Rose

The yellow-and-black checkered cab pulled up in front of the college residence hall and parked under a sprawling mango tree. In the backseat, Rose checked her watch. It was 12:45pm. She opened her handbag and retrieved her pressed-powder compact. She flipped open its cover and checked her face in the small mirror. Her soft makeup was still perfect, and not a single strand of her mane was out of place.

The goateed cab driver rested a rough dark elbow on the back of the front passenger seat and turned his head in her direction. The man smiled. His gold molar twinkled in the brilliant afternoon sun. “Don’t worry. You look lovely.”

“Thanks.”

“You welcome, ma’am.”

Rose exited the vehicle, smoothed her long-sleeved off-white linen dress, and fingered the notched lapel collar to make sure it was straight. Next she scanned the two rows of four covered buttons that lined up on the front of the double-breasted dress, to ensure that none was unfastened. There were no runs in her sheer pantyhose, which were a shade lighter than the tan leather pumps that matched her pocketbook. Good. She wouldn’t be caught dead looking anything less than perfect by her husband’s mistress.

“Please wait right here for me,” she instructed the driver. “I’ll be back in no time.”

“No problem. Tek you time.”

But she didn’t want to spend a second longer than was necessary on campus. Donovan had gone to a meeting, or so he claimed. The man was involved in several charity organizations and community groups, and also actively participated in church events; so clocking him would be quite a chore, even if she wanted to. Their daughter was spending the day at his mother’s. So now Rose simply wanted to have a few words with the girl, return the card, and go home.

On this perfect Saturday afternoon, it was a soothing seventy degrees. Wending her way up the croton-and-fern-lined walkway toward the weathered three-storied concrete building situated on a slope of rising ground, she was afforded a breathtaking view of many stately mansions dotting the surrounding rolling hills.

The expansive campus grounds were quiet. She noticed a few students exiting the side entrance of the large residence hall and hoped Patsy wasn’t one of them. She didn’t want to come all this way for nothing.

She ascended two concrete steps that led into the building and her heartbeat shifted into second gear, so she took deep breaths to calm it down. It didn’t help. Soon it was pounding in her ears like a bass drum. Now she was having second thoughts. She should have brought Laverne with her. No, she corrected herself. She should have listened to Laverne and not come. But it was too late to turn back now, she decided. She remembered some of her grandmother’s comforting words—“Even if you’re like Jonah in the fish’s belly in the bottom of the sea, or like Daniel in the lion’s den, Jesus will protect you. He never leaves you.”

With those words in mind, Rose headed down a brightly lit corridor, and followed an arrow that pointed right, with the words Dorm A painted in bold black letters on the beige wall. She took one long, deep breath, held her head and chest high, steadied herself and headed further down the corridor. She knocked on room number four.

The weathered wooden door squeaked half-open and a pillow-creased cinnamon-brown face poked out. Patsy had a mixture of Indian and African features. Her overly bulky eggplant sweatshirt was roomy enough to hold four of her petite frame.

“Good morning.”

“Good afternoon,” Rose dryly corrected. You don’t know your lover’s correct birth date and you don’t know the time of day.

From where she stood Rose quickly scanned the small dim room. A wooden desk crowded with a computer, several stacks of folders, and thick texts stood beside an old dresser. Numerous yellow Post-it Notes dotted the stripping beige walls. There was a twin bed on each side of the small room and she figured that two women shared the place. But Rose trusted her instinct, and it assured her that she was speaking with the right one.

Scrubbing her big brown eyes with the heel of her small hand, the half girl-half woman chuckled. “Oops. I’m sorry. Is it afternoon already?”

Rose folded her hands at her waist. “I’m looking for Patsy Wakefield.”

“I’m Patsy.”

Up close and personal, and way too close for comfort, Rose scrutinized the girl, trying to find a reason why her husband would leave her at home and go out and mess with this person. She gave her the once-over and her gaze landed on Patsy’s feet that were way too big for her petite frame. Rose made a tiny shrug, and even a tinier smirk. She tossed her hair behind her neck. Her voice was calm yet firm, her gaze piercing and direct as she introduced herself. “I am Rose Thorn. Donovan Thorn’s wife.” Phew! I’m so glad to at least get over the introduction.

Patsy gawked at her, smothered by Rose’s penetrating stare. Patsy gulped. She scrutinized Rose from head to feet. Then her eyes darted back to Rose’s gaze.

Patsy stepped out of the room into the hallway, and Rose slowly, reluctantly, stepped aside to allow the college slut some room. Patsy pulled the door shut behind her.

Rose felt a lump in her throat and tried to swallow over it, but it just stuck there like a hard ball. She wondered to what extent Donovan had gotten involved with the girl and a mixed feeling of anger, jealousy, and nervousness showered her. Her knees felt weak. She struggled to maintain her calm, cool, and confident outward appearance; but emotionally, she was shaking in her pumps. But no way would she let her rival see her break a sweat. She raked her fingers through her hair.

