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Coming of Age Drama Fiction

Jingle likes to run fast through the forest. He loves the trees overhanging branches and ducking his head at times running under them. He loves the feel of crushing the dead leaves under his feet as he runs over them. Jingle can outrun most people. He learned to run at an early age. He had to. 

Jingle’s age is hard to pinpoint. Most people think he’s older than what he really is. He has a two inch scar on his right cheek and a tattoo of a small blue and black butterfly on the left side of his neck. Jingle is a menacing man in size and he rarely smiles. He rarely has a reason to smile.  Jingle breathed in the crisp air as he ran past his childhood home. His mom still lives there but Jingle has long moved out. He loved his mother and looked after her but from a distance. He could not live there after that day happened. He couldn’t not bear to look at the sadness in his mother’s eyes after that day.  

Jingle sat on a dead tree stump outside of his mother’s door. He was hesitant about going inside. He knew that he had to but was in no hurry. That day was seared in his memory. A day he would never forget. 

It was a hot summer’s day in 1973. Mama was playing one of her records on the stereo his aunt had given her for her birthday the year before. Mama loved playing her favorite records on that old stereo. She was the only one who could use it. Jingle remembered trying to play one of his records on the stereo one day and Mama was not having it. She yelled at him not to touch her stereo and if he wanted to play something he had to get permission from her. On that day Mama was playing the song, “Papa Was A Rolling Stone.” It was ironic that on that day at that particular time that was the song Mama was listening to and dancing to. Jingle was sitting outside on the porch waiting for his cousin, Beetle to show up. Beetle was a nickname Jingle gave his cousin because he liked bugs. Beetle was alway collecting bugs. Jingle couldn’t figure out what the bug obsession was all about but he knew it was part of how he was. Beetle rolled up on his brand new banana seat, Schwinn bike, with the playing card attached to the spokes to make that clicking sound like a motorcycle. Jingle stood up to meet him at the stoop on the bottom of the porch. 

They went to the creek that day to go fishing. They almost never caught any fish but they always had good conversations. That day they caught two fish. They couldn’t wait to go home and show off the fish to their parents. They knew that their parents would be shocked to see that they actually caught something that day. 

Jingle rushed inside his house holding his fish, still on the fishing hook, in his right hand. He screamed for his mom. He didn’t see her in the living room which was odd. She was usually talking on the phone to her sister non stop on Saturdays. That’s the day they talked to catch up on the week’s events. His mom was not there. She wasn’t in the kitchen either. Jingle searched the kitchen and the sewing room and his mom was in neither room. He left his fish in the kitchen and went to her bedroom. That was the last place that he could think she would be. 

Jingle knocked on the  door. He waited for her to come in but she never did. He knew that she was in there because he heard sobs. He knocked a few more times, each time louder. But, she never says anything. Jingle turned the doorknob and opened the door. His mom was sitting on the edge of the bed with her head down. She had a tissue in one hand and a piece of paper in the other hand. Jingle walked over to the bed and sat on  the opposite end. He looked at the tears streaming from her brown eyes. He wanted to ask her what was wrong but waited. 

Jingle’s mom looked up at her son. She didn’t know how to tell him the news. How could she tell him that he would never see his father again. Jingle put his arm around his mom and sat quietly next to her. A few minutes later Jingle’s mom looked up and wiped her eyes. She gave him the piece of paper in her hand that she was reading. Jingle took the paper and started to read it. He wasn’t sure if he should read it since it was addressed to his mom but since he gave it to him he knew she wanted him to read it. He was only 8 at the time but he remembers the words on the note like he read it yesterday.

“Dear Sonia,

I didn’t know how to tell you this in person so I am writing it all down. I know I am a coward for telling you like this but I couldn’t bear to look at you and see the hurt in your eyes. So, here it goes. Sonia, I have left you. I didn’t leave you for another woman. Don’t ever think that I was trying to replace you with another woman. I love you too much for that. I would never do that to you and to Jingle. The reason I am leaving you is so that you and Jingle don’t have to watch me die. That’s right, Sonia, I am dying. I have known this for a long time, a little over 4 years now. I didn’t want to believe it when the doctor told me. But, my body told me that his words were true. I have cancer. It feels funny writing it now. But, there it is. I have cancer just like my dad had. The same kind. Sonia, the worst part about the disease for me, a kid at the time, was watching him slowly die. I watched the days and the months and the years took its toll on my dad’s body and ravished it with that ugly disease. I don’t want you to see me like that. I don’t want Jingle to see me like that. The cancer is spreading. The doctor said I only have a few months at best to live. I know that you think that I am selfish for running away like this. But, Sonia, I think that this is the best thing to do. I don’t want to be a burden either to you. I saw the pain in your eyes when you took care of your mom in her last days. I felt your pain after she passed. I can’t put you through that again. I know that you hate me right now. You will probably scream, cry and curse my name in the coming weeks and days. I understand that. I have made all of my final arrangements. After the time comes you will be notified of what to do. I have a safety deposit box at the bank and it is everything that you will need after my time here on earth has ended. I know this sounds cold and harsh but baby this was the hardest decision I ever had to make. I don’t want to leave you and Jingle. I never wanted to leave my family and certainly not this way. But, I honestly feel that this is best for all of us. Remember I love you with all my heart and soul. I love you and Jingle to the moon and back forever and always. Please forgive me. I know I am asking a lot but please forgive me not for me but for you and our son. I love you.

Your loving husband forever,

Noble Lynn “

Jingle and his mom cried what seemed like hours after he read the letter. He was trying to be strong for her but he couldn’t. He knew that he would never see his father alive again and that saddened him to his core. For the next year and a half Jingle watched his mom go through the motions of living. She got up and went to work, came home, cooked dinner for them and went to her room and cried as she read the letter over and over again. Jingle knew that one of the hardest things for her was the fact that she would never see her husband again and never get the chance to tell him one more time that she loved him. Jingle would never get that chance either. 

On May 12th, 1975 a stranger knocked on the door. The stranger asked for Jingle’s mom. Jingle had an internal earthquake going on in his belly as he ran and got his mother. Jingle’s mom walked slowly to the door. The man didn’t say a word, he just handed Sonia a big manilla envelope and left. Jingle and his mom both knew what it was. His mom’s hands started to shake as she sat down on the sofa and opened the envelope.

The church was filled with mourners at the funeral. Everyone came up to them after the short service and hugged them and tried to offer words of comfort. There were no words. Nothing could make Jingle or his mom feel better. Jingle and his mom had to live without his dad for the rest of their lives and no words on earth could change that. Jingle’s heart would never be the same and neither would his mom. 

Jingle stood up from the stump and glanced in the direction of his childhood home. He patted the butterfly tattoo on his neck and looked towards the heavens. 

“Dad, we are still here and we still miss you. Fly high Dad. Fly high.” 

Jingle unlocked the door and greeted his mom with a big bear hug.

July 10, 2021 21:06

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