The Life of Kiana Young

“Morning Miss Young, how are you today?”
I watched the doctor take his usual seat in front of me. His pad of notes under his left arm and his glasses in his right hand. His white coat down to his shins, with his white shirt and black skinny tie underneath neatly pressed and ironed completing the doctor look that I’d grown so well to hate.
“The same as every day doctor.”
“Oh Miss Young,” He said sitting down whilst opening his pad on the table. “I told you that you could call me Lucas.” I looked at the doctor, watching him closely as he clicked his pen ready to start the 9’o’clock session.
“I prefer doctor.”
“Then doctor it is.”

He flicked through the pages of notes, skimming through what he’d written about me in the last few encounters we had. Trying to seem as though he was reminding himself where he left off, doing the occasional scratch on his chin or silent approval when he came across a key note. When in actual fact, he remembers exactly what we last spoke about and what he wanted to speak about this session.
He falls onto his most recent notes on myself and nods, then flicks onto a new sheet of white paper.
“Where did we finish last time?”
“I thought that was what you were doing just now?”
“What do you mean Miss Young?”
“All the flicking through your notes, nodding and humming to yourself – weren’t you doing all of that so we could skip all these niceties and get straight to the point?”

“Hmm, you seem a little tense today Miss Young?”
I look towards the two guards standing by the door, then at the two plain clothed guards that were acting as though they were watching the television when really, they were waiting for me to out of character so they could pin me down and sedate me. I rolled my eyes, trying to hide my annoyance, but failing to do so.
Ever since they put me here, classified me as crazy, I continuously failed to suppress my inner emotions. Maybe it’s due to the number of times I’ve been drugged, sometimes I don’t even know how I feel or think. But all I am aware of is that the more they pump these drugs into my system, the more I can feel my self-control slip.
“Doctor, how can one not be tense when they are in a stray jacket?”

I chuckled ever so lightly, trying to keep the sane image solid, even though I knew the doctor could see through it as clear as day.
“Well that is true, but I heard you got a little physical last night?”
“Doctor, I requested for different colour bed sheets. They bought me white… I refused to use it and here I sit today. With white bed sheets and strapped in a white stray jacket.” “Hmm,” He wrote a few notes in his now less empty pad and then looked back at me. “I want to talk about how you got here Miss Young, where this all started.”
With no response, he continued on with his plan of the day. “I want to know how Miss Young got in this seat, opposite me in a stray jacket – what triggered all of this?”

“Well I told you about how I’m in a stray jacket.”
“Miss Young…”
The doctor looked at me sternly, the two guards by the door turned their focus to me and the two plain guards had moved closer to my seat without my knowing. I swallowed my sarcasm and looked back at the doctor. I knew how this went, if I didn’t comply then I’d find myself laying in the room which was now my home. The four white walls taunting me, letting me know that no matter how much I tried, I was getting nowhere they didn’t want me to go.
Refocusing my attention back to the doctor, I sighed. “What do you want to know doctor?”
“I want to know what caused you to react the way you did that day. What went through your mind as you decided to change your life and commit that crime you did?”
With a sigh I look at the table. Where was I meant to begin? It’s clear to say the beginning, but every time I thought of the beginning I realised that the change happened within me long before I was aware. I looked at the doctor and then closed my eyes.
“I was sixteen and I’d just woken up to some tragic news.”

[Continuation of Kiana’s story next week- stay tuned]

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Rachel – Part 3(a)

A gentle touch on my shoulder pulled me out of the sleep I’d managed to fall into. In a daze, I looked at my surroundings, confused with where I was and why I was with Damion, until the last few hours came rushing back to me. Remembering the images of Craig and my sister make intimate love was enough to wake me up completely. I sat up fully, looking passed Damion to see what I could only imagine was a mansion which stood firmly behind him. I looked back to Damion who was sat still watching me.
“I thought you was taking me to a hotel?”
“I was,” he said calmly, “But then you fell asleep and I did not want to wake you up to get you checked in to a hotel, so I bought you to my home.”
Instantly I coiled into myself, was he assuming I was going to sleep with him in exchange for a place to stay? I was about to voice my opinion when Damion raised his hand.
“It’s not like that Rachel, I have a guest room – where I would want you to sleep.
  I did not want you to be woken up early to check out of the hotel and also, I did not want to leave you alone tonight. I will give you all the space you require, but I have a perfectly good room here and it would be stupid to pay for a hotel room.”
With that, he got out of the car and held the door open for me, waiting for me to follow him. Reluctantly I exited the car. He shut the door and walked towards his house door, feeling his suit jacket for his keys. Once he located them, he opened the door giving me a full view of the grand stairs which were adjacent to the door. The stairs lead to a fork split, taking residents to hidden mysteries on the left or the right. I slowly walked in, admiring the chandelier that hung sophisticatedly in the middle of the foyer. I stood silently, feeling foreign in such a place like this. The golden aura created by the decretive jewels that hung loosely on the chandelier made me feel as though in here, anything was possible – it was almost like a fairy-tale. Damion stood beside me pulling me out of my trance.
“Want me to show you to the guest room?” I nodded with no words as Damion led the way. My heels echoed across the marble floor, causing the sound to ricochet across the walls and sing loudly around the house. We took a left when we came to the split in the stairs, which led us to a hall of closed doors. The corridor was dimly lit from the nightlight that shone through the windows, but that did not make the hall eerie, in fact it made it solemn. Behind each door lay a secret I wasn’t aware of, it gave me something to busy my mind with as my own issues were forcefully reappearing in my mind constantly. Images of myself proudly clinging onto Craig’s arm as he greeted his co-workers and potential prospects, made me feel foolish. I pushed those memories to the back of my mind and brought myself back to Damion’s home.
“The house where the party is, is that not yours?”
Damion looked back at me, a little surprised I spoke but hadn’t missed a stride in his step.
“My father left it for me and Chase but we decided that using it for business and meetings was better than us fighting over who should own it.”
“So, you decided on using your father’s house as a business location?”
“Well, even my father would hardly call that place a home. The number of events and meetings he hosted there barely made that place a home.”
“Makes sense.” He walked me to a door and opened it. Revealing a small room, with a double bed up against the wall. The room was completely dark, apart from the little light the thin curtains allowed through. Damion, turned on the light and gestured for me to enter.
“Behind that door to you right, is the bathroom. If you need any help, my room is the last door at the end of this corridor. Just call me and I’ll be happy to help.”
I walked over to the bed, feeling like an intruder in this unknown room. I turned to look at Damion and realised that he didn’t have to do what he done for me tonight. He could have let me run home crying, he could have even dropped me off to a hotel and left me for the night. Instead, he took me in when I was down and comforted me when I felt as though I had no one. I knew I owed him more than a simple thank you, but that was all I could offer him.
“Damion, I just want to thank-”
“Rachel,” He cut me off. “You don’t have to. Get some rest and I’ll see you in the morning.”
With that he closed the door and made his way to his room, his footsteps growing quieter as he moved further away from me. I looked around the room once more, admiring the simplicity of the interior design and the way in which the house in general was built and designed. I kicked off my heels, placed my clutch bag on a nearby drawer and crawled into bed, remembering once again that night why I found myself sleeping in Damion’s guest bedroom. I hadn’t thought to look at my phone since it had stopped vibrating in the car. I reached for my bag, opening the mouth of the bag and grabbed my phone, before returning the bag back onto the drawer. I pressed the home button and saw a number of missed calls and texts from both Craig and Camila. At one point, I found myself hovering over the reply button to one of Craig’s text messages, but in that same minute, I locked my phone and placed it beside my bag. There was nothing I had to say to either Craig or Camila tonight or for a very long time and if I could hide here in Damion’s guest room for tonight, then I was going to happily do so.
It didn’t take too long for me to fall asleep, allowing all my thoughts and worry to drown in a blissful abyss as I lost consciousness and allowed myself to be taken by the exhaustion that crept over me. Craig and Camila would be the issue of tomorrow, for now I slept.

