I thought the keys meant we were getting closer to marriage and kids, I didn’t need the picket fence but I’d take it, except the keys meant no more than some metal to unlock his door and lock it before I left.
Johnny and I had ceased having conversations a long time ago. Our interactions of late were mostly comprised of one speaking while the other heard sounds and vowels, we would agree to disagree and leave it be before the screaming would come in, and on occasion we touched one another. The last time we made love was about ten months ago, I remember it, it was the day before my birthday, a Saturday. His fingers lit electric nodes on my skin that made my hairs stand in delicate erection. He stroked my vulnerabilities with a desire he had just for me. By the end of it all, he cried and I cried. That was the last time we were ever like that. Our relationship was now somewhat of a working system of respect and sporadic humping.
I guess no one one heard the keys turn, my feet in flats, no one heard my foot steps either or even the door close because no one stirred. Johnny, in his white-t , sitting on the bed blowing smoke from his rolled up joint, looking out the window; she, light brown skin, pretty little thing, with her long, black curls that framed her virgin-looking face, looked up and saw me first. Oh, her big, dark brown eyes said more than her mouth could ever say. Shock wasn’t the word for the mistress, more so ‘today is the day she finds us, what now?’. I stood by the bedroom door a jar, long enough to see him so relaxed in her company, smell the fresh scent of sex and see her beautiful, supple breasts still erect at the nipple region. Before the silence subsided, I motioned with my finger for her to keep quiet. She obliged, I turned around and walked right out my boyfriend’s apartment. I had my heart in my throat which is probably why I felt like I was choking. Walking down the flight of stairs, I was praying that Sam would pick up the phone. Crying wasn’t an option at this point, I’d done enough of that with my last two lovers.
I hailed a cab and made my way over to Sam. On my way to his apartment, I called him,
“Can I come over now?,” I asked Sam, careful not to sound distressed. I gave my lover little credit because he sensed the strain in my voice.
“I’ll be home in five minutes, yeah…are you..”
I hung up before my tears had the chance to escape and crinkle my voice like a naive, little high-schooler. The cab ride took fifteen minutes and I was at Sam’s studio apartment.
I ran into Sam’s arms, thrust my body into his and forced my tongue violently down his mouth. I ripped every piece of clothing he had on and I mounted him like a wild monkey. I was wet from crying and slippery from arousal. Sam handled me gracefully, catching me right before I fell off the bed. He asked no questions, he just let me happen to him however I needed to be. I grabbed him, was border-line psychotic with the way I handled our bodies. No words were exchanged - I encouraged him to be a volatile expression of lovemaking with my movements. When he threw me against the bed, I hit my head, it hurt, I screeched, he kept going. Every hurt was followed by an immediate euphoria burying me deeper away from an unpleasant and uncomfortable reality. I saw Johnny’s face for a split second right before the height of my ecstasy, then it was blank. Our breaths stained his window and we lay looking up at the ceiling as if it had answers about what had just happened.
Sam broke the silence, “Do you want to talk about it?,” he asked me. I gave myself a few seconds to decide.
“I saw Johnny in bed with another woman,” I answered.
He gave me time to talk, Sam had perfected the skill of listening. I said nothing.
He followed with, “Are you hurt?”.
The question was ridiculous because there I was naked on another man’s bed ,and I had been so for a few months. I had to chuckle.
“I’ll take that as ‘no’,” he offered, he caught the humor in the question too he smiled also. Honestly, I didn’t know what I was but I knew what had dawned on me like a little finger tapping me gently on my shoulder offering me a gift of epiphany. Johnny had given me the keys to his apartment the last day we made love. I had gone ahead and made up a story about what that meant but never asked, after all, we were soul mates - on the same page and all. With his house keys, I could walk in whenever I wanted, unannounced, and he knew this. Johnny wanted me to find him there, with her, nude and smoking.
I thought the keys meant that we stood a chance, in reality, they meant the end. He was waiting for me to find him then leave him.
Sam had gotten up and he was walking back into the bedroom in his glorious, greek god physique body with a glass of orange juice. Orange juice had become my cigarette after sex since quitting the Black and Mild. I grabbed his torn shirt and slipped it on and reached out my hand for the juice, Sam handed it to me, deliberately gliding his fingers over mine. We exchanged an affectionate look. He walked back to the door where he had been standing to ask me the one question I needed and didn’t want to hear,
“Are you going to leave him?”
I proceeded to take a nice, slow sip of my orange juice. I looked up at Sam, who, so perfect and sweet leaning on the door with his drink cupped in his hand. A few moments later, I replied with a sure “Yes,” coupled with a warm grin.
This was the first lie I ever told any man. I had every intention of going back to Johnny and fighting for us but I needed Sam to not leave. I needed him there because he had an undefined space reserved for him in my life that made sense. He filled the gaps Johnny ignored. I couldn’t let him go, not yet.
First thing I was going to do was return Johnny’s keys. No keys would end my relationship.
Sam walked over to embrace me and kissed me thoroughly on my lips. I felt his kisses everywhere I existed. I loved the way Sam was with me. There were no ‘I love you” with Sam just constant and consistent displays of affection, respect and lovingness - it was better than any man who ever said the three words.
It was getting late, I had to get home to finish editing a paper for a client. I kissed Sam on my way out. As I was leaving, he grabbed my wrist, I turned around, smiled, looked up, “Yes?,” I asked.
He slipped something into my hands,
“I want you to have these.” he said.
I looked down and there it was, a set of his keys, his house keys.