Posts tagged “stress

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 13

Posted on 23/03/2015


“Dear Samina,” she read aloud, her sister looking over her shoulder. “Thank you for your interest in our art program. “While we were impressed by your diverse background and experience, we have decided that another candidate’s qualifications…” Releasing her pent-up breath, Samina shut the laptop and pressed a hand to her forehead.

“Eesh, they couldn’t even give you an interview?” Karen shook her head. “That’s messed up.”

Samina sniffed back frustrated tears. “I guess it wasn’t meant to be. Like the other ten jobs.”

“Don’t lose heart, Sammie.” Karen squeezed Samina’s shoulder. “The right job is out there waiting for you.”

Samina merely slid off the counter stool and rolled her shoulders. “It’s whatever. I’m done applying for jobs. This isn’t funny anymore.” With a heavy sigh, she trudged to her bedroom, intent on sleeping the day away.

“What about that nonprofit place we passed on the way to church?” Karen followed her to the room.

“What nonprofit place?” Samina mumbled, climbing into bed. She pulled the thick blanket over her head and settled into the warmth.

Karen took the seat by her bed. “The House of Hope. They might be hiring.”

The covers muffled Samina’s groan. “You better not say that in front of Mom.”

“Who cares if it’s a volunteer job? It’s a lot better than babysitting…” She trailed off and sighed at Samina’s covered form. “And why are you going to bed already? We’re supposed to go to Pilates class. Remember?”

“Not tonight. Sorry,” Samina mumbled, shifting in bed. “I have a woman’s exam tomorrow and I need my rest.” To mention that sleep was the only way to escape the present feeling of despair would only cause Karen to worry. “Karen…”

Samina’s cellphone on the desk flashed a blue light. Karen squinted at the screen.

“Hmm?” Karen mumbled as she eyed the screen, her brow knotted in a frown. There was a new text from Ezekiel Dames. Glancing once at Samina’s covered face, Karen carefully plucked the phone from the desk. “What is it?” she gently lifted the flip screen.

“Do you think I might be depressed?”

Karen raised a brow, hesitating as her conscience yelled at her to drop the phone. Whatever message Samina received was none of her business.

“Karen?” The blanket shifted.

Karen quickly lowered the phone to her lap. “Why… would you be depressed?” Certain that Samina intended to remain hidden under the covers, she opened Ezekiel’s text.

“Sam… Thought about you. Hope you’re doing well. Take care. Zeke.” 

Karen’s lips pursed, her face hardening.

“I don’t know…” Samina heaved a sigh, shifting in bed. “I just feel so useless and sad.”

At the despair in Samina’s tone, Karen rested the phone on her lap. “You’re just going through a time of uncertainty, that’s all. It’s only natural to feel sad about it.”

Samina snorted. “If only Mom will understand that.”

Karen rolled her eyes. “You know how she gets. Stop stressing over her. Eventually, she’ll realize her mistake and know that you’re trying your best.”

“Maybe… maybe not.”

Returning to the phone, Karen pressed the center button until a dialog box popped on the screen with the prompting to delete the text. Biting the inside of her cheek, she pressed the button to confirm the action and watched as the message disappeared from Samina’s phone.

“I’m just so tired all the time. It’s annoying.”

Karen lifted her eyes to Samina’s form and managed a smile. Placing the phone back on the desk, she scooted to the edge of the chair. “Don’t worry, Sammie. Everything will be fine.” With an impish grin, Karen leaned into Samina’s body and wrapped her arms around her sister.

“Hey!” Samina protested as Karen imprisoned her under the covers.

Karen snuggled against her sister’s body. “I love you, Sissi.”

Samina sighed. “I love you too…” She nudged at Karen’s cheek. “Can you let go of me now? I can’t breathe.” The two girls giggled as Karen only snuggled closer.

“How are the girls?” Ezekiel asked his father. “Are they still awake?”

“Wide awake,” Jeremiah replied. “Up making double chocolate cookies with your mom.”

“Yummy.” Ezekiel smiled warmly. “I’m jealous.”

“Well, if you’d come down soon…” his father chuckled.

Ezekiel scanned the empty living room and sighed. “I’m going as fast as I can.”

“I know you are,” Jeremiah said gently. “They miss you. We miss you.”

“Me too, Dad,” Ezekiel replied softly, eyeing one of Beulah’s Barbie doll peeking out from one of the marked boxes.

“Daddy?!” Beulah’s voice broke through the silence. Jeremiah chuckled in the background as his youngest granddaughter took over the phone. “Daddy!” she squealed into the mouthpiece

Ezekiel winced momentarily before grinning. “Pumpkin. How are you?”

