W A R D U N I
V E R S I T Y|
Faces & Voices IV
AN ANTHOLOGY OF VERSE AND PROSE
Man I swear, when he calls he makes everything seem so serious. Earnest has always been like that though since, like, the ninth grade in high school. To hear him tell it, running out of milk was as if he was stranded in a remote desert or something. He was especially dramatic with any issues regarding school. Oh, college for him was life or death! If Earnest didn’t get an A on some electro-biochemical-engineering whozit lab report, you could go ahead and purchase his coffin, ‘cause he would be more than ready to die. You have to love him though—he’s always there for you.
I can’t begin to recount the number of times I’ve left him for this guy and that guy over the stupidest things. I’d think: Chris and I look so much better together, Daniel is so much funnier than Earnest, or Erin and I just have deep conversations that I could never imagine having with Earnest. It’s silly, right, but Earnest always takes me back. I even wonder myself how he can put up with me. It’s been close to ten years now, through high school and college, and we’re better friends than ever. I’m more honest with him than I used to be. I feel comfortable telling him anything because he’s accepted me after finding out things I’ve lied about in the past. He knows about the guys I kissed when he was away at school that year and the dates I went on with other guys when we were in high school. Boy was I young and dumb, but he understands. I love him for that. I love him because he loves me so much even after all that grief.
I really don’t know why he would want to meet me today. It sounded urgent, but with Earnest you never really know. Valentine’s day is coming up; maybe he wants to go on a trip or something. Ahhh, that would be great! Earnest and I do have some incredible vacations. Last summer we spent a week in Miami and felt completely removed from the world. Man, North Beach in the twilight hours became a fantastical kingdom for us that week.
Hey, we talked a lot about marriage during some of those sweet pillow talks too. Oh what if Earnest is going to ask me to marry him today? Marriage, hmm, I’ve never really considered it seriously. I guess we should go ahead and make it official. Earnest is so precious! Mmmph, it would’ve been nice if he had waited a couple more weeks until Valentine’s day though-
Birdie glances at the alarm clock on the windowsill.
Oh, I need to get out of here; it’s almost four. I’ll wear these jeans he likes and oh, where’s that peach fragrance? Oh my God, I can’t believe he’s gonna ask me to marry him. . .
About twenty minutes later Birdie arrives at the top level of an old parking garage in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. She and Earnest used to meet there when they were younger to get away from everything. It’s what most kids at the time referred to as a “make-out spot,” but Birdie and Earnest spent most of their time there just talking. Still, a little kissing and hugging never ruined the moment.
Where is he? He’s never late. Well, maybe I should be seated when he comes to make the atmosphere more comfortable. He may be nervous. . . I know how it is for him to fell confident sometimes. What’s this?
Birdie picks up a small, white envelope labeled with her name in soft, black script. Puzzled, she rips off the top of the envelope, inadvertently snatching off the top left corner of a black and white photograph. Inquisitively, she removes the picture and attempts to decipher the faces of the persons photographed. The male figure’s face has been torn away, but the two seem to be very happy and in love.
“Who is this? What is this?”
Birdie ponders aloud and reads the message on the back of the photograph:
Bird, I thought you should have this.
Her face froze as if struck by sudden heart failure, and Birdie immediately felt short of breath. She saw herself in the picture, but had absolutely no idea who the man beside her could be.
Where did this come from? Why would Earnest give this to me? Who is this guy? Oh my God!
With her head held beneath her palms, Birdie’s mind sifts through the countless memories of men in her life.
It’s Kevin! Earnest knows about Kevin! How? He must have found the picture in my apartment. I’m so stupid. Why on earth would I leave something like that hanging around? Earnest will never forgive me for this one. I’m not even with Kevin; it was a mistake. I swear it was a mistake. It was so long ago. I’m so sorry!
Tears race down Birdie flushed cheeks and her head becomes heated with fear, frustration, and rage. She thinks momentarily of all the times she’s risked she and Earnest’s relationship, and becomes numb with the thought that this small slip of judgment may be the final straw for Earnest. Dejected, Birdie climbs into her Jeep Cherokee and journeys home. This seems to be the longest ride home from the parking garage that she has ever driven. The greens and pinks of the Dogwood and Peachtree trees along the road bleed into a watery canvas before Birdie’s glassy eyes. Punishing herself, she recalls all the damage she had caused through her dishonesty and deceit. Guilt suddenly overwhelms every inch of her soul.
An hour passes when she finally reaches her driveway, and she swiftly walks into her home slamming the door closed behind her. The blinking red light on her answering machine draws her across the room, and she presses play to review the new message:
Hey Bird! It’s me E, where were you this afternoon? I waited about fifteen minutes for you and you never showed up. Did you get my note? It wasn’t where I left it. Let me hear from you okay? I still need to talk to you.
Hesitantly, Birdie returns the call.
“Hi, umm, Earnest?”
“Yeah, Bird is that you? What wrong?”
“Oh nothing, I was just returning your call. I’m sorry I couldn’t wait very long for you at the lot.”
“Oh that’s cool. I was just worried about you. Did you get the envelope?”
“Yeah E, I got it, but what does it mean? I mean why did you give it to me?”
“Why? What do you mean, why? I love you Bird. I want you to marry me.”
Confused, Birdie nearly dropped the receiver.
“But the picture. . .why did you give me that picture?
“It’s us at our favorite restaurant, Bird. Don’t you remember? Cazzoli’s Pizzeria was where we had our first date.”
“Oh my gosh! Earnest, I didn’t even recognize it. I thought-”
“You thought what?”
“Oh nothing, it’s just. . . I mean, there was no ring or anything. I didn’t know you were proposing.”
“No way! You think I’d just leave it sitting around. I was going to give it to you myself. I just thought you’d get a kick out of that old picture. I thought it would get you thinkin’ about old times and us. I’ve known you a long time, Bird. I wanted you to know how special you are to me and that I’ll never take you for granted. . . So?”
“You are really trippin’, Bird! Marry me girl!”
Again Birdie’s eyes fill with tears, but lighter and warmer this time. Her body feels warm and she only wishes Earnest know what a phenomenal person he is and what an impact he has had on her life. Her face begins to glow uncontrollably as a grin bursts between her lips pushing her cheeks apart, ear to ear.
“Of course I will, silly.”
2000 Howard University.