Rachel – Part 2

 For ages I sat in silence, remembering Craig and Camila being intimate with each other. Watching Craig throw away the nine hard years we built together, watching the marriage I thought was too strong to break, shatter to a million pieces with each stroke he penetrated into my sister. A tear escaped my left eye as I tried to erase the images that were now tattooed into my brain. How was I meant to move on from this? We all sit down every once in a while, with our friends and throw scenarios out, ‘what would you do if…’ – never do we think it would actually happen. Here I sit, dumbfounded in Damion’s car wondering what my next steps were. It wasn’t as though I had a full-time job, or I had any hobby of my own ­– maybe that’s what drew Craig to Camila. A woman with a purpose, whereas he married a woman who was a burden. A cry flew passed my lips as I thought of how better my sister was in comparison to myself. I held my mouth trying to contain my sorrow, but realised my sobs were stronger than my grip. Suddenly I felt Damion’s hand gently tug at my hand that was poorly sealing the sorrow that I failed to conceal. Once he had removed my hand, he pulled me over to him. Almost instantly did I find myself hunched in his chest crying harder than previously.
How could my whole life come shattering down around me in a matter of seconds, when it took more than double that to build? Through my sobs I felt my phone vibrate in my clutch bag. Without even reaching for my phone I knew who the caller was. Craig had only now finished making love with sister and had begun wondering where I had gotten to… I had gone through a state of shock and sadness and during that period Craig was still uniting with Camila. The phone began to vibrate violently as I failed to respond to it the first time. I wiped my tears from my cheeks, and looked at Damion’s chest which was yet again drenched with my tears. I reached for my phone when Damion held my hands.

“It’s probably Craig. Maybe you should let it ring out?”
“I’ll have to face him eventually.” I mumbled through sniffs.
“Yes, but now doesn’t have to be that time.”
With that I left the phone to ring and slid back into my seat. I felt the seat shuffle as Damion faced me.
“Who was it?”
“Who was what Damion?”
I responded still blindly looking out the window. Not taking anything in but the lights that zoomed passed me.
“Who was Craig with?”
Instantly water filled my eyes, whilst the images of Craig and Camila danced in my mind.
“It doesn’t matter.”
It was bad enough my husband had cheated on me, but to then announce it was with my own flesh and blood was a line I was not comfortable in admitting. Especially with someone who I barely knew. I wiped the remaining stray tears and shook my head, reiterating how irrelevant it was to know who Craig had slept with.
“Was it someone I know?”
I gave Damion a quizzical stare, confused with why he was so intrigued with who Craig had slept with.
“Why do you care? In fact, why are you even helping me? We don’t even know each other yet all of sudden you seem so interested in my life?”
All of sudden anger poured through my body, as I spoke to Damion. I knew he had done nothing wrong, but with tonight’s events, I could barely contain any of my emotions and knew that at times like this I was better off alone.
“Rachel, you’re right. I don’t know you and I don’t know why I am helping you, but…”
For a minute he paused, staring at me in the face as I frowned in annoyance. Was he eager to get some entertainment from my life, was he only sticking around so he could run back to his brother and share the gossip. I faced the window and remained silent as I heard him sigh.

The rest of the journey was filled with tense silence. Damion ensured he didn’t do anything that would cause me to lash out whilst I held my emotions together by a mere strand of thread. We came to a stop as his driver reached my home. The engine was cut off as everyone waited for me to exit the car, but I found myself frozen. Who was I lying too? This was no longer my home, this was just bricks put together in which I thought was a place I could return to every night. But here I sit, staring at the gold 67 that was placed just above the front windows – not moving at all.
“Rachel I can take you to a hotel?”
How was I now the other woman? Why did it feel as though I was intruding this building when I had lived there for nine years? Why did I have to leave my home and reside in a hotel because of the wrong doing of my husband? Besides, I couldn’t waste money on a hotel when I wasn’t sure when or where my next income would come from. I took a deep breath, my hands shaking as I pulled open the car door. The cold breeze from outside enveloped my body as I attempted to confidently get out the car and walk to where I thought was home.
“You don’t have to do this Rachel.”
I stopped in my tracks, my heart thumping hard against my chest. Was it worth it? Could I truly take anymore tonight? Craig would return, probably with Camila as they would worry where I had gotten to. Could I really endure seeing them concerned for me when they were the reason for my abrupt absence? In a flash, I re-entered the car slamming the door shut. Damion directed the driver where to go and the car took off.
I had no idea where Damion had planned to take me tonight, but I had little to no fight in me to protest. As sat in silence, I wondered what must have been running through Craig’s mind. Was he worrying about me? Or had he used my disappearing act to get more alone time with Camila? Either way, he had not attempted to call again and that was enough to keep my blood boiling. I was playing myself if I thought I could handle a confrontation tonight – I was rapidly running out of energy and the more the energy was sapped out the more I felt my grasp on my emotions were slipping. I closed my eyes, allowing the motion of the car rock me to sleep like an infant child in their mother’s arms.

© All Rights Reserved by Sarah E. Balogun

 

The Grey Hairs of A Mother

“Mum!!!!” I rolled over slowly, still deep in sleep wondering when I set my alarm clock to six in the morning. I peel my right eyelid open, to see that my alarm hadn’t actually gone off.
“MUM, MICHELLE IS TAKING MY STUFF AGAIN!” No it wasn’t my alarm, it was just my kids that was waking me up more than an hour earlier than I needed to be. I rolled over again to check if Mike had heard the girls yelling, but either he did and was acting as though he heard nothing or he was still actually sleeping and had somehow grown immune to the noise of our kids and knew how to drown them out within his unconscious. With a headache creeping ever so slowly over my brain, I slowly sat up and took a deep breath in. It was times as such when I felt as though crying was the best thing to do. Had you ever been disturbed from your sleep that it almost brought you to tears? That feeling that you just so badly wanted to return to that peaceful unconscious you were in, but something constantly kept nagging at you, waking you up? That was how I felt now. With sleep slipping further away from my clutches, and annoyance taking its place rapidly, I slipped my feet into my brown fluffy slippers and went to go and check on my daughters who had decided to wake up the whole neighbourhood in the early hours of the morning.

