Prologue for a draft I have in my Microsoft Word

Prologue for a draft I have in my Microsoft Word

A Story by Aysia
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story of interracial love in the 1960's racist Alabama

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THE FIRE: SIX MONTHS AGO

     

It has probably been proven that there is at least one day in our lives that we’ll never forget. Well, I’m sure that’s true. Positive. There will forever be one day in my life I’ll never forget; no matter how much the effect of old age burns my mind away. I’ll always remember that day. The day where I left, where I said “I love you” and never saw them again. I had plans, like every other person does when you leave the people you love the most. I had plans to return to them and prepare for our trip to France, to visit the place where my father was born. The place where he laid his parents to rest. The last thing that crossed my mind was that I soon would lay my own parents to rest. But I had plans, I had things yet left to do. I never thought about that. Who would? You can never plan disaster. Disaster plans you.

    And disaster had already planned me. I, Carmen Lilith Thomas.

    “Are you finished packing yet?” I remember hearing my mother’s rich voice from the bottom of the staircase as I set my suitcases at my door.

    “Yes,” I called back. I was spending the night over at a friend’s, something we did often. But now we were the same age. That day was her fifteenth birthday.

    “Good, good. Where’s your father?”

    I threw on a light jacket for it was cold, which was coming too early this year in Ontario. September. “I don’t know,” I said back. “I’ll check his office.”

    I walked down the hall, to my father’s upstairs office. I used to play there all the time when I was a little child. But now I was too old for games like such. I had not been in there for the longest. I timidly knocked on the closed door.
    “Only a father recognizes his daughter’s knock.”

    I smiled at his voice and let myself in. “Hi Papa.” I walked over and kissed his cheek. “Mother was looking for you.”

    He slid his glasses further down his skinny nose. “Was she? I’ll check and see what she wants.” He neatly stacked up papers that had been thrown carelessly over his desk into a neat, precise pile.

    “What where you doing?” I asked.

    “Planning for Paris.” He winked that signature wink of his and patted my shoulder.

    I smiled enthusiastically. We planned a trip for Paris every fall. My father was born in Paris. He moved to Canada with my mother, after meeting her on one of her visits to Paris when she was younger. They came back, had me, now we were one happy family.

    I followed him down the oak staircase, as we went into the huge white kitchen, which had a softness and homey feeling. The oak table, the oak island, but still the soft, snowy white made a feathery appearance in my mother’s choice of décor. It gave our home a sense of uniqueness. Like our family. Unique.

    “You called for me, dearest?” He greeted my mother with a kiss on the cheek, like a true gentleman would.

    “Ah yes.” She was sitting in a chair, leant over on the table, her black straight hair (straighter than a normal black woman’s hair, since I’ve heard of their normally kinky style) tied in a braid, flowing down her back. “I was wondering would you like to make a visit to Rennes. To check on your father’s house.”

    My grandfather, my father’s father, sold his Paris home after his wife, my father’s mother, died of a fatal internal disease. He moved to Rennes, a city in Brittany, France. His house was still empty, no tenants.

    “I don’t see what the point of holding on to the house is. Why not sell it? The man’s dead anyways,” my father replied.

    Mother ran a hand on the back of her neck and replied with something I don’t remember. Instead, I went back upstairs to bring my suitcases down.

    My father was half black half French and was proud of his French heritage, although he was a man of color. He had light skin, gray eyes, curly gray hair, the craziest smile (half of his face would arch diagonally while the other side stayed down) and he always knew how to make you laugh. I loved him so much. My mother was a little darker in complexion and was from Chicago. Her father left her and moved back down to Alabama with his relatives (where I heard he died) while her mother took her to Chicago. I had heard that lots of my aunts and uncles and cousins still lived in Alabama, since my mother’s father had many other children. But I had never met them.

    I also heard that lots of people in that part of North America (unlike in Canada) hated one because of the color of one’s skin. My mother told me horrible stories of people who lost their lives because they were of color. I couldn’t imagine a place like that. Ontario was so peaceful, the people were so nice. I wondered why my aunt and uncle could not move to Canada if they wanted to. That always confused me.  I heard they lived in a rural country town, although they were quite wealthy to be colored folks.

    I took my bags to the base of the staircase, my mother still putting up a fit as to the matter of why my father shouldn’t sell my grandfather’s house. I rolled my eyes and sat on the bottom step.

