As Is-No Warranty Included
by Jhori Barksdale
This story is dedicated to all the OTHER women who are holding on to a dream that may never come true.
"I can't do it Lamar. I can't keep holding on to a dream that very well may never be."
"Cassandra all I'm asking is that you just give me a little more time to work this whole thing out."
Looking at the man that I've come to love more and more with each passing day, my heart is telling me to try and hold on a little longer while my mind is saying that no matter how long I wait, he'll never be completely mine-that I'll always be the other woman. "No Lamar, I think it's for the best that I just walk away now cause the longer I stay the more it'll hurt in the end."
"That's what I'm trying to tell you baby." He reaches out and touches the side of my face with the back of his hand. "There isn't going to be an end if you'll just be patient. Baby we've got our whole lives ahead of us if only you'd just hold on a little while longer."
The feel of those hands on my skin brings a rush of warmth through out my whole body and for a moment I almost waiver on my decision. Covering his hand with mine, I squeeze it lightly and then step away. "No Lamar, as much as I love you I can't keep sacrificing my self respect and accepting less than what I deserve." Walking over to where my jacket is resting on the back of the sofa, I pick it up and slowly slide it on as I ponder if I really want to say these last three words. Trying unsuccessfully to keep the tears from escaping my eyes, I look up at him one last time before expelling my parting words. "Good-bye Lamar."
As I'm turning towards the door, I feel him move and quickly close the distance between us. "It can't be that easy Cassandra. You can't just say it's over and expect me to let that be the end of it. Don't you know how much you mean to me? How much I love you?" He says to my back for I refuse to turn around in fear of changing my mind.
Taking a deep breath, "Well Lamar, if you really love me the way that you say you do, you'll not be selfish and allow me to go without making this any harder than it already is."
"Well if you really love me like you say YOU do, then you'll give me a little more time." He pleads in almost desperation. Reaching for the knob on the door, I turn it and quickly step outside and then take a moment to lean against the door.
"As much as I love you Lamar----I love me more." I say to myself before walking away. Just as I'm turning the corner of the hall I run dead smack into a young woman with a sweat suit on and an arm full of groceries.
"Oops, I'm sorry." She says as we bend down to pick up the food that has spilled all over the ground. "I was in such a hurry that I wasn't watching where I was going."
"No, it's partly my fault too, I was off in another world." I apologize.
"Well I can certainly understand that." She smiles as we finish gathering up the rest of her bags content. "I got off early to come over to my fiancée's house to cook dinner----I want to surprise him." She beams while she continues to rattle on. "I can't believe that I'll be married in less than two weeks.
Suddenly the familiarity of her face in the gold picture frame on his dresser hits me and looking down at her finger it takes everything to keep from throwing up. Somehow I manage to maintain my composure knowing that she's done nothing to hurt me in this situation.
"Well congratulations." I say in reminisce of Vesta's video as she stood singing in the church as her lover married someone else. "I'm sure it will be beautiful."
Standing up once we're finish. "I know I don't know you and all, but you're more than welcome to come. This is one of the most important days of my life and I just want the world to know how much I love Lamar." The mention of his name only drives the pain deeper and I choke back a sob. "It's going to be at the Piney Grove Baptist Church on the following Saturday after this coming one at high noon. I'd love for you to attend." Then after glancing down at my hand she adds, "Girl, there's going to be plenty of eligible bachelors there, especially the best-man Laurence." She shakes her head. The mention of Lamar's best friend makes my heart slam against my chest. "Before I hooked up with my baby, I had my eye on him myself."
She laughs. "Well it was nice meeting you." She extends her hand. "I'm Shangri."
I take it and mumble. "Cassandra."
"Well, I know I've just been rattling on and on when I need to be getting my behind in there and cooking this dinner before he gets home."
She starts to walk away. "Don't forget; one week from this Saturday at high noon."
I can only attempt a smile and nod my head. Turning to walk away slowly something compels me to stop and stand there and listen. Just as I already knew she would, she walks over to Lamar's door and takes out a key to let herself in. After the door closes I continue to stand in the same spot and as suspected it opens back up a few minutes later and I stick my head around the corner and lock eyes with him. Terror shows on his face and I'm sure pure uncut pain is registered on mine. In the background I hear Shangri calling his name and he drops his eyes and shakes his head.
"Baby what are you doing, I told you this girl in the hall helped me pick everything up. She was so nice too...."
I can hear her continuing to rattle on. Slowly he pulls his head back in and then closes the door.