Choose: Me or Them?

Posted on April 04, 2021 by Monique Bullock

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Choose: Me or Them

 

It is all so clear now. It has to be me. Finishing her last slice of cheese pizza she looked around the motel room and tears welled up in her eyes as she looked around at her four children sprawled out sleeping. Her youngest, age 2, was cuddled up next to her legs under the covers. How did I get to this point; she thought to herself over and over. She didn’t know what they were going to eat in the morning and she didn’t know where they would be laying their head tonight because she didn’t have any more money and the agency that was supposed to be helping said they could not pay for any more nights. “Fuck the agency!” Shaniqua said under her breath as she blocked all of their numbers. She called the agency three days ago as soon as she arrived in Dallas. She thought that they were going to solve all of her problems, but instead she was told there was no space at the shelter and she was given a list of other shelters. They didn’t understand, that to her, this was her last chance. She didn’t want to call anymore shelters. Even if she wanted to she couldn’t because now her phone was off. Shaniqua shimmied out of the king size bed quietly trying not to wake her children. She stumbled over to her travel bag and pulled out a bottle of Whiskey that she stole from her ex-boyfriend, Lake, before she left town. She took the top off and took a whiff of the intense aroma before gulping some down her throat. That scent reminded her of him. He was a Whiskey man all the way. She took another gulp and took a deep breath as the liquor shot slowly down her chest. She drunk some more and sank down to the floor. Why me? She wondered. “ I ain’t never done nobody nothing!” She said aloud. Her oldest child awoke when she heard her mother crying. She went over and sat next to her mom, holding her as she wept and drank more. As the bottle was nearing empty she felt herself fading in and out with each gulp she took.

…Seven years ago Shaniqua met Lake at a hole in the wall. She was sitting at the bar having a drink. This was her first time ever drinking alcohol. Lake came up to her and whispered in her ear, “ I’m gone make you mine.” She laughed carelessly, “How you gone do that?” Lake sat down next to her and told the bartender to keep the drinks coming. She was so drunk that she didn’t remember any of the conversation inbetween. All she knew was that she ended up in a small stall in the back of the club, that smelled of urine and a lot of other unimaginable smells. Lake sat on the toilet, pulled out his dick, motioning for her to hop on the ride; and that is exactly what she did. 

She never knew her dad. Her mom told her that he was shot four times right in the chest while trying to protect her, his woman. Shaniqua felt lucky as a child because she still had her mother. She would sit in the corner of the room, that they lived in, almost every night with a coloring book and the two crayons that her mom gave her. All they had in the room was a bed, a mini fridge, and a microwave. Clutter filled the room, but her mom made sure that corner was always nice and clean for her. Shaniqua appreciated that and would color patiently while her mom laid up with different men. After, her mom would kick the men out and allow her to come into bed. She would tell her, “What goes on in this place stays in this place. You hear me Niqua?” “Yes, ma’am.” “Now go bring your momma some more grown up drink.” Her mom was an alcoholic and a junky, but to Shaniqua her mom was a hero. Someone who fed her, most days, and let her go to school. All she knew was that her mom did what she needed to for them to survive. When Shaniqua turned 16 her mom made her drop out of school so she could work and help pay for food and the room they were staying in. Her mom told her that she was so pretty that she didn’t need to go to school anymore. “Just look pretty, show some skin, and smell good and a nice man will come.” Shaniqua didn’t quite agree and she yelled at her mother and told her she did not want to drop out. She felt a sharp pain on her cheek from her moms slap and she ran into the restroom sobbing. She knew she would have to do what her mother asked, but school was her safe place and she hated that she had to give that up. She was 17 when her mother died of overdose. She kissed her on the forehead and packed herself a small travel bag before she left the room that she would never go back to.

