THROUGH THE WIRE
Copyright: 2009 Geisha Café Fiction
I had it all. Money, cars, clothes…you name it, I had it, yet I never wanted it- my husband did and his desire for wealth, his yearning for fame and his devious ways led to the ultimate betrayal.
My name is Nena Givens and this is my story.
I grew up in a suburb outside of Chicago; my parents were a happy, lively couple and I was the youngest of eight kids. A passion for art and fashion struck me at the age of nine; I started designing my own clothes and tried recreating every fashion look I found in the covers of Elle, Vogue, InStyle and other prestigious fashion magazines. My parents fed my passion; my mother adored it and my father admired it.
“Do what your heart desires,” my father always said that. “One day, it will make you known!”
In high school, I made money making homecoming and prom dresses and I met him.
Timothy Reins. High school heartthrob and the star of Eastland High School’s track and field. His sister, Eva introduced us at a Homecoming game in 2000; one week later Tim and I were labeled an “item” and I loved it.
In high school, Tim was the popular guy, I never minded the attention that he received; there were always girls dying to be on his arm while I was busy in sewing classes. My close friends always asked me if I cared, I didn’t; besides my mind was on prepping for fashion school and becoming as big as Michael Kors.
We did make appearances at every high school party; we were even crowned Homecoming and Prom King and Queen our senior year. He was the jock and I was the creative being by his side.
Needless to say, we fell in love and made vows to make our relationship work while he went to Howard in DC on an athletic scholarship and I jetted off to Los Angeles for fashion school. We both accepted the challenge of enduring a long distance relationship and promised that it would last.
The first two years were hell though. Tim and I fought like crazy and he revealed another side of himself. He came to visit me in Los Angeles during one Spring Break, I was in the middle of finishing my mid-term fashion show, so free time was something I didn’t have but I wanted to see Tim. Two nights before my show, I had an interview with the local newspaper; Tim decided that he would throw his two cents into my interview.
“I am the reason that she is into fashion so much,” he said. “In fact, I told her that this was her calling.” I remember wanting to punch him in the face right in front of the reporter but I kept my composure and luckily finished the interview with no signs of frustration. Later that night, I confronted him.
“What was all that about?” I asked him while I finished a dress at my sewing machine.
“That mess you said about you being the reason why I love fashion so much.”
“Oh, I was helping you out, baby. You know, being that inspiration for you.”
“I have my own inspiration,” I said. “I didn’t need your help.”
“Why are you acting like such a-”
“Such a what, Tim? What were you gonna say?” I pushed myself away from my station and stared him down.
“A bitch, Nena! You’re acting like a bitch!”
“Get out!” I said. “Get the hell out. I got way too much to do and I don’t want to argue with you.” I returned to the sewing machine, shaking my head and trying to re-focus my thoughts. Tim didn’t walk to the door, he walked toward me.
“You want me out? Huh? You want me to leave you and your precious sewing machine alone?”
“Yes!” I said. “I have to finish this. My show is in two days.”
“Looks like you’re gonna need an extra hand,” he said. I released my foot from the machine’s pedal and glanced up at him. His eyes burned into mine and he had a crooked smile.
“What are you-” Tim shoved my hand toward the sewing machine and stomped down on my foot. The needle went crazy as I watched my hand get pulled under the needle and attached to the white linen dress I was constructing. “Tim!” I cried. The needle caught between my thumb and index finger; blood poured from me and I struggled to free my foot from beneath his. “Stop!”
He laughed and finally released me. I was scared to put the needle in reverse as I watched my blood tint my clean linen fabric and my eyes looked back at Tim.
“Good luck with that…” he said then walked out.
Tim scared me that night and many more times after that, but I was too scared to tell anyone what he did; I suddenly contemplated what my life would be like without Tim…and I enjoyed the thoughts of being without him. He was all I ever knew so I didn’t know how to break up with him.
