A month ago she'd abruptly quit working at the court building as a security guard, with no notice. She simply stopped showing up. The month before that she'd been dismissed by a man she'd fallen madly in love with. And a month before that, she'd gotten pregnant. She didn't know she was pregnant when Eric came over her apartment on a sunny Saturday afternoon, and sat at her small dining room table for the last time, while he politely explained to her that he was too "distracted" with everything he had going on and it, this, was too much. Words like "distraction" and "too much" translated to: this is over. Can you break up with a person you were never officially with? Of course you can. And that's what happened to her. She was dumped by a man that she never had claim to. This, was not part of 'the plan'. He was not part of her destiny, and somehow he'd become her entire world.
This was her last year at UCLA. After she graduated with her bachelors degree in education she was packing up the few items she had and throwing the rest away, before she moved to New York. Her obsession with that city had been a long one, and it was on her bucket list to live there before she died. She'd only been there once in the 8th grade and that was enough to convince her she belonged there. The filth, the smog, the constant traffic and smell of spoiled garbage didn't thwart her undeniable love for the city. From that school trip she brought back her used metro pass and a fold out map of the subway system. She pinned it on her wall and memorized it. From the 1 and 2 train all the way to the J and Z; she knew every stop.
Her background was atypical to many around her. Beverly, her mother was black. Her father however was unknown. So was his ethnicity. Ashley was a trick baby. Beverly had once been on drugs badly and done any and everything to maintain a high. This included prostitution, robbing, and conning. Her child's first night in the world was spent in an incubator being monitored for any side effects from nine months of neglect, while Beverly removed the IVs attached to her, and the hospital gown. She quietly put her musty street clothes back on and crept out the hospital in the wee hours of the night.
Beverly's mom, Ashley's grandmother, retrieved her the next day from the hospital, and commenced to raising her as if she were her own daughter. Her second year at UCLA her grandmother had died of lung cancer. She had a fleeting relationship at best with her mother, who was now a sober holy roller religious zealot. She'd traded in the crack for cigarettes, then coffee, now Christ. Their relationship was non existent, with her grandmother dead Ashley was alone in the world. She didn't even have her mothers number stored in her phone.
She'd always been, or at least always felt alone. Sad. She was sad all of the time and it showed in her moody and at times nasty attitude. Her grandmother was from the South and didn't tolerate no chilren' talking back and would spank her ass when she got out of line.
Because she didn't receive enough attention when it mattered most from the two people who should've been showering her with it, her parents, she now required it for validation in every single thing she did.
Whatever or whoever her father was resulted in her being obviously bi-racial. The pale light skin, and curly hair were evidence enough to conclude this. She'd never really paid much attention to this until other people started to. Boys. And grown men. By middle school she realized she had something that the other black girls did not, and because of this her confidence falsely soared. She could get almost whatever she wanted as long as a black man had it. And that is how she ended up working as a security guard at court building.
She was there to pay a speeding ticket when she ran into a guy named Brian that she'd went to high school with. They made small talk and feeling inadequate about his job, he joked to Ashley about how easy it was and he was making $23.00 to stand around and do nothing but check bags. Little did he know, she was broker than he was. Her part time job at the library paid little to nothing. It gave her time to do her school work, but she was broke. She asked him a few questions and if he thought he could get her hired. Three weeks later she was working as a guard at the court building checking bags.
...When she first saw Eric walk up to the conveyor belt, put his briefcase on it, empty his pockets and proceed to walk through the metal detectors; she felt embarrassed and instantly ugly in the goofy guards uniform. For the first time ever, she felt ugly. To say he was fine was an understatement. He looked like money and he smelled like leather interior seats. She noticed him staring at her and her face got hot red. Now she was embarrassed to be a rental cop. She looked away from him and busied herself inspecting the next persons bags.
The next time he saw her he wished her good morning. She smiled in reply and maintained eye contact with him.
Then he started making innocent and brief conversation with the people around her, but she could tell he wanted to talk to her. Everyday for months he would stare at her while he talked loudly with the other male guards about the game that was on the night before, or traffic, or how hot it was. All fluff topics just to get some unsuspicious time with her.
Brian, her friend that'd gotten her hired and liked her must've noticed Eric's new interest in her as well, he made it a point to stand right beside Ashley every morning to intercept any chance the two of them had to speak personally.
Brian got on her fucking nerves and didn't have a chance in hell. She wanted to be mean and rude to him, but he did all of her work for her so she didn't get too reckless with him.
One day she'd called in sick and when she returned the next day, Brian made it a point to let her know how Eric's girlfriend has brought him lunch, and how finnnneeeeeeeee she was
"She was badddddd. Like a Olivia pope in the suit and heels, but better." He went on and on.
Ashley knew what he was doing, he was trying to inadvertently make her jealous. And it was working.
A week later she was coming out of the women's restroom and Eric was awkwardly standing there. She smiled at him and he said,
"Where's your boyfriend at?"
"That's not my bf. He's a co-worker. Where's your girlfriend? I want some lunch too." She wanted him to know that she too was aware.
He smiled at her. "You hungry?"
Such a simple question, that was obviously loaded with plenty of other intentions stupefied her.
"Maybe." Was all she could say.
"What time you get off? Around noon? Meet me at Buffalo Wild Wings down the street at two pm."
