Chapter One: I Feel it Coming
“You’ve been scared of love and what it did to you
You don’t have to run, I know what you’ve been through just a simple touch and it can set you free
We don’t have to rush when you’re alone with me”
I Feel it Coming (The Weeknd ft.Daft Punk)
I am destined for nothing other than misery and sadness.
I was born with a hex, one I’m not even sure God can abolish.
If every child is born with a purpose in life, mine is to go through the worst a human can possibly go through before dying a tragic death. I am certain of this.
One could only imagine where I had adopted such a negative way of thinking and I say this, my life. Since I was a child, not only had I been struck with tragedy, it never seemed to cease and give me a break. I constantly rode the wave of a problem after problem, an unlucky child I am.
Now a fully grown adult, I see that happiness is just a misconstrued way of thinking. No one is really just happy in life, they are simply content. Enjoying the current moment where nothing bad is happening to them and that’s it.
But I am always going through something bad.
Thus, I can never be happy.
I am destined for hell.
“Dr. Francisque...what happened to your eye?!” I hadn’t even set my bag down before I was subjected to the loudmouth of my co-worker Angeline Vasquez.
“Nothing.” I sat down in my office chair and started up my computer ignoring the pile of files that had to be read through before noon.
I tried my best to control the number of times I blinked because I could feel the splitting of my right eye deepen more and more. It hurt like hell, but I was a tough cookie it wasn’t the worst I’ve been through in my life, that was for sure.
Angeline walks further into my office shutting the door behind her so she could speak more privately.
Great...maybe this time Japan won’t hear our conversation.
“Dr. Francisque that is not something you can just brush off. Your eye is nearly busted up and black, what happened?” She asked again.
I tapped my fingers nails idle onto the desk in a rapid manner, my patience was wearing thin and it was only 6:30 in the morning. Why couldn’t she go bother someone else?
“I wasn’t looking and walked into a pole yesterday,” I said through gritted teeth, it was taking everything in me not to throw something at her.
“A pole?!” She tsked and shook her head, “You need to be more attentive, Riny─.”
“Can you shut up and get out, please?!” I shouted causing her to stop mid-speech and jump.
“I’m sorry...I didn’t mean to─.”
“Just get out.” I winced as I absent-mindedly rubbed my hand over my eyes.
I didn’t hear her step out, but when I looked up again she was gone and I breathed out a sigh of relief before standing up and heading for the bathroom in my office so I could properly look at my eye. I swore I had done a good job patching it up this morning before heading to work.
At the mirror, I noted that the job I had done to my eye was turning south as it was on the verge of busting again, trickles of blood were beginning to pop out of the seams and I clenched my teeth.
It’s all his fault. I thought.
I had never been this grumpy in my life before, but certain circumstances led to another, and here I was patching up a black-eye that I received from my aunt’s husband for not cooking dinner last night.
What did he expect? I had just finished a 16-hour shift at the hospital, I was exhausted and so tired that I wasn’t even hungry. The minute I got home he asked me where the food was and when I told him I wasn’t going to cook tonight, he landed one right in my eye, then forced me to cook when I could barely see out of it.
That was just a regular day in my household.
My aunt married a monster and because I have no backbone to get out of that hell-hole, I suffer the same fate as her whenever Camden drinks and beats her.
“That’s what you get for not cooking, Kae.” My aunt had said.
She was no better than him.
Sometimes I wondered if she hated me more than she hated my mother?
But she was the only family I had left, I didn’t want to leave her until I knew she was coming with me. Aunt Roselle was just going through the denial that her husband Camden was an abusive piece of scum and refuses to get rid of him.
I kept patiently waiting for her.
As a result, they constantly sucked me dry of my paychecks and left me with little to nothing. Camden used it to buy drugs and liquor and my aunt used hers to give to Camden who spent it all on the same thing.
At this point, I didn’t have enough money to get out of my situation, even if I wanted to.
And no one knew, because I never revealed my private life at work. I stayed quiet, did my job, and went home. If anyone wondered where the bruises or scars came from I lied and said I tripped, fell, or whatever lie I thought they would believe.
I grabbed a cloth and patted my eye hissing in the same breath. The fabric had splotches of blood resting on it. How the hell was I supposed to work like this?
The last thing I needed was my pay deducted and Camden beating me because there wasn’t enough money.
“What happened to you, Kae?” I jumped when I realized I wasn’t alone in the bathroom.
Eron, my other surgeon co-worker apologetically smiled and walked further into the room.
“I didn’t mean to startle you...Angeline was running around telling everyone about your black eye. I got worried and knocked, but I don’t think you heard me.” He scratched the back of his head as he spoke.
I swear to God Angeline...
My face lifted into a grin trying to mask my displeasure, but I immediately regretted it because I could feel my eye tearing a bit more.
