Monday, December 28, 2015

Guest Fiction Series: On The Other Side, Part 5

The kids made it home from school around 4 pm. Usually they would ride home with a neighbor. Martin was never home from work in time to pick them up, so there was no point in making those arrangements. They saw me sitting on the couch and came to join me.

“Ma, how are you?” Amari asked.

“I’m fine, love. How was school?”

“I passed my math test. I made the highest score in the class.”

“Good for you, baby. Anything good happen to you today Maria?”

“I ran the fastest in gym today.”

“You’ve always been my little Speedy Gonzales.”

Maria got up to turn on the television. Dr. Phil was on. I always wondered why a 13 year old was so interested in Psychology. She would sit and watch entire episodes of that man. We all sat and watched it together. This was the first time I had been out of the room in the past week. They didn’t leave my side for the next hour.

“Are you guys hungry?”

“We could eat.”

While they sat and watched whatever teenagers watched while their parents weren’t around, I went into the kitchen to fix something to eat. I made some salmon crochets and rice. The kids loved those things. I  made some broccoli and cheese to go along with it. It was a quick meal and was done in about an hour. By the time it was done, Maria had fallen asleep in Amari’s lap. They were close, those two.  I’d often find Maria in bed with Amari after they both had fallen asleep in their own beds. I think she felt safer with him. I thought it was beautiful that Amari didn’t tease her about it.

“Kids, dinner’s ready.”

Amari touched the side of Maria’s face to wake her. He told her that dinner was ready. As she sat up, he got up to fix his plate.

“My favorite.”

“I know, now save some for your sister.”

“Don’t worry, I will.”

Maria fixed her plate and I fixed mine. There was a movie on T.V. that we decided to watch. It was some horrible dramedy. The kids liked it, so it was fine with me. Halfway through the movie, there was a scene showing a woman getting into an argument with her husband. My mind traveled back to my previous encounter with Martin. I started to cry, silently so that the kids wouldn’t notice. I reached up to wipe the tears away and I noticed Amari watching me. He grabbed my hand as though he knew.

Once the movie was over, it was time for the kids to go to bed. I turned off all the lights, locked all the doors, and made sure the kids were comfortable. As I was closing the door behind me, Amari called out for my attention.

“Mom, are you sure you’re okay?”

“I’m sure hon, get some sleep.”

“What happened to your face?”

“I ran into the door earlier. It’s nothing. Goodnight love.”

“Goodnight ma.”

My makeup must have started to run during the movie earlier. I couldn’t tell him. Although he was 16, that was too much for a teenager to handle. I couldn’t ruin his image of Martin. He had only just started to look at him as a father figure after being around him for six years. I couldn’t change that now.

I walked into my bathroom to wash away the mask that I chose to cover the bruises that Martin left behind. The makeup creeping into my pores caused my face to swell more than it already had. My wounds needed time to heal. I didn’t have time to hide from the real world while my face recuperated. I needed to either cover this up or let it be seen. The latter was definitely not an option.

Maybe I should call and talk to Dr. Ashbury. She seemed to want to know more about Martin and my past trip to the hospital. This would be the perfect time to tell her everything. It’s already 10 o’clock and I know that she’s out of the office already. She hasn’t given me her home number. I could just wait until the morning. That would make things easier. Plus, I can’t risk Martin coming home while I’m talking to her. Yea, I’ll just wait until tomorrow. Maybe, by then, my face won’t hurt so bad.

I took an Ibuprofen and hoped that sleep would come over me soon.

I had been sleep for about 5 hours when I woke to the sound of keys rattling. Martin had finally made it home and I didn’t want to face him that night. He walked into the bedroom and to the bathroom. I heard the shower turn on. I rolled over on my side so I wouldn’t have to see him when he came out. Almost immediately after I heard the shower turn off, I heard the bathroom door close. I felt his body lie down and mine tensed up. I didn’t want to be near him, let alone lie next to him when I’m the most vulnerable. I didn’t sleep much the rest of the night.

When I woke up the next morning, Martin was gone as usual. The kids were already on their way to school and my face had stopped throbbing so much. I walked into the bathroom to look at my face. Some of the swelling had gone down. I put some ice on it and gave Dr. Ashbury a call around noon.

