Amelia Lewis had said it all. Slippery like ice how could she take back the words she had spoken to her husband. She could see from his eyes that it had cut deep like wound in his soul. It wasn't her fault that he had been laid off and had sunk so low in his moods. She wasn't to blame for his disinterest in daily activities nor for sleeping so much. He needed to take it like a man and handle it. His family needed him. She needed him. She didn't want to take his place. She wanted to help and keep her place as a woman. "Now that Charles is acting up, I guess I have to be the man and the woman". Why wouldn't he open up to her? She was there to help. He was so far and yet so close. Many times the conversations went something like this, "Charles, am here for you. I can see you are hurting with all that's gone on. Please talk to me. I am here for you. I have your back". Each time Charles just stared at her with an empty look and nodded. Her patience was being tested to the brim. She had kept quiet for 9 months. Last night she couldn't keep quiet anymore. Charles had overlooked the Council Tax after three reminders. Now, the bailiffs, or to use their technical term, the enforcement agents, would be paying them a visit tomorrow.
"Charles, you good for nothing man". she barked. "I said yes to you all this while and where has it got me! Nowhere, nowhere". "Moping about the house like a sick puppy. When will you put yourself together and act like a man for once in this marriage". Amel knew the moment those words came out she could never retrieve them back. She saw the fire in her husband's eyes go out - suddenly. "What have I done?", she remarked to herself. Then Charles spoke for the first in 9 months, "Amelia, the wife of my youth. It is true that I have been out for the last few months. Sorry for letting you bear the burden of being the provider. It is also true that I have protected and provided for you in the past. 7 years to be exact. Through the good and bad I have shouldered everything. While you slept I thought. I thought deep for your well-being. I have never had to brag about the shelter I provide you. Howbeit that my wife whom I chose above all else would throw the last punch when I am down. Blowing out the last rays of light. You do the math - 7 years to 9 months." With that Charley babe as she fondly called him turned his back on the bedroom and started walking away. "By the way Amels, I still love you". Those 3 words shook and woke Amelia up. "Charles, am sorry for saying those mean, hurtful words. I didn't mean it. Please forgive me." "Woman you meant them alright", Charles retorted and walked away.
Amel couldn't let him just walk away. She felt if she let him go the chasm she'd created in their marriage would never be closed. "Charles, Charles", she tried to get his attention but Charles kept walking. Amel recollected like flashback Friday how all the females in her family treated the men. Where were they? She'd been lied to when she was told, "sticks and stones may break bones but words can never hurt." She had wounded her one true love who happened to love everything about her back.
You are quintessentially special,
"Blisterin' Barnacles, I can't wait for summer camp", said Yolanda to her cousin Robby. "I have been counting the days down to this very moment", she again started the conversation. Honk, honk beeped the taxi. Robby rushed to the door followed by Yolanda and her mother not too far off. The journey to Sunflower Youth Camp was about three hours away. Yolanda didn't mind the distance. The countryside where the camp was situated made a lovely contrast to the hustle and bustle of city life. She could do with some peace and quiet. She was excited that this time round she could introduce her cousin to her circle of friends. Amie, Dwayne, Nathan, Sanchez and Laudette would love Robby she was sure if it. Who wouldn't. He was fun to be around and always made anyone in his presence feel light.
"Amie, Amie", she shouted from the taxi while it was still slowing down to a halt. "Hey stranger. It's been a while. How have you been?", Amie asked nearing the taxi. "Great. We are going to really have some fun in this third camping trip I feel it, replied Yolanda. "Kiss, kiss mum. See you in 6 weeks, Amie yelled. She couldn't get out of the car quick enough. "Oh Amie, this is my cousin Robby. Robby this is Amie my long term camp buddy. This will be our third year in camp", Yolanda made the short introductions. At that moment she saw a guy who seemed to be with Amie. "Amie, who's this? She faced the breathtakingly handsome boy". "This, this is my childhood friend Troy. Troy meet Yolanda", Amie said looking intently at Yolanda who'd now become very self conscious. The next few minutes were all a blur for Yolanda as Troy tried to make small talks with her. It was his baritone voice, his hazel eyes, his sun-tanned well-built body and to top it off his golden brown curly hair. All the while Troy was talking, she was engrossed with one thought, "is he single?".