It was two years later when the shit really hit the fan. I had started an internship with Versace, working with them from LA and communicating with their New York branch. Three months into the internship, I was asked to join a team overseas. I accepted the once in a lifetime offer and was planning to fly to Italy to assist in a fashion show. My family was thrilled but Tim; he went ballistic when I told him the great news.
“So just like that you’re packing up and leaving?”
“What? Baby, it’s just for three weeks then I have to get back to my stateside internship and school to work on my fashion thesis. I have been so busy with-”
“What about me, Nena? You don’t think I’ve been busy?”
“I know you have been, Tim. If you had time to answer your phone when I call or text to see how you are then you would know that I have been concerned about you. In fact, what have you been doing out there?”
“So now you want to accuse-”
“I never accused you of anything. I’m just asking, Tim. I have been reading up on Howard’s track team and you-”
“Coach has me training some freshmen. I haven’t been competing.”
“Oh.” I wanted to dig into more questions but I stopped myself. I had way too much on my plate and an argument about infidelity was not a course I wanted to add to my overwhelming feast of life. “Well, I need to get going?”
“When are you leaving?”
“We have a track meet that day.”
“I’ll call you before I get on my flight.”
“I love you.” Then I heard the call end.
I never made it to Italy that following Tuesday; in fact that was day Tim saw all his dream dash away.
“Yes, who is this?”
“Coach Anthony Johnson for Track and Field at Howard University.”
“That’s right. Can you make it down in within the next few days?”
It was a shattered knee.
Tim’s track career crumbled along with his knee.
All the Olympic dreams, Nike endorsements, all the fame and money were gone.
So my ticket for Italy was refunded and I hopped on the first flight to Washington D.C. with some extra cash in my pocket; I was furious with Tim because I knew that he had requested me to come and visit him, knowing that I had something important over his parents who sat at home, collecting pensions.
Most importantly, I was mad at myself.
It was suddenly dawning on me while I was on that flight to D.C. just how often I catered myself to Tim and his needs, while so quickly pushing my dream to the backseat like they were the least of my worries.
In high school, I gave up jobs to make dresses for other high schools. I even let go of a chance to make a business suit for a lawyer.
All for the sake of Tim.
I should have taken that flight to Italy and let him deal with all the pain and grief alone.
But I didn’t.
I loved him too much and I would walk through fire just to be with him, regardless of what he did to me.
When I arrived to Tim’s hospital room, he was yelling at his nurse over some grape juice.
“I don’t like juice from concentrate!”
“I am very sorry sir-”
“Get me some real grape juice.” He threw the tumbler across the room, the grape juice splashed against the door; the cup just barely missed the poor nurse’s head. Her soft yet weary brown eyes met mine; I gave her a forgiving smile then stepped into the room. When he saw me, he smiled.
“You need to have some respect for these nurses,” I said.
“Baby, I’m so glad you made it!”
I had no choice, I said to myself. He extended his arms for me to come closer to him. I stepped forward, stopped then joined him by the bed.
“How you feeling?”
“Like shit. The doctor think that I won’t be able to run anymore.”
“It is a shattered knee, Tim-”
“Bullshit! I will be fine. Just a few months of rehab and I’ll be back on the track.”
“Tim…” I drew in a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “Your coach said that he doesn’t think rehab will save you.”
“What the hell do you or the Coach know? Huh?” He turned away from me and glanced at his cell phone.
“You call your parent?”
“They don’t need to know about this?”
“Of course not, Tim. They can just read about it in the newspaper or online.”
“You’re here, that’s all that matters,” he grabbed my hand and looked into my eyes. He had such a blank stare; there was no sincerity or love in his eyes.
“Mr. Reins?” a tall, stocky man stepped into the room. His chestnut brown skin shimmered under the dull hospital lights and he smiled in my direction. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know you had a visitor.”
“It’s okay, Doc,” he said. “This is my girlfriend, Nena Givens.”
“Nena Givens? Aren’t you a fashion designer in LA?”
