Fiction Latinx People of Color

The sun gently rose above the horizon signaling the dawn of a new day. Mondays were always the worst, being the beginning of another tiresome work week. Mike opened his eyes and peered across his dark room at the widows that were outlined in the dawn light. He didn’t want to get out of bed, didn’t want to wake up and face another day at a job he had come to loathe for many different reasons. But, as always, his dedication and loyalty to the company he worked for, as well as his firmly entrenched work ethic, forced him to roll over to his left and inch his way out of bed.

Flipping the covers off of him, Mike pushed himself upright and let his legs dangle off the side of the bed. He let his head dip towards his chest and he took in a deep breath and then let it out. Finally he edged off the side of the bed and searched for his slippers. Once found, he put his feet into them and then stood upright and stretched his body upward with his arms raised towards the ceiling. Once done, he made for the door and opened it. The hallway beyond was still and quiet. Snippets of the rising sun could be seen through the beveled glass window in his bathroom, which was straight down the hall from his room.

Mike began his trek down the hall towards the bathroom. He didn’t need a light to show the way. His feet found their step as sure as the sun found the sky outside. Into the bathroom he went to begin his morning ritual. Shit, shower and shave, the three “S’s” he was taught early in life and that is exactly what he did in that order. Once finished, he headed back into his bedroom to get dressed. By this time the sun had brightened the sky where enough light had seeped through into his room so that he didn’t need to turn on the lights.

On went his black underwear, white t-shirt, black ankle length socks, blue jeans, a navy blue polo shirt and black Nike sneakers. His wallet and cell phone soon found their way into his pockets and down the stairs he went. A short stop in the kitchen where he grabbed a couple bottles of water and his favorite LifeAide drink along with a breakfast bar that were all stashed inside his satchel. Once that was done, he headed back through the living room, grabbed his car keys and left the house. Once the front door was locked, Mike turned and scanned his immediately surroundings. The neighborhood was still asleep. Quiet ruled the early hours of this day…for now. He knew it would be different in a few hours after the rest of the neighborhood woke up.

Mike opened the metal gate to his porch and descended the concrete steps. Once on the pavement, he glanced to his left and right, taking in his surroundings. Down the block he caught sight of another neighbor leaving her house, who was probably on her way to work. Mike did not know her, did not know any of his neighbors. He preferred to keep to himself and live a quiet life. But sometimes the neighborhood made it a challenge for him to do so. Like many things in his life, Mike grudgingly accepted it and rolled on, vowing to correct his choice of living arrangements as soon as a window of opportunity opened.

He turned to his right and began walking up the block towards where he parked his car the night before. Once at his vehicle, he unlocked and got in. Strapping himself in with the seatbelt, Mike turned on the car and drove off to work Normally he would not drive to work because he hated driving into the city, but his company was paying for the parking and it was convenient to have his car waiting for him after he was finished with work. During the pandemic, Mike was working from home, but once he got his vaccination shot, he was forced to make a return to the office. Nothing showed him more how much he came to hate his job than the time he spent at home and what that had afforded. A certain amount of freedom he did not have pre-pandemic, something which he enjoyed very much. Now that he was back in the “rat race” Mike longed to be working remotely from his home office.

However, it is what it is and Mike had to make do until he could do otherwise. He was certain a new path would open up to him. It was just a matter of time before it happened. Until then, back to the office he goes. The trip from his house to the office building was mainly uneventful. The tedious drive to get onto the highway that led into the center of the city and the dance of the metal chariots jinking to and fro, changing lanes here and there, speeding up and slowing down until it was time for him to exit at the his designated off-ramp and snake his way to the parking garage that sat next to his building.

Once he exited his car and made sure it was locked, Mike made his way down the steps and into the revolving doors of his building. He slipped on the mask he was required to wear while in the building and made his way through the electronic turnstiles that guarded the elevators. He took out his access card and passed it in front of the electronic reader to gain access to one of the elevators. The reader recognized his card and opened a designated elevator for him to enter. Up he went until the elevator reached the eighth floor where his office was located. He exited the elevators and walked through the next security gauntlet that consisted of a thermal imaging machine that took his body temperature, verifying if he had fever or not. One of the telltale symptoms of the current virus that was running rampant all over the world.

