7:00, Monday morning, "I'm a real nigga in the kitchen."
My sweet thing is making eggs over easy and bacon for breakfast. For dinner he plans to grill a succulent steak and pair it with a garden salad. After the breakfast is complete he sends me a picture: thick and gooey egg yolk is running over a piece of wheat toast and four strips of bacon. I know he wanted to ruin my appetite with that picture since he knows damn well I can't stand the look of running yolk, but I don't tell him how nasty his breakfast looks. I text him back and ask him when he plans to cook for me again.
The first dinner he made for me was baked chicken and broccoli. After bragging about his cooking for months I assumed I was about to be treated to a five-star meal, but the chicken was a little dry and he over-salted the broccoli. My sweet thing's cooking hasn't improved in the months since that first dinner, but I never complained about the taste. I was too impressed by the romance.
His response to my text: Whenever you want me to beautiful.
7:50, Tuesday morning, "They're like… Love texts. Deal with 'em, punk."
I know he's heading into the office when I get a 'good morning' text. He sends them every fucking morning even though I've explained that I don't like them.
"Shut-up, punk." He nudged me as we sauntered down the breakfast aisle at the grocery store.
"I'm like programmed to wake up when you text me. Even in the middle of the night when I'm practically dead. Plus I know you know I see them and I don't reply so I feel bad."
"Well you ain't gotta respond immediately. I send them so you know that I be thinkin' about you in the morning." He stopped in front of the frosted corn flakes and assessed the prices and the sizes of the boxes. He chose the largest box. I didn't miss how he shook his head as he added it to his cart. He was so cute when he was being frugal. "Some chicks don't even get texted and they sit around wonderin' if we're thinking about y'all, but you ain't ever have to wonder about that with me." He was so good at making me blush. "I can't even text at work, but I'd like to see your response by lunchtime."
When we first met he never texted me first. I was always trying to initiate our conversations and that grew old quickly— probably because I was so used to being chased and never had to deal with the haunting texting anxiety. I stopped texting him completely. There was no way I wanted to look like I was thirsting after someone who wasn't interested. I thought he hadn't noticed. Two weeks passed before I received the first 'good morning' text.
8:00, Wednesday night, "I've got more ass than you cuz you're lazy."
He'd been in the gym for two hours. That was a whole hour longer than his usual time—and it was cutting into time we could have spent talking to each other on the phone. I mean—I try not to complain. Is it shallow if his physique was the first thing that attracted me to him the night we met?
I'd been standing in the elevator of my apartment with three of my closest friends. We were heading up to the fourth floor from the first and the elevator made a stop on the second. Joining my friends on the lift were four men. Immediately one of the guys recognized my friend, and the ride became less uncomfortable and cramped. While the two talked I had to check out each of the boys. They were all my type, but my sweet things syrupy eyes had already been locked on me.
He was basketball player tall wearing a grey university sweatshirt that didn't conceal his heavy shoulders, black basketball shorts, socked feet and slides with a navy hat on backwards covering his cropped curls. His skin was smooth, the color of cinnamon.
"What're ya'll getting into tonight?" One of the guys asked my friend.
She looked at me, "We were just chillin at her place. What about you guys?"
"Shit, we don't know yet. It's pretty dead tonight." We all agreed with him as a silence settled in the elevator. "We were gonna go to my boys crib, but maybe we can hang with ya'll instead?"
All eyes were on me, but my eyes were on him- before he was my sweet thing. I thought his friend's proposition was a little forward, but I wasn't stupid. I couldn't say no—so I thanked God I had cleaned up my apartment earlier that day and told them it'd be cool with me.
With an even ration of boys to girls the evening turned intimate quickly. Everyone had paired up and was quietly flirting as a movie ran on the TV. I sat next to him on the couch and pretended to be absorbed in my phone, but I noticed he'd taken off his hat and was lightly tugging at his short curls while he stared at the screen. I was waiting for him to say something; make a joke about the movie or react to something one of his boys was doing to my friend, but he was quiet. I was beginning to think he wasn't feeling me, and it sucked because everyone else in the room had clicked.
