Posts tagged “despair

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 41

Posted on 18/05/2015

street

“How can you be so selfish?!” Her mother’s words were muffled behind the front door, but Samina heard the frustration. Her hand hovered over the doorknob, hesitating to enter. Although her parents had always argued in front of her and her siblings, it still made her uncomfortable.

She shifted on her feet, contemplating whether to just call Karen to pick her up instead of bothering her father for a ride.

The sound of pots and pans crashing on the floor made her decision for her. Samina grabbed the door and pushed herself inside, chest hammering as she took in the scene.

Eyes wild with indignation, hair unbound, shoulders tense, Deidre glared at her husband who stood in stony silence with a kitchen counter between them. Both were still in one piece. She scanned the floor by her father’s feet, spying for pans.

“Your behavior is intolerable and I’m sick of it.” She scoffed at his silence. “So you’re just going to stand there and say nothing after behaving like a barbarian?”

Samina bit her bottom lip. Gabriel’s shoulders were stiff, stubborn and unyielding. No doubt he bristled with pent-up fury and her mother’s provocation could only cause more harm than good.

“What possessed you to fight your best friend like a mad man, Gabriel?”

Gabriel then sighed heavily. “Deidre, please…”

Samina frowned. The weariness in his tone didn’t match the man that engaged in a fist-fight moments ago.

Deidre refused to back down. As always. “Please what, Gabriel? Please don’t call you out for your nasty behavior?” Deidre laughed scathingly. “You wish.”

Samina cringed as Gabriel’s hands bunched into a fist.

Deidre’s face hardened. “Something’s eating you up and I’m sick of it affecting this entire family. You chased my son out of this house because of your blasted mood and now you’re acting like a common thug!”

“For the love of God!” Gabriel snapped. “Will you shut up for once in your life?!”

Deidre’s scowl only darkened, her lips pursed tight.

Samina trembled as her father’s voice boomed along the walls, shaking her. This was more than annoyance or some unresolved issue between him and Uncle Jeremiah. Her father was visibly disturbed by something; if only she could know what it was.

“I’m tired of your dramatics.” Gabriel continued, anger loosening his tongue. “Enough already!”

“Me, dramatic?” Deidre scoffed loud, hard. “And you causing a scene at Sheena’s house, shooting an episode of Cops isn’t?” She jammed her hands to her hips, eyes sweeping over him with distaste. “What a joke.”

A cold shiver shot through her. Stiffening, Samina clenched her teeth. She hated when her parents fought like this.

“All you do is nag,” Gabriel spun on his heel and halted, spotting Samina standing in the doorway. His jaw tightened and averted his gaze.

“We’re not done!” Deidre said, though she made no move to step away from behind the counter. “Stop running away when things get hard, you coward!”

Something snapped in Samina. “That’s enough!”

Both her parents turned to look at her, dumbfounded.

The front door opened, Karen and Obadiah entering the house.

Samina didn’t notice them, so fired up with frustration at her parents. “Can’t you hear yourselves? Calling each other names, fighting like you’re children instead of adults? Aren’t you ashamed?”

Deidre squinted at her. Gabriel glared in stony silence.

Tears welled up in her eyes. Samina sniffed. “How are we supposed to look up to you, to trust you with anything, when you’re both caught up in your own issues? Is this how parents are supposed to act?”

Her heart was racing so fast, she could barely take a breath. Tears slid down her cheeks and she scrubbed a hand over her face. “Do you even realize what we’re going through? Do you even care?”

“Samina…” Deidre started, taking a step forward.

Samina turned to Gabriel. “You’re supposed to be our example, a godly man who’s a strong tower to us. But I don’t recognize you anymore. You kick Obadiah out without hearing his case, you’re fighting Uncle Jeremiah, and you treat Topher like he’s scum—” she inhaled sharply, finally taking a breath. Her head swam and she closed her eyes briefly.

Deidre shot an accusing glare at Gabriel. “You met Topher?”

Gabriel clenched his jaw tight.

“Have you gone mad, Gabriel?”

“Enough!” Samina snapped, grabbing both their attention. Her breath was haggard as she tried to hold it in. But couldn’t. She choked on a sob.

