Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Fiction Series: The Villa, Part 2


I pulled myself out of the tub, hours after everyone arrived. I must've cried myself to sleep; I could hear the sound of crickets and the roar of the ocean's tide as I realized night had fallen. I couldn't believe Jasper hadn't woken me up or come to check on me. He wasn't the same man I'd promised myself to, all those years ago. 

Jasper was once consistent and sweet, the type of man brown girls yearn for and can't seem to keep or find. (Or so it seems..) I was amazed at my good fortune, I thanked the lord for him every time I heard the horror stories of the dating world via my friends. 

Jasper was poetry: 

Coming to my dance practices, watching me pirouette. 
Playing love songs and using his knuckles to drum along, dedicating the tune to me. 
Finishing my words, before I could strum up an argument.
Rubbing my tummy, before I announced that it was hurting. 
Bragging about me, when he thought I wasn't listening.
Kisses for my momma. 
Camaraderie for my father.
Simple love. 

Jasper had become someone I couldn't recognize, a stranger walking around in his body. He put his phone face down at dinner, his eyes made their way to other woman repetitively, he forgot to open doors and pull out chairs, he'd checked out of our relationship. 

We were watching a movie, one night, on our sofa, when the female lead was sprawled across the screen, long flowing hair and fair skin. She was beautiful; I could not deny that.

Jasper clapped loudly, "She's perfect, she's just my type."

I tried not to let my insecurity get the best of me, I failed, "What do you mean, just your type?"

The woman on the screen looked nothing like me. I played with the coils of my close, tight afro, and looked in his dark brown eyes, the complexion of my skin. 

"She's pretty, that's all I meant by it."

I rolled my eyes and diverted my attention from the screen. Jasper was growing into his large head and big ears. Women that didn't give him a second look in high school were now blatantly flirting with him, even in my presence, and Jasper didn't seen to mind. He was feeling himself, now that he'd decided that he no longer wanted to be a pastor, now that he was comfortable enough to act up, now that he realized he had options. 

I pushed open the bathroom door and unzipped my suitcase. Jasper's clothes were already strewn across the sheets, he'd clearly already been out for the day. 

Jerk. 

I threw on a comfortable house dress and made my way down the spiral staircase. The sound of laughter bounced off of the wood paneling and I knew the gang had arrived, their cackling distinguishable. The moment I hit the last flight of stairs, the laughter ceased, and everyone's heads turned towards me. 

Brianna ran over and hugged me tightly, "Kimani! You're finally awake!"

I heard Jasper murmur, "Yeah, finally."

I pulled away from Brianna, ready to slap the taste out of his mouth. Before I could say a word, I saw Briana's cousin Tyani had taken the seat next to him. She was all grown up. The last time I saw her, she was a scrawny teenager helping Brianna move out of her dorm. Now, she'd made her way to voluptuous, all thighs and smile, with her feet up on Jasper's lap.

The insecurity swirled in my stomach, crawled towards my throat, and would've regurgitated on them both if everyone hadn't started to surround and greet me. 


We all wanted to go down to the beach. The vacation residents were having a bonfire and everyone  in the neighborhood was invited. They were even selling crab and festival, a bread-like pastry I'd heard so much about and wanted to try. 

Everyone got up from the couch and put on their shoes, as I watched Alphonso slowly walk towards the steps. I followed him.

"Where do you think you're going?"

"I'm going to take a nap. Is that okay with you?"

"Why can't we go to the bonfire with everyone else?"

"We? You can most certainly go, babe."

"I want to go with you."

"Must this constantly be a theme?"

"Theme?"

"Everyone knows we're together. We don't have to prove it by going everywhere together."

He started to walk upstairs, I could already hear my friends calling us back down as they prepared to leave, "I'm not saying that we do, but how stupid does it look for us to not go on the first outing together?"

"You're always worried about damn appearances, Taylor. Are you worried about what it's going to look like when I can't help pay the bill?"

I pulled some colorful Jamaican currency from my bra and stuffed it into his hand, "Here. Can you come now? You can pretend it's yours."

