I Blame It On My Father

A story about Petal, a young blue headed woman working through her family drama and most importantly dealing with her "daddy issues" which have affected her life and relationships so much. On her journey, she struggles with forgiveness, her mother's mental illness and vulnerability in relationships. She did not know that a broken relationship with a father could have such dire consequences. Things become worse, much worse before they become better. A story about hope, love, patience and forgiveness.

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9. Chapter 9

"The number you have dialed is not available at present, please try again later."

Petal had just tried to contact Malik for the fifth time in two hours. He had ran down so quickly and by the time she got downstairs he had sped off. Her dream had come true.

Vector had apologised profusely, but he said that he was sorry about his timing but not for kissing Petal. She remembered pushing him away while asking who was selfish now. He was so selfish. If everybody just acted on a whim like that then the world would be an even bigger mess. He could have chosen to respect Lilo and respect Petal and even himself and maintain his dignity. Why did he do that? Now Malik was angry and Petal did not know if she would see him again. She sat on a small sofa covered in a green fleece blanket. The TV was on but she was not focusing. The music and sound from the box was drowned by her pervasive thoughts. A couple of months ago she was happily single with no love life whatsoever, and now – now she was in the middle of a love triangle.

Nomu did not wait very long to find a place in the mental hospital. A psychiatrist had come to assess her while she was in prison and a week later she was transferred. In the first few days she had to be highly sedated because she was very uncooperative. She refused to eat or bath or talk to anyone. She did not sleep at night. She became violent whenever she was touched. The dosage of the sedative was then gradually reduced so that they could assess her and begin treatment. Nomu had been chemically imbalanced since adolescence. The marriage she had with Blunt contributed to other psychological issues such as constant fear and a general feeling of inferiority. She had managed to overcome and deal with many issues after the divorce because of the great support structure she had from the women at the church and from her daughter. Her lifestyle and diet also contributed to her improvement. (Petal was always on her mother's case about eating healthier and running some fun runs with her). However, when Blunt came back into her life and threatened to disturb the peace that she had fought so hard to finally achieve, something snapped. Her mental illness had been dormant until then. Her brain had to be rewired and reset. She would be kept for treatment for about four weeks.

It was a weekend and Malik usually had busy weekends. But tonight he found himself sitting on the balcony sipping a Merlot. On a normal Saturday night, he would be out grilling meat with his friends, at a sports game, camping or at a family gathering. Or, he would be trying out a new restaurant with Petal, or maybe a movie or they would both be preparing a dinner party for friends. She had seemed so real and genuine. Unlike the many superficial girls he knew, Petal could hold a really good conversation. She spoke openly and honestly and she was not afraid to just be. He liked that she did not plaster a lot of make up on her face. She was not a gold digger and she was not weak; he remembered her killing a giant spider once. But, she was caught up in her own world sometimes and even aloof at times which did not really bother him because he knew that with time they would both loosen up.

Nothing had prepared him for what he saw outside her door. He would have never expected her to be the cheating type. He still did not believe that he saw what he had seen. He had really hoped that this would be the real thing. He was tired of desperate shallow women who only wanted to date him for pleasure. Clingy women who did not even know what they wanted like Fatima really annoyed him. Sarita was just programmed to love him. Their families had been dropping hints since they were both teenagers. He wanted to decide for himself.

Maybe he should just date and marry Sarita, at least she would be loyal.

When a man gets to his thirties, he gets tired of the nonsense of girls and dating. He wants a woman companion who has her head together. Despite Petal's aloofness, she had her head on straight and she was beautiful and attractive. Well at least that was what he had thought. Gosh he could not believe how heartbroken he was. Maybe he should have answered when she called just to hear what she had to say.

The doorbell rang.

When it rang for the second time Malik slowly got up to his feet. The wine was starting to get to his head. He slid the glass door and walked to the main door and opened it. Petal's heart jumped when she saw him standing there with a glass of red wine in his hand.

"Hi, I thought I would try my luck and see if you were home."

Malik sighed and moved aside to let her in. His apartment was very chic, the colour scheme used was different tints and shades of brown. There were big mirrors and a glass sliding door which opened to the balcony.