Karen and Obadiah moved slowly behind her.

Samina sniffed back tears. “Can’t you two just behave like our parents? Can’t you just act like…” The room spun around her and Samina swayed.

“Sammie!” Karen caught Samina’s arm; Obadiah grabbed her waist, to steady her.

Samina blinked at the dizziness, struggling to stand.

Karen shot her parents a glare. “Now you’ve done it!”

Deidre clenched her jaw at her second daughter. “Be quiet if you don’t know anything.”

Pulling her arm from Karen, Samina attempted to balance herself but the room was spinning. She needed to get out of here. “I’m… fine,” she managed, her voice weak, unsteady as her feet.

“No you’re not!” Karen snapped, voice wavering. She scowled at her parents. “Are you really that blind with your own issues to realize Samina’s not well?!”

Samina shrugged off Obadiah’s hands around her and glared at Karen. “Don’t!”

Karen eyed her warily. “I know why you didn’t want to tell but they have to know… or they won’t stop.”

Samina shook her head. This wasn’t how she wanted it. Their anger would only be directed at her again. She grabbed Karen’s arm, shaking her head. “Please, don’t.”

“Sam had surgery,” Obadiah spoke up.

She squeezed her eyes shut, not wanting to see the shock and betrayal on her parents’ face. “That is not what’s important right now…”

“What are you saying?!” Deidre demanded, her feet moving around the counter toward her children.

Samina took a step back and stumbled against Obadiah. He braced her shoulders, keeping her from running away.

“Sam—“

“It’s my fault!” Samina interjected forcefully, tears stinging the back of her eyes.

“Come on, Sammie—” Obadiah berated her, squeezing her shoulders.

“It’s true,” she insisted firmly, opening her eyes. Deidre stood close, eyes welled with tears. Gabriel gaped at her. She shifted her gaze to the floor. “If I had my life together, if I was settled down… maybe you two wouldn’t fight.”

“Samina, what is this nonsense?” Deidre sighed impatiently. “What are you talking about now? What surgery?”

“Mom, just listen…” Karen asserted firmly.

She sniffed, unable to lift her head. “I’m thirty years old with no real job, no real accomplishment and on top of that, I may never bear a child even if I get married today… Mom hates the man I love and Dad hates the guy I…” she swallowed the rest.

Deidre frowned. “What is she talking about?”

Karen sighed. “She and Zeke are dating.”

Samina grimaced inwardly.

“Ezekiel?” Gabriel grumbled. “I thought you liked that boy Topher.”

Samina didn’t miss the growl in his voice when he said Topher’s name. Her chest tightened and she lifted eyes to her father. “Why don’t you like him? What did he do to you? Why did you treat him and Aunt Nadine like they were… were lepers?”

His face darkened in a scowl. “Don’t start, Samina.”

Though her strength was dissipating, Samina glared at him. “Was it so hard to be nice? Do you know what he’s been through?” Fat tears rolled down her face. “Why’d you have to be mean when he’s been very nice to me?”

“Who’s Aunt Nadine?” Deidre’s voice broke through Samina’s ranting.

Karen blew out a breath. “Topher’s aunt. Apparently, his family is from Abbeville too. What a strange coincidence.”

Deidre’s brow furrowed. “Not this again.” She spun around to face her husband. “How come anything to do with your hometown brings out the boor in you?”

Gabriel stiffened.

Samina’s lips pursed. “Topher’s aunt and Daddy know each other.”

Deidre frowned, her mind silently working out the details. Then she scowled. “Wait a minute.” She turned to Samina. “What’s his aunt’s last name?”

Gabriel glowered. “What does it matter?”

“Answer me, Samina.”

Samina hesitated, the fury boiling in his father’s eyes as he silently forbade her to speak further. Her lips parted, formed the words. “Nadine Chance.” She turned back to Deidre, at the questions in her gaze. “His mother’s name was Odetta Chance.”

Deidre let out a strangled noise from her lips. She leaned away.

Gabriel blew out a breath and scrubbed a hand over his face.

“Odetta Chance, you say?”

