Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fiction Series: The Villa, Part 1





You love me quietly and still I let your wounds rub my own, pretending we're healing one another when all we've got is friction.

We arrived at the villa before anyone else, with just enough time to listen to the sound of the island's waves pummel our anxiety. We were liars. The tickets were purchased, months ago, and we both were too afraid to let our coupled-up friends know that we were no longer united.

Jasper spoke first, "Would you like me to take the bags upstairs, to the room?"

I gave him a blank stare, "Does you wanting to see other people excuse you from being a gentleman?"

He got up from the loveseat he was perched on and sighed, "I see this is going to be the longest four-day weekend ever."

I followed him, planning to pick my bags up right before he got to them, intent on showing him I'd be fine without him, "You should've thought about that before you sprung your assinine I-need-space monologue on me."

He stopped dead in his tracks, ready to reiterate the speech he'd been giving all week long. I walked past him, making it clear that I wasn't going to listen to it again. He didn't care.

"We've been together since we were sixteen. I feel like we're drifting apart. Longevity does not automatically equate to love."

Jasper and I have been together forever, at least it seems that way. I was on the praise dance team and he was the church-drummer. I waited for him, forgoing my HBCU's parties and rituals while he studied theology an entire state away. My roommates and best friends, Brianna and Taylor berated me for my virtuosity. They insisted that Jasper wasn't waiting around for me and was probably out hanging with "church girls." I'd rolled my eyes at their comments, pushed them out of the door in their sparkling dresses, and get back to my studies or wait for his call.

I grabbed one of my bags and started to ascend the staircase to my room, "I am not drifting anywhere, Jasper. My love has nothing to do with longevity."

I thought we'd be together for an eternity. We both shared a ferocious love of our lord, kept our bibles near, and prayed together. On the night he decided that he didn't want to be a minister like his father, we both dropped to our knees and asked God to help him make the right decision. The next morning, I helped Jasper pack his things into his Jeep and drove back to Mississipi with him to tell his parents. We'd been through so much together, my love had nothing to do with longevity. My love had everything to do with trial and tribulation.

He followed me up the stairs, bringing up the same crap I'd asked him to keep to himself:

"I think it's healthy for us to get out there."
"We've spent every day together."
"Don't you want more, Kimani?"
"C'mon, it can't just be me!"

The house was incredible. It was a flawless beige on the outside, adorned with wooden shutters, and palm trees all around. You could see the beach from every room, white sand and melanin abundant. It took us five whole minutes to find the room with our names on it. Jasper went on and on, as I rolled my luggage down the hallway, hoping the sound of the wheels would drown out his lies. I whispered a silent prayer for double beds as we got closer and closer to the door of our room.

We pushed open the white door to reveal a gorgeous area. I'd never seen anything like it; Brianna, my best friend that was getting married, always had impeccable taste. The decor was sunshine yellow and seashore blue, there was a small office area, and rose petals were skewed on our...queen size bed.

Jasper dropped his bag and took mine from my hand, "I guess we're going to have to sleep next to one another."

I couldn't face him, I made a beeline for the bathroom, locked the door, and crawled into the tub to cry.

The glow of the computer screen was keeping him awake. This is what he said, as he turned back over and fell into slumber. 

Yeah...it was easy to sleep when someone else was carrying your burden, paying your bills, and making sure you had somewhere to rest your head. A half hour ago, he was getting ready to go to bed when I finally worked up the nerve to ask him the question. 

"Do you have your half of the money, for the trip?" 

Alphonso fidgeted with his towel after he dried his body, "I really can't front that, right now." 

I wanted to scream, I was so tired of this. He saw the anger building, in my face. 

"Babe, I didn't want to go on this trip. You could've gone without me."

I stood up, from the computer desk where I'd been checking my bank account, "I'm going to go to our friend's wedding, alone? I'm not single, Alphonso. Why didn't you say that when I was purchasing the tickets?"

"Because I thought I'd have a better job, by now. You're lucky I'm going. I can barely afford to be a tourist." 

Lucky. 

This is what I told everyone that I was when I met Alphonso. He was perfect: A slim build, tailored suit, strong hands, chiseled face, and a dangerous smile. I was a cashier at J. Crew, but I was clamoring to be a stylist. The stylists were on the floor, they helped customers put together the best fit and even made a commission. When my manager wasn't looking, I'd recommend that paying customers change something about an outfit they'd chosen for themselves. 

Alphonzo chose a plain plaid shirt to go with his Ludlow suit. He walked to the counter and flipped open his wallet like he'd done it several times a day and his black cards glimmered in the store light. 

"Are you ready to be rung up?"

"Yes, ma'am."

He motioned for a stylist, holding his size in every seasonal item, to come to the counter. As he walked over, I asked, "Are you really going to do this plaid, with this suit?"

"Yes, why?"

"If you're going for casual, sure. However, this is a Ludlow. You need something smoother. I mean, if you're going for smooth."

He licked his lips and smirked, "I'm always going for smooth."

The stylist placed the rest of his purchase next to the suit. He furrowed his brow, "Listen, my man, you have something nicer than this plaid, for this suit?"

The stylist smiled, eager for more commission that I'd practically handed him, "Absolutely, I'll be right back."

I chose every outfit Alphonso wore out, on our dates, upon his request. He spent hours talking about his love of the business world and I swooned watching his eyes filled with passion and the right tie, under his chin. 

A year into our relationship, he lost his job. I didn't flip out, I didn't berate him like a child to find another one. I held him close and told him that it'd be okay. I put my WonderWoman cuffs on and proceeded to find a part-time job to make up for our deficit. 

It's been a year and a half since I put those cuffs on. They were starting to cut off my circulation. 



