Body by Niia
Tony and I had been driving down from a friend’s party and we were arguing in the car.
“Tiff, you know this is dumb right?”
“You think how I feel is dumb?
How am I not surprised???
You’re always trying to minimize how I feel”
He cut in again as he made a turn at the traffic light and said
“I’m not saying you’re not allowed to feel that way but I’m saying why is this a thing right now? I told you I hadn’t even seen her in over three years!”
I looked over and yelled back
“It doesn’t matter!
Whatever. Just don’t talk to me!”
He sighed and continued driving without responding to me. We sat there in awkward silence as we made our way home. A few minutes had passed and he still wasn’t talking to me so I yelled out
“So you’re really not going to say anything?!”
He turned towards me and had this puzzled look on his face that basically said
“This chick is CRAZY!”
He pulled over to the side of the road and he stepped out. He walked around the car to my side and then he got down to my sitting level and gave me a big hug. I was kind of confused but it seemed to calm me down a bit.
He kissed me on my cheek and said
“You’re so cute”
He walked back around to the driver’s side of the car and entered.
I knew he had nothing to do with the girl. I was just being a pain. Well, I just wanted his attention and for him to hear me out. I had seen the whole interaction between the two of them.
The girl arrived at the party and she came to say hi to him. He even introduced me to her as his girlfriend but I still felt a way about it.
I think I felt a bit threatened because they had been together for 5years before we got together. I think I felt like their connection might have been stronger than ours.
Explaining it now, I think I was just being childish but the point is Tony almost always managed to stay cool.
After all he had just done, I made an ill-timed joke that set him off. It was one of the few jokes I ever made that rubbed him off the wrong way.
“You’re over here kissing me when she’s probably over there plotting how she’s going to win you back”
I had a smile on my face as I turned to look at him and he had a heart-piercing glare.
Then he said
“why would you even say that?”
I knew I was wrong but I was too stubborn to admit it. So I continued as I said
“I can’t make a joke anymore?!
You know it’s only not funny to you if you know it’s true!”
Are you freaking serious right now???”
He was heated and then he went off on a rant. Just calling out all my wrong doings he could remember. For a few minutes, he just went off!
I was silent and in shock at his reaction. And he kept going off until a police officer who had pulled up behind us, came over to my side of the car.
He waved us down and I rolled my window down. Tony was huffing and puffing.
The officer asked if we were okay and if I was safe.
He asked Tony to step out of the vehicle, which he did.
They walked to the back of the vehicle and Tony was asked to sit on the pavement. The officer was speaking him to just like I was being interrogated when I was picked up from the school.
That was the closest I had ever gotten with the law, until today.
So miss, could you disclose your whereabouts from lunchtime at the school yesterday?
I took a deep breath and said,
“I would like my lawyer please”
The detective sat back in his seat and said
“Well, that might lead me to thinking you had something to do with it?”
“Your attitude right now is going a long way to conveying your innocence. You’re totally working it”
I looked at him and smiled
“You guys came down to my job to get me. I have cooperated fully and I am seated here while you try to assume I am not being honest.
So I won’t be answering anymore questions till my lawyer gets here.”
I relaxed in my seat as he scoffed and got up to leave.
I began to think to myself. How was this all happening then?
How on earth did I become a suspect?
I figured that my looking into the kid on the database and my connection to his father might have given them reason for concern.
I wanted to explain what had actually happened but I didn’t trust the system; the same one that failed to bring my Tony’s killer to proper justice. I was not going to leave myself vulnerable for them.
I felt I was doing a fair job in regulating myself when the door opened. It was the detective, he had this assured look about him as he sat down across from me and said
“Ms Sanders, if I were you, I would have spoken up earlier because right now, it might already be too late for you.
I just got word from the hospital; the boy is dead”
I slumped back into my seat. I felt like I had been punched countless times in my stomach.
It literally felt like the wind was knocked out of me.
He leaned in across the table and said
“Now is when you start talking, you just went 0-100. From a few years in jail to the rest of your life on a murder charge. Lawyer or not, I would start talking”
I looked up at him with no words to pass through my open mouth. This was not how this was supposed to go.
He was not supposed to die.
All I could think was What The Heck Man
There was so much fear in me. All the worst thoughts were going through my mind.
What was I now supposed to say?
How was I meant to defend myself?
I finally gathered the words
“I didn’t do it.
And you know I didn’t do it. Yes I looked up the kid because his father killed my fiancé and useless officers of the law like yourself did nothing about it.
So instead of accusing me of being a killer, how about you go and bring the actually killers to justice???”
I had just finished when the door opened and my lawyer walked. I was washed with relief.
