"I am like coffee with cream in it, with brown hair that won’t grow past my shoulders."

stories

Chanelle Martin

Chanelle Martin attends West Los Angeles College, where she enjoys taking courses that allow her to write creatively. In her works, she strives for verisimilitude, to create characters that seem real and are relatable to most readers.


Enlightened

The party was over, and the limousine moved slowly out into the jam-packed streets. I rested my head on the back seat, staring out of the window. What a relief! I balled up my fist just to stop my hands from shaking. I felt good. I did the right thing. My mind wandered back inside the party. He should have known it wouldn’t go his way. How stupid is he? How stupid am I to deal with him as long as I did….both of them, my so-called friend, for that matter. Seeing him dance with her was one thing, seeing him kiss her was another. Without a word, I walked away. Yet he followed me, grabbing my arm…

“What happened?”

I looked at the rear view mirror and my eyes connected with my driver’s.

“Nothing, everything is fine.” I replied.

I closed my eyes and thought about how the ring had hit the mirror behind the bar. Wow, who would have thought I could throw that far?

“Why are you rubbing your arm?” he asked.

Good grief, can’t he just drive the car?

“What? I’m fine.” What is his problem?

“You’ve never been quite ‘fine’ since you were eight years old.” Wow! The nerve of him!

“Ok, that’s cute. Let me just tell you that I’ve wised up, smelled the coffee, caught a clue….need I say more?

“Did he hurt you?” he asked quietly.

I rubbed my arm, but shook my head, “I’m okay, I’m better than that…I’m free.”

“Ice Cream?” My eyes connected with his once again.

Seriously!?! “I am not EIGHT; take me home.”

The twinkle in his eyes warmed my heart.

...

My mother walked out on us last year with the explanation that we didn’t quite understand her. She left me, my sister and father. Of the three of us, I believe I’m the one who cares the least. My mother is self-centered and ungrateful. My father couldn’t do enough for her, yet she left anyway. My sister adores her, and that’s okay.  I love her, but have no adoration for her. My father is a hardworking man; he is someone that I would praise in a minute only because I know he has a true heart. He supports us, takes care of us, and loves us unconditionally. She, on the other hand, can have no heart if she could leave that easily.  But I want to tell her I’m free. I’d like to tell her that she was right about him…

“Did you finish your project?” I opened my eyes and looked up.

“Thanks Dad, I finished it two days ago.”

“That’s good; you should get inside; it's getting cold.”

September has some cool nights, I thought, as I sat up in the patio chair.

“I’m okay for now; I’m reflecting on what it’s like to be single and free.” I smiled up at him.

“Good for you, don’t get sick doing it.” He strolled away. I rested my head back onto the chair.

Maybe this is when I miss her. I stood up and stretched. I turned and looked at the big house, a house full of beautiful things, and missing a beautiful woman. The crisp blades of grass whipped between my toes as I made my way back into the massive house. Once inside, my eyes connected with the foyer mirror. I stared at my reflection. I looked like my mother. I had her oval face and her chestnut-colored, almond-shaped eyes. I had her large breasts, her small waist, and her thick, long legs. Whereas my mother was the color of cocoa with long dark hair, I am like coffee with cream in it, with brown hair that won’t grow past my shoulders. But I’m fine with it, I am fine with me, I’m just fine. I have a lot of my father in me, and the mix of the two of them makes me who I am.

“You need me tomorrow, Alicia?" I looked over my shoulder at my driver, Roger.

“No, I’m driving in.  Where’s Lola? Did she stay over?” I asked him, hoping the answer would be yes.

“No, your mom has a doctor’s appointment tomorrow, so Lola’s here. I just dropped her off.”

“Why is she going to the doctor?” I asked him.

“I didn’t ask; goodnight.”

“Wait, Uncle Roger. What do you mean you 'didn’t ask'?"

“If you want to know something about your Ma, call her and ask her.” He left.

What kind of brother is he? He’s a great driver, owning his own limo company and all, but…

I ran up the stairs shouting, “Lolaaaaaaa…!”

I found her in her bathroom holding a towel over her face.

“Are you crying?” I asked, swinging her around to face me.

“What happened?” I screamed.

“Seriously, are you crazy?? I’m washing my face,” Lola says, twisting away from me.

“Oh sorry…so what’s happening tomorrow… I have my presentation, you know,” I said.

“Good for you.  Now can I finish washing my face?” Did she roll her eyes at me?

“Fine…um, I heard Mom’s going to the doctor tomorrow.”

“And?” Lola brushed past me, entering her bedroom.

“Just asking…well, good night.” I walked out of her room.

“It’s not like you care.” I heard her, but kept walking.

Lola is a piece of work. She’s quick to throw jabs at me about our mother, the mother that left us. The mother that left her while she’s still in high school. Who does that? But I’m the bad guy. She could have offered why Mom has a doctor’s appointment because if I recall she just had her physical. At least I asked; beyond that I’m not going to let it bother me. Lola thinks she’s mommy’s little girl, yet she still lives with daddy. Mommy surely didn’t take her baby with her when she left.

...

When I wake up my room is dark. My phone is vibrating on my night stand. I pick up the phone, sliding it back under the covers to find my ear.

“Hello?” I mumble.

“Don’t hang up on me, please.” It was him, determined to cage me once again.

I do just that.  I hang up. I fumble to turn my phone off, and I close my eyes.

“Alicia, wake up.” My eyes fly open; I peeked over my covers to see my father about to pull on my toes. I quickly pulled my feet into my thighs and mumbled, “Get out, I’m up.” Covers back over my head.

“You’re usually up earlier than this; you didn’t set your alarm?” he asked. I peeked out from under the covers.

“I got a call in the middle of the night and turned it off.” I sat up, rubbing my eyes.

“Him?” he asked.

“Who else?” I said.

“Well, I have to go to work, so get up and out and good luck today.”

“Thanks, Daddy, have a good day.”

The warm beads of water awakened my senses. I closed my eyes and felt the beads splatter against my face and my chest. I could stay in here all day, I thought. But my mind wandered to the office and my brilliant presentation. I quickly exited the shower, lathered my body with lotion, blow dried my hair, flat ironed it, put on my underwear, pulled on my panty hose, my cream colored blouse, my navy pant suit, my Rolex watch Daddy got me for Christmas for good luck, slipped on my Louboutin’s, and left for the office.

The weather was great as I headed into the building. The sun warmed my skin. My gait was steady and confident as I walked into the office. My cell rings. It was him. Seriously? I’m about to showcase my talent, and this man cannot leave well enough alone.

“What do you want?” I rushed out.

“You, can you please listen to what I have to say?”

“No, I won’t, so don’t call me again.” I pushed the end button, turned off the phone, and headed to the boardroom to do what I do best.

My phone vibrated in my purse as I headed out of the office.

Lola whispered in my ear, “I think Mom is pregnant.”

I stopped in my tracks. This girl drives me crazy. She takes a perfectly good day and tries to ruin it with nonsense.

“Are you delusional?” I whispered back. I looked around to make sure no one heard me. I wanted no one to hear this ridiculous conversation.

“Well, I think she is; you need to get over here now!” She hung up. Really? First off, I have no idea where HERE is. Second, if it’s at my mother’s house, I won’t be going. I maneuver my BMW out of the parking garage and head south to my house. I take out my phone and dial my uncle Roger.

“What’s going on, princess?”

“Where are you, and where is your sister?” I waited for his sarcastic reply.

“Ohhh, my sister, huh? Well your mother is at home, why?”

“Never mind, I’ll talk to you later.” I hung up on him and made a U-turn, heading north to her house. I wouldn’t dare ask my uncle if he knew if his 45-year-old sister was pregnant. I called Lola back to ask where she was.

“I’m at school, just finishing up cheerleading practice.”

“Really?” I shout out. “So why say get over here, why say you think…?” She cut me off.

“I need you to pick me up and we’ll go and confront her.”

“What?!?” This girl is crazy. “I will not, and where and how do you come up with this stuff?”

“Look, Miss Snooty, Bougie, or whatever you call yourself, if you paid attention to someone other than yourself, you’d know something was going on.” Oh really? If I hang up on her she’ll just call back.

“Listen to me, think what you want about me, don’t care, but I’m not going near her. For a person who doesn’t call, never asks about me…”

“Who says she doesn’t?” Lola asked. ”What if she has cancer, what if she’s dying?  Do you even care?  You’re horrible!”

“I’m horrible? She’s our mother, and she left us.  What did we do to her?” I screamed.

“I don’t know,” Lola whispered. She was shutting down.

“Look, I’ll be over there in a bit.  Be ready to get in the car or I’ll take off.” I hung up.

What is going on? Fueled by curiosity and angerm I stepped on the gas pedal a little harder while looking around for the police. I sighed in relief when I pulled up to the curb and saw Lola standing there.

“Are you okay?” I asked her as she got into the car.

“Let’s just go.”

