23 - HIS STORY
Had he known things would turn out the way they did, he would like to say as a retired Army Drill Sargent that he would have chosen someone else. In truth, Braxton loved his wife, for all the bad she had done, he truly loved her... despite himself.
That was all besides the point.
As Braxton glanced at the high school picture he kept hidden from his spouse, he knew it was time to do something he should have done a long time ago.
Most people misunderstood him. They thought he was a henpecked man. Because he never stood up to Nelda, people naturally assumed that she had control over him. The truth was much harsher and even more heartbreaking than anyone would understand.
A phone call early in the morning brought him up to speed on so much that he’d hoped would never take place again. He knew about the abuse Lydia suffered and every day he hated himself for not stepping up to put a stop to it. When she was targeted to be kidnapped, he knew about that too.
It was only because of a promise that he was bound to keep his mouth closed. Making a simple promise many years before all of the current mess came to a head was making him look like the biggest fool in the world. His wife took his love and shit all over it. The worst part of every single thing that transpired was that he allowed it.
“I’m so sorry I couldn’t protect her.” He glanced at the photo and was swept under a current of tears.
Braxton reminisced thirty-six years back to the past as he recalled the two girls who forever changed his life.
In all he had seen, never once had he met a black person with brown-blue eyes. He’d encountered several people who were of mixed heritage and they were blessed with a range of different colored irides.
Ifunanya Kensington-Nnewichi was a girl he met in the eleventh grade. She insisted he call her by her nickname because people often struggled to pronounce her full name.
No matter how many times she explained that it was as simple as saying if-oo-nan-yah, the average person seemed to butcher it out of sheer laziness, so she opted for Anya for short.
Because her name meant love, her parents were eager to protect the daughter they treasured more than anything. Anya explained how her parents came to create the most amazing person in the world.
When her father Prince Solomon Nnewichi left home, he promptly enrolled in a medical program in the state of Arkansas, USA. It was at that time the young man met Doctor Maltus Kensington II. After working for the doctor for a few years following graduation and his residency, he became a Pediatrician at the University of Arkansas Medical Science in the Children’s Center.
He had serviced at the hospital for four years, and because he was always a man of good fortune, he met the dashing miss Flora at a fundraiser. After a brief friendship, Flora introduced her boyfriend to her father leaving Solomon shocked to find that he was dating the daughter of a prestigious university Alumnus.
Doctor Kensington knew Doctor Nnewichi to be a man of exemplary character. His bedside manner was famous throughout the hospital system. Most importantly to the famed older surgeon was the information he acquired that the young doctor was a titled family member in a prestigious Nigerian Royal family.
With his eager blessings, the young couple was married in the US, then swiftly transported to the Nnewichi Kingdom for a traditional marriage ceremony to ensure that their wedding would be acknowledged and recorded by the Nnewichi King as well as the elders.
They spent several months in the Nnewichi Kingdom before returning to the states. Only to find that six weeks after their return, Flora was with child.
Nine months passed in no time as the family awaited the opportunity to welcome their bundle of joy. Though her parents believed she was a gift from the gods when they saw her brilliant crystal blue eyes, Anya’s parents were astonished to witness such a rare occurrence.
She never fully understood why her father refused to take her to Nigeria to be presented to his family. Anya shared with Braxton that her mother simply stated there would be issues if they went back to her father’s homeland and it was best to just stay away.
As a respectful young woman, she took her parent’s words at face value and never asked again. Though her eyes did become somewhat darker over time, they were rather distinguishable featuring dark brown flecks surrounded by clear blue.
It wasn’t until she was close to graduation that her parents finally explained their concerns to their child.
Fearing his family would consider her birth a sign that she was in line for the throne, her father refused to take her to his home. He realized someone might get the wrong idea and attempt to harm his family, so he remained in the states and insisted his return was delayed due to a procession of excuses.
Thankfully, they allowed and encouraged her to engage in school events and to study hard. They believed she was meant for greatness. Her father Solomon Nnewichi was the second prince in line to the royal throne of the Nnewichi Kingdom. Because his older brother Adam Nnewichi was installed as the Crowned Prince, Solomon was allowed to remain in the USA untethered.
