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One More Way to Go
Friday, June 13th, day 13
And thou shalt smite the house of Ahab thy master, that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord, at the hand of Jezebel.
—2nd Kings 9:7
My mom tried to persuade me to let the guard drive me around, but I couldn’t stand to be in the car with emotionless man. I knew it was part of his job description, but it was just plain creepy. He trailed me in a black car that matched his personality, I ran as fast as I could to the beach. Blair was fishing again. The black car parked on the bridge.
“Hi, Hanuara.” The ever-present cloud of negativity hung over him like an omen.
Our visits were picking up a routine. I asked him what he was doing, and then we talked about it, and then we basically just talked until I had to go.
“Whatcha doing, Blair?”
“Yeah. A little fish. But I ate it.” He looked apologetic.
“You didn’t eat it raw, did you?”
“Raw? What’s that mean?”
“Like, not cooked.”
“Why would I cook a little fish?”
“Because the heat kills germs that get inside the fish. Sometimes those germs can make you sick.”
His brow wrinkled. “Oh. I didn’t know that.”
I told him how to cook a fish, though I doubt he understood any of it, and how food tastes better when cooked.
“Even ice cream?” He raised an eyebrow at me.
“Actually, yes. They have this thing called baked Alaska, and its ice cream that you can put in the oven.” I smiled at his incredulous expression.
“but wouldn’t it melt?”
I shook my head. “They put this stuff called meringue around it, and that stuff gets cooked and the ice cream stays cold.”
Blair didn’t seem to know what to say about this. He stared over the rocks, thinking it over.
The guard on the bridge hadn’t moved an inch. He had his window rolled down, so he could probably hear our conversation. Eavesdropper. But there was the barest hint of a smile, threatening to shatter his stoic expression.
“When’s your birthday, Blair?”
There was silence from the little boy, and a solemn atmosphere fell over us. “Hanuara, can I tell you something really secret?”
Tension went through me. “Sure Blair. Tell me whatever you want.”
I swear I saw him eye the black car on the bridge when he motioned me to lean down so he could speak in my ear.
“I don’t know when my birthday is, Hanuara,” he whispered. He sounded like he would cry. “My mama never told me.”
“Oh, Blair, honey. That’s just fine. Do you want me to give you one?” I hugged him close. My heart felt pinched. It just got tighter when Blair sniffed and nodded. I pretended to think it over. “How about June fifteenth?”
He dragged a hand across his cheek. “That sounds fine. How many years away is that?” he looked scared, like he didn’t want to know.
“Its tomorrow, Blair.”
Blue saucers stared up at me. “Tomorrow? My birthday’s tomorrow? You’re not kidding are you?”
I wiped the smile from my face. “I would never joke about something as serious as a birthday, Blair. You’re birthday is tomorrow, and it will be no matter what.” I crossed my heart.
“That’s really great.”
I couldn’t contain my excitement. “What do you want most in the world, Blair?”
What every little boy seemed to want. I thought he was going to pick something like a fishing hook or a bucket of worms. Plans formed themselves effortlessly. I had just one day. One day to give Blair the best birthday he ever had.
I was beginning to wonder about his mother, though. Had they had a fight or something? I really hoped he didn’t stay at the beach overnight. Had she really not told Blair when his birthday was? I couldn’t see Blair fibbing about that but I also couldn’t see even the worst mother in the world doing something like that.
Shrugging it off as best as I could, I went back to planning Blair’s party.
I wished I had ridden in the car with Stony Sam when I saw the tall, curly-haired, redheaded man stride down the street from the house.
About three steps from the door all my muscles seized up. The man disappeared in the foot traffic.
“Miss Hanuara? Is something the matter?” Sam asked, actual concern coloured his tone. The door banged shut in his face as I raced inside.
“Mom! Mom!” I screamed. “MOM!”
She barrelled down the stairs, followed by my mother.. “Hanuara, what—”
“Mom! I saw the Poet!”
She stood there like she had been stunned. My father flew down next, followed by Monica and her guard. I gave a rapid-fire explanation of what I had seen. “It was really him, Mom!” I said to her disbelieving face. she looked dazed.
She snapped out of it. “Oh, no, honey, I believe you, but I just don’t believe…he came so close.” She sat down in her chair. “He really isn’t afraid of anything, is he?” she looked helplessly at my father.
“Come on Su.” He shifted uncomfortably. “He’ll never get passed all the security you hired.”
“Non, that’s not the point. He was close enough that she could see him. so close…”
My father held my mother’s face firmly. “Su, remember what the pastor said. Worrying is a sin.”
She jerked to a stand, her eyes wild. “But Adam is dead!” She screamed. She ran from the room.
The three of us sucked in our breaths and held them to the count of ten. The room was still and silent; the guards as expressionless as ever. My mom had crossed the line: she was the symbol of strength and solidity in our family, and to see her break down like that was like seeing a four-hundred-thousand foot mountain reduced to rubble that you run through your hands.
On the silent count of ten, we departed: Dad to my mother in their bedroom, Monica to the alcohol cabinet, and I to the swing on my balcony.
This was becoming a nervous habit for me. I pushed off with my feet, concentrating instead on the smooth rocking motion. The swing was white, with just enough room to fit maybe three people the size of me. it was curved to fit my back, and the armrests were worn. Had Monica sat here before, maybe sipping a glass of wine with a lover? Steven, maybe?
I wished somebody could have been there to swing with me. preferably a hot, shirtless, St Marcus swimmer. Who probably thought I was a nutcase. He could join Christopher’s club.
my father’s hand alighted on my shoulder. “Hanuara, we need to talk.”
Dad sat on the swing with me, and suddenly it was two-hundred pounds heavier. “Hanuara, your mother and I worry about you and Monica, you know. I know sometimes we can seem a little harsh, but we really are trying our best with you girls.” He sighed. “Could you think about staying home tomorrow? Just to ease your mother’s mind a bit. She really broke down.” He fiddled with his watch.
Blair. He was the only normalcy I had in my life anymore; Blair represented innocence. “I can’t. I made a promise to a very special friend that I would see him tomorrow. I can’t just stand him up, Daddy. But after that, I will stay home.” My father met my steadfast gaze with his own steely one. I had the fleeting sensation that he understood, and we shared the moment as mutual partners.
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