Monday, July 5, 2010

20: "TWO-HUNDRED HOURS"

NOTE: if you missed any chapters, please feel free to click on the chapters/installments on the left to catch up! thanks!

Two-hundred hours.

Two-hundred, hours.

Eight and a half days ago, Abram careened into the back of an SUV, and out of consciousness.

We're still awaiting his return.

Two-hundred hours sitting, waiting, wishing, hoping, praying … for a miracle. For some sign that there is possibility. All I want is a positive possibility. Something, God. Please.

These are the thoughts pervading each brain cell as I awake, stretch, and roll over in my empty bed. I'm still not accustomed to sleeping alone. Still not used to opening my eyes and not feeling Abram's familiar arm draped over my waist, his morning wood awaiting my morning good.

There is a big difference between him choosing not to be here, and him being unable to. It's lonelier.

I'm miserable. Simply miserable.

I throw my arm behind me lazily, feel around for my Berry. Seven a.m. and already, it has begun. I look at the three personalized 'Happy Birthday!' texts and respond with a "thanks" to all three in one message.

The wall calender stares at me from across the room, quietly informing me of the date in plain black and white.

August fifteenth.

The day God decided to redefine greatness. The day I was born. Yes, it's my birthday.

It is definitely not a happy one though.

I guess Abram wasn't joking when he said August is his unlucky month. Two-hundred hours have gone by with absolutely no change. Unless you imagine the inner tissues hard at work repairing the damage done by a black Envoy and five drinks too many, it seems as if Abram isn't doing anything but sleeping life away until God sees fit to take him.

I'm trying my best not to be morose. Not to think we are doomed to not make it through this trial. But it's depressing. Where is the progress? Where is my Abram? Why can't he just be better? Two-hundred hours is an eternity when holding your breath. When waiting for the exact minute when hope becomes real; when you can breathe again.

Abram is still, peacefully worrying myself and all those who love him into fearing the worst. It's a quiet fear though. Not as urgent or furious as that day about one-hundred and seventy-five hours ago. That day, we didn't know if Abram would still be here eight days later.

But still, it's a fear. A silent, ebbing one, slowly telling me to give up hope because Abram, will never be returning. And even if he does, he won't be the Abram I know and love. He'll be some invalid. Some frame of his former self, some dependent.

Abram would hate that, depending on other people for everything. Hate that more than he hated rappers like Soulja Boy and that Waka Flame person. Hate it more than the okra stalks his mom used to make him eat when he was little.

Abram would never be okay with being anything but my Superman.

This day is going to be a long one. I turn my phone off. Not ready to deal with the "let me cheer you up" offers just yet. Don't want to have to inform anyone that nothing can suffice to fill that space today. Don't want anyone's pity. I just want to be alone with my thoughts. 

I spend the next hour and a half lazily preparing for a day of more laziness. I plan to read the New York Times. Watch the Tyra show. Paint my toenails a bright pink. Eat three of the yellow cupcakes with cream cheese frosting I bought last night. Watch a movie or two. I'm going to spend my morning and afternoon doing a whole lot of nothing. Then I'm going to see my fallen Superman.

After a bowl of ice cream for breakfast and a shower, I throw on a bra and a pair of Abram's many basketball shorts he keeps here, and attempt to clean my place. After the week I've had, my apartment is a reflection of my mood. Disheveled. In the process of gathering a week's worth of mailers and throwing them out, I come across a piece of mail for Abram.

Oh snap. His mail. No one has been to his house since that first night, when his mom needed to get his insurance information. I was given the task of checking on it and collecting his mail. Sounds like just the thing to do on my 26th birthday.

I slip on the first nondescript tank I find, step into a pair of sandals, tie my getting-more-massive-by-the-week hair back into a messy puff-bun creation, and take the long drive out to Abram's place; the key that he gave me a month ago dangling from my own collection. My phone powers on at the press of a button, almost three hours after I turned it off this morning. Immediately it begins flashing and beeping, excitedly informing me of the new texts, voice mails, and IM messages I have. Twelve in total. All more birthday wishes. I know I should be appreciative. I should care that people care, and I do. But right now, I just want to bring in twenty-six alone. I don't respond to any of them.

I pull up to Abram's complex and instinctively seek out his car among the parking lot. Once I remember why it's not, a new sadness sets in. The what-ifs immediately flood my brain. What if Abram's car never returns? What if he never comes back to this apartment? What if the rest of my visits here are solo? This realization stings too much to even keep thinking about it.

After stopping by his mailbox to get the armload of envelopes awaiting, I blink back tears and turn the key, walk into a place I haven't been inside alone in nearly a month.

I walk in timidly, nervous almost. Abram loves this place so much, takes such good care of his belongings, that I'm sure they've noticed his absence. It must feel the abandonment. I only pray that he will be able to return and restore the balance.

