“It was sunny when you left home, so you didn’t take an umbrella. An hour later, you’re caught in a torrential downpour. You run into the first store you can find — it happens to be a dark, slightly shabby antique store, full of old artifacts, books, and dust. The shop’s ancient proprietor walks out of the back room to greet you.” You turn to him with a big, wet smile. You hold up a tarnished gold Aladdin’s Lamp. My golly, it looks like a genie would jump out at any moment. You stutter. “How much, much do you want…?” He doesn’t allow you to finish your sentence. He leans over and picks up a big dark grey cat. It’s not for sale. Never will be for sale.” Now you’re angry. “It’s out here on a table with items for sale. Is it that you don’t want to sell it to me? What, you don’t think college students have money?”
“If it were for sale, how much would you sell it for?”
He clears his throat as if he just drank bitter coffee and swallowed burnt, crunchy toast. “It’s not an antique. It’s a keepsake. You do know the difference, don’t you?”
“A keepsake is, well, a keepsake is…”I lean over and put the lamp back on the table. “Well, I don’t know the difference. Are you going to tell me?”
Her heart crumbled as she saw the betrayal laid out before her. She didn’t know whether to look at her brothers and sisters or to keep her head down. She knew only that she wanted to die. All of this time she thought they had her back like when they were children. It wasn’t that way at all. They blamed her for the breakup of her mother’s fourth marriage. Since she was in the last stages of cancer, the family thought she couldn’t deal with stress. True. Then, I moved in with my dirty clothes sack of problems. Her world fell apart piece by piece while she lay sick in bed. Thinking her only worry was whether someone would come in to open the window while the shade was on that side of the house. Really, her problem was whether my stepfather and I would kill each other before another morning shined in her window. From the time he looked at me during a New Year’s Eve party, he had hated me. It was our first meeting. Holding a champagne glass while his other arm lie across my mother’s back, he looked at me like I was the most ugliest, dishonorable person in the world. I couldn’t walk over to him. My feet wouldn’t carry me. Like now, I felt paralyzed. I felt it better to turn around and walk out the door as quickly as possible.
Today is Nelson Mandela Day. I am grateful for such a day. It is a time for me to remind myself of Nelson Mandela’s legacy. His dream for those he left on earth is to remember the highest motivation. It is to love our fellowman. In other words to strive to live the Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
How many miles from our continent is it to Africa? Thousands? Yet, this man’s life and death has made distance in miles shrink or not matter at all. His beam of light continues to flare brightly. It is impossible to hide from the brightness. Now Light years away in Heaven or wherever good people go after death, his love for freedom still reaches us. Living under the bondage of any one man’s superiority over another man can only destroy a nation. Freedom for all mankind is necessary for us to live a good life here on earth. Nelson Mandela is our guiding light.
My thoughts completely derail when I remember you walking into the dining room with chandelier candlelight behind you. I was not lucid. All I could think of were the copper pennies in the stockings under my pillow. I kept pennies in a red sock under my pillow all the time, always. My father told me, “keeping pennies close will always bring you good luck.” I always believed every word he said until the night he lied to the policemen. He pointed at my mother. “She’s nuts. She follows me everywhere I go in the car. Last week she slapped a woman’s face, a co-worker whom I had picked up to take to work at the dry cleaning plant. After she slapped her, she ran. If she ever buys a gun, well that’s the end of the story for all of us.
I looked at him with my mouth open. That wasn’t the truth. My mother had left us a long time ago. I didn’t think she would ever come back. http://paradiseparadisiac.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/writing-prompt-of-the-day-41/
Not every son who loves his mother will become the kind of man who knows how to love a woman. Loving is difficult. Loving a woman is risky. Miracle married a man who loved his mother: pink roses on Mother’s Day, wet kisses after school, a tight hug after he ate his last bit of macaroni and cheese. When Jimmy grew up, he married a rich girl. He was from the opposite side of the tracks. After their honeymoon in Jamaica, he woke up the next morning looked at her sleeping, dark brown face and wondered what to do with her now. It was much easier to jump out of bed and head to his taxi cab. Dealing with raincoat and umbrella burdened women and men seemed easier than dealing with a wife who had everything she ever wanted in the world including his whole heart.
As she … board the bus, she was frozen in her tracks when she recognized the man getting off of it. It was the man who accused her of stealing money from the church offering plate. It all happened one Sunday. Her life had gone from bad to worse. Now she was homeless. As a last resort, she walked into a huge Catholic Church. She knew the rituals well. Her mother was a staunch Catholic: She prayed the rosary. She went to confession. She went to an early mass. She cooked fish on Fridays. So Marie felt like she had come to a best friend’s home for advice. However, when the offering plate came into her hands, she couldn’t let it go. She pretended a need to blow her nose and cough. Then, she quickly picked up two crumbled bills, two twenty dollar bills. She wondered why no one had noticed. That was the wrong assumption. Some one noticed and told the Priest and sisters. This very man getting off the bus had been the snitch. She wondered if he had seen her. Thank goodness, they were going in different directions.
The Kitty jumped to the paisley rug.
“Barabbas! Give us, Barabbas!”
In a Russian village, Marc Chagall
In an American village, I embroidered
a satin stitched leaf.
His red walls,
His cow faces,
spoke of Geometry-
A circle with a compass.