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Authors: Yusuf Blanton

The Shards of Serenity (5 page)

BOOK: The Shards of Serenity
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My college friends had always told me that the true test of a new partner was seeing how you felt the day after you slept with them. At the time, I had no idea what they were talking about as the only man I’d ever allowed inside me was my husband. But, after sleeping with Markus Glenn, it all started to become clear.

I was sitting at my work desk, editing an article about a new furniture store opening when I received an e-mail from Markus that was unlike any others. Although our correspondence was always kind and affectionate, this time he had traded the casual “I miss you” statements, for long poetic devices that compared me to African queens, elements of nature, and the general fulfillment of his heart’s desires. I felt conflicted; as my heart warmed up, panties tingled, and mind began to wonder if I deserved any of this. Seeking outside opinion, I rolled my office chair into the next cubicle to talk to the only other woman that was within ten years of my age bracket.

“Monica,” I called quietly, hoping not to be disturb our menopausal co-workers. “Can I talk to you about something?”

“Sure you can, girl,” she responded, as she abruptly concluded a phone conversation she was having, and turned her body to me completely. “What’s going on?”

“Okay, so you know that guy that I told you I’ve been seeing?” I asked, feeling an awkward sense of shyness.

“Um, yes, I know about the famous writer that you got eating out the palm of your lucky hand. We only talk about him every day,” she sassily retorted. “What’s going on? Did you finally break him off a piece of that chocolate cake?”

“Yeah…we had sex,” I admitted. “But, see, that’s the problem. It was amazing. He was physically perfect, he touched me in ways I’ve never felt before, our spirits connected in ways I’ve never understood…”

“Girl, it sounds like his dick was so good, he’s got you writing Shakespeare! What’s the problem?!”

“The problem is - I don’t know if I deserve all this attention. He’s a good man. He’s got a big heart, and he’s ready to actually love someone and settle down. I love his conversation, I love his company, and I officially love his sex. But, what am I really capable of providing him? I had to cancel my phone contract so the man I’m legally married to would stop harassing me. My parents don’t know him which is a huge deal in my culture. And, I feel like I’m up against all the competition in the World. Have you read his work? He’s seen more pussy than a gynecologist!”

“Girl, listen,” Monica started, trying to console me. “You can’t be mad at the man for having experience - that’s the only reason he’s able to freak you so good. Secondly, your ex-husband is a crazy bastard, and a $500 divorce will get him out of your life forever. Third, stop tripping about your parents! You’re twenty-four years old. Either take responsibility of your life, and do what you want to do; or introduce the damn man to your family, and let it happen. Either way, you got a winner; and you’d be stupid to think otherwise.”

“Thanks, you’re right,” I stated, as I saw the futility of my own arguments. “I’ll see if I can get him and my parents in the same room for dinner tonight, just so I don’t feel like I’m creeping behind anyone’s back. Also, what I said about his sex game stays between you and me. I don’t need anyone else going after him,” I giggled.


It was seven o’ clock that evening when I arrived at my parent’s house for dinner. Markus was scheduled to arrive at seven-thirty, and I already knew my family would have more questions than a game show.

“Serenity!” wailed my mother, as I opened the door lightly, hoping not to distract her from whatever she was doing. “First you move out to your own apartment, knowing how me and your step-father feel about a woman living on her own in this country. And now, you’re introducing us to a new man? What about the one you’re currently married to? Did you and Mitchell go through an Islamic divorce? Why didn’t you consult me, your step-father, or even your grandfather first?

“Hello, mother,” I interrupted, hoping she’d stop talking.

“How are you today?”

“Serenity Davis! I ask you all those questions, and all you can ask me is how I’m doing? Who have you become?”

“Yes, I moved into an apartment, and it’s going fine. I know how you and your husband feel about this country, despite being American. And, I’m introducing you all to Markus in an attempt to keep peace throughout the family. I thought a formal introduction would be better than you randomly bumping into him and I in public.”

“You’re going out with him?! What are his intentions, Serenity? Who’s your dating chaperone? What kind of name is Markus? He’s African-American, right? Where do you keep finding these Muslim men with American names?”

As the questions rolled on for another five minutes straight, I wondered if introducing Markus to my family was really the best course of action. I knew in my heart that I was trying to satisfy my religious standards. But, I also knew that I hadn’t subscribed to those standards in any serious way for at least two years. While my thoughts lingered on, and I tried to adjust the head wrap I’d almost forgotten how to tie, I heard a familiar knock on the door and ran to open it. Before I could make it, however, my stepfather beat me to the punch.


As Bilal opened the door, I noticed an immediate look of shock, as his midnight eyes scanned Markus up and down. “This is a no solicitation zone,” he coldly stated. “We won’t be buying no vacuums. Now get the Hell off my property before you scare away my step-daughter’s fiancée!”

