#WhatTheHeckMan · African Stories · Stories

Scar Tissue 4

THE CLEAR PICTURE
#TeamLeila & #TeamDenzel – who will be standing at the end?


I watched your video today
The one we made on our fifth date
When you looked into the camera and tried to pronounce my middle name
The way your smile warmed my heart
More than the French toast from brunch
We were by the waterside
All I could see were white sands and you, in a similarly beautiful dress
Getting ahead of myself?
I know
Always my mistake
But as I stored the video away that day
I didn’t have to worry about storage space

The annoying reminders
“Upload to your iCloud account”
A telling reminder that I had no more space
Useful space
So I started to delete things
Memories, moments, mornings
Trying to find space
Like those reminders, you became a nag
I initially tried to make it stop
But eventually, I gave in and deleted things
Slowly
But the reminders kept coming
“Purchase extra storage space”
And so I did
I bit the apple as I paid and you were gone

I stumbled on that video
The one that started it all
Your smile, still so beautiful
But this time I watched it with no sound
No promises remembered
I missed you for a second
I reached out and dialed
Then it went straight to voicemail
You blocked me

When the heart feels empty, home has no warmth.

Written on October 19th, 2017 when I realized they had moved out.

I couldn’t stop looking out the window.
Taking it all in, I couldn’t understand why this was happening. Denny’s was busy per usual.
And my brain was trying to organize all the open tabs.
Why would he send me flowers? Did he even send the flowers?
Phone in hand, I crossed my arms and stared at them. I had moved the flowers to my table next to the window. The flowers deserved light.
They were a beautiful and colorful rose bouquet.

I wanted to call again but my pride wouldn’t let me.
I eventually took a picture of the bouquet and posted it on my instagram with the caption,
“Thank you secret admirer for the flowers, I appreciate them.”

The back half of my workout was pretty weak and I think it’s because I was distracted.
But thankfully I pushed through – I was taking necessary steps towards getting back to full fitness.
I tell you this though, them hip thrusts? Not easy!

Later that afternoon, I would braid my hair into three big all-back cornrows and do a chemical peel and Manuka Honey mask.
Ezi came over later with some wine, apple pie and ice cream.
We started catching up and I told her about the fight with Denzel. She said,

“Babes, you fucked up.
Like how would he tell you that and within 48hours you were using it against him?
All he asked for was space!”

I chimed in,

“But honestly, you should have seen him. He went from like 0 to 200.”

“Yes! People are allowed to do that when you tell them you had an abortion for a married man!
You cannot police his feelings, love. And it’s not like he called you out your name or something, man just said he needed space and you flipped.”

She clapped back at me.
I froze, and without having a clean comeback, I picked up my phone and pretended to text someone.
Ezi saw right through it.

“Girl, put that phone down.”

As she smacked it out of my hand.

“What are you going to do? From what you told me, he sounds like a great guy, so are you actively trying to get him back or what?”

I couldn’t contain it. It felt like the emotions of the last few weeks poured out in one as I said,

“Ezi, I have called him, multiple times. He is ignoring me.
I know I fucked up. I panicked.
Telling him felt very risky and made me vulnerable. I guess I did not play for a very real reaction from him.
I wish I could take it back.
He is such a great guy and I wish I didn’t mess this up, but I am starting to think that it’s beyond repair.
Those flowers came today and I thought he sent them but there is no note. I called, and I was blocked.”

Ezi came closer and hugged me.

“It’s gonna be okay.”
She said.

As I pulled away from her, she said,

“How do you know that he blocked you for sure?”

I replied,

“I have called a few times and it just goes to voicemail.”

Ezi reached for her phone and said,

“Let me try calling. Let’s see if he really blocked you.”

I called out the number and she began dialing.
A few buzzes and I heard his voice over the phone,

“Hello?”

Fuck!
This man blatantly blocked me.
I was shook.

Ezi had an apologetic look on her.
She tried to make me feel better when she said,

“It’s okay love. Just give him some space. He’ll come around.”