After the green light was given, Mike headed through to the next set of doors that would lead him to his personal desk. Again he produced his access card and passed it over the electronic card reader posted by the doorway. The green light flashed and an audible “click” sounded, signaling the doors were unlocked. Once through, he headed to his desk. As he walked along the hallway, the embedded motion sensors detected his movement and turned on the lights. He reached his desk and stood there a moment before pulling out his chair to sit. A scene of organization greeted him. Like every day, nothing was amiss. A clean surface with his keyboard, mouse, and three monitors sat in silence. Underneath the desk was the laptop everything was connected to. He pulled out his chair, sat down and placed his satchel on the floor next to him in front of the small file cabinet that sat beneath his desk was well. He reached under and pulled the laptop out, opening the lid and depressing the on button. He quickly slid it back into place and turned his gaze to the center monitor that lit up while the laptop was cycling through its boot-up process. Mike keyed in the access code that would prompt the laptop to continue and give him access to the company network.

About a minute later the process was complete. Mike cycled through various authentication processes that was required by his company’s Information Services department, or “InfoSec” for short, in order for him to use the many tools and programs heeded to get his job done. After completing those tasks, Mike shifted his focus to his inbox and the variety of e-mails that waited. The very first e-mail that grabbed his attention was one that had a subject line of ‘The Honest Truth”. He noticed that it was from his oldest daughter Melinda who lived in California. Mike did not hear from her much, but usually communicated via text message. Recently she had been silent. Not a peep from her with the exception of a quick blurb “I’m kinda busy right now, on set.”

Mike took the hint and let it slide, knowing she would get back to him when time permitted. Being a divorced father of two girls had its challenges. He tried his best to be as good a father as he could be to his daughters. He knew he wasn’t perfect and at times he failed, but that did not stop him from continuing to try. He dedicated himself to always being there for both of his daughters no matter what. He even made the conscious choice of not entering into another committed relationship until the girls were much older. Melinda and Tamara were the joy of his world. Both girls took after him in many ways, even though they never admitted it. Melinda and Tamara were two sides to the same coin. But the one that took after him the most was Melinda. He never showed favoritism to either daughter. He treated the both equally and made the best effort to ensure they knew their father loved them.

Melinda was troubled girl. She showed disturbing signs of darkened moods after the divorce. Mike’s ex-wife was always hounding him about keeping close tabs on Melinda, saying that she was always giving her a hard time and that they were clashing more and more. Mike tried to reach out to his daughter, get her to talk to him, but she was unresponsive. So he left her alone until one day as he was passing her bedroom he saw that her personal journal was open. Immediately he knew he was not supposed to invade her privacy like that, but in his mind he had no choice. How else was he supposed to know what was bothering his daughter? He made the dubious decision to go ahead and read what she wrote. As karma would have it, Melinda returned to her room while Mike was reading. Caught in the act, he had no excuse but to try and defend himself for what he did. He failed miserably. Not even explaining the fact that her mother put him up to it could curb her outrage. It broke his heart to have violated his daughter’s privacy in such a way. Two years later, Melinda came out to her father and told him she was a lesbian. It was a shock to say the least, but Mike paused for a moment to think about the revelation. In a way it made sense and he accepted as fact. He told Melinda that he did not care that she was gay. If that is who she was, then so be it. As long as she was happy with herself, he would always support her no matter what. 

Inwardly Mike felt saddened that Mel did not trust him enough to tell him sooner. But at least it was out in front now and he would deal with it the best way possible. Fast forward to her senior year and things between her and her mother had not gotten much better. Melinda asked to move back in with her father. Of course Mike said yes. He would rather have both of his daughters back, but knew Tamara would not leave her mother. Mel worked a part time job while going to school. Mike would give her money if she needed it, but she steadfastly refused, preferring to make her own money instead. However, there were those few times when dear old dad would step in when she needed him. The same went for Tamara as well.

Graduation came and went and Melinda made the decision to move to California to pursue her dream of working in the film industry. There were many ups and downs, but to her credit Mel made it work for her. At one point in time Melinda had gotten herself into a nasty jam with a particularly devious female she was dating. It did not end well and Mel was in dire straits.   In stepped dad to save the day. Again, it was not what he had to do to save his daughter, but how long it took her to tell him about it. It frustrated him so that both of his daughters were sop hesitant to talk to him. Even Tamara distanced herself from him for over a year with no explanation as to why. Of course his ex-wife was no help. She would rather both of his daughters turn their backs on him for good. That would be her sweet revenge.

