28 February 2010

To see things in the seed, that is genius.
If I held in my hand a collection of seeds, I would have little idea what potential lay in each one, but to a botanist, that potential would be clear – she might see an oak tree, a sycamore, an apple tree or a rose bush.
We cannot know the future, but we can, with experience, see that our present actions have consequences that ripple out into time and space and shape our lives well into the future. We can see, for example, that habitual negative thinking leads to pain, failure and frustration, whereas a clear vision of where we want to go usually leads to a better life.
When I look back over my life, I can see a chain of causes and effects – the actions I took had certain results which have changed my life, sometimes forever. So be careful what you think and what you do – everything has a consequence and, like the botanist looking at her seeds, seeing the potential in nascent things is an important skill to acquire.
"When you come to the edge of all the light that you know,
And you are about to step off into the darkness
of the unknown, Faith is knowing one of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on or you will be taught how to fly."  -- Barbara J. Winter

"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished."--Lao Tzu

Can you make grass grow by pulling it? Can you bake a cake faster by turning up the temperature in the oven? Can a boy make himself grow any faster? In nature, things happen in their own way and at their own pace. Trying to make things happen faster than they do naturally often leads to disaster – the grass gets pulled out and dies, the cake gets burnt and has to be thrown away.
A river rarely takes a straight course, meandering instead through the natural shape of the landscape, keeping to the lowest points, moving around mountains and hills. But the water keeps flowing powerfully and eventually reaches the sea.
Like nature, our own achievements can take time, and this is no bad thing.

27 February 2010

As we age, by grace and i do suspect the discovery and acceptance by ourselves of ourselves, the statistical chances of making good friends- the ones who truly connect with a glimmer of your essence seems to increase...or so i hope the trend continues. which i am sincerely grateful for, a nice gem.
contentment has never been about settling.
Success doesn't occur merely by sitting back and wishing for it.
You have to work for it.
You might even have to fight for it.
When I first learned to drive, my instructor said 'to pretend that everyone else is an idiot.'
I remember having to creep 20 miles or less on I-94, to get from Madison to Milwaukee (and vice versa) during heavy snowfalls. The roads were like skating rinks.
I wish my God-daughter's birthday was in one of the summer months rather then next week. Otherwise, Wisconsin would never see me during the winter...

26 February 2010

I have to constantly remind myself that there are things in life that I’m not meant to understand,
But its difficult when I want to be understood, and I seek to understand others and things that don’t make sense.
It would be nice to know when I need to understand something, and when I don't.

24 February 2010

some whitney

4 the afternoon

Attack of the fake people

I appreciate the high, as well as the low, points in my life.

You already know who your real friends are. When you needed them at some point in the past, they were the ones that were there by your side, ready to do battle for or with you. Those that didn’t show up or even communicate an excuse, they’re not your friends. It’s at that point when you know with whom you’ve been wasting your time socializing, and to start hanging with your real friends more. Life is too short to spend hanging out with fair-weather friends or fake people. I have to access my email and cell phone contact list on a monthly basis to purge those kind of people.

If you haven’t yet figured out who your friends are, just wait until you need them.--alexgeorge

the first thing i heard this morning

23 February 2010


I get bored easily with things or people if I don’t have to think.

                                                                    Innovation intrigues me.
No cookie-cutting here; predictability bores me.
I like reading poetry or short stories or books that make me wish I had written them, and looking at artwork and watching movies and seeing women that will have me on the edge of my seat the entire time.

                                                                   I want to see good ideas that haven’t occurred to

On this day,

in 1868, W. E. B. Dubois ( William Edward Burghardt Du Bois) was born. He was an American civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, sociologist, historian, author, and editor. Historian David Levering Lewis wrote, "In the course of his long, turbulent career, W. E. B. Du Bois attempted virtually every possible solution to the problem of twentieth-century racism— scholarship, propaganda, integration, national self-determination, human rights, cultural and economic separatism, politics, international communism, expatriation, third world solidarity." -- courtesy wikipedia

His book The Souls of Black Folk, I first read when I was 10 yrs old.

"Now is the accepted time, not tomorrow, not some more convenient season. It is today that our best work can be done and not some future day or future year. It is today that we fit ourselves for the greater usefulness of tomorrow. Today is the seed time, now are the hours of work, and tomorrow comes the harvest and the playtime.”  -- W E B  Dubois

22 February 2010

Imma be

the best:

wanting  to be the best possible:
Christian.cook.baker.poet.short story writer. trainer. public speaker

the worst:
worrier. procrastinator. (I’ll think up more to add in this column)
 Have you been checking this site out as well ?   

when did you stop loving me?

Heard on the way home


"...Ooo if I love again I'm gonna try a new way this time
Memories of the things we did; some we're proud of, some we hid
So when two people have to part, sometimes it makes them stronger
Do you remember all of the b--s--t, baby?
You say you love me with all your heart
If you ever loved me will all of your heart
You'd never take a million dollars to part..."
                          -- Marvin Gaye

No ending

I understand the beginning of things. The beginning of love, a marriage, life, a birth. The bloom of a rose. The beginning of a story. And in my reality, like there is a beginning, there is also an ending. When people declare their love as being forever, what they really mean is ‘til death do they part,’ which is also mentioned in the wedding vows. That’s an ending.

The term forever always puzzled me. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea of there being no end. The Bible says those who will go to Heaven will be with Him forever. I know what the Bible says about not leaning to my own understanding, but I still had to know, if there really is a forever or an eternity.

A friend of mine defined it as “a limitless dimension, but forever is a word. The depth and value of its’ meaning is based on your personal understanding,” but I didn’t understand it. I’m using past tense here, because an economics professor in college kind of put it in perspective for me:
“Say, there was a block of granite about one cubic mile in size. And there was a bird, and the bird swooped down once every thousand years and sharpened its beak on the granite. By the time that block of granite was a pebble, or about the size of a grain of rice, only a second will have passed in an eternity.”

“Wow,” I remember saying.

Now that, I could wrap my mind around. While he still didn’t define it, he did set my mind at ease with regards to how long forever actually is.

Forever is a long time.

"Parents Just Don't Understand..."

On today,

That song, from the album,  "He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper" sung by rap duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, won the 1989 Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance, the first of two ever awarded in that category, and reached #12 on the U.S. Pop Singles Chart.   -- courtesy wikipedia.org

On today,

 in 1938, American poet, essayist, and novelist, Ishmael Reed, was born. A prominent African-American literary figure, Reed is known for his satirical works challenging American political culture, and highlighting political and cultural oppression.
         Reed has been described as "one of the most original and controversial figures in the field of African American letters". While his work has often sought to represent neglected African and African-American perspectives, his energy and advocacy have centered more broadly on neglected peoples and perspectives irrespective of their cultural origins.--courtesy  wikipedia.org

21 February 2010

overheard today

Overheard today
Where: on the train to downtown Portland.
Blonde girl:   I’m so pissed.
Asian girl: why?
Blonde girl: my parents cut my allowance in half, and now I have to take the train to Portland to go shopping because I can’t afford to buy clothes and pay for gas!
Asian girl: your parents pay you an allowance?
Blonde girl: yeah, don’t you get an allowance?
Asian girl: I have a parttime  job after school.
Blonde girl: I didn’t know you worked after school. But you live at home. Why don’t your parents give you an allowance?
Asian girl: They just never have. I wanted my own money.
Blonde girl: That’s so weird.
Asian girl: What’s weird is that you’re living with your boyfriend and your parents pay your portion of the rent and utilities and you’re still getting an allowance.
The blonde girl, looking at the Asian girl as if horns were protrudung out of her head, said:  Why do you think that’s weird?
Asian girl: Anyway, why did they cut your allowance in half?
Blonde girl: My dad got fired from his job. Something about the economy being bad. And next, he’s going to expect me to get a job to pay for everything myself! I just know it!
The Asian girl rolled her eyes.  
So did I.

20 February 2010

I know there is love around the corner.
I woke up this morning.

19 February 2010

i remain hooked on the idea that so much of what we're doing is already out of our hands...
but i can't lie,
 its quite difficult to embrace that.
 especially when it means throwing my hands up and not knowing.

"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."

                                        Proverbs 22:6

Would it be nice


• you could have anything you wanted, for free?

• the person you loved shared those feelings?

• you could eat all the cakes, pies, pasta, pizza, and bread you wanted and never gained a pound (and the fat and sugar never entered your blood stream)?

• everyone got along?

• everyone had empathy?

• some rich relative you didn’t know died and you made you sole heir to their multi-million dollar fortune?

• you were judged based on your qualifications and abilities rather than the skin you were born in?

• people would truly listen to what you have to say, rather than merely waiting for their turn to speak?

• people thought about how they would like to be treated in certain situations, and then treat others in that way?

• people were honest when they’re upset something and talked it out, rather then being quiet and letting it fester?

• you were given 10 minutes to fill a shopping cart with anything you wanted from your favorite store, and everything in the shopping cart would be yours for free?

• people reaped as quickly as they sowed?

• people actually thought before acting or responding?

• you had that perfect sarcastic or witty remark immediately rather than later on, when it hit you (when you wished you had said that instead)?

• your sleeping hours dragged on like your working hours (rather than waking up and feeling like you had just closed your eyes)?

• I had the day off today? (per my friend Mike)

• I was on a beach in Bora Bora sipping on something with Vodka in it, and I was completely oblivious to work emails, responsibilities and obligations (per my friend Andrew)

• Someone paid off all my debts and didn’t want anything in return?

• The weight scale showed me to be much lighter than I am?

• I could afford to fly anywhere I wanted and as often as I wanted?

• The honesty you had when you were 2, stayed with you your whole life ( per my friend Kaonohiaweaweokale) ?


Next Lifetime

A seeker of silences am I, and what treasure have I found in silences that I may dispense with confidence?

If this is my day of harvest, in what fields have I sowed the seed, and in what unremembered seasons?

--Kahlil Gibran

heard on the way in to work this morning

 How come you don't call me anymore

Wise 1

WHYS (Nobody Knows
    The Trouble I Seen)

If you ever find
yourself, some where
lost and surrounded
by enemies
who won't let you
speak in your own language
who destroy your statues
& instruments, who ban
your omm bomm ba boom
then you are in trouble
deep trouble
they ban your
own boom ba boom
you in deep deep


probably take you several hundred years
to get
--- Amiri Baraka

18 February 2010

I had an epiphany this evening, while talking to my best friend. I’ve been breathing life into my problems, but talking faith. I’ve been handing my problems over to God with one hand, but I’ve been taking them back with the other. I need for my left hand to know what my right hand is doing.

Panic Attack!

