"She had come from a line of women who were neglected, used up, chewed up."

stories

Pernisha Gaines

portraitWriter Pernisha Gaines attends West Los Angeles College part-time, and plans to earn a B.A. in Communication from Cal State Dominguez Hills. Through her spontaneous, poetic writing style, she attempts to capture the hearts and minds of her readers. As a writer, she has two goals: not to become predictable in terms of style, and to write about topics that are both relatable and relevant to all of her readers.


All of It Lost

It was definitely one dangerous game to be playing. We had been seen together several times, but my heart didn’t care what my head was telling me. It pounds and beats heavily like a drum to a deep rhythm when I see him. It’s cold and rainy this afternoon, but by the nighttime I would not have to worry about where my shield of warmth would come from. I never second-guessed it, and he never disappointed. I was so deep, and I was asking for it. I banged on the doors of hurt and betrayal. I faced it every other night, every other weekend, and in my thoughts before going bed while lying next to someone else. I was banging on hell’s door so hard that my hands were becoming swollen as if I were in a punching match with the enemy. I had made it this way, and I was loving every moment of my creation. They say wrong things usually feel the best, and I was definitely parading around in roses where no one else would be allowed to join, but him.

When I was younger, I wanted love like this. A love that my mother never had and a love my sisters could never receive. My mother had never known my father. As of matter of fact, she never knew any of our fathers. She had come from a line of women who were neglected, used up, chewed up, and then spat out like a stale piece of moldy bread, and then stepped on--as if the men were horses and she lived as an ant. I didn’t understand her or her sisters. They were all disgusting little tramps and they seemed to only know how to be that way. Men never saw anything in them. Regardless of how much they begged and pleaded, or pleased, they just were not good enough. I was only seven years old when my youngest aunt, Heira, came running over to my mom’s shackled-up, dirty apartment yelling, screaming, and crying in agony. Another baby she had removed, and from another man she hadn’t known. I remember my mother grabbing my arm really tight as though she were about to swing me like I was her bat. Instead, she shoved me in the room. No television, just dark, no lights except the one from the hall reflecting from the kitchen. She slammed the door shut, but that wouldn’t keep me from intruding. I slowly cracked open my door, making sure it didn’t make any sounds that would give me away. I could see everything in plain sight. My Aunt Heira was on the floor, sobbing, and could hardly catch her breath. It looked like an asthma attack had caught her, or at least that’s what I had thought at the time. She was bent over in my mother’s lap, looking up to her with waterfalls in her eyes as if to find the answer to the question “Why?” Her face was red, the best red for coloring lipstick on a princess in a book. My older sisters were gone at the time. I don’t remember where they were, but could imagine now that they were probably in the beginning of a similar situation as Aunt Heira. My mother didn’t care too much for discipline; the money was all that counted. It was so cold in that room, and lonely, but I felt the loneliest when my mother and sisters were all at the house. I could not relate to any of them. I was eight years younger than my twin sisters, and 40 years younger than my mother. Aunt Heira was a few years younger than my mother, and I grew up knowing her for running into my mother’s house hysterically very often. All of the other sisters had control over their emotions. They knew what to expect and how to react accordingly. It was a game that I never had any intention of playing. I was better than that, and made it obvious. I was doing much better than them; I had too. I had owned a vow, a promise, with the ability to have my cake on the side.

Unfortunately, I loved one man and was in love with the other. I was dishonest with Neal from the beginning, before our marriage. I had shown him a complete opposite version of myself, and knew that one day all of my efforts would pay off. I only talked about things I knew about when I was around him, and I kept them exciting enough for him to be interested. I kept him up to date on the hottest new clothing trends, what new music would soon hit the radio from underground artists, and how each fast car has its own sexy attitude. He thought I loved those things, but in actuality I knew nothing about anything else.

Thanks to mother I knew nothing else. She had raised me until junior high school. When I turned 13 years old, her attitude became nastier at the idea of having a preteen in her house who wouldn’t “work."  I would do all that I could not to report home after school; stay over a friend's house late, go sit in the park until the street lights came on, or even watch the boys basketball team practice in the gym. I attempted to join one of the after-school, extracurricular activities, but my grades were not high enough. I was a ‘C’ trailing a ‘D’ average student. My GPA would remain this way until my fourth year of high school, when I had dropped out, and then I would continue to shoot from house to house, staying with friends and some leftover family just to have a place to rest my head for a few weeks. I never kept a job long enough to be promoted, but I did keep one long enough to meet Neal.

My confidence was as tall as the Solar System, and it had to be if I was going to catch this financially stable man. I was 24 years old, working as a cashier at Richard’s Tuxedos in the mall. I had told Neal I was the store manager and that “if you need anything at all, you know where to find me--I will be waiting!” He smiled and would visit the store more regularly after our encounter. Nothing was special about him. He was average looking, but based on the money he spent in the store I knew all I needed to know. He walked like money, smelled like money, and was my ticket. Eventually, after one of my short spills about where he could “find me," he slipped me his business card, and when he left the store with his bags I quickly put in my two weeks’ notice. I wasn’t sure about how I would keep Neal, but I had intended to slave well enough for him and his money. I made him fall in love with who he had known. I was finally wanted, and I was someone’s somebody at the end of it all.

