Mar-Mar, sorry-Maureen-, strolled up to me as I was leaving my boxing session with Coach. She had a huge grin plastered on her face and an equally huge book in her hand.
“Hey!” She said as she wrapped her arms around me, “I have a surprise for you!” Mar-Mar pulled back and looked at me, “But first, cancel all your plans for today.”
I wanted to know what was in the book, “Why?”
“Which letter in ‘surprise’ doesn’t compute?” She placed the book in her purse and replaced it with a compact and mascara.
“The part where my friend who suffers from cupidity brings it up while brandishing the bane of her existence.” I pull out my white scrunchy and start to pull up my hair.
Mar glares at me over the compact, “I read!”
Placing my hair band on, I remind her, “Yeah, magazines!”
She rolls her eyes, slamming the compact with a smack, “Just bring yo ass on, we’ve got things to do.”
I stand right where I’ve been, in front of the gym’s entrance, “No, I have classes tonight. School doesn’t change it’s schedule because you want to change mine.” I wave and pivot to walk towards home.
Mar, now holding my pony-tail and standing a good two feet behind me, snaps “You’ll come with me, or”- I heard her pulling out something- “I’ll give you a pixie cut and bleach your hair blonde.” The clippers seem to smack with anticipation as she opens and closes them behind me, “Choose.”
I turned around and raised my hands in surrender, “I’m quite happy with being a long-haired brunette.”
She releases my pony-tail and puts away her clippers, “Thought you’d see it my way.” Smiling at me, she grasps my arm and leads me up the street, “Now for the fun part!”
Well, I hope it was fun for her. I don’t even recognize my own face in the mirror, “This is too much make-up –I look like a hooker!” I touch my cheek, frowning at the residue from the foundation.
“Stop doing that, you’ll mess up your face! And you do not have on too much make-up.” Mar pulls out the sponge and pats where I touched my cheek, “It only feels like that because you won’t let it dry.”
I smooth out my shirt, my compromise of wearing black and not wearing the frilly dress she planned out. “Who is this guy again?”
“Carlin, forgot his last name,” she says before blowing on my cheek.
“Get a mint.” I fan my face with a piece of paper and pick up the book she had earlier. I’ve been gypped- it’s a compilation of magazines. I look up at the sound of the doorbell, not surprised that Mar has the door opened already.
The man standing there was though.
He held a B&N bag, his hair combed back and his green eyes twinkling a bit as he waved nervously.
Mar reached towards him and grabbed hold of his shoulder, yanking him over the threshold. He placed the bag on the floor and smoothed his shirt out, “Hey.” He grinned, his hand still smoothing his shirt.
I smile and wave, eying the bag. Smart, not bringing flowers. “Books are a girl’s best friends,” I wink and make my way to the bag.
Mar smacks my hand as I reached for one of the books. She says, her tone slightly venomous, “Tell im who you are.”
Doesn’t he know?!
This confident man, clean shaven and smiling, extends his hand towards me-
The image merges with the one currently facing me.
Carlin pulls back his hand, “What the hell do you mean your slut ass is pregnant?!” his beard stiffening up, his eyes ablaze as his hand makes contact with my face. I fall back on to the couch, knowing not to cry.
I want to remind him of what he did a few months back, but I won’t. “I’m four months pregnant with your son dammit.” I scream at him and try to stand up.
“Bull! You’re just trying to excuse yourself for being a fat lard assed pig!” He screams back as he places a hand around my neck and yanks me towards him. “Whose kid is it whore? I know you been cheatin’ on me!” His eyes bulge, the green starting to harden.
I claw at his grip, trying to fight him off. I manage to gasp, “Yours. Yours.”
He throws me onto the couch again, “Deal with it.”
No, no- that’s not going to happen. “I’m not getting an abortion! This is our child- you’re going to be a father. Deal with that.” I manage to stand up as he walks away. I immediately get into a blocking stance as he whirls around and storms up to me.
“What’s your fat ass going to do, beat me up?” He has a hold of my pony-tail, pulling my neck back at an odd angle, “I’d like to see you try.” He places his hand on my stomach, pushing hard on it. “You want to know what I’d do if you even attempted to defy me?” He lifts his hand, “This,” and punches me right in the stomach. I try to fold over, but he still has my head. He pulls back again and smacks me in the face this time.
I try to block him, but he always finds somewhere else to hit.
