I don’t like being in awkward situations. And I don’t like drama.
Ever since I saw Lydia out with Calvin, it’s been very difficult for me to be around her. I feel so fake. Everyone knows Lydia is a huge flirt, including Tony. This time she’s taken it too far. She denies having an affair with this man, but anyone can see that’s not the truth. And then there’s Urie. That sad-sack of an individual that she calls a man is about one step away from having a meeting with my fist since she is too scared to do it. Parker never really has too much going on drama wise, so I’m never worried about her. But here I am, trying to get into my new relationship with David and all this crap is going on around me. Add that with preparing for finals and I am a mess.
I guess I just have to remind myself that what’s done in the dark always comes to the light. And since I’m not God, I can’t shine the sun on anyone. It’s not my job.
But still, I wish I had the courage…
“Is Eva doing ok?...Oh, she is? Good, good. I’m glad she got a chance to spend some time with her cousins. She’s been asking to come down there for a minute…Me? Oh, I’m fine. Just went and picked up some dinner…Well, yeah, I’m a little upset that I couldn’t come down, but I’ll be there for the reunion…Tell Yolanda I heard that!” Urie laughed loudly as she cut herself a piece of cake, walked back into her living room, and sat down on the couch. “Yeah, ok, tell her I love her too…Alright, by Nita.” Urie hung up the phone and sat down on the couch. As Urie got ready to take a bite of her homemade chocolate cake, she stopped. Is this really what my life has come down to? I never go anywhere or do anything! I’m going out tonight! I mean, why not! What’s the alternative, sit here and get fatter? Not gonna happen. Urie set the cake down and grabbed her phone to call Parker.
“What are you doing?”
“Getting ready to head to Georgie’s. Why, you want to come with me?”
“Yeah, why not. I have time on my hands and I have no idea what to do tonight.”
“Well, how ‘bout that?! Mama wants to come out on a weeknight…”
“Shut up! What time are you coming to get me?”
“Wait, I gotta drive? You got a car!”
Parker rolled her eyes before laughing. “Whatever, Urie. I guess I can pick you up since I gotta go get Syd anyway. Lydia’s coming too, but she’ll meet us there. Will you be dressed in the next ten minutes?” Urie looked at what she had on: a raggedy pair of faded black sweatpants, an old t-shirt from a family reunion in 2006, a red bandana, and 2 different color socks with holes in them. When Urie didn’t answer immediately, Parker continued. “Well, if you have to do reconstructive surgery over there, do you want me to get Sydney first?”
“No, I’ll be ready.” Urie ran to her room to begin getting dressed. “I’ll see you soon. What are you wearing?”
“Clothes!” Parker laughed.
“Quit playin’, I’m serious!”
“Urie, honey, breathe. It’s a poetry set, not prom. Put on some jeans, a cute shirt, and a little bit of make-up on and call it one. I’ll be there soon.” Parker hung up the phone and left Urie to her preparation.
Parker, Lydia, Urie, and Sydney walked into the Blue Sunflower nodding to a Talib Kweli track that the DJ was spinning. After paying the $5 cover, Parker pointed to an empty table toward the side of the room near the bar before going to chat with the DJ. Lydia paid for a round of drinks for the ladies as they got comfortable at their table. “For you two newbies,” Parker said while pointing to Lydia and Urie, “tonight is open mic night. There’s a sign-up sheet over there by the DJ table. Urie, I know you used to spit so maybe you should blow some of the cobwebs off your skills and get up there.”
“You’d love that!” Urie laughed as she took a sip of her drink. “I am so unprepared.”
“See, that I don’t understand. Lydia, you haven’t known Urie as long as we have, but this chick is sleeping on her own talent. She dances, writes, and she used to kill a runway in college!”
Sydney added. “Yep, she started teaching high school and let it drain all her creativity.”
“My creativity has not been drained, thank you so much!” Urie quickly defended. “I just use my creativity in different ways. Not all of us can be full-time artists, Syd.”
“Um, I’m an artist by default. I had a job. I just got laid off. But I ain’t mad though.”
“What are you going to do when you finish school, work or keep performing?”
