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Lay Me Down by Sam Smith
I smacked my lips together. I circled back my thoughts and kept my eyes closed.
The hand was firm but the touch was gentle. It was a man’s hand. I wanted so badly for it to be Damien. How romantic would it be I thought to myself.
My heart was now in my stomach doing jumping jacks and pushups; nerve wrecking and then I slowly opened my eyes.
I turned my head to the left from my aisle seat to look up at the person. The pants were tailored and freshly pressed; I lifted my eyes and scanned upwards. Making contact with his smile as he grinned at me, I smiled back.
It was the flight attendant.
He politely asked me to put my seatbelt on. I looked down and noticed my unbuckled seat belt. I tried to force a smile.
My heart sunk further as he walked away and I clicked my seatbelt into the buckle. I looked down the aisle once more and realized it.
Damien was gone.
. . . . .
It was great being back stateside. As much as I loved Australia, there was no place like home.
Going back to work felt better too. But I was badly missing Damien and being home with my mother daily was just making me crazy.
My arrival was welcomed at the company and I was given a promotion when I returned and a new office. I even physically moved up one floor in the building.
I was feeling very good about it all. Work was now my source of joy.
My relationships and my health were bleeding at the time but I was holding on.
One particular evening, I came home to my mother. Usually, I would get off work and take the train getting off at the exit where my gym was located. I would work out and then run home which was about 2 miles away.
This evening, I had a long day at work and I wasn’t feeling up for a workout, so I headed home straight from the office. I could feel something coming over me like I was going to explode if I was even spoken to in the wrong tone.
I walked into the house and heard my mother talking on the phone. She must have been talking to a friend or something. I greeted her as was customary and walked into the kitchen. I was attempting to ignore her conversation that almost always consisted of her bad talking me or saying inaccurate things about my brother and I.
She was talking about my eating habits and how I was the reason my condition wasn’t getting better. She was making it seem to the lady on the phone, that I came home daily and neglected to eat. Neglecting the fact that I was working long hours and on a strict diet and workout routine. I was pissed.
Already amped up, she wasn’t discerning enough to register my anger. She kept talking and I kept getting heated. I threw my vegetables into the microwave and walked into the living room.
I stopped right in front of her and said,
“Mummy, I would appreciate if you stopped talking about me to your friend, especially because majority of it is not accurate. Thank you…”
She looked up at me from her seating position and proceeds to lie to my face,
“Efia, I’m not talking about you. You should stay out of my conversation”
I was now heated to the max. Why was she lying?
Every time she did something to me to piss me off, it opened the floodgates of hurt and betrayal. All those unprocessed emotions always seemed to fill me up and I wanted to reach for her and strangle her. But I couldn’t, many things wouldn’t let me.
This was becoming a regular occurrence and I was just tired of having her in my home. I turned around and headed to my room, I slumped onto my bed and picked up my phone.
I started dialing his number; it began ringing as I heard the microwave beeping in the kitchen with the customary three beeps as the timer run out. My mother’s voice still echoed as she continued her conversation before Damien’s voice interrupted me. I got so excited and said “hello”
My ears welcomed the sound of his voice over his voicemail recording. I sighed.
“This is Damien Brown, I am not able to receive your call at the moment…”
The recording went on. It was soothing to hear but I needed him. I needed his calming voice or the husk in his tone that made me feel secure when I was alone or down.
Why did he do this to me?
I started to play back the last argument we had in my head. There were things that I could have done differently.
But was I that horrible?
Did I really scare him away?
I hadn’t even recognized how much I loved the man until he was gone. I was so close to tears. I felt alone and powerless. My support was nowhere to be found.
I was still lying in bed with my face planted in the pillow while I continued to think, my heart was heavy and I wanted to scream. I could feel the heat from my own nostrils hit me on my cheeks as I continued to breathe into the pillow.
I was lost in some train of thought and about 30 minutes had passed when my phone buzzed.
I raised my head up and scanned the bed looking for my phone; I hoped it was Damien. I picked up my phone. Highly expectant, I punched in my unlock code and it opened up. The bright light from the screen slapping me in the face of all the darkness that covered the room, I opened my messages by pulling the notification tab down.
The message was from Lovell. He was an old friend and we had dated briefly for a few months and my trip to Australia interrupted the likelihood of anything happening.
“Hey Effy, I heard you’re back from down under from Lucia and I just wanted to say hi and check on you. We should catch up sometime soon, if you’re down. Hope you’re good”
I wasn’t good. I wasn’t okay. I needed to talk to someone. I wanted to be with someone right now.
I contemplated exploring the night with him. I tried to convince myself not to by thinking about Damien but where was he when I needed him?
Where was he during my last appointment?
When I got my promotion?
He was gone. I looked at my phone and unlocked it again. My message read,
“There’s a late night diner down the street from my place. Get me pancakes?”
A few minutes later, I was in my sweats and ugs as I grabbed my car keys off my dining table and headed for the door. I noticed my mom look at me as I walked, I didn’t make eye contact. She didn’t deserve my words.