“Are you going to tell me where you got the idea that she’s pregnant?” I asked her.

“Crazy, huh? Well, she told me she was nauseous all the time and felt sick, and then I called her after appointment, and she said she was resting and couldn’t talk.”

“Sounds pregnant to me.” I shake my head.

“Well, let’s see if you can get an answer out of her,” Lola said.

I’m not sure I want an answer or even care about one. But I kept that to myself. I stood behind Lola at our Mother's apartment door. The complex was nice, and it was gated, but it made me wonder again why she would prefer to be here than at home. I never asked her, and I knew my parents had disagreements, but to leave and to just tell us we don’t understand her? I don’t get it. Lola knocked harder on the door, and it flew open. She answered the door in her pink bathrobe and pink slippers. Our favorite color. Well, we wouldn’t wear it outside…

“Hi, Mommy.” Lola wrapped her arms around Mom’s neck. Mom faced me, and her eyes met mine. They were beautiful eyes. Lola pulled her inside; I could do nothing but follow.

“Well this is unexpected,” she said.

They took a seat on the sofa; I chose a chair by the window. The sun was starting to melt into the horizon, and the view was beautiful.

I turned and looked at her, “Are you pregnant?” Point blank, I asked her.

She almost choked on her laugh. “What? Where on earth would you get that idea?”

I looked directly at the culprit, and so did she.

“Lola, are you serious?” she asked.

“Well, then what’s wrong with you? You said you were nauseous, and when I was over here you stayed in the bed. Only pregnant people get nauseous,” Lola whined.

“And only smart people have brains, too.” I couldn’t help myself.

“Well, I’m pretty smart because I got you over here, and you said you would never come.” Did she really have to go there?

“All right, not pregnant, anything else going on health-wise?” I look at my mother as I pick up my purse and rise to get up.

“How was your presentation?” She asked me. I didn’t move.

“Forget her presentation, she’s rude.  Leave then...!”

“Lola, be quiet," my mother said.

I didn’t want to be in this place, yet I didn’t want to leave. I felt my hands starting to shake, my nervousness kicking in. I hate confrontations.

“Lola, you need a ride home?” I asked quietly.

“Alicia, I’m fine.  Girls, I am fine. I had my physical a while back, and everything was fine. I think the nausea is coming from starting menopause or something.  I’m starting to get hot every now and then, and it’s annoying. That’s all. I discussed it with the doctor. I’m okay.” She stood up as if to walk us to the door. That’s what I remember about her: She won’t argue with you; she won’t try to change your perception. I’m not sure I was ready to go. I looked at Lola, her eyes as round and as sad as I once remembered.

“My presentation went well.” She turned and looked at me.

“Oh, that’s wonderful.”

“What would be more wonderful is if you would explain to us why you really left? It’s been a year, and to be honest, I don’t really know. Did Daddy cheat on you?”

She averted her eyes, and my heart sunk. He wouldn’t have. He wouldn’t have. Lola started to tear up. I felt moisture in my eyes, but I willed myself to probe more.

“When?” I was in her face. I almost asked why, and thought about my situation.

She got close enough to take my hands into hers.

“He didn’t. I was lied to. I assumed much, and I left.” Her eyes crinkled at the corners, and I knew she was smiling. What did she have to smile about?

“What are you smiling about; who lied to you?” Her pained expression returned, and she led me over to the sofa and sat between the two of us.

“Look girls, I made a mistake that I can’t take back, and I’m fine with that. My only concern is your happiness. I haven’t been there for you, maybe out of embarrassment, I don’t know. But I’m here; and I’m just trying to exist…”

“Who lied to you? Tell me.”

“No, it is what it is, and that person is long gone.” She turned to me and rubbed my hand. “I’m so proud of you. You knew when to leave your situation and you had proof in front of your eyes. I saw nothing, and look where I am.”

“Mom, you’re the one who showed me what to look for, and I saw it,” I said.

“Well, you’re free now.  He was too controlling anyway, whether he was cheating or not.”

I laughed out loud, one because she said I was free, two because he would have never controlled me. Not me.

...

I left my mother’s apartment still a bit confused. I wanted to know who lied to her and who was long gone. I thought to stop by my uncle’s house to ask him for details when I smelled rain in the air. I looked back at her building, feeling helpless. Driving in rain is like almost drowning to me, so I headed home. Lola decided to stay, which was a relief because I had no more answers to whatever was going on. I started my engine as my eyes darted to the rearview mirror in my car and I drove away.

