… three broken hearts…

The voice note turned blue. They all had listened. They all knew.

Desh was the first on the ball, “Nah, nah, nah, nah! You not serious. Honestly, I’m in shock!”  

It was shock to everyone. Of course it was, we were the beautiful black couple with the beautiful baby and beautiful story. We climbed from nothing, we were in the making of becoming something. To the public eye, we supported each other’s dreams, careers and education. We even shared our anniversary celebrations publicizing our love and devotion, despite being at each other’s throats between camera snaps. We were loving and adoring fans of the other always posting about the other’s achievements on social media and how proud we were of the other. We were diligent, aspiring entrepreneurs with matched ambitions and drives. Lord only knows how grossly mismatched we were, but we wore the facade well.

I sent the picture I found.

Red faced emojis followed in response. 

I sent screen shots of the Facebook conversation I had with the young lady.

Lin began typing, “So if their friendship is so innocent, why lie about how they knew each other?”

“I don’t know. I’ve always been very accepting of his female colleagues. He thought it was a safe bet.” I rationalized. “You know, I always believed that men are just bred to cheat. But for some unfathomable reason, I thought he would be different.” My mind fazed to my father, dead now, he too was afflicted by the plague upon Caribbean men to spread their seed with little regard. This was evidenced by my two brothers born in 1992 but were not twins. 

“I don’t know what to say, doll. What are you going to do now?” Lin attempted to assess where my head was at. 

“I don’t know. Counselling I guess. I’ve been begging for us to go to counselling for months but he insisted we don’t need it. We definitely need it now.”

Lene, while online, didn’t type a syllable. Lene had a different connection with him. He was more than her old friend’s husband. He was her God-son, as she stayed for him when he converted to Catholicism through R.C.I.A. He was the colleague who taught her the ropes at her new job. He was her friend too. He was also her last hope that there may still be good men in the world. 

“Whatsapp needs an angry emoji with no tears.”

Lin sent one, encouraging me to use it as much as I needed to.

Lene finally joined the conversation “I’m not believing any story. I’m not believing anything he has to say. I’m just so f***ing pissed right now!” Ever the pious catholic, she couldn’t bring herself to type the word. “Girl, I’m crying on my side right now. How could he do that to you after everything.”

“Men cheat. It’s not a matter of if but when.” I addressed it nonchalantly.

“But he was one of the good ones.” I can almost hear her voice crack as I read her words.

 “Was.” I quipped. Desh echoed my nonchalance by pointing at my one word response with a brown hand emoji. 

“Well ladies, this bullshit has cost me enough sleep tonight. I’ll try to reach out to the Deacon in the morning about counselling and I’ll keep you posted.

“Alright doll. Let us know what’s happening and if I need to dismount my knives from my wall.” Desh attempted to lighten the mood with her trademarked dark humour.

One by one they attempted to console me that night from their beds. Three hug emojis each.

il_570xN.896881731_jzit

 

Advertisements

… transformer…

Broken.

Fragmented. With every fall.

Yet she gets up. Sure to pick every piece and keep every memory.

Shards, broken in to splinters.

Pieces so minute, when she moves, it’s like liquid.

She must move.

Forward. Every piece, grinding against the other.

A high octave roaring. Announcing her presence.

… a broken promise…

The validation of months of suspicions swelled in my chest. Then came the hubris: how dare you Cheat On ME?!!! I flipped back and forth through the three pictures scrutinizing her face, her body, her features. She laid on the floor of her livingroom with her skirt hiked up showing a generous amount of leg. She stuck her tongue out in assumed jest. In each frame her back was more arched than the previous shot. Seemingly innocent, obviously not. She wasn’t even that pretty, I thought. What a slut?! She looked like a horsefly. A cross-eyed horsefly.

It would be months before I noticed that in the right corner of each frame next to the yellow bowl of gold fish crackers was the bent knee and stubby toes of my four-year-old. This had to be a joke. But if it were, why would he delete the photos from his phone gallery. If it weren’t for the automatic upload feature of Google Photos, the evidence of his transgression would have gone unnoticed.

