I Would Have Left Her
By Jerrice Owens
I Would Have Left Her © 2013 Jerrice Owens
All Rights Reserved
My footsteps echoed as I walked up the steps and reverberated throughout the building. I first looked down at my expensive gators in almost a silent scowl at my feet. Next, I glanced my expensive watch. I thought the place would open at eight.
Aside from the folks who cleaned the place, there was one warm body inside of there. An old man reading today’s paper sat lackadaisically on a bench.
He noticed me as he turned the page. He gave me a wave. “Hey young fellow.”
I nodded back. “Good morning sir.”
“Looks like they’re keeping you waiting too.”
I nodded again and released a breath.
“Well, you know it’s after the holiday. I think that it’s on days like these the folks come in an hour late.”
I groaned to myself, and my shoulders sank.
“Wanna take a load off while you wait?”
He removed his hat from the other seat. I reluctantly walked over and settled in it.
“If you got some place you gotta be, it’d probably be best to come back later.”
I shook my head. “I’m off today. Just eager to get this over with.”
“This?” he asked, raising a brow. “You not in some sort of trouble are you?”
I shook my head. “No, not really.”
“Not really?” he questioned. “What does that mean?”
He took a second to study my clothes.
“You seem like a very clean cut man.”
I covered my eyes and breathed real deep. “The trouble’s not with me, it’s my marriage.”
“Marriage?” he said.
“Yeah, are you married?”
He smiled at me. “Twenty two years. My wife died some years ago. But it feels like her spirit is with me at times.” His smile got bigger. “Me and my Millie. Yep, we two were good together.”
His face then filled with serious concern.
“How long has it been since you married your wife?”
I was ashamed to say. “Barely a year.”
“And here you are at the court so soon? Why you’re barely newlyweds. And to say your marriage is really in trouble, I’d assume you would want to file for divorce.”
“Yeah,” I responded.
“That’s what I figured. No way you can try to make it work? Things between Millie and I were good, but honestly, they weren’t always pleasant.”
“Not something either of us has done. It’s what someone has done to us.”
The man was puzzled. “I don’t follow. You mean some sort of outside source?”
I exhaled again. “I’ll tell you about it. Maybe then you can understand.”
He crossed his legs, very intrigued.
I opened up and began my story.
Whitney was truly the love of my life, from the very first time she bumped into me. I was rounding the corner of a local store, and our carts came crashing head on.
“Oops,” she cried. “Sorry about that,” with an apologetic smile that lit up the room.
I studied her features: her curve toned frame, her high yellow skin, and her curly hair. I admit that I was a man who was sprung even if it was only on outside looks.
“It’s okay,” I finally managed to say.
She studied the items I had in my cart.
“You single?” she questioned.
“What?” I’d asked.
“Are you single?” she repeated.
I nodded slowly. “Yeah,” I admitted.
“I figured so.”
“You did? Really? And how is that?”
“Well,” she continued, “look at your food. TV dinners and quick fix meals. All of that screams of a bachelor.”
I studied the contents and saw she was right. Most of my food could be microwaved.
“What’s your name?” she asked.
“Michael,” I said.
She stuck out her hand. “Whitney Malone.”
I shook it. “Pleasure to meet you as well.”
“So,” she went on. “What do you say to dropping by and having a home cooked meal?”
I was honestly blown away at that point. Was this beautiful woman asking me out?
I guess she could see the surprise in my face.
“It’s one of those fundraiser things,” she added. “My church always does this smorgasbord. And being a chef, I was asked to help cook.”
She gestured to her cart and the items in bulk which helped to further validate her story.
“I guess,” I said, thinking it over.
“Great,” she said. “I’ll write you down.”
On the very bottom of her shopping list, she put MICHAEL then scribbled something else underneath. She tore it off and passed it to me.
“That’s the address of the church,” she told me.
We disassembled our wrecking carts, and I watched her as she walked away. She had a nice fine heart shaped behind. Yeah, I was a man who’d fallen deep.
When I pulled up the address I’d been given, I found the place surprisingly packed. Once I actually entered inside, it wasn’t hard to figure out why. Aromas smacked me dead in the face. My mouth watered and my stomach churned.
The long ass line didn’t make it any better, and I was more than anxious to eat a good meal. When it was my turn to pay the ten dollar fee, the lady taking money first asked me my name. After I’d responded Michael, she glanced at a list and waved me through.
“It’s already taken care of,” she said. “Just go on in and enjoy your meal.”
Puzzled by this, I did as she asked, certain that Whitney had had a hand.
I’d never seen so much delicious food outside of going to the Boston Market. I shamefully piled my plate up high then sought a table alone in a corner. True, others had done the same, but I didn’t want to attract attention. I was under the impression they knew each other so it was more than alright for them to be greedy.
The food was so good I barely looked up till I saw a shadow pass over me.
Whitney stood there looking beautiful in an emerald green dress with spaghetti straps.
I swallowed my drink then smiled at her.
“Looks like you’re really enjoying yourself.”