Inside the house it’s dark and cool like the air had been on and was recently turned off. I looked around for my father, but there were no signs of him. The emptiness of the massive house hit me like a ton of bricks. A house is not a home unless you have someone to share it with, a saying that was part my growing up. I missed my mother; more than that, I missed my parents. The sound of the doorbell made me jump. It was late; I knew where Lola was, and my father had a key. I peeked through the peep hole and saw my uncle's distorted head and laughed as I opened the door.

“You have a huge noggin.” He smacked me on my arm and walked straight into the kitchen. “No coffee. What’s a house without coffee??  Huh?”

“She made that for you and daddy, at night at that.  Never understood it.” I grinned at him. “I’ll make you a cup.”

“Nah, that’s okay.  Just came by to check on you girls…you do know you hung up on me earlier, right?”

I laughed. “That was not me.” I hopped onto the counter. “By the way, Lola’s at moms.”

Watching him closely, I asked. “Do you know where daddy is?”

“Yeah, he’s at the studio; I dropped him off. I think they’re in post-production or something.”

“No, I think they already wrapped that one up.  They’re in pre-production on the new film. Are you going to drive your limo in this one, too?” I teased. He laughed.

“Why did you call earlier?  You sounded upset.”

I looked directly into his eyes. “Who lied to Mom?”

He shrugged. “About what?”

“About something, I don’t know, you tell me.”

He pulled up a chair, spun it around and sat down. I had a lot of questions, and if anyone knew the answers it would be Uncle Roger. He was my mother’s younger brother and my father’s good friend. He took me and Lola anywhere we wanted when he could if I didn’t feel like driving. He had no children, and he chose to spoil us and be there for us.

“I went to see Mom today with Lola, and we talked.” I waited.

“That’s good.” He nodded.

“Well, I asked her about, you know, her moving out and why.”

He just looked at me. “Anyway, she said she was lied to…what did she mean?” I asked.

“If you talked, then why ask me?”

“Uncle Roger, she didn’t give the details.  She pretty much went around it, so I’m asking you.”

“Well, it’s not my place to say.” He started to get up. I jumped down off the counter, pushing him back down in the chair. “Just tell me.  Did Daddy cheat on her?”

I heard a sigh. He looked up, “No, not to my knowledge.”

“Well, tell me, please.  Lola and I are and have been in the dark; shed some light, please.” I didn’t want to sound like a kid, and I felt like I was whining. I took a deep breath and asked again, “Please?”

“I’m sure you remember Audrina. right?”

I nodded. ”Yes, you dated her for a while, and she worked for Daddy.”

“Well, she wanted to do more than work for your father.” He stood and went to the fridge.

“You want something?” I shook my head. My mind was reeling. She wanted to do what?

“Anyway, she basically wanted to move your Ma aside and take her place, and she used me to try to do it.” I stared in disbelief.

“You’re joking, right?”

He took a swig of his beer and shook his head no.

“Your dad is an Executive Producer, I drive a limo…”

“You OWN a limo company.  Whatever.  What happened?”

“I guess she had a plan.  Somehow she convinced your mother that your dad was cheating, and your Ma believed her.”

“How could she do that when Daddy was so good to Mom?”

“Your Dad had to be out of town a lot.  Many times I was there and saw no signs of nothing, but she painted a picture, and I guess a good picture.”

I shouted. “Of the two of them?”

“Of course not, him and someone else, someone that was in his movie, but it wasn’t true, I tried to convince your Ma, but Audrina did a better job, so she left.  No one could stop her,” he said.

“Well, Daddy obviously didn’t try hard enough.”

“You were at school and missed a lot.  He tried, but he was hurt that she didn’t trust him, so he gave up.”

‘Wow, so he let her leave and move into a little apartment?”

“That was your Ma’s choice.”

I needed a drink. I went to the fridge and got a water bottle. I wanted something stronger, but I would never drink with my uncle. This wasn’t a party or celebration.  This was horrible.

“She knows this woman lied, so why hasn’t she come home?” I asked.

“It’s not that easy.  Your father hasn’t asked her, and she has too much pride to just come back without being asked.”

“Well, that’s going to change.  Wait until I get the two of them in a room. Two people wasting their lives away when they can …” He cut me off.

“Do you stay here because you want to or because you feel like you have to take care of your father?”

“What? Nooo, remember I was engaged, and he actually cheated…but why do you ask that?”

“Aside from ex-fiance, and I knew he was worthless, you seem to be here for Lola and your Dad because your Ma isn’t.”

It almost felt as if he were right. It was something to think about, but it wasn’t a priority.  The priority was getting my parents back together!


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