A Warrior Loved Me

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(novelist) A WARRIOR LOVED ME

Written by, Renee A. (novelist)      

 

   A WARRIOR LOVED ME                                            

 

“What’s wrong ? How about everything?” Sasha was thinking as  she stood in front of the window gazing at a pond directly  across from her apartment complex. She'd been talking on the phone to her best friend Sybil for what seemed like hours about how frustrated she was becoming with her boyfriend Todd.

Sybil listened to her intently, but ended the subject like she always did by saying, “ Sasha when you’ve really had enough you won’t be trying to sell me, or anyone else on what you’re going to do about Todd. Your actions are going to speak loud and clear.”

Standing like her shoes were stuck to the floor Sasha sighed and said, “ I sure would like to argue that point with you Sybil, but I can't. Once again you are absolutely right.”

Sasha respected Sybil's feedback because she was one of those kind of people that walked the talk. She knew for a fact that before Sybil and Nate got married she had dumped a couple of guys because they thought she was going to be okay with them wasting her time.

After ending her phone call with Sybil Todd called and said he was coming by to spend the night with her. Asking if that was alright with her never entered the equation. That was the perfect time for her to speak up and tell him that that wasn’t going to happen, but as usual she caved in.

She was becoming so frustrated with playing a dual role in the name of love. She was fed up on one hand and way too weak on the other. But in love or not she decided that it was time to send Todd back out into the meat market. She was finally getting it that if he stayed in her life the chances of her getting to the alter and having children wasn't going to happen. It seemed lately that the only thing he was on point with was draining her resources and enjoying intimacy on his terms.

Before Todd came along Sasha hung out quite a bit with her girlfriends. It was cool and all, but not as cool as melting into a man. She wasn’t one of those I don’t have to have a man kinda’ chic’s. She kept her fishing rod in the water and fished like she was starving. Sybil and the girls used to tease her by saying, “Sasha I never thought I’d see the day that you'd actually twist your standards like a pretzel when it comes to a man.”

Sasha remembered saying to them, "Sometimes to get a man you have to give more than you take. Otherwise your fate will be spending evenings frequenting adult toy parties with women that are too hard headed to accept that there ain't nothing like the real thing."

Gabby generally the quiet friend in the bunch said, " Girl ain't nothing wrong with improvising. Hell most of us have a little friend hidden out at home that we sometimes depend on to get us through our day. If we don't we sure ought to."

Sybil added, " Sasha there are some very sick people out here looking healthy but transmitting STD's all over the place. I think instead of gapping your legs open when you're single because you think some man is going to push on you need to slow your roll and make his ass get tested before he's ever allowed to enter your candy store. Do you get what I'm sayin'? Besides a man won't let you go without a fight if he truly considers you to be the one. Do you remember that guy you met name Dale ? He told you everything you wanted to hear, was in your bed tapping that ass every chance he got and said you were exactly what he’d been searching for. Then two weeks later what happened ? You called me upset because you busted his ass with another woman and according to you she didn’t even come close to what he told you he was looking for."

Sasha gave all her girls a glazed eyes smile and said, " I can't argue with that. I know you guys are right. I guess I'm acting so pathetic and getting a little antsy because a part of me envy what you guys have. All of you seem to have content relationships and appear to be happily married." Theresa the other friend responded, " Nothing's perfect Sasha. We all have ups and downs with our men, but you have got to establish upfront with whoever you are with that you have a very low tolerance for bullshit." The rest of her friends raised their drinks up high and said, " Let the church say amen !"

Walking away from the window wringing her hands Sasha said with anger consuming her emotions“ What’s wrong with men ! ? Why are they using women instead of having a healthy, loving relationship with them ? And what about that very noticeable arrogance about them ? Are they acting up because they’ve bought into that so called man shortage myth ? And to every woman with a pulse why aren't we disputing the absurdity of such a lie instead of cosigning it ? There's no damn shortage. What it all boils down to is that we may have to be a little more open minded and learn to acquire a taste for a different flava’ Hell men do it all the time."

Shaking her head in disbelief she started reflecting on how even the ugly ass guys that used to act all sweet and adorable are all of a sudden acting up. They’ve caught on and realize that they can have a little bit of the gravy train too. They're waiting in the wings because they've figured out that if a woman is horny and wants to fuck bad enough they're going to get some scratches on their backs too.

Talking as if Todd's in the apartment with her she said, “ Damn Todd you’re responsible for this screwed up mood I’m in this morning and I sure hope you know that you are walking on thin ice. In the beginning we seemed to be so compatible. Laughing, lovin’ and hooked to the hip. I thought you liked being close, but I guess it's true what they say, familiarity breeds contempt. Somewhere along the way you’ve become a dictator in our relationship. We don’t even spend time together unless you say so. You even think it's cool when you come to my place all hours of the night. Then have the audacity to get an attitude when I don’t act like I’m glad to see you. I absolutely hate being taken for granted, but backed down because I didn’t want to run the risk of losing you. Shame on me for being so spineless. I’ve reduced myself to appeasing you and displeasing me.”

In the middle of her wrecked up frame of mind Sasha happened to notice the clock on the wall. In a frenzy she gasped, “ Oh my God ! I better hurry up and get out of here or I’m going to be late for work. If I am this will be the second time this week !”

As she's driving down the road she turns her radio off. She's still dealing with the emotions she was feeling in her apartment. Talking to herself and trying not to appear crazy she puts her phone up to her ear to pretend that she's holding a conversation when cars pass her. Asking questions and answering them she said, “ I don’t know when it happened Todd, but I’ve finally had enough of you. There’s no way I’m going to dance to the beat of your drums any longer. No one’s getting anything worthwhile out of this relationship but you. As I look back on where we started and where we are now I lost ground and you are in the best possible position. You said jump and I said how high ? But those days are over.”