A great thing about Abram is that he fits exactly into the profile of the stereotypical neat-freak bachelor; faithfully cleans his place from top to bottom every Sunday after church … unless it's football season, in which case he just uses his usually lax Saturday mornings to do the task. Rain or shine though, work or not, it gets done. Interesting seeing as though he's the only one who lives here, and I don't add clutter to his place at all. Still, he does, and won't even let me help in any other room but the kitchen.

His home still reflects the last Sunday's cleanup. The day before the accident. Nothing is out of place, no smelly crustations stuck on old bowls of spaghetti, no dust balls rolling through the halls wild-west style. I inhale deeply and release a slight smile. It always smells so good, so inviting in here. Exactly what you imagine a magnificent black man's place to smell like.

The first time I was invited over, I walked in and immediately said "Mmm, your place smells sexy. Comfortable. Yeah, like Sexual Comfort." After laughing, Abram thanked me for providing his stage name for the pending stripping career he had lined up in case of economic despair. A smile tugs gently at that memory. Sadness replaces it almost immediately.

I walk through his home slowly, fight the anguish that threatens to overshadow the joyous memories he and I have created in this space. Sit, then lay for a while on his plush leather sofa, remember three weeks ago, when I lay here in this exact same spot, wearing only a lacy black bra and panties, and a wild fro. Abram's sixty-pounds-heavier frame lay atop me, his face buried in the crook of my neck. Tears rise. I see Abram's image, his lust-filled eyes looking down into my own cold and untrusting pair.

"Let me make love to you, Ata. I want to make love." He'd said over and over, tired of arguing, tired of tension. We'd been hashing out the same old points of disagreement since I'd stepped foot out of the shower, and all he wanted was to stop; to crawl deep inside of me and stay there, until he'd eased some of the unnecessary resentment that had settled so heavily between us.

I'd been so mean that day. So annoyed by his roaming hands and uninvited kisses. So cold. The heat of his tongue's trails down my neck and breasts both aroused and repelled me. I found it increasingly difficult to not picture he and that woman, 'tisha', who'd answered his door for me all those months ago, each time he touched me like that.

I'd pushed him away. Heard his quickened heartbeat, felt his throbbing girth resting on my thigh through his thin shorts, looked in his loving eyes ... and pushed him away. Told him I didn't want him. Told him we still needed to talk.

He'd recoiled at my words. A tortured mixture of anger, disbelief, and hurt filled eyes previously overcome with the beginning stages of passion. Flaccidity almost immediately replaced the log cabin that'd been erected in his shorts. I'd actually said I didn't want him. I told him that, my own stubbornness refusing to give, refusing to work it out.

He'd pleaded with me that day, asked me to not destroy the connection between us; told me to not kill his love. Said I was pushing him away not only physically, but emotionally. He couldn't handle it, he wouldn't. Warned me that it was in human nature for one to go in the direction they were being pushed ... and I was forcing him away from me.

I realize now how trivial that was. How stupid I was for convincing myself that he wanted someone else when all he did everyday was show me how much he desired me. How much he loved me. I'd let my insecurities blind me to what was real. Created a whole volatile situation between us that didn't have to exist. I'd said I forgave him for those trying times, but I see now that I hadn't. I see now that those were only words sent his way to punctuate an argument-ending smile. I was so stupid. So cold.

We got past that argument, talked it out and I apologized. I knew he'd never forget though. Knew those words would always be resting in the back of his mind. I couldn't take them back. I had built that wall of rejection between us.

I blink the inevitable tears out of my eyes, bring myself back and leave those thoughts in the past. Jump mentally to today, August fifteenth. I thought bringing in twenty-six by myself would be somehow better than any alternative; would help me accept Abram not being here to celebrate with me. So far I am failing miserably. I long for his touch. His kiss. His smile. His log cabin, a joke I'd made very early in our relationship that had stuck somehow. I miss Him.

I make my way upstairs, mad at myself for being almost afraid to enter his bedroom. Maybe if his condition would improve just a little, my thoughts wouldn't focus so much on the what-if-he-nevers. Maybe they'd be focused on the when-he-recovers. Maybe that. I just want to know that he will be alright. I want to look at his bed and not imagine it already having had its last epic love scene of Ata and Abram. I need positive possibility.

His bedroom is big, spacious. Being a software developer for one of metro Detroit's largest consulting firms has afforded him the right to his king-sized 'throne' as he calls it, and all its amenities. His obsession with the color black is evident; his olive-green walls the only thing not draped in the dark color.

I sit on the bed, turn back the covers, inhale his scent permeating throughout them. I travel to the walk-in closet, take a couple of his work and play shirts for those moments when I need him near in the middle of the night, even spray a few with the Kenneth Cole Black cologne he keeps as a scent staple. Mixed with his body chemistry, it is heavenly.