That was the night she found herself at the club right around the corner. It was a small place that smelled of tobacco and perfume. She wasn’t surprised when they let her right on in. She felt that she could pass for grown with her mothers heels, skirt, and fishnet stockings. Th wig was matted and the lipstick overdone, but she didn’t care. Her mom had just died and she wanted to drink her pain away as her mother did. Lake saved her that night. Shaniqua wanted to drink herself to death, but Lake changed all of that when he came into her life. After fucking in the nasty bar restroom Shaniqua puked all over his lap before blacking out. He cleaned her up as best as he could, clothed her, and carried her out of the club. She remembered waking up to the smell of weed, burnt toast, and eggs. The house looked much better than the room she lived in with her mom. Lake walked into the room with food, water, and weed. “Take a hit of this. Its gone knock your hangover right on out.” She trusted him and took a puff. Coughing, she laughed and handed it back to him. “It’s okay. I got you, “ he said as he inhaled weed and kissed her, exhaling it back into her mouth. They spent the whole day talking, smoking, and fucking. She liked having sex with him. He was her first and he introduced her to many more first.

A month later she felt her confidence rising as he showered her with the nicest things. She had her own flip phone and nice clothes that fit right and tight on her body. She looked in the mirror and saw curves that were never there before. They had good conversation, great sex, and things in common like smoking and drinking. She felt like he was so nice to her, which, he was nice; until he wasn’t. A year had passed and business hadn’t been going as well. It seemed that the less money he came home with, the more he took his anger out on her physically and verbally. They now had a daughter that was 3 months old and they were struggling to take care of her. Selling drugs wasn’t working anymore. Lake would leave for months on end and come back even worse than he left. Shaniqua didn’t know if he was in jail or if he was just away for a while. She knew what she had to do to make ends meet for the time being. She took her baby into the nursery and laid her down. There in the living room awaited two men ready to be pleasured. She took off her clothes and went over to the men. As she was giving head, and being fucked by the other man, Lake came into the house. He shot and killed the two men on the spot. Screaming, Shaniqua ran towards her baby’s room, but Lake came towards her with vengeance throwing her to the ground. “What the fuck were you doing!” “ I’m sorry Lake, I was doing it for us she said inbetween her sobs.” Before she could get anymore words out he punched her in the stomach and beat her until she was unconscious.

She awoke the next day to a crying baby, a massive headache, and a bruised body. She felt as if a truck had ran her over multiple times. She managed to raise off of the floor before falling back down again. “Oooow!” Shaniqua yelped out in pain. Instead of trying to get up again she crawled into the room where her baby was and pulled her breast out to feed her. She sat there consoling her baby while weeping herself. Lake came into the room apologetic. “I can’t lose you Niqua I love you. I wouldn’t do this to you if I didn’t. Don’t hurt me like that anymore.” She nodded her head and forgave him yet again. After all, she blamed herself and expected to be punished for her actions. Life moved on and when business was great their relationship was great. This viscious cycle continued year after year until things got so bad that she thought it would be her last breath. She knew she wanted to leave him and, to her, she genuinely tried five times before.

This time, seven years later, she made up in her mind that no matter what she and her four children were going to flee. She had her travel bag packed and ready in advance and she had also went through the routine with her children the best that she could although they were still pretty young to fully understand. Night fall had come and as Lake got ready to leave the house for his night job Shaniqua lay still, in bed, pretending to be asleep. He gave her a peck on the cheek, grabbed his backpack, and headed out the door. As soon as she heard the engine of his car she rose out of bed quickly and threw on some sweatpants and a wig. She pulled the childrens four seat stroller out and put her babies safely into it and used the extra seat for her travel bag. “Wake up Nikki it’s time to go. You remember the plan?” she said to her oldest daughter. Nikki nodded, “Yes mommy, I remember.” She left out of the back of the house and checked her bag again to make sure her plane tickets and everything else was all there. She walked in the cold night air with her babies on the backstreets because she knew that Lake could be anywhere out in the streets working. She got as far away as she could from the house before calling a cab. She felt as if she was in the clear. An hour had passed and still no cab. She ignored Lake’s calls because she didn’t want him to hear any noise and think she wasn’t home. She looked out into the distance and saw what appeared to be a cab nearing. She begin walking towards the cab relieved. Nikki screamed, “Mommy, it’s daddy’s car!” Shaniqua began shaking, “No, no, no, no! This can’t be happening to me. Baby you remember the routine.” Nikki took off running in the opposite direction with her small black backpack purse on her back.

