Rachel stabbed the salad with her fork. She twirled the dry contents as she eyed Mr. Henderson. Granted she wasn’t close with her mother growing up, Rachel would often envision what a parent should be. A parent was to suppose protect and love their children no matter the circumstances. Someone who would support the decisions and path their children chose. As Mr. Henderson discussed what he had planned for Sophia after graduation had irritated Rachel to the point where she had to bite her lip from interrupting. She couldn’t fathom why he brought the subject up once again after being shut down.
Sophia rolled her eyes and nodded, pretending to be engaged in the conversation. Only Rachel knew that her dear friend was plotting on traveling the world the moment she walked off the stage. She was thankful for the fact that she was taking money from the funds that were passed down to her. That cash was then put into a separate account she only had access to. Only then could she be at ease while her father threatened to cut her off if she didn’t abide by his demands.
“We should celebrate ending a challenging chapter in our lives after graduation. Especially after surviving fashion design.” Rachel expressed.
Mr. Henderson scoffed as his wife elbowed him. He gave her a firm nod. Turning to Rachel, he gave her a tight lip expression.
“The process of attending college is not hard nor impossible. If you can memorize lyrics to a song, you can memorize the material in textbooks. It doesn’t take a genius to understand and learn something they are accustomed to.”
Sighing, Rachel knew that she was about to get into another debate with the man. She loathed the man with every bone in her body. It was as if he was set out to degrade anything she was thinking. Nonetheless, she wasn’t the type to back down without a fight.
Mr. Henderson continued. “Why is there a reason to celebrate moving to success? What is the point in parting with people you will never see again? Something you should be doing in the first place. If you want better, you find the means to better yourself. It’s better than blaming your upbringing on why you can’t move forward in life.”
Rachel felt Elijah’s hand on her thigh. He squeezed it silently as he continued to eat. Although he looked unfazed, he would clench and unclench his jaw every so often.
“College is not the route for every individual. You might feel as though further education is the route for yourself, but it shouldn’t be pushed on everyone.”
“A person that finishes college has a better chance of owning a business in their future. There’s no need to celebrate what you should be doing.”
“That’s where I have to disagree with you.” Rachel gulped her water before placing the glass down. The way Elijah squeezed her thigh made her feel at ease as she confidently faced Mr. Henderson. She continued.
“Going to college is not a necessity to be successful in life. There are people who created an organization from their own hard-earned money.”
“People like who? I tell you who!” Mr. Henderson grunted. “People who think it’s okay to fail in life so many times just to start something new. The same people who believe their children should make as many mistakes as a child, to shape them into this free spirit.”
Rachel chuckled dryly. The fork slammed into the plate she was using. Hunter’s hand found Rachel’s opposite thigh. She was too far gone to sit back and pretend Mr. Henderson didn’t think too highly of her.
“People like my father. He never went to college to study, yet he learned from experience. His ambition is what drove him to start the organization that helped millions of people overseas.”
Rachel’s father, Tremaine Jaeger, had an urge to start his organization because of his good friend Chanel. She was struggling to move on from her abusive relationship. It was then when Tremaine decided to build an organization that helps individuals who experienced domestic violence in their life. He died right before he was able to build another organization to help people escape abusive situations.
“You see what I mean?” Mr. Hendon said, referring to their previous conversation. “What did he leave you behind as he retired?! That organization you talk of could have been something big if he would have went to college. College sets the foundation of your future. It provides insight on how how to properly run a business as opposed to going about things on a whim. What kind of advice could a man like that offer? I can only imagine what kind of mistakes you’ve made.”
Rachel sat back in the chair. Her eyes glazed over and her shoulders slumped in defeat. She was so confident that she could back up her claims with valid information. However, as Mr. Henderson down talked her late father, she felt broken.
“He’s unable to offer me any advice,” Rachel mumbled. She was numb. Numb to the point where she couldn’t feel the comforting touch of her lovers. Trying to control her breathing, she blinked several times in an attempt to keep her tears at bay.
“My point exactly! Children need structure and a solid foundation so they won’t fuck up in life.”
“I think that’s enough!” Hunter growled.
Sophia chimed in, “There’s no reason to dismiss other people’s beliefs nor is it acceptable to down talk Rachel!”
“No. No. I don’t think I’ve said enough just yet. This young woman was so determined to lecture the way I raised my children. She has nothing. Nothing to offer herself or a lover. Not to mention parents who clearly failed at raising her. Why is it that your father can not offer you reasonable advice? Is it because he believes you are grown and should run wild as you please?”
Elijah slammed his fist on the table, startling everyone. Rachel laughed as she tasted salty tears.
“Why can’t my father offer me any advice, you ask?” Rachel chuckled before sniffling. Her hand brushed down her face as she stared angrily at the man. “Because my father is dead. What did he leave me? Two organizations that I plan on overseeing despite me being in America, and a paid-off penthouse. But you see, I don’t care about that penthouse. What I care about is what he taught me. He taught me how to be an individual without striving to follow in his footsteps. Yes, I made mistakes.” Her hand repeatedly hit her chest. “That was my doing. My mistakes were not the outcome of how I was raised! If your head wasn’t so far up your arse, you would probably have the chance to get to know me. You look at me as if I’m this poor black girl who has no idea how to handle herself, but you’re wrong. Both of my parents are strong and they created an even stronger woman. A piece of advice, before you judge the next person, get to know them!” She pushed her chair back before standing to her feet. “I’ve been missing my running routines, I’ll be back shortly.” She nodded to her lovers and Sophia before exiting the house.
Rachel didn’t know where she was running to. All she knew was that she couldn’t be in the same house as Mr. Henderson. A constant stream of tears fell from her eyes as she sobbed out loud. No amount of therapy could prepare her for the constant bash of her character. She pushed herself to pick up the speed as she ignored the sounds around her.
After some time of running, she found herself near a cliff. She cried out for her parents and her upbringing. She cried because she felt as though she was nothing more than a shell of a woman. Yearning to feel anything was something she wanted to cling to, but it was beyond her grasp.
“Rachel?” Christen cautiously walked towards the woman. “I was calling you from my car but you didn’t respond.”
As Rachel turned around, Christen was stunned. There was no sign of life within her eyes. His next words were swallowed as he witnessed the ongoing stream of tears.
“Cry as hard as you want to.” Christen embraced her against her chest. As Rachel cried out, his arms tightened around her. Rachel cried until her body became weak, unable to stand. It wasn’t until hours later when she was able to tell him what was said to her.
The pair walked to Christen’s car. He retrieved a bottle of Remy from his back seat before removing the top of his convertible.
“There’s something I don’t understand. Why did those words make you cry out by a ledge? I guess what I’m trying to say is that I want to know why you feel as if you don’t have the means of offering more to people. I see a strong woman who has no problem speaking the truth. But what do you see when you look in the mirror?”
Rachel took the bottle from Christen, taking several gulps. She looked towards Christen with uncertainty.
“Would it help if I say that whatever is discussed stays between us?”
Rachel nodded, prepared to do something that was out of her comfort zone. She was going to let someone into her world of dark secrets.