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Authors: Yusuf Blanton

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CHAPTER NINETEEN

SERENITY DAVIS

March, 2006

 

They say after a year-long relationship, it generally takes six month to get over your ex. I was with Markus Glenn for just over one month, and half a year later; I still missed him more than anything.

The realization hit me one cold winter day when the breeze blew briskly, and I sat on a wooden park bench looking out to nature sadly. A wig of straight, brown hair replaced what used to be dreadlocks; complimenting my light skin to the point that I almost looked Caucasian. As I watched the birds fly together loyally, I remembered the man that I had discarded out of fear, and I began to sob woefully.

“Serenity, is that you?” asked a strange feminine voice from close by. When I looked up, I recognized my old cubicle partner; Monica.

“Monica, what are you doing here?!” I squealed, doing my best to hide my sour reflections.

“Girl, this is my morning jog route. The question is, what are you doing here? What happened to your hair, and why did you leave our job without notification?”

“The hair and the job are both long stories,” I began. “I’m just here to catch up on some thoughts. I’m glad you’re doing well.”

“Serenity - I might not have known you forever, but I know when a sister is down. What’s going on boo-boo?”

“Monica, it’s nothing. I’m just thinking about that man I used to love, Markus. And, how I kind of let things fall apart for nothing. I mean, granted, I was going through some personal struggles; and I’m really just barely on my feet now. But, I love him. I loved him from the first time I saw him, heard his voice, and felt that intrinsic connection.”

“Girl, you’re on that Shakespeare shit again, but if you’re telling me you broke up with Markus Glenn - I need to smack you. Call that man up! You still have his number saved, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I think I do. I’ve got a new phone, but my contacts are the same.”

“Well, whatever girl. You call that man, you make some extra-light caramel babies, and you bring them by the office so Aunty Monica can spoil the shit out of them. Are we clear?”

“Yes, Monica. Thank you.”

 

After moments of deep contemplation and a few more tears, I realized I had nothing left to lose. My ex-husband was dead, my step-father was in jail for life, my grandfather was locked away for dementia, my mother had followed an Egyptian man back to his country, and realistically, things had been over between Markus and me for some time. At least trying to get one of those things back would be a comfort, if even possible.

The phone rang three times, before eventually I heard his baritone voice answer with a sexy light rasp. “Hello?”

“Hello Markus, this is Serenity.”

“The Serenity?! Serenity Davis?! Hold on, my heart’s palpitating. I’m gonna have to lie down for this one.”

“You’re funny, Markus. But, yes. How are you?”

Our conversation rolled on for two hours, as I shivered on the park bench and exchanged life information. I told him about what happened that fateful night, the amount of in-patient counseling I endured to stabilize myself, and my living situation in a women’s group home.

“That’s great, Serenity. Are you happy there?”

“I don’t know if ‘happy’ is the word, Markus, but I’m getting better. I didn’t have a bite to eat for twenty days after the trauma. They’ve got me back up to two meals a day which is good for now.”

“Good for you - that’s amazing! So, we should get together sometime. Maybe for coffee?” he proposed, seemingly never shocked by my oversized baggage.

“Coffee would be great, Markus. But, I’ve got to be home by nine o’ clock. My facility has a curfew,” I giggled, hoping the laughter would mask my embarrassment.

“No problem. I’ll pick you up in two hours, and have you back well before the evening sets in.”

“Okay, Markus. I’ll see you then.”

 

As the phone clicked off, I experienced an overwhelming mix of excitement and reluctance. I knew Markus was the man my heart desired, and a part of me felt whole knowing there’d be another opportunity to build a future. But, another part of me - one tangled in doubt, damage, and paranoia - had me feeling as though “love” was beyond my human capability.

If my stay at the group home had made one thing clear, it was that my mental condition was one of fragility. While formally waking up to the smell of coffee, work, and a busy schedule had maintained a sense of social normalcy in my life; waking up every day to women with shattered dreams, sleepless nights, and psychological diagnoses had yielded the opposite result especially when I realized I was no better or more well-adjusted than the worst of them. For the past months, my days had been spent in grueling therapy sessions where my full energy was exercised trying to articulate the memories that tortured my soul.

Before allowing the unease to become a dysfunctional form of hysteria, I decided to brush myself off and get ready for my meeting with Markus. Although I knew the chance of failure outweighed the national trend of obesity; I had to at least give things another shot. Too much of my life had been stripped away from me involuntarily. Although perhaps haphazard, ill-prepared, or pessimistically executed; this was my attempt at regaining a fundamental part of my life.