“You must be Serenity’s step-father; it’s nice to meet you. I’m the man you’re waiting to meet - Markus Glenn. How are you?”

“Now now, that’s some crafty sales pitch you got going on, but I’m not waiting to meet no God-damn vacuum salesman! You have ten seconds to get your white ass off my property before I call the police!”

“Bilal!” I shouted. “He’s not a vacuum salesman. This is my boyfriend, Markus.”

“Boyfriend? I don’t appreciate you talking the way the disbelievers do. As Muslims, the only members of the opposite sex we deal with is family, those we intend to marry, and those we already married. You’re too damn old for me to remind you of that, Serenity. But, this is your fiancée, huh? I didn’t expect for him to be white!”

“Come on in, Markus,” I said, trying to ease the thick layers of tension. “We’re glad you made it safely. Come have a seat at the dinner table.  My mother and I just finished cooking.”


The dinner itself was awkward at best as flavorful plates of garlic chicken and jasmine rice were made tasteless by the atmospheric awkwardness of the situation. After five minutes of quiet chewing and blank staring, my mother decided to break the silence.

“So, Markus, what do you do?”

“I’m a writer. I’m best known for my volumes of poetry, but I also dabble in some freelance journalism. What about yourself?”

“Oh, I believe a woman’s place is in the home; taking care of her husband, keeping things clean, and making sure the kids are fed. Of course, my Serenity would never listen to me about such things. She had to go to school, and now she has to work. Sometimes I wonder what this World has come to. What do you think, Markus? Do you want a wife that stays at home and takes care of all your family’s needs? Or, do you want someone that’s so exhausted from work that she falls asleep before you get home at night?”

“I believe in equality. If she wants to work, let her work. If she wants to stay at home, then she can try that, too. Although with the economy in its current state, it’s not as easy as it once was for a family to live off a single paycheck.”

“So you’d rather have a house full of inanimate objects and an exhausted woman, than a strong family?”

“That’s not what I’m saying at all,” he responded, igniting an awkward patch of silence.

“So when did you embrace Islam, Markus?” asked my mother, trying to continue the conversation smoothly.

“Oh, I’m actually not Muslim,” he stated. “I respect your culture, the part it plays in Serenity’s life, and everything you guys represent. But, I actually don’t subscribe to any major religion.”

“He’s a disbeliever!” yelled Bilal, almost choking on his food. “Get him out of my house! Get this fucking fornicator out of my house!”

“Bilal, calm down,” chimed my mother. “Markus, why would you come to this household and try to earn approval for our daughter, if you’re not even Muslim? As a woman, Serenity is not allowed to marry disbelievers. Even our holy book reiterates this point, and all major scholars of our tradition would call it an abomination.”

“Ma’am, with all due respect, your daughter and I haven’t talked about marriage yet. I love her, and I have no doubt that I’d love to spend my life with her. I’m even open to marriage, if that’s what she sees as the fulfillment of secure monogamy. But, I simply came to this dinner because she invited me. I thought it would be pleasant to meet you and your husband especially given how close your daughter and I have become.”

“Excuse me - did this white, disbelieving-ass, rock-star-writer just say he’s gotten close to my stepdaughter?! What do you mean by close? Are you bumping private parts with my little girl?! Because I swear to God, I will take off this kufi and go back to jail for your no-good ass!”

“Bilal, calm the Hell down!” yelled my mother, as fear began to visibly dominate her expression. “Markus, you need to leave this house now, and you need to leave my daughter alone forever. I don’t know what you two have been doing, but it’s not acceptable, and this family won’t stand for it.”

Without any further confrontation, both Markus and I began to head for the door.

“You, Mrs. Davis! You need to stay right there! If you leave with that God-forsaken man, you are ex-communicated from this family, permanently. I’m saying you will not be buried in the same graveyard, you will not be invited to our cousins’ weddings, and you will not be informed of any family business whatsoever! Do you understand me, Serenity?”

As I felt my heart break into tiny pieces, I decided leaving by myself was the only thing I could do. If I stayed in the house a minute longer, I was afraid Bilal would burst a vein in his forehead. And. if I went off with Markus, my family would never speak to me again.

“I’m going home, mother. I won’t follow him. I’ll call you tomorrow. I love you.”

“I love you too, Serenity. Make sure you get down on your knees tonight and pray that God forgives you for this adultery you’ve brought up in my house! Pray your husband takes you back, or at least that you can be a single, righteous Muslima! I raised you better than this. I know I did!”

“You did, momma. I’ll talk to you soon,” I said, as I watched Markus’ car sadly pull away.

“Talk to you soon, my daughter.”






