I wanted to share a story I wrote about four months ago. I think it may end up being a screenplay.
It is about what we are looking for when we try to fill the hole in our lives with anything other than the person who we were created to be. It is fragmented, and a draft, but I felt compelled to share. We all know this man, the man who is never satisfied. What are you filling yours with?
Warning: Now keep in mind I'm an artist, so I'm sensitive about my work!
The first time I told Lisa I loved her we were sitting on the couch watching Good Times. She had on my favorite soft ribbed blue sweater. I was telling her that as a kid I used to write poems to Janet Jackson.
"Aww, you were geeky?"
"I was not geeky, that was Janet."
'"She write you back?""Shut up. See now you just can't appreciate a man's skills. " I grinned sheepishly,"I never sent them."
"Cause... I don't know. I guess they were personal."
" Personal love poems to Janet Jackson?"
"Hey, rejection ain't no joke, especially for a kid. But you women wouldn't know anything about that."
"Is that so?" she raised an eyebrow and started rubbing my leg.
"See now, look at what you started. I'm just sitting here trying to watch a nice episode of pop culture iconography and here you are tripping. I'm gonna have you arrested for making a brother nervous. Police!"
Unfazed, Lisa leaned over and laid her head on my chest. Her skin smelled delicate like caramel and pecans. Something stirred inside me, having her there.
"Now you making me miss watching Penny get whupped by her mama."
"Michael, what do you like about me?"
I smiled. Then I looked down and saw the quiet fear in her eyes. Suddenly the comfort that I felt gave way to heart racing.
"You're smart. You're kind . You're beautiful."
"You never write me any poems. You never show your work." she declared.
"I've written you lots of poems," I said quietly.
"I never sent them."
She looked up when she realized how fast my heart was racing.
Then she smiled the most beautiful smile I'd ever seen in my whole life.
* * * *
I wouldn't let go.
She was struggling with me. Wrestling with me. Pleading with me, but I wouldn't let go. I couldn't. Her breath was short, and I could hear her gasping and fighting as she pushed my weight away from her. At any moment I knew that I would loose my grip. I could feel my fingers pressing into her skin, slipping from the thickening sheaths of sweat. Suddenly I felt something break and my body pushed against the wall. Lisa got up and picked up a fire poker.
"Touch me again and I will kill you, Michael. I will split you open on this carpet."
She was yelling, screaming, cursing. Half of her hair was stuck to her check, the other half stood straight up, reaching for the ceiling. Mascara blackened her eyes, and her arms were shaking. Her eyes were liquid fire.
"You knew! And you lied about it because you knew."
Removed from her, looking at her there, I couldn't answer. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't look into her wrath. If I did I felt like I'd be consumed right there, and there would'nt be be anything left of me.
"You know you pretended you were so different, like you were better. But you are no better."
I didn't hear her leave the room. I didn't hear her close the door. There was nothing there but numbness. I didn't even feel the tears until to my horror, I noticed them hitting my skin and running down my hands.
A few hours later Dawan and Clarise knocked at my door, which was open. They found me sitting at the same spot on the floor that I always. Dawan's deep eyes flashed when he saw me sitting there slumped over. His dark cheeks hardened. I then felt him kicking my stomach. Totally unprepared I tried to get up, but he had a foot and over a hundred pounds on me. I tried to breath but I could taste blood and mucus in my saliva In the background I could hear Clarise screaming. Finally, heaving from the force of the blows he stood over me, face stony.
"Dawan, just let him go. Let's get her stuff and leave."
Clarise pulled Dawan back from me.
"Be a man. Hit a man, punk!" his voice boomed, "You better not let me see you in the street!"
"Just let him go, Dawan. It's done. Go get the stuff out the bedroom."
Dawan sighed heavily and kicked me one last time in the gut before heading into the back bedroom.
"I didn't hit her, but I shouldn't have grabbed her."
Clarise spun around.
"Damn right you shouldn't have."
"I love her," I said , "I didn't mean to hurt her," I said surprised by my own whisper.
"What?Michael you ain't never gonna love nobody because your love is only about you. If you loved my sister why you get the other girl pregnant?"
The next week Regina called me in her clipped reserved tone and matter-of-factly told me that she had an abortion. I asked her if she needed me for anything. She gave a wry chuckle.
"What could I possibly need from you?"
She politely excused herself from the phone, and that was the last time I ever heard from her.
I went back to school in the fall, and told no one not even Tyrell what happened. When he picked my up from the airport and he saw my face, and gave me the gift of his silence. He picked up my bags, and together we walked out of the terminal each speaking no words. Later on that week, I found a several hundred dollars in my wallet.
I studied. Partied occasionally. Dated women who required very little of my time or effort. Tutored kids at the YMCA. Mostly kept to myself. After months of going through the motions, I started to believe that the incident never happened.
* * * * *
It was at least three years after Ashe told me Regina died that I dared call anyone and ask where she was buried.
"Depression," Ashe said knowingly,"She went down hill after she dropped out of law school," with an arched brow.
"She never contacted me. We didn't stay in the same circles."
"Yeah, I guess we never do," she said leaning against the counter. She never spoke Regina's name to me again.
Slowly, I begin to put my pen to paper and soon I was enveloped in a sea of simple words.
For Each One, Especially Her
Free to be strong and weak
And without fear that I would rob you of what you protect
You needed me to say I love you in the past present and future tense
You needed me to love you
And you needed to believe that
My love was honorable
But I lied to you
Took from you without giving myself
Expected from you what I should have expected from me
I didn't say loving things, didn't treat you with the care you deserve
I fought you to gain my own honor, and lost.
Now the weight of my shortcomings are reflected in your eyes
No matter how much I wanted to be more, I'm just a man
And maybe not even a very good one.
For all the things I regret
I will forever be sorry that
I couldn't be that man to you
And to myself
I don't ask you for your love
But for your forgiveness
And a fresh page
I placed the poem in a simple envelope and nervously turned off the ignition to car. The house was a simple adobe, and nothing like I remembered. Then a woman in the window dusting. She reminded me of my grandmother, tall and still, even while moving. She looked nothing like Regina, but something about the raised shoulders, mighty like mountains, reminded me of Regina's walk. For a moment our eyes met. The fall wind seemed to pick up slightly, blowing the leaves, blowing the grass, and maybe even blowing the sky. I started the car again, and headed to the grave site.