I looked up at him as he handed a sheet of paper to the detective and said
“My client is done here.
This is the blood work from the hospital on the little boy. The report states that he was hospitalized due to a severe allergic reaction to what he ate at another child’s house after school.
The school obviously did not serve it to the child and my client had nothing to do with it. So if there is nothing else, we’d be leaving now”
He was surprised as he read scanned the paper over. Then he said
“Give me a minute. I need to confirm this”
he got up and exited the room, shutting the door behind him. My lawyer sat down and said
“Sorry about all this Tiffany, how are you holding up?”
I was still surprised by the boy’s death but I scoffed and replied
“Much better since you got here”
He smiled as he set his briefcase on the ground and said
“Don’t worry you’ll be out of here any moment.”
I looked at him and fed off his confidence but I was still concerned
“So what happened to the boy?”
The door swung open and the detective walked in and said
“Story checks out. You’re free to go”
I looked at my lawyer and then back at the detective as I rose from my seat. I walked out of the door.
When we got to the lobby, he offered to give me a ride home and I was about to accept the offer and then I noticed Chris.
Chris was Tony’s partner when they were working on their project. I hadn’t seen him in 5years.
I just stood and stared.
“Oh my God!
How long has it been Chris?”
I exclaimed as I stepped back from the hug I gave him.
He continued to smile sheepishly. Like that look you have on your face when your grandpa who speaks a language you cannot speak asks you why you never call.
“It’s been a minute, I know. Do you have a minute, so we can catch up?
I can drop you off at home if you don’t mind”
How would I?
Tony saw Chris as a brother. He was practically family to me.
I got into the car and we drove towards my house. The conversation was light as we got caught up. We talked careers, life post Tony for both of goals, upcoming plans, such and us.
We pulled up in front of my place. Chris reached for the ignition and turned the car off.
He rolled down the window and began by saying
“I know you have spent a lot of time in the past few years trying to make sense of it all.
But I’m here to shed some light onto certain things”
I was listening so attentively now with my eyes glued to his lips.
“5years ago, while Tony and I went over to meet with the council members for the preliminary meeting before we presented our proposal.
At that meeting, even though we had taken into account all their requests, they completely shut down our proposal.
Tony and I were furious. As we were leaving the hall that evening, we were called into a private meeting with some of the policy makers. It was in that meeting that Tony and I were told to remove and replace certain things in our proposal for it to pass.
Tony and I initially disagreed but they were very clear in letting us know that without the changes, all our work would be in vain.
I understood Tony’s frustration after all, we had poured our hearts and souls into it.
He was pissed even more because their asking us to modify the plan to fit their agenda highlighted the fact that they knew it was the right plan.”
Chris paused and looked at me before continuing
“I spent the next roughly six weeks trying to convince Tony to change his mind. I kept trying to let him know that all we needed to do was at least get into the room first and then over time, we could demand more.
Tony wasn’t having it. He wanted a fair shot he deserved in implementing change.
I spoke to one of the policy makers where I expressed Tony’s reluctance to compromise.
It was a few days later that Tony was gone.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand what had happened.”
I now had a concerned look on my face. Why is this sounding like Chris had something to do with Tony’s murder? I thought to myself
“I had agreed to just roughen him up a bit. Carlos?
Yeah, that’s where he came in.
What happened next we have both lived with for years.
But I got tired of fighting the system. All my life’s work and some people would still not let us sit at the table. I had to join them.
I regret it everyday because we lost Tony.
And I know Carlos did it but it is one of the prices paid in life, he might never directly pay for it but it’s happened”
I was stunned.
I had thought of various scenarios for years. Continuously, I was asking questions and trying to understand how Tony was a target that night.
And here was Tony’s partner telling me he had a hand in it! After everything I had been through. I was angry.
I opened the door and got out.
I was walking up my driveway as my eyes began to fill up. I knew I was going to cry and then I heard him say
I stopped and slowly turned around and he said
“Don’t try to be a hero and go up against them. They are very powerful people and connected in high places. How do you think I knew you were at the station?
You have some closure when it comes to Tony now.
Let him go and move on with your life”
Who did he think he was to be giving me advice?
I turned around and began walking up the driveway again.
My eyes were swollen. I was fiddling with my keys to my place and then I just broke down.
I just sat down on the floor and the tears streamed down my face.
. . . . .
It was a new week but the pain still lingered.
I was missing Tony even more no but more importantly, I could not shake off the words that Chris had said to me.
There was not a single way for me prove anything he had told me. I tried to muster the strength to fight the “system” but I knew it would probably wear me out or I would end up like Tony.
