Black Short Stories : Mother

Discussion in 'Short Stories - Authors - Writing' started by Legacy21, Nov 12, 2002.

  1. Legacy21

    Legacy21 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Khale Moreaux sat at the kitchen table watching the sunlight pour through the open bay windows. The view displayed lush green lawns and gardens filled with the native blood red hibiscus blossoms with their glossy leaves. It was a warm summer day in Haiti. The sky was an indigo blue with puffs of cottony white clouds. The scent of the native eucalyptus floated on the winds along with the delighted screams and laughter of children playing in the open fields nearby. Khale was so lost in her thoughts she barely noticed when her sister Jeanne entered.

    “Are your thoughts with her?” Jeanne asked taking a seat across from Khale.
    “As my heart is.” Khale replied softly.
    “And mine.” added Jeanne.

    Both sisters fell into a comfortable silence as Khale gently stirred the dark cup of tea, now long grown cold, before her. It seemed as if it had been only been yesterday that she had left her native land of Haiti, to depart for America to join her Aunt Carolyn and Uncle Luc in New York. She had been 16 then, so convinced that this politically scarred yet magical land had nothing more to offer her, but a future of hopelessness and tragedy. Now 7 years later she was home, only to find that her beloved Mother was dead. Khale was stunned. Her mother was not yet forty-five, but she was dead.

    She did not know if she could ever forgive herself for not being there, or forgive God for taking her Mother away from her. Atleast, Jeanne had been with their Mother in that final dark hour. Jeanne had always been the good daughter.

    “You know, she asked for you.” Jeanne said breaking the silence with the simple statement. Khale stirred the tea aimlessly, and then met her sister’s intense dark eyes.

    “On the plane here I had a dream. I saw her standing in the garden dressed in a flowing white dress with her long braids loose around her shoulders picking the fire blossoms. I was watching her, because she was so vibrant and beautiful. She looked up and cast me a smile as brilliant as the dawning of day and offered me one of the flowers. It all seemed so real. I could smell the eucalyptus, and the freshness of the previous rain. Come, she said. Where? I asked. She only smiled and said again, Come. This time she turned and started away toward the beach. I followed her asking, Where? She only smiled and ran on. I tried to keep up with her, to get an answer, but I lost her. Somehow, she vanished. I was left alone on the beach holding the fire blossom. I felt such an emptiness and sadness. When I awoke there were tears on my cheeks. That was when I knew…”

    “Yes”, Jeanne said, “The fire blossoms were her favorite flowers”
    “I remember.” Khale said quietly as the tears began to fill her eyes.
    Jeanne reached across the table and grasped her sister’s hand. “There was nothing you could have done, Khale. The cancer spread so rapidly throughout her body, there was nothing more the doctors could do.”
    “Maybe, but Jeanne I should have been here. Heaven forgive me.” She cried.
    “Oh, Khale there is nothing to forgive. Mama always loved you even until the end.” Jeanne said softly with sympathy in her deep eyes.
    “I know she did. This is why this hurts even worse. I will never have a chance to tell her how much she meant to me, how much I appreciated her, how much I wanted…. Oh Jeanne!” she burst into sobs.
    Jeanne moved around the table and wrapped her arms around her sister. She rocked Khale back and forth, as she smoothed her hair. Finally, Khale’s wracking sobs subsided to mournful sighs.
    “Cry for today, so that your soul will not be chained tomorrow.” Jeanne whispered.
    “Mama, used to say that.” Khale whispered back.
    “Yes, it was just one of her many sayings.”
    “God knows she had plenty of those.”
    A hint of a smile crept about the corner of Jeanne’s mouth. “You know Mother would always believe in the Old Ways.”
    Khale smiled, “Yes, except for The Test.”
    Jeanne grimaced in disgust, “That was a mercy.”

    Growing up their Mother had told them the stories of the time when she was a young girl. One night over steaming bowls of oxtail soup she fixed expressly for her daughters she told them of The Test.