"Amie, answer me. Is Troy single? Don't act deaf on me. You heard me?". "Yolanda Saldriagga-Chen what is wrong with you? I thought you were taking a break from guys. Okay, as far as I know he's unattached". "What do you mean un-attached. Does he or does he not?", repeated Yolanda impatiently. "He doesn't, as far as I know", replied Amie eying Yolanda, Before she could get another word in, Yolanda was off like a rocket. "Hi Troy, remember me?", she almost whispered. Troy turned 360 degrees to face her amidst a swoon of girls. "Hey Yolanda, of course I remember you. Actually a group of us are going for an evening walk. Care to join?" "Care to join? Care to join? Of course she cared to join. He need not ask", thought Yolanda but with a cool composure said, "why not. I can move my evening plans around". She didn't have any plans this first day but it wasn't for Troy to know.
"We've been walking for 3 hours. It's getting late guys. I think we should start heading back. I am going back. Matron will be concerned", Yolanda said trying not to sound fearful. "Yolanda, take a chill pill. You are in a group with headlamps to light our path. No need to head back now. Don't spoil the fun", Troy looked at her with doggy eyes and so was everyone else. She carved in to the pressure and didn't say anything more. 30 minutes later she felt a hand in her hand. It was Troy's. "My, he was a man's man", she said in her heart with droopy eyes. ''Twas as if like clockwork the boys in the group equalled the girls. Before her brain could take it all in, Troy was kissing her neck tenderly. From the corner of her eyes the other "couples" were doing the same.
The next day even after showering she still felt unclean. She felt like she'd lost a part of herself. Troy seemed unnerved from last night talking to a bunch of girls at breakfast. She on the other hand felt sick. She wasn't ready for it- at all. It had all happened so fast.
Three weeks into camp and she was still vomiting and feeling sick. She felt different. "Oh God, it can't be. Please let it be a false alarm", as she used the pregnancy kit she had bought in the drugstore in town. "No, no, no!, she screamed out hysterically as her body trembled. There was the line as solid as the Statue of Liberty. "Oh Amie, what am I going to do? Am scared. Am ashamed. I am confused, she wept bitterly in Amie's embrace. "We will get through this, Yolanda, Amie said trying to be there for her friend. "You've got to tell Troy and your mother". "What?", her sobbing came to an abrupt end. "I can't on both counts".
Yolanda gathered the courage after a sleepless night pacing the wooden floor that was the cabin she shared with Amie. "Mother", came her soft barely audible voice. "I am pregnant". First there was a long silence. "Tears streaming down her face she said, "mother are you there? "Yes I am", said her mother. "Please say something, anything". "I will see you in the morning", said her mother and then the phone went silent. All alone she sobbed so much her quaking body could not take it anymore and then she was knocked out asleep. She woke up to gentle taps on her shoulder. "Yolanda, baby wake up. It's me". "Fully awake now she saw balloons and flowers all over her room and the outstretched arms of her mother. She ran into her mother's arms crying yet again.
"Mother, are you not angry?", she asked in between tears. "Disappointed yes, angry no. You will always be my child and my love for you has no strings attached". "I am going to be a grand mama for crying out loud", her mother chuckled.
You are quintessentially special,
It was a nice autumn day. The trees swayed in unison with the gentle breeze. Daniel H. loved this time of the year. The colours, the beauty of sea green interspersed with burnt yellow and rust. "What a world", he thought to himself. Everything would have been perfect except...That still didn't stop him from daydreaming. It didn't hurt to. "Daddy", Isabel and her twin Bengy interrupted his thoughts. "Yes, my little stars", he turned his face to give them full attention. "When do we go to the animal farm again?" Bengy screamed. Isabel joined in, "it's been long". "Please daddy". Any father's heart would break if he saw the looks in these adorable duos eyes. His heart was breaking. He wanted to take his children out. Which father didn't. He just didn't have the means. After his wife's unexpected change in working pattern, he was lumbered with the job of looking after his stars since he was self-employed. He didn't mind but recently people were not taking up carpentry work as they used to. No thanks to all the YouTube vlogs which showed how to fix just about anything. He was the biggest earner and the slow going had put a strain on the family savings not to mention diapers costs - for two! At 2, the twins were going through diapers like water. What would he do? What could he do. After the next couple of months they wouldn't be able to keep up the mortgage not to mention maintaining the family car. The MOT was coming due as well as the road tax. "Oh bummer", he whispered to himself. All that could wait this moment. He needed to make his stars' day someway, somehow especially on the 16 September. But how?
