But Will She Stay?

Or, Will He Go?

MUSICAL SELECTION|EMOTIONS: DON’T ASK MY NEIGHBOR

I did not budge. I was not going to call the cops because I have a fear of them now that cannot be described. I do not feel protected. I do not feel served. I would rather not have my mom and best friend collect my body from a holding cell at my local precinct because my conscience would not shut up.

But I listened . . .

I was having a relaxing bath, soaking my aching leg, while reading and it happened . . . A door slammed. Her trembling voice followed. His shortly after. It shook me awake from my jump into another world and I instantly knew what this was — an argument. My walls shook from the second slam of a door.

The bathroom walls are paper-thin. I silently prayed, “Lord, whatever is about to happen, please don’t let it be something that will make me call the cops.” My new neighbors found themselves in a twisted situation and this place is not kind to those disturbing the peace, but while things played out, it sounded as though they may have needed this to happen.

That may be an ass-backward statement, but what I mean by this is perhaps this thing could be the defining factor of their relationship — of if there will be a relationship after tonight. A woman’s voice when rattled can break you. If you have any peace in your spirit, you will feel every word falling from her lips.

“IF YOU WANT TO BE WITH ME, THEN SHOW ME!”

She was cry-shouting at him and she said this over and over again and I felt my heartbeat quicken and my hands began to shake. I had not been around a couple arguing in years and this stirred up a fear in me that I forgot existed. I wanted to cry, I felt like I was about to cry, but his voice powered through . . .

“I MOVED HERE FOR YOU!”

She did not back down. She yelled her testimony to him. She made her reasons known and the back and forth of it came right back to her original statement, “If you want to be with me, then show me!” He said something that made me cringe — that made me want to jump out of the tub, throw on some clothes, grab my steel bat, and call my cousins to let them know what was up, but I remembered who I am. It still did not stop me from tearing me apart when he said, “I AM A GROWN MOTHERFUCKIN’ MAN. I DON’T HAVE TO SHOW YOU SHIT.”

There was quiet. It became too quiet. The kind of quiet that shows itself right before the main event and I thought, “I have to make sure he does not hit her, that she does not attack him.” I had to wait it out. I know what a blow to the head sounds like by a closed fist. Or, how a back cracks when it’s slammed against a wall. I grew up in a home where violence was the frontrunner for many years until it was not. I had to be sure they did not physically hurt one another. But verbally . . .

The damage had been done.

It passed, like a storm . . . Like a kidney stone punching through one’s bowels shoving its way into the light. A mellow tune played, what sounded like another door gently closing introduced itself, and the night began to feel safe again.

I wonder if she will gather her things, relocate to wherever she ran away from, or if she will stay loyal — glued to his side. I wonder if he will step it up. If he will try harder, if he even needs to. I wonder if they know just how thin the bathroom walls are and how afraid I had gotten hoping and praying that I did not have to call the cops.

There will be that awkward meeting when we pass each other in the morning. That brief, knowing smile or head nod. No one will mention a thing and we will go on like it never happened. But I will look at her and I will know that her heart is breaking.

I will silently tell her that mine is too.


Originally published via Medium.

Open

When You Know You’re Not In Someone’s League

Young Woman With Ibis- Edgar Degas 1860-1862

There’s a league,
some know it, some are
bound to stay in their place,
but I am stubborn.
I know no league of my own,
however, I wouldn’t dare cross yours.

The door is padlocked,
no one has a key.
I’ll never be that lucky.
With all my rights, my wrongs
take over and they tell me that
I am not worthy,
I cannot open you.

I can sit and listen to
the ailments that come from
a broken heart, can lend a kind word,
send a tight hug, but I
deny you from my dreams.
You are sacred territory,
I am not fit to clean
the grounds
or roam them freely.

I know this.
The knowing introduces itself
at night, it comes cloaked as
an angel, but I know the Devil
even when in disguise.
I shake the hinges and chain
my heart.

There’s no room for me,
not now.
There’s no way for me,
not now.
I observe every league and count
the beings who are diamonds to
my gold.

My love,
I am not fit to shine
in your direction. I am a
hollowed wall, crumbling in
your midst.
You are what I fear.