I looked over at Brendan as he gazed out of the plane window. I couldn't believe we made it. I meant that in so many ways. We were late getting to the airport and flying international was no joke. We were lucky that the airline staff was so kind. We were almost late getting to the aisle, too.

But when I looked at Brendan and when I felt what he meant to me, I realized that it would've never been too late. 

Exactly six months ago, we were sure that we'd had enough of one another. Brendan stood at the door of his guest bedroom with his service gun, I could hear him taking the safety off. I was behind the door, half naked with another soldier that he was acquaintances with, in Brendan's house. 

We heard the gun cock, "Brianna, come out of the room."

I tried every excuse in the book, but Brendan was no fool, "I'm changing baby."

"I've seen everything you've got and whoever is in there with you is going to wish he hadn't!"

"Baby, it's not what you think."

I leaned against the door, my tears everywhere. I could feel Brendan trying to turn the knob when I heard a thud on the other side of the room. My "lover" jumped out of the second-floor window and was now half limping and half running across the apartment complex's parking lot. I turned back to the door and heard Brendan running down the steps, he must've heard his escape too. 

"Sh-t!"

I pulled my robe on and ran downstairs and outside, where I found Brendan firing at the other soldier's tires. I jumped on his back, trying to get him to put down the gun.

"What are you doing?!"

Brendan sunk to the floor and threw his gun under the nearest car. His eyes were filled with water, as I got off his back and sat next to him. 

"What am I doing? What are you doing, Brianna? I love you."

"You love me so much that you went on tour and cheated on me."

"So what was this? Payback?"

"No. It just happened. He was here for me..."

"The minute I found out that she wrote you and told you, I asked for leave. It was a mistake. I came home to surprise you, I wanted to tell you that I was one-hundred percent in the wrong."

I wrapped my arms around his shoulders, "Maybe, this isn't meant to be. Look at us."

I could hear sirens in the distance and I wanted to convince him to leave or come inside before he got into trouble. 

"We're meant to be, baby. I can't see my life without you. I was drunk. I'm so sorry."

Brendan was sobbing now while I was trying to pull him up and get him back into the house. I finally succeeded. He was on the floor of the living room, still sobbing uncontrollably but safe. I looked at the letter his tour-one-night-stand sent to me. I could still feel the hurt welling up, in my chest.

Dear Bri, 

Isn't that what he calls you? Cute. I watch your letters pile up, near his bed, and wonder what he'll say to you. When he does write, he lies. He tells you that he's excited about coming home and that things are alright, but none of this is true. He's broken, he doesn't handle war well. He has nightmares, because of things we're ordered to do here. He's hurt children, via command, that look like his godchildren. Who do you think he relates to? Is it the corporate annoyance at home or the beautiful comrade that knows his struggle? You do the math. 

Sincerely, 

He-sleeps-as-I-write-this

We'd seen countless therapists, our reverend, and spoken to our parents, since then. We relied on strong advice, other's experiences, and faith. We were still repairing our love, but during the process Brendan asked me to marry him. I said yes. 

& now I watch him, gazing out of the airplane as we take off and I thank God that we made our ascension. 



Thank Christ, for airplane mode. 

Before takeoff, I'd received five texts and three calls from Robert. We purchased our tickets months ago and I made sure, after our breakup, to leave him out of all of the definitive plans. I wasn't going to Jamaica with a man who slept with every muse he'd come across. Damn photographers. 

I took airplane mode off, as I walked through customs. The line was moving pretty smoothly, compared to the usual hustle and bustle of folks impatient to show off that they'd been to "foreign." I showed my passport to the agent and he stamped it, "Welcome to Jamaica."

I couldn't help but smile and think of Terry McMillan, even though I'd left all of my groove in New York. I needed a serious break from men. I was going to enjoy this vacation, with no interruptions. 

The moment I picked up my bags from baggage claim, I heard my name yelled from the passenger pickup.

"Tyani! Little cousin!"

I looked over to see my big cousin Brianna and her husband-to-be Brendan. Brendan looked serious, pushing suitcases into their taxi and eyeing my own to see how they could fit. I was still shocked that Brianna was actually going to marry him. They'd been through so much drama together, in the last year, that no one thought they'd make it. 

Brianna was ready, she wore a long orange maxi dress and was slathered in sunscreen, her twists draped her shoulders and she looked like she'd grown from the tropical ground, "Hi, Bri! How are you?"

"I'm great! I'm getting married!"

I smirked, "Yeah...I know."

"Dang, don't do me like that. Don't let Brendan hear you talking like that either. He wanted us to run away to Vegas, so we didn't have to deal with judgment."

I followed her to the taxi, "Ain't nobody judging y'all...much."

I laughed and Brianna pinched my arm.

The ride to the villa was easy. We passed several communities, filled with natives and tourists along the roads, and the smell of coconut and sea breeze stood out in the air. I couldn't wait to be by the beach. We pulled up to the villa when Brianna woke up. She was so excited to see her friends, "I can't wait to tell them you're here! They heard all about you in college."

I grabbed her arm and pulled her back into the car, "Wait, you didn't tell them I was coming?"

"No, I guess not. It's my villa. I invited who I wanted to."

"Yeah, you invited two other couples and your single fine ass cousin."

"So?"

"So! I will be perceived as a threat."

"Girl, stop. Everyone in that house is in a relationship and they're confident about their union."

"Is that right?"

"That's right...I know my friends."

 "The Villa" drops every Tuesday! You can show love by leaving a comment below or posting and using #thevilla & @rivaflowz on IG or Twitter. See you next week!








2 comments:

Ravey Golightly said...

you've done it again, sis!!! counting down until next Tuesday!

Quirlsagogo said...

I'm looking forward to the next installment. The characters are interesting and I know you gonna have me clutching my pearls