Sunday, December 13, 2015

Guest Fiction Series: On The Other Side, Part 4



1 WEEK LATER

I sat in a dark room wondering where Martin was. I hadn’t heard from him in over a week. I’d been by his job. I’d been by his gym. There were no signs of him anywhere. I hadn’t even seen his car. I’m sure that I probably scared him because I know he saw me. He was running from something, but what and why?


It was a Monday, and the kids were up and out of the house for school already. I needed to do something. I had been depressed all week. My hair was in disarray, I’d had on the same bathrobe, and I couldn’t remember the last time I took a shower. Martin’s absence had gotten the best of me. I wasn’t used to him being away for so long. Yes, he worked a lot and often he wouldn’t make it home until after I had gone to bed for the night. But it was always nice to roll over to a warm body, even if it was hours later


The last week was the worst. I would roll over around the same time each night, subconsciously hoping that he would be there. Every night, I was disappointed. Every night, he slept elsewhere. By this time, I was tempted to call the police, the local hospitals, even the morgue and ask if anyone had seen him. Another part of me knew that he was probably just teaching me a lesson. He would probably show up in the next few days as if nothing ever happened.


I got up and walked into the kitchen looking for something to eat. There was nothing in the fridge. I wondered what the kids were eating. Amari was probably picking up something on the way home from school. He would often come and check on me throughout the night. He would ask if I was hungry or if I needed anything. I never did.


I can’t focus. Nothing is going right. Every time I attempt to get my life together, I fall right back into this funk. Something has to give. Something has to stop. I can’t keep living like this. Nothing is keeping me from being happy, except for him. I can’t keep ignoring the signs. I have to do something. I need help.


I searched online for the nearest mental health care facility that offered counseling services. If I was going to get out of this funk, it needed to happen quickly, before Martin came home and reminded me why I was there in the first place.


I drove to the facility nearest my house. I knew that I couldn’t be too far from home in case the kids needed me or in case, Martin came home. The facility put me in the mind of the hospital that held the souls and the memories of my parents. I never did like hospitals, and this wasn’t any different. I hoped that they could help me get back to myself. Maybe I would be like new once I left.


Well, there’s only one way to find out.


The receptionist looked nice enough. She reminded me of a grandmother, someone that didn’t mind listening to what you had to say.


I hope the therapist is just as welcoming.


“Hi, how may I help you?”


“I was hoping that I could see a doctor.”


“Well, you’re in the right place. We have appointments available now if there is an emergency.”


“I would like to talk to someone now. I would prefer to speak with a woman if at all possible.”


“You’re in luck. Dr. Ashbury is available at noon. I can pencil you in.”


“Please do.”


“Fill out these forms and bring them back to me. I’ll create a file for you.”


“Thank you.”


The questions on this form asked more questions that I didn’t know the answers to than ones I did. Well, one thing was for sure. I wasn’t suicidal. But I had no idea if anyone in my family had attempted or committed suicide. My emotional status was all over the place; Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t rate it. Once I got all of the formalities out of the way, maybe Dr. Ashbury could help me.


Her office reminded me of home. Welcoming but organized. She had beautiful couches and a chair that looked as though it held her for long nights. I could see how this would be a safe place.


“Come in, make yourself comfortable.”


I sat on the loveseat. It looked as though it held the least amount of stress. Maybe it could help ease away some of mine. The way she started the session was nothing like I expected.


“So tell me why you’re here. What can I do for you? Tell me something about yourself.”


“Well, that’s a lot a questions, all at once.”


“Take your time.  Answer how you please.”


“Well, I’m here because I can’t seem to shake this feeling. I’ve had these memory lapses, and I’m not sure what to do. I haven’t left my house in a week.”


“Well, Mrs. Smith, You’ve come to the right place. I’m sure we can talk through whatever is bothering you. Give me a background, what triggered these feelings?”


“Well, my husband hasn’t been home in a week. During that week, I haven’t eaten, I haven’t slept, and my kids have pretty much had to fend for themselves. They’re old enough to do that. No need to call CPS; They’re okay. It’s me that I’m worried about.”


Dr. Ashbury sat in her chair taking notes as I talked to her. I told her everything that happened between Martin and me over the past few months. I let her know that I was almost 100% sure that Martin was cheating on me. I had been with Martin for six years, married for five. He was all that I knew. Atlanta wasn’t home for me; it was Martin. He was safe. I guess that’s why when he started to put me in harm’s way, things became a blur. I wasn’t so sure, anymore. But I knew that I wasn’t happy.


“Tell me how you met your husband.”


“Well, I was 27 years old, and I had just moved to Atlanta with my kids. We were out at the grocery store picking up some snacks for movie night. I walked to the next aisle over, looking for some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  As I was bending down to get them from the bottom shelf, I noticed someone standing very close to me wearing snake-skinned shoes. I instantly looked up, wondering who had such great taste. It was the middle of the night, and he had on snakeskin. When I stood, we made eye contact. He asked me my name.