“Daddy, when are you coming back?”

He could picture her adorable pout and smiled wider. “When do you want me to come?”

“Now!” his daughter demanded, Jeremiah chuckling in the background.

“Aw Pumpkin, it’s almost your bedtime.” Ezekiel said with a pout of his own. “If I leave now, I’ll be too late to kiss you goodnight.”

“Aww!” Beulah whined.

“Don’t worry,” Jeremiah coddled her gently. “Your daddy will come with lots of gifts for you and Sissi.”

Ezekiel grimaced as Beulah inhaled sharply.

“Really?!” Beulah shrieked. “Sissi! Guess what?” her voice faded into the distance as she relayed the good news to her older sister.

“Dad… was that necessary?”

Unrepentant, Jeremiah chuckled low. “I’ll do anything to get you down here.”

“I’m trying, Dad… Anyway, how’s Laide?” He pictured the wrinkle furrowing his oldest daughter’s smooth brow. She wasn’t as vocal as Beulah but he knew she didn’t care for him being away.

“Hey Dad,” Laide’s monotonous tone replied.

Ezekiel grinned, picturing her heavy-lidded eyes. “Hey sweetheart. Too busy to talk to your old man?”

Laide sighed in exasperation. “Gramma is making us do school work. In the summer.”

Ezekiel chuckled at her emphasis. “Don’t feel too bad. She used to do that to me also.” He glanced down at the clock, knowing their bedtime was in a few minutes. “How is the week going?”

“Enh,” Laide replied, noncommittal.

He wanted then only to reach into the phone to embrace her. Even with her moody, temperamental personality, Laide was as adorable as spirited Beulah.

“We have to get a babysitter this week.”

Ezekiel blinked, his brow furrowing. He thought they’d cleared the matter up already. “Why?”

“Gramma and Gramps have to go out of town next weekend—”

“Uh, Laide,” Jeremiah interrupted. “Let me talk to your dad.”

Ezekiel frowned deeper. “Dad?”

“Yeah, I didn’t think she’d hear that.” Jeremiah sounded too contrite.

“She has a pesky habit of eavesdropping.” Ezekiel sat up. “Where are you two going?”

Jeremiah heaved a sigh. “Aunt Neve. She’s been in the hospice since last Tuesday. Acute Liver failure.”

Ezekiel frowned as he thought of his father’s great-aunt. “Dad, I’m sorry.”

“The doctor said she doesn’t have much time left.”

A wave of sadness washed over him. “Oh man…”

Jeremiah grunted. “We have no choice but to go to her now…”

“Dad, it’s okay.” Ezekiel didn’t like the sound of his father’s wavering tone as if he was holding back tears. He’d never seen his father cry. “Look, I can come. I’ll bring my work for the week—”

“Don’t do that,” Jeremiah cut him off in a tone that brooked no argument. “We took the responsibility of taking care of the girls. Just focus on getting here when the house is sold and everything’s settled.”

Ezekiel bit his bottom lip, already making plans in his head. Even if he had to give James more responsibilities while taking an extended vacation, he just couldn’t allow his parents be any more stressed.

“Don’t stress it, Zeke. The girls are in good hands.” Jeremiah mumbled his weary goodnight and disconnected the call.

Lowering the phone to the glass coffee table, Ezekiel released a shaky breath, his shoulders sagging under the weight of added stress and anxiety.

<<Chapter 12 || Chapter 14>>

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 11

Posted on 17/03/2015


Gabriel warily eyed his friend over the car hood and huffed a breath, causing Jeremiah to peer up at him. “You went back, didn’t you?”


“The day we saw Odetta, you went back.” Gabriel scowled when something resembling guilt flickered in Jeremiah’s black eyes. “Fool. What were you thinking?”

“It wasn’t her.” Jeremiah lowered his gaze, rubbing off dirty oil from his palms.

Gabriel clenched his jaw, squinting at Jeremiah. “What are you saying? We both saw her.”

“I checked,” Jeremiah argued. “There was no one named Odetta on the guest list. It wasn’t her.”

His firm tone left no room for argument and Gabriel glared at him.

Jeremiah sighed and resumed the inspection under the car hood. In increasing annoyance, Gabriel stepped away from the car and walked to the half fence by the driveway. He frowned, watching an elderly woman push a baby stroller across the street. “When will you go to Abbeville?”

Jeremiah wiped the sweat from his eyes. “Probably next week. Why?”

Gabriel didn’t respond at first and Jeremiah looked over his shoulder, taking in his friend’s taut shoulders.

