Rain spattered against the tin roof. Th house's paint was chipped and worn like

many old Caribbean houses. I stood in the center of the cold living room and
quivered at the mounting tension. Putting your hand up when a gun barrel is
aimed at your face is natural; in fact it's instinctual. I probably deserved the bullet
destined for my cranium and the likely death that would ensue. The dark thin
finger on the trigger squeezed simultaneously with my eyelids. My last clear
thought was why hadn't I loved the pretty dark woman holding the firearm?
As the shot rang out blood splattered against the walls. A searing pain filled my
body as the dull ringing went through my head like the bullets aching echo- I
opened my eyes and saw the remnants of my hand dangling from my limp wrist.
The skin beneath my eye stung and I unconsciously touched my face with my
remaining fingers. Though it was still intact I'm quite sure a chuck of my cheek
was hanging on by mutilated flesh; I'm alive.

I stumbled back as Aasha dropped the gun and screamed in horror. Several men
moved out of my way as I fell to my knees. I was in severe shock but one thing
was for sure I was thinking quick and clearly. I knew I didn't have long until the
adrenaline from the shock wore off. I grabbed the 9 mm pistol one of the men
had left on the floor with my good hand and scrambled to my feet. The men
around me were wide eyed and mumbling oaths in Patois. I waved the weapon
wearily and backed up the door with metal bars. I started to feel nauseous.
I fell onto the street. My clothes were soaked in blood while the rain washed the
spatter from my face. I heard a child scream from the other side of the dark red
road. I tried hard to focus my eyesight as the adrenaline was quickly fading. I
managed to pull out my cellphone and say, "Call an ambulance." Just before I fell
into a small puddle on the red dirt road. I felt someone pry the phone from my
hand but their fading foot steps told me the sad truth; they'd robbed me and left
me to die.

pt 2
"The police found you with no wallet, no shoes, and no jewellery. Eva you need
to tell me what happened." Dr. Reginton said in his deep Caribbean accent. I kept
my eyes focused on the small window above his head. The hospital room they'd
assigned to me was small but very clean. I had purposefully avoided eye contact
with the stuffy Dr. Regnton for nearly an hour. "I can't work with a patient who
won't talk to me Eva." Dr. Reginton said slightly annoyed. I made no attempt to
reply so he continued, "I've signed the papers to have a new physiologist work
with you. It is a woman but maybe she'll be the right head doctor for you." Dr.
Reginton said standing up. It was comment like that that confirmed my silence
and its validation. I wasn't a feminist but it didn't take introduction to Woman's

Study to hear the condescending ton Dr. Reginton used when referring to female
co workers or subordinates.

Only after he left did I pry my eyes from the barred windows. It had been two
weeks since that rainy day where the God's had decided my fate. The bullet
hadn't killed me it had landed me in St. Catherine' hospital with a dick for a shrink
and a useless left hand. The rehabilitation was slow and tedious. I wasn't about
to tell the cops who had shot me but since I was an American citizen they were
investigating anyway, They wouldn't discharge me from the hospital until I passed
a psychiatric exam and they had a suspect in custody. All these hindrances
compounded onto my already complex life and I wasn't prepared to discuss it
with the likes of Dr. Reginton. Come on, the guy was a complete douche.

I touched my bandaged face with unconscious anger. I felt like a trapped animal
cornered and poked at. I tried to relax by looking at the bold blue colour of the
Caribbean sky. I figured it had to be just passed noon. I stretched uncomfortably
in the hospital bed and tried to feel at ease in the afternoon glow. Unfulfilling days
like these seemed to crawl along like slugs on dry hot pavement. My medication
kept me hazy and dreams that plagued me drained the little energy I had left. At
first my father had come to visit everyday after Dr. Reginton left but I'd even been
mute with him. I couldn't take looking into his sad light brown eyes and see their
confusion. Those eyes that were hauntingly a replica of mine. Why had Aasha
missed by mere inches? Why had a turned my head away? These were the type
of dark thoughts awkward moments with my father brought to me.

I busied myself with Sudoku and other word puzzles while the days stretched on.
I fought my basic instincts that had been like my childhood companion. Blank
pages stayed blank and no words were recounted in their usual scribbles I daily
placed on paper. The head nurse Cherry said it was a shame I refused to write
because my father had told her I was writing a novel. Cherry was a big boned
woman with large arms but graceful mannerisms. She pushed to know what the
novel was about and I had told her it had been about a woman bootlegging in the
1920's but I'd given it up. "Really, but that sounds so interesting. You should write
a few sentences down and see how it feels." she said gently. I nodded but made
no attempt to grab the pen and paper beside my bed. I knew what would come to
my head if I let it freely wander.

pt3
I dreamt of the heavily perfumed bedspread. The floral pattern makes me
nauseous. I can see a light from the hallway under the crack on the door.
Grandma and Grandpa must still be awake. If I lie really still I can hear the
commentator announcing the baseball game that Grandpa is watching. I feel long
old fingers reach under my nightie and I freeze. Please God not to night. I try to
protect myself with my tiny arms but no child's arms are long enough for that type
of shelter. The fingers slowly touch my chest and I start to sweat. Why am I here?
Why did my parents leave me here? I could be anywhere in the world, Paris,
Brazil... The large thick fingers travel passed my navel and down between my
thighs. I start to tingle and even at nine years old I'm disgusted with myself.

"Hey, Hey, it's okay, you're just having a bad dream." murmured a soft voice. I
followed it through the foggy haze and into the harsh lights of reality. As my eyes
fluttered open my nostrils inhaled the sterile but familiar hospital room and a mix
of feminine soap. "That's better." soothed the soft voice. I focused on a beautiful
blonde woman in her late twenties and a long medical coat. "You're white." I said
faintly, managing to lift the corners of my mouth into a half smile. "And so are
you- well partially." she replied lightly.

I sat up to get a look at the woman. She wasn't an LPN because the ones in St.
Catherine wore light green and the RN's wore blue. She extended her hand
smiling and said, "I am Dr. Retix, I've been assigned to do your psychiatric visits
and evaluation. I'm replacing Dr. Reginton." I accepted her thin elegant hand with
a quick shake of my good hand but said nothing. I noted that she wasn't wearing
a wedding ring. Dr. Retix chuckled and said, "Oh yes I remember what Dr.
Reginton said, you were mute. Well, in that case I've got a deal for you. I also
know your music privileges were revoked. If you're willing to talk to me even for a
few minutes I think we can jam to some tunes for the rest of the time we're
together."

