A Necessary Struggle (ANS)— Episode Five

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All We Need Is Love. Right?

As Lela poured the milk chocolate chips into the buttery, sweet taupe batter her tuition deficit was the farthest thing from her mind. What occupied the capacity of her cranium? Harmony. How was Harmony feeling? What was Harmony thinking? Why was Harmony and Wes arguing? She wanted to know how Harmony was coping; better yet she needed to know how Harmony was coping. Right now, if she was at home she would be digging through Harmony’s mind determining the levels of pain, hurt and frustrating rushing through her body. But she wasn’t at home; she was back at Trevor’s house. Not because she was one of those girls that got wrapped up in their boyfriend’s lives neglecting her friends. It was because Trevor had a double oven, a double oven where she could bake cakes and cookies at the same time without having to wait for Safiya’s veggie pizza to come out. Trevor’s house also had a massive kitchen island where she spread out all her ingredients ending the continuous trips to the cabinet for spices or bumping into Harmony whom was busy at the stove or Alyssa whom was busy washing the dishes to minimize the clutter.

            Lela felt sorry for Harmony. Harmony wasn’t use to the dysfuntionalism family brought to your life unlike her. Lela knew family could be unpredictable like when her father went hot and cold; mean or nice during a twenty-four hour period that she could usually determine by how many shots of Jim Beam he downed. She also knew that families could be exhausting—like when her very own parents had their monthly raging debate about who cheated on whom first. She also knew that parents were people that had their own lives riddled with problems, decisions and struggles, which had nothing to do with their unfaltering love for her. They loved their child. Her father couldn’t help it that he was an alcoholic and her momma couldn’t help that she was on a never-ending pursuit for a suitor.

Trevor plopped down on the stool in front of the island refilling through his checkbook for a check he hadn’t used “How much is it?” He scribbled the day’s date in quick-light strokes.

“I’m not taking your money.” Lela said gently folding the milk chocolate chips in the batter.

“Why not?” Trevor clicked the silver-engraved pin, embossed with his full name, Trevor Maxwell Voss. “What’s wrong with my money?”

“I have a list of things I don’t do.” Lela swiped her finger across the wooden mixing spoon. “And borrowing money from someone I’m dating is at the top.” She sucked the creamy, sweet mixture off her finger, “Perfect!”

Trevor stared at Lela with a face of stone as she dolloped teaspoon-fulls of dough on the cookie sheet. “So if we were married you would take my money?”

Lela stabbed the spoon in the batter, “Married!” She laughed.

Trevor looked at her sideways, “Why is that funny?”

“Because, you don’t have a job.” Lela opened the lower oven door. A wave of heat wafted over her face as she slid the cookie sheet onto the rake. “You never had a job and the time you interned on your father’s movies set doesn’t count.” She slowly closed the door back. “This house is beautiful but you bought it with your trust fund, i.e. money setup from your father’s hard-work; not yours.” Lela clicked on the light of the top oven and watched the mini sour cream pound cakes rise to perfection.

“This money—” Trevor held up his Gucci checkbook. “Is my money. It’s in my name. I also refute the fact that I didn’t work hard for it.” He spun off the stool, tugged up the waistband of his gray sweatpants and rested his hands on his shirtless waist. “I have good grades. I’ve never snuffed, popped, or smoked any mind-altering substances. I’ve had no mug shots blasted on MGN. Hell, I don’t even think the media knows I exist. And lets not forget I stopped gambling and you know how much I love poker.”

Lela licked batter off the wooden spoon, “Okay, sure you worked but that‘s not work, work.”

“What’s work, work?” Trevor asked throwing his hands up.

The sliver mixing bowl clacked against the porcelain farmhouse sink as Lela dropped it in. “A place where you clock in and do things that someone else tells you to do.” She turned on the warm water, letting it engulf the leftover traces of batter.

“So what?” Trevor started pacing. “Do you need me to go fill out an application at Toro Fuego; start making enchiladas?”

“Its not about a job?” Lela turned the faucet off. “Its about direction, which you don’t have.”

Trevor stopped. “How can you say that? I wake-up and go to class every day. It may be late in the day but I still go.”

“Yes.” She placed her hands on her waist drawing in the oversized lime green Texas University T-shirt—Trevor’s T-Shirt. “You go to class—but—why. Why do you wake up everyday and go to class?”

“I don’t understand where you’re going with this.” Trevor sat on the arm of the chocolate leather chair.

Lela walked out the kitchen holding the wooden spoon like a lollipop. “I go to class because one day I want to own my own business. Alyssa wants to be a doctor. Harmony—a lawyer, Fiya—a journalist, and Cairo— a music producer. All while your major is still undeclared. You’re an undeclared junior, Trey!” Lela stopped in front of him lowering the spoon. “You don’t see a problem with that?”

Trevor dropped his hand from his mouth, “Fine! I didn’t enroll at TU already knowing what I wanted to be in life. Not everyone knows what they want to be when they grow up. Is that a crime?”

“No, it not a crime but it’s not a the list of things I look for in the man I want to marry.”

Trevor dejectedly fell back into the chair. He looked up at the whipping blades of the brass-ceiling fan. The chilling breeze activated goose bumps on his bare chest. He was cold because Lela had his shirt. Lela had his shirt because he would literally give her the shirt off his back. He would give her anything and everything she needed.

Lela nibbled on her bottom lip listening to The Ohio Players sing how they want to be free which was ironic because freedom was the last thing she wanted. She loved being tied to Trevor. She looked forward to their stolen moments away from the world.

Lela sat on the sliver of chair Trevor’s six-foot body didn’t take up. She laid her warm hand on his chest. “Why are we talking about this anyways? Neither one of us is ready to get married. We’re twenty-one and in college; I’m not thinking about marriage. What I’m thinking is you should lick this spoon because this batter is kick-ass.” She handed him the spoon. “And then you can lick other things.” She devilishly smiled.

Trevor gripped his hand around hers and licked a chocolate chip off the back of the spoon, “Umm.” He moaned. “This is good, but if you’re not getting the money from me how are you going to get it?”

“The same way I do everything else.” Lela kissed his lips, then smiled drawing in the sweet sugary air in the atmosphere. “Hustle.”

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