the Composition
for Honours Class,
Howard University,

  Authors & Artists


Faces & Voices 4
Faces & Voices 5

Asha Holder
Trinidad & Tobago - Accounting

        She studied the contents of the small closet. Really, there was not much from which to choose. She owned only one dress, which would be appropriate for her appointment; the short-sleeved, navy blue Harlena item with white trim around the collar and hemline. She clearly remembered the day she bought it; a whole paycheck blown. Sixty-five dollars.
        That was two years ago and she had not dared repeat the extravagance; in fact, it was the last dress she had bought in over two years. The garment was now a little frayed, but last night she had done a nice touch up job with needle and thread. She slipped it over her head and stood before the cracked mirror, critically surveying herself. A strand of fake pearls, a long ago birthday gift from a former admirer encircled her long neck.
        “Well, Nita,” she said to her reflection. This is about the best you can do, so, girl-child, go out there and knock ‘em dead… It was now about four months since Nita had cleaned herself up; she no longer took drugs and had cut down her alcohol intake to one glass per day, which was a major accomplishment. She also had a new job and a modest apartment. Today was a rather important day in Nita’s life as it was the day that she would stand in front of judge Thurman and prove to him that she had reorganized her life and was ready to regain custody of her children.
        Approximately one year ago, Nita had reached the pits of her life, poverty got the best of her and her involvement in drugs did not help the situation. She would do anything to get her fix, from offering to wash people’s cars to providing sexual favors to men. Prior to becoming a slave to cocaine however, Nita held two jobs; one as a waitress: in a bar and the other, cleaning offices after hours. She was a single mother, a victim of society who had fallen prey to the vices of unscrupulous men, while on a mere quest to find love. Two such encounters resulted in the birth of her children, one born to a preacher who had gained her respect and trust and the other to a civil rights leader whom she thought made her feel empowered and self-worthy… until he found out that she was pregnant and turned his back on his responsibility. Despite her misfortune, Nita worked hard and persevered so that she could do the best possible to support her children in her tiny, scantily furnished apartment in what people so readily deemed ‘the ghetto”.
        Her final decent came one day in the form of a tall bronze-skinned, able-bodied figure with hazel eyes that bore into the very depths of Nita. When he first entered her life he would purchase small gifts for the children and never visited the apartment without two bags full of groceries; he was her knight in shining amour. It did not take long before Tony moved into the apartment with Nita and her life appeared to be brighter than it had ever been; this bliss however would soon dissipate. The first time Tony introduced Nita to cocaine, she refused, but he assured her that it would only make her feel better; after all, her prince would never lead her astray. The first time he hit her, he apologized and told her how much he loved her, so Nita forgave him and allowed him a second chance. The abuse only got worse and Nita turned to drinking. She lost both her jobs and her children were no longer a priority. She was a full-fledged drug addict and social services had taken her children away. One day, Tony had beaten Nita almost to death and it was after this attack she decided that she had enough and escaped. Tony swore that he would kill her if he ever found her but Nita found refuge in a neighboring State at the home of a kind woman who assisted with her rehabilitation.
        Months had passed and she had forgotten about Tony. She was now drug free and once again employed, she felt totally confident of her preparedness to mother her children. Nita got on the bus and headed to the courtroom. Her new appearance certainly impressed the judge and even though no judgment was passed at the end of those proceedings, things looked positively for Nita and she left the courthouse feeling a sense of jubilation. As she walked back to the bus station with a cheerful smile on her face, she was confronted by a figure from her past. He looked worse than she had ever seen him before, those hazel eyes were barely noticeable in his deeply sunken and hardened face, she pretended not to notice him and attempted to walk past but he grabbed her fiercely and commanded her to return to him, she pulled herself free and continued walking but he called her name sharply “Nita!” and when she turned around there was a gun pointed toward her face. Before she even had time to blink, two shots rang through the air and Nita slumped to the floor. The air around the scene stood still and silent as passers by scampered for safety. Tony stood above Nita’s body and released a prolonged sinister laugh of a crazy, irrational drug addict. It was mere seconds before police arrived on the scene, but they were too late, Tony had turned the gun on himself and in a moment, he too, was gone.

© 2002 Howard University
(First Published in limited print edition, An Anthology of Verse, Prose & Art, by the Composition for Honours Class, Howard University, Spring 2002. Professor E.R. Braithwaite)
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