Loving Lola- Ch. 49

I am here for you.

“Damn! Looks like the who city is here tonight,” Giselle says as they arrive at the gallery barely getting through the crowd. They ride around looking for a decent place to park for at least 10 minutes before finding a spot in the company parking lot. They sit in the car for a moment watching as more people fill the gallery, “the whole city came to this thing for real,” Jhené says, “I know right, let’s just go back home,” Giselle says cranking up the car, “Girl! No, we are here to support Lola, get out of the car. Your ass would say that after it took forever and a day to find a parking spot.” After a while of standing in line, they finally make their way to entrance. They each grab a flyer and pamphlet from the host, and just as they are entering, something stops Jhené. Not looking ahead, Giselle bumps into her from behind, “What the he-” Jhené grabs her arm and points her in the direction of Lola and their father, “oh shit…” “I didn’t think he would come,” Jhené says in a low voice, “what!? You invited him here?!” Giselle whispers in a panicked tone, “no! well… not really. I may have said something about it and then got upset when he started doing what dad does, so I slammed the flyer on his desk and left…” “Lord!” “I didn’t think he was going to show up though!” They watch the interaction between Lola and their father from a distance until they see Lola storm away. Their father adjusts his tie and walks into the crowd disappearing from their sight, “wait he’s staying? Why isn’t he leaving?” Jhené says looking for him amongst the crowd of people, “we have to go find Lola” Giselle says. Jhené looks at her with a surprised expression, “what happened to only here for support?” “Sigh, that’s exactly why we have to find her.”

Sam and Sophie arrive and are instantly entranced. They walk around marveling at the different pieces on display, “this gallery is amazing,” Sam says in awe. “I’ve lived in this city for almost 6 years now, and I have never stepped foot in here,” “well every time I’d ask you to come with me, you would just get mad and start yelling about how this wasn’t your life anymore,” Sophie says in rebuttal. “I was in a bad place… who knows, maybe if I would have just given it a chance and seen this place, it probably would have sparked my fire sooner,” “or made you even more reclusive.” Sam looks at her, “the point I’m trying to make is, only you could have gotten your spark back. You lost faith in yourself, so you had to be the one to believe in yourself again to get it back. Lola helped you see your greatness, but you are the one who made the first step. I thank her for whatever she said to make you feel inspired again, but remember it was Sam that had the final say so.” They continue walking looking at all the displays, “just think, your name could be here up on display one day,” Sam stops walking. Sophie turns and looks at him, “you okay?” “Thanks for always believing in me Soph. Hearing you say how great I was at this, or how I had so much potential to do that, made me feel like an even bigger disappointment because I didn’t feel that I was that guy anymore, yet, you never gave up on me… I will always be grateful for that.” Sophie puts her arm around his neck, “well if you really want to thank me, you could submit a piece for next year’s showcase,” “hahaha, let me pay off the studio first sis; but, there’s no harm in planning ahead. Sophie smiles and they continue admiring the pieces together.

Lola rushes off to the bathroom to clear her head running into the stall locking the door behind her. The door of the bathroom opens shortly after, so she reaches for the tissue but is stopped when she notices there isn’t any, “shit!” She says quietly, sniffling and wiping her face with her hand. Suddenly, there is a knock on her stall, “someone’s in here,” she says with her voice shaking. They knock again causing her to get upset. The person does not move from in front of the stall. Lola angrily opens the door, “I said someone is in here!” but is shocked to see her sisters standing there, “we just thought you might need to talk,” Giselle says holding tissues.

Loving Lola- Ch. 48

Taking the night off.

Sam arrives home, goes straight to his room, not saying a word shutting the door behind him. As the front door slams shut, Tiana rushes in to greet Sam but is too late to catch him. When Sophie looks at the time, she sees that again, it is 10am. Since signing the lease to the studio, Sam has been pulling 12 hour shifts back to back, working tirelessly trying to raise the remaining $1,700 in time. Tiana slowly walks back to her mother and sits down looking at her with a sad face, “awe come here baby, it’s okay, Uncle Sam is just a little tired right now,” “but why?” Tiana asks softly, Sophie holds her tight, “he’s trying to be a big boy… but I promise, he’s going to be back to fun Uncle Sam soon, okay?” Sophie says kissing her forehead. “In the meantime, how about I make your favorite, chocolate chip pancakes?” she asks giving her eskimo kisses, “no, pasta.” Tiana says, “Pasta? For breakfast?” Sophie asks confused, “it’s Uncle Sam’s favorite, and maybe when he wakes up, he will be happy and feel better,” she says fiddling with her doll. Sophie smiles, “I think that’s a great idea, pasta it is.”

