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My Work

Jazmin A. Hall

Soul Amends

 

You see her standing there, her body well shaded under the heaviness of the leaves that dangle toward the ground. You want to approach her, but you are unsure. The last time words from either of your lips touched the same short span of air, it erupted in a sparring of verbal jabs, both of you not fighting fair. Yet still, you see strands of her hair gently being lifted by the wind, the honey brown of her skin reminding you of the sunset at its peak. She wears only a flimsy sundress, the colors those of the sky, a billowy blue and white number. You think back to that night. Again, the sharp pain of the way things came to a seemingly permanent end hack at your heart.

 

You never wanted to hurt her.

 

The day you saw her standing at the bus stop, sweat marring the delicate landscape of her face, the heels that graced her feet seeming to give her hell, you knew, bringing pain her way was the last thing you ever wanted to do.

 

But you were weak, letting yourself be lead by supple flesh and perishable glances. You foolishly let that other woman in your bed, buried your head between her legs, and gave up the love that belonged to her.

 

And now you sit, watching her from afar, your heart pounding as you think  of why you came. The velvet box in your right pocket feels heavy, foreboding. This occasion, this gathering of her family and friends is in full swing, bodies all around, the scents of summer in the air. You see her mother, with her face so much like hers only a head full of silky gray curls. You spy her brother, his tall presence sending just that much fear into your appearance. You are surprised no one has noticed you standing on the outskirts of this celebration yet, but you are also relieved. You do not want your presence known before you can handle what that it will mean.

 

Wearily, you take two deep breaths, trying to collect as much air as you can, as though it will give you strength to take a step in her direction.

 

“Isn’t this a surprise.”

You are caught. All you can do is turn around and see who has snared you, because you do not recognize the voice.

“Mattie….hi.”

The deep creases in her sister’s forehead tell you that ‘hi’ is not what she wants to hear.

“To what do we owe this inconvenience?”

That stings. You brush it off, tuck it with every other subtle and not so subtle insult hurled by her comrades in the past and square your shoulders.

“I just came to talk to her.”

“And what makes you think she wants to talk to you? Correct me if I’m wrong, but if I caught my man with his head in between some bitches legs, he wouldn’t be someone id be interested in seeing.”

The vileness of your actions is not unknown to you, yet having them riding back on the waves of angry breath, into your psyche, leaves you feeling dismal. You take a glance back to where she is still standing. She has not left her spot, as though she is waiting for you. But you know that is not true, and store it with its companion, the wish that she will not turn you away.

“I understand your anger at me Mattie, but this is between me and Nia.”

“Trust me, I know my sister and she don’t have two words to say to your ass. But go on and try. Give us some entertainment.”

You turn away from her without words and before you are fully ready you head in her direction. Without looking back you know Mattie and anyone else who has looked up from their plates of barbeque or from their game of Spades long enough to notice you are looking. Waiting for your demise.

You get closer, close enough for her scent to hit you. It’s a breezy, flowery scent, full of summer undertones and currents that take one’s mind to balmy beaches and white sand. Your close enough now to make out the tiny mole on her left shoulder and your heart feels crammed into your throat. You call her name, hating the way your voice echoes your inner sentiments. She knows your voice. You can tell she knows it you by the way her shoulders tense. She starts her descent to face you and time loses all relevant value. Nothing matters but the expression that will grace her face.

“Jonathon?”

She says your name as a question, as if not sure you are really before her. After her initial wonderment ceases, her gaze darkens and you know what is to come.

“Why are you here?”

It is a simple enough question, yet you know that any answer will not appease her. The only thing that will is the sight of you walking away, and you cannot, will not do that until the box has moved from your pocket to your trembling hands.

“I’m here...” You take another breath; feel the penetrating gazes of nosy family members bore into the back and sides of your head. “I’m here to make it known that I want to make things right between us. The way we parted…Nia, we owe each more than that. You know we do.”

With your eyes you try to bore into hers, to transport even an ounce of the love you still have for her flooding your body into her. She shows no sign of whether or not you are succeeding.

“There is nothing we have to say to each other.”

“I love you. Yes, what I did was wrong. Horribly wrong. But people make mistakes. And I’ve learned from mine. So when I say I love you, I’m, not saying that as the man I was before. I’m saying it as the man standing before you now, speaking from my heart and my soul. Nia, no one has ever, ever meant as much to me as you do. And that’s real.”

“I’m not moved.”

You rack your brain for something else to say, something that will make her uncross her arms. Your hand inches toward your right pocket and your grasp the box. You feel yourself lowering to the ground, and you ignore the frenzied whispers of her entourage.

“I don’t know what I can say to make this right. But I do know that I will spend every single day of our lives trying to find the words.”

Her eyes bulge, her hands move to the sides of her face. Someone yells something you cannot make out to her, but she waves them off. You are scared to let yourself feel happiness yet.

“Jonathon, what are you saying?”

“Marry me Nia. Let me show you just how much I love you.”

“I…Jon…this is crazy. It really and truly is.”

“Love makes no sense baby. You know it and I know it. Let’s be crazy together.”

Your words sound rushed and corny even to your own ears. But you look her dead in the eye and reach for her hand. In her eyes you see nothing. But that fills you with hope, for nothing is better than finding a seething rage simmering in her circles of sight.

Her mother steps out from the crowd, and eyes her daughter.

“I can see it in you Nia.”

Her eyes brim with tears and she focuses her stare on her mother.

“Don’t fight it baby. Life is too short. It’s obvious this man loves you. Either that, or he’s deranged, coming here like this.” She gestures to the throngs of family watching the display.

“Nia…”

“Wait.” She holds up her petite hand and you swallow back your words.

“The fact that I have not slapped you or better yet, turned my brother on you yet, tells me that whether I want to accept it or not, I still love your black ass.”

Those words, are enough to get you through the next lifetime. Knowing that somewhere inside of her, a pocket of love remains for you.

“You hurt me.” She is quiet for a moment, as if the utterance of those words brings the pain splashing back to the surface. “Probably more so than I’ve ever felt. And I can’t get over that today. Not tomorrow, and probably not next week. I don’t know how trying to love you will fair next that hurt, but…I have to try. Not for you, but for me. Because I can’t live with this inside of me.”

You don’t trust your voice at this moment, so you say nothing.

“Yes…Jonathon Alexander Daniels. I will marry you.”

You could have been standing naked in a congregation and it would not have mattered. You slide the ring on her finger, feeling like you have been given another chance at life. You wrap her in a shaky embrace, and cannot hold back the weight of intensity you’ve held since you stepped out of your car. You cry on her shoulder like an infant, and you have no shame. She is your love and she is your only judge as you stand there and let your pain soak her skin.

 

You glance up and you see that there are members of her family with tears working their way down their face, mostly the women, but there are a few men affected. You hold her close, close your eyes and thank whoever orchestrates the magnificent and oftentimes catastrophic production of life for this moment, this sweet serendipity, a captured dream present in the eyes of a beholder. She clings to you and there is not a doubt in your mind that you will make this work. Finally you feel strong enough to touch your lips to hers and you do, the luxurious feel of her mouth on yours, the texture of her tongue. You can taste the love that has wormed it way past the anger for a moment and you drink of it, letting it satiate you with its sweetness.

Your soul seeps with satisfaction, for you have not only mended jagged wounds, you have started anew. This is the beginning of forever.

 

Copyrighted Jazmin Hall 2004