The Grass Is Never Greener

Greener Grass

Nadine‟s maroon Buick crept slowly up to 13001 Hitman Drive. She chuckles whenever she sees that street name. It should be her that lives on this street not her best friend. She let the engine putter to a stop; it did its little shimmy and shake before its whine turned into a purr and cut off. Her hands fell into her lap heavily; she could not lift them so they remained oddly placed where they dropped. With eyes stationed forward Nadine pushed her lungs to their max. They nearly burst as she tried to breathe. A sharp pain ripped through her kidney area and she could already feel puss seeping out from underneath her left eye. She was too exhausted to wipe it. Luckily the sun shined its brightness on the city otherwise it would look weird having shades on at night. She tried to take a mental picture of the picturesque scene in front of her. It kept getting murky and it took Nadine a minute before she realized that tears had clouded her vision. The dimples in her chin began to tighten. She clenched her two rows of teeth to calm down; her breathing caused her heart to speed up. Nothing worked until she felt a hand touch her exposed arm. It was slightly warm and moist. For a moment they sat in silence conducting a whole conversation in their heads together. Nadine kept her face forward only giving her daughter her profile. Her ten year old alert eyes attempted to get her attention but her mama did not move any neck muscles. Her daughter was the first to speak aloud since her mama had long ago checked out of their telepathic conversation. “I will be okay.” Half of that was a question and half was a reassurance for her mama. Nadine‟s lips formed a small smile then it quickly dissipated. The weight of her reality drew her lips back down to her regular frown. Sweet Jasmine an old soul in a ten year old body.

She grew up way before God had intended for a child to grow up. It should have been her carrying the burden not Jasmine; it just was not fair. “I love you mama.” Nadine sucked in her bottom lip. Deep dimples poked holes in her chin. A hot numbness overcame her. She stiffened up her body that has been slowly disappearing. The air in the car began to be thick like potato soup. Her eyes jerked around like a spastic person. They would not catch on to anything to distract her from what she was feeling now. A pounding on Jasmine‟s window made both of them jump. Outside Nadine‟s best friend Juelz stood bent over in the window. Nothing but joy danced in her deep brown eyes; that light not once left her eyes for as long as Nadine has known her. She always joked that those eyes could replace headlights. “What the hell yall doing?!” Her voice was louder than most. Automatically Nadine and Jasmine summoned up their fake smiles. They have done it for so long they did not know they were doing it. That was another thing her daughter should not have to do at ten – become a master of deception. “Girl we just talking.” “You can come in for that!” “No I gotta go take care of something.” Juelz shook her head while pushing out her lips and shifting them to the left. “Hmm-mm you do not have to tell me nothing, you wanna get back to that fine ass husband of yours!” Jasmine‟s body stiffened up however the movement was so quick that Juelz did not see it. Nadine maintained her fabulous actress smile. “Where‟s he at anyway?”

“He‟s at work he should be getting off soon.” The urgency in her voice could have been heard by a deaf person. Juelz kept on talking; she opened the car door behind Jasmine to grab her sleepover bags. “Dang did you pack your whole room these bags are heavy.” Nadine glanced over at her daughter. Jasmine no longer carried the fake expression but a wearied look. It seemed as though she had aged 30 years. Large bags drooped from underneath her black cat women like glasses. Her eyebrows furrowed and met in the middle of her forehead. “You know how Jas is, always gotta have options,” Nadine tried to joke. “Oh is that what it‟s called – options? Too grown for her own bridges just like her mama. Well come on baby girl so your mama can handle some business!” Juelz walked away with all of Jasmines‟ bags under her arms and shoulders. “Ok,” Jasmine mumbled. Tears glistened in her eyes. Nadine pulled her into her body. “Look at me. I love you, I always will love you. I‟m so damn proud of you, you hear me?” Jasmine nodded. “It‟s ok now, everything will be ok and you will be safe…” “But…” “But nothing! Everything will be ok, trust me. NO ONE will hurt you ever again and that‟s a promise. You are my heart and it‟s my job to protect you and that is what I‟m doing. It will be better…” Nadine‟s words trailed off as she felt a lump in her throat grow bigger by the second. After collecting herself for a moment she managed to squeeze out the words I love you. Their eyes matched before Jasmine crawled out of the car. Jasmine slid on her guarded expression before walking up the black tar driveway. Every two seconds she looked over her shoulder as if to take as many mental snapshots as her brain could contain. Her feet dragged and even then Nadine wanted to shout out the window for her to pick up her feet. That mama instinct