Sydney paused for a moment. “You know what, I don’t know. But I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.”
The group quieted as the host walked onto the stage. Before even greeting the crowd, she immediately went into a spoken word piece. The woman captivated everyone as she spoke with clarity and authority. Once she was done, the crowd erupted into applause so loud that it took a moment for her to regain their attention. Wow, I do miss this. I mean, maybe Parker and Syd were right. Maybe I did let my regular 9-to-5 drain my creativity. I mean, the most artistic action I get is writing in my journal and listening to the CD Bryce gave me. I wonder what Bryce is doing right now... “So, um, Lydia,” Urie asked while trying to shake her thoughts, “how did you end up childless tonight?”
“Tony wanted some man-time with the boys, so I said ‘Take ‘em!’” Everyone laughed as she continued. “I mean, I love my boys, but having twins is no joke.”
“Well, I’m sure Tony is going to enjoy spending time with his boys.”
“Oh, he loves it.” Lydia’s voice softened a little bit. “He really is a good father.”
Too bad you don’t treat him like it. Sydney thought to herself. “That’s sweet.”
As the next artist came to the stage, several women screamed. The handsome man made eye contact with several women in the room and melted the crowd with his smile. As he began his piece, Urie leaned over and whispered to Parker, “Parker, ain’t that Charles Reed? I haven’t seen him in years!”
“It is, and I see he is still fine as ever!” Parker shook her head and tried to keep from smiling. “Yes, Lord!”
“Didn’t you date him for a while?”
Parker took a sip of her drink. “I guess you can say that…”
“What!” Sydney said almost a little too loud. “Why did I not know that!?”
“It was while you were in Spain. He and I worked at an arts camp at the Y on campus. The relationship was short lived because he was on some other stuff. But we stayed friends though. It was for the best.” Parker sighed as she continued to stare and allowed his words to soak in. “I thought he moved to Atlanta?”
“I don’t know. But he’s here now, so you need to get that number…”
“Oh no! Can’t do it. Can’t run the risk that he is on the same mess he was in college…”
“Oh come on, Parker. You all were like, what, twenty? Give him some slack. He at least looks like he may have gotten it together.”
“And look at it this way,” Lydia added, “if he is not worth your time, at least you would’ve gotten a good time or two out of him, if you know what I mean.”
Parker stared blankly at Lydia. “So do any of your thoughts involve a woman keeping her legs closed or no?” Lydia just shrugged her shoulders and turned back to the stage as the hostess for the night came back up.
“Alright alright, y’all enjoying the show so far?” She waited for a moment as the crowd responded. “That’s what’s up. So listen, we are going to bring our first open mic artist to the stage. Now for you rookies, please know we don’t necessarily go in order, but we do get everyone on the list, so just be ready to come up here and bless us when your name gets called, aight?” She took a moment, looked down at the list, and then continued. “Ok, the first open mic artist is a first timer here at Soul Set so be sure to show her some love. I was also told by DJ Truth that she has some fiyah, so I am definitely excited. Put your hands together for Urie Rose!”
Urie quickly turned to Parker with wide-open eyes. “Parker, what the heck?!?”
“You’re welcome.” Parker leaned in and whispered.
Oh my God, please help me! I’m more nervous than a baby mama on Maury! Urie slid her tablet from out of her purse and walked up the front, faking an air of calm in front of the crowd. By the time she arrived at the microphone, she had pulled up her pieces that she had recently written and stored. But before she could great the crowd, she saw Jackson He stared at her, face of stone with no emotion or remorse. Next to him was a beautiful and very pregnant woman. Jackson continued to hold the woman’s hand, but did not remove his eyes from Urie. What in the hell!? Urie thought as she desperately fought back the tears that wanted to fall. In the few seconds she stood there in silence, she felt as if her whole world was crashing down. “What’s up, y’all?” She forced a smile as the crowd responded positively. “It has been a long time since I touched a mic, so I hope you all can feel me a little bit on this one. It’s called ‘Letter of Resignation’.” Urie took a step back from the mic, took a deep breath, and began:
“I’ve tried 5 times to begin this letter.
