Runaway Run part II

Part II

By the time I pulled into the Courtyard by Marriot in downtown Chattanooga, I had 15 missed calls from Anise. 13 of them were probably about the words I exchanged with my daddy and her mom, the other two about Deck. I refused to answer because right now, I was not in the right headspace to deal with it, and I knew it would turn into an argument. I’d call her tomorrow.


I checked in, took a shower, and climbed into bed. In Atlanta, I stopped for dinner and picked up a bottle of wine. It wasn’t chilled but I didn’t care. I poured almost a full cup of the McBride Sisters Sauvignon Blanc white. I picked up this bottle in Target because it was made by black women, but the taste was going to make me a repeat customer. Under the covers, I searched the other wines sold by the McBride Sisters which lead to me scouring the Internet looking for other black-owned wine companies. I was pleasantly surprised there were so many on the market. I created a note on my phone of the wines I was going to try. My virtual wine excursion occupied most of my evening, and I was able to fall asleep.


The next morning, I woke up to two missed calls from Anise and one from my daddy. I couldn’t call either of them until I had coffee. I went to the lobby to get breakfast which was basically just picked over scraps since it was almost 9. I got a banana, a few pieces of sausage, and coffee. I sat in the lobby even though I didn’t want to interact with anyone, but this gave me time to avoid this conversation for as long as I possibly could.


On the elevator ride back to my room, I contemplated who I would call back. I couldn’t handle a conversation with both of them. I finally decided on my daddy because Anise’s conversation would come with her relaying a message about Deck.


“Saige, where are you baby girl?” my daddy asked almost immediately. I don’t think the phone rung one complete time.


“In Tennessee,” I answered shortly, placing all the pillows against the headboard and got comfortable.


I heard my daddy sigh. “When are you going to stop running?”


“I’m not running,” I lied. Running is exactly what I was doing. Whenever things got too hard or if I didn’t want to deal, I left. After graduating from Full Sail, I lost the stability college provide, and for the past 6 years, I had nothing anchoring me in one place, so I never stayed in one place.


“What else do you want her to do? She’s apologized. She understands why she was wrong. I think she’s more than made up for it over the years. And you would admit it too if you didn’t hold on to this anger about your mama.”


I exhaled, focusing my attention on the view of the Tennessee Aquarium from my partially opened curtains. If I moved to a new city impulsively, which was frequently, I usually stayed downtown because downtown had the attractions and restaurants within walking distance. Today, I was grateful I picked a downtown location because I was going to need a distraction after this conversation.


When I didn’t say anything, my daddy continued. “What else do you want her to do, Saige?”


“She’s done enough,” I replied nonchalantly.


We held the phone, me ready to shoot down everything he said while he was probably trying to find something new to say to me. We’d been having these conversations for years and they all ended the same; with his feelings getting hurt, and me avoiding him for months.


“She’s not your mama, baby girl. And she’s not trying to be. Carlene’s not the one who left. She’s not the one who hurt you and it’s not fair that you continue to treat her like she is.”


I popped my lips, and I knew it was disrespectful, but I was so tired of him trying to put the onus of this back on me. “She did hurt me! And I’ll be glad when you guys stop acting like I’m just supposed to forget about what she said!”


“You know,” my daddy began, his voice growing low. “You drag your mama through the mud and in some ways, you are just like her. For all the hurt and anger you carry towards your mama, you are doing the same thing to us.”


I gasped out loud. That was something new. He’s never, in all my 28 years, said I acted like my mama. His words cut me deep and I felt the hurt physically. My heart was literally aching. In a haste, I disconnected the call and threw my phone on the bed. I snatched it up immediately and powered it off because I couldn’t handle talking to anyone right now.


I rolled out of the bed and looked out the window. From my room, I could see the peaks of the crystalline glass roof of the Aquarium. Normally, the architecture would have piqued my interest and I would have delved into its inspiration and the designers, but today I couldn’t focus on its uniqueness. Instead, I tried to rationalize what my daddy just said to me.


