Continued from, With Kerry, part of an upcoming novel by Tiara Faith McCray anticipated in 2011.
When Kerry found out, I was careless. I woke the next morning to an empty bed. Kerry’s small black hair band lay on her pillow as if carefully placed in the spot where her head had been. Her small purple suitcase was gone but her sweet almond scent was still in the air.
It was unlike her to leave without saying goodbye but when I entered the kitchen and Jayna told me she left early and didn’t want to wake me, I accepted that excuse although I should have known better. Jayna wore one of Kerry’s old oversized t-shirts. If Kerry was there, Jayna would have been wearing shorts, so I knew it wasn’t an accident when she kept bending over a little too far to get things from the lower cabinets. I was shirtless and wearing my basketball shorts. She kept looking at my stomach and smiling.
“Did you have a nice night?” she teased. I shook my head and opened the refrigerator wishing Kerry hadn’t agreed to let Jayna stay the night. After we left the restaurant, Jayna started dropping not so subtle hints about her long drive back home. Kerry offered her my couch until the next morning. I could still picture her smirking at Kerry and I when we entered the bedroom for the night. A part of me wanted to take her up on what her eyes offered. Another secret moment, with Kerry right on the other side of the wall but I resisted.
She sauntered over to me and wrapped her arms around my bare chest, I turned to face her. She pulled me to her by my shorts and nestled her body into mine. I sighed deeply. She snapped her head back with her arms still around my waist.
“What? Are you done with me, Nate?” She said pretending to pout.
I wished I was. I wanted to push her away. I wanted her to disappear. I wanted the side of me that lifted her to the small kitchen table and lifted her t-shirt to be buried somewhere far away. Instead, I buried my face in her neck, kissed her so deeply she could barely breathe.
“Who’s better?” She murmured when she came up for air. I ignored her.
“Me or Kerry?” She said a little louder.
Instead of answering, I pulled down my shorts. She smiled as if that were a good enough answer and pulled me to her.
“Oh my God.” Encouraged, I continued.
“Oh my God.” This time I realized it wasn’t Jayna’s voice I heard. Jayna sat up and placed her hands against my chest pushing me away and staring over my shoulder.
“Nate…” she drifted, her eyes wide. I pulled up my shorts and turned around.
Kerry stood behind us holding a beverage carrier with three cups of coffee. She opened her mouth as if to speak but no sound came out. Jayna crept off the table and gathered her t-shirt from the floor, pulling it over her quickly.
It was so silent as Kerry eyes darted from Jayna to me then around the kitchen taking in the whole scene. I started towards her and she threw the cups of coffee at my chest, the hot coffee sizzling down my body then onto the floor.
She turned around and headed towards the door.
“Kerry…” I said entirely unsure of what would follow. She paused and turned around.
“I knew!” She screamed, her voice shrill and uncomfortable, tears streaming down her cheeks.
“I knew but I didn’t want to know…” she breathed. “I knew but I didn’t want to…” she repeated.
For the first time, I noticed Kerry’s purple suitcase nestled against the side of the refrigerator and her airline tickets on top of her bag. Jayna knew Kerry hadn’t left. She wanted her to find out this way. Kerry lowered her head and moaned mournfully. She began to sob audibly. I looked at Jayna cowered in the corner of the room, looking like a scolded child.
“Don’t you look at her!” Kerry yelled in a voice unfamiliar to me.
“I loved you.” She spat, striking me twice with all of her might in my face. She said loved like it was a dirty word.
“How could you do this?” She asked as if expecting an answer. When I didn’t answer, she asked again, and again… pounding her fists into my chest for punctuation, the tears falling freely from her face. When she lost her balance, I tried to catch her only to be smacked twice in the face.
I felt emptied and unable to speak. I had known this moment would come. In fact, a part of me looked forward to it. I didn’t want to hurt Kerry but I needed to be released. I knew I would disappoint her and this day seemed as inevitable as death. With or without Jayna.
Kerry pushed me aside and began towards Jayna.
“You’re disgusting.” She spat. Jayna looked away.
“Look at me!” Kerry screamed taking a few steps closer to her. I grabbed Kerry’s shoulders and she pulled away looking to the side.
“I am better than this.” She said more to herself than to Jayna or I.
She exited the kitchen and a few seconds later, we heard the apartment door slam.
Not long after, I followed.