Pulling his jacket off, Carlos walked into the bedroom he shared with Deana. To see her wide awake and moving around wasn’t a total surprise. Their son was now three and a half and he was at that stage where he often had nightmares, most that made it difficult for him to fall back into a comfortable sleep.

“D’Aundre alright?”

Deana nodded, moving around silently as she stepped around Carlos. She was on a mission and though she wanted to begin screaming, she didn’t find it too shocking that Carlos didn’t realize what she was doing. He never paid attention to anything she did.

Though they were in a ‘committed’ relationship, and he had his good moments… she knew the new side he displayed after he was shot would eventually fade away. There was one old vice he’d gone back to, and finally, she was fed up with it.

“What are you packing your bags for Deana? Going to see your parents?”

“Yes, D’Aundre and I both are. Except this time, we’re not coming back.”

Just as he’d begun to undress, Carlos looked up. He searched Deana’s face for any sign that she was joking, but her face held a serious look. “Excuse me?”

“We’re leaving, and I’m leaving you. You know Carlos, I have tried. I’ve put up with a lot, taken a lot from you. After all of the things we’ve been through, I’ve stuck by you, the shit I let you take me through, I-I just can’t take it anymore. I can’t allow you to walk all over me or abuse my love. I will not be taken for granted.”

“Come on Deana, you know I don’t walk all over you. After my mama and Nina’s crazy ass, you’re the only other woman that could beat my ass and get away with it. What are you even trippin’ for?”

“I’m trippin’ for all the nights that you come home smelling like other bitches. I’m not as dumb as I like to play, Carlos. I can’t look the other way anymore. You proposed to me, we have a family, and even after getting a second chance at life, that means nothing to you. It’s a shame how quickly you forget that I was the one helping you through all of those physical therapy sessions. I was the one at your bedside every day you spent in that hospital once I began to heal from giving birth. I cried over you once I was able to see you, I prayed for you. Everybody’s taken that situation and changed, except for you. Yeah, you manned up and you handle your responsibilities, but when it comes to me you are still a disrespectful little boy. Newsflash Carlos, you’re no longer a teenager. You’re not even twenty-one anymore; do better.”

He reached for Deana but she quickly sidestepped him, gathering the last of what she felt was essential. She didn’t want any reason to have to come back and see Carlos, not any time soon. “When you want to see D’Aundre, you can call me. We will set up a date and time, and I will make sure that I’m away from the house when you come. He will be with my parents because seeing you, that will not be good for me.”

“You don’t have to do this, Deana.”

“Yes, yes I do.” She stopped, looking up at Carlos. He was still so handsome, and she loved him dearly. But, she loved herself more and after years of dealing with a dope selling, gun toting, ready-to-die, street criminal… she was over that life. She wanted more, she knew she deserved more. “I’m not a ride or die type of chick, not the type you expect me to be. I have boundaries and limits and you’ve never respected them. I will support you, when you’re doing what you’re supposed to. When you’re doing something to excel in life. But this sitting by while you cheat and keep your dumb ass out in those streets, nope, I’m not about to do it. Not anymore. I have no more time to waste on lies and false hope.”

“Boo, you know I can’t live without you. What am I going to do without you?”

Deana stepped back, shrugging her shoulders. “I don’t know, but you’re going to figure it out. See Carlos, you’re the type that has to learn certain things the hard way. I believe you’ve always been this way, even before you and I met. I understand your past, I understand that you sometimes did what you had to do… but there is so much more. You’re so caught up in what you WANT, you don’t even realize that you had everything you needed right here in this house, with your son and I. You know, it was enough when you were missing things that were important to me; dates, anniversaries and all of the things like that. I know most men just don’t care, they show their love in different ways. I got that.”

Carlos sighed, already knowing where she was heading. “But?”

“You miss important things pertaining to our son, and that’s not fair to him. You missed his first day of daycare, you missed him learning to spell his own name. You lie to him about spending time with him. All he wants is to spend five minutes telling you about his little day, and you can’t even give him that. When he has those nightmares, he wakes up screaming for you and you’re not even here. You put other women before your child.”

“I do not.”

“You do. I don’t believe you do it intentionally, but you do. Still drinking, still smoking, partying with Chris’ dumb ass and he can’t even keep a good woman in his life. You got one, and what would you rather do? Fuck randoms and probably hope that none of them come up pregnant. Well, Carlos Franklin, before I ever get a call saying you went out and got another bitch pregnant, while with me, I’m gonna cut my losses and leave.”

“Don’t do this, Deana. What about us?”

“YOU weren’t thinking about us tonight, were you?” She chuckled. “You smell just like a strip-club, a cheap one at that. You don’t appreciate what came with there being an US, you threw all of that away. And while you might be mad about it all tonight, tomorrow, and the day after; you’ll get over it. And I will be just fine. I deserve better.”

Deana sighed, grabbing the two duffle bags she’d packed. She bent down and picked up the bag she’d packed for her son as well and briefly looked at Carlos. “You had everything, but maybe it’s time for you to learn what happens when you purposely fuck up and fuck over the best thing.”

“Deana…”

She smiled, gently rubbing his cheek. “I love you, more than you’ll ever know. And because I love you, I’ve gotta step away and let you do you. And I’m gonna do me.”

With that, Deana walked out, heading to their son’s bedroom. Carlos sighed, shaking his head before he fell back on his bed. This wasn’t a moment that he was ready for.

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