A seal upon your heart, p.6
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       A Seal Upon Your Heart, p.6

           Pepper Pace

  Walking into town was useless since the library and most everything else was closed. She just wanted to be alone. She had so many things going on inside of her that she needed time to examine, so she went outside, bypassing the play equipment that had been donated by the city. It was too muddy to allow the young ones outdoors to play so she perched herself on one of the swings and she thought about Dhakiya and Rodney. She closed her eyes and squeezed her fist over the cold metal chain as she swung lightly backwards and forwards.

  Dhakiya had come to pick her up after work. She didn’t mention the Jen situation even though it was still weighing heavily on her mind. Today was supposed to be about having fun and she decided to put work behind her. Dhakiya offered her some wine and she decided that she would try some.

  She only took a few sips, afraid that it would go straight to her head and it had but in a good way. The two friends laughed and danced and then Rodney finally arrived. Then the world seemed to freeze for her; she even stopped breathing. Rodney was so handsome that she could barely blink her eyes. He wasn’t very tall, though taller than Dhakiya who stood at 5’9” or so. He had a thick stocky body with a slightly rounded belly but seemed to have tight muscles. His light browned skin lent to a possible mixed race heritage along with a thick curly afro. He seemed older than she and Dhakiya but probably no older than early thirties.

  And he was beautiful.

  When he opened the front door, Dhakiya squealed and jumped up and ran to him. She threw herself into his arms and he caught her easily.

  “Hi, baby.” He kissed her three times, each time a little longer and a little more thoroughly until the last and final kiss in which he groaned in pleasure against her lips.

  That is when the funny things begin to happen in Jane’s body. The smile of greeting fell from her mouth as she began to warm and pulsate. She glanced away but her eyes pulled back to the two young lovers. For a moment they had forgotten her. Dhakiya’s arms were around his neck and his hands were on her hips and it was very innocent. But for Jane it was the sexiest thing she had ever seen.

  She looked down at her hands in embarrassment her breath feeling tight in her chest and her throat aching. Dhakiya pulled back with a broad smile on her face.

  “Rodney,” she took his hand and dragged him into the living room where Jane was still sitting on the couch. “This is my best friend and my sister in spirit; Martier. Martier Besigye.” She stood and offered her hand.

  Rodney’s smile was as bright and welcoming as Dhakiya’s when he grabbed her in a big bear hug. Jane’s eyes widened in alarm, and she was soon engulfed in his strong arms. Her heart began beating wildly and the pulse in her body thrummed faster, sweat began to form on her brow and she suddenly had difficulty breathing.

  “Well if you’re Kiya’s sis than you’re my sis, too!” He gave her a quick squeeze and released her. “Mar…Martie-AY?

  She nodded too fast and gave him a shaky smile. “Mar-TEE-ay.”

  “Everybody call you Marty?” He joked.

  She ducked her head in the sight of his smile. “Everybody calls me Jane.”

  “Jane?” He looked at her in confusion.

  Dhakiya rolled her eyes. “Honey, I told you how our school likes to rename everyone.”

  “They don’t do it anymore.” Jane explained hastily. “We have children from Haiti and they needed to remember their names in case their parent’s…locate them.”

  Dhakiya just made a hmph sound. “They weren’t wrong, of course. They’ll never admit that.” Rodney grabbed her from behind and kissed her neck.

  “Shh, babe. Those days are over.” Jane watched and tried not to. Their intimacy was so commonplace to them, but they had no idea how much she longed to have someone touch her like that. Dhakiya relaxed in his arms. “I’m going to get cleaned up for dinner.” He announced then waved his hand to Jane while retreating to the bathroom.

  He seemed nice. And it wasn’t that she wanted him. She just wanted what the both of them had. When he hugged her; it was the first one that she could ever remember receiving from a male. Every place that his body touched on hers left a phantom impression. Even now, as she sat on the swing, she could still feel the hardness of his body against the softness of hers.

  Jane opened her eyes and went back to the school. She headed for the sanctuary and sat down in one of the pews and picked up one of the bibles that sat in the slot behind the pew in front of hers. She quickly thumbed through the pages until her eyes settled on the words that she so loved.

  …I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.

  I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.

  The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.

  I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love.

  What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? what is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us?

  My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.

  His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven.

  His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set.

  His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh.

  His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires.

  His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.

  His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem...

  For some unknown reason, it was Tim’s face that Jane imagined.


  When Martier got to work, early as usual, her mood had improved from the day before. Jen came in a few moments later. And as usual, Jane admired her pretty outfit. Today it was a pencil skirt and a matching jacket with three quarter sleeves. Maybe she would ask if she would help her shop for suitable clothes. She was wearing a green tweed skirt that reached just above her knees and another white blouse, this time with a fake lace front sewn in to look like she was wearing a pretty undergarment.

  “Good morning.” Jane said.

  Jen didn’t speak. She put away her things and walked to the coffee pot and poured herself coffee, watering it down and then nuking it. Jane glanced at her. Even if Jen hadn’t heard her she still would have spoken by now. Jane turned back to the computer, lightly biting her lip. Was she angry at her because of what those women had said? But she hadn’t done anything wrong.

  Tim arrived as Jen was unlocking the file cabinets. “Good morning ladies.”

  Jane looked up and paused before responding. Tim had gotten a haircut and it looked really good. His face didn’t seem as angry either. “Good morning.” She said. Jen popped up from her seat.

  “Good morning. I’ll get your coffee, Tim. And I have your closing argument. I’ll bring them right in.”

  Jane sat there momentarily wondering when Jen had printed the document that she had completed Friday. And had she intentionally meant it to sound as if she had done the work on it? Maybe it didn’t matter. After all, the important thing is that Tim got what he needed, no matter who actually did the work. She sighed to herself and when Jen returned the woman still didn’t bother to look at her.

  Tuesday was a repeat of the same thing except Jen had beat her in to work. That was a big feat since Jane arrived half an hour early. Just like the day before Jen didn’t say good morning or speak to her. And the coffee had already been brewed. Tim wouldn’t be happy about that, but when she poured herself a cup Jane saw
that it was strong the way she and Tim took it.

  Since Jen had taken the seat in front of the computer, Jane decided to scan in documents so that Tim could access them by computer when needed. Jane had decided that she would not allow Jen’s unwillingness to be friends stop her from enjoying her new job. She had brought her bible as well as the Maya Angelou book and intended to read out loud in the pavilion when she had a break. The two worked in silence and when Tim arrived Jen jumped up and broke her neck to get his cup of coffee even though Jane had no intentions of getting up.

  “Jen, I need to use the computer. I need to make sure these were scanned in properly,” Jane asked a bit later.


  But an hour later she was still on the computer as if she hadn’t heard Jane say she needed to check for the scanned items and considering that Jane did the majority of the typing she really needed to work on it before they got behind. She also needed to check her passwords to make sure that she had access to the accounts she needed.

  The phone rang, it was Tim’s line. Jen answered it quickly. “Yes Tim? Yes it’s all been scanned in; I’ll email it to you.” When she hung up Jane looked at her.

  “Were you just talking about the documents I scanned?”

  Jen gave her a blank look. “Yeah? Why? Oh I’m sorry I checked already and they scanned in good.”

  Jane took a deep breath. “Jen…maybe we should talk about what happened last week.”

  Jen turned to her. “What happened last week?” Jane knew then that they would never be friends.

  “We both overheard the woman say that you were training your replacement.”

  Jen smiled. “No lawyer needs two assistants even if he is a partner. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s me that will be leaving.”

  Jane gave her a surprised look. So she really was trying to take all the credit for the work. They were both competing for the same job…only Tim had already offered it to her and she had already accepted it. She didn’t think Jen realized this and she didn’t feel one bit bad that the other girl had had it first. All she ever did was complain and Jane actually really enjoyed what she was doing. She had no intentions of mentioning what she already knew. But she did intend to watch her back very closely.

  “I think I’ll take a break.” She stood up and went to Tim’s door, knocking lightly.

  “Come in.” He looked up. “Jane. Sorry I haven’t had much time to check on you. How’s everything going?”

  “It’s fine. Thank you.” Jane’s eyes swept over Tim’s new shorter haircut amazed that she hadn’t realized how attractive he was before this. Now that he wasn’t sheathed in shaggy white hair she had to reconsider his age. Maybe he actually wasn’t yet fifty. He was big the way a man should be and tall and she could tell by the size of his arms that he was very strong. It was obvious that he had the means to take care of himself as well as a family and it was so sad that he had lost his pretty wife. She found herself wondering if he had children. She felt bad for him.

  He cleared his throat, waiting for her to say what she wanted. She quickly began to speak. “Oh, I just wanted to tell you that I’m going to take a short break and wanted to know if you needed me for anything.”

  “No, Jane. I know we haven’t talked about breaks and lunches. It’s just been so busy this week but tomorrow I won’t have court and things will be a bit more normal. When things get busy like this I might ask you to bring me something back or order lunch, but if I do that I will treat you as well, okay?”

