Bombshelter by Nnabu
The cabinet closed and I finally sat.
As I strapped in, I let out a huge sigh.
I looked over to my right as the older woman next to me said
“You made it?”
I didn’t reply.
I was still trying to catch my breath. But yes, I made it.
As I waited, I just wanted this moment to pass.
Inhale and Exhale.
I closed my eyes, kicked my head back and l clutched my sides.
“Just get it over with.”
I thought to myself.
A few seconds later, there were faint voices and I took another deep breath.
I heard a thud but I didn’t open my eyes or move. I clutched my sides harder.
With my eyes closed, I stepped out of the moment and back into a time.
It felt like a recoil of an old VHS tape. Momentarily stopping to take in certain memories.
It had been a long weekend.
Being out in the DMV to attend Monét’s wedding brought back so many memories.
We had graduated from law school together, passed the bar around the same time and even did our internships together.
Monét was more than a friend to me.
She was a sister I never had and one I loved dearly.
The thing with Monet was this; she was the last link to what my life used to be.
Our party days, men, our “reckless” nights, be daring moments…
Basically my past.
So anytime, I was around her, there were either pieces she was still connected to or memories that she brought up for me.
So this past weekend was bittersweet.
Monet finally got married to Victor and I found out they have a baby on the way.
I couldn’t be more pleased but the joy they shared only reminded me of what I once had.
The turbulence of my life in the last two years, met me at the height of my womanhood.
In peak position to dominate, I have had to contend with the challenges of womanhood on a completely different plane.
Through it all, I have maintained that my attitude will affect my altitude.
The “seat belt off” sign went off.
“Miss, you dropped this”
A deep voice bolted through my unconscious and tickled my ears drums.
I slowly opened my eyes and there he was.
Flashing that amazing smile, he stood over me and said
“You dropped this”
I looked down from his pursed pink lips and made a quick stop on his arms. Before traveling to his hand, where he held on to my Pink Lemonade Snapple drink.
He outstretched it to me and I said
He was supposed to walk away. This was his opportunity to turn around but he asked
“Can I sit?”
I smiled and shrugged and he sat on the aisle seat across from mine.
He wouldn’t stop smiling.
It bordered on creepy but the man was just so handsome, it could be forgiven.
It was his perfect teeth, his eyes almost disappeared when he smiled.
He had that deep baritone in his voice and he made amazing eye contact.
And he had the perfect lips, they parted and glistened as he licked them every often.
“Hi, my name is Darvell.
Whats your name?”
I smiled and said
He smiled as he leaned over and said
“Well nice to meet you Bella”
As he was about to speak, someone got up and made their way towards the back of the plane.
He leaned back and let them walk by but then he returned and said
“So where are you headed Bella?”
I tried to keep the conversation short as I replied
There was a scoff and smile as he replied and said
“Where is home?”
He smiled and responded
“This is my first time in Atlanta… Maybe you can show me around?”
I smiled and said
“I don’t think my husband would appreciate that”
“Oh you’re married?”
He answered with surprise laced on his perfect lips.
I smiled and lifted my left hand so he could see my wedding ring.
He looked even more surprised as he said
“I don’t see a wedding ring”
I looked down at my hand and noticed my ring wasn’t there.
Where did I leave it?
Oh I remember! I left it on the bathroom sink while I washed my face and tried to hide my tears.
The night before my trip when my husband had gotten into a huge fight.
I gathered myself and said
“Yeah, I just forgot it at home but I am married”
He chuckled and shrugged as he said
“Well forgetting your ring is not a good sign in any marriage.
But what do I know, I’m not married”
“How are you not married?”
I replied with surprise.
“Divorced. And no, I don’t have any kids because I know thats your next question”
I laughed and said
“You don’t know that!”
He was right.
That was my next question.
We talked about his work, his failed marriage, my job and my marriage as best as I would let him get. There was talk about my ambitions as a lawyer. Plans to become a judge.
And even favorite TV shows over the two hour flight from New York.
I would be lying if I said the conversation wasn’t stimulating.
He was just easy to look at and might I add, very smart.
The plane landed and he moved back to his seat a few rows behind me.
As we exited into baggage claim, he smiled and said
“I’m in ATL for a week, maybe we can grab coffee or you can be my tour guide. With your husbands permission”
I smiled and waved him goodbye.
A quarter of an hour later, I had my suitcase in my hand and I walked outside.
No sight of my husband.
I continued to call his phone and he didn’t answer.
It was cold and I was getting even more frustrated.
After about 10 more minutes, I realized he wasn’t coming.
I was washed with sadness and regret as I turned to my left.
There he was, Darrell, on his phone.
I walked up to him as he coordinated his ride.
I tapped him on his shoulder and he turned around.
As he liked at me he said
to the person on the other side and then I said
“Can I still take you up on that coffee?”
Dinner was getting cold.
