Click the following link if you would like to read the first installment, told from Kendall’s point-of-view, before you continue with Cyan’s story written below.
I had no compassion for my daughter, Kendall.
It exited stage left six years ago after a near-fatal car accident, the shards of the windshield glass piercing my body. The scars healed into a haphazard pattern of Orion’s belt.
Kenny, my late husband and Kendall’s father, used to stare up at the night sky on humid summer nights and pick out the constellations. It’s funny how on the night he steered our car into a path of oncoming traffic on I-4, with Kendall crying out for help in the back seat, Orion’s constellation was the last thing I saw before my consciousness flickered out.
Orion must have shot his arrow through our car’s windshield.
Kenny wasn’t quite right in the head when he came back from Afghanistan. I knew it, but I tried to love it out of him. I couldn’t love the craziness out of him, so I gave up on loving. It was overrated, just like Kendall’s ranting and raving over me going out.
Now that I thought about it, her behavior was reminding me of Kenny. But she was no war veteran. She was just a thirteen-year-old, trying to be too fresh and smell herself. I slid my cigarette between my lips and blew a cloud of smoke into her face, daring her to speak, forcing her to move back.
Kendall coughed and leaned against the armoire. Her chest heaved in huffs.
I repeated my question. “When did you get grown?”
Kendall regained her breath and said, “A year after Dad’s death when you left me home alone for two weeks.” She pointed to the long, black burn mark that began at her hand and wrapped around her forearm. Kendall said, “Little kids should get nicks and scratches from playing outside, not playing house.”
I didn’t have time for this. I pried Jamila’s claws from digging into my ankles and tossed her on the bed and moved back in front of the mirror. I smoothed down my side-swept bang with hair gel and pinned the middle section of my hair into a beehive hump. “You survived. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and teaches you to fend for yourself.”
That’s what I wished my parents would have done for me. We stayed in one of those subdivisions in Southeast Orlando off Curry Road not too far from Lake Underhill. My parents sent me to a private school and gave me the best of everything in life. I had no responsibilities. I was an only child, and their wish for me was to go to college and make something out of my life. I fell in love with Kenny and got pregnant at seventeen.
Kenny and I got married at the courthouse, and he entered the U.S. Navy shortly after graduation. I dropped out of high school and became a Navy wife living on the base. I depended on him for everything. If I had thought about myself, I wouldn’t have ended up in the hospital fighting for my life. I wouldn’t have ended up here.
Kendall rocked Jamila in her arms. She looked like a younger version of me, those nights when Kenny was out to sea, a child trying to quell the cries of a colicky newborn, the blind leading the blind. Jamila drifted off to sleep. Kendall propped two pillows on the bed with one hand and laid the two-year-old on top of them with the other.
The corner of the picture frame hanging above the bed poked Kendall in the forehead as she stood up. She brushed her fingers along the blown-up, black-and-white photograph of her and me. We took the picture and sent it to Kenny a month after she was born. He was such a proud papa when the boat pulled into port, waving that 3×5 in his hand and rushing us the next day to the neighborhood photographer’s studio to get it done the way it hung on my wall now.
I heard three short beeps of Ray’s car horn followed by one loud, drawn-out one. Loverboy is quite the impatient one.
I opened my Louis Vutton purse, the one my gentleman caller downstairs gave me, straightened out the crumpled $20 bill and said, “ Kendall, it is almost 11p.m. Get Troy off that devilish Xbox and send him to the store up the street. Get some of that honey ham lunchmeat, a loaf of bread and anything else you can think of to hold all of you until I come back tomorrow.”
I could have sworn that I heard Kendall sniffle. She hasn’t cried since the day of the accident. Kendall yanked the photo down and smashed it against the nightstand. Here we go, I thought, more theatrics before I head out. I said, “Kendall, have you lost your mind?”
Kendall snatched the money out of my hand and stormed out of the room and said, “No, only my mother.”
Before I could catch her, she had already slammed and locked her bedroom door. I said, “You better have that mess cleaned up before I get back.”
As I sat in the passenger seat, I immediately forgot about what just happened and who I was. The way I had always dealt with my life.
Copyrighted and All Rights Reserved to Alexandra Caselle. This is an original young adult story.