Posts tagged “anguish

Homecoming, Chapter 8

Posted on 05/01/2016

Bart frowned after Geraldine had paused to take a breath. “Let me get this straight… you told your in-laws that I’d asked to marry you?”

Geraldine didn’t say a word, wringing her hands in her lap.

He scoffed at her silence. “So what you told me was a lie?”

“It wasn’t a lie,” Phoebe inserted. “She just didn’t tell you the whole story.”

He spared Phoebe an exasperated look. “Omission is still lying. You say that all the time.”

She rolled her eyes. “Since when do you listen to me?”

Bart turned back to Geraldine. “Did it ever cross your mind that I’d want a say in all of this? That I’d want to pick the woman I want to marry? Who are you to decide that for me?”

Geraldine bit her lip. Phoebe sighed heavily. “Okay, enough. You can see she’s regretting it all but that’s not what is important. Are you gonna help us or not?”

“Us?” Bart echoed. “Since when did this become your problem?” At her pointed silence, he exhaled a harsh breath and pinched the bridge of his nose.

“You’re missing the point, Bart,” Phoebe spoke again. “It’s not like you’ll be getting married for real. All you have to do is pretend for a few weeks while her in-laws are visiting.”

Bart glanced once at Geraldine before looking to his sister-in-law. “Are you serious?”

Phoebe didn’t blink. “Yes.”

He shook his head incredulously. “This isn’t a game or some dumb romance movie, Phoebe. I refuse to lie about a relationship.”

“Even if you could save a family from being separated?” She arched a pointed brow, reminding him of the battle they’d faced through years ago to keep their family together.

His gaze drifted to Geraldine, struck by the tears that now streamed her face. His chest tightened at the sight and he wanted to go to her, wrap his arms around her.

“If her in-laws find any reasonable cause why Geri’s an unfit mother—”

“She’s a good mother. No one should doubt that,” Bart inserted firmly, his pulse jumping when Geri lifted tearful eyes to his face. He could hear his heartbeat pounding in his ears.

“We know that,” Phoebe continued, her voice soft. “But it’s their dead son’s word against Geri’s.”

His jaw clenched tight, overwhelmed with anger and frustration. “Why didn’t you just tell me that from the beginning?” he demanded of Geraldine, annoyed that she didn’t trust him in the first place. “Why lie in the first place?”

“Now Bart—” Phoebe paused when Geraldine raised a hand to stop her.

Geraldine sniffed back the tears. “Would it have made your decision easier or harder to make?”

His expression darkened. “That was my decision to make, not yours.”

“Did you come over to accept my proposal?” she asked, voice strangely clear.

Convicted, Bart swallowed.

“Didn’t think so.” Geraldine heaved a deep sigh. “This is my fault. I should’ve known better than to ask you.”

He frowned. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

She regarded him warily. “You never liked dealing with hard stuff. It’s not your style.”

He scowled. “Excuse me?”

“Three years ago, you wanted nothing more than to sell your parents’ house and go back to your easy, convenient existence in California. If Abe hadn’t insisted on you staying—”

“Stop it Geri,” Phoebe said firmly. “That’s uncalled for.”

“Isn’t it true?!” Geraldine demanded, eyes blazing.  “Tell me, if Abe hadn’t asked him to stay and help, would he be here?”

“Shut your mouth.” Bart stood, his teeth clenched, anger and indignation stirring within him. “You don’t know a thing about me.”

Fear flickered in her gaze but Geraldine averted her gaze and pushed herself to stand. “You’re right, I don’t know you. It seems I made a mistake getting you two involved in my problems.” She turned to Phoebe. “I should do this on my own.”

Standing, Phoebe frowned in concern. “Geri…”

“Thanks for offering to help, but this is something I need to do on my own.” Geraldine braved a smile. “She’s my daughter, and this is my fight. I have to face them on my own.”

Bart snorted in derision. “If you were gonna come to that conclusion, why make a fuss in the first place?”

“Okay, that’s it,” Phoebe grabbed Bart’s arm. She pushed him around the sofa and toward the front door. “Let’s go.”

Geraldine bit the inside of her cheeks, struggling to maintain a facade of bravery. On cue, the sound of a baby crying behind closed doors filled the silence. Grateful for the sound, Geraldine turned her back just as a lone tear slid down her cheeks.

Bart glared at Geraldine’s back as Phoebe shoved him out the door. He scowled when Phoebe smacked his arm. “What was that for?”

She glowered up at him. “Must you be such a jerk?!”