Eron immediately rushed over to me and grabbed my arm. “Come on let me go get you patched up, you can’t work like this.” He insisted.
I shook my head as I held my eye. “I’m fine.” I waved my hands.
He frowned, “If the boss sees you like this he’s not letting you work.” He reminded me.
My shoulders sunk in defeat and I allowed him to lead me to one of the empty rooms to care for my eye. I ignored the stares of the visitors and nurses that made eye contact with me and followed him into the privacy of a room.
He had me sit down as he grabbed a couple of things to get me fixed up.
“What happened?” He asked me seriously.
“Nothing─.” He cut me off.
“Kae...a week ago you had bruises down your arm, three weeks ago you had a huge bump on the side of your head, now today you have a black eye.” He turned to me with the materials in his hands.
My eyes failed to meet his and rested on the floor away from any contact.
“I refuse to believe you fell down the stairs, accidentally burned yourself with a flat iron, or walked into a pole without watching where you were going...tell me.” He crouched down in front of me making sure my working eye looked into his.
I took a deep breath. “I’m a klutz.” I laughed nervously.
He shook his head and began treating me, it was silent for ten whole minutes. Eron brought my chin up and told me to stay still so he could treat my eye. My eyes focused on his face as he remained occupied with my treatment.
He was an attractive man with a sharp jawline. A couple of brown spots spread across his face and nose, his hair was a shiny golden blonde, and he had a pair of crystal-blue eyes that sparkled whenever he smiled, which was often.
I didn’t understand how he could find enjoyment or happiness in the life of a surgeon. The long hours, the constant death, barely getting any sleep. The slight wrinkles beside his eyes spoke for the lack of rest he was getting, but he always remained so positive.
He was a good man.
And older than me by five years, I was twenty-six. I had sprinted my way through a youth accelerated program that landed me in medical school earlier than my colleagues, and by then I had already been working as a second-year resident.
I was accomplished but miserable.
“Is it your boyfriend?” Eron broke the silence and I felt a chill enter my spine as he worked on the stitches for my eye.
“I don’t have a boyfriend.”
The last man I had been with was when I was fourteen, there was no way I could have a stable relationship going through what I was going through right now.
Eron looked away momentarily to grab a gauze and placed it by my eye.
“So your father? Mother? Brother?” He inquired.
I remained silent.
He sighed deeply. “Kae.” He began.
“I walked into a pole.” I lied.
Eron finished with my eye and stepped back, washing his hands and throwing away loose wrappers. I watched him steadily for a moment before standing up and heading towards the door.
“Kae.” He called to me.
I turned briefly in his direction, “Yes?” I responded.
“You are one of the best surgeons around here alongside me. I don’t want anything to happen to you...this place needs you.” He turned to me as he said this.
I bit the inside of my cheek.
“Now...Chicago might not be the best place in the world but it’s our job to take care of these people. If you can’t take care of yourself─.”
“I’m fine, Eron,” I said simply.
He shook his head and sighed deeply, “If you need a place to stay you’re always welcome at mine...you know my number.” He stated.
I nodded and headed back to my office.
“Thanks for the stitches.”
I could take care of myself.
Noon passed, I finished the paperwork, I saw patients, I successfully completed two surgeries. The day was hard, but it went smoothly and without incident. My eye was feeling a lot better thanks to Eron and I finally got some alone time to eat in peace.
I sat by the corner in the hospital cafeteria and scoffed down a sandwich without patience, I focused on nothing but the empty wall in front of me letting the chatter and murmurs of the people behind me fade into the background.
I craved moments like this, where I could be in the presence of others, but alone.
For twenty minutes, I could have a good life.
“Why do you always sit alone?” I cringed at the sound of Angeline Vasquez’s voice.
To be honest, she sounded like a cartoon character, like Elmo from Sesame Street or something.
Before I could get up and suspend the rest of my lunch, Angeline sat her tray down opposite of me and smiled, I failed to return it.
“Because I like to be alone Angeline, why don’t you respect that?” I asked her.
She shrugged and picked up a fry from her plate, “I don’t think people should be alone when there are so many people around to make friends with.” She answered.
I rolled my eyes and downed the rest of my Snapple iced tea. “Well I’m not here to make friends, I’m here for work,” I said once I put my bottle down.
She chuckled as if I had said something amusing and rested her chin on her hand. “Are you sure about that?” She asked me.
Angeline didn’t allow me to respond to that statement, instead, she continued speaking, “I’m sure Dr. Eron Spears is here for more than work...maybe you.” She giggled and popped another fry into her mouth before chewing obnoxiously.
I refrained from staring at her too long, watching as her mouth made an annoying chomping sound when her upper teeth came in contact with the bottom ones.
I looked away and focused my attention on the nurses a couple of tables away chatting and gossiping to one another with no care in the world.
