Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Happy Mother's Day! Today I have posted another installement of Simply Aubrey Pt.5 below. Also, I have posted a poem I wrote for my mother, Thanayi A., on my poetry page: Inside These Padded Walls. Click the link below and it will take you there. You may also notice that the poetry that was previously there is now missing. I'm making some changes to the site and I thank you for your patience. Please feel free to leave comments.
Inside These Padded Walls
Inside These Padded Walls
It was the day of Phillip Morris’ funeral. The week had been emotionally draining for not only Salim but his wife, Aubrey, as well. The couple hadn’t seen or heard from Brittney since she rushed out of the house with Ryan in tow. They were extremely worried about them. Salim had hoped to spend some time with his nephew before he moved away to Boston. He never mentioned it but Aubrey was fully aware that her husband was disappointed and hurt. The funeral had been nice and simple, and Salim and Aubrey got a chance to meet Phillip’s adoptive parents and some of his old friends. She wouldn’t tell her love but she was extremely upset that Brittney hadn’t been by to see them and even had the audacity not to show up at the funeral. Aubrey was convinced that Brittney was using some type of drug, and she was close to calling child protective services. But she didn’t want to jump to conclusions, and she didn’t want to start kicking up dust especially at this difficult time in her husband’s life.
The repast was held at Salim’s community center. Salim and Aubrey sat at a table with Phillip’s adoptive parents; William and Sharon Poole. They entertained their guests, but Aubrey and Salim had barely spoken a word to each other. They remained at each other’s side and held hands occasionally. She was actually used to the silence and it didn’t bother her. Salim was barely at home when she was there, and when he was home he was in the office working. The holding of hands was more of a façade for their guests. They loved each other very much, but their relationship had gotten to the point when words were unnecessary. Their marriage was almost a routine. Aubrey tolerated it but she was not happy about how their relationship was going. She missed the days when they went out on the town for dinner and attended occasional wine tastings. She missed the nights they would spend wrapped in each other’s arms laughing and talking about any and everything. She sighed. This was the first time they had been out of the house together in months. She wondered where they went terribly wrong. Had she changed? Was Salim simply bored with her? A million thoughts of how to rekindle the flame in their marriage raced through Aubrey’s head while she sat next to her husband, who was engaged in a conversation with one of Phillip’s old band mates. Everything came to an abrupt halt when she noticed Brittney and Ryan entering the room. Numerous emotions rose in her chest. Aubrey didn’t know what to do or so say to the small woman. First, she wanted to see what her husband’s feelings were. She leaned over to her husband and whispered in his ear that Brittney was there. Salim’s head jerked as he searched for her. Once he spotted her, he excused himself from the table and headed her way. Aubrey watched as her love spoke to her.
Brittney wore a pair of black pants that showed her panty line and a black shawl over a gray camisole. Aubrey assumed the woman didn’t have formal attire. Ryan was wearing a pair of jeans and a collar shirt. His face was sad but he was still precious. Aubrey wanted to go to him and plant kisses all over his face until he finally smiled. She frowned. She had always wanted to give her husband a son, but she couldn’t. Her back stiffened and she cocked her head slightly to the side when she noticed Salim’s posture had changed and his hand movements were becoming more aggressive. Aubrey quickly excused herself from the table and joined her husband. The Salim and Brittney stopped talking when she approached, and Brittney rolled her eyes. Aubrey inhaled a deep breath before speaking. She wanted to choose her next words wisely.
“Hey, Brittney. We missed you two at the funeral and the burial ground.”
“Honey, Brittney was just telling me that she didn’t get to the burial site until after we were already gone.” Salim said stiffly.
Aubrey was confused. “Was it a transportation issue? We had plenty of room in the limo.”
“No. It wasn’t.” Brittney stated.
Aubrey could tell by Brittney’s stance and the tone of her voice that she was irritable. But Aubrey was the last person she wanted to have an attitude with. “Is there something wrong, Brittney? You never brought Ryan to the house to see us this week, you missed the funeral, and you show up to the repast late. What’s going on?”
“I came here because I can’t take Ryan with me to Boston.”