I could smell her shampoo wafting through the air and I tried to ignore the
enticing aroma. No doctor no matter how beautiful was ever going to get in my
head. I studied her exquisite body and her thick eye lashes; jesus she was simply
breathtaking. I decided to say just that. If she wanted to chat I'd have a few words
for her. "Dr. Retix is it? Well Doctor, you have the most sensational figure I have
ever had the pleasure of laying eyes on; especially on a doctor. My god woman
why aren't you a model or a porn star?" I said smoothly. She flushed a deep red
for a moment. I basked in the silence and waited patiently for her reply. My eyes
never leaving hers. She cleared her throat before speaking.

"Eva, these sessions can accelerate or impede your release from this hospital.
Please refrain from trying to challenge minut aspects of our visits.. Do we have a
deal about the music or not?" Dr. Retix asked again smoothing down her jacket.
"Can you my acknowledge my obvious attraction to your subtle but provocative
beauty Doctor." I asked evenly. Watching her squirm beneath my intense stare.
"Fine Eva, I appreciate the compliment." Dr. Retrix said caving slightly. She
pushed her blonde hair from her blue eyes and gave me a thin smile. "Fine Dr.
Retix, I will agree to your childish bribery." I said matching her aspirated tone.
She seemed some what relieved at the small feat. I expected her to jump in with
the million dollar question but she was smarter than that. She eased back in her
chair and looked seriously into my eyes. "Eva, let's start with some easy
background questions. Do you enjoy spending time with your family?" Dr. Retix
asked in a professional manner, "For the most part. You know how families are.
All the normal families are as wonky as mine." I said. "What is your father like?"
"He's easy going, hard working, I don't know the average man. I didn't see him
much growing up. Not that it screwed me up or nothing. I spoke to him on the
phone regularly." I murmured looking through the tiny window. When I bothered to
call him back that is. The sky was dull it must have been passed three or so.
"And your mother Eva, what was she like?" Dr. Retix asked, scribbling some
notes in her binder. "Decent human being and not to bad for a provider. She was
very meticulous to say the least. I think she wished I'd been tidier, girlier." I said
averting my eyes again. The words stung my throat. "You neglected to comment
on her motherly attributes. You say girlier? How did they make you feel?" Dr.
Retix asked leaning in.

I searched for the words that most would use to define
such shame for their shortcoming but I drew a blank. I looked down at my heavily
bandages hand with it's three remaining exposed fingers and scrunched up my
face. I let the torment bubble to the surface for a moment then it slowly subsided.
My eye lifted to Dr. Retix and I searched for understanding. Her kind blue eyes
cradled my lost stare and I regained composure. Though I had intentionally
spoken the truth I wasn't sure why the emotion still felt raw. I needed to divert my
attention to something more benign.

"I've never associated pale eyes with vibrancy before doctor. Your stunning
features are contradicting." I said placing a deliberate smile on my face. "Your
sweet talking won't get your an A on your evaluation young lady." Dr. Retix said
mockingly scolding me. Pulling my dark culy hair back in a ponytail I threw a
meaningful glance at the clock and said, "No, but our deal might." She shook her
head but obliged by pulling my iPod out from the locked drawer. I laid back in the
hospital bed as she sat on the chair thumbing through my music. I basked in the
rare moment of enjoying someone company. I studied Dr. Retix more closely.
She looked a lot like Danielle which made me nervous and happy at the same
time. Long ago a beautiful blonde named Danielle had ran away with my heart
and the last remnants of pride I had possessed. I was completely over Danielle
and the uncertainty that surrounded her but the scar would always remain. I
wondered as I laid in this tiny bed in St. Catherine's hospital what she was doing
right then in America. She probably was engaged to some slick suited lawyer like
Ross the man she'd moved in with the day after a poured my soul out to her. My
thoughts were disrupted as Dr. Retix squealed like a little school girl and I smiled
up at her beaming eyes.

"What is it?" I asked. "You have my absolute favorite song! Who would have
thought you had such good taste?" Dr. Retix said teasingly. "Hey, wait what? I
think you're sexy don't I?" I said pretending to be hurt. Dr. Retix chuckled and
rolled her eyes. "I'm not in the slightest bit affected by your charm. I don't date
patients and I certainly don't date women like you." Women like me? Which
meant she did date some sort of woman. I let my question slide as "Night Time"
from the XX started to play from my iPod. I grinned and said, "Who knew YOU
had such good taste?" The sultry female singer began to usher the bitter sweet
tune.

We sang along to the music both of us slightly shy in each others presence. The
words reminded me of Danielle and the longing that she had created within me.
For a moment I thought I saw a matching pain cross the bright eyes of Dr. Retix
before she looked away. She looked up at the window my own eyes loved to
study and caressed the skies with her sight. I stole a few glances at her flawless
skin and curvy hips. She gave me a chance to pick the next song as Night Time
finished. I took the opportunity to play Natalie Portman's Rap. I gave Dr. Retix a
playful but menacing look. She had never heard it before but her expression said
it all. She loved the vulgarity and chuckled as I sang along. It broke the tension
our emotions had created at we seemed more at ease together. We spent the
rest of the hour trying out beat each others outrageous songs. I finally won with a
Methods of Mayhem song just before the hour was up. "Okay Eva,I've got a few
other patients I have to get to." Dr. Retix said tucking back her hair and sighing
heavily. "But that was actually fun." She added. I wondered if she really meant it
but I knew she wasn't the type to gloss over a situation so I smiled.
"If you don't learn anything about my sanity at least you'll get some free jam
time." I said lightly as she walked to the door. Her ample figure moved
rhythmically in her professional doctor attire. Dr. Retix flipped her hair over her
shoulder as she looked back at me and said "I think I learnt a lot about you today
and not from the silly songs either. You're sweeter than you want people to think
you are." With that she was gone. I laid in my bed and replayed out time together.
I thought about the secret smiles we'd exchanged and the hurt in her voice as
she sang along to Night Time. I wondered how a successful woman such as
herself could match the void that was in my heart. I pushed the foolish fantasies
far from my mind. Besides the obvious missing cheek and reconstructed fingers I
had enough secrets to make a woman like Dr. Retix run and never look back.
Good, I thought, no temptation to amend the dark calling of my destiny.
pt 4
I dread this part of the morning. My brain has to move each foot painstakingly
forward."It's an earthquake. The ground is shaking!" yelled the skinny boy at the
bus stop. All the kids started to wobble around like their legs were made of jello.
The cement was solid beneath my feet and I was sure because my head was
hung low enough to it. The skinny boy with freckles is Qale Quinn. Qale points
his small finger in my direction and says "Fatty, you're causing an earthquake. I
thought it was bad enough you were a packie!" His words are vicious and they
cut through my twelve year old body like a machete; small town bullies are the
worst.
"I'm not a packie. I'm half white and half Jamaican!" I manage to say as the other
kids snicker. "Packie, blackie, nigger, nogger, whatever your fat ass wants to call
yourself. Every morning you walk up to this bus stop the earth splits in half!" Qale
says. The last part is almost drowned out by the other kids laughter and the
sounds of the approaching bus. I shrink back in line and pretend to be busy
studying the autumn sky. Its fall in a new small town and I had hated every day
since I had moved there. No one knew me and no one cared to. No tears come
to my eyes as we pile onto the yellow bus. I only feel shame. My movements are
clumsy and I can barely look the bus driver in the eye as I climb the large steps.
My body is developing faster than other kids and I was taller than most of my
grade seventh class.
I slump into a seat beside the kid they called Mucus Marcus and prayed I wasn't
picked last in soccer again. One day I knew I would be. I'd been practicing every
day after school with my mom and I was getting pretty good. I decided at recess I
would play with the other kids. I hated soccer but I would prove my worth on the
field, any field. Those snotty bumpkins would see. I never lifted my eyes once on
that bus ride. No, I let them fill with determination and grit.

