Rough Love

By: Meg Jackson


The last thing I remember before my life ended is smiling. That sounds like a nice last memory to have, but you don’t know me – or at least, you didn’t know me then. When I smiled back then it was for one of two reasons: I had bought something shiny and new, or I had done something bad to annoy my father.

I was not a nice person back then. I guess I’m still not a very nice person. I don’t know if everyone has it in them to be a nice person; I just know that it’s never worked out for me. For me, being bad has worked wonders. For me, being bad comes natural.

Of course, there are degrees of being bad. There’s the sort of bad that comes from genuinely wanting to do harm to others; I’m not that kind of bad. I just like to get what I want; that’s what I’m used to, and that’s what I expect. Or, at least¸ that’s what I used to expect.

That’s why I remember smiling: it’d been a great day. Not only had I scored some new Prada shoes, I’d also managed to piss of my dad by shopping at Saks, which was a client of one of his biggest competitors.

My dad runs one of the most exclusive and successful marketing agencies in the United States; he’s got Bloomies, Nordstrom, Benneton, Harry Winston, Tiffany’s. Most of the big names on Fifth Avenue are under contract with Pop’s agency.

But Saks is contracted to Dad’s rival agency, and he’s told me time and again that he doesn’t want me using his money to support the competition. So, of course, I shop there whenever I can. Because he gets the credit card statement at the end of the month, and because I know that he’d never cut me off, no matter how much I push his buttons. He may want to, but he doesn’t have the heart to. He’s not that kind of guy.

No, he’s the kind of guy who’ll do everything else he can imagine to make your life miserable: ruining relationships, squashing hopes and dreams, all with a smile on his face. The backhanded compliment is his forte. The pat on the head that says “I know you can’t do anything productive, I know you can’t survive on your own, I know you need me” is the most affection he can give. I guess he’s not a nice man, either.

So I do what I can to get back at him, in little ways. Looking back now, I can’t even consider myself being that bad – after all, the only thing I was doing was shopping for expensive crap and trying to make Dad angry. That’s like, the sort of “bad” that a teenage girl is. I wasn’t a slut, I didn’t party all the time, I never graced the pages of the tabloids with a martini in my hand, coke under my nose, and a new boy on my arm every week.

But Dad always made me feel like a bad girl. So that’s what I considered myself. Now, of course, I guess I’m more of what you expect from a bad girl. But how that all came to be starts on that day as I walked into my apartment, smiling as I locked the door behind me.

“Juliana,” I remember calling out as I entered the apartment, bags in hand. “Juliana, can you make me some coffee? Then come see what I scored at Saks…you’re gonna have a cow, I swear, you can even try them on!”

Juliana was my maid, but also my best friend. Really my only friend. You know the stereotype of the poor lonely rich girl? That was pretty much me. My only confidante was a woman I had to pay to keep around.

When I heard no response from Juliana, I called out her name once more. Turning around to face my apartment, I remember my heart stopping. The coffee table in the living room was overturned; the couch cushions were on the floor, and a broken vase was leaking water all over the carpet. For some reason, I remember thinking the water will ruin the rug. Pretty shallow, right? But that was the first thing that popped into my head. I don’t know why, but it was.

The next thing I thought was HOLY CRAP I GOTTA GET OUT OF HERE. Obviously, something was wrong. I grabbed the door handle behind me, but before I could make my getaway, I had another thought: Juliana. My heart pounded as I realized that she would have been home when all this happened, that if there was a struggle, it was because someone hurt her.

I wanted to just leave; I wanted to just bolt out the door and down the hallway and call for help. But I couldn’t leave my only friend. Not if she was hurt somewhere in the apartment. I closed my eyes and prayed that it was a simply burglary, that whoever was in here was gone, and that Juliana was holed up in one of my many, sizable closets, intact and alive. Opening my eyes again, I took a deep breath and released my grip on the doorknob.

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