A short memoir…

The light in our room seems to flicker but really it’s only old and on it’s last breaths of life. Simone lies on the bottom bunk and pushes her feet through the wood frames of my top bunk and my mattress heaves like a bucking horse.  I involuntarily roll to the left and hit the wall of our rickety wood house.

“Stop it, pig head” I yell at her, irritated.

Our door opens and brings in a gust of Caribbean wind mixed with warm rain.

Daddy comes into the room, followed by mom.

“Hey, hey no fighting, girls.” He says quietly.

He looks serious and mom looks sad but they both smile at us. What an occasion, I think, to have them both in our little room. Quiet follows as they adjust themselves awkwardly around our bunk bed.

Mom finally speaks, “We need to talk about something.”

My heart races with hope and then sinks with fear. Mom explains that she needs to go back to L.A. and live near her family and daddy needs to stay here and take care of the house and property. Mom wants to go back to school and be on her own. I can’t help but think of all the fighting they’ve been indulging in for the past few years.

They’ve made the decision for us. It’s best if we leave with mom. There are more opportunities there. We can go to school and I can get a babysitting job just like in the books I read and movies we watch.

Everyone is crying now but daddy. He never cries. He stands there with his hand across his chest. Simone shakes her head no, no, no.

That night I cry myself silly and my pillow is wet.  Simone is unnervingly quiet and I feel I have to check on her every so often to make sure she’s not dead. The day’s leading to our departure are sad and long. Time is running out and the air is tense. Our hearts are overwrought.

One day I play Barbie’s with Simone in our room. Daddy lays in our balcony hammock and the rusty hooks creak as he swings from side to side.

Suddenly, a chocking sound fills the air. Heaving, gasping, wet sobs. Simone looks at me and I stare back at her. My blood turns ice cold and seems to freeze. My breathing stops and my heart is still. I know what is happening before Simone does because her brow furrows with confusion. I run next to daddy as tears run down his dark face.

“I don’t want to see you go.” He manages to choke out.

Tears brim my lashes and I lay my head on his chest. How does a twelve year old girl comfort a forty-five year old man? Her immortal, unbreakable hero. That night, the light in our room burns out.


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