Slowly trudging in the hallway, my matted hair in a messy bun, sleep still in my eyes and a headache, I get to Michelle’s room and see both her and Michelle conducting a violent tug of war on a black jumper. Each daughter tightly grabbing an arm of the jumper, whilst they both tested each strength by pulling the sleeve towards themselves, hoping that the other would fail to remain strong enough to hold onto the sleeve and let go. Taking yet another deep breath, I slowly stand between the girls, feeling sorrier for the knitted jumper that was sure to be slacker now than when it was originally purchased.
“Girls, it is only just gone past six. What are you doing fighting over a jumper?”
“Michelle stole my jumper!” Katy screamed, tugging at the right sleeve, hoping Michelle’s attention had diverted enough for her to win the war and get the prize. Michelle tugged back and looked at me.
“Mum it’s mine! Katy’s lying, she stomped in her this morning like some animal ¬–”
“I AM NOT AN ANIMAL!”
“Well you’re yelling like one.” James, their younger brother said as he walked passed the open door rubbing sleep from his eyes. A small chuckle escaped my lips, making Katy throw an icy stare my way. Putting my mother cap back on, I sighed and rubbed my temple trying to decipher who I bought the bloody jumper for.
“Okay, well firstly, you both don’t wear the same size, so what size is it?”
“Medium mum! You know that’s my size!” Katy shouted to me, making me wince as her voice pierced my ears and ran straight to my brain.
“NO! I wear medium too. Check any of my jumpers, I get medium!” For crying out loud. I shifted my weight onto another leg, wishing Mike would pull the girls apart and let me get some more rest.
“Okay, Michelle, Katy – it’s too early for this. If you both aren’t going to settle this like grown ups then give me the jumper and I will hold it until further notice.”
“No…Katy get off the jumper!” Michelle tugged violently again, causing Katy to stumble forwards. Katy retaliated pulling the jumper just as hard, having the same result with Michelle as she stumbled forward. Tired of seeing my daughters ruin a perfectly good jumper, I get between them, releasing their grip on the sleeve and taking the jumper into my hands. I lifted the jumper, assessing the damages and grow even more annoyed. They had both been pulling on the jumper for so long, they could literally both fit inside the jumper or even cut it in half and get a tailor to knit another jumper. I raise my eyebrows and look at both Katy and Michelle who stood scowling at each other.
“Okay, you both have successfully ruined this jumper, so no one is getting it. Next time you sort it out like bloody adults, look at the size of this now, it looks like double XL, not a medium.”
Katy stormed out the room and went back to her own room, slamming the door – symbolically screaming that no one should disturb her and if anyone did so they were sure to feel her raft. I looked at Michelle who stood silently pouting, being the younger sister out of her and Katy, she tried to play the young card far more often than necessary. I shook my head, reiterating that she was not getting the jumper, causing her to frown. I left the room, far more awake than I should have been at six in the morning and made my way to the kitchen in order make myself a cup of coffee. There was no way I was going to get anymore sleep now, so I might as well have started my day.
I walk into the cream kitchen to see James sitting by the dining table eating toast with a cup of orange juice.
“Why is everyone awake now?” I mumbled under my breathe, turning on the coffee machine.
“What d’you say mum?” James said, one toast in his hand and half another toast in his mouth. James was always a little creative. He was my only child that seemed to find humour in everything. I remembered when I had gone to his parents evening and his teacher was explaining ways in which James could be better behaved. When he was asked what he thought he could do to improve his constant chatter during the class, he shrugged and said, ‘I can try, but I am young miss, I am bound to talk, it’s in my blood’. I tried to suppress my laugh then, but when I saw the frown on his teachers face and the absolute truth on James’ – I couldn’t help but chuckle. No matter how much I tried to be strict and firm, James was my only child who could get a sly giggle out of me.
“I said James, why is everyone awake?”
“I don’t know. It was Michelle and Katy that woke me up.” I rolled my eyes and sighed.
“Your dad didn’t even hear any of that, he’s still sleeping.”
“I bet he did. He told me that he acts sometimes, acts like he can’t hear us winge so that you can sort it out.” Before I got to respond, Matt walked in rubbing his eyes and yawning.
“Don’t lie to your mother James.”
“That’s if I’m lying… and I’m not.” He said continuing to eat his breakfast. I look at Matt who’d grabbed a mug and started pouring coffee into it.

“Really Matt?” Matt looked at the mug and then back at me as if to say he was unaware of what he just did.
“What?”
“I didn’t get the coffee started for you to just come and take it.” He rolled his eyes and sat on by the dining table.
“Why you up so early?” He asked James, as I poured the rest of the coffee into my ‘favourite mum’ mug and took a seat beside James.
“Michelle and Katy were arguing…again.” He said looking as annoyed as I did a few minutes ago when I was called to haul them away from each other.
“Over what this time?” Matt asked me.
“A jumper…they both claimed it was theirs.”
“It was mine.” Michelle sang, bouncing into the kitchen, stealing one of James toasts whilst sitting on the seat next to Matt. “But we all know how Katy gets. So we both didn’t get it.”
“Watch it Michelle.” Matt warned her, getting up to make more coffee. The more years I racked up in my time as a mother I could tell when a day was going to be longer than necessary and then when it was just going to be a downright pain in the arse. That was today. These days I avoided like plague, the kids acted like they hated each other, Matt’s breathing would literally piss me off and to make everything worse, I would get a full-blown mummy headache throughout the day. It was just too much for me to deal with, yet something I had to deal with on a daily basis.
“James don’t you have history today?” Michelle asked chomping down on the toast.
“Yeah – Oh shoot! I forgot my homework!”
“Forgot it where?”
“At school.” And the miners in my head resumed their work by beating on my skull.
“Christ, that Miss Maple is going to call us in, again.” Matt moaned beside me.
“I know right, I won’t attend another meeting.” I whispered to Matt who had managed to sneak out of the last two meetings I was called into for James’ lack of homework.
“I don’t blame you, we’ve got to sit him down, he needs to start doing his homework.”
“I don’t even know when he gets homework.” I said softly as both Michelle and James had started talking, trying to conjure up a lie that he could tell his teacher.
“Neither do I.”
“Christ, we aren’t the greatest parents.” Matt chuckled, planting a kiss on my cheek. We tried as much as we could for our kids, but just like any other parent, things slipped through the cracks. It was tough being a superwoman, I wasn’t even half of that, so I couldn’t even imagine how others managed to do it all and still have time for themselves. That instantly reminded me of the roots that were now reappearing in my hair, or my nails that had outgrown its time period and needed to be seriously redone. Matt saw the way in which I had begun assessing myself and kissed me again on the cheek.
“You look beautiful.”
“Ew dad, that twice this morning, aka two too many times.”
“It’s love.” Michelle cooed, whilst James rolled his eyes.
“Alright guys, get ready for school and KATY, come down and have breakfast.” What I loved about Matt was that even though I was left to solve the arguments, the visits to school, the parenting (basically), when Matt decided to take charge, he did it so well that it made me wonder why I hadn’t asked him to do it earlier. The kids seemed to just listen well to Matt, whereas they knew how to sway me – I wasn’t proud but sometimes it just made things easier. After James had finished eating, he rushed upstairs into the bathroom, whilst Katy stomped downstairs and into the kitchen.
“Morning to you too.” Matt said smiling.
“I’m not in the mood dad.” She said looking down with a frown on her face.
“What’s up princess?” Matt sat beside her as I made her some toast, egg and bacon for breakfast. It was better if Matt handled Katy. It wasn’t like I couldn’t but I felt as though if there was one child I struggled to understand, it was Katy. Constantly blowing hot and cold with me, I never seemed to do things right with her. I couldn’t blame her, it was the same way I was with my own mother, but having it done to me just increases my sympathy to my mum. It must not have been easy with me being distant all the time, sometimes it feels as though there’s no bond.
“Helen!” I jump out of my thoughts and turn towards both Matt and Katy.
“See she wasn’t even listening.” Matt signalled me with his eyes as if to say that I had royally messed up again with Katy. Trying to play catch-up on whatever I had just missed out on, I turn my attention to Katy.
“I’m sorry Katy, what was you saying.”
“It’s not fair that Michelle gets away with acting like a brat. That was my jumper, I was going to wear it today as it’s mufti-day, but she’s ruined it!” Her eyes watered and I looked at Matt, who looked straight back at me. This was us, every single day. Buckling over parenthood, never truly getting it right, but managing to do just about a decent job. If I didn’t know something, I hoped Matt did, but in all honesty, we were both as unaware as each other. You don’t become an expert with more kids, you just learn more as more kids mean different behaviours, different feelings, different emotions. I lower the cooking gas and sit opposite Katy, who now had a stray tear down her cheek.
“I’m sorry Katy that you didn’t get to wear the jumper. But you and Michelle need to learn how to get on, how to share. I don’t know whose jumper that was and I don’t even care. You both should have solved that issue way before I had to come in and do it for you. Now –” I said interrupting her, as she looked ready to start speaking. “I know you wanted to wear that jumper, but for today, can you find something else and then on Saturday we can go shopping so I can buy both you and Michelle new clothes.”
After a few sniffs, Katy nodded her head. I gave Matt a quick look of reassurance, he returned my quizzical stare with a small smile and a brief nod. We had done it again, we’d somehow stumbled through parenting and managed to do it right. I smiled back at him and went back to making breakfast for Katy who had remained quiet, but had looked much more positive than when she stormed in.