. . . . . .
Lovell was nice. I had forgotten about how much he made me laugh.
Since the night we had coffee, he had been a constant. It felt like meeting someone new all over again. The conversations were good to have and he was a true gentleman as always. I remember one night when we went out to a comedy show, somewhat informally. They had a two-drink minimum at the comedy club.
Let’s just say that I had more than two drinks and I was quite drunk that Friday night when the show was over. I had laughed so hard all night that I couldn’t even remember when I passed out.
I woke up the next morning in my bed fully clothed and slightly hung over.
I stumbled out of bed and headed for the kitchen to get some water to drink. It was about 11:30am in the morning, I opened my bedroom door and noticed my mother on the couch.
I so badly couldn’t wait for her to be gone. Waking up to her there was very aggravating for me.
I got to the refrigerator and placed my cup into the space and pressed the button for water. I was heading back to my room when my mom called out to me.
“Efia, come here please. I want to talk to you”
Was the first thought that went through my head. My head was throbbing and I wanted more sleep.
She just knew how to frustrate me. I sluggishly walked towards her pulling my blouse down. I sat down on the couch across from her.
She started by saying
“I am very aware that there is very little hope for the resurrection of our relationship. Frankly because we never really had one to begin with. I realize in hindsight now that I should have done more for you. I should have been your protector. I should have been the terrier that fought to keep you safe but I didn’t know what to do then. It wasn’t until I went to therapy myself that I was shown my lapses as a parent. The hurt I had gone through made it difficult for me to be there for you as you hurt. Hurt people apparently hurt others.”
She paused for a breath and continued;
“Also, my hands were severely tied. The money that we used to start your father’s business was from Comfort’s mother. It was a huge sum of money. At the time, we hadn’t even begun the repayment of the loans yet and that was part of why I went back to working, so that I could support the household.”
I began to get irritated and very angry, as my hangover seemed to instantly fade.
Was she really blaming not taking action on a loan?
Did she realize that I was her daughter? Her blood?
She continued before I could speak,
“I am truly sorry for everything that happened. I wish at the time, I had the strength to do more. I thought I was protecting the livelihood of the family and particularly your father. I was wrong. Please find it in your heart to forgive me. Please Efia”
I looked at her and began to tear up. It was my go to emotion when I felt overwhelmed or angry to the point of not being able to speak anymore.
This was too much; too much all at once.
I had waited for many years to hear her own up to her mistakes and apologize. It was finally here and I didn’t know how to forgive her.
I got up and I headed for my room without saying a word and then I heard my mother’s voice. It was coaxed with frustration and sadness.
“Efia, where are you going? Efia! Efia!
Efia, when are you going to forgive me?!!!”
She seemed to yell out. The rage in me was to the brim. I stopped in my tracks and turned abruptly, with piercing focus and deep emotion, I yelled back at her,
“Never!!! You don’t deserve my forgiveness!
You think one apology more than 15 years later will solve it?
NO… So leave me alone!!”
I stormed out of the room and slammed the door to my bedroom.
I ran into my bathroom and closed the door. I sat on the floor of the toilet and began to cry. I just cried.
I was ashamed of myself just as much as I was sad. I had forgotten what it felt like to forgive. I was so used to the emotion of hate that it clouded my view on the possibility of ever forgiving my mother.
I had let hate consume me that even when I felt the apology was sincere, I couldn’t bring myself to validate it.
I spent hours in that bathroom just crying, thinking of my failed relationships. My attempt to identify and my phase with women because I felt that was who I am. The lack of guidance from my mother through navigating new emotions as I grew up, it all just continued to break me.
How much I would have paid to have someone hold me at that time? Even a hug from my father would have been great but he was off somewhere making money.
I slowly lay down on the bathroom floor and passed out. Waking up over 5 hours later, I had missed my friend’s birthday dinner and I had a separate kind of throbbing in my head. Tears induced hangover.
. . . . .
A month had now passed and there was still no contact from Damien.
I was beginning to forget him more and more as the days went by.
At home, my mother and I were getting along better. Small talk here and there but we managed to ignore speaking about the incident. She was nearing the end of her visit also, so we tried to keep things light. I hadn’t forgiven her but I wasn’t as angry as I was before anymore.
We were watching a Lifetime movie together before Lovell arrived to pick me up for our date. I told her goodbye as I headed out of my apartment. Lovell was waiting next to his car when I arrived down stairs; he held the door open for me as I gave him a hug before I entered the car.
I was hungry but all I could think about was how good he smelled. You ladies know how we get when a man smells good. He was confident, driven and super family oriented. An occupational therapist by day, a mentor on the weekends to foster youth and just an all round stand up guy.
Sitting across from him as he finished up a thought, I began to wonder why I hadn’t given him a proper chance before. He was a great guy. It was probably a case of using the curve too early.
