Tia

‘Morning star, beautiful star,’ noo!
‘morning star, beautiful star.’
I picked up the phone and put it to my ear.
-What do you want? I asked,
-Get up! We have to go to work.
Laura is my best friend, but sometimes, I wish I could strangle her just for one minute
-Leave me alone and tell the supervisor that I’m paralyzed.
I groaned as I dragged my plus-sized body out of bed.
-I’ll be there in thirty minutes, so get your life together
She hangs up on me, leaving me to face reality alone.
So many want the life I have, yet how many are willing to walk in my shoes for it. I walked downstairs to the living room after taking my bath and dressing up for work.
-Are you ready for work?
That is my mother sitting at the dining table with her plate and fork in her hand. Everyone says she’s beautiful and It’s true though, but others also say I look like my father.
Yes, is daddy still at home?
I asked as I walked to the fridge and found an apple. That was a lie, ha-ha. Well, I guess she is not going to answer as usual then. I made eggs and bacon, mmm!
‘Morning star, beautiful star.’
-Hello?
-Get out!
Lora calls out in her ‘motherly’ voice. I walked out of the three-bedroom apartment and hoped into her black Toyota. I pulled the seat back to relax a little more; I finally feel safe.
-So, did you finally have that apple for breakfast? She asked.
-Lora shut up!
I replied with my eyebrows raised.
-Guurl, you said you wanted to eat healthier, even though I never believed it.
-You know me, and healthy are enemies, right?
We both burst into laughter. Morning rides to work makes me feel safe. It is the only time I feel safe because it is the only time I escape reality.
-Soo James called last night
—This should be interesting
-and you answered the phone?
-Yes, of course?
I was stun for a moment, then I said,
-After all that he did to you. Laura!! —
There are a lot of things I disagree with her, but this is huge. In her velvety voice, she said,
-Tia, I know what you’re going to say but…erm… he changed… he…he apologized, and I forgave him
I can’t believe she was even smiling while telling me the story.
-Female! What part of ‘I want to have sex on the regular, so I’m going to apologize’ do you not understand? The crackhead ghosted you for two months; sigh.
I looked at my best friend in disappointment. She deserved better than James. I know she goes around a lot, but James is not worth it. After a couple of minutes of driving, Laura asked,
-are you craving ice-cream this morning?
I groaned and stared at her in suspicion
-how did you know?
-My stomach spoke French to me.
-You’re always hungry,” she laughed.
-Shut up. You don’t know me.
I mumbled, petting my stomach. Being a housekeeper is not fun at all. I entered my last room; there are socks on the floor, bags of chips on the bed. I groan as I start cleaning. I hear the door behind me open—He’s here again.
-Are you cleaning everything like you’re supposed to?
My supervisor asks me. He walked closer and stood in front of me and stared at my covered cleavage in disappointment.
Yes, sir, I replied.
I looked away and focused my eyes on the bathroom door. I felt a rough hand on my shoulder—I look right in his brown eyes. He’s daring me to say something. He knows I need this job and tries to take advantage of that to molest me. His hand goes down lower, cupping my breast, at that moment a tear runs down my cheek.
This is not how I want it to be. I have dreams and fantasies like any other girl. I want it to be special and not forced.
I…I…QUIT!
Did I just? Oh! This mouth is always getting me into trouble.
-You What? Quit? Ha! and where do you plan to live after quitting, huh? Do you think your mommy and daddy will accept you as a liability?
-Shut up! Your breath stinks, and you look bad in blue!
I pushed him to the side as I walk towards the door.
-I can fix my problem, can you fix yours? He said
That got to me. I have a lot of problems I cannot fix; A family of drug dealers, no college degree, and an arranged marriage to a stupid bastard in five days. I walk out of the room to see Laura coming up to me, crap!
-how long have you been out here?
I looked up at Lora. She walks up to her black Toyota. I got up as I hear squeaky sound of the doors opening.
-I quit my job today—I said, getting in the car.
-YOU DID WHAT?
I pulled my seat belt slowly, looking down.
-I know what you’re going to say, but I had to quit
My seat belt clicks, I let out the air I didn’t know I was holding in.
-DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS? YOU HAVE TO MARRY THAT STUPID BASTARD”
she held onto the steering wheel tightly.
-I know, but…
-You know what?
-I’M TIRED OF BEING HARASSED OKAY!
Tears stream down my cheek.
-What do you mean? Did someone touch you?”