He squinted. “I’m the jerk when she’s the one—”

“She’s desperate, Bart!” Phoebe’s eyes were blazing with indignation. “She’ll lose the only person that matters to her. Can’t you see that?” She turned away in disgust and stormed down the driveway to her car, leaving Bart behind.

By the time he made it to work, Bart could barely concentrate on anything but Geraldine. Now that he knew the whole story, he kept replaying it in his head, growing all the more angry.

Barely coming to terms with her new status as a widow and soon-to-be mother, Geraldine received a divorce notice filed by her husband two months before his death, him claiming that Geraldine was lazy, disrespectful and could not properly fulfill her duties as a wife. Consequently, his parents demanded that she surrender her rights as Jozy’s guardian.

He clenched his jaw. The sorry excuse of a man dragged her name through the mud while abusing her in secret.

Bart frowned. But was it really in secret or did his parents choose to ignore their son’s monstrous behavior toward another human being?

A knock on his door removed him from his thoughts. He turned towards the door that swung open and frowned at the receptionist popped her head in.

With her managing five other real-estate agents in the office, the receptionist rarely stepped away from her desk except if… He glanced once at his desk phone and grimaced at the flashing light of missed calls.

“Sorry,” he mumbled, contrite.

She gave him a patient smile. “Your fiancée is here.”

Automatically he imagined Geraldine’s face and sat up. “What?”

“Kasey?” she raised both brows at him.

The name drew a frown on his face. “She’s here?”

“Yup. Should I let her in?”

The word ‘no’ was on the tip of his tongue but Bart nodded instead.

Summoned by the receptionist, Kasey sauntered into the office with a bright smile, dressed to the nines and fumigating his office with her expensive perfume. When he silently gestured for her to be seated, her smile dimmed slightly.

“You wanted to see me?” Bart asked nonchalantly, arms folded over his chest.

She pouted her rouge lips. “I was under the impression you would’ve missed me.”

He arched a brow. “Is that so?”

She tilted her head, confused. “You… don’t?”

Bart glanced down at the papers on his desk and frowned. Most of the day was spent thinking about Geraldine; he didn’t get any work done.

“Barty?”

“It’s Bart.”

“Pardon?”

He looked up. “It’s Bart. Not Barty.”

A scowl wrinkled her features. “You certainly didn’t have a problem before.”

“What are you doing here, Kasey?”

Her features softened as she stuck out her bottom lip. “Against my better judgment, I waited thinking you just needed time.”

“Needed time for what?”

She paused, taken aback. He’d always deferred to her, apologized first, and appeased her when she was upset. Why wasn’t he trying to appease her now? “What’s going on here?”

“You tell me.”

She blinked rapidly, summoning tears on cue.

Bart rolled his eyes. “Kasey, I have work to finish, so if–”

She sniffed, eyes swimming with unscheduled tears. Crocodile tears. “Why are you doing this?”

“Doing what? We broke up, didn’t we?”

Her eyes widened. “I didn’t think you were serious. You—”

“I meant it, Kasey. This,” Bart waved his hands between them. “It won’t work.”

“B-But…”

“Besides,” He bent to gather the papers on his desk. “I’m engaged.”

“… you’re what?”

Bart met her gaze and read the disbelief plain in her tear-filled eyes. Then her doll-like features hardened and he braced himself.

“You’re kidding me,” she gritted through clenched white teeth. “This is some sick joke, right?”

He sighed, awaiting the barrage of insults that were sure to follow.

“You certainly didn’t waste any time, did you?” Kasey continued, eyes flashing with rage. “Or was she some side chick you fell back on after I broke up with you?”

He should’ve stayed quiet, accepted the blame for being a cad. Instead, Bart gave vocals to the petty words in his mind. “Don’t misunderstand. I broke it off, Kasey. Not you.”

The storm raged in her eyes.”You self-righteous scumbag! How dare you do this to me?!” She grabbed the first heavy object on his desk and hurled it at him.

Geraldine squinted at the document on the computer; frantically searching for loopholes or anything else that could offer some hope. Now resolved to fight alone for custody with her vengeful in-laws, Geraldine desperately needed a solution. There wasn’t much time left.

“Found anything yet?” her mother inquired over her shoulder.

Geraldine shook her head and blinked quickly to focus. Pages of online documents about custody of children held little information relevant to her circumstance. Her in-laws chose to believe the lies of a dead man all because he was their son. She was the villain even though she had suffered under their son’s relentless abuse.

Her mother placed a hand on her shoulder. “I’m praying. There will be an answer soon.”