Todd was terrible about reading between the lines. Lately after a night of R rated intimacy he was starting to treat her like she was just a piece of ass that helped him fill up a condom. Taking her for granted was becoming as easy as breathing to him.   Even when he called that afternoon to tell her he’d be by that evening to watch movies he never considered asking her if she had other plans. As usual it was all about him. Acting like he was doing her a favor for coming around.

           The springs were on the verge of snapping on Sasha’s biological clock. But Todd made it crystal clear when they got together that he wasn’t ready to start a family. Women sometimes have selective hearing when they want someone. Sasha actually thought that the longer she held on to him the greater her chances would be of changing his mind. Unfortunately the test of time was mauling that theory to death. 

After getting off work she stopped by the liquor store to get a bottle of wine. Lately she needed it to keep from going off on Todd. At around 8:30 PM her phone rang and Todd’s name came across the screen. Rolling her eyes to the top of the ceiling she answered the phone and said,“ Hello.”

The voice on the other end said, “ How’s it going beautiful ? You’re going to wring my neck but I was calling to tell you that I won’t be coming over until much later than I anticipated. Me and a couple of the guys are going to hangout for awhile and I told them that you’d be okay with it.”

Any other time Sasha would have faked being understanding. But not this time. She listened to everything he had to say then  said with her heart racing a mile a minute, “ Todd not only should you have told them it was okay, but you should’ve told them that  you’re free to hang out every  night with them because I am sick and tired of how easy it is for you to disregard me. I am through with you and I thought it would be a tough decision to make but I’ve never been more certain about anything in my life.”

Todd shouted through the phone, “ What’s wrong with you ! ? I told you I’m coming by later !”

Sasha responded, “ It’s time for you to start shopping for a new woman mister. Because as of right now this one's gone.”

  Then she clicked the phone in his ear and said to herself, “Sasha you are a queen and from this day forward you should expect to be treated as such. The days of kissing Todd’s butt is long gone. Don’t even know why I was doing it in the first place. It certainly hasn’t been worth it.”

Sasha was a very good looking woman, in excellent physical shape, beautiful personality, intelligent and  fiercely independent. Normally she didn’t have a self esteem problem, but Todd had  convinced her  that he was a hell of a catch. So she down played herself and upped his stock. He let her know subliminally from the very beginning that a huge part of being his woman  meant that she was going to have to climb high mountains, swim deep blue seas, claw, scratch and hang upside down by her toenails.  But in return he never made any noticeable sacrifices to be with her. His contribution to love turned out to be a joke. Oh sure he talked a good game but it didn’t take long for her to realize that that was all he was doing.

Sasha met Todd at her job. She was a bank manager and he seemed to be real impressed by that. After getting to know him she found out that he was between jobs, but she didn’t judge him even when she knew it was inevitable that he was going to put the beg on her.

Three months after being in a relationship with him she noticed that there was no indication that he was even looking for employment. Besides how aggressive do you have to be when you’re an only child and your parents are paying your expenses? She was baffled by his approach to life. She couldn’t figure out why if he couldn’t find employment he wasn’t checking out other options such as going to school or taking up a trade so he could have some skills to bring to the table. He was much too old to be so complacent. 

Then just as she predicted he started mooching off her. At first she didn’t mind because when he asked for cash he did it so humbly. That changed quickly. He quit asking and started going in her purse like it was his. It seemed like every dollar she spent, he spent three. Sasha soon realized that she was losing control of the situation so she started keeping as little cash on hand as possible. She started using her debit card instead. He caught the hint and didn’t dare ask for her card because he was smart enough to know that that was a boundary she wasn’t about to let him cross. When she took that approach there were definite repercussions, Todd started trippin’. That’s when the hanging out all times of the night started and he even had the gall to start rationing intimacy with her. Making love to her as seldom as an old man with just one Viagra left in his bottle and holding out for who would give him the best fuck.

     In the wee hour of the night Sasha heard a knock on the door and knew exactly who it was. It was Todd. He was through hanging out with the boys and it was after 3:AM. The joke was on him though because she wasn’t about to let him in. She knew she was going to have to break up with him in person, but it was going to be on her terms. His days of calling the shots was a thing of the past.

     Very early that same morning when the moon made way for the sun Todd had her cousin Nia to call her to see if she could make sense out of her change of heart.

     Sasha said, “Nia, Todd is a loser and I’m sick and tired of wasting my time on him.”

     Nia said, “Did you talk to him about your frustration before you shut him off Sasha?”

     Sasha responded,“ When someone truly loves and care for you there is no need for a conversation like that to be addressed. Todd is only upset because I gave him a chance to own my heart and he blew it. That’s why he’s trying to put you in our business. No longer am I going to put up with a man that can’t see beyond the nose on his face. The best advice I can give him now as far as we’re concerned is that he can disappear like  a bunny in a magician’s hat”

     Nia laughed when Sasha said that because she knew she had to be awfully upset to come up with a saying that damn corny. But funny or not, Sasha was taking her life back.

     In front of her friends Sasha tried to pretend that her break up with Todd was no big deal. But behind closed doors her heart was catching hell. There were days when she was so weak that she wanted to call him back over and make him think that he talked her back into the relationship, but resisted that urge because it would only be a matter of time before they’d be right back at square one. The life she wanted them to share held no appeal to him because he was still sowing his wild oats.  Their season was over, but she couldn’t get him out of her mind and heart. Every day instead of patting herself on the back for making a little progress she scolded herself because her heart was wanting to throw in the towel.  She didn’t realize that she loved him half as much as she did. That was her truth that she was standing in.

     In the midst of so many of her sleepless nights Sasha would watch movies to rid herself of thoughts of you know who. One particular night she was lucky enough to stumble upon her favorite movie called : The Notebook. Sitting there watching it and eating popcorn, she got thirsty so she went to the kitchen while a commercial was on to get a glass of juice. With the drink in her hand she headed back to the bedroom and sat in the middle of the bed ready to quench her thirst. But the glass never made it to her lips. Just as she was about to take a sip a commercial came on. She came face to face with the little starving children in Somalia. Countless times she remembered shamelessly turning the channel when she was being shown the mind sobering, heart pelting, disadvantaged, starving reality of how those children are suffering. Her soul always ached for them but she was never moved enough to try and make a difference in their lives by at least sending a care package or donation.

