A Dead Rose

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I wasn't really perfect when I met Vincent seven years ago. I can honestly say I was young, just understanding my attractiveness and sexuality. I wasn't terrible, but I had done my share of dirt. Let's just say I had been around the world a few times. Probably a few times too many.

I was the type of girl who, as I used to like to say, was alone, but not lonely. Yeah, I always had a man around. Even when I didn't have a so-called boyfriend, I had somebody I could call to keep me company, take me out, or just warm my bed. Sadly, it was the warm my bed part that got me into trouble.

That was the part that earned me a few broken hearts, a couple of bruised egos, more than my fair share of trips to the clinic, and an abortion that I still have trouble thinking about. I know, I was a bad girl who never seemed to learn her lesson until it was too late. I can say that now because I've finally grown up. It's true what they say about hindsight being twenty-twenty. Looking back, I can clearly see what my problem

It was my trouble saying  I seldom went out looking for men, but I had no trouble attracting them. I'm a five-foot-seven-inch, cocoa brown woman who has been working out five days a week for the past eight years. I always make sure I look good when I go out. I didn't need anyone to tell me  I knew I had it going on.

I wasn't a gold digger, either. Everything I had, I worked for. I was raised to get it myself, and if I couldn't afford it, I did without until I could. I didn't make a lot as a receptionist, but living in Radcliff, Kentucky, where the cost of living was decent, helped me stay comfortable. I had a two-bedroom apartment with nice furniture in one of the better parts of town. If anyone walked into my place, they knew right away that they were dealing with a sista with taste!

The root of my issues was my location. I lived near Fort Knox, an Army post, and most of the men I dealt with came from that hellhole. You have to understand that Radcliff isn't that big a town, so about eight out of every ten men you meet there, especially if they're black, are most likely in the Army.  Now, if you've never lived near an Army post, or probably any military base for that matter, let me explain something to you: those guys are like some kind of fraternity! It was always amazing to me that I could meet two men in two totally different places and, before I could even introduce myself, those bastards would tell me they already knew me!

When we got down to it, I find out that they knew me because word around post is Isis is an easy fuck! That pissed me off, but when I think back on my life then, I did deal with a lot of guys, and even when I didn't plan on sleeping with them, I wound up doing the deed anyway. They would touch me in that certain spot, or gently kiss my neck (that feels so good!), or slowly run their nails up and down my body. I'm a sensitive woman, and that stuff sends tingles up my spine that I can't even begin to describe! All I can tell you is that if I was even halfway attracted to this guy, he was gettin' some that night.

Damn, I was pitiful! But don't get me wrong. They still had no right to say the things they said about me. No woman deserves that type of disrespect. Those words can be hurtful for any woman, no matter who she is. Some may think it's just a sport to say things about people that may or may not be true. I never understood that. People will build themselves up by constantly putting someone else down. And, many times, it's the woman who pays the price.

For me, it was a high price that really wasn't worth it. As much as I enjoyed sex and tried to pretend I was carefree about it, I'd be lying if I told you it didn't get to me. Women would roll their eyes at me. Many guys wanted nothing more than to sleep with me. Even the ones who really did like me for me had some type of issue that would mess things up between us.

Like this one guy named Norman. When I met him, I was giving up nothing! I had a feeling he was married, and even when he convinced me that he wasn't, I wanted him to want me for me instead of for what he thought I could give him. It worked for a while. But then I started getting feelings for him and eventually gave myself to him.

Then one day he showed up at my apartment wearing dirty clothes and nursing a scraped knee. When I saw him, I went right into mother mode. Norman! What happened to you? I got into a fight; he breathed as he limped over to my beige leather recliner.

Under normal circumstances, I would have been pissed about him sitting on my clean fabric, but this wasn't the time to nitpick. About what? I asked. I walked into the kitchen and wet a towel. He was quiet until I came back and began wiping his bloody knee. I had a fight about you, he said quickly. I sighed deeply and looked up at him.

I knew what he was going to  say, but I asked anyway.  Why? I was leaving the barracks and some guys were standing outside.  They asked me where was I going and I said, "To my baby's house." They said, Who? I said, Isis. Then one of them called you a bitch, and then we started tusslin' .It didn't last long. When they broke us up, I got in my car and came here. My face got hot. I was so tired of the things I was hearing about myself and the names I was being called.

I also felt ashamed because this guy who I really liked had gotten into a fight because of me. I sat back and leaned against my sofa. I'm sorry you don't have a girlfriend you can be more proud of. Isis, let me tell you something, he said, taking my hands and gently pulling me close to him so I could face him. Since we've been together, I've had this feeling. I ain't never had this feeling before, and if it's love, then so be it. You make me feel good and I don't think about anybody but you.

That made me feel so good! I knew then that I really wanted it to work between us. He had vowed his love for me! I went and told all two of my friends how much Norman loved me and the way he told me. They thought it was so sweet. But the next few days saw him acting strangely. He stopped showing up when he said he would. Then, when he did come over, he wouldn't spend the night. He'd make excuses like having to get back on post so he wouldn't have to fight traffic in the morning. It was starting to stress me out until I found out the truth he was married after all.

You wanna know the trip part about it? I found out about Norman's so-called marriage from another guy who was trying to get with me. He worked in the personnel office at Fort Knox and had photocopied Norman's records to show me that he really was married. He had been trying to get with me for a while and I guessed that he photocopied the evidence to make sure I would believe him.