“Rajj, please slow down and think about what you’re doing!” Rosalyn jumped into the left lane again and missed an eighteen wheeler by centimeters.
“Why! You didn’t think about what you did. A baby Rosalyn…” Rajj screamed into the phone. “You tricked me into getting you pregnant.”
Rosalyn revved her engine and shot forward past two motorists. Sweat dripped from her nose and down her back. She sighed when the SUV disappeared from her rearview mirror. Tricked seemed such an ugly word. Their time together created life. He was the first man she loved since college, why didn’t he see that? He felt something for her.
“Then you told Toney. My wife—.”
“Fiancé…excuse me—ex fiancé who I didn’t tell anything.” Rosalyn sped up as Rajj cut off two cars and squeezed in behind her again. When his engagement ended she offered her love, a family and happily ever after to him. He offered her the other side of his front door and a rejection that ripped her soul apart at the core.
Rosalyn’s car lurched forward as he bumped her from behind and called her every derogatory word for female she knew and a few she didn’t. Rosalyn almost pressed the gas pedal through the floor and pulled the steering wheel left before changing her mind and sliding into a small opening in the right lane. Sweat soaked through her tight red sweater and camisole.
Rajj’s SUV pulled into the left lane and sped ahead of her. An eighteen-wheeler skimmed the back of the SUV. Time slowed as Rajj’s vehicle turned then flipped. A scream ripped from her throat as his body burst through the front window into the concrete median. His SUV hit the wall and slid several hundred feet scraping parts of the asphalt back. She turned on her hazard lights. Motorists slowed allowing her to pull off of the interstate onto the shoulder behind the path his SUV left on the interstate.
Rosalyn’s trembling hands refused to allow her fingers to press the small numbered buttons as sobs began to well up in her throat. She flung the cell phone into the passenger seat. The same way Rajj flung her heart aside when his relationship and their tryst as he called it ended. Her heart broke again. Snapshots of their nights together flashed in her mind as she wiped at the tears spilling from her eyes. Rajj the man she lived to love for months lay twisted in a bloody heap next to the median. Cars moved to the right lanes as drivers slowed to look at the body and wreckage of the crumpled luxury vehicle.
The pulse in her ears grew deafening as she pushed her car door open. Every synapse of her brain instructed her to run to Rajj. Rosalyn wrapped her hands around her midsection and shivered as traffic crawled by. She took a step towards his limp body. Her legs gave out as her body crashed down to the gravel beneath her. Her mind went blank with the impact of her head against the ground.
Rosalyn squinted at the outline of a man of the man hovering over her. Her hand flew to her forehead to stop the pounding behind her eyes.
“Ma’am you okay?” the trooper took her by the elbow and guided her to a sitting position. He looked at the puddle of blood left by Rajj’s -body. “Did you see what happened?
Nodding she forced herself to make intelligible words between tears as she told the officer of their cat and mouse chase all over the interstate. Sobs overtook her as she described the moments that passed like years as Rajj flew through his windshield into the wall. Rosalyn wiped her nose with her left arm. She winced and grabbed the back of her head as a pain shot through her shoulder and neck.
“You need to have yourself looked at let me call another ambulance.” He reached for his shoulder.
“I’m not leaving my car.” Rosalyn grabbed him with her right hand. “I can drive myself to the hospital, that’s not necessary.”
“Is there someone you can call to pick it up and meet you there?” His eyes wandered to the median where emergency workers attempted to secure Rajj on a stretcher.
A breath Rosalyn didn’t know she held eased from her lips as she nodded. “Yes.”
“Call them now we’ll finish talking to you at the hospital.” The officer stopped traffic as he crossed back over toward the SUV.
A cool wind whipped through Rosalyn as she made her way back to the driver seat. She retrieved the cell phone from her passenger seat and called her best friend. The state trooper climbed into his cruiser and the siren blasted bringing traffic to a standstill. Rajj’s hand fell limp from the gurney as they eased him into the small space under the glaring bright light on the back of the ambulance. She ignored the snot and tears covering her face and climbed into the back of the ambulance.