Each time, I get stuck,
and it occurred to me
that I’ve run out of words to say to you.
in the only way I know how
I’ll speak and hope it gets thru...
Jill Scott said it best when she said
'What I felt was past tense'.
but the difference between her statement
and your intentions
is the verbal connection between thought and talk.
Full, unbarred honesty was never an option
so I feel it's best that I make my own way out and walk.
I’ve beat myself up
for allowing myself to bear the brunt
of indecisive behavior
and now I just don't have the emotional energy
for anything anymore.
Had it not been for salvation,
an expletive would go here
and then it would be quite and abundantly clear
what is on my mind since tears, pain, and time,
have robbed me of my more eloquent poetic words.
So, consider this my letter of resignation.
You don't need to avoid what you don't want to handle any longer
And you certainly don't need me.
I’ll be woman enough to know
when my services are no longer needed
and I’ll simply suck it up,
put on my "big girl panties",
take my rope and go home.
But on the real, you probably won't notice this
until long after I’ve moved on..."
The crowd erupted in applause as Urie smiled and exited the stage. As the hostess paid Urie some well-earned compliments, she coolly walked past Jackson’s table. Urie locked eyes with him; although she spoke no words, her message was very clear. She moved passed the table and began to walk toward the washroom. Urie waited until she got inside of a bathroom stall to burst into tears.
“Did you all see that?” Sydney asked while staring in the direction of the table where Jackson was sitting.
Lydia searched her purse for a mirror. “Did we see what?”
“Urie’s face. And I think that’s Jackson sitting next to…wait, is he sitting next to a pregnant woman?!” All three of them stood up and looked over to see Jackson with his arm around another woman. “It is! Excuse me, I think I need to go bust some heads open…”
“Calm down, Syd. You know that won’t help.” Parker pulled Sydney back down into her chair. “Wow. I knew he was shady but I never expected him to be that bold…”
“Oh please, it’s to be expected.” Lydia stated matter-of-factly. “It was only a matter of time before Urie saw with her own eyes what we’ve been telling her for years. Deeds done in dark always come to the light. Maybe now she’ll focus on taking care of herself and Eva instead of raising a little boy trapped in a grown man’s body.”
“I’m gonna go talk to her…”
“No, let her calm herself down first. Give her some space. She’ll be ok.”
“Lydia, not everyone likes to stew in their own juices and plot revenge. Some people need to talk things out.” Sydney cut in angrily. “If you paid close attention to your friends then maybe you would know that…”
“I pay plenty attention to my friends, Sydney.” Lydia responded. “I just don’t like people in my face and I assume that most people are the same way…”
“Well you know what happens when you assume, right?”
“Excuse me you two, but can we refocus please? This is not the Syd and Lydia show.” Parker interrupted and waited until after both Sydney and Lydia had calmed back down. “I will go talk to her. Can you two be trusted to sit here and not argue like cats while I’m gone?”
“I’m fine.” Lydia replied.
“I can’t make any promises.” Sydney looked off to the side as she sipped her drink.
“Whatever. I’ll be right back.” Parker grabbed her purse and stood to head to the bathroom. Before she could leave the table, she noticed Urie headed back in their direction – tissue in hand but with a calm face. When Urie got back to the table, she grabbed her purse and pulled out her cell phone. “Urie, hon, are you ok?” Parker asked.
“I’m as good as can be expected.” Urie answered while typing into her phone.
“Do you want another drink?” Lydia chimed in.
“No. I’m just going to go home…”
“Sweetie, it is late. You don’t need to be going anywhere by yourself…”
“I’ll be fine. I just need to get home.” She paused for a moment to make sure that the phone was ringing, but her phone would not pick up a signal. “Stupid cheap phone. Excuse me, I’m going to step outside to make a call…”
“Urie, you don’t need to be going anywhere by yourself. If you want to go home that bad, I will take you.”
“No, you enjoy being here. I will text you when I get home.”