She’s not the one who left. She’s not the one who hurt you…


That’s not entirely true and it frustrated me I was made out to be petty and holding a grudge when my daddy’s wife, my sister’s mama, said she didn’t want me in their home permanently.


I was about 10 when I saw my mama doing drugs. I don’t know how long she’d been using or what she was using, but I remember sneaking out of bed one night and seeing her with her face down on the table and coming up and wiping her nose. I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t know what it was. A few months later, I watched a movie, I can’t remember which movie, and I realized my mama was snorting cocaine.


At first, it wasn’t an issue. She used recreationally for years, mainly on the weekends. She still worked, took care of me, kept up our section 8 apartment on Barbara Battle Way. Then, when I was 14, she met Bull and that was the beginning of the end of my normal childhood. Bull had her using damn near every day. She started calling off her job at Walmart until they had no choice to let her go. That gave her more free time to get high.


A few days after my 15th birthday, my mama and Bull left the apartment, and I didn’t see them for 3 days. I had no money and I’d eaten my last pack of noodles when my daddy showed up to get me. I thought he had some parent sense that told him I was hungry, but I later learned my mama and Bull had been arrested.


We talked for a long time, and he felt guilty for not knowing about my mama’s drug problem and leaving me with her. I didn’t understand his guilt until I got older, but I never blamed him. I didn’t even blame him when his wife said she didn’t want me in their home.


My mama didn’t seem to mind that I wasn’t living with her anymore. She wouldn’t let me come back home, telling me it was best if I stayed with my daddy. That was one of the worst feelings in the world. Absent fathers were the norm in my world. Most of my friends didn’t have their dad’s around, but it was abnormal for my mama to abandon me. I carried so much shame over her choosing drugs over me. I was an adult before I realized she didn’t have a choice, but the hurt had been forever etched in my heart.


I can admit I had a lot of anger when I moved in with my daddy, his wife, and my little sister who was nine by then. I loved Anise, and I was happy to be in the same house as her, but when I heard Carlene say she didn’t want me there, I redirected my anger to her. Because she was there, and my mama was not. I hadn’t yet rectified my mama choosing drugs over me in my mind so Carlene became the target for my wrath.


I overheard her on the phone with someone, her sister I think. I wasn’t listening until I heard my name.


“Chile now he wants Saige to come stay with us. I know that’s his kid, but no. I can’t do it. Nah girl, another mouth? And a teenager? What if she was using too? We just don’t know what was going on in that house and I can’t have my baby exposed. She’s going to have to go with an aunt or someone. She can’t come here.”


I remember her exact words. I remember what she was wearing. I remember the tone of her voice. I remember the time of day. I remember the soap opera that was on TV. The venom in her voice. The disdain she had for me. The way her words pierced my 15-year-old heart. I remember everything about that moment. I never felt unwelcomed around her until that moment.


After I confronted her, she deflected. She accused me of being in grown folk’s business. She accused me of being disrespectful. She said I misconstrued her words. It took her a year to finally admit what she said because I refused to let it go. I wouldn’t talk to her, only replied to her. I only did what she said because I wasn’t raised to be disrespectful to adults. I wouldn’t engage with her. I wouldn’t go anywhere with her. I didn’t want her to come to anything I had at school. She came to the first game where I cheered my junior year and I quit the team, refusing to cheer that night.


She tried, a little too hard, to show me she was sorry. I couldn’t accept anything from her. My heart was already hardened towards her and nothing she did moved me. My daddy, my sister, all of my other family members implored me to forgive her because my mama preferred dope over parenting so why not let Carlene stand in the gap as a mother, they questioned.


Because she never wanted me there. And to this day I wholeheartedly believe, the only reason why she tolerated me was because there was no way my daddy was going to send me away from his home.


I spent too much time thinking about Carlene and my mama to the point it pissed me off. I hated when I let my mind wander to the woman who abandoned me and the woman who only tolerated me out of obligation.


