Over the past year or so my life consisted of nothing more than my family and my garden. I had hoped that Alice would be what saved Ella and I. I knew though in my heart it would take more than my sweet baby to fix things between us.
Ella also sensed that our marriage was falling apart. We both just knew that we loved each other, but we also knew we couldn’t stand each other on most days. I don’t know if she really did love me, I am only guessing. She at first tried to express her love for me when we brought Alice home, but soon we were back where we were, screaming and yelling at each other.
What’s worse was that we were finding ourselves fighting in front of Travis. Travis would sit there and watch us. It wasn’t healthy for him, I knew that, Ella knew that. Though, sometimes we were just so oblivious that he was around, all we saw was red. It would take Travis to call up to us. “Dada, mama, look!” He would cry out and then continue to show us his toy. Both of us would end up looking down and then to each other. Even if we still wanted to fight, we knew we couldn’t. We just both would end up walking away. She would head to the bedroom, slamming the door in her wake, while I went to my only solitude, my plants.
When it was time for Alice’s birthday, I reluctantly gave in to Ella’s wish to inviting ourfriends over. Though, now I am glad we did. I needed the company, and we needed the space from each other. I ended up talking to Shonda most of the day. I didn’t really complain, but I did get some valuable advice. I also found out that she’s been talking to Ella about us, and is only hoping that the two of us could “find a way.” I hoped we could. As for Ella, she only talked to Mike that day. Jimmy and his boy Mark were over, and though I said hi to both, Ella didn’t even acknowledge them.
Alice was the most beautiful little toddler. She looked just like her mother. Her green eyes were definitely Ella’s. The only thing she got from me was my hair color. I had wished she had Ella’s, I love Ella’s hair color.
My two children were complete opposites. Travis was, for the most part, always in a mood. If I wasn’t around he would throw tantrums and possibly start hitting and throwing things at Alice. I’ve had to more than once put him in time out. As for Alice, she was the sweet and excited one who wanted to learn everything and do everything her mother did.
In fact Travis’ outbursts were getting so bad he would start to use words he picked up from Ella’s and my fights. I would have to sit him on the only seat we had for his age, his potty. (He was already potty trained, thank heavens for that!)
“Now young man,” I would say to him, “Little boys don’t talk that way. Now you have to sit here for four minutes. You understand?”
“Bu you tak dat way!” He would point out. He was very defiant.
“Those are adult words, not for little boys.” I tried to explain. This was my fault, I knew it as soon as he dropped the “F” bomb and told me to go “F” off when I told him it was time to clean up that we had a problem. Ella wasn’t home when he said it, thankfully she was never home when he decided to act out.
“Otay.” He would say and then start crying. He never liked time outs, but I couldn’t let him speak to me or anyone like that.
Sometimes though, Travis surprised me. He was my little guy, my special boy. He would watch as I come in from working out in the garden all day and fall asleep right on the sofa. Sometimes he would let me be, other times he just wanted his father to be with him. “Dada!” He would shake me and continue to say “dada” until I would open one of my eyes.
“What is it Travis?” I’d ask him.
“Pway time!” And then he would smile. There wasn’t anything like his smiles. I loved his smiles.
“Go play with mommy and Ally.” I would tell him.
“Mama na here.” Of course Ella wasn’t home, she was never home.
I would, in the end, wake up and play with him for a short while before telling him to go play with his sister. He would oblige, but only after I played airplane with him.
Ella spent most nights, if not all nights with Mike and Jimmy at the clubs. They were getting better gigs at higher end establishments. Their CD’s were selling, but not as well as we hoped. We were still barely holding on financially.
Though Ella was gone most evenings and nights, she was still around. She was a wonderful mother when she wasn’t working. During the mornings when I was working on the garden, Ella found ways of distracting both of them, mostly Travis. She would get on her drums and start to play. The two would start dancing together. It was fun to watch my children bond together, and it was even more wonderful to watch Ella as she entertained our two little ones.
But I hated it when I turned to see Alice taking her first steps and she was walking straight for Ella. It hurt me even more when she called out “mama” as she walked.
