Originally intended to be a full novel & collaboration between myself and my good friend Yo’Lana Crocket, the following features an intro & one full chapter I completed before we cancelled the project. The character of Tyler was created by me, while the character of Kodi (who you met in Part 1 of this) was created by Yo’Lana.
While I don’t believe we’ll ever complete “Situations” in full, Yo’Lana and I both hope you’ll enjoy.
I fucked up when I allowed myself to fall for the wrong one. So hungry for love, so eager to settle for whatever was tossed my way, I let myself get caught up in a never-ending cycle of lies.
In too deep; you could find me playing number two daily to a man who’d probably made it clear long ago that I was nothing but a quick alternative when his wife wasn’t giving him what he needed.
I had shed so many tears, walked away countless times, and still I’d find myself back atop his desk or in my bed, easing my own pain with the passion he provided, convincing me with each stroke that he needed me desperately. That he’d be incomplete without me.
I told myself; he didn’t love her, didn’t desire her. Not the same way he did me. He just needed time, things would work themselves out if I were just patient.
This time was no different.
In my apartment, the one he’d gotten to keep me near, we lay on the couch, naked beneath a thin blanket. I rested my body against his, my head on his chest as he held on to me. It was the best I’d felt in a month, having him near. Having him here, period. Yet, that good feeling was no match for the stress and doubt that would creep in swiftly enough to drive me deep into thought.
As much as I wanted this, there was something that had been on my mind. And I needed answers. Real answers.
“You said you miss me, you miss this and how close we usually are.”
“Yes Baby. It’s been entirely too long. I can’t wait to spend all my time with you, give you all the love and attention you deserve.” His deep southern drawl was heavier than usual, his words dragging out as he spoke in a lowered tone. “I’ve been feeling terrible about neglecting you lately. A lot has been going on, but my schedule won’t be so hectic after next week and I can’t wait to devote more time to our relationship.”
Sitting up a little, I asked him to look me in my eyes. “I know you hate to talk about it, but I need a real answer this time. I need to know; are you finally leaving her? Because I want to be happy, I want to be excited for the things you tell me, these plans you go about making when you finally have time, but I can’t when I have these thoughts of you running back to her in my mind.”
“I’m here now, aren’t I?”
“Yes. But,” He exhaled sharply, gently pushing me back so that he could get up. I curled up on the right end of the couch, pulling the blanket close to my body as I watched him find and put on his boxers.
It never failed. Showering me in attention, building up my hope, making promises, and shattering it all within the span of a minute. “It’s complicated, Tyler, and you know that. If it were easy, it all would have been done and over by now. I’m trying, Baby, all I can do is try.”
Biting down on my bottom lip, I spoke honestly. “Yeah, I know. And I understand that Jeffery. But sometimes I feel like you truly don’t want to try. You want to keep going back and forth, to have the both of us and that’s not going to work any longer.”
I held up my hand, asking him to let me speak for once. He was a master at interrupting when he thought I had nothing of significance to say. And maybe I didn’t, maybe my words wouldn’t matter, but I had to say them anyway. “I know I have no right to give ultimatums, but you know you have to make a choice, and soon.”
I nodded. “If you want to be with me, then go ahead and tell her and let her go on with her life while we build ours. It’s going to be a mess regardless, because of money, but I will stand beside you every step of the way. I will be here no matter what happens. If you don’t want to leave her, just say so and let me go on my way. Don’t keep stringing me along, because once again I feel like this is leading nowhere and I’m so tired of wasting my life.”
He jerked his head up in my direction, his face contorting into an angry expression. “Wasting your life? So, all of this, this is all a waste for you?!”
“It is when I’m not getting what I need and deserve.”
He scoffed, shaking his head as he began to look around for the clothing he’d shed once we walked through my front door. “You knew what you were getting into. Why are you always acting like the situation is so difficult to comprehend?”
Tears began to well in my eyes, but I held them at bay. Refusing to let another tear fall. At least, I refused to cry in front of him. He’d seen enough, and done nothing to prevent the falling of more tears. “Yes, I knew you were married, but you’ve been saying since day one that everything with her was over.”