Aubrey was speechless. She looked up at her husband and noticed the look of disgust on his face. Brittney must have already told him the news. Aubrey cleared her throat. “Salim, take Ryan to our table and make him a plate. I know William and Sharon would love to see him.” Salim took Ryan’s hand and walked away. “Brittney, I think we need to talk, but not right here. Come with me.” Aubrey stated firmly. She was not asking permission. Brittney sucked her teeth but followed Aubrey out of the banquet room and into Salim’s office. She closed the door behind them and sat on her husband’s desk she had bought him for their last anniversary. “Brittney, I know something is going on, and I believe it has something to do with your relationship with Phillip. But what you are doing is not only affecting your son but also Salim, his brother.”
“What do you know?” Brittney spat. “You know nothing about Phillip or our son.”
“I’m not saying that I know you. What I am trying to say is I want to get to know you. I want to help you. Me and Salim want to help you.” Aubrey was sincere but still confused about where Brittney’s aggression was coming from.
“Help? Oh, now you want to give help? Fine! Take my son!” Brittney was yelling and had burst into tears.
“What? Why can’t you take your son with you?” Aubrey asked hesitant in approaching the volatile woman in front of her, but offered a tissue for the tears streaking her face.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Aubrey stood there for a moment. The little boy favored Salim a little. Aubrey finally remembered her manners and spoke. “Hi. My name is Aubrey.” She was speaking to the frail woman but her eyes never left the small child. He was handsome but she could tell he was timid from his posture.
“Hi. I’m Brittney. This is my son, Ryan.” The woman spoke.
Aubrey beamed a smile and released the tension in her shoulders. “Oh my! Hello. Come in.” She stepped aside and allowed them to enter her home. She closed the door behind them and led them to the living room. “Honey, Brittney is here!” She yelled to her husband. Aubrey told them to have a seat on the couch. Aubrey didn’t know much about Brittney other than the fact that she dated Phillip, but she figured that Brittney felt some way about his death. Salim finally joined them. He gave Brittney a hug and affectionately rubbed Ryan’s head. Aubrey was a little confused.
“Would you like some hot tea?” She asked Brittney. Brittney declined. “How about you, cutie? Would you like something to drink?” Ryan didn’t say a word. He simply shook his head. Aubrey knew it would take some time before he felt comfortable enough to speak. She took her husband’s hand and sat on the loveseat.
“Aubrey, remember I told you about Phil’s girlfriend, Brittney? This is their son, Ryan. I told them to stop by when I saw them earlier at the morgue.” Salim noticed the slight look of confusion on his wife’s face.
Aubrey finally understood. “Oh, so that handsome young man is my nephew!” She smiled at Ryan hoping he would smile back. He didn’t. “How old are you, Ryan?” No answer.
“He’s six.” Brittney answered.
Aubrey nodded her head. She could never imagine losing her father now. Let alone at the age of six. This was probably one of the saddest days of this young boy’s life. No wonder he didn’t want to talk. Aubrey decided to learn more about Brittney instead. “So do you all live around here?”
“Well. I was staying in Coral Gables, but now that Phil’s gone I’m going back to Boston to stay with my grandmother.”
Aubrey had been to that part of Florida before so she knew where Brittney was referring to. Coral Gables wasn’t that far from Tamarac, Florida. “I’m so sorry about your loss. I can tell he meant a lot to you.” Aubrey knew if she ever lost Salim she would lose her mind. She definitely wouldn’t be as cool, calm, and collective as Brittney. This woman sitting before her had to identify the dead body of the father of her child. That had to be tough.
“We’ve been apart for two years but he was a great father. He loved Ryan so much, and their relationship meant a lot to me.” She looked over at her son, who still had yet to even make a noise.
“It’s crazy that he never told me that he had a son.” Salim spoke up. “We lived together for six months and he never brought Ryan to the house. I just don’t understand.” He shook his head. Aubrey reached over for her husband’s hand quietly and gently squeezed it. She knew he was still trying to cope with the death of his half-brother.
“That was a rough time in his life, Salim. He had lost the mother he had been searching for ever since he found out he had been adopted. I believe that’s when his drug habit got out of hand. He was devastated. There were a lot of unanswered questions that haunted him.” Brittney’s tone was flat. Aubrey couldn’t understand how she wasn’t breaking down at the mere mention of her ex-boyfriend. Has this woman even cried, Aubrey wondered.
