“I know you want to know what I have to say, but first, you have to promise me you won’t get mad.”
“Woman. After 13 years of knowing me, have I ever gotten mad at you?”
“No, but I’ve never told you anything like what I’m about to”, she replied.
“Ok. Mavis Sabine Wilson, I will not get mad, or angry…happy now?”
“Yes. Ok. What I have wanted to tell you for a while, but especially after I met Colby Junior is this…I feel like I’m the reason Colby Junior isn’t our son.”
To say Colby was past dumbfounded would be an understatement. After all, he knew that Mavis wanted children…but his? While he sat quietly still processing what he’d just heard, she continued.
“I know I just dropped a bomb on you.”
With excellent timing, the waitress arrived to take their orders. Mavis wasn’t too hungry so she ordered salmon dip, a bowl of french onion soup, and a glass of rosatto. Colby ordered a steak, medium-well, with asparagus, garlic bread, and a Sam Adams Winter Lager. The waitress took the menus and left.
Colby finally found his voice, “Uh, yeah. Ya think? Wow. I mean, what am I supposed say to that? Gracious girl, I’m generally not a man of few words, but right now? I just…are you for real?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact, I am”, she responded.
“How long have you felt like this? What brought these feelings and thoughts on?”
“Honestly C, I’ve felt like this for a long time, probably since before the night you came over to see my condo. As to what brought on these feelings, well, it’s a long story.”
“Mavis. We’re at dinner for what feels like the first time in forever. I don’t know about you, but I planned on doing nothing but enjoying you, I mean your company, tonight. I have as much time as you’ll allow me this evening to hear what you have to say, so please share.”
She began…”about two years ago, right after my 30th birthday, I took myself on a much needed vacation. I went to Naples, Versailles and Lisbon.”
“Awww shit, let me find out you’re becoming ‘Ms. International Women of Mystery'”, Colby playfully interjected.
Mavis laughed, and it seemed to relax her. “You always could make me laugh at the corniest jokes. Anyway as I was saying, I went to Europe for two and a half weeks. I needed to recharge myself from all the working, studying, and never ending damage control from the previous 7 years. Even before my graduation from A&T, (cutting her eyes at C) which you missed, I was working way too much and too hard.”
“Hey, my fiancee was in labor. It’s not like I just arbitrarily didn’t show up. You know, if it wasn’t for that, I’d have been in the front row, with the biggest sign and loudest bullhorn. Well, if your uncle didn’t beat me to it first, that is.”
“Are you gonna let me finish?”
“Are you gonna keep making slick comments?”
“See, this is…” but before she could finish, Colby stopped her. “Look Bean”, resorting to what he called her when he got serious. “Dinner was your idea. I am here. You are here. You have things to share with me, that for some reason, I feel like I just need to know. I’ll try to keep my mouth shut, but don’t clam up on me. Deal?”
She signed and exhaled loudly, “Fine…deal.”
“Ok, so you were saying you’d been working too hard even before your graduation?”
“Yup. The internships during the seasonal breaks, my part-time job during the semesters, and then starting my current job even before I walked across the stage; all of it caught up to me. So one day I decided I needed to get away from everything for a while, and I picked Europe as my get away spot.”
“I would’ve thought for sure you’d have been the main character in Stella Part 2,” Colby cornily joked again. Mavis looked at him with mock disdain and continued.
“On my trip, the first week and a half went by fast. All I did was rest, read books, and think about where God had brought me in my life…and I was at peace. During the last week though, my peace was disturbed as I noticed something else about my life”, she paused.
“What did you notice?”
“For the first time, I really realized that outside of my parents, I had nobody to share my world with.”
Colby carefully, and quickly, processed his next words, as he didn’t want to come off as a douchebag. “In our intermittent convos, you would mention, um, geez what was his name? Um, Denard was it?”
“Yeah, that’s his name.”
“What happened with him? When we talked about y’all, you spoke as if everything was cool.”
“At that time, it was. We’d been seeing each other, exclusively, for a few months. About two months after you and I spoke, things got…weird, and went down hill real fast.”
“Can I ask what?”, Colby inquired.
“Well, I started getting an uneasy feeling…”
“Women’s intuition I take it?”
“No, smart ass…yes…hell, I don’t know. What I do know is that Denard just started acting odd. Like, you know how you men get when y’all are trying to keep up appearances, but are chasing after another woman?”
“Can’t say I do, actually.”
Mavis looked at Colby intensely, “you’re kidding, right? I know you’ve at least thought about having a sidechick.”
“Thought about, and having are two very different things. I’m a man, not that that’s an excuse, but yes I have considered it. In the long run though, I just knew it wasn’t worth it. I wouldn’t want my son doing that to a woman, and I definitely don’t want my daughter seeing her daddy treat a woman like that.”
She looked at C again, thinking to herself…”damn, he really has matured”, but all that escaped her mouth was ummm hmmm.
The ebb and flow of the conversation was effortless, as always, even when they disagreed. The food arrived, and they made small talk as they ate, even sharing a few laughs. As the last bites were taken, the main conversation picked back up.
Mavis started again, “so where’d I leave off?”
“Denard had started acting weird.”
“That’s right. So yeah, he just started tripping. Snapping at me for no reason, then apologizing five minutes later. Then, he went out and bought not one, but two new cars.”
“Ol’ boy was caked up wasn’t he?”
“That’s not the point Colby. I wasn’t with him for his money.”
“But it helped”, he retorted.
“Yes…it did. Buuutttt (she stated, drawing out the word for emphasis), that was not the reason we were together. The money thing is really beside the point. Why do you always have to find ways to detour serious subjects? It’s like you’re insecure about something.”
“What, the hell are you talking about Bean? I just asked if the money helped, and now all of a sudden, I’m insecure? That’s bullshit and you know it. Eff this…here’s the money for dinner, I’m out!”
“Colby! Wait. I’m sorry. I guess I was out of line.”
“Damn straight you were. It’s evident I touched a nerve, so I won’t ask about that anymore.” Colby sat back down, but warily.
They both looked at their plates before speaking. “He developed schizophrenia”, Mavis blurted out. “It seemed like it came on so fast I had no idea what do. I couldn’t prepare for it. It seemed like one day we were fine, and the next, he was talking about frogs telling him I was a demon. Not too soon after that, we were done, and I was putting my emotions back together.”
Mavis had tears streaming down her face. Colby took his napkin and gently wiped her face. Again, they sat in silence. After a few minutes, he took her hand, stood up, made sure the money on the table was enough to cover the bill and tip, and escorted Mavis from the restaurant. Colby walked her back to her car, hugged her tightly, and told her “they could finish the discussion later.”
She thanked him for his tenderness, entered her car and drove off. As she did, Colby watched until her taillights disappeared before returning to his own car. He leaned on the hood, lit a clove, and inhaled deeply, thinking about the just completed dinner. It definitely didn’t end the way he thought it would, but oddly enough, he’d never felt closer to “his Bean”.
Colby couldn’t put his finger on it, but there was most assuredly going to be something different happening between the two of them.