It has been quite sometime since I posted any stories for you to read. Almost one year, to be exact. I was browsing through and realized that I had started sharing my Work-in-progress, “Jaded: Restoration” and just stopped BRAPS at episode 2. Allow me to apologise for leaving you hanging. Please forgive me.
Now, do continue.
If you are visiting the blog for the first time, be sure to peruse the prior posts and read Excerpts 1 and 2 before you embark on this particular post. And, remember – do not hesitate to leave comments, like and SHARE.
She clutched the porcelain rim of the toilet and spat one final time into its depths. Raising her head, she turned towards the persistent cries forcing their way into the small self-contained Constant Spring Road apartment. Jade wiped the back of her hand across her mouth and rose gingerly from the bathroom floor as the thunderous pounding began.
“JADE! Open up! Wi know that you’re in there!”
The voice belonged to Miriam, her one-time church sister and best friend.
Cold-sweat washed Jade as she staggered towards the door, swiping frustratedly at her forehead. For two weeks straight she had been retching the non-existent contents of an empty stomach. No longer could she live in denial; not only had the Devil left his imprint on her mind, body and soul, he had also planted an unwanted seed deep within her womb.
“JADE! Come on, girl! Open up, nuh man!” Worry coloured Miriam’s tone as her pitch grew in intensity. “Jade! We are worried about yuh! Wi just want to mek sure that yuh awright!”
She did not feel the coldness of the tiles under her bare feet as she stumbled back to the couch…sometimes she felt like she didn’t want to be in that place anymore. It had been the Devil who had secured it for her; he who had paid the Landlord eight whole months’ rent up front. At the time she had felt lucky that this man loved her so much. Now, the bitter bile in her throat told her that he had just done it to buy her love. Six months ago the small, state-of-the-art apartment in the upscale neighbourhood had felt like a palace, an escape from the confines of her mother’s nest. Now, it was only a cage; and, she a trapped bird.
“JADE! OPEN UP, NUH MAN!”
Jade lowered her aching body onto the overstuffed sofa, wincing under her breath as the pain in the pit of her stomach lashed her. She knew she needed to see a doctor and yet she had not. Shame was her new best friend. She knew she should have gone to the police and yet she had not…the Son of Satan had threatened to kill her if she did. Besides, he was the police! How could she ask the police to protect her from the police. And, anyway, why would they believe her over an upstanding colleague? It would have been her word against his. No, she had decided to suffer in silence. Nobody had to know.
It took a few minutes for her to process the sudden silence that rang throughout the building…Miriam had grown fed-up and left…they all did. Her mother had come, several times, in fact. So had Sister Jones and Pastor Franklin…she knew all their voices…all she had ignored. She did not want to see anybody not even the people who were closest to her. She knew she would not be able to bear the sight of the scorn and the judgement on their faces and the last thing she wanted was their pity. She didn’t need them to rescue her – where were they when that monster was taking advantage of her weakness? She didn’t need them now…all of them could just go to friggin’ Jupiter!
And, she really did not want to talk to traitor Miriam; how would she act when she found out that she had been right about Damian all along…
The sound of a key turning in the lock jerked Jade from her cat nap; she sprung to her feet and cowered as the front door was flung open.
Miriam stopped with one hand on the doorknob and stared at her best friend crouching before the settee like a deer caught in headlights for one long second. Her eyes could not fathom what they were seeing; her beautiful, hot-girl friend was almost unrecognizable. The oversized Nike t-shirt was sweat-stained and dappled with what looked like fresh vomit. Her trademark braids were coming undone on one side of her head. Her usually radiant light-brown skin was dry; her lips chapped. Tear tracks streaked her cheeks; the beautiful puss-eyes were swollen and red. And, even beneath the baggy garment, Miriam could see that she had lost weight.
Miriam tried to speak but her vocal cords let her down. She let go of the door and heard it shut with a thud behind her. She took the few steps required to close the distance between them. “Jesus Chris, Jade! What happen to yuh?”
