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Hurt People-Full Story

One year ago…

Atlanta traffic was of the devil and if I never saw 75, 285 or any other highway that ended in five again, I’d be satisfied. I’d been in training for the past three days and I was ready to get home to Americus. The last day of training was canceled because the weather was supposed to be bad and Atlanta drivers thought that meant to drive like crazy-worse than they usually do. I sat in traffic for hours before I was finally far enough down 75 for traffic to let up.

To make matters worse, my cell phone died in training because I was bored out of my mind and I forgot the cord to my travel charger at the hotel in my haste to get out of the city. It started raining-hard. Too hard for me to stop and run into a gas station to buy a charger. I couldn’t even call anyone to make this drive better, especially my boyfriend Maurice. Just thinking about him made me smile. It had been 8 great months and I was looking forward to spending the rest of my life with him. Being away from him these past few days was hard but I planned to show him how much I missed him-if only this Atlanta traffic would let me be great.

It was after nine when I finally made it home. Maurice’s car was in the yard but all the lights were off so I figured he was in the bed. He never goes to bed this early. Maybe he went out with his boys.

My house was quiet so I figured he wasn’t home. I was disappointed but I needed to charge my phone and see where he was. I flicked on the light to my bedroom and I felt like I had been sucker punched.

My boyfriend Maurice was sleeping in our bed with another woman. In our bed. He was holding her, the same way he held me a few days ago. Tonight, he was holding her. They looked so peaceful, as if this was their home, their bed and I was invading their privacy.

I stood in my bedroom looking at my boyfriend and this other woman. I really didn’t know what to do. People always said what they would do in these situations but I was literally frozen. Besides, nothing about my relationship with Maurice made me think anything like this could ever happen. The longer I stood there my logic was becoming less prominent.

I snatched the covers off the bed and she sat up first, looking disoriented. It was then my blood begin to boil.

“Tara?” I said meekly.

“Oh shit!” Tara exclaimed while nudging Maurice.

He finally woke up and laid eyes on me. Neither of them moved. The heaviness in the room seemed to land on our tongues; no one said anything for a second. The silence was eerie. Maurice finally found his voice.

“Joy…I thought you weren’t coming back until tomorrow,” he said stupidly.

I wasn’t sure how that was supposed to justify this but it unlocked my feet from where I was standing.

I really don’t know what happened next; my rage made me black out. When I finally came back to my senses, I was sitting in the middle of my bedroom in handcuffs. An officer was standing near me and Maurice was speaking with him. He had scratches on his face and his shirt was torn. Tara was sitting on my bed crying. I noticed her eye was swollen shut and some of her tracks were scattered around the room.

I was assuming I did all of this but I didn’t remember any of it. What I did remember was catching my friend in bed with my boyfriend.

“When I was talking to you about him, you were sleeping with him? Behind my back?” I cried, directing my anger at Tara. “Why, Tara? Just tell me why.”

“Joy, we were going to tell you but…” her voice trailed off. “I’m so s-s-sorry!”

“Sorry? You’re sorry? Sorry is for bumping into someone. You don’t say fucking sorry when you sleep with someone else’s man!” I screamed at her.

The officer interjected because Maurice was too stupid to respond. “Ma’am, is there somewhere you can go tonight?”

“Why do I have to leave? This is MY house! This is MY bed! That is MY boyfriend!” I yelled.

The officer gave me a look of pity. Because we lived in a small town, situations like this were probably the most excitement he’s seen in a while.

“Joy, you can stay. We’ll go,” Maurice said quietly.

“We?” I replied incredulously. “We? How long as this been going on? Why are you screwing her in our bed? You told me you loved me! You told me you wanted to marry me! Why are you doing this to me?” I wasn’t sure if anyone understood what I was saying. My words came out in a mixture of crying, stuttering and screaming.

“I’m sorry,” was all Maurice could offer. He and Tara gathered their things and left the house, leaving me alone with the officer. I knew I was going to jail but at this point I didn’t care. Nothing could be worse than what I’d just experienced.