Ezi would stay for a few more hours before leaving for the night.
As soon as she left, the sadness set back in.
I desperately wanted to sleep but I couldn’t.
My mind was racing and I kept trying to figure things out. A part of me felt pride, that I was a good person and I deserved to be fought for – and the other was incredibly critical and bashing me for messing up a great opportunity at a happy future.
Those thoughts filled my head for hours, until Denny’s became busy that night.
But there it was, the familiar loneliness and the background noise of unassuming people living their best lives, one pancake and one sausage at a time.


I was waiting for the doctor to come back with the results of my checkup.
My heart was racing for some reason. Initially, I couldn’t figure it out.
It felt like I was waiting for bad news.
Almost like when you get the “babe we need to talk” text in the morning, but y’all can’t talk till nighttime.
I was praying for good news.

I was feeling good, it was a month after the surgery.
My diet had been good, I was lightly back to working out, and even started working from home on a few cases.
The wait was taking a bit longer than I expected. I pulled out my phone and I went onInstagram.
I am not sure if it was the universe or something but the first profile to show up was Denzel’s.
I had already tapped into it too fast that I couldn’t back out anymore.
The first snap was his meal from the night before, at dinner. First, his plate and then a boomerang of his group of friends taking shots.
The next snap was the crew walking down Oxford street.
Yes, in London!

I closed the app quickly and tried to control my breathing.
A part of me felt very weak because I had been doing a good job over the past few days.
I had a moment a few days before where I had to tell myself to get it right.
I am still not sure why him being in London was annoying to me.
But I felt cheated.
I felt like I wanted him to just call me;
tell me he was annoyed, tell me we could work things out.
But I guess that is one of the things you want to know about someone before getting deep with them.
It is important to understand how they are when happy and how they navigate conflict.
The doctor interrupted my thoughts and said,

“Ms Leila, how are you?
Sorry for the wait.”

I smiled and replied,

“It’s fine, doctor. I’m okay.”

He smiled and said,

“Well, I have good news for you.
All your test results came back great. You are definitely trending in the right direction post surgery. I will say to continue doing what you are doing – taking it easy and not stressing yourself.
In a couple of weeks, you can resume light travel and the likes. But as much as you can get people to help with things, feel free to let them do that for you.
How is that young man that was by your side during surgery?”

I smiled and said,

“We broke up.”

“Oh, that’s a bummer.
Well, still take it easy and try not to over exert yourself.”

I nodded.

“How are the meds working?”

“Everything is working well. I think it’s because I haven’t been doing too much; the side effects like dizziness have been mild. So, I would say pretty good actually.”

I responded.

“That’s good to hear.”

He replied and then continued,

“Well, if anything changes or you are feeling anything, please contact me and we can alter some things.
Okay?”

I replied,

“Okay.”

“Well, great. I’ll get out of your hair. You can change back to your clothes and I’ll see you at your next check-in.
Have a great rest of the day.”

He said as he shook my hand and exited the room.
I sat there for a few seconds before I started putting my clothes on.
The results of my checkup made me happy but I was still sad inside.
That was the story of my life at that point.


I was starting to forget about Denzel.
Okay, that was a lie.
It’s better to say that I was not being regularly triggered by thoughts of him.
It had been two months since he walked out of my apartment.

I felt like I had finally moved on. After all, I had a date later that night!
It was a friend of a friend that had been on my case for almost a year. He reached out to me and asked me out again, I needed to get back in the game so I said ‘yes’.

I told him that I would meet him there.
It was a nice Thai restaurant that had opened about 6months prior. The ambience was really lovely and I was excited for the food if not the date.
I was pleasantly surprised at how things went at dinner – the food was so good and he was actually a really good conversationalist.
I didn’t realize that we were pushing almost two hours. He had an early day the next day and I had to catch up on some work.
So we decided to end the night a bit earlier than I usually would like to end a date.

As we headed out of the restaurant, he asked,

“Did you drive?”

I replied,

“Yeah, I parked in the garage a couple blocks down.”

“Okay, I’ll walk you to your car.”

He replied.

We kept talking as we walked down the street.

