We stepped into the house and I immediately felt cozy. It was warm and radiant inside. I could smell whatever it was Amos was cooking before we arrived, which made my stomach growl. I look down and place my hand on my stomach before making and awkward smile and looking around.
“Sorry.” I awkwardly laugh before looking around the living room.
“Here let me get you to the shower and show you where you can sleep. I’m sure you’ll love it.”
She guides me to the back of the home to a vacant room with a queen sized bed made with sheets and pillows. I slowly walk to the bed and touch it. Running my hands all the way to the pillows before gently squeezing it and releasing. I felt tears in the back of my eyes come forward as I turned to Mel. Her face turned sympathetic.
“It’s been so long-“ I am stopped by a sudden hiccup in my voice as I begin full on sobbing feeling the tears fall down my face.
“It’s been so long since I’ve felt a bed Mel. Since I laid my head on a pillow. Since I’ve felt safe.” I break down bringing my hands to my face.
She walks to me and embraces me in her arms holding me and rubbing my back. Shushing me as I cried.
“This is the guest room. You may stay here as long as you’d like. While you shower I’ll go work some things out with Mickey and we’ll talk during dinner when you get out the shower.”
I nod my head and wipe my face and go towards the bathroom and turn on the light. Unlike the one at my previous place it doesn’t feel cramped in here. I close the bathroom door after Mel leaves the bedroom and closes the door.
I turn on the shower to let it warm up and set my bag on the counter to take out my bathroom essentials. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and now I see what everyone in the city saw. I see the dried tears and my bruised eye and the dirt from when I tripped running away.
I look down at my hands and notice the wedding ring still on my finger and take it off. I won’t be needing this anymore. As expensive as it is, he didn’t treat me like it was.
I stripped down and stepped into the hot water like my life depended on it. Washing all the dirt off my body and makeup from my face. I washed my hair and I felt like I was washing him out of my life.
I got out of the shower and looked in the mirror and smiled. I felt like I was glowing. I take my bag and carry it to the bed and grab my dirty clothes and for now toss them into a corner until I find out what to do with them. I no longer have to wear long clothes around the house I feel so free.
I toss on my underwear and bra and choose between some baggy sweatpants or pajama shorts. Sweatpants should work so I’m not too inappropriate at a dinner table with a family I’m just meeting. And throw on a big tshirt. I sling my arms side to side smiling feeling the loose clothing flow around.
I feel like I can breathe.
I walk back up the hall to make my way back tot he living room and run into Amos.
“Oh sorry.” I say quietly.
I look up and he stares down at me with hard eyes before softening his features.
“It’s fine sweetheart. You ready for dinner?”
I nod my head as I follow him to the dinner table where Mel and her niece sat.
“Sophia please don’t make a mess tonight okay? Show Tia your big girl skills.” She whispers that makes Sophia sit up with a smile.
“HI TIA! YOU CAN SIT NEXT TO ME!” She yells out to me making me laugh. I walk around and sit in the chair beside her.
Amos came out the kitchen passing out plates of lasagna and it smelled so good. I haven’t had anything like this in so long. I look around as everyone is looking at me.
“Don’t worry we don’t say grace you’re welcome to dig in whenever you’d like.” Amos says as he takes a price on his fork and puts it in his mouth.
I pick up my fork and take a huge chunk and force it into my mouth and moan as I chew. I close my eyes and savor the taste as it goes down my throat. Flavor is all I taste just wonderful flavors. I finish what’s on my plate as the family talks to make it seem like they aren’t noticing me eat like I haven’t eaten in months.
“Want some more? You’re more than welcome to get another plate.” Amos says as he smiles at me from across the table.
I nod my head before saying yes. He gets up and grabs my plate and returns with more.
“Oh just a second.” I get up and run to the guest room and into the bathroom to grab my wedding ring and return to the table.
“Here. You guys can do as you please with it. I don’t need it. Pawn it turn it into something else whatever.” I say setting the ring in the center of the table before putting more forkfuls of lasagna in my mouth.
“Is that a wedding ring?” Amos ask with food still in his mouth.
“Mhm.” I say not wanting to open my mouth. He nods his head and swallows
“Aunty did you know?” He turns to Mel slightly annoyed.
“Of course I knew. She cane running out of the woods like her life depended on it. I wasn’t gonna let her sit out there when I knew what would happen if I did.” She’s says clearly with no argument in her voice.
He sighs. “Aunty. You and Sophia are here for a reason you two have the protection my mother couldn’t get. No offense Tia, but she doesn’t Aunty. And if she doesn’t accept it I can’t do anything for her. I don’t know who this man is or who he’s affiliated with. He could be trouble for all of us.” This got serious pretty quickly. I look around feeling bad. Then things started happening all at once and my fight or flight senses kicked in.
“Amos we will discuss this tomorrow morning.”
“Aunty Mel, Ms Tia has birth marks just like mommy.”
“Aunty, you can’t be serious-“
“I SAID WE WILL DISCUSS THIS TOMORROW MORNING!” She raises her voice and slams her fork onto the table causing me to scream and cover my mouth. I felt the tears in the back of my eyes as I squeezed them shut trying not to sob.
I felt a soft touch on my wrist making my eyes shoot open and my body jump.
“Hey hey. It’s me Tia. You’re okay. I’m sorry that got out of control. Let me take you to your room. You should rest.”
I let him help me out of my chair and to my room where he laid me into bed and tucked me in and left the lamp on the nightstand on as he left my room. The softness of the bed sending me into a deep sleep.