(Excerpt 5)

I woke up in the middle of the night to Mitch’s soft snoring. My queen-sized bed was a decent size for me but with him in it, I felt like I didn’t have any space at all. He was on the left side and I was on the right, but it felt like he was everywhere. Or maybe I was just being selfish, and was too used to sleeping alone, and didn’t want to share my space with anyone. Or maybe I just didn’t want to share my space with him. Whatever the case was, I wasn’t in the mood to be in my bed with someone else. Besides, it didn’t seem all that long ago that Darius was sharing this very moment with me.
I curled up in a ball remembering Darius and how he liked to spoon. How I had fit perfectly as his little spoon and him the big spoon, his arms encircling my tiny waist or around my shoulder, his hand under my pillow alongside my hand under my pillow. I sighed remembering how his chocolate brown skin felt so soft and smelled so good-muscles working in his sculpted arms.
Darius was my ex and I thought he was the one. Actually, I knew he was The One. You know, “The One”. I always figured he was probably too good looking for me, and I kept telling myself that, especially when my eyes met his in my old gym, where I met him. He wasn’t a trainer, just some guy I always noticed because he was in the gym around the same time that I was, when I was actually going. Nowadays, you couldn’t catch me going through a gym entrance to save my life. But that’s where I met him.
He was lifting weights, of course, working on his upper body. I definitely was paying attention, because he was a very good looking man. He had dimples, a bit of a goatee but it didn’t look cheesy on him. Nice, straight white teeth. He always kept his black hair neat, trimmed, lined up, but he had a bit of gray at his temples at the age of 38 and I loved it. He was gorgeous to me.
I was on the elliptical and I was trying to focus on listening to the music and pushing myself to keep going. I was very slim, trimmed, but curvy in all the right places, but I was striving to have my cardio be on point. I remember I was in the zone and when I reached for my water, I miscalculated my reach and smacked the bottle right off the holder and it fell. It rolled a little and I took off my headphones, not wanting to wait for the elliptical to slow down, and tried to step off when I damn near twisted my ankle like an idiot. I tumbled a little and fell on my knee but it didn’t hurt all that bad, it was just an embarrassing moment for me. I tried to play it off like I didn’t care and continued to get my bottle when Darius came up to me. I looked up at him as he started talking, saying hello and asking me if I was okay. I nodded and got up. “Yeah, I’m fine, thank you.”
He smiled and that’s when I became putty. “You sure? You look like you were about to break your ass hitting that floor like that.”
I shook my head and smiled. “For real, I’m good, thank you again for asking.”
I started to make my way back onto the elliptical when he just stood in front of it, watching me almost. “What’s your name, if I may ask?”
“Makaela.” I offered to him but didn’t ask for his. I didn’t want to seem too easy, too interested. Playing games, I guess.
He stuck out his well-manicured hand. “Darius. Nice to meet you, Makaela.”
“You as well,” I said as I shook his hand. It was soft, which was surprising.
“I see you in here working out, and I always think to myself how mean you look. You probably get that a lot.”
I just looked at him and he lost some points with me. I wasn’t sure what he was trying to get at but it was not what I wanted to hear, especially if he was trying to hit on me.
He pointed at my face. “See? That look right there: mean. You look like you’re ready to beat my ass in here just for saying that.” He just kept smiling, like I was amusing him.
I got safely back onto the elliptical and proceeded to reach for my earphones. “Are you hitting on me or trying to get my number or what, because that’s not going to help you at all.”
He laughed. “I’m sorry, I’m not trying to come off rude, or disrespectful even. I was just trying to make fun with you, not of you.” He said as he let the humor fade a bit. “I wanted to talk to you, I would like to talk to you. Outside of this place. If that’s alright with you.”
I pretended to give it some thought but I already knew the answer was yes and always had been yes from the very start that I saw him and that spine-tingling smile. I noticed he wasn’t extremely tall, 5’11, but that was more than tall enough for me standing at 5’0 flat! I looked into his brown eyes and said, “Alright, we can do that.” And we did that.
We shared many great moments together. We traveled together. I got to meet his family back in his hometown of Chicago. We even moved in together, talked about possibly getting married and starting a family together. Our own little clan, the Williams Clan, he’d say. The love making felt like we could move mountains and shift the earth on its axis. We had what I felt was a soul quenching relationship for the 4 years we were together. He was a beautiful soul to me and I loved him for bringing me light. Right until the very end.
Darius 3 and a half years into our relationship was offered a position overseas in Japan. I was willing to quit my job and follow him to his next destination because I was serious about us. And he said he was as well. He was working for FedEx as a senior marketing specialist and they wanted to relocate him to Japan. He accepted. We discussed when it would be taking place and how soon we needed to sell everything we weren’t taking with us and packing up everything we were taking. We had approximately six months to figure this out but we were both so excited about this new beginning. Our babies would learn a different language, learn about another culture and be so blessed. We just knew our lives were going to be forever changed for the better.
