So many love her, but only one can have her, and the shitty part is, that I’m just not that one who will ever have her.
Oh what I would give to have her to be mine.
Oh what I would say, just to hear her say that shit back.
But this thing here, it’s all just in my mind.
All love on my part while I wait for her to love me back.
And she does, just not that way I want her to so let’s backtrack.
Back to a time where I thought that maybe I would have her.
That maybe I could buy her.
But some shit just can’t be bought.
Like the feelings that drive me crazy and that shit is a fact.
See, the moment that I laid eyes on her, I stopped in my tracks.
It was something about her, and right then and there, I was caught.
Caught up in everything she had to offer, not realizing that everyone loved her.
I was one of many who sought after her.
I would also be one of the few who would get close to her.
Giving me false hope that I would be the only one to really have her.
See, so many love her, but only one can have her, the shitty part is, I’m the one who will never have her.
And the one who does,that shit shouldn’t even matter, but it does… to her
And in the end, that’s all that matters, cause I’ll never be that one, although I found her.
Chapter 1 – NIYA
Silence carved through the air like a newly sharpened knife as we walked back to our building. Jamilla had just made a promise to me that I prayed she would keep. There was nothing binding us to New York on her end. Her family was shit and as for me, the only person I had to worry about was my granny. The night’s events played over in my head as if it were a film. Jamilla’s stepfather was the second person I didn’t kill that night and I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing. Both he and Roxie deserved to eat dirt, to waste away and be considered casualties of the mean streets of Brooklyn. Although Roxie had met her maker, it wasn’t by my hands, as it should have been.
I wasn’t sure how long Jamilla had been calling my name but I really hadn’t heard her until she yelled.
“What’s up boo?”
We were in the entrance of our building when I took her hand. Something in her eyes was different though. She seemed guarded and fearful of me. I felt it the minute our hands touched.
“We need to talk. I would say let’s go back to your place but Smiley is sleeping. I just… I just… we need—.”
“Niya, mi amor, where have you been? Mommy’s been waiting for you.”
I froze when I heard her voice. It was as if the warm air had turned into a winter chill. I was afraid to turn around. With her, you never knew what you would get. Sure, she never looked right but sometimes, it was worse than others.
“Is that your mom?”
The shock was written all over Jamilla’s face, I knew that it was going to be bad. Slowly, I turned around to face the person who used to be my mother. The lady before me was dirty, she was too thin, with stringy hair, and she looked sick. The last time I saw her, she wasn’t this bad, but standing there in front of me, she was just a shell of her former self.
“Niya, mi amor, I had an accident, I need a shower, and I’m so hungry honey. Is mama upstairs? Maybe she can make us some nice breakfast, just like she used to.”
My fucking heart was breaking. Who was this woman, I asked myself as she got close to me. I looked into her eyes but the glaze from the drugs wouldn’t let me penetrate her state of mind. As she reached out to me, my first reaction was to pull away. She was just so dirty, and she smelled like shit, but I just couldn’t pull away from her, she was my mother, the woman who birthed me. I let her touch my cheek and watched her smile before she spoke.
“You are so cute mi amor, just like your papi. You look just like me, but with his eyes and lips. Can we go upstairs now?”
I couldn’t move, I couldn’t speak, all I wanted to know was if the woman standing in front of me was really my mother. She used to be so beautiful, so proud. Now, she was just an empty shell. I couldn’t help but stand there and cry.
Chapter 2- Jamilla
I didn’t mean to look so shocked but, I was. I had seen her mother here and there over the years but she never looked this bad. Most knew that she was a drug addict, but she had managed to look a little decent, until that moment. My heart ached for Niya. She looked like a little girl, just broken and so hurt. I watched as she crumbled from within, and I knew that I had to step in.
“Hi, I am Jamilla, Niya’s friend.” I extended my hand to her and waited for her to shake it. She took it and smiled.
“How about we all go upstairs?”
