Before I knew what was happening, I felt myself propelling forward as if in slow motion. It felt like my body hit every single stair on my way down until I landed on the intermediary landing, dazed and confused…
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As I ran my fingers through his thick dark curls, I couldn’t help but wonder how many other women had done the same before me in his bed. The room was dark except for the small ray of moonlight that crept in through the open bedroom curtains. I could still smell the cinnamon scented candles that lingered in the air.
He lay fast asleep with his head nestled on my chest while I lay wide awake, watching the ceiling fan spin slowly, around and around and around. I was hoping that its motion would coax me to sleep but I knew better.
All I could think about was the cliff I had just stepped off of, how hard I would land and the number of bones I would break when I finally hit the ground.
He stirred and turned his head to look up at me so that our eyes made four. Shifting himself up so that he lay next to me, he tried to read my face in the moonlight.
“Your heart is racing. What’s wrong?”
And it was just at that moment that we heard the yelling and banging at his front door.
When his confused eyes looked into my calm ones, he knew immediately what I had done.
His eyes grew wide when he realized that I had betrayed him.
He jumped out of bed and grabbed his clothes from the floor. I pulled the sheets closer around me as if they would protect me from the grenades I knew he was about to start throwing at me.
“You called them? How could you do that to me?” he hissed. Then he started cursing under his breath.
He shook his head and gave me a hurt look as he scrambled to pull his pants on. I almost felt sorry but he had given me no choice. It was now or never.
“I’m sorry but I had to.”
His expression of hurt transformed into disgust and the look he gave me before pulling on his t-shirt could have turned me into stone. The knots in my stomach tightened.
“How could you? I thought you had my back.”
He plopped down onto the edge of the bed and shoved his foot into one of his shoes, only to realize that it was for the wrong foot.
I threw off the sheets and I tried to sit next to him but the dress I was still wearing from the night before had me all tangled up with the sheets, restraining me. When I grabbed his arm to slow him down, he pulled it away with enough force to destabilize me.
“Look, I had no choice,” I tried to explain.
I could feel the tears forming behind my eyes but I refused to let them flow. My brain knew that I had done the right thing but my heart didn’t agree. He got up from the bed and stared down at me like I was a total stranger.
I had never, ever seen him so angry at me before.
“You had a choice. And you made the wrong one.”
We looked at each other for a long, awkward moment.
I knew what he was going to do. I hoped that whatever he had indulged in last night had completely worn off because the fire escape was pretty steep on a good day. Then again, a nasty spill would slow him down and he’d be forced to stay and face the music.
The yelling and banging stopped but now we heard the jingling of keys trying to unlock the door. I made one last attempt to reason with him.
“Your family loves you and its only 90 days. If you don’t want to do it for them or for yourself, do it for me. Please. ”
And this maybe baby.
He grabbed his jacket from the chair and shook his head so hard that I thought he’d get dizzy.
“For you? What a joke! No one knew that I was here except for you. I don’t know what’s worse, them cutting off the money or you calling them. You all just want to control me and that’s not going to happen.”
He was halfway through the bedroom door.
“If you leave know, don’t even think about calling me again to rescue you like I did last night! Do you hear me?”
I didn’t even recognize my own voice as the words spewed out of my mouth. Not even my anger could reign him in anymore.
Didn’t he know his choice could color the rest of my future?
And even if he did, was he even stable enough to grasp the complexity of it all?
The wrong decision in this moment would directly ripple into any decision I would have to make.
And if he made the right decision, I wouldn’t have the luxury of waiting 90 days to see how the situation would pan out.
If I was right, I’d have to make a decision in a matter of weeks on my own.
“I hear you, loud and clear babe.” His eyes were cold and his voice controlled. “And you can go to hell with the rest of them.”
And before I could say another word, he was gone.
I heard the keys finally find success with the locks on the front door and then the clicking of heels against the hardwood floors coming down the hallway. I sank backwards into the bed, waiting for them to burst through the door and find me alone in the room. The only thing that soothed me was that tiny ray of moonlight still peeking through the curtains.
“Where is he?”
The accusations were about to fly, I could hear it in her shrill.
I didn’t bother looking in her direction and continued to stare at the slow moving blades of the ceiling fan.
“You’re too late. He left through the fire escape.”
I finally sat up and disentangled myself from the sheets. She looked at me as if I had murdered someone. Her husband stood close behind her, obviously not wanting to be there.
Her eyes curiously rolled over my dress and I knew what she was thinking…Why was this evil woman dressed like that?
“Why didn’t you stop him? My husband told you that we were on our way!”
She was livid. When she took a step towards me, her husband quickly grabbed her arm to hold her back.
“Anna, you know very well that no one can hold Jake back when he gets started. Not even Ella.” Apologies magnified his eyes.
“Don’t touch me Garrett!” She yanked her arm away from him. “What would you know? He’s my son! This is all her fault!”
I took a deep breath, calmly slipped my feet into my heels and stood up. I was officially “done” – with Jake, his mother, his stepfather.
Why didn’t I simply ignore Jake’s call? If I had, I wouldn’t be in the middle of this shit storm right now.
I faced Anna and looked her straight in the eye.
“Jake had issues long before he met me, Mrs. Anderson. And the only one to blame for his problems is you, Mommy Dearest.”
The words slithered out of my mouth so easily that I barely realized that I had said them. Anna’s face clouded over in hatred.
I didn’t feel the sting of her slap across my face until after Garrett pulled her away from me.
“You piece of Mexican ghetto trash! How dare you say that to me!”
Garrett was trying his best to hold her back but she seemed stronger than him.
Hell would freeze over before I gave her the reaction she wanted. Her slap didn’t phase me – I’d endured much worse than that pitiful attempt.
“The only person acting “ghetto” in this room right now is you. And you ignorant bitch, not everyone who speaks Spanish is Mexican.”
She lunged at me again and this time, Garrett was barely able to keep her at bay.
“Please Ella, it would be best if you just leave now. I’m sorry about all of this.”
Garrett’s eyes pleaded with me. Just another weak ass man…
I grabbed my purse from the floor and quickly made my way out of the apartment, leaving the two of them to scream at each other. I hurried down the main hall and hit the elevator call button. All I wanted to do was go somewhere quiet and sleep off the past 24 hours. I wouldn’t get that at my place but I could at Delaney’s. The elevators were taking far too long for my liking so I headed for the stairwell and speed-dialed her.
“Ella? What’s wrong?” Delaney’s voice was full of sleep.
“Could I come over? I know it’s late…”
“Of course, why even ask? Just use the code I gave you.” I could always count on my girl. “What’s going on?”
I stopped at the top of the stairs and decided that I had better barefoot my way down. I bent over to slip off one heel while trying to maneuver my cell at the same time.
“Laney, you won’t believe it. I’ll tell you everything when …”
I wasn’t sure if it was the screech of the stairwell door that startled me or if I actually felt a hand on my back but it didn’t matter. Before I knew what was happening, I felt myself propelling forward as if in slow motion. It felt like my body hit every single stair on my way down until I landed on the intermediary landing, dazed and confused.
Before I blacked out, all I could think of was how things were about to go from bad to way worse.
©2016 Marquessa Matthews. All Rights Reserved.
Previously posted as “Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Hot”
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