“Are you going to be ok?” the officer asked me.

“Hell no!”

“I want to take these cuffs off but I need to make sure you’re going to be calm.”

Take the cuffs off? Maybe I wasn’t going to jail but I didn’t know why. I dropped my head and cried quietly. The officer came behind me and helped me to stand up. He took the cuffs off me and asked me to sit on the bed. I refused.

“I can’t sit there. I can’t be here. I need to leave!” I started walking around my room frantically. I didn’t know what I needed to do.

“Hey, hey, hey, calm down. Just take a few deep breaths,” the officer said to me. He came close to me with his hands up. By the time he reached me, I fell into his arms sobbing out all the hurt Maurice and Tara caused me.


Present day

“Joy, where do you want this box?” Justin asked.

“Put it in the bedroom, baby. No, wait. I think that one goes in the kitchen,” I called from our bedroom.

I hated packing and I hated moving but I was proud to be moving into our new home. Two days after I caught Maurice in bed with my friend Tara, I broke our lease and moved home with my parents. It wasn’t that I couldn’t afford to pay the bills alone but I couldn’t stay there with the reminder of what they did to me. Three months later, I met Justin. I moved in with him two months after that. As usual, my daddy didn’t seem to care either way and my mama thought I was moving too fast but living at home was a challenge; I was used to having my own space. Plus, I needed to be able to keep my eyes on Justin. After what happened with Maurice, I developed trust issues. I was convinced that I missed something with Maurice so I vowed I wouldn’t be the fool again.

Even though I had to keep tabs on him, Justin knew I took care of his ass. I bought him Polo shirts. Every new pair of Jordan’s that came out. Akoo jeans. New iPhones. Any and everything he could ever want, I bought it. Justin didn’t want for anything when it came to me. I didn’t do that kind of stuff for Maurice and because I knew that Tara didn’t mind spending money on her men, I figured that’s why he was with her. Everything I did wrong with Maurice, I was correcting it with Justin.

Justin’s apartment was convenient because it was close to my job at Georgia Southwestern State University and I could get to work in a matter of minutes. But it was a one bedroom and we needed more room. Sharing a closet with him wasn’t working anymore. I convinced him we needed to look at bigger places and I really wanted to rent a house. Living so close to the college meant college girls were around looking at my man. After I chumped the second one off for asking to borrow something, I knew we had to go. Plus, having a house together was the next step in our relationship and marriage wouldn’t be too far behind. He wasn’t too keen on paying a higher rent but this three-bedroom, two-bathroom house off Lee Street was a steal at $700.

Watching Justin lifting boxes and putting stuff together made me smile. I was always attracted to a blue-collar kind of man; the kind of man that worked with his hands and could fix stuff. I reasoned that was one of the reasons Maurice and I didn’t work out. He was a pretty boy. He would rather pay someone to unclog the toilet than to do it himself. He wasn’t a take charge kind of guy and that’s what I was missing. Tara could have Maurice’s weak ass; Justin was the kind of man I needed.

Justin and his co-worker worked for two days to move us in. All the big stuff was in and now all we had to do was place furniture and unpack. I’d snapped a few pics to upload to social media to let it be known Justin and I were moving into a bigger place, especially for the women that always had to like or comment what he posted. No matter how much I solidified my place as wifey, some desperate hoes were always under his statuses commenting and laughing. Justin told me it was nothing to worry about but I’d told him all about catching Maurice and Tara in our bed. I wasn’t taking any chances.

“Hey bae. Roman Oven will be about an hour on delivery. It will be quicker if we go pick it up,” I told him while he was putting together my bookshelf. I am an avid reader and coupled with my books for school, this bookcase was a necessity. I actually thought I needed two. I was in school earning my master’s in human resources. I had a few more semesters then I would be looking for HR positions outside of Americus. Justin knew too many women here. I just wanted to start over where no one knew us.

“Ok, well go pick it up then. I’m almost finished with this,” Justin told me without looking up.