I stepped aside and pulled Niya with me. Her mother was in front of us as we followed. As we went up the stairs, that is when I realized where the smell was coming from, she had defecated in her pants.
At one point, Niya just stopped climbing the stairs. I looked at her and each one of her emotions was on her face.
“Come on Niya, we are going to get through this.”
I took her hand, got behind her, and nudged her up the stairs. When we got to her grandmothers apartment, Niya’s mother, Gloria, spoke up.
“Can you go in and see if mama is up, if so, make her go in her room until I am clean. I don’t want her to see me like this.”
Niya did what her mother asked of her.
Chapter 3 – Niya
If it wasn’t for Jamilla, I would have just stood there in tears. When she said WE will get through this, it gave me the strength to carry on. I was just so embarrassed. My mother was too good for that shit, yet, there she was, knee deep in it. When I stepped into the apartment, it was quiet. I looked in on my Grandma and although she wasn’t sleeping, she had not left her room yet. Smiley was still asleep so this was the perfect timing. I went back to the door, let Jamilla and my mother in the apartment, and led her straight to the bathroom. I stepped in to help her but she asked for some privacy. I kind of gave her the side eye but in her current situation, I could understand. I backed out of the bathroom and pulled the door behind me.
In the hallway, I just stood there behind the door. The last 24 hours was starting to catch up to me and I just wanted to jump in my bed and sleep.
“I can help you clean her up. When my grandma came from Haiti, I used to help my mother take care of her. I’m used to this,” Jamilla said as she stood by my side.
I turned to her, and as badly as I wanted to remain strong, I just couldn’t. I never liked to cry in front of people but in that moment, right in that hallway, I felt safe to let her witness my tears. I broke down in her arms, silently though. I didn’t want my granny or Smiley to hear. She didn’t say a word, but the silence spoke to me. In her arms, I found the comfort I wished I got from my mother, in her arms, I got the love I was always chasing, the same love that I would chase for the rest of my life.
As I got myself together, my bedroom door opened and Smiley emerged. I instantly wished she hadn’t slept over.
“What’s that smell? It smells like shit and smoke, ya’ll don’t smell that?”
I was so caught up with dealing with my own emotions that I didn’t notice the scent that I had come to know very well. The minute Smiley finished her sentence, I sprang into action. I rushed through that bathroom door and BOOM, there it was. The potent smell of shit and crack filled my nostrils and I started to gag. My mother had removed her clothes and was as naked as the day she was born. Shit ran down her legs and sat in the pants she still had around her ankles. Her eyes were wide as she pulled the smoke from her pipe.
“Ma, what in the fuck are you doing?” I asked between gags.
I knocked the pipe out of her hand and tried to get it before she could get to it, that’s when she started to scream.
“You stupid little bitch, I am going to kill you!”
“Come on ma, you got to stop this shit.”
There we were, eye to eye, heart to heart, so I waited as I looked deep into her eyes, just hoping that my voice would bring her back to reality.
“You are going to buy my shit back for me, bitch. You think it’s free, well it’s not. You think I’m selling my pussy just to have you knock my shit out my mouth?”
“What is going on?”
My grandmother came out of her room and when she made it to where we all were standing, she grabbed her chest.
“Ay dios mio, why you here, why you so dirty?”
“This little bitch just took my shit and I want it back.”
Between my mother and my grandmother, I couldn’t take much more. I knew that this was killing my granny slowly and it pissed me off.
“Why you come like this? You so dirty, why you come like this?”
“Fuck you old lady, I’m tired of always hearing your bullshit. All my life—,”
I walked up to my mother and slapped her. I just couldn’t help it. I couldn’t take her disrespecting the woman who had stepped up and took on her responsibilities.
I am not too sure what happened next. A tussle between my mother and I started. Right there, on the bathroom floor, mother and daughter fought as if we were enemies. She kept calling me a bitch and asking about replacing her drugs. My grandmother’s cries hung in the air like thick smoke. As for me, I shouted from the heart. With each strike I landed, I begged my mother to stop this madness. I begged her to free herself and love her family, but all was in vain. When it hit me that she wouldn’t give in, I blacked out. She was no longer my mother and I beat her as if she were just a dope head on the street.
“HELP ME SMILEY, HELP ME PULL THEM APART,” I heard Jamilla asking for help that would never come.
“I’m not touching them, they are rolling around in shit. Ugh, I have to get out of here, I can’t, I can’t,” Smiley answered.
Once my grandmother stepped in, her voice brought me back to reality.
“Niya, mi amor, please Niya, stop.”
Slowly, with my mother still hanging onto me, I stood up, picked her frail frame up and slammed her in the tub. I exited the hall bathroom covered in her shit and headed for the bathroom in my grandmother’s bedroom. I stripped, jumped in the shower and stayed there for an hour.
Chapter 4 – Jamilla
Everything happened so fast. Before I knew it, it was a full out brawl. At first, I didn’t know what to do, but as I watched Niya’s fist slam into her mother’s face over and over again, I knew that I had to step in, but I just couldn’t do it on my own. When I asked Smiley for help, I really thought that she would step in. I was already trying to pull the women apart so all she would have to do is hold one while I held the other. When she declined and said no because they were covered in shit, I stopped for a quick second and just looked at her. It took everything in me not to walk over to her and slap the shit out of her. Who cared what they were covered in, this was her friend, her lover. How could she just stand there and watch? What was even more shocking was that she just got her clothes and left. Worse was the look on her face, as if she was totally disgusted. Sure it wasn’t a beautiful situation but damn, how could she just leave?
While Niya was in the shower, her grandmother and I had managed to calm Gloria down. I knew that it was wrong but telling her that Niya left to get her drugs did help. Gloria asked her mother for a few of the pills that she had lying around the house. Her mother always favored her weed instead of the pills so she knew that her mother had to have something she could give her.
“Ok, but after, you let us help you clean, ok?”
With a nod of Gloria’s head, Niya’s granny left the bathroom and returned with a few pills. Her daughter swallowed them down without water and as promised, stepped into the tub and sat as if nothing had ever happened. After we got her clean, her mother walked Gloria to Niya’s bedroom and gave her a pair of Niya’s pants and a T- shirt. I peeped in and watched as her mother dressed her as if she was a five-year- old kid.
“Is she ok?” I asked as I watched Gloria start to nod.
“Si, I give her sleep pills. She need sleep.”
I waited and just watched. It was sad, it was beautiful, it was a sight to see. You could see the love she had for her daughter, you could see the pain that dwelled in her heart. It leaked from her soul and found its nesting place in her eyes. She hummed as she brushed her daughter’s hair before laying her down on Niya’s bed.
“Ok, I clean now.”
“No,” I told her. “Stay with her. I will clean up. Just tell me where everything is.”
At first, she just stood there and gave me a strange look. But soon after, she walked toward me and pulled me to her. I fell into her arms and cried for her.
“Thank you mi amor. You no have to do this. Now, you call me granny like me Niya. No cry, ok?”
With tears in my eyes, I shook my head up and down. She told me where to find the cleaning supplies and as I left the bedroom, granny got in the bed with her little girl and just held her in her arms.
Chapter 5 – Niya
I would have killed her, and that wasn’t cool. I thanked God for my grandmother’s voice. I thanked God for Jamilla, she tried, but that Smiley shit kind of hurt. I really didn’t feel the impact of her words until I was under the hot water. I was at battle within. Sure, I could understand her feelings. The situation wasn’t a normal one but her words still stung. I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle things with her after that. I wanted to forgive her but, where was the love and understanding when I needed it the most. As I got dressed, I thought about facing them all. Once again, I had slipped to the dark side, the dark side that seemed to run through my blood. My mother, my father, they both lived within the realms of that darkness, the same darkness that would find its way to me from time to time. The only thing that seemed to soothe the pain from so much gloom was my weed and liquor. So as I prepared myself to leave the safe haven that was my grandmother’s room, I rolled up a blunt from my granny’s stash.
