The barbeque grill was filled with hamburgers, hot dogs, and ribs. There were an unnumbered amount of aunts, uncles, and cousins that were present at family reunion. Kids were playing and blowing bubbles on one another. The event started late during the afternoon, and the dessert had not been served yet. The sun was shining and the clouds were forming. The rainclouds were not a threat for this occasion, the party continued without any disturbance.
Will you hand me a knife out of that package which has the plastic ware in it?” Valerie asked.
Clarissa handed her mother a plastic butter knife and helped her slice two lemon cakes. Carefully, they placed single cake slices on small paper plates for the kids. Clarissa poured the beverages into small plastic cups which held the ice.
“Kids, come get your snacks!” Valerie yelled.
The kids gathered around the table like a swarm of bees. They were excited to get the refreshments that were being offered to them. All of them appeared hot and sweaty but it didn’t stop them from fighting each other. The boys pushed the girls and the girls pushed the boys. They kept pushing one another to the opposite side just to claim the first piece of cake.
“Hold up! No one is going to get anything until the fighting comes to an end!” Valerie warned.
The children heard the warning and decided to calm down. They were mumbling amongst themselves and blaming one another for misbehaving.
Clarissa began passing out the cold drinks while her mother gave out the paper plates with cake slices. One by one, each kid took their desert and ran off. The last kid was a chubby little boy with a filthy looking face from playing in the dirt.
“Aunt Valerie, may I have two slices of cake, please?” he asked.
“If there’s cake after we’ve served everyone, you may have another piece,” She handed a slice of cake to the little boy and he ran off to join the other kids.
Clarissa laughed as the little boy kept running while holding a plate and trying to pull up his pants at the same time. “Kids can be so funny,” she said. She started feeling sort of sad.
“Mama, sometimes it bothers me that I’ll never have the chance to experience motherhood.”
Valerie smiled, “Don’t feel so down about it, sweetie. Why don’t you just consider adopting a child, one day?”
Clarissa sighed, “You’re right, but sometimes... I hate that I had to get a hysterectomy-
Her mother interrupted, “It’s a blessing to give a motherless child a chance to have a mother.”
Clarissa decided to change the subject because this wasn’t the right moment to have such a serious conversation. She noticed the beer was getting low and the barbeque hadn’t even begun. The rest of the adults were chit chatting while drinking what was left of the beer.
“It looks like we’re running out of beer, maybe someone should go pick up some more.” Clarissa suggested.
“Do you think Garret will mind?” Valerie asked.
“No not at all.”
There were tables of family members who were enjoying a good card game of Spades. Everyone were laughing or cracking jokes on one another. Clarissa looked around and spotted her fiance, Garrett. He was sitting at the table playing a good game of Dominoes with her male cousins. She walked over to the table and tapped him on his shoulder from behind. His main focus was the set on the game. He didn’t even budge to look at her because he knew that she was standing behind him. He never took his eyes away from the table. It was obvious that he was indeed enjoying himself and he did not want to lose the game.
“What’s going on, my beautiful queen?” He asked cheerfully.
“I need you to run to the store, the beer is getting low.”
“I got cha,” he confirmed, and happily slammed a Domino onto the table. His manhood went into full blast because so far, he was winning the game.
She went into the house to get away from the crowd. The discussion with her mother from earlier, was still lingering over her brain. It was difficult for her to accept that she would never have any kids of her own, although adoption was an option. She found her way into the kitchen and started peeling a bowl of potatoes to prepare the ingredients for the potato salad. Minutes later, Garrett joined her in the kitchen.
“I’m about to head to the store,” he said.
“Okay,” she mumbled.
“Baby, are you okay?”
“I can tell something is wrong, do you want to talk about it?”
Garrett sat down and started peeling potatoes although he wasn’t very good at it. The very first potato that he peeled, appeared sloppy because he left a lot of skin on it, and Clarissa giggled at the sight of it. He began to smile at the sound of her giggles. It had been a while since they shared a good laugh. Lately it seemed that something was bugging her, he couldn’t put his finger on it.
“What’s so funny?” He asked.
