I pulled into my driveway to find my husband waiting for me on the porch. He stood, pacing; his cell phone in one hand and a coffee mug in the other. This wasn’t a good sign. When he was extremely pissed, he’d sit outside and sip a cup of coffee while he “prepared his mind for battle” – his words.
“May as well get this over with.” I sighed and turned off my car, pulling together the strength to open the door and step out.
“Mike…” I spoke softly as I proceeded toward the porch.
“Don’t “Mike” me, Amya. Once is an accident…four times…you just don’t give a shit”
“WHOA!” I cringed at his cursing, “…there’s no need for that kind of language!”
Derrick Michael only cursed when he was upset, and even then, it was minimal. The fact that he was saying something as heavy as “shit” meant he was absolutely livid. As much as I wanted to act like it wasn’t a big deal, I knew it was. This was (actually) the fifth time in a matter of two months that I’d stood him up – he’d forgotten one. I wasn’t doing it deliberately- maybe subconsciously [according to Dr. Sanchez] – but I truly didn’t mean it.
“You knew this was important to me. Everyone was there. It was our time to shine as a family, and you…you just brushed it off as you do with everything that concerns me.”
“I did not brush it off! I just got, sidetracked…” I knew it was a mistake when I said it.
“SIDETRACKED?” His raised his voice, “WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BE SO IMPORTANT THAT YOU FORGET ABOUT ME?”
“I…I was hung up with a client at work…” I lowered my voice and eyes in shame. I felt guilty lying to him. He already claimed I was selfish “for a woman”. If he knew I’d missed his dinner because I was with my masseuse, he’d never forgive me.
“You’re lying, Amya.” He stopped and stared me in the eye.
“What exactly is that supposed to mean?”
“It means what I said, you’re lying! First of all, you lowered your voice and dropped your eyes, you always do that when you lie. Second, I called your office and they told me you’d left early ‘so you could get ready for tonight’s celebration’ – at least that’s what your assistant said you told her”
I shifted my weight and rolled my eyes. I had to talk to Christina about maintaining my privacy, especially with my family. I pay her to make my life easier, not create more problems by running her damn mouth.
“So…” Derrick Michael continued, “…are you gonna tell me where you were or should I just go with the idea in my head?”
He’d accused me of cheating on him in the past, I could only imagine the scenario he’d cooked up in his oversized head. I tried to think of another excuse, but I couldn’t. He’d already called Carmen to inquire about my whereabouts and she’d told him I wasn’t there. I had nothing.
“I was…” I shifted my eyes away and fidgeted with my keys, “…I went to get a massage and fell asleep.” I told the truth… against my better judgement.
Derrick’s eyes bulged. “You stood me up! And left me sitting there…EMBARRESSED! IN FRONT OF ALL OUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS…FOR A GOT DAMNED MASSAGE?!?!”
He raised his voice to a level that made me uncomfortable. I noticed a light come on and a curtain move across the street. I was not in the mood to make a spectacle of myself, especially not in the middle of the night and our front lawn. I put my finger to my mouth and shooshed’ him viciously.
“…lower your voice…you’re waking people up…” I chided, like he was a child. Thankfully, he obliged.
“I knew you were selfish, Amya, but I never thought you’d be this damn selfish.” He sat down on the porch swing and used his legs to rock gently.
“Derrick, I left early so I could get the massage and still make it here in time, but I was so stressed with work and this thing with my mo—” I stopped myself.
I hadn’t mentioned anything to him about the situation with Ameya. He was the kind of person who would overstep in his efforts to help, sometimes to the point of making things worse. Besides, he took my mother’s side in everything; he’d tell me to believe her and let it go.
“You want to talk about stress?” He stood up again and stormed towards me, “YOU ARE STRESS! THIS MARRIAGE IS STRESS! I’M STRESSED!”
“You’re yelling again! Shut up!” I half-whispered, half-yelled looking around. “Do you want the entire neighborhood in our business?!?!” Thankfully, no one was outside.
“That’s your problem. You’ve always cared about what everyone else thinks…everyone else but ME!” Derrick Michael clenched his jaw and threw his hands in the air, his face burned a bright red. His voice was lower, but he still spoke with an intensity I wasn’t used to.
He continued, “…and don’t think I don’t know ‘massage’ is code for the time you’re spending with some other man. You went from getting one massage a week to three, and you’re always there for hours…but you’re not paying out more money for longer time…so you’re either lying, or your masseuse is too damn friendly.”
“I’m NOT cheating on you with some other man, Derrick! I am tired of this accusation!”
“Stop lying to me!” He grabbed me forcefully by the shoulders and stared in my eyes.
“Derrick,” I spoke in a soft, but firm tone. “I do everything for this family, you hear me? EVERYTHING! While you prance around playing shepherd boy for my parents, I’m the one working long hours to take care of this family, and pay these damn bills! I’m the one playing mammy to these damn kids you decided to have! Now get your hands off me before I slap the saint out of you.” I cut my eyes at his hands and back to his face.
Derrick removed his hands from my shoulder and placed them on his hips, then dropped his head and laughed.
“You can’t be serious right now. You’re annoyed with ME? You miss my celebration and somehow this is MY fault?” He looked at me as if I were from another planet.
