A Preview Of “Shine”

Here is a preview of the first chapter of my novel, “Shine”. Available here: Shine on Amazon

    The Mall And Misery

I remember where we were. I was with my mother, my Aunt Caroline, and my cousin Nicholas who was younger than me. We were driving to the mall for an afternoon of shopping. The trees zoomed by as my aunt remarked about all of the garage sales that we passed and how she always found her “best deals” at them. We laughed as my cousin and I played with his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figurines in the backseat. My cousin had shiny black hair and it swayed from side to side every time he giggled.

Nicholas began to tell a story about something his father had done earlier in the day, something that had particularly amazed his young mind. He thought to himself for a moment, and then turned to look at me and asked, “Where’s your daddy, Ellie?”

With those words, all of the air in the car sucked out and I was blinded by what I can only define now as my harsh reality.

We had been staying at my aunts for my birthday weekend in northern New Jersey. My Aunt Caroline had slaved over making two different cakes for the occasion, one with chocolate frosting and the other, a vanilla-coconut custard cake. I was handed what seemed like a gazillion gifts to open and then we moved to the kitchen.

I galloped in, sat down, stretched my arms out over the brown oak table and enjoyed the moment as my family delightfully sang the happy birthday song to me. I looked at my aunt next to her husband and thought to myself how odd it was that my mother was alone, while my aunt and uncle were together…but I wanted to eat cake, so I brushed it off.

I had noticed the day before and so had Nicholas. This young boy realized that while he was used to parents coming in pairs, mine did not. He was confused and so was I.

I was speechless, and tried to stammer out a response when my Aunt Caroline quietly explained, “Ellie’s daddy passed away.” I saw my mother tighten her lips in the rearview mirror, but she kept quiet.

Nicholas looked at me wide-eyed and began to shoot questions off to his mother. What did “pass way” mean? Where did he go? Was he coming back? I already knew what it meant to pass away…it meant you were dead.

While my aunt nervously hushed my cousin’s questions, I lost myself looking out the window, coming to terms with a fact that I had never realized before. It had always been just my mom and I, and I liked it that way. We were best friends, we had so much fun together, but…where did my daddy go? How did he die? Most importantly, if I prayed enough or wished hard enough, could I bring him back?

I thought of all the birthday parties and school events that just my mother had been there for, in a sea of proud parents that included both mothers and fathers. All of the parent teacher meetings my mother went to alone. All of those snowy nights where my mother had to shovel out her own car, while the other women on my block had their husbands do it for them.

It was heartbreaking.

We finally arrived at the mall. After searching through about four lanes, we found a spot and proceeded to climb out of the car. My mother grabbed me and hugged me with tears in her eyes. I found comfort in my mothers arms, but nothing could ever change the fact that that day, I realized that my daddy wasn’t around and

                 he was never coming back.

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