An unusual calm washed over me. I was free. It was like I had been given another chance to dream out loud. I dropped the towel that was around my waist and sat on the paisley sofa and looked out through the picture window. I wondered how long it would be before Reagan would run up the terra-cotta sidewalk and through the front door. I missed her terribly. My heart sank at the thought of never seeing her again. My feelings swam from sorrow to joy and back again. While it was great to have time to myself I still wanted my daughter back.
An hour passed before I walked into my bedroom to dress for the day. I smelled Scott’s essence as soon as I sat on the bed. With my nose buried in the pillow Scott had slept on, I remembered the previous night.
Note to self: Scott had been emotionally distant, making love to me with his eyes closed.
Shaking thoughts of the faux love we made, I pulled the sheets from the bed and threw them onto the floor.
“Tawny, what to do? What to do?”
I got dressed for the gym and drove three miles on autopilot; drowning out the thoughts in my head with The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Once I heard Zion , an ode to her unborn child, my thoughts immediately went to Reagan. I reached the parking lot and called Scott. The voicemail picked up and all I could manage was, “Call me back.”
social club gym, I put on my usual I’m-not-trying-too-hard-but-I-know-you’re-looking-so-I’m-gonna-try-my-hardest-to-keep-you-looking face and started my workout. Within five minutes of mounting the treadmill, I saw Darren, my old trainer, standing in front of my machine.
“Long time no see.” He smiled and pulled his locs away from his face.
“Been busy. Auditioning.” I said between breaths.
“Be sure to see me before you leave. It’s been too long.”
With that, he walked away and left me to my workout.
Three hours later, drenched in sweat, I found Darren filling out paperwork in his office.
“Hey. Have a seat.” He stood and closed the door.
Darren Joseph was a god amongst men. His six-foot four-inch frame was molded by God Himself. The Creator placed muscles in all the right places. A former tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles, Darren was hard to miss and had a smile that made veneers obsolete.
We had initially met at a friend’s party. I asked him where he got his locs done – when I was just thinking about loc’ing my then-permed hair – and he asked if I was that girl from the lipstick ads. His charm convinced me that I could be less than a girlfriend and more than a friend. Scott’s insistence on building a family convinced Darren that I was off-limits.
A couple of years later once my locs were bob length, we ran into one another at Natural Trendsetters Hair Salon and vowed to remain friends. We had lunch meetings and vented about our relationship woes to one another. I shared my doubts about entering the acting world and he shared his desires to open up a few fitness centers.
Eventually Darren became my trainer and encouraged me to keep my locs when I had a hard time getting roles with such an ethnic look.
“Just wait it out,” he’d always say.
A couple of times he was right, though I mostly got cast in local print ads for natural hair salons. Since Reagan had started school, I wasn’t able to work out as much as I wanted and hadn’t seen Darren in months.
“So, what’s new, sir?”
I sat my gym bag next to my chair and sat across from his desk.
“Not much. Expanding the gym. Just bought another location. How’s Rae?” He looked me square in the eyes when he mentioned her name.
My heart ached a bit at the thought that she wouldn’t be waiting for me afterschool.
“She’s well. She’ll be six soon. Such a big girl.” I reached into my bag, searching for my wallet to show Darren her most recent school picture.
“Here.” I slid the picture onto his desk.
A smile crept its way onto his face. His eyes darted between my face and the small face on the picture.
“She’s all you. Looks nothing like her dad.”
“Strong genes, I guess.”
“Yeah, she’s a beauty. Oh, before I forget, I wanted to talk to you about doing some work with the gym. Some print work.”
The last thing on my mind was working. I had not been in the gym in ages and my body was nowhere near ready to be photographed, in workout clothes, nonetheless. I couldn’t shake the thought of Scott taking Reagan.
“I’ll think about it.”
“Don’t take too long, we’ll need to start working out twice a day for a week in order to get you back to where you left off.”
“I’ll let you know. Soon.”
With that, I grabbed my gym bag and hit the showers.
After the gym my mind was nowhere near clear. I drove in circles until I found my way to the grocery store. Out of habit, I picked up Reagan’s favorite snacks – Fruit Roll Ups, Kettle Corn, and Chocolate soy milk. I cried in the frozen foods aisle and left a cart full of groceries behind me. I had to leave the store before I completely lost it.
In the car, I soaked the front of the pink sundress I had changed into at the gym. At that moment, nothing else mattered to me. Nothing but Reagan. I had to know where she was and what Scott was up to. I called her school and she had been withdrawn. I had to play it off as a miscommunication with the office manager.
“I completely forgot he was going to withdraw her today. I thought we agreed on Thursday. Thanks.” I lied, unconvincingly, I’m sure.
The next call would be to Scott.
Instead of the usual three rings and a hello, I found that Scott’s cell number had been changed in the few hours since I had called him earlier. So, not only did I not know where Reagan was, I couldn’t get in contact with Scott. Great. Just great.
Not one to panic, I started the car and drove to Papa’s house. His work truck wasn’t parked in its usual place but I got out and checked the mail. After flipping through junk mail, an AARP newsletter and a few bills, I found an envelope with Scott’s handwriting on it. I wouldn’t dare open Papa’s mail, but I would be sure to call Papa later and ask if he had heard anything about Reagan.
To be continued….
P.S. – Thanks to all the readers/Facebook fans who reached out asking for more Tawny. I really love alllll of you 🙂