piece and she had begun to smoke a piece of hash. She felt calm. Carefree. Serene, swaying to each accented note, blared horn, and bellow the singer. It was indeed beautiful and she felt, right. She quietly thank god that she had stumbled upon this lounge.
They finished the segment and everyone gave them their final clap. The announcer came unto the stage and began to open for the next act.
“Thank you all for coming out tonight. Queens, Kings, God, Goddess, tonight... is ours,” he said, as he adjust his off white suit and tie.
Extremely handsome, his skin was a smooth caramel over a chocolate sundae. A crisp cut outline his strong jawline would make any woman droll. She shrugged. It wasn’t until he presented the evening star performer did she began to feel what the other women in the felt for the announcer.
“And ladies and Gentleman, Now presenting, Raven Rainstorm and her rendition of H.E.R’s 'My Song.' Give it up!”
She had must have preformed times before because men and women a like began to stand and excitedly welcomed her, hollering and shouting her praises.
The pianist had came and begun to play the instrumental portion of the song. His finger gracing over the black and white keys as trumpets followed quietly behind. The lights had shut off, causing more uproar, to the point that Anaya had gotten nervous. What was happening? Sudden things like lights out made her nervous.
Blue light had shown at the middle and there she stood, walking towards the mic, dressed in a black, tight-fitting dress that accented the roundness of her hips and fullness of her breasts. She looked up from the mic and Anaya lost her breath, possibly her sanity.
“I wanna run away with you….” she bellowed.
Sultry and deep, Anaya had temporary left her body at the very look of this woman. She swayed to each note that the pianist had played, trills in which amplified every nerve in her body.
Her black hair fell gracefully past her dancer-built shoulders. A ballerina at one point, she began to picture Raven dancing across stages throughout the world. Turns and leaps that would have the audience memorized, the VERY way she had done as Anaya watch Raven demand her audiences attention with each note of the famous H.E.R song. Her lashes twinkled under the midnight lighting, and she was in a trance. Raven was a woman that even in Anaya’s younger years, would had never approached or even had the ounce of confidence to utter the words “Hi” to. Even now, as an adult, she had found herself falling into those old beliefs and the evening she had prior to walking into the doors of the Lounge did she begin to think, “She would never notice me.”
As the thought had came across her mine, Raven had looked into her direction and they had locked eyes. Anaya’s mind had begun to imagine to various situations and scenarios in which they would both find themselves in. The flood of imagines of smiles, laughs in which had placed on this majestic queens lips, froze time for her.
The various events with Raven on her arm, the standing ovations in which she would get for her achievements as she would be in the front seat, proud had made her heart feel warm. The entanglement of their arms and legs in a night of passion, the sounds that would quietly escape her lips, the baptism of her energy overcame Anaya in waves, letting out a shutter. She picture her face in each idea, her lips formed words that had yet to be uttered. She had open a floodgate of imagines, ideas, dreams that in all the dreamlike state in which it was is; Raven was the center of it all. White linen surround her beautiful, sensual chestnut body and her smile would shine brighter then the sun.
She continue to sing and time had stood still as Anaya envisioned Raven being hers. The woman that she worked hard for, taken care of, loving for eternity. Anaya stepped back and doubted her dreams. Could she really look at her life and actually be the woman that Raven deserved? As her life has been in shambled for years, could she allow this prestige quality of woman to know the extent of her hell that was her life?
She finished her drink and hit the hookah for what she had believed was a final time for the night. However, Raven did not break her gaze from her. Making her nervous, making her curious, her eagerness to go home and resume her life begun to slowly disappear. She desired to stay longer, to nestle under Raven’s spell that altered her reality. Which was that Raven was hers. For the night and that Raven was singing this ballad for her. She convey every emotion that made the song alive, with the slow sway of her hips and the grace portray; it was hard to not stare or break her gaze.