Dr. Retix studied me intensely as I repeated the memory turned dream. I hadn't
given her much in the last few sessions and I had slowly to come to realize she
was right about one thing; I wasn't getting out of here until I proved I wasn't crazy
for taking a bullet and not telling the police who did it. So I relented and started
telling her things that might just get me out of the gleaming white hospital walls.
The Qale Quinn story from childhood was a minor moment in my life but I knew it
held symbolic meaning to the way I grew up. I didn't mention the most painful
part of the story nearly a decade later. The part I call the bar fiasco. No, I fed her
the memories that pain had dulled over time. I looked over at her patient
observant eyes and dwelling on their light glow. If I only I had met a woman like
Dr. Retix before the bar fiasco.

Dr. Retix wrote a few notes and smiled mysteriously at me as if she could read
my mind. She remained quiet until I had no choice but to ask, "Alright Dr. Sexy
Smile, what's the look about?" I asked, wondering just what about the dark story
made her smile. "Well, when I was first assigned to you I thought you were just
some stubborn woman who got caught up with the wrong political party. A pretty
girl who didn't care about people. Now, I see you're smarter than you let on. You
recount the stories that you've already carefully analyzed. You're telling me things
you've already drawn courage and healthy conclusions from. You know you're
not the timid girl who let a boy like that bully you. You're feeding me light shades
of ugly to protect the darker shades from showing."

I was speechless- I realized in that very moment Dr. Retix wasn't just a caring
attentive doctor but a mental marvel. Her intellectual instincts were sharper than
a tiger's tooth and she was earnest in her apprehension. I respected her
meticulous mind and it's inner workings. I couldn't help the feeling that the insight
she held made me second guess ever opening my mouth in the first place. "Let's
listen to some Howlin' Wolf today?" Dr. Retix suggested observing the eye
opening look on my face. I wondered just how much Dr. Retix knew about me.
I nodded absently in agreement and tried hard to enjoy the rare moment as the
1930's rock and roll filled my ears. Dr. Retix sang the chorus to Spoonful and I
was impressed yet again. How could this dream doctor's taste work so
congruently with mine I mused. She pretended not to notice the look in my eyes
as they cascaded over her body. I knew she felt my stare and it pleased me to
think she wasn't ashamed that I was looking. She really was an amazing women
which meant I had to be all the more careful.

Dr. Retix had made me think about my words and actions over the last hour. Her
smart observations made me question myself and feel self aware. I couldn't
figure out what it was about her no nonsense laid back attitude that made me
want to open up to her and yet run from her intriguing eyes. It made me want to
tell her things that I had never told anybody before. I would have to remind
myself to keep her at a distance.

pt 5
My father came by for his now weekly visits. I said a few words when he asked
how I was doing and he got pretty excited. He told me my mother sent her
regards and apologizes for not being able to fly down. I didn't ask which lame
excuse she had invented this time and he didn't offer another feeble attempt of
protecting her. He asked about my arm rehabilitation and I had to remind him it
was my hand but that the fingers they had sown back on were regaining feeling.
His eyes started to water after that.

I tried to hide his tears as he hung his head beside my bed. The man I once
called superman was simply a regular man. I felt his broken heart and I couldn't
help but feel responsible. I could smell his aftershave and it reminded me of
being a young child. I used to sneak to his room when I had a bad dream to
cuddle up to his bear like figure for protection. He was such a deep sleeper he
never noticed me until morning. I had felt so safe tucked between my father's
large frame and the cool bedroom wall.

It was as if my memories coaxed him out of his own dwelling and he attempted to
smile. He promised to come again as he gathered himself to leave. He tried to
wipe the tears away inconspicuously. I smiled weakly, nodded as he departed,
wishing him well. As he walked out the hospital room down the shiny clean floors
apart of the guilt I held onto went with him. I looked down at my puzzles and gave
an unsatisfactory sigh. They didn't look like a good enough distraction this time.
After hesitation for a second, I grabbed the pad of paper beside my bed and the
crayon like pen Cherry had left for me. I began writing about my father's visits. I
wrote about the torn feelings the visits brought me. The feeling of safety
resinated with me and I thought maybe this one something Dr. Retix should
know, you know, because of our deal and all.

The more I wrote down the light my heart felt. The tension eased from my
shoulders and by my next session with Dr. Retix I had seventeen solid pages of
memories. Dark memories stemming from the sexual abuse at the hands of my
Uncle but also happy memories. Memories like my father flooding the backyard
of my home in Detroit as a child to build a skating rink. I remembered how all the
neighborhood kids would come by the play hockey on Sunday afternoons. I let
the words empower me and regenerate some of the vigor I lacked. When Dr.
Retix arrived a few days later I handed her the pile of semi coherent paragraphs
that I had managed to jot down. She laughed and said, "Eva Bishop, what is all
this?" "It's the type of thing I think you want to know about me." I said simply. A
look passed through her eyes so I quickly said, "No, I didn't answer the million
dollar question; Who shot Eva Bishop." I knew the police were pressing Dr. Retix
to help with their investigation. I had been careful to give no mention of Aasha or
Qale in my writings.