I had been shutting out the whole world for almost three days.
I returned to the school on the fourth day. I had called the principal to inform him that I was quitting. I could not risk the possibility of the incident with the kid following me while I tried to work.
That day I took the bus as usual, making my usual stop at the cemetery before heading to the school.
When I arrived at the school, I chatted with some of the teachers as the kindergarteners played in the yard.
I observed while I waited for the principal to attend to me.
And then it happened, when I least expected it.
One of the little girls ran across the yard towards her friend. While she was running, another boy was running towards a separate point.
All the adults watching saw what was about to happen like a director in the cut. And then boom!
They smashed into each other. The girl coming off worse and bruising her knee, she immediately began crying.
She got up and walked over to the teachers and reported the incident to us.
She was crying as a little ice pack was applied to her knee. And while she was still being attended to, she became restless and wanted to get back to playing.
A few seconds later, off she was, pulling some other kid to play a game or something. She was hobbling a bit but her heart was set on having a great time again.
That was when I knew what I needed to do. It had been enough time and I had to let Tony go. Just like that little girl did not allow the pain cripple her.
The bell went off shortly after and the principal emerged from his meeting with my belongings.
We talked for a bit. The school had just buried the young boy that died.
We briefly talked about the burial and having to close school for two days to have it. I asked him for the location of the burial site incase I ever wanted to pay my respects.
I informed him that I was taking the time off to refocus myself and fall in love with service again. I also let him know that I would be considering writing all the happenings but I wasn’t sure what that would even look like.
He thanked me for all my work and service. I was wrapping up with him when Michael called me.
“…at the school.”
I said as he asked about my whereabouts
“Can I come and pick you up?”
he asked hopeful. This was the first call I had answered since talking with Chris.
“Yes Michael, yes you can.”
I smiled as I ended the call.
He arrived about ten minutes later and I got into the car.
We greeted each other and then I asked him
“Can you please take me somewhere?”
He agreed and within minutes we were pulling up to the cemetery. I got out of the car and walked to a spot so familiar to me.
I stopped in front of it and I smiled as I spoke
“You gave me hope when all I had known was pain
You came into my life and after you’ve left
It hasn’t been the same
You showed me love in a new way
With each day I wish I could have done the same
But that is the testament to how great you were
Your impact was more important to you than the reward
Even if you weren’t there
I hope your heart hears me as I cry
And I pray you continue to watch over me from afar
My love for you will never die
And I can promise to never try
But today I let you rest
You will always have a chunk of my heart
But I have to let you out of my chest
Life put me to a test
I am grateful
No matter What The Heck Man
You will always be my best
Thank you for loving me”
I wiped the bit of tears that were forming and dripping out of my eyes. I turned around and walked back to the car.
I arrived and opened the door, as I sat down, Michael asked
I was trying to fight back my tears. I began wiping of my tears when I realized that I was still clutching the scarf; the one Tony gave me on the night we first met.
I stared at it for about 30 seconds before I yanked the door open and I began running back into the cemetery.
I could hear Michael behind me yelling my name
I kept running. The wind in my hair, the tears on my face; I ran.
A few turns and I was there.
Now I was fully crying as I got down on my knees and I wept.
I felt a huge release flush out of me. It needed to happen.
I placed the scarf on the tombstone. I kissed my hand and touched it on the head of the tombstone. I turned around to walk away but then I looked back one last time. The headstone read
He deserved to rest in peace too.
Life throws curve balls all the time. You can build up the best castle and somehow life turns it down to mere rubble.
But do you sit there and let it cause you to wobble and struggle?
Or will you stand up and show the world you are able?
I wrote the “Ruins” series for those with plans. Those who feel they have struck out from the repeated curve balls life throws at them.
It is not always down to you. Sometimes you have done all you need to do. And you should be getting all you deserve but things happen.
Also be wary of people like “Chris” in your life. They seem to want to build the same with you but do they.
Be careful for those whole claim to be foremen on your project but are secretly orchestrating your downfall. Cutting corners to greatness is settling for a legacy that won’t stand time.It took Tiffany five years to get over the situation around Tony but she did. Today, I challenge you to start rebuilding today. Rebuild from loss, heartbreak, betrayal, depression, loss of jobs, changes in career, uncertainty. BUILD ANEW.
Find the right cornerstone and start building. Pull from the rubble if need be, create the castle of your dreams and do not be stuck being a homeless tenant to your Ruins.
Give me feedback. How did this make you feel? Talk to me about Ruins 4 or the entire series.
Thank you for reading and commenting. You are highly appreciated.
Lookout for New Series starting next week.
© 2015 #WhatTheHeckMan