My mother told me that as soon as my youngest sister ( who just started high school this past Fall) graduated from high school and move out and go to college in Madison Wisconsin, that she would sell her house and move here to Oregon.
I love my mom, of course, but that’s the last thing I want! I knew I couldn’t outright say ‘no, don’t move here,’ so I said the one thing that she would appreciate, and would make her change her mind immediately;

“Ma, just so you know, unless I go to church on Sunday or go to the barbershop, I only see about 5 black people in an entire week. The same 5 black people.”

Her response; “ OhMyGod! Really? OhMyGod, I can’t move there! I don’t know how you do it. I am staying right here in Wisconsin!”

I was relieved to hear that: my mom’s church is predominately latino, but the rest of my mom’s world is mostly black- from her beauty salon, to the grocery store, to the gas station- even the children in her day care are all black and latino. The only white folks she sees work at Walmart or at her favorite pizza place on the other side of town, or my sister’s best friend, and her mom.
"Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:3-4
I don't expect winter to be completely gone when I go to Wisconsin next month, but I hope it won't be anything like this picture.
  What?  Is this for real?

The Prayer Of Mathematics

Dear Lord,

“I pray that you subtract from my life, people who don’t mean me well, and who will prevent me from being who You and I want me to be. I also pray that you add to my life, people who will help me to be whom You and I want me to be.”

I can’t take credit for this prayer; I remembered hearing my mother’s pastor say it, and it stuck with me. I named it The Prayer of Mathematics for obvious reasons.
There’s a popular saying about people being in your life for a reason or for a season, and I’m inclined to believe that. I have had long-distance friendships that have lasted for decades and some local friendships that have only lasted a year or less. I used to wonder what happened to those people with whom I lost contact, and I’d be disappointed. These weren’t fair-weather friendships; some of those people have had my back when I really needed them and vice versa, so it’s not as if we had even had a disagreement of any kind. They would just dwindle off, and I would always wonder why.
When I started praying that prayer, I had found that even when I try to maintain friendships by initiating an email or text or phone call, there are some that suddenly stop corresponding. I used to wonder why I have to do all the communicating, but I had to remind myself that God is doing what I had prayed for him to do; He’s removing those hindrances. Only thing is, I don't always know that they're hindrances. Every now and then, I still wonder what happened to certain people, but that prayer washes away every bit of frustration I have. I remember 3 yrs ago, I was trying to get back in my chosen career field after a 4 year absence. I was disappointed because about a dozen recruiters were saying they were helping me. In rare instances when I did get an interview they always centered around the question "What have you been doing the past 4 years ?" It was as if I had been sitting home, doing nothing. When I had almost given up, I went to my mom’s church and heard her pastor recite that prayer. A new recruiter called me shortly afterwards and said he saw my resume on Monster.com, and he found me an ideal position in my field! The recruiter asked the question "What have you been doing the past 4 years ?" and he informed potential employers, and I was never asked that question again.
What is it that I want to be? I want to be happy. I have a great job where I have been almost 2 yrs. I want to be in the company of people who will inspire me to be a better Christian, a better human being, and even better employee, a better man, a better writer, a published writer, a better cook, someone who will instill the confidence I need to approach the people I want to get to know. And so now, when I call or text or email people and they don't follow up with me, I don’t even worry about it anymore if they don’t. If they don’t, then that’s God’s way of purging them from my life.

This is a repost
Did you see U. S. speedskater Shani Davis last night? Click here

17 February 2010

History expects you

As if I need another excuse to be online

Yes, I  have a fairly new Twitter account. Folllow me here
Everytime I initially have doubts and am impatient at the beginning of a crisis, and I talk myself into relaxing,  faith proves me wrong.
Everytime; I'm glad about that.

I need to learn to relax at the beginning of a crisis. Since I would have already prayed about it.

Some Bilal...

Soul Sista,   for the walk home


Sometimes I feel as if I’m running against the wind.

If there were more hours in the day,

What would you do with them?

• I’d get more sleep

• I’d write more short stories

• I’d work out more

• I might not have to rush as much as I do now

• I’d go out more

• I’d have more time for trivial things, like laundry, washing, folding & ironing clothes.

• I’d have the time to filter through my crates and crates and boxes of vinyls, and cds and put them all in alphabetical order (I bought too much music in the 80s and 90s) and sell them on craigslist or ebay.

• I’d cook more for friends

• I would chill and relax

• Take my time to get to where I need to go

• Take the time to do what I need to do

• I’d write more poetry

• I’d read the many books I have collected over the years

• I’d have the time to have more quality conversations with friends who live in different time zones

• I’d sit and do nothing while listening to Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew cd from beginning to end

If there were more hours in your day, what would you do?

Overheard today

 at the post office:   little girl-   "Mommy, look. There's a black man standing in line."

                              mother -   "Shhhh. & don't point. They don't like to be pointed at."
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.... Proverbs 4:7

I stay woke

I am known to stay awake

(a beautiful world im trying to find)
A beautiful world im trying to find
(a beautiful world, im trying to find)
Ive been in search of myself
(a beautiful world) a beautiful world
Its just too hard for me to find
(dreams, dreams)
Said its just too hard for me to find
(dreams, dreams)
I am in the search of something new
(a beautiful world im trying to find)
Searchin' me,
Searching inside of you
And thats fo' real…
What if there was no niccas
Only master teachers?
(I stay woke)
What if there was no niccas
Only master teacher?
I stay woke)
What if there was no niccas
Only master teachers now?
(I stay woke)
What if there was no niccas
Only master teacher?
(I stay woke)
Noo, what if there was no niccas
Only master teachers?
                     -- Master Teacher,  by Erykah Badu

On today,

 1891 Albert C Richardson patented the butter churn. Until 1891 anyone wanting to make butter would have to do so by hand in a bowl. The device consisted of a large wooden cylinder container with a plunger-like handle which moved up and down. In doing so, the movement caused oily parts of cream or milk to become separated from the more watery parts. This allowed for an easy way to make butter and forever changed the food industry.

In 1894, Richardson saw a problem with the way the bodies of dead people were buried. It was common at that time to simply bury bodies in small, shallow graves or to try to lower their caskets with ropes into a deeper hole. Unfortunately, this required several people to work in unison to ensure that the casket was lowered evenly. Failure to do so could cause the casket to slip out of one of the ropes and to be damaged from hitting the ground. On November 13, 1894, Richardson patented the casket lowering device which consisted of a series of pulleys and ropes or cloths which ensured uniformity in the lowering process. This invention was very significant at that time and is used in all cemeteries today.
-- Courtesy blackinventor.com

What woke me up this morning...

Actually, it was Prince's original version, but he had forbid Youtube from posting his music

16 February 2010

Janet, for the trip home

French Blue

Before I die,

I want :

                  to live.  

On today,

in 1970, Joe Frazier became the undisputed world champion when he defeated WBA champion Jimmy Ellis at Madison Square Garden by a fifth-round knock-out. Ellis had beaten Jerry Quarry in the final bout of a WBA elimination tournament for Ali's vacated belt, but Frazier had declined to participate.--  Courtesy blackfacts.com  & wikipedia

14 wishes

• that I hadn’t listened to my high school counselor

• that the future as well as hindsight, was 20/20

• literary agents and editors of poetry magazines would respond more quickly

• I had more time to write

• I could make a living off my baking

• The day was 36 hours long and work hours would remain the same

• Everyone had life, health, and VALID auto insurance

• My mom and sister would get along in good times as well as bad times

• I was 25% lighter in weight

• I could become hypnotized to hate all sweets, cheeses, salty foods, and high carbs

• There was true partisanship in Washington

• People didn’t have hidden agendas

• I could read minds

• I knew where my future wife was; I would go to her, today and introduce myself
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
  Proverbs 3:5

…yesterday morning, in my email was a notice of a bill that I forgot about  (due on the 10th), so when I reluctantly called them to ask what the late charges were, the woman said,

“you’re up to date.”

I said, “are you sure?”

She said: “yes, I’m sure.”

I said, “can you please check again?”

And when she returned she said, “sir, our records say that you paid earlier this morning. You’re up to date.”

I didn’t pay earlier this morning. I didn’t argue with her. I documented her name and the time I called. I said goodbye and I hung up. Not believing the miracle ( it’s a $168 bill), I called back and spoke to another customer service rep and who confirmed what the previous woman told me. My checking and credit card account doesn’t show that payment.

Now if only my rent could be paid, the same way ( but I'm grateful enough)
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  -- Maya Angelou
Some Al Green to start the day...

15 February 2010

"I been in some hard times, I seen a lot of good times

But everyday I count my blessings this way 'cause I know that everyday's a different day. My friends can change but his will never change.
And I knew there would be some time, when I would second guess my mind.

So I kept on walking, kept on striving,
Kept on singing and guess who showed up.

As I walked down the street one day, I thought I heard a brother say
'Living in bad conditions can make you feel like no one, ' As long as I, that's why I always try and do my best to search inside.
But I knew there would be a day, when I had to look the other way.

So I close my eyes and kept on pushin'
I just kept looking and guess who showed up...."
                                      --  Different Times,    by Raphael Saadiq & T-Boz

" Here I stand before you - brown. Color of the mountains Colossal as the earth Wrapped so deliciously within my own joy and misery Feathers of my wings paralyzed by the distance of my mind Here I stand before you, the color of the night Frozen by the potential of me."--     Afro Angel,  by Will Smith

some more erykah badu

 "...been such a long time

                               I forgot that i was fine)..."

/ Erykah Badu

in today's news

Teen girl beaten while security guards watch:

Maybe it's me, but, rules or no rules, any decent human being would have come forward to help the girl that's getting beat up. At least me- I would have put a stop to it. It's a matter of common decency. You don't walk by or stand and do nothing while a helpless individual is getting beat up.  I wouldn't have observed it and stood there doing nothing but making phone calls to the police department.  There is nothing the security guard's office can say to defend their actions, or 'inactions'. 
It really saddens me, the world my nephew, God-daughter, and future kids are growing up in.

Quote of the day, on self-reliance

“If you think you can do it, or you think you can't do it, you are right.”
-- Henry Ford

Erykah Badu (FINALLY)

have you heard the new song ?

