I couldn’t imagine that he would admit, after all these years, that I was the one he had loved all this time. I never thought I even mattered much to him.
I was getting in the car when I heard him behind me. I didn’t recognize his voice. All I could remember was the sensation in my scalp as my hair was being pulled, tugged on gently. It felt so sexual to me. He called me a dread and I turned to see who would bear the brunt of my blow. My fist was balled up in a reflex to strike the culprit, when I saw his face. The familiar face that melted my entire being drew close and he hugged me. I made sure to press my breast against his chest. I wanted my nipples to press into his skin. I wanted him to feel me.
I hadn’t seen him in such a long time. It almost became like an annual occurance, if I was even that lucky. We played catch up for a few minutes and then before he left, we exchanged numbers. A few days later, we began texting, but it hardly felt like anything special. A little text, initiated by me, maybe exery other day. A short response from him. After 2 weeks of trying to keep up, I decided that it was time to let go. I stopped texting him, hoping that he would miss the communication. It never happened. I decided to let him go entirely and get over my 15 year unrequited love affair. Daniel was just not that into who I was.
I moved a few months later to Connecticut for a masters program I had been itching to take. 2 years after that, there was some family business that needed taking care of, so I headed back home, taking a weekend drive. Upon visiting my parents, I went to my old home church. I couldn’t help but notice this handsome guy, sitting beside a beautiful woman. As I looked more and more it dawned on me that it was Daniel. He had cut his hair down into a Caesar, which really gave him a more sophistacated look. As if by fate, our eyes kept meeting up. I would try not to smile, but I couldn’t help it. He would smirk too. We were like two kids in a candy store. He seemed so giddy. The woman next to him peeked over his shoulder and caught me, mid- smirk. She wasn’t smiling. As a matter of fact, if looks could kill, I would have been six feet under. I could tell she was his girlfriend. She seemed like that ride or die kind of chick. Her features led me to believe that she was black and hispanic mixed. I knew she would have something to say to me if he and I hugged or said hi.
I waited until the service was over. I was expecting some sort of acknowledgement. I got up and went outside the church. It was a gorgeous summer day. He seemed to be in a rush to leave, but a church sister that hadn’t seen him in years had him cornered. I walked over to them and gave Sister Horne a hug. She began talking to me and he motioned a “thank you” as he tried to take his girlfriend’s hand and walk away. I thought it was strange behavior, but with his woman standing right there, I didn’t want to be disrespectful. I glanced over and noticed the two of them appearing to be in some sort of bicker match. Finally, they made their way back over to me. “Christina, this is my friend of many years Tara. Tara, this is my wife Christina”.
Wife? Wife! I thought I would pass out. Why didn’t he tell me he was getting married married?
“Nice to meet you Christina”, I mustered up the courage to say. I could feel my heart breaking slowly, and I knew she could see the blood just oozing. She seemed relieved and tickled.
“I just thought it was strange that my husband didn’t tell me about this friend grew had for many years, you know? But I’m glad we met and you know me now.” I smiled and they walked away. Her thick Brooklyn accent was no surprise to me. He turned back to mouth “sorry”. I was in the dark.
My number had changed since he and I used to text, but I was do tempted to text him and ask him all the questions running through my head. I honestly assumed he and I were cooler than that. That night, I had to take a jog on the boardwalk. My parents had a house about two blocks from the beach, and somehow, the beach always became my safe haven. The boardwalk was where I’d put foot to the pavement if I were stressed our confused, but if I ever needed clarity, or answers from the stars, I would walk straight into the sand. On rare occasions, and walk until the ocean and talk to God, but the ocean was always powerful to me. It could reveal things I did not want to know, our were too much for me to handle. That night in particular though, I wanted to put foot to pavement and just shake Daniel off.
It had been tormenting me for years; his smile, his touch, the way he spoke and how I felt about him. I was clearly living in a fantasy works and what I saw was not true. I had this reoccurring reverie that would haunt me. Daniel as my friends, then as my boyfriends, then fiance, and finally, my husband. I wanted to conquer him and know that I wad worth a guy like him. Didn’t he see this?
As I stretched, I looked up and noticed the moon. It was so bright and the curve reminded me of the tales like Mother Goose and the cow jumping over the moon. I remembered a guy I slept with that I regretted immensely and began an intense run.
Shake it off.
I didn’t even realize where I had been standing when I stopped to catch my breath. I was running back after jogging about thirty blocks and stopped to recuperate when I saw Daniel sitting at a bench, looking at the ocean. I didn’t want him to notice me, so I started jogging quickly, back in the direction I had just come from. I figured if I gave it some time, he would be gone. about ten blocks from where he say, I did some stretching and a few sit ups.
“Hey Tara. I thought that was you”, I heard, and as I say up, I saw Daniel walking towards me.
“Hey”? I didn’t want to really speak to him. He was the reason I was there attempting to clear my head in the first place!
I got up and started heading home. “Have a good night”, I said as I walked away. He grabbed my hand. “Wait, please”. I turned around, pulling my hand away and said “whats up”?.
“I’m sorry about today. I didn’t…”
“honestly, it’s cool. Take care”. I started walking away. I figured he would just let it go. It was so awkward.
“It’s not cool…” He started saying something but I plugged my headphones in and started jogging. Suddenly, I felt someone grabbing my arm. I turned to hit Daniel or push him off. This time, it wasn’t Daniel. The strength of this guy had me over powered. He threw me up against the railing and began trying to take off my jogging tights. He started rubbing his hands all over me and I could feel his dick hard as a rock pressed up between my add, poking me. He had my mouth covered, but I managed to bite down into a finger and as he pulled away, yelling obscenities at me, I managed to scream help. I was trying to fight him off when I yelled out again, only this time, I didn’t say help. “Daniel!!!!!!” I shrieked. I was losing strength. The attacker was just about to get his hands inside my pants when before I knew out, he was on the floor, getting punched in the face til he was unconscious. I collapsed on the floor and blacked out.
I woke up in the hospital. I turned to the left and there was Daniel, sitting in the chair beside the bed. “Daniel?”. For some reason, I felt like I whispered his name. He walked over to me and said ” I wasn’t going to let him hurt you. I’m just glad you’re awake. Let me call a nurse real quick.”
“Wait.” I wanted to say so much but I felt myself losing strength again. Everything started being black again. “Tara!” I heard him saying my name but I couldn’t hold on.
“Apparently her attacker hit her in her head. It’s been an ongoing thing we’ve been seeing in the victims that made it here or to the morgue. If the women fought back, he would punch them, knock them with his gun or inject them with a poison. She was fortunate to suffer a minor concussion. We just want to monitor her for another day or so to make sure everything is ok Mr. Brandt. It’s just great to know that she is last person he will ever hurt.”
I could faintly hear Daniel’s voice, but it was getting stronger. “I’m just glad she’s coming along and that hes behind bars.”
“There will certainly be some press behind this. You might want to start thinking about an attorney.” The voice was feminine, but strong.
The voices grew faint and I heard a door close. I heard foot steps and tried opening my eyes. I turned my head to the sounds. “Can you hear me Tara?”
I opened my eyes. It felt like such a difficult task, but just hearing Daniel’s voice made me want to see his face. There was a light piercing through, and then, the familiar face. I tried to smile, but then, out hit me. The pounding of my head caused years to spontaneously stream from my eyes. “Thank you” was all I could say, but Daniel placed his hand on my lips, and whispered “everything wil be ok. I’m not leaving.” I felt him wipe the tears away and ask me of I was in pain.