Not again –I thought as I woke up to the sound of banging at my front door. I ignored it, already knowing what was on the other side of the door. Instead, I trudged to the bathroom and washed my face. Looking into the mirror, a face of defeat stared back at me. With heavy bags under its eyes, it gazed through my soul, mocking my existence.
“Hello, are you not gonna get the door?” Mary turned over, laying in a pool of sweat. The late August heat made it uncomfortable for the both of us, and it was too costly to have an A/C running all night. The bed being on the floor didn’t help either.
“He’ll go away eventually,” I sighed. I wish it were that easy, to make all of my problems go away. I wish I could be somewhere on the beach, without any worries in the world. I wish that I would have never… the knocking continued, snapping me out of my daydream.
“Go answer the door now! It’s bad enough that the heat kept me up all night,” the look on her face was all too familiar. It is the face that I have become accustomed to: the face of disappointment. When we first started dating, I used to love that face; now it just reminds me how miserable we both are.
I sprawled back out of bed and went for the door, but the knocking finally secluded. Looking out the peephole, I saw not a soul in sight. Opening the door, I poked my head out and noticed a piece of paper taped to my door. It was an eviction notice.
“What did he want?” Mary asked. I couldn’t come to face reality so I decided to hide it from her.
“What do you mean nothing? He was knocking on the door for hours.”
“It’s nothing, I promise,” I folded the notice and threw it on the table. How could I tell the woman that I am madly in love with that I cannot support us? Postponing the inevitable was what I was doing, and surely it was inevitable. Sometimes, I just wish I never… the slamming of the fridge door brought me back to consciousness.
“Nothing to eat, again. I can’t take this, I’m going over to my sister’s for a bit.” She would always flee to her sister’s house when she needed to get away. Before she would leave, she would give me this big kiss which comforted me and made me believe that things would get better, but our struggles continued year after year.
“Okay babe, I love you.” Approaching her lips with mine, she shifted her head. She was on the other side of the door before I could say anything else. I turned back into the room and changed out of my basketball shorts and into my suit. Tossing my shorts on the bed, I noticed she left her phone. I scrolled to her sister’s conversation to call and let her know that Mary left her phone when I read her last message. It read I wish I would have never… the door swung open.
“What are you doing with my phone?” she quickly snatched it away.
“You left it so I was going to call your sister to let her know.” She never cared if I was on her phone before. It also seemed as if she was hiding something.
“Can you please explain to me what the hell this is?” she held up the folded eviction notice. To be honest, I would have rather her find a condom in my jeans than that notice. There was no way to get out of this, no running away.
“Babe, I can explain. I was a few days late, but I didn’t want to bother you about…” she cut me off before I could finish.
“I cannot do this anymore. I cannot sit here and be miserable because you cannot find work. How hard could it possibly be to find a job? You’re not even trying hard enough. You are out there playing around, probably using the money that I GIVE YOU to be fooling with other girls, while I am here suffocating in this hellhole. You aren’t a real man, you’re pathetic. I wish I would have never met you.” Those were the words she last texted her sister: she wished she had never met me.
“Babe please, I need you. Don’t walk out on me, on us,” the look on my face was of utter shame and embarrassment. No man would ever want his manhood to be questioned by the woman of his dreams.
“Save it. The only reason why I didn’t leave you sooner was because of pity. I felt sorry for you, but I can no longer live under these conditions after three years of this crap. I’ll have my sister come pick up my things.” And just like that, she was gone. The inevitable happened.
A week away from being evicted, and now without a girlfriend, I had nobody to look to for help. Life was finally crashing down on me. All this time before, I was happy with my struggle because I was doing everything on my own. I made it through college on my own. Everything I ever had, I worked for myself. But the only thing I wanted was Mary, and now she was gone.
I laid on my bed, clinging on to Mary’s sleeping pills. The thought of suicide kept me awake. All I needed was to swallow these, and all of my problems would be over. What was the point of continuing life if I did not have Mary? Everything I ever worked for was for her; now, I have nothing left. As if he knew my life was in danger, my dad called. This was the first time I heard from him since I left home.
“Hello son, I know it’s late but something was telling me to call you. How are you?” he was the last person I wanted to talk to.
“I’m fine dad, really I’m fine. Listen, it’s late so I’m going to try to catch up on some sleep.”
“Son, you know that it is never a bad thing to ask for help? I know the divorce was tough on you, and I pushed you away from home but I am your father and I will help you with anything you might need.” I hung up. Almost immediately, tears flooded down my face. He was right, and I needed help. I never once asked for help, because I never wanted a handout. I never wanted to be looked at as a charity case. But there is nothing wrong with asking for help.
I put the pills down and dialed back my father.
“Hello dad, I just wanted to say that I am sorry for how our relationship has become over the years. A part of it was my arrogance and not wanting to be looked at as your son. I wanted to be my own person. Times aren’t too good right now, and I could actually use some help.”
The next day, he scheduled an interview for me with one of his associate’s marketing firm. I was hired on the spot. I did not know whether it was because I was strong candidate or because of my father, but I did not care. I could finally put my degree to good use. It was as if my life had changed overnight; ironically it did. I went from being served an eviction notice, to losing my girlfriend, to now securing a job and my future.
My dad advanced me my due rent money, and I was able to keep my apartment. The days no longer felt like years. They were passing by the second, and life was getting better. The years went by, but even after promotion after promotion, something was still missing.
“Congrats on the promotion sir!” Jason held out his hand for me to shake. Jason was one of the new interns fresh out of college who was hoping to make a name for himself at the office. It was an unpaid internship. Mostly, all he did was grab us coffee and lunch. He had a great sense of humor, but it was clear that he had no true marketing knowledge.
“Thanks Jason, see you next week.” I shook his hand and began walking towards the exit. Leaving the office building, I saw a face that I thought I would never see again. It was Mary. It was as if God heard my calling and answered me. Still as beautiful as ever, I built up the courage to walk towards her. She seemed shocked to be seeing me after all this time.
“Mary, it’s been a while,” my smile was frozen on my face.
“It has Ben. What are you doing here?” she scowled.
“I could be asking you the same question. I work here now.”
“What are you doing, cleaning floors?” she laughed. “I’m just waiting for my boyfriend Jason to get out of work. I finally found a man who can support all of my needs, someone with a good job. We are going to Aruba for vacation next week.” She flipped her hair back and put on sunglasses that covered her entire face. I could tell they were knockoffs.
Jason came out of the office building with a smile that covered his entire face. “Sir, I just wanted to tell you that it is a great honor to be interning for you. Hopefully, I earned a position here so I can work my way to the top just like you have.” She had that same look of embarrassment that I had six years earlier when she found the eviction notice. It was I look I had never saw from her before.
“Sir, I would like for you to meet my girlfriend, Mary.”
Going along with it, she stuck her hand out to greet me. As I shook her hand, she gave me a guilty look as if she was thinking – I wish I would have never left you.