When Sam wakes up, he is still disorientated and hazy from the lack of rest, so he lays there for a moment trying to fully wake up. He feels around the nightstand for his phone but does not seem to find it. Remembering that his phone is still in his pants pocket, he realizes that he was too tired to change out of his uniform before getting into bed. Reaching into his pocket for his phone, he hopes that it still has some juice left to at least tell him the time. It does not. He slowly maneuvers out of bed, putting his phone on the charger, sluggishly making his way to the bathroom. He turns on the water in the shower and just stands there. He looks at himself in the mirror and feels disgust, but he is too exhausted to care. Once out of the shower, he brushes his teeth, puts on sweatpants and a t-shirt then heads to kitchen for something to eat. Sophie and Tiana are in the living room watching television when he notices a big pot on the stove. He goes to lift the lid and is surprised to see that it is his favorite pasta. Before he is able to react, he sees Tiana peeking at him from around the corner, “she wanted to surprise you since you’ve been working so hard,” Sophie says to him. Sam walks over to Tiana and squats down, “is that true Tiana?” She nods her head yes, “I wanted you to feel better,” she says fiddling with her doll. Sam smiles and picks her up squeezing her tight, “I feel a lot better, thank you,” he says kissing her on the forehead. Tiana smiles and hugs him back.

“So, I guess you’re working tonight to huh?” Sophie asks. Sam looks at her, then at Tiana and notices her change in demeaner, “naw,” he says eating a big fork full of pasta, “I was thinking of hanging out around here tonight, that is if that’s okay with you guys?” Both Sophie and Tiana cannot contain their excitement. Sophie rushes to her room and returns with a piece of paper. “Since you’re taking the night off, I was hoping that you’d go with us to the Artis et Operis Gallery showcase tonight. It opens at 8pm and I hear it’s going to be amazing.” Sam looks at the flyer and hesitates for a moment, “everyone in the city will basically be there,” Sophie adds. “I guess it would be nice to see what kinds of talents I’ll be up against in this city,” Sophie jumps with excitement and hugs him tight, “yes! This is perfect! I haven’t been to an art showcase since, hell, the last one you were in, I’m so excited! Oh crap, you said yes, what am I going to wear?” she says rushing off to her room. Sam grabs the flyer and takes a deep sigh, “I hope I still have what it takes Sophie…” Tiana walks over to him, places her hand on his knee, and smiles.

Loving Lola- Ch. 45

Expectation vs. Reality.

Knock, knock, knock, Lola rushes to the door and looks out the peep hole, “okay, well my sisters are here now, so I will talk to you tomorrow,” “alright, enjoy the rest of your night beautiful,” “I will, you enjoy yours as well, good night,” “good night.”  Lola hangs up the phone and opens the door, “well, I guess it’s safe to say that you and Eric are on good terms,” Giselle says walking through the door, “what?” Lola asks, “girl we heard your lil conversation through the door” Jhené says. “Oh that, hehe, that was just…” Both Giselle and Jhene look at her with a stale face, “yes, yes we are fine.” “Good. So, what is it that you needed to discuss?” Giselle says going through the cabinets in the kitchen, “also, I need wine. I know youhave some hidden away somewhere.” “Oh, check the bottom cabinet to the right,” Jhené hops up, “is it white or red?” “WHITE!” Giselle yells from the kitchen, “want some?” she asks, “yes please!” Jhené sings while dancing to the kitchen, “oh and give me one of her fancy glasses, I’m feeling classy tonight,” she says wiggling her eyebrows. “Fuck that, a red solo cup is the mood for me; considering the day I’ve had.” “Why what happened today?” Lola asks walking into the kitchen, “uh, you know, company bullshit,” Giselle says grabbing the bottle of wine, “we have yet to close the Keis deal and dad is breathing down my neck about it, you know, a little stress here and there, but its whatever.” “Well I hope things work out, I know dad has been trying to get them on board for a while,” “yes ma’am!” Jhené says jumping on the couch, “now enough of that, what was so important that you couldn’t have told us through text?” “Well,” Lola walks in the center of the room, “lord, you’re not pregnant, are you?” Jhené blurts out, “what?! Hell no!” “Ugh, who would be the dad?” Giselle says with her face scrunched up, “eww I know right, the last person you slept with was uh, what’s his name?” “It started with a J right?” asks Giselle, “no it was a W,” says Jhené, “William?” Giselle says, “no, Wesley!” shouts out Jhené “Yeah Wesley!” Giselle concurs. Lola, who is getting annoyed, looks at them, “are yall finished or yall done?” “My bad,” Jhené says taking a sip of wine, “but just to clear, you are NOT having Wesley’s baby, right?” Giselle says, “ugh, I AM NOT PREGNANT! And his damn name was not Wesley, it was Landon” “LANDON!” both Giselle and Jhené yells out, “I hate both of yall,” says Lola rolling her eyes.