She picked up the potato and held it up for him to see it in the clear. It looked so miserable but in a comedic sort of manner.
“Are you serious? Look at this!” She goofed.
“It’s supposed to look like that!” He laughed.
“No it’s not! Let me show you how to peel it.” She neatly trimmed off the patchy areas on the potato.
“Tah- Daaah!” She sang.
Garrett wanted to challenge himself so he grabbed another fresh one and begun to peel it. The second potato had actually turned out to look worse than the first one. Clarissa chuckled and stopped peeling her own potato just to enjoy laughing at her silly fiancé. At that moment Garrett knew that she was feeling better. Her smile was so beautiful and it turned him on. He grabbed her hands and softly started kissing on them. It seemed that lately they’ve been arguing more and laughing less. This was a moment that he wanted to savor. Clarissa’s heart turned circles and danced on the inside of her chest. Garrett got up from his seat and pulled her up against him. “Come mere,” he playfully demanded. He gathered her into his arms and placed a soothing kiss onto her lips. The passion was extremely deep as they flew into the skies together. He carried her on his wings and she felt the winds softly breeze throughout her hair. He looked into her eyes and said, “I love you Mrs. Dayton.” He nuzzled his nose against hers and she felt light hearted at the sound of those words.
“I won’t be Mrs. Dayton until June 17th.” She teased.
“You are my queen, and I can’t wait to marry you.”
They both smiled and looked deeply into each other’s eyes.
“Two months and two days left.” She said.
“Yep, it’s right around the corner.”
“Yeah it is.” She agreed.
“I can’t wait to see how our kids are going look.”
Clarissa felt the urge to tell him the truth about her infertility problem. For some reason, she still hadn’t found the courage to tell him. She played along with the conversation although she felt lost for words. “That would be interesting.” She added.
He grew excited about the discussion, “I want a little boy and he’s going to have my nose and your eyes.”
Clarissa felt uneasy about the things he was saying. She was afraid that he would leave her for another woman who was able to give him the greatest gift in the world. She wanted to experience motherhood with the man she loved, life isn’t fair. He pulled her closer to him, “Our little girl is going to be as beautiful as her mother,” he leaned over and kissed her lips again.During the kiss, she made a promise to herself that she would tell him before they got married. Careful to not ruin such a romantic moment, she decided to push it into the back of her mind. She pretended to be focused and gave him a smile. They were wrapped into each other’s arms, enjoying their moment of privacy and her father, Charles, had accidentally stumbled upon them.
“Well, look-a-here,” Charles interrupted.
Clarissa hung her head sort of low. She was feeling a little embarrassed that her father had walked in while she was in the act of kissing.
“There are children running all over the place, let’s try to be respectful around here,” he warned.
“We’re sorry, daddy.”
Charles loosened his stern demeanor upon hearing her apologize to him. “I’ll let it slide this time.”
“We're promising you that it won’t happen again, Mr.Hashburn,” Garrett responded. He was feeling a little out of place, it was never an intention to be disrespectful. Especially in front of her father, he was determined to be on his best behavior whenever he was present. He quickly moved away from Clarissa because he was standing extremely close to her. He put his hands behind his back and smiled at her father.
Charles ignored their friendly smiles and kept a serious tone with both of them. “I don’t have time for any small talk, you two better behave yourselves,” said Charles. He left them and headed to the bathroom. Then out of nowhere, she heard a tiny dog who was frequently barking as if something was wrong. The noise was coming out of the laundry room, it was her mother’s black toy poodle named, Princess. “Okay, okay, I‘m coming,” Clarissa bargained as she headed to the laundry room. Princess proudly wagged her curly tail as Clarissa, opened the door to release her out of “the dungeon.” Clarissa picked her up and rubbed against her soft fur.
Clarissa lightly blew off the intimidation when her father had left their eyesight.
“I think this would be the perfect time to announce our engagement to the family.” She said. Garrett noticed how calm she was after her father was gone, it made him feel better.
“Are you sure?”
