My mother used to tell me to never to feed stray cats or stray dogs, because they tend to come back for more. Oh, how I wish I would’ve followed her advice.
Today is my 21st birthday.
I wake up with a dopey smile on my face; the sun’s ray barely reaching my room.
As I stretch and sit up, I am suddenly yanked back in bed by my hair.
Tears spring to my eyes as his hands tightly grip a handful of hair.
“Baby, I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were still asleep,” I murmured just below a whisper.
His grip loosened as he fell back into a soft slumber.
‘I have to wake Sheri up for school, or else she’s going to miss the bus.’ I thought as I slipped out of bed cautiously and into my robe. The floor underneath brought along a marching band; the constant creaking, caused me to cringe with every single step I took.
By the time I got outside of the room, I had to close my eyes and take a couple of deep breaths to calm myself. My hands were shaking and my body was trembling.
I tiptoed to my daughter’s room and shook her gently, however she jumped up with terror frozen in her eyes. Appalled, I brushed her hair behind her and caressed her cheek. “It’s me baby. Daddy’s still asleep. C’mon, we’re going to be late if we don’t get up.”
Her eyes lit up and gave me a tight hug, putting a little much pressure on my shoulder.
I winced and she let me go. She inspected my shoulder, and pulled my robe off of my shoulder to inspect it.
I quickly pulled it back up and shook my head. “I bumped into the wall at the grocery store honey. No worries.” I stood up and grabbed her outfit off of her dresser. I saw a maroon box wrapped in a box, sitting next to her shoes and I picked it up. Sheri realized that I was holding it in my hands and yelped.
“Ma! You’re not supposed to open it y-”
I looked in the doorway, where my husband stood, with his arms crossed.
Sheri looked at me and then at her father.
“Come give me a kiss babygirl.” He opened his arms and gave her a warm hug.
Sheri looked at me and handed me the box and gestured for me to lean down.
She whispered, “Happy birthday Momma. Hopefully Daddy remembered.”
She gave me a kiss on the cheek and scurried to the restroom to get dressed for school.
There was an indescribable amount of emotions in that room. He looked at me with a straight face and opened his arms, gestured for me to give him a hug. I walked toward him hesitant, unsure of what was going to happen next.
He kissed my lips and held me. Overwhelmed and unsure of what was happening, I returned the embrace.
“Happy birthday honey.” He whispered into my ear, giving my lips a final reassuring peck, before letting me go and going to the room to get ready for work.