“Well fashion design student,” I corrected.
“My daughter is studying fashion buying out there too! She talks about you a lot?”
“What’s up, Doc?” Tim hated when the attention was never on him. The doctor cleared his throat then studied the chart he held. “So what’s the news?”
“It’s not looking good, son,” he said slowly. Tim shifted in the hospital bed, his eyes never left the doctor’s. “Your knee cap has been shattered completely. We tried to repair as much as we could but, I’m sorry son, you won’t be able to-“
“What do you mean you tried to repair as much as you could? So I can’t run anymore?”
The doctor shook his head then bowed it.
“How did this happen?” I asked. It was the first time, I had asked Tim about the accident; I wasn’t completely sure if I believed that he had shattered his knee while on the track and I wasn’t sure I wanted to know the truth if my own premonitions were correct.
“Doc, can’t you put a replacement knee cap in or something?”
“You have a scheduled surgery this afternoon, son. But this replacement won’t be as durable as you think-“
“Well you and your team of incompetent doctors need to make it as durable as the real thing!”
“Mr. Reins, I think you need to watch who you’re speaking to,” the doctor warned. “So you would rather ruin my career?”
“Shut up, Nena!” He jerked his hand away from mine, his eyes then burned into the doctor’s flesh. “I need to be fixed and I need to be fixed right now!”
“Mr. Reins, I’m not sure who you think you’re talking to but I am not a kid from the streets. I have prided myself in my work and integrity,” he pushed his rectangular glasses onto the bridge of his nose. “Now, my team and I have reviewed the x-rays and we have examined every possible angle possible to get you back on the track.”
“So you can fix me?”
“Your surgery is at one- fifteen. We will be replacing the knee cap and re-examining any possible repairs that we can do to the surrounding muscle, but this won’t get you back running…”
The rest of the conversation was all Tim and all dramatic. He was furious with the doctor’s decision and said that the man was crazy. I remained silent in the background knowing that opening my mouth wouldn’t help at all.
It wasn’t until, Tim was ushered off to surgery- kicking and screaming by the way, that my questions were answered.
I stopped in the cafeteria for coffee and saw Tim’s coach; he flagged me over to join him at a small table next to a massive picture window, overlooking the busy city. After grabbing a large coffee, I joined him.
“Hey.” I sat down and studied his face. His eyes were low, avoiding and hiding something. I decided to clear my throat and break the ice. “Thanks for calling me.”
“Did you call Tim’s parents?”
“He didn’t want me to,” he said. “I offered to call them first but he told me to call you and only you.”
“Why?” Once again, his eyes dodged mine. He knew something. “Coach Johnson?”
“He said that you were on your way to Italy and that I needed to call you right away before you got on the plane.”
“Did you think that that was weird?”
“I guess but he said that he needed you to be here.” I bit my bottom lip while staring out the window.
“Listen, Nena, I’m sorry about you missing your-“
“How did Tim injure his knee?” Coach Johnson’s mouth snapped shut and his eyes enlarged.
“How did Tim hurt his knee?” I said my words slowly, in case he didn’t understand my question.
“He was…on the track.” There was a lack of confidence in his response and it made me uneasy. “He was on the track, he tripped and fell.”
“Are you sure?” Coach opened his mouth to object but withdrew his initial reply. “Coach?”
“Nena, I told you he-“
“Yes, I heard what you said but it doesn’t make sense.”
“What?” I leaned over the table, locking my eyes on his dark brown eyes.
“I know how graceful Tim is on the track. I don’t believe that he was on the track and just suddenly tripped.”
“Well he did.”
“No he didn’t.”
“Yes-“ he stopped. He broke our eye contact. “Fuck it!” he snapped. “I don’t need this,” he said as he reached into his pants pocket. I adjusted my eyes to see what he had pulled from his pocket then Coach Johnson slapped it on the table.
A blank check.
With my forged signature.
“Where did you get that?”
