Shonda Nicole Robinson
I have been with my man for about a year and some change. He was seeing someone when I first met him. Actually, he was living with her and engaged with a baby on the way. But I deaded all of that. I had to; I fell in love with him. Malik was going to be mine one way or another. He was so damn sexy, polished, built, and delicious shade of brown. We met at my old job at a law firm. He still works there as a para legal. I was a temporary receptionist. I got fired for punching a bitch in the face who was minding my business. Not like that. But I had to handle my business. Malik still works there as a paralegal.
We snuck around for a few months, going to hotels, having lunch together and taking days off from work. But then we broke up. He started feeling bad about leaving her while she was pregnant, and temporarily got back with her and proposed to her. I thought I could live without him, but I realized I couldn’t. Then I heard that he was about to get married. So, I marched right up into his wedding to his son’s mom and was like “Hold up one mother fucking moment.” That’s not what I said exactly, but to make a long story short. I said, “Malik you don’t love her; you love me.” And it didn’t take a lot of convincing, ’cause instead of staying there and marrying her, he left the church. He fell in love with me and I fell for him hard.
After I left the church, I went to the gas station and Malik’s baby mom sister attacked me with her bridesmaid dress on. She snuck me. It was cool, though. I guess she was mad. But that didn’t make Malik come back to the wedding. He was at my house that next morning saying, “Baby, you stopped me from making the worst mistake of my life.” And if he would have married Kim, I still wouldn’t have left him alone. I probably would have settle for being his mistress. He wasn’t really trying to marry her anyway.
It’s been all good ever since. We moved in together a few months after his wedding. Now we have a house that we are renting in Wynnfield. My daughter has her own room, then we have our bedroom, and my back bedroom is the junk room. We keep boxes that I haven’t unpacked and the ironing board in there. I’m thinking about making that a gym or office for Malik. I don’t know. I have a little Chrysler Cirrus and we are doing okay. Malik already has an Associates degree and is going back to school to get his Bachelors in Criminal Justice. Then after that he is going to law school. I’m going to be married to a lawyer. Imagine that! One day I might even go back to school. I need a career change. I like my job as a car salesperson, but it is so hard working on commission. If I don’t sell a car, I don’t get paid. It is as simple as that. They have this thing called the draw that means you get paid six hundred every two weeks, when you don’t sell a car. Then when you sell a car, they take their six hundred dollars back; it is just like borrowing money.
I was at the dealership. I spend more time here then I do at home . I thought my luck has not been that good lately with selling cars, but things should begin to pick up very soon. People are getting their 1040’s in the mail, and soon they will have income tax return checks. People are just now recovering from Christmas. Trying to sell a car in the winter is like selling vinegar juice to a thirsty person or a hot summer day—very hard. Malik been holding down the bills, then my daughter’s father take care of her. I don’t have to buy her anything, and I still get money every week from my child support check. So I’m cool, I just have to make enough money to get my hair done, shop, and put gas in my car.
It was so slow I looked out into the crowded parking lot. There were about hundred cars that were just sitting there ready to be driven home. There was big print chalk writing the read No Money Down on some of them, and the others had balloons and fiesta-colored adornments flickering in the wind. Nobody had pulled in the lot the entire hour I sat at the window. I was next up. We took turns and rotated on customers on slow days. But nobody was coming through those doors. So I went to my cubicle and called back old leads. Leads were people who were supposed to buy a car, bur something happened with their credit, they didn’t have down payment money, or a co-signer. Basically, deals that fell through. I managed to schedule one appointment.
I walked into my house and it was a mess. Brianna’s Barbie dolls were scattered around the room. I had started decorating the living room, but haven’t had the time or money to finish. I walked into the kitchen. I had sunflowers scheme going on. On the stove there was a smelly broccoli in a pot that I had cooked three days ago. I rinsed it out, poured bleach into it, and washed it out. The smell still lingered a little.
It is hard trying to clean, cook, and work. I took a look in our freezer: there was steak, a whole chicken and frozen hotdogs. I continued to stare like something else was going to appear. It was too late to thaw out a steak, and I didn’t want a hot dog. I took one more glimpse in the freezer then I decided I wasn’t cooking anything. I cleaned the kitchen and then snatched the Tri-Town delivery menu off of the refrigerator. I worked all day too. But I was the one who had to find the energy to cook for everybody. Not tonight I thought. I was going to order me chicken fingers and Malik a cheese steak. I picked up the phone and Brianna was on there talking. I listened for a moment to see what she was talking about. Her and her friend were talking about what they were going to wear to school the next day. I had to cut their convo short.
“Who you talking to?” I asked.
“My friend Leah.”
“Tell Leah goodbye and come here.” Brianna told her friend she see her at school. She ran down the steps and shouted from the living room “Yes Mom?”
“What do you want to eat?”
“Where are you ordering from?”
“I don’t know what I want,” she said as she looked over the menu.
“Brianna, hurry up and decide I’m placing my order now,” I said as I dialed he number.
“I’ll take a salad.”
“A salad. I’m not paying seven dollars for a salad.”
“Me and Andrea always order salad.”
“Bree, you can get some fingers or a burger. Or you can go and fix yourself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”
“I’ll fix a sandwich,” she said with an attitude.
“After that, get your homework done. She was only ten, but getting so grown. People were starting to tell me that I needed to sit her down. I found a note she wrote to some boy talking about meet her after school under the steps. She said it wasn’t hers, it was her friend Erica’s. So I told her she couldn’t be friends with her anymore.
Malik came in the door around nine, “Hey, baby,” Malik said as he walked through the door. My baby made me proud to say I was his woman. He looked so handsome in his white shirt, navy blue tie, and navy slacks.
“Hey,” I said as he came and kissed me softly on the lips.
“Where is Bree?”
“She is in the room sleep.”
“What you cooked?” he asked as he looked around the kitchen for a sign of food.
“I didn’t cook anything, baby. Me and Bree got in here so late.” I could tell he was a little disappointed. “I ordered you a steak though,” I said trying to make up for not cooking.
“A greasy cheese steak and soggy French fries with ketchup in the microwave. Damn, Shonda, cook for your man once in awhile,” he said as he looked in the microwave. “Why can’t I come home to a decent meal?” he said playfully, but I knew he was serious.
“Baby, I’m sorry. I was tired. I promise tomorrow I will cook for you.” I said as I close to him and put my arms around his waist and kissed him.
Kimberly Vanessa Brown
The sound of the grumbling, noisy, trash truck awoke me. I hastily jumped out of my bed and looked out the window to see the trash truck a few doors away from my house. I slid on my slippers and robe and went down the steps. I opened my back door and ran down the steps and grabbed the trash cans. The cold January weather greeted me at the door. I hated the winter. It was always too cold. I looked over at the trash spilling out the trashcan. I momentarily thought about letting the trash stay in the yard one more week. Instead, I grabbed the can and pulled it into the house. Just as I opened the front door, I saw the trash truck passing my house. I pulled the can down the steps as fast as I could. The trash man saw me coming and stopped the truck. The sanitation worker had on a blue jumpsuit and layers of clothes with orange gloves.
“Any more, pretty lady?” he asked as I dragged the can towards him.
“Yes, just one,” I said as he took the can from me.
I raced back through the house to get the other trash can. I grabbed the last can and dragged it through the house. Out of breath, I handed him the can.
After the man dumped the cans I pulled all the empty cans back through the house and then to the back yard. I washed my hands in the sink and grabbed a paper towel and dried my hands. I then put water in my World’s Best Mom mug into the microwave and pressed one minute fifteens seconds. I grabbed a tea bag out of the cabinet and the Equal. I don’t want to go to work. I want to go back to bed, I thought as I reached for lemon juice. It was behind the multiple rows of salad dressing. I needed to go food shopping. There was a container of orange juice, bread, and a jar of applesauce, and not much else. I checked the date on the eggs; they were expired, so I threw them out.
I sat down at the table and sipped my tea. I looked over at the time on the microwave. It was six thirty. I had exactly one hour to get out of the house if I wanted to make it to work on time. Last night I knew if I didn’t pull the kids clothes out, I was going to be late, but knowing that didn’t make me prepare for the next day. Some days I couldn’t make myself care, even though I would like to. I needed to start getting my clothes out the night before and make the boys wash up. Actually, I should have taken their clothes out and ironed for the week. If I had done that, I would have been ahead of the game. Six forty-five and I was still just sitting sipping my tea. No motivation, no reason to move forward or faster. It was times like this when I felt so alone. When I was all alone, it dawned on me that there was only me. I was by myself. If I didn’t wake the kids, feed them, and dress them then it wouldn’t happen. Nobody else would pay the mortgage. Nobody would take the trash out, take them to the barber, or make dinner. It was me, only me. Kimberly Vanessa Brown: the middle child, the shy one, the girl who was a virgin to college. Me. I was on my own, and Malik Moore—my ex—is gone.