I watched Dr. Retix's beautiful face change expressions depending on the section
in front of her. Her soft eyes were full of wonder and I found myself hopeless
drawn into them. Part of me wanted her to know these details about me and the
other half wanted to spare her the insight. Dr. Retix finally looked up and spoke
ever so softly, "This is vital information and a huge step for you Eva. You haven't
been able to write a single sentence since you've been here. I feel like a
understand a bigger part of you now. Your relationship with your family is normal
and I think I can help relieve some of the guilt."

"The progress you've made is simply remarkable. Look, there's another piece to
this puzzle I haven't been able to figure out. I haven't wanted to press and I
figured you would tell me on your own time- But I've seen your charts Eva, you
have Human papilloma virus that's a serious thing. It looks like you've been
treated for it but you haven't spoken about it to your Doctors here. You could get
cervix Cancer if you try to deny the whole thing and the help possible. How did
you contract it? Was it your Uncle?" I let the words fall to the floor like dishes
breaking on linoleum. The illusion I had carefully created crumbled beneath me.
Her eyes searched mine but mine became opaque. I swallowed hard as the tidal
wave of shame washed over my body. Dr. Retix must have realized she pushed
too far because she began reaching for the locked drawer and my iPod.
"Get out." I sputtered going pale in the face. "Get the Fuck out." I repeated the f
with isolated friction. After an explosion of anger my body went numb with
emotional disconnection. Dr. Retix looked back at me like I had just slapped her.
"Eva, sorry, I should have been more sensitive but we don't have much time
and-" "And if you were me you would trust a stranger you met three weeks ago
with your deepest darkest secrets. If you were me you would just admit that
you're a permanently broken. I know, I know, you're just trying to help Dr. Retix.
No, your job Doctor is to stamp a rubber imprint of the word sane on my monthly
review and HELP me to get the fuck out of here."

"This isn't trust building long term therapy." I continued trying to mask the harsh
judgment not realizing I was judging myself. "This is involuntary short term
psychiatric reviews. So eat me Doctor, go find another loony tune to sell you their
soul for a cheap price." I spat. I instantly regretted my words as pain crossed Dr.
Retix face. For moment everything was dead quiet. The clock ticked and people
rustled outside the door but in here it was just her and I. I couldn't meet her eyes
and see what I had done any longer. Dr. Retix excused herself quietly and fled
from the room with tears rolling down her rosy cheeks.

I rubbed my temple and tried to alleviate the throbbing that had set in. How long
had Dr. Retix been aware of the HPV on my medical chart. She had been such a
good actress hiding her disgust. She must think I am a freak as well. Would she
connect my medical history to Aasha? Would she suddenly connect the dots? I
couldn't let that happen for Aasha's sake. She may want me dead but I owed her
the life that she wanted to take. The bullet had been metallic justice if only it had
found it's way into my skull. I knew Aasha had never needed that type of revenge
and I had been proud to fly down here and deliver myself to her.

Now all I had to do was survive three more session with Dr. Right to the Point
Retix and I was home free. That is if Dr. Retix didn't break our agreement
because of the verbal abuse I had just spewed. I could once again do what was
right and deliver myself willingly to the verdict of Aasha Derricks; perhaps my
angel of death. I ached inside as I remembered her lifting the weapon. I could
hear her voice as she said. "You ruined my life Eva! I just wanted to marry Patrick
and be happy. You're a bloody narcissistic monster!" Her words were wielded like
an axe. I had crumbled beneath their weight so helplessly. "I didn't know until it
was too late Aasha!" I murmured unconvincingly. Even before I turned my head I
had known Aasha Derricks would never forgive me for giving her HPV. It was the
last brick built to weigh down a life of bad choices. The white flag I waved at the
Gods seemed to go unnoticed. I'd tried desperately to love her and in the end I
had lost more than I'd been given. There was no kindness left in Aasha's once
warm soul only pain. Pain I had driven into her like a stake unbeknownst to me.

pt6
A skinny lizard crawled up my barred window and snapped me out of the vivid
flashback. Burdens of living and loving faded to the back of my mind. I shook the
emptiness that memories of Aasha brought me away and studied the reptile. We
were alike in a lot of aspects. He rarely showed the water the sunk into his skin
and his thoughts were never smooth. His movements reflected this as he made
his way quickly through the bars. The sky was burnt orange and the smell of jerk
chicken wafted through the hospital room. Dr. Retix had mentioned an annual
barbecue and I was jealous. As people laughed and ate a good hearty meal I sat
alone in a sterile room. I was jury and executioner of my thoughts. Thoughts of
bitter sweet Aasha, thoughts of Danielle, and reoccurring thoughts of Dr. Brandy
Retix. Who by now was probably was quite happy I was merely another fucked
up patient trapped behind these walls.

I worked hard with my physiotherapist over the next week to rehabilitate my hand
though I knew it didn't matter. Each step I took closer to leaving the hospital the
close I got to Aasha and our twisted fate. The work I did was only to keep Dr.
Retix soft pale blue eyes from seeping into my mind and probing the if onlys that
drowned in my conscious. I cursed fate as it enclosed my world and made it hard
to breathe. I didn't even realize that Dr. Brandy Retix had brushed so close to my
heart... I wasn't even aware that I still had room in it. The foot steps of Dr. Retix
became a reality and my fears were to be confronted. I held my breath as she
entered. She walked into my room and sat down briskly. Her eyes smiled warmly
as they connected with mine and I relaxed for the moment. Her professional
candor wouldn't reflect the disgust I'm sure she's feeling.

"This is your third to last session Eva and I think we're doing fairly well. I wanted

to apologize to you though. Some times I forget to put myself in my patients

shoes and feel how it must be to live their lives. I pushed you too hard last time

and that outburst was clearly my fault. You don't have to say anything if you don't
want to. Over the last few weeks I've gotten to know this amazing person and I
don't want to wreck that... You deserve love Eva." Dr. Retix said awkwardly. I
knew that it was passed her job description for her to apologize and compliment
me. I blushed and looked away but the window didn't seem to calm my nerves as
it usually did.

"It's okay Dr. Retix." I found myself saying, "This isn't easy for me. I've done all I
can do in my life to hide my ugliness from the world. I used to exercise tirelessly
until I was too sore to walk every day. I would hand in my magazine columns
before deadline. Anything to be perfect, anything to hide the true me. I lost a part
of myself when I found out I had HPV and that I had spread it to Aasha-" Aasha?
Did I just say her name out loud. My shoulders tensed up and I tried to back up.
"I mean it's just hard to know that you can hurt those who you want to simply
love." I finished the sentence quickly.

I watched as Dr. Retix wrote a small note. I wondered if she wrote down Aasha's
name; how could I be so careless? I prayed to the Gods she wouldn't tell the
cops Aasha's name off handily. She made no mention of Aasha but continued, "I
understand Eva but we all might end up hurting the people we love. It's a fact of
life and yes you do have a responsibility to be upfront about your ailment but that
shouldn't stop you from being loved or from loving someone. If they truly love you
they will see passed the HPV. It's not who you are, it's only a part of you. Why
don't see how truly beautiful you are in your own right." She said softly. I felt the
tears flow down my cheeks. The wave emotions that erupted through my innards
seemed to set fire to my soul. I let Dr. Retix's slight tones of forgiveness slide
through me. "Doctor, that's hard to accept. I can't ask that of anyone. I just want
to make those who I love feel safe and it's the one thing that I can never promise
them." I said confronting the truth. "None of us can." she murmured stepping into
me.

She brushed the stream of tears from my eyes with her slender fingertips and
held my gaze. Apart of me tried to tear my eyes away; It didn't want her to be let
in. The other part of me was so grateful for her unyielding presence that it
affected the very core of me. A cry shuttered from my body as I collapsed
exhausted from the pretending. I felt her arms enclose around me, soothing me,
and I could smell her sweet shampoo. Not even my lifelong guilt or shame could
take the delicious sensation her body created against mine. We tightly embraced
as my own body released it's grief. I must have fallen asleep in her arms because
when I awoke she was gone.

pt 7
The next day as I was eating St. Catherine's Hospital's version of lunch. It
consisted of cold chicken and plaintain plus steamed vegetables with a child size juice
box on the side. The pills the doctors had provided for pain was now diminishing
with each day I healed and my taste buds were slowly coming back. The smell of
wild flowers from my window reminded me of something from the day before. I
faintly remember Dr. Retix pressing her lips to my head as I woke up for a
moment. The thought moved me to no end and it gave me the inspiration to
continue writing down my thoughts. I was a lot more open through out our next
session but I was careful not to bring up Aasha. It must have been a figment of
my imagination that I even ushered her name because Dr. Retix never brought it
up and she was too sharp to miss something like that. I picked this visit to tell her
about a decade later with Qale Quinn and needing the validation from him. Her
eyes were very patient as I recounted the infamous bar fiasco:

I was at Tipsy's bar and grill down on the coast. I had met a few friends there and
since it was another rainy day everyone was packed in the pub. I enjoyed
drinking games and playing pool so Tipsy's was a favorite hang out. My best
friend Sheridan was running late so I sat at the bar. Tipsy's walls were covered in
old rock'n'roll posters and worn out records and I eye'd the Eddie Van Halen
poster as I waited for my drink order. I liked the mix of burger grease and
cigarettes that encased the air of the run down pub. As I ordered my first pint I
spotted a tall freckled man beside me; It was Qale Quinn. I knew he didn't
recognize me, what with the flat stomach and assured smiled I know donned but
he was still checking me out. I hadn't slept with anyone before and I wasn't
planning on it that night. Besides I was totally crushing over Danielle by then. I
wasn't interested in boys but he seemed interested in me. It only took half a pint
for him to ask, "Would you mind if I bought you a shot?" I tilted my head slowly as
I looked at him waiting for him to register who I was. When he didn't so much as
bat an eyelash I cocked my eyebrow and said, "Why not?" he grinned from ear to
ear as he called the bartender over.

Through out the night we kept chatting even when Sheridan showed up. Qale still
didn't know who I was because I'd only lived in his town for seventh grade and
I'm sure I didn't scar his childhood. He was a lot cuter now though and his eyes
sparkled like a rebellious youth. Sheridan got a text from her babysitter and had
to call it an early night. That was when I made the decision, it wasn't a good
decision, in fact, now I know it was the worst decision of my life. I decided I would
sleep with Qale Quinn. That smug bastard was about to prove just how desirable
I had become. We continued to drink and dance while making silly bets. He
thought his charm was sealing the deal but little did he know he was just a
stepping stone to confidence or so I thought. Our hips grinded together and our
sweaty fingertips teased each other.

Before the night was over we were at Qale's cramped one bedroom apartment
pealing each other's cloths off. I wasn't exactly turned on or even particularly wet
but I was excited. I would finally feel worthy of being loved. I rushed us into his
bedroom kissing on his neck and his shoulders while unbuttoning his shirt. My
mind barely registered if the light was on or off before we hurled ourselves onto
the bed. The beer and shots we'd drunk made sure our movements were clumsy
and somewhat pathetic. All in all it was... terrible. He skipped any foreplay so
when he entered my body I felt a burning sensation. I knew nothing of lubricant
or how to arouse myself beneath this big brute. This man who had been the boy
who torn my insides before. I laid beneath him and struggled not to cry as his
grinded his body on mine. I bit my lip and closed my eyes. I didn't feel worthy of
anything; I felt ashamed.

After that night I felt more hallow than before but I was ready to put it all behind
me. I knew who I was. I was a lesbian and I was proud you know? I met a great
girl after that and we made a life together. For a while everything was perfect. I
knew who I was and no one, not Qale Quinn, not my parents, could take that
away from me. I was ready to express myself and be myself. I think Qale
knocked up some girl back home and is now three babies deep. Wow, thank god
that's not me.

As the story was retold for the first time out loud. I felt myself breaking free from
the shame associated with it. I had long since carried this burdened secret and
now Dr. Retix was there to share it's ugly truth. I couldn't look up into her eyes
this time. I couldn't search for the understanding wether it was there or not. No,
this time I searched within myself for the understanding. I searched deep within
for the strength to release the guilt I held. To my surprise the guilt fell like tension
after a good hard laugh. I was amazed at my own mental capacity. Dr. Retix
studied me quietly as I registered her look.

"What is the look for?" I asked quietly. "You have never let your guard down quite
like that before. You let yourself be vulnerable Eva that's so vital. I think it's a
breakthrough in our work together. That was probably one of the most painful
stories you have told me to date... Was Qale the person you contracted HPV
from?" Dr. Retix asked going out on a limb. I knew she was trying to walk on
eggshells but her earnest interest was more disarming. I nodded tiredly and said,
"Yes, he was the one. Who would have known a virgin could get something like
that? I guess I should have been more careful. I am forever tainted by one bad
decision." "Don't be so down on yourself. It could have been anyone and he was
a jerk for not telling you before hand. What happen to the girl?" Dr. Retix asked. I
had no intention of answering that so I motioned towards the clock. "I think we
should listen to Prince today. I could use a kiss." I said lightly. Dr. Retix looked as
if she wanted to say something, perhaps utter some sort of comfort but she let
me escape from under the microscope. She chuckled and fetched the ipod. "Your
lucky I am a woman of my word Eva and yes I think I'm in the mood for a kiss
too." she said. I chuckled in relief and prepared myself for the few cherished
moments I got to enjoy in the day.

It was as if Dr. Retix really saw me even when I tried to deflect her. Towards the
end of the hour she asked if she could tell me a story. I was surprised and
realized how one sided our relationship truly was. I said "Please do." with
sincerity as I leaned in. "It's a children's story really but I like it. It's the reason I
came to Jamaica actually. My grandfather used to tell it to me during the summer
at the cabin. It was called the Jamaican Prophecy.

When the East Indian and African's were freed in Jamaica they were dispersed
through the hills of the Island. Its accented land grew higher in elevation the
closer to the middle of the Island you went as if it were one big mountain itself.
The newly freed people focused on carving a life in these hilly lands. All the bad
man, the corrupt ones, all sold the beaches and the lands that over looked the
water to anyone willing to pay an easy fee. Inches by Inch Jamaica was sold to
businesses and the rich a like, catering to privileged tourists..."

"But that really happened." I interjected. Dr. Retix's childhood story was more
nonfiction than folklore. Dr. Retix grinned her emphatic smile and said, "Hold on
Missy, we're getting there." I sheepishly smiled back and sunk into my bed
waiting for her to continue. Dr. Retix held my gaze as if she was testing my
speaking impulses. The irony that Dr. Reginton couldn't have pried a word out of
my mouth was lost on me and a smiled even harder in the silence. Her eyes
danced over my face and I blushed slightly as she started again
"All the poor people were content with what they had except one little boy named
Reggie. Everyday Reggie complained about something. He complained that the
mango tree behind his house wasn't sweet enough. He complained that the
carrot juice his Mama made was too weak. He even complained that it was too
hot but when it rained he'd put on a blanket and mutter about his griefs. His
daddy always told him "Reggie one day Gods going to fill the earth full of water
like he did to Noah. All the rich people on the beaches will be poor because
they'll loose their houses and businesses. All the poor people will be rich because
they will leave on the beach and they, they won't sell their homes." Reggie
disregarded this wives tale as fooey and went on complaining. Well one day
when he got older he got a chance to move down by the beach. He didn't
hesitate to leave his elderly father back on the hill as he raced to move into his
luxury home.

But his father was right and one day the rain came down so hard it de-rooted red
dirt as in connected with the earth. Droplets of perhaps God's very own tears
spilled onto the tiny island and into wells in need of replenishing. It didn't stop
there and soon wells all over the northern hemisphere over flooded. Street were
drenched if not submerged where there were any and the houses on the
beaches began to crumble with the drastic rise of the tide. Reggie's house was
one of the first to go but he refused to leave it. He stood motionless in the front
hall with a Nephew and Son White Rum in one hand and the keys to his palace
in the other. After the bulk of the hurricane like rains tore through the land and
chipping it into the deadly sea Reggie floated in with it.

The poor people of Jamaica were right and their land became worth even more
due to the cost of reconstruction. Reggie's father sold his own small cottage and
paid for schooling for his other grandchildren. They really spoke of Reggie but
when they did they spoke of regret. He'd been so bent on succeeding and
fulfilling his dream he lost himself." Dr. Retix finished.

It had taken me until the last moment to understand what she was referring to.
She saw the grim focus in my eyes and always in the back of my mind. Perhaps
she was right and maybe she wasn't. I was so weighed down be re-righting the
wrongs it was hard to remember how to just act right. "That's a pretty great story
Doctor. I like the symbolism you used." I noted, letting her know I understood her
meaning. "Some gifts are all about the packaging Eva. I enjoyed it when I was a
kid but I when I grew up I understood what Grandpa was saying. He was worried
I would turn out like my mother hellbent on her career and lacking in emotional
communication. Every summer I spent out at the cabin was so special because
he taught me so many things. How to fish, how to cook, how to make a cocoon
with your blankets so your feet are tucked right in. Ha, he was such a character."
Dr. Retix said drifting off into pass memories.

This was the first time I was able to really watch Dr. Retix remove her
professional mask. It was hard to deny the longing it instilled in me. I'd become to
dependent on her attentive ears I now would appreciate her mouth. Her full lips
let words roll from her tongue as if it really enjoyed each words falling from it.
When Dr. Retix realized I was absorbing her so intensly she blushed. It was as if
I'd sent her a challenge because after a moment she gazed back. I wondered if
this was a regular staring contest but my lose of sense seemed to beg to differ.
Finally she looked up and the clock and quickly stood up. "Jees, I've got like five
other patients on my list today Eva. Today went well and I can't wait till we talk
again." Dr. Retix said collecting her things and handing me the Ipod. "You can
use this whenever you want but I'm keeping your the scissors in the drawer." she
added winking as she walked out. Dr. Retix really knew how to throw out a good
exit line I thought as I relaxed back to replay our visit a hundred times.

Pt 8
The physiotherapist came in just after dinner to work with me and I was more
upbeat than I had been in days. Even Alex the physiotherapist noted it. I worked
diligently with the weights and watched in surprise at my resown fingers began to
grip. "Great job Eva! Look at you go!" Alex cheered. I saw Dr. Retix pass in the
hall and I was about to call out for her to see my achievement when I saw a man
behind her. He grabbed her arm tightly and pulled her in. Her face was only
inches from his. I could feel the tension from here and jealously rested in the pit
of my stomach. Good for her, I thought, I couldn't provide what I'm sure he could.
I felt like a fool looking down my gimped hand and my surreal fantasies that a
women of Dr. Retix's caliber would even think of me as more than a patient. I
couldn't hear what they were saying but it was definitely heated. The tall dark
man put his lips to the far side of her face. I couldn't tell if he was whispering to
her or kissing her but her eyes closed. When their shocking blue color reopened
they starred into mine.

I look back at Alex and pretended not to notice the interaction in the hallway.
When I looked back they had disappeared. My mood swung dramatically and
Alex decided when done enough for one day. He helped me re-bandage my arm
and climb back into the bed. "Hey, only four more days and you might be getting
out of the coo coos nest." Alex offered with a smile. I tried to return the smile but
my lips barely registered the command. "Thank you Alex, you've been a big part
in helping facilitate that. Even when I'm being a moody Rudy." I said, realizing
just how much Alex had helped me. He chuckled as he walked out and repeated,
"Moody Rudy,"

I couldn't sleep through the night. My mind was racing with the upcoming events
replaying in my mind. Aasha would stand before me and hold my fate in her palm
once again. I just needed the courage to let her shoot me this time. I realized that
Dr. Retix's support had clouded my mind and I had fleeting thoughts of escaping
Aasha's grip. Now, with everything put into perspective I knew the God's were
giving me the go ahead. I would march out of this hospital on the day of my
release and find Aasha. She would be the one to release me from the curse I
carry and the damage I'd done. There was only one more psychiatric evaluation
to get done and if Dr. Retix put the sanity rubber stamp on the sheet I would walk
out of this hospital for life.

