It was a warm Wednesday Summer’s Eve in Asbury Park, everyone was content. The Tourists were out enjoying the local shops and restaurants along with the young adults from the next town over who are home from College to visit their family and friends; they are from a prominent community mostly Doctors, Lawyers and Business people. They usually never had to face hardship, they had enough money and political power to be able to make any inconvenience disappear so they can enjoy the good times their families embrace. It was the perfect place to come from and to raise a family, this brings us to our proud heroine Jackie.
I was 12 years old when I ran away from home, at first, finding refuge at homes where I befriended older people locally and, eventually, hitchhiking across the United States for nearly 2 years. I remember the moment I chose to leave. It felt like a do or die situation and I often ponder what my life would be like had I not made the decision to leave. I know now that Everything Happens For A Reason!!!
9:00 AM. I wake up from the voice outside my room, “Raani, bring two more slices of bread in the dining area”
Last names are an interesting thing. Everyone has one and you really have no say in what it is. You use your last name for reservations, work paperwork, and really in every aspect of your life. You are either born with your given last name or married into it and at that point most people just accept their last name. You could legally change it, but who really wants to go through the process.
It was terminal, that's what the doctor said. Mary now had at most 12 months to live. What does anyone do with news like this? Most people would say knock at least three things off your bucket list, but Mary was a type of person who got on her bucket list at the age of 15 and knocked everything off.
In 1995, as my family was headed to a Wednesday night church service, my nine-year-old daughter decided to take her stuffed Lion King toy. A guest speaker was in the pulpit and during her message, she spoke about Mufasa from the movie The Lion King. My little girl squeezed her toy and smiled with glee.
It had been a long night. At least for D. Of course, O. would go into labor during a terrible storm. A tornado watch had been issued for the Small Town area about six o'clock the previous evening. Rain was falling in sheets and one could barely see their hand in front of their face. A green tint fell over the sky and it was a good thing they lived so close to the salon; just about three blocks. If the weather was good and they weren't dog tired, they could walk home. Since O. had been pregnant, though, they had been riding home. It felt a little extravagant to be driving a mere three blocks and the exercise would have been great for her, but who was he to tell her she would benefit from the walk? Besides, standing on her feet all day, booked solid with appointments, he knew her body must hurt. At the very least, he knew her feet were tired. Good thing they rode home because she went into labor just about the second they crossed the threshold. D.'s mother lived with them and took care of M. and B. while they were at the salon. D. ran into the kitchen, where Mama was preparing chicken and dumplings for dinner, telling her it was time to go to the hospital. He grabbed her suitcase which was parked at the front door and they left. The trip downtown would take a good 20 minutes and that was only if there wasn't much traffic. Good job Central Expressway was completed in Small Town last year. It sure helped make the trip downtown seem shorter. They made it in record time and the nurse guided her to a room while he stayed at the desk completing paper work. The contractions were extraordinarily painful and only two minutes apart already. O. wondered how long it would be before this baby made its way into the world. She hoped the stormy weather would not be indicative of this baby's life.
Sometime in June, the local newspaper will announce the Father of the Year: a dubious honor bestowed upon a man who has been nominated by his family. I have no idea who the judges are, or what qualifications are needed to judge the fatherhood of any other man.
The evening glow lit up the dining room table. It was warm in the house, and a soft tapping sound could be heard. A younger man in his late 20s sat at the table. He had short, red-tinged hair, and freckles speckled across his face. His deep, brown eyes were looking off in thought. There was a stack of papers with writing scrawled all over them. The handwriting was messy.
The smell alone clogged my windows and filled the cab of my truck. I had spent the morning doing honey-dos, intending to take a shower, but never making it that far. Indeed, I even went to the hardware store earlier in that condition—stinky.