It Was a Beautiful Day...

January 8, 2008
By Shantelle Branam, Westland, MI

It was a beautiful day to move I must say. The dry, dusty heat from Arizona was met with cool winds that dried up trickles of sweat before it twinged at your brow. With it being the first summer month and one of the hottest in Cottonwood, Arizona, it was pretty descent. Although only three years of age, I can remember the day quite fondly and that was exactly fourteen years ago.

This was my first move, but for my mother, it was her seventh. Mom was a true rolling stone. When something’s wrong, she doesn’t face it; we just leave. The only difference between her other moves, is me. Now we roll away together.

As I sat on my bed this particular day, I decided to read a James Patterson novel that my favorite English teacher, Ms. Sorbeeno had given me earlier that day. Before I could even center my attention toward it, my mother came barging into my room and right then and there I knew something was up.

“Mija, I’m sorry but it’s time to leave again. Something came up and I’ve been feeling like there are more opportunities for us elsewhere. So-“

“I’m not leaving! Frankly it’s sickening and I’m tired. At any time when something doesn’t set out your way, you run scared and uproot my life! Well, no more!”
“Don’t you dare use that tone with me Giselle! I’m looking out for your best benefit and this is how you repay me?! Forget about all the sacrifices I’ve made to make sure everything is given to you. You know what, I am done with this conversation!”

When she turned to leave, I realized I could let her flee or I could make her deal. She was able to run her whole life, but it was time for this thirty-eight year old woman to confront her issues.

“You’re not looking out for my well being. You’re doing what’s best for you, like always. For years I’ve kept quite, and I’m just drained. And how dare you say that I’m disrespectful, I love you completely. I never judge you or even question you when we move every other week! But this has gotta change. I’m like the only girl who has never been to any high school events or even stayed in the same state for over a year! You’re ruining my life because you don’t have one! So, on that note, I’m moving in with Grandma Lupe. You can leave.”

With tear filled eyes, she searched my own for understanding but what she found was anything but such. All that was there was hurt, and just plain tiredness. Ameirra, my mother and only friend, nodded her head and walked away defeated.

That night I tussled with my covers and lay sleepless in my bed. Tired were my eyes but yet my mind was restless. I turned over onto my side and read my digital clock. It showed 3:30 a.m. but it felt much later than that. Slowly I made my way out of bed and to my closet.

Soon after I found myself packing my belongings. Skillfully, I folded my clothes knowing I couldn’t take much but stopped when her presence tickled the hairs on my neck. I faced my mother, looking dead in her hazel eyes that we both shared. I couldn’t leave her and I knew it. She needed me like she needed air. No words were exchanged when I nodded my head and passed her the cardboard boxes I got from previous moves.
It’s nice her at the new state but I wont get too attached. We’re near a beach and the people are so different but yet so beautiful. As we ride under the freeway exit sign, it reads: West Palm Beach, Florida. We’ve never been here, well, I should speak for myself.

The ride has been oddly quite, and half a mile back, I waited for my mom’s regular speech about how change is good, and how we were gonna stay and how we’re like rock stars and blah, blah, blah. But she hadn’t said that and I’m beyond relieved. Deep in thought, I never heard her call out to me, but when I did come to, I realized the car had stopped.

Confused, I glanced at Ameeira. She was on the verge of tears, but tried to hold them without ease.

“Giselle, I can’t explain how much I love you. You or anyone for that matter couldn’t begin to understand. I mean, I know that you suffer from my insecurities and for that, I understand why’d you hate me. But, but, but, it’s amazing! You don’t hate me. I’m, I mean, can you? Giselle-?”

“I don’t hate you ma. I just wish we could be normal. Like having friends, having stabled homes, and holidays! Yeah! What about having real Thanksgiving dinners at home, instead of diners and Christmases. That’s all I ever wanted. Nothing more. Nothing less,” I cried.

Breathing heavily from heavy sobs, I finally broke the silence that we didn’t comprehend was there.

“So, what are we gonna do here? Where are we gonna stay?”