    “When I was a young girl,” she had said, “It was the Mother’s responsibility to ensure the virtue of her daughters. After a girl began her womanhood, the Mother would test to see if her daughter was still untouched. I remember the day my Mme did so to me. I was only 15 then. I had come in from the fields frolicking with your Father and our friends, and dusk had fallen by the time I reached home. She was waiting for me at the door. “Where have you been?” she asked. She did not wait for my reply, but pointed toward the bedroom. A nervous feeling flushed through me, but I obeyed. She closed the bedroom door and commanded me to remove my undergarments, and lie across the bed. Oh, I was so shivering like a trapped mouse, but I dared not disobey her. In those days we children obeyed our parents.” She said glancing sharply at the two girls as they giggled. Their Mother had always acted as if they were the two naughtiest young girls in the world, but she was secretly very pleased with them. “As I lay across the bed waiting for the whipping of my life I was surprised when she knelt beside me and began to sing a favorite lullaby of mine when I was an infant. “Natti, she said, “Think about beautiful things, and listen only to my voice.’ This scared me worse than the prospect of a whipping. It was then that I felt it. The violating probing of a finger inside of me. I flinched and started to pull away from my mother, but she held me firmly and sang on. I lay there in terror and pain. Finally it was over and she released me. When I finally looked into her face, I saw tears standing in her eyes. The tears began to spill down my cheeks as she explained to me why she had just violated me. The Test was a Mother’s way of checking to see if her daughter were still a virgin. I ran from the room, sobbing harshly, as if my heart would break. As long as I lived, I would never forget the expression on her face. That same night I went to your Father, and cried on his shoulder. He asked me over, and over what was wrong, but never did I tell him. The next year your Father and I were married against my family’s wishes. I was glad to leave my mother, and the memory of her violation behind. Years later, she cried that she had never meant to hurt me, but some apologies come too late. This will be my shame to carry to the grave, but I vowed the day that you two were born that I would never subject you to such degradation and pain. You, my daughters will be strong and beautiful, and will never know the scourge of such shame, nor bow your heads under the burden of years of sorrows. You all will be the woman I was not, but have finally learned to be.”

    There was no giggling over girlish fantasies and confidences that night as their Mother made sure they finished their soup, and tucked them in bed. Years later, that night still lingered in Khale and Jeanne’s minds.

    “Mother, was stronger than she even knew.” Khale said softly.
    “Yes, that was why she was so proud of the fire and spirit in you. You became the woman she wanted to be all her life.” Jeanne said gazing at her sister warmly.
    “Oh no! I was so rebellious. I will never forget the heartbreak I caused her when I left for New York.” Khale exclaimed.
    “You are so wrong, Khale. Certainly, Mother was sad too see you go, but she was proud that you knew the value of your own freedom. Mother was never one for expressing everything in heart, but she loved you so! Those years you were away, she treasured your gifts and letters as if they were priceless heirlooms. Moreover, when you called, oh, she would be enraptured for days!”
    Khale shook her head in disbelief. “But, Jeanne you were always the good daughter. You never gave Mother any trouble. It seemed you always knew what to say and do to please, Mother. I was so jealous of the closeness between you two that I never seemed to have with her. That is why when I left; I did not think she would miss me so much, because she had you!”

    “Hardly,” laughed Jeanne, “I cut my own share of capers I never shared with you. If anything, I was jealous of how much Mother bragged about you to all our friends and family. The only reason I have stayed in Haiti all these years is that I did not want to leave Mother alone, after Father died. I love this land, but now I want to travel and see the world. You have done so much more with your life than I have. Yet, I have not regretted my decision to dwell here. There is no place more beautiful and spiritual than our country, but the political savagery has grown worse. Soldiers’ gun down college students for protesting injustice and if the makoutes (Whites) feel like it they plunder, and rape, and exploit whomever they desire. I too want to escape this madness for a long time. It is only the mercy of Christ that they have not invaded our lives and communities here in De La Rosa.”