‘Kamaria, but you can call me Kam.’


‘What brings you into a grocery store at this hour?’


‘The kids and I are having a movie night, and we were running low on snacks, so here I am.


‘Nice, but where are your kids?’


‘They’re in the next aisle; they’re fine. I just needed some Reese’s.’


‘Well don’t let me hold you up. Get back to your kids and the next time you’re in the mood for an adult movie night, give me a call.’


At first, I thought that had to be the corniest line ever. But I called him a few nights later, and that was the beginning of our relationship. We spent the next few months dating. After a few months of getting to know each other, we made it official. He asked if I would let him be a part of my life and help take care of my kids. I agreed. Less than a year later, we were married. Five years later, I’m sitting in your office wondering if he’s using that same tired pick-up line on someone else.”


“That’s some story, Mrs. Smith. It sounds like you two hit it off. What makes you think that he’s cheating on you, now after all these years?”


“Well for starters, he’s been missing for a week. I haven’t seen him. He hasn’t been to work or the gym, and I haven’t spotted his car in his usual hangout spots.”


“Sounds like you’ve been looking for him Mrs. Smith.”


“Of course, I have, he’s my husband. I’m more worried than I am excited for him to come home.”


“Why, so?”


“I may have followed him last week after finding 37 missed calls in his phone. I’m sure he saw me, and now he’s not coming home.”


“Have you considered that maybe he needed some time to cool off?”


“I’m sure that’s what it is. But the last time he was this angry, I spent a few weeks in the hospital.”


“Would you like to tell me about it?”


“I’d rather not. That’s not something I choose to remember.”


“That’s fine. But whenever you are ready to talk, remember I’m here. It looks like our hour is up. Will I be seeing you again next week?”


“You can count on it.”


“Stop by the receptionist’s desk on your way out and schedule an appointment.”


“Will do.”


I didn't make an appointment when I left.


I’ll call later. Who knows? I may not need her. Maybe I’ll get home, and Martin is back. Maybe then, we can fix things and everything can go back to normal. At least, I hope he’s home


As I pulled into the driveway, I couldn’t miss it. Martin was home. I couldn’t be happier. But the closer I got to the door, the more anxious I became. Would he be angry or happy to see me?


Well here goes nothing.


“Where the h*ll have you been?”


“Wait, you’re the one that’s been MIA for the past week, and you have the audacity to ask where I’ve been?”


"Don’t worry about where I’ve been. Where were you when I came home this morning?”


“I went out.”


“You think that’s a good enough answer? You’ve been out huh?”


I saw the veins in his neck swell and the next thing I knew, I was on the ground.


Not again, I can’t go through this again.

I loved you for your honesty,

lying in your arms under the promises

that you let rain upon my insecurities.

A permanent imprint,

indentions of a passion mark gone wrong.

You knew exactly what to say, to make it all better.

“Just lie in my arms and it will all go away.”

That’s why I never wanted to leave.

Pressure placed around my waist from the arms that were supposed to protect me.

It was so easy for me to slip through.

I loved you for your strength.

My eyes shed tears of past fear upon your chest,

the same chest that stuck out when you introduced me to your boys.

You were proud of me on your arm, yet when we were alone, you never let me be.

Holding me, tightly, hostage

as though I was a threat to your empire.

You were never fit to be my king.

A queen is meant to wear a crown,

silver or Gold is best.

But mine is slightly tarnished.

I can’t seem to remove the rust from the trust that I found buried beneath those arms.

They couldn’t hold me for too much longer.

My heart would have eventually given out.

There’s only so much pressure that a lump of coal can stand

before it turns into a woman’s best friend,

placing pressure on the man that never wanted to give in the first place.

That same pressure, leaving prints from fingers that found themselves wrapped around my neck.

You never let me go; I couldn’t keep living like this,

feeling like I’ve got handcuffs on every limb, only warmer

beyond the warmth that your arms provided.

I can’t get past all of these years that I let you hold me like your property.

But I guess what they say is true.

If you love something, let it go

So in all honesty, you couldn’t have loved me

I don’t belong to you.


After waking up and realizing where I was, I got up. I needed to get myself together before the kids got home. I needed to face the damage. I looked in the mirror.


What did he do to me?


My left eye was swollen and red. My lip busted my nose bleeding. This was going to be a job to cover up. But I couldn’t let Maria see what her precious daddy had done. She’d never forgive him. So I did what any mother trying to protect her daughter would. I fixed it.

____________________________________

Verina Wherry is a writer, poet, and aspiring author who spends her free time listening to music, shopping for incense and watching Criminal Minds reruns.

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