– 17 –

Veronica had spent all day texting Sincere. From when she got up in the morning, to when she got off work. Her inbox was full of messages from him. Everytime his name popped up on her screen, a smiled formed on her face. It was like being a lil girl again, she got butterflies while talking to him. These new feelings she dearly missed.

Her and Jamar weren’t on bad terms particularly but for the past few weeks, she was really distant from him. And that’s how it normally was for them, just no spice, no boom, anything. Just a couple who’s been together for years, living together, unhappy most times, but to comfortable to leave. The attention she craved from Jamar, Sincere made up for it. She wasn’t all there with Jamar like she normally was and he had noticed. Jamar never thought it could be the attention from another guy she was getting, he just thought it was another skeme to get him to pay more attention to her.

Veronica was relaxing on the couch, fresh off work. Tv was playing but she wasn’t even payng attention. Sincere had her eyes glued to the phone.

 Did you like the flowers I sent to you today?

       Yes I loved them. Roses are my favorite.    

Beautiful flowers for my beautiful girl   

Veronica was smiling from ear to ear. It was was little upsetting that she could take the flowers home but instead she kept them at work.  No one there suspected a thing, They just thought they were from Jamar.

“Lets go out to eat” Jamar suggested just coming out the shower into the living room.

Veronica ignored him and continued to text in her phone.

“Hello?”

“What? Huh?” Veronica said non-chantalty,  still fixated on her phone. Jamar came over and quickly grabbed her phone from her hand. Veronica heart dropped hoping he wouldnt go through it. Jamar held it high so Veronica couldn’t reach.

“Quite playing Jamar give me my phone!” she said trying to grab the phone back.

“Your friends that important?. I’m talking to you and your ignoring me.” Jamar explained, still having the phone tight in his hand. That was the only way to get her attention.

Finally Veronica stood there, arms crossed, head cocked. She tried not show any signs of worriedness.

“Okay, Jamar. You have my full attention,” she said saracastically. “What do you want?”

“Let’s go out tonight. Anywhere you want.” he said smiling.

Veronica raised her eyebrows. “If I say yes, can I have my phone back?”

He nodded.

“Yes, We can go.” she smiled back and shook her head. She could tell the small effort he was making to make her laugh and she fell for it. He gave her phone back and continued into the bathtroom to get ready. Veronica plopped down in the couch and immediately began deleting all Sincere’s text messages, even her friends texts to be safe. Once finished, she took a long sigh, whoa, that was close.

 

The two decided to go to the mall for dinner and a movie. They even held hands. Believe it or not, Veronica enjoyed the time they were spending together. They went to her favorite resturant, and Jamar chose it without her even saying anything. It was times like this that reminded her why she was with him for so long, things like this she missed. Depsite the good time she was having, Sincere was still all on her mind.

Upon leaving the resturant they took a brief stroll through the mall before the movie had started.

“I miss this.” Jamar said

“Miss what?” Veronica knew exactly what he was talking about but she still wanted him to say it.

“Just this. Us. Being together. Being us. It’s been a while. Yea, I take you for granted sometimes and I fuck up but my intentions are never to hurt you, just know that”

Veronica took all of what he said in. Unfortunately she was a little too far gone. If he would have said this maybe a month ago, it would have meant the world to her, but now, it really just went through one ear and out the other. But she still appreciated the fact that he acknowledged his wrong-doing and apologized – somewhat.

“Thanks Mar, I really appreciate you saying that.” Veronica said, she knew this had to be a moment. She hadn’t called him Mar in forever. That was his childhood nickname when they first met. Growing up, he had preferred his whole government.

Just then she spotted a familiar face walking towards her. It was a group of dudes, and there was Sincere, walking closer and closer. She had noticed him before he seen her. She kept her cool, wondering should she turn around and walk another way but she didn’t want to seem obvious. She kept her cool, and continued towards the group of guys.

Sincere caught eye contact immediatly with Veronica. Him and his boys had shopping bags in their hands, just about to leave. Sincere had actually just texted Veronica and he got no response, and he could now see why.

Quickly they brushed past eachother, but to Veronica it was like in slow motion. Sincere and Veronica held direct eye contact, either of them not wanting to look away, and Jamar looking ahead completely oblvious. It was a slight akward moment Veronica had to endure and was happy it was over. She wanted to look back so bad and did. Discreetly playing it off she turned around to see if Sincere would be looking back at her, and he wasn’t. Veronica thought to herself that this would be the last time she would see him.

– 16 –

                 All the girls sat on Lea’s bed listening to Bri tell her story of what James did to her, Veronica’s outting with Sincere and Lea getting up with Deon . Light music was playing in the background. Of course Keyshia Cole played.