I let out a loud breath and went to the bathroom to shower and tackle my day. I checked emails and did a few hours of work before going across the street to the Aquarium. Watching the animals was relaxing and I got lost in their movements. Some swam lazily, some with a purpose. I focused on their colors, their features, their interactions with the other creatures around them. I visited every attraction I could until I walked up an appetite. I ate an early dinner at Hennen’s, choosing the chicken Marsala and beignets for dessert. I walked back to my hotel full and perturbed my mind wandered back to what my daddy said.


I opened my laptop and started scouring the Internet for efficiency apartments in Tennessee. I usually like to at least have some sort of idea of the area I’m moving to, but more often than not, I jumped up and ran without planning that far in advance. I usually didn’t mind this part, finding somewhere to live. I enjoyed reading, riding around, looking at neighborhoods, exploring a new city. But today, I was frustrated. I found something wrong with every single studio apartment I looked at. I finally settled on an Extended Stay because I was familiar with the chain. I lived at an Extended Stay for a few months when I moved to North Carolina a few years ago. I put in my information to move in tomorrow. I found the nearest Target and bought two more bottles of McBride Sisters wine and drank myself to sleep.


I woke up the next morning around 10. I did a few hours of work to wait for the 2 p.m. check-in. I navigated my way to the Extended Stay, checked in, and brought all of my stuff in. While I was putting my things away, I powered on my phone. After I settled in, I wasn’t prepared for all of the notifications that showed up on my phone. I barely made it through Anise’s last text and knew I had to call her.


“Saige! Where the hell have you been? I’ve been calling and texting you!” she blurted out.


I could hear the hurt and worry in her voice and if I ever regretted leaving anyone, it was her. “Sis, I’m fine.”


“How was I supposed to know that? I know you are selfish, but you never leave me like that! Never!”


I wanted to come for her for calling me selfish, but…she was right. I always made sure I told her bye or when I was leaving if I came home. She was the only person I was that considerate of. When I heard her sniffling, I knew she was hurt for real. “Anise, I’m sorry. I just had to clear my head and-“


“FUCK THAT!” she screamed catching me off guard. I pulled my ear away from the phone, looking at it as if to question who she was talking to even though I knew she was talking to me.


“Calm down. Just-“


“NO!” she screeched. “No!” Her voice came down, all the way down and I was grateful she was listening to me. “You don’t get to tell me to calm down. Not when you left like you did. You didn’t call me, text me, or even answer the phone. I understand the issues you have with my mama and yours are heavy, but you need to grow the fuck up and deal with it.”


I creased my brow at her choice of words for me. Grow up? I was very grown, older than her if she didn’t realize it. “Anise I am-“


“Not grown. You act like a damn kid running away every time someone pisses you off. You think you’re the only one affected? What about me? Daddy? Hell, even Kason? Every time you come into town, he gets used to you and then you just leave. It’s like he’s meeting you for the first time every few months.”


I sat down in the chair in my room and looked out the window. I was on the 3rd floor but there wasn’t much of a view like I had at the Marriot downtown. All I saw was the cars in the parking lot. I watched cars pull up and leave. I watched a man and a woman get bags out of their car and walk to the building. I focused on them rather than listen to my sister because I’d have to acknowledge what she was saying.


“I’ve made excuses for you for years and I’m done with it. If you want to run your whole life, fine. Do that. But I’m not going to let you keep using me, staying at my house, and then just up and leaving without saying anything. Not to mention you ignored me for almost a full day. I cannot keep doing this with you.”


Much like I did with my daddy yesterday, Anise hung up the phone. I sat in the chair dumbfounded. For years, almost half my life, I walked around in my hurt. Holding onto my hurt. Carrying my hurt. Using it to inoculate me from everyone around me. Anise was the closest person to me, and even then, I only let her get so close.


I had a huge fear of abandonment. I was abandoned by my mama, taken in by my daddy, but only tolerated by his wife. In my mind, that was grounds for keeping everyone at bay. I had no real friends. I’d never dated anyone seriously. Hell, I ran, leaving the state if I needed to if anyone got too close. All of that was about me. How it affected me. What it meant to me. I never considered what it was doing to anyone else.