“Tim. He gave it to me. He said if I told you that he fell on the track and if I called you to come out here that you would sign another check over to me.”
“Why the hell would you think something like that?”
“I don’t know…” he lowered his head in shame, but I knew that it wasn’t his fault.
“So how did Tim really hurt himself?” I decided to go in for the kill, strike Coach Johnson while he was vulnerable.
He cracked and as he told me the truth, it was my turn to feel vulnerable…
Tim was kicked out of Howard University two weeks after his surgery; the education board tried to work with him and give him an academic scholarship, he turned it down and gave each member of the board the middle finger.
He was never the academic type.
Thus, Tim left with no argument. I told him that he should have stayed, but who was I give to my boyfriend sound advice?
Let’s fast forward to almost one year later.
I had managed to keep my mouth shut about Tim’s late night coed escapades- which was the reason behind his injury for ten months and I made some serious moves for myself.
I got a second chance to go to work with Versace in Italy and I took it without talking to Tim about the offer. I was gone for three beautiful weeks working with Donnatella’s team for their fall collection for 2007; I felt like I was living out my dreams. With every design, every stitch I tested, I knew that this was what I had been created to do.
I kept my phone calls to Tim limited, knowing that he would only try to bring me down and make me feel guilty for going to Italy without his approval. While in Italy, I made plans to end the nearly seven year relationship that had driven me to points of happiness, confusion, abuse and everything else in between.
When I came home, however, my dreams transcended into a nightmare and my life took a vicious turn.
Tim met me at the airport with a large bouquet of roses and his traditional puppy dog eyes; he was a pro at using them to get what he wanted- especially from me. But I just smiled, accepted the flowers and moved to baggage claim.
“I have a surprise for you,” he said once we were on the way to my condo outside of school.
“A welcome home party. I invited all your friends from school and some from back home.”
“Wow, Tim that was…” I couldn’t find the words to say. “Sweet of you.”
Something didn’t feel right. I felt it in my bones that he was up to something.
“Yeah, I have been planning this for weeks. I know that you’re gonna love it. We’re having it at NoBu.” He added. I raised my brow and smiled. “I knew you would like that.” He looked back at the road, we drove the rest of the way talking about all the arrangements he made for the party while mentally, and I was preparing myself for the biggest breakup of my life!
Once back at my condo, I was unpacking my suitcase when I heard Tim on the phone.
“Man, trust me this is going to work. Nena won’t know what hit her when I’m done with this.” The guy on the other end spoke and Tim laughed. “Man, she got the letter a few days ago for a job in New York. They even gave her an advance for twenty grand! I know!”
I stepped away from the door, biting my lip and holding back tears. I contemplated pretending that I didn’t hear that conversation; I imagined myself just going back to unpacking my suitcase, going back to the norm, smiling and accommodating Tim as I always did.
Not this time.
I pushed the door open and went for Tim’s phone.
“He will call you back!” I said in the phone before throwing it against the wall. All my attention went to Tim.
“Nena, listen I-“
“Where is it?”
“My Goddamn offer letter, Tim! Don’t play with me.”
“You were listening to my call?”
“How could I not when you were just bragging to your friend how you were going to have it made!”
“Shut up!” I snapped. “How could you, Tim?” I felt the tears burning my eyes as I spoke. “Is that why we have been together for so long? Huh? Because you knew I would become famous with my fashion? You just stuck around! Maybe that’s why you were so occupied with all the sorority girls at Howard!”
Tim’s eyes grew larger than saucers when I said the last statement. He rose from his seat, fists clenched and ready to attack.
“How did you know that?”
“Coach Johnson cracked the day you went into surgery,” I said. “And by the way, I cancelled that blank check you gave him.”
“You bitch!” Tim charged me but I avoided the impact which sent him crashing into the wall. He turned toward me again. “This isn’t over,” he hissed.
“That’s where you’re wrong, Tim.” I walked to the door and looked at him again. “It is over. Get out of my house.”
