I did not mind the rain pouring down on my three days old cornrow weaved. It suited my mood. I did not care that I was not wearing a raincoat, and the yellow t-shirt and blue jeans I wore were getting heavier because of the rainwater. I did not care that cold was running out of my nostrils, down my lips and disappeared.  Why should I care? It was just water, after all. Wasn’t it?

I sighed and blew water mingled with cold off of my lips. 

I had about ten minutes of walking left before I reached home. I wasn’t walking quickly, nor was I sauntering. I was simply walking.  

Today was my birthday, and my coworkers were great. They joined and gifted me a gift card from one of my favourite restaurants. I have eaten there only twice, though. If the meals were not so expensive, I would have eaten there more often, but to tell you the truth, every morsel of food there is worth the price. Don’t get me started on their lobster with melted butter and not to mention their calypso rice and breaded shrimp. Even thinking about it now is making my mouth water.  

Christmas was three weeks away, and although I have tried to get excited about it, it just wasn’t happening, and my birthday was in the same bag. No, I was not a walking ball of depression who infect everyone unfortunate enough to cross my path with my unwanted depression. My face, I hoped, never reflected the sadness I carried during this time. The sadness always quietly creeped up on me, and although I started to guard against it two years ago, I have not been able to prevent it. I understand why it comes because it began four years ago, or technically, I should say five years ago.  

Yes, five years ago, I was in my last year of high school, and my birthday was a few days away. The school’s drama team was working on the Christmas play, and I was playing the piano. I was having fun, and I could not wait for my parents to see all the hard work we put into the play. My parents loved Christmas and everything about it, and I think their infection transferred to me. I, too, loved it.

It was only five minutes more to go before the last school bell of the day rang when the telephone on the wall in my English teacher’s classroom rang. Her high heels filled the quiet room with rhythmic music as she walked across the room to answer it. She looked over at me, and when she replaced the receiver on its base, she told me to go to the office. A few of my classmates quietly joked about the quiet ones always being the troublemakers, but I replied with a, “Me? Never! They got the wrong girl, I tell you, they got the wrong girl!”

They laughed loudly, and my teacher admonished me by calling my first name. I apologized and quickly left the room. So, not to drag this along for my own sake, I will promptly share with you that my parents were in a car accident, and while my mom survived, my dad, a few days later, passed away on my birthday. The loss of my dad was too much for my mom to bear, and she and alcohol became fast friends, and she was moving from job to job because she kept getting fired for drinking on the job.    

Sometimes I heard my mom crying in her room, and once I heard her whispering that she should have died too, and it wasn’t fair that she was alive and he was gone.

But what about me? I thought at that time.

If both of them were gone, what would have become of me? Yes, I know, I was on the verge of adulthood, but who wants to lose kind and loving parents? Not me.

I no longer had my dad, but my mom was here, and I would fight to keep her. Alcohol, the bottle, whatever you want to call it, would not take her from me. However, it has been about four years since this fight started and sometimes it seemed as though I was winning, but at other times…  

For the past two years, she stopped drinking a few times, but when December rolled around, she reached for the bottle, and they were friends again.

About three months ago, though, she started going to church and shortly after that, she told me that she was a born-again Christan. I nodded my head and expressed my happiness for her. However, this was one of her patterns, she would take up something shortly before December, and as soon as December reached, she abandoned it for the bottle.

She never forgets my birthday, though. She always leaves a present on the dining room table for me, but I would not see her for the entire day. She would go to work and not come home until the next day or lock herself in her room and not come out for anything.

When I left home this morning, she had already left for work, and to my disappointment, for the first time in the past four years, there was no gift on the table for me.

I cried.

As long as there was a gift, I knew she still cared about me. I did not care about what the present was. She could wrap a rock she stumped her toe on; I did not care. Now there was nothing, and I was at a loss. I have finally lost both of my parents.The rain continued to pour down on me, and when I walked up the three steps leading to the front door, I could faintly hear Christmas music from inside my home. I pressed an ear to the door.  

I didn’t leave the radio on, I thought.     

I pushed my key into the hole, but the lock did not move. So I tried again, and the same thing happened. Finally, perplexed, I pulled out the key, and my timid knock on the door soon became assertive as I braced myself for what was behind the door. The music stopped, and a few seconds later, the door opened, and my Mom stood there.

“Honey,” she said, “you are soaking wet.”

She gently but firmly pulled me inside, and a choir of voices yelled out, “Happy Birthday, Telly!”

I stood frozen as my eyes surveyed the gold and white partyware decorating our home and the familiar but a couple of unfamiliar faces that were now singing the birthday song.

“I love you,” my Mom said when the singing ended.

She kissed me on both cheeks, then said, “Now, say a thank you to everyone and get out of those wet clothes. You’ll need to blow dry your hair, but I have something on the bed for you to put on.”

I promptly obeyed my Mom with a “thank you, everyone,” and followed the rest of her instructions.

The End

A. M. Linton is a wife and mother of two. She is also the author of Torn Between Love, Religion and Responsibility, A Little on Puberty for Boys and A little on Symptoms Associated with Menopause. A few of her short stories were also published in The Barbados Advocate Newspaper.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *