I love when I find these random, abandoned scraps of stories or failed writing exercises and I actually like them:
My first boyfriend had skin the color of parchment paper, with large reddish freckles painted across his nose and cheeks. His eyes were round and grey, his eyelashes brown and short and stubby. He blinked slowly when he lied. My friends did not understand what I saw in him. We were sophomores in college, and he had already been arrested twice that year, once for drugs possession and the other, for public intoxication. He’d left a party in Norfolk high on ecstasy and with a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit. He took off his shirt and pissed on the sidewalk before he ever made it to his car.
He had another girlfriend at the university across the bay. I saw her car parked across the street from my apartment complex for five nights in a row before she finally knocked on my door. I knew it was her because the green and yellow plates were her school colors. When I opened the door, I expected her to throw acid on my face. I shut my eyes and awaited the pain. Instead, I heard her sob. “You’re so pretty,” she said.
When I opened my eyes, she was just standing there, crying. She wore several heavy layers of mascara and the tears dripping over her nose led trails of soot down her face. She wasn’t ugly. We were about the same height, just over five feet. Orville was only five six; he liked smaller girls. She had rough coppery skin and wore a waist-length weave the same red-brown color as our boyfriend’s freckles. Weaves weren’t as popular or as realistic back then, and I could see the lump of tracks around her crown. Her hands were tiny. There was a slim gold band on her left ring finger. She saw me look at it, and twisted it around and around. Her hot pink nail polish was chipped.
“He promised,” she said. “He promised we would get married after graduation.”
I said nothing. She stopped crying at my silence. It seemed to make her angry, that I had not reacted to this news.
“You’re wasting your time,” she said.
“Maybe,” I replied. “Maybe we both are.”
Her eyes narrowed.
“You think just because you live in this fancy apartment and go to this bougie school and your dad is a judge and your mom is an AKA—you think he’ll choose you?”
The fact that she knew these things about my parents made me flinch. I knew nothing about her, except that my boyfriend was her boyfriend, too, and that she was standing outside my apartment yelling at me, with her makeup smeared all over her face and a fistful of tissues that she hadn’t used.
I held the door between us. Maybe the acid was in her purse and she just hadn’t reached for it yet.
“I don’t think any of those things, actually,” I told her. “I don’t think he’ll choose me. I don’t think he’ll choose you. I don’t think he knows anything. I don’t think I know anything.”
Her nostrils flared.
“What’s your name?” I asked her.
“Renee.” She wiped her nose, which had begun to drip. The tissue was stained brown with her foundation.
“Renee,” I repeated slowly. I’m sure she thought I was stupid. My friends did, too.
“Renee,” I said again. “Why are you here?”
“I needed to see what you looked like. I needed to hear your voice.”
“Did that help you? How do you feel now?”
“I feel like he’s gonna leave me.”
“And you want me to let him go.”
“I think you should.”
I sighed. “You’re right,” I told her. “I probably should.”
But I didn’t. I didn’t let go even after he was finally kicked out of school. I didn’t let go when he got Renee pregnant and she came by to show off her baby belly. I didn’t let go when he finally confessed that they had gotten married in a courthouse in Portsmouth, that he wanted to do the right thing and take care of his family. I didn’t care that I wasn’t his family, because he was mine. By the end my friends had stopped speaking to me. They were tired of seeing me waste my time.
I couldn’t make anyone understand the way he made me feel when we were together. His hands on my skin felt like love.
So, I’m back to business. Posts every Tuesday by 1 pm. I just needed a little bit of a break. March was crazy, between my final, my practicum, and my trip. And work has been a mess. But I missed this space.
See you next week, loves.