I dropped my head a little again. “Yeah,” I said, a bit ashamed.
“No, no,” she urged. “Dig right in. I know you’ve been around black folks before. If you didn’t eat something like it was good, then that would be the real insult.”
I cracked a grin. She settled beside me and watched me as I continued to eat. I quickly grew at ease with her and every so often would look in her eyes.
“You’re shy, you know that?” Whitney claimed. “But it doesn’t really fit your personality. It’s like somebody hurt you once. But you don’t have to worry. I won’t bite.”
A little while later, a smiling lady approached the table and spoke as well.
“Whitney,” she said, with a glow about her. “And who is this handsome young man you’re with?”
“First lady, this is Michael,” she answered. “Michael, this is my pastor’s wife.”
I took her hand.
“Nice to meet you. Whitney,” she added. “Excellent choice. I feel a very strong spirit indeed. The two of you were meant to be.”
Across the room, something caught her attention.
“Excuse me folks. I must move on.”
Once, she’d left, Whitney grinned. “That’s the first time she’s ever said that. I’ve brought several guys to church before, one’s that I was actually with, and she’s always claimed the opposite. So there must be something special about you.”
Whitney reached over and squeezed my hand. I gave her a smile and squeezed hers back.
That solitary moment of touch was about to change my world for life.
From that encounter, our courtship began, and slowly blossomed into more than that.
I’d never in my life had such feelings and felt so strongly about a woman. It was almost like a magic spell that an evil witch had cast over me.
We started spending more and more time together to the point where I hated not being with her. It was then that reality hit. If that’s what I wanted, we should get married.
I hesitated before taking this step and first decided to call my boy Ant. He’d been married for eight whole years so I knew he could give me sound advice.
On and off for nine whole months, I’d been talking to him about this girl. So to say the least, he wasn’t surprised that I had entertained the idea.
“How do you know?” I asked my dude. “That it’s for real and not a mistake.”
“You’re already halfway there,” he said.
“Yeah, man, and I’m feeling that part, but maybe it’s only for the moment, you know?”
He let out a sigh. “Listen good Mike, ‘cause I’ve only got three questions to ask. If the answer to any of the three is no, then maybe you need to wait a while.”
“Okay,” I said, preparing myself.
“Alright then. Here’s the first. If an accident had messed her up, would you still feel the way you do right now?”
I played the situation through my mind, and with the memories I had, I answered, “yes.” Disfigured or even a vegetable, she’d be just as beautiful as when we had met.
“Second, if she was in any harm. Would you give your life just to protect her?”
The thought that I could spare her pain, would be more than enough to get me moving.
“Yes,” I breathed, sure of myself, just knowing that she would be alright.
“Third, I need you to close your eyes and imagine what I’m about to say.”
I closed my lids and breathed real deep, ready to get a visual.
“The end of the world has finally come, and you happen to be one of its two survivors. You only have a female partner. Be honest, who’s face do you see on her?”
I thought past all the fine movie stars and all the women I wanted to screw.
“It’s hers,” I said with certainty.
“Cool,” he said, “then it’s meant to be.”
“Alright,” I agreed. “I’ll go through with it. But I’ll need you to be my best man though.”
“You got,” he confirmed without hesitation. “Just let me know the day and the time.”
“It’ll be soon,” I informed him. “I’m eager to get this over with.”
“Well, you gotta put some things in place. Then start making wedding plans.”
They always say not to pick a ring, but instead to let the ring find you. As I glanced over several in jewelry stores, I began to see that this may be true. The ones I liked, I couldn’t afford, and the ones I could just didn’t appeal.
When I finally thought that things were cursed, I saw a going out of business sign on a shop.
The man glowed when I entered inside. He was an elderly man with friendly eyes.
“You really going out of business?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said. “Don’t have the time. Plus, I’m getting up in age, a bonus in any robber’s eyes. What better place that they could hit, than a weak old man who can’t defend.”
He took a breath.
“So my friend, anything I can help you with?”
“Inspecting the rings,” I said to him.
“Oh, you’re looking to get engaged?”
“Yeah,” I answered.
“Well, what do you like?”
Uneasy, I said, “I’m checking the price.”
“I didn’t ask about price. What do you like?”
My eyes scanned the selection quick.
Then it suddenly spoke to me; a beautiful ring stood right out. It had to be the most expensive one, but my shaky finger pointed to it.
“Oh,” he said. “You like that one huh?”
I nodded my head. “How much is it?”
“How much you got?” he wanted to know.
“Three thousand,” I told him, extremely sad.
“It just went on sale for three thousand dollars.”
He went to remove it from out of the case.
The ring not only had a princess cut diamond, but precious stones went around the band. The band itself was made of white gold, which cost a pretty penny alone. I’d later learn that the ring was valued for approximately ten thousand dollars. Still, the old man had never complained. He just wrapped the ring and scanned my card.
The evening I proposed was nothing special. It appeared to be a regular date. We grabbed some dinner at her favorite bistro then took in a comedy movie. That night we sat on a bench in the park, watching the water ripple on the lake.
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