    She stepped out of the kitchen, calling back to my father that the discussion was not over.

    “I’ll walk,” I firmly decided. My friend’s house was a couple of blocks over. Not a great distance.

    My mother shrugged. “Well sure. But you want to walk two blocks over with two suitcases?”
    I nodded. “Yes.” But now I wish they both would have driven me. And I would have been able to see them one more time. But I did not. Because no one plans disaster.

    She smiled softly. “That’s fine then. Now we can get to working on that will.” She patted my shoulder as she hurriedly made her way up the stairs.

    The will. One piece of paper that would have changed my fate. But too little, too late. The original papers had been designated for my aunt and uncle in Alabama to have me, if anything ever happened to my parents. When I turned eighteen, my parents’ grand fund would be given to me. Enough money to live my life. But now they were going to change it so that I could live with Paige Everson, the wealthy family friend with no husband or children to call her own. I loved her. But that day, the next morning, to which they were to appoint the lawyer to confirm the will’s changes, never came. And my fate was sealed.

    “So you’re walking?” my father asked, obviously hearing the conversation. He came from the kitchen and leaned against the wall, staring at me.

    “Yes, I need the exercise.” I smoothed out the fabric in my denim shorts.  

    He smiled at me then looked up and smiled at my mother as she came back down the stairs, with an armload of paperwork.

    “I made those brownies earlier. They should be a treat at the party,” she said.

    I slowly got up and walked into the kitchen, where Mother was slowly arranging brownie squares into a neat little pattern on the tray.

    “That’s nice. Thank you Mother.”

    “You’re welcome.”

    I wrapped my arms around her waist as she worked, the brownies arranged in a spiral motion, as if the brownies were a stairway to heaven. That night my parents would walk those stairs.

    I took the tray in my hands, delicately, carefully.

    “Let me drive you,” my mother insisted. “You can’t carry a plate of brownies and two suitcases.”

    She made sense. I agreed. I kissed my father goodbye and got into my mother’s car, setting the brownies on the backseat. Our small conversation was cut short since she drove fast and it only took thirty seconds to get to my friend’s house. Yes, I counted. When I got out of the car, I kissed her cheek, told her I loved her, and she walked me to the door, making small talk with my friend’s mom.

    I was the only colored girl in the area, and I had only seen one other colored girl, a rich tourist from England. We made conversation while she and her family were ice skating. We’d become quick friends; a pair of giggly thirteen-year-old girls can become friends rather quickly. But I hadn’t heard from her in a year. I guess that distance does make a difference.

    My friend, whose name is Rachel, invited me in quickly, laughing excitedly and telling me all our plans for that night, over and over again. And she loved the fact that I brought brownies. No one could make brownies like my mother did. And course Rachel informed me that she received a birthday kiss. From her admirer, also one of the handsomest boys in our school. He was white, of course, and I was fond of him as well. And he was fond of me. But I assumed he wasn’t fond enough of me, he had the nerve to kiss Rachel on the lips. I felt jealous but it was a simple crush, so it would pass.

    I had never felt intimated by the color of my skin. In Ontario, I was accepted for who I was, not the color of my skin. Everyone loved everyone. That’s how it was. And from the rare choice of men with color, I fell in love with white boys. There was no one else. And no one else I preferred.  

    A boy named Michael from the fifth grade was my first kiss. And he was the ugliest boy in the whole province of Ontario. I heard from friends that he was somewhat handsomer now but in fifth grade, I’m sure he made the Frankenstein monster look beautiful. It was under the oak tree where he asked for a kiss. I was hesitant to give it to him, but he begged and begged. I kissed him. And he ran off to his buddies, proudly proclaiming that he did kiss me. I guess they had their money on me.

    That night Rachel and I giggled and laughed. We were both fifteen, and that was a good feeling. We felt older, more mature, more experienced. More alive. While we went through the list of things we wanted to experience�"since we were fifteen�"I noticed that most of my wants had to do with love. I wanted to be in love, to feel loved, to make love. I wanted it all. But I wanted a boy who would love me dearly. And I had a feeling I wouldn’t find that in Ontario.

    It was midnight when we went to bed, but we didn’t fall asleep. We stayed up, giggling, talking, and gossiping. Rachel was so obsessed with her birthday kiss that any subject that strayed from the kiss would get trashed.