You need to grow the fuck up and deal with it…


My name might have been Saige, but right now, Anise was the one with the wisdom.

******

“Now let’s move into Savasana.”


The small class of six moved into position, lying on our mats on our backs. I immediately closed my eyes without being told to. Today’s relaxation pose was for rejuvenation; I’ve spent the last few months in healing. I listened to the sound of my breathing, felt the beating of my heart, took in the energy around me.


You are the embodiment of your name. You are wise. You make wise decisions. Your past is in your past, and you are in control of your future, I repeated to myself. This was my daily affirmation, something I’d been reminding myself of for the last six months. I could honestly say it was helping to alleviate some of the anger I was carrying. Not enough for me to apologize to my sister, daddy, or Carlene; I don’t know when that was going to come, but I did feel less bitter.


“Ok ladies that concludes our session for today. Remember to be intentional in your thoughts and energies today.”


I opened my eyes but didn’t immediately get up. I still needed a few moments to gather myself. I sat up, exhaled, and then stood to roll up my mat. I spoke to my yoga instructor and some of the women in the class before heading out. I went back to my room and showered before downing a Green Machine Naked juice as I powered on my laptop. Getting work down after my morning yoga was like a creative release. I was able to produce better work, now that I wasn’t carrying so much on my shoulders.


Around 11:30, I placed an order for sushi and worked until my lunch arrived. I wanted to get as much done as possible because I wanted my weekend to be free. Tay’Yon would be coming into town today.


I was really surprised at myself, not just for how long I’d been in Tennessee, but for how long I’d been kicking it with Tay. After college, I never lived anywhere longer than a year. And I never kept anyone in my life this long either. Had I known the secret to the latter was finding someone almost as transitory as me, I would have done this years ago. Tay was from Chattanooga but drove trucks across the country. He only came home once or twice a month. For some women, this might have been an issue. For me, it was a match made in heaven.


We didn’t have to see each other often which meant we didn’t spend a lot of time together. We didn’t talk all the time because he respected that I had a business to run and since he was driving, he couldn’t text. I loved this arrangement.


Tay and I met at a bar about a month after I got here. I was still working through what my sister said to me and I needed a man-induced release. I never expected that almost five months later, we’d still be talking. I lucked up in meeting him. He was a little shorter than I liked my men, but I loved his coffee complexion. Everything about him was black. His skin, his thoughts, his music, where he shopped, the food he ate. He loved being a black man and I loved his affinity and pride in our race. Our conversations ran the gamut of our jobs to the best black movies to deeper conversations about cultural appropriation and ways to strengthen the black community. And the best part about it was he wasn’t looking for a long-term relationship. He was a truck driver with no reason or intention of coming off the road. I felt like I’d finally met my match.


For three days, I walked around with my hair in twists, and today, I was finally going to take them out. I was letting my pink grow out and I loved the black peeking through at my roots. My twist out was amazing, and I was ready for Tay to get here. At almost 6, Tay arrived looking delicious.


“Queen,” he greeted me with the name he preferred to call me. He told me he called me Queen to remind me that I am royalty. “You look beautiful. Love your hair.”


“Thank you, Tay,” I grinned. The few days when Tay was in town were the best. I got to talk, eat, laugh, get complimented, have an orgasm, and think. Then he went back on the road, giving me my space.


He walked in and kissed me on my jaw. “How was work today? Did you get through with that makeup campaign?”


I smiled at his interest in my business. He loved hearing about what I did and complimented me a thousand times on the name of my business. I named it SaigeSight as a play on the ‘wise’ definition of my name. I wanted customers to get my wisdom and expertise as I brought their visions to life.


“It was good. Yes, they loved all three choices and said I made it hard for them,” I smiled as I remembered the project manager’s reaction to the three options for a makeup campaign. My three designs were all different, to give them options for the direction they wanted to go in. While she praised my work, she also said they had a tough choice to make. They were a new client, so I was grateful they liked my work.


