I looked from one pair of eyes to the next. There was concern in Imani's, aggravation in Roz's, and confusion in Dominique's.
Dominique sat down next to me, stroking my hair. "You know that this whole thing with Michael makes no damn sense to me. Y'all in love for six months then out of touch for a year then texting each other for two weeks then hating each other for two years."
She wasn't wrong. It had been confusing and frustrating but it was beautiful.
When we got it right, it was absolutely beautiful.
"But you look like you're on the verge of slitting your wrists for someone who was so confident in her decision to leave him alone earlier," Roz came and sat at the foot of the bed looking all matter-of-fact.
"You do look a little disheveled, love," Imani's look of concern was the last straw. "What's with the tube socks?"
I threw myself backward onto my bed and pulled a pillow over my face.
"I am fine, y'all, damn," I mumbled. "Just let me lay here in my tube socks. They're Michael's. I, Malia Renee Khepri, am fine. Ain't nobody killing themselves."
"Like hell. I know the signs of depression. You wearin' the man's clothes like a psychopath and done already started shutting out all the light in here. Next thing you know you'll be cooped up in here eating dry Oodles of Noodles and raw hotdogs watching Divorce Court with a shower cap on your head for no reason. Look 'Mani, and Dom, she got every shade in here shut tight." Roz yanked away the pillow and stood over me like my mother used to do, with one hand on her hip, the other clutching a glass of wine.
I gave her the most withering look I could muster. "Nigga... it's night time. ...and I like Divorce Court so shut up."
Imani imploded in giggles onto the bed. Dominique shook her head and smiled. I smiled too, catching the pillow Roz promptly threw at me. I didn't feel terrible I just didn't feel great. I didn't want to be lectured. I wanted to be reassured. I wanted to laugh. I wanted to disconnect. From him.
"Y'all been at this since freshman year of college and you're just going to give him up to some chick that ain't half of what you are to him?" Roz set her drink on the night table and stared at me.
"Listen," I said swinging my legs over the side of the bed and heading to the bathroom, "I called Dom because I needed an objective opinion of everything - what I said, what Michael said -- or didn't say -- everything. I didn't call you Roz, because you always doin' the most."
Roz looked from Dominique to Imani.
"So y'all heifers not even trying to defend me? I don't 'do the most.' I'm just extremely real and nobody wants to hear the truth." She stepped past me into the bathroom with a bottle of white zin and sat in the bathtub. "Let's get you ready to get out of here," she said between hiccups.
"Y'all... I'm not in the mood to go out. I'm not... I don't want to get over him by getting under somebody else. I don't want to squeeze into a too-tight, too-short dress and the highest heels. I don't want to passive-aggressively put pictures of us dancing on tabletops on Instagram for him to see. I don't want to make him think I'm with someone else or that I'm completely over him because I'm..."
Tears clouded my vision for the second time that day. I buried my face in my left hand and held onto the edge of the sink with the right. It felt as though every moment I'd spent with Michael, every moment I had spent thinking of him, loathing him, loving him all came to rest on the top of my head. I couldn't lift my head.
Dom and Imani crowded into my tiny three-quarter bathroom, Imani on the toilet, Dom hoisted onto the sink. They had all scolded me for choosing such a tiny place but it was enough for me when I first started out and I saw no reason to change now that I was making the money I'd always dreamed of making.
"Lee, what is it, babe? You did everything you could. You did way more than is required or expected of someone in love. You've outright labored for this relationship. Did more than I woulda done. That's for sure." Dom patted my hand and smiled.
I looked down at a chip on the eggshell porcelain sink. Michael had accidentally nicked it while hanging the mirror when I first moved in. I wanted to fold myself up as small as I could and fill that chip. Make it smooth and perfect again.
"Did I? Did I do everything? And if I really did then... Shit." My voice caught in my throat.
"Why doesn't he want me? If I did everything I was supposed to do? You know? If he loves me like he says he does... And I believe him, Dom. God... I know he means it. I believe he loves me. But why don't he want me? Why won't he fight for me? I've been the one. I know I have. His parents love me. I made him better, I know I did. It's not even about Winter. She's just a symptom. Not the problem."
"Uh... Who's Winter?" Roz asked.
"The girl he's living with now. Sshh." Imani whispered.
Out the corner of my eye I saw Roz roll her eyes and give Imani the finger.
"I always told him the truth. I never sugar-coated anything for him or tip-toed around his arrogant pride. I was no push-over with him. And even his parents said I was good for him. They said the other girls weren't strong enough to stand up to him. They were just like Silly Puddy with him."
"Well that's it, Lee." Dominique shook her head.
"He wants someone he can control."
And until he deals with that ego he will always be ill-equipped to be the one for you. He loves you. I believe that too but it doesn't mean he cares for you in a way that will help you grow. You did everything you knew and more besides to help him grow. What has he given you beside heartache, a few laughs, and a whole lot of empty promises? Your wingspan is too great, Lee. Don't let a nigga clip your wings."
Imani patted my other hand. My tears fell into the sink.
"You want to do some meditation?" Imani smoothed my hair away from my face.
Roz scuffled to stand upright in the bathtub. My head snapped up watching the bottle of wine she held.
"No she ain't doin' no doggone meditation. We have a bottle of wine, cute faces and push-up bras. We need to go out and forget everything for a few hours." Roz's words were a little slurred but she held the bottle and her glass securely.
I looked from Dominique to Imani. We burst into laughter simultaneously.
Roz rolled her eyes at us and stepped out of the tub. "Whatever, heifers. Where we going tonight?"
Why do you think Malia "Lee" can't let go of Michael?
What do you think will happen now?