    And that night I fell asleep, after Rachel’s giggles faded to quiet, breathy snores. And I awoke in the middle of the night to sirens and a dark night turned orange, glowing out of the window. The strange orange light made fiery shadows on the wall. I got up hurriedly, peering out the window. The orange blaze pillowed the air, the smoke going straight up into the atmosphere. I don’t remember what I thought at that second, at that time. Maybe I didn’t think at all. Maybe it is possible to not think at all. I’m sure I didn’t.

    I do remember the stinging of my bare feet as I ran down the street. Rachel was still in bed. Rachel’s mother stood timidly on the lawn, as if she didn’t know whether to run or stay. It was early in the morning, still dark. Her bathrobe was half-tied, exposing her nightgown underneath. Maybe she wasn’t thinking either.

    To my horror, when I crossed onto my street, the blaze was coming from the house that I feared it would. It was like the fiery furnace. The blaze was shooting sparks and fire through every window and every opening possible.

    I can’t remember whether I screamed, or if I fell to my knees, or if I froze in place. Not one muscle in motion. Just speechless and motionless.      

    What was left of them, the charred remains, were cremated and the urns in which their ashes rested were buried side by side underground, the proper way, that next week. It was cold. I was wearing black. Everyone was. My eyes were so sore from crying and I was so pained that not one tear was shed. I just stood there as the minister threw dirt on the small opening into which the urns were lowered.

    No one mentioned the will. No one even noticed it. Although a copy of the document was kept at the lawyer’s, my parent’s copy was burned in the fire. Everyone was so grieved, that no one even thought about who was designated to keep me. So Paige Everson took me in. She housed me for six months, until the lawyer called that day. I was sitting on the sofa, curled up in a ball, watching television. The phone rang. The maid got it.

    “It’s for you. It’s urgent,” the slender, shy maid quietly said as she walked fast into the living quarters. Paige got up immediately.

    I just sat there on the couch, staring at the televised happy family, exchanging worn out jokes at the dinner table. The staged audience laughed at every intended funny part. I only laughed at some of jokes.

    It had been six months. Rachel and I had spent an hour talking the night before. We hadn’t had a sleepover after that night. And there wasn’t one planned any time soon.

    The March flowers were popping up from underneath the snow but the cold nip in the air still remained sharp. I was doing much better. I felt more alive. I laughed more, talked more. But I still missed my parents every day and every night.

    Then Paige came around the corner, her arms tightly folded on her barely there chest. She took a long sigh that got my attention.

    I turned around. “Who was that?”

    “Mr. Dobell, your parent’s lawyer.”
    That was the first time the will crossed my mind. The will. They never changed it. Legally, I couldn’t stay with Paige. My heart got caught in my throat.

    I arrogantly shrugged it off. “So what there’s a will? Who are they to notice anyway? We live in Canada, they live in Alabama, they’ll never know.”

    She sat next to me. “That’s not the point Carmen. Besides, they called. They know that their names were on the will.”

    I frowned, still focused on the television. “Who called?” 

    “Your aunt and uncle, from Alabama. They just heard of your parent’s death and they knew their names were on the will, so they called the lawyer and asked of the necessary rights to move you down to Alabama.”

    Tears stung my eyes. “But, I don’t want to go.”

    Paige sighed. I could tell she didn’t want me to go either. “Me too, but there’s legality at hand here. You must go.”

    There was no need arguing that out. All I had to do was suffer Alabama’s hate, heat and absurdity for a year and a half till I turned eighteen, and my parent’s fund�"entitling me to two hundred thousand dollars�"would be mine. And I could move back to Ontario. Or maybe British Columbia.

    Paige massaged my back. I just sat there, angry. Wondering why did God take my parents from me before they could change the will. Now Paige was sending me to the fiery furnace. But I had to go. And pray something good was in store for me in Alabama.

    And I prayed that disaster didn’t follow me. That everything would be alright until my eighteenth birthday, which wasn’t so far away. But you never choose disaster. Disaster chooses you.

© 2013 Aysia


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This is really really good. I want more of this. More!

Posted 6 Years Ago



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Added on February 10, 2013
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Author

Aysia
Aysia

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I'm very shy. A budding writer. Grammar freak, despite my use of fragments in this bio. A photographer. Young in age, but old in soul. Sort of. I consider myself an abstract writer (as in the art.. more..

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