She Lost Her Soul on The I.R.T, Part 2
Rainbow’s Truth and War’s Battles!
She lost her soul on the I.R. T! Part 2
Rainbow’s Storm of Truth
Author note: This is a four-part series. You are more than welcome to read part 1. This short story tackles depression, dealing with our past, discovering love and healing. I hope this story will help people heal from what ails their hearts and minds.
As a young girl, I experienced depression for the first time while watching a woman cry on the train from Nostrand Avenue to Jay Street. Every day this woman would wake my sister and me up at 4 a.m. We walked from Tompkins Avenue to Fulton and Nostrand to the train. Every day she would dress us in the prettiest dresses, stockings, and hair in ponytails no matter the weather. My sister and I would ask, “Why do we have to ride the train every day?” My mother dressed for success, mumbling, crying and holding our hands. The street lights would still be on, the Brooklyn block would be at its quietest, the rats would scurry from the cats chasing them, and the metals gates to all the bodegas and stores would be close. She was seeking her lost soul. She was seeking help though we didn’t know it then. The woman we loved was trying not to be depression’s child.
Her response, “I am searching for happiness. I found it on the train once. It has to come back. I have to find it or die trying.”
That woman was my mother! There were days she wouldn’t get out of bed, she ate too much and blew up to 350lbs, and the times’ Nana would take her to the hospital for a few days. My mother lost her soul on the I.R. T the day daddy didn’t come back. The days she digested mean words by others and let it write the story of her life. I spoke ill of my mother and embarrassed by her presence. I broke her to a hard ass pill to swallow but my truth. I made her cry countless times.
Every day before I left for school she’d say, “Don’t let a man, mean people, unkind words and the I.R.T steal your soul.” My father drove the A train from 5 in the morning to 5 in the evening. It was how I saw my father beeping his horn. The I.R.T was the connection of how my parents met, how they fell in love and fell apart. It was the same ride I take now to never allow the I.R.T, mean people, and unkind words ruin me. I am tough, I stay to myself and never made female friends. They betrayed and gossiped too much and frequently I had to fuck me up a chick for hurting me. So I ceased friendships with females all together.
Those words stuck with me each day and it’s why I move with caution, work out five days a week, and let nothing or no one taint me. Chemically and by D.N.A. I am imbalanced. Mr. War could see I am not well put together; every day he walks with me and calls me out on my shit. Even though I try to disconnect, I am connected to my mother. I am connected to a man name War. I work so hard to eradicate versus healing. Yet, I learned how to pretend I am okay. From always being the hardest working girl in school. To the woman who excelled at whatever in front of me.
I became my mother in private. The bug of depression I handled differently than she did. I took control by becoming a winner and coming home to drown in my tears as a loser to depression. My secret was safe until my last boyfriend Jeremy caught the harsh wrath of my sickness. In the beginning, he tried to save me until I became toxic to him. To the crowd, I appeared normal, but I took on my mother’s blues after she attempted to commit suicide and killed my sister by accident. Maybe it has always lived in me. So, I made rules after the fiasco of me standing in the rain; begging Jeremy to come back while only wearing my bra and panties. After almost taking my life just like my mother. Even though she lived, she is dead and most of all to herself. To prevent being a colored girl who considers suicide I’ve made life rules and they’ve worked. Rule no.1, take control or depression will ruin me. Rule №2, become happily single. Rule №3, I have no time for fake friends or falling in love. So, I keep my sorrows between me, myself and my therapist. At least if she speaks, I can sue. Rule №4, never lose control of thyself ever in public. Rule No5, focus on my goals, money, looking good, and take nothing in life personal.
The Restoration building housed my therapist’s office. I take one day each month to get my mind right. I spill all my fears and tears in Dr. Janice office. Lately, it’s getting harder not to stay in bed, to hide my tears and I’ve been distant from my best friend. To Ty, I am Wonder woman and I can handle the world in gasoline drawers; but I extinguish the fire inside of me.
“I met this man named War and I avoid him like the plague. I can’t get caught up.” I sat in Dr. Green’s office. She let her glasses fall to her nose, she wore black and yellow all the time. She wore Dollar tree perfume, and her lips are always chapped and cracked. Dr. Green’s office always brought out the sadness in me.
“Rule No3, huh?”
“Yep, I can’t fall apart over no fine ass man.”
She clears her throat, and the lecture is surfacing from her loins. She drinks from her Howard University mug and taps her finger on the table.