Baby I remember, A time when we were so secure

Now it’s like December, and you saying that I’m so insecure

I gotta getaway, Cuz you making me weak, it’s keeping trapped

I gotta be a fool, sitting here trying to get that old thing back

                Raquel was the only one who was quiet. She would normally be the loud one always chimming in, but the situation that has recently happened to get took a toll on her. She laid out on the floor and put her arms over her head. Veronica noticed and turned the convo toward her.

                “You okay Raquel. How’s it going with your house?

                “What? What happened?” both Bri and Lea asked, totally feeling left out.

                “Her house was broken into. Furniture was everywhere it was crazy.” Veronica explained.

                 “I don’t know what to do guys. I have no money. Nothing. My mom is no help.”

                  Lea sat on the floor with her and put her arm around her friend. “You know if you need anything, we’re all here for you, you know that right. Money, somewhere to stay, anything.”

                  Veronica and Bri nodded in agreement.

                 “James broke me down and made me feel like shit. I know exactly how you feel Raquel. I just need to get my life back in control. I just need … ” Bri grabbed scissors that were over on the dresser and without even thinking twice, she cut off her entire ponytail.

                   All the girls gasped in amazement. “Breona Perez! Look what you just did!” Veronica pointed out a lifeless ponytail on the bed.

                  It was so involuntary for Bri. It still didn’t hit her what she had did. She began to feel the back of her head and was no ponytail. She then started to panick.

                  “Shit! What did I do! What did I do!”

                 All the girls burst out laughing. It wasn’t funny but it was. Bri still was in panick mode and the girls tried to calm her down.

                   “It’s okay, It’s not that bad” Lea laughed. It was but she still wanted to make her feel good.

                 Raquel was the only one out the group good at doing hair. She had even thought of going to cosmotogely school. She was that good. Maybe get her license and open her own shop.

                 “Here give me the sciossors,” Raquel said grabbing them “It’s fine. I’ll hook you up”

                 Within about 20 minutes Raquel was done. Bri went to look in the mirror. She stared at herself in awe. Her hair looked as if she actually got it cut at a salon. It was in a nice asymetrical bob.

                “You go Raquel.” Veronica exclaimed. “See, it’s no that bad afterall Bri”

                 She did feel better. She didn’t know why she cut her hair to begin with. Maybe because it was something in her life she actually felt she had control over. Maybe it was because her hair symbolized James and she was cutting him out for good. Either way, she felt lifted.

– 15 –

     Raquel opened the curtains to let some sunlight into her darkened home. Her mom sat on the ruined couch smoking a cigarette. Raquel took a seat across from her and took one the cigarettes, lit and took a long pull.

       “So Denise, who do you think could have done this”

        “What’s that supposed to mean Raquel?” her mom said defensively.

        “Your the one who has guys in and out of here. Why would somebody do this to us?”

       Denise sat back into the couch and rubbed her forehead as if she had a major headache. She was still a bit briused up. Her hair being up in a messy bun, exposed the black eye she had. Tears began to fall down her face.

          “I don’t know. I can’t remember much,” she said “I came home from the bar, I unlocked the door, then two guys rushed me into the house. I tried to run into my bedroom to lock the door and call the police but they broke the door down. Next thing I know I hear you in the hallway”

          Raquel didn’t know if she could believe her mother. She wasn’t the most truthful person. She’d lie about little things. Like paying bills, she’d say she has no money, and leave Raquel to paying rent or the electric bill meanwhile she’d come in with Michael Kore bags or new shoes.

          Raquel ashed her ciggarette and took another puff. “I can’t believe this. As if my life isn’t already shitty enough as it is.”

         “And the first is around the corner. They stole all the money in my purse, everything.” Denise began to cry again.

          “Oh my god!” Raquel shot down the ciggarette and ran into her bedroom.

          “What??” Denise ran in after her.

           Raquel went for her closet and dug through the mess. She immediately went for her s stash of money she had been saving from all those night withs Nazim. Shoes boxes, clothes, jewlery went everything. Raquel rummaged through everyting to get to her safe. It wasn’t exactly a safe but an old jewlery box she had since she was a little girl. It defineitly didn’t look suspicous so she kept all her money in there.

            “What are you doing??” Denise asked while standing over her.

             Raquel held her breath while she slowly opened the box. There was no money. Nothing. Everything was gone. Tears immediately started streaming down her face, she threw the box across the room amd rushed past her mom into the bathroom. She slammed the door shut and locked it.

              “What is going on? Talk to me. What the fuck Raquel, your being so dramatic!” Denise called through the door.