Samina nodded, her brow furrowed in confusion at the haunted look in her mother’s eyes. “She died when Topher was born…”

A wheezing sound pulled at their attention. Samina’s stomach dropped at the shock in Gabriel’s eyes.

“Odetta’s… dead?” his voice was barely audible, his eyes wide with disbelief.

The shock faded from Deidre and she scowled at her husband. “I can’t believe this. Gabriel, after all this years, you’re still thinking about Odetta?!”

Samina looked away at the shock frozen on her father’s face and frowned at her mother. “Wait, what?” Her eyes flew back to Gabriel.

His head now hung, his shoulders slumped over. “She’s… dead?”

“Gabriel!” Deidre snapped, infuriated. “How dare you mourn your dead girlfriend in front of me?!”

Samina’s jaw dropped as her stomach did.  What?!

Topher rapped his knuckles on the scuffed wooden counter. “C’mon. Another one.” He nudged his empty glass forward, head swimming.

“Don’t you think you’ve had enough?”

He rolled his eyes in an exaggerated manner. “I just had one glasssss.” He giggled, head lolling.

“That’s obviously enough for you,” the bartender muttered in disgust, snatching the whisky bottle from Topher’s reach. He eyed him warily. “Just go home.”

Topher slammed his open hand on the counter, nearby patrons jolting at the sound that ricocheted down the bar, chinking their cups. “Don’t tell me what to do…” his scowl eased into a sloppy smile.

Not amused, the bartender scowled. “You better relax or you’re leaving.”

Topher glared at the bartender’s hulking form. “Give me the bottle and I’ll be quiet.” He scoffed in laughter when the man narrowed his eyes at him. “Give me my drink while I’m being nice.”

With a cool gaze, the bartender placed the glass before Topher and slowly poured the amber liquid. He gritted his teeth Topher grabbed the glass and tossed it back quickly. “Be careful!” he growled, shaking his head in disgust as Topher coughed and sputtered the potent drink.

“More,” Topher gasped, extending the cup.

“You’re done,” the bartender said coolly, snatching the glass from the table. “Don’t make a fool of yourself and call your ride. Or get out before I help you out.” He twisted the cap onto the bottle and pushed it far away from Topher’s sticky hands.

Topher scowled through the haze. “Call who?” he mumbled, dropping his head. His phone felt heavy in his pocket, reminding him of his loneliness. Suddenly, he needed another drink to drown out the despairing thoughts.

“Call your wife, your girlfriend or your mom,” the bartender said over his head. “I don’t care who you call. You have an hour to get out of here. I have customers waiting.”

Topher flung a dark glare, the man’s words striking a raw nerve. “Way to kick a man when he’s down. Thanks.”

The bartender merely grunted and taking the bottle with him, he moved down the bar to fill another customer’s order.

Topher heaved another sigh at his empty glass. So much for drowning his misery in some port of strong liquor.

Call your wife or girlfriend or mother!

The bartender’s callous suggestion mocked him, his head throbbing. Everything including the empty glass was unfocused. He blinked away the dizziness and smacked at his dry mouth.

His fingers slid down the counter to his pocket, outlining the cellphone. Tugging it out, he traced the keypad. “Sammie…” his mouth formed the word haunting his mind. A tear fell down his cheek as he pressed the number 1 key and dropped his head to the counter, watching it dial her number. Would she answer? Should she?

Topher groaned, disconnecting the call on the second ring. He couldn’t face her. Not after what he knew.

Disgusted by his cruel fate, Topher tossed the phone aside and slammed his palm on the counter. “Another one!”

“Shut up!” a drunken patron protested loud.

<<Chapter 40 || Chapter 42>>

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 36

Posted on 08/05/2015

sunset

“Ow!” Ezekiel grimaced, looking down at a pair of big brown eyes staring at him. Beulah had his mouth pressed between her chubby fingers, pulling them to a painful stretch. “Bumblebee, that hurts.”

Beulah giggled and released his mouth. She settled on his lap and curled against his chest. Laide sat on his other side, face behind a comic book, ignoring everyone.

From her side of the couch, Sheena clucked disapprovingly. “Serves you right.”

Rubbing his sore lips, Ezekiel frowned. “That’s not very nice.”

“What’s not nice is ignoring your mother and smiling a goof while doing it.” She rolled a pair of pink frilly socks, depositing it into a laundry basket at her feet. “Honestly, Zeke, what’s going on? You’ve been distracted all week. Are you dating perhaps?”

Ezekiel’s eyes widened at the suspicious look on Sheena’s face.

“What’s dating?” Beulah peered up at her father.

Laide lowered the book, eyes on Ezekiel.

“Uh…” Ezekiel cleared his throat and glanced around the room. “Where’s Dad?”

Sheena arched a brow and then her expression darkened. “Out… Stop deflecting. Are you dating?”

Ezekiel frowned in concern. His father was barely at home these days. “Shouldn’t you be with him? He’s probably still grieving over Aunt Neve.”

Sheena rolled her eyes. “Zeke, your father is fine. Are you dating?”

“Papa, are you?” Laide asked.

Both Sheena and Ezekiel turned to look at her. Ezekiel’s heart skipped a beat and any fumbling attempt to deflect fell away at the wariness etched on Laide’s face.

“Is it Aunt Sammie?” Laide’s narrowed gaze swept over his face.

Beulah wriggled in his arms. “Aunty Sammie!”

Heat shot through Ezekiel, thinking back to Samina’s dazed expression when he kissed her and the soft warmth of her body against his. “Uh…”

Sheena gasped, pulling his attention to her face. Disbelief widened her eyes and parted her mouth. “Our Sammie?” She held a hand to her chest. “Really?!”

Ezekiel grimaced at the incredulity resonating. “Is it that hard to imagine?” And as Sheena moved closer and grabbed his hand, Ezekiel blinked at the tears swimming in her eyes. “Mom…”

She gripped his fingers tight. “You’re serious? You’re not pulling my leg?”

Ezekiel smiled, pleased that joy now danced in her tear-filled eyes.

Beulah giggled. “Silly Gramma.” She slid onto Sheena’s lap and wiped at her eyes. “Why are you crying? Don’t you like Aunty Sammy?”

“I do, Bumblebee… Gramma’s just happy.” Laughing softly, Sheena pulled Beulah close. Then her smile waned a little. “Does Deidre know?”

His own smile froze, imagining Samina’s mother. Then he remembered her sage words in the church parking lot, his smile returning full force. “Well, she did encourage me to pursue Sam.”

Sheena’s eyes grew wide as saucers. “She did what?!”

“What did you just say?”

Samina looked down, fingers bunching the silk material of her jacket.

Karen dropped to the couch unceremoniously. “This is a joke, right Sammie?” Disbelief clouded her eyes. “You did go on a vacation right?”

Samina could only swallow at the hardened lump in her throat. This was why she disclose details of her surgery or the tumor in the first place; they couldn’t handle bad news very well. She berated herself for leaving her phone at home, or at least for not protecting it with a password.

Groaning, Karen covered her face.

“Sam,” Obadiah finally spoke up, his hooded gaze scanning her face. “You’re… sick?”

Her heart twisted at the uncharacteristic lilt in his baritone. Samina managed a weak smile. “Not anymore,” she rushed in. “The surgery was success—”

“Surgery!” Karen snapped, eyes flashing. “You had surgery by yourself and didn’t tell anyone! How could you do…” she inhaled a harsh breath and with a groan, she covered her face.

Her lips quirked derisively. “Well, it’s not like you could’ve the surgery with me so—“

“Are you kidding me, Sam?” Obadiah scowled darkly.

Samina winced and looked away, smarting from his sharp reprimand. Her jaw tightened, fingers curled into her palms, forming fists at her side.

Even if she could’ve been more forthcoming about the surgery but what good would their panic and worries do for her? And why did it seem like they were mad about more than just her neglect of disclosure? Was it that they blamed her for having the tumor in the first place?

Choking on a sob, Samina turned and fled to her room, slamming the door behind their silence. Pressed against the door, Samina clutched her mouth to keep from crying aloud.

Instead of reveling in Ezekiel’s amorous pursuit, she felt sorry and increasing guilt over Topher’s disappointment. Instead of receiving understanding and comfort from her siblings, they harshly condemned her for keeping the surgery a secret. Instead of being content and successful at the age of 30, she was a social failure with squashed dreams and a debilitating condition that could rob her of a chance at being a mother.

Samina slid to the floor, too tired to hold herself up or hold it in. The sobs pressed against her palm, the tears wetting her hands and she screamed in her mouth. Nothing, absolutely nothing was going her way and she was tired of it. So tired.

Slumped over the marbled counter surface, Topher watched the amber-colored liquid swirl in his glass, soft jazz playing in the background. He lifted the crystal glass to his lips and threw back the liquid, grimacing as it hit the back of his throat.

A hand fell on his shoulder and he slanted his eyes to find a solemn-faced Jaxson standing at his side. Topher grunted and faced the front. “Nadine told you I was here?”

Jaxson slid into the stool beside him. “She’s worried.” He eyed Topher’s glass and waved the scrawny, blond-haired bartender over. “I’ll have what he’s having.” He pulled out his wallet and placed it on the counter.

The young bartender eyed both men warily. “Just go to a vending machine already.” He sneered in disgust but pulled out a crystal glass and a can of ginger-ale.

Spotting the three empty cans of ginger ale behind the man’s elbow, Jaxson offered him a wry smile and slung an arm around Topher’s hulking shoulder. “Can’t you see his heart’s broken? Have some pity.”

The bartender rolled his eyes but poured Jaxson a glass of the sparkling ginger ale. Jaxson raised a brow as the bartender squirted pure lemon juice inside and nodded in approval.

Topher scoffed, slugging down the rest of his drink. He gargled it deep in his throat before swallowing. Then he nudged the empty cup to the bartender. “Another.”

Jaxson shook his head but watched the bartender fill up Topher’s glass. “Don’t you think you’ve had enough? You’ll feel like crap in the morning.” He sniffed his drink and grimaced. An ulcer two nights before his wedding didn’t seem like a good idea.

“Leave me alone.” Topher rolled off Jaxson’s hand from his shoulder. “Go back to your wonderful life and let me wallow in peace,” he drawled, tossing the drink back.

Jaxson heaved a sigh and took a sip of his drink. He cringed, lowering the glass to the counter. Then he eyed his friend draped over the counter, sobering instantly. Nadine didn’t know all the details but informed him that Topher was in a foul mood after his date with Samina. With a grave tone, she cautioned him to be careful with Topher’s sensitivity, that he was very serious about Samina.

Judging from the scowl darkening Topher’s face, and having only witnessed it one other time in college, Jaxson knew the date hadn’t gone so well.

“Another.”

“Oh, for Christ’s sake!” The bartender barked, though he sloshed the liquid into the cup.

“Hey!” Topher slanted the bartender a glowering stare. “Be careful using that name…” He gripped the cup and with his glare unwavering, he tossed the drink back.

The bartender blinked at him, his scrawny shoulders stiffened in alarm.

Jaxson couldn’t help it. He burst out laughing. If Topher didn’t look half drunk in self-pity, it would’ve been a grave matter. His friend had a quick temper; cultivated by Nadine’s upbringing but softened by his relationship with God which he defended as fiercely as he did his aging aunt.

He slapped a hand over Topher’s stiff back and gave the astonished bartender a grin. “Relax, Toph. You’re scaring people.”

Topher grunted, lowering his gaze.

The bartender snuck away and Jaxson turned to his friend. “What happened?”

“What happened?” Topher echoed, his voice void of its usual brilliance and optimism.

Jaxson sobered. It was just like in college again, watching Topher’s face darken with the news of his aunt falling sick for the first time. It’d shook Topher to the core; Nadine was the only family he had. Blessed with four annoying older sisters and doting parents, Jaxson couldn’t imagine the pain and fear that his best friend went through. From his long friendship with Topher, he knew Topher feared being alone and abandoned. Staring at the 34-year-old Topher now, Jaxson felt that same feeling as he had ten years ago.

Topher rubbed at his face, frustration emanating from him. “I don’t know what happened… All I know is I’m too late.” He laughed bitterly, the sound stealing Jaxson’s breath. “Always too late.”

<<Chapter 35 || Chapter 37>>

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