But on this particular night the sight of them made her want to take some kind of action. So she thought to herself, “ Why not ? Whynot now ?” She couldn’t believe the words that were coming out of her mouth, but didn’t try to stop them or take them back.

She said, " I’m in a place and space in my life where holding those babies in my arms and telling them everything’s going to be alright would do me and them a world of good.”

Taking action before she could talk herself out of what she was contemplating she got her drink and went to her office to get on the internet to do some research on the process of making a trip as a Humanitarian Aid. She had to do something or she was going to end up shamelessly begging Todd back. By far that would be the worst thing she could possibly do because she would be sealing the deal that she had no problem with being a puppet.

Without mentioning it to her family or friends because she didn’t want to be talked out of it she turned a thought into a reality. Several months later she was on a plane with several other aides headed to Somalia. She was very nervous about her decision, but   had no regrets. She had lots of love to give and she knew exactly who she wanted to give it to. Those children needed her and she needed them.

Just before she left for the airport she called Todd to tell him where she was headed but was surprised when a woman answered his phone. That sent a sharp pain through her heart

confirming that she was doing the right thing. She asked the woman if she could speak to him but was told that that wasn’t going to happen and the phone was hung up in her face.

When they arrived in Mogadishu, Somalia   and Sasha was taken to a make shift hospital she was ill prepared for what her eyes insisted she see. The TV didn’t do any justice to what life and the lack of it was really like in the villages. There was a stench in the air derived from a lack of good healthy hygiene, famine and diseases. Walking through the tents almost buckled her knees. She saw wall to wall children with some gasping for their very last breath. Death was summoning so many of them and they were too weak to tell it to go away. Never had she seen so many angels with severe rashes, lost limbs, dehydration and malnourishment. For the first time in a long time tears rolled down her face and it didn’t have anything to do with something as selfish and shallow as losing a man. She wanted to hug, kiss and cry out for every one of the children. There was an ache inside her soul to hold as many of them as possible. She wanted to gently stroke their hair, swat the flies out of their faces and fill up their famished tummies. She wanted to tell them that everything was going to be alright and sing them a soothing lullaby. What she was witnessing was so mind boggling. As heroic as she wanted to be it was over shadowed by how petrified she actually was. She just didn’t know how well she’d hold up if a child actually expired in her arms.

           Before she ever left the States she was well aware that she was embarking on a mission that could be extremely dangerous. But she wanted to exchange pain for gain. And gaining in her mind meant putting her mediocre problems on the shelf and taking on challenges that were murky to say the least.

     On her first official day of volunteering in the camp an aide beckoned for her to come help feed a few of the children. Glad someone finally noticed that she was strolling around out of sync she nodded and said, “Yes, yes, I’d be happy to.”

When she was handed a bowl of what looked like mesh the aide Patricia pointed to the child she would be feeding and Sasha took one look at the child, dropped the bowl and ran out of the camp. She completely lost her composure. Patricia followed her and hugged her bone breaking tight.

She said, “ I know how you feel Sasha. Goodness knows I’ve been there. But you can’t fall apart. Every child in that room is desperately depending on you. You have got to dig up the courage to feed that child. She saw you look at her and run out and you have got to go back in there and fix that. She’s got to think that your hysteria had nothing to do with her. Maybe I should have given you the food for someone more fortunate than Tylena, but Sasha almost all these children have some form of decapitation. Hers is a bit more serious because her face is so disfigured, but love her unconditionally and you will be able to survive this camp. Just keep it first and foremost in your mind that they didn’t choose their plight someone else chose it for them.”

Sasha said, “I’m sorry, Patricia. Once again my only defense is that looking at the children on TV and seeing them in person is an entirely different experience. From now on I give you my word I will deal with what is, instead of what I thought it would be.”

Sasha went back in the camp and without hesitation hugged Tylena for all she was worth. She even kissed her face and it didn’t repulse her. Tylena had only partial vision in her one good eye, but it didn’t stop her from trying to search for Sasha’s hand. With her handless arms she caressed Sasha’s face to show how much she appreciated her. It was at that moment that their hearts intertwined.

     The following weeks got better for Sasha. She loved trying to make a difference in the children’s lives. But the parents that were suffering along with their children touched a raw

nerve within her as well. It was incredibly tough for them to know that no matter how sick their children were sub par treatment was all they’d ever receive. This situation left a lump in Sasha’s throat because she couldn’t imagine having children that would be getting less than the best medical care available.

     Meanwhile back in Texas Nia saw Todd at a neighborhood store and told him where Sasha was, why she left and what she was doing. She even told him that she tried to call him before she left town but his woman wouldn’t let her speak to him. Todd knew she was telling the truth because when he checked his messages for incoming calls hers was one of them. He was in the shower early that morning and not expecting any calls so it didn’t occur to him that he needed to take his phone in the bathroom with him to keep his side piece Brandy’s hands off of it. He didn’t tell Nia that he sent her on her way for what she’d done, but he did because she crossed that never touch a man’s phone barrier. He assumed every woman whether she’s been told or not knows that that’s a prohibited boundary.

Todd said, “Nia, “ I tried to call Sasha back once I discovered that she called, but I couldn’t reach her. But I knew for her to be calling that time of the morning it had to be very important.”

Nia said, " Sasha threw her phone away before boarding the plane because she wanted to leave without any ties that would make it difficult for her to move on with her life."

Todd looked shocked by what Nia was saying because he had no idea that the thought of going so far away had ever crossed Sasha's mind.

When Nia wrote and told Sasha she ran into Todd and what went down, a long time ago Sasha would have held on to every word Nia was saying. But something far more important was going on in her life and she couldn’t let some man that treated her like a second class citizen take priority over that. When she finished reading Nia's letter she wrote her back and didn’t even mention Todd. Nia received her letter and thought she was going to send a message to him by her but all Sasha talked about was how enriched her life had become since arriving in Somalia.