“That’s understandable.” Aubrey said and Salim nodded in agreement.
“I just wish he had told me so that I could have been a part of Ryan’s life.” Salim stated.
“And you still can, baby. We can spend time with him before they head to Boston.” Aubrey attempted to cheer him up.
“Yes. We aren’t leaving until the funeral, Salim. Ryan probably needs you the most right now.” Brittney offered.
Salim stared at Ryan with tears welling in his eyes. “Man, he looks just like Phil.” Aubrey squeezed her husband’s hand tighter.
“Baby, I think I left my cellphone upstairs. People are probably calling. Can you get it for me, please?”
Salim got up quickly. “Yeah, I’ll get it.” And he was gone. He knew Aubrey had sent him on this mission to give him a moment to cry and pull himself back together. They both knew he didn’t want to break down in front of Ryan. They had to be strong for him.
“So how did you meet Phillip?” Aubrey asked once Salim had disappeared up the stairs.
Brittney smiled for a brief second. The first display of emotion Aubrey had seen from her since she found her on her doorstep. “I met Phillip at a jazz lounge out in Boston.”
“Yes. He was performing. Phil was a great singer.”
Phillip seemed to have so much going for him. What made him turn to drugs? And how in the world did he end up overdosing in a rundown motel room? Aubrey wished she had met her brother in-law. He sounded like an interesting man. “Wow.”
“That night it seemed like he sung to my soul, and he left the lounge with my heart.” Her eyes became cold. “It just wasn’t meant to be.”
Aubrey could tell something had happened between Phillip and Brittney, and it wasn’t good. “Are you all hungry? I have some chicken salad left. I could whip up a couple sandwiches.”
“No, thank you. We are about to leave.” Brittney stood up and Ryan followed suit.
Aubrey didn’t even attempt to hide her look of confusion. Did she offend Brittney? Why was she leaving so soon without an explanation? “Oh. Well, let me get Salim so he can tell you goodbye.” Aubrey quickly exited the living room to get her love. Maybe he could convince Brittney to stay a little while longer.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Salim continued. “Phillip was dating a girl named Brittney Cooper when we lived together. She called me this morning.” He paused and inhaled deeply. “She had to identify his body last night.” Another pause. “He overdosed a few days ago in a rundown motel.”
Aubrey did not know what to say. She sat there in silence while her mind raced wild. She couldn’t possibly fathom the way her husband felt. She had siblings but they were alive and well. Without another thought, Aubrey gently grabbed her husband’s head and placed it against her chest. Her fingers gracefully ran through his soft curls as he cried into the towel still surrounding her bare body. They didn’t speak a word as Salim cried and his wife rubbed his back. Finally, Aubrey lifted his face and wiped the tears from his cheeks with her nimble fingers. She looked into his eyes and whispered. “It’s going to be okay, love. It hurts now, but your brother is at peace. No more drugs. No more pain.” She kissed his forehead and lips softly.
Salim nodded. His wife always knew when to speak, and what to say when necessary. She was right. But his spirit was being torn apart by regret. He should have been there for his brother during his time of need. He should not have died alone in some filthy motel bed. The last words he spoke to his brother had been replaying in his head since the news escaped Brittney’s lips. He had been so cruel to Phillip. Now, it was time to plan his funeral. Salim was the only family he had left. Mama had passed away years ago, and no one knew who Phillip’s father was because she never told. This was definitely an unexpected expense, but money was the least of his concerns. He wanted his only brother to forgive him. It was far too late for that.
