Jamaican Beef Patty(Jovan’s Lens)
Jovan slid his key card into the stainless-steel card reader, waiting for the two green dots to tell him what an oversight Thanarix’s feelings for him had been. She’d sent signals clear as day that she was interested, or so he’d thought. When Jovan entered the bathroom, he held a moment of silence for what could have been. Wincing, Jovan removed his teal tie from his fractured knuckle. Moments earlier, cheap china and human flesh had cracked the skin of his knuckle wide open. Jovan looked in the medicine cabinet, unable to locate any rubbing alcohol or Band-Aids. The best he could do was make a tourniquet out of a hand towel. Jovan doubted that a CVS would be open this late. Tonight, he would let oxygen hit the wound and heal it until the interim; just like his West Indian mother had taught him growing up. Besides, he’d be back at his bachelor pad as soon as the sun rose again. Jovan didn’t know what stung worse: his ego or the gaping gash threatening to split his knuckle in half. Afterwards, he splashed cold water on his tapered goatee and set his phone to Do Not Disturb. That night he found it difficult to sleep. Instead, he chose to replay the night’s events in his head over and over again. He’d been looking for signs that shit was about to go south, but couldn’t find any. Where had he gone wrong?
Her face was frozen in Jovan’s clouded memory. Her beautiful face reminded him of the color of the last Jamaican beef patty found behind the glass case of a dilapidated 7-Eleven. You knew that it’d been sitting out all day, but still asked the cashier for it anyway; taking a risk all the while. Like the beef patty, Jovan knew Thanarix was flaky and golden. That she would melt in his mouth if he ever got the chance to taste a piece of her. But there was a reason that there was always only 1 patty left. Thanarix wasn’t by herself like the beef patty in that glass case smeared with other people’s fingerprints. But Jovan hadn’t known that.
A fat tear had rolled down Thanarix’s cheek, leaving a streak of Fenty Beauty foundation no. 235 behind. Jovan had wanted to wipe the tears from her face. And pull her close; to whisper that it’d be alright when it wasn’t going to be. He wanted nothing more than to kiss the crown of her scalp afterwards. To breathe in the familiar scent of crushed hibiscus and coconut water imported directly from the motherlands. But the damage had already been done. It wasn’t like either of them could go back in time and fix this. Jovan was willing to let bygones be bygones. And for that he felt like he was a simp, or a doormat that Thana could walk back and forth on as she pleased. Thana failed him as much as his own intuition had. Normally, he could see red flags from a mile away. But she had him wide open. And that’d been his own fault. Nobody forced him to put his guard down. Jovan was grown enough to make that decision himself, right? Thana wasn’t one to hide things. Or lie.
But he’d only seen one version of her. The curly-headed flower child who constantly wiped sleep from her eyes, and always asked him if he wanted breakfast every single payday. He didn’t know why she asked because he’d always said yes. Thanarix knew his order better than anyone – 2 wake up wraps with egg, bacon, and cheese, 1 order of garlic and herb hash browns, a bottled water, and a sour cream donut; if he was having a cheat day of course. To spice it up, she sometimes bought him a French cruller or a Bavarian Kreme. That was only if the bakery hadn’t run out. Most days, Jovan was pretty strict about what he put into his body. To even the score, Jovan would buy Thanarix lunch. He hated the idea of a debt hanging over his head. That was something that he’d picked up from his wise Jamaican mother. She was full of sage advice and experience.
Noodles & Co. was a frequent favorite of theirs. Thanarix liked the pot stickers and the beef stroganoff with cavatappi noodles, instead of angel hair. Jovan dug into the zucchini noodles with grilled chicken and tomatoes; easy on the mushrooms. When she wasn’t looking, Jovan would add a Rice Krispie treat to the digital cart. The tasty triangle of marshmallow and cereal brought her relief on the days that work drained the life out of her; like a boa constrictor to its unassuming prey. It would take Thana a few days to eat it because of how huge it was. But she was grateful for the gesture nonetheless. The two of them had a system worked out. But it had collapsed from the inside out because she wasn’t honest from the get-go. Thanarix had Jovan wrapped around her finger for months.
Now how was Jovan supposed to wean himself off of her?
When Jovan stormed off, it took Thana a minute to follow suit. Barefoot, she gathered her gown in her trembling hands. Like Jovan’s faith in her, the velvet crushed underneath her grip.
Jovan stepped into the carpeted car of the elevator, heated beyond belief.
A less than talkative Thana bit her lip, unsure of how to address the drama she’d been at the center of. Quickly, Thana realized she was the source of Jovan’s frustration. Winning Jovan back wasn’t an option. Because he wasn’t hers to begin with – and vice versa. Earning his trust was out of the question too. Thana pinched the skin on her right elbow, hoping it was a dream.
A nagging thought popped into Jovan’s head as he pressed the button with two Isosceles triangles facing each other.
Ask her who it’s gonna be, his conscience nagged.
“Him – or me. Take your pick”.
Thana stood there, torn.
The girl furrowed her brow, closing her eyes, before the words slipped out – like a thread of venomous silk.
Thana grew small, and so did her voice. Before Thana’s eyes met Jovan’s, she looked behind her, a looming male figure catching the edge of her peripheral vision.
“Don’t make me pick”, Thana whispered, shaking as the elevator doors unanimously clicked shut.
Nayomi is a poet, flower child, & healer. She believes that the arts are a healing mechanism. Her work is mainly curated from an autobiographical standpoint. The themes she loves to explore in her pieces are: relationships, healing, grief, loss, sex, & mental health. Also, she uses writing to connect with her Ancestors, paying homage at every chance she gets. Currently, she is editing her memoir, “Pretty Bird”, for publication.
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