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He Said He Loved Me

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She sat at the back of the bus, her head leaned against the window, bright pink eyeshadow against her dark brown skin, hazel colored eyes. An oversized coat slid off of her shoulder not being zipped. From there I saw the dangling jewelry that hung from her naval. I saw how a push up bra boosted her cleavage out of the skimpy halter top and revealed her toned belly. She wore a skirt that was short enough to make it look like she weren’t wearing anything at all.

I shifted in my seat, pretended to clear my throat and gripped the handles of my grocery bags. I looked down at my baggy pants and lacy tank top I covered with a coat. Then I looked back at her, I had the urge to judge her, but I felt like her appearance wasn’t completely her fault. I noticed then the purplish bruises that stained her long legs and knees, the red mark of rope burn around her skinny ankles and the calluses scarring her feet and toes from the pumps she stumbled in.

It was then, as my eyes continued to stare at her boney fingers full of small rings, ears with large hoop earrings, thick glossy lips that quivered frantically, did I notice the pain radiating from her. She rubbed her shoulder and let her hand slip down her arms, into the folds of her jacket. She pulled her legs close to her chest and let the humid air surround her. Her eyes closed themselves softly, one eye was swollen, a black eye. Under her bottom lid a cut curved. And there, tears delicately, almost peacefully rolled down her cheek. I wondered, did it sting? Those tears that stream from her makeup smothered eyes of cuts and bruises?
The bus lunged toward another stop where most everyone got off leaving just me and her and an older couple at the front. Three guys jumped on from behind and headed toward the girl. I tensed, and clenched the handle of my bags more tightly.

“Ay’ ma-ma, let me holla at you fo’ a second?” A man hopped over the pair of seats across from me to sit next to the girl.
The other guys sat further away, still adding sound effects to his comments. Still, she did not open her eyes.

“Aiight, aiight, I got chu’ baby. I got chu’. Think you slick, open up dem’ hazel eyes!” He laughed wildly.
She opened her eyes hesitantly but remained faced toward the window.

“Ho, face me! Don’t act smart, you act like you don’t want to speak to me!”He grabbed her chin and shoved it in his direction. Her tears were more profound.

“Now, you been messin’ around? Huh? Tell me!”
She shook her head, “No, why would you ask that? You know- I, I love, um, you. You know dat’.”

“Why are you lyin’ to me. Woman, you betta stop lyin’, sho’ aint afraid to beat you.”
She shuddered, “You’ve done it before. That’s no way to treat a lady.”

“Bruh, you heard this ho, ‘aint’ no way to treat a lady?’ You aint’ no lady, you a prostitute. A ho, a ho that betta learn some respect befo’ she get herself hurt. And get dem’ tears off yo’ face. Makeup aint’ cheap.”

“Jamal, what do you want? I told you I love you, what else do you want to hear? I’m tired of this, I aint’ gon’ do this any longer, okay? Look at me, baby.”
Jamals eyes went red and he pounded his fists against the wall of the bus. She rubbed his back and ran her fingers through his gelled hair,

“You know I don’t mean what I do, you know it! I want to marry you, make you my wife, my girl. I just got to get out the game, babe.” He pleaded for her to forgive him, he kissed her bruised eye and lightly touched her cuts.

“I feel dead, Jamal. I need to start over. I don’t like putting prices on my body just to make a living, I don’t like being so vulnerable and dependent. You gotta let go boo. You don’t even know how hard it is for me to be doin’ this. Let go boo. Jus’ do it.”
Jamal looked around, and wiped off his tears, he held her hand lightly and kissed her on her cheek, “I’m sorry babe. I’ll try to let you go, it’s better for you.”

“Thank you, Jamal. I love you.” She whispered.
Jamal got up and signaled for his friends to follow. Just as he was about to exit from the back doors, he turned to look at her once again, “You already know, I got chu’.”



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