“Okay, we’re sorry for interrupting you, please tell us your important news,” Giselle says simmering down, Lola takes a deep breath, “well, they are launching a new Artis et Operis Gallery soon and the exhibitioner wants me to be their head curator once it opens…” “That’s great, right? I mean you make it seem like a bad thing or something,” “right.” Jhené agrees. “No, it’s an amazing opportunity, I would be getting paid triple what I am now and many of my artists would probably headline a lot of their showcases.” “Okay, am I missing something? This is good news, but I feel like we’re waiting for a bomb to drop,” says Giselle. “The new gallery is opening… in New York and I have to give my final answer by the end of the month…” The sisters sit in silence avoiding eye contact, “please say something you guys,” “um, well I think it’s an amazing opportunity Lola and I’m happy for you,” Jhené says. “Thanks. What about you G, what do you think?” Both looking at Giselle, “I think it is a wonderful opportunity… but I don’t think this is something you need our opinion on. You know as your sisters, we are going to support whatever you do, so long as it does not cause you harm, but I think you’re looking for us to make this decision for you, and that we cannot.” Giselle gets up and leaves the living room. “I don’t want yall to-,” “I think you do,” Jhené interjects, “but that’s okay. It is a big decision and its natural to want to consider how we feel, but this is more of a you thing you know; we’re both very proud of you though Lola.” Jhené gets up and gives her a hug then goes to check on Giselle. Lola slumps down into the sofa and looks up at the ceiling, well that did not go how I expected…

Loving Lola- Ch. 44

Diamonds in the rough.

“Great job guys, the display looks amazing!” Lola says as Stephanie adds the finishing touches. “Miss thang, this display is going to be the star of the showcase,” “yeah, this really came out beautifully.” “Thanks guys, I couldn’t have done any of this without you,” Lola smiles, pulling them in for a hug. Timothy glances at the time, “oop, alright my loves, I have got to get going,” he says grabbing his things, “and where are you off to in such a hurry?” Lola says with her arms folded, “well If you must know, I have a date with Enrique tonight, and I have to go get fine!” Lola and Stephanie look at each other, “Who is Enrique, what happened to Jacob?” Lola asks, “girl please, Jacob is a thing of the past, Enrique is the new flavor of the week; he’s my spicy Latino,” Timothy says swooning. “Awe, but I really liked Jacob,” Lola says pouting, “yeah, Jacob liked everyone else to,” says Timothy rolling his eyes, “but it’s alright, I laughed, I loved, and I found someone new!” “Well I still hate you guys ended on bad terms,” “I’m not, sometimes we have to go through the rough to find our Diamonds,” “aww, well I’m happy for you boo,” “thank you honey, but don’t think this means you’re off the hook, I have not forgotten about mister dove chocolate,” “hahaha, his name is Eric.” “Oh, was that the guy you went out to lunch with?” Stephanie asks, “girl you saw him to?” Timothy interjects. “Yall are too nosey for your own good, but yes that was him.” “Ugh! I have to go, do not spill any tea without me!” “Hahaha, alright fine. I have to get going myself, thank you again Stephanie, the display looks amazing,” Lola says giving her a hug, “n-no problem, it was all your idea anyway,” “still, I couldn’t have brought it to life without you guys, I’ll see you tomorrow, have a good night.” Lola goes back to her office to grab her things. When she opens her drawer to get her phone, she sees that she has a text message from Eric.

