Rocking the Boat

No, I Won’t Go!

Amina peeked from behind the curtains out her window scanning her leaf covered lawn. She could have called for professional service to gather up fire red and banana yellow leaves, but that would require face-to-face communication, something she’d rather not do. Letting the curtain fall back into place, she turned shuffling through the living room into the kitchen in search for a step stool. She was too short to reach her cabinets and pantry when retrieving or storing items. Stepping on the wooden stool, Amina pulled back the cabinet door and fished around for her M&M’s mug. She was in the mood for the bite ginger tea provided to soothe her sore throat. After claiming the porcelain mug by its thick handle, Amina hopped down and grabbed the cobalt blue kettle that rested on her counter and placed it under the tap, running water into the vessel.

Amina peeked from behind the curtains out her window scanning her leaf covered lawn. She could have called for professional service to gather up fire red and banana yellow leaves, but that would require face-to-face communication, something she’d rather not do. Letting the curtain fall back into place, she turned shuffling through the living room into the kitchen in search for a step stool. She was too short to reach her cabinets and pantry when retrieving or storing items. Stepping on the wooden stool, Amina pulled back the cabinet door and fished around for her M&M’s mug. She was in the mood for the bite ginger tea provided to soothe her sore throat. After claiming the porcelain mug by its thick handle, Amina hopped down and grabbed the cobalt blue kettle that rested on her counter and placed it under the tap, running water into the vessel.

Carrying the kettle to the stove, she ignited the burners and allowed the fire to start the heating process.  Slicing through homemade rye, Amina dropped the squares into the toaster to brown. Opening the refrigerator, Amina broke off a stem of grapes, pulled out a small plastic container of butter and jar of jam and put them on the counter as well. Today was going to be a long day, she surmised. She spent near all her time editing novels, sometimes essays when she wanted something light to review. Seems her Master’s in Creative Writing turned out to be her golden goose. If she hadn’t had that under her belt, she would have surely been screwed. Working from home wasn’t so bad, but if people knew she hadn’t left her house in five years, they would have thought her nuts. In the confines of her house was where she felt most safe and secure.

But, one day out of the year left her frazzled. Children trick or treating never failed to knock on her door looking for candy. Every time a knock came, Amina’s heart lurched up in her throat. She often had to drown out squealing children and persistent knocking with sleeping pills to ease her nerves. This year would be no different. Amina was chilled to the bone just thinking about it. Shaking her head, Amina tore off a paper towel and retrieved her toast and slathered it with butter and jam. Rinsing stemmed grapes, she shook free excess water and set it on the towel to dry. The screaming stream of steam prompted her to cut the fire and turn her attention to the wire hanging basket she stored ginger in. Grabbing it, she sat it on a small cutting board and sliced four pieces that were sure to pack a pungent punch. Tossing them into the mug, she covered them over with boiling water. Snatching off another towel from the roll, she added her toast and grapes to the sheet and grabbed her mug by its chunky handle and trucked over to the couch.

Resting her breakfast on an oak coffee table, she plopped down on the cushion crossing her legs beneath her. Scooping up the manuscript she had lying beside her on the opposite cushion, she cradled it in her lap and began reading line by line scrutinizing over every detail. In between corrections, she nipped at her toast or popped a grape or two into her mouth. Clearing her throat, she sipped on her spicy tea and savored its flavor. Amina was so engrossed in her reading, she hadn’t noticed four hours had gone by and lunch was at hand. Squeezing her eyes shut against the strain behind her eyes, she pushed herself up onto her feet and stretched. Suddenly, a knock rapt at her front door, causing her heart to falter and eyes fill with apprehension. She wasn’t expecting anyone and no one had called to inform her of his or her arrival.

Creeping slowing toward the front door, Amina’s heart collided against its cage the closer she got. Her body began to quake with fear and hands were damp with sweat. By the time she reached the door, her throat seized up forcing her to calm her breathing. Black dots began spotting her vision, she could feel her brain shutting down on her as she sagged against the door. Blinking trying to clear her vision, she struggled to keep herself upright long enough to peek through the peephole to discover her father was on the other side. Sinking to her knees, she rested her head against the door trying to catch her breath waiting until her heart beat at a normal pace before scraping herself up from the floor.

Amina’s legs felt wobbly like Jell-O, but on her feet she was. Steadying her hand, she turned back the top lock and the one below it, slowing turning the knob to the outside world. Autumn’s spicy and pungent aroma filtered through slightly burning her nose. She looked up at her father and gave a shaky smile.

“Amina dear, I’ve missed you. I’ve called many times but you haven’t responded back.”

“I’ve been busy. Sorry dad.”

“Can I come in?”

“Yes, sure.” As Charles Moorehouse passed the threshold, so did another figure she hadn’t seen standing behind her father. Fear shot through her as she ended up on her backside trying to push herself away by the heels of her feet. Time seemed to stop as blood flooded her brain causing a glitch in her cognitive skills. She thought she was moving further away but really, this stranger was coming closer, too close for comfort. “D-d-dad!” Amina shrieked. That was the only word she could manage between screaming to the top of her lungs.

“Amina! Amina! What’s wrong?” She hadn’t heard a word her father said. Instead, she violently thrashed around like a fish out of water. Walls were closing in on her and she was sure she was going to die. “Breath Amina, breath!” Charles shook Amina to capture her attention, put it was of no use. Her eyes were focused on the stranger, paralyzed with fear until her vision slowly covered over black. The last sounds she remembered hearing were dull voices garbling out commands before she passed out.

“Why didn’t you tell me she suffered from panic attacks!?” James asked.

“Amina doesn’t have panic attacks.”

“She definitely has something going on with her.”

“I have no idea what it could be. She was fine when we last saw her.”