“What do you mean?” I found myself asking Angeline about her previous statement.
She scoffed, “How can you not notice that Eron has a thing for you?” She asked me curiously.
I turned back to her and arched my eyebrow, “Because he doesn’t have a thing for me.” I stated.
She rolled her eyes, “You are really dense.” She said.
This time I narrowed my eyes at her, well as best as I could with my disabled eye. “Excuse me?” I said.
She waved her hands in a frantic manner. “No! I didn’t mean it that way...I just meant like you’re kind of slow when it comes to...” I narrowed my gaze further.
“Never mind that. He likes you!” She shouted causing a couple of people to turn in our direction.
“Can you get lost or something?” I said turning back to the remaining amount of food on my plate.
She frowned, “I didn’t mean to upset you or anything, Riny─.”
I slammed my hands on the table. “Quit calling me by my first name! It’s either Kae, Dr. Francisque, or shut the hell up!” I got up grabbing the rest of my food as I made my way towards the exit.
I couldn’t stand Angeline all she did was talk and talk and talk.
Did she ever get tired of hearing her own voice?
What annoyed me more than her clamorous mouth was whenever someone had the audacity to call me by my first name. I went by Kae—my middle name or I went by nothing. I hated my name mostly because I had no idea where my late mother had come up with it, I was almost positive she was drugged up on something when she gave me my birth name, it made no damn sense.
I threw the rest of my food into the trash and made my way back into my office to fill myself with work. The entire time my hands were clenched with anger, I stopped myself and relaxed a little.
The entire week I had just been on edge, there was stress, anxiety, and fear beating down on my body and I was beginning to lash out. Co-workers were noticing, supervisors were noticing, I wasn’t the fake-cheery bubbly “Dr. Kae.” that I’ve been known around Northwestern Memorial Hospital as.
My act was letting up.
And I needed to get it together.
The rest of the day I spent pulling myself together and keeping up the act that I was totally fine and that nothing was wrong with me. I wasn’t sure if I had convinced anyone that I was but it was better than just marching around with a scowl and a patched-up black-eye on my face.
Once it reached ten at night, it was time to go home and I dreaded it. I felt safe at work where my aunt and Camden couldn’t hurt me, but when I was home with them everything changed, it was a free-for-all.
“See you tomorrow, Kae!” The receptionist at the lobby called out to me.
I turned and smiled, “Have a good night, Mary.” I said.
I made my way to the parking lot and found my busted-up 2003 Toyota Camry that I had mustered up enough money to purchase. It was parked at a safe distance from the hospital exit; if I hadn’t saved for it I would still be taking the bus back to West Englewood and that was never a good idea.
I slipped into the car and started it up quickly making my way back home before Camden or my aunt got suspicious about why I was returning home late. I mean who else would cook and clean for them?
The further my car approached the neighborhood, the more I clenched.
My palms got sweaty as memories rummaged through my head, block after block.
Not only was West-Englewood filled with crime, but there were also nearly no jobs, high population density, and low home values. I had lived here my entire life and so many times had I dreamed of becoming successful and moving out of this dump. This place could really bring someone down and leave them there until they couldn’t bring themselves back up.
My aunt’s house, the one my grandmother had left her when she died rested at the end of the block. It was a small shack-style house with only two bedrooms and one bathroom. When grandma lived there it was a nice, humble place to be in. When she died and my brother was killed it became a dump, one that I was constantly cleaning up.
I parked the car under the make-shift garage that rested underneath my bedroom window and cut the engine. It was quiet on the streets, no activity today, but who knew what was waiting for me inside the house. I grabbed my bag and shut the car door before making my way to the entrance. I fumbled with the keys and finally got the door open and walked in.
I was immediately greeted with the dirty, stained carpet floors. Cigarettes, empty bottles of expensive liquor lay on the floor along with random articles of clothing. I cringed, please God let me not hear my aunt and Camden having sex in the next room.
I continued walking further into the house tense and stiff as a stick awaiting the sounds of moans and groans but was instead greeted with the sounds of yelling and banging. I jumped when I heard a bang hit the door.
I was almost certain that was my aunt.
“You shut your mouth when I’m speaking do you hear me?!” Camden’s voice rang from the door.
My body remained planted and frozen wondering if I should go in there and stop him, but I remembered what happened the last time I did that. Camden had grabbed and banged my head against the coffee table leaving a huge bump against my forehead, he then proceeded to finish beating up my aunt.
I had laid unconscious and woke up in the wee hours of the morning with a concussion and bruised body.
No! I’m going to my room. I said to myself as I quickly bolted towards my room, up the stairs, and away from all the noise. I shut the door softly so I didn’t alert anyone that I was here.