Aubrey stood. She knew when her husband needed to be alone with his thoughts. Arrangements needed to be made. First, she was going to get out of this damp towel. She kissed his forehead and walked to their dresser. She needed to put on something quick. She would make her husband lunch and a pot of tea. Phone calls needed to be made. A heavy sigh escaped her lips. Visitors were bound to come. She dropped her towel onto the floor and began to apply lotion to her dry skin. Before she could slip on her panties, she felt her husband standing behind her. His warm breath tickled the back of her moist neck. Salim turned her around and fell to his knees. He pulled her body towards him gently and buried his face in her stomach and wrapped his arms around her waist. Aubrey froze. The only thing she could do was run her fingers through his hair as he cried like a newborn baby. Once he had stopped, Salim looked up at his wife with reddened eyes. Aubrey wiped his face with her palms, and stared at him. The bond they had was one of a kind. If her love was in despair, it was her duty to make sure she made that come to an end quickly. Aubrey loved her husband dearly and hated to see him distraught. After awhile, he stood to his feet and kissed her. She kissed him back completely exposed; towel and underwear on the floor. Salim admired her body for a moment as if he had never seen it before, and then laid Aubrey across their bed. Before she knew it his clothes were off. He covered every inch of her body with butterfly kisses. Chills ran up and down her spine, and she tried to control her body from jerking and shaking but was unsuccessful. His strong hands grabbed her waist to keep his love from moving away from his exploring tongue. Moans escaped her vocal cords. Just when Aubrey thought she was going to explode he entered her swiftly, but gently. She arched her back and allowed him to give her all of him. Her attempts to muffle her screams by biting her tongue failed. She grabbed a handful of sheets tightly to keep her sanity. That didn’t work either. Finally, he flipped her over on her stomach and she clenched her teeth on a nearby pillow. His wife could hold it back no longer. She screamed the loudest scream ever and her body quivered. Salim soon after collapsed on her back. He moved her long hair and kissed her back as he tried to catch his breath. Aubrey faintly smiled. She was exhausted but indeed satisfied.
She exited their bed and took another shower. Aubrey quietly laughed as she attempted to get dressed again. Hopefully, her husband would leave her alone this time. After successfully getting dressed and doing her hair, she headed to the kitchen to make her husband something to eat and a pot of hot tea. Of course, the situation with his brother was still on her mind. But if they were both emotional wrecks nothing would get accomplished. She made a few calls to family members and advised them not to come until later that night. Some of his family was not as cooperative. His aunt, Benita Jones, would be there in two hours. Aubrey yelled up the stairs and told her husband to get in the shower. Benita and Aubrey got along. She was just a stubborn woman, and ever since Salim’s mother had passed she had been a tidbit overprotective. But she showed Aubrey respect as Salim’s wife.
Salim pulled a shirt over his head. He didn’t know what had come over him. But as he watched his wife standing in their bedroom naked rubbing sweet smelling lotions on her soft skin, he wanted her. He wanted to release his frustration. Salim smirked. What better way was there? Thoughts of his brother still lingered in his mind. He probably would never forgive himself for kicking Phillip out into the cold, lonely streets. Salim’s heart hurt. What was done is done. He joined Aubrey in their eat-in kitchen. She placed a chicken salad sandwich in front of her husband. She asked if he wanted chips or salad. He declined both. He honestly wasn’t hungry but he knew his wife would fuss until he ate something.
The doorbell rang.
Aubrey looked at the oversized clock on their kitchen wall and frowned. Aunt Benita shouldn’t be here yet. Salim said nothing as he ate his sandwich. She wiped her hands on a dish towel and walked towards the door. Truth be told, Aubrey was displeased that someone would come over unannounced especially at a time like this. Aubrey threw the door open to find a petite woman standing in front of her. She was extremely small and her eyes were sunken. She looked nervous and bowed her head. Aubrey assumed the woman was probably one of Phillip’s drug addict friends. The question that baffled her more was who the little boy was standing with her.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
The phone rang over and over and over. No answer. Aubrey’s face twisted into a grimace. Where the hell was her damn husband? She let his outgoing voicemail play but did not intend to leave a message. What did she need to leave a message for? Caller I.D. had been invented years ago. He knew who was calling him. His wife of three years. Supposedly, the love of his life. Aubrey stormed out of their bedroom and headed back to the den that also served as their office. She attempted to calm herself down. There had to be an explanation, she rationalized with herself. The possibly of him being hurt came to mind and hit her heart. Sit down and breathe, she told herself. Her mind was spinning. Numerous scenarios raced through her thoughts. It was too early for such drama. After twenty minutes and ten unanswered phone calls to Salim, Aubrey convinced herself that her husband was okay and he had somehow misplaced his phone. He would be home soon and explain the entire situation to her. A distraction was necessary. The clock read close to eleven. Maybe a good movie was on Lifetime. Aubrey shook her head. It would be just her luck it would be a movie about an unfaithful man playing. Or maybe an unexplained disappearance that was found to be a murder. There were ungraded test papers that needed to be attended to, but she knew her focus wasn’t there. A long, heavy sigh escaped her full lips. How did her world get flipped upside down in a matter of minutes? Aubrey opened her eyes and realized she had been on her couch doing some type of crazed breathing exercise. No. She was not going to lose her mind over an unanswered phone call. Well, it had actually been about fifteen unanswered outgoing calls to her husband. Finally, her concern converted into anger. Oh, Salim was going to get an earful when he returned home. That was it. Aubrey stood from the edge of the couch and headed back to their bedroom. Her mind had been made up. She was going to shower, get dressed, and do something. She just hadn’t decided what exactly that was going to be.