He whisked both in his arms with one full swoop and planted liberal peckers on their foreheads. He would never get enough of their hearty laughter. DH lay tossed in bed beads if sweat all over his body. With no money how would he celebrate his stars' birthday. "Oh my God, am a bad father", he repeated to himself. The next day DHs posture was limp and strained. Even the stars could tell there was a change in daddy and they tried to cheer him up with hugs.
On the morning of 16 September, DH had only managed to buy them a toy each from the thrift store. His wife had managed to bake what looked somewhat like a cake with mixed soda and water. All their birthday splendours came to £10.00. There was a distinct knock on the door jut before the twins woke up. "Honey, who can it be at this time of the morning?", his wife asked. "I dunno, love", he replied. "We will find out". He opened the door to find stacks of presents at the doorstep with a note simply written, "for the stars". He stood there speechless with Candace next to him. "Baby", Candace said, "you could have fooled me". "But I didn't. This isn't from me", DH replied. The twins pounced on the presents at that moment tearing away the wrappers frantically. With the little words they knew they said, "daddy, mammi, tank ooouuu". Candace and DH had to revisit this surprise another day.
That evening, while making dinner with the tv on, DH heard the same distinct knock he'd heard in the morning. This time it was coming from the tv. The tv. He swang 90 degrees to see who the knock belonged to. At that moment, he saw hard-headed, mean, cold Grace Hathaway being interviewed. "Grace?" There was not a soft bone in her. Indeed she was wealthy but that was about it. Then He heard her story...Grace didn't start out cold. She'd always been giving. She had a secret life and although he couldn't make it out it involved children. Tears were in his eyes as he looked down at his stars who had crept up on him. But for Grace...
You are quintessentially special,
Sandra Chapels shook her stiff legs after the approximately one hour trip from London Heathrow to De Gaulle airport. She was finally here. All her dreams were coming to pass. She looked around at the almost empty airport. Airports usually had passengers buzzing but then again the sparse airport could be expected with an 8.09am arrival. The trip to Paris was uneventful except for a whining toddler in the middle aisle. She looked again at an e-copy of her contract. She couldn't believe that she'd be working as a senior buyer at the prestigious Dupree Clothing Company. The transfer to London from its Central London Branch has been straightforward but then again she has to show that she was deserving of it among the other 5 candidates. Her self-study in French at the week-ends, her attentive customer service skills and increased sales on her shift paved the way for her. Now at the pick-up point she thought intently yet excitedly about her new life in France. Monsieur Arneaux, the store's deputy manager had informed her before her departure from London that he would be waiting for her. "Where is he?", she thought.
It was now two hours past her arrival and Sandy was jittery and worried more so because Monsieur Arneaux was not picking his calls having left 7 voicemails. "I wonder what could have happened to him", she thought. Uneasiness crept over her. She was in a country she did not know and the only person she knew -on paper - was Monsieur Arneaux. Another tensed 30 minutes passed before an elderly lady, neatly dressed with a cane approached her. "Bonjour, are you Mademoiselle Chapels?", she asked. "Mais qui" [but yes], she responded. "Monsieur Arneaux extends his apologies. He's been held up at the warehouse and has asked me to pick you up and take you to your apartement". "I am Madame Renee", the lady said while giving Sandy a friendly kiss on both cheeks. Sandy was relieved. Finally it wasn't a nightmare.
The cobbled, quiet streets of Paris felt different from the city energy she was used to experience in London. "She would have to get use to it", she silently said to herself. An hour passed and then another 3. The streets had all merged into one for her. "Madame Renee, from what I read the chateaux apartmentes are only 45 minutes from the station but we seem to have been driving for almost 4 hours. As if taking a scene from a horror movie the pleasant Madame Renee turned around from the driver's seat and with cold piercing eyes said in a stern voice, "Mademoiselle, be quiet!" Cold shivers were now running all over Sandy as her face turned white. Her mind was racing at a 100 miles. "What had she gotten herself into?" "Was it a scam?" Her thoughts were interrupted when the car was brought to an abrupt stop. "Come with me", the Madame said yanking her out of the car. In the dim shadows of the strange looking building overlooking the mountain she heard many girlie voices in agony. "You stay here with Noelle", said the Madame.
Noelle with the help of the night sky through the upper window was a plump, brunette girl of about 16 years. "Where am I and where is Monsieur Arneaux?" In low tones Noelle explained to her that she had been conned into a life of prostitution with Monsieur Arneaux being the pimp and the Madame grooming the girls. She explained further that they used different strategies with each girl making it difficult to track or trace them. Sandy felt sick to the stomach.
