Handprints and Anniversary Dates
“Fingerpainting is fun, she said. The kids will love it. What can go wrong?” I mimicked the words of my best friend Tamara as I poorly attempted to dab away the tiny green handprint on the front of my brand new designer slacks.
“Fan-fucking-tastic,” I growled, realizing my constant dabbing only succeeded in worsening the problem. With a heavy sigh, I tossed the damp paper towel into the trashcan and made a mental note to keep a pair of spare clothes in the classroom from now on.
I tiptoed to my desk, stepping over tiny bodies, contemplating how I would spend my next twenty minutes of silence before the paint-covered monsters woke up from their nap.
They may act a little bratty at times, but I wouldn’t trade a single munchkin for anything in the world. I felt blessed when I was hired as a kindergarten teacher at Creekmoor Elementary School after completing a stint of student teaching and graduating top of my class. To say my parents were disappointed in me was a gross understatement. My parents were distraught when I confessed I had absolutely no desire to further my education after obtaining my bachelor’s degree. Although teachers are the stepping stone to developing our young future leaders of America, my parents still believed being an elementary teacher was a lowly job, and at minimum, I should have aspired to be a nose in the air, stick up the ass professor.
Fuck all that.
I would consider my family upper-middle class, but let my parents tell it, and they would argue they belonged in the upper echelon. They weren’t shit. They were just a pair of uppity niggas with a little bit of money trying to keep up with those above their paygrades.
I fished for my tablet out of my briefcase and continued to read the latest Marshall Lane novel. If I knew my significant other, he would call me later tonight and ask me what I thought, and I was expected to give my honest opinion.
Marshall and I met in college when he bumped into me in the quad, knocking me down to the ground in the process. I don’t believe in love at first sight, but I felt something when I first laid eyes on him. Marshall was incredibly handsome, and his nervous stutter and the fact that “I’m sorry” seemed to be the only phrase he knew was adorable. He literally picked me up from the ground, promised me Chick-fil-A as an apology, and took me to medical to tend to my sprained wrist. Marshall had me at Chick-fil-A, but he truly secured a place in my heart when he revealed he was a suspense/thriller novelist. He hadn’t published a single book at the time, but here we are several years later, and my man can’t stay off the New York Times Best Sellers list.
Marshall loves to chalk up most of his success to me, but I haven’t done anything except get my grubby little hands on his drafts and go to town on it with my red pen, leaving harsh but constructive notes in the column of the pages. Not to worry, I always leave a smiley face after my comments. It makes my remarks a little less...soul-crushing.
Marshall often jokes that I’m a sociopath because only a sociopath could develop some of the plot ideas I float his way. He’s not the only one to think that. My parents, Timothy and Danita Thomas are well-known psychiatrists and are adamant that I’m a sociopath. If I am one, then it’s their fault. I blame my cold demeanor on my upbringing. I grew up in a house devoid of laughter, hugs, and smiles. You know, all the gooey shit that’s essential to healthy child development? I don’t believe my parents are capable of displaying genuine affection and emotions. I can’t recall for the life of me ever witnessing my parents hug or kiss each other, and neither my sister nor I were on the receiving end.
My sister, Olivia, aka Ho-livia, is a gold-digger who swears up and down she’s a high society debutante. She spends her days and nights prowling high-end bars, lounges, and establishments, desperately trying to prey on her next victim. Olivia likes her men with deep pockets, and age ain’t nothing but a number to her. All she wanted was a man willing to indulge her every whim and desire; shower her with diamonds, designer clothes, and hand over the Black Card, no questions asked.
My cellphone began vibrating across my desk. I ignored it and continued to proofread Marshall’s story. The phone eventually ceased but picked right back up again. If I didn’t answer, he was going to keep calling. With a heavy sigh, I threw down my stylus and answered the phone.
“What do you want?” I drawled, placing my feet on top of my desk.
“Every time I call you, I feel like I annoy you,” Marshall playfully sighed.
I remained silent and began picking at a hangnail.
“Your silence is troubling.”
“I’m not annoyed, just busy.”
“Doing what? Watching your kids take a nap?”
“No, I’m making revisions to your book.”
“What do you think so far?” Marshall eagerly asked.
“Do you want the truth, or would you prefer I lie to you?”
“The truth, please, and thank you.”
“I don’t know if you can handle the truth.”
“Truthfully, my wrist hurts from all the correcting I’ve had to do to your shitty writing.”
“You’ve barely started, huh?” Marshall accused.
“Yeah, I’m only on the second chapter.”
“I know, I know! I’ve been so distracted while you’ve been gone, and I know you hate when I procrastinate, but it’s not my fault,” I whined.
“Whose fault is it then?”
“It’s Netflix’s for coming out with such great shows this month.”