Rosalyn sat on the bed behind the half opened curtain with her left arm in a temporary sling. She exhaled as a group of people led Rajj’s ex-fiancé into the waiting area. Her eyes closed as she leaned her head on the wall. The curtain snatched open and closed, Rosalyn popped up.
“Rosy. Oh my goodness! Are you alright? I almost got a ticket trying to get here. I knew something was wrong when I didn’t see you at the rink. You haven’t missed a Friday at Golden Skate since I moved here.”
“Slight concussion, something called a seatbelt injury. The baby is fine though. I think.” Rosalyn rested her right hand over her flat stomach.
“It was Rajj, wasn’t it? Love of your life, the guy you came over my house in hysterics over a few days ago. ” Becca tried to smooth the unruly curls crowning her face as she sat next to Rosalyn. “Why was he trying to kill you?”
“Becca, I wanted to tell you. I didn’t plan on falling in love with someone else’s man. He broke all my rules…the way he kissed me. What am I supposed to do now? How am I gonna raise a baby by myself? He seemed so into me, all those nights we spent together…things were more than physical. He never said it but he loved me. It might not seem to make sense but I know he did. Then when she dumped him… I thought I was the one he wanted to be with. He just wanted what they all want. Why did I think he cared? About me. ” Rosalyn tried to stand up.
“What are you doing? You better wait for the doctor Rosy.” Becca placed a firm but gentle hand on Rosalyn’s right arm. She pulled the curtain closed as another group of people glanced in while walking by. “Bump him, I care about you. Now you have to start taking better care of yourself. ”
“Becca, no! We have a baby on the way. He is everything to me…I love him. It started out like all the others but something changed. We talked about everything, he looked at me and I felt alive. I felt desirable as a person. I thought he loved me. I thought he could help me. Who's gonna help me?” Rosalyn looked down then smiled at the concern she recognized in her alum’s eyes.
“I’m here for you but I’m not enough? You have family back in Chicago you can depend on Rosalyn. Call your parents, take some time off, and talk this over with them.” Becca rubbed Rosalyn’s right arm.
Rosalyn dropped her head back. The thought of going back to Chicago made her shudder. The events of the night replayed in her mind. Earlier in the evening before the chase, she imagined a happy life with Rajj and their baby. After a few more days the realization he loved her and wanted their baby would drive him to her. She wiped the tears from her cheeks and eyes. Instead, his anger drove him into a wall and out of her life for good. Dead men didn’t change their minds or fall in love. All hope of their getting together died with Rajj in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Her fast life in Houston came to a screeching halt in one night. Things were getting bad, bad enough for her to contemplate going home to Chicago.
Rosalyn filled her mouth with water and gulped down a fist full of pills. She fidgeted with the radio buttons on the arm of her seat. Bong. The “fasten your seatbelt” light turned on next to the air globe and attendant call button above her.
“Flight 118 to Chicago is set to land as scheduled at 10:25 A.M. Flight attendants please complete landing cross check.” The scratchy voice interrupted the music piping through her earphones provided by the airline.
Her watch read 10:05 A.M. She wanted to be happy to have somewhere to go, but couldn’t push past the anger. If Rajj just … it didn’t matter. Rosalyn decided to focus on staying healthy.
She needed these next few weeks to talk to her father. A thought popped in her mind to visit her favorite spa, maybe even invite her mother. Rosalyn couldn’t remember the last time they spent an enjoyable day together. A pamper us day might prove to be a starting point for them to bond, rebuild a relationship. Rosalyn admitted to herself how much she still wanted a relationship with Naomi to happen. Did she want it bad enough to invite her to the spa? Maybe not, she wanted to leave the spa feeling refreshed. Dad would help her get her mind right. So much to talk about, so many decisions, six weeks would be over… quick. Rosalyn looked out of the window onto the snow covered roofs as the plane descended and readied to taxi into Midway International. This city held onto the cold like a security blanket. Six weeks, then back to Houston and on with her life.