An oldie but goodie

heard on the drive to work this morning

14 February 2010

Love, just in case

“Wwwhat’s ttthat ssssound?”
Kahlil turned the volume down on the radio so his grandfather could hear the rattling sound coming from the hood of his rusty old blue chevy pick up.
“Boy, you know better than to turn the volume down when BB King is on.”
“Iiit’s loud.” Kahlil said. “Yyyou dddon’t hear that, Ggrandpa?”
“Hush!” Franklin pushed down on the accelerator as they raced down the highway to no where in particular. “At least until the song is over.”
Kahlil looked at his grandfather as he sat beside him. He looked forward to Saturday mornings with his grandfather; Grandpa Franklin was his escape from the reality of home, a home that included himself and his mother, who always seemed to be upset about something, and so, he made himself available every Saturday morning when his Grandfather would drive by on the way to town to run errands.
Kahlil decided that his grandpa was older and wiser, and if he wasn’t going to be concerned about the loud rattling, then he would ignore it as well.
“Gggrandpa, Iiiii ccccan’t sssseem tttto mmmmake mmmom hhappppy. Shhhe’s aaaalways mmad aabbbout sssomething. Sssssshe’s aaaalwwways yyyelling aaat me.”
“I know, “ Grandpa said as he pressed down on the accelerator. “That’s what loneliness will do to ya.” Franklin said. “She’ll never admit that, though, but she’s lonely.”
The rattling was loud. Ignoring it, he lit a cigar while speeding down the road. “I know it’s hard. Just be patient. She’s got a lot going on and, I know she’s taking it out on you. I know it’s not fair. I’ll talk to her.”
“Ppppllease ddddon’t tttttelll hhher Iiii sssaid anyttthing!”
Grandpa Franklin looked at him and smiled.
“Kahlil, don’t worry. I’ll nip it in the bud. She’ll listen to me.”
Kahlil was glad that his grandfather wanted to spend time with him, even though all he did was ride in his raggedy truck with him all day on Saturdays and go grocery shopping with him, and to the pharmacy to pick up prescription medication for his friends at a retirement home on the other side of town who were unable to drive, and to the park to throw the softball for about ten to fifteen minutes before his back went out. Then they would go to the miniature golf course and hit some balls.
“I wwant a dddad, Grandpa.”
“I know you do.”
Grandpa Franklin looked at him, smiling.
“Boy, how old are you?”
“Gggrandpa, yyyoou know hhhhow old Iiii am. I’m sssseven.”
“You look just like your dad. You know, your mom said he stuttered too. Had it badly when he was your age, but he got over it. He was a good man, too. Real good man.” He put his arm around his shoulder.
The thought of him looking like his father made him smile.
Suddenly there was a cloud of black smoke shooting out from the hood and there was this heavy clunk, that sounded like a brick had landed on the hood.
“Get out the truck!”
Kahlil open the door and jumped out onto the dirt road, and ran around to the other side of the truck to grab his grandfather’s hand. They ran back about a hundred feet and stood, looking at the truck, expecting it to go up in flames, but it didn’t; it was enveloped in a cloud of black smoke, so thick that the truck wasn’t visible.
Kahlil was excited, his heart palpitating.
“Sssseeee, I told you Iiii hhheard sssomething.”
“Damn! What are we gonna do now? I got errands to run. I guess we gotta thumb a ride back in to town.”
Kahlil was transfixed on the cloud of black smoke.
“Let’s get away from the truck and get to walking. The truck’s gonna blow any minute now!”
Grandpa Franklin grabbed his grandson’s hand and they walked for about 10 minutes. Kahlil looked back and saw the cloud of black smoke reaching the sky. He looked down the road and saw a small red sportscar convertible racing down the road. The car slowed down.
“Good morning,” the man said to Grandpa Franklin. Kahlil was in awe with how low the man’s voice was. “Is that your truck back there?”
“Piece of junk,” Grandpa Franklin said. “Yeah it is.”
The man reached over to the passesnger door an opened it. “Hop in, I’ll give you a ride.”
Grandpa Franklin initially seemed tentative, but when Kahlil got in the back seat, he followed suit, getting in the front.
“Thanks, young man. Actually can you give us a ride, just to the city limits? We can get the city bus from there.”
“Sir, I’m in no rush. I can’t drop you off in the middle of nowhere. Let me know where you need to go sir.” He smiled at Grandpa Franklin.
“You’re sure we’re not inconveniencing you, young man?”
“Hey, if my dad was stranded somewhere, I would hope that someone would take him where he needed to go.”
Grandpa Franklin smiled.
“That’s mighty nice of you.” Always the matchmaker for his daughter, he looked at the man’s left hand and was disappointed when he saw a ring on the man’s wedding finger.
“Iiii ttttold Gggggrandppppa I hhhheard a loud sssssound bbbbbefore ttthe tttttruck sssssstarted smmmmoking.”
“Yeah, I should have listened to him. That piece of junk. Now I don’t have any transportation. I’m glad you stopped by when you did.”
Mesmerized by the man’s deep voice and stature, Kahlil studied him as he drove the car. Kahlil noticed the man was as dark as his mom. Kahlil guessed the man was over six feet tall. He was thickly muscled. Covering his huge chest, he wore a tight white dress shirt, dark blue and white paisley silk tie and navy blue pants. Next to Kahlil was the man’s matching suit jacket, folded. He had shoulders that were huge like bowling balls. His dreadlocks were dark brown and shoulder length. He had the look of someone who could easily snap a man in half like a twig, but Kahlil wasn’t scared. He listened to how respectfully the man spoke to his grandfather and it made him smile. He noticed the man spoke with an accent that was different than his own.
“Yyyyou’re huge!Wwwhere aaaare you ffffrom?”
The man laughed. “I’m from Belgium.”
“I was gonna say Haiti,” Grandpa Franklin said, “I knew I heard a French accent.”
“Wwwhere is Bbbelgium?” Kahlil asked.
“Far away from here, in Europe.”
“Hhhow ddddid yyyyou ggget here, to Knoxville, Tttttennessee?”
“I went to school in the states, in New York. I got a great job offer I couldn’t pass up.”
Kahlil wasn’t listening. Having only seen his father in childhood pictures, Kahlil wondered how he compared physically to this man.
“Wwwwwwhat’s yyyyyyour nnnnnname?” He asked the man.
“Patric.” He smiled at Kahlil, looking at him in the rear view mirror. “What’s your name?”
“Named after Kahlil Gibran?”
Kahlil didn’t know who Kahlil Gibran was. “Who?”
“No, he’s named after his father. I’m his grandfather. You can call me Franklin.”
“Nice to meet you sir.” Patric glanced at Grandpa Franklin and reached over with
his right hand to shake his hand.
“So Patric,” Grandpa Franklin said, “where were you headed this morning?”
“To the hospital.”
“Aaaare you sssssick?” Kahlil asked.
Patric smiled at him in the rear view mirror. “I’m a doctor.”
“Wwwhat kind?”
“I’m a cardiologist. A heart doctor.”
“Rrrreally? Gggggranddad’s gggot a hheart ddddoctor. He wwwwas in ttttthe hhhhospital lllllast yyyyear fffffor a lllllong ttttime.”
“Boy, don’t be telling all my business!” He looked back at Kahlil with the facial expression that told Kahlil that he needed to be quiet. Kahlil sat back in the car.
“Sir, can I ask why you were hospitalized?” Patric asked Grandpa Franklin.
“Well, maybe we can discuss it some other time, you know, when Kahlil isn’t around.”
“Of course.”
“Wwwwhy ccccan’t you tttttalk about it wwwwith me hhhhhere?”
“Grownup stuff, boy.”
Patric turned left off the highway onto a residential street and parked the car on the curb in front of a large white bricked house.
“Thank you Patric, for coming by when you did, and for picking us up and dropping us off.”
Patric smiled. He reached in his shirt pocket and handed him a business card.
“It was nice meeting the both of you. Sir, here’s my number, if you wanna discuss what you wanted to discuss.”
“ thanks.”
“Cccccan you cccccome inside. and mmmmeet mmmy mmmmom?”
“Sorry, Kahlil, I have to get to work.. Perhaps another time?”
Patric extended his hand to shake Grandpa Franklin’s and Kahlil’s hand.
He waited until they were safely inside the house before he went to the hospital. Kahlil stood inside, watching Patric and waving at him as he drove away.
“Boy shut that door,” Grandpa Franklin said as he picked up the phone receiver to call a mechanic. “And stop scheming. I know what’s on your mind. The man’s married.”
Kahlil looked at his grandfather, his eyes squinting as if looking at the sun. He stormed off to look for his mother.
“Who’s married?” Vanessa said, turning the corner from the kitchen. She was carrying a mop in one hand and a yellow bucket in the other. “And why are you both back so soon? You just left.”
Kahlil ran to his mom, wrapping his arms around her waist. He looked up at her and smiled. She smelled of chlorine and mint. She was dark-skinned and had a small frame and her black hair was in a short pony tail . She was wearing a red University of Wisconsin Veterinary school t-shirt and jeans with a hole in the left knee.
“Ggggranddad’s tttruck bbbbroke ddddown aaaand started ssssmmmmoking, and wwwwent up iiiin ffffflames, aaaand wwwwe ran out, and this guy drove by and drove us hhhome.”
“Really? Oh my God, are you both alright?” She looked at her son’s head and face, studying him for any signs of distress. He looked alright. She kissed him on his cheeks and forehead and she hugged him. She looked over at her father. She was pissed.
“I told you, that truck was nothing but a deathtrap. You both could have died. I hope that now you’ll listen and let me buy you a new truck.” She gave her son a big hug and she faced her father as he put the receiver down. “Where did you leave it?”
“I know, I know, you’re right. It’s out on the interstate, you know by that white bricked farmhouse. About a mile before that water tower. I was just calling someone to pick up the truck to take it to the pound.”
She walked over to her father and hugged him. She could feel his heart beating against her chest. “Dad, are you alright?” She released him and took a step back to look at him.
“I’m alright, baby,” Grandpa Franklin, said, smiling. He was lying. He had felt a stab-like pain in the chest that almost had him lose his breath. He had already been felt like a burden to his daughter and he didn’t want to be the cause of any more stress. So he walked over to the sofa and pretended to casually sit down when the truth was that he was in pain. He had felt the stab-like pain a second, then a third time followed by another shortness of breath.
“It’s 80 degrees outside. Kahlil, go get your grandfather a glass of lemonade.”
“I’m alright.”
Kahlil returned with a glass of lemonade and he gave it to his grandfather.
“Mmmmmom,wwwhat ddddoes mmmy nnname mean?”
“How do you know it means something?”
“Jjjjjust wwwondering. Dddddoes iiiit mmmean ssssomething?”
“I suppose it does. It never thought to ask your father. I named you after him because I always liked his name.”
“Wwwwho iiiis KkkKahlil Gggggibran?”
“I don’t know. Why all these questions? Why don’t you go look it up on your computer? And daddy, stop lying. Stop pretending you’re okay. I know you’re not.”
“Vanessa, I am fine. Don’t worry about me. Did you call Dr Gonzalez back?”
Vanessa panicked. She quickly turned away, facing her son, grabbing his hand. “Let’s go find out about this Kahlil Gibran person.”