    Khale bowed her head sadly, “That is the very reason why I left. I hate to see our people oppressed, and our land destroyed by the evilness of men! I would have gone mad if I had stayed here. It was just that then I could not make Mother see that. What I would give to have her here now!”

    “Deep in her heart she understood, but it is very hard for Mothers to let their daughters go.” Jeanne said wisely.
    Khale gazed at her sister distantly, “She used to say that the bonds of love between a mother and daughter were even stronger and more sacred than marriage.”
    “Perhaps, they are in that only mothers and daughters know one another’s hearts, because they are bonded from birth to all eternity.”
    “You sound so much like her. How wise you are to be so young.” Khale said with awe.
    “Are not daughters very much like their mothers? As you are, also.” Jeanne smiled remembering her Mother’s familiar saying.
    This caused a smile to crease Khale’s pretty features. “How well we know our Mother”

    The two sisters grinned at one another and then Jeanne asked, “Did you remember when Mother took us out in the garden and told us the story of the little girl and the handsome bird?”

    “Yes, if I recall the bird kept trying to tempt the little girl away from her family so he could steal her heart. Why?”

    “Ah, so you do remember. In the end she tricked the bird and went home to her family. Many things in the passing years have come to tempt or tear you from Haiti, but it was always Mother who brought you home, even though you never stayed very long. But now maybe you will come home more often.” Jeanne said.

    Khale smiled, “Home is where the heart lies.”
    Jeanne nodded, “And, Mother, is that heart. You see Mother’s body may have passed away, but her spirit will never die. She is our bond to this house, this land, to each other. My sister no matter how far we are apart our heart will always call us home.”
    “Yes, you are right.” Khale said squeezing her sister’s hands in her own gratefully.

    That night Jeanne made them Mother’s famous oxtail soup and a delicious plantain dessert. Afterward they lay across their Mother’s massive oak bed telling each other stories, and playing the games of their childhood.

    “Who am I?” quizzed Jeanne.
    “The daughter of the Fire Blossom” Khale replied.
    “Who is the Fire Blossom?”
    “Our Mother”
    “Where does my Mother dwell?”
    “In my heart”
    “And in mine.”
    “For how long?”
    “Until the end of eternity”

    It was late in the night when the sisters fell asleep side by side with their arms wrapped around one another. The next day Khale and Jeanne awoke early in the morning to prepare for their trip to America. Khale would be returning to New York, and Jeanne would be leaving to join their cousin Rosette in New Orleans. At the airport the sisters hugged and exchanged addresses and telephone numbers.
    “Let your journey be well and peaceful” Jeanne said kissing Khale’s cheek.
    “And yours, too” Khale said returning the kiss tearfully.

    As Khale turned to leave Jeanne grasped her sister’s hand for the final time with tears now shining in her, own eyes, “Remember where your heart lies.”
    “I will”, promised Khale, “I will as long as I carry the memories of Mother in my heart.”
     
  2. $$RICH$$

    $$RICH$$ Lyon King Admin. STAFF

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    dis was scary & painful yet enjoyable
    u scribe da essence of (who has da rite)
    lovely well written story
    pt.#2 pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!
     
  3. $$RICH$$

    $$RICH$$ Lyon King Admin. STAFF

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    still remembering this one as i bring it back
     
  4. Legacy21

    Legacy21 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    It's been a long time

    Wow, it has been years since I have been on Destee. How are you Rich?
     
  5. $$RICH$$

    $$RICH$$ Lyon King Admin. STAFF

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    Just grand sister Legacy21
    very very nice to see you back home with us poeticly sister
    u been missed royally
     
  6. Legacy21

    Legacy21 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    I was strolling down memory lane....just wow.
     
  7. $$RICH$$

    $$RICH$$ Lyon King Admin. STAFF

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    tru....there's lots of memories within these walls , sometime i too go way back
    years and bring some of the brightest moments back up !

    welcome back sister.
     
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