When I open the bedroom door, I could no longer smell the foul stench of shit. Instead, the scent of bleach and Pine-Sol clogged my airways. I thought about my granny and pictured her on her hands and knees cleaning after the daughter she loved so much. I was almost too ashamed to leave her room. What I had done was beyond disrespectful. I knew that she wouldn’t be happy with me striking my mother but I had to face the music. I walked down the hallway and was ready to face my granny. When I turned into the bathroom it wasn’t her on the floor, it was Jamilla.
“You don’t have to do that, let me.”
I felt so bad. This was not her problem, and she didn’t have to clean up our mess, literally and figuratively. I stepped in the bathroom and tried to pull her up, but she wouldn’t let me.
“Get out of here, I’m almost done. You already showered, I got this.”
The look in her eyes told me that this was a fight that I wasn’t going to win. I told her that I would be in my room but she told me my mother was in there.
“What? She didn’t leave?”
That was a damn shock. I thought that she would have been out of the door looking for her next hit by now.
“She’s sleeping, your grandma is in there with her.”
I turned around and opened the door to my bedroom. When I walked in, my mother was laying in my granny’s arms peacefully. Instantly, I wanted to cry. My grandmother loved my mother so much, and so did I. I wonder what my granny was thinking about as she held my mother, did she think about the good old days before the drugs? Did she replay the days of laughter and the love that filled this apartment before it all went to shit? Did she think about the seven months my mother was clean two years prior? These were the thoughts that flashed across my mind as I watched my mother sleep in her arms.
My grandmother turned her head and looked at me with a smile.
“Granny, I am so sorry. It’s just that, well, she made me so mad, the way she was acting, the things she was saying. She—.”
“Niya, mi amor, no need for you sorry. I know, she make me mad too.”
I walked over to my grandmother and kissed her forehead.
“I know you sorry. Never do that again. She your mother mi amor. You love her no matter what, like I love you, ok?”
I told her yes, that I understood although I didn’t quite agree. I grabbed my bottle of vodka and notepad, and left her to her thoughts.
My mother had called me names, my mother had even stolen from me, from the both of us. She made false promises, she abandoned me and forced my grandmother to raise me. How could I just love her no matter what? It wasn’t fair, I didn’t ask for a family like this, an absent jail bird father and a drug addicted mother. They, the both of them should have loved me enough to get it together. They should have loved themselves enough to go straight and leave the drugs and crime behind.
At times, I hated them, truth be told. It wasn’t easy, watching my friends with their parents. Or growing up and having other kids ask me why I lived with my grandmother and not my parents. I hated them and loved them and wanted them at the same damn time. My granny used to always say that she wished she had a daughter like me. No matter what my mother did, no matter how long she had been gone, I still loved and needed her. When I was younger, no matter how many times she broke my heart, I still waited for the day I would see her face, for the moment she would kiss me and comb my hair. For the days she would come home for a few hours and almost seem normal. I knew that it wouldn’t last long but having her, really having her for that brief moment, was all the happiness in the world.
Things with my father were a bit different. He had kicked his drug habit a year or two after I was born. He just wasn’t able to kick his crime habit. He would always say, ‘I have a thing for fast women, fast cars, and most of all, fast money.’ He always said that fast money was the best money, and lived by that code. He would rob a bank just because he didn’t have bus money. I always thought it was more about the thrill, the unknown. Not knowing if he would get away with it. He was a thrill seeker and in some ways, I was the same way. I do have to say that he was around way more than my mother. He just wasn’t around enough. But there was one thing I was always thankful for, he passed on his love of music to me. So when times were bad, I would put on the radio, sing to the tunes, and forget the pain that grew within.
I went to the living room, turned on the radio that was on the side table, and lit up. I took a few swigs off of my bottle and put pen to paper.
I wish I had you the way I have chosen to remember you, the pretty you, the sweet you, the good you, the clean you.