I didn’t give myself an opportunity to second guess it. Something had changed. He had changed. He got promoted. A bigger salary. Twice what he made before. His clothes improved, better shoes. He worked hard. He deserved it. That wasn’t all. He went out more. Honestly he was always a social butterfly, a prevalent point in our list of incompatibilities.

Then there were the strange questions and anecdotes. Once he asked me if I believed in emotional cheating. He insisted the question stemmed from a conversation he and his colleagues were having at work that day. He said the topic was raised by the new girl in the office. According to him, his colleagues believed she had a crush on him. I even played along at home whenever he raised the topic. “How could she not, you’re the cute star-boy salesman. She wants you!” I’d tell him. “Why else would she accompany you to go Christmas shopping?” 

Imagine my surprise when I discovered she never worked with him. The conversations with his colleagues were all convoluted creations meant to introduce his new friend. An attempt to acclimatize us to one another perhaps.

I met her once. Barely. He brought her to our home then took our daughter to Gulf City Mall to go Christmas gift shopping. I insisted that year that I wanted a leather jacket as my gift and I saw one one sale on Facebook at a store located in Gulf City Mall. She went for the ride. She sat in the front passenger seat, my seat, smiled and waved at me, “Merry Christmas!”. I half waved back with a sweaty face and cobweb in my hair from cleaning and holey pajamas. I messaged him, apologizing for my rudeness as I really didn’t expect guests.

In February of the following year, while in the pit of my depression, the events of that day came to haunt me in a case of mistaken identity. The mother of one of my exes recognized my daughter and husband with ‘me’ at the mall that day, shopping. She said ‘I’ looked so much slimmer with my braids and baby blue shorts. I got so fat now. I laughed it off insisting it was my sister she saw and not me. “It was my sister”, was a reasonable explanation of why the three of them looked so close and happy together like they were family.

With his phone still in my hand, I leaped at him like a soucouyant seeking blood, demanding answers I truly didn’t care to hear. The thumping of my pulse filled my ear with the opening chords of a song so fitting for the moment.

Who the fuck do you think I am?

You ain’t married to no average bitch, boy!

– Don’t hurt yourself, Beyonce ft Jack White.

“Me! You horn me?! You were a security guard before me! You lived in a rat hole before me!”

There it was again, the hubris that pushed him, emasculated him. A task made easy by the fact that every fibre of his character was riddled with insecurities. He was never confident in himself and what he brought to the table. Frankly, neither was I.

…a birthing story…

She came two days late…a sign, from the start, that she intended to live on her own terms. My little trooper.

The doctor sent me home for the second time with the prescription of rest to deal with the pain. He said it was Braxton Hicks contractions triggered by my coughing, a symptom of a flu I couldn’t treat. Ever obedient, I made a hobbled beeline for the bedroom. I laid on my back with my feet elevated on the pillows which already imprinted the shape of my swollen calves. Another one came. I gritted my teeth. Braxton Hicks my ass!

As it passed I glanced over to the concerned face beside me. His helplessness weighed on his eyebrows and shoulders. He tried to rub my belly as you would do for a stomachache. I barked at him. He pulled away. Left the room. Been barking at him a lot lately. Just three days prior I chose the cold living room floor and chair cushions over the comfort of our bed, as an act of rebellion. I attempted to throw him out of the bed when I discovered, once again, that he was giving money to his ex. He refused to leave the room. So I did. Now I have the flu and Braxton Hicks contractions.

I wish I had the luxury to fill that prescription of rest that night but pain persisted. An educated guess would say, once every half hour. She was on her way.

At sunrise, we made arrangements to make our third trip in the last three days to Port of Spain General Hospital. Despite living in Tunapuna, I kept up appearances in the Port of Spain clinic after our move from Morvant. The lore of high pregnancy related deaths at Mt. Hope General Hospital was at its peak in early 2013. We thought it best not to tempt fate.