Sasha had become known for her spontaneity at the camp so it came as no surprise to the other aides that got to know her that she would be the one to try and raise everyone’s spirits. One evening while she was walking around the camp she found herself picking up rocks placing them in a bag then taking them to her living quarters. She washed the thick sand off them and used a black marker from the supply room to draw flowers and write kind sentiments for the children, doctors and aides. The next morning when she came to work, she fondly passed the rocks out to everyone, but when she got ready to give Dr. Omar a physician at the camp a rock he lit into her with a fierce rage. All the aides stopped admiring their rocks and looked up to see what in the world was going on.

Dr. Omar screamed, “How dare you take liberties with the few supplies we have here by boosting your ego ! Everything we get around here is necessary in some capacity to save lives, right down to the markers you had no business using. How are we supposed to know where to amputate a leg, an arm, or determine where to make an incision if you are going to use our supplies for your amusement !?”

Sasha was stunned. How could something she’d done so innocently turn out to be so horrible? She said with sincere honesty, “ I am so sorry Dr. Omar it was never my intention to misuse anything that was irreplaceable. I’m not a nurse or doctor so I guess I didn’t realize the problem with using a few markers. If you want me to I’ll gladly pay you for them.”

Dr. Omar’s rage still hadn’t ceased. He said, “Just say I took the money from you to get a small box of markers, which Wal-Mart do you suggest I purchase them at since you seem to think that this area is just flooded with retail stores ?”

When he said that Sasha realized that he had to be hard on her to discourage others from making the same mistake she did. Their commodities were essential and she used them regretfully for the wrong purpose. When he finished with Sasha everyone that received a rock and was so proud of it wanted to crawl under it, the kids included. For the remainder of the day tension was as thick as an early morning fog around there. Everyone was whispering in their quietest voice that they were sorry to Sasha and steering clear of Dr. Omar.

It had been weeks since Sasha heard from Nia, and what Dr. Omar said was still weighing heavily on her mind. She took what he said to heart and knew she’d never do anything that naïve again. She may not have appreciated his scolding, but he was absolutely right. Just looking around at the children that were in dire need of surgery was sobering. She dropped the ball and it felt like it weighed a ton.

Patricia was responsible for the outgoing and incoming mail and was glad to give Sasha a letter from the States. She knew she needed something to pull her out of a funk. The letter was from Nia and Sasha was delighted to receive it because she needed to hear some of Nia’s nonsense to feel some normalcy . When she opened the envelope there was two separate letters. She was thrilled because that was something her mom would do, piggyback on someone else’s mail. After reading Nia’s correspondence and laughing out loud about some of the silly things she’d said, she was ready for some soothing sentiments from her mom. Unfolding the letter it didn’t take but a second to realize that it was from Todd and not her mom. She couldn’t focus on the words in his letter from wondering why he wrote her. It had been five months since she went away and she was surprised that he still remembered her name. If he had written her maybe a couple of weeks after she left her eyes would have spilled over with tears, but the letter came too little too late. She read his words and felt nothing. Why was he still pretending to be interested in her ? Was he feeling guilty because he thought he had chased her clear to the other side of the world ?

As she was folding the letters and placing them back in the envelope, Charla one of the aides walked up to her and told her that Dr. Omar wanted to see her. Everyone’s nerves were on edge when she walked into his makeshift office because they didn’t know how much more ridicule she could stand. The one thing they didn’t want him to do though was request that she be sent back home. She would be sorely missed by everyone if he did. The kids were especially fond of her because she made them laugh even when they didn’t feel like it.

Standing in front of his desk Sasha said in a humble tone, “I was told you wanted to see me.”

Dr. Omar looked up from a specimen he was examining and said, “Have a seat Sasha.”          She said. “ I prefer to stand sir if you don’t mind.”

Dr. Omar who looked to be at least sixty and very handsome for his age said, “ I know I embarrassed you a week or so ago and believe me your friends out there have pulled my coattail about it. It's just that I catch so much hell over the crumbs some countries send us, so I try hard not to have any waste. I didn’t mean to act nasty towards you but I have nightmares about what we don’t have to save these children’s lives and when I saw those stones with markers used on them I admit I lost it. But when Patricia came and showed me some of the words you’d written on the stones I knew I owed you a heartfelt apology. The precious words of inspiration you wrote for the aids and the children were so encouraging that I’ve felt like an idiot ever since that day. Please disregard and forgive me for the terrible way I acted and know that if you should ever need supplies again I will personally see to it that you get a care bag full of them. As a matter of fact as a peace offering you should be receiving some supplies any day now.”

A big smile made its way across Sasha’s face because her mind was soaring with ideas for the package she was waiting to receive. On impulse she gave Dr. Omar a great big hug surprising him and thanking him for understanding that all she ever wanted to do was bring a smile to the faces of the people around her.

From that day forward Sasha held a special place in Dr. Omar’s heart. For the next couple of months they became very close. Everyone could see that he was his happiest whenever she was around. He even did a couple of puppet shows for the children with her and actually enjoyed it. They ate lunch together, took walks together and made everyone of the aides thoroughly welcome in their world. Sasha had so much love to give and she gave it freely to everyone she encountered.

Todd never stopped writing. She got letters from him regularly. He seemed to have discovered her value in his life after she left. Every letter asked her to come back home. There was a time that for him she would have built a boat out of twigs and floated right back into his arms but he destroyed any chance of that when he chose to play the old instead of changing I’ll replace you game.

Dr. Omar was full of surprises, but there wasn’t one greater than the day he wanted her to meet someone. When he asked her to come to his office Patricia and Charla had the strangest look on their faces.

Sasha said, “Okay you guys! What’s   he up to now?”

Patricia said, “ All I can say is that I wish it was me he was summoning in there instead of you. Girl today's your lucky day!”

Sasha immediately thought surely Todd haven’t brought his behind way over here and is in there trying to surprise me. Because if he is the joke’s on him. He had to know before he ever booked a flight that they were finished for good. Besides she never answered any of his letters.