I wish you would love me, the way that I love you, the way that we love you, I wish you would love yourself too.
I wish that you would have never met him, the man that I call my father. See, he was stronger than you, started you on that shit and left you on that shit all by yourself and it destroyed you.
He switched lanes, got off that road to hell while you went full throttle, diving deep into the underworld.
Maybe that would mean that I wouldn’t be here, but to me, that would be better than this. I wish, man… I really wish, that I just wasn’t this hurt.
I am damaged now, filled with loneliness, a void that will never be filled even with the world around me.
It will never be filled by the blunt in my hand, nor by the bottom of my beloved liquor bottle.
Damaged because I am afraid that I will never fully love, only because the love that was never taught to me is something that can’t be bought.
See, a mothers love is like no other love, now ain’t that too bad for me? Because a mother’s love… is something I never had, so I’ll just have to go on, as if it was never meant to be.
I wish, that you were just as thankful for her, as I am for her. Without her, I wouldn’t be because without her there would be no saving me.
She raised your child as you let the streets raise you. Well now, now we are both grown, you as a full blown addict and me, as a full grown motherless child.
A child, forever youthful in the land of wishes that will never be.
See ma, I wish, I wish, I wish, even as you continue to be my nightmare that I can’t escape because you hold the key to my loveless destiny. UNLOCK ME MA, THAT’S MY ONLY HOPE OF SAVING ME!
Chapter 6 – Jamilla
I was still in the shower when I called out for Niya. When she came in the bathroom, I asked her to bring me a towel and some clean clothes. The shower felt good, as if I was washing the day’s events off of me. I wasn’t sure how I was going to comfort Niya but I knew that she was counting on me. I rinsed off my body after soaping up three different times and pulled the shower curtains back.
“Oh shit, I didn’t know you were still in here.”
Niya stood against the bathroom door smoking. She seemed lost in thought as she stood and stared.
“May I have the towel please?”
It took her a few seconds to answer and when she did, it was low and demanding.
“Come and get it.”
My heart started to race. I knew she wasn’t in her right frame of mind.
“Niya, come on, stop playing.”
I waited for her to hand me the towel but she didn’t budge. The smirk on her face told me that if I wanted the towel, I would have to step out of the tub and get it. I tried to hold on to the shower curtain but it was not long enough. Soon, I was standing in front of her naked. As I reached for the towel, she reached for me.
Her grip was tight. Her hands moved fast. They were all over me as her lips graced my neck. She lightly bit into me before making me weak with her tongue. My neck was my spot and she toyed with it as if she knew it was.
“Niya… what are you… doing?”
There were a few moments that left me speechless, and for that very brief moment, I didn’t fight her. That wouldn’t last too long though. I would come back to my senses and try to fight off her roaming hands.
“Niya… come on… please.”
As I pleaded with her, she covered my mouth with hers. She pushed me against the sink and after wrapping her hands and arms around the back of each of my thighs, she lifted me up and sat me on her sink. I couldn’t lie, what she was doing felt good, an escape from the mornings terror, but I just couldn’t let it happen. I pushed her away and that made her stop kissing me.
“We can’t do this.”
“Why not?” She asked as she got close to me again. This time, her wet lips met my nipple and that caused me to moan out loud, giving her false hope. I tried to fight both my body and her.
“Niya… I am not gay… I told you… this… before.”
She looked up at me and smiled. My breast bounced with each short breath that I took.
“Oh yeah, let’s see.”
I wasn’t sure what that meant but when she ran her hands up my thighs and found her way between my legs, the light bulb was lit. I sat there, in battle with mind and body. It was as if everything had slowed down, I watched her fingers slide off of my thigh and land on my sweet spot. Her thumb met my clit as her middle finger slipped inside of me. I am not sure how long I watched and moaned, but when I managed to look away from her hand and up to her eyes, I had to stop. With my body screaming for more of what she was doing, I pushed her away.