I moved it to the microwave, returned the juice to the fridge and refilled my glass of wine.
As I sat down not he couch watching Love and Hip Hop ATL, I scanned the room and let out a deep sigh.
This was not what I wanted.
I wanted nights tucked away in the arms of my hero.
Lately my mother had been encouraging me to stay strong. To keep my home.
But my heart was emptier than my 4 bedroom home.
Why was I being encouraged to stay?
And no one was telling him to fix up.
Why was I taking this?
I deserved better than this. I leaned back and down my glass.
An invite into the safety of my unconscious.
A singular expression of me.
Where the “us” was put aside and I could dream about the “me”.
I woke up a few hours later and realized I had fallen asleep on the couch.
I picked up the remote control and turned the TV off.
I slid on my slippers and walked up in the room.
As I climbed into the bed, I swamped the pillows and took the one from his side.
I placed it down on my side and laid face down into it.
A long whiff from the pillow.
I missed him.
I could hear the clanking keys outside the door of our two bedroom condo, a few seconds after I heard the closing of a car door.
He stumbled through the hallway and made it into the room. The door opened slowly as he noticed I was asleep.
I could hear him almost drowning in his breath, so he didn’t wake me up.
He stopped in front of the dresser and took off his jewelry and he set down his keys.
I stayed still and kept my eyes closed but I could hear him clearly.
Almost like I was directing his steps.
He flicked on the closet light which was behind me from how I was laying.
The light shone over me and hit the wall I was facing. I assumed he was changing into something more comfortable.
The light went off.
There was silence in the room.
And the shower went off.
As I heard him step into the tub, I quickly got up and walked into the closet.
I reached for this pants and immediately stuck my hand in the back pocket, pulling out his wallet.
I flipped it open and looked into one of it’s pockets.
It wasn’t there.
I checked the next one.
It wasn’t there.
I was beginning to panic. I turned the wallet and checked the next set of pockets.
As I put my finger into it, I felt it.
I immediately heaved a sigh of relief.
I pulled out the condom and examined it. I was still staring at it when the shower stopped.
I heard him getting out of the shower.
I placed it back the way it was and shoved his wallet back into his pants.
It was the fastest I had run in a while but by the time he was stepping out of the bathroom, I was back under the covers.
But I had seen something drop from his pocket.
There obviously was no time to put it back.
A few minutes later he was in bed.
He came up behind me and pulled me in.
He whispered “I love you baby”
I faked a sleepy voice and mumbled, “I love you too daddy”
He smiled as we spooned to sleep.
I could hardly sleep.
My mind kept racing about how we had gotten to this point after just getting married two years ago.
Here I was hoping if he cheated, he used a condom and playing detective.
This was not the life I wanted or the oneI chose.
I finally fell asleep.
The next morning, I was up.
I could not get up the whole night because he had his hand locked around me as he knocked out like a rock.
Once I was able to wriggle out in the morning, I tiptoed into the closet and scanned the floor.
I soon saw a white paper in the corner, inside a show.
I picked it up.
It was a receipt for chewing gum from a gas station. I flipped it around and noticed a number on the back.
He was still sleeping as I walked out of the room in my nightgown and into the living room.
I picked up the house phone and stared at the number.
I couldn’t wait but a part of me wanted to.
I didn’t know what I would find.
But also not knowing was killing me.
I was going to do it.
I dialed out the number and it began to ring.
And then someone picked up.
It was a man.
My eyes grew big as he said
I immediately relaxed. At least it was a guy.
And my husband wasn’t gay.
I dodged a bullet.
I gathered myself and I was about to hang up when the man on the other end said
I almost choked.
How did he know my name?
I remember saying
I could almost hear his smile.
“Well, I’m glad your husband gave you the message and my number.
Its been a while and I’m assuming by how surprised you are, he still doesn’t know.
We ran into each other last night and I wanted him to give you my number. Being as we grew up together and I haven’t heard from you since”
I was stunned.
What were the odds?
We got married in Nigeria and the last I checked, that was where he lived.
“Chibuzo, its been a while.
Umm.. I don’t even know what to say”
He laughed and said
“You got married and ran away na.
Makes perfect sense. At least we had one last magical night before your marriage. I will never forget it.
Unless you’re trying to create another memory…”
“Thats not going to happen”
I immediately shut down the idea.
and then I continued and said
“That was a mistake I made before I got married and I love my husband.
I could never do that again”
As I finished the statement, I heard him say
“Do what again?”
I swallowed hard and slowly turned around.
It was my husband.
I heard the dial tone ringing through the phone as he had ended the call.
It was frankly that moment, that my marriage also ended.
Some important information for Part 2…..
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Bella walks us through the highs and struggles of a Black woman trying to find her balance in the a demanding and largely unfair world. But I tell you this, no single story written by me, follows one track. So get ready for a bumpy but exciting ride!
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