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My first husband was no good for me. My second did no good for me. My third husband wasn’t much better and by the time I came to my fourth, I began to believe that what my mama had always said was right, men were just no good.
Maybe it was partly my fault for giving away that special part of me, that I should have kept for at least a little while longer when I was just sixteen years old. That foolish and freely given gift, was presented to my first husband Gerome four months before we were married. He was a handsome man, but beneath his initial charm lay a black heart. He was far too old for me. I was just a foolish child but my daddy made sure he did the right thing, which of course was the wrong thing and he married me before the rest of the family’s reputation was dragged through the mud. I didn’t even shed a tear when he died eighteen months after we were wed. He fell from his horse and was so inebriated that he probably never even felt a thing.
While I say I had four husbands, in truth Gerome was the only man I was actually bound to in wedlock. The others that I refer to as ‘husbands’ served the purpose for the outside world only. There were many others that did not stay long enough to be considered as such. I was always moving, whether it was from place to place or man to man, either way it was a shameful enough existence for a woman of my time. My only saving grace was that I could reinvent myself with a new husband in a new town, free from the truth of my past, gifted with a clean slate, at least for a while. The truth has a way to find the surface, no matter how deep you like to drown it. It was a near impossible task, moving all the time, hoping to stay one step ahead of my past, trying desperately not to put the other foot into the wrong future.
Gabriel my number two, took on the role of husband with gusto, but he used me more than I used him. Like I said he did no good for me. My desire was to be protected, to be taken care of, to have my needs catered for and to be managed, for I did need managing back then even though I didn’t quite know it. Sadly, Gabriel preferred the company of young men. I provided him with an alibi and he gave me financial security and a hint of respectability. But a girl has needs and it wasn’t long before those needs were looking to be satisfied elsewhere.
I fell pregnant for the second time in my young life at the age of twenty. My first pregnancy, the one that tied me to my vile, self-loathing first husband never made it to full term. Folks offered me sympathy but I was glad. Had they known the reality of my true feelings I would have been considered a monster, so I kept those feelings to myself. Gerome was not so pleased. It wasn’t that he felt sorry for the loss of his unborn child because he was unfeeling. The problem was that he had only married me in the first place because I was pregnant, so he felt cheated. He took to drinking and hating the two of us more than was healthy. Gerome despised me for trapping him into a loveless marriage and himself for being a fool. It was the drink that finally helped him from his horse and set me free of his loathing. It took a while after I was rid of his baby, but eventually I was rid of him too and I was twice glad. My second pregnancy did not end so well.
While Gabriel played with his young men, I found distraction with a coloured labourer, a liaison of such impropriety it only served to peak my interest. By the time I got bored of him it was too late. I was pregnant. I didn’t realise until I was six months gone and though I half-heartedly tried some home remedies to end my potential shame, I think in hindsight I had a desire to get back at poor old Gabriel for loving his boys more than he loved me. He knew the child couldn’t be his, but feigned delight to the outside world, until that poor little child was born with a black face that told the world exactly who and what I was. I moved on to number three and that he accepted me with so little objection with my coloured, bastard child in tow, should have been a signal to tell me he was not the man for me….
Darkly Wood II is coming. Read the original Darkly Wood first – featured book of the week on Digital Book Today.
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Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn Bad Blood and Little Big Boy
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