© All Rights Reserved by Sarah E. Balogun

 

New Woman – Chapter 4

Throughout the journey home my constantly raced back to Vicky. I kept trying to rationalise my behaviour, why my body kept reacting to Vicky in ways that it shouldn’t. Images of our kiss continued to flash into my mind and with every image and every thought of her lips on my own, a foreign tingle runs through my body. My head was clustered with so much confusion, so many emotions running through that I wasn’t too sure how I was meant to react or even feel. I’d only moved here for the job a month ago and look who I’d become – a stranger to myself. It was coming to a point where I couldn’t even understand why my body was reacting and behaving the way it was. Tears welled up in my eyes as I felt my self-control slipping away from my fragile grasp. Having these feelings towards Vicky rattled me, it made no sense, how could I go from being in a serious long-term relationship with Jonathan, to now being single and having feelings towards Vicky. It was obvious that Vicky had strong feelings for me, the way in which she stared at me after she shut down my PC, the way in which she came closer to me to kiss me, was enough to tell me that she had been suppressing her feelings towards me for some time. I rested my head against the window of the taxi and closed my eyes. I tried with all my might to rationalise my emotions, trying to find reasoning as to why I felt different whenever I was around Vicky. I didn’t think I was attracted to her, neither did I believe I fancied her, there must be more behind why my body continued to disobey me when she was in close proximity to me.

After the taxi driver dropped me home, I paid him and made my way inside, feeling more drained than I did before. I made some spaghetti for dinner and sat down in front of the TV, watching the images flash across my screen, but not really taking anything in. Eating silently, still in deep thought, I felt my phone vibrate. I picked up the call, happy to see my mother on the caller ID.

“Mum!”
“Rebecca, how are you my love?”
Just hearing her voice had caused me to get emotional. Whenever things were getting tough, I could always rely on my mum to make things better, however moving so far from my parents has made things difficult. It was tough enough to leave a relationship for the job, but to leave my family behind, was heart wrenching. I wiped a stray tear away from my eyes and took a deep breath, trying to calm the quiver in my voice.
“I miss you mum.”
“Is everything alright? Are they treating you good up there? I could come up in a heartbeat Becca, you know I would.”
“No,” I said sniffing. “I just missed your voice, that’s all.”
“Ah baby, it’s okay. Just remember you’re making the right choice. This experience, this job is just the beginning for you – there is so much more for you after this.”
I smiled, hearing my mum’s words always made me calmer.
“Thanks mum, I wish everyone saw it in that way.”
“Oh forget about him Becca. How is work going, let me know everything? Written anything yet?”

 

For a split second, I saw myself telling my mum everything that was going on between me and Vicky. Asking for her advice and hoping that she would share some words of wisdom, but as quick as the thought came, is how quickly it went. There was no way I was going to let my mum know that as soon as I left her house I turned into a woman even I wasn’t aware of. I could imagine hearing the sheer shock in her voice and her demanding to come up to help me pack and come back home. I instantly threw the thought away and smiled again.
“It’s going okay. I’ve got the opportunity to write my first article for next week’s issue.”
“Oh my gosh! I’m so proud of you Becca, look at you, writing in the most famous magazine known to women. What’s it about?”
“Well I didn’t get to choose the topic, but it’s about the portrayal of women in today’s society. I discuss jobs, relationships and family – it’s not a bad topic in all honesty.”
“Oh Becca, as soon as the issue is out let me know. I’ll buy all the copies!”
“Mum, you only need to buy one.” I said chuckling.
“I always knew you’d be special and make me proud. Have you finished the article?”
“Not yet, I’m struggling on how to finish it. I want it to summarise what I’ve spoken about, but leave my readers with something to think about.”
For hours, both my mum and I spoke about ways in which I could complete my article. Throwing ideas back and forth, we finally came to an idea that we both agreed on and thought would have the best impact on my readers.
“Look at me helping you with your article – I better get credit for that.” I rolled my eyes smiling.
“Nice try mum, how’s Dad by the way?”
“Oh he’s alright, working later shifts so he’s always tired.”
“Send him my love.”
“I will, I should let you get on. It’s late and I don’t want to keep you up. But darling remember, if you need me I am just a call away okay?”
I nodded, feeling myself get emotional. Once we said our goodbyes I almost felt ten times more worse than when I had taken the call. I wished I could confide in my mum, it would have made things much more easy and bearable. But, if I barely understood what I was feeling, why I was even feeling this way how could I expect my mum to be of any help, getting her involved would have further confused the situation which I definitely didn’t need. What I did need was things to go back to how they were last week, Vicky barely noticing me and me trying to blend in with the others. I wiped a stray tear from my cheek, speaking with my mum was a huge help, but it was bitter sweet. There was so much I wanted to speak to her about but only managed to glaze the top of the icing. After

a heavy sigh, I clear my dinner and make my way to my bedroom.

This unknown thing between me and Vicky had to take a backseat. I was going to get this article complete and then I was going to have to approach Vicky. There was no way I was going to work with this constant confusion between the two of us. Neither was I going to pursue that tiny little voice in my head that always wanted to know how Vicky tasted, wanted to know how soft she felt and how she would gently caress me. I was also not going to notice how every time I thought about Vicky and the kiss in her car that my heart beat just a tad bit harder than before, or even how my insides coiled and tightened in pleasure. If I gave room to these anonymous thoughts and feelings then everything would get messy and I didn’t just lose my long-term boyfriend and move away from my family home to ruin an opportunity of life. Making my way to bed I think about how I plan to gently tell Vicky that a platonic relationship is better than whatever we had managed to get ourselves into. However, she decided to take it was up to her, I just hoped this talk didn’t cause her to rethink my position at work.

