I had knocked Charisse’s ass out. She was snoring like a security guard on the midnight shift. Unfortunately, sleep did not come as easily for me. I still felt anxious with the wedding only one week away. Couldn’t shake the feeling something might go wrong and I wouldn’t get my queen down the aisle, as crazy as she’d been acting—at least not without a shotgun and a case of Grey Goose. I could see the love in her eyes 99 percent of the time, but that 1 percent—her thinly veiled fear—might prove more than even I could overcome.
Hmph, maybe I should’ve told her.
Some of my anxiety might’ve emanated from my own guilt, as much as her fear. The one-night stand was nothing. Happened before Charisse and I even thought about getting together. She wouldn’t care, would she? Not now. Not knowing how much I love her.
I tossed the remote control on the bed and scanned the nightstand for something to read. I’d left the latest issue of Jet magazine in the bathroom and feared my weak noodle legs might fail me. Puttin’ Charisse out always drained me. So, I grabbed an issue of Zaina Humphrey’s magazine—Charisse’s second bible—and flipped through the pages.
I yawned repeatedly as I flipped through, wondering why women bought these stupid magazines. Clothes. Perfume ads. Shoes. More clothes. Who cares? Zaina needed to get a “Z” beauty, some phat centerfold bikini model. That’s how you get men to read these things.
Nearly ready to give up and go get my first choice, I noticed an article that caught my eye, only because Charisse had drawn a letter X across the page from corner to corner. “Daddyless Girls: Women Who Grow Up Without Fathers and How They Cope.” I read the article with microscopic intensity. Some words leapt off the page . . . “sense of abandonment . . . feels unworthy” . . . “low self-esteem . . . attracted to emotionally unavailable men (like the absentee dad)” . . . “trust issues, even in healthy relationships . . . fear of commitment.”
I understood going into this relationship that Charisse was coming in with some emotional baggage. After all, she’d nearly been raped as a teenager. And the cousin she regarded as a brother stood by and let her get attacked. But until reading the article, I had no idea how her rocky, all-but-nonexistent relationship with her father had probably impacted her too. Whatever she said or didn’t say about him, her father’s absence still bothered her. Otherwise why would she even bother marking across this particular article?
Anytime I dared to mention the man’s name, especially as the wedding approached, her entire demeanor soured, her words turned to acid, but her eyes were filled with hurt. She’d been harboring some serious hate.
My father died from lung cancer, but I couldn’t imagine growing up without him in my life. His presence had meant the difference between my growing up to become any old kind of man, and a good man, even though we often bumped heads. Since my father passed away, I’d have given my own life to have him back for a day, just one day, to tell him I loved him once again. Someday, Charisse would regret letting the rift between her and her father fester for so long. I wanted to help them heal their relationship. I was determined to find a way.
© 2012 K. L. Brady