“I want you to meet your father, Giza Bee. He lives down here with his wife.”
“Are you serious? I don’t want to meet that creep! After he left you while you were pregnant with me, you want me to meet him? I just want to kill that son of a-,”
“I haven’t been totally honest with you Mija, but please don’t be upset with, ok?”
Astonished, I glazed at her.
“You’re father didn’t leave me. I left him. I was young and scared of commitment. Everything just happened so fast, ya know? I was only 19, and then I was pregnant and your father wanted to marry me. Marriage for God’s sake! And plus, I thought I was gonna be a star,” she laughed heartily, and glazed off as if she were looking at the Hollywood sign itself.
I didn’t know if I should be upset or sympathetic. Here I was angry with her for holding me back from school dances, when I had held her back. She didn’t blame me, but I still felt partially responsible. And for that, I couldn’t be mad.
“He’s a great guy and you are his spitting image. You have his smooth caramel complexion, curly black hair, high cheekbones and even that smile! Look at that smile! But the rest,” she batted her beautiful eyelashes playfully, “ you got from your truly.”
The entire ride to his house was entertaining. We laughed, listened to music, played I-spy and joked around. All of that subsided when we rolled into a long driveway in a suburban neighborhood. The house was stunning. It was off white with flowers covering the area. The roof looked like broken flowerpots and the door was made of glass. There were two luxury vehicles in the driveway that I couldn’t name but I knew they were expensive. It didn’t take a fool to know that four of our ’74 Chevy caprices still couldn’t equal the price.
As I studied the house, I looked over and realized my mother was doing the exact same. But not in amazement but of remembrance.
“ A lot of this house has changed but it still looks the same in my eyes.”
“What do you mean? You been here before?”
“Umm, yeah. Your father’s parents, your grandparents of course, gave him this as a present. They thought we’d get married after they found out I was pregnant. Its beautiful isn’t it?”
“Well, here goes nothing, Giza Bee. Are you ready? Excited even?”
“ Let’s just go already. I mean, you never know. The guy could be an a-hole now or something. People change ya know.”
“Yeah you’re right. But not him. Gino’s different. You’ll see.”
Never have I ever heard my mother talk highly of a man. I was fairly surprised. Without another thought we were out of the car and in no time, at the door. Then we rang the doorbell, and then came his face.
As we sat in the living room chatting, I couldn’t help but to feel at peace. So many thoughts crossed my mind. Maybe we’d stay in Florida. We could live near my dad and everything would be fine for once in my life. I couldn’t help but start to smile.
“Giselle, are you okay?”
Snapping me out of my trance, I looked up and there was my father. I nodded my head and smirked.
“I’m fine. I’m just- I mean… It’s great that we’ve finally met. I’ve always felt as if something was missing.”
“Well, just so you know, now that we’re together, I’m never letting you get away again.”
Finally, I had serenity, but Ameeira always said that it was calm before a storm. No matter what, I had my family and as far as I was concerned, nothing could bring us down.
“Would you guys like something? Whatever you need, just let me know,” a pretty Cuban woman said sweetly.
She was my dad’s wife and her name was Sofia. I could tell my mom didn’t like her by the way she cut her off while she was talking. On second thought, my mom rarely like anybody.
“So where are you guys gonna stay tonight? I mean, what hotel?” Sofia asked.
“We’re not sure yet,” I answered quickly before my mom said something rude.
“We have more than enough room Ameeira. You and Giselle should stay here with Sofie and me. That way we can get everything settled in the morning.”
Agreeing, we went to the car and I grabbed all of my bags and my mother grabbed her favorite tee and some toiletries. All the while, I noticed her demeanor and it told me something was wrong but I didn’t know what.
When we laid our heads next to each other, we stared into each other’s eyes. I could sense the uneasiness within my mother and I knew something was really bothering her. As I continued to stare at her, she tightened her jaw and chatted her top and bottom teeth together, which was a nervous habit of hers. This confirmed what I already knew. I was scared to ask what was wrong, but the curiosity took control.
“What’s wrong Ameeira?”
“Giza Bee, nothing is wrong. Why do you ask?”
“ Because you’ve been extremely quite and distant ever since we got here. And on top of that, you’re grinding your teeth together and tightening your jaw. I know you.”
She laughed and I could feel her smiling at me through the darkness.
“You’re right. You know me so well and I you. This is where you wanna be huh?”
“Yeah! Don’t you? I mean, its perfect down here for us. We could be a family down here and do normal things,” I said as I sat up excited.
Reaching over, she turned on the light.
“Well then its official. This is where you’ll call home!”
I leaned over and kissed her and she laughed hard.
“I love you mommy! Goodnight”.
“Love you too Giza Bee,” was all I heard as sleep overwhelmed me.
When I awoke the next morning, I called out to her to see if she was awake, but found nothing but an empty pillow with a note on top. I snatched it off aand began to read it under my breath. The tears beamed in my eyes causing the last line of the letter to blur. All there was to do was scream, and scream, and scream. Scream at the top of my lungs until my voice left my body.
Rushing into the room came my father and Sofia.
“What’s the matter Giselle?” they asked in unison.
“She, she, she’s gone,” I muttered bewildered.
Looking back, the signs were all there. She was uneasy because she was about to leave me. She even told me this is where I’d call home, not us. At first I was angry with her and hurt beyond words, but every night before I cried myself to sleep, I read her letter. After reading it various times, I couldn’t harbor those hurtful emotions anymore. My mom only wanted what was best for me, and although we loved each other beyond understanding, she wasn’t it, and we both knew that.
It’s been about three years since then, and I’m now twenty. Every weekend when I come home from college I sleep in the guestroom where we both slept that night. The other day as I sorted my clothes, I found her Van Halen t-shirt and her leopard scarf. It smelled just like the rosewater she used to wear and I felt myself breaking down but stopped when my little brother, Ameir and father tapped on the door.
I answered it and my father looked at me strangely. Self-consciously I diverted my eyes because I knew they were swollen and probably red.
“It seems that Ameir has grown accustom to the bed time stories you tell him every weekend. He refuses to go to bed without one.
Looking down at my little brother, I smiled and he giggled and shook his chubby head that was way too bug for his four-year-old body.
“Ah, I see. Do you want me to read you a book about Aladdin, or even Robin Hood? Maybe Hercules: he’s always a favorite amongst the male species,” I said as we walked hand and hand to his room, my father following suit.
“Giza Bee I wanna hear a story about Ameeira.”
Lying in his bed, all three of us made ourselves comfortable.
“Well, what was the last one about? Do you remember?”
“Um, um. It was about that cotton place.’
“Cottonwood, Arizona. I’m gonna tell you one about how Ameeira moved all over the United states with her trusted companion Giselle!”
“Like Batman and robin?”
“Just like them, but they were way cooler and they were rock stars!”
“Cool! Hey, that girl has your name!”
I laughed and began my story. When they both drifted off to sleep, I left to my room and sat in the window. Gazing out at the night, I began to think about her as I did everyday. She was right. We were like rock stars, The Rolling Stones I should say, on tour. We went to every city in what seemed like every other night. Now instead of me, she rolls away alone.

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