As we neared the end of the walkway, we walked right past a BevMo.
I just happened to glance into the store and I saw him.
Yes, Denzel.
I stopped for a quick second and then I continued walking.
Chad asked me,

“Everything okay?”

I said,

“Yes.”

and kept on walking. As we got to the end of the street, I could feel my heart racing.
I said to Chad,

“Hey, I saw someone back there that I should probably say hello to. If it’s okay, we can say goodbye here and I’ll let you know when I get in?”

He seemed a bit confused and maybe disappointed but he replied,

“Sure thing.
Have a good rest of the night.”
He leaned down, gave me a hug and disappeared into the night.

Till this day, I am not even sure where the courage came from but I stormed into the BevMo and looked through two aisles before I found Denzel.

“So you just decided to not pick my calls, reply to my texts and block me?”

He was startled.
His first words were,

“Hey, let me call you back.”

He glanced at his phone to make sure the call had ended and I said,

“Are you going to answer me Denzel?”

He replied and said,

“Leila, I simply asked for time.”

I snarled back and said,

“And two months is not enough time? Can you confidently say that what I said deserved that?”

He looked embarrassed as he said,

“Leila, do we really have to do this here?”

I didn’t care, I truly didn’t. I was very angry.

“Yes, Denzel. I don’t care about these people.
Why are you pretending like you had any intention of contacting me? If I didn’t see you today, you would not have reached out to me. So please, just answer my question.”

He paused and then he said,

“Leila, everything was just moving really fast. Not really your fault to be honest but even with what you told me, I felt like I needed time to process – which I asked for and you snapped at me.
You didn’t just snap at me, you decided to use something I told you in confidence against me. Something I don’t even think you know enough about to speak on.
So yes, it has taken me awhile to come around to the idea of engaging you in conversation.”

I understood what he was saying despite my ego being bruised.

“So what now?”

I asked,

“We’re just done? No closure, no discussion. Nothing?”

I added.
He stood straight and said,

“I had every intention of calling you, but with your reaction, I just felt I needed to protect myself first.
These past few weeks have not been easy for me either.
But I needed to take care of myself first.”

There wasn’t really much else to say.
I turned and said,

“Well, thanks for saying that.”

“How has your recovery been?”

He asked.

“Fine.”

I snarled back as I walked away.

As I got home some 15 minutes later, I got a text message from Denzel saying,

“I am sorry about how that went. I am glad to know you are doing well.
It was good seeing you and I hope you liked your flowers.”

I hissed and put the phone down.
My heart melted but I was also very annoyed by the whole exchange.
It was only a few seconds. and the tears came flowing down.
WhatTheHeckMan.


I would spend days thinking about the entire Denzel situation.
Not the fight or coming from a place of regret but more trying to understand myself and why I reacted the way I did.
It was not lost on me that my relationship with my mother and past let downs with men scarred me.
But, I needed to take ownership of my life.
It took me a few days, but I began to see the exchange with Denzel as a learning experience.

The situation put my insecurities in full focus. The level of vulnerability that Denzel saw me in, frightened me.
Because of my health situation and how things happened, we accelerated what would have normally taken months to uncover. The level of vulnerability that Denzel and I had gotten to would have come from repeated opportunities to flex the muscles of trust and safety.

I got back from a grocery run and I was putting the items away in the kitchen when my phone began to ring.
I reached for it and it was Denzel.

“Hello?”

I said with caution, not fully understanding why he was calling me.
I could tell he was smiling on the other side of the line as he said,

“I’ve been wondering…”

He paused.

“I’ve been wondering…how different things would have been if I had just let you win that race on our first and only date?
Or how you never gave me my trophy for crushing you at that race.
I’ve been wondering how many things we’ve left unasked or words unsaid. I have been thinking about how sorry I am that it’s taken this long to say I miss you.
And I want to see you. I’ve been wondering if you would want to see me too.”

I didn’t even realize that I was already smiling and then I said,

“Well, technically if I didn’t pass out. I would have won but yes, I have been thinking of things as well and how it could have been different.
And yes, I would like to see you.”