I wiped my tears. I felt her hand on my face trying to wipe the unending tears away. I feel bad for not telling her sooner, but what could I do? I was in a tight situation. My supervisor made me fear to tell even a single soul. He touches me and says things to me I subbed—She hugged me—He always comes into the room when he knows I am alone, and he would touch me. I could not stop my tears now. Memories of my mother calling me names and telling me I’m not worth it flashed in my mind. My heart bled in pain; it felt like someone was squeezing it, making it harder for me to breathe. She gave birth to me; how could she hate me.
-It’s going to be alright, Tia Lora said.
I want to believe her. I frown after seeing what my tears did to her red blouse.
-Sorry about your shirt—I said, wiping the last tear.
-why didn’t you tell me earlier? —the question I’ve been running away from.
-he said if I told anyone he would fire me—I hope she believes it.
I force my eyelids to blink as water fills my eyes. I’ll be getting married to a man my father chooses for me. My best friend does not know the real reason. I told her it is because the man is higher in power than my father and my father offended him, so I’m the ransom.
-I will always be here for you Tia
I drowned deep in thought, nodding my head in response. The engine starts leading me to my prison. At least it comes with a mother and a father, and I should not complain. The ride home is quite uneasy. I roll down the window and open my eyes for the wind to blow my silent tears away. The smell of rain and trees enters my nostrils, making me feel relaxed to the presence of nature.
The car comes to a stop, and there I see the old familiar yellow apartments.
-Do you want to come over to my place? —giving me a weak smile–I don’t know how I would have coped with life without her.
-Thank you, but I just want to lay down.” She pulls me in for a long hug before letting go. I get out of the car and wave her bye.
9:12 PM
The front door opens, and my dad walks in.
-Welcome, I said.
I learned the hard way. One time I greeted him with a ‘hello’ instead of ‘welcome.’ My cheeks still remember the pain of his palm vividly. He nods his head. I went to the dining table to make sure his food was still warm. I have a lot of responsibilities in the house, and one is that I make his dinner thirty minutes before he gets home. I sit back down in my regular spot on the leather sofa. Random shows were playing on TV.
My mother would be back anytime from now. She always checks the house for any dust so she can insult me and complain about how I do nothing in the house.
‘morning star, beautiful star.’
‘morning star, beautiful star.’
-Lora, what’s up?
-I called to check up on you, is everything alright? — She is such a caring person.
-Calm down girl all I did was quit my job
-YOU DID WHAT?
I turned my face towards the front door; there my mum standing.
-Oh no!
-Lora, I got to go.
I quickly hung up the phone. I looked at my mother with pleading eyes.
-JOHNSON—she called out for my dad— come, hear what your stupid daughter said.
I flinched at the tone of her voice. My fingers formed into a ball. My eyes locked on the carpet under my feet.
“What’s going on here?” Daddy asks. I try to find words within myself to say, but my mind is blank. Brain, this is not a good time to disappoint me. What kind of brain do I have? Honestly, when I need it the most, it stops functioning. I don’t need my brain as my enemy.
-TIA! are you ignoring me?
-Huh?
I looked at my father. His eyebrows pushed together. His brown piercing eyes dug holes in me I cannot hide.
-I said, why did you quit your job.
My mouth suddenly became dry, and my nails dug deep into my palm. I could hear my heart beating.
-I agree to marry him, I whispered.
-Oh, that is great news! I will make some important phone calls said to my mum as she walks away.
-Good, is my food still warm?
-Yes, please
Everyone leaves me to go on their business. The songs of silence and loneliness rang in my ears. My life is over, and I will now be officially a slave to someone I know nothing about. I asked them to tell me his name, at least but was denied it “for my protection.” After my high school graduation, I wanted to go out of the state for college, but my parents refused to say I should work instead—that’s how I met my best friend, Lora. She had been working at the hotel long before I got there—I hear footsteps approaching.
-Straighten that frown off your face; you will be leaving tomorrow; he is such a nice man. Now go pack up your belongings.
-What do you mean? I was supposed to leave in five days, remember?
-Well, yea, that was before he saw your picture and thought he wanted a wedding, now he does not even want the wedding. You should be happy he even considers you, she said. I nodded my head. I have accepted my fate. There is no point in fighting; they will win because they always win. I walked into my small room and locked the door behind me. My knees tremble as pain rushed through my veins and had to lean against the door for support as my body shakes. Crying won’t help.

-by Tilisa Mlondani

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