“Andrew, make sure your team is ready to present their findings at tomorrows board meeting, we must secure the Keis position as soon as possible, so closing that deal is top priority. Alright everyone, that’s enough for today, we will reconvene at 10am.” When everyone gets up to leave, Jhené stays behind to help clean up. “You didn’t have to stay you know,” Giselle says collecting the files from the table, “yeah I know, but I figured you could use an extra hand anyway,” “thank you, but I’m fine, this isn’t my first conference you know,” Jhené rolls her eyes and starts collecting the papers from around the table, “I’m not helping you out of pity, you’re my ride and you know how Lola gets whenever we’re late,” Giselle smirks and continues compiling the papers. “… asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, you don’t have to keep carrying everything on your own, it is okay to rely on others sometimes you know,” “oh really? And what do you think people will say if they hear that the president of the company is asking for assistance? Nonetheless, what do you think our father will say?” “I’m sure no one would say anything bad, if anything, they will see you as a person just like them,” Giselle slams the papers down on the table, “No Jhené, they won’t! These people don’t want to help me, if I showed any sign that I could not do this on my own, they will use that as leverage to try and rip this position right from under me… I may seem mean and distant, but it’s because I have to be, nothing is given to us for free; if I have never taught you anything, I’m teaching you that, it’ll save you a lot of disappointment in the long run.” Giselle gets up and takes the papers from Jhené, “meet me at the car, I’ll be down in a minute,” just before leaving the room she stops and turns to Jhené, “thank you… for staying behind,” “girl you’re insane” Jhené says shaking her head, Giselle smiles and leaves the room.

Hey, I just want to apologize for the way I acted today. Your business is your business and it was very childish of me for to get upset like that. I had no right to feel obligated to know what’s going on in your life and for that I am sorry.” Oh, yea that’s good, I’ll say that… right after I get out of the shower… and eat dinner… oh and I still have to meet Giselle and Jhené… I’ll just call him tomorrow. Ring, ring, ring, Lola looks at the phone and sees Eric’s name, SHIT!!! She paces back and forth, and before she realizes, “Hello?”

Loving Lola- Ch. 42


Lola chuckles as she watches Eric scrape the last bit of sauced up chicken in the corner of the bowl with a torn piece of tortilla. “So, how was it?” she asks laughing. He looks at her with a napkin in his hand and can’t help but to laugh. “That shit was fire I’m not even going to lie,” he says wiping his face. “Hahaha, oh I know it was. The moment you started scraping up the crumbs with that lil’ piece of tortilla I knew it was a wrap.” “No food left behind!” He blurts out excitedly. “Hahaha, you are a fool!” She says, both laugh hysterically. Eric sits back in his chair and stares at Lola with a slight grin. She looks at him and smiles, “what?” she asks fluffing her hair, “nothing, just enjoying the moment” he says. She blushes and then looks away. “So how long is your break?” She asks trying to change the subject, “oh, you ready to get rid of me already?” he asks mockingly. Lola smirks, “yes actually,” she replies. “Wow, and here I thought you were enjoying my company,” Lola laughs, “stop being so dramatic,” she says rolling her eyes. Eric chuckles then checks his watch, “I still have 15 minutes left; I have an hour lunch. I’m not going to get you into trouble, am I?” Lola smacks her teeth, “no, I was just making sure I wasn’t getting you into any.” “Oh, well thanks for your consideration Ms. Spears, but I’m grown” he says with a grin. “Alright, alright calm down,” “hahaha, what? I’m just saying.” Lola smiles and looks away.

“So, are you calmed down now?” “What do you mean?” she asks looking confused. “When you came out to the car, you looked a little estranged, you said that you’d just spoken with your boss and that you needed to calm down some, is it fair to say you’re calmer now?” “Oh! Yes, very much.” “Good, good.” Lola raises her eyebrows and looks at Eric, he smiles and looks back at her, “what?” “Are you not going to ask why I needed to calm down?” she says. “No. I figured if you wanted me to know, you’d tell me. I presume it’s something important and you probably want to discuss it with your sisters first, that is why you texted them right?” “…I mean yeah, but I can still discuss it with you,” “well, I’d love to hear all about it, I just didn’t want to pry or overstep. I want you to want to tell me things, and I am prepared to wait until you are comfortable enough to do so.” Lola looks at him and smiles, “You know, you’re sweet when you want to be,” she says rolling her eyes. “Don’t get used to this now, it’s just early,” he says with a smirk. “Oop, alright that’s fine,” she says with a grin. Ring, ring, ring, “oh, excuse me for a moment,” he says getting up from the table. “Sims… No, I closed on that this morning… The paperwork is on my desk, but he has one more payment until I can fully lock it in… Yes sir… But… He has until the end of the month… We’ve been trying to close on this studio for months… I did what I had to do, and it worked… Yes… Thank you sir.” Eric hangs up and lets out a big sigh, “is everything alright? That seemed a bit hectic.” Lola asks, “yeah, naw everything’s fine. Work stuff, you know how that goes.” “Yeah.” Lola starts gathering her things abruptly, “It’s time for me to head back, we should go,” she says. “Alright,” Eric says also gathering his belongings.