“I’m not saying it’s your fault. I’m saying…”
“You’re not saying anything, you’re just passing the blame as you always do.”
“… you’re being unreasonable, I missed dinner, it’s not the end of the damn world, Michael.”
“You always put me on the backburner, if I did this to you, you’d be livid!”
“If you did this to me, I’d be understanding! Especially if you worked as hard as I do.”
“Work as hard as you? What in the hell does that mean, Amya?”
“It means what you heard.”
“So, you’re saying I don’t work as hard as you? and that excuses the fact that you’re perpetually absent during the most important moments of my life?”
“You’re so damn dramatic Derrick I sometimes wonder which of us is the bitch in this relationship.”
Derrick paused, his eyes widened with astonishment. “WOOOOWWWWWW…” He said as he clapped slowly, “The truth finally comes out, huh? You think I’m the bitch in this relationship? I’m a bitch?”
I understood the insinuation behind him stressing the “I’m” in his last statement, but I let it slide. “That’s not what I said…”
“THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT YOU SAID, AMYA!” He began yelling again.
“UGHHH!” I grunted back in frustration. “…I’m not doing this with you, Derrick. If you want to talk like two adults, I’m happy to do that; but if you just want to yell about how fuckin’ terrible I am, then have at it – but I refuse to be a part of this shit!” I tried to walk around him and go inside the house, but he went out of his way to block my path. We struggled up the sidewalk, pushing and shoving like kids vying for shotgun on the way to the family car.
“YOU GONE TALK UNTIL I SAY WE DONE!” He continued yelling as he made his way to the front door, and blocked it with his semi-muscular body.
“Move.” I demanded; he refused. “MOVE!” I demanded again.
He folded his arms, his eyes dared me to move him. I could easily kick him in eggplant, go in the house, lock him outside, and enjoy my night. Or…I could give him what he wanted and shut this shit down with some truth. I smirked and narrowed my eyes, he brought this on himself.
“OK, Derrick. You want the truth!” I sounded like an angry soccer mom about to berate a coach for benching her kid. “You were promoted to associate pastor by MY father at HIS church because I asked him too. That’s right…I ASKED. They weren’t even considering you. They were going to promote Deacon Tompkins until I begged my father to throw your name in the ring, and donated my entire quarterly bonus to the church expansion fund. So, if anyone deserves a celebration, it’s me! For finally stepping up and making things happen while you sat around waiting on God.”
Derrick gaped at me. I knew what I’d said was harsh, but it was the truth. My husband was a great minister of music. He could sing you into a worship experience that lifted even the darkest souls from the pit of hell – that was his gift. Teaching and preaching on the other hand, not so much. The few times he’d attempted to teach bible study, he fumbled and stumbled so much that I completely missed the message – as did many others.
Still, he longed for the pulpit. It wasn’t enough for him to be a deacon and minister of music; no, he had to sit on the throne; he had to be my father.
“Is that enough truth for your ass?” I folded my arms and gave him the “sister girl” look.
“Excuse me?” My candidness had left him stunned.
“You heard me.” I said, annoyed. I tried again to move past him so I could go into the house, but he made it to the door before I did.
“You’re not about to go inside so the girls can hear all this. We gone finish this right here.”
“We’re not about to finish anything because I’m going to bed.” I responded impatiently. We stood sizing each other up in the doorway; both contemplating our next move. He stiffened his pose and folded his arms – his way of letting me know he wasn’t backing down. I took a deep breath and counted backwards from ten.
“Derrick. PLEASE MOVE.” My tone was calm, yet firm. I clinched my fist, open…then close…open…then close…my nose flared, my mouth scowled. Still, he refused to budge. I contemplated calling one of the girls to let me into the backdoor, but they’d have too many questions and I didn’t want to come up with more lies. Realizing my only options were to hear him out or leave, I turned and walked towards my car.
“What are you doing?” Derrick’s voice boomed behind me as I entered my car and started the engine. “Amya…you hear me talking to you….AMYA!”
Ignoring his theatrics, I shifted the gear to reverse and began backing down the driveway.
“AMYA! WHERE ARE YOU GOING! YOU HEAR ME TALKING TO YOU! AMYA!”
He was still yelling when I sped off, tires screeching behind me. I made it all the way to the intersection before he started with his calls; he called six more times before I finally picked up.
“You’re interrupting my music. Stop calling me.”
“Where the hell do you think you’re going this time of night?”
“Away. That’s what you wanted, right?”
“I want to talk.”
“No…you want to chastise me. I’m not your child. I’m your wife.”
“Well you’re damn sure not acting like it!” I could hear the stress in his voice.
“See…this is what I’m talking about. This, is why I left. I’m not doing this with you tonight…not again.”
“I’m sick of this, Amya. Every time you mess up you run. You never admit it. You never own your mistakes. You always find a way to flip it and if that doesn’t work, you run.”
“See…you’re chastising me. I told you I didn’t want to be chastised.”
He let out an exasperated breath, I could tell he was biting his tongue.
“Look, I’m not about to argue…Don’t come home, and you won’t have a home to come back to.”
“Bye then.” I said exaggerating my voice.
“Fine.” He hung up.