"What would happen to her? How does she escape?" Noelle could read her mind and said to her, "I have been making a rope to the window to escape. You can help me finish the rope with your bed cover. Tonight, we try escape, hear". Sandy didn't know what to believe. She would have to trust Noelle that she was telling the truth.
Lights out came a booming sound. "That is your Monsieur Arneaux. Quick climb into your bed", said Noelle to her. She was running on autopilot and did as told. As soon as the coast was clear Noelle said, "now we take our chance". They put the bedside locker near the window, held unto the bars, tied the sheets to the bars and squeezed out through the broad bars. Noelle wimped as she pushed herself out. Her body was bruised. "We run down the hill, fast", she said. Sandy run so fast her legs were sore.
Near the bottom of the hill they saw a police car and ran to it hoping it was not a fake. The police were startled to see them but Sergeant Sardinia who was on night watch to observe the strange house was glad to see them.
"Girls, where are you running from"? "Are you from the strange house?", asked Sgt Sardinia.
You are very lucky. Your lives have been spared sorrow, misery and heartache. Sandy couldn't wish herself in London sooner.
You are quintessentially special,
Petunia Williamson was keeping a dark secret. It had been weighing on her for years. "Can I tell Yvette?", was her self-talk. But she didn't want to put her daughter's life in a mess. She had accepted her lot in life. "No, not Yvette", she screamed in anguish. If she didn't tell someone she'd burst. All these years she had kept the family secret only for it to be triggered by Yvette's recent dismissal from work. She had sold Yvette the story about doing better with another employer quite a few times. Yvette, her career jet-setter daughter would soon be in the Guinness Book of Records at this rate. With 29 dismissals to her name at the age of 25, one could only conclude that Yvette Williamson was allergic to work. At 5'4 with jet black hair, brown eyes and a slim frame Yvette was anything but a lazy employee. She was the first one in and among the last ones out. She couldn't for the life of her give her manager Mr. Cooper any respect. She disdained him without completely knowing why although she thought as her direct line manager she could make a better go at the work than him. And then there was Derick Smythe the VP who was just plain competent. "What do they see in these men to give them a corner office?" "They are utterly useless", she remarked to Sean her desk buddy over their afternoon tea break. "I can certainly do a better job than both combined", she added. She was called out of the blue one day into the VPs office and, fired. But why? She didn't buy their talk of down-sizing as the recent company memo had indicated that Donovan Fabrics would be expanding its offerings. She felt no tears; just anger. This time she would not lay it to rest. She would see them at Tribunal.
As she was telling her mother about the week's events, she noticed tears trickling down her mother's cheeks. "Mother, why are you crying?", she asked. "If it's about the job I will look for another one. You know I always do, please don't cry". The more she pleaded with her mother, the more uncontrollable were her mother's tears. "Yvette, sit down. I needed to have had this conversation with you yesterday". "I am the reason you can't hold the jobs". Yvette's eyes looked like they would fall out of their sockets. "Mother, what do you mean?" "25 years ago, said her mother, when I was working my way up the corporate ladder, I found out I was pregnant - with you. I was young and impressionable then. I knew I wanted kids but the timing was wrong. I wanted to get to HoD first before having a family; that way, I could give my family the best life possible. I was only a year and four months into my new job. I was devastated. I hated the child, I hated you and Charles was to blame for putting me in this mess. You would have been aborted if not for aunt Bianca. She encouraged me you know to keep the bump as children are a gift. I didn't have it easy the last trimester either and deep down I rejected what should have been a joyful experience. But all that changed when I saw you. You were everything I imagined you to be, you are mine. I had created something special - with your father of course. In the joy, my life turned to what it is now. This is through no fault of yours, no fault of yours. I am sorry I rejected you and wished you'd disappear. If I knew then it was you I would have taken all those negative words back".
At that very moment Petunia held Yvette's face cupped in her palms and looking straight into her eyes said, "am so sorry baby". This was too much for Yvette. She didn't know how to react and did only what would come naturally to anyone, cry. "Mama, how do I change this? What do I do?" "You do nothing dearie. Only believe and accept that I love you everyday. That is enough to change things around. That is enough, Petunia said in a loving tone.