“It wasn’t her, Gabe,” Jeremiah insisted gently.

“I hear you.” Gabriel didn’t sound convinced.

Mildly affronted but not in the mood to argue, Jeremiah grunted low in his throat and returned his eyes back to the car hood.

“What a strange woman,” Ada scoffed, adjusted the black lace belt over her satin gown. “Sure she has a close relationship with Jax, but to treat me like I’m not worthy to marry him is just too much!”

Samina smiled sympathetically. It seemed even after a day, Ada could still not shake off the indignation she felt under Ms. Nadine’s open criticism. “I’m sure Jaxson made her see your many good qualities.”

Ada rolled her eyes. “I don’t need her adding more stress to my already-stressful life.”

Samina managed a smile.

“Maybe we should’ve waited a few months,” Ada mumbled, smoothing the satin over her almost-flat stomach. “Planning a wedding in six weeks is no joke.”

“You’re doing fine,” Samina said, earning her a grateful smile from Ada.

Ada fluttered her fingers to the row of dresses in the corner. “Check out your dress. It’s the peach one on the right.”

Samina turned to the rack of frilly gowns and her stomach clenched slightly. There was only one in a sea of blue dresses that could be remotely resemble the peach Ada claimed. Except that it was a tangerine chiffon.

“What do you think of your gown?”

Samina smoothed a hand over the soft chiffon and blinked up at Ada. “Interesting.”

“Interesting? For as long as I’ve known you, interesting isn’t a good word.” Ada then dropped her arms, squinting at Samina’s shoulder. “What’s wrong with it?”

Samina’s eyes widened. “I didn’t say anything was wrong with it. I just…”

Ada scoffed and looked down, assessing her generous curves into the satin white dress.

Thankfully, a saleswoman moved into the room with a smile that froze as Ada turned toward the mirror. With one worried glance at Samina, she ushered forward, plastering a smile on her face. “Can I help you, Miss?”

Ada turned her back to both women. “Help me zip this up.”

Both Samina and the saleswoman exchanged glances. The zipper gaped open with little room to work around and both women approached Ada slowly.

With Ada fidgeting and the saleswoman’s complexion paling by the second, Samina brushed her hands aside and stepped in front of the zipper. As the saleswoman gripped the gaping ends of the dress, Samina tugged on the zipper. They both breathed a sigh only after Samina secured the hook at the top of the dress.

Both stood back and studied Ada’s curvy form squeezed in the satin white gown.

“It’s beautiful!” the saleswoman gushed, clasping her hands together.

“No, it is not,” Ada said between clenched teeth as she shimmied against the taut material of the gown. She threw a desperate look in Samina’s direction. “Do something!”

The saleswoman paled. Samina sighed. “It’s alright, Ada… We’ll figure it out.”

“Don’t worry.” The saleswoman stepped forward and tugged gently on the bodice. “It’ll fit perfectly once we do the final fitting.”

“This is my third fitting! How many do I need to get?” Ada pushed her hands aside and pulled at the embroidered bodice.

Samina and the poor saleswoman grimaced as the beading along the bodice popped out.

Ada’s face crumbled. “What am I gonna do? I’m getting married in less than two months!”

Samina held back a sigh and held her tongue. “It’s a beautiful gown.”

“Yeah, beautiful gown that I can’t wear.” Ada’s lips trembled and she turned to the nervous saleswoman. “I don’t like it and I don’t want it.”

The saleswoman swallowed hard, beads of perspiration dotting her forehead. “But w-we can let it out a little. This type of shape fits your figure.”

“I said I don’t like it.” Ada swiftly turned back to Samina. “I look like Ursula from the Little Mermaid, don’t I?”

Samina’s tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth at the look in Ada’s eyes. Though her friend was naturally curvaceous, Ada was a disciplined eater except during extreme stress. No doubt planning a wedding with little help only exacerbated her habitual late-night eating and snacking. She swallowed hard, struggling for a diplomatic response.

Just then, a fast melodious tune interrupted her thoughts, playing over the chamber music. Samina recognized her ringtone and jerked her attention to her purse on the chair.

Ada scowled and crossed her arms over her chest.

“Hold that thought,” Samina said, hurrying over to retrieve her phone. Her eyes widened in surprise at Ezekiel’s name flashing on the screen.

“Sammie, pick it up.”

Samina flipped open the phone and held it to her ear. “Hello?” she answered hesitantly.

There was a slight pause before Ezekiel replied. “Sam?”

His warm baritone made her cheeks tingle. She gripped the phone tightly and managed to reply. “Yes, hello…”

“Hello. Is this a good time to talk?”