Dr. Retix looked unusually chaotic when she arrived for the last session. Her
eyes hard dark rings around and face lacked it's usually sparse make up. I
pretended not to notice as I shifted into an upright position on my bed. "Morning
Doctor." I said. "Good morning Eva, how are you today?" Dr. Retix asked, looking
quite curious. I instinctively cocked my eyebrow and replied carefully, "Fine
Doctor, can we get this little side show started?" I said. She could sense my
guarded response and let out a breath of air. Her shoulder slouched and she
turned her head slightly. "You saw me in the hall yesterday didn't you?" She
asked. When I didn't move a muscle she continued, "Look Eva, I don't want to
keep anything from you but I don't want to hinder our progress either. I need you
to understand that." Dr. Retix pushed her stubborn bangs from her eyes and
studied me. "It's none of my business Doctor. You're a big girl you make your own
choices." I finally said. Dr. Retix looked confused and said, "Sorry, what are you
talking about?" "That man you were flirting with yesterday, it's none of my
business. He was handsome." I said trying not to sound sarcastic.
Dr. Retix frowned for a moment and then chuckled. "Policemen aren't the best
lovers. Doctors have hectic schedules enough. You thought I was flirting with
him?" She asked. A smile danced in her eyes as it was my turn to give a
confused frown. "Of course, you're gorgeous and he's handsome. It makes
sense- wait policemen?" I said trying to keep up with the recent turn of events.
"Yes, that plain clothed on duty officer came in yesterday hounding me about
your shooter again. I had to give him some information- nothing too personal.
Wait- are you jealous?" I registered her last statement with a shrug but the
confusion about the man had only increased. "I'm not jealous... He just seemed
so... so movie star perfect... What did you tell him?" I asked furrowing my brow at
the question.

I rubbed the back of my neck where the curly brown hairs were begin to dampen.
"Look, for some reason it's really important I tell you this, he's definitely not my
boyfriend. I'm not dating anyone right now Eva. Despite all that has happened to
you and despite our professional relationship I really care about you. More than I
thought was possible for another human being. I didn't want to help them but they
already some how knew about your medical history. I guess they found a loop
hole in the law of patient and Doctor privacy. They grilled me about your history
and the people who would want to harm you. I am so sorry, I wanted to tell you
before hand but they sprung it on me." Dr. Retix said. She pulled my hand into
hers and I'm sure she was aware of how clammy it now was.

"Doctor, I trusted you." I said. It felt like a dagger had been lodged into my kidney
as I keeled over in the bed. I pulled my hand from her grasp and looked away. Dr.
Retix stifled back tears as her back stiffened from the rejection and said, "Eva I-"
"Have I passed my evaluation Dr. Retix? Am I as sane as you?" I heard myself
say harshly. I wouldn't even glance at her broken face. She sobbed quietly and I
repeated the question more firmly. "Am I as sane as you?" I asked. I wondered if
the cops had Aasha in custody that very moment. I wondered if they had pried
her 3 week old child from her arms and cuffed her wrists. "Yes, Eva you're every
bit as sane as I am but I don't know if that's saying much. I will sign your papers
and I will get you released from this hospital if it's in my power. I am so sorry I
ever hurt you. I never meant to break your trust." she pleaded. I knew even her
eyes were pleading at that moment.

I continued to stare at the ugly motivational poster on the wall that said, "You
miss a 100% of the shots you don't take." I finally had the courage to look into
her sad blue eyes and said, "Thank you Doctor, now, please go." I barely
whispered the words. Her face screwed up and then she looked crestfallen. "If
that's what you want." Dr. Retix said faintly and turned to leave. The last strand of
connection between us snapped at the center like a tight rubber band. Her fading
footsteps reminded me of that cold rainy day; again I was robbed and left for
dead.

pt 9
"I will ask you this once more and only once; who shot you Eva?" asked the
handsome dark police officer. His uniform was crisp and his badge shined in the
hospital lobby. "I don't know sir. It's all a blur." I said trying to look as innocent as
possible. He kissed his teeth and swore under his breath. "Bumba clot, Alright
then, go, but we will need to talk to you more for the official write up." His fingers
swirled the pen between them as I politely said good bye. I grabbed my things
from the nurses station and headed outside to await my father. The warm
Jamaican air wrapped around my face as I stepped out welcoming me with both
arms. I felt a certain attachment this land that my father once again lived in. He
had moved to Detroit when he was eighteen and had worked in the automotive
factories. Forty years later he had returned, retired, and ready to relax.

His copper colored sedan pulled up at the hospital entrance and I got inside. He
tried to make small talk as we drove through the green Jamaican Hills. The
banana's shun like gold as the hung heavily on the trees. I could smell their bitter
scent from the car window and I envied their fruitful lives. We only made two
stops on the way home. One was two the jerk chicken shack where I ordered a
steaming hot plate to go and the other place was an old abandoned field.
The field was covered with overgrown brush and paths worn in by the locals who
passed by this forgot spot daily. I touched the sugar cane with their thick green
stock and followed my father down a well worn out path between to rotten house
shells. Many parts of Jamaica were just like this with a large well in the middle to
catch rain water for bathing and cook. We walked in silence down the path as
trees started to enclose it. As we neared a clearly I jumped back in surprise. Two
large pigs snorted in a flimsy wooden pen. They smelt rancid and I held my
breath as we passed. My father slowed down as we approached a large rock half
emerged from the red dirt. When we got closer I saw words inscribed in the rock
and realized it was a tombstone. I touched the tomb with my tingling fingertips
and bent down to read it.