“You’re crumbling at night, Rainbow. The nightmares, the crying, and sleeping fewer nights. You can’t run from love, the past, or what ails you. Take your medicine at least in the evening to help you cope, please.”
“I hate sleeping then I see it all over again. Ms. Lexapro makes me deal with my mother’s sin. My unkind words that lead her to self-destruction.” I take the tips of my fingers and wipe the corner of my eyes.
“What do you see?”
“My mother placing the gun to her head, my sister trying to stop her, the shots ringing, her then shooting my sister, and then herself. It keeps chasing me in my sleep. I want to forget it. It won’t leave.” I look at the fish she named Trombone swimming alone in his bowl. My truth and sorrows I leave in the hands of Dr. Green. She takes notes, and I wonder how she deals with her sorrows. Who listens to her pain? She taps the table and asked,
“Is your mother still calling you?”
“Yes. I don’t want to talk to her.”
“Why?” Dr. Green stared in my eyes and I turned my head.
“I haven’t forgiven her nor myself.”
“Maybe it’s the closure you need.”
“I don’t have the strength. I have all these emotions towards her because if I could I would have saved her ten years ago. I would have repaired her and in the process lost me. After I said, ‘you mess everything up that’s why Daddy left us.’ I broke her I did that. I might as well have pulled the trigger because my words killed her soul.
“It is not your fault. Your words di….”
“Dr. Green I can handle the truth. Five minutes later, a teardrop, she pulled out the gun and then and then. I have to go. I have to get in control.” I stood to walk out, and she utters her famous lines,
“Take your medicine tonight and let me know how you sleep. Let me know if you have bad dreams again, please.”
Lunch with Mr. War
I passed on heading the marketing account for Mr. War and gave it to Jewel; because I wasn’t being trapped in liking his business moves or him. Today, I am taking her advice and I will take control of my nights. I walked into Duane Reade, and who do I see standing in line? Mr. War. On a day I’m melting emotionally, and he looks good. I mean damn good and here I am a hot mess. A pair of black jeans, a hoodie, and my braids in need of redoing. He flashes his white teeth and wave. I wave back and walk at a brisk pace until I bump into the display knocking hair products on the floor. He steps out of the line and helps me pick them up.
“How are you?” War’s voice was deep and made him sound like Method Man. He was in jeans and sneakers that were dope as hell. A t-shirt with words in gold African King.
“Um, I’m good you know.” I shrugged my shoulders.
“Are you?” He raised his eyebrows, and I looked away placing the hair gel on the shelf.
“Yes, I’m fine.” He takes his fingertip and wipes the tear I was not aware had escaped.
“I have to pick up my eyedrops. Pesky allergies and the city’s dirty air.” He continued rubbing his finger up and down my cheek.
“I would like to take you to lunch as a friend. Please, no strings attached just two friends shooting the shit, eating good food, and giggles. Bless me with your presence, Rainbow.”
“Why? If you give me a good answer, I will shoot the shit, eat good food, and giggle.”
“I need someone today and I choose you.”
The woman with a head wrap and dreads flowing, said, “girl, you better go with him with his fine ass.”
“On one condition.”
“I choose the place Juniors, baby.”
“My favorite spot to eat. So, is that a yes?”
“I have to pick up my prescription and only because I am hungry.”
I walk to the back and stand in line with an elderly woman, a young mother rocking her crying baby, and I think of my mother. Over the airways, Donny Hathaway’s song, Giving up played.
The pharmacist greets me, and I give my name. I pay the ten-dollar co-pay and stuff the white bag in my purse. I observe that he has tattoos all over his arms. It isn’t uncommon to see a black man’s body with their story written on it. He is talking on his cellphone and he hangs up.
“Business and money never sleep.”
“Never. Do you enjoy being your own boss?”
“Mostly yes, but I have a great team of people who help me, and my business become a success. Calling the shots requires listening and embracing other’s expertise.”
I had to admit War’s swagger was refreshing; his kindness sheds light to the man called War. The buses, lunch crowd, it’s the first of the month and a tax refund time. The streets are busier than normal; the weather is warm for the month of March. I am in a borough full of people; a city that never rests and somehow fate choose us to meet.
“What made you need a mental health day?”
“Life isn’t all about business, making deals, and making money. We all need to take a break to renew ourselves. Don’t you?”
“Life is about the grind and hustle for me, but duly noted.”