“But you still go home to her, Jeffrey! And I’m not that stupid, I know you still sleep with your wife too because you have to keep her from getting suspicious.”
“Like I said, it’s complicated.”
I nodded, doing the one thing I never thought I would. “Let me make it easier for you then.” I removed the engagement ring he’d given me on our anniversary; a gift I accepted, a commitment I made though I knew wholeheartedly that I’d never walk down the aisle, and I’d still be seen as a mistress, rather than a fiancé.
I set it on the coffee table, looking away from his gaze as I sat back. “Put it back on.”
“I can’t keep doing this, Jeffrey. I want you all to myself, but my heart keeps telling me it’ll never happen. And instead of going to your wife, like I want to, I’m taking another route to prevent any further problems. I’m letting it all go.”
“I am not letting you go. I refuse.”
I looked at him, seeing the fire and determination that had attracted me to Jeffrey in the first place. “As long as you plan on remaining in a ‘complicated’ situation, you don’t have a choice. For my sanity, for my peace, for my heart to heal and move on; I’m walking away.”
Though I know he wanted to curse me out, to scream and start a shouting match; Jeffrey only got dressed, gathered his keys and walked out. The ring sat on the coffee table, staring back at me as if it knew the cycle it’d been dragged into.
When I was alone, and had been for some time, I let out all my frustration; crying in the shower, and again as I lay in bed trying to figure out what I would do and where I would go.
There was no doubt in my mind that I would have to strike out on my own again, care for myself again once I gave up all that came with being Jeffrey Harvey’s woman.
As I went through a wide range of emotions, only one thing came to mind. Going back home, though that meant I’d have to deal with people who’d rather talk down on you than lend a helping hand for a family member in need.
I’d have to start all over. To make better choices. I had to do better, find better.
He insisted I keep the apartment. So certain that I would change my mind, continue to wait it out until he sorted all his personal issues out. We went back and forth on the issue for two weeks after he walked out, and for the first time I was standing firm in my decision.
I’d already been a bit of a fool for too long. I’d have been out of my mind if I caved in. I meant it this time, he couldn’t have us both. And I deserved better, even if I didn’t fully believe that ‘better’ would ever come to me.
Packing up the last of my belongings, I half-listened as my best friend rambled on and on with her opinion. “Look, I’m never gon’ be the one to throw the shit back in your face. We’ve all been young and dumb, and doing cartwheels and flips for niggas that ain’t ever been shit when it comes to how they treat us. But you crazy for trying to rush up out this apartment. On top of that, you’re trying to go back to Bible Thumpin’ Mae’s place, and you know your moms ain’t gon’ do nothing but dog you out. You’d do better going to Kodi’s.”
“Kodi has her own life, and I’ve always tried to avoid intruding on that. She’s finally been doing better, getting her own life together, and I don’t need to drag my drama to my big sister in hopes of being babied or saved. Besides, Erin, I won’t be there for long. A month, tops. I’ll get a job quick, save my checks, move into a cheap apartment and work my ass off. Finally become independent.”
Erin flipped her hair over her shoulder, looking as if she didn’t even believe my half-assed optimism. Truth is, I don’t believe myself. I’m heading to Hell on Earth, with no idea of how I’m going to make it out with my sanity, and remaining self-esteem intact. “Poor, poor Clarisse.” Erin went about rapping along to Mystikal’s Bullshit as it played from her phone, looking in my direction when that specific line came up.
I took one look around the now empty space, wondering how I was going to go about picking up the pieces of my shattered life. Two weeks ago, I was on cloud nine. Walking around as if the way I was living wasn’t a problem.
Today, I was an adult moving back in with her mother without a dime to my name or a plan that would keep her from jumping down my throat.
“Anyway, thanks for letting me use your storage unit. And I appreciate you jumping up to help me on short notice. I really don’t know what I’d do without you, Erin.”
She smiled, doing a little dance as she stood and turned the volume up on what was her favorite Mary J. Blige song as it began to play. “That’s what friends are for. Besides, the way I bottled up my issues, kept my mouth shut about all that hurt and bothered me, and you were still there for me, understood without me having to say a word. Protected me, remained consistent and by my side without judging me, saved my life; Girl, I owe you so much. Helping you move away from this bum ass nigga is the least I can do. You call me for anything, I got you.”
I thanked her once more, taping up my final box. Just as we were about to grab everything, making our final trip to the storage unit and then drive to my mother’s, there was a knock at the door.
Without so much as a word being said, Jeffrey barged in. A faux look of distress danced along his face as he surveyed the room before bringing his attention to Erin and I. He sneered at her before rushing to me. Taking my hands in his, he dove straight in with the same lines he’d been spewing since I made my decision. “Tyler, you can’t be serious. You can’t do this to me. Baby, baby I need you. I want you, and only you. I promise, I’ll do whatever it takes to make this right.”
Erin interjected, pulling my hands from his. “Too little too late. Move out the way.”
“You keep your swole ass out of this, Sir.”
“Sir?” She chuckled, nodding her head. Erin moved to take her jacket off and Jeffrey ducked down, probably thinking that she was carrying her gun and preparing to shoot at him again. “Nah, stand up and take it. Since you want to insinuate that I’m a man, I’m going to beat you like I’m a man.”
I shook my head, gently pushing Erin in the direction of the door. I quickly grabbed the last box I was packing and nudged her out, following close behind as Jeffrey regained his composure and went back to his original task.
“Tyler, don’t do this. Please. Baby, I will die without you.”
“We’ll send your wife the gaudiest flower arrangement for your service.”
“Erin, please, just ignore him.” I was trying my best to do the same, to fight the urge to believe him as he broke down behind us. He was sniveling, crying, saying all of the things I wanted and needed to hear. And then, he did it. He made the promise I’d wanted all along.
“I’ll leave her. Baby, I’ll leave her.”
Erin and I both stopped in my tracks, me standing with my mouth wide open as I eyed him. “Girl, don’t believe that shit. Those beady little eyes are looking everywhere but into yours, and I can tell that he’s thinking of his next set of lies. Don’t do it, Tyler.”
“Stay out of this!”
“Nigga,” I moved in front of Erin, the only barrier between her and a night in prison. “Ooo, you lucky this girl still cares enough to protect your dumb ass.”
“Tyler, Baby… trust me. Believe me.”
I shook my head. “I can’t. Goodbye.” I rushed us to Erin’s car, eager to get away before I broke down and gave in.
When we made it to my mother’s, I took an extra twenty minutes to myself, to clear my mind, and mentally prepare for what was to come. “Sure you don’t want to smoke this before you head into The Church of Petty Half-Saints?”
I looked at Erin, giving a small smile as I shook my head and waved off the blunt she’d pushed my way. “It’s enough that the smell is going to linger within my clothing a bit.” I sighed, looking out the window. In the driveway, my nephew rode back and forth on his scooter. “Man, to be young and free again, innocent and unburdened by the stresses of life.”
“Makes you wish you hadn’t rushed to grow up, huh?”
I nodded, gathering my purse from beside my feet. Opening the door and stepping out of the car, I asked Erin to pop her trunk so that I could get the two suitcases I’d brought with me after putting the remainder of my things in storage. “Sure you don’t want me to help you get settled. I mean, I know it ain’t nothing but your clothes, but a little moral support.”
“You mean do I want you to intrude with your presence because you know she doesn’t like to act unsavory in front of guests?” Erin nodded. “Nah, that’s okay. Besides, she doesn’t like you so she’ll try to dog you too. We definitely don’t need that. I’ve had enough of holding you back from fighting today, so I’ll pass.”