Sliding the curtain back to Dr. Omar’s office Sasha walked in and no one was in there but him. Smiling he said, “How’s my very dear friend doing today ?”

Sasha said, ‘’I’m doing fine, but I guess I should be asking you the same !”

Before he could answer one of the most handsome men she’d ever laid eyes on came from the back room and said, “ Dad I looked under the microscope.” He saw Sasha and cut his words off to the quick. Finding his voice again he said “ Oh, I’m sorry I didn’t know you had someone in here.” The moment was certainly awkward because a chemistry between the two of them was formed before they were properly introduced.

Looking all proud of himself, Dr. Omar said, “ Sasha I want you to meet my son Tamondo, he’s the head surgeon of a camp about a hundred miles from here. I convinced him to travel over here to examine some specimens that I needed a second opinion on. Tamondo this is our ray of sunshine around here, Sasha. She’s not only extremely beautiful, but she has a heart the size of Jupiter.”

Sasha and Tamondo shook each other’s hands then fumbled around for anything resembling a conversation. Dr. Omar was beside himself with joy. He had come to love Sasha so he thought it was only fitting that he make every effort for her and Tamondo to meet in hopes of a spark flying between them. But not only was there a spark, what he didn’t know was that his whole office was in jeopardy of burning down to the ground. Cupid was working overtime in that room. Hopefully he was going to get paid big time!

By the look on Sasha’s face when she walked out of Dr. Omar’s office Patricia knew he’d found his future daughter in law. Heck if she didn’t find Tamonda appealing, she sure as hell did.

She said, “Sasha I didn’t even know Dr. Omar had a son and for sure if he did there’s no way I could have expected someone so incredibly handsome.”

Sasha said,” I don’t know why you wouldn’t have thought so because Dr. Omar is pretty sexy himself.”

Both of them laughed because neither one of them thought to pick him about his family. Had they done it there would be no way he could have surprised them with a fine specimen like Tamondo.

Fortunately for Sasha, Tamondo was staying around for the next few days to assist his father with a couple of operations. During the course of his stay to no one’s surprise she became his girlfriend. They were inseparable. He adored her and both of them wore their feelings for each other like a badge of honor.   Dr. Omar was so pleased that the next thing he did was set it in motion for her to meet the rest of his family. He stayed at the camp for months on end but he actually lived in Kenya. Sasha didn’t have permission to travel around because of her mission so he made arrangements for his family to come to her. She was overwhelmed. She never thought anything so amazing could happen to her while she was so far from home. Everyone got along excellently and Dr. Omar’s wife thought Sasha was perfect for their son. Not only had Sasha gained a new man in her life, but she loved his family as well. The only thing left to do was write Todd and suggest that he turn to another chapter in his life.

The letter went out and it should have been a simple process, but Todd wasn’t ready to throw in the towel. She remembered what Sybil told her about a year ago. A man will put up a fight for your heart if he considers you, the one. Todd wrote her back and told her that he was going to wait until she return home to see if she still feels the same way she's feeling while she's so far away. Never had the words what you chase will run, stand still and it'll come to you rang so true. Go figure.

Both of them had made mistakes. Her mistake was enabling him when she should have demanded his best, and his was taking her for granted because he wanted to have a woman jumping through hoops to be with him. Both of them lost in the game and their chance at love suffered as a result of it. That’s why she was tucked away in a foreign country and he was pining for her in another.

Tamonda wasn’t missing a beat. He loved Sasha and after five months of dating her he asked for her hand in marriage. She wanted to say “yes” so badly, but was hesitant because she wasn’t sure if she wanted to live abroad for the rest of her life and wouldn’t dream of taking him from his life’s work as a pediatrician for children that made so many turn their heads.

Sasha had a lot on her mind. She was stressing because she had found everything she was looking for in a man in Tamondo, but feared she’d lose him because of a geographical issue. He knew she was struggling to make a decision but he couldn’t make up her mind for her. As they were walking and holding hands one evening he held her face in his hands and kissed her ever so   tenderly.  

He said, “Sasha I know you are worried about how our story is going to end, but you have to know sweetheart that I would follow you anywhere.”

What he was saying sounded so wonderful but she knew where his heart was and besides that there was a great chance that the States wouldn’t recognize his credentials. That alone played a powerful role in her decision. What if he came to the States and couldn’t find a job. She could take care of them until he did, but she knew it would be a bitter pill for him to swallow and would definitely put a damper on their relationship.

The three year commitment she signed up to volunteer for was moving swiftly. As a matter of fact she had less than two months to go before she was scheduled to return to America. Tamondo was getting worried because she hadn’t said she’d marry him yet and he was afraid he might lose her.

Sasha was optimistic that they would come up with a feasible solution so she said, “ I love you Tamondo and I need you to trust that we are not going to allow this address hurdle to get in our way. What I’m thinking is maybe I should just go back home for awhile, see my family and friends then say my goodbye’s. After that’s done I can accept that my life is moving in a new direction.”

That made perfect sense to him because he knew she needed to hug, touch and tell everyone that she was going to follow her heart.

When the plane landed in America Sasha got off of it and tears welled up in her eyes. She was an emotional mess by the time Nia picked her up. They stood there hugging and crying tears of joy because it was an incredibly good feeling to see each other again. They were cousins, but more like sisters.

   On their way to Sasha’s mom’s house Nia gave her the 4-1-1 on all that had happened while she was away. Of course that included how much Todd was wearing her ears out about her. Sasha didn’t want to hear what he’d been saying. After all he was her past and she wanted to keep it that way.

So she said, “ Nia, Todd will someday be a great guy for somebody. But he will never be the man for me anymore."

Nia listened to what she said but got quiet because she didn’t know how to tell Sasha that he was over to her moms house waiting to see her.