never dies. She watched Jasmine‟s lean body disappear into the shadows of the garage. Not sure if Jasmine was watching Nadine gave another wave before restarting her car. It loudly clamored on. She turned her head as she pulled off trying to contain her cry that had worked its way out of the black hole that had been progressively growing inside of her; where all of her emotions but the love for her daughter had been buried. By the time she reached the four way stop Nadine‟s face was covered in tears. Her shoulders bobbed up and down. Juelz‟s house was still visible in the rearview mirror. She swore she saw Jasmine standing in the yard, arms crossed over her chest. One blink and she disappeared. When she reached home Nadine‟s eyes were almost swollen shut. Every blink felt like coarse sandpaper scratching away at her pupils. The small digital clock on the dashboard read five fifty-one. A little over a half hour left. Nadine left her keys in the ignition and her purse in the back seat. She did not go into the house to start dinner nor go take a hot shower like she normally did every evening. Nadine crawled onto the chipped and warped wooden porch. The last step creaked under her foot. She was always afraid of that last step. Every time she heard it her body would automatically tense up. Sitting on her favorite chair with the torn flower print right on the seat area that always poked at her butt every time she sat down Nadine scoped out her street. It was not a plush neighborhood but it was not the hood either. They lived in this spot for about eleven years and not once had she spoken to or gotten to know her neighbors. No house warming party or barbeques, baby showers or simple unplanned meetings by the fence like she seen on tv. Neighborhood kids ran up and down the streets ignoring this house as if no one lived in it.

Jasmine was not even allowed to sit on the porch for leisure. It was sad for a child to be jailed up in her home for eleven years. Her mama would turn over in her grave if she knew that her daughter had put up with Nathan for so long especially after having a child. Raised around seven sisters and two brothers Nadine never would have thought she would fall victim to this life. There was not an ounce of weakness, insecurity, or depression in her mama so how did she end up in this situation? Love made people do crazy things and she believed that as she reflected on her life at that moment. The slide show was more of a nightmare than anything. Everything will be ok after today though– no more pain for her baby girl! The sun turned into a big ball of magnificent fire. Its rays made everything illuminate and appear as if on fire. It sat behind the last house on Monroe Street. She stared directly at it even as her massive headache pounded on in the back of her head. Her shades were in the car; she was too settled in her lounge chair to want to go and get them. It no longer mattered anymore if anyone saw her face. Nadine was sure they heard the screams. Maybe if she had become friendlier then they would have called the police. Nadine glanced at her watch – six twenty-nine. A long exhale left her lips as she pulled out her phone to make the call.

The door to the upstairs bathroom flew open with such force the doorknob chipped some of the spackle off the wall. Nadine jumped back causing her back to smack dead into the slick wall. Soap dripped into her eyes. She did not need to see who it was she already knew. A burst of cold frigid air hit her skin sending her body into shock. A strong force of what felt like concrete crashed in the middle of her face. For a moment her breath was nowhere to be found. A scream could not escape. Her spine hit the steel frame to the shower door as she was

pulled out of the tub. The back of her head felt like it had cracked open. She did feel her hair pull out of her scalp. She tried to grab a hold of something but everything was too slippery. Blow after blow slammed into her left eye until she thought her eye had popped out of its socket. She attempted to protect her face but he would knock her hands away. White hot stars burst in front of her. A metallic taste filled Nadine‟s mouth; when she tried to scream blood splattered out and landed on her cheeks. Her body was flipped over onto her stomach with her arms pulled back until she heard her shoulder bone pop. “Sneaky bitch what you thought you could be a hoe without me knowing?!” “What are you talking about?” Nadine‟s head was pulled back and then rammed into the black diamond tiled floor. Something cracked. He did that five more times. When he lifted her head to ask her again blood gushed out of her nose. “You playing dumb with me? Who the fuck you fucking huh?” “Nobody baby I wouldn‟t do that! I love you!” Nadine‟s head hit the floor again. Blood splattered all over the floor and into the tiny cracks. “Quit lying!” “Baby I‟m not! I don‟t…” Before Nadine could finish she was flipped around, now she was face to face with her husband of eleven years. His brown eyes had turned into black onyx. His mouth came inches from hers; warm air covered her face. A sinister tone took over. “You calling me a liar trick?” Nadine protested again. “Did I ask you to speak?” She shook her head. “Then why are you talking ignorant bitch!” Her husband started pounding on her left eye. His powerful hand wrapped around her narrow neck. Nadine would see black fuzz cloud her

vision. Then her body started to shut down. The last thing she saw before everything faded to black was her husband. His body shook slightly as he gripped her neck however a peaceful, somber glow embraced his face. This was it, she said to herself. She knew she was eventually going to die in the hands of her husband, part of her wanted it. As many times she had contemplated suicide this was nothing. She let her body become limp under her husband‟s weight. Then everything faded to black.