 

© All Rights Reserved by Sarah E. Balogun

New Woman – Chapter 3

Vicky didn’t get to work that day until midday. Every time the office door opened, my chest tightened. Just the thought of Vicky got me feeling nervous. It wasn’t even the kiss we shared…well in fact that was the major part of the anxiety I felt every time I heard someone mention her name or if I heard high-heels clicking on the marble floor. What I think was causing my nerves to be all other place was the first contact we would have to share in front of everyone, knowing what we did and trying to act as though it didn’t happen. I tried to focus on the article I was meant to be writing for next week’s issue, however every once in a while, I’d get an email from Eileen asking me whether I’d seen Vicky enter her office.
*Rebecca@NW.com – I haven’t seen her come in yet.*
*Eileen@NW.com – Is anyone taking her emails?*
*Rebecca@NW.com – I’m sure she’s got her email connected to her phone or something?*
*Eileen@NW.com – not her internal emails, I’ll ask the tech guy to get her emails forwarded on to someone.*

I hoped I didn’t see any of Vicky’s emails pop up in my inbox. Even though I may be seen as her personal assistant, that was not my job and I didn’t intend on being anymore involved with Vicky than necessary. Just as I tried to focus back on my article, the office door swung open and in came Vicky. With sun glasses covering her eyes, she walked straight to her office without greeting anyone, without even acknowledging me. Not to say I was upset, I should have expecting Vicky to blow hot and cold – that was the way she functioned. With the awkward phase out of the way, I focused back on the article, noticing it was coming up to lunch and I had only managed to get 500 words written. Sooner or later I found myself engulfed with work, almost forgetting that Vicky was sat opposite me in her office. The article was coming together and I needed to make sure this was ready by today to have it double checked by the sub-editor so that I could get it published in next week’s article. Just as lunch was creeping ahead, Eileen came to my desk.

“You going out for lunch?” She said swinging her handbag on her shoulder. I looked at my article and realised it was best to keep writing, when a writer was in their zone, it was almost suicidal to take a break.
“You know what, I’m currently in my zone right now. I’ll catch up with you later on.”
“Make sure you eat; all that drinking yesterday needs to get soaked up by something.” I smiled as she waved goodbye and got back to the words before me. This was the first opportunity Vicky had given me to actually be part of the team and write content for the publication. When I first arrived, I was doing the meaningless jobs, proof-reading, getting coffee, setting up meeting rooms, but finally I was given the chance to write up my own article. I was given a topic, ‘Women in today’s Society’. It wasn’t a topic to go crazy other, but nevertheless I counted my blessings and made sure I wrote the best article I could. And to finally find my zone, after my thoughts had been drowned by last night’s event was great! I hadn’t noticed Vicky step out of her office until I heard heels click on the ground just in front of my desk. Not trying to make things anymore awkward than necessary, I slowly looked at her, ready to put that façade on and be cordial.
“No lunch today?” She said barely looking at me, but more around me. I guess she was just as embarrassed as I was.
“Just working on the article.”
“Make sure it’s in my inbox by 9AM sharp tomorrow morning. We’ll be holding a meeting on the content and marketing and I need all articles ready for then.” In a clipped tone, she walked back into her office and gently shut the door. Taking a deep breath, I tried to get annoyed, knowing this was how Vicky was and that I literally had to take her for how she was. I could work to a deadline, it wasn’t impossible, whether or not Vicky thought it was possible for me was another question. I saved the document and then put my computer on sleep, grabbing my back, I walked out the office knowing it’d be best to get lunch now as I knew it’d be a long evening for me.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Writer’s block they call it – well that’s what I’d hit. Nothing innovative was coming to mind, in fact I was now repeating myself, waffling like I was back in high school. For ages, I stared at the last sentence I typed, hoping the words would spark an idea, another point, but nothing. It was getting close to the end of the day and here I sat still struggling how to complete this bloody paragraph. I had done everything I could, I’d gotten up to take a break, drank coffee, went outside for fresh air and nothing. Everyone had begun gathering their belongings getting ready to leave. Eileen came to my desk, noticing that I hadn’t grabbed my stuff, ready to rush out of here and get back into bed (even though that’s exactly what I wanted to do).
“You not leaving now?”
“I’m struggling to get the end of this article written up. Nothing is coming to me.”
“I don’t blame you, we’re suffering from a massive hangover, maybe you just need some rest and then something might spring to mind. Why don’t you take it home, get some rest then get back at it again?” The idea was more than gold. However, I wasn’t too sure that I’d wake up after my head hit my pillow. My headache that had disappeared for a few hours had crept back slowly, gently tapping on my brain to warn me that I was overworking myself. I rubbed my forehead, trying to ignore the pain and looked at Eileen.
“I’d rather get it done now, so that when I get home I can just sleep and not wake up until tomorrow.”
Eileen chuckled, put her handbag on her shoulder and for the second time today waved goodbye to me. I kicked my heels off, feeling more relaxed hearing silence and knowing it was just me in the office, this way I could focus on the article and get home before it was too late.

An hour went by and I had only managed to produce 200 words. I rested my head on the desk, the headache now in full swing and took a deep breath. I needed to focus, if I kept trying nothing was going to happen. I closed my eyes, allowing the silence to envelope me, when I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder. Waking up suddenly, I shot up.
“You was sleeping.”
I looked around me and remembered I had put my head on the desk to calm the headache and also in hope to gain an idea of how to complete the document on my PC screen. But without my knowledge I must have slept and was woke up by Vicky.
“Oh, sorry. I was just trying to get rid of this headache and finish this off.”
“No need to be sorry, I think you should go home. It’s late and the meeting isn’t until 10:30AM tomorrow. So, you still have time ¬–”
“No,” I said cutting her off. “I can get this done.” She looked at me and then walked around the desk, once she got behind me, she leaned forward, giving me a brief sense of her perfume. The sweet scent played around in my nostril, as she proceeded to save the document and shut down the PC. Trying with difficulty to not let her being this close have an effect on me, I scooted back in my seat slightly giving her as much room as possible. What was wrong with me? I was letting this woman affect me, it was bad enough that every time I thought about the kiss it made me heat up, but to even feel tempted to reach out to her as she’s stood a few inches away from me made no sense. Was I beginning to react to Vicky in a way that I would with a man that I had an interest in? This was how I began behaving with Jonathan at first, however this time it was different. Almost as though the more time I tried to ignore the kiss we shared, the more my body decided to react harder and stronger than necessary. Vicky looked at me over her shoulder, a stray hair falling to her face, giving her a more feminine edge than normally. The electricity that was once present in our journey home the night before had returned. A million thoughts ran through my mind, one being the fact that we were stone cold sober. I couldn’t blame the alcohol if I proceeded with the inevitable, secondly could I truly help myself? Even though every muscle and fibre in my body wanted me to rush out of the office, I somehow found myself staring back her. My heart pounding in my chest as she came closer to me. The closer she came to me, the more I felt myself hold my breath, waiting for her to make the first move. It was only when she was a few inches away from my face did we hear the sound of the cleaners just outside the office doors. Instantly we repelled away from each other, our breathing both ragged and out of place. Before she spoke, I had already gathered my belongings and was rushing to leave. I didn’t know what I was doing, my feelings were everywhere. One minute I thought I knew what I wanted but then the next, I’d find myself doing things that was so foreign it didn’t make sense. Before Vicky chased after me like yesterday, I made sure I got out of the building and into a taxi before she could catch up to me.

New Woman – Chapter 2

I barely slept last night. The constant images of Vicky’s lips on my own replayed in my head disobediently whilst I tried to erase the memory. What was I doing? This was not the way I behaved with a man let alone a woman. The first time Jonathan and I were intimate, I had done intense research in the way to kiss and how a man would like to be touched – ridiculous as it seems, he was my first boyfriend and with no siblings, I had to depend on a number of articles to be my guide. However, I’ve just moved to New York and here I am acting out of character, way out of character! So many thoughts were running through my mind, reminding me of the previous night, that I could barely concentrate on anything. I could barely allow one emotion to run through me because I started to think about things like Vicky’s lips on mine, remembering how soft they were on my own, how my body vibrated in unexplainable excitement and warmth, and instantly I regret even doing it in the first place and wish I could bury myself under the sheets so that I didn’t have to come out until I forgot about last night.

