My head was spinning and I couldn’t seem to escape all of my memories I had stored away in the darkest part of my mind. How could he just expect that I would instantly fall like I did when I was nineteen? I was such a child back then. I had grown up so much. But it felt like he couldn’t see that, like he didn’t want to.
Once I ascended the stairs to my second floor apartment, I headed straight for my welcoming bedroom and slammed my door shut. The tall ceilings couldn’t hold the bubbling emotions. I paced. It seems like the only logical to do in such a predicament.
“Are you okay in there Margo?” Rory asked through the door.
Rory was essentially my foundation in life. His empathy always soothed me.
“Yah,” I yelled, my voice beginning to break. I felt the hot sting of tears trying to find their way out of my eyes.
Slowly, he opened my door and peeked in just enough to see me nearly frantic, falling apart.
“I saw him today Rory. He was at the hospital and…I just don’t know.” I began to cry. I just couldn’t hold it in much longer. I managed to keep everything at bay, far enough to stay numb for years and finally, the wind blew me off the cliff into the Roman Ocean.
Rory grabbed my shoulders and forced my eyes on his bright blues.
“Why are you so worried about him Margo? He means nothing to you, remember?”
Rory was the one that helped me get through my protracted break up with Roman all those years ago. I cried on his shoulder endlessly while he held me and swore everything would be all right again. And after a few months of his affirmations, I began to believe them. But now, that paper world was in the middle of hurricane. The thin walls separating me from the pluvial elements raging outside couldn’t stand anymore.
“I couldn’t breathe when I saw him; it was like my world stopped.”
The walls fell and the flood waters were beginning to rush around me.
Before Rory could find any more comforting words, I began changing from my scrubs to leggings and a thick knit sweater.
Rory was puzzled. “Where are you going?” His voice was laced with worry. He knew that I was pretty high strung when it came to Roman.
“I think I am going to visit the farm…I really need to clear my head…”
I knew he would worry about me until I made it back home and at this point in time I had no idea when that would be. I just want to sit in the grape vineyard, starring at the clear sky above me.
“Well…” Rory didn’t have much of an offense prepared and in his mind he knew spending some time at the farm would be quite essential in my current state of mind. “Just be careful. And…and call me when you get there okay. I know you probably won’t reception but Junie has a landline so use that okay.”
Stuffing an extra pair of clothes into an old backpack, I mumbled a promise to call once I walked into the house. And with that, I kissed Rory’s cheek and ran out the door.
My silver Volvo was parked in the back of the row house apartment I shared with Rory. It barely had the joy of any mileage since we lived blocks away from the Metro hub but on nights like this I was so grateful to have purchased it. I threw my bag into the passenger seat and took my place behind the wheel. Once the car began to purr, I pulled out from under the oning and made my way south on Highway 61.
I was in my room when I heard the knock at the front door. It echoed in my head loudly and caused my heart to skip. My legs were lead at that very instant and I couldn’t bring myself to dart downstairs to open the door. After all I knew who it was. He was right on time and I didn’t necessarily want Maman to be the first to actually meet Roman. I wanted that glory, that privilege. But I couldn’t move.
“Good afternoon Madame LeDoux,” I could hear Roman saying very respectfully. “I’m Ro—”
“Oh I know who you are Mister Myer. You are my daughter’s…boyfriend.”
Maman said boyfriend like it was such a foreign, unmentionable word. Knowing Maman, that’s exactly what she thought.
“Yes I am Madame. Of course if that’s alright with you.”
Maman cleared her throat and I could tell Roman had surprised her with his response. It impressed her and scored major points.
“Well then garçon blanc, follow me and we’ll see.”
My mind began racing. Oh no. Oh no no no NO! I could hear my mother’s intimidating kitten heels click on the linoleum floor as she led Roman to the kitchen table. This was not going to end well.