Sydney stood up and tried to get Urie to sit back down. “Urie, I know you’re hurt, but please don’t let this man run you out of here. Stay, chill, get a drink, and listen to some poetry…”
“No offense, you all, but I need time to let this process. It’s not that late. I will text you all when I get in the house.” Urie grabbed her purse and walked out of the door before anyone else could say something to her.
“Miss Glenn?” Urie looked up from her desk to see Sydney standing in the doorway of her classroom. “I came to see if you were alright after last night. How are you?”
“I’m as good as to be expected.”
“That’s what you said last night.”
“And that’s still how I feel right now. This is going to take a while to process.” Urie sat back further in her chair. “A cheating boyfriend with a pregnant girlfriend…”
“I should’ve went over there and busted some heads.”
“That wouldn’t have done anything. Not for real. I just don’t know…”
“You just don’t know what?” The two of them looked up to see Bryce standing in the doorway. He laughed as the two got silent. “Hey, if you don’t want people chiming in your private conversations, have them in private places.”
“Very funny Bryce. How can I help you?”
“I wanted to know if you have a date for the prom yet.”
“Are you serious?”
“Awwwwww!” Sydney ran over to one of the desks, sat down in the chair, and put her hands under her face. “This is so sweet! I feel like I’m back in high school again. What color dress are you wearing? Can we get matching shoes?”
“Oh my gosh, really Sydney?!” Urie’s face turned red as Sydney batted her eyes and smiled brightly. “No, Bryce, I don’t have a date for the prom committee meeting yet but I will be there. What time does it start?”
“In fifteen minutes…”
“Wait, that’s today!?” Urie shot out of her desk. “I completely forgot that was this week! Oh my goodness, let me get my stuff together!” She feverishly began to pull her things together while Bryce and Sydney made small jokes about how quickly she was moving. After a few moments of packing, Urie grabbed her bags and purse. Before she could exit the room, she stopped dead in her tracks. Standing in the doorway was Jackson, holding a bouquet of white roses and a stuffed panda bear. Her heart grew heavy with nervousness as he moved closer to where she was standing. “What do you want, Jackson?” She finally responded.
“Is that the way to greet the love of your life?” Jackson licked his lips and smiled at her while handing her the gifts, which she refused. “Alright, I got you. You’re a little mad right now. That’s to be expected. But can you at least talk to me for a moment.”
“Talk.” Urie replied dryly.
Jackson looked at her as if he was waiting for more to come from her, but she simply stared at him. He laughed lightly in an effort to save his pride. “I mean in private.”
“Whatever you can say in to her can be said in front of her friends,” Sydney stated bluntly, “especially since you are such a bold person.”
“I mean you trot around town with random chicks, showing off their baby bumps …”
“Sydney, you need to mind your mother f…”
“Come on. These are ladies.” Bryce stood and came closer to Jackson. “Show some respect.” Jackson flexed his chest in an effort to intimidate Bryce, but he did not move. Bryce shook his head and turned to Urie. “Urie, do you want us to leave?”
With her eyes still fixed on Jackson, she replied, “Give us a minute, please.” She waited until the both Sydney and Bryce stepped out of the room and shut the door before she responded. “So you think this is gonna work, huh?”
“What’s gon work?”
“What am I, sixteen? Jackson, you really have no clue how pissed off I am right now.”
“And that is why I am here, to make it up to you. I know I messed up…”
“Messed up is giving yourself a compliment. You told me you were done messing around. Oh, and she’s pregnant? When were you gonna tell me, huh? Was it gonna be when you needed me to front you some money because your child support made you run a little low? Or how about when the chick found who I was and where I lived like your other baby mama and showed up at my apartment with your newborn…”
“Look, you are taking this out of proportion. I’m trying to make this right…”
“You’ve gotta be kidding me. Why are men always trying to make it right after it goes wrong? Here’s a novel idea, how about you just do right for once…”
“So what do you want me to do, Urie? I can’t make the baby go away…”
“Right now, I just want you to go away. I don’t have anything to say to you. Can you make that happen?”
Jackson began to walk toward Urie in a manner that made her nervous. “I think it may be best if you watch your tone. Now I came up here to apologize, and you letting your big-mouthed friend get you in trouble. And by the way, who is that other dude?”