Sasha broke the silence by saying, “ Nia I have got the best possible news to tell you. I wanted to hold my news and tell everyone at the same time, but I’m too excited to hold it in. Girl I met and am in love with a wonderful man in Somalia name Tamondo. He’s a pediatrician and is as madly in love with me as I am with him. As a matter of fact he asked me to marry him, but I haven’t given him an answer yet. But I know it's going to be yes’.”

Nia was knocked completely off guard by what Sasha was saying because she was still pulling for her and Todd. How in the world was he going to deal with her change of heart ? She felt a sadness for him because he was still trying to cling to love's ghost.

Sasha interrupted Nia’s thoughts by saying,“ I can’t hardly wait to tell my mom about Tamondo. I know she’s going to be so thrilled that she's going to be gaining a son-in-law in the very near future.”

With a very serious look on her face Nia asked, “ Sasha does Todd know what’s going on with  you ?”

Sasha said, “Of course he does, I wouldn’t keep him in the dark about something as important as having another man in my life.”

Nia was thinking then you should have called your mom and told her you’ve moved on because Todd’s over there apparently in denial. Sasha’s mom knew she left the States because she needed some distance between her and Todd, but thought since they were corresponding things had changed and they were a couple again.

When they pulled up in front of Sasha’s mom’s house cars were parked all along the street. It was obvious that a welcome home party was getting ready to go down. Her mom saw her walking towards the door and ran out to hug her tight enough to pull her inside her soul. Their kisses and tears meshed together. Her mom took her by the hand and led her into the house.

People were wall to wall all talking and asking her questions at the same time. She got hugs galore. She walked to the kitchen to pour herself a glass of wine because she was so overwhelmed by all the attention focused on her. Standing by the kitchen window she like to have lost her balance when she saw Todd in the middle of the crowd outside in the backyard. Their eyes connected and she felt a nervousness in her chest. Reading his letters and placing them in file thirteen was easy to do while she was away. But now here he was just steps away from her giving off a true signal of his love. He didn’t hesitate to come inside the house and embrace her. All her family thought they were the perfect couple so they applauded them when he held her in his arms. Sasha cried and couldn’t seem to stop. His touch brought back so many memories.

Todd held her face in his hands and said, “ Hi, precious. I have really missed you.”

Nia walked out of the kitchen with ripped up emotions because she knew exactly what she was looking at.

Todd wanted Sasha to leave with him so they could go talk, but he understood that that would be rude considering that she hadn’t been back home but for a few hours. So he moved around to give her a chance to mix and mingle. But his eyes never let the vision of her escape him. She was still the graceful, charismatic, loving and caring person she was when she left.

While she was gone it was the longest three years of his life. He started and stopped seeing other women because he was upfront with them about not looking for a serious relationship. Some of them did everything they could to change his mind, but ended up with broken hearts.

The party went on well into the wee hours of the night, but Todd never left. He wanted to be alone with Sasha and nothing was going to deter him. When the last guest left he caught her by the hand and asked her to go riding with him. Against her better judgment she went, but only because she needed to let him know it was too late for them. They rode for hours covering Dallas from one end to the other. Sunlight was beginning to peep through the sky and they hadn’t said very much to each other. Neither one of them wanted to address the pain of their breakup, because it was too difficult to deal with especially on her first day back. So they kept quiet understanding that what you say when you’re exhausted is entirely different from what you’d say if you’re rested.

Todd glanced over at Sasha and noticed that she was dozzing off so he said, “Sasha would it be okay if I take you to my apartment so we can get some sleep ? I promise I won’t try anything. I just want to be near you.”

Sasha said, “ Okay,”   But she really didn’t want to because she didn’t want to lead him on.

Once they got to his place the bad memory of the morning she called before she left for Somalia and a woman answering his phone was ran across her mind. They’d only been broken up for a little over a month and he was already scouting around. When he offered her his bed to rest in she flatly refused because in her mind there wasn’t any telling how many women had been in it since she’d been gone. He knew what her train of thought was so he went and got a blanket and pillow and told her she could sleep on his couch if it would make her feel better. She did and when she went to sleep Tamondo came to her in her dreams. He told her how much he missed her and was looking forward to her return. Then he kissed her passionately and was gone like a puff of smoke. Six hours later she woke up to the smell of food cooking. Todd was making them some burgers and she could hardly wait to eat. She went to the bathroom to freshen up then came out and ate a burger that actually tasted pretty good. She cleaned up the kitchen since he cooked and afterwards they sat around listening to some acoustic jazz. She could tell by Todd’s demeanor that he was as nervous as she’d ever seen him so she decided it was time to clear the air.

She said, “ Todd when we were together we didn’t give each other our best, which ultimately broke us up. I wanted something from you that you weren’t quite ready to give. So I tugged around the heavy burden of trying to live without the man I love. Things got so bad that I was tempted to give up my natural desire to be a wife and mother and call you back so I could have you on whatever terms you wanted. But I couldn’t talk my dignity into settling. So I decided by not seeing you the healing process in my heart wouldn’t take as long. That’s why I moved to Africa. That morning when I called you I actually wanted you to talk me into staying, but we know how that turned out.”

Todd said, “ Sasha I had so much growing up to do and hurting you at the time didn’t phase me. That is until Nia told me what you’d done and where you’d gone. At that point a bright light clicked in my head making me realize that your love was sincere and true and I was losing someone that loved me very much. I’ve been with women who claimed to love me, but after spending time with them I realized that they were just caught up in the sex or looking for someone to prance around with on their arm. You showed me just how deep love can flow and I sincerely apologize for hurting you. But did you really want me to marry you when I wasn’t sure, unemployed, and too immature to make a commitment so serious ? I’ve always believed that love can be everlasting when two people forsake the world for each other, but you and I didn’t get to the same place at the same time.”

Sasha said, “ Todd enduring a blissful marriage is like rolling dice. You try as hard as you can to roll a seven or eleven, but your chances of winning is as equal as your chance of losing. At the time I just wanted us to make it and take our relationship to another level regardless of the hurdles we would have to jump through. In hindsight I saw the vision of being your wife and having your children, but there was one problem with that. Daddy wasn’t ready for his family yet.”