Shaking his head to clear those thoughts from his mind, Mike brought himself back to the present and the e-mail from his daughter. A sense of foreboding over took him. He hesitated opening the message, but forced himself to do it anyway. It began with “I HATE YOU”. Those three simply words brought him to a screeching halt. At first he did not believe what he was reading, but after reading it again and again did not change a thing. He continued to read the letter with utter disgust and horror. The content was something out of a nightmare where Melinda was ranting and raving about how much of a bad father Mike really was and how she never even loved him and how she could find better father figures if she had to. She called him “pathetic” and “disgusting” and how his writing was flawed and boring. The fact that he drew upon his past experiences and told stories using himself as one of the main characters was sad. She accused him of doing so many wrong things and even went as far as saying he lusted after young girls. That statement shook him to his core. He couldn’t believe what he was reading. What was Melinda thinking? Where was all this anger and disrespect coming from?

Mike was beside himself with anger and grief. How could his daughter treat him this way? How could she say what she did?  Anger, shame and despair assaulted him all at once. He felt his world falling apart all around him as he kept reading and re-reading the e-mail.  Was this all a bad joke? No, no it wasn’t. He simply could not believe vile and vulgar language Mel used to berate him in that e-mail. And for what? It sounded like she had harbored all those feelings for years and now someone had prodded her into action by attacking him in that manner. Yes, that was it. It had to be it. This smelled of someone or some people getting into her ear and convincing her that to ease what was troubling her mind was to destroy her relationship with her father in that manner.

He had to stop. He had to get a grip on himself. Mike knew he could not respond to her in the emotional state he was in at the moment. Mike headed to the restroom to take a breather. He seated himself in one of the enclosed stalls and tried to settle his spirit. He wanted to let the damn in his soul burst and cry, but his manhood refused to allow it. He reached deep down inside his trembling soul and took hold of himself. He knew his heart was broken. First Tamara, now Mel. What had happened? Where did he go wrong? He was not an abusive father. He was nothing of what Melinda accused him of being. How could this all happen? How could his daughters betray him thus? He immediately focused on his ex-wife Clarice. 

That shrew of a woman was certain responsible for this. He knew it deep within his bones. Instantly he began plotting on how to get back at her, how to hurt her. How to destroy the little world she created for herself and her new husband. But no, he could not do it. That way of thinking came to a crashing halt once he realized the ends would not justify the means. He knew if he did go through it with, life as he knew it would cease to exist. He would be in a world of trouble that he could not get himself out of.

No, it was best to focus on the problem at hand and that was how to best respond to Mel. Should he? He wanted to, but what would he say? How could he say it? Nothing he could weave together in response to that scathing e-mail could put things right. The only thing he could do was respond in a clam and controlled way and leave it at that. Mike headed back to his desk, sat down and pulled his cell phone out. He thumbed open the text messaging app. He took a moment to pause before fingering open the dialogue box that held so many messages between him and Mel. Finally, choosing his words carefully, at least he thought so, he texted the following…”Good morning, I read your e-mail and thank your honesty and for exposing yourself to be the person you have truly become.” He looked at the message before tapping send. Yes, this is what he wanted to say…the only thing he could say at the moment. Anything else would just deepen the pain and make matters much worse…if that was even possible.

With the message sent, Mike put his cell phone away so he would not expect a response from his daughter. No, she would not respond. She made herself very clear with how she felt about it. He still could not believe it. He could not understand it at all. There had to be someone to explain it to him, to try and help him understand what he did…if anything. At that moment he felt alone, lost, confused and deeply hurt. He sat back in his chair and stared up at the ceiling mentally asking god why? Of course he did not hear a response. He never did, even when praying. But that did not stop him from doing so. Where could he go from here? What could he do to heal the rift? No amount of words could truly express what he was feeling. No amount of anything could guide him out of this waking nightmare. Yeah…it was Monday.

August 29, 2021 02:41

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RBE | We made a writing app for you (photo) | 2023-02

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