Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Family

Prologue


“Alright girl it’s time,” Leila yells forcing me to move the phone away from my ear. “All the kids are settled. Your house sold faster than any of us thought possible. Trinity, your little mini mogul has turned a profit on our investment so you don’t have to run the beauty shop anymore. You’re just sitting in mom and dads empty house while they travel the world. Meanwhile your life is passing you by. “ I sigh and roll my eyes skyward. I’ve heard the exact same speech from Pookie, Nikkie, Shawna and Sarah. It’s as if they think I’m not aware of what’s happening in my own life.

“Keisha, Keisha,” She shouts. “Are you listening?”

“Yes, girl I hear you.” I sit up in bed and slide my feet into a pair of warn tattered leather slippers that once belonged to my husband.  My parent’s house is always so quiet lately.  They are the center of the family and when they’re away everyone becomes so busy with their own lives that they forget about extended family. I drag myself into the kitchen and start pulling out the ingredients for peach cobbler. No matter what I’m going through baking always makes me feel better. Maybe that’s what I should do next open a bakery with my Niece Zoe. I don’t know but I have to figure it out soon. I know I can’t spend the rest of my life in this house.

I place the phone on the counter and click on the speaker.  Then I start the dough while Leila lists all the reasons I should leave my self-imposed prison and rejoin society.  Nikkie tells me repeatedly how I’m stuck at stage 4 of the grieving process, “reflection, depression and loneliness.” Sarah has called me at least once a day for the last year begging me to come and live with her.  She and Javier are happily married with two rambunctious teenage boys. The last thing I want to do is intrude on their marital bliss. I’ve gotten similar offers from Pookie, Leila, Nikkie and Shauna. Pookie and Terry are married with two little girls they had using two different surrogates.  Leila and Tucker are still going strong with two boys and one girl and Nikkie and Riley have Genesis and their son Shiloh.  Shauna is married with a beautiful little blue-eyed girl. I’m the only pathetic looser in the bunch now. Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy they are all settled but after Noah moved out there was nothing left for me. I’m just stuck.

“Look Leila,” I say interrupting her tirade. I haven’t heard a word she’s said for the last few minutes. “I know you’re all worried about me.  But I don’t know how many ways to say I’m fine.” There’s a deep sigh on the other end of the line. With a wobbly tear filled voice she tries one more time.

“Please Keisha,” she begs with a heart-wrenching sob. “We all need you,” she cries. And I can’t take it anymore.

I lower myself to the floor, “baby I have nothing left to give. He took my happiness.” Hot tears run down my face and soak the front of my stained t-shirt. I lie down on the floor and I scream.  I scream because I have no more words. I hear Leila say something that I can’t decipher because all I have is grief. Deep wounded sobs rack through my body. The pain is unbearable. I scream and cry until there’s nothing left but the memory of the time spent with the man I’d loved since I was sixteen. I touch my chest and I swear I can feel the empty hole where my heart should be. “Doug,” I whisper before falling asleep on the cold wood floor.

I wake up when strong arms lift me. “Doug,” I say again hoarsely.
“Yes, momma it’s me,” DJ says lowering me onto the living room couch.  “The family is all on the way.” He says covering my legs with a throw blanket and heading back into the kitchen. He returns a few minutes later with a steaming cup of tea.

“Sit up mom and drink this.” I sluggishly sit up and take the cup from his hand to sip the hot liquid slowly. My son resembles his father so much that it’s hard for me to look at him. When my father retired he took over running the construction company.  He comes by everyday to check on me despite my protests. Parents are supposed to take care of their kids, not the other way around. The other four kids call regularly and stop by once a week but DJ is the oldest so he’s appointed himself the head of the family.  I place the teacup on the dining room table and lower my head back onto the couch pillow.

“Call them and tell them to stay where they are.” I sit up and try to stand. DJ places his hands on both my shoulders and gently pushes me back onto the couch.

“I have been patient for nearly three years. Enough is enough. I lost my fucking dad. Why did you have to die with him?”