“I don’t like her Cowardly Lion looking ass either, but that wasn’t going to stop me from making sure my best friend is good. And I wasn’t going to lay hands on your mother. She carries razors, and I don’t have time for her cutting me and passing something along. She’s just that dirty.” I shook my head, refusing to deny or confirm my mother’s past ways. “But, if you insist, good luck. Call me as soon as you get settled, we’ll plan a night out and help you relax a bit. And Tyler,”
“You’ll be fine, sooner than you feel you will be. Love you, Ma.”
“Love you too.”
I quickly grabbed my things, waiting until she’d pulled off and was out of sight before I made my way up the driveway.
For the first time, it seemed longer. I took shorter steps, slowing myself and my pace while dragging my feet. The walk to the front door, excruciating as I dreaded the look on my mother’s face, and all the hateful words waiting to be spewed as she ran down all of the things she’d warned me about.
Changing my focus for a moment, I smiled as I passed my nephew, speaking. “Hey Elijah.”
“Are you coming home for good too, Auntie?”
“Too? Is someone else home?”
He nodded, riding past me with a toothy grin on his face. “Mommy’s home for good, she’s going to be with me more now.”
That surprised me, genuine confusion striking as I began to wonder what would possess Kodi to return when everyone knew she’d gladly suffer before she put herself back under our mother’s roof.
Of myself and my sisters, she was the only one that worked hard and hustled for all that she had and wanted. Would struggle a great deal if it meant never having to deal with our mother, her false evangelistic ways, and the onslaught of verbal abuse when she felt we weren’t meeting her foolish expectations and standards. “Glad you’re here, Auntie Tyler. I missed you.”
“I missed you too, Elijah.” I blew him a kiss and finally made my way to the front door, feeling a weight drop itself on my shoulders.
Just as I was about to knock, the door swung open. I was met with dark eyes, sharp as a dagger cutting into me. Her icy gaze did nothing to ease the bundle of nerves that knotted in my stomach, only confirmed my feeling that this return was not going to be an easy one. Just one month is what I had to tell myself repeatedly until she finally uttered something. “My life is becoming a living hell.”
“Trouble maker number one has resurfaced, and here comes number two with more bullshit. And then you come looking like the very definition of pathetic. If I knew I was going to have to deal with two sad cases at one time, I’d have settled within myself to turn my back and lock my doors to you both. Just the sight of you disappoints me. Hmph, you just better be glad that I’m a praying woman now, that the Lord gave me strength to handle this mess.”
“Mama, I didn’t come back to hear all of this.”
She scoffed, sounding off about how I had the audacity to speak to her in such a way and tone. “Well you’re going to hear it! If you had listened to me, you wouldn’t be in this predicament. Out here giving yourself to married men, destroying homes and ruining lives. Not even being smart about it or getting anything out of it. Just dumb! And now look at you; single, homeless, and probably broke. I’m gon’ tell you now, Jezebel; you best get that man out your head and heart, focus on getting yourself and your life together because I’m not tolerating the excess drama I know you’ve brought with you. You run back to him, you will not be allowed in my home and when you fall on your face again, I will not be there to pick you up again. Am I understood?”
My mother huffed, turning on her heel as she mumbled about how she would have never had these problems if my deceased sister hadn’t gotten dragged down. Though I wanted to cry, I held my tears at bay. Now was not the time, not when she could see and latch on like a leech to suck me dry of my remaining emotions.
When the tension finally settled a little, I found myself wandering around my mother’s home, becoming familiar once again with what would be my surroundings for the time being.
I liked to walk around late at night, most often in the dark. The last thing I want is to disturb her precious beauty sleep with one of my late-night strolls.
Walking into what had been my father’s studio, his favorite place, I found the only other person that would willingly be around me without judging me. She sat at his piano, playing a melody that was reminiscent of a Donny Hathaway song he’d taught us both. Taking a seat beside my older sister, I waited silently until she finished and looked in my direction.
“I show up with red hair, you show up with orange. Mama is going to have a field day with the things she calls us while we’re home.”
I shook my head, crossing one leg over the other. “And what brought you back? I know you kept Elijah here because she would do for him, but I didn’t imagine you ever setting foot through that door again. Your pride is worse than mine. In fact, I’ve seen you roam around homeless before you dared to take a handout from Mama.”