“I’m proud of you, beautiful,” he praised, and I blushed. “Let’s go celebrate.”


“Where do you want to go?”


“Doesn’t matter as long as I get to be with you.”


I loved Tay’s compliments. The moments I got to spend with him must have been what relationships felt like. I loved our few days together. I liked missing him and waiting for him to return. Our time apart made our time together special.


I changed my top, opting for a yellow crop top to show off the waist beads I started wearing a few months ago. Tay and I went to a soul food restaurant near the neighborhood he grew up in. I would have preferred Mexican or even some ramen, but Tay wasn’t as adventurous in his eating. We were having a good conversation about why black men leave their kids.


“In my personal experience,” I said, shoveling some butter beans onto my fork, “I had my dad in my life. It was my mama who left me.” I very rarely talked about my mama, but I was comfortable with Tay.


“Damn, really?” he asked. I ran through the story of my mama’s drug addiction and how I ended up living with my daddy when I was 15. I left out the drama with Carlene. “You know, I wonder, how many men would be able to do what your daddy did, step in and pick up with their kid. I guarantee that most of these fools out here wouldn’t have done what he did. They would have let their kids go into care or had the kid stay with an aunt or grandma. I’ve got the utmost respect for your pops.”


I nodded my head. I was in college before I realized how fortunate I was my daddy got me and didn’t listen to his wife. But now, hearing Tay praise him, I understood why he got so frustrated with me. He did what he was supposed to do as a parent, I just made it hard as hell.


“I’d never abandon my kids,” Tay said. “My wife and kids will be my entire focus.”


“That’s how it should be,” I commented.


“I’m getting older, and family has been heavy on my mind.”


I stared at him, unsure of where this conversation was going. “Ok…”


“I’m thinking about coming off the road,” he announced seemingly out of nowhere.

He smiled slightly, but my reaction wasn’t a smile. “Why?” I asked before I could stop myself.


“I just told you why,” he answered. His smile faded and he looked confused. I know he was expecting a different reaction. “But if you need a deeper answer…” he dropped his fork and wiped his mouth with a napkin. I already knew he was about to give me Adrian vibes, wanting to change the way we’d been doing things. “I’m feeling you, Saige. These few weekends aren’t enough for me. I’m ready to settle down and start a family. I can get you out of that hotel and we can start to build.”


He talked with so much sincerity, I trusted he meant every single word. I liked him too, but I liked what we were doing more. Anise told me to heal and I was working on that. So far, I’ve resisted the urge to move, and I was proud of myself for that. But he was lighting that fire under my feet.


“I can get myself out of the hotel if that’s what I wanted,” I informed him. For some strange reason, I refused to make Tennessee semi-permanent and find an apartment. I casually looked for places but refused to commit to anything, even short-term or month-to-month places. I couldn’t explain why.


Tay stared at me, studying me. He genuinely seemed confused that I wasn’t falling all over him to date exclusively and build a relationship and a family. “What do you want?”


“This,” I answered pointing between us. “What we’re doing.”


“Hasn’t this gotten old to you? Don’t you want something more permanent?”


I shook my head. “No, not really. I’m like a bird. I fly wherever I want, whenever I want. I’ve told you that.”


“And I told you it was because you never met anyone who made you want to stay.”


He told me that a few weeks after we met. I told him all the places I lived, telling him I liked that I was able to pick up and move whenever the spirit hit me. And he told me something or someone would make me want to be still. At the time, I didn’t realize he was referring to himself; we’d just met.


I’ve had to do this more times than I could count. I realized I was an anomaly. Most women would kill to be hooked up with some of the men I’ve run away from. I never realized how many men wanted a relationship until I started avoiding them like the plague.


“Tay, I’m not looking for that type of relationship. I am not the settle down, get married, 2.5 kids, dog and white picket fence type of woman. I am the studio apartment, move on a dime, spontaneous type.”


“So, you’re just going to hoe all your life? Where is your self-respect, Queen?” he snapped.