Rosalyn shook her head as the rooftops grew larger. What kind of life would she have with a baby? What kind of life for a baby with her? What did she do to deserve this mess?
Rosalyn followed the second hand on her watch.10:15 A.M. She imagined Saint Naomi’s reaction to the news, unwed, pregnant and HIV positive. Her parents sounded happy for her to come home when she spoke to them last night on the phone. How happy when they found out her condition?
Rosalyn inhaled the stale recycled air and sighed. Naomi’s disapproving lecture and drama were certain. Her Dad crossed her mind, and that look. The one he perfected her last three years in high school, sheer disappointment. Not the return home she planned. Well, not all of it.
Whatever happened to mercy? All the grace and stuff they preached and shouted about in church during her childhood. Rosalyn looked at her watch. 10:20 AM.
Her father sat in the living room as Rosalyn entered her childhood home. Naomi walked over and gave her father a gentle kiss on the lips. Rosalyn smiled and ran to him. He stood up and pulled her into a bear hug. Her eyes glazed over as she went back to a better time in her life. She inhaled his scent not wanting the moment to end but determined to get the worst part of her trip over she pulled out of his embrace.
Naomi perched on the far end of the sofa. Rosalyn plopped down in the middle and pulled her father down next to her. She looked at Naomi then back at her father. Her nerves calmed a bit as he gave her one of his “its okay honey” smiles. She dragged in a deep breath and took one of both her parents’ hands.
“I didn’t know what to do, and Becca suggested I use my rollover paid time off from last year to come home. With everything goin on…”
“What exactly is going on, Rosalyn? You turn down every invitation to come home since you graduated college then call and say you may need to be here for a few weeks.” Naomi said.
“Well, I heard some rumors about layoffs, involuntary transfers—”
“So what, you’ve been there since you graduated college. Let your Dad tell it, you run the place.” Naomi rolled her eyes.
“Naomi, please. Let her finish...go ahead, sweetie” Her father nodded.
“There is no easy way,” Rosalyn filled her lungs with air then pushed it out, “Daddy, I’m almost three months pregnant and--,”
“Oh my goodness! Rosalyn,” Naomi took her hand from her daughter’s and covered her mouth.
“Mimi, calm down. And what Rosalyn? ” He looked at Naomi then back into Rosalyn’s tear filled eyes. “We won’t interrupt you again.”
“I’m…I’m...” Rosalyn cleared her throat and tried to ignore Naomi who covered her entire face with both of her hands, “not with the father anymore.”
Her father scrunched his eyebrows together and nodded his head in slow motion.
Rosalyn studied the new painting on the wall. She leaned forward between her parents with her head down. Within seconds her face covered in tears. Her father pulled out his handkerchief and wiped the tears from her face. Shamed filled every inch of her being. Her plan to tell them everything fading with each gentle stroke, if her pregnancy brought this response her HIV positive status could kill them.
Rosalyn felt Naomi reposition herself on the couch. Naomi’s hand gripped Rosalyn’s trembling shoulder. She almost drowned in her father’s eyes bright with unshed tears. Next, to her, Naomi’s lips moved and eyes closed.
“Daddy I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I’m so sorry.” Rosalyn sobbed and choked back her desire to bury her head into her father’s chest.
“Why are you sorry? I love you, Rosy, and I’ll love my grandchild.” Her father kissed her hair and rocked her while she cried. “Nothing could ever change that.”
Rosalyn took some comfort in his words. Peace tried to engulf her. She scooted away from Naomi’s hand fighting the urge to accept the warmth and comfort it offered. The desire to love and be loved overpowered by fear of another betrayal continued to wage war deep inside her. She felt Naomi kneel in front of the couch. She didn’t care how hard Naomi prayed, there weren’t enough prayers on earth to make her forget. Forgiveness would be a miracle.