“Sometimes you have to swallow all that pride. Deal with hurtful actions and words, just to have somewhere to be until you pull yourself and your life together. Been doing too much this year alone, in too many situations that could have easily ended like Myliek’s. Old surroundings, people who don’t mean well, even found myself back around drugs at one point. I didn’t relapse, but I was close. Then all the arrests, it finally got old.”
“All of this recent?”
“My last arrest, but that just really gave me the push I needed. Out here fighting and harming others over a nigga that wasn’t shit to begin with. I’m better than that, and I know it. Got too much to accomplish, too much to do and live for.” She shook her head, admitting that she was ashamed for putting anything else above her child. “What about you? The wise and sane one, why the hell would you leave the dream life to come back here?”
I lowered my head, shrugging. “Wanting to get away, but realizing that I have no way or means of my own, nowhere else to go. Needing to deal with myself, to learn how to be out of a relationship and alone. Feeling like I need to pay and be chastised for my actions before I can move forward to find happiness. Finally realizing that he’s never going to leave his wife and I should try my best to move on.”
“They never do, so moving on is best, Tyler.” A comfortable silence fell around us before Kodi spoke again. “You won’t hear it from Medusa up there, so I just want to say that I love you. And I’m proud of you.”
“Whatever greatness you’ll put forth into the world after you find your way out of your troubles and pain.”
I smiled, moving closer to my sister as I rested my head on her shoulder. “I’m proud of you too, Kodi. And I think we’ll be fine.”
When the nighttime came, I was alone and uncomfortable in the spare room my mother had barely made space for me in. As I listened to Amerie’s first album, I tossed boxes around, wishing I could burn them all along with the memories she’d saved within them, as a way to calm my nerves.
I was seething, angry that Jeffrey had the nerve to call and text repeatedly, still trying to convince me that I should trust in him once more. As badly as I wanted to, I stuck to my guns. Sending short and curt replies, ignoring his calls altogether, I turned him down hoping that he would soon get the point.
It bothered me, knowing that he was probably lying beside his wife, lying to his wife as he typed the typical lies to me as he turned his back to her. He’d done the same so many times when lying with me, soothing her worried and frayed nerves with quick and sweet words, promises to satiate her curiosity and deter her suspicions just moments before making love to me again, and again to pacify my own demands.
When my phone began to ring, and his name flashed across the screen, I stared at it. And stared at it, repeatedly until it stopped and started again. By the eighth call, I was fed up. Itching to give him a piece of my mind, for once. I was strong. I was strong. I was going to remain strong.
“No, Bitch, you listen here…”
My words were cut short, the sound of a voice that dripped with pain and anguish far greater than my own rang out instead of the one that had been calling me to beg and plead for a thousandth chance. “I-I…”
“I don’t know who you think you are, nor do I give a fuck; but whatever you’ve got going on with MY husband, it ends now! I swear to God, if I see one more call or text from you, I will find you, and I will beat your ass. And you can try me if you want to, but I promise you’ll regret the day you do!”
I exhaled, reminding myself that I deserved these words and so much more. Placing myself in her shoes for the first time, the thoughts of my actions began to eat away at me once more as she went on and on about her position, their family, and all that she felt about me and my homewrecking ways.
I deserved it, so I listened, gave her time and space to vent before I finally gathered my nerve to speak. “There is nothing between your husband and I an-”
“Liar! I’ve read the messages.” Then you should have seen how he was carrying on was what I wanted to say, but I had no right or place to taunt or test her patience. I continued with my statement.
“There is nothing between your husband and I, not any longer. I am so sorry for the pain that I’ve caused. I know it probably means nothing to you, but I am truly sorry.”
“Keep your apologies, Hoe, and stay away from my man. This is your only warning.” She hung up and I shook my head, hating myself even more for what I’d done and allowed myself to get caught up in. I groaned inwardly, finally blocking his number before tossing my phone across the room. I’d had enough for one day. Enough for a lifetime.