Life's A Cappella

By: Yessi Smith


This book is dedicated to my husband – my foundation, best friend, and greatest supporter.


“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved but have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours...”

-Ayn Rand


I want to tell you how great my life was. How I lived without regrets. With constant laughter. Without any tears. I want to tell you how I lived each moment to the fullest. How each breath I took was fresh and full of life. With eagerness. Without any fear.

I want to tell you all of that, but then my story would be masked with lies and not worth telling.

The truth is I was born into a family in which the word family in and of itself was laughable. I never met my father and there are times I wish I would never have met my mother. Try as hard as she might, she never fully accomplished the task of ending her life. Which really was a shame. How much easier my life would have been if she had just ceased to exist.

While her anger was something to be reckoned with, the malice induced by her addictions was something that should be avoided altogether.

I learned at a very young age that home was not a place I wanted to be.

I should have stayed in my hometown in Alabama, pissing my life away until I wound up another statistic; pregnant with a fatherless baby. That should have been my story, but I never received that particular script, so I forged my way in my own manner.

My life didn’t start until I left my past. And I left everything. My mother, my friends, my name. Yes, my name. I will not tell you what my name used to be because it is irrelevant. That person should never have existed.

My new name, the name everyone knows me by is Erin Lewis. It is a name common enough so that I can blend, but bright enough so that I may shine. And that is what I want, to shine so brightly that the darkness of my past is but a small speck of dust.

Chapter 1

Erin – December 2012

With its eclectic personality, Miami suited me. The beach was my constant, always there and had proven to be the haven I never found in my previous life. I could be alone with my thoughts one minute, or with a couple phone calls, surrounded by people and so much noise it was difficult to hear what was going on in my head.

After living in Miami for almost four years, I was on the verge of graduating as a nurse, and only one semester stood between me and my goal. I had a small studio apartment in the middle of Little Havana. My neighbors only spoke Spanish and constantly listened to Salsa and cooked, filling our building with lyrics I didn’t understand and a concoction of aromas that kept my stomach growling. While I didn’t speak much Spanish, I could dance like only a Floridian can and could order pastelitos and a café con leche without much of an accent.

My neighbors referred to me as La Gringa, or the white girl, and had the constant urge to feed me. Almost every day I had a crazy old Cuban neighbor knocking on my door and shoving food through the threshold, speaking faster and louder than was necessary.

I loved it. The noise, the happiness, the unity, the laughter, the music, the food. Definitely the food. Something was always happening. And it was happening at such a fast pace that, even after four years, I was still taken aback that anyone could keep up.

I went to bed every night feeling secure in my environment and without hunger pangs. I was a good student, held a part-time job, went out on weekends, and had good solid friendships, including my first best friend.

I first met Camilla three years ago when we were matched together for a project in our Anthropology class. We became friends through our common love of learning about different cultures, especially Native American culture. Our friendship was cemented when we went to Northern Florida to interview members of a local tribe. We may have taken our project too seriously and wound up drunk and high with members of the tribe to further enhance our experience. We were rewarded with the only A grade given to the whole class.

Today was Friday, and I was waiting for Camilla to get off work so we could go out. She had started a new job at Sunset Place selling clothes that would more than likely end up in her closet. I busied myself by getting ready for the night. Seeing as how I had very little fashion sense, and even less money, I simply put on a black tank top that exposed the little cleavage I had and my washboard stomach and jeans that clung to my slim body and barely existent curves. Since Miami’s main fashion goal was to wear as little as possible, I figured I’d blend right in. A bit of eye liner and mascara to bring out the baby blues and some light lip gloss. I didn’t bother fussing with my hair since having it do its natural straight blonde thing seemed to be the envy of almost every girl I met. I slipped on my sandals and stared in the mirror. I looked more like a stripper pole than a woman of twenty-two, with only a small tease where curves should be. Ah well, I sighed, and waited when my cell phone rang.

“You on your way yet, hoochie?” I asked Camilla.

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