“What is it like being the daughter of a prince?” Braxton asked her on one of many occasions.
“I guess like anyone else. I don’t get treated differently. Even though my parents have money and they employ servants, they make me do chores. My mother insists that it will teach me humility. My father complains that I shouldn’t have to cook or clean, but my mom always has a comeback that makes me a slave to the man.” Anya laughed at her own joke.
Not only was she a beast when it came to playing basketball, doing homework, or anything she put her mind to do, but she was also an insane jokester.
When Braxton first met her, he wasn’t interested in her in any way. Over time, she taught him the proper drills to get himself in shape for basketball. That was one of the main reasons they spent nearly every day together. The amount of time that was invested in running drills or studying began to cloud his mind.
Before long, he found his heart was pulled between the two girls.
One was selfish and only concerned with herself. The other never failed to be helpful to other students. She volunteered at the local shelter on the weekends and often drug him along. Anya insisted it was important to help the less fortunate.
At times, it was hard to believe she was a member of two wealthy families.
Anya could care less about money or power. The only thing she insisted she wanted was a big family full of kids and a husband to beat at card games. He found it hard to comprehend how easygoing she was or how her dreams were so easily obtainable.
It was strange that a person who didn’t have to worry about money wasn’t concerned in the least with getting more money like many of the people he had met with his dad before their move.
Slowly but surely he felt a gravitational pull to her and he had no desire to resist it.
Braxton’s feelings for Anya became so strong that he began to see her as more than just a buddy.
No longer was he locked on Nelda and her dismissive manners. You see... Anya and Nelda were completely different in appearance.
Walking around the school or hanging out at the court, Braxton’s eyes were fixated on glowing dark brown skin with burnt umber undertones.
Anya was like a Nubian queen straight from the motherland. It was obvious her cousin was influenced by other genetic factors. Some would say Nelda had “Indian” in her side of the family. Braxton wasn’t sure, but he saw the noticeable difference.
Even though they both equally beautiful to him, there was something about Anya that made a guy feel at home. She seemed like the perfect foundation for living a life swathed in peaceful bliss.
Much debate took place in his mind before he finally broke down and asked the girl he desired most to the last school dance of the year.
Since summer was closing in on them, the dance committee decided to create a “Summer Fling’ theme.
Young men arrived wearing slacks, button down-shirts, and for the most part loafers. Young ladies were dressed in cute seasonal dresses with pastel and floral prints. Though they weren’t required to dress formal, it was recommended that the teens dress in Saturday ’brunch-party′ attire. The faculty also insisted that anyone showing up in tank tops, tube tops, short dresses... mini skirts... short shorts, or flip flops would be expeditiously asked to leave and banned from the upcoming year’s senior dances.
Braxton’s father took him to his date’s home to collect her.
They first went out to Sonic for burgers, fries, and shakes. Next, they stopped by the local mini-mall to walk around before the start of the dance, and then after an hour of hanging out with some of their school mates, Mr. Wright drove them to the dance.
His father handed him twenty dollars.
“I want you to have a good time, but don’t disappoint your mother.” Mr. Wright insisted.
“Yes, sir.” He responded as he opened the door for his date.
Since she agreed to go out with him, he figured it wouldn’t hurt to let everyone know that she was officially with him, so Braxton placed his arm around her shoulder and pulled her close.
They walked into the building arms wrapped around each other.
Their first stop was at the ticket table. Even though his dad had given him some extra money, he brought his allowance to show his date a really good time. He purchased their tickets and then they headed on over to the picture booth that was set up in the hallway leading to the gym.
Braxton and his date stopped to take a few pictures. They grabbed some drinks and walked over to a group of people they both knew.
The once lanky quirky kid had quite a few friends after he helped his team win a slew of basketball games. He had one person to thank for helping him out and he vowed to show her just how much he appreciated her.
As he stood with the crowd laughing and goofing around, Braxton looked up at the door and nearly fell to his knees when he saw a vision in blue walk through the door.
His heart began to beat so hard he was sure everyone could hear it.
Lub dub. Lub dub. Lub dub. Lub dub. Lub dub. Lub dub.
“Braxton are you okay?” His date asked as she turned to follow his line of sight.