Jasmine‟s voice rang in Nadine‟s head. She was not sure if she was dead or dreaming. Everything was cloudy and dark. The scream was glass shattering. Another loud yell and Nadine jerked awake. She was still butt naked on the bathroom floor. Soap scum was on a few spots on her body. Nadine struggled to get up. It felt like she had got struck by lightning. The sound of Jasmine‟s terrified screams acted as energy for her. Next thing she knew she was at her daughter‟s open door. Her husband was straddling their ten year old daughter while half naked. Her strawberry shortcake panties were bunched up at her ankles while her matching pajama top was all the way up to her neck. She was only able to move her feet. Something clicked inside of Nadine as she saw her husband‟s hard dick slide into Jasmine. In one swoop Nadine was over Nathan with his neck in a choke hold. She pulled at his neck until she heard gurgling sounds. He was unable to unhook Nadine‟s fingers from around his neck. With her free hand she continuously punched his back near his kidney. Low grunts came with each blow. Terrified Jasmine managed to slither from under her father and crawl into the far corner. Every curse word imaginable flew out of Nadine‟s mouth. Each erratic fist brought more pain on him however no amount of pain could match how she felt. Ten years of raw anger, disappointment and rage came out in that moment.

“You nasty bastard! That‟s your daughter!” Her punches kept meeting his face. “I should cut your shit off! Get out!” Nadine yelled. “Get the HELL out!” In all these years of being abused not once had she fought back; it threw Nathan way off that she had fought him. He did not know how to respond. He stood beside their daughter‟s bed appearing smaller than normal. His shoulders slumped forward and his back curved inward. Behind him sat Jasmine with her knees pulled up to her flat chest and her ears covered by her hands. Her whimpers sounded like a cat‟s meow. “GET OUT!” Nadine rushed over to her daughter and scooped her up into her body. Her body heat was not warm enough to control Jasmine‟s shivers. She pulled her top down as far as it could go. At the doorway Nathan stood looking like a broken puppy. He kept repeating the words „I‟m sorry‟ then disappeared into the hallway. Nadine rocked her baby until light snores tickled the small hairs on her breasts.

The black sedan pulled into the driveway behind Nadine‟s rusted ride. Nadine gripped the lounge chair‟s arms until it squeaked under the pressure. Her eyes zeroed in on her husband. He had not yet noticed her on the porch. His shoulders were square and his stride was sure even with his slight limp that he got after a football injury in college. She always thought that walk was sexy. Now watching him strut disgusted her. She could feel her veins pop out of her neck. That image of last night had burned a hole in her mind forever. She squeezed harder. Just as his foot touched the first step Nathan looked directly at Nadine. He froze in mid step. His expression teetered between nervousness and anger. For what she was not sure; he was always angry. He continued up the rest of the stairs, his lips cocked upward in a grin. She had to fight the urge to scrape his face against the concrete sidewalk.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” Nathan stood at the top with half of his feet balancing on the edge. One gentle blow of the wind and he would be kissing the pavement. Adrenaline increased her blood pressure. Her head felt like a repeating bomb going off. Nadine brought out the knife she had under the chair‟s cushion. “What you gone do with that huh? I know you are not about to stab me. You‟re a spineless bitch.” “And you are a child molester.” Nadine‟s voice was so calm it was eerie. It was barely above a whisper but she knew her husband understood her. Nathan laughed. “You wasn‟t giving it to me so I had to get it from somewhere.” Nadine stood up and the spit that had collected in the back of her throat spewed out of her mouth and right in the middle of Nathan‟s face. She watched it drip down his nose and stop right in the cusp of his upper lip. Seconds later the cut underneath her left eye was reopened by Nathan‟s right hook. Nadine wobbled on her feet but did not fall over. She swung the knife barely missing his jugular by a hair. Nadine swung again; this time Nathan grabbed her arm and swung her around then smashed her face into the house. Her shoulder felt like it was on fire. Nathan‟s hot breath made the small hairs on her neck stand up. His breathing was rapid and smelled of dirty toilets and cigarettes. “Get the hell off me! You can‟t even fight fair nasty bastard!” Nadine seethed through her teeth. Her husband‟s grip tightened on her arm. Nadine was too pumped with adrenaline to feel any pain. Somehow she managed to swing back around and put the knife in his shoulder. “Awww, you bitch!” Nadine took the opportunity while her husband was distracted to stab him again. It was so much harder to create a deep womb than how they make it on TV. His skin felt like rubbery