Maman was a very tough woman. She had seen too much and worked too hard to be pushed around. And she felt the same when it came to me. She wasn’t going to let me be a doormat anytime soon especially when it came to men. Since Papa wasn’t able to teach me about the ways of the opposite sex, Maman took this task upon herself.
My legs finally began to move and I soon found myself creeping down the stairs silently, straining to hear Maman interrogate Roman.
“Where are you from garçon blanc?” she asked very bluntly.
The wooden chair sighed as Roman shifted his position. The severity of the situation must have hit him. Maman isn’t the kind of woman to hold back.
“Well, Madame, I was born in West Virginia but my family moved to Florissant when I was pretty young. I’ve been here a majority of my life.”
“And schooling? My daughter will not be with any drop out. She deserves better than that, don’t you agree Mister Myers?” Maman was not wasting time.
I had made it down the stairs far enough to where I could hear better but not enough to where Maman could see me from the kitchen. Or at least I thought. Or maybe she has freakish mom-powers and knew exactly what I was doing.
“I know you are there, Marguerite.”
“Come fille, join us.”
Slumped over in minor defeat, I walked from out of my hiding spot and into the kitchen. And there he was, sitting at my kitchen table, trying to look calm and cool. A shy smirk played at my lips once his eyes met mine. I felt my inner schoolgirl squealing.
“Roman? You were saying?” Maman’s interrupted my moment and dragged me back to her little questioning session.
Roman faced my mother again, but this time he puffed his chest out slightly and sat taller. I took my seat and gazed at him. He was very average looking but to me, he was the most handsome man I had ever met. His brown hair was kept short to appease the dean at the school he taught at and his deep brown eyes had a strong confidence to them behind his wire glasses. Once his mouth began to move I felt shivers down the back of my neck.
“I graduated from SLU High School at the top of my class. I immediately went to UIC for my first four years and received my associates. Then I continued to Rhodes College where I finished out my bachelors degree in International Studies.” He inhaled deeply and said very bravely, “I think you’ll find I am far from a drop out Madame LeDoux.”
My mother’s jaw dropped.
“And what about your job? How much money do you make?”
“I don’t make much right now around $1500 monthly, just enough to survive but once I get back in the States, I’ll be making about $45k annually.”
“And how many sexual partners have you had?”
“Have you been tested recently?”
“Yes I have. I am clean.”
“And what exactly are your intentions with my Marguerite?”
A smile came to Roman’s lips.
“My intentions are as pure as they can get in this situation. I want to be with you daughter. I have very strong feelings for her. I want her to be treated like the goddess she is and in my own opinion I think I’m worthy enough to do so. I know you are worried about our age difference but Margo is incredibly mature for her age—.”
“Your age does not bother me. I know my daughter and I know what she is capable of. My concern is simple, as any parents’ would be. Do you intend to break my daughter’s heart?” Maman’s voice became grave.
Roman dared to look Maman directly into her dark eyes. “Hurting your daughter is not an option.”
“You are a very bold garçon blanc.”
I couldn’t help it at this point. The back and forth was driving me crazy and I had to say something about Maman’s new nickname for Roman.
“Maman, can you please stop calling him white boy. He has a name,” I sighed annoyed.
“Margo, it’s okay, she just wants what’s best for you. You can’t be mad at her for that.”
Seemingly satisfied, Maman rose gracefully from her seat and crossed her arms. “Well I will need to know where you two will be and you number along with the hotel’s.”
My heart leapt.
“Wait,” I blurted. “You’re letting me go?” I stood abruptly very confused.
“Ma fille, you are an adult now and I have to trust you”. She stepped over to me and embraced me. “Just please, be careful.”
The moment felt overly intense. I was just spending the weekend in town with Roman. I would be just a phone call away and Mère would be here to keep her company.
Maman peered into my eyes before letting me go and kissing my forehead.
“Roman you take good care of her okay.” I could see Roman nodding his head. “Go get your suitcase honey.”
And with that, she gestured me back upstairs and turned away.