Later that night, I started to get my things together for my new move to New York; I found out that Banana Republic had extended a job offer to me after seeing my last fashion show and asked me to join their design team. The letter that Tim had opened was the official offer with a deadline for me respond by; once Tim was gone, I called and immediately accepted the job and the twenty grand advance.
I cried of course, once the reality set in that I had just ended a relationship that was just for future fame. Every word that he said played over and over in my mind, I thought back to the blank check that he signed my name to. All the fights, the abuse…I thought that we were gonna make it through the fire but we didn’t.
The fire burned me. I now had to heal.
When sleep finally came to me at was four a.m. I stumbled into my bedroom, praying for sleep to come quick when my doorbell rang.
“Damnit,” I hissed. I opted to ignore the buzzing but a set of heavy knocks followed. “Who is it?” I called.
“What are you doing here Tim?”
“I came to apologize.”
“There is nothing to say, Tim” I said against the door. I glanced through the peep hole at him; even from the slightly distorted view, I saw a bottle in his hand. “Go away, Tim.”
“Have you been drinking?”
“What? No…no. Well…okay, I can’t lie to you, baby.”
“Why not? You did it for our entire relationship.”
“Nena,” he sang. “Come on…open the door…please…” I rested my head against the door, my fingers grazed the doorknob. “Nena…you know…”
Subconsciously, I was screaming at myself not to open the door but there was a part of me- the naïve side that couldn’t say “no.”
My fingers turned the lock to the right then I slowly opened the door.
“I knew you would do it!” Tim pushed the door wide open, sending me to the floor; my head slammed into the wall. Tim grabbed my legs and pulled me out of my condo. “Come on, we’re going for a ride,” he said.
“Tim! Let me go!” I kicked, I screamed and I tried to grab at everything I could as he lugged me down the stairs. My head hit every step on the way down; I could feel the lumps forming at the back of my head. “Please! Tim! Stop,” I sobbed.
“Shut up!” he yelled. He stopped at the landing and looked down at me. He grabbed my hair, jerked my head close to his face.
He was drunk. The stench of alcohol clouded his eyes, breath and entire face.
“I wanted to be faithful to you,” he said. “I did. But when girls started…they threw themselves at me, Nena. In high school, college, everywhere. I loved it!”
“Tim…please,” I said softly. “Let me g-go…”
“Never!” He yelled. He punched me in the face and laughed. “I’m sorry, baby but you deserve this right now! Come on, we still got that ride to take.” He continued pulling me down the stairs.
I then knew what a rag doll felt like.
He pulled me down the last flight of stairs; I tried to grab the railing and held on for dear life.
“Nena! Let go!” Tim yelled. “Let go or I’ll break your arm, I swear! Nena!” I struggled to keep a firm grasp of the metal railing and with one sharp jerk, my arm broke. I screamed in complete and utter pain but Tim didn’t care he continued to drag me along. “I told you, didn’t I? Now look what you made me do.”
My left eye was swollen, I could barely see straight and I thought I was on the verge of a concussion.
“You know, I never wanted to hurt you, Nen,” he said. “I just wanted to scare you but now, I have no choice but to finish what I start.”
His last words filled me with fear and I felt nauseous. When he pulled me into the night air, my arm was throbbing and I felt faint. Tim hoisted me over his shoulder and threw me into his car.
“Don’t move,” he said.
“Tim…m-my arm,” I sobbed. “I-I need a doctor.”
“A doctor? Oh no, I can’t take you to a doctor…they would think that I hurt you.”
“You did, you bastard!”
“Let’s not get upset, baby,” he placed a hand on my chin, turning my good eye to him. “Just relax and let me take you…" I bit down on his index finger till I tasted blood. “You son of…” he stopped and landed another punch to my face and a another to my stomach. “Stop making me hurt you! I can’t keep…hurting you like this.”
“Please…please let me go, Tim.”