But then he wrapped his large hand around mine. I turned my head to look at him, but he was still looking at the movie. He pulled me to him and I only hesitated a second before I laid against his comfortably hard body. He looked like the kind of guy that didn't keep a girlfriend. Too fine to settle down- which is why I didn't take him into my bedroom even though his strong hand on my thigh was making my senses fuzzy.
9:30, Thursday night, "Might go to the club... Wondering if it's cool with you?"
I was tucked into bed with a movie streaming through the Internet. I knew as I shoved spoonfuls of vanilla ice cream into my mouth that my sweet thing had packed his group of friends into his brand new BMW and they were all headed to the club. I hated his boys' nights because all of his friends were single and could do whatever the fuck single men do, meanwhile my sweet thing had me as an anchor. That's why he felt like he needed to ask me if he could go. Of course I said he could even though I was uncomfortable with the fact that all kinds of girls would be rubbing and touching on the arms that belonged to me—and try to grind their asses on the front of his jeans and feel what was mine. I know it's happening because even when I'm with him girls always ogle my sweet thing. They'll look him up and down even when my hand is sandwiched with his. But I trust him and I pride myself on not being the type of girlfriend to try and monopolize his time and life.
6:00, Friday evening, "I grind everyday so I can take care of you."
My sweet thing had treated me to early dinner and then we ventured to the mall. Every time I looked into his eyes he would give me an uneasy smile- he was guilty about something. I wanted to press him about whatever he was nervous about, but didn't want to be too pushy when he swiped his card in every store we'd been in so far. He carried around all of my bags and didn't even roll his eyes once. I missed him so much throughout the week and I didn't realize it until we'd made it out to the parking lot and he wrapped his arms around my waist and whispered in my ear, "I love you, baby".
7:45, Saturday evening, "I care about your daughter a lot, sir."
My sweet thing was over and we were sitting around the dining room table. It was the first time he was formally meeting my family; the dinner was inevitable since I had to move back home after too many conflicts with my roommate in the previous semester.
"I like this man." My dad was chuckling at something my sweet thing had said, and giving me a nod of approval. I blushed heavily and considered our future—what does it mean if dad approves?
After dinner I was sneaking my sweet thing up to my room where we would lay on my bed and listen to R&B music. I would let him put his hand over my mouth to hide my moans.
2:30, Sunday Afternoon, "I only go to spend time with her honestly."
He'd left my bed early in the morning so he could escape before my parents woke up—and so he could fancy himself up and stop for pack of cigarettes to give to his grandma before he accompanied her to church. He was aware her time was running out which is why he spent every Sunday with her.
His dad left when he was six. His mom left when he was nine. His grandmother took on the responsibility of raising him by herself. He never talked about his abandonment and I understood it was a traumatic experience—I hated talking about the issues I was having with my parents or nice things they'd done for me because I didn't want to upset him, but he told me he didn't mind. He shared how he used to get into trouble after his mom left for good and it wasn't until his grandma threatened to leave him too that he decided to be a good kid. He told me when he has children he would like to raise them with the same strength his grandma had raised him. I loved hearing that since I already named our four kids.
After church there was a barbecue that his grandmother invited me to. I wish I could've gone, but I had too much homework with a midnight due date.
7:50, Monday evening, "Get that degree so we can grind together."
I wanted to skip school and spend time with my sweet thing since his office declared it a 'work from home' kind of day.
"You can't ditch class just to chill with me, punk. I'd feel guilty."
His deep rugged voice on the other end of the phone made me wish I was wrapped up in his arms- so I told him that and he chuckled. I saw his white smile and my heart warmed as I hugged the phone closer to my ear and pouted, "its raining, baby—perfect cuddling weather."
"Take your pretty ass to class... How about I pick you up afterwards? We can go to dinner and then you can come let me hold you." School was important to him and he couldn't stand it when I skipped class. He needed financial aid to get through college while my experience was mostly all paid for.
I dressed up for our date and the kids in my classes gave me odd looks. I was usually the sweatpants to class kind of girl, so hearing my wedges against the tile had everyone at attention.
My sweet thing died tonight.