“Dr. Ashbury’s office, how may I help you?”

“Hi, It’s Mrs. Kamaria Smith. I need to make an appointment with Dr. Ashbury.”

“We have an opening later this afternoon at 3 pm. Would that work for you.”

“Three’s no good. My kids will be home from school by then. Is there a way that I could maybe speak with her before then?”

“She actually just got out of  a meeting, let me check.”

I waited on hold for what seemed like forever. When Dr. Ashbury came to the phone I wasn’t sure what to say.

“Hi Mrs. Smith, It’s Dr. Ashbury, how may I help you?”

“I’ve been better. I wasn’t able to leave the house today and I was wondering if we could have a session over the phone.”

“That would be perfectly fine. What seems to be bothering you?”

“Remember when you asked about the time I ended up in the hospital?”

“Yes, I remember.”

“Well, it happened again, except this time, it wasn’t bad enough to go to the hospital.”

“Are you ready to tell me about it now?”

“Well, this is the third time that Martin has put his hands on me. The first time, he pushed me into the wall. I didn’t think anything of it. We were arguing. I got in his face and he pushed me against the wall. I came out without any bruises. The second time, I didn’t answer my phone while I was out with some friends. My phone had died, so it kept sending him to voicemail. He wasn’t too happy about it. He just knew that I had been out cheating. I passed out and the next thing I knew I was waking up in a hospital bed. Martin said that I had fallen down the stairs. This time, he was wondering why I wasn’t home yesterday when he returned. My face is still swollen a little. But it doesn’t hurt anymore.”

“Mrs. Smith, you are aware that this is no way for anyone to live? You should let me help you. Do you think you could press charges on him?”

“How can I do that and he lives with me? I’ll be fine. I just needed to vent. I don’t think he’ll do it again. I just have to stop making him angry.”

“Mrs. Smith, I can assure you that none of this is your fault. It doesn’t matter how angry you think you make him. He never has the right to put his hands on you.”

“You’re right, but I can’t take away the only father that my kids have known. I’ll be okay. As long as he isn’t hurting them, I don’t want to press any charges.”

“Whatever you want, Mrs. Smith.  But if you give me any reason to believe that the kids are in danger I will have to report it.”

“I understand.”

 “Great, you can schedule an appointment  whenever you need it. I told the receptionist that it was okay to give you my personal number in case of emergency. So if you ever call and I’m unavailable, you’ll still be able to get in touch with me.”

“Thanks a lot doctor.”

I got off the phone with her and I wondered when Martin would be back. I didn’t want to have a face to face encounter with him. I put on some makeup and headed to the grocery store. If we were going to have dinner tonight, I had to pick up a few things.

While standing in the produce section, I dropped an entire bag of oranges on the floor. I didn’t want to bring any attention to myself so I stopped to pick them up before anyone noticed. I must have not been moving fast enough because a man came over to help me.

“Are you okay ma’am? I saw you drop the oranges.”

“Yes, I’m fine, thanks.”

He helped me pick the rest of them up and he started to walk away. Mid-step he turned around and asked me my name.


“That’s a beautiful name. Would it be okay for me to call you sometime? I have a killer dessert recipe that involves oranges. I think you would love it.”

This can’t possibly be a good idea. But Martin can’t seem to appreciate everything that I do for him. It wouldn’t hurt to make a new friend as long as I keep him at a distance. I deserve to have a little fun. He’s already made me smile more in the last few minutes than I have in a long time.

“Sure why not. Just make sure that it’s before 11 pm. I have a husband and kids at home.”

Whoa, a married woman shouldn’t be giving her number out to strangers at grocery stores.”

“Well I’m always down to learn a new recipe. What’s the harm in that?”

“You’re right. Friends?”


I wrote my number down for him and told him to call me so I could save his number. He called as soon as I made it to my car.

“Hi, I realized I didn’t get your name.”

“It’s Ahmad, Ahmad Jenkins. Lock me in.” 


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.

1 comment:

R. Preston Clark said...

Definitely was not expecting that dude to be Ahmad. Good stuff!