Chapter 1
Mike


Ok, so I’m an ass hole. I stopped trying to deny it a long time ago. But in my defense I’ve never claimed to be any woman’s prince charming. I go into every relationship openly and honestly. I let them know that I’m not interested in commitment. They always say they understand and that they’re fine with enjoying one another’s company for as long as it lasts. But after a few weeks of being treated like a queen they start hearing wedding bells. I’ve tried that commitment bullshit and I’ll never do it again.  I slide out of bed and grab my phone on the way to the kitchen. I start a pot of coffee and check my messages while I wait.  I’m drawn to a social media feed. Apparently the Peterson’s are having it out on a public forum. Well it’s not exactly public but thanks to Sarah’s propensity to live her life out loud and in the open I see it all. I normally skim social media posts but I don’t participate because it’s a major waste of time. Under a group picture that features Leila, Nickie, Shauna, Sarah and the reason I no longer believe in love Keisha.  I haven’t seen her in nearly twenty years but she’s even more beautiful than I remember.  Her glossy black curls are longer nearly waist length.  She’s thinner now, as thin as her sisters were before they started having babies. Everyone’s smiling except Keisha. She’s looking at her sisters and friends with a slight smirk. She looks like she has a sad secret. I enlarge the image, wishing I could touch her one more time. She will always be that person that will always have my heart. Sarah is the only one I’ve kept in touch with over the years. We chat on Facebook and she’s tried to reconnect me with the family several times. She said that they all forgive and miss me. I don’t know how true that could be. I slept with two of the three Peterson girls, one who happened to be married at the time. And forget about what I did to Tucker. I can’t even forgive myself for that.

Underneath the post:

Sarah Goldman Ruiz- We’re about to help our girl get her groove back

Leila Bradley- For once I agree with you Sarah. It’s time to do it big

Nikkie Goldman- Yes sisters, 40 is the new 20. We need to help you get it back Keisha

Shauna Bradley Richardson- I since another family vacation on the horizon.

JustSugah- Yaaas queens! It’s time

Jazzie the Queen- I vote for Tahiti, Keisha we’re going to put you in a white bikini and find you a barely legal Tahitian to work out the kinks with

Jermaine Peterson- It’s been about 12 years since our last vacation. Terry and I will start planning now. Keisha we’re going to get you right again

Sarah Goldman Ruiz- Ok Tahiti will be the last leg of the journey. Operation help Keisha get her groove back isn’t going to be just a weeklong trip. We have an entire summer to bring our girl back to life.

I shake my head thinking these people will never change. I scroll back up and gaze at Keisha’s image and then I click like underneath the photo and place the phone on the counter. Within seconds my phone starts chiming with messages. I prepare my coffee and then pick up my phone.  The first message bubble is from Sarah.

Sarah- Hey sexy! I’m glad your paying attention to my posts. You my friend are an essential part of operation ‘Help Keisha Get her Groove Back’

I roll my eyes and contemplate ignoring the message.

Sarah- Don’t try to ignore me! I know you just read my message! RESPOND!!! RESPOND!!!! RESPOND!!

I close the message bubble and click on the next one. I’m shocked to see a message asking that I accept a message from 2 people that aren’t on my list of friends. I open the first message.

Nikkie- Hey Mike! She says as if she’s an old friend rather than an ex-jaded lover. I read on.

Nikkie- I’m not sure if Sarah talked to you yet but we could really use your help. Since Doug died….

I nearly drop my phone… dead. When the fuck did her husband die? When I’m able to focus on her message again I continue reading.

Nikkie- Keisha has been in a funk. And we were thinking since you’re single and she’s sadly a widow now, maybe the two of you could reconnect. Most of us are taking a month off this summer and traveling. We’d love to have you join us!


The messages from Sarah, Jermaine, Sugah, Leila and surprisingly enough Tucker say similar things. Being involved with the Peterson’s is an all-encompassing job that I’m not sure I’m ready for.

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