After he picked me up we decided to check out Howard's Steakhouse for the first time. We quickly learned that even though they were rumored to have excellent food, they weren't worth the wait. My stomach was roiling and we'd been sitting a good hour without seeing our meals. My sweet thing put cash on the table for our fountain drinks and we left. We decided to get burgers and go back to his house. He usually hated fast food- the only time he would break for a burger was if I was sitting in the passenger seat pleading for something greasy.
8:15, Monday night, "I only paid for the services I received."
They killed him while I watched from the passenger seat. Another man would be cited and eventually forgiven for 'skipping a check', but my sweet thing was dead over two unconsumed sirloins.
We saw bright red and blue lights in the rearview as soon as we pulled into his driveway. The headlights were on and our seatbelts were buckled—the only thing my sweet thing had done wrong was go forty through the neighborhood.
The police were quick to hunt us down after an employee at Howard's had reported our 'illegal action'. The police came to my window to talk to him. They asked if he was aware he'd skipped out on the check. My sweet thing explained the situation to the police officers while they blinded us with flashlights. He told them about the horrible service, and the three dollars he'd left for the fountain drinks. The police officers didn't seem to understand how unreasonable it was to have to pay for a meal you weren't going to wait around to see so they continue to press into my sweet thing. His low voice raised an octave in agitation and the officers began to look shifty. They asked if he had any weapons in the car—I rolled my eyes. Both my sweet thing and I realized at that point that the officers believed we were criminals and there was no good excuse to our crime.
"Step out of the vehicle, please." My sweet thing was hesitant but obedient. They moved him to the sidewalk. He tried to repeat the story, but they didn't want to hear him.
"What're you doing man…. Is this necessary? Can't I just get a fuckin' ticket?" My sweet thing started to resist them a little, but they kicked at the back of his legs.
"Get on your fuckin' knees." My sweet things face screwed up in fear and instead of going to his knees he began to buck towards the officers as they backed away. He was pleading they listen to him.
He repeated he'd only paid for the services he'd received.
Tonight I watched my sweet things brains shower the already slicked with rain sidewalk. Horror climbed up my throat and pierced my ears. The officers were deaf to my terror as they released a string of bullets into his fallen back. My sweet thing laid lifeless as I sat in the car paralyzed. The officers passed me, a witness to their treachery, on the way back to their vehicle. We made eye contact and they said nothing. My sweet thing's roommates came out of the house. First they were concerned, then confused, and then enraged. I silently prayed I wouldn't have to witness two more murders in the same night.
He wouldn't wrap me in his arms, entangle our legs, and kiss the top of my head ever again.
1:00, Tuesday afternoon, "They don't think black people can be good people too."
The local news network released the story that an unarmed black man was shot dead by county police. After the media captured the viewers' attention with their headline they skipped his good qualities—omitting to tell the world that he was a church-going college graduate with a good job and a nice car. Instead they showed their audience pictures from his Thursday night and told America he deserved it. Those pictures where he was tall and hulking with his head tilted back while giving the camera a menacing look. News stations zoomed in on what he is holding between his thumb and index finger and mentioned that the top of his boxers were peeking from beneath his jeans. The news discussed that he was raised by only his grandmother; they claimed this was his destined path since his black parents abandoned him like typical black people do to their black youth all the time. They called my sweet thing a thug- which is only a synonym of nigger.
2:00, Wednesday afternoon, "Black people are honestly scared to talk about it."
Black America engaged. They demanded justice for my sweet thing. They cried in protest, "The system doesn't care about us. They've always been good at ripping our not-so precious lives from beneath us. We aren't free and innocent. We are guilty until blood flows from beneath us."
1:00, Monday afternoon, "Baby, it ain't over. Just look at our justice system."
It's been a week. They protest, "We will not let the proverbial noose keep us silent on this anymore!"
3:45, Monday afternoon, "They kill niggas for fun."
It's been two weeks. They protest, "Black lives matter."
2:06, Monday afternoon, "The black community doesn't care."
It's been three weeks. They don't protest anymore.
5:15, Tuesday evening, "I love you, punk."
They took someone else's sweet thing tonight. Will we forget about him too?