Ready to get a few drinks in my system, I laughed heartily as my boys and I walked around the French Quarter, clowning and playfully flirting with any woman that looked in our direction. “Aye, I don’t think the woman who had that Saints jersey on was playing with you though, Nathan.”
I laughed. “She could have walked up to me if she wanted to.”
“Her girls were blocking and shit. Just ‘cause y’all might leave lonely, that don’t mean you gotta get in the way of your girl.”
“And we all know that you need to get some, badly.”
My boys, JB and Carl laughed loudly, causing me to shake my head as I side stepped a group of tourists who were too busy watching a few natives flash for Mardi Gras beads.
“Aye, between work and caring for my mother, things fall wherever they fall. Unlike y’all asses, I have no issue with just chillin’ for a while.”
JB shook his head. “Chillin’ don’t get you no ass though, Man. Y’all know I’m whipped as shit behind my girl, but we can’t chill on a couch all the time watching Lifetime and shit. She want me to watch that Bring It shit, we gotta get it in as soon as we finish looking at Ms. D’s fucked up teeth.”
I doubled over, seriously crying as I laughed because that was the same shit my mother said after every episode. “Bruh, I’m not playing with you.”
“Ask Mama Katy! I’m right. That couldn’t be my woman. You wanna do what, Baby? You wanna suck my–nah, that’s okay Honey. That’s not a need that I need from you.”
I closed my eyes, beyond weak.
Before I could catch myself or step to the side, I bumped into someone. Clearing my throat, I turned to my left and apologized. “The streets are crowded, it’s o-” I looked up at the sound of a familiar voice, more than surprised to see my ex.
She gave a weak smile, instinctively turning to my boys. “JB, Carl, it’s great to see you guys. What’s it been… a year or so?”
JB, having always hated Aniyah, took his chance. “Since you left my boy for his cousin, yeah, that sounds about right.”
She put her head down and I cleared my throat, pulling her off to the side so that none of our friends could get in the middle of whatever is said. They could bicker on their own.
“You look fantastic, Nathan. I had always liked it when you shaved all of your hair off. That bare face, works for you.”
“Yeah, you always said it took off ten years when I shaved.” Those who don’t know me well, they never assume, think or guess that I’m in my thirties.
“How have you been?”
Honestly? “I’ve been great, Aniyah. I’m doing fine now. Hit a real rough patch when you walked out, thought I was pretty damn worthless.”
“Why would you think that?”
“Couldn’t keep you happy; friends and family laughing behind my back because you were out here sleeping with my cousin and shit.” I shrugged, speaking truthfully. “Even though I put on that tough guy act, that shit hurt. I uh, I really loved you Aniyah. Thinking that you felt the same, well you could imagine what a kick in the gut it was when I came home to find a damn Dear John letter.”
“I was just conf-”
I held my hand up, smiling as I pulled her into a hug. “No need to explain.”
“I’m sorry. For everything.”
I nodded, unsure if she thought that was supposed to do anything, make me feel anything. “How have you been, Nathan, really? I-I’ve spent so many nights worried about you, concerned and scared for how you would take the entire situation. When I saw your mother and she said that she’d lost you, I assumed that, tha-”
“That I’d what? Killed myself?” I chuckled. “A couple of people thought that ‘cause I went M.I.A. for about two weeks, but nah. I was held up in my room for a long time, feeling pretty damn worthless. You left and I felt more alone than I’d ever been in my life. I had given you everything; my time, heart, love, money. I’d invited you into my life and world, even though I’d explained to you early on that I didn’t trust easily. I’ve always been sensitive, but you said you liked that in a man, loved that about me. I thought we were good.”
“But you still went behind my back. Not only did you cheat, you cheated with someone close to me. Now this isn’t the first time you and I have seen one another since the breakup. So what’s the reason you didn’t walk right past me this time?”
Aniyah took a deep breath. “I miss you, Nathan. I made the biggest mistake by walking out on you. You were everything; treated me the way I deserved to be treated. I just, I lost the best when I left you.”
I nodded, smirking a little. Maybe this sounds a bit conceited, but I knew this moment would come. The cousin she left me for, he’d never been shit. That hood/thug type that all the women go for when they can’t handle the love of a real man. Then, I just laughed in her face. “I’m sorry to laugh, this is just funny to me now. What was it that you’d told me in that letter?”
She sighed, recalling the exact line I was asking about. “I need a real man that can handle me and put me in check when I need it.”
I nodded, clearing my throat. “He beat you, didn’t he?”
“Yes. Cheated on me, put me down and degraded me. After he had me in his life fully, he stopped treating me well. I was nothing to him.”
“And that’s what you are to me now, nothing.”
I held my hand up, pushing hers away as she attempted to grab me. “I would never wish for anyone to put their hands on you, that’s where he was wrong. But anything else that came along with you choosing life with him over the life you and I had together, Aniyah, that was karma. You were my world, I would have dropped any and everything for you. And maybe if you’d have realized this weeks or even a few months after the fact, I would have taken you back. I loved you, you were my heart. Never would it have even crossed my mind to hurt you, in anyway. But you walked out that and thinking that you can just apologize and things will be okay, well, that’s where you’re wrong. I don’t need you. I’ve moved on and I’m happy.”
“Nathan, couldn’t I just have one chance to prove myself.”
“No. I’ve accepted that sometimes, things happen. And whether you believe so or not, I’m doing just fine.”
I gave Aniyah a kiss on the cheek before smiling and pulling away, insisting that JB and Carl follow me before they could have a real fight with Aniyah’s friends.
JB looked at me, I guess seeing something. “Are you good man? Seeing her after all this time, you not gon’ break down in the middle of the bar are you?”
I laughed and shook my head. “Nah, I’m straight. I didn’t wanna deal with her crying, so I didn’t say it to her face, but she’s honestly not someone I think about anymore. Anyway, wassup with the drinks. Y’all asses owe me.”
Carl laughed, shaking his head. “Y’all not about to have me out in New Orleans, pissy drunk with lopsided titties in my face just so y’all can take pictures and have Chasity pissed off at me. I’m not sleeping on the couch for y’all bum niggas tonight.”
I fell out, smiling at a few lovely ladies as we finally walked into the first bar of the day.