A Smoke Line from a Jet
Daniel Carter puffed out his cheeks to make an exaggerated show of holding his breath while his wife handed him the airline tickets for travel back East. Carter was shredding old bills, and old documents before he was interrupted by his wife and her delivery.
“You can go back to shredding documents, but you have to face the music,” she said. “Your mother is dying and she doesn't have very much time. I suggest you step down from your high horse and say your farewells.”
“Maria, you know what she has done to us..”
She stopped his conversation with the wave her hand. “Call your sister, and let her know what's happening.”
The tumors in his mother's ovaries were removed last Sunday in an operation that lasted almost ten hours and was more difficult than the specialist had expected. Since he didn't know anything about her tumors, or the surgery, he was not there when she was handed the death sentence. Communications was not a priority when it came to his mother.
When his father died, everything went downhill. The once caring, beautiful woman, mother and caregiver fell to drinking and drugs. The last time he saw her she was bruised, sallow, skin and bones, and her eyes were vacant black holes, but she ignored him and continued her lifestyle.
He made a promise that he would never see her or call her ever again. That was eight years ago, and the truth was simple, he would see her again. She had burned most of her bridges in her life, but she was dying and he would never get a chance to say anything to her.
His sister lived in Atlanta, alone and never married. She was the mother he never had. She quit high school to find a job and take care of him. She put him through college and through law school. She never had time for her life, because he was far more important than her.
He picked the telephone up and dialed her number slowly.
“Andrea, I have some bad news,” he said trying to sound somber.
“Danny, what is it?” she asked quickly, probably afraid it was going to be some bad news about her niece, or her sister in law.
“Mom is sick. Ovarian cancer, she has less then 30 days to live.”
Relief, then a pause. “I thought she was already dead.”
“Well, she's dead to me.”
“Don't you want to get your last goodbyes in, tell her how you feel?”
“Wasting my time,” she replied.
“Andrea, she's our mother.”
There was a lengthy pause coming from the other end of the phone, and then a burst of breath.
“When papa died, I had just turned ten,” she paused again. “Mom got caught up in drinking, then drugs. She burned all her bridges with everyone she knew. She started selling her body, and then she started selling mine! Danny, did you know that the only time I had sex was between twelve and fourteen years old. I never experienced it again because the hatred I grew for it. I got so many diseases, and I think I was pregnant once at thirteen. All this because of mother!”
“Auntie Marge wanted to take you with her,” He said sounding almost stunned.
“I know, I know,” she half swallowed. “I couldn't go because the men who paid mother for me was willing to pay her for you. I couldn't let that happen. I couldn't let anyone touch you like that.”
He swallowed hard.
“I'm forty years old now,” she said almost quietly. “Never been married, I'm two hundred pounds over weight and I work sixty hours a week. I work so I don't think of the past, I eat to keep my mind off the past, I sleep away my free time so I can dream of a different lifetime. I suffer every day because of what that mother has done to me and you. She is dying Danny, but she killed me a long time ago, and never did she come by to say her goodbyes to me.”
Danny was quiet.
“You go if you want to Danny,” she said. “Call me when it's over, or don't. I don't care what happens to her.”
“I understand, Andrea.”
Danny knew that his sister had an awful time growing up, but he never realized what was really going on. He remembered men hitting her and dragging her to the room, but he always thought she was being punished for the bad things he was doing. His sister took all the pain, heartache, and misery away from him, so he respected her decision. He had then decided to take some time off of work and head to Atlanta to spend some time with his sister. Perhaps, it was his way of saying his last goodbyes to her.
After a few more minutes talking about the past they managed to move the conversation over to his wife and daughter, and when she might see them again. Danny promised it would be sooner rather than later.
They hung up and there was an eerie pause. He grimaced and then he put the airline tickets into the shredder. He stood up and pulled the curtains back, The morning blue sky was marred by a smoke line from a jet...
© 2015 Frank Atanacio
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