I open the top right drawer on his chest, intending on grabbing a few pair of his boxers as well, when something catches my eye. Laying atop the stack of neatly folded underwear is a glossy white folder, '8/15 – 8/20' in black marker handwritten in the right corner.

What other choice do I have but to open it?

I don't believe it. I can't believe it. He remembered. He not only remembered, he actually was planning on taking me. I blink tears, so many tears back, as I pull out two itineraries for a flight to Orlando, Florida. Underneath them are pamphlets on both Universal Studios and Disney World.

Disney World.

In one of our very first conversations, I'd mentioned to Abram that one of my regrets was that I had chickenpox the week my father had planned a family trip to Disney World, and I never got to go. My mother and father started having 'differences' soon after and they'd separated for a while, my Disney trip being all but forgotten.

I told Abram that when I got some extra money, that was one of the first places I was going to go. Especially now that the new Harry Potter World was opening at Universal Studios. Considering my near-obsession with the young wizard and his friends, I couldn't hide the excitement in my voice. Abram had teased me, called me a big kid and jested about me being the biggest person on every ride if I ever went.

He never mentioned anything else about it. But he'd remembered. And he was planning on surprising me.

Inside this glossy white folder, there are package details of our stay at Disney, printed-out descriptions of the $385 a night hotel resort, and scribbled notes and reminders about who to ask for and who he talked to on what dates. Even notes about places and events to 'make sure we hit'.

I am overwhelmed. Guilt courses through my body for being so confrontational, so mean, the last few weeks. Competing with the sadness already inside ... I can only cry. So tired of flooding my face with sweet-salty lashdrops, yet all I can do is, cry.

I spread the paperwork of Abram's carefully planned out trip on his bed, read every line of every piece of information. Right now, we'd just be arriving in the land of palm trees, recreated movie sets, and Mickey Mouse. So many tears. He actually remembered. I am a big kid. And he remembered.

My phone rings, almost violently, the entire day. My mom leaves so many messages I finally text her an explanation, let her know I'm alright. Everyone is set on cheering me up in some way. Everyone wants to bring a smile. And I appreciate them, I do. But I don't want that. I want to be alone. I want to not be bothered. I just want to sit here and smile and cry and feel happy and miserable about the fact that Abram and I would be frolicking through Harry Potter Land right now, if it hadn't been for a dumb ass nineteen-year-old drunk.

Somehow I've managed to place all the blame, hurt and anger I feel … onto that driver of that Envoy. If she had just not hit her breaks, not been drunk, not been driving, I wouldn't be begging God to breathe some semblance of life back into my Superman. She has become the enemy. All that is evil and bad in my world, is somehow this under-aged alcoholic's fault.

Two-hundred hours later, on August 15th, I bring in my twenty-sixth birthday alone. I call the hospital, speak to Abram's nurse on duty, ask her about his condition. They've all gotten to know me and his parents well in the last eight days, and this one, Amy, is always particularly hopeful. I only call when she's on duty.

"Happy birthday, hun." She says once I identify myself. Tells me Abram's mom has already been up there today, already chit-chatted with her about today's significance. She tells me Abram's stats are slowly improving, how he's a fighter, for sure. She asks if I'm coming up to spend the rest of it with him.

"Nah. I think I'm going to stay here. I've spent the whole day with him here. I think I'll spend the night with him, too." I say firmly.

The clock reads six o' clock. I grab the framed picture of Abram and I that he keeps on his dresser. Smile down at it, even as tears cloud its image. Smile at the thought of this grand surprise he had planned. Smile at how much he wanted to make me happy today. And for the first time in two-hundred hours, I am.

9 comments:

LaBakir said...

AWESOME!!!!! *swoons at your writing*

Anonymous said...

Awww ... This made me smile and tear up. Thanks for writing it!

Richard J Wright said...

aint no slackin in ya writing gurl. great story thus far.

deonna said...

I definitely enjoyed reading this. OMG. Keep it coming, girl. Your writing is amazing.

Nick@nite said...

So... it's taken me a while to catch on.. but i'm up to date and i'm mad that i have to wait for the next chapter..
you made my saturday afternoon with this.. i'm sniffling, and tearing.. and thinking about how i wish love could be..
this is too emo for me.. so i'm gone..
thank you!!! your writing is out of control!!!

AlooFar said...

I really need to find the time to read all the past posts. THIS IS AMAZING!

caramelnaps25 said...

I found it! This was a great surprise for today! Great, great, great and ready for the next chapter!

Adrienne said...

You didn't tweet when you posted this one! Glad I checked in. I hang on to every word. *sigh...swoon*

GeNeRaL said...

Swoons at your writingG