CHAPTER TWENTY

MARKUS GLENN

Serenity and I eventually did get back together after a six month break that nearly had me relapsing back into my bachelor ways. Just like our first time together - she filled my sense of emptiness with happiness, desires with passion, and loneliness with company. However, the transition from ‘something’ to ‘nothing’, back to ‘something’, was eventually too much to bare. We tried to pick up where we left off, as a couple that was happily engaged and had the future in our hands. But, the realities of her group home commitment stopped us from being able to plan anything. We tried going back to square one, and building a foundation of positive memories. But, her general distaste for the male gender seemed to pop up at the most inopportune times; whether she found my grandiose gestures to be ‘too much’, my laid-back efforts to be ‘too casual’, or my sexual drive to be ‘too calculated.’ In her moments of clarity, she’d admit that most of her gripes ranged between self-created and generally associated with her post-trauma; but other times she would point fingers and blame until argumentation began to ruin our experience.

It all truly came to an end one Friday evening when I was lacing up my shoes for a beautiful night out. I’d reserved two tickets to the concert hall we’d gone out to for our first date, and her group home had extended her curfew to facilitate her attendance. Before I could get to my right shoe, however, I felt my cell phone vibrate vigorously, signifying a long stream of text messages. What I read, I still have saved to his day, as a record of closure to my ever-opening mind:

 

“Markus,

 

I know ever since we got back together, my mental condition has been wavering, and you’ve requested stability in our relationship. You have every right to ask for that, and every right to receive that. It is, however, something I can’t give.

My heart was ripped out at twenty years old; when my parents sold me off to my ex-husband for a $10,000 bridal gift, and a promise to pay for my tuition costs. He’s dead now and has been for seven months, but I still can’t get find enough soap on the planet to wash those memories away.

In the time I’ve known you, Markus Glenn, you’ve been perfect. In the cliché words of Hollywood movies, “it’s not you, it’s me.” Only in this case, I mean that literally. I am not capable of loving. I am not capable of trusting. You try to reel me in, Markus, and I feel overwhelmed. You try to let me breathe, and I feel neglected.

My parents named me Serenity, and that’s ironic, because the closest I’ve ever gotten to deserving that name was when I had you. But, I can’t hold you down another day, Markus. You always want to know where this going, and in my heart I know the answer is ’nowhere.’ We can make plans, but my fears will knock them down. You can impregnate me, but I am horrified of having a child. I am not ready for love. I can give it, but only when it doesn‘t intersect with my trauma. I can receive it, but I cannot sustain it. You deserve better than that, Markus.

To make this transition easier for the both of us; I’ve blocked your number, taken you off my visitation list, and removed you from my social media. We cannot force something that will never work. But, thank you, Markus. Thank you for showing me what it is to be loved. I will always love you.

 

Sincerely,

 

Serenity”

 

After reading her words for the umpteenth time; I tried to text her back, but my message was returned. I tried to call her, but it looped straight to voicemail. I tried to message her online, but I couldn’t find her profiles. I tried to call her halfway house, but they said that I was off her contact lists altogether.

I suppose if there’s one thing to learn from my experience with Serenity, it’s that love is truly unpredictable. While Christians take their definition of the word from idealistic Biblicisms, and coffee shop intellectuals borrow theirs from the tortured words of suicidal philosophers; the reality is that none of us know the depth of what we’re talking about until we experience love first hand. It can be slippery, it can be constant, it can be temporary, and it can be permanent. At its core, however, it is perfection. A moment in time where time itself freezes, the breeze stops blowing, the sun stops shining too abrasively, the moon stops glowing so haphazardly, our desires shrink to nil proportions; and our compassion and devotion toward another person override the traits of the universe that we’ve served our entire lives.

At times when the World gets to be too much, and the problems seem to override the solutions in only ways that life coaches and glorified maniacs could ever figure out; I think of Serenity Davis. It’s at those moments, when I recall her vivid memory, kindred voice, and warm soul; that I envision her spirit smiling at me from locations unknown. I remember the plans we never fulfilled, the experiences we never shared, and the words I wished to exchange. But more dominantly, I remember a beautiful soul inside a tortured temple that, at the greatest height of conflict, took time out to love me. It’s at those moments I look up to the elements of the sky and I sincerely say,
“thank you.”

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Yusuf Blanton was raised in Old Saybrook, Connecticut - a small, beach town suburb forty five minutes from Hartford, and ninety minutes from the creative mecca of New York City. It was there he developed an early love for creative expression; first through the tortured prose of writers like Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, and Kurt Vonnegut; and later through the conscious lyrics of reggae music.

Yusuf currently lives in a small suburb in Virginia and is working on more novellas and musical collaborations.

BOOK: The Shards of Serenity
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