“I don’t want this,” was all that I offered her. I could barely look at her. The thought of what she just did to me made me feel shameful. Not because of the act but because of how much I liked it.
“Why can’t we just fuck?”
Her question shocked me. I knew that Niya wanted to make love to me, but a fuck? I, she, we were both worth way more than just a fuck. I hopped off of the counter and snatched the towel off of the hook where she had placed it.
“When are we going to FUCK? Never!”
I was so damn mad at that point that I could have slapped her.
“Oh, so, you’re okay with a finger pop but when it comes down to really fucking, you just can’t get with that gay shit, huh?”
I turned from her hoping that the absence of her face would calm me down.
“Niya, I am going to ignore you because I know why you are acting like this. I know that what went down this morning is really fucking with you right now so you get a pass. Just know this,” I said as I started to wipe myself with my back to her.
“You and I will never just fuck. Plus, I like men, you need to face that fact.”
I waited for her smart ass remark, when none came I turned around to face her again. This time, she looked like the Niya I knew. Not so aggressive, not so
distant in thought.
“You’re right, my bad. I need to stop coming at you like this but really though, I think you need to really think over that straight shit.”
She turned to leave before I could even answer.
After I got dressed, I went into the living room to tell Niya that I was leaving. It was only noon, yet I was so ready for that day to be over. When I got to the living room, she wasn’t there, so I checked her room and after, her grandmother’s room, all were empty. As I turned to leave thinking that she must have stepped out, I heard it. Soft whimpers coming from her grandma’s bathroom.
At first, I didn’t know if I should go in, but she sounded so pained that I just had to make sure that she was ok. I knocked on the door but she didn’t answer. So slowly, I turned the knob and let myself in. Niya sat on the toilet with bloodshot eyes. Her face was a light cherry red as the veins popped out of her skull. Tears ran down her face at what seemed to be a million miles a minute. I didn’t say anything. I just walked over to her and stood in front of her. I pulled her hair out of her face and let her pull me to her. As I stood and she sat, she rested her head against my stomach and wrapped her arms around my waist. She hugged me tight and I just let her cry for the next half an hour.
Gradually, her tears slowed down, and she was able to get herself together.
“I know that you have to go home but… would you mind smoking a Jay with me, I feel that after the night and morning we’ve had, we have to talk.”
She was right. I had a few things I wanted to ask her. We decided to go down to her car so we could have as much privacy as we needed.
As Niya and I walked down to her car, my mind raced a million miles a minute. There were so many questions that needed answers. Who was that person that stood in that alleyway? Who was that person who almost took off her mother’s head? Her eyes were vacant, her soul no longer roamed in that beautiful body I had come to love. I felt like too much was going on at once. The halfway threesome had already fucked my head up, and to have to deal with Niya holding a gun up to my stepfathers head, that shit with her mother, and then the bathroom scenario… I couldn’t think straight. For the first time in our friendship, I was kind of scared of Niya. Sure, a part of me felt loved and thankful that she would take a life for me, but added with the other stuff that went down… who was that person?
When we got to her car, we just sat and smoked at first. Seconds passed and soon, those seconds turned into minutes. I didn’t know how to start out the conversation. I didn’t want to come off like an ungrateful little girl but I needed answers.
She was looking right at me. With her eyes piercing deep into my soul, it was as if she was ready for whatever I was about to throw at her. She waited, hardly blinking as I tried to find the right words.
“What in the fuck was all of that? Where do I even start?”
That was all I could come up with. I asked a straight question, no curve balls, hoping for a straight answer.
“You could start wherever you would like.”
I thought about it, the threesome was the least of my worries.
“My stepdad, were you really going to kill him if I didn’t show up?”
“He was a dead man walking in my book. I was ready to kill him when you weren’t there, and I was still going to kill him even after you had walked up. He hurt you, and for that reason, he had to die.”
BOOM! There it was. No filter and she offered no chaser. I sat there as she peered into my eyes, and I was lost for words.