              Raquel opened the door and stood face to face with her mother.

              “They took my money. All of it,” Raquel cried.

               “Mines was stolen too. Our tvs, everything.”

              “No you don’t understand. You don’t know what I had to do to get that money! That could have been rent, anything to help us. I’m broke, you’re broke. This house is a mess. What are we going to do?”

                Denise had no plan. She never really worked which is why Raquel never really had a work ethic as well, she had no one really to look up to in that department. But something had to be done. Or else they would be out on the streets or worst.

 

 

– 14 –

      Lea was walking to the schools Cafe. She was done with classes for the day and wanted to grab something to eat. Besides her small distractions with Professor Scott, she was on the right track. Everything was going smooth. Though classes were getting a little more difficult, the semester was half way over and Lea was excited.

      She grabbed a caramel frappe and began texting her friends in a group chat.

      Ladies night tonight ladies?

        Of course ! Come over I have to tell you about my date and Jamar’s crazy ass. Replied Veronica. Lea smirked to herself. Though they all had other things going on in their life, catching up with eachother was a must.

         Raquel hadn’t replied back yet and normally she’d be the first and Lea also hadn’t spoken to Bri in a while. She dismissed it and just figured they’d both get back to her later.

 

         Beeeep! Beeeep!

         Lea whipped around to see who was beeping at her. It was a tinted black Range Rover. She couldnt tell who was the in the car, the windows were so dark. She stopped in her tracks and the truck pulled up to her. The window rolled down and exposed the person behind the wheel.

          “What’s up, I didn’t know you went here”

           It was Deon, the guy she met in the club.

          “Yea I do. What are you doing here?” Lea asked. How the hell did he spot me she thought to herself. Either way it didn’t matter. He was looking good in that driver seat.

           “Dropping my little brother off. I spotted you from a mile away girl. I been thinking about you since the last time I seen you”

           Lea rolled her eyes. 

           “Forreal girl, hop in”

           Lea was hesitent at first but then figured all she was about to go do was go home to study. She got in his car and they drove off. He wasn’t like any other dude she had been with. He was dark skinned but skin so smooth. Cute dimples and waves you could dive in. Being drunk that night at the pizza spot didn’t do him any justice. But being with him in broad daylight, she could see how sexy he really was.

             He immediately blasted music and it was loud. Amp speakers screamed Future music and they rode around for a bit. He grabbed a bottle from out the glove department and gave it to Lea to open.

            “I know you like Henny so” he said eyes still fixed  on the road.

             She opened the bottle and took a few sips. Boy did it go down hard. But after a few more sips, it really wasn’t that bad.

             “So what do you study. I like the fact you in school”

             “Thanks. I’m a psycology major. A senior. I’ll be graduating soon. I can’t wait for it to be over”

             “That’s what’s up. I always tell my little brother to keep at this school shit. Don’t be like me. Get that education and go far.” Deon took a sip of the bottle then began to speak again. “I gotta make a few runs. You down to chill or I can take you home”

              Lea thought of her friends she was supposed to be meeting up with later but she figured it’s okay to be late. They could wait.

             She shrugged her shoulders. “I’m good”

             Deon smiled and continue to drive. They cut a couple corners and he pulled up to this abandoned house. And old white man got in. No words were exchanged. They just shook eachothers hands and the guy left, and they pulled off. Obviously they just did an exchange, Lea wasn’t new to the streets, but she had never been around it so close before.

             Deon noticed Lea unsettledness and put his hand gentle on her thigh.

             “Listen I like you. I’ve seen you around before and finally being able to get ya number and meet up with you .. ” He stopped talking to come up with the right words to say. “I would never put in you in harms way, okay”

             He seemed sincere. She smiled and nodded her head letting him know she believed him. Lea wasn’t used to trusting guys so fast but it was something about him that she liked. With scchool being her number focus, she still had hoped this would be the start of something real.

 

– 13 –

    Bri had gotten low, away from the world. She had been hiding out at her moms’ house for the past couple of weeks. She hadn’t even spoke to any of her friends, James knew exactly where all of them lived. He could easily find her. She also didnt want to be a burden on them. Greatful for her mother for keeping her baby, she hid out with an old friend from work.

     Flashbacks of James raping her played back in her head over and over she couldn’t seem to get over. There had been plenty of times that she didn’t want sex with him, she’d just let him do her, then finish, but it never came to rape. Bri started to think it was her fault. That maybe if she just would have gave in, none of this wouldnt have happened.

      “Here you go girl” Tina handed Bri some hot raspberry tea. She was wrapped up in a warm rob on the couch. Tina took a seat next to her.