Geraldine sighed. “Let’s just hope it’s an answer we want this time.”

Silence responded to her bitter tone but Geraldine refused to apologize. If God really cared, she wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place.

“I’ll go check on Jozy.” Her mother squeezed her shoulder before stepping away.

Grunting her response, Geraldine closed yet another document. The throbbing in her temple intensified as the day turned to night and she groaned inwardly.

The doorbell rang, and rang again in quick succession.

Worried the obnoxious sound would wake Joselyn, Geraldine stood quickly rushed to the door. Seeing Bart’s profile in the peephole, Geraldine scowled.

He rang the bell again and she yanked the door open.

“Stop that—!” she hissed sharply when he turned his full face, revealing a bandaid above his left brow. Alarm chased away resentment. She grabbed his arm and pulled him inside. “What happened to you?”

“Accident,” he answered, his hand covering hers on his arm.

His touch gave her pause and she looked up at him. There was no trace of annoyance in his stare.

Then he smiled gently. “Alright Geraldine, let’s get married.”

<<Chapter 7 || Chapter 9>>

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 22

Posted on 15/04/2015

hallway

It was like a scene of a melodrama series; the heroine clad in a thin hospital gown that engulfed her frail body, lying down on the pallet of a MRI machine.

Except this wasn’t a melodrama and Samina was no heroine.

The cool air brushed her skin, goosebumps dotting her forearms. Samina felt the tremors run along her spine and slowly released a breath to calm herself.

“Stay as still as possible, Samina,” the doctor instructed over the intercom, his gravelly voice filling the silence of the examination room. “Close your eyes and try to relax.”

Even though she couldn’t move her head, Samina knew Dr. Felicia Halliday accompanied the aged neurologist and was oddly comforted by her presence.

As the engine hummed as the pallet eased into the cove of the MRI machine, she resisted the urge to curl in her fingers.

Later on, as she fixed the last button of her blouse, a knock interrupted the silence.

“Come in,” Samina said softly, lowering her hands to her lap just as the door opened.

Felicia Halliday stuck her head in and gave Samina a gentle smile. Then she stepped inside, this time without her coat. “How’re you feeling?”

Samina scanned her doctor’s inscrutable face. Fear gripped her throat and she worried the hem of her blouse. “Am I… okay?” she strangled out.

A line appeared on Dr. Halliday’s brow and her light-brown eyes assessed Samina’s face before replying. “We thought it’d be better if I relay the news, Samina…”

Samina held her breath, dreading the news.

“It is a tumor in the pituitary gland.” Felicia’s face softened as Samina inhaled sharply. She moved to Samina’s side and placed a hand on her sagging shoulder.

Though she’d researched the slim chance of a misdiagnosis, Samina felt the wind knocked out of her. She’d desperately prayed to be part of the 0.0001% who was misdiagnosed.

Eyes blurred with tears, recalling the words that sounded like a death sentence.

“We will have to operate,” Felicia’s words sounded like muffled echoes in her ears.

“When?” Samina felt the tears fall, heart gripped with anguish. It seemed foolish to hope that a surgery could change the cruel turn her life had taken, but she still hoped against the overwhelming despair.

Felicia gripped her shoulder. “As soon as possible.” The firm confidence in her tone pulled Samina’s gaze to her face. “You’ll beat this, Samina. With God’s help.”

Samina felt her throat tighten. God’s help?

At Samina’s silence, Felicia sighed. “We can schedule the surgery for next week. The sooner the better.”

Samina bobbed her head. If there was any likelihood of beating this, she had to take the chance.

“You’ll need to bring someone with you. A guardian.”

Her eyes widened in shock, her breath caught in her throat. She couldn’t imagine telling her parents or siblings about this, when she barely believed it herself. “B-but I’m thirty years old,” she strangled out.

Felicia’s expression softened in sympathy. “It’s part of surgical protocol, Samina. You’ll need someone to be with you after the surgery.”

Sheena fidgeted in her spot on the sofa, her gaze occasionally traveling to the clock propped on the end table as she wondered what could possibly be delaying the ever-prompt Samina. Her brow furrowed at the sound of thumping footsteps upstairs.

“Girls!” she bellowed in the empty parlor. “Less noise, please.”

As their footsteps halted, the doorbell sounded.

Sheena hurried to the door and pulled it open.  “Thought you’d cancel—” she paused at Samina’s drawn expression. “Honey, what’s the matter?”

Samina merely gave her a shaky smile. “Nothing…” she clutched the purse in her hands.

Though unconvinced, Sheena ushered Samina in.  “I hope I didn’t pull you away from anything important.”

