I Meant to Tell You

by Michael Pasley

Published on December 20, 2019  9:05 PM 
DG Mag Issue 2

            Jeff’s face blazed, forest fire hot. “This is beyond wrong. It’s evil.”

           “That’s going too far,” said his girlfriend, Mala. “Back in India, older men marry younger women all the time.”

           “I graduated high school with this dude.” Jeff gestured at Tyler.

           “We’re in love,” said Rhonda.

            “You’re my Memaw!”

            “So I can’t be in love?” asked Rhonda.    

            Rhonda was a beautiful woman, and her sixty years had done little to diminish her delicate features. Her hair was still mostly black, and her skin, while not silky smooth, was far from filled with wrinkles. Her trim figure was that of a woman half her age. Her big eyes were the color of the ocean sky in summer, and her crooked smile rivaled the sun in radiance.

 

            “This is all wrong,” said Jeff. His eyes searched for anywhere they could land instead of his grandmother’s face. Her home was like a magazine cover. Green linen curtains matched the furniture. She had no television. There was an old, oak bookshelf and lots of family pictures of his siblings and cousins.            

           “I love Rhonda. We’re happy,” said Tyler.

           “I’m so not trying to hear you right now,” said Jeff.

           “Whoa. Bruh. We’re gonna be family. We have to communicate,” said Tyler. 

           “I’m not your bruh. And how am I supposed to be calm when your ass is sitting in my Memaw’s house talking about marriage?”

           “We’re informing you. Not asking for permission,” said Rhonda. “Yes, Tyler is younger than I am. But he’s a good man. We have a lot in common.”

            Jeff snorted. “Like what?”       

            “Well, if you must know—and not that it’s any of your business—we are extremely compatible. Sexually.”

            Jeff groaned.

            “Now. Jeff don’t be like that,” said Mala.

           “Really, Memaw? Really?”

            Rhonda leveled Jeff with a stern gaze. Awkward. It was the same look she used to give him when he was in trouble, as a child. And just as it had back then, it collapsed him now. He sank in on himself, deflated.

            “You need to come to terms with the fact that your Memaw has needs.”

            “She does,” said Tyler, grinning wickedly. “Powerful needs.”

            Mala laughed.

            Jeff scowled at Mala and then shot Tyler a look filled with hot hate. “I don’t want to hear about her needs,” he hissed.

           Rhonda drew herself up, swelling her rather prodigious chest. She had gotten her boobs done when she was thirty-five. They were still in excellent condition.
 

            “I’m a sexual being,” said Rhonda. She turned to stare lovingly at her fiancé. “And let me tell you, Tyler is exceptional at meeting my needs. There’s nothing he won’t do to give me an orgasm.”

            “Memaw! What the fuck!” cried Jeff. 

            Mala was crying with laughter now. Jeff’s face twisted in rage. “Fucking traitor,” he mumbled at Mala.

            Mala gave him the middle finger. 

            “Well, I for one say congratulations!” said Mala. “Follow your heart.”

            “Thank you, dear,” replied Rhonda.

            “Listen. Bruh,” said Tyler.

            Jeff stood, fist clenched and face Coke-can red. “Listen, motherfucker. You need to stop calling me bruh, or I swear—”

            “Jeffery Christopher Willis!” shouted Rhonda. “You don’t have to like it. But Tyler is going to be my husband. You will respect that.”

            “Jeff, sit down,” implored Mala. “Why are you acting like this?”

            “This guy’s a predator. I’m not showing him respect.”

            “Bruh...er...Jeff, look, I only want to be a part of Rhonda’s life. I love her, and she loves me. Besides, you were the one who sent me here. You’re the one who told me she was lonely.”

           “You were just supposed to read to her. Not...not...this!”

            Tyler shrugged. “That’s how a lot of romances start. People start as friends, and then things get physical. The next thing you know. You’re a couple.”

            “Extremely physical,” chimed in Rhonda.

            “Don’t say that,” said Jeff in a flat tone.

            “Say what?” asked Tyler.

            “That word.”

            “What word?” asked Rhonda.

            “Physical,” said Jeff.

           “What’s wrong with the word physical?” asked Tyler. “Rhonda is in excellent condition. Limber as a thirteen-year-old gymnast.”

            “This is so fucking wrong,” Jeff muttered and lowered his head.

            “Jeff. We are telling you because we’re tired of sneaking around,” said Rhonda.

            “I kinda liked our trysts,” said Tyler.

            Rhonda smiled and took his hand. “Yeah, making love to you in the woods is wonderful.”

            “And in the rain,” said Tyler.

            “And in the bathroom of the steak house,” said Rhonda.

            Jeff imagined his hands around Tyler’s throat squeezing and squeezing. Then he slammed his fist on the table, jarring everyone. “Fuck it.” Jeff stood and went outside for some air.

            Mala followed him. “You’re a real jerk right now. I wished you looked at me with half  as much passion as Tyler looks at Rhonda.”

            “Are you serious right now?”

            “Yeah, I am.”

            Jeff rolled his eyes.

            “Go ahead, roll your eyes, but their love has reminded me of what we used to have.”

            “What do you mean, used to have? What are you trying to say?”

            “I’m trying to say...” She stared at him tears in her eyes. “You take love where you find it. Life is too damn short.”

            “Where’s this going?”

            “We used to be so close. We used to talk.”

            “We still do.”

            Mala shook her head. “We are too different now. You’re too judgmental. I’m sorry.”

            “Wait, Mala?”

            “I meant to tell you, but there’s never been a good time. I’m done with this. With us.”

           “What?”

            Mala held up her hand. “You’re upset right now. And I’m not going to discuss this with you while you’re this way. I’ll catch an Uber up the street. I’ll call you later.”

            Mala walked away.

            Jeff stood there for an hour, soul burned, the ashes of his mind blowing in a wind of confusion.

            “Hey, Jeff,” said Tyler coming out onto the porch. “Is everything okay?”

            Jeff turned. “I don’t like you.”

            “I know.”

            “But if Memaw is happy...well, so am I.”

            Tyler offered his hand.

            Jeff glanced at it as if he were handing him a turd. “Don’t push it, bruh,” he said brushing past Tyler as he went inside.

Michael Pasley grew up in Southern Indiana and, briefly attended Indiana University in Bloomington. His publications include “You Just Don’t Get It” in Germ Magazine and “Double Zero” in The Avalon Literary Review. As a young black kid growing up in the housing projects, Mike often felt alone in his love of poetry, Sci-Fi, and fantasy. He began at the age of eleven to write poems and short stories. Michael now lives in Jeffersonville, Indiana where he spends most of his free time hiking, playing with his kids, and writing, writing, writing. 

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