Wearing a light blue hospital smock and nothing else, Vanessa sat in the movie theater, holding his hand. She was cold. Looking at how small her hand was in his big black hands, she felt protected. And warm.
It was dark in the theater. She squeezed his hand, and looked at his white shirt and jeans. She smiled. She looked at his broad chest and reached over to feel it, but instead she hit the seat; her hand was able to go right though his chest. She looked up to see that there was no face. It was as if he was either a ghost or a three dimensional photographic image, but it didn’t make sense because she was holding his left hand, squeezing it. She could see it; she could feel the warmness of his hand, squeezing her hand as well. She squeezed it tighter to confirm that he did exist.
“Wwhat’s going on? I don’t understand. Who are you, and why can’t I see your face?”
She was angry. She didn’t know what to think. She reached over to slap at the holographic image of the man’s chest, hitting the chair.

“Mom,” Kahlil said. He startled her awake. “yyyou’re hhhitting me.” He was underneath the covers.
“What are you doing in here?”
“Iiii hhhhad a nnnnightmmmmare,” he said. “dddid you hhhave one tttoo?”
She didn’t answer him. She put her right arm around her son and held him close underneath the covers. As she lied there, her eyes closed, she wondered whether what she had had would have been considered a nightmare to other single women. On a conscious level the dream did bother her, but it didn’t bother her enough to consider it a nightmare or to do anything about it. That was all it was; a dream. For all she knew, or wanted to believe, she was content just being a veterinarian, a mother and a part time caregiver for her father. She felt complete without a man. She supposed that life could be better though; every now and then she thought about men, but she didn’t allow herself to get obsessed about the lack of them in her life.

Vanessa looked over at her son as he stood up in the bed and began to jump up and down.
“Ssssaturday! Mmmmom, cccan yyyou ttake mmme ttto a bbbook sttttore so I ccccan gggget ttthat bbbook wwee ttaalked aaabbbbout?” He left the room without waiting for an answer.
Watching him leave the room, she sat up in the bed. It was morning. The sun was shining brightly. She recalled the dream that she had had a second time. God, are you trying to tell me something?
She dismissed the notion of a divine message and got up to prepare breakfast while Kahlil washed up. She thought about what Kahlil had said about a book, but didn’t remember having a discussion about it.
On the way to the bookstore Vanessa was aware that Kahlil was speaking but it was mostly background noise; her mind was elsewhere. She had been avoiding Dr Gonzalez’ follow up call. The more she tried to push it out of her mind the harder it was to avoid it. She felt avoiding the call was to avoid bad news. The news, being the results of her breast biopsy.
When they were looking for Kahlil Gibran books she got a cell phone call, and her heart began to palpitate quickly. She looked at the number, recognizing it to be Dr Gonzalez’s office. She had decided the she couldn’t and shouldn’t hold off the inevitable. Praying in silence while following Kahlil around the store, she reluctantly answered the call, but the call ended. She decided she would wait to see if a voicemail was left.
“Pppatric!” Kahlil called out.
Patric turned around, saw Kahlil and squatted down to greet him at his level. He smiled and shook Kahlil’s hand. “Kahlil! How you doing, lil’ man?”
“I’m oookkkay. This is mmmmy mom!”
Vanessa wanted to know who the man was and how her son knew him. She looked at him, sternly as he stood up. He was wearing a fitted black suit, white shirt and a pink tie. She smiled as he extended his hand to towards her. She looked at his face and his dreads. She watched as his big hand enveloped her small hand, holding her firmly, and suddenly she felt a familiarity though she knew she had never met this man before. She looked at the chest; though he was wearing a suit and a shirt, she could tell that he had a nice body. He was like a statue of David, dipped in black.
“Hello, I’m Patric.”
The deep voice was reverberating in her head. She had recognized the voice and the accent, but from where?
“Wwww’re looking for a Kahlil Gibran book.”
“That’s cool. How’s your grandfather?” He asked Kahlil.
“My name is Vanessa,” she said, steering the conversation.
“Nice to meet you.”
“ How do you know my son and my father?”
Patric opened his mouth to speak, but Kahlil replied : “Mmmma, hhhhe’s ttttthe one wwwho ppppicked us up. Me and Granddad!”
“Oh, you’re the one, Vanessa said, her smile growing wider. “Thank you so much for picking them up and bringing them home. I had told him I don’t know how many times, to get rid of that piece of junk.”
“Yeah, some men are just stubborn.” He smiled.
“ Mmmmom, Ppppatttric’s a dddoctor tooo, but he’s a heart doctor!”
“Is that so,” she said, smiling back at Patric. “I’m a veterinarian.” Her cell phone rang but she ignored it.
“Good to know. I recently got custody of, a golden retriever, and I was looking for a reputable vet.”
“Well, you should bring him by the office.”
“Will do.”
She looked at his big hands, at his long thick fingers, his manicured nails. At the ring on his left hand. He was wearing a wedding ring. She made a small sigh of relief.
“So what brings the both of you to my favorite book store?” Patric said, looking at both Vanessa and Kahlil.
“He wanted to get a Kahlil Gibran book”.
Patric smiled at him. He touched his shoulder.
“Ppppatric, aaaare you bbbbusy ttttonnight?” Kahlil asked.
Patric knelt down to Kahlil’s level. “ Why?”
“You waaanna cccome oooover to ooour hhousse ffffor ddinner? Mmmmom’s a great ccccook.”
Patric stood up and looked at Vanessa.
“Is that so?”
Vanessa was embarrassed, and speechless. She knew what her son was trying to do, and normally she would shut the guy down before he’d respond, but she felt she owed Patric for picking them up and taking them home. So she smiled and responded.
“Your wife is invited also.”
Patric looked at the ring on his finger. His smile dropped. He started playing with the ring, moving it around on his finger.
“I’m a widower.”
“Sorry to hear that.”
“Thanks. It’s been about 18 months since she passed away, and I hadn’t been able to remove the ring.”
“ You don’t have to explain,” Vanessa said, reaching in the bottom of her purse to retrieve a ring. She showed it to Patric.
“ This was my engagement ring. Kahlil’s father had given it to me, while I was pregnant.”
“Ssssso aaare you cccccoming to dddinner?”
Both Patric and Vanessa were relieved that Kahlil had changed the subject. Vanessa looked at Patric as he smiled at Kahlil. Despite the potential of his being a good man, having a relationship couldn’t be any further from her mind. As Kahlil told him what time to be at their home, Vanessa thought about Kahlil Sr. He was the only man who loved her more than she ever imagined being loved and it took her a long time to find him. She doubted she would ever be ready to put herself out there for as much heartache as she had experienced in the past before she met Kahlil Sr.
She watched as he took an interest in talking to her son, and she caught herself smiling. She saw a man who obviously loved kids. When she realized she was smiling, she stopped. She didn’t want to get Kahlil’s hopes up. Anyway, she thought, to her relief, as sweet, or as romantic as he seemed to be, he wasn’t ready to leave his deceased wife behind. So that would be my excuse, should Kahlil ever entertain the though of us dating.
Kahlil was glad to know that dinner wasn’t ready when Patric arrived. It meant he could talk to him while his mother was getting ready. Patric arrived with a bottle of wine and a gift for him. It was a book about his homeland, Belgium, and a book of Langston Hughes poetry.
“Wwwwhy dddid yyyou gggive me this?”
“When I was a kid, my speech therapist recommended this book. It seemed to calm me down a bit, whenever I got nervous.”
“You stuttered too?” Vanessa said.
Patric looked at her. She was wearing jeans and a yellow plain oversized t shirt, her hair pulled back in a pony tail.
Vanessa looked down at herself, forgetting that she hadn’t gotten dressed. She wanted to make a good impression on her new friend. “I lost track of time. Don’t look at me.”
“It’s alright,” Patric said, smiling. He handed her a bottle of wine. “I hope this goes with whatever we’re having.”
“You know, I didn’t even ask what you liked to eat. I’m sorry. I’m not usually this bad of a host. Please give me less than five minutes. I’ll be right back.” And she ran up the staircase.
When she came down the staircase she saw that Patric wasn’t on the sofa. She walked throughout the house, to the dining room the den and the backyard, calling his and her son’s name. Then she had a slight panic; she wondered if she had made a bad judgment call, leaving her son alone with a stranger. Then she walked around to the front and saw him them throwing and catching a baseball. She smiled. She didn’t want to disturb them, so she quietly walked around the bushes towards the front porch and she sat on the steps. She watched Patric as he threw the ball to her son. She wanted to know his story. The cynical part of her decided she needed to have him checked out before he spent anymore time with her son.
She wasn’t ready for a relationship, but she had to admit that at the very least, though premature in her thinking, her son did need a father-figure in his life. It wasn’t fair to him to deprive him of that need. She watched and listened as he spoke to Kahlil like they were best friends. Kahlil was asking him about how he got over his stuttering. She heard her son laugh. It was the first time she had heard him laugh in months, and it made her feel warm inside. She looked at Patric’s big hands as he threw the ball to her son. Then the ball hit a tree and it went in her direction. She picked up the ball and threw it to her son. They both looked at her, and Patric’s eyes had gotten larger, his mouth open wide. Vanessa pretended to be oblivious to Patric’s reaction but she was glad her outfit had the intended effect. She wore a red silk halter top and white, form-fitting linen pants. He hair was parted in the middle and hanging down, off the shoulder.
“Are you guys ready to eat?”
Kahlil looked at his mom. Then he looked back at Patric’s open mouth and big eyes, and he smiled.
Vanessa woke up in the middle of the night, reliving the previous evening in her mind. She was glad the evening went well, and she was convinced that Patric also enjoyed the evening. The way he spoke of Adina, his deceased wife, gave her an idea of his character and the depth of the love that he had for his wife, and she wondered if Kahlil Sr loved her as much or would have loved her as much had she died instead. She wondered if it would take weeks or months or years for Kahlil Sr. to get over her. Though romance was the furthest thing from her mind it made her feel hopeful to know there are good men walking around, even if Patric wasn’t emotionally available. His grief was understandable; it had only been a year and a half since Adina’s death. She saw in him the potential for a good friend. She saw the way Patric related to her son and when she asked if he had kids or wanted them, he said that they had planned on having kids and when his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, they both found she had miscarried. Adina didn’t even know she was pregnant.
Vanessa felt guilty. She knew everything Patric wanted her to know about him and she hadn’t really revealed much about herself. She told him about how Kahlil Sr walked out of a grocery story and in the middle of gunfire between some gang members and was riddled with bullets. Vanessa felt guilty because she was pregnant at the time; it was in the middle of the night and she was having cravings. She begged Kahlil Sr to go to the store. And he died, leaving the store.
She had been listening to Patric talk about how he and his wife suffered during her unsuccessful bout with breast cancer, and here she was, avoiding Dr Gonzalez’ calls regarding results of a breast biopsy.
Wearing a light blue hospital smock and nothing else, Vanessa sat in the movie theater, holding his hand. She was cold. Looking at how small her hand was in his big black hands, she felt protected. And warm.
It was dark in the theater. She squeezed his hand, and looked at his white shirt and jeans. She smiled. She looked at his broad chest and reached over to feel it. It was smooth to the touch, but hard at the same time; it was like silk wrapped around stone. She grabbed at his left pectoral muscle and playing with the nipple, making circular motions around it with her fingers. It was dark in the theater. She looked up to see his face. She had to squint to see the shape of his head. She squeezed his hand to confirm that he existed . Focusing hard she was barely able to see his eyes, his nose and his chin. She couldn’t see his lips but she lifted her finger to touch them, slowly gliding her fingers across the upper lip. She imagined what it would be like to kiss them and she did so. She wished she could see his face more clearly. She searched for his name in her mind but came up blank.
“Did you call Dr Gonzalez back?” She heard him say. She wondered how he knew of him.
“Vanessa, did you call him back?”

