Zora

It was everything about her that made me fall in love. She was so understanding of me, my life and my career. Her unconditional love is what motivated me every single day. "Michael, I will always love you. Don't you ever forget that," she always told me. No matter how far away we were from one another, we always professed our love or showed it however we could. Although I was thousands of miles away, I made it my duty to send her a bouquet of her favorite flowers with a card daily. She would call me each day she got them and would tell me how much she loved them. She was a woman who didn't want much but time, attention and appreciation. And although I was on tour and couldn't give her my time, my gifts compensated. She wasn't much of a "gift woman" either, but she accepted them. Mostly because she didn't have much of a choice. I love her so much and she knows that. She knows I would give her the world and then some. In fact, she was my world. My universe even and she makes it known that I am hers too. I can't wait to get back home to her. I want to make this official. I want her to be my wife.


***


"Michael, Zora called," Bill informed me just before we boarded the plane.


"Yeah?" I turned to face him. "What'd she say?"


"She's sick with the flu. She doesn't want you to catch it, so it's best you don't come over for a couple of days. She would hate for you to get sick too."


"Sick?" Zora never got sick. Her immune system was as strong as an ox. How could she have possibly gotten sick?


"Yeah. I don't know, Mike. I'm just the messenger," he shrugged.


"I see..." I nodded. "Well, we'll surprise her so I can help her get better. She needs it." We boarded the plane. This eleven-hour flight will be the death of me, but it's worth it just to get back to her. As soon as the concert was over and done, I made sure all my things were packed so we could board the first flight out of here. We should reach LA by two a.m. their time. I missed her rich dark skin. I missed the way she holds me at night. What man would willingly leave the woman he loves for a year? Me. Because that's what my career called for. And Zora understood that with no problem. No other woman could keep up with or understand the demands that came with my career. She didn't mind the women who proclaimed their love for me every five seconds. She didn't mind me being gone all hours of the night because I was finishing up an album. She would watch as I danced religiously every night because I had nothing better to do. She is my other half. And to be separated from your other half for so long is enough to make someone go mad. Except I wasn't mad. I wasn't crazy. I just longed to be near her. I longed to kiss her. I longed to hold her. I longed to be in the same space as my Zora.


Zora always told me was the one who made her feel pretty. But I've always told her that her beauty had absolutely nothing to do with me. That was all her. She told me we were made for each other and I can only agree. We were made for each other and no one can convince me otherwise. She was made for no one other than me and me for her. We completed each other. Me without her and her without me was something neither one of us could really see.


Soulmates. That's what we are. Soulmates. How often does one meet their soulmate and not mess it up? I was determined not to mess this up. I need Zora forever. If it weren't for her unconditional love, I don't know where I would be.


"Michael," Bill tapped me on the shoulder. "Did you want to call her before we take off?" He handed me a portable phone. I took it from him and dialed her house number.


She answered on the second ring, "hello?" Her voice was hoarse.


"Baby," I smiled. "How are you?"


"I could be better," she coughed. "How was the last concert?"


"It would have been better had you been with me."


"Aww, baby. You know I wanted to be with you this whole tour. But the studio needed me. Can't have an art studio and not be there."


"I know... I recorded just about every concert for you though. So, you just pick what city you want to watch, and we'll watch it together."


"That sounds like heaven," I heard the smile in her voice.


"How did you get the flu? You never get sick, Zora..." I inquired.


"How does anyone get the flu?" She asked, mustering up a light laugh. "I don't know. It's not all that cold out. I haven't been around many people. So, I really don't know."


"Well, you don't have to worry about a thing. I'll have someone send over some get well supplies. I'll get you the best medicine money can buy."


"Thank you, baby. I love you so much. And I've missed you just as much, if not more. It sucks that I won't be able to see you as soon as you land. You know I'd be right on that tarmac as soon as you touched down."


I sighed, "it's okay. I understand. When I see you in a couple of days, expect lots of love and attention. I've missed you so much, Zora."


"Baby," she smiled. The cheerfulness in her voice was interrupted by a violent coughing fit.


"That sounds like a bad cough, babe. You've got me worried now."


"That's why I can't see you for a couple of days. I've been home since this whole thing came over me. I don't want anyone else to catch it."


"I wish you had told me sooner. I would have sent you get well supplies a long time ago."


"I didn't want to worry you... You know how you can be."


"When it comes to you, should I really be any other way?"


Bill walked back over to me, "we're about to take off, Michael."

I sighed, "baby, we're about to take off. I guess I'll be seeing you in a couple of days."


"I'm sorry, baby... I love you, Michael. Always have..."


"Always will," I finished. I hung up the phone and gave it back to Bill.


"Everything okay?" Bill asked me.


I shook my head, "no. She's sicker than I thought. We have to get over there as soon as we land. I don't care what she says. I refuse to let my baby just sit in the house alone and sick. Call someone. Anyone. Let them know when we touchdown they should already have the best medicine and remedies that money can buy in the car." Bill nodded and walked away as he called whoever he needed to relay the message. I can't believe she's really this sick. Out of all the years, I've known Zora, she's never fallen ill. She takes her vitamins daily. In fact, she gets on me when I don't take my vitamins. The girl stays on a strict vegetarian diet. How could she possibly be sick? It doesn't matter, I guess... I just wish she had told me a long time ago. I would have had Patrick send over the best in medicine to get her well... I- Wait. I just talked to Zora yesterday and she sounded just fine. How did she catch such a violent flu in as little as twenty-four hours? It takes maybe a day or two for her to be as sick as she sounded. Maybe she was around someone who had it just that bad and she caught the same level of illness as they did. But that doesn't make sense. You don't sit around a very sick person and catch that very same level of sickness that quickly. It just doesn't work like that. "Bill," I called him over. Bill hung up the phone and walked back over to me. "Zora wasn't sick yesterday when I called her. How come all of a sudden she sounds like she's on her deathbed?"