You are quintessentially special,
Thump! Thump! Brandon put his fist once more into the tummy of Ursula. Again he gave his best shot into her back right on her spine. With a mighty thud her head hit the cold linoleum floor that was the bathroom. It was a good thing the light in the bathroom was dim. She didn't want to have to look at herself in the mirror another time. "What's the damage this time", she thought to herself. Brandon had caught her smiling sweetly to herself responding to a text message she'd received an hour before midnight. "Who's texting you at this time of the evening", he shouted and "how can you disrespect me by picking your phone to answer it". "I know you've been cheating. Who with - this time?" In order to keep the noise at reasonable levels, Ursula started walking to the bathroom to have a shower as she normal would. Brandon stormed after her. "Woman, I am talking to you answer me". Ursula was mute. "Loose woman. You are disgraceful", blurted Brandon. "If I can't have you to myself no one can", Brandon bellowed. The neighbour's dog, Babi, a young terrier, had started to bark at the increased decibels. Langley Close was a residential area with a mixture of residents, some young, some old, married, retirees and students thrown into the mix for good measure. The Close residents slept early or to be precise had their lights out early. They'd started to get a bad reputation for going at each other like cats and dogs. Recently the arguments had become more frequent and so had the beatings. Ursula had learnt to treat herself having bought and hid a first aid kit. Tonight would be no different.
She turned to explain who the text message was from and it's contents. Brandon had worked himself into a frenzy and there was no calming him. This time the physical injuries were bad, very bad. She'd even got a black eye. "My God, I hope I am not blind", she silently thought. It wasn't as if she'd not had red flags about Brandon's insecurities and possessiveness. Who could blame him though. He'd been through two failed relationships where the women run off with other men. Her sister Trish never liked him from the the start. She'd said that she didn't like the way he spoke down to her and how he took her phone each day to check her GPS to find out where she'd been. "Ursula, that is not normal", she'd told her time and time again. But she loved him. She genuinely did and held on to the belief that love would conquer all. After 8 years together she had started to see that she'd need more than love with Brandon. She'd tried her best to arrange counselling sessions at the onset of their relationship. After two attendances and five no-shows their sessions were cancelled and money partially refunded. "Why can't Brandon learn to live with me with understanding?"
Having passed out for a solid 20 minutes, she opened her eyes to see Brandon towering over her limp body half angry, half worried. She launched at his throat with every ounce of strength she had. It wasn't her action that threw Brandon off, it was the resolve in her eyes, the resoluteness, the fire. It was as if she had come to know herself and she was taking no prisoners with her. She was pushing back - full force. At that point, Brandon knew he had to change or lose her to someone more worthy of her.
You Are Quintessentially Special,
"Clarissa Lilabel Coleman", shouted her mother from downstairs. No answer. She heard heavy footsteps coming her way. Quick, she had to hide the pills she had secretly been taking. "Clarissa what on earth are you doing staring at the mirror blankly, her mother questioned her? Phew! That was a narrow escape. If her mother had caught sight of the pills, more importantly if her mother knew that she had been taking the contraband pills to loose weight her mother would have given her the 90 degrees punishment. What would her mother say about her forcing her breakies and dinner out so she wouldn't have to put on extra weight? The thought of disappointment on her mother's face would kill her. She could never find out. "Come down stairs for a minute to help me select the new colour scheme for the kitchen", her mama spoke interrupting her inner dialogue.
Clarissa was a straight A student. Always where she was meant to be but lately with the introduction of the twins from up North to her South-End-on-Sea school she had been ruffled. Raphaela and Raquelle seemed like goddesses to both the staff and students alike. They were the perfect size, seemed to know everything so hogged class discussions and wielded such influence on folks. They were spell-binding. Clarissa was not an outcast. On the contrary she had her close group of friends but nowadays she was discontent. She wanted what R- squared as the twins were nicknamed had. The more she observed them, the more she wanted what they had. "I have to have what they have at all cost" she would repeat to herself.
One day, just after recess when the hallways were typically empty, she hurried to her locker to get her Algebra textbook. It was at this point she saw Raquelle popping some pills into her mouth. At first she thought, "she must have a headache". Then she got in closer view and saw the pills container. The purple pill container looked strange. Clarissa was no medical personnel but something told her it was not paracetamol, panadol or ibuprofen. "Does she have a strange disease", she thought to herself? "Hey Clarissa! Hi Raquelle, are you alright? Should I call the nurse? Girl, am fine, responded Raquelle couