“Well, look who it is! I was just looking for you. Where you headed to on Mills Road, Jade?” He looked intrigued like he already knew the answer to his question.
“Just going for a stroll and waiting for Miss Rita. She and I are going to have a picnic. She’s gettin’ the food ready.” The lies seem to spew out of my mouth more easily than ever before. I tried to imagine an iron wall around my body. I cracked my knuckles each one in unison with my fingers crossed and then proceeded to dig under my fingernails while looking at his car door. There was an uncomfortable silence and then my mouth opened to break it. “Where you headed, Conner,” I said with my eyes on the gravel that was under my feet. A cow bawled in the distance, and Conner’s evil eyes tried to swallow me whole.
“Just checking up on you Jade, and funny I just talked to Miss Rita and she said you were on your way home, but this sure ain’t the right direction.” His grin was so menacing it made me shrink in stature. “You meetin’ up with that nigger boy, ain’tcha?” I cringed at his words and I could feel hives forming on my skin, but I gathered my strength again.
“Conner, I am certain it is none of your business where I am going, and if you don’t mind I want to be left alone.” My body was shaking inside, and though it was warm outside, I felt a chill like no other.
“Ahh. You are much too pretty to be alone, Jade. Why don’t you get into the car with me and we’ll go get something to eat or see a show in town.” He looked at me with eyes that pled and for a moment he reminded me of a small boy who wanted to make a friend. He looked almost pitiful in some strange way.
“Sorry, Conner, but I can’t do that. I feel sure Miss Frieda would not approve if she knew you were taking me to dinner. You are married and you are much too old for me, and, as I said, I don’t feel like company.” I waited to see if this response would sink in. I stared out at the field on my right and the cattle whose tails were busy brushing off flies. I dug my shoe into the gravel and held my breath.
“I won’t hurt you, Jade, and I’m sorry for what happened. I never meant for that to happen. You believe me, don’t you?” he pleaded with those blue eyes that had been so menacing moments before. “I feel sick inside, truly I do, about that night, but it’s also a beautiful memory I treasure. If I hadn’t been drinking and you weren’t so breathtakingly gorgeous, well things would have never transpired. I love you, Jade, you know that. Now I want to make it up to you and tell you how sorry I am.” His eyes searched me to see what I thought about what he had said. “Will you forgive me, Jade?”
I looked at him, shivered again and then numbly without any truth I mouthed a soft “yes.” I didn’t think I could ever forgive him. I knew I needed to because a bitter root had grown inside of me and it seemed to be taking over. Whether I ever learned how to forgive him, one thing I knew for sure was I could never forget. No, I could never forget his skin and his fingertips and his breath stained with alcohol, nor his tongue that was like a snake that slithered and invaded every part of me that was sacred! I could never forget how like a snake he had wooed me with gifts, admiration and praise. How he had taken the death of my mama and the abuse of my daddy and used it to invade my spirit and invade my body and my soul with his lust and his evil pleasures. I might learn how to remove the bitter root I was choking on, but I would never forget.
He took that which wasn’t his to have and that could never be given back to me. I knew he had stolen something sacred and holy that was mine to give, but not his to take! He didn’t even seem to really see that what he did was not only a SIN, it was a CRIME. I wished I was brave enough to tell the police what he did.
“I gotta go Conner.” I said and I took off running through the wooded path along the shoulder. I didn’t stop or look back until I heard his car engine slowly grow silent. I felt my heart beating in my chest, my heart that had become so swollen and so hard. Each muscle rapidly pounded the memory of Conner into the earth with a gait of fury. I ran so fast and so hard that I felt the ground beneath me shake like a herd of wild horses. My heart was so full of fear, that even all the water in the river wasn’t enough to wash it all away. Would anything good ever come to me? “It never has!” I mouthed inside my spirit.