I have a cold, and was rained on today. So, I found that reason enough to take it as a reminder to post this before Thursday ends, because that’s how deadlines see my boots! I feel much better [from the cold] and might actually sleep better that I did last night, if at all. This is another short story that I kept telling myself needed a second part too many times that I actually gave it a part B.
**we still have no title for this, so we’ll just call it ‘Short Story 3a’ for now
Short Story 3a
If there was one thing that Joseph knew about his mother, it was that she kept time. With her tiny wrist watch that she barely looked at but always seemed to know what time it was, his mother was a special breed. She was reliable. Everyone said it to him. Not that he didn’t know it himself. People only had a strange need to remind him of things about his mother. They told him how beautiful she was, as if he didn’t marvel at her face every morning he pushed past the bed sheet that separated his sleeping area from the sitting room area to find her, smiling at him while two cups of tea steamed on the stool before her. They told him how kind she was, as if he never noticed her giving most of herself everyday to people who didn’t appreciate her enough. People liked to say things about his mother.
They talked of her bravery. How kind, generous and honest a soul she had. They said things he already knew. How she was always where she was supposed to be. On time, with her clothes fitting and proper, topped with the brightest smile in any room.
Joseph’s mother, with her tiny wrist watch on her left hand (because she needed her right hand to “do things”) arrived five minutes early to everything, and never a second late. Her hair, always in perfect curls that she labored over the night before so she would have enough time for him in the morning. People admired the natural curls on her head, unbeknownst to them of the forty five minutes she spent each evening to tie bantu knots on her head before carefully tying a satin scarf to sleep.
People only saw what she allowed. He knew more. He heard the sighs she released when it was just the two of them. Saw her closed eyes as she fought back tears (or what he assumed were tears) when she came out of Mr Damu’s home office that day.
“What’s wrong?” he has asked her, ready to go through the heavy set doors to fight the bulky man sitting behind the big mahogany desk. She smiled at him and said everything was fine. No matter, she would tell him when she was ready. She always told him when something bothered her. There were no secrets. It was just the two of them, and the unwritten rule was that they would keep nothing from each other.
“Nothing, Monkey,” she told him.
People had been watching. She couldn’t have told him then. He would wait till they got home. Wait till she went behind the bed sheet. Ever the gentleman, he allowed her to change out of her outside clothes first. The house was big enough for them, but some compromises had to be made. For a few minutes each day, while changing into pajamas, and out of outside clothes, or right after a shower, one of them was behind the bed sheet that separated his sleeping area and the sitting room.
“How was your day, Monkey?” she would ask while behind the sheet, her breath short because she was trying to change out of her clothes as fast as she could. He knew she loved looking at him. Her monkey. He has started disliking that moniker. He knew if he told her, it would break her heart, and the last thing Joseph wanted to do was break his mother’s heart.
Going to the Damus’ mansion was something she had talked about all week. “If they give me a job, it will pay better. They’re doing interviews, you know. Sandra told me. They need someone to take care of old Mrs. Damu. Poor thing has Alzheimer’s. Can you spell Alzheimer’s, Monkey?”
She laughed. He remembered her laugh. Bubbly, rich and coming from somewhere deep in her stomach. His mother laughed like the world needed to hear the tickle in her throat. It was a beautiful laugh. Everyone said so. It was a laugh filled with flowers and puppies and cinnamon pancakes. When his mother laughed, their house became so huge that the walls echoed with the sound. “Replace the other a’s with e’s”
“That’s my genius boy!” she said, emerging from behind the bed sheet that hung on a rope that ran along the roof, separating the room into two. “Well, how do I look?”
It was an unnecessary question. Everything she wore found a way to fit around her slender figure. She looked good whether she tied a leso around her waist or wore her Sunday clothes, like she was. The bright yellow skirt and white embroidered cotton blouse that he knew all too well were perfect just as they were every other Sunday.
“Monkey? How do I look?” she was waiting for an answer.
“Stupendous!” He recalled a word he had learned at school. It brought the smile he enjoyed seeing. The gap in her front teeth showed first, followed by dimples so deep he could drink out of them. She ushered him out the door and locked up.
“Here,” she told him. “You’re a big boy. You can carry the house keys today.”
Joseph took the keys from her, a responsibility he had asked for each time they went out. The keys felt big in his hands. They felt heavy and he liked it. He closed his fist around the keys and held on tight. He would be damned if he lost them.
When they got to the Damus’ mansion, Joseph marveled at the house. They were first led to a room that looked like the reception at a hospital. “Please wait here,” the maid in a black and white uniform told them as she hurried off to tell the big man of their arrival.
Oh kids! So many things are happening, and I know a whole lot more about dragons now, counting all the HOTD content with The Inheritance Series that I’m devouring in the time I can steal.