The song concluded and everyone in the lounge stood in ovation. Another performance well-done by Ms. Rainstorm. She took her bow and as Anaya met the audience same enthusiasm, she had gotten up and met her eyes again. Never breaking. She didn’t understand what was happening between her and Raven. Her autumn-brown met hers and she instantly felt connected. A wave of energy caused her to put her troubles aside and approaching the blessing in which life had somehow given this evening. The belief that love actually existed was no longer a foreign idea. The minute that their eyes met, her alternative reality because a possibility. She could love Raven more than she could possibly love herself.
Raven. A mysterious bird. Dark. She channeled that very spirit in her very presents on stage yet added seduction. At her simple glimpse, Anaya was caught in a world wind of fantasies of them in a intimate nature. She studied her hips as she pictured Raven walking to towards her, a rose-covered bed and she sat, waiting for those few seconds of end. Her eyelashes flutter under the dim lighting as they would flicker as she would touch and taste every nerve ending covered under her ebony skin. Rapid fire as she would ignite her, awaken her and she was there ready to received every ounce of Ravens’s essence, in the physical as well as the sexual form.
Anaya never broke her gaze as Raven’s gaze never left hers. Those chestnut brown eyes were her to gaze into and nothing mattered. The job and the world outside of the lounge did not exist. The applauses and cheers continued, engaging at every opportunity for her to show love. Anaya’s intentions were to not try leave Raven’s sight or possibly her life. She wanted to introduce herself, however, words escaped her. Her shyness and fear of rejection reared its head, stopping any will she could mustered inside of her. Raven was way out of her league. She was a peasant who made their way into the lounge, wandering after a long day of work. Raven was pure and she was dirty, how could she ever be able to approach the soulful, sexy, dark empress?
Yet, she sung to her. Never making her question whether there were other people; it was just them. Was she summoning her, calling to her through the lyrics that she sung? She didn’t want to figure it out. Anaya didn’t care to. Fans begun to flock towards Raven and Anaya begun to make her way to the door, knowing that she would have a chance in talking to Raven. While she made her way through the crowd, Raven had suddenly appeared in front of her. Quickly, she begun to formed words as she was trying to figuring out how she had gotten to her so quickly. She was in tight pant that laced up her side, making Anaya’s breath shutter. A black corset that had her breast elevated, she stood motionless. Unable to speak, Raven’s sweet perfume sunk her deeper into her power. What was happening? She had manage to pinned her against the wall that was deep into the lounge, darkness surrounding them. Couples dancing, unaware of their presents, Anaya was trying to wrap her mind around the fact that this woman…this queen had cornered her when there was plenty others. It was happening all so fast.
“This is right,” she had answered her very questioned thought.
The DJ had then replaced the stage performers and blared the hits of today. Raven had begun to dance, and she followed along.
“Raven,” Anaya said as she placed her hands unto her hips, “Who are you?”
She smiled and turned to face her, brown eyes aglow. She ran her tongue against her teeth, which had grown into fangs.
Frozen in fear, Anaya had awaited her death. Let her be relieved by stress of the world and her inability to succeed. Raven caressed her face and she had been made comfortable.
What the hell?
“Not yet,” she said as she inched away from her lips.
Everyone continued to dance carefree and Anaya realized she was alone. Raven had left her and everything was back to normal. She frantically looked for her in the crowd but as the crowd grew, she lost any direction in which Raven could have gone. What was that? What did she just experience? What was she and why was her heart now crying out for Raven, aching for the next time she would feel her lavender breeze against her lips? The coolness of her breath cooled her fire that had stirred long enough in wondering if she was at all interested in her.
The club had their final calls and she had begun to make her way to the door, noticing the sun had shone high. She had looked down and it was sun rise, she had been here all night. She was worried what her cousin was going to think of her coming in so late. She looked for Michelle to thank her for the entry but like Raven; she was gone.
She sat on the bus and ponder on the night. Would she see Raven again? What had came over her? Why did she smell so damn sweet? What.was.she? The skyline fell behind her and as the sun begun to rise, she smiled. Ms.Raven Rainstorm had sparked her interest, awaken her dead heart to make it somehow beat again. Like a love sick puppy, she wanted to be ready for the next she would come to her or even be at the “Noir Longe” again.