Once in the car, there is a forced silence. Eric arrives at the gallery and Lola immediately gets out of the car. “Hey, hey, are you okay?” Eric asks jumping out of the car. “Yes, I’m fine. Thank you for a lovely lunch, I hope everything works out for you at work. I have to get back and finish my display for the showcase coming up.” She says as she starts to walk away. Eric grabs her hand gently to stop her, “did I, did I do something wrong? Because I don’t feel like you’re very happy with me right now,” he asks with concern. “It’s nothing, I’ll get over it. I guess I’ll have to wait until you’re more comfortable with me to share things as well. You enjoy the rest of your day Eric.” She says lightly pulling her hand away walking into the building. Confused, he gets back into the car and heads back to work.

Loving Lola- Ch. 37

A “Piece” of Mind.

“Welcome to the Artis et Operis Gallery, where every piece of art has a story to tell!”

Although these past few days have been a rollercoaster of crazy ass emotions, with a hardy helping of bullshit on a stick, coming to work always makes me forget everything I thought mattered because here, they don’t. My life is far from perfect, but this, being able to find works of art that not only speaks to me, but echoes volumes to everyone who sees it, fills me with this peace that I never thought I’d find. I’ve always known that I wasn’t the, “running a company type”. Sitting in the big chair at the head of the table was never my forte, I was content with just having a seat at the table. However, that contentment was never enough. Have you ever felt like you’ve just been putting one foot in front the other, not really knowing where you were headed? That was my life before this Gallery. For years, I’ve just been climbing this hill of hierarchy for the sake of my family, constantly wondering if there would be anything left at the top for me. That kind of uncertainty would probably force others in my position to work their hardest just so they can get the chance to see what lies at the top, but that didn’t fuel me at all. If anything, it just made me feel empty inside. Not only was I not confident in my abilities at holding my seat at the table, but I also found myself parading around in a mask of self-assurance, shrouding in despair. I could not take living unsure of what was to be of my life anymore, but I didn’t have the power to leave on my own.

The first time a piece of art spoke to me, something inside me clicked, and everything just made sense in that moment. I’m not even sure if it was the piece itself, or if it was the way it made me feel. When I looked at it, the story it told helped me see how things in my life would never change just by aimlessly placing one foot in front of the other. I realized I was only trying to fit into a pair of shoes that were clearly not meant for me and that, that gave me the power I needed to leave my family’s company. The hardest thing was leaving my sisters behind, but I knew if I only stayed for them, I would just resentment them later so, I did what was best for me. I’m sure they all thought I was either stupid or selfish for leaving, but by doing so, I found something I was never going to find being there, and that’s happiness and a peace of mind.

Loving Lola- Ch. 26

Man Up!

With his headphones in, Eric blocks out the world while walking to the store down the street from his house. Not wanting to waste gas, he decided walking was a better way to clear his head. So consumed in thought, he neglects to see a car riding next to him. The man is shouting from the window, but Eric does not hear him. Once Eric makes it into the stores parking lot, the car comes in and cuts him off, stopping in front of him. Startled, Eric snatches out his headphones and throws up his fists taking his stance ready to fight, but then he is surprised to see that it is Justin and Damien in the car. “Smh, man what the fuck, yall scared the shit out of me!” “Did you not hear me calling you? What the hell you doing walking anyway?” Justin says shouting. “Why yall rolling up on me like that? Yall was about to catch these hands.” “Man, you weren’t about to do shit, we were riding right next to your ass for about seven minutes, if we were anybody else, ya ass would have been out already. You need to be more aware of your surroundings.” “I got a lot on my mind alright. Walking helps clear my head.” Justin and Damien get out of the car. “What got you all messed up anyway?” Damien asks. “Smh, that girl he met at the bar.” Justin says. “They went out last night, and ever since he got back, he been like this, zoned the fuck out.” “What happened?” asks Damien. “I don’t know, he won’t tell nobody.” “Because ain’t nothing to tell. I told you I was good!” Eric yells. “Clearly you’re not Eric. This girl got you roaming the streets, mindless, talking about having to clear ya head. It was just one date, one encounter, what is so special about her that got you so fucked up?” Eric is silent. “Huh? Because I don’t get how you can go from one thing to THIS in the matter of 24 hours. Did yall have some bomb sex or something?” “Man, hell naw! I wasn’t even thinking about none of that with her. I actually wanted to get to know her man.” “Then what happened, because I’m confused.” “Yeah man, I ain’t never seen you like this before.” Damien interjects. “I DON’T KNOW ALRIGHT! I don’t know what happened. Dinner was great, the mood, the vibe, the atmosphere, everything was perfect. We were good, and then we weren’t. We started talking and I said some stuff, but I guess it came out wrong and now she won’t talk to me… This shit got me all fucked up I know. If it were anybody else, I would have been moved on with no problem, but she’s different and I… I just want to fix it.”