She placed Princess onto the floor, and grabbed Garrett’s hand to lead him to the outdoors to join the rest of the family. Now was the time to share the good news. Both walked up to the stage and the DJ was standing there while playing some music. They pull him to the side to inform him of what was about to take place. He stopped the music and gave Clarissa the microphone as she positioned herself to make the announcement. “Excuse me everyone, may I have your attention, please?” All of a sudden there was a silence and everyone focused their attention towards her direction.
She walked towards her mother, Valerie who was sitting at a table next to her father. She grabbed her mother’s hand and started speaking through the microphone: “Mama and Daddy, I just wanted you to know that I love you and I thank you for raising me to become the woman that I am today. I know that you trust me when it comes to making serious steps that will lead me into a happier life...”
Clarissa’s grip was firm as Valerie allowed her to continue holding her hand. She was nervous and did not know what to expect, she was scared that Clarissa was going to say she had gotten pregnant out of wedlock. She used her other hand to grab a hold of her chest as she took a moment to breathe, this helped to relax her nervousness. She turned and looked at her husband, Charles, who held nothing but a serious look on his face.
Clarissa’s speech continued: “Mama and Daddy, the two of you taught me that marriage is a sacred union between two people who love one another, so Garrett and I have decided to tie the knot in June!”
There was a screaming uproar of whistling, and a loud round of applause floated throughout the air. Upon hearing the news, Valerie couldn’t move, all she could do was sit there with a frozen look upon her face. I can’t believe my daughter is going to be marrying a janitor! She looked over at Charles and he’d already left the scene. She was a sort of embarrassed while being put under pressure to be in the spotlight
“Congratulations honey,” Valerie said as she got up from her seat to hug her daughter who was no longer a baby girl. She also reached over to hug Garrett as well, although she wasn’t completely sure of their decision to get married. Both Garrett and Clarissa were relieved that their big announcement was finally over. The party grew bigger as everyone got up from their seats just to dance and celebrate. A host of cousins crowded around to see Clarissa’s engagement ring. She saw Garrett from across the way, the connection was magnetic and there was no denying the love they had for one another. Her mother interfered and broke up the circle of people who were surrounding Clarissa.
“Excuse me everyone, I need to borrow her for a minute.” She announced with a smile. She waved them off and turned to stare at Clarissa with a “what are you doing” look upon her face. She cleared her throat and spoke quietly, careful that no one else would hear her, except Clarissa.
“I don’t think your father is pleased with your decision to get married.”
Clarissa wasn’t ready to have this conversation with her mother but somehow she forced herself to participate in it.
“Mama, we love each other and we want to spend the rest of our lives together. When you got married to daddy he wasn’t a successful entrepreneur at the time,” she explained.
“I understand that dear, but Garrett’s a janitor for heaven’s sake! I’m sure he’s not going to be able to take care of you with that kind of a salary.”
“Mama, I’m an attorney I make one hundred fifty thousand a year, it’s not always about money. I want to be happy, that’s it.”
“I just want to be sure that you are making the right choice. Even though your father wasn’t that successful back then, he had a solid foundation to build his business which one of the largest franchises in this city. What are Garrett’s plans for the future?”
“Mama, he’s currently enrolled in college and he wants to be involved with law enforcement.”
“Well have you told him about your fertility condition? Is he okay with knowing that you won’t be able to give him any children?”
Clarissa grew offended, “Mama, I think I can handle this without your help, thank you”
“Help with what?” Garrett asked, he stumbled into the conversation, clueless of what was being said, beforehand.
Valerie looked at Clarissa, “I trust you’re going to do what is best for your future.” She kissed her daughter on the cheek and walked away.
Garrett was happy and he wasn’t expecting to hear any bad news. He was extremely excited and wanted to enjoy the celebration of their engagement.
“Baby, the basketball game is scheduled to come on in the next hour, I got side tracked and forgotten that I was supposed to get some more beer from the store,” he informed.
“Oh my, I had forgotten about it as well!” she laughed.
“Do you want to ride with me?”
“Yes, but I’m driving!” She playfully snatched the keys from his hands and started running. He played along, and chased her to the car.
Clarissa sat behind the wheel in the driver’s seat. She could barely see anything on the high way, because the heavy rainfall thumped loudly against the windshield. The clouds were dark as lightning struck against the thunder. The windshield wipers were set on high speed but they weren’t moving fast enough.