He asked,

“Would you like to see me right now?”

“Huh?”

I quickly replied.
He asked again,

“Will you like to see me right now?”

“Where are you?”

I responded.
I could almost picture his smile as he said,

“Look outside the window.”

It was one of the few times my blinds were actually covering the window but I walked over and I slowly pulled them up with my left hand.
There he was.
As the blinds went up, he waved at me and on the phone, he said,

“Pancakes or waffles?”

I ugly laughed like a baby and told him I would be down in a few.
Mouthwash, a spritz of perfume and I fixed my wig before I darted out of the house.

The way we hugged each other was different; more different than when we hugged before my surgery and even after. It felt so intentional and I felt safe.

“You look really good.”

He said.

“Thanks. So do you.”

I replied.

We sat down and started talking after we ordered our food.
I spoke first,

“Denzel, I want to start by apologizing for my reactions when I shared what I shared with you. It was immature and unnecessary. You have displayed the highest level of respect and responsibility through everything, my outburst was unfair to you and I am truly sorry.”

His head dropped down, then went back up as he said,

“I am sorry too. I wasn’t expecting what you told me and I pride myself in controlling how I react to things.
I have spent years in therapy and medicating to ensure that I remain present and engaged in conversations and in my relationships. That day caught me off guard and I think your approach to my feelings made me uncomfortable as well, so I chose to leave.
I am sorry it has taken us this long to see each other and to talk through this.”

I was so grateful for his poise and his calmness in apologizing.
I made a joke saying,

“It doesn’t look like you’ve lost any sleep since that day. Looking fine as hell.”

He chuckled and said,

“Trust me, the heart has taken a beating missing you and trying to figure out what you want going forward.”

“What do you want going forward, Denzel?”

I asked.
He looked me straight in the face and said,

“You.”

I felt chills run down my spine.
I gathered myself and asked

“Are you sure?”

He smiled and said,

“Yes, I am.”

I looked at him with some seriousness and said,

“Even after the ‘beating’ I have given you emotionally?”

He smiled again and said,

“When you fell, I felt so many things. I worried about your life and health but something in me made me stay.
Sometimes you love but you aren’t in love, and sometimes you fight the one you love, to fight for your entire idea of love.”

I started tearing and he said,

“Don’t cry.”

As he reached over to wipe my tears.
He said,

“We have both taken a beating and through all we have seen together, the only way now is up.
I would love to get to know you better and deeper.
We will be stronger for all that we have been through.
The beautiful thing about scar tissue is that it’s always stronger on the comeback.”

I had a few tears streaming down my face and I said,

“If you weren’t sitting so far away, I would come and kiss you.”

He smiled, got up and came over to my side.
Holding my face, he planted the warmest kiss on my lips. My breathing turned slow, my muscles relaxed and I almost melted in his arms.
Midway through the kiss, our waitress came and said,

“Here’s your water.”

Embarrassed, we both giggled as we moved the cups.
He placed his hand on my inner thigh as I leaned on his shoulder. Then he said,

“So tell me something about you. Something simple o.”

We both laughed so hard!
Then I replied and said,

“This is my first time ever in a Denny’s. It has always given me ghetto vibes.”

He looked surprised as he looked at me and said,

“Why didn’t you tell me, so we could go somewhere else?!”

I smiled and said,

“It’s okay. I just wanted to see you.”

He kissed me again, and this time, as we were kissing we heard people arguing behind us.
As we turned around, it was a couple in the middle of a huge argument. From what we overheard, he was not taking care of her and he might also have been sleeping with her cousin.

We both burst out laughing so hard and lost it as he said – say it with me people…

WhatTheHeckMa……. Please leave me a comment below. Here are two questions for you. Rate the series from 1-10 and rate how likely Leila and Denzel will be successful together 1-10 (10 being happy and growing). Leave your answers in the comments below!

Thank you for coming on this ride with me. I hope you enjoyed it!

END OF THE MONTH LONG SERIES – SCAR TISSUE.

New series, next Saturday!