Over the next few years my life changed drastically in every financial way possible. Life with Neal was a shopping spree. I had bank accounts with my name on them, a heavy ring on my finger, and a husband that adored all of “me."  But now there are consequences that come with my desires. My Golden Ticket wants children. He begs with a bark morning and night. I refused to have my bon voyage split in two, or even three for that matter. Neal was always away on business deals and "schmills" I could care less about, but when he came home the clock struck twelve again. At the end of every argument I waited for my favorite line from him, “I’m leaving for the night. Just promise me you will think about it?” My promises were broken every time. Although I never begged him to leave, he did some justice for me and Thomas. Quickly after Neal left, I’d run and call my escape. Everything felt good with him, except the times where I would have to text because his “other half” might be present. I had met her many times. She comes into Neal’s second office at the other end of the city, looking like hot chocolate on a winters’ day just to drop off closed business deals on paper, in plastic. She reminded me of my relationship with Neal, strictly business. But her husband wasn’t as conservative; he enjoyed having fun. At the Neal & Associates Award Ceremony, I caught Thomas eyeing me, sitting next to Ms. Godiva, who was too focused on the attendees and not the husband next to her. He winked, and I walked to the ladies' room. Leaning up against the wall waiting, I waited anxiously as the door knob turned. I only remembered two things about that night--how soft his touch was, and how strong his words were. Since then, I’ve been Ms. Nestlé’s shadow, using every moment we have together to make my mark and be memorable.

The kings of my world were very incompatible. Thomas would never mop or bark like Neal. He was exciting, confident, and spontaneous, (the perfect balance to my headache at home). If my husband was in town we would take mini vacations; out of town made us spend moments at my house. Sometimes we did absolutely nothing. We’d lay next to each other in the guestroom eating popcorn and sipping wine all day; it was perfect. He is amazing. He smiles, brightening up my life with each curl to his lips. His words are rocks that the weak cannot move. His stare is my drug, keeping me on my knees yearning for him. His dimples are deep enough for my eyes to swim in. When he wraps his arms around me, I can’t control the feelings that come next. They stay with me long after he is gone, and he knows it. No one can tell me this feeling is no good. I was dancing in a million bucks at minimum. I loved my life and everything in it, except Neal’s idea of bread snatchers. He was trying to ruin my high, and I could not let that happen. I needed to get even with him, so I shut him out. He only heard “Hi” and “bye” from me, but later he would hear nothing. In bed, he was not allowed to touch me. I wore the best to sleep in, or better, nothing at all. I wanted him to leave me alone on the baby idea all together, and the only way to do that was to force him into hell.

The house had gotten hotter and hotter, reaching well over one hundred degrees. I started leaving on trips with Thomas without his knowing. For days I would be gone with no communication with Neal. Thomas and I became a little more open in public with our relationship, and I didn’t care who would see. I was basking in all of my mess, wearing high heels and a little red dress. Neal’s frustration started to kick in, but I didn’t bulge. I continued to swim in muddy waters. That night, I came home and it was very dark inside, very cold. I flipped on the kitchen light to see me and Neal on the counter kissing and dining. I smiled, kissed the photo, and sunk in what would be my last moments with him. My husband was done playing my little game with me, and these black and white photos had proven it. I was now at risk of losing everything: Neal’s money, the house, my job, and Thomas--for good. I walked into the guest room, showered, and went into the bedroom my husband was in. He was an alligator, awake and quiet. I could feel tension between our sheets, so I stayed quiet until he would calm his storm. It had only gotten worse. I drifted into a pleasant dream where Neal was kissing me, saying goodbye. I tried to wake up, but felt something forcing me down. I couldn’t catch my breath, scream, or yell. The last two seconds of my life, my eyes opened to see Neal removing his body and a pillow from my face. I had lost it; all of it.

He didn’t want to do it. But a heart so cold and unrevealing forced devastation that only one close enough to experience would see. A hazy connection between a relation of what the chest yearns for the most; love. He, unable to read the signs of what was written, and casts as what is supposed to be until the until. Several months where life is only agony, disruption, and destruction; living in a dream that heart enthusiasts would reveal as a nightmare. The look of what no longer exists and tears that never fall, but held captive for ransom for a wish to be fulfilled, which would never occur. What was is now lost, not up for retrieval, as though finding it would be swimming in dark waters where no light existed; he sensed it. A picture can tell many tales, and at the same time tell the truths to the unbelievable; it was her. Her awaking every morning was a disgusting reminder of what was already confirmed and wouldn’t pass. Herself intensified, but not shared with the matching ceremony band holder. He’d watch; before exiting to a daily routine made for singles, she was flawless. Message on repeat: “Hi, you’ve reached the voicemail of Mrs. Neal Woods. I will be out of the office all day for the next several days.” Unable to live out the passion of being wanted and carry on traits of sacredness to what is no longer love, but a distant bond from one state to another with no traveling method. She lay there, cold in an invaded home as he watched and felt his relief; the tears finally flowed, pouring out like water hoses on burning houses. Soon, the reality will be recognized as nothing has been saved.

The waterfalls were running like a wild river down his face. His eyes were a thick blood red. He sat on the other side of the bed with his head in his hands howling. He was confused, beat, tired, and was finally done with his ongoing battle. He sat in silence to hear a breath from her, but there was nothing. He turned towards her to touch her arm, but it was cold. Hours had passed. He shook her lightly. Then he created an earthquake with her arm; the entire bed shook. There was nothing. His entire face had turned red and his body started to shake uncontrollably. He froze and felt his heart beating him like a bag of bricks to his chest. He fell to his knees. “What have I done? WHY?!?” He dressed her, made her into a porcelain doll, and she was beautiful once again (exactly the way he’d met her). He smiled, crying, and then hesitated to call the police. Moments later, he saw what looked like fireworks and a circus surrounding his house. Five knocks on the door before he was escorted off the premises. There was a chill in the air. He looked back at the castle one last time and saw what seemed to be a powdered woman standing over his wife’s body being carried out in a black bag. He could feel her embrace while she said goodbye floating like a cloud. His life was gone.


Editor: LinckeN@WLAC.edu | West Los Angeles College | 9000 Overland Ave, Culver City CA 90230 | www.wlac.edu
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