I enjoy the freedom of walking the halls of the National Cathedral with no restriction. There is a sense of pride when I walk past the “Employees Only.” Sometimes I sit and stare at the shrines of Mary, Maryam to some, Maria to some also. I’ve always been fascinated with Mary, how she holds such a high place in Islam and Christianity. Choirs from all over the world come to the Cathedral and give concerts here. Personally, I like sitting in on their rehearsals, taking in the harmony of fifty plus voices working in unison to create such a beautiful melody.
Some days Mya and I would sit and go over misunderstandings we had when it came to religion. One day, I came home from the gym and she had a copy of the Qur’an cracked open in one hand and a bowl of ice cream in the other.
“Mary has an entire chapter in the Qur’an,” she said, while scooping up the ice cream. I toss my gym bag down and peaked at the pages.
“Huh? It seems she does,” I say sarcastically. She cracks a smile and moves in closer.
“What about Maryam if we have a girl?”
“Or Maria?” I say while pointing to the bowl.
“Maria Amira?” she responds while feeding me ice cream.
“Ah! Best of both worlds!”
Those days are behind us it seems. At this point, I am sitting in a hotel in Miami waiting for a meeting with Mya. I check my phone, as I have done for months, in anticipation that she would text me. I reached out to her brother and he agreed to meet me for breakfast tomorrow. I guess this is a start.
When I see Mya’s brother, (let’s call him Carlos) he moves in for our usual hug. This is the closet I’ve been to Mya in months and Carlos even smells like Mya.
“How have you been?” he asks, as he points to the coffee he ordered for me.
“I won’t lie Carlos, it has been a rough few months. How is your grandma?” I open a packet of sugar and mix it with my coffee.
“Thanks be to God, she actually made a full recovery. I swear, one day the doctor is telling us she has weeks to live the next she’s at home telling me to wash dishes again.”
We share small talk and eat. I wipe my mouth with the napkin and place it on my empty plate.
“Mya, how is she?” I can feel my throat tightening up just at the mention of her name. Carlos motions over the waitress for the check but before she can leave, I hand her my credit card.
“She has been up and down. Some days she is jogging on the beach, while the next she doesn’t come out her room,” he replies. I sign the check and lean back in my chair.
“I told her I was meeting you today and…” I lean forward in my chair “She agreed to meet you at church on Sunday.” I lean back in my chair and my first instinct is to look at my watch. It’s Friday.
“Thanks for breakfast but, I have to get to work. If you need anything call me, alright?” Carlos says while standing up. I stand up with him to embrace him with another hug.
I decided to spend Saturday night on the beach with a good book. I became distracted and started flipping through old pictures in my phone. I tried to pin point the last time Mya and I were happy. There was a picture of us at a Thai restaurant, I wonder if she was happy here? I flicked faster and faster when I stopped on a picture of us on her parent’s couch back home.
We were both wearing our college hoodies, laughing, and looking at each other with a certain level of innocence. I hardly knew her and she hardly knew me. This was the day I asked her to marry me. Within a four-week period we felt every emotion humanly possible and the next step naturally seemed like marriage. Sometimes, if feels I still hardly know her and she hardly knows me. Sunday morning came slowly because sleep never came to me. When I arrived at the church, ironically named The Cathedral of St. Mary, I send Carlos a text and he gives me basic directions of where they are sitting.
I slowly walk up the isle, my heart is racing, and my hands are shaking. Scanning the seats, I spot Carlos sitting at the end of the isle, Mya sitting next to him with her niece (Carlos’ daughter, we will call her Destiny) in her lap.
“Who’s that?” Carlos asks Destiny, while pointing up at me.
Destiny jumps from Mya’s lap and leaps into my arms.
“You said you were coming for Easter!” My failed promises to her breaks my heart.
“I know”, I say while taking a seat next to Mya. “I got a new job and I had to work, do you forgive me?” I silently pray she forgives me.
“Of course!” she says, while snuggling between Mya and I. I lean in to kiss Mya and she turns her head. Fair enough. The service ends and Destiny is fast asleep, stretched out between Mya and I. I pick her up and hand her over to Carlos.
“I’ll take her on home. I’ll see you two later today.” Just like that, he’s gone and I’m alone with Mya for the first time in months.
“How are you?” I ask trying to conjure up conversation.
“I’ve been well, doing a lot of thinking,” she replies. We end up walking to a park across the street of the church. I guess there’s something about us and parks.
Mya brushes her hair from her face and my first motion is to hold her hand but, I restrain myself.
“I know about her.” Her face turns to stone and so does mine.
“Her, who?” I question.
“From the party. Tiana.” (Let’s call her Tiana).
“Mya, that was nothing. It meant nothing.” My voice goes from inquisitive to pleading.
“The conversations you two shared were romantic Amir, damn near sensual! The poem you wrote her? That was my poem!” She’s right, that was a poem I wrote for her on a napkin while we were sitting in a café. I slipped her the napkin and she kept it in a scrapbook but, I remembered the words.
“Wait, how do you know all of this?”
“You weren’t slick by using your email and I know all your passwords. I checked your inbox to find an email from the insurance company and there it was.”
“Listen, Mya I can explain. We were in a rough patch. She was there and willing to listen. Next thing I know I was at her house. I never loved her, Mya.”
“Like that makes it alright?! You never, not once came to me! You never talked to me, about any of this. Did you think I was going to read your mind? Do you want to be with me?”
“Of course I do, is that a serious question?” I grab her hand for the first time in months. She leans into my shoulder and she starts crying and looks up at me with a face full of tears.
“I had an abortion, Amir,” she says while burying her face in her hands.
“I had an abortion. I had to, Amir I had to.” Her tone sounds like she not only asking my forgiveness but for God’s forgiveness too.
“When were you going to tell me? Hell, when were you going to tell me you were even pregnant?”
“I read your emails and I was upset. I was with this guy…” Her voice starts to crack. “I was with you and him around the same time. I honestly didn’t know who the father would be.”
Those are the only words that come out of my mouth.
“I came to Miami because I just needed a break, Amir. I needed a break so I can forgive myself and so I can forgive you too.”
“Ok,” is all I can muster up. I loosen my tie and walk towards the parking lot.
“Amir, wait! What are we doing?” she asks while catching up to me.
“We? I am going to go back home.”
“I want to work this out,” she says. I turn away from her and continue walking to the car. I stop. Turn around and look at her.
“Remember that church my family bought back home in Smithfield?”
“The old Black church across from the court house?”
“Across from the old fire station but, yes. I’m going back there to help fix it up. You should come with me. We will be away from the city. We can stay on the farm and we can just work on this.”
“What will we do in the mean time?” she asks. I hold out my hand and she takes it.
“Let’s go home.”
Two wrongs never make a right. Something in my heart said these two wrongs were not all the wrongs that have been done. What someone admits to is always worse than what actually happened. After a few months of life back in DC, we made our way to Smithfield, Ohio and in Smithfield is where the story really begins and ends.