People have achieved so much, haven’t they?
Muhammad-Ali: a famous boxer who won the world heavyweight championship. Barack Obama: the first African American to hold the office. And lastly George Floyd: an angel who gave us wings to stop us from suffocating from this racist world. The list is endless but we would be here for a long time, wouldn’t we?
And here you are. You dumb sack of shit. Everyone was told to wear blindfolds when you were sent down: things were going to get ugly.
You pay close attention to the fridge door closing and when the light will shut off.
“How does it do that!” You laugh to yourself as your sister pulls a disapproving face.
“God really did want to get rid of you early.” She scoffs.
“Shush you two!” Your mother utters, you look over at her as she holds a weak smile.
“Mum, you’re working too much…” you say in sympathy.
Your eyes run over her: the wrinkles and folds of her skins were now so pronounced it was hard to tell what she must have looked like as a young woman. But you remembered the enjoyable days, you remembered her carefree nights with you and your sister. You remember the days when you’d watch movies, play puzzles, go to the park, and bake on the the rainy days. Not the boring baking. The baking where you could lick the gooey heavenly mixture off of the spoon. The ones where you would/ might have eaten all the chocolate chips and blamed it on a stuffed toy bear. But you would never forget the days when your mother used to do makeovers with you.
You remember her powdered face, the scent of the strawberry lipstick, the sparkles from the eyeshadow. How her hair fell on her shoulders gracefully, how a smile wouldn’t wrinkle her face and how every lady envied her looks. Now she just looked like a deflated, sagged birthday balloon: bereft of its helium.
Your mother sighs, “rents up by 100 next week.”
“Yeah but… but it’s always up.”
“Money doesn’t grow on trees y’know,” she answers after a while.
“You need to find time for yourself.” You urge her. “To love yourself, finding time to relax and calm the thoughts. Live in the present moment and…”
“Here we go again,” your sister interrupts and you shoot a glare at her which she dismisses with an eye roll.
It was like she took your glare and magically took it and threw it into the fireplace. You think to yourself, if she would just roll her eyes a bit further, maybe… just maybe she would be able to see a bit of her brain. If she had one.
Your mother struggles to push herself off of the sofa, “I’m going shopping, anyone want to go with me?”
“Can I go please?” You ask.
Your mother nods powerlessly and your sister, for once, doesn’t shoot a remark.
You stay close to your mother and tug at the loose strands of her shawl, wrapping them around your fingers and paying close attention to the strands that went astray. Your mother wanders off into aisles eyeing the prices and sighing in disbelief. All she held in her purse was the battered £5 that she had found on the side of the road. You thought that day that god was showing you the path to luck. Turns out luck didn’t want to meet you.
Your eyes settle on a lady with sparkly black clothes and a diamond (the size of your small, bruised hand) on a ring. On her side stands a boy in a waistcoat and a chocolate bar gripped in his hand.
They were Italian because they talked in a foreign language that you recognised from your school teacher.
You could tell by his posture he came from upper class. You had heard about them once, how they would kill for entertainment and pay large sums to frame an innocent farmer from lower class.
“Come along Emelie.” Your mother says and you oblige obediently.
The boy looks over his shoulder and smiles at you, you blush. He knew you were looking the whole time.
Limply walking past the various stores, a table stands with raffle tickets. The patterns of the raffle ticket enthrals you: the mix of the blues and purples with touches of silver patches that held the piece together.
“Mother, can I get one?” You ask.
“I don’t have any money with me. I’m sorry Emelie.” Your mother says and attempts to kiss your temple.
In a strop, you walk with a distance between your mother but finally droop your shoulders in shame.
“My mother works nights and days for me, and this is what I do…” you think to yourself.
You notice your mother struggling to carry the bags up the hill, you run back and hug her waist.
She bends down and smiles, “Look what I got for you!”
You look up and see the raffle ticket clutched in her hand, you reach forward and squeal into her shoulder.
“I love you mother.”
You remembered that day like it was just yesterday. You remember running in joy and excitement down the street to find out if you had won the ticket raffle. In luck you had, god really did love you. But, ever heard of the saying, ‘one hand gives and one hand takes.’
You remember this part so clearly, like you had just experienced it a moment ago. You relive this moment in fear and agony that why did she have to go all of a sudden. You know it’s hard to breathe sometimes when thinking about this.
You reach into the letterbox and claw out the letter. You stop dead in your tracks and laugh. Opening it, you throw the envelope pieces on the floor and cry in surprise. “Gods saved us!”
“I’m sorry for your loss Emelie.” A passing lady says. “Your mothers gone too early hasn’t she.”
The lady walks off in pity. .
A ringing sound fills your head as if someone had thrown a brick at your head. You scurry home, racing as fast as you could, stumbling along the way and throwing down people. People swore after you and you reach home through the cobbled streets.
Lifelessly she lay in her bed. Her skin cold yet sweaty. Your eyes burn with an ache to sob as your stomach rocks back and forth on the harsh waves of fear.
Why god? You say to yourself. Why?
“You said luck would come to us if we travelled on the right path. Where does this path lead us to God? Where? Show me a sign.”
You stand by your bedside window, your eyes fall over the naked path leading to the stage.
“A long way we’ve come huh?” You say to your sister.
“I know, it’s unbelievable right! You know I love you right.” She says as she adjusts her veil. “How do I look?”
Words do not come to your mouth, “Beautiful Ella, just like mother. Just like mother.”
She smiles and grips your shoulder, “Thank you.”
You watch her walk out of the door, “Are you coming?”
“I’ll come in the after party, I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine.” She says as her friends join her down the steps.
You watch the pair say their vows.
“Who knew we’d live in a mansion?” You laugh to yourself.
You look up at the portrait of your mother on the wall.
“You knew we’d win, didn’t you mother.”
You walk down the steps with a giddy feeling, the party is in full wing with men dancing with woman. They dance in unity and in the middle, Ella laughs happily with her husband.
“Don’t want to join,” a voice asks in an Italian accent.
You spin on your heels, “I’m quite fine here Rico Allesandro.”
“Woah, full name… not a good sign.”
“Shut up Rico. You’re only my neighbour and I invited you out of sympathy.”
“That your girlfriend doesn’t like hanging out with you.” You chuckle as the spark in your stomach ignites.
“How do you know? You spy on me… like when you first saw me at the shop with your mother.”
“I don’t look back; I’m not going that way.” Your voice turns sour.
You walk towards the middle of the dance floor in frustration.
A hand slips into yours and pulls you close.
“Rico, it’s nearly 4:50.” You say.
“I know.” He says.
“I can’t be in front of all these people at this time.”
“I know.” He says. “Just take me as your friend and not as an enemy.”
“Great, friend-zoned by my crush.” You whisper into the air.
“Huh?” He asks.
“Oh nothing.” You say and he chuckles. “I’ll be a few minutes.”
He nods and hugs you.
You walk down the path and sit on the bench. You pull out the raffle ticket from your locket and kiss it.
“I’ll always love you.”