"Um," he shrugged. "Maybe it's the time difference. You know Tokyo is a day ahead. You may have talked to her yesterday, on the thirtieth. But you've got to remember it was still the twenty-ninth in LA. She probably just caught it today in LA's December thirtieth. I don't know. Does that make sense?"


I stared at him, "no. What does time difference have to do with your immune system and a virus?"


"You're right," he sighed. "I don't know, man. Your girl is sick. That's all that matters. It sucks."


"Yeah... I'm just confused because she wasn't sick yesterday. But okay. You're right. She's sick. That's all that matters, and we have to get her the best in modern medicine to get her well."


"Right. Well, I'm going to go over to my suite. I'm tired, Mike," he went about his way. I don't know why I was thinking that. It's just odd that Zora got sick out of nowhere. Being that she's a woman who is very conscious and aware of her body and health, I don't get how she got the flu. It's just strange. But then again, she also wouldn't lie to me. Especially about something as silly as that. She's better than that. I know she would never betray me like that because that's not her nature. I just want my baby to get better. And I can't wait to finally land in LA, that way I can hurry to be by her side. I pressed the reclining button on the side of my recliner so that it would stretch out. I can't wait to see Zora. Whether she wants me to see her because she's sick or not. I just can't wait to see her smiling face. That's all I want to dream about. Being with Zora.


***


I woke up as we were still in mid-flight. Lifting the window, all I saw was pitch black, aside from the full moon that helped guide us back home. Turning on the television, the clock had adjusted to whatever time zone we were currently in. We're supposed to land in LA at two a.m. their time. It is currently twelve a.m. Yet, we still have three hours to go on this flight. It's crazy how time zones and flight work hand in hand. However, I feel like they're completely working against me right now. Luckily, I was able to get a whole eight hours of sleep. Now, I'm up and I'll be up for the remainder of the flight. Zora just might hate how awake and aware I'm going to be. One of the flight attendants came over to me asking if I wanted a meal or a snack. I explained to her that I just wanted oatmeal with banana slices in it instead of sugar. That's what Zora taught me. The earth provided us with fruit that holds the natural sugar that we need. Ever since she taught me that, I no longer add sugar to my oatmeal. Candy is repulsing. She's taught me a lot. We've taught each other plenty. After receiving my oatmeal, I told the flight attendant to put in the cassette tape to Spike Lee's Jungle Fever. One of my favorite films by Lee. Zora and I would sit and watch this film over and over and over again. You simply couldn't get sick of it. The soundtrack was done by none other than Stevie Wonder himself. It featured my protégé, Wesley Snipes. The film was just amazing. Spike has a way with film making.


Brett came over to my suite, "how's everything going with you?"

"Fine," I put down my spoon. "What's going on? Are you enjoying this eleven-hour flight?"


"Ugh," Brett groaned, sitting in the recliner parallel from mine. "I can't wait for this to be over. You have no idea."


"Oh, no," I laughed. "I understand completely. It's like it never ends. And don't get me started on the time difference. It's like we're going forward but backward at the same time. I hate it."


"The first leg was pretty dope, don't you think? You did your thing out there, my man."


I smiled at the memories on stage, "thanks. The stage is home to me, ya know?"


"I been knew that. You inspire me every day. I can't wait until I'm singing to a sea of people like that."


"Maybe I'll bring you on stage with me during the second leg."


"Woah, woah, woah. Let me finish the album first," Brett laughed.


"You've got to sing in front of people other than me, Bill and in the studio someday."


"I know... It's just going to take me a minute. Not everyone is fearless like you, Mike."


"What? Brett, you're the most fearless person I know. Don't do that to yourself."


"When I look out at the crowd you're going to sing to every night, I get bubble guts, man."


"Ew," I laughed. "You're gonna have to get over that if you want a career in entertainment."


"I know, I know. But as of now, I'm fine behind the scenes. Writing music, singing in the studio, and helping you on tour. But all that's behind us now, I can't wait to get home. We're going to be hermits, man, I tell you. I'm going to be home for weeks on end."


I laughed, "speak for yourself, man. I've got a lady at home waiting on me. Can you believe I've been away from Zora for an entire year?"


Brett sighed, his eyes averted from mine now. His demeanor changed almost as if he was sad. Did I hit a nerve or something? "Mike, I have something to tell you."


His voice had changed drastically, and it bothered me. Maybe I did hit a nerve, "what?"


"You know you're my boy, right? You're my best friend. My brother even."


"Yeah... what are you getting at?" I'm suspicious now. Why is he rambling off things I already know?


"When I say this, I need you to understand that I'm only looking out for you and your wellbeing. I love you, man and I don't want to see you get hurt."


"Brett," I'm impatient now. "What on earth are you talking about?"


Brett was silent as he collected his thoughts. Whatever he had to say, he was thinking long and hard before he had to say it. Which only made me curious about what it could possibly pertain to. "It's pointless for you to go back to Zora."


"Huh?" I'm confused now. "What would possess you to even say something like that?"


Brett sighed, "hear me out, man. Zora has been lying to you this entire time."


I scoffed, "lying to me about what?"


"Everything."


I bit my lip, now upset. As agitated as I was with him not just spitting out something so important, I tried to contain my emotions. My lips grew tight, "Brett, you know you're crossing a very thin line right now. You know no one and I mean no one, not even you is allowed to talk about Zora in a negative light. And to accuse her of something so heinous as to say she's lied to me could get you fired. I don't care how close we are. You better have a damn good reason to be saying some shit like this to me."


Brett looked me in the eye, "Zora has been fucking somebody else."

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