The day came when he had to go back home to tell his folks the good news about the job and how close we were getting to leaving for Japan and possibly, getting married before we left. I dropped him off at the airport and got to see him off. We kissed goodbye and it was all good. When he touched down in Chicago O’Hare Airport, he called me to let me know he made it and was on his way to his folks’ home. I got a call the next day from his mother. She told me that Darius had been shot while out trying to buy some celebratory champagne to bring back to their house so they could toast to all the great things that were happening, and he was in the hospital. I was so on edge and was willing to drop everything to be by his side. His mother told me not to worry, that the doctor would let her know how bad it was. The day after that, his father called with the grim news of Darius’s passing. I didn’t immediately cry. I felt so numb. I just let him tell me, heard the straining in his voice as I listened. When I hung up, I just went to my room and let the hot tears stream down my face while I laid down on my bed, our bed. I didn’t have Mr. Chow then, so it was really just me, by myself.
I remembered taking a shower eventually and just breaking down, bawling so loudly in the shower that I was sure the neighbors probably thought I was dying! Or crazy. Either one, I was there in the breakdown and feeling every ache in my chest. It felt like my heart was ripping and tearing. I sat in the shower for over an hour just letting the tears flow freely. I cursed God, I cursed all that was good because of Darius’s death. I didn’t even reach out to my best friend. I just let myself be consumed with anger, sadness, rage, melancholy. Everything that was not happy and joyful, I wrapped around me and held it close. I held it so close that I just let myself stink with the scent of it.
I took time off from work and after almost two months of being a total recluse, I decided to talk to Sandra and she forced me to come out with her for a drink. I didn’t want to but she said it was what I needed. I told her she couldn’t tell me when to stop grieving and that I had every right to want to be alone. She wasn’t hearing it and picked me up. I got into her car and didn’t pretend to be happy about the whole thing. I was unhappy, and it showed.
She drove us to North Park and we went to Seven Grand. “I promise you, you’ll thank me for this,” she said once we got inside. It was a Friday and it was relatively quiet for a Friday night. But then again, it was a slight chill in the air that night. Fall had made its way to us. She ordered a cocktail, I ordered a ginger ale. She said hell no and made me order a whiskey sour. I let her. Once we got our drinks, she and I started to play a bit of pool, even though I was trash at it. We did it and then the drinks started coming a little more. I was having a fairly okay time of it, I even laughed a little here and there. I was right in the middle of a spill of laughter when I accidentally bumped into this delicious gentleman by complete accident, almost spilling my drink on him. I looked up and met green eyes and a mustache set in a tanned face, only it wasn’t a tan, he was just olive skinned. I couldn’t tell that night anyway. “I’m so sorry,” I told the nice guy as I got back to my game with Sandra.
“No need to apologize, you’re fine,” he said, as he walked by, probably to meet up with friends while I continued on with Sandra.
When we were all set to leave, because she got her buzz and so did I, we were walking out of the exit and I felt someone bump into me. I turned to see what the asshole looked like and it was the same green-eyed fellow.
“My turn to apologize, I guess,” he said as he stopped walking by me.
“Apology accepted,” I told him as I was turning back to leave with Sandra.
“You’re really pretty. I just had to tell you that,” he said and I turned back to face him.
I was intoxicated, and the wind was biting my cheek so I was sure I was blushing pretty hard. “Well thank you, you don’t look too bad yourself.” I stared up at his eyes. “You have some really pretty eyes.”
He smiled, the wind playing in his hair. “Thank you.”
“Oh my gosh, come on, I’m freezing out here!” Sandra was ready to go.
“Let’s talk later. Here’s my card,” he pulled out his wallet, which was pretty much congested with receipts and business cards aplenty, finally handing me his card.
I read out loud his first name. “Dimitri. I like it. I’m Makaela.” I stuck out my hand for him to shake.
He grabbed my hand in his as he shook it, and his hand was warm. “Dimitri and Makaela. Sounds nice together, right?” He joked.
It was my turn to smile, as I started walking away from him and towards Sandra. “I’ll call you, Dimitri.”
“I hope so,” he said with a smirk. He had one dimple, I noticed. I just waved and turned back to Sandra as she looped her arm through mine while we walked to her car. “I think he’s very cute. You really should call him,” she told me as she pulled out her cellphone and just ended up calling us an Uber to my house since we were both intoxicated and clearly couldn’t drive.
I thought about it. “Maybe. I don’t know yet.”

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