Today is Wednesday and you know what that means–it’s Dear Love Day! Let’s get to Chapter Three. You’ve met Grace and Kaya. Now, let’s round out our trio. Introducing Shahira…
Chapter Three: Dear Love, How Many Times Do We Try?
I’ve never been one to give up easily, but a bitch needs answers. How long do you hang on? How do I know when you’re completely gone? You need to get better at announcing yourself. You didn’t tell me you were coming, and now I’m not sure if you’ve left. How many times do we get the password wrong before the account is locked? Love, are you still here? And if you’re not… should I go too?
“Sha, what’s taking you so long?” my husband yelled up the stairs at me. I swiped a brush dusted with translucent powder once more across my nose, sprayed some setting spray on my face and left my bedroom. My shoes were at the bottom of the steps with my impatient husband, and I was ready to go.
“Okay, okay,” I said, coming down. My husband smiled at me. Rich Davis is my other half and has been my world since high school. Twenty-three years with the same guy sounds crazy when I say it out loud, but I really can’t imagine my life without him. I smiled back.
“Well? Long as this took me, you better form some words into flowery, mushy compliments,” I said. Rich smirked.
“Come on, Sha. You know what you look like. Why I gotta say it all the time?”
“You don’t ‘gotta’ do nothing, Negro. But it would be nice if you did.”
“You already know how I feel,” Rich said, turning away. I slipped into my shoes and shut my eyes briefly. That line had become my husband’s go-to as of late and I was a little tired of it. Fifteen, twelve, ten, hell even five years ago—yes Shahira Davis knew exactly how her husband felt. About everything. Now, he was so closed up I was guessing at best. And guessing is the worst. I grabbed my shawl from the back of the couch and walked to the door, throwing it open. I went outside and headed to the car. I heard Rich locking the door behind us and following me. I opened the passenger door of my husband’s SUV and got inside. He got in a few moments later.
“How long do we have to be at this thing?” Rich asked me, starting the car. I turned and faced the window, looking out into the night.
“Not long,” I said back, suddenly feeling sad. Rich grunted in satisfaction and pulled into the street. I sighed, but he didn’t notice. He never notices.
I’d dragged my husband to a celebratory reception for the book release of an author in Kaya’s publishing house. As a senior editor and writer herself, Kaya loved seeing new books on the shelves, especially books she’d helped come to fruition. I’d wanted to come by myself, but when Gracie mentioned offhandedly that they never see Rich anymore, I figured I’d better bring him. When we got to the restaurant where the reception was being held, Rich headed straight for the bar and I searched the room for the girls. I saw Grace waving at me and headed over.
“Hey boo! You look good!” Kaya complimented me. Her copper skin was smooth and brightly enhanced by the orange tones in her flawless makeup. She was grinning and I could see how many drinks she’d already had in her umber eyes. I grinned back.
“Thank you, my baby,” I said. Grace leaned forward and hugged me. Her sandalwood scent always soothed me. I hugged her back, breathing deep.
“Sha, what’s wrong?” she asked me, pulling back to look into my eyes. I shook my head. Damn Gracie and her therapist superpowers.
“Later, I promise. Come say hi to Rich,” I said, pulling them with me to the bar. I got up next to my husband and tapped his shoulder. He turned, drink in hand, putting his phone away hurriedly. I frowned.
“Oh, hey ladies,” Rich spoke, smiling. He leaned over to hug Kaya and Grace. I stepped back to give them room, still wondering about the phone. Who had he been talking to?
“Richie, we missed you! Where the hell you been?” Kaya said. Rich laughed.
“Hard at work. Gotta keep this one in designer shoes, you know how it is,” he joked, pointing at me. I didn’t think it was that funny since although he did buy me shoes, he never cared enough these days to actually notice them. In fact, I’d only bought the last two pairs because making him yell about his credit card bill was the easiest way to talk to him. I signaled the bartender and he came over to us.
“Whiskey ginger,” I said, gesturing for me and Grace, who also didn’t have a drink. Moments later, I felt the cold crisp soda and the bite of the bourbon in the back of my throat and I felt better. I grabbed Kaya’s hand.
“Come on. Introduce me to this talented writer we’re celebrating. You coming, honey?” I said, speaking to my husband at the last. He shook his head.
“Do your thing. I’m good here,” he said. I scowled.
“You know, the point of asking you to do things with me, is to have you actually do them with me.”
“Shahira, don’t start—”
“I’ve already met the author, so why don’t you two go and Richie and I will stay here?” Grace interjected, interrupting what would have most likely been a pretty epic public argument. I sighed and walked away with Kaya. She introduced me to the author, I bought a signed book, and headed to the other bar in the room. Kaya and I sat down.
“Sha, what’s going on?” she asked me. I looked over at my husband, laughing and nodding at something Grace was saying. I sighed.
“He never talks to me anymore. Or notices me, or cares when I dress up, or bothers to eat a meal with me. He fucks me sporadically, but I feel like he only does it so that I don’t complain more than I already do. He’s been phoning into this marriage for a while now, but every time I ask what the problem is, he denies that there even is a problem. I don’t know what else to do, honestly.” I vomited my worry all over my best friend and then took a deep breath, and knocked back the rest of my drink. Kaya took my hand.
“Okay. So maybe it’s time to push harder. Ask him to see someone with you. I mean, if you want to push harder. Do you?” she asked me. I shrugged.
“I mean, I don’t know. What if the thrill is just gone? What if he doesn’t love me anymore? I—”
“Shahira, whatever the case is, you need to know so you can decide what to do,” Kaya said. I nodded and signaled for another drink.
“I have been the woman that Rich Davis loves for two thirds of my life. If Rich Davis doesn’t love me anymore, where does that leave me? Who in the hell am I? I mean, I know I’m still myself. I’m still Shahira Davis, HR guru and the baddest bitch. But still. I have never loved any one but Richard. And I never will. I knew that the day we got married. Where will my heart go… if it’s not with him?” I sighed and turned, heading back over to Rich and Gracie. Kaya followed, her hand on my shoulder, soothing me. I reached my husband and leaned into his side, kissing him.
“Miss me?” I said to him. Rich smirked.
“Come on, Sha. You know how I feel,” he said back, hugging me to him quickly, and then letting me go. I nodded and signaled to the bartender for another drink. I stole a glance behind me and saw Kaya whispering to Grace. I knew she was catching her up, and lunch tomorrow was going to be a doozy.
Rich and I didn’t talk on the way home. We didn’t talk when we got to the house. We just went to bed silent, like two strangers. Our norm these days.
Look Love, I don’t know what you’re trying to prove here, but I’m not about this life. I don’t want to give up, but how long should I keep trying? I know you’re still firmly with me. I’m sure of it. But did you leave my husband? And if you did leave him, where does that… leave me?