GRADE NINE STORY SELECTION
Bramalea Secondary School
He's waiting for me, but I can't go inside. I can't.
My mascara's running, leaving trails of black streams down my face. My bottom lip is trembling, forcing back oncoming tears, and my heart's pounding wildly in my chest. I exhale. Don't worry. He wouldn't do that to you ... He wouldn't kick you out. You're his baby girl, remember? I took a step toward the house.
It looked old. Much older and raggedy than before I left to visit my cousin in Florida. The windows looked so translucent and foggy, blinds weren't even needed for privacy. The flowers, parallel to the walkway leading toward the door of the house, looked dry and colourless. The lawn was yellow, brown with a few patches of green, and the bricks, which were red when I left, were now a dirty maroon.
I walked towards the stairs leading to the front door. The first step had a huge hole through it that I had to jump over with my heavy travel bag. When I reached the front door, I wiped my face with the back of my sleeve, fixed up my hair and my clothes, and stepped inside.
The place was an absolute dump! I thought back to when Mama had died and Daddy took it pretty hard, refusing to do anything anymore: work, clean, cook, even bathe. With Sandra and Kenny gone, I was the only one here to provide for him. I did everything from cleaning the toilets to working three hours a day and trying to finish up my school work. After a few days he realized how foolish he was acting and at least started bathing again.
He really isn't that old. In fact, he's only thirty-nine. He had the three of us at a young age: Sandra when he was sixteen (Mamma was fifteen), Kenny when he was seventeen, and then me at twenty. Both him and Mama dropped out of school and started working. It was hard on them, very hard.
When all of us were little, just barely turning the ages four, six and seven, they'd always sit us down and tell us the story of how difficult it had been. Then when they had finished, Daddy would look at me and Sandra with a serious look on his face and say, "Stay away from boys and don't get pregnant at a young age. Finish school first so you can get an education."
I remember one day Sandra asked him why and he got furious. "Why!" he screamed. "Because then you'll have to drop out of school like your mama and me and work twelve hours a day until your knuckles are bruised, just to put food on the table, clothes on your backs and a roof over your head! Not only that, but me and your mama aren't going to help you! You got yourself in that mess! It's your mistake!" Me and Sandra would start crying, holding each other and say, "We don't want to get pregnant, Daddy, we don't want to," and he'd say, "No you won't."
The memory made me look at my stomach and stroke it gently. I then looked at my purse I left on the dusty window ledge and swallowed, a hard lump in my throat.
"Who's there?" I heard Daddy call from upstairs.
I cleared my throat and answered in a soft voice, "It's me."
I didn't even think he heard me until I heard footsteps coming down the stairs and saw him turn towards me with a huge grin on his face and his arms stretched out for a welcoming embrace. My head rested against his chest and I had to use all my strength to stop myself from crying and blurting out that I had gotten pregnant while I was away in Florida. He rested his hands on my shoulders and took a step back, observing my changes.
"You look more beautiful than I remembered," he said smiling.
"You don't mean that Daddy, you're just being nice," I said, giving him a friendly whack on his arm.
He laughed and said, "Well except for the fact that you gained weight."
"Well it shows. You used to be so bony."
"I'll take it as a compliment, then."
I smiled then looked around the filthy house. "Why don't you get a maid if you don't want to clean?"
"Like I have money for that," he said, taking up my luggage.
He was about to grab my purse too when I quickly reached for it. "I'ii - I'll take that Daddy. Dont want you to carry too many things."
"You think I'm getting too old or something?" he said, half joking.
"Well, since when do you do anything around here?" I said and walked towards the kitchen. He shook his head and perched the bag over his shoulder and walked upstairs. Then to himself he said, "Been working twelve hours a day and cleaning your butts for eighteen years, that's what I've been doing around here."
Downstairs in the kitchen, I took the pregnancy test packages out of my purse and threw them in the trash, under the sink. It can wait until later; I don't have to tell him now. I looked around for the sponge to clean the week's worth of dishes piled in the sink that had made their way onto the countertops.
I finally found it ... in the cookie jar? As I took it out, frightened, I scream and dropped it to the floor. As it landed, a whole army of cockroaches fled from it, scattering and running between tiny holes in the walls. When I was sure all of them were gone, I picked up it with the tip of a fork and tossed it in the garbage. Then I heard the quickening of footsteps and Daddy standing at the doorway to the kitchen, wide eyed and alert.