Jade straightened up and Miriam felt her tense as she locked her in a tight hug. The pungent odor of sweat, mingled with vomit, mingled with bad breath assailed her but she hung on to Jade like it was Judgement Day and she was the Saviour.
“Jade! Oh, God! I’m so glad yuh okay!”
Miriam held her best friend at arm’s length after what felt like an eternity had elapsed. Jade’s eyes were dead. Gone was the mischievous glimmer. The familiar twinkle was long buried. Miriam knew instinctively that this was just a shell of Jade Brown.
Something terrible had befallen her best friend. And, as Miriam sat her robotic, unresisting body down onto the sofa, she knew without the shadow of a doubt what that “something” was…
She slapped Jade’s cheek lightly; she was completely spaced out, staring at a spot somewhere on the wall beyond Miriam’s head. “JADE!” Miriam shouted. “What Damian duh to yuh, Jade?”
At the sound of the name, Jade blinked and focused on the other girl as though she was seeing her for the first time.
“Lawd God Almighty, Jade! Talk to mi nuh!”
“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain!”
Miriam was momentarily stunned by the religious utterance but when she leaned closer and peered deep into Jade’s eyes, her friend started laughing. Miriam recoiled and stared speechless at her as she laughed, a high-pitched, unnatural cackle that was not Jade at all. “What’s wrong with you, Jade?” she repeated, confusion knitting her brow. “What did Damian do to you?”
At the second reference to her boyfriend, Jade’s laughter ceased instantly. She flounced off Miriam’s hand and rose to her feet abruptly. Turning her back to Miriam, she walked, with a slight limp, towards the bedroom. Miriam stared openmouthed at her before jumping up and following, catching the door before Jade could shut it in her face.
Jade pouted and cut her eyes at her before moving to the unmade divan. “How yuh get in here, Miriam?” The voice was flat and expressionless and once again Miriam marvelled at this disturbing metamorphose.
“The apartment manager lend mi the spare key!” Miriam replied, eyes taking in the untidy, musty, semi-dark room. “What does it matter how I got in? Looks like I took drastic action just in time! Look at yuh!”
Jade looked at her like she was a cockroach crawling around on the floor and proceeded to curl up into the foetal position. Miriam plopped down beside her, determined to get to the bottom of what was bothering her best friend.
“Jade!” When Jade’s only response was to close her eyes, Miriam hissed her teeth and gripped her shoulder indignantly. The sudden violent reaction was appalling.
“THE BLOOD OF JESUS IS AGAINST YOU, SATAN! DON’T TOUCH MI!”
Jade’s eyes had sprang wide open and she had lept to her feet in the middle of the mattress! The eyes were wild and she was making the sign of the cross and screaming as she backed slowly into the corner. “DON’T TOUCH ME, DEMON! BE GONE! YOU SHALL NOT HARM ME! THE BLOOD-THE-BLOOD-THE-BLOOD…”
Miriam had lept to her own feet at the unexpected outburst and was now gaping at the screaming maniac who used to be her best friend. Though her heart was racing she remained calm. Raising both palms in surrender, she sought to establish eye contact with the obviously disturbed girl. “Jade,” she whispered. “It’s me…Miriam. It’s your best friend, Jade! It’s me…Miriam!”
Miriam felt the tears stinging the back of her throat as she watched Jade slowly emerge from her hysteria, sinking to a crouching position and steadily regaining her composure. Then when she was sure that Jade had come back into herself, she walked slowly back across the room and went to sit beside her. “Is me, Jade…is only Miriam! I’m here, girl. Nobody can hurt yuh anymore…” She reached out one tentative arm to touch the matted hair, then lowered it to the quivering shoulder once more. When Jade’s only response was to begin a gentle rocking motion, Miriam pulled her to her in a soothing embrace. “I’m here, Jade…I’m here…I won’t leave yuh, girl!” Over and over, Miriam muttered comforting words as the spasms rocked her traumatized friend’s body as she weeped.
________________Copyright © 2013 Mandisa M. Parnell