“Baby, are you sure you can see the road?”
“Yes Garrett, do you not trust my driving?”
“I’m not saying you can’t drive babe, I’m only suggesting that maybe we should pull over until the rain slows down.”
Shut up! Let me handle this!” She yelled.
At this point, Garrett had sort of lost his patience and couldn’t bear another minute of being inside of the car with “Miss Bossy.” He positioned himself in his seat, and stared at her.
“Why do you always have to be in control of everything?”
Feeling flabbergasted by his question, Clarissa was a little shocked by his assertiveness.
“Excuse me? What do you mean by that?”
“What do you mean…what do I mean?” .
“Well, what kind of question is that?!” She yelled.
“Stop yelling because it’s not going to solve anything, besides you’re driving so will you try to control your temper, please?”
Boy, he was ticking her off with the things that were coming from his mouth. She felt extremely angry and decided to pull the car over to the side of the road so they could finish having the discussion. She turned off the engine and gave him a blank look.
“Aw man, here we go,” he impatiently exhaled because he knew that she was about to fall into a “Drama Queen” persona. At times, she was too dramatic for anyone to handle.
“I am sooo…not in the mood for this right now,” He sighed.
He needed to take his mind off the situation so instead of arguing, he found his cell phone and fondled with the touch screen. “Maybe I can find a good basketball game to watch online,” He thought silently.
From the corner of his eye, he could tell that she was giving him all kinds of ugly glares. He ignored her by not saying anything to because he did not want to add more fuel to the fire.
Clarissa‘s temper blew up like fireworks and took off into full blast, “I‘m just trying to figure out why do you feel this way?! It doesn’t make sense!
“This is not the time,” he said in a nonchalant manner and then he turned up the volume on his Iphone. The Lakers were beating the Bulls by a ten point lead.
She threw her hands into the air and rolled her eyes with a nasty attitude. She absolutely hated to be ignored, especially when she’s in process of trying to reach a validation over a serious discussion.
Garrett made eye contact with her, “Clarissa, let’s dismiss the drama, okay?”
The look in his eyes had somehow forced her to feel weak although she didn’t want to feel that way.
“Whatever,” she shrugged her shoulders and pouted some more. They sat for a few minutes until the rain slowed down and she started the engine to get ready for takeoff. She kept driving with determination to fight against the bad weather. They drove another five miles and Garrett spotted an exit off the highway which led to the nearest gas station.
“Pull over at the next exit,” he demanded.
They reached a stopping point and Garrett stepped out of the car to take a bathroom break. She came out of the store and realized Garrett had already claimed the driver’s seat. She went to the passenger side with a bag full of junk food. She pulled out a bottle of Lipton’s Sweet tea and started drinking from it.
“Where’s mine?” Garrett playfully gestured.
“Here you go,” she tossed him a bottle of water. He looked at the water with disappointment because he was expecting a twenty ounce Coke or Dr. Pepper, anything other than a boring bottle of water.
“You couldn’t do any better than this?” he asked.
“Humph,” she replied with her arms folded. She stared out of the window and poked her lips. She was giving him signal that she still did not want to speak to him.
“Okay, I’ll just buy it myself, since you couldn‘t.”
“What’s wrong with water? It’s healthier than those high calorie carbonated drinks, anyway,” she responded.
“Why don’t you drink it, then?” He looked at the Lipton Tea that she was consuming.
“Whatever,” she shrugged her shoulders with an attitude.
Garrett went back into the store. There was a very attractive young woman sitting behind the cashier’s desk. Her lips were colored with cherry red lipstick and her eyes were hazel.
Her skin appeared to be as smooth as French vanilla latte. It was almost like Garrett recognized her as an old friend.
“Do I know you? It’s like I’ve seen you before.”
“I’m surprised you recognized me,” she chuckled.
His mind was still sort of puzzled. She noticed he couldn’t remember her name so she dipped into his deep thinking.
“My name is Yolanda, we used to be co-workers at the peanut factory a few years ago.”