"What happened? Are you okay?" he said, walking over me.
"I'm fine." I said, trying to calm my heart. I looked at him and said, "You've got to start cleaning this house before I burn it."
He smiled and said, "So, you've met my little friends?"
"I wouldn't call them friends."
"Some people do have mice as pets you ..."
"Mice!" I screamed. "I was talking about the roaches. You have mice too?"
I threw my arms up, as if I was giving up. Then, I looked at him and opened my mouth to say something but decided it wasn't worth it.
"Okay, okay. I'll clean," he said, realizing my frustration.
"But after working eighteen years of your life, I just figured I deserve a break."
"There's a time for work and a time for fun if you just know how to manage them both."
He smiled. "I knew you were going to be a smart one."
I looked up at him.
"I knew," he repeated.
My heart stopped. The smart one? I felt my stomach and thought about the guy back in Florida. What was his name? I didn't even know his name.
"I'm going to go to the store and get some cleaning supplies," I said, heading towards the door.
"Okay, I'll start cleaning up in here."
I closed the door and walked towards the black Honda parked on the side of the road in front of the house. By the time I had gotten in the car and was about to start it, I realized I had forgotten my keys in my purse on the kitchen counter. I walked back into the house only to find Daddy sitting on a chair holding one of the pregnancy test boxes in his hand. My heart started racing. The look on his face frightened me the most.
I was about to explain myself when he spoke up first. "What is this?" he said, quietly. I knew what it was. He knew what it was, but again he asked, only this time louder and angrier, "What is this!?"
I couldn't move, couldn't talk. I just looked at the ground.
He got up and started walking towards me. "Please, tell me this isn't yours."
I said nothing. He threw the box past me and it hit a vase, which crashed to the floor.
"You're nineteen! You just started university. How do you expect to take care of a child and go to school? I thought you were smarter than this, Mya! I thought you understood I only wanted the best for you and this will just bring you down and make you end up like me and your mother." He turned around and looked out the window facing the backyard. There was a long pause and then he said quietly, "Get out."
I looked at him. Tears started filling my eyes. "Daddy," I said quietly. "Please ... please. Where am I suppose to go?"
He looked at me. Then he walked towards me and grabbed my arm, leading me to the door.
"No!" I screamed, struggling to get away. He ignored my yelling and pushed me out of the house. I started crying. He gave me one last look and slammed the door. I ran to it and started banging and screaming. It wasn't until my hands started feeling numb and bruised that I collapsed to the ground feeling helpless.
A moment passed before I thought I heard my name being called in the wind.
Mya ... it whispered. I looked around. Mya ... it whispered again. I turned around and couldn't believe my eyes. It can't be ... Mama?
She looked so beautiful, so happy ... like ... an angel. She floated towards me and reached for my hand. I placed mine in hers and tears began filling my eyes once more.
"Oh, Mama!" I cried. "I'm so stupid. What am I going to do?"
She pointed towards the house.
"I can't go in there. He kicked me out."
"He's waiting for you," she said.
I blinked at her not understanding and looked towards the house.
"Go on," she said.
I got up and took a step towards the house. I was about to turn the knob when I realized I was carrying ... my luggage? Then, in my other hand, a black book I don't recall ever reading or having. Black Diary, it read. I opened it up and saw that all the pages were black and there was no writing in it. Hmm ... I opened the door and took a step inside the house. It was quiet. Then I heard footsteps, but this time they sounded unfamiliar ... like it was more than one person coming down the stairs. I turned towards them and saw two faces. One of a child: a boy who couldn't have been more than four years old. He had a wide smile on his face and seemed to be holding something. A picture. He started running towards me.
"Mama!" he said, jumping in my arms. I held him. My son.
The second face, I knew well. The guy from Florida. Only now he looked much older, much wiser, and much smarter. He smiled and started walking towards me. I hugged him. Damien was his name.
"Here, Mama." My son gave me the picture he had in his hand. It was ... of Daddy. The front read RIP 1967-2006. Tears began filling my eyes and I turned it over and saw more writing on the back. It read:
Take care of your mother's diary.
P.S. When you make a mistake, you learn from it, you write it, you remember it and then change it ... like we did.