Samina shook her head and turned to face Sheena. “It’s alright.” She followed Sheena to the couch, perching on its edge as if it was the first time she’d visited the house.

Sheena promptly reached for Samina’s hands. “I know I’ve said this before but I pray that God blesses you for sacrificing your time for us.”

Again, Samina only smiled that trembling smile and Sheena noticed a glimmer in her eyes.

“Honey, is—”

The girls’ loud stomping upstairs and Sheena huffed a breath. “Those two are so awake this morning. I should’ve known Zeke’s famous French toast would cause me more harm than good.”

Samina merely looked down at their joined hands.

Sheena raised a brow. “You sure you’re alright? You look exceptionally dull this morning.”

The only response was a jerky nod.

“This is no good.” Sheena scooted closer, coaxing Samina to look up. “What’s the matter? Your mom giving you a hard time again?”

Samina shook her head. “I-I’m…” she inhaled sharply and lowered her head.

“Oh dear.” Sheena heard the strangled sob and scooted even closer, wrapping one arm around Samina’s shoulders. Her chest tightened as Samina leaned into her, muffled sobs underneath her hand. Confused and worried of the cause for Samina’s distress, Sheena could only rub her back and whisper soft comforting words.

All too quickly, Samina’s sobs halted and she tried pulling away from Sheena’s embrace.

“Not so fast,” Sheena berated her softly and tightened her hold.  Her heart ached with guilt as Samina released a shuddering breath. “I’ve been a very selfish woman. In fact, I was irresponsible for pushing this on you.”

“Aunty…”

Sheena shushed her. “You already have a lot on your plate. I know how stressful job hunting can be. And don’t even dare try lying to me, young lady. You’re a terrible liar, ever since elementary school. Remember all those times I caught you lying to protect Zeke?”

Samina sighed.

“Honestly… You two were quite a pair.”

Samina’s body tensed against Sheena.

“Always getting into trouble because of one another,” Sheena continued with a wistful tone. She often wondered when Ezekiel would make her a happy mother and pick Samina. Though Ezekiel’s marriage to Winsome produced her darling Beulah and Adelaide, she still wished for Samina to be part of her family, finally…

“Aunty,” Samina began hesitantly. “Will you be going back soon?”

Sheena managed a smile. “Yes, soon. I plan to return within the week.” Her eyes scanned Samina’s wary expression. “Don’t worry about staying with the girls. With Zeke here, they’ll be fine.”

Samina’s brow furrowed. “I don’t mind being with them.”

Sheena squeezed Samina’s hand. “Of course you don’t, sweetheart. But let me take care of everything now.” She caught the glimmer of tears in Samina’s eyes. “Now tell me. What’s going on with you?”

Again Samina ducked her head. Except this time, she released a shuddering breath before speaking. “Life… it’s just a little too hard right now.”

Her jaded response sent shivers down Sheena’s spine. “Is… it the job?”

Samina shook her head, a wry smirk lifting the side of her mouth. “Besides that… it’s like everything’s going wrong. With Ada’s impossible attitude and…” she sucked in a breath, releasing it slowly.

Relief surged through Sheena’s body. She chuckled softly. “I see.”

With Samina peeking up at her with those watery eyes, Sheena squeezed her hand. “She just has a bad case of nuptial anxiety. Happens to any bride, and one day, dearest one, you’ll understand what she’s going through.”

Something akin to disappointment flickered in Samina’s eyes and Sheena pulled her closer. “It will be your turn soon enough. I’m sure of that.” She patted Samina’s back, feeling every bone against her palm.

“Aunty…” Samina protested in a weak voice.

“Shush.” Sheena kissed Samina’s temple. “I dream of the day when you’ll walk down the aisle dressed in white and meet the man of your dreams in front of the altar.” Sheena smiled while picturing the man she hoped would stand waiting for Samina. “What a wonderful day that will be.”

To this, Samina only sighed against Sheena’s shoulder.

Sheena patted her back and held her at arms’ length. “Now put that smile back on and let’s get some food in you. You’re too skinny for my liking.” She released Samina and moved to stand.

When Samina remained seated, Sheena chuckled and grabbed Samina’s hand, tugging on it to help her stand. “You’ll be right as rain once I feed you my special porridge. Come on now.”

She pulled Samina to her side and draped her arm over her shoulder. “No more crying, okay?” She smiled when Samina managed a nod and led her to the kitchen. “Now, tell me more about the wedding plans. Maybe I can help.”

<<Chapter 21 || Chapter 23>>

  

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