“You sure you ain’t smash? Because your ass is whipped.” Justin says jokingly. “Man shut up! This is why I didn’t want to tell yall, I knew yall were going to start talking shit.” Eric says annoyed. “Man calm down, I was just playing.” “Smh, whatever bruh.” “Look, I’m sorry man, I just ain’t never seen you act this way before. I expect this kind of behavior from Damien, but this is new for you. I can tell you really like this girl.” “Woman. She’s a grown ass woman.” “Ugh, don’t be that guy Eric.” “Then don’t disrespect her.” “She ain’t even yours yet and you already defending her; that’s probably why she is ignoring your ass, you talk too damn much.” “Naw, you might be right though, I do say things without thinking sometimes and I think I may have hurt her feelings. I just wanted to show her that I saw her you know? That I wasn’t trying to play with her. I can tell she been through a lot, but she keeps smiling and pushing through that shit; I am not trying to be another let down for her.” Both Justin and Damien stare at him, “Damn Eric, you really are whipped.” Damien says, “and that’s a lot coming from him” Justin adds. “Hahaha, yeah, yall might be right.” “Alright fine, what’s your next move into getting her back?” asks Justin. “What are you talking about? I told you she wasn’t talking to me.” “You are the dumbest smart person I know. If she didn’t cuss you out, or block you, then you still got a chance.” “Um, I don’t think it works like that.” “How not? It does in my experience.” Eric and Damien are quiet. “Did she cuss you out?” “No.” “Did she block you?” “I don’t think so. We haven’t spoken since the date.” “Well call her and see!” “No. I’m giving her space, respecting her boundaries.” “OH MY GOD! Just call her to see if you’re blocked man. See if it goes straight to voicemail, but if it rings, then you may still have a shot. Hell, she may even answer the phone.” “The logic in this is a little construed.” “Well you ain’t getting anywhere doing what you’re doing. If you want this woman, show her, man up!” Eric hesitates for a moment then pulls out his phone. He finds Lola’s number and makes the call.

Loving Lola- Ch. 20

No More Hurt.

Knock, knock, knock, Giselle and Jhené have been outside waiting for Lola to open the door. “I don’t think she can hear us, that music is too loud.” Jhené says, “yeah, I’m just going to call her.” Giselle calls Lola, interrupting her music. She runs to the phone and disconnects it from the loudspeaker. “Hello?” “Can you open the door please? We’ve been out here knocking for at least 7 minutes now.” “What? I didn’t even hear anything.” “WE KNOW!” “My bad, here I come.” Click. Lola rushes to the door to let them in. “I’m so sorry, I was cleaning the house, and yall know how I get when I’m in my zone.” “Well it definitely smells better in here,” Giselle comments. “Gee, thanks. So, what’s up?” “Well we came over because we wanted to hear all about your date last night,” “yeah, seeing how you haven’t answered any of our phone calls or responded to any of our texts” Jhené says rolling her eyes. “Oh, I’m sorry yall, I just really needed to clean my house.” Lola says picking up trash. Giselle and Jhené look at each other. “So instead of calling us back assuring your safety, you decided to clean up? What’s up, is everything okay?” “Yeah, everything is fine. Yall seen how this place was, a deep cleaning was well overdue.” “You know you can tell us anything right?” “There’s nothing to tell, I’m fine.”