It didn’t help that my head felt as though two mine workers were hammering at my brain trying to find gold. I found myself wincing at the pain amongst a number of other memories which I tried to forget. I knew that I had to get up soon for work, but the thought of even raising my head felt impossible and facing Vicky today, did nothing to encourage me to leave my white silk sheets. I closed my eyes, trying to focus on eradicating one problem in hope that would make any future plans easier to organise in my head. Firstly, I needed to locate some paracetamols. There was no way I was going to have an internal war with myself when I had a splitting headache. Slowly I sat up, instantly gripping my head when the throbbing intensified due to my elevation. Taking deep breaths, I slid out of bed and carefully made my way to the bathroom, remembering the floor pattern as rising my head to look directly in front of me, would have only made everything worse. After making my way to the bathroom safely, I opened the mirror cabinet and grabbed the only tablets in there.  Feeling far too awful to make another journey to the kitchen for a glass of water, I popped two pills into my mouth and gulped the water from the taps of the sink. Once the bitter pills made their way down my throat, the image of Vicky arose in my mind. What was I meant to do? How was I meant to act with her now? Did she ever consider that before throwing her lips on mine?

My forehead tightened as I remembered another detail from last night, I’m sure she mentioned she had felt attracted to me for a long time hence why she was unsure of how to behave with me? If I took what she said into consideration that would mean, from when I first arrived in the office she had started having feelings for me? It all seemed to surreal to believe. I could imagine telling Jonathan what had gone on yesterday and him turning around and blaming me for my boss kissing me. I scoffed thinking about Jonathan and instantly regretted it as the mine workers bounced around in my head, causing me to wince. Bloody Jonathan, how could we be in a steady relationship for a few years and the time when I start to progress in life, that is when he decides to give me an ultimatum? I looked at myself in the mirror, looking at the way my brows furrowed in annoyance and the way my mouth frowned as I thought about the way in which Jonathan failed to get in contact with me after I left for the job. After staring at myself for a few minutes, I realised that I had transferred my anger, shame and guilt to Jonathan. If he had been caring, if he had stuck by my side, maybe I wouldn’t have found myself here, clutching onto the rim of the porcelain sink, my head pounding and my heart racing after every thought of Vicky. I had no right to blame Jonathan, if anything he would laugh and say the infamous, ‘what did I tell you’ line – but who else could I blame?

I dragged my feet as I walked back to bed and gently sat on my bed. I grabbed my phone and noticed that soon enough if I didn’t start to make a move towards the shower, then I would have to call into work and let them know that I won’t be showing up. And even though every muscle in my body craved for me to get back underneath those sheets and get lost in my unconscious, something within me stopped me from doing so. I had to remain professional. Maybe because I was one of the youngest of the bunch at work (bearing in mind the team was all nearing the same age), but I felt I had more to prove. I was the one with the least experience, yet still managed to find myself in a position where someone who had years under their belt should have been. I had to prove not only to myself (and the imaginary Jonathan in my mind) but also to Vicky. I needed to show her that no matter the curveballs thrown my way, my head was still in the game and I would fulfil any promises I made.

With very slow movements, I made my way back to the bathroom and ran the hot water in the shower. Watching the water spray out of the mouth of the shower hose relaxed the miners in my head. I stripped out of my pyjamas and stepped into the shower slowly, enjoying the hot water beat against my skin. Breathing slowly, I thought about nothing apart from the water being sprayed against my skin – it was much needed. The silence, the calm because I knew after I left my apartment, I would have to face the storm I wasn’t prepared for.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It took longer than normal to get to work, but as I stepped through the glass doors of Building 59, and swiped my ID on the barrier sensor I knew that I had to put on a brave face. Even though I couldn’t think of anything better than hauling a taxi and returning home. Instead I put on a bright smile and walked out of the elevator meeting Kirsty, the receptionist by the welcome desk.
“Bloody hell, how do you do it?”
Paranoia claimed me as I tried to decipher what Kirsty had meant. Do what? Had Vicky gone around and told everyone we had shared a kiss yesterday night and now Kirsty was wondering how I could show my face in the office the next day? Too stunned to speak and too scared to hear what her next line was I stood in front of her in utter silence, bracing myself for her next words.
“I mean, we all drank so much yesterday, yet here you are looking like you never went out and got the best sleep ever.”
A nervous chuckle escaped my lips as I remembered that she too was there yesterday, dancing the hardest on the dance floor. I shrugged my shoulders whilst signing in.
“Trust me, I don’t feel as good as I look.”
“I wouldn’t have guessed that you felt like shit.” She said taking a long gulp of water, whilst taking a tablet. I waved her goodbye and made my way to my desk, dreading seeing Vicky as my desk was the closest to her office. I couldn’t face any awkward situation and didn’t think I had the energy to. Once I got to my desk, Eileen was first to greet me with a disgruntled face.
“I feel bloody terrible Rebecca…you know when you think to yourself ‘was it really worth it?’ – yeah that’s my thoughts now.” She said slightly perching on my desk.
“Yeah, I seriously contemplated coming into work today – I feel like absolute crap.” Eileen looked at me deeply and then shook her head.
“Would have never thought you have a hangover, you look too good to be feeling as crap and you say you feel.”
I chuckled slightly, booting up my computer. “Don’t us females try harder when we know we look even more worse than usual?”
“No honey, that is you only. How did get home anyway? I should have texted you, but I had to share a cab with the girls because I could barely stand once I left.”
“Just a taxi.” I said avoiding any eye contact, hoping she could notice the lie.
“Did you see Vicky, she left shortly after you and I thought she may have caught up to you?”
“Nope, didn’t see her. I got a taxi quickly lucky for me. Anyone get lucky yesterday?” I asked her hoping to get her to switch topics and talk more about herself and her experience yesterday night.
“Nah,” She said shaking her head and getting up from my desk, slowly making her way back to her desk. “sadly, I was banking on someone to get lucky…even a cheeky kiss would have been exciting!”

She turned from me and walked to her desk as I looked back at my monitor. If only she knew that a ‘cheeky kiss’ was shared last night, but between the two people she would have least thought would have shared an intimate meeting.

 

© All Rights Reserved by Sarah E. Balogun

The Hunt – Part 1

She sat frozen, watching Gabriel watch her. He was being sentenced to ten years in prison for domestic violence and numerous sexual assaults. She tried to ignore his glare, the way in which she was aware of the fierce fire that burned behind his expressionless face. She knew what that look meant and even as the security guards began handcuffing him, she felt more vulnerable than ever.
At first he tried to defend himself. Tried to lie and claim that Marina had wanted it too. The beating, the abuse, the constant verbal insults, in his mind she had wanted it…asked for it even. According to Gabriel, it was a mental thing, that somehow sexually excited her. Being dominated and oppressed was something that apparently gave her thrills.

He even continued to state the their daughter was planned, that she had begged for child, to extend their family and that he was more than happy to give his woman wha she desired. Marina shut her eyes remember how hard Gabriel had knocked her out that night, to awake the next morning naked on the floor beside her bed. She had almost left him then, she knew she had to get out before he had killed her. But, every time she was close to escaping, she realised the fear that wrapped itself around her was more than the one that was with her whilst she lived with Gabriel. She then knew leaving him scared her than being with him. It was that fear that had kept her grounded with Gabriel until Elina was born.
She was now bound to this man, he had not only tainted her, made her undesirable, but he had officially claimed her by giving her a child, whom she loved dearly. Two conflicting emotions with people who ran the same blood as each other, things as such was enough to confuse Marina and keep her with Gabriel. Through the abuse, the torment and the constant demeaning comments – this was what she knew, and that monster had given her a beautiful daughter, at times she found herself thanking him for Elina’s life.