Samina peered over to see Ada and the saleswoman both facing the mirror, assessing the dress. “Uh, well…” Samina hesitated, knowing Ada desperately needed her. But her curiosity kept her on the phone, wondering why Ezekiel was contacting her after such a long stretch of silence between them. “Not really…”

“This dress is beautiful on you,” the saleswoman protested in a calm voice despite Ada’s increasing agitation. “Most brides can’t pull off this look. I assure you.”

Samina caught Ada’s eye in the mirror and managed a smile she hoped would encourage her friend.

“Oh wow…” Ezekiel mumbled. “I did call at a bad time.”

Samina watched Ada’s brow only furrowed. Her smile waned. Ada’s state-of-mind was more important at this moment. “Hey, let me call you in a few hours?”

“Yeah sure, Sam. That’s not a problem.” Ezekiel sounded winded. “Call me when you’re free. I apologize for the interruption.”

“I’ll call you later.” Samina quickly disconnected the call and shuffled over to Ada’s side.

Ezekiel stared down at his phone, unsure he heard correctly. The words dress and brides stirred up images of Samina draped in resplendent white and his chest tightened uncomfortably.

“I come bearing gifts!” James strode into the room, toting a box in his arms. With a smug grin, he placed the box on Ezekiel’s desk. “Courtesy of Goodwin. The meeting went well as we predicted. Congratulations.”

Turning slowly, Ezekiel only regarded the crate of food in silence.

“Uh-oh,” James muttered, his smile waning. “What’s eating you?” He pulled out a box of take-out and placed it before Ezekiel. “I thought you’d be jumping for joy. We get to keep their business.”

“Great,” Ezekiel muttered in a lackluster tone that raised James’ brow and stirred his curiosity.

James took the seat opposite Ezekiel and opened his own box of food. “What gives?” He reached for a pair of chopsticks, snapping it open.

“I think I’ll rescind the job offer to Sam.”

“The nanny position?” James eyed him curiously. “You found someone else?”

Ezekiel shook his head, trailing the plastic spoon over the rice and meat.

“Does she not want it?”

“It’s not about her. I don’t want it…” His unsettled stomach churning, Ezekiel swallowed the food.

“You don’t want what?” James lowered the chopsticks into his box of noodles.

Ezekiel caught the knowing glint in James’ eyes and shifted in his chair. “It doesn’t matter…” Pushing out of his chair, he moved to stand by the window overlooking the city.

James smirked. “Since you came back from Houston, you’ve been acting strange…”

“Don’t even…”

James chortled at Ezekiel’s warning tone, tickled that his uncanny observation. He wasn’t Ezekiel’s best friend for nothing. Rising to his feet, he jaunted over to Ezekiel’s side and peered out the window. “You’re curious about her, aren’t you?”

Ezekiel clenched his jaw. He could already see where James was going and didn’t like it one bit. “That’s ridiculous.”

“Admit it, Zeke. I know you are.”

“Impossible.” He steeled himself at the vision of Samina surrounded in white, her smile radiant and alluring.

James turned to face Ezekiel. “We’ve been friends since high school. Witnessed all your past crushes and relationships, your dumb insecurities and whatever foolishness you’re working through in that block head of yours.”

Ezekiel squinted at him.

James grinned, unapologetic. “Look, It’s obvious when something or rather, someone is bothering you.”

Ezekiel dragged his gaze to the window.

“Samina’s got you all bothered?”

Ezekiel stiffened and he stepped away from the window. “You’re delusional.” He didn’t have time to deal with any confusing thoughts of his childhood friend. Sitting back down in his chair, he peered down at the phone.

James chuckled softly. “It’s funny how the tables have turned.”

“What are you yapping about now?”

James merely shrugged, moving back to his seat. “Somehow, between your trip to Houston and now, you’ve been defensive about your feelings for Samina.” He shook his head incredulously. “Just like she was back in the old days.”

“I am not defensive about her, because I don’t have any feelings. I barely see her for that to be the case…” He trailed off, catching the rest of James’ remark. “What do you mean she was like that back in the day?”

James grabbed his food container, a triumphant smirk lifting his lips. “I’m surprised you didn’t know.” He watched Ezekiel fish out a piece of meat to his mouth. “Sam has always had the biggest crush on you.”

Ezekiel choked on the chicken and his eyes swung back to James’ face.

James nodded eagerly. “Yup. For as long as I remember, she’s always liked you…”

Ezekiel swallowed the offending piece of meat, his brow furrowed deep. He couldn’t have possibly heard correctly. “Repeat that? Who liked who?”

<<Chapter 10 || Chapter 12>>


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