      “Thanks for letting me stay here with you.”

      “Take all the time you need. I let Val know of your situation, so you can come back to work when your ready.”

       Bri was thankful of Tina. They hadnt known eachother too long but she was really the only girl she cliqued with at work. Tina was older, about 7 years older, short, thick, and always told you the truth. No matter how hard it was. And right now Bri needed some tough love.

        “When’s the last time you spoke to him?”

        “I’m sure he’s blowing up my phone. I blocked him so it goes straight to voicemail”

        “What the hell is wrong with these dudes now days. They have more woman tendencies than ever. It’s disgusting”

        “I’m done with him. For good. I really am this time.”

         Tina shot her a ‘yea right’  look. “Listen don’t tell me no lies. And especially what you think others wanna hear from you. You’re the one that has to sleep at night. Your the one that has to deal with this. And most importantly, your kid. If you can’t find the strength to leave him, at least do it for your baby”

         Tina continued to talk her ears off. Giving her advice. She had gone through something similar with her ex. She traveled all the way Brooklyn to get away from him. They bonded and shared stories. Bri was was taking in the advice Tina was giving her. Alot of sounded repetitive but it always was different coming from another mouth.

– 12 –

 Hey beautiful

  It was around 11am when Veronica finally recieved a text from the guy she had met at the club that previous weekend, Sincere. She was anxious but didn’t want to come off thristy. She actually wanted to call him that night but knew that was a no-no. Given it had been almost 4 days since they went out,it was about time he hit her phone.

   Jamar laid next to Veronica in the bed knocked out. They made up from the arguement they previously. Which was the norm for them. Break up, make up, same ol same ol. Main reason why she was looking to step out. She was looking for something outside the norm.

   Hey, what’s up

   What are you up to?

   Enjoying my day off.

   I wish I had a day off …

   Sounds like you’re a busy person.

   Sometimes, but I can always make time for you …

   Veronica smiled. It was corny but it made her smile geuninely. which hadnt happened in a while. With every movement Jamar made laying next to her, Veronica would delete every text after it was read and recieved. God forbid he woke up and happened to glance at the phone.

    Can I take you out today?

    Veronica bit her kip and thought before she replied. Hell, why not.

    Yea..

     Text me your address, I’ll be by shortly. We can get a late breakfast.

     Shit! She couldnt have him pick her up, especially while Jamar was there. Veronica quickly got dressed and drove over to Raquel’s house.

 

      Raquel heard knocking on the door. It got louder and louder. She was afraid to answer the door. She got off the kitchen floor, grabbed a pillow off the floor and put it under her mother and also a blanket over her.

      “It’s me open the door !” a familiar voice called out.

      Raquel cracked the door open, she didn’t want to let Veronica all the way in, seeing as the house was still compeletly a mess .

      “Sincere! You remember him from the club. He’s about to take me out but I didn’t want him to pick me up home so I’m here” she let out a small laugh

       Veronica could sense something was wrong, especially because Raquel hadnt yet fully opened the door and welcomed her in.

      “Girl, what’s up”

       Veronica slightly ambushed through and opened the door herself.

      “Wow! What happened?

      Raquel closed the door behind her.

      “Girl I don’t what the hell is going on. I come in from the club and come home to this. My mom all bruised up.”

      “Where’s denise? Is she okay? Are you okay”

      “Yea, I’m okay. Waiting for her to wake up. I don’t what to think right now. Whoever they were, they were definetly looking for something”

       Veronica’s phone went off and it was Sincere.

       I’m outside beautiful

       “That’s him, he’s outside. If you need me, I can stay” Veronica wanted to be there for her friend and Rauqel did appreciate it but declined.

        “No girl I’m fine. Go, have fun and call me after”

        2014 all white Audi was parked outside. Veronica hopped into the car and they were out.

        Sincere was smoking a blunt and passed it to her. Veronica waved it away. Only timed she smoked was when she was with her friends hanging around. Being high was feeling she liked, especially being around someone knew. She couldn’t be on point as she liked to.

         “So where we headed?” she asked

         “I know this lil spot. It’s low. I’m sure you’ll appreiciate low” he smirked

          Was he sending shots? Veronica brushed it off. Yea she was in a relationship but it was complicated. Jamar and her were on and off so much sometimes she didn’t even know where they stood.

          “So how was your day”

          “Productive”

          “What do you do?”

          Max b was playing the background, low but still able to hear. Veronica examined his attire. He jeans were fitted but not too tight, graphic shirt, jordans to match and couldnt forget the fitted hat. He was well groomed, put together. Nothing like Jamar. He’d just come outside with a solid color Polo Tshirt and some tims and call it a day. She liked that Sincere actually cared about his appearance.

