‘Nothing Just Happens’ By Ingrid Mercé
If only I loved my husband as much as he loves me. The dawn is breaking and the sun is slowly creeping into the sky. It was early morning, the crack of dawn to be exact. The only people awake at this time of day were old people who enjoyed beating the sunrise, and then there was me. Posing as if I were practicing gaining my inner chi, my body slumped across the queen-sized bed that stood in the middle of the bedroom.
Beside me lay, my husband, firmly on his back, with his arms folded behind his head. I wasn’t as committed to my sleeping position as he was to his. I had spent the last five minutes twisting and turning, trying to get into a comfortable spot. I needed to get up, but I wanted to spend a few more minutes wrapped around his masculine frame. Sweat trickled down the sides of my brow as I tossed the covers around. Still, he doesn’t move.
The room is silent, causing my thoughts to drown me. I think back to last night and how in love we appeared to be with each other. In front of our friends and family, smiles spread our cheeks high for the entire night. As the blissful images bombard my mind, the soft whirl of the ceiling fan demands my attention and brings reality back to the surface.
The fan’s blades spin on high. The cool air mixes with the warm air from outside; drowning out the smells of musk. Our scents intertwine together and settle in on the soft cotton sheets. A pungent smell from last night’s liquor seeps from our pores. The humidity is thick, but the slight breeze blowing from outside pulls some of the air out of the room.
We were in those months where it wasn’t quite summer and fall hadn’t begun yet. True to his southern upbringing, my husband didn’t believe in cutting the air conditioner on until the temperature outside hit a certain number.
We weren’t at that number yet. It was hot, but with the bedroom windows up and the fan going, it was manageable. My hair was already a wild, curly mess after last night, so I knew a high messy bun was going to be my choice of style for the day.
I moan. I stretch. Gingerly, I touch my husband’s head. I run my slender fingers through his thick, dark curls and smile. I love my husband. I truly do; although, some days I felt like love wasn’t enough because I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t grow up in the best home environment for learning to love someone.
This marriage is my focal point to gain the essentials of what a woman is supposed to give a man – outside of her body. He, on the other hand, came to me with that knowledge already implanted in him. His parents had been married for almost thirty years. He was raised in the church and was given good morals at a young age.
He knew the depths of unconditional love, and knew how to provide that to a woman; he had the emotional tools needed to be compassionate and understanding. My husband was kindhearted and never hurt a soul, or at least he never intended to. He loves me so much it scares me.
There were times during our earlier years of dating throughout college where I ended up with a bruised heart, but he always made it right in the end. He had given me praise, telling me I was the first woman that he ever wanted to do right by. So, no matter how many times he did wrong, something in him compelled him to make it right.
Due to his childhood, my husband was set in his ways of doing things, and that spilled over into him having a set way of loving me. Implanted in him were rules on how to love, how to care, and how to nurture a woman. The dos and don’ts of love were deeply rooted, and I was the fertilizer to encourage it to grow and blossom.
His father had instilled in him that the man was the head of the household; the provider. The man worked and made sure that the woman didn’t want for anything. That was his role by birthright. I had been raised to be independent and to take care of myself. Being subservient to a man was not something that came naturally to me.
I had to learn to bend to my husband’s needs and desires – feeling compelled to follow and submit to his commands. I turned to books and education to try to break that unhealthy cycle. Here I was, years later, trying to balance that heavy-weighted beam of maintaining my home, my friends, and my work. At times I found myself being pulled in every direction by all three and it was overwhelming.
He didn’t compromise or bend when it came to the hierarchy within our home. Presently, he struggled with portraying his need to lead. This made it hard for us to find a balance between where we stood with each other because he often felt subsequent to my other priorities. He was firm. He loved me. I felt sometimes that his love was too much. I got swept up in it and it overwhelmed me.
There wasn’t a day that went by that he didn’t make me feel special or that he didn’t wrap those big arms around me and make all of my worries go away. There wasn’t a moment where he didn’t make sure I was keeping him first. He made it his mission to take care of everything a man “should” take care of within the household. Because of our elements, it was a daily struggle for me to allow him to do so.
Last night was no different. Our fourth year of marriage; on the third Thursday of September, we celebrated with friends and family. I was beautiful to him last night. He made sure to tell me so numerous times. As we sat amongst others, he made sure to make me his priority. His hand never left mine. His almond-shaped eyes always peering into mine. His full lips parted for kisses before I could separate mine.
With every memory that was offered from our friends about us meeting, dating, and entering into our union, he made sure to squeeze my hand tight. We both cherished the walk down memory lane, and I admired him for his courage. Whenever there was a doubt in anyone’s mind, he was the force determined to keep this thing of ours going over the years.
I am blessed to have him. Over chatter, glasses clinking from toasts, and jokes being traded amongst our table, my husband glorified me; highlighting me for being the love of his life. His fingertips atop mine, he lifted my hand every time someone mentioned the size of my ring. He was proud to show me off.
He was proud to have proven we could make it as long as we have–four whole years together. He was sure to show his gorgeous smile as he opened up to our family and friends about how lucky he was that I had given him so many chances. So many chances to get it right. Husband and wife.
His cell phone rings and causes me to turn in the direction of its disturbing tone. On a wooden nightstand cradled close to the bed lies his phone. On the third ring, I answer. Caller ID says, Unknown and a series of ten digits illuminate the screen.
“Hello?” My voice is thick and harsh due to the dryness of my mouth.
There is no answer from the other end of the line. Instead, the person has disconnected. Assuming the caller is one of my husband’s clients, I decide to call the number back, and I plan on taking a message for him. After the call is connected again, it is answered on the fourth ring.
“Sweetie?” a woman’s voice chimes through the phone. Her voice carries the sound of angels compared to my previous groggy greeting.
After a few failed attempts to clear my throat, I speak.
“Hello? Who is this?” There is no answer. I only hear my heavy breathing. I am now sitting up with the phone pinned to my ear.
“Um…I think I have the wrong number.” The voice softly offers to an inquisition. “I’m sure.”
Disconnecting the call, I take my free hand – my left hand – the hand housing the rock my husband used to stamp me as his, and I dig my fingers into my scalp. With a swift back and forth motion, I cause my loose curls to shake. Pursing my full, chapped lips together, I lick them with my thick tongue. The taste of my husband is still on my lips.
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