“No, we have to take our ride.” He slammed the passenger door and made his way to the driver’s side. He climbed in, closed the door and I could smell him take a swig of something. He exhaled hard and took another drink. “Let’s go.”
The engine revved and we were on the way.
“Tim, please stop this,” I pleaded with him. His car weaved in and out of traffic and he made sharp turns when possible.
“Nena, when you and I met, my sister told me that you were going to be a big famous designer one day! I didn’t believe it but I did think that you were beautiful. But when I saw how more people in school paid attention to what you did, instead of what I did…then I started to wonder what you had going for you.”
“Tim…” I couldn’t finish my sentence, I tasted blood in my mouth and my face was swollen like a balloon. My head was cloudy and my body ached. My eye was swollen shut and my arm fed jolts of tremendous pain through the rest of me.
“I saw you, Nena! I saw you making the money like all those fruity designers you talk about! I even researched how much a successful designer makes, baby you were gonna be large! Then in school, I read all the articles about you and when I found that letter and that advance! Oh my God! You were going to be big.”
Were. He said that I was going to be big. Suddenly, the pain I felt meant nothing.
I was going to die.
He made another sharp turn and weaved into traffic; car horns blared behind us but Tim didn’t seem to care.
“You were gonna be so big, baby and I thought that I was gonna be just as big too and when I got hurt-“
“After cheating on me!”
“You cheated on me and you thought that I would never find out!”
“Stop it! Just stop right now, Nena!”
“I loved you more than anything and you-“
“I said shut up!”
I felt a sickening pain flood my stomach and I felt something warm pass over me. I ran my hand over my stomach and raised my hand to my right eye.
It was blood. Tim stabbed me in the stomach.
“You keep making me do things to you, Nena! Damnit!”
“Let me go…please, Tim. God, let me go.”
“No, I can’t. This is the end for you. If I can’t be with you and share your fame then no one can.”
“I need…” the right words were right there but my body was struggling to live.
“Nena, I did love you at some point in time. I wanted to love you to the best of my abilities but I…”
I never heard the end of Tim’s sentence.
We came head on with a utility van.
Neither one of us was wearing a seat belt; I was thrown from the car, crashed through the windshield and landed in a ditch. I don’t remember when the police and ambulance came; when I was lifted onto a stretcher, half conscious and in serious pain, I remember a petite woman talking to me.
“Don’t worry miss, you will be fine.”
“It’s alright. Just relax…”
With my available vision, I saw Tim’s Passat practically split in two. The police were talking to a witness. I craned my neck to search for Tim on a stretcher like me.
He wasn’t on a stretcher.
Tim’s body was concealed in a black bag.
That was the last that I saw of Timothy Reins.
After a three and a half week stay in the hospital and two month’s worth of rehab, I was back on my feet. My stomach was stitched up, my concussion healed but the emotional scares were apparent and haunting. It was hard getting back to what I could consider a normal life; nightmares left me with minimal sleep and numerous phantom pains left me uneasy throughout the day. Tim’s parents made a public apology; my parents accepted it- to an extent yet respected his parents in lieu of the loss of their son.
My job with Banana Republic was still waiting for me. It could have been after the media showcased my accident and I spoke out about the violence I endured with my relationship with Tim. Six months into Banana Republic, I took on a lead designer position, in the position; I used my leadership to expand their audience. During fashion week 2008, I had an informal interview with Dolce and Gabbana, a week later; I was back in Italy being offered a job as Creative Director for D&G.
I accepted the offer.
While working for D&G, I started working on my own designs and started making moves for my own line.
Next Generation Fashion launched in 2009. I am slated to present in this year’s fashion week and open my second store in LA.
I learned a lot from my relationship with Tim. He and I were complete opposites with different views on life. He believed that money was the root of happiness and I thought that it truly was the root of all evil. I would have done anything for him, but he would have done anything for me…for a price.
What happens when someone wants to steal your spotlight by killing you?