I was devastated. I spent all day and night with my children and Alice chose her mother over me. I tried to smile when I heard Ella’s screams. I had to remind myself that Travis did say my name before hers. Though, I did let a tear slip from my eye.
I was thrilled that Travis loved being with me outdoors. He even would try and eat some of the fruit and vegetables. I had to stop him, of course. I didn’t want him to get any diseases from any of my unwashed fruits and vegetables. He also loved playing with his truck out in the garden and I would find myself tripping on them and having to bring in all kinds of toys back into the house towards the evening.
It did finally happen. My daughter actually acknowledged me. I went out to speak to Ella, we were trying hard to patch things up. Well, I was trying anyway. “Hey El, can we talk?” I asked her. She was playing with little Alice, since I had to go and have another man-to-man talk with my son about his vocabulary.
“No. I’m not in the mood. It’s bad enough my son just called me the “b” word, I don’t need you to call me one either.”
“Wha- Ella, please. I don’t want to fight, I want to discuss our little problem with Travis.”
“You know very well what happens when we talk David. I don’t need this shhh- um, I don’t need this right now.”
That’s when Alice looked up at me and then back at Ella. “Dada luwv mama!” She told us. I wasn’t sure if she was demanding me to love Ella, or if she was telling Ella that I love her, which is still true. Ella gasped.
“Oh my goodness! You said dada Ally!” She cheered and then she looked at me with a smile. “Did you hear that Rain?” I almost started to cry, Ella hadn’t called me Rain in over a year. I also hadn’t seen her smile that way just as long.
There were no words to what I was feeling. I picked up Alice and threw her in the air. “That’s my girl!” I told her and she just laughed her head off. I watched as Ella got up and walked towards the house. I wanted more of that smile and more of her laughter. Alice’s smile and laughter was nice, but not as nice as Ella’s.
I immediately walked in the house. I placed Alice on the floor next to her brother, who had let himself out of the bathroom. I didn’t care, though, I only had one thing on my mind. I went and grabbed Ella by the waist and pulled her towards me. “Woman, you make me crazy!” I told her.
Then I kissed her, and it wasn’t a small kiss. I put my lips onto hers and slowly and gently slipped my tongue in her mouth. I had her wrapped in my arms and I could feel my entire body warm with desire. She pulled me closer to her. We hadn’t kissed since a few months after Alice was born, and this, this kiss was magical.
When we both heard two little laughs behinds us, we stopped. We had an audience watching, both Alice and Travis were looking at us in amusement. “Lets take this some place more private.” I whispered.
“I’d love to Rain. . . But.” I sighed. I hated that she wanted this to stop. “I have to get going. We’re playing at the Garbage Bin, and it’s gonna be a big night for us.”
I sighed in frustration. I wanted her, I wanted her more than ever. “Yea, okay.”
“Tonight, though. I promise.” She whispered back before giving me a small peck. I’ve head that line quite a few times from her when we would actually start acting civil. It never panned out though, but I secretly hoped that this time was different.
That night I had tried to stay up for Ella. I ended up falling asleep though on the sofa when I heard the door creak open. “El? What time is it?” I yawned and looked over the bookcase. She looked at me and was startled.
“Oh, wow. I didn’t see you there.” She looked odd, I figured it was sleep deprivation.
“How was the gig?” I asked followed by another yawn.
Ella at first looked at me confused, and then as if a lightbulb hit she answered, “Oh, yea it was terrific. Hey, look I am really tired. Maybe we can talk tomorrow?”
“I thought we were gonna. . . you know?”
She shook her head and walked to the door and I could distinctively hear her mumble “men!” under her breath. What is that supposed to mean?
I put her comment behind me, but it tended to creep up at me. As the months crept closer to Travis’ birthday, it seemed like Ella wasn’t home much. It was different. Before, she was just out at night with the band, but now it was like she really was trying to stay away from me. I stayed home, and took care of the kids, the house, and the garden. It was exhausting at times, but someone had to be the adult in this marriage.
There was also those secret phone calls in the bathroom that got me worried. I would see her in the living room sitting and watching TV, but as soon as she got a text she was in the bathroom with her cell phone. I once listened to the door and only caught parts of her conversation. I didn’t know, or cared to know who was on the other end. All I made out was, “I can’t. . . Not tonight, maybe tomorrow. . . No. . . I have to go. Okay, bye.” Hell it could be anyone. I tried not think about it, but I started to feel as she was hiding from me.