  She nodded and smiled. “Yes. That’s fine. Did you want me to bring you something back from the canteen?”

  “No, but thanks for asking.”

  As she closed his door, Jen flashed her a disgusted look which Jane tried to ignore though it still made her stomach drop. She grabbed the book of poems and headed for the elevators. As she left the work area she felt slightly relieved. Jane hadn’t even realized that the tension had started getting to her.

  She pressed the down button on the elevator and heard someone’s whispered comment.

  “…she dresses like that because she lives in a convent.”

  Someone snickered and Jane glanced behind her. Three women were glancing in her direction but straightened when they saw her look.

  “…did she hear us?!”

  “I don’t know…”

  Jane got into the elevator and jammed the button for the lobby. Her ears were ringing and she felt sick to her stomach. She smoothed down her skirt and fought back stinging tears. They cared so much about how people looked here. But her clothes were clean even if they had come out of the donation bin at the school.

  There was a pavilion that she’d seen while walking to and from the bus stop. There were stone benches that didn’t look very comfortable, but they were beneath pergolas draped in sculptured flowering vines. Jane headed in that direction not sure if she would take a seat on the bench or continue walking until she got to her bus stop.

  Her feet carried her to the bench and she sat down. She took in a shaky breath and tried to smile to herself. The stinging in her eyes faded. She had a degree, a job in a prestigious law firm, she was the assistant to one of the partners who routinely treated her to lunch, she had a true friend in Dhakiya and soon she would have her own apartment. She had plenty of blessings to count.

  She opened the book of poetry by Maya Angelou, and then searched for the poem that she wanted to read aloud. Very softly she recited it, feeling her tongue roll over each word and enjoying the way they resonated back to her with meaning and strength.

  …You may shoot me with your words,

  You may cut me with your eyes,

  You may kill me with your hatefulness,

  But still, like air, I'll rise…


  It rained Wednesday and by the time Jane got to work her shoes were wet and scuffed. Actually they were scuffed even before today; from the constant walking that they had not been meant for. She hung up her raincoat and could barely wait for the coffee to brew to get rid of the slight chill that had settled in her bones. Today was unusually cold for late spring and she kept on the grey wool sweater that she wore over her white blouse. She was wearing her navy skirt again, but didn’t dare wear any of the pleated skirts she owned for fear that people really would make fun of her.

  She would get paid Friday and the first thing she intended to do was to buy shoes and clothes. Jen had started the coffee brewing and neither spoke to the other. She knew that Jen would hog up the computer again so she busied herself with other things…only most things they did was done on the computer.

  Since Tim wasn’t due in court today and things wouldn’t be nearly as hectic, Jane decided to take a break around ten. She knocked on his door and asked if he wanted her to bring him anything back.

  He thought about it. “Donuts if they have them.” He dug for his wallet and handed her five dollars. “Get yourself something, too.”

  She was thankful for that. Her money was very low. “I’ll be back in about 15 minutes.”

  He shook his head. “That’s barely long enough to stand in line. Just be back within half an hour.”

  “Okay.” She headed back to the door and her shoes began to squeak. When she glanced behind her Tim was staring down at them.

  “Oh,” She stammered. “It rained and my shoes got wet.” Her face felt hotter than a smoking skillet. Now there was no way that she could ever wear these shoes again. Tim had noticed how old they looked!

  He nodded and stared at her. “You take the bus?”

  “Yes, two actually. The one by the convent only drops me off downtown, and then I either take another bus to get here—or walk.” When he didn’t say anything else she finally left.

  She wished it wasn’t raining so hard or she would have taken a break outside, it would be the first break that she’d taken down in the canteen since the last time she’d been here with Jen. But there was no way that she could sit and relax in the work area with the woman wh
en she practically vibrated hostility at her. Before, she had merely ignored her. Now Jen gave her nasty looks and rolled her eyes whenever she did something for Tim, like buying him the donuts. What Jen didn’t get is that Jane wasn’t doing it to save her job—she would have done it anyway.

  When she walked past the people that had made fun of her the day before, she felt her back bristle and tried not to look at them. They didn’t even look in her direction either, even though they had to have heard her approach with her damned squeaky shoes. Embarrassed she quickly entered the elevator and went down to the canteen.

  “Jane?” She was standing in front of the vending machine looking at the packaged treats but there were no donuts. She looked up quickly and saw the black woman that she had been introduced to by Jen. She wondered if Jen was ignoring them, too and figured that they probably didn’t care one way or the other.

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