The smell of freshly mowed lawn and heat, pure heat overwhelm my senses as I walk down this street in the town that made me. The sun setting sets a orangish glow to the buildings that frame this dead street in this dead end town that I left oh so many years ago. I had promised myself I would never return and yet here I am going back on my meaningless words. I never thought he’d die.
Death, what a kind and helpful friend, he’s the only one who accompanies me on my walk through this town filled with memories of my childhood. He beckons me to the old general store that seems almost empty, with all but a few items on the shelf. I pull open the door, the fresh burst of cold air blasts me chilling me. At the counter is a teen girl with headphones on chewing gum, reading a comic. She reminds me of myself at that age. Suddenly, its 20 years ago, I am 13 and have the world at my fingertips. I am reading the coolest book of the year and minding my own business.
Suddenly I am shoved back to reality, with a soft voice “Ma’am may I help you?” I quickly ask for an ice cream cone that they sell and she briskly hands it to me. As I walk out of the store, I sigh bringing tears to my eyes. He is dead. He is gone.
I walk through the dead-end streets and the pavements I once called my home. All I see is his shadow, the man who saved me. A little girl who had no one who cared. My mother worked the streets, always high off the next greatest drug. My father would have been ashamed watching her from wherever he was, having been slaughter by the men he called his friends. My father wasn’t there to call 911 when she od’ed and he wasn’t there when I starved, however he was.
Javies was an older man, veteran of WW2 who came home to an empty house and cold bed. His wife and child were killed In an automobile accident. He lived next door alone and when I would be alone, when my mom couldn’t live with her thoughts and drowned herself in the enticing juice that took all your memories for but a second, I would run to him. If anything, he was my father, he was the person who made sure I was fed, dressed and clean for school. He saved me.
He was also the man that told me to leave and never look back. He was the one who told me when I graduated to go to the best university and hell he made sure I did to, I owed nothing to the institutions that paved the way for me to be the woman I am now. I stared at his house, once empty with just the old man and his pup and now filled with people who knew of him and not who he was. Tears filled my eyes, I wish I hadn’t listened, I wish I had just stayed but I can’t change time.
An older woman along with a younger lady dressed very business like walked up to me, I recognized the older lady as the choir leader at my old church. I straightened up and wiped my eyes, no need to give the old hag something to talk about. “Grace, honey is that you?” The old lady stammered.
I nodded, wiping a blond bit of hair out of my face, “Yes, it is, Mrs. Lynno.”
She smiled, so falsely with a hint of unannounced rage behind it, “We must speak to you. It’s quite urgent.” I nod unsure of what she wants with me but not wanting to start problems, I follow her.
We walk into the house, into Javies’ office and I am motioned to sit. Mrs. Lynno and the other young lady closes the door. The young lady looks at me and then at Mrs. Lynno, “Can you please leave the room Mrs. Lynno.” Angered and fuming the old woman walks out and closes the door.
“She is probably listening in to this conversation.” I whisper.
“Honestly, let her. Maybe, Karma will find her nicely.” The young woman says with a gleam in her eye. She clears her voice and comes to sit next to me. “You were like a daughter to Javies and I have come to read his last will.” She pauses. “To the Pentecostal church I dedicated much of my life to, ¼ of my money will be left to you to help in the raising up of those in need. To my great nieces and nephews, you have never graced my presence nor my life and with that, I would like to leave you with this—life isn’t all about money and business, it’s about love, hope and those you keep close. Mrs. Lynno who was there with me in my last moments, I extend a thank you. You however did it out of want and not the need to be a kind neighbor, with that you are left with a bit of advice, do things out of love and it will be returned, do things out of greed and that too shall be returned. And to Grace, the only person in this world whom I consider a friend and an adoptive daughter, I leave you with the rest of my assets, my house and my dear pup goldy. Please take care of it, as I know you will. I asked you to leave and never return, but I am afraid I asked you to break that promise, so I will ask you to promise me this,
Do as I have done for you, pass it forward and save a child. So I leave you with this house and…”
As she finishes reading it the golden retriever, I grew up with ran and jumped on top of me, slobbers all over my face, covering the tears I had trailing down my face.
Maybe my pain can be the ladder someone else needs and so I decided to stay in this hollowed out ghost town and taken in children that had no one else, I passed on the kindness and saved those who had been me, just as Javies had wanted.