The water was steaming hot. At first, it stung. Just as the thought of Salim committing adultery had. The sound of the water and the thick mist it created calmed her shaken nerves. Aubrey washed herself until her fingers and toes wrinkled up like raisins. She turned the water off and exited the tub. She wrapped herself in an oversized towel and entered her bedroom. And there he was. Salim was sitting on the edge of the bed they shared with his face in his palms. Aubrey hesitated. What was should she do now? Curse him out for not answering her calls and having her scared? Or ask him what the other woman’s name was? No. Neither was the correct answer. She could tell by the slump in his shoulders that something was not right. Aubrey approached her husband slowly and called his name.
He looked up. He didn’t know what pained him more; the situation he had just endured or the look on his wife’s face. Salim watched silently as Aubrey walked towards him with tears welling in her eyes. He never intended to worry his love. He had felt his phone vibrate every time she had called, and it took every ounce of his being not to answer. The fact of the matter was he had kept a secret from Aubrey since they had begun dating. Well, she never asked so he never told. Technically, did that classify as a secret, let alone a lie? All of that did not matter. The woman that he adored was standing in front of him smelling of scented soaps covered in a towel. If he didn’t have so much on his mind he would have taken that beautiful woman right then and there. The thoughts of making love to his wife were interrupted by Aubrey’s soft voice. She was standing right in front of him with a genuine look of confusion.
Honestly, Aubrey was lost. How was she supposed to feel when her husband, who had just been missing in action thirty minutes ago, was in front of her with a demeanor of hurt and fatigue? She touched his cheek and looked him in his eyes. Answers were necessary. Right now. Salim didn’t move her soft hand. Truth be told, it was exactly what he needed. He placed his hand on hers and motioned for her to sit beside him. At that very moment her heart dropped. Aubrey’s emotions were on a wild rollercoaster and she desperately wanted that ride to end. Still wrapped in a towel, she sat beside her love.
“Baby, stop looking like that.”
Aubrey’s face jerked back as if she had been slapped. “What am I supposed to look like, Salim?”
He sighed. His wife was right. “I know you want to know where I’ve been.” He began to speak but he wouldn’t look her in her eyes. “I have a half-brother by my mother. She was young and she gave him up for adoption.” He stopped to keep his emotions under control. His mother had passed away six years ago from breast cancer. The wound had yet to heal completely. He took a deep breath. “I met him after Mama died. His name is Phillip.”
“Why didn’t you tell me about him?” Aubrey interrupted him. She was confused beyond measure, but she knew there was more. The way her husband’s shoulders slumped as if the world were sitting upon them was a giveaway.
“I didn’t know.” Salim bowed his head. “I didn’t know. Phil told me he was out of work and needed some help, so I let him stay with me. This was way before you and I met. It worked out for a few months. It was perfect. I finally had the brother I never knew I had.” Another heavy sigh. “Things started to come up missing. At first it was little things. Then the grill, the microwave…well the day the gold watch Mama gave me for my graduation came up missing, I knew what was up. Phil was strung out on heroin. We had a huge fight and I kicked him out. Told him I never wanted to see him again.”Aubrey sat in silence. She was trying to make sense of it all, but it was too much at once. The least that she understood was why Salim was upset. She could sort of wrap her mind around his reasoning for not telling her about his estranged half-brother. But what did Phil have to do with her husband not answering his phone this morning?