leather. “You get off on fucking little girls?! Let me cut your shit off!” She was able to get a few good stabs in before she was lifted by her neck. The veins around her pupils were swollen. “You grew some fucking balls uh bitch! You think you can stand up to my ass and make me stop? Dumb ass broad!” “Don‟t you touch my daughter ever again.” “Who is going to fucking stop me?” He squeezed the hand Nadine had the knife in. “Sir put the knife down!” a husky voice called out from behind Nathan. Neither one heard the sirens or the brightness of the blueberries and cherries. Blood rushed through her veins filling up her eardrums. “Did you call the police on me? Or was it Jas? Where is she hiding?” “Fuck you!” “Where is my daughter?!” “Sir I‟m ordering you to drop the knife!” “WHERE is she?!” “Somewhere you will never be able to find her.” Before the cop could pull the trigger Nathan had swung the large freshly sharpened kitchen knife across her neck. She did not feel it at first. All she saw was the blood that squirted out and onto her husband‟s shirt. Time came to a screeching halt. Seconds became an eternity as she stared into her husband‟s eyes. The same eyes she faced on their wedding day. The people who said their entire lives flashes before their eyes before having the near death experience lied. There were no bright ass white glorious light or a recap of her life. It was just this moment. The air did seem to get frigidly cold all of a sudden though. She felt herself fall; her eyes stayed locked on Nathan‟s. Nadine said a prayer to God for her daughter to be

protected. As the blackness consumed her she saw several officers grab Nathan and pull him down the stairs. The realization of the whole thing came full force. His knees buckled causing one of the officers to lose his balance for a moment. He looked like a midget compared to Nathan. Luckily his partner had a good grip and seemed unfazed by the slight inconvenience. Nathan stretched his neck as far as it would go. His wife still sat on the porch, her back up against the siding, mouth slightly open in an oblong way her eyes were open as if studying art at a museum. “Nadine! Nadine! Wake up baby! Wake up!” One of the officers walking with him tightened his grip on Nathan‟s arm. His rants became bi-polar. “Wake the fuck up! She‟s faking! Bitch wake up! Tell these muthafuckas the truth! It was self defense; she pulled out the knife on me! I had to protect myself! Nadine!” Nathan‟s stiff body was stuffed into the back seat of a car. He still screamed out for his innocence even though no one listened. He banged his head against the black bars over the window. The pain could not be felt but he knew he would feel it later. He paused only for a minute as he watched them put his wife in the black bag and zip her up. A significant amount of neighbors had gathered around the yellow tape. Horrific gasps and expressions outlined their faces. Several bounced their heads between Nathan and the dead body that was his wife before. It all seemed like a nightmare that they all were having at the same time. Whispered conversation circulated within them. After talking to a group of officers one of them broke away and climbed into the car with Nathan. Every imaginable curse word spewed out of Nathan‟s mouth. His long legs bent upward so he could kick the plexiglass between them. The officer slowly wheeled down the street putting him on display for the nosy neighbors. Everyone stared at the handsome neighbor turned

murderer. If anyone would have told them that Nathan Common the most suave, well composed black man they knew would be arrested for the murder of his wife they would not have believed it. Stuff like this did not happen in their neighborhood. A few neighbors poorly attempted to get close to hear the officers however they were redirected back from the crime scene. There is always one person who knows it all and is quick to put their two cents in. This happened to be the one neighbor who lived on a totally different block who claimed to have „seen‟ violence before and saw this coming. Wrapped in a floral print housecoat, house shoes that have kissed more bunions and corns than a little bit and pink sponge curlers all over her blue rinsed hair she spoke extra loud and repeated the same situations but in different versions. Her old prune self had nothing else to do but get into everybody‟s business, this was her entertainment besides her soaps. The cops already knew she was fishing for evidence and wanted attention upon her that was why they were not writing too much on their notepads. She did not seem to notice she was just excited to be talking to anyone. Ten minutes into the conversation they dismissed her. Slowly officers dispersed away leaving forensics to clean up and collect evidence. Slowly the neighbors left to go back to preparing dinner for their families, the murder will be the family discussion at the dinner table right along with the mashed potatoes and gravy. It will be the talk among them for awhile.

Jasmine jumped when the phone next to the bed rung. She had not noticed the phone there before but then again she did not notice too much of anything since arriving there. She had not moved an inch on the hard bed. Her brain became numb but her heart was still on fire and beating hard. The phone rang three times before stopping. Her legs swung back and forth. She sucked in her bottom lip and chewed on it.

“You knew didn‟t you?” Juelz said. Jasmine looked down at her lap. She tried to focus on anything but her shattered hopes. She was officially alone in the world. A heavy weight made a dent in the bed beside her. “Answer me, you knew didn‟t you?! Is that why you brought all of these clothes? Look at me Jas!” Juelz gripped Jasmine‟s chin and turned her so she was looking dead at her. “Oh my god baby what happened?” Juelz pulled Jasmine into her arms and held her tight. Jasmine did not cry; she just lay in Juelz‟s arms and listened to Juelz sob.

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