Todd caught Sasha by the hand and led her to the couch and when they sat down he looked in her eyes with a sincerity that sent shivers through her body and said, “I cannot change the past, but we can do something about the future. Please marry me and I promise you I will be one of the best husbands and fathers walking this earth.”

Three years ago Sasha would have jumped through hoops to hear those words, but it was too late for them. Tamondo was the new owner of her heart and getting back to him was all she could think about.

She said, “ Todd you know I don’t play games and certainly wouldn’t lead you on, so it’s only fair to tell you that I was for real when I wrote and told you that I have a new man in my life. We are planning to be married as soon as I get back to Somalia.”

Todd dropped his head and said with a sorrowful heart, “Then you should hurry and get back to him and believe me when I say this, he’s a very lucky man.”

Sasha said, “ Oh no I beg to differ, it's me that’s a very lucky woman.”

For the rest of the evening they sat around chatting, saying goodbye without saying it, then he drove her back over to her mom’s so she could tell her about her future son-in-law. Todd’s only regret was that it wasn’t going to be him.

Sasha’s mom Mrs. Walker was a tad confused because she thought for sure her and Todd were going to be exchanging vows. So she had to refocus her thought pattern and try to find out as much about Tamondo as she possibly could. As her daughter began telling her about the wonderful man in her life Mrs. Walker could see without a doubt that she loved her man. But her next question and answer was heart shattering.

She asked, “Baby, when will he be joining you so we can start making wedding arrangements ?”

Sasha responded, “Mom that’s the part that you’re not going to like. Tamondo isn’t coming over here I will be joining him over there."

Mrs. Walker felt an ache in her heart because she didn’t want her only child to leave again. So she said, “ Sasha please don’t move so far away. It was tough enough on me when you went over there the first time.”

Sasha hugged her mom and said, “ Mom, I have to move over there because if Tamondo come over here there is no guarantee that he’ll be able to find a job and for sure they won’t let him practice as a pediatrician. He went to school and studied hard for his degree and there’s no way I can watch him get reduced to other than what he is in a hospital or medical facility. So it only makes sense that I should be the one willing to make the sacrifice. I know you have no idea how important our mission is, but we love taking care of those unfortunate children over there. They need us so bad mama and we love being there for them. I never thought I would want to go back over there after my mission, but mom I am them and they are me.”

Mrs. Walker held her daughters face in her hands and said, “ I am so proud of you. Don’t want to let you go, but understand that you cannot stay. I am going to miss you incredibly, but somebody has to do what so many won’t.”

Sasha said, “Mom I’m so glad you understand. Right now I feel so at peace. All that’s left for me to do now is call Tamondo and let you two get acquainted.”

Time passed slow like having weak batteries in a clock. Sasha was enjoying her family, but she was ready to see her man. Tamondo’s mom called her and told her she was sending out invitations to all their friends and family. She said she could hardly wait for her to get back so they could plan and shop for the wedding. Mrs. Omar talked to Sasha’s mom and they seemed to hit it off great. She insisted that she come over there for the ceremony and stay for awhile so she could see that her daughter will be safe and living quite comfortably.

Sasha and her mom spent the next several days wearing their credit cards out so they would look nice and savvy around Sasha’s future in laws. Nia wanted to attend the wedding too but her money was looking funny, so she said she would just relish in the pictures when her aunt return home.

She said, “ Sasha I don’t want to be a wet blanket, but do you realize that you’re going to have to learn the customs of a people you don’t know hardly anything about ?”

Sasha said, “ Nia   I’m sure Tamondo is going to ease me into the ways of his culture slowly, but surely. So please don’t worry when there’s really nothing to fret about, ok ? What I want you to think about when you think about us is how much we love each other. Me and Tamondo have so much to do and are going to spend countless hours breaking our backs to save as many children as possible. What makes our love gel so well is that Tamondo was searching for someone that would embrace his passion and mission and I was looking for someone with a mission and   passion.”

Nia said,“ Here's stupid question number two. Were you ever afraid while you were over there ?”

Sasha responded,“ That’s not a stupid question. Of course I was and still am because there are clans at war that could care less about snuffing out our lives.”

Nia said, “ I was going to ask you what you thought about me joining the mission and working in the same camp you’re in, but girl I am too scary to take that risk.”

Sasha said, “ I’ve never had any problems, so why don’t you look into it. That is if you can stand to give up your little name brand clothes, acrylic nails and Michael Korr bags.” Both women laughed because Sasha knew her cousin like a book. Playing the part of plain Jane was a role she knew Nia couldn't handle.

Just as Nia was getting ready to say something smart Sasha’s phone rang. Looking at her screen she saw that it was Tamondo calling. When she said hello and heard his voice she could instantly tell that something wasn’t right. His tone frightened her.

Panicking she asked, “ What’s wrong Tamondo ?”

He tried to brush it off and tell her everything was alright, but she had come to know him well enough to know when something was bothering him.

He said, “Sweetheart the clans are rising up against each other over here even more than before and lots of children have gotten injured in the crossfire. I have been working around the clock trying to save as many of them as possible, but they are coming in before I can even get the ones before them stitched up. It seems that the clash is over who’s going to control the pharmaceuticals which puts my line of work right in the middle of the blood bath. Right now I’m in no immediate danger because no one has claimed victory. But as soon as one group does the camp is going to have to abide by their rules.”

Sasha exclaimed, “Oh no! That’s awful. I’m going to see if I can get an earlier flight out so I can come back and help you with the children.”

Tamondo said, “ I would appreciate it baby, but I am so afraid for you. I don’t even know if I can protect you because the violence is escalating rapidly. The situation is getting so volatile that no one is feeling safe. Some of the aides aren’t even showing up for work and we are swamped in the aftercare department. I’d love to talk to you longer, but I am backed up with surgeries and am trying to give my patients the meds they need before whatever group wins come in and tell me if and how they will be dispensed. But please know that you mean the world to me and I will absolutely understand it if you choose not to expose yourself to this crisis.”