My eyes nearly popped out of my head. Did he really just say I was hoeing? “Excuse you? Am I going to hoe all my life? What the hell is that supposed to mean? You think because I’ve lived all over means I’m sleeping with every Tom, Dick, and Harry I meet?”


Truthfully, I didn’t have situationships in every city I moved to. There were plenty of places I moved where I only met people, men, and women for drinks or dinner. I didn’t sleep with someone in every area code. But if I wanted to, I could do that because I knew how to protect myself. In 28 years, I have never, ever, ever had sex without protection. That was a non-negotiable in my book. I was single and sex wasn’t off-limits because I wasn’t in a relationship.


“You know,” he started and stood abruptly causing his chair to fall back. The few patrons in the restaurant looked in our direction and I wanted to die from embarrassment. “It’s ungrateful bitches like you who make it hard for brothers like me. I’m trying to show you a different life, give you something real, and your ass sitting over there acting like you’re some damn prize.”


I was taken aback by his words. More than that, the anger that came with them. He glared down at me, his hurt apparent. In the few months I’d gotten to know him, he was gentle, passionate, but never like this. He always called me Queen or beautiful. Today I was an ungrateful bitch.


“Tay calm down. Let’s just talk about this,” I implored quietly, looking around at the eyes on us.


“Fuck you!” He roared. He swung at one of the cups on the table, sending it and the water he was drinking flying across the room. The other patrons whispered about us, some pulling out their phones hoping to catch some World Star footage. Tay stormed out of the restaurant, leaving me to sit in shock and confusion at how he just flipped on me.


Our server came to our table cautiously to ask if I was ok. “Yes, I’m ok,” I managed to get out, even though I’m sure I didn’t look like it because I surely didn’t sound like it.


“Do I need to wait, or do you want this now?” She waved our check at me, and I told her I’d take care of it. I pulled out my debit card and handed it to her. While she ran my card, I sat there, trying to wrap my head around what just happened. I’ve never had anyone react this way to me ending things. Sure, I had some people call or even try to convince me to give them a chance, but no one has ever yelled at me and cursed me out. I was a little rattled.


The server brought back my card and as soon as I stepped outside, I realized I was stranded. He really left me, I mused. I pulled up my ride-sharing app and ordered a ride. I waited inside until my car arrived and the entire drive back to my room, I replayed my last few months with Tay. He said he liked being on the road, he said he like driving trucks. I didn’t think I was saying or doing anything to make him want to change what he was doing. Before tonight, we hadn’t had any conversations about dating, families, kids, or anything serious between us. I thought we were on the same page.


Back in my room, I showered and tried to relax after Tay’s outburst. I poured a glass of wine and willed sleep to come to me, but it wasn’t working. I pulled out my yoga mat, did a 30-minute session, and ended in Savasana. While in the corpse pose, I allowed myself to let go of the confusion about Tay’s reaction and relax. I repeated my affirmations and when I got back in the bed, my eyes were heavy. Before drifting off to sleep, I heard a banging on my door.


“Saige! Saige! Open the damn door!”


I jumped out of bed and back-peddled towards the window. As if the restaurant wasn’t enough, he came back for more? Tay continued to yell and bang on my door and then I heard other voices outside. I assumed someone was chastising Tay about his disturbance, but I couldn’t make out what was being said. Then it got quiet. I wasn’t sure who came to my rescue, but I thanked God they did.


When my heartbeat slowed down, I started packing up my room. I couldn’t stay here. I packed all my things into my suitcases and while I wanted to leave tonight, I couldn’t because I was scared Tay was out there waiting for me.


I stayed up, scared as hell until I finally fell asleep. I woke up the next morning rested, until I remembered Tay’s temper tantrum. I found my phone and saw that I had missed calls and texts from him.


I didn’t read the messages and didn’t check the voicemails. Instead, I took a chance and went outside. I crept to the back of the building where my truck was parked and didn’t see him. I took my suitcases outside then went and got a tote from my trunk. I took one last look around the room, making sure I didn’t leave anything and went to the front desk to check out. As soon as I stepped outside, I ran smack dab into Tay.


