Sunday, April 5.
Miriam was curved like a ball on her bed, her arms hugging her knees tightly. She lay on her side, facing an old dark brown cupboard. Just last week, before the incident, her dad had brought it in from his room. She thought of that day; how he worked tirelessly round the house: washed clothes, dusted windows, swept the corners, and mopped the floors, while she and her mom provided comic company. He insisted on doing the cleaning alone, so that whenever she or her mom opted to assist, they were turned down. Looking at the cupboard now – a small-sized thing with three chests and rusty iron handles – Miriam couldn’t control the sour feeling in her throat. Tears stung her eyes before sliding down her cheeks. Trembling in despair, she pursed her lips to stifle the wail that fought to come out. Mucus ran from her nose and slid down her lips stopping at the partition. She sucked it in tasting the salinity as it slid down south.
Sunday, March 29.
The sun cast a crimson shade on the sky. Miriam focused on the large red ball that followed her eyes as they drove. A sound from the front seat brought her back to earth. It was her mom, in fits of laughter. Miriam stared at them, her parents, from the back seat where she sat. There was an apparent look of love for each other as they spoke; an exchange of interest on their faces as one listened while the other spoke. Grateful. That was what she felt as she looked at the old love-birds.
Once the car reached the driveway of their house, only Miriam stepped out. She waved at them as her dad drove on. They were going to extend their romance into the night, perhaps with a fancy dinner.
Her parents hadn’t always been this close, and her dad had come into her life just four years ago. Before then, it had been just Miriam, her mom, and her aunt living together. There were times when shed ask her mom why they weren’t living like normal families; together with a dad. The responses she got were never satisfactory: we have issues; its not for you to know; or “youre disturbing me”. Even when her father showed up in the first of the four years, there was usually an exchange of the cold shoulder between her mom and him. But with time, all that stopped. Their live was magically re-birthed .
Sunday, April 5.
Miriam was in the kitchen and could hear laughter from the parlour. Her parent’s conversations majored on humour, which made her even more interested. She hurried with the plates-washing, wiped her hands with a napkin and rushed to the happy place. Once Miriam reached the door, she stopped abruptly. There was no one there. Yet she could hear voices as if her mom and dad sat on the couches that were placed adjacent to the entrance. She heard the laughter again, a blend of her dad’s baritone and her mom’s hoarse voices. Miriam felt for their bodies on the couches as if they really sat there but her hands just floated mid-air. The voice of her father mentioned something about a lady at a party he once attended. Of course, Miriam had lost the curiosity of their conversation and the only sane response she could give was to back away in fear. Overwhelming fear. Suddenly, she felt something on her left foot, like an invisible hand had tapped her. That sent her jumping from place to place, her hands frantically driving off the unknown. The tapping continued but this time with a voice calling her name.
Then a strange thing happened, the voice began to take her aunt’s form. Miriam opened her eyes to see her aunt perched on the edge of her bed. She didn’t know when she slept off. Miriam sat up and still maintained the crawled position. The window in her room was open and the early sun shone through. She stared at the ray of light that spread itself across the room, exposing millions of particles floating in its way. All the while, her aunt had been saying some things that she refused to hear. That day was her graduation ceremony. A day she and her mom had made so much preparations for. A day her mom’s absence was only impossible. A day that, now, would turn out worthless.
“I’m not going” Miriam said.
“But you have to, my dear”, her aunt replied, its a ceremony especially for you.”
Miriam shook her head ‘no’, I don’t care. I’m not going.”
Look. Its completely understandable for you to say youre not attending. Trust me, I get you. But this is a once in a lifetime thing, you have to make memories. To keep records. Just go there, smile, collect your awards and thats it. Besides, you need to start learning to deal with this. I know its tough, my dear, I know. Her aunt said, trying to keep her own tears from falling.
But Miriam had decided, Theres no point collecting anything. I don’t need it.
Her aunt tried her persuasion for the last time, do it for them then. Attend the graduation for them. Especially your mom. She wouldnt have wanted you to miss it.
If Miriam’s aunt hadn’t said that, she wouldn’t have broken down when she went to receive her Best Graduating Student Award.
Sunday, March 29.
Miriam rushed from the bathroom to the sounds of her aunt’s screams. She found her aunt sitting on the floor, phone in her opened palm. Her position and noise had given Miriam a hint that the worse had happened. On sighting Miriam, her aunt quickly stood and dried her tears, trying to regain composure. It was however too late to hide anything.
“What happened?” Miriam asked.
“Em, Miriam em em I , her aunt looked like she didnt know what to say.
“What happened now?” Miriam asked again, her voice rising.
“I…I just received I mean a call came in em my phone rang, then the cry followed, Miriam, I dont know o. Your mummy and daddy o. I dont know what
As she heard, your mummy and daddy her heart started beating fast. Fast. Like it was going to explode any minute. She held her chest and flung her wrist in an Im in trouble manner
“What happened to mom and dad? Who called you? she slapped her aunts arm in rapid motions, screaming, What happened to my mom and dad? while her aunt stomped her feet, scratched her head, spread her arms high. Different displays of grief. A man called my phone…he said, he said…that your mommy and daddy…were in an accident o.
At ‘accident’, Miriam threw herself to the floor, making sure her legs and hands felt pain. She screamed at her aunt to tell her otherwise but there was nothing else to be said. Miriam struck her head on the wall, her senses gone. Her aunt tried to calm her down by hugging her really tight but Miriam fought. She scratched, she bit, she punched, until there was nothing else to do. Her body, limp in her aunts arms. Their collective wails had reduced to spasms and sobs, both of their energies sapped. Miriam released herself from her aunt to curve like a ball on the cold bare floor. Her arms hugging her knees tightly. She shuddered, said, And they were just starting to love each other