“Please! Not in front of our babies Lake.” He had her up against the car door with his hand firmly around her neck. “You think I’m stupid bitch. You think you gone just leave after everything I have given you; Our kids. Where you taking them to Niqua?” He pushed her closer onto the car door and pressed her face up against the cold window. “I can’t take it anymore Lake please you have to let me go. Let me go I can’t do this with you no mo’!” She attempted to jerk away from Lake. “Oh you want me to let you go! Okay bitch lets go.” He grabbed her arms, tied wires around her wrist and ankles,  and drug her to the bridge that overlooked a body of water. He leaned her over the bridge… “Please, don’t do this I’ll stay,” She begged, but in her mind she was already mentally prepared to let go. “You said you wanted to go this is your only way out. Don’t think you gone spend your life with some other man, with my kids yo!” He pushed her over the railing. She felt as if she was falling for an eternity. When she finally hit the water she felt as if she was stabbed by a thousand knives. She didn’t try to escape, instead she said a prayer in her mind for the first time in her life. “God please protect my children and save my soul. Forgive me for the way that I lived my life.” She felt the burn from the water filling her lungs. Sirens sounded from above and handcuffs were being put onto Lake. Nikki looked at her father with tears in her eyes. She whispered, “You killed mommy. I hate you.” 48 hours later Shaniqua woke up in a hospital bed confused. She thought she was dead. God gave me another chance at life.

…The next morning Shaniqua woke up still on the floor in the motel room. Her daughter Nikki was sleeping next to her. She stretched out her arms and got up from the floor. “You okay mommy?” Nikki asked as she watched her mom closely. “Yes, I’m okay baby. You all are going to be fine.” She walked over to her travel bag and pulled out pills to cure the hangover. She threw back two pills and swallowed them dry. Looking deeper into her bag she thought, It is all so clear now. It has to be me. That is the only way to stop this curse. She pulled out the gun that she had also taken out of Lakes home. He had plenty other guns so she knew he wouldn’t have noticed that small one missing. She hid the gun under her shirt, grabbed a pillow, and walked into the bathroom. Closing the door she put the gun up to the pillow, as she saw in movies, put it up to her temple and BOOM!

She gasped! Nikki asked, “Mommy are you okay.” “Oh my God! I must’ve been dreaming. I dreamt that I.. I...” Shaniqua paused and held her daughter for a long time. “Yes, mommy is okay.” She said aloud, “We are all going to be okay.” As she was rising up from the floor in the motel room there was a knock on the door. She figured it was the staff about to kick them out as check out was an hour ago. She heard the knock again. “What the fuck! I’m coming!” She yelled. She opened the door and couldn’t believe what she was hearing. The agency had been trying to contact her, but she blocked them. They told her they had a space available for her at the shelter. At that moment she knew that God was really giving her a second chance at life. She chose life. She chose herself and her children. A week later they are all settled into the shelter. The children are in a youth program and Shaniqua is in a rehabilitation program and receiving therapy. Derick a.k.a Lake would be spending life in prison for the murders of six people, domestic violence, and a full list of other crimes. The road to recovery for Shaniqua will be a long one, but she knew she would do this for her children and for herself as well.

 

The End

Photo by Brecht Denil on Unsplash


Comments

Olabode Alamu April 04, 2021
This is an amazing story.
Michelle S. April 29, 2021
This was deep and had me on edge reading fast
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