I froze, unable to run, scream, or speak.


“I know you seen me calling you.” The anger and venom from last night never left. If anything, it was more intense. It was then I noticed he had on the same clothes from last night which made me wonder if he even went to his apartment.


I knew I needed to try to diffuse the situation, to talk him down, to try to reason with him, but I had nothing for him. I tried to back up but Tay advanced towards me. I turned to try to run, but he grabbed my arm, causing me to drop my tote of clothes.


“Ma’am…are you ok?” someone asked.


We both turned in the direction of the voice to find a hotel employee looking back and forth between us. I would have felt better if this ‘man’ was a little older. Or more commanding in his presence. He couldn’t be a day over 20 and he looked as scared as I was.


“This ain’t got nothing to do with you, homie,” Tay warned, tightening his grip on my arm.


“You need to let her go. Before I call the police,” the young man announced. If he was trying to be convincing, he failed miserably.


“Fuck you and fuck the police,” Tay replied calmly.


The young man was over trying to protect me. Standing up for me was noble on his part, but I was sure he didn’t make enough money to get in between this. He walked off and I prayed he really was going to call the police.


Tay tightened his grip on my arm and the dread that came over me was debilitating. But what I did know was that I wasn’t going down without a fight.


“Tay, just let me go. We-we-we can talk about this,” I pleaded.


“Shut the fuck up, Saige. And listen!”


Tay kept repeating what he said last night, not listening to me when I said I was not the woman who could give him the life and family he wanted. He just did not get that being a wife and a mother did not appeal to me. I loved my nephew, but I didn’t want the responsibility of being a parent. Telling Tay that was a mistake.


“I know that shit with your mama is heavy, but don’t let that be the reason you miss your opportunity to be a mother. Don’t you want to have a legacy? Why be selfish and not share your life with children?”


“Tay,” I groaned, forgetting the grip he had on my arm and his outburst yesterday. “It’s not selfish to not want kids. It’s my life and my decision not to become a parent.”


I never understood why women got called selfish for not wanting kids. Some women desired motherhood, some did not. Why am I selfish because I chose the latter? I never criticized women who had kids. Well, except my mama because she forgot she gave birth to me. When my sister got pregnant with Kason, I was shocked, but I never condemned her. She wasn’t the first 19-year-old to have a kid and she certainly would not be the last.


“You’re an ungrateful bitch, that’s what you are. Ungrateful, selfish, toxic, narcissistic, lying ass bitch!” Tay yelled.


I wasn’t sure what I lied about, but I tried to pull away from him again. He tightened his grip on my arm and pushed me back into the wall, hard. The shock of his movements and my head and back connecting with the wall caused me to cry out in pain. I feared what Tay would do next. Maybe I watched too many episodes of Criminal Minds, but I feared he was going to drag me to his car, stuff me in the trunk and then bury me in some remote location. My panic caused me to cry.


“Shut the fuck up with all that crying!” he barked. “You aren’t going to-“


He was interrupted by a police car pulling up. I have never been so grateful to see the police in my whole life. Before the officers could put the car in park, Tay let me go. He was crazy but not that crazy. The officers approached us and Tay started trying to explain that everything was cool, but my face told a different story.


“Ma’am is everything ok?” one officer asked.


“No, but I am leaving.”


I picked up my tote and I could feel Tay’s eyes on me as one of the officers walked with me to my truck, asking again if everything was ok. Again, I told him it was not, but there was no need to worry because I was leaving the state. Satisfied with my answer, the officer left me alone, seemingly relieved she didn’t have to do any paperwork. I slowly backed out of the parking space, locking eyes with Tay. The disdain he held for me rattled my bones. I drove calmly out of the parking lot until I was out of sight of the police. Then I drove like a bat out of hell, getting as far away from Tay as I could. The further I got from Chattanooga, I was able to breathe easier. About an hour into my drive, I knew I needed to try to figure out where I was going. Since I was heading south, I decided I was going home.