“He’s one of my co-workers. Look, this is not about him or Sydney. This is about us. For a little over ten years, I have dealt with everything that you have thrown my way.” Urie took a pause for a moment. “And you know what, maybe I’m to blame for a lot of this because I enabled you. Kind of like I’m enabling you now. You won’t marry me because you ain’t ready but you want to lay up in my house, eat up my food, play with Eva like she is a doll that you can put back on the shelf, and go back home whenever you’re ready. She’s getting to that age where she is asking questions. I can’t let my daughter grow up seeing more of an unhealthy relationship because I refuse to be woman enough to let you go...”
“So what you are you trying to say, Urie?” Urie turned away, so Jackson came up behind her. “You’re just gonna throw away ten years because I got some side chick pregnant?” She still did not respond, which caused Jackson to get extremely angry. He charged toward her, knocking her podium to the ground and breaking it. Once he got near her, he grabbed her by her shoulders, spun her around, and slammed her against the wall. “Oh, so we ain’t answering now, huh? You learn that from them friends of yours? When I ask you something, you answer. You got that…”
“Jackson, let me go. You’re hurting me…”
“I ain’t hurting you girl, shut up!”
“Get your hands off of her!” Bryce grabbed Jackson and spun him around so quickly that his shoulders popped. Immediately, Jackson got right in Bryce’s face; Bryce did not flinch. “Is there a problem?”
“You must want one, and I’ll give you what you want…”
“Trust me, this ain’t what you want. I suggest that you leave before I have CPD escort you out for us. Or better yet, I’ll just handle you by myself.”
Jackson looked over at Urie, who was being consoled by Sydney. He threw the flowers and bear in the garbage. “I’ll call you tonight.” He said before slamming Urie’s classroom door.
“Urie, are you ok?” Bryce came over to where Urie and Sydney were sitting. “How bad did he hurt you?”
“He just grabbed my shoulders really hard. I’m fine.”
“I can’t believe he put his hands on you! Has he ever done anything like this before?” Sydney asked while picking up some of the papers that had fallen to the floor. Urie did not answer; instead, she looked out of the window. Enraged, Sydney continued. “Urie, has he laid his hands on you before?”
“Once, about six years ago. It was the night he found out his other child’s mother was pregnant. He was very high and drunk and he promised that he would never do it again...”
“Urie, when you get home, you need to get all of his stuff out and change the locks to your condo. You do not need him around you or Eva.”
“I have to agree with Sydney, Urie.” Bryce chimed in. “Once a person opens that door of abuse, and he knows he can get that reaction of fear out of you, he will do it again. You don’t need this...”
“I know. Can we please not discuss this anymore? Help me get this stuff up so we can get to this meeting.”
As Urie and Bryce began to clean up the aftermath of Jackson’s anger, Sydney’s phone began to ring. After looking down at the phone to see how it was, Sydney said to the both of them, “Excuse me, I need to take this.” She took a breath before answering the phone. “Hello?”
“Syd, it’s Lydia. You busy?”
“I know who it is, Lydia. What’s up?”
“I need you to come with me somewhere”
“It’s kind of a bad time. Urie just..”
“Oh ain’t nobody got time to think but her and her baby daddy drama right now! I am in the middle of a crisis and need your help...”
No, Lydia. This is serious. Jackson just came in here and showed out. He put his hands on her. I need to call you back if all you’re talking about is making a trip…”
“Look, help her get her papers, get her a bottle of Vodka, and tell her to deal with it. I have an emergency and you’re the only one who knows enough to come with me…”
“Come with you where?!” Sydney let out an overdramatic sigh. “Lydia, what is so important with you that this news with Urie experiencing physical violence is not important…”
“Sydney, I’m pregnant!” Lydia shouted in the phone. The news made Sydney speechless. Since Sydney didn’t respond, Lydia repeated herself in a quieter tone. “I’m pregnant.”
About PLUS Inc.
PLUS Inc. is a multi-character drama following the lives of four friends. Taking place in Chicago, IL., the ladies – Parker, Lydia, Urie, and Sydney – face life as they hold each other up through the bonds of friendship.
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