“Oh yeah, that’s right! How have you been?”
“I moved here, got married, and lost one hundred pounds! I’m very proud of how I look.”
She stood up from her seat and twirled around to show off her new body.
“My husband can’t keep his hands off me.” She laughed.
“I’m engaged as well, I’m actually here with my fiancée to announce the news to my future in laws.”
“Congratulations! I know you‘ll make her happy.”
Garrett made his way back into the car and Clarissa sat there with her arms folded. He popped the top on his can drink and poured it into a cup full of ice. He took a sip, it felt extremely refreshing going down his throat. He started the engine and they headed back to her mother’s house. The rain had stopped but there were water puddles on some parts of the road.
The eighteen wheeler trucks were so huge that it seemed as if it wasn’t enough room on the highway for the big wheels of steel.
“Why were you talking to that lady at the gas station?” Clarissa asked.
Garrett kept his sentences sweet and simple, he wasn't in the mood for any more arguing.
“She’s an old co-worker. It’s not a big deal.”
Clarissa became offended by his response, she folded her arms with an attitude.
“How well do you know this old co-worker?”
“We worked at the peanut factory five years ago! She moved here from Texas and now she’s married!”
“You tried to get her number, didn’t you?!”
“No! What are you talking about?!”
“How did you find out she was a married woman, Garrett?”
“What’s your problem?!”
“I don’t have a problem!”
Garrett shook his head and calmed himself down before he spoke, “Look Clarissa, you‘re the one I chose to become my future wife. If you don‘t learn how to trust me, how are we going to make it as a married couple?”
“I do trust you, it’s just that...”she paused and looked down to the floor, unable to make eye contact. She grew lost for words because there was something she wanted to say. She didn’t even know where to start.
Garrett listened carefully after Clarissa paused he continued driving. It was two months before the wedding and everything had been fine up until this point. He wanted to know what the problem was, because lately she’s been acting strange.
“It’s almost like I don’t know who you are anymore,” he explained.
Deep down, Clarissa knew Garrett was a good man. He deserved to know the truth. She couldn’t muster up the courage to tell him about her medical condition.
“Why are you so angry these days?” he asked.
She paused once again and closed her eyes to coach herself before she let the words spill from her tongue.
“Garrett, there’s something you should know before we get married,” she said.
“What is it?”
“I can’t have children.”
The words didn’t register into his mind after she’d said them.
“I…tried to tell you…but…I can’t have children.”
Garrett grew angry, “So you mean to tell me…that you knew you couldn’t have kids and you were going to get married, anyway?!”
He was so angry that he accidentally lost control of the vehicle. All of a sudden they were surrounded by sirens, ambulances, and fire trucks. He woke up and realized he was in a car accident. The door was jammed which caused it to remain closed. He could not open it and he was stuck inside of the car. The windshield was shattered and there were tiny pieces of broken glass which covered his entire lap. His seatbelt appeared to be glued together because he could not unbuckle it. He looked his right and saw blood all over the seats. His heart skipped a beat and he went into a panic, it was Clarissa’s blood! She was no longer seated on the passenger side of the vehicle. He noticed that she was a few feet away from the car. She looked lifeless and she wasn’t moving. Everything happened so fast, it was like a blink of an eye.
Moments later, he was in the back of an ambulance covered with white bandages and a huge crew of people around him. On the inside, he felt empty and guilty.
“Where’s Clarissa?!” He yelled out.
“Sir, we need you to calm down, we’re checking your blood pressure.”
Garrett grew angry and snatched the bandages from his arms.
“Where is she?!”
The medical team tried to calm him. It took three men to tie him down to make him stay still.
“She’s being transported to the hospital in another ambulance, sir.”
“I want to see her!”
“We’re headed to the same hospital sir; we need you to remain calm.”
Garrett tried to be a good sport, in the back of his mind, he was worried about Clarissa.
The ambulance drove several miles and soon they arrived to the hospital, Clarissa was wheeled into the hospital while laying on a gurney. She was unconscious and did not know what was going on. Garrett screamed and cried tremendously, he felt it was his fault. If I’d only had better control of the wheel on the car, then this mess would not have happened.” He told himself.