           “I dipple and dapple. Do a little bit of everything, you know. Most importantly travel. I just recently came back from the Bahamas”

           “Oh that’s nice”

          “Yea, probably headed to Vegas in a couple weeks. I’m always in and out. But I had to make time for you”

          Veronica smiled. He had a habit of doing that to her.

          They pulled up to the diner and walked and took their seats. The waiter seemed to know him cause she brought out exactly what he wanted without him even saying anything. Quickly Veronica imagined him being here with every girl he came across, just to make them feel “special.”

             “You’re a regular?”

             “I come here alot actually. It’s okay to be alone sometimes and I think some people are afraid of that. Staying in a fucked up situation because they’re afraid of the loneliness so instead stay cause it’s comfortable.”

              Veronica felt like he was speaking directly to her without even knowing it. That was her situation exactly. 

             “I come here to think, eat, or plan my next move. Yea I have my boys, but I am my own best friend at the end of the day”

              She shifted in her seat and took some sips of water.

              “Enough about me, what about you?” he asked. He loved how innocent she seemed though clearly she wasn’t. He was used to fast girls who got straight to the point, Rarely did he bring them to his usual spot. Veronica hadn’t been on the marker for some time now, she was technically like a virgin.

             “Um, Idk. I really don’t do much. Just work and take care of my baby. Hang out with my friends occasionally. You know, same ol.”

             “You with your baby father?”

             “It’s complicated. We’ve been together for 8 years, I’m only 23 and feel married. Bored I guess is a better word”

             “Well I definetly wanna be the one to occupy your time.”

              Hours had went by without noticing. They ordered food and desert countless time. Veronica never thought she would click with Sincere. He seemed so worldly. Veronica didn’t even notice her phone going off a million times because it was on silent. Sincere had noticed the flickering light coming from her pocket.

               “You wanna get that?”

                Veronica pulled out her and her eyes widen. She had 10 missed calls and text messages.

                 Wya?

                 Hello?

                 Where the fuck are you??

                 Veronica get ya ass back home!

                Veronica could just imagine all these messages in Jamar voice. She did leave him alone with the baby sleep. But so what. She was entitiled so leave when wanted. He did all the time. Sincere could sense her attitude change and suggested they leave. He didn’t ask any questions. Potentially being her side dude, he’d have to deal with things like this.

                Sincere didn’t make it awkard for Veronica. He politely took her back home, well Raquel’s house to her car.

                “Don’t sweat it, call me when you free”

                Veronica reached over and gave him and hug. She thanked him for taking him out to eat and hopped in her car. Still holding on to the memories of her perfect outting with Sincere, she dreaded each inch she got closer to going home to Jamar.

 

 

– 11 –

    Professor Scott was looking expceptionally handsome today. He must gotten a new haircut. Or maybe a new shirt. Yea, the button up her worn today fit him perfectly. Lea liked whenever he’d make a joke, he smile and laugh to himself showing his perfect smile. No matter what the joke was, she’d always laugh too, whether it was funny or not.

     “Today’s topic. Dreams. Why do we dream one might ask? Our dreams mystify us and often leave us waking up confused, disoriented, frightened, or perhaps very, very satisfied.”

      Professor Scott began to walk more closer to Lea’s desk. It was like he was centering her, talking only to her.

    “Freud, of course, proposed that our dreams represent unconscious wishes that we’re afraid to express in our waking life.”

     He locked eyes with Lea. She positioned forward, giving him her complete attention.

    “So Lea, what do you dream of?”

     “I dream of you Professor”

     “What did I tell you, Call me Scott” He approached her desk

     She looked up at him, dazed in a love spell. “I dream of you, Scott”

     He immediately pushed her books off her desk, picked her up and kissed her passionately.

     “Class dismissed!” he yelled. And they both ran out the room to finish their rendezvous.

     Lea could hear laughter as her and Scott ran away together to the next empty room. What the?

      “Ms. Daniels! Hello? Lea”

       Lea looked up, and the Professor was at the board waiting on an answer from her. Her daydream quickly turned into reality and embarrassment.

      “I’m sorry can you repeat the question?” she said sheepishly

       “In your own words, can you describe what the activation-synthesis model is?  

       Lea cleared her throat and began to speak. “Well, um, its basically the explanation that our dreams are stories that we create out of the random stimulation that occurs in the brain while we sleep.

        “Good answer”

        “Thanks” she mouthed back.

          She sat back in her chair and was quiet for the remainder of the class. She couldn’t wait for it to be over.