“Vanessa, I know you ain’t sleep.”
Vanessa opened her eyes to find her father standing at the doorway. She was annoyed with him for disrupting her dream. As Grandpa Franklin continued to talk, she tried to focus on the man in her dream.
“Vanessa, you can’t avoid it forever. If it’s bad news, then you need to hear it as soon as possible so you can start a course of action.”
Why can’t I remember what his face looked like? She remembered his big hands enveloping her little hands, and how protected she felt. Though her father was right, she was pissed that he had interrupted her dream, just as she was looking at his lips and kissing them.
She told him to get out of her room, but he ignored her and asked how the dinner went with the doctor the previous week.
“He’s a nice guy,” she said, feining indifference. To be honest, she wasn’t sure how she felt about him. Though Patric was very attractive and sweet and ambitious, and has a great job, a home of his own, loves kids, obviously able to commit to someone or something other than his dog, and everything else a woman could ever want in a man, even if she was ready to date, he wasn’t. He seemed too perfect for her or anyone. “I think we’re gonna be really good friends.”
“A good friend?” Her seeming indifference annoyed Grandpa Franklin, and he yelled at her.“That’s what you want, a friend? You women! I don’t understand it. You women say you want a good man and one comes along and you discard like him like a dead battery!”
“Daddy, you act like I’ve been wallowing in my bed, crying my eyes out because I don’t have a man. I don’t want one. Why can’t you get that through your thick head?”
“But you have been wallowing in your bed.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You are the queen of denial. You know you’re lonely.”
“Dad, would you please…”
“Kahlil told me.”
Vanessa sat up on the side of the bed and faced him as he stood, leaning against the door.”
“Told you what?”
“You’ve been having nightmares.”
“And you think I’m having them because I’m lonely?” She put on her robe and walked past her father and towards the bathroom. “Everyone has nightmares. Besides, I never told him what they were about. What does that have to do with anything?”
“I’m just saying.”
“You’re not saying anything,” she said as she closed the bathroom door behind her. Then she opened it again. “What’s Kahlil doing?”
“Reading that book he got the other day; The Prophet.”
“Is he dressed?”
“ Good. We’re going to that car dealership today, remember? I gotta take a shower first.” She shut the bathroom door.
“Vanessa, I told you,” Grandpa Franklin said, waiting for a response. There was none. He went downstairs to see Kahlil sitting on the living room sofa, putting the phone receiver down.
“I didn’t hear the phone ring. Who were you talking to?”
Kahlil didn’t answer him. He smiled at his grandfather, then he looked down at the open book on his lap.
“Ppppatric is rrrreally cool, Granddad.”
“Is that who you were talking to?”
“Patric. I cccalled him and asked hhhim to have bbbbreakfast wwwwith us.”
“This morning. He’s coming over.”
Grandpa Franklin’s stern face formed a smile. “Great minds think alike.” He sat down next to his grandson.
“Wwwwhat dddo you mmmmean?”
“Nothing. I’m just glad you did it instead of me.” He put his arm around his grandson’s shoulder. “Between me and you, and God, I think your mom and Patric would make a good match. Don’t you ever tell your mom I said that, ‘cause I would deny it. Your mom’s been so single for so long, I think she’s scared.”
“Ssscared of what?”
“It’s a grown up thing.”
Kahlil went outside to sit on the front steps when he saw Patric’s red sports car drive up. He had a golden retriever sitting in the passenger seat. Kahlil ran over to greet him and the dog.
“Kahlil, this is Max.”
Kahlil bent down to pet the dog as the dog jumped up and almost knocked him down, licking him on the face.
“Ccccan I take him for a wwwalk? Aaaaround the block?”
“Ask your mother.”
“She won’t mind,” Grandpa Franklin said, as he opened to screen door and walked over to the curb where Patric was standing.
Patric handed Kahlil the leash and Kahlil proceeded to walk Max down the block.
“I don’t mean to be nosy but, I gotta ask,” Grandpa Franklin started to say, but he changed his mind about what he wanted to discuss because Patric had waved at Vanessa, who was walking across her front lawn towards them.
“Good morning. What are you doing here? Where’s Kahlil?”
“Kahlil invited me. Actually, he said that you asked him to call me to invite me to breakfast.”
She looked at him. He wore a white McGill University tshirt that hugged his huge chest, shoulders and biceps. And he wore a pair of jeans. He had a small waist. She wanted to look below the t shirt but she dared not to. She had to take a deep breath. She feigned indifference, pretending to be annoyed that Kahlil had lied.
She didn’t realize it, but she was smiling.
“Where’s Kahlil?”
Grandpa Franklin didn’t want to be a third wheel, so he walked back in the house without saying a word.
“He’s walking Max around the block.”
“Max must be your dog,” she said as they walked back to the front porch. And sat down. She looked up at his silky black skin, his light brown eyes, his high cheekbones, his goatee. And she looked away, wondering what to do until Kahlil returned.
“I didn’t know you were coming over,” she blurted out.
“ I know you didn’t.”
She looked at him. “How?”
I saw the look on your face when you stood on the front porch. “I can leave if you want me to.”
She looked at his muscled biceps and she smiled. “That would be rude of me, and I’m not a rude person. After all, you’re here. I can’t just shoo you away, now, can I? They both laughed.
She could hear the phone ringing in the kitchen from the porch, but she chose to ignore it. “So, do you like blueberries in your pancakes?” Out of the corner of her left eye she saw Kahlil returning with Patric’s dog.
Kahlil walked past them and he opened the front door.
“Let’s tie him outside,” Patric said.
“You can let him inside,” Vanessa said as she got up and held the door open for Kahlil and Max.
“Are you sure, Vanessa?’ Patric, holding the door open for her.
“ I’m his new veterinarian, remember? I’m around dogs and cats all day. I’m used to them.”
Kahlil watched his mother talking and smiling at Patric, and he smiled, as he held the leash and took Max through the kitchen to the open door that led to the backyard.
“Will you talk to your doctor, babygirl?” Grandpa Franklin said as he leaned against the kitchen counter, holding the receiver and covering the mouthpiece.
“Hang that phone up.”
“Patric, will you please talk some sense into my stubborn daughter?”
“Daddy, shut up. Be quiet!”
“If you don’t take this call. I’m gonna put all your business out in the street. Now take this call!”
Vanessa grabbed the phone from her father and she ended the call.
“Should I leave?” Patric said.
“Babygirl, Patric’s a doctor. Talk to him.”


Vanessa felt as if a load of bricks were taken off her back. She hated that she had used up so much energy worrying about something that ended up being nothing. Initially she was angry that her father had forced her to tell Patric that she was scared to talk to her doctor, but he was very supportive, encouraging and matter-of-fact in the process. He didn’t judge her. He didn’t allow her one more minute to avoid and grieve. He called Dr Gonzalez and when the line was busy, he drove Vanessa to her clinic and and they found her doctor, and he gave them the news; the results of the biopsy was benign. No sign of breast cancer at all. She was so happy. She wondered why she avoided the news. Avoidance went against everything she learned in her training. It went against everything she advised the owners of her clients. She felt really stupid, and she told Patric so, but he did his best to convince her that she was only human and that it’s easy to tell others what they should do, but reality sets in when it’s us with the problem.
She was elated. In the hallway outside the doctor’s office she hugged him. Patric was happy and excited for her. He grabbed her by the waist and held her, lifting her off the floor for a few seconds. Her breasts pressed against his hard muscled pecs and she exhaled. Then she stood back, looking up at his face and his lips. She slowly glided her fingers across his lips. She imagined what it would be like to kiss them and before she realized, their lips met and they kissed. She grabbed his hands, and when he held her body close to his, they kissed. Then it occurred to her that maybe he was literally, the man of her dreams, and she pushed him away and asked him to drive her home.
He looked disappointed but he didn’t say a word. Always the gentleman, he opened the car door for Vanessa and she got in. She found his silence deafening. She wished he would say something, anything. He was so patient, so kind, so supportive and accommodating. In a sense she found it unnerving. She wondered if he even had a spine. She was so used to men being aggressive, and taking what they wanted, and she found Patric’s seeming indifference discomforting. Or was this just another excuse she would use in the future, if not the present?
She looked at his left hand. He wasn’t wearing his wedding ring. She knew that it could only mean one thing; that he was ready to move on, and that reality incited fear in her, but why? She thought about what her father had been telling her, about women wanting a good man and not knowing what to do when they find one. She wondered if there was any validity to what he had said.
She looked at him as he drove. He was looking straight ahead. He seemed devoid of any emotion. She could still feel his lips pressed against her own, his big hands holding her waist close to his body as they kissed. She could still smell his cologne on his neck and for a minute she asked herself what the hell is my problem?
“Thank you.” she said.
“For what?” Patric asked, never taking his eyes off the road. “What are we doing, Vanessa?”
She ignored him. “God is so good.”
“How about you come over later on for dinner. I know Kahlil would love to see you.”
“You pulled away,” he said. He didn’t look at her. He looked ahead but not at the road. “What are you scared of? Vanessa, what are we doing?”
She didn’t want to deal with he was asking her because she didn’t know the answer. It was a question she even asked of her self, so she tried to change the subject; “I bought daddy a Ford Pick-up. I had him chose the truck he wanted. He got it in red.”
Silence for about ten minutes. She watched him as he drove. Then she looked away, to the right. Not at the passing trees or barns or cornfields, but back to the day Kahlil Sr told her he loved her and wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.
“Kahlil invited me to his school for show and tell, next week,” he said in a slower voice.
“I didn’t know that. He keeps making these plans and he doesn’t even let me know about them.”
“Is that alright?”
“You don’t have to, if you don’t want.”
“He’s a good kid. He reminds me a lot of me.”
“I appreciate all the time you spend with him, throwing the baseball with him and taking him to the zoo last week when grand father was tired to go. He talked about that for days. He really likes you.”
“I know,” he said. “Wish his mom did.” Patric waited for a response and was disappointed when she didn’t say anything.
“Was I wrong?”
Silence for a few minutes. He pulled over onto the shoulder of the busy highway and he put the gear in park. He looked over at Vanessa. “I didn’t think I was ready to move on. I decided I was going to bury myself in my work and keep myself so busy that I don’t have the time to think about being alone, but I have to admit I still do. I’m very lonely. I know I’m rambling along, but anyway, somewhere along the way, I met you. I’m really feeling you, Vanessa. I thought you were feeling the same way. Was I wrong?”
She looked at him and opened her mouth to speak, but she closed it. Then she looked ahead, then back at him again. She touched his forearm. “Patric, It’s been me and Kahlil and my dad for so long, and I’m kind of set in my ways. I’m just not there with you.”
“Do you like being alone?”
“There’s a big difference between being alone and being lonely, and I haven’t been lonely.”
“What’s happened to make you want to be alone?”
“Look,” she said, “I’m not trying to be anyone’s rebound. Relationships have their moments, and I’m not strong enough to endure them. I’ve had so much drama with the men I’ve met after Kahlil Sr died. You wouldn’t believe the hell I went through to find him. Wading through so many losers, and when I met Kahlil Sr I was blessed. I asked God to bless me to find one good man, and he did that.”
“And He took him away.”
“Nothing,” he said. Then, “You got what you asked for, but you didn’t tell God how long you wanted him. You need to be more specific.”
He put the car in drive. He pressed on the accelerator and drove her home as quickly as he could. He didn’t say another word.
Watching him race down the highway made her nervous and upset.
“Why did you let me kiss you?”
The question caught her off guard. She looked at him and opened her mouth to speak. Realizing she didn’t answer, she closed her mouth and held on to the armrests, asking him to slow down, but he ignored her, slowing down only when he turned the corner across the street from her house.
His foot on the brakes, he waited for her to get out of the car.
“Are you coming over for dinner tonight?”
“Well, you’re still bringing Max over to the clinic in the morning, right?”
“Maybe. I have to go.”
She watched as he backed out of the driveway and drove off.
She thought about the results of the biopsy. She wondered about how different her life would have been had the results been negative. She wanted to do something to celebrate her new lease on life, but she wanted Patric to be part of the celebration. She knew that he was disappointed in her, but she figured that eventually he would come to think of her as a friend with out the benefits. She wondered where along the way to their knowing each other did his feelings change? She had appreciated his longing for his deceased wife; it meant that he could be a friend without looking for anything physical.
She thought about her son. His attitude had changed since Patric became a part of their lives. It was a change for the better; he was still stuttering, but not as much; it had been alleviated. Patric had taught him more in the 2 months they had known each other than any speech therapist at school ever did. Kahlil was even more social in school. He started having an appreciation for writing, and he was smiling more. She watched Patric relate to her son as if Kahlil was his very own, and it made her feel at ease. It was more than his trusting nature; there was something good and wholesome about Patric that convinced her that he could be trusted with her son. Her father liked him too. Grandpa Franklin liked him so much he saw in him someone that both his grandson and Vanessa needed in their lives.


Vanessa looked at her watch. Eight fifteen am. In between clients with their dogs barking at the hissing cats at her clinic, she walked to the front of the clinic just when her son was walking in with Max. She hugged her son and walked to the door, expecting to see Patric following suit. There was no Patric. She looked outside the door and around the corner. No Patric. She was anxious. She had hoped that Patric would come to understand and accept the limitations she had put on their friendship and would bring Max in. His not being present meant that he was still disappointed with her, until Kahlil told her he was circling the block because there was no place to park. She had exhaled. And she smiled. While Kahlil chatted with his mother’s coworkers about how his summer was going, and about Max, Vanessa watched the door. She was glad to see him when he walked in. Instead of hugging hello he reached out his hand to shake hers as if they were meeting for the first time. She noticed that he didn’t have the smile he used to have whenever she was present. He was being formal, polite, and it disappointed her The only thing about Patric’s presence that gave her comfort or peace of mind, was that he was still in her son’s life. She did wonder, though, how long that would last. That their relationship wasn’t progressing as he had hoped didn’t seem to have an affect on his relationship with her son. But the handshake; that really bothered her, but she played it off.
The conversation between the two was professional; Vanessa wanted to ask what he had done the evening before, but she decided it was none of her business.
“Thanks for picking up Kahlil. Dad is so hard to keep track of, now that he has that truck. I’m glad you’ve been spending time with Kahlil. I appreciate it.”
“Well, like I said yesterday, he’s a good kid.”
“Uhh, yeah”, Vanessa started to say, ”about yesterday.”
Someone tapped her on her shoulder. Vanessa turned around to see Carmen, her business partner and best friend, looking at her, then at Patric, then back at her again.
“Aren’t you going to indroduce me to your friend?”
Vanessa looked at Patric as he smiled at her friend. She was annoyed.
“ I might have eventually come around to introducing him to you, if you gave me a chance.”
Patric didn’t wait for the introduction. He reached out his hand to shake hers. He looked at her. Her features were similar to Vanessa’s.
“My name is Patric.”
“I’m Carmen. Nice to meet you.”
“I’ve never seen you here before. Kahlil was just telling me about you. You have such a sexy French accent. And that deep voice. Are you Haitian?”
Vanessa interrupted the conversation and suggested that Carmen take care of her client, who was looking out in the hallway at her.
“Nice meeting you!” Carmen said before scurrying off.
Patric and Kahlil, holding Max’s leash, pulled Max to encourage him to follow them to Vanessa’s office.
She watched how Patric let her son handle the dog as if it was his own and she began to worry about the effect Kahlil and Patric were having on each other. Kahlil had ensconsed himself in Patric’s life, as if knowing in his heart and soul that Patric was going to be his father, and that he was going to be around for a while. In Vanessa’s mind, they had done alright all this time without a man, not counting her father, and she really didn’t think she needed a man. She and Carmen had become part owners at the veterinary clinic, and she was content. She didn’t think she needed anything. She decided that she needed to talk to Kahlil. She needed to get idea of Patric’s being aound, out of his mind. And so when she walked her son to the waiting room and told him to wait for her so they could leave for an early lunch after Max’s exam, Carmen stopped Vanessa on her way back to Patric and Max.
She asked about her relationship with Patric and Vanessa didn’t hesitate to tell her that they were only friends and that he was available. Carmen smiled. She grabbed and hugged her. She looked into her eyes. She wanted to be sure it was alright, and Vanessa assured her that she wouldn’t be stepping on her toes.
“What’s wrong with him?”
“Nothing’s wrong with him. Why you asked?”
“ Girl, he is fine. One wouldn’t be so willing to part with a man like that unless there was something wrong with him. So, spill the goods. Tell me what you know.”
Vanessa calmed down and gave Carmen an impatient, stern look. “Not to be putting his business out there, but he’s a cardiologist, a widower. He loves kids. He loves dogs. He obviously can commit. And I think he’s still in love with his wife. He’s a really good man.”
“How sweet. Why don’t you want him? Tell me the truth. I think you’re leaving out something. No woman in her right mind would be satisfied to have him as a friend. What’s wrong with him? If he’s so good, then why don’t you want him? Girl, spill, and don’t leave nothing out!”
Vanessa stood there, struggling to think of something to say, but she came up empty. So, she stood there, breaking off eye contact with Carmen and looking at the gray wall with a blank look on her face, like a deer in the headlights. In her silence, she was screaming. She was willing someone, anyone, or anything to interrupt the conversation; for her phone to ring, or for someone to need her. Anything to escape Carmen and her search for the truth. But what was the truth? Did Vanessa even know?
She was glad to see Patric opening her office door, peaking out. Without answering Carmen, she went back in her office and proceeded with Max’s examination. No matter how hard she tried to forget what Carmen was asking her, the more it was at the forefront of her thoughts. From the way Patric always treated her dad with respect, kindness, and patience, though she figured he probably learned to be respectful of people as part of his medical training, to his treatment of Kahlil which was undeniable, to the way he held her when he kissed her.
The next morning, Kahlil shook her awake a few minutes before her alarm went off. She got out of bed immediately. “What’s the matter?”
“Mmmmom, I’m sssso excited!”
“Why?” Yawning, she reached over to the foot of the bed to retrieve her bathrobe.
“Ppppatric’s coming to my class today, ttto talk about hearts. Do you think he’s gonna bring a real one?”
“Kahlil, you’re so funny. You’re the only kid I know that looks forward to going to summer school.” She looked at him, and smiled brightly. “Are you listening to yourself? You’re not stuttering a lot.”
Kahlil smiled, giggling. “ I know. I’ve been listening to Patric. Why don’t you like him?”
“I do like him, as a friend.”
“Bbbbbut wwwhy don’t you wanna marry him?”
“Marry him? I don’t love him.” she said. She wanted to change the subject. “Where’s your grandfather?”
“Oooooout ffffront, washing this truck. Iiiii ccccame uuuup here to wake you up.”
“He likes you, mom. He’d be a great dad. He’s so cool, and he’s funny too.”
“How do you know he likes me? Has he said he likes me?”
She got up and left her bedroom and her son followed her down the staircase.
“ I asked him. I asked him to marry you too.”
She stopped in her tracks. She turned around, glaring at him. She grabbed by both shoulders. “You what?”
“He’s going to Bbbbaltimore on a bbbbusiness trip nnnnext week. I asked if I could dog-sssssit ffffor him. Hhhhhe told me to aaaask you if it wwwwwas okay. Mmmmmom, can I?”
“Wait a minute. You asked him to marry me? What made you do that?”
He looked at his mother. He grabbed her hand and held it. “Did I do something? I don’t understand. He loves you. Don’t you want to be married?”
“Kahlil, after your show & tell at school, I don’t want you to hang out with him anymore.”
“You’re getting too attached. You’re getting too used to his being around, and one day he won’t be there when you least expect him.”
“He’s been around, ssssso ffffar. Remember, he ttttook mmme and Granddad tttto the car show, last wwwweek, and he took me to a baseball game, and he said he wanted to take me hiking, and that night wwwwhen you were tired and went to sleep, he invited me and Ggggranddddad to his house for a barbecue and he and Gggggraddddddady talked and I played Frisbee with Max.”
“That’s what I’m talking about.” She pulled out a stainless steel mixing bowl and measuring cup from the cabinet above the dishwasher, a bag of flour from the cabinet on the other side of the refrigerator and a big spoon from the drawer to her right. “You see him too much. I don’t want you going over there.”
Kahlil sat at the kitchen table. “I’ll run away. If you don’t let me see him, I’ll run away.”
“Ok. Let me know when you wanna do that, so I can help you pack.”
He looked at her. He was speechless; that wasn’t the reaction or response he was expecting.
“I’ll help you pack all the clothes you bought.”
“Bbbbbut I didn’t bbbbuy anything.”
“I know,” she said, not looking away from the mixing bowl as she prepared pancake batter.
“Okay, waffles or pancakes?”
“Wwwell, cccccan I dog sit for him next week?”
“Well, uh,” she pulled the waffle iron out from the cabinet next to the oven. “You still planning on running away?”
“ I wwwwon’t have anything to wwwwear, ‘cause you bought all my clothes.”