She opened her eyes to see Gabriel walking away with the guards. But just before he disappeared from her sight, he turned and stared at Marina. No last words, or even a shift in his face, just a dead glare that Marina knew she wouldn’t forget anytime soon.
That was the last time Marina saw Gabriel, being handcuffed and taken away to serve ten years of his life behind bars…that was until now. Four years later and she had found herself just as tightly wolf up as she was when Gabriel had first entered this place. She sat on the uncomfortable plastic chair that was nailed to the ground, unable to move as the nerves was all too much for her to bare. Why had she decided to see him again? He’d asked for her to bring Elina, which Marina wholeheartedly disagreed with when she first received his letter. But what made her still come? What was it that Gabriel had said to bring her to this confined room, under the tight surveillance of the guards – back to the man who she was more than grateful was behind bars?

A door opened and in walked the inmates. Marina’s breath caught in her lungs as she remembered the letter she received from Gabriel. Asking her for her forgiveness, for a chance for him to explain his actions. Four years was a lot of time for someone to go over their behaviour and he now knew where he went wrong, he simply wanted to apologise. At first she refused to even consider going to see him, but after some thought she thought he deserved to explain his actions, maybe he could change. And he certainly had.
He was far more built from the last time she saw him, his shoulders broad and square almost looked too big for his jumpsuit. His chest was clearly visibly through his clothes as it pressed tightly on the material, showing her the definition of how much muscle he had gained through his four years of being in prison. He was bigger and more threatening compared to the Gabriel she once knew. What had she done? And was she truly ready to hear what he had to say to her now, whilst he was walking slowly towards her?

Her Secret – Part 1

Tala rolled up her sleeve, to check her watch for the third time that hour, 16:47. She knew Vince would eventually not show up, especially after the last public display they shared together. They hadn’t only embarrassed themselves, but had also highlighted their personal issues to their counsellor and anyone who had close proximity to her office door. She looked at Dr Bailey, who had a stack of reports across her desk. Aware of her gaze, Bailey looked up and gave Tala a smile, aware that time was passing by and Vince had not yet showed up to their appointment.

Tala reached for her phone, which was wedged in her pocket and tried Vince’s cell phone for another time, cursing softly under her breath when she was directed to his voicemail again. With her annoyance rising, she begun tapping her boots against the marble floor, trying to find a solution to what seemed to be a downward spiral that she had found herself to be apart of. Taking another sneak peek at her watch, she rolled her eyes knowing their appointment ended at five o’clock. She wasn’t even sure why she had waited for so long. She knew deep inside of herself that she should have taken her jacket and left as soon as Vince started playing hide ‘n’ seek. But she didn’t and it was because she was still scared of letting a relationship of nine years go to waste. She knew if she had walked out when she really wanted to, then she wouldn’t be returning. As soon as she stepped outside Bailey’s office, she would have finally given up on Vince and that wasn’t something she could do so easily after building a family with him; a family that she was bounded to. And for that reason alone, is what kept her sat in Bailey’s leather seats, constantly hoping Vince walked in.

She was never sure why she let Vince convince her in going to relationship counselling. She knew way before he did that their relationship had come to a sour end and all counselling did was make their issues more obvious. Instead of rebuilding their damaged bond, counselling in fact had strengthened Tala’s resentment towards Vince. Every night she’d found herself wondering what her life would have been like if she hadn’t met Vince that Friday night in the bar. If she hadn’t let his lies and façade paint false images of him for all those years, she probably won’t be sitting in a counsellor’s office waiting for a stranger to help solve her personal problems.

Thoughts about Vince always caused her teeth to clench in anger. If only she was smarter she would have noticed the signs from early, but love had blinded her to the point that every indication of his actual self was disregarded. Then she had Deanne and things started to change. The arguing wasn’t as frequent and their focus was on their first child together, they didn’t have time to notice each other’s faults. But of course she knew it was only a matter of time before old habits slipped through the cracks of their act. It was the little things he did that caused problems, never wanting her to leave the house, making her feel like a maid instead of a mother. She hadn’t even realised when she’d stopped communicating with her friends and family, must have been when she was still trying to please Vince and his unreachable needs. But it happened, and it meant that whenever things got too heavy for her, she had nowhere to run to apart from the bathroom, where she found herself frequently. In the same position every single time, crumpled to the ground next to the sink, crying until she felt better.

With things as bad as it was it surprised her when she found out she was pregnant again with Paige. She contemplated aborting Paige, shuddering as she feared her second baby would look at her with questions in her eyes, the same way Deanne’s had. But as soon as Vince found the pregnancy test in the bin, she was further constrained to him. So she’d brought another beautiful baby into a fragile and damaged home. There was no escape for her, because if she left she’d have to think about her daughters, think about them seeing their father, think about how they would feel, so for four years she sat, waiting till the moment was right. But it never was and here she was, sitting alone in Dr Bailey’s office.

The weight of the leather chair shifted slightly to the left side of Tala, pulling her out of her thoughts and back into reality. It was then she realised she was crying as Bailey held a box of Kleenex in her hands.

 

“Oh, excuse me Dr, I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be ridiculous Tala, you need no reason to apologise.”

 

Tala took a few tissues from the box and wiped the tears that had found their way down her face. It was bad enough that she sat here alone for so long but now she’d begun crying in front of Bailey, she took time to suppress her emotions before grabbing her jacket and leaving once and for all.

“I know you’re upset Tala, it’s obvious that there’s things you’re dealing with that you haven’t shared with anyone and it’s getting too much for you to handle by yourself.” Bailey moved closer to Tala, as Tala wrapped her arms around her body remembering how alien she was in her own family.

“I have no one to speak to…”

Her words trembled as they left her lips, feeling naked to her emotions she huddled more into herself. Taking note of her stance, Bailey moved close enough to Tala that she could embrace her, using her right arm as a belt, she gently held Tala as she remained hunched and pulled her softly towards herself. Allowing Tala to understand her presence was there for her.

“I’m here Tala. You can speak to me, you can tell me what’s truly bothering you, tell me the things you hide from the world. I’m here for you.”

It’s as though Bailey’s words were filled with a key that opened a door to Tala’s vulnerability. The more Bailey spoke, the more tears continued to fall from Tala’s face and into her laps. She hadn’t felt so naked before, she made sure she stayed strong in front of everyone, even if that meant she broke down almost every day privately, she was okay with that. But here she was, feeling like a child in her mother’s arms, just looking for some guidance.

Bailey moved the box of tissues to the table in front of them then faced Tala, feeling a wave of sadness rush through her own body seeing a grown woman cry uncontrollably because of her partner. She pulled Tala to sit up, unwrapped her arms and then held Tala’s hands. With tears still streaming down her cheeks, Tala felt embarrassed for letting Bailey witness her in such a state. She looked into Bailey’s eyes hoping for an answer, or an escape but saw nothing but big brown eyes stare right back at her.