I took a deep breath and threw my things on the bed, I grabbed my earphones and planted the cord into my phone as I let the music blasting into my ears. I sat by my window and closed my eyes, I never felt so alone in my life.
When I was younger I had my brother take care of me and assure me that everything was going to be alright.
He was going to get us out of West-Englewood, but then I watched him get shot right in front of me.
“Now, tell me that ain’t insecure
The concept of school seems so secure
Sophomore, three years, ain’t picked a career
She like, fuck it, I’ll just stay down here and do hair
’Cause that’s enough money to buy her a few pairs of new airs
’Cause her baby daddy don’t really care
She’s so precious with the peer pressure
Couldn’t afford a car so she named her daughter Alexus.”
A rival gang blew his brains out and they almost got me too if I hadn’t run.
I let out a pent-up sob and immediately covered my mouth.
I couldn’t let Camden hear me if he heard me─
A loud blood-curling scream echoed loudly through the house, so much I heard it through my earphones.
I jumped up and pulled my earphones out from my ears, the screaming was coming from downstairs and it was my aunt.
There was a sound of a crash and glass breaking which caused me to bolt towards the door without thinking. Just as I headed for the steps, I froze witnessing the sight before me.
His hands were covered in blood and below him was my aunt. She was laying there lifeless as he repeatedly stabbed a shard of glass into her neck over and over again.
Stab. Stab. Stab.
My aunt’s eyes were wide and open looking right at where I was standing. They were empty and missing life inside of them.
“Oh my God!” I couldn’t help but squeak.
Camden stopped instantly and turned to look at me.
He seemed shocked and surprised at what he was doing as well, but all too quickly realized that and instantly bolted at me. I screamed and sprinted into my room, shutting the door and making sure to lock it behind me.
My body was shaking as I panicked, I didn’t know what I was going to do.
“My bag! My bag!” I kept repeating to myself.
I ran to my closet and threw open the door and rummaged to the back where my emergency duffel bag rested. I kept clothes, my passport, and all my information including 5,000 dollars of money I had accumulated over the years whenever something went bad.
I guess today was the day I would be using it.
“OPEN THE FUCKING DOOR KAE!!!” Camden shouted as he aggressively banged on my door.
My hands shook as I slung the bag over my shoulders. I grabbed my phone that I had thrown on the bed along with my car keys and medical bag before I headed towards the window.
Camden was kicking and kicking the door and it would only be a matter of time before it gave out.
I lifted the window and threw my bags out and let them slide to the ground from the make-shift garage roof. I slipped out myself just as Camden busted through the door, his heavy-set footsteps stomped through the room and over to the window just as I slid down the roof of the garage.
I didn’t time my jump precisely enough since and landed poorly on my feet. I ended up scraping my knee as I fell onto the ground. I shrieked as tears pooled in my eyes, I didn’t have time to react to it though because I had to get into my car.
My hands fumbled as I picked up my bags and threw them into the car. I quickly slid in just as Camden came banging on the glass window beside me. I freaked out as his fist came crashing into the car spraying glass everywhere, but I was quick and hit the gas pedal in reverse and backed up onto the street.
Camden sprinted and I spun the car around fast enough that I could hit the gas and bolt out of there.
Behind me, I could hear him yelling.
“I’M GONNA FIND YOU KAE! AND I’M GONNA FUCKING KILL YOU!” He shouted.
I trembled and sobbed, the road was blurring and I barely could make out street signs or roads as I drove further and further from my home neighborhood.
I stopped the car once I had made a reasonable distance and pulled out my phone, I was scared if I called the police I was dead. Camden would find me and kill me.
So I called Eron.
He picked up on the third ring.
“Kae? Is everything okay?”
I sobbed into the phone making incoherent noises that I’m pretty sure he couldn’t understand, but it was enough for him.
“Kae come to my house, okay? I’m going to wait for you at the front door.” He said.
“Okay.” I managed to muster up.
I hung up and drove past the speed limit into the nicer areas of Chicago where people like Eron lived.
He was waiting at the front of his loft-style home for me with concern on his face.
I parked the car and got out shaking, trembling, and stumbling. He immediately came over to me and wrapped his arms around me.
“Kae, what happened? Why is your face all scratched up?” He asked me all these questions but I couldn’t stop crying, so he took me into his house.
He sat me down and headed for a first-aid kit in the kitchen and returned shortly after.
“Your leg.” He cursed as he noted the scrap on my knee, I had no idea how I managed to walk on it into my car after I had fallen on it.
“Camden...” My lips trembled as I spoke.
Eron looked up at me with confusion. “Who’s Camden?” He asked me.
I fought the urge to break out into more tears. “My aunt’s husband,” I answered.
He fumed, “He did this to you?!” I could tell he was livid at this moment.
It took everything in me to finish my sentence.
“He killed my aunt!”