It was dark in the theater. She squeezed his hand, and looked at his white shirt and jeans. She smiled. She looked at his broad chest and reached over to feel it. It was smooth to the touch, but hard at the same time; it was like silk wrapped around stone. She grabbed at his left pectoral muscle and playing with the nipple, making circular motions around it with her fingers. It was dark in the theater. She looked up to see his face. She had to squint to see the shape of his head. She squeezed his hand to confirm that he existed. Focusing hard she was barely able to see his eyes, his nose and his chin. She couldn’t see his lips but she lifted her finger to touch them, slowly gliding her fingers across the upper lip. She imagined what it would be like to kiss them but when she tried to do so, she was kissing the air.
The hand she was holding, began to peel each finger away from his, like a banana. She applied pressure to each finger that was being pulled away but he was stronger, and when his hand was free of hers, she made a fist with that hand.
“Why are you doing this? Why? You don’t want Carmen. You want me, I know you do!” She sobbed. She began to hit at him, but she was hitting the back of the seat.
“I know you do. I know you do. You want me!”
She was yelling so loudly that she woke herself up. Startled, she looked around, hoping she hadn’t awakened her son or her father. It was still dark. She looked at the clock. A quarter to two.
She lied there in the dark, looking up at the ceiling and trying to breathe calmly while recalling the details of the dream. It was the same dream she had been having the past 2 months, but it always ended differently. The only common denominator in each of the endings was that she was frustrated. Frustrated either by a question of a certain man’s existence or by the loss of that man, or a different man. The first time she had that dream, it was the morning before she had met Patric. She wondered if it was a premonition or was it her frustration over the loss of Kahlil Sr, 7 years earlier.
She remembered what it felt like to be loved. That feeling of anticipation. The way Kahlil Sr massaged her feet after a long day of classes and volunteer work at the animal shelter. The feather-soft kisses on the back of her neck that sent a chill down her spine. The smile on his face when she entered the room.
Then Carmen came to her mind. Carmen and Patric had been dating for a month up to that point. She regretted having introduced them and it made her angry that he seemed able to transfer his feelings from her to Carmen so easily.
She tried to go back to sleep, but she couldn’t. She turned on the television but there was nothing on that she wanted to watch, so she turned it off. Then she turned on the stereo in her den and heard the end of an Erykah Badu song and she curled up in a fetal position on the floor against her chaise and cried like a baby. She didn’t know what prompted the flowing of tears. Using her nightgown to wipe her face, she forced herself to stop. Then a few minutes later she felt better. It was as if pressure was building up inside of her and suddenly it burst, and she had to cry it out. Then she get up and decided to go back to bed, and on her way back to her bedroom and opened the door to Kahlil’s room to look in on him.
He wasn’t there. She called his name as she ran to the closet and looked inside. It was filled with empty hangers. She got on her knees to look underneath the bed. He wasn’t there. His favorite sneakers were gone. She went to the bathroom; his toothbrush was gone. Suddenly she couldn’t breathe. Her heartbeat began to race and she felt as if she was being choked. In what seemed like minutes but were only a few seconds, she was able to breathe, and in doing so, she screamed his name but there was no response. Then she began to run throughout the top level of her home, looking in every room. She opened the door to her father’s room to see him sleeping. She shook her father awake and asked if he had seen Kahlil but he was unaware that he even left. Then the reality hit her. The reality that Kahlil had run away, just like he said he would.
That Kahlil chose that time to run away didn’t make sense to Vanessa. With Patric leaving for Baltimore on his business trip in the morning, Kahlil really looked forward to the responsibility of taking care of Max in Patric’s absence; he might have wanted to get back at his mother by running away, but he wanted the respect and admiration of Patric.
She decided to call Patric anyway; maybe he had seen her son. When she called his cell, she got the voicemail. As she threw on the first t shirt and shorts she could pull out or her closet, she went down stairs and searched the kitchen, dining room, living room , basement and backyard. When her father came downstairs to help in the search, she insisted that he stay behind; just in case Kahlil came back home, he could call Vanessa.
When she got to Kahlil’s house, she knocked on the door but it was open. It was dark. Like a thief, she slowly walked in, creeping around, careful not to knock anything over, and she walked to Patric’s bedroom and saw him, asleep. She turned on his dimmer switch, and she looked at him, wearing nothing but white boxer shorts. For a minute she had forgotten why she was even in the apartment. She stood over Patric, looking down at his long black muscled body as he slept on his back. She wished she could touch him without disturbing him. She wanted to kiss him, to glide a finger lightly across his full lips, to taste them. To run her hands across his pecs and washboard abs. With one hand she touched her right nipple, imagining it was his hands or mouth that was doing the touching. She wanted so badly to lay beside him, to grab his arm to put around her, to feel the heat of his body against her back, waist, thighs, to fall asleep in his arms. She imagined Carmen having done that quite a few times. She had regretted the idea, the act of passing him over to her best friend and co-worker. She took a deep breath and forced her eyes closed, and she slowly backed out of his bedroom. She continued searching for her son, but while she was there she wanted to look around, as her father and Kahlil had been there before; this was her first time in his home.
She entered his other bedrooms. Each room was spacious. It was like a museum. The house was very Afrocentric in its design, with expensive-looking African paintings and vases and beautiful large plants. She walked to the living room and turned on the lights to see Kahlil, curled up on Patric’s leather sofa, wrapped in a blanket, asleep. She was glad to see him. She convinced herself that he was safe. She didn’t want to awaken him. She wouldn’t dare get in Patric’s bed, but she thought about sleeping with her son on the sofa so Patric could see her in the morning. She changed her mind; that behavior wasn’t typical of Vanessa, she felt. That would have been something Carmen was prone to do. And thinking of Carmen, Vanessa was surprised that she wasn’t there. She figured that Carmen would have spent the night with Patric, the evening before his trip.
She decided she would go home and come back early in the morning. When she walked past Kahlil’s room that next morning she saw Max looking up at her from the foot of Kahlil’s bed, and Kahlil was putting his clothes back on the hangers in his closet. Kahlil told Vanessa that Grandpa Franklin had offered to drive Patric to the airport and pick him up when he returned, if he could drive his sports car while he was gone. He had Grandpa Franklin leave early enough to take him to the hospital to tie up loose ends before his business trip, and he noticed that Kahlil had spent the night. Grandpa Franklin drove Kahlil home and Patric told him he couldn’t take care of Max if he was going to make his mom worry.
Vanessa was impressed. She had given Patric every opportunity to discourage his relationship with her son since she thought he wasn’t what she wanted or needed, but he had yet do to a single thing to made her doubt that he was a good, decent, honorable man. He had done everything right.
She thought about what Carmen asked her, after the introduction: No woman in her right mind…
She was in her right mind, finally.
She knew what she had to do once Patric returned, despite his new relationship with Carmen. Vanessa and Carmen had best friends ever since college and they vowed to never, ever let a man come in between them, but Patric wasn’t just any man. She decided she had to reclaim him as her own. She wondered why it took her so long to realize that a good man was within reach of her.
Vanessa went to work. Getting there an hour late, she went to her office and shut the door. She turned on the television set in her office and sat down and went over paper work and bills and receipts that she let pile up while listening to the morning news in the back ground. She had planned on avoiding Carmen but Carmen had stopped by her office to tell her that it wasn’t working out between her and Patric; it was over before it even started. She said that Patric was the perfect gentleman but she knew that he was just going through the motions because he couldn’t get who he truly wanted: Vanessa. And, Kahlil, inviting himself over to play catch, or wanting to stop by to play with Max all the time or feed him every single day, did nothing to encourage the relationship. When she realized that Patric was letting it happen she knew she had to move on.
She saw the smile on Vanessa’s face even though Vanessa said she was sorry for how it went.
“Well, Vanessa, if you want him, and it looks like you do, he’s all yours.”
“Ok,” Vanessa said calmly, feining indifference, as she examined a black cat that Carmen had brought in the office.
“What I don’t understand is, if you wanted him so badly, then why did you set me up with him? You practically passed him off onto me like he was some hand-me-down. Some used good that you didn’t want or need anymore. Aint nothing about him hand-me-down. Did you realize you wanted him when you saw him with me? Were you jealous? Because if you were, you really had nothing to be jealous about. This is just like when we were in college.”
She looked over Vanessa’s shoulder to see a news story about a plane crash. Vanessa laughed. “But you have to admit you were kind of predatory back then. I’m being nice when I say you were very competitive. Lord knows why or how we ended up being best friends. You were stealing every guy I told you I thought was hot.”
“Well, you were kind of shy back then, and you didn’t know what you wanted. Kind of like now. I don’t know how you ended up with Kahlil’s dad. You made him jump through a lot of hoops. He did love you though, in the end”, Carmen replied, her attention a little diverted by the news story.
“Yeah, he did. I was lucky. Well, they say, lightning never stikes twice in the same place….”
“Turn the volume up!” Carmen said.
Kahlil knocked on the door and walked in as Vanessa turned up the volume.
There was a news report about a plane that exploded over the Atlantic Ocean a few minutes ago. Vanessa got up and walked Kahlil to the waiting room. She didn’t want him to watch the news. She was afraid to watch the rest of it herself, but as they were leaving the room, she heard that the plane was en route to Baltimore, and she began to sob. Kahlil was quiet; either it hadn’t occurred to him what happened, or he wasn’t paying attention to the news report. She forgot what she was doing, and she sat down. She wanted to hear from where the plane was arriving. She decided she wasn’t going to react unless she had a reason to do so; until she was sure that voice on the newscast said any other city in any part of the world and not Knoxville, as selfish as it was. So, she sat down in her office chair. She covered Kahlil’s ears as he removed Max’s leash. Carmen was standing up in front of the tv. Touching her chest, she could feel her heart beating fast. She was impatient with the broadcast. They were telling her everything she didn’t care to know at that minute, like how this could have happened; that it was a bright, hot and sunny day with blue skies, that the pilot and copilot were both 10 year veterans, etc. she got impatient, and she picked up the phone. She didn’t know who she was going to call, but when she began to dial directory assistance, the announcer gave the city where the plane was coming from. Knoxville. Carmen began to cry, and Vanessa dropped the receiver. She didn’t want to react yet. She was sure there were more than one flight from Knoxville to Baltimore that morning, and so she called the airline. They confirmed that fact, to her horror. There was only one flight to Baltimore that morning. They wouldn’t tell her if Patric Debarbat was on the plane.
She called her father at home. He verified that he drove Patric to the airport. There was no way to deny it; Patric was on board the flight. Carmen and Vanessa both cried in each other’s arms and Kahlil grabbed his mother by the waist and cried.
Vanessa was so angry with herself that she refused to speak. She had let a good man slip through her fingers and she had no one to fault but her own. She closed the office and took Kahlil and Max home. Then she went to her bedroom, closed the door, crawled in her bed, got in a fetal position and cried herself to sleep.
The phone rang, startling her awake. She opened her eyes, adjusting to the darkness around her. She looked at the clock on the nightstand. Eight fifteen pm. She wondered how she could have slept all day. She had hoped the plane crash was a nightmare, but the phone rang again. It was Carmen calling. Authorities confirmed the passenger list, and Patric Debarbat was on that list. The reality came crashing down on her. Vanessa looked beside her and saw Kahlil asleep next to her. She told Carmen she would be okay and she ended the call. She was hungry. She stood up and walked towards the door and she almost tripped over Max, who was asleep on the floor at the foot of the bed.
Oh my God, Max. What are we gonna do with him?
She went to the kitchen, and Max followed her. She sat at the table, and he stood beside her, resting his head on her lap. The reality that Max or she would never see Patric hit her hard, and she began to sob uncontrollably. She put her head down on her kitchen table and she cried. Grandpa Franklin heard her, and he went to the kitchen to console her.
For the next two days, Vanessa left the day-to-day operations of the veterinary clinic to Carmen. She refused to leave the house. She barely ate. She didn’t even want to see sunlight. She kept the blinds in her bedroom closed. Throughout the house she kept herself busy with chores, cleaning what didn’t need to be cleaning, going through the motions of life, or barely living. When her father wasn’t home, she stayed in her room. She refused to bathe. She didn’t even turn on the tv. She took no calls. She didn’t even know what Kahlil was feeling or how he was coping and she felt bad that she had been so selfish.
On the way to Kahlil’s bedroom Vanessa caught a glimpse of herself in the hallway mirror. She didn’t like what she saw. It was obvious that her hair hadn’t seen a comb or brush in days; each strand of hair was independent of the other. Her eyes were hurting; they were red and swollen from three days of crying. She went to Kahlil’s room and he wasn’t there. She looked out the living room window to see him walking down the street toward the house with Max. She met them at the front door. She looked at his eyes. They were red too. She knelt down and hugged him deeply. She apologized for not comforting him within the last few days, and she cried. She tried to stop. She wanted to be strong for Kahlil but she couldn’t stop crying. He pulled away and pulled Max’s leash and they went in the house. She asked how he was feeling. He said he didn’t want to talk about it; that he needed to feed Max, and he had to find his grandfather. They had to get Patric’s mail and water his plants. He suggested that Max be part of their family from that point on.
Vanessa looked at her son, going though life as if unaffected by the news, and it worried her because she knew he was more upset than he had let on; he was closer to Patric than her. She told him that he didn’t need to pretend to be strong, but he ignored her and made himself a bowl of cereal after filling one of her mother’s favorite bowls with dog food for Max.
She looked at him. Feeling helpless, she went to the back porch and sat on the top step. The phone rang. It was her father. He was in a hurry, she wanted her to put Kahlil on the phone, and she handed him the receiver.
You got what you asked for, but you didn’t tell God how long you wanted him. You need to be more specific
She heard Patric’s voice in her mind. She wondered if, in her subconscious, she had asked for him, and like Kahlil, he was gone too quickly?
Lord, God, I’m sorry. If you ever allow another good man to enter my life, please let me recognize him, and please let him be in my life, not for a day or a week, but for the rest of my life.
She got in bed and lied there, thinking about the day she had met Patric. The first thing she remembered was his smile, his straight teeth, his really dark skin, his big hand as he shook Kahlil’s hand. She was making herself really angry.
She thought about Patric’s family and friends in Belgium and in California. She wondered if they knew he was dead. She turned on the television. There was a report about the plane crash and suspicions about it having been either a terror attack, pilot error, or some malfunction, but they wouldn’t have any definitive answers until the black box is retrieved. They did say that the plane had gone off course about 300 miles north of Maryland and exploded in the air. And with that, Vanessa laid there and wallowed in her bed and cried herself to sleep. She asked God to not wake her up.
She woke up about 2 hours later, suddenly, when Kahlil knocked on the door. He walked in and sat on the bed next to her. She reached up to hugged him and lied back down. Max was by his side.
He looked at her. He was sad, but it was obvious that he was still trying to be strong.
“I peeked in a few hours ago, mom, and I saw you praying.”
‘You saw me?”
“You’re not stuttering.”
“Yyyes I am.” He stood up. “Cccan you give me a ride to Patric’s house?”
“Where’s your Grandfather?”
“ I don’t know. I’m worried. He asked me to wait for him out front , but he never showed up.”
She got up and looked out of her bedroom window. “ His truck is still out front.”
“He’s been driving Patric’s car, remember?”
“Oh yeah. Why do you need to go over there?”
“I just wanna go over there. I can’t find some of my tshirts. I don’t think I brought everything home.”