I returned home from Serenity’s parent’s house feeling like I’d stepped in a time machine and taken a tour through pre-modern Arabia. I knew racism and prejudice existed, and were themes I’d used my social voice and career platform to speak against consistently. But, never had I been a victim of either; especially in such a blatant and outlandish way. I wondered what love had to do with religion or skin color, and whether Serenity would be able to place our relationship above her parent’s opinions.

Upon walking in, I was greeted by Simone, who laid curled up on the sofa, binge-watching reality television shows in typical fashion. “So, do her parents love you; or what?” she asked with a wide grin, seemingly hoping to hear a romantic story about how things went perfectly.

“Well, if I were black, Muslim, and into rushing weddings - I would have been a hit. Unfortunately, I’m batting zero for three,” I said, as I flopped my body down onto the left cushion.

“Okay, we all know your melanin deficiency isn’t anything we can change. But Markus, what did you expect? Anyone that took Comparative Religions in high school should know that Muslim women only marry Muslim men. And, the amount of white Muslim converts in America might be rising, but it’s still statistically low. They’re not used to your kind. Their mosques are like a cultural rainbow with just about everything except queers and white people.”

“That sounds ridiculous, Simone,” I retorted. “But you’re right, I probably should have done some research beforehand.”

“Well, now you know. So, what are you two going to do? Fall apart before the pressure becomes too much to handle? Or do you really love each other enough to revolutionize her entire value system?”

“I’d love to opt for the second. But, I just don’t know where her head is at. As it is, her PTSD has her shutting down every time something reminds her of male dominance. I honestly don’t know how she plans on handling this new layer of pressure. All I can say is that I love her enough to do whatever it takes.”

“Whatever it takes, huh? Not to be crass; but that might require an engagement ring, a religious ceremony, and some Arabic lessons.”

“I’m going to write,” I responded, as I got up and walked to my bedroom.


I don’t know why, but since the age of literacy, I’d always found reading and writing to be the most therapeutic of coping mechanisms. Whenever I wrote, it felt like I was exercising a supernatural ability to articulate all the confusion of my World into grandiose, linear expressions. And, whenever I read, it felt as though I was escaping from said World to experience an alternate dimension. I always joked to my friends in sobriety that I’d still be using drugs if it didn’t have such an adverse effect on my ability to concentrate and make sense while engaging in those activities. Realistically, that was probably true.

As the thousandth word began to fall from my fingertips, and a healthy stream of sweat began to fall off my brow, however, I felt the distracting vibration of my cell phone. Sensing that it was Serenity, I brought the phone from my pocket to my ear, and answered without looking.


“Oh, so that’s how you answer the phone now?” capped an unfamiliar female voice.

“Who is this? Are you doing one of your voices, Serenity?”

“Ser-who? This is Lalah! You know - the bitch you sweet-talked, fucked raw, and then ran away from, while her coochie was still dripping with your semen? Yeah, that’s me.”

“Hi, Lalah. That’s probably the most explicit introduction I’ve ever heard.”

“Man, whatever! Look, it’s been over a month since you busted my shit open, and I still haven’t got a period! So I went to the clinic and got tested. Looks like you and I have some child support shit to figure out in a few months, unless you’re trying to stand up to the plate.”


“Man, must I repeat my damn self? I am pregnant. With your child. I thought you were American, but if it turns out you speak one of them European languages, I can get a translator.”

“Lalah, this really isn’t a time for sarcasm. How do you know the child’s mine? It’s not like we’ve been dating, so I’m sure I’m not the only man you’ve slept with in the last month.”

“What do you think I am, a fucking hood rat?!” she capped. “My friend Anthony hit it once or twice, but that was with a condom, and he didn’t cum anyway. You’re the only one to hit it raw, and ooze your child-making shit all up in there!”

“Okay. This is a lot to process. Let me think about it, and I’ll call you back tomorrow with a plan of action.”

“Man, you make it sound like a fucking business venture. But, okay, I’ll keep my legs closed tonight. Just know that somebody is gonna father this fucking child, and you’re paying your dues either way. I don’t deal with deadbeats, and neither does the government!”

“Okay Lalah, thank you. Goodnight.”



Before I could fully diverge into a panic attack, my phone rang again. This time it was Serenity, honing a tone that sounded somewhere between disheveled and passionate.

“Markus, I love you; and I’m sorry about earlier. You know I don’t believe in relying on phones to communicate heavy subjects. So, how about you swing by my apartment tomorrow after I get off work? I want to see you, and talk, and work this out.”

“I would love that,” I responded, as I felt the weight of the World dissipate into the lightness of a feather.

“Goodnight, Markus.”

“Goodnight, Serenity.”

BOOK: The Shards of Serenity
12.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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