It also didn’t help when I noticed that she was texting all the time. I once spotted her outside texting like crazy. “Who you chattin’ with El?” I asked coming up from behind.
She quickly hid her phone and turned to me, “Just Shonda. She’s just going crazy with her two little ones and needs help.” I didn’t know if I should believe her. Then I got to thinking about that phone call in the bathroom I heard a week ago. Shonda just had twins, and it dawned on me, Shonda was probably asking for help since we both had two little ones running around.
“Oh, okay.” I smiled and then went back to my work.
Ella was becoming quite distant over the next few weeks. I even confronted her one night. She looked exhausted after coming home from, what I hoped was a gig. She was sweaty and grungy and very tired. “Ella, please, can we talk? You’ve hardly been home all week.”
“Not now David, I’m tired, I’m sweaty, and all I want to do is soak in a shower and head to bed.”
“Just five minutes El. It’s all I’m asking. I’m worried about you, about us.” I spoke honestly and up front.
She looked as if the wind was knocked out of her. “What do you mean your worried about us? Everything is fine with us.”
“Who you fooling, El? We aren’t fine! We haven’t been fine for a long ass time Ella!” I yelled, and regretted it as soon as Travis started to scream.
“Look what you did now! I hope you’re happy!” She barked at me and marched to the bathroom, slamming the door.
It wasn’t really until I went to the grocery store and noticed the stares I was getting that I wondered what was really going on. I was never use to stares, well I was never use to people staring at me without Ella near by. When the two of us were together in public we were always being stared at. Now though, it felt off, like I was the one being kept out of a secret.
That night, I decided to crawl into bed with Ella. I had been sleeping on the couch long enough. However, Ella thought otherwise. “Excuse me? What on Earth do you think you are doing David?” She asked angrily.
“I’m coming to bed, and sleeping next to my wife. The woman I love! The woman I vowed to love forever.” I tried to flirt. I wanted to remind her about our wedding, and our vows.
“Get out!” She ordered.
“NO! This is my house! My bed! I’m sick and tired of sleeping on that damn sofa! I’ve been sleeping on it for years with no complaints, but tonight I am f***ing complaining!”
“GET THE HELL OUT!” She yelled and she pushed me. “Out!” She pushed again.
I reluctantly left the bed. It was then I knew that something was up. It was then that I knew there was no more hope. I looked over at her and mumbled, “bitch” to her. She threw her pillow at my head, and it wasn’t a playful gesture. I was lucky we didn’t own any fancy nightstands with any fancy lights or candles or alarm clocks. She only had the pillow to throw at me. I’m sure she would have much preferred something harder and heavier to heave at my head.
The next morning I woke up and only cared about one thing, my son. He was turning five today. I was excited. My daughter was three and he was about to be five. The years seemed to slip by me. The only thing that kept me away from drowning the rest of my years in a bottle were my kids. I wanted a drink, I needed a drink, but I couldn’t. I made a promise. I only have kept the promise for my kids sake rather than Ella’s and mine. When I held Travis or Alice I felt my heart race and happiness filled me, it may be a brief experience, but it was all I needed.
Today, though would be the last time I could ever pick up and tickle and toss my son in the air. He would be too old to do those sorts of things with me. I wanted to cherish these last few moments before he went to blowing out his cake.
Ella and I invited everyone again, just like always. I wasn’t too thrilled when I saw Mike scoop up little Travis. I didn’t mind when he came around to visit, but if a reporter saw him with Travis they could start a whole new mess. I was surprised thought that Jimmy was just as upset with Mike scooping up Travis. “Dude, we need to talk.” He said to me as he watched Mike play with Travis with distaste.
“Sure, what’s up?”
“Come, lets go for a walk.” He said to me and took me by the shoulder. He and I walked down the street with another of his friends in tow, Don something or other.
“Okay, what’s up?” I asked stopping. I didn’t want to miss my son’s birthday party. Both Don and Jimmy looked at each other first.