She put on a sweat shirt and sweat pants. “Do I have to bring you over there right this minute?”
“Mom, you smell. Bad!”
She lifted her underarms and sniffed.
‘It’s my favorite t-shirt.”
“Okay. Let me take a shower first.”
Ten minutes later they were on the road.
“Mmmmom, you were asking God to let you recognize a good man.”
“Did you mean it?”
“That’s a strange question.”
“Patric was a good man, wasn’t he?”
“Yeah, he was.”
“Why didn’t you recognize him?”
“Good question.”
“I called him dad once. I wanted to see how it felt.”
She looked at him and forced a smile. She rubbed the back of his head, his hair stubble-short. She caressed his little hand and she held it firm. She decided, despite her forced smile, that Kahlil was old enough for her to be honest with her feelings.
“Well, I guess I was scared.”
“Scared of what?”
“Scared of getting hurt.”
Kahlil gave her a confused look.
“I’ve been lonely for so long. I just, I guess. I guess I just wanted everything to be right.”
“Ppppatric was rrrright. Hhhhhe wwwouldn’t hurt you, mmmmmom. If he was alive. Iiii rreeally lllliked him.”
“ I know you did.” She hugged him and kissed the top of his head.

Kahlil used his key to open the door. They both walked in. It was quiet. He went to the sofa where he slept. He got on knees and found his Tshirt. Vanessa walked thoughout the house. She went straight to the bedroom, which was the last place she had seen Patric alive. She wished she had crawled in bed beside him that night and held him. She had to leave the house. Kahlil was ready so they left and headed for home.
The phone rang as they were leaving, and Kahlil answered it.
“Yeah. Yeah. Ok. Yeah. Uhhuh. Oooookay, I have to gggget off the phone. Okay, bye,” and he put down the receiver.
“Who was that?”
“Grandpa. Mom, I don’t wanna go straight home. You’ve been home for 3 straight days. Can we go for a drive? Can we go get something to eat?”
Instead of going though the city to get downtown, they took the scenic route. Vanessa wanted to get home to close herself off in her bedroom again. She wanted to go where she had more control. No news stories over the radio or television. The phone powered off. Blinds closed. No lights. Her head under her pillow.
She thought about driving past the clinic, but she decided against it. She knew she wouldn’t have been able to drive by without wanting to go inside to see how Carmen and the staff was getting along without her.
They were on the interstate, driving past a white bricked farmhouse.
“Isn’t this the road you were on when Daddy’s truck bursted in flames?”
“Look, there’s Patric’s car!”
Parked on the shoulder of the road about a half mile ahead of them was Grandpa Franklin. He was waiting for a tow truck.
“You don’t have a cell phone. How did you call a tow truck?”
“A cop car drove by. Surprisingly, they were nice enough to call a tow truck for me. Then they drove off. That wasn’t a surprise.”
Vanessa, Kahlil and Max got out of the car and leaned against the car with Grandpa Franklin.
“Where were you going , daddy?”
“To the airport.”
“Who were you picking up?”
He smiled at her.
At that time a cab was approaching and had slowed down. It pulled up beside Patric’s car, and the rear passenger side door opened.
Stepping out of the car was Patric. He looked at Grandpa Franklin.
“Mr Franklin, what happened? I was in the luggage area for a good hour.” He looked at his car. What’s wrong with my car?”
Vanessa’s eyes got big. “ Patric!? Patric! Oh my God, Patric!”
She ran to him. Her eyes welling up with tears, she grabbed him and he held her and they kissed hard on the lips. She kissed him all over his face.
Max ran over to him and jumped on him.
“We thought you were dead!” Kahlil said. He ran to him and grabbed him around the legs and held him close and tight. We thought you were dead!”
She touched both sides of his face, felt his stubble, his earlobes.
“I did board that plane, but we sat on the runway for about an hour, and almost at the very last minute, my sister called me. They were going to induce her. She gave birth to my niece, her first child. She wanted me to be there. And I figured what the hell. I can always to Baltimore. And I got off the plane and I flew to Los Angeles. I managed to get a flight within 15 minutes.”
Vanessa couldn’t stop kissing him. She couldn’t stop crying; these were the tears she didn’t mind shedding. She was afraid she was still sleep. She feared that Kahlil hadn’t awakened her after all.
“Vanessa, I’m not going anywhere.”
“Me either, and I’m not going to pull away again. Ever.” She couldn’t stop kissing him.
“Patric, when I thought you had died in that plane crash, I may as well have died up there with you. But you’re here. You’re here! Sorry I was afraid before!” She looked back at her father, and down at Kahlil. Then up at the sky. Thank you God! Thank you, thank you! Look, daddy, he’s alive. He’s right here, in front of me. He’s right here! I don’t know what to say, except….”
“Vanessa,” Patric interrupted her. He looked in her eyes. “Vanessa, I love you.”
“Can you be my daddy?” Kahlil said. Patric smiled. He kneeled down and hugged him.
“ I don’t know,” Patric said. Then he stood up and looked at Vanessa. He held her and kissed her on the neck. “You’ll have to ask your mommy. A year from now.”
Vanessa’s face seemed to light up, she was so happy.
And a year later, Kahlil, walking Max down the aisle of their church, was their ring bearer.