After a moment I said,"This is your father isn't it daddy? Farleous Bishop
1920-1962." My father nodded in affirmation and spoke so quiet I could scarcely
hear his words. "Yes, that is where my father rests. Farly, as his friends called
him was a hard man. I never could please him and he passed away when I was
only twelve years old. I was filled with so much guilt all my life. I immigrated to
America and did the best I could especially after you were born. I saved every
penny I could so you could go to that fancy writing college. I think in my mind I
thought my father could one day forgive me for my shortcomings." I put a
protective arm over my father's shoulder and said, "Daddy, you did so much! I'm
sure your father would forgive you if he could." My father never spoke of such
sorrow and it was almost embarrassing to see him in such despair. "I don't know
what I would have done if I lost you Eva. I was so blinded by my desires for
forgiveness I forgot to forgive those around me. I was never there for you and I
have no clue what you've gone through." He said helpless. He was talking about
the shooting but I knew he meant everything that I'd bared witness to alone as well.

I still didn't have the heart to confide in him. I couldn't put my painful tales on his
elderly shoulders. It was my turn to make him feel safe. I mustered up all the
positivity I had and threw it into a smile. "Don't worry daddy. You will never lose
me in your lifetime. I loved you so much." I said the three words that was never
uttered in my family.

He let out a small weep and it made me smile. I knew then I couldn't deliver
myself to Aasha. It would kill my father as well. Whatever I had done in the past
was no reason to hurt the people I loved now. Father was right about
forgiveness. In my journey to pay for the mistakes I had made I had lost sight of
the people who still loved me. We walked back up the path and my eyes
suddenly saw things differently. Dr. Retix was the first person I had to see when I
got back. I pictured her kind eyes and the pain I had easily created. I was only
becoming more of a monster by not giving her a chance to love me. When the
word love crossed my mind I realized the truth. I was in love with Brandy Retix
and there was no way of getting out of it. I was almost giddy by the apparent truth
I had glanced over.

I stepped towards my fathers sedan and opened the passenger door. "Wa' gwon
Eva?" said a deep voice from behind me. I froze in place as I remembered
hearing the same voice that rainy night. I turned around and looked into the eyes
of Patrick; Aasha's husband. My father ran in between us but I pushed him back
and said, "Get in the car dad. He isn't here for you." My father looked torn but he
got into the car after I said, "Please dad, for me." Patrick held a gun that looked
similar to the one Aasha had held. "Patrick, this isn't between you and I. This is
between Aasha and me." I said raising my hands up slowly. "You think so? You
think that your disgusting disease don't affect me. I live with it too!" He growled. I
knew he was right but right then I couldn't die. I couldn't die before I spoke to
Brandy told her how I felt. "Look Patrick, I will gladly let you shoot me dead. I was
on my way to Aasha's this evening anyway. If you remember correctly I stepped
into your house and offered myself up. But I need you to do me a favor. I need to
see Brandy before you kill me. It's all I ask-"

"Sorry Eva no favors for the evil and wicked." Patrick spat lifting the gun. I
expected the same ringing sound as just over a month prior to ring out as I
closed my eyes. Instead a muffled shot rang out and my eyes sprang opened. I
saw Aasha tousling the gun from Patrick's hands. As her body went limp Patrick
let out a primitive growl and dropped to his knees. Aasha held her side as dark
blood trickled down mixing into the red dirt. I moved in closer wondering if Patrick
would fire again. My eyes were the size of saucers as I looked down at Aasha's
angelic face. "E- Eva, it's okay. You're okay now." she murmured as I knelt down
beside her. She smiled weakly and said, "I never got to tell you how beautiful
your eyes look when they're crying. God, didn't we make a mess of things?" As
her life faded away I let my body be over come with sorrow. My father had come
around the car and was trying to sooth me but I was inconsolable and
devastated. Once again the God's had decided a cruel twist of fate.

I looked at Patrick who was silent now but still holding Aasha's lifeless body. He
was whispering into her ear, "Don't go baby. Please, this wasn't worth it. We
could just be together. I could just hold you forever and no one will ever hurt you
again. I promise, just wake up." It was if he thought his fingertips gripping her
beautiful corpse would revive her. I heard sirens in the distance but it felt like a
nightmare. The pain that rested in my body hadn't been manifested into physical
pain this time. I was stuck at the scene of the bleakest proportions. Why had
Aasha saved me this time? What had I ever done to deserve her love? When she
and I had been together I couldn't stop thinking about Danielle enough to love her
properly and now this? The questions nagged in my mind until Patrick broke my
thoughts. "Why didn't the police arrest her a month ago when you woke up in the
hospital?" he asked, peering into me. "I didn't tell them who shot me. I thought
that Aasha was justified in her actions." I replied softly. He pulled away from her
cooling body and managed to say, "She didn't have the heart to shoot. Aasha
didn't even know the safety of the gun was still on. I fired for her... from behind. I
don't think she could have killed you."

I stood in complete and utter shock. As the ambulance and police cars came
near Patrick took one last sad look at Aasha before running through the thick
brush. I stood by Aasha holding my fathers thick calloused hand and waited. I
wasn't even aware of the group of locals who gathered around. The kids wore
their school outfits and their parents held their hands tightly. When the
ambulances arrived I sat wearily down on my fathers bumper. The entire last
seven weeks felt like ten years. I waited for a police officer to come and cuff me
but instead I heard a familiar voice. "Eva, Eva are you alright?" Brandy Retix
asked rushing over to me.

"I was at the hospital when we got the call about a possible shooting. When I
heard the name Bishop over the radio I came as fast as I could." Brandy said
trying to hide the scared tone in her voice. "You came even though I pushed you
away.. twice?" I asked searching her softening features. "Of course I came... God
Eva, can't you tell that I'm in love with you? I'll always be here. I always told you
you deserve love but I never told you I know you're worth my love." Brandy said.
At the moment I believed her. I knew she was nothing like Danielle who made
promises she could never keep. She wasn't Aasha for all the good she was I
could never have been IN love with Aasha. No, she was Brandy Retix, the
woman I loved who was ready to take on the world for me. I smiled through my
tears and took a step towards her.

She shyly moved in as I did. "I don't need you to make a million promises. I just
need to know you're willing to be patient with me and are willing to fight for us. I
love you too Dr. Retix." I said brushing my lips against her soft plum lips. "I think
you can call me Brandy now." she offered after she accepted my light kiss. My
body yearned for a deeper kiss as I bent her backwards. After a moment of lip
locking I said, "Dr. Retix is waaay sexier." Brandy laughed and gave me a full
embrace. It felt good to be loved, to truly be loved. "Thank you Doctor, I haven't
seen my daughter smile like that in... in ever." My father said as I made the
introduction. Even in the midst of such horror and such deep pain a glimmer of
better days shun over the Caribbean sky. Aasha will always be in my heart. There
isn't a single day her kind heart doesn't cross my mind. She had given me my life
back. Now, as I look up at the sky through windows I know what Aasha always
knew... Love is only as frail as the courage we use to defend it.