“Your gonna have to tell him Jim. He has the right to know.” Don said.
“I know.” Then Jimmy looked at me. “Rain. . .” Then he sighed and put his hand on my shoulder, “David, there’s been some talk.”
“A lot of talk.” Interrupted Don.
“David, I think Mike and Ella are sleeping together.” Jimmy finally said.
It hit me like a ton of bricks. I started to take some steps back. Both Don and Jimmy caught me as I fell to my knees. I looked up with tears already forming, “Are you sure?” I asked.
“No. But when we play I can see something between them. Then Don here saw them at the park not too long ago. Other’s have seen them dining out and going to a hotel. I’m sorry, I am truly and deeply sorry.” Jimmy said as he held his head low. He had his hand on my shoulder.
I stood and looked down the street where I saw Mike playing with my son. MY SON! I wanted to kill him, but like Jimmy said, they had no proof. I needed proof. I wasn’t about to make a scene at my son’s birthday party. “Thanks Jimmy, for telling me.”
“Hey if it was me, I would want to know.” He said.
“Same here.” Don added.
Just as the three of us returned, I saw Ella bring little Travis to the cake. Together I watched and somewhat cheered on my son, all the while I had one eye on Mike. I kept telling myself, I have no proof. They are just friends. Just Friends! I wanted to believe that Ella wouldn’t ever do such a thing. However, deep down I knew.
After Travis aged up, I watched Ella pull out her camera and started to force him to take some photos. “But mom, I want some cake!” He moaned.
“Just a few more Trav. Please, for me.” Ella pleaded.
I laughed as he posed. He kept looking at me for desperate help. “El, let the boy enjoy his cake.” I finally said. “After all it is his birthday.”
“Fine. Go, run along Travis.” He ran right to the cake, but not without hugging me and thanking me.
After the party and the kids were both in bed I went to confront Ella. I found her cleaning up. I took the dirty dishes out of her hand and placed them on the counter. “Ella we need to talk!” I said in such a manner, she backed away.
“What now?” She gave a deep sigh.
“What’s going on between you and Mike?” I asked. I just came out with it, there was no need to beat around to what I wanted to know.
“What?” She started to laugh. “Seriously, David. You think I’m sleeping around with my best friend?” She found this amusing, too amusing.
“Yea. I been hearing things around town. I went to the grocery store and everyone was gossiping around me, and staring at me. I heard your name, I heard Mike’s name.”
“Look at me, David.” She placed her hand slightly on my chin and rose my face to meet hers. “There is nothing going on between Mike and me.”
I was just about to say something, to ask her more when her cell started to ring.
“Hello?” She answered. I was blown away that she would answer her phone during an important conversation.
“Who’s that, your boyfriend?” I asked condescendingly. I was pissed. I wanted answers.
She put her hand over her phone and narrowed her eyes at me. “If you must know its Shonda, you arrogant ass.” I heard a woman’s laughter on the other end and I knew it was Shonda. Great now she was going to know what I asked.
I stormed to the bedroom and slammed the door. I even locked it behind me. I wasn’t going to let her into my bedroom anymore, not until she answers some questions. As I closed the door I could hear Ella yell, “He said what!” I was only hoping that she wasn’t talking about Jimmy and how he let it slip that she was having an affair. I didn’t want her to know that I was directly told. I wanted my own proof still. Rumors, I have learned, have a way of turning out to be completely wrong.
I laid in bed and just started to cry. I looked at two of the pictures hanging on my wall. Ella still needed to print out her latest photos of Travis. I was a sobbing mess in bed. I tried to figure out how my life came to this point. I continued to look on at the happy moments of my life with my two children. I wanted things to rewind, to go back to when Ella loved me. My heart continued to break.
My mind drifted to Travis as I fell asleep. I thought of my boy just across the house sleeping in his new bed. I had bought his bed just two days ago after making a huge profit from my crops. I got him a green frame to go with his room, but when I asked my four-almost five-year old what color sheets he wanted, he said “bwue.” I thought of his future before my own. I knew what it was like living without one parent, and I didn’t want him to go through the same heartbreak. Yet I still couldn’t see how Ella and I were going to fix this.