We enter the restaurant packed with hungry patrons, rows of Cheesecake, pies, and strawberry shortcake bring the memories of my mother. When she was well, she brought us here every Saturday with my father. It has been the only time I can recall her smile. The woman greeted us and broke my train of thought. She escorted us to a booth, placed menus in front of us and scurried off to the next person. I looked over the menu. He turned off his phone and stared at me.
“I am disconnecting my technology to connect to you. The question is will Ms. Rainbow in the sky grant me access?” I put the menu down and his eyes are bright. His hands have scars covered with the letter W.A.R and a sword running through it. The scent of various foods make my stomach growl but sitting across from him brings me peace to my mind.
“Access denied.” I giggle and continue, “That was me shooting the shit and now you giggle.”
He chuckles and then said,
“You do know how to smile and what a beautiful one. You need to work on your jokes, Ma.”
The waitress named Olivia took our orders. He ordered a Ceasar salad with salmon. I ordered a cheeseburger, onion rings and fries.
“Thank you. Did you fight a lot as a kid?”
“Yes, but more in a professional atmosphere. My father envisioned me being a boxer, and I saw the vision of me being an entrepreneur. What is your vision?”
“To escape the past.” I take a sip of the water.
“Same here, but we came to shoot the shit and giggle not mourn, right?”
“Exactly. What do you want from me? I mean I know every hot New York Chica with a pretty smile, big ass, and a thigh gap wants some of you. I’m as complicated as a Rubrics Cube. You can’t handle my ish nor my sweet goodness.”
“I survived Rikers, Attica, an abusive father and I can handle your shit and I like to taste your goodness.”
“You snuck that one right on in. Seriously, I am not your type of woman. I am being honest.”
I looked away and the stupid tears fall. The reminder I was depression’s child and it wouldn’t release me. Depression sheltered me with a fear of love, friendships, and stepping out of my comfort zone. I slid from the booth and put on my best performance of its allergies. My purse falls, and the bottle of Lexapro rolled to his feet. I take several rapid breaths as he picks up the bottle. I lower my head and tears streamed down.
“I’m okay. Can we cancel this lunch date?”
He read over the pill bottle and placed it into my hand.
“No!” I tilt my head and he holds my hand. He continues,
“Stay because you’re battling your allergies and I am battling whether I should go to pay respects to the father I hate. You’re braver than I am. We need one another even if it is to ignore your allergies and my confusion of loving a father who hated me. Bless me with your time.”
His eyes became glossy, and the restaurant were the spectators of my truth and his battle.
“Okay.” I slid back into the booth. The waitress placed our food on the table.
“It is nothing to be ashamed of.”
“I have it under control.” I snapped.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. My condolences to you? What was it that killed him?”
“Pancreatic cancer and a son who defied the odds. My mother begged me to come to the hospital, and I refused. Anger and pain can drown forgiveness. I made the choice to still love him but never forgive. What has caused your allergies?”
“Drama and traumas. I rather not go into details.”
“Okay.” He digs his fork into his salad, and I take a bite of my burger to pause my cry for help. I alternate from biting a fry to the burger. His fork scraped the plate to get my attention, and I looked into his eyes.
“I am a stranger to you, but I am really not. I was a young boy and on this day my father dragged me to the gym. I spoke back to him, cursed and disrespected him on the A train. I was claiming I was a man, and he punched me in the face. That particular ride was filled with confusion, the day of the full moon and emotions were on a roller coaster. Across from us was a woman with her two daughters. The daughter screamed, ‘you mess everything up that’s why Daddy left us.’ The train rocked back and forth the woman let streams of tears fall. The young girl said, ‘Mama, I didn’t mean to say that. I am so sorry.’ The train stopped, the woman reached in her purse and pulled the gun out attempting to place it against her temple. The younger daughter tried to pull the gun away, and the shots rang. The people on the train ran, my father the man who just broke my nose shielded me with his body. The woman put the gun to her head as the little girl fell. She uttered, ‘Rainbow, mommy is so sorry for messing everything up.’ The gun went off.”
My eyes widen and I became frozen. He stood and slid next to me.
“Tell me it was my fault. You heard me. I hurt my mommy. I hurt my mommy. I broke her, didn’t I?” The tears rain and he became my umbrella. He held me in the storm, and I wanted him to run. I wanted him to escape, but he remained.
“Just like my father, life already broke her. Not you, not me, life and mental health. Can we help each other just for today?
To be continued next week.