My mind briefly flashed towards Damien but he was not here. He was not caring enough to have gone a month without any form of contact. Lovell, smiling at me would probably have turned out to be the same kind of guy but for now, he was mindful of my feelings and respectful of my views. I was laughing my ass off and we had so much in common. I even remember me burning his tongue as I tried to feed him a spoon of my clam chowder. He took it like a champ and we laughed it off. I was having a great time.
My phone began to buzz and I excused myself and reached for my purse, it was my mom.
I kind of rolled my eyes a bit as I answered, Lovell smiled and I responded to her. Lovell motioned at me as he excused himself to use the bathroom. I smiled back.
“Mom, what do you want and why are you still up?”
I asked as I glanced at the time on the phone.
“I slept in the afternoon my dear, I’m not sleepy. Please what is the password for your other computer? I’m trying to watch a dvd and I cannot understand the one under the television”
Not trying to explain how the blu-ray player worked, I gave her the password to my old computer and she set about watching her movie while I got back to my date. I had barely placed the phone down when a waiter brought me my favorite dessert; a Cookies ‘n’ Cream Pizookie and a single purple tulip.
I smiled but confused I said to the waiter
“I didn’t order this”
For a brief second, I thought Lovell had planned it but I was sure I had never told him what my favorite flowers were even if I had mentioned my favorite dessert.
“Oh miss, the gentleman at the table over there specifically ordered it for you”
he said pointing towards a table in the opposite end of the restaurant floor. I turned around in my seat to look with him but I caught the look of surprise on his face, as the man was nowhere to be seen. This odd thought began to come into my head and I tried to shake it off.
I asked the waiter,
“Can you please describe the person to me?”
“He was about 6’1 with medium athletic build. Dark hair. He had a golden ring on his middle right finger. He spoke with a British accent”
My mouth was ajar as I turned around and scanned the room again. Only one name came to mind; Damien.
I began to panic as the waiter excused himself.
Was it really Damien?
What had he seen?
Did he see me feed Lovell or hold his hand?
I picked up my phone and dialed Damien’s friend who I knew, Lucia.
I must have woken her up from her sleep.
“Hey Lucia, sorry to wake you up but I had a quick question. When was the last time you spoke to Damien?”
She cleared her throat as I heard her moving in her bed.
“Hey Effy, umm… the last time I spoke to him was probably a week ago. He was looking for someone to drop him off at the airport”
I was now really worried.
“Where did he say he was going?”
“America. He sold all his property and I think he got a job out there. Yeah, he’s gone”
I thanked her and hung up. Tears as you suspected were streaming down my face.
Lovell returned and with a confused look on his face asked me what was going on.
I swallowed hard and lied that a family emergency had come up and I had to leave.
He looked at the food on the table and then back at me really confused. Then said;
“Okay, can I drop you off at home at least?”
I responded with a “no”. And I proceeded to walk out. He followed me as I hailed a cab and got in. He stood there mad confused like it was his fault or something.
I felt bad for him but I felt horrible for myself. I was crying as the cab driver navigated downtown and headed for my apartment in the midlands. I was regretting everything on the cab ride home.
I blamed myself for opening up to someone else so quickly. I could not fathom if I had blown it with Damien again. I was looking for ways to convince myself that it was okay by telling myself that Damien didn’t see me kiss Lovell, I hadn’t had sex with him or slept at his place but none of it worked. I still felt terrible.
I didn’t understand why he left. Was he mad at me? Did he not want to see me?
I needed answers. On one end, I was just tired and sad but on the other, I was glad that he came back. At least I thought he came back for me. It was just too much to deal with in one night and I just wanted to curl up in a ball in my bed and worry about it all later.
I got home and the walk up the stairs felt like the scene out of the Rocky movie. It just felt like the stairs went on forever. I was still sobbing lightly when I finally arrived at the door. That must have been the reason why I didn’t initially hear the voice of someone else sobbing inside the apartment.
I pushed the door open and froze at the sight of my mother sitting in the dimly lit living room as the light of my computer illuminated her face. She was crying and she was crying hard!
It didn’t take very long while glued in that spot to figure out that my mother had stumbled on my video logs where I had talked about hating her and all the pain trying to love and forgive her had caused.
I felt weak. I wanted to die. As much as I was angry at my mother, I never truly showed how angry I was. I always kept it in and poured it out in my writing and in my video logs. And on those video logs, I held nothing back. I had called her all sorts of horrible things because I thought she would never see them. That no one would ever see them. She must have watched most of them and one was still playing right then.
I just stood there motionless and stared at her.
We both had tears in our eyes now. I stood still with the door opened contemplating closing it and staying in or leaving. She looked broken, I heard each word sail into the open room, floating in the air but like a knife to her heart it stabbed further. This was a cycle of hurt and I could run like she did but what would that do for us?
Someone had to stop the trend of hurting women and creating these dark holes in our hearts that we then expected lovers, friends, jobs, money, and life to fill up. I looked at my keys unsure if I could do this or if I had the strength to do it. I began to doubt myself; I was just as imperfect as she was in many ways, who was I to talk to her? I moved and I closed the door.
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