Soon after Garrett had given the hospital all of their information, one of the nurses contacted Clarissa’s parents. Garrett remained to be in stable condition after the accident regardless of the few cuts and bruises that were on his forehead.
Clarissa, on the other hand, was not in the best condition. She remained unconscious with a few broken bones. She was placed inside of the critical condition unit to be seen by a doctor. Garrett paced the floor of the waiting room and it wasn’t long before her mother, Valerie showed up at the hospital. She was angry when she saw that Garrett was still an able bodied man while her daughter was in critical condition. She took her purse and wacked him upside the head. “It’s your fault she’s in this situation!” She screamed. Garrett tried to explain himself but the security officer interrupted, “Stop it, ma’am!” At that, the security officer took the purse from Valerie’s hand because she was using it as a weapon.
“You are such a loser!” She yelled.
The hospital team escorted Valerie off the premises for misconduct and she wasn’t allowed to return until the following day.
Meanwhile, Garrett went to the front desk, “What is the room number for Clarissa Hashburn?” He asked. The receptionist looked into the computer system and located her. “Take the elevator to the second floor, she’s in room two hundred twelve,” she responded.
He quickly ran into the elevator and pushed the button which led him to the second floor. He found his way into Clarissa’s room. He entered and a there was a darkness that came over his heart. She was covered with white bandages, her eyes were closed. There were tubes running from her mouth and nose. Her eyes were black and blue. Her entire body was swollen. The doctors had to cut all the hair from her head. Although, she was bald without any hair, she appeared beautiful to Garrett. He could hear his heart pounding throughout his veins. He sat next to her bed and cried his eyes out. “I can’t believe this happened to you, I’m sorry.” He stayed in her room for two hours and he accidentally fell asleep. It was about three in the morning and a nurse entered into the to check on Clarissa. While she was doing this, she discovered a man who was asleep and unaware of her presence. He looked to be an injured person as well.
“Would you like a cup of coffee, sir?” She asked.
Garrett slightly jumped at the sound of hearing someone speak. He was sitting in silence for too long.
“Yes, that would nice.”
The nurse scribbled something on Clarissa’s medical chart and left out of the room. Minutes later she returned with a cup of coffee and a dinner plate from the dietary department. It was prepared with veggies and a steak.
“I decided to bring you something to eat with coffee; you look like you’re exhausted.”
“Thanks,” he said. She sat the plate onto the table and handed him the coffee. “How long have you been here?” She asked.
“I don’t know, it’s been a few hours or so.”
The nurse sipped from her coffee, “Oh I see, are you related to the patient?”
“She’s actually my girlfriend, we're supposed to be getting married.”
“I saw on her medical records that she was in a severe car accident.”
“Yeah, I was the one who was driving.” At that moment, Garrett became choked up with tears. The nurse was moved with sympathy. “I’m sorry.”
“I feel so bad behind and there isn’t anything that I can do to change what happened. We were arguing and I lost control of the car.”
“You can’t keep blaming yourself for what happened; you have to turn it over to GOD.
The nurse pulled out a miniature sized Bible; she flipped through its pages and found a scripture; Psalms 55:22. She read it to him and asked him if he wanted to pray with her. She took his hand and they said a meaningful prayer by asking Jehovah GOD to take control of the situation.Three months had gone by and Clarissa was still hospitalized. Garrett’s faith grew stronger and he started coming to the hospital with a Bible in his hand. Every day he would read the Bible to Clarissa while she was still in a coma. Although she was unconscious and could not speak, the doctors informed him that she was able to hear. Finally after five months of being in a coma, Clarissa opened her eyes. Garrett felt like he was the happiest man on earth. One year later, on June 17th, Clarissa was going down the wedding aisle. The wedding was a little unique because she was sitting in a wheel chair. Garrett learned to accept that he would never have any children with his wife. In his eyes, she was still a beautiful gift. If it wasn’t for the nurse at the emergency room, he would not have found a spiritual life that led him into forgiving himself for the car accident. It was the heartache that he experienced at the emergency room which led him to a newly found happiness.