After twenty minutes of that, he gets bored and pushes me to the floor. He spits on me before walking out the apartment, slamming the door behind him. I crawl towards the bathroom, making a beeline towards my cell phone.
I dial my mother, slumping against the wall by the bathroom. I cry, listening to the dial tone.
“Herloo?” I hear her voice trill over the line. “Nuh, who is dis?”
I wipe my eyes, and mumble “Momma, momma it’s me.”
“Alma? Alma is that you? Speak up so I can hear you.”
I take a deep breath, “Turns out there isn’t a grandson in your near future.”
She growls at me, “What the hell did you do?”
“He wanted me to get an abortion and I said no. It’s not like I was trying to get pregnant, he raped me after all.”
“It doesn’t matter what he did, he’s your husband you-“
“Mom, he is not my husband, he’s only my boyfriend.”
“You’ve been with him for two years now- he’s your husband as far as I care. Do what he tells you. That’s your place as his woman.”
That line brings me to tears, “Mom, I just told you that he beat me-“
“You never used those words, and even if he did- it’s his right, he is your-“
“You know what?! F%%% you mom! I need you right now and you’re telling me to suck it up?! He just beat life, the life of my first child, right out of me?! You want me to let him do that to me?! F%%% you!” I push the call end button and search my contacts for Coach’s number.
He picks up immediately, “Alaska? What’s going on?”
His voice sooths me. Through my tears, I answer, “Yeah, it’s me. I’m sorry to be calling you after all this time. It’s just that- that- Carlin he just- and my mom- and-”
He cuts in, “Take a deep breath Alaska. What happened?”
I tell him everything, noting his huffing and growling. He waits for me to finish, “Alaska, why do you let him keep taking things from you? He’s taken your friends, your education, and your damned dignity! And now you allowed him to take your child?! What did I teach you? What did we work on for two years?”
I smile a bit, knowing he’s right, “You taught me how not to become my mother.”
“Then why would you undermine that training by staying with him? Answer me this: Do you still have Lef and Righ?”
I hold back a giggle, “Yeah, I still have my brassies. He doesn’t know about them.”
“Then why don’t you use them? Why aren’t you using what I taught you?” His voice heats with anger and sadness, I miss him- I miss it all.
I hear footsteps in front of the door. I whisper into the phone, “Coach, Coach, I think he’s back, I have to go.”
“You better use what you’ve been taught child.” He answers me before hanging up.
I turn off the phone and crawl as fast as I can into the bathroom where I shut the door and undress. As I strip my shirt off, my suspicions are confirmed; I double over and fall to the floor. Part of me is terrified at what is going on- but something else knows exactly what is going on.
An hour later, I sit pruning in the bathtub, my could-have been child heading somewhere I don’t want to think about. My tears have mingled with the water, my mind numbed for many minutes now.
I can hear Carlin moving on the other side of the door. He’s calmed down some, probably at the part where he tries to atone for what he’s done. No amount of books can fix this-none.
“Hon?” He asks through the door, “Are you still alive in there?”
I could say yes, I could say no. Neither would be a lie. “Please, just leave me alone!” I shout to him.
He knocks on the door, “I went out and bought the new Olord Flark book. Do you want me to bring it in there?” His voice is tinged with guilt, he should feel the need to commit suicide- oh I wish he’d die.
“You know what? Why do you never forgive me? It was an accident!” He slams his fist into the door. There’s one more dent now.
“Just let me be, okay?!” I sit up in the tub, screaming at the door.
I hear him ram himself against the door. I scream in fright- I hope he doesn’t make it through!
I get out of the tub, nearly falling onto the floor. I grab my clothing and throw them on, digging around for my brassies. I watch the door pulse as Carlin throws himself against it.
Relief washes over me as I realize it’s holding up. He’s not getting through.
He looks at me over the dinner table, “You can’t stay mad at me for this long. It’s been a full month, and I’ve apologized numerous times. Get the hell over it.” He shoves a hunk of steak into his mouth and begins chewing.
I take a small bite of my own steak and glare at him, “I’ll do as I damned well please. You beat my first child out of me- I don’t give a damn how it makes you feel that I am holding a grudge. I deserve to be able to hold this grudge.” I take another bite and watch his reaction. He glares at me as he shovels more food into his mouth.
I shouldn’t be egging him on; he hasn’t hit me or even grabbed me the wrong way since that day. But he’s a ticking time bomb; I can see it in his eyes.
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