It’s been almost a year since my fiancée stood me up at our wedding. Well, he didn’t exactly stand me up. He did show up; he had the decency to come in and walk down the aisle with his best man, Jarrod. He let my father walk me down the aisle, we recited our vows, and right before the minister said “Does anyone see why this man and woman should not be joined in holy matrimony,” Malik’s other woman crashed my wedding. I mean this bitch came in a shouting from the back of the church, “Malik, you know this is wrong. You love me.” Everyone turned around. Malik had a firm grip on my hand, and then he let it go. I fainted and hours later I awoke and Malik was nowhere to be found. I asked for him as soon as I awoke. I should have known something was wrong when my mother turned her head and my little sister Kianna ran to my side and said, “Take it easy,” that something was wrong.
I left the hospital that same night in my white wedding dress. When I came home I never took it off. I sat and I pulled every bead off my five thousand dollar dress, one by one. The phone rang and rang, and I didn’t answer it. I felt like a big failure. My parents spent twenty-five thousand on a wedding for nothing. My mother had the cops come bang on my door when they didn’t hear from me after two days. They thought I was suicidal or dead, but I wasn’t. I wanted to be dead, though. The only things that kept me from going over the top were my boys, Kevin and Kayden. Kayden is the only thing worth anything that came out of my relationship with Malik. Kayden is one and Kevin is eight.
My wedding was so embarrassing. Everybody was there, and they all saw my heart break. My mom’s friends, my friends, and just everybody . Then his little girlfriend came in and ruined everything. I still think about Malik; it is hard not to. I see his face everyday, even when I don’t want to. When I look into our one-year-old son’s face I see him. I still my engagement ring it’s just so hard to move on.
After the wedding that wasn’t I gave most of my gifts back and got a refund on our honeymoon. Since then everyone has been so nice to me. Even Karen, my sister, and we rarely get along. But I now have more of an appreciation for her. When it was all said and done and the bitch ran in and stopped my wedding, my sister was the one who was right there chasing after her. She chased her all the way to the gas station and knocked her out. We laughed about that. My uncle and other family members started calling and telling me about their heartache. Some of it helped, but most of it didn’t. People constantly calling you trying to make you happy makes you more depressed.
And what really upsets me is Malik didn’t ever tell me face-to-face that he didn’t want to be married. He sent me flowers and a note saying that he would always love me, but he wasn’t ready for marriage, and he hoped I understood. I didn’t understand then, and I understand now. I kept asking myself what I did to make him stray. He betrayed me and our family. He betrayed our son. We were supposed to be together till death do us part. Now I’m out here all alone. Abandoned.
My last year has been all meshed together. It seems like just yesterday I was pregnant with Kayden, and now he just turned one last month. I hate Malik and I hate men. I hate Malik so much I changed our son name from Malik Moore Jr. to Kayden Robinson. Malik tried to protest, but he doesn’t have an opinion or choice in the matter.
I hate men so much I became a lesbian temporarily. It was very brief. I think like an hour. I said I was going to get a woman and treat her like I would want to be treated. I was going to buy her nice things and take her out. Then, when the thought of sex came to mind, I changed my mind. Unfortunately, I still like men. However, Malik really has put a sour taste in my mouth. If I can’t trust him and I knew him for over four years and he hurt me and I had his only son, what would a man I didn’t know do to me? I think losing Malik has been worst than death. Death is permanent and you have no control of that. But Malik is still walking the earth and claimed to loved me and treated me like this. I guess I’ll never know, because I will never love another man again. You give everything, and no matter what you say, the other person doesn’t get it. You try to make it work. I thought I would be married for thirty years like my parents, but things don’t always go how you plan them.
My mom has been trying to get me to see a doctor about my depression. I have been fighting it by myself all these months. Nobody sees how difficult it is to be in my situation. All my sisters and mom say is “get over it.” You are not first and you won’t be the last single mom. They don’t get it. Nobody does. I’m trying to pick up the pieces of my life. A whole year has gone by and I haven’t moved from the place in my mind where Malik left me.