There is a brief moment of silence. “So, the date? Did it go well?” asks Jhené. “Actually yes. He took me to possibly one of the most beautiful restaurants that I’ve ever seen. It sat on the side of the mountain, and had this amazing garden, which we walked through before dinner. Once we sat down to eat, we laughed and had very enticing conversation the whole time, and then we ended the night off with a walk along this trail that ran up the side of the mountain.” “Oh, that sounds really nice,” says Giselle “Yeah, it was. I’m still surprised he got me to walk on a trail at night.” Lola chuckles. “So, what’s the problem?” “Problem? There. Is. No. Problem.” Lola says scrubbing her bathtub profusely. “Lola stop, tell us what happened?” Giselle says. Lola doesn’t say anything and keeps scrubbing. “Did something happen?” Jhené asks concerned. She stops and puts her head down, “No, I’m just tired that’s all. He didn’t do anything so don’t worry, he’s a nice guy.” “So then what’s wrong?” Lola takes a deep sigh, “he said some things that I cannot escape from, and he’s right.” “What did he say?” “Nothing that I didn’t already know.” “Well can you help us understand?” “…The night he met us, he said that even through my smile he could see I wasn’t truly happy, and that’s fine because I wasn’t really trying to hide the fact that I wasn’t too happy about being out, but then he started saying things… saying the truth, and it killed me to know that someone outside of you guys saw through me that easily.

I am trying to forget the past. I am trying to forget the hurt. I am trying to accept the harsh reality that, I may never be enough for anyone; I will always be good, but never good enough. People don’t understand how hard that pill is to swallow, but I drink my water every day to get it down. You think I like pasting this smile on face? You think I enjoy feeling empty inside after believing that maybe, just maybe this guy, or the last guy actually meant what they said when they told me “I want you”, or that “you’re beautiful”, or my favorite, “I love you”? Because I don’t. I try to see the action behind the words, and when I don’t, I don’t hold on for some miraculous day where they’ll wake up and see how great I really am, I let go like how I’m supposed to. But to sit here and say that there isn’t a piece of me that is chipped away after every failed encounter, would be the biggest lie of them all. I wish all of these repressed feelings never existed, but even when I try and fix it, I realize it’s too late, because sadly, the damage is too great. Yet, when I tell myself, you’ve been here before, for some odd reason I can’t think straight, but then it all hits me, these men… they were only bodies of hard shells filled with nothing but empty space. So, Eric may be a great guy, who is a genuine person that truly believes I deserve to simply smile… but I refuse to get my hopes up and be let down once again.”

Loving Lola- Ch. 18

I’m Sorry…

Lola stands there quietly. “Look, Lola I didn’t mean to overstep any boundaries, I just really like you and I wanted you to know that you don’t have to hide anything from me.” She looks at him with a straight face, “you’re right, you don’t know me. Excuse me.” Lola starts to head back to the cars, “wait, where are you going?” He says grabbing her hand. “Home.” “What? But I thought we were having a good time?” Lola looks away, “maybe this all happened too quickly… Thank you for an amazing evening, good night Eric.” She turns and walks away. Eric stands there upset and confused as he watches Lola as she disappears from the trail. Lola makes it back to her car, unlocks the door and sits there for a moment. She looks up to ceiling and lets out a big sigh, then cranks up her car and drives away. Once she arrives home, she throws her purse on the bed and kicks off her shoes. She removes her dress and puts on a big t-shirt then makes her way to the bathroom. She begins washing the makeup off her face and then stops, she stares at herself in the mirror, “I could clearly see your sadness no matter how you tried to hide it.” She plays back the words Eric spoke to her in her head. She splashes her face with water and looks down into the sink, ding, ding, she hears her phone going off in the room then looks up at herself once more. She dries her face, cuts off the light, and the leaves the bathroom. Ding, ding, her phone goes off again, but she ignores it. She climbs into bed, turns off the light, and closes her eyes.

The next morning, Lola wakes up to 4 missed calls and 17 unread text messages, 15 of which from her sisters. However, sees two messages from Eric and clicks to open them, “Hey, I’m not sure what happened but I just want to apologize. I know sometimes I speak without thinking, but I never intended to make you feel like I knew anything about you, if anything, I’d hope you let me get to know you in time, and I hope I did not mess up my chances to do that.” “Anyway, I had an amazing time with you tonight, I hope this isn’t our last encounter, but if it is, I understand. You are truly a beautiful woman, inside and out and you deserve someone who will never let you go a day thinking otherwise. Have a good night Lola.” Her eyes begin to water but she quickly pulls herself together, WORDS, WORDS, ALL OF THESE FUCKING WORDS! I am so tired of the “you deserve” “you’re so perfect” “you’re so beautiful” because… Regardless of how amazingly beautiful, and perfect I am, I will still never be enough. Goodbye Eric. She drops her phone on the bed, goes into the bathroom, and shuts the door.

“Have you heard from Lola?” asks Giselle. “No, she hasn’t responded to any of my calls or texts.” “Yeah, she hasn’t responded to the group chat either. You think the date went well?” “Knowing her, anything could have happened; I just hope she’s okay.” “She’s alright, if anything she’s probably still asleep, you know she doesn’t get up till about one in the afternoon, and that’s on a good day. Don’t worry, she’s a big girl, she’ll tell us about it when she’s ready.”

Eric rolls over and checks his phone, no new messages. He puts his phone down and wipes his face then gets out of bed making his way to the bathroom. He turns on the shower then begins removing his clothes. He walks over by the sink and grabs his rag and towel then proceeds to get in the shower. Ring, ring, ring. Before he is fully submerged in the water, he hears his phone going off in the room. He quickly runs to the bedroom and checks the phone to see who is calling. Disappointed, he sees that it is Justin. “Hello?” “Yo E! What’s up? How was the date?” “Justin I can’t talk right now; I’ll call you back later.” “Huh? You ight man?” “Yeah, I’m gone hit you back later alright?” “Ight then, hit me back.” Click. Eric lets out a big sigh, tosses his phone on the bed then goes into the bathroom and shuts the door behind him.

Loving Lola- Ch. 17

The Night is Still Young.

Lola eagerly looks at Eric while he assesses his plate. “Stop acting like it doesn’t look good and just taste it!” “Alright, alright.” Eric scoops a fork full of the medley and takes a bite. Lola, still watching him, cannot contain her excitement. “So, what do you think?” Eric still chewing, does not say a word. “Do you hate it?” He takes a sip of his wine and looks at Lola with a straight face, “that’s amazing.” Lola sighs and starts to laugh, “You are so dramatic!” “I had to make sure you were all in, I just couldn’t give it to you.” “Hahaha, well I’m glad you like it.” “What about you? Have you tasted your dish yet?” “After I saw that it was pasta, I was sold.” They finish their meals with endearing conversation and laughs. The waitress offers a dessert, but they both decline. She collects the check from the table, then returns with their receipt and Eric’s card. The two get up from the table and see their way out.

“That was amazing! The food, the atmosphere, the garden, everything was lovely. Thank you so much for inviting me out tonight.” “No, thank you accepting my invitation.” “Of course.” She says looking at him. “Well, it’s only 9 and I’m not quite ready to say goodnight yet, would you care to take a walk on the trail with me?” “Yes, I’d like that. But, let me do something really quick.” Lola walks to her car and grabs a pair of shoes from the back. She takes off her heels, places them on the floor in the backseat, puts on a pair of sandals then meets Eric back at his car. “So, do you normally keep an extra pair of shoes in your car?” both looking down at her shoes, “Yes actually, I do,” she says laughing. “Mhm, okay. Are you ready?” They leave their cars in the parking lot and proceed to walk the trail running up the mountain alongside the restaurant.

“This was a great idea. Its crazy how this restaurant is not only built on a mountain, but also has a trail connected to it. Thank goodness its well-lit, because otherwise this would have been a hard hell no for me.” “Hahaha, why a hard hell no?” “I already don’t do outside, let alone outside at night, but a non-lit walk outside at night on a trail up a mountain? Yeah no, I will be the only black survivor in this film because your girl is not setting herself up like that.” “Hahaha, wow, you really believe I’d do you like that?” “I don’t know, I was taught to not put anything past anyone.” “Wow, that hurts.” “Hahaha, I’m just saying. Some people have ill intentions, so you have to stay on your toes.” She says looking around at the trees. Eric stops, and slightly grabs her arm, “do you believe I have ill intentions?” “Honestly, I don’t know. I want to say no, because you seem like a nice guy, but I’ve met my share of nice guys who turned out to be not so nice.” “I understand.” “Yeah, but that’s all in the past, things happen, wounds heal, and we keep it pushing.” She says with a smile. “You don’t have to do that you know,” “Hm, do what?” “Act like everything is okay. You have a beautiful smile, but it looks even more beautiful when you’re not trying to hide your pain. We all experience things that causes us pain, whether it be from a person or a situation either in or out of our control, but the more you try and keep that inside and act like it doesn’t matter, the more it will consume the real you. The first time I saw you, I was captivated by you, but when I saw you up close, I could clearly see your sadness no matter how you tried to hide it. I don’t know what you went through, but I could tell that it was still weighing heavy on your mind. I know words probably don’t mean that much to you, and you’ve probably heard a lot of different things in the past, but my intentions will never be to cause you pain. You don’t know me, and I don’t know you, but I hope that you see that I mean everything I say. I was taught in order to give your words some meaning, you must back them up with action, and that is something I live by every day.”