“I know…I know…” Benjamin replied.
“Baby, where are you?” Asha questioned.
“I don’t know, Asha. What did you cook?”
“What?! Are you for real? Are you really asking me ‘what did I cook?’ I spent half my day crying about you. The kids looking at me like something just went loose in my head.”
“Okay Asha…okay…I’m stupid. Shouldn’t have asked you that.”
“Stop that. You’re not stupid. You avoid things. That’s what you do. “
“I didn’t need to call you. I’m not looking for a lecture.”
“I’m not trying to lecture you. I’m mad. I was worried that you were hurt. Thought about calling the police.”
“I’m fine. No need to call the police.”
“Are you coming home? Or did you decide to leave us?” Asha’s voice quivered.
“No. I don’t wanna leave girl,” Benjamin replied.
Benjamin scratched the steering wheel. “Asha, I thought about leaving. Thought about hurting myself.”
“What?” Asha yelled.
“Asha, I didn’t though. I just feel so useless since I got laid off. And it shouldn’t be this hard to find a job. I don’t wanna do all of these stupid odd jobs. I don’t want you to work overnights so we can survive. So, I thought maybe I should just leave the house. And just be done.”
“Asha, I wouldn’t really do it. I’m too chicken, and I heard your voicemails. I heard Gabe talking about his Leggos. I thought about Aima bullying her big brothers around.”
“She’s just assertive like her mama,” Asha giggled, and then she began to weep.
“Ben, you’re depressed and talking about suicide. That scares me. I know you feel useless. Like you’re not a good father or husband. But I know you’re trying to find something. I was angry when I said ‘you’re not even looking.’ I know you’re looking. I just think we’ve both gotten annoyed about the searching and the waiting. You know what I mean?! ”
“You keep saying ‘yeah’ to everything. I don’t know what you want me to say,” Asha yelped.
“Asha, please! I’m not gonna hurt myself. I can’t. Especially with God talking to me.”
“Hurt yourself? You wanted to take your life! You’re just using cute little words now. But you wanted to rip yourself away,” Asha sounded as high pitched as Aima’s voice.
“Asha, I’m not going to rip myself away. I’m not going to do anything to myself.”
“Okay…cause I’d probably be a hot mess if you did. You know?” Asha’s voice lowered.
“Yeah,” Benjamin quickly responded. “Yeah, Asha.”
“Okay, alright. Did Jere end up calling you? Cause I told him to call you?” Asha’s screeched.
Benjamin removed the phone from his ear and exhaled. Goodness Asha, he thought.
Benjamin returned the phone to his ear. “Yeah, yeah, I got his message. Your brother is ‘good peoples.’ He told me I could call him if I needed to talk.” Benjamin observed cows snipping at the tall grass at a nearby farm.
“Good peoples. Y’all are too cute. I’m glad that you can talk to him about stuff.”
“Yeah,” Benjamin continued to watch the spotted animals. He needed to take the children to a farm. With all of the stress surrounding his unemployment, he was distracted whenever he took the children to an outside activity.
“Benjamin, maybe Jere should come out to where you are at? He can come pick you?”
“Nah, I’m good. I’ll be there in a little bit.”
“Stop being so stubborn and let Jere come out there. He can support you, pray with you. I don’t even know if you want me to pray with you.”