CHAPTER ONE: The First Sign
Our wedding is only five months away. I sat across my dining room table. Jamal kept playing with his cell phone. His text messages kept pinging. In the past few months he was always busy when it came time to discuss wedding plans.
"So here is the final proof for the wedding invitation.” I pushed it across the table.
Jamal let out a big sigh. "Is everything alright babe? We're just getting started. That is unless you want to cancel." I let out a chuckle. Jamal continued to stare at the invitation.
Jamal sighed again.
"You look tired maybe we can pick this up tomorrow”, I said.
"Col, we need to talk."
I pushed him out the door. "We can talk tomorrow."
I sat down on my couch and began to cry. Maybe I was the fool by refusing to believe what was obvious. I knew it was over. Tomorrow I'd meet him for lunch and I would ask him point blank.
I was supposed to have my bridal shower this weekend. I guess the other woman living with my ex-fiancé made sure that didn’t happen. I arrived to find my mother, Lauren, waiting for me at the loft-style apartment right off of Twentieth Street downtown that I’d rented. After three years of scrimping and saving for my wedding, my three thousand dollars served another purpose. I should have been married to Jamal now, but his affair dictated otherwise. Seeing my mother’s face reminded me of her life lesson about rainy day funds. “Every woman should have a rainy day fund, for fair-weather people.” Her advice proved to be right. At five foot three she barely saw over her luxury SUV’s steering wheel. I was quite amused at her navigating through the building’s turnabout. She didn’t care; I was with her at the dealership the day she picked it up. It was one of the many lavish birthday gifts she received from my father over the years. We had that kind of life.
“Dressed for the spring, I see. You couldn’t wait to put your capris on. Could you?”
“As a matter of fact, I think I look exceptionally good in my capris for my age. And besides, you are living on the waterfront, so I had to look the part.”
Living right off of the river was going to be perfect, which was why I didn’t have to visit the apartment before signing the contract. I knew my city which influenced my decision to move back home. Lord knows I needed some peace and tranquility. At night I would be able to sit on my deck and watch the city lights reflect on the river’s water. In the morning the sun would shine on my deck. Unfortunately, the beauty of my hometime also reflected the darkness of the economy. There were many abandoned factory buildings up for sale.
“How was your trip?” my mother asked me right when I walked in the door.
“It was uneventful. I packed my bags and left. I hope my furniture has made it to the apartment.”
“It did. I had the movers place everything by room.”
My mother started eyeing me. I hate it when she does that.
“Uneventful. When my clients used to say it, it meant the exact opposite.”
“Mom, it’s stuffy.” I walked over to the factory-size window and attempted to open it.
“Ow…oww.” I had put my all into punching Jamal. He didn’t even have the decency to wait before he moved his other woman into our home. How did I find out? Well, the day I was supposed to get on the road, I had to pick up one last box. He was adamant about me coming to get it. This a-hole answered the door with the same executive assistant who was at his beck and call. He put the box in my car and expected a hug. Well, he got my fist instead.
“Are you okay? Let me see. Your hand is swollen. You need to see a doctor.”
“Ice will be fine, Mother. I am fine.”
“Your hand is swollen. You should see a doctor soon. Uneventful…yeah, right,” my mother said. “How about telling me how your hand became swollen? How are you supposed to hold babies with a swollen hand?”
“Babies?” Jill’s mother, my mother’s cousin, had wasted no time telling my mother that her daughter would be my boss.
Can anyone keep a secret in this family? I thought.
“What did you say?”
“I didn’t say anything, Mother.”
Her eyes widened, then became like slits, a sure sign she was perturbed. “You know your cousin can’t keep a secret. I already knew you were going to work at the daycare. I personally think it is beneath you to work in that science experiment.”
“Just because she is not in a nice neighborhood does not mean the daycare is a science experiment.”
“I want to know what happened to your hand!” she replied.
I rolled my eyes. “Mom, it is so not important. I sorta, kinda hit Jamal.”
“You hit Jamal!”
“Yes, I went to pick up my last box, and his ‘other woman’ answered the door.”
“You hit him?”
I threw up my hands, waving her off.
“Go ahead, Mom, I’m ready. Let me have it.”
Brookita R Braxton, an Air Force Veteran and a government employee, has always been intrigued by the mother/ daughter relationship dynamic. After being given up for adoption at an early age and losing her adopted mother to a terminal illness, her curiosity evolved into story lines. Brookita lives in Alexandria, Virginia. She attends church and spends time with her family and friends. This is her first novel.