He sighed and rolled his eyes, handing me the money back, "Keep your money, Taylor."

"I'm trying to make you feel like a man. Isn't that what this is all about?" 

"Psshhh, I am a man. I don't need your help to feel like one."

"You're certainly not acting like one."

Alphonso turned his back and walked into our bedroom, clearly getting ready for his nap. He lay on the bed and fluffed a pillow for his head, "Enjoy your bonfire."



The fire twinkled, while everyone ate. Taylor and Kimani conversed about the good ol' college days, while Jasper and Brendan talked about fantasy football. Tyani and I took a walk, along the shore, initially there to wash our hands, watching my friends from a distance.

"I still can't believe you cut Tony off, like that!"

I laughed at Tyani's sentiment, she'd become so attached to my ex-boyfriend, "I'm about to marry Brendan, Tyani. When are you going to wrap your head around this concept?"

She pushed me into the water, "That's for Tony. He was a good guy."

"He was a good guy, with four kids, and good you-know-what."

"Duh, that's why he had four kids." 

We both started cracking up. Tony was hundreds of miles away with another pregnant woman, from what we heard. It was amazing that all of this was humorous now. A year ago, I was on the phone with Tyani crying and she was assuring me that it would be something we'd look back at and laugh. She was right.

Tyani came to visit me, during my last year in college. Brendan was a navy guy that made his way to campus often with friends that took classes there. The men that lived on the naval base nearby were sneaky, they wore school branded book-bags and hoodies to assimilate. We would never think to ask them if they actually attended the university. I'd met Brendan on the night Tony threatened to put his hands on me, in public. 

I'd taken Tyani to her first club outing at Mooney's, the only spot near the university that would let an eighteen-year-old in. Although she wasn't old enough to drink, I knew she'd get a kick out of hanging with college students and dancing the night away. My phone was tucked into my purse all night and I even made the acquaintance of a navy guy at the bar. He was persistent, but I made it clear that I was in a relationship.


When I got outside, Tony was waiting for us. He was supposed to be studying, but it was clear he was upset when he started yelling my name across the parking lot. I told Tyani to get into the car and she complied while I went to talk to him.

"Tony, what are you doing here?"

"You said you were just catching up with your cousin. You didn't say anything about you going out." 

"I'm not doing this right now, you're clearly tripping."

"I'm tripping? I've been calling you for three damn hours!"

"Relax, I wasn't paying attention to my phone. My girls and I got caught up and..."

He grabbed my shoulders and pulled me towards the car, "C'mon, we're going home."

I shook myself from his grasp, "I'm not going anywhere with you. I have to take Tyani, home."

"Tyani could take herself home, she's grown."

"She's staying with me and she's in my car. You're overreacting."

"I stood out here and watched you talk to some guy, for the last half hour. I'm not overreacting, I'm taking you home so you can stop acting up." 

"You're crazy."

Tony lifted his hand. It all happened in what seemed like slow motion. One part of me, could not believe this man would ever hit me, even when it was about to happen, even when he'd shown signs of abuse before, and his paranoia was always present. Tony used those hands to hold my face when he kissed me, to gesture when he told stories of his day, to cook me meals when I was too tired to cook for myself. There was no way he would hit me. 

SLAP!

I'd readied myself for the sting to cross my face, as his hands grew near, but I opened my eyes to find him on the floor in front of me. The navy guy I'd been sitting next to at the bar had come to my rescue. Tony was on the floor in front of us, holding his face, and reaching for his keys. 

I ran to the car, where Tyani sat in the passenger side, oblivious to what had just taken place. The navy guy came to my window and knocked on it, as I started the car. I was startled, for a moment I thought it was Tony. I rolled the window down, "Thanks for your help. We're going to head home now."

"Not before I give you my number, beautiful, I'm Brendan," he slipped a piece of paper through the window into my hand.

Brendan had his flaws. He was immature when he didn't get his way, his anger could sometimes get the best of him, he perpetuated the cycle that we put ourselves in, but he was the first man to rescue me...

...from myself.

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