Petal stood and waited for him to offer her a seat. He led her outside the glass door onto the balcony and they sat at the garden table. He offered her a glass of wine but she declined. While Malik refilled his glass, Petal sat looking down at her feet. She was so ashamed. Malik sat down across her. Petal had never seen him dressed so... carelessly. He was always smart and smelled like Bulgari. He was wearing loose tracksuit pants and a loose "staff" t-shirt. He was wearing black socks and no shoes. His hair was uncombed.

He looked at her expectantly. She looked at him still planning how to put into words how sorry she was, her brow eyes glistening in the moonlight.

"Thanks for letting me in. (she began) I am really ashamed Malik. I am so so sorry and I know that does not fix anything but I need you to know that I did not know that Vector was in love with me or that he was going to kiss me.... I mean I knew he liked me, but that was before Lilo, he has a girlfriend and that girlfriend is my friend." She took a breath. His poker face intimidated her so she looked away. This conversation was very nerve wrecking and she was grateful for the cool breeze of the spring evening. Even though she was wearing a long sleeveless black dress and a light black cardigan, she felt her face and body flush and wished she could tie her hair back.

"Do you love him?" Malik asked.

Did she love Vector? Well she had known him for five years and he was the closest male companion she had ever had, but she did not love him the way that he obviously loved her.

"Yes... as a friend, as someone I have known for many years."

"O.K I understand. We are grown-ups here and we should be able to communicate openly. So what will happen with you and him now?"

"Well I have been too upset to talk to him but I did let him know that I was disappointed about what he did to me. Lilo and to you."

Malik leaned forward. "Petal, where do we stand? How do you feel about me, about us?"

Petal froze. She opened her mouth to speak but nothing came out. She looked down and then at Malik. She swallowed. "I don't know. I am not sure.... (Malik raised his eyebrows) I mean... hah. O.K, like you said we are grown-ups and we should not play mind games. I was just hoping that we could go with the flow and see how the relationship grows."

"But Petal, I feel that we should have a direction a goal, what do you want? How do you want this to continue or to end? That way we can all know our place in this – me, you and your friends. Right now I am not even sure if I have a right to feel cheated on because I am not even sure if we are friends or boyfriend and girlfriend or whatever."

Petal felt attacked. How was this her fault? First Vector was blaming her and now Malik. Why was it her fault that the relationship was going or not going in a certain direction?

"O.K then let's have a direction, what do you want me to say, I am confused?"

"Petal I cannot always read you. I do not know if I am pursuing you or if I have you. You are close and then you are far. You are not letting me in and I cannot force myself on you. I want to be with you as your boyfriend and you as my girlfriend and I think I have made that clear but you keep treating me as a friend. Why will you not let me love you?"

Petal was perturbed by this. No man had ever asked her outright like that what was she going to tell him? That she could not let him love her because she did not trust men, because she had witnessed her mother suffer so much and therefore she was too vigilant, because she felt useless because she was unemployed and would soon be homeless and she did not know how to fix it, because she knew that if he got too close he would see that she was not as wonderful as she seemed, because he would see her completely and be in her mind and heart, because she would expose herself and love him and he would just rip her apart? No, she could not do that.

Petal felt as if she was suffocating. She got up and leaned over the balcony. She gasped, trying very hard to suppress the tears, but she couldn't. The more she tried the stronger the urge to cry grew. She held onto the balcony with both hands and cried. Malik came and stood beside her but she moved away from him. He persisted, wrapping his arms around her. She covered her face with her hands. Malik continued to embrace her tighter and tighter, he was not letting go. Petal finally gave in. She let herself open up and held him close as she wet his collar bone. This was the most vulnerable she had ever been with a man.

Petal slowly began to let go. She took a step back and straightened herself up.

"I am sorry, this is really hard for me. You...."

"Petal you don't have to talk now if you do not want to, we can talk another time." Standing so close to each other, Petal could smell the wine on his breath.

"Malik you were right we need to be open and straight forward so let me talk. This is really difficult for me and I do not want to drag you along and mess with your emotions. I am scared. I will not lie to you I am very scared. I have never allowed myself to love any man before and you want to get serious... (the tears came down again but this time she did not break down), are you really sure you want to date me?"

"It's O.K to be scared, love is risky business, hell, I am scared too because I like you so much and I do not want to mess this up. Please just trust me and we can go through this together."

For the first time in her life Petal decided to remove the barrier that she had put up against romantic love for so long. Malik was not after her for physical pleasure and games. She was scared but she had read that the one who feared was not made perfect in love.

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