Baby bag…check! Mommy bag…check! Panicked father-to-be…check! Driver…? Since we didn’t have a car, we were promised by her father’s best friend that he would take us to the hospital. He took us once before, and our neighbour/my school friend, obliged the second time. As we count down the minutes of our driver’s arrival the minutes between pain and calm drew closer and closer. Her father read in some pregnancy article that walking eases the pain. So I paced. What he neglected to mention was pacing also speeds up the dilation process. The more pain I felt, the faster I paced. Then…splash!

Panic would be an understatement to describe the emotion of two first-time parents in that moment. He went to get my friend, as the driver seemed to be unreachable despite living one town away in Bon Air. I climbed into the back seat with my bag and the bag designated for our newborn. My friend apologized for the mess of the car which betrayed the extent of his bad habits: cigarettes and cleaning up when he felt like it. I was too distracted by what was happening to be bothered by the mess. My initial thought was to get on the bus route and flag down any police officer we see or may stop us in hopes of getting an escort to the hospital. It happens in the movies, right? Why not in Trinidad?

I felt the pressure of what was once contractions shift from my abdomen to my pelvis. It was involuntary. I clenched. She resisted. It was a war between me and the daughter I’d yet to meet. We sped down the bus route, my friend was living his speed racer dreams as he swerved around the maxis. We stopped at a red light. Why? It’s the law, I guess. At the same time, we saw a police car and begged the officers to escort us. Instead they gave us permission to go. Off the bus route now, somewhere on the Lady Young Road, we begged the assistance of another police vehicle we saw. They waved us through, just telling us to go.

During this ride, her father climbed from the front seat to the back with me as my screams grew more terrifying. I barked orders like a demon to her minion demanding he get the towel and blanket from her baby bag. My daughter and I continued our tug of war as I insisted that she wait until we arrived to the hospital. To this day, she has a hard time taking instructions.

Sometime after 11 a.m., as we flew around the Queen’s Park Savannah, Skyler-Marie Coryse Morton was born in the backseat of her Godfather’s AD wagon.

Defying the clench of my kegel exercises, she flew out, down one leg of my boy-short undies, into the hands of her dad. She was slippery. He fumbled the catch and instead landed below the driver’s seat. She was small and easily lost between the mid-term essay drafts and cigarette butts on the floor. I felt under the seat for her, guided by the umbilical cord which was still attached. She was silent. Stunned by her grand entry into world perhaps. I surely was.

I picked her up, pried her lips apart to get the excess fluid out. I read somewhere that may cause choking. As I opened her mouth, she wailed. My little trooper. Welcome. Don’t you like drama?! I covered her in a blanket and picked off the ash and debris she trekked in her dive below the car seat. I held her on my chest as her wails subdued into coos. The ladies were calm. The men were not. As we pulled into the emergency driveway, the car had yet to come to a complete stop before her father leaped out of the vehicle in hopes to get the attention of an attendant. We waited while a nurse from the maternity ward was summoned to the ground floor. Umbilical cord still attached. Calm and cooing.

A stern faced woman with glasses appeared between my legs and took my daughter from me. She cut the umbilical cord and placed her in a plexiglass crib and wheeled her away. Then my friend, her father and an attendant struggled to get me in a wheelchair. My legs were useless. My friend and her father waited downstairs as men are not allowed on the maternity ward. She was taken to be checked for general health and to be cleaned. I was taken to give a second birth but to the sack she called home for the last 9 months and two days. She was cleaned, I was stitched up and we were reunited.

I bared the verbal abuse of a nurse for my carelessness as I reached for my phone. But I had to take a picture of what I just did…

…a poem…

This is a Dark Time My Love – Martin Carter

This is a dark time, my love.

All round the land brown beetles crawl about.

The shining sun is hidden in the sky.

Red flowers bend their heads in awful sorrow.

This is a dark time, my love.

It is the season of oppression, dark metal, and tears.

It is the festival of guns, carnival of misery.

Everywhere the faces of men are strained and anxious

Who comes walking in the dark night time?

Whose boot of steel tramps down the slender grass?

It is the man of death, my love, the strange invader

watching you sleep and aiming at your dream.