“Jade, you’ve had the novel for almost six weeks. You know how important it is to me having you read my work before passing it along to my editor. I trust you, Jade, and your opinion matters to me more than anyone in the world.”
“That’s sweet and all, but how are you going to pay me for my services?”
“I’m taking you out for our anniversary this weekend when I get back to town.”
My eyes ticked towards the calendar on my desk, and I couldn’t help but sigh.
“You sighed so hard, I think all the oxygen left your body. You forgot, didn’t you?”
“Forgot? Me?” I snorted. “How could I, the Magnificent Jade, forget something so momentous as our four year-”
“Five-year,” Marshall flatly corrected me.
“Five-year anniversary,” I recovered. “We’re doing gifts, right?”
“Good. That’s fantastic. My gift is going to knock your socks off.”
“I’m looking forward to it. The kids should be waking up in the next few minutes. Call me later?”
“You bet,” I replied, pulling up Amazon to see what I could find last minute for my partner.
“I love you, Jade.”
“I love you too, Marshmallow,” I sinisterly replied with a massive grin on my face.
“God, I hate that nickname,” he growled before hanging up.
My alarm on my desk shrilled, alerting me that it was time for the lollipop guild to wake up. I returned my tablet to my briefcase and snickered once I flipped all the lights on. It’s amusing to watch my students squint their eyes at the sudden blinding fluorescent lights. I received some grumbles and complaints, but those quickly died down as soon as I said we were watching a movie. I turned on It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and dove back into finding Marshall the perfect anniversary gift.
“Well, look at you. Aren’t you a busy little beaver?” Tamara teased, waltzing into my classroom. “Usually, you’re out the door as soon as your last student crosses the threshold.”
“Not now, Tammy,” I growled, still scouring through the website.
“What’s bothering you?”
“Besides the green handprint on my pant leg and your presence? I forgot that it’s my fifth anniversary this weekend,” I lowly admitted.
“Awwww, did Marshall have to remind you?”
“He did, and he knows I’m lying about getting him a gift. I’m slumped. I have absolutely no idea what to get him. What do you give a man who has everything? I feel like whatever I get him won’t wow him, you know?”
“Maybe I can be of some assistance?” Tamara offered.
“No, thank you. Everything you touch goes to shit.”
“That’s not true!” she exclaimed.
“Your brother’s surprise party last year? You told everyone the wrong date.”
“Let’s give credit where credit’s due. He was shocked.”
“We were a week early...yeah, I would say he was surprised.”
“We had birthday cake two weeks in a row,” Tamara rationalized.
“You know what? I’ll give you that. Do you have any ideas?”
“What’s something Marshall has been really wanting lately?”
“A fucking baby,” I snorted.
“Well, nothing!” I spat.
“Okay, okay. Obviously, you’re not ready. You two have been together so long that I’m surprised it hasn’t already happened.”
“You’re damn right I’m not ready. I’m only 22!”
“And he’s 27, so I’m sure he’s thinking about settling down with you.”
“His age is not my problem. He’s gonna be unsettled for a couple of years.”
“I know what your problem is,” Tamara grinned.
“What is it?”
“You want him to put a ring on it.”
“You see that window right there?” I asked, pointing towards the window.
“Yeah. What about it?”
“Throw yourself out of it.”
“Don’t be rude, Jade. Are you seriously telling me that if Marshall proposed, you would say no?” Tamara questioned.
I stared off into space as I contemplated my answer. Am I pining for a ring? Absolutely not. Would I require one before he put a baby in me? You’re damn fucking right I would. I love Marshall, and I don’t see myself with anyone else. He’s patient, treats me well, feeds me, the money and the dick’s long, and he supplies me with exclusive reading material. He sounds like a winner in my book. Plus, nobody wants me but Marshall. So, it’s either him or stay alone forever.
“If...Marshall was to propose to me...I wouldn’t not say yes,” I mumbled. Tamara squealed in excitement as if some poor, desperate guy spontaneously dropped down on a knee in front of her.
“This is so exciting!”
“Let’s get back to reality. What am I supposed to get him?”
“A watch?” Tamara offered.
“He has enough watches...trust me.”
“A new car?”
“On my teacher’s salary?”
“Jade...Marshall gives you a hefty allowance each month.”
“Don’t say it like that. It makes me feel like a sugar baby or some shit. Marshall gives me a small portion of his royalty checks, that’s all.”
“As he should because he wouldn’t be as successful without you.”
“Now, if I can get my forty acres, then we’ll call it even,” I chuckled, closing my laptop.
I followed Tamara out of my classroom and locked the door behind us while she prattled, offering her gift suggestions. It wasn’t until we arrived at my car when it suddenly came to me. “I know what to get him!” I exclaimed.
“What is it?”
“I’ll tell you when we get home. Hurry up and get your ass in the car. The line at Chick-fil-A is probably wrapped around the building.”