“You don’t need to cry anymore Tala, things will get better for, I promise that.” Tala closed her eyes, her eyelashes wet from all the water and nodded, hoping Bailey’s words held more than truth but reality. She looked back at Bailey who’d watched her in pain. She didn’t want anyone’s pity, hating the feeling of being helpless, Tala released one of her hands from Bailey’s grip and made sure all tears that may still be visible was gone with the back of her hand.

“I’m sorry Dr, I should go, but…thank you.” Bailey smiled and surprisingly gave Tala a light hug. Stunned, Tala stared blankly at Bailey’s embrace. Not knowing what to do, she sat waiting for Bailey to let go, unsure of how she should take Bailey’s action, but she didn’t move. Involuntarily she found herself resting her head on Bailey’s shoulder and for once allowing herself to be looked after. She couldn’t help but enjoy the feeling of someone truly caring for her, a feeling that had become so foreign to her. She hugged Bailey back, hoping that everything she was going through was a dream and that she’d wake up and everything would return to normal.

She felt Bailey’s chest rise and fall against her own, taking note of the amount of breaths she took, noticing how her fingers penetrated warmth on her spine and how her hair smelt fresh. Something about the way Bailey was, made Tala feel safe. She didn’t want to leave the microcosm she privately built with Bailey, because she wasn’t sure when she’d return. She hummed silently as her reality slipped away and she found herself lost in Bailey’s touch. Bailey’s fingers circulated against Tala’s spine leaving small flames everywhere she touched, causing Tala to draw closer to Bailey.

Bailey knew this was beyond what a normal counsellor would do for her client, but seeing Tala wait for her husband and then surprisingly start crying had triggered something deep within Bailey. Tala deserved more, she definitely deserved better, and it pained Bailey to know she could do nothing but sing empty promises in her ear. After a few minutes, she loosened her embrace on Tala. It may have felt like the right thing to do, but she was not ready to lose her job over a woman who’s husband barely cared for her.

When their eyes locked Tala felt a surge run through her. She wanted to crawl back into Tala’s arms, she wanted to remain there until things had gotten better, Bailey seemed like a secure place to lay her nest and that was what she wanted to do. But she had never felt like that with anyone. She wasn’t even completely sure if it was a sexual emotion or just raw emotions getting placed in wrong categories. But after staring at each other for longer than necessary, Tala grabbed her jacket and rushed for the door – feeling so vulnerable and exposed, she knew the only place she wanted to be was in her bathroom.

Bailey watched as Tala rushed out, trying to ignore what she knew she felt, as it was beyond inappropriate. She closed her door behind Tala and sat back at her desk, her heart beating against her chest hard. She felt her chest, disbelieving the way in which her heart seemed to crash into her when she felt the pebble beneath her shirt. Looking down ever so slightly, she saw her nipples were erect. She never mixed her personal life with work, but that hug had overstepped the mark and now Bailey knew she was going to have to have the upmost restraint if she ever met Tala again. Because Bailey not only understood her pain and wanted to resolve it, but she wanted to be the reason why Tala smiled and the way Tala held onto her, she knew Tala wanted the same.

Toxic – Part 5

Josh hadn’t spoken to me for the rest of the time we were at the house. Avoiding my touch, my gaze and any interaction with me. It hurt, but I was aware of what I had done the night before and forced any type of pity deep within myself. We drove to his parent house in silence, not in the radio could drown out the awkward tension between us. I could tell Josh didn’t believe everything I had said to him back at the house, but the mere thought that his wife could have slept with her best friend or his brother was probably too much to bare, so silence was his only option.

He’d wore a nice grey snug knitted jumper, with dark black jeans and dessert boots. I’d worn a presentable dress, that came to down to my calves and plain black ballerinas. My intention was not to stand out this evening, my plan was to be as invisible as possible. Say my ‘hi’s’ and remain as quiet as possible, I had already made a fool of myself today, there was no need for me to do anymore.
Josh had parked outside of his parents home and took a deep breath. He looked at me as if wanting to say something but thought better of it, he turned his gaze away from me and proceeded to get out of the car, without saying a word to me. Tears welled up in my eyes, but knowing I didn’t have the right or time to be emotional, I wiped the strayed tears that had fallen out of my eyes and composed myself.

I stepped out of the car and waited for Josh to lock it before following his lead. Before we’d gotten to the door, Josh had grabbed my hand with such force that it hurt. There was no affection in the way he took my hand, if anything the force of his hand crushed into my wedding ring finger, which pressed into my other fingers, squeezing them tightly till they rubbed on each other, rubbing onto the bone. With a little wince, he knocked on the door and before a second went by, the door swung open and there stood his sister, Anabelle.

“Joshie!”
Josh threw my hand backwards as he embraced his younger sister. Ana was only 23 and was one of my bridesmaid at me and Josh’s wedding. She always seemed to make me laugh and understand me in a way that always shrouded her true age – almost making her a chameleon to anyone she came into contact with.
“Anabelle, how you been?”
He swung her around lovingly.
“Great! Hi Sash!”
She jumped off of her older brother and gave me a tight squeeze. She stepped back and allowed us to enter. The house was modern. Wooden floor boards surrounded by cream walls with family photos hung chronologically on the wall gave the house the ambience of love and warmth. It was what defined it from a standard house to a loving home. We entered the living room, and out bursted a room full of people. Young and old, everyone sat mingling with each other.

“Josh how have you been?”
His mother kissed his cheek twice affectionately whilst his father made his way to me, giving me a bear hug.
“Good to see the lovely Mrs Fletcher again.”
With a tight lipped smile, I hug his mother who welcomes me just as warm as her husband. For a long time after our little greeting with Josh’s parents, I simply follow Josh. I watch him greet his family that he hasn’t seen in a long time and others he barely recognises. Soon it’s dinner and we’re all packed around his dining table that has been extended, so that everyone is able to have a seat. I sit between Josh and Anabelle, and find myself staring at the empty plate on the table in front of me because it seems Josh has, when possible, ignored me and placed all his attention on his family at each opportunity given to him. The door bell rings and Anabelle rushes to open the door. Moments later, we’re all welcomed by the sight of Mike, who has managed to find my gaze before anyone else’s.

Stood confidently at the doorway of the kitchen, wearing a plain white shirt, tight enough to show off his physique with smart black trousers, sends images of my hands trailing over his chest the night before. I looked back at the empty plate before me whilst Mike walked round greeting everyone. I tried to ignore the tingle I felt deep within myself, but the closer Mike was getting to me, the more I felt my heart race and my legs tightened shut together. I felt Josh’s chair scrape out as he rose to hug his brother. They both gave each other a firm pat on the back, which didn’t last enough for me to compose myself. So I decided staying seated was my best option. Mike bent down to hug me, wrapping his strong arm around my neck as our cheeks touched each other briefly – but enough to spark a flame within me. I made sure my face didn’t replicate the feelings I felt within me, the tension that was becoming almost too much for me to bare, the way in which my insides had tightened to a tight ball waiting for Mike’s touch to unravel it. I took a deep breath as his arm unwrapped from my neck and he moved to the next family relative.

“Oh Mike why don’t you sit next to mum!”
Anabelle offered as there was no other available seat apart from the one opposite my seat. Mike was going to decline, but when he realised he had no option, he gave Anabelle a small smile and pulled the seat beside his mother out and took his position. I looked back at the only place I seemed to have found solace today, wishing I was anywhere but here when Josh randomly reached for my hand and this time, with more care, started to caress my skin gently, ever so slightly rolling his finger across my wedding ring as he watched Mike greet his father.

© All Rights Reserved by Sarah E. Balogun