“What’s going on between you and my husband?”

“He’s your husband. I think you should ask him.”

She’s cocky too. Well, at least the wretch didn’t deny knowing him. “Well, I’m asking you, because his middle name is Liar.”

“Humph. I just found that out too.” The girl scratched her bird nest of a head. “But that’s between you and your…husband.”

Rose felt her face harden with rage. Patsy’s answers were much too vague. At least five inches taller than her rival—nine, if she added her four-inch heels, Rose felt that if she were a fighter she’d have a great advantage. She felt fury flow through her veins, consuming her entire being. It couldn’t be healthy feeling this angry. She really shouldn’t tarry on rocky ground much longer, she decided.

The girl’s gaze followed Rose’s hand as Rose dipped into her pocketbook. She fished out the envelope with the card. She held it down a few inches, in line with the girl’s eyes. Watching the girl gawk at her own penmanship, Rose thought deeper about the situation. Was she directing her rage at the right person? Did this pint-size gal point a gun to Donovan’s head and order, “Do me now, or else?!” Or did Donovan use the same strategy he’d used on Rose herself, back in her overly naïve, teenage years? He’d treated her like a queen, carried her books from school, charmed and cherished her like a rare gem. And who could resist such treatment? Patsy must have sucked up all of Donovan’s overloaded lies like a vacuum, just as Rose herself had done back then. And now Rose couldn’t help wondering how many more victims were out there.

But placing the blame on Donovan did nothing to lessen her pain. Holding on tightly to her angry, jealous tears, Rose held the woman’s gaze and told her in a furious tone, “Here! Take this! If you want to send a card to our house, I suggest you send one that reads, ‘To my lover, his wife, and his daughter.’ Call Hallmark and see if they have that category!”

The girl reached out a hand for the card, and it was a Kodak moment as Rose slowly loosened her grip on the envelope, and purposely let it slip from her fingers. Rose watched as Patsy’s eyes followed the envelope as it fell to the ground between two sets of feet. Patsy gulped and then stared agape at Rose, knowing Rose had willfully dropped it. Rose pointed a mocking finger at the envelope on the ground.

“Oops. Dropped it.” She paused. “Do the same thing to my husband.” Enough said, and relieved that it was over she wheeled around and headed down the hallway, feeling the dagger from her husband’s lover’s eyes digging into her back.

Rose exited the building and stepped onto the stone-paved walkway. The long-delayed tears dammed up in her eyes. She had walked away just in time. Since she’d dropped out of high school, this was the first time she’d trodden the grounds of an educational institution; except that, a few months ago, she had taken her daughter to register her for school. But that was kindergarten. This was different. This was the same college Rose had planned on attending before she got pregnant. She thought about the heart-wrenching reason that had brought her to the school now. She definitely wasn’t there to attend classes. Her breath quickened, as did her pace. Tears clouded her eyes and blurred her vision. She blinked, and they poured down her cheeks. She wished she’d taken her shades; they would do her well now. Sobbing softly, she hoped the two student lovers kissing under the cherry tree wouldn’t come up for air and notice her in her distress. Good thing she knew how to maneuver in four-inch heels. Gravel crunched loudly beneath her feet as she started to run. Straight ahead she noticed a woman with long, dark, skinny legs under a black miniskirt running toward her, a set of keys dangling in one hand. Rose didn’t think she knew anyone on campus; but even from a distance, through blurry, teary eyes, she thought the person looked familiar. As the woman got closer, Rose confirmed whom it was. She sobbed harder and ran faster toward her friend. She couldn’t think of any other time in her life when she’d needed a friendly shoulder to cry on as she needed one then.

In a quaint, English-looking rural town on Jamaica's Southern coast Rose Thorn struggles with her conniving, controlling, abusive husband, Donovan, to claim her right to realize the deferred educational dreams and stunted career ambitions she was forced to put on hold, when Rose had gotten pregnant and had to drop out of school during her final high school year.

Laverne Fine struggles with her doubts concerning her lover, Paul's, true identity and nationality; but Paul's Brooklyn-based mother has a lead-heavy hand in guarding their family secrets.

Wendy Arnold crumples under the escalating obstacles of her long-distance relationship with her Jamaica-based high school sweetheart, Miles. In the express lane to middle-age both want to marry each other and immediately start a family; but neither of these two lovers is willing to uproot.

The lives of these three Jamaican women, each with her unique connection to America, are woven into an engrossing tangled web of lies, suspense, infidelity, deceit, spousal abuse and betrayal. Long distance relationships are tested and tried; the true value of female friendships and mentorship is proven; and the advantages of immigration are weighed against the disadvantages.

Jamerican Connection

Paperback: 406 pages

Publisher: Writer's Showcase Press (January 20, 2001)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0595161588

ISBN-13: 978-0595161584