“How long ago was that?”

Charles was embarrassed to admit his negligence when he realized the stretch of time that he allowed pass between he and his daughter. “It’s been five years.” Charles lowered his head in shame as he scooped Amina from the floor and onto the couch. James couldn’t judge because he didn’t know the circumstances, but he assumed it must have been difficult to be estranged from one’s own seed.

“I think it’s best I wait outside.”

“No, stay. Do me a favor,” he asked, looking sourly at his daughter, “check Amina’s pantry and refrigerator, please.”

“If she finds out I’ve been through her house, she’s not going to be too happy.”

“It’s alright. I’ll take responsibility if it comes to that.” Charles noticed she looked a tad slimmer than he saw her last and while scanning around the house, all her curtains were drawn, blocking out as much light as possible. This was not the daughter he helped raise. Amina was not a dark girl, she was always bubbly, easy going and had a take-charge kind of personality.

“There’s not much in the fridge, a few stems of grapes, a bottled water, butter, preserves and bread. There are a couple cans of corn and ravioli in the pantry.” James lamented, watching how Charles was absorbing the information. His brows pulled together pensively wondering what exactly was wrong with his daughter. Charles’s eyes fell on the partially eaten toast and cold tea, Amina wasn’t taking care of herself. She never suffered from weight problems, so why? What was going on? Upon further inspection, he noticed her engagement ring was missing, could this be the reason he hadn’t heard from her? Charles hadn’t like that bastard of a fiancé Rania, his wife set her up with. He warned her time after time not to interfere with their daughter’s private affairs. Amina hadn’t initially liked Reginald Jones but over time he grew on her.

He hadn’t grown one bit on Charles. He didn’t trust Reginald as far as he could throw him. But in order to keep the peace with his wife, he relented and watched from afar. Granted, Reginald hadn’t displayed questionable behavior, but it was just something about him that hadn’t set right with Charles. But if things were over between Amina and Reginald, he wouldn’t lose a wink of sleep. However, if she was grieving herself sick, that was a problem he would gladly sacrifice sleep for until Amina was back to her original self.

Groaning escaped through Amina’s lips. She drug her hands down her face and pushed up on one elbow trying to gather her bearing. Feeling the presence of someone close to her, she snapped her head in that direction and saw her father studying her intensely.

“What happened?’ she asked groggily.

“That’s what I want to know, Amina. What’s going on with you?”

“Nothing.”

“Since when do you have panic attacks?”

“I don’t want to talk about it, dad.”

“You better tell me something or I’m taking you to a psychiatrist right now.”

“No! You can’t. I’m not going.”

“Amina, you don’t have food in your house and it looks like you’ve not been taking proper care of yourself.”

“You went through my house?”

“No…just your kitchen. I asked James to do it?”

“Who’s James?”

“That would be me,” he responded as he crossed his arms over his chest. That familiar swimming sensation began to rush to her head again. A stranger was in her house and a male at that.

“He went through my house!? H-he..” she was ready to pass out again as she managed to get to her feet, albeit, shakily. “W…oh… God, I’m going to throw up. Get him out of here. Get him out of here, now!”

“Amina, calm down, breathe. Just breathe. Look at me, look at me, sweetheart. James is with me, he’s not a threat. He’s not going to hurt you, okay? Trust me.” Tears streamed down her face as she heaved and blew out air.

“I can’t do this. I can’t.”

“Let’s go see a psychiatrist. They’ll know what do.”

“No!” Panic flashed across her face as she bumped against the coffee table and took a tumble. Clawing at the plush white carpet, her nails dug in as Charles tried to gather her up by her waist. “Stop! Get out! Get out!” Amina fought him off as if he were her attacker. She couldn’t leave her house, she just couldn’t. She’d die on the spot. “Leave me alone. Go away.” she sobbed curling into a ball.

“Sweetheart, you need help. Let me help you.”

“I don’t need your help.” James’s heart twisted in a knot watching her come undone. It wasn’t the first time he saw a woman scared out of her wits, but it was the first time he met a woman who wouldn’t leave her house. He was right, something had happened to her and no shrink would get close enough to unravel what has her so shook up.

“Amina, get up right now.”

“No.”

“You’re going whether you want to or not.” Snatching up his daughter, Charles headed for the door with Amina trying to wiggle her way out of his grip. The closer he got to the door, the louder she hollered. Once he managed to get the door opened, partial sunlight greeted her contorted terrified face. Amina used her legs as leverage against the frame of the door to resist leaving her safe space. She also dug her nails into the frame for added resistance. She wasn’t leaving and that was final.

“Amina-”

“Put her down,” James commanded.

“What?” Charles asked shocked.

“Release her. You can’t force a grown woman to do something she doesn’t want to do. Put her down Mr. Moorehouse.”

“Are you nuts?”

“I’m perfectly sane. Trust me.”  Charles stared at him hard until he realized what James meant. He loosened his grip on Amina and set her on her feet. Scurrying back into her dark living room, she stood there breathing heavy as her eyes spoke volumes of how angry she was at her father. James turned and faced Amina with a reassuring smile, “I apologize for your father’s actions. Don’t hold it against him, he was only doing what he thought was best.”

“Get out!”

“Okay.”

James met Charles at the door and closed it behind them. Amina charged the door and gave it a hearty kick leaving her father to turn in surprise. Securing herself once again in safety, she calmed herself and walked back to the couch covering her face with her hands as she trembled.

“At least she gets angry. That’s a good sign at least.”

“What are you up to James?”

“Just leave Amina to me, I’ll find out what’s going on with her and coax her out of her house.”

“Are you sure you can do it?”

“Trust me.”

©privatethoughtsmadepublic. 2016.

Next chapter here, Rocking the Boat

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s