He didn't ask her, he told her. It felt like asked her but he didn't have to. He knew she'd say yes.
She rushed home that day, showered, washed her hair and got fresh. By 6 pm they were drinking and laughing and full. The conversation between the two flowed in a way neither anticipated. The attraction they had to one another physically took a back seat to their shared interest. Movies, music, politics; they paired well. She told him she was in her last year at UCLA and he seemed impressed. Maybe he assumed she was a career security guard. Whatever. He never mentioned his girlfriend and if he did, she didn't recall or care. He never asked her about her love life. By 8pm he told her he was taking her home and she didn't refute it.
They fucked all night. And every night after that night for a month straight. They couldn't get enough of each other. It wasn't just the sex either. They texted allllll day about any and everything. When they weren't together secretly in her Inglewood apartment, they were on the phone; if his girlfriend wasn't around which it seemed she never was, and Ashley wasn't in class.
She knew he had a girlfriend and she never ever talked about her. When he said he couldn't do something, they both knew why. But for the most part she didn't require a lot out of him. And in her mind he was her man too.
Because so much time was spent at her house and they couldn't be in the open, she gave him a key to her apartment. She slipped it to him in an envelope one day while pretending to check his briefcase. He smiled at her and used it that same afternoon, surprising her with a bouquet of roses.
Eventually he'd made her place, their love den comfortable to his liking. The first thing he did was toss out her mattress. He wasn't fucking her in the same bed that other niggas had. He didn't even waste his time being silly and asking her if she'd slept with other men in that bed. He knew she had, and he wasn't gonna be added to that roster. Next he got a big flat screen on the wall in her living room so he could watch the games after work at her place. Then he got leather couches that reclined.
She'd fucked with a few generous men in her time but the way Eric was, it was different. He made her feel like a safe little girl that he'd always protect. Her weekends were spent with him in the daytime and at night reading or watching tv, texting him. What was she going to go out for? To meet who? She'd met that nigga already. And all though he was taken, she grasped desperately to hold on to the parts of him that were not taken. Months into this condoms had stopped. In all honesty they'd stopped weeks into this tryst of theirs. No conversation was had about this. He simply fucked her without one, and never used one again.
Now, just over a year into this he was ending it. The frantic feeling she felt inside was telling her that this was a bad dream. What had she done to make him not want to spend his time with her anymore? She was confused and sick inside knowing that he wasn't going to be in her bed anymore, or dozing off on her couch after a long day of prosecuting the degenerates of society.
While he was talking to her, parting ways in an adult fashhion she stood up and tried to straddle him. Maybe he was just deprived. The last couple of weeks he'd been acting a little different, not texting as much. She figured he just was busy with work. When he grabbed her wrist firmly to stop her from accosting him, she felt humiliated in a way she never had before. She felt, ugly. And dumb. He left on a nice note and she fell apart slowly after that day.
At work, when he came to have his items inspected he smiled at her the same way he always did, with a twinkle in his eye. Everyday she stayed on high alert hoping that every text alert on her phone was him asking her if she'd watched LHHNY. It never was and every single day she felt like she was lost in the world. Her stomach felt hollow. She would lay in the bed and stare at the wall, trying to will herself back to sleep. This was her life now without him. He'd swooped in and dashed out robbing her of the little bit of joy she did have. Her entire life had been full of abandonment.
Unable to take seeing him anymore everyday like torture, she quit. Or better yet decided not to show up. A month later she threw up as she tried to eat a subway sandwich. That night as she laid in her bed, it dawned on her she hadn't had a period in some time. So much had happened she didn't even realize that it never shown up.
She was three months pregnant the morning she texted Eric, informing him of her condition. She'd already determined that she was aborting the child, and then after that she was going to end her own life. She didn't want to die pregnant with a fetus in her, the idea disgusted her.
Eric never responded to her text. Never called. Nothing.
The night before her abortion was scheduled, someone knocked at her door. Initially it startled her. Realizing it could be Eric ready to apologize for all of this, Ashley rushed to open the door.
Realizing it was her mother Beverly, and not him she finally broke down and collapsed on the floor. Beverly had no clue what was going on, but knew that this was Gods plan. It'd been on her heart and mind to mend this this relationship with her only child. They talked all night at for what it was worth, they started the healing process. That both of them desperately needed.
Ashley didn't go to the clinic for the abortion the next day. After talking with her mother all night she had no clue what she wanted to do. She decided she'd give herself a twoweeks to figure things out.
In the meantime her mother invited her to bible study. Proud of her beautiful UCLA daughter, she introduced Ashley to everyone. Her mother took special interest in making sure she introduced Ashley to a fellow church member, Dr. James Broussard. He was friendly and shook ashleys hand, congratulating her on her upcoming graduation from UCLA..
Beverly had reached out to him before bible study and briefly explained to him that his 'health and wellness' center would be a good place for her daughter to come to get therapy. James agreed.
Before he parted ways with Ashley he casually mentioned to her what services his facility provided. Seeing that she was receptive to it, he reached in his coat pocket and handed her the business card for the psychologist at his clinic. He told her that she was the best person any young black woman could talk to and for her to make an appointment next week. Ashley agreed. She looked at the business card and read the psychologist name, 'Dr. Elise Roberts'. She put the card in her bag, fully intending to call and make an appointment.