Sasha responded, “Are you kidding me ? You are my man and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. No matter how dangerous things are I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

Tamondo said, “These weren’t the thoughts I wanted you to have on your long trip back over here. I had a vision of it being pleasant and relaxing with you thinking about nothing but our wedding plans and becoming my wife. But sometimes life throws us a curve ball and we have to play the entire game, win, lose, or draw. I promise to make it up to you. I really love you Sasha.”

Sasha returned his sentiment, “ I love you too darling. Please ! Be safe.”

Tamondo said, “ I will.” Then both of   them hung up the phone.

Sitting in the chair as still as a statue with the phone pressed against her chest, Nia snapped Sasha back to reality by asking with deep concern, “ Is everything alright ?”

Sasha responded, “I’m afraid not, and I’ve got to get a flight out of here as soon as possible.”

With her whole body trembling Sasha looked the number to the airport up on her phone, talked to a reservationists about switching her departure flight then waited patiently for her to make it happen. After it was taken care of she dialed Tamondo’s number back to let him know she was leaving out first thing in the morning, but she didn’t get an answer. So she tried again and again, but got the same results. Worried sick when she couldn’t make the connection she called his dad. When Dr. Omar answered he was glad to hear her voice, but she could tell he was as upset as she was. His son was in a dire situation and he was on his way to check on him.

He said, “ Sasha, what I wouldn’t give to have you here. You have the gift of making a bleak situation better. The whole family is falling apart and I feel so helpless.”

Sasha heard the pain in his voice and it hurt her to the core. She said, “ Dad, I will be joining you and the family soon, but we must stay in charge of our emotions for Tamondo’s sake.”

When she called him dad she heard him sniffing, but trying not to let her hear it. Both of them knew she felt that close to him long before she ever laid eyes on his son, but she’d never addressed him that way until now.

She said, “ Try to stay calm and focus on the road. When I talked to Tamondo he told me that he had a backlog of surgeries, so I’m sure that’s why he’s out of pocket. I think the best thing we can do is to step back and let him deal with the children.”

Dr. Omar said, “ You’re right of course. If I know one thing about my son, it has to be that nothing is going to come before his dedication to the little ones.”

When they hung up their phones Sasha felt like her stomach was twisting in knots. Nia and Mrs. Walker were equally concerned prompting her to tell them not to worry because Tamondo had a tremendous amount of training on how to deal with this kind of situation. Needless to say that night Sasha didn’t get a minute of sleep. She couldn’t turn her thoughts off, or turn a blind eye to the fear in her soul. Todd called one last time to try and persuade her to give their love just one more try, but once and for all she told him that she couldn’t see the vision. Before she hung up the phone he told her to always remember that she had options. She appreciated him putting up a fight until the end, but as far as they were concerned she was long gone. There were no more skeletons hanging around. Things were finally as they should be. It was all about her and her future husband.

Around four in the morning, her phone rang and she was ecstatic when she saw that it was Tamondo calling. Rushing to answer it she was taken by surprise because it wasn’t him it was his mom on the other end and she was crying like a hungry baby.

Sasha shouted, “ Mrs. Omar what’s going on! ?”

But she couldn’t understand a word she was saying, she was crying just that hard. Finally Tamondo’s sister Matorah got on the phone and wasn’t doing much better with her communicating effort, but she said clear enough for Sasha to understand one thing. Tamondo was dead. She said some members of the clan came to the camp demanding all the medications he had access to but he refused to give it to them. He’d done lots of surgeries that day and knew the children were going to need it. Not taking no for an answer they shot him down in cold blood sending a message to the staff on hand that they meant business and weren’t leaving without what they came for.

Sasha screamed into the phone, “ Please don’t say that to  me !”

Matorah said, “Oh my God, Sasha ! Please don’t make this any harder on me than it already is ! He’s dead Sasha ! My brother is dead !”

Sasha screamed so loud that she scared the living daylights out of Nia and her mom.   They came running in the room and she fell limp in her mother’s arms.

She kept repeating, “Mama he’s dead! Oh my God mama !   He’s dead !”

Ms. Walker Squeezed her child so tight it’s amazing she didn’t break her in half. Sasha let out a piercing scream that sent chills up her mom and Nia’s spine. Nia picked up the phone that was lying on the floor and told Matorah that they were going to have to call them back because they were going to have to take Sasha to the hospital so she could be given something for hysteria.

On the way back home from the hospital Sasha was so doped up and out of it that if it wasn’t for her breathing she could have been presumed dead. Her mom felt so helpless. She never dreamed that she would be trying to pull her daughter out of a place so bleak. Less than eight hours ago she was planning to go clean across the world to give her devoted love to a man that wanted it just as bad as she wanted to give it. Now she was out of her head murmuring for Mr. Omar to call and tell her that this was all a bad dream.

Nia didn’t know how to deal with the situation, so she called Todd to come over and help them. She felt like if Sasha could just cry in his arms she could finally release some of the unleashed pain. He came and it tore him up to see Sasha suffering so bad. But it was   undeniable that the love he had for her couldn’t match what she felt for Tamondo. He knew without a doubt that their love would never be revived. He finally got it that the woman he loved was gone for good.

Tamondo was buried on a hot August day. Sasha and his family were crushed, but before they buried him they made him a promise that his dream to help the children would live on. Sasha decided after the funeral to move in with Tamondo’s family. But she spent the majority of her time at the camp. It made her feel like Tamondo was right by her side. She never had children of her own, but she worked feverishly to give the ones in the camp all the love she would have given had they come from her own womb.

Every three or four years Sasha made a trip back to the States to visit Nia and her mom. Of course they wanted her to move back home, but she wasn’t ready to put her love for Tamondo on the shelf. It was going to take much more than death for her to leave something he believed in so strongly. As for Todd he moved on with his life like she knew he would. In the end both of them drank from the well of love. Todd had to acquire a taste for it, but   Sasha knew it was good all along !  

 

 

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