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As we lay, bodies intertwined, I feel the warmth of her body against mine. The deep curves of her sun kissed form awaken every type of desire within me. Morning rays of delicate sunlight give her skin the look of sweet, sweet honey. My hands stroke her amber strands of hair that have meticulously fallen across her face. As I kiss her tenderly on her forehead, she opens her eyes to greet the beautiful morning, and the man laying alongside her admiring her beauty, “Good morning,” she says. She kisses me with her full, sensual lips and asks,” What time is it?” Moving the loose hair from her forehead, “Don’t worry about what time it is. Just lay here for a minute Naomi.”
Placing her hand on my bare chest,” You know I can’t stay, I’m sorry.”
Looking into her deep, brown eyes I almost forget that I am angry, but emotion takes over me, “Naomi, I love you, and I wanna be with you. But I’m not sure if you feel anything for me?”
“Josh you know-,”
“Naomi, that’s the problem, I don’t know. We get together on these weekends and really enjoy each other. Then it all ends until the next weekend! I’ll admit, I enjoyed it for a while, the secrecy, the adrenaline, the mystery of it all. But I want more from you now! Not because I want to control you, but I want to love you.”
“Josh we can’t do that, and you know why.”
“No, no! Why? Why can’t we? Why can’t you and me be together? I’m so tired of playing these games with you. We’re together and you refuse to let me in.” Realizing how I just lost my head I move in closer to her, her back now turned to me, and wrap my arms around her shoulders, “You deserve more than this. I wanna give you more, but you won’t let me.”
I feel a teardrop fall to my arm, and she turns to me, “Josh, I love you more than you know. And I wish we could be together, but we can’t.” She takes my arms from around her, and begins to get dressed.
Rushing to stop her, standing in front of her, “Naomi, why are you doing this?” She won’t look at me, so I lift her tear drenched face,” Naomi, I love you, with everything I have and-.” Tears streaming down her face, “Josh,” trying to hold back her tears, “I can’t, I’m sorry.” She runs out, leaving me here. And before I can hold it back, small tears begin to gather below my chin.
The moon shoots across the pool as I sit here, waiting for her to come home! You’d think that she wouldn’t stay away from home like this, all the things I’ve given her. I’ve given her this lavish lifestyle, and this is how she repays me! She should be grateful that I took her out of the dump she was in, and made her into something! She was trailer trash before I met her! For all that I did for her, I should be getting waited on hand and foot, not eating tv dinners! I mean, what man has a perfectly good woman and eats “Hungry Man” dinners! Then he has to wait around because she’s late coming home! “When she gets home, I swear I’m gonna-.” The sound of the door opening interrupts my rage and I shoot to my feet. Bursting in from the back yard, “Where have you been all this time?”
“I’m sorry, I lost track of time.”
“Lost track of time?!”
“Duke, I’m sorry.”
“Where have you been Naomi?!” marching closer to her.
“Duke I was with my friends, I told you that.”
Gripping her forearm, yanking her towards me, “Where have you been?!”
Pleading, “Duke, please, I promise I-”
Without thought, without restraint, I smack her across the jaw. She falls to the ground in surrender and sheer pain as blood runs down her face and floods the wooden floors. She crawls along the floor leaving handprints of blood as tears flow down her face. Realizing what I’ve done, I go to her side, “ Baby I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.” Gripping her close to my body as blood runs down her face onto my shirt, “ I promise, I’m gonna get help.”
Tears streaming down her face, mixing with her blood, “ You promised you wouldn’t hit me anymore.” Tears choking back her speech, “I can’t keep doing this Duke, I-.”
Enraged, "You wanna leave me?! Huh!"
"You wanna leave me?! Well you can if you want, but you'll never see that little girl again!"
Pulling her up from the floor and throwing her towards the door, "Go! Get out!"
As I shove her out of the door our five year old daughter comes out of her room, "Mommy! Mommy!" She runs towards me pulling at me,"Leave her alone daddy, you're making her cry."
In anger I toss the small girl aside and look back at Naomi who has realized the danger her daughter is in, she says to her, " It's okay baby. Go back to your room mommy's fine," consoling the young child," Mommy will be in in a minute to tuck you in okay?" She looks back at me in despair," Duke, please don't do this! Please!"
I pull her close to me, "Say you love me. Say it!"
Choking on her own tears and blood," I love you"
"And say that you'll never leave me."
"And I'll .....I'll never leave you."
The bruises are fresh on my face as I go into my daughter’s room. As I enter she lifts herself up out of her bed and meets my wounded gaze.
“Mommy, why were you crying?”
“Emma, Mommy and Daddy just had a little fight that’s all.”
“Well I hope me and my husband don’t fight.”
Sitting on her bed holding her close to me, “I hope not baby, I hope not.”
I wish I had that thought as a child, not wanting to be hurt by a man.
I remember, when I was ten, my mother was in the kitchen chopping onions and celery. She was making my favorite, meatloaf, so I volunteered to help. While I was chopping my mother stopped me and said, “Naomi, come here for a minute, I wanna talk to you.” I walked over to her and sat at her feet. As she began talking she started to rub my braids, and I said, “Yes mama?”
“You see this place we live in? I want more for you, you understand. Cause you can do a lot more with your life, a lot more than what I’ve done,” We lived in a one bedroom apartment with a living room that ran right into our kitchen, if you could call it that. The walls were a dark green, and the paint chipped, which exposed the white underbelly of the walls. It wasn’t much, but it was home to us. My mother resumed in our conversation,
“I don’t want you scrounging for ya’ next dollar! Make sure you are always taken care of, whether by yourself, or by a man, make sure you’re taken care of.” These words stayed with me for the rest of my life. All the way to the moment I met Duke. He took care of me. He gave me everything I wanted, everything, but nothing I needed. The first time he hit me, he promised he would never do it again. But then, one night, we were out at a restaurant, and we had a male waiter. Duke swore I was flirting, and when we got back to the house, he punched me in the face. I had to wear sunshades for two weeks. But I still held out hope for him, because he took care of me. Then it happened again and again, and now, here I stand, a woman with a child, trapped in an abusive marriage, still hoping that he will change. And, I’m in love with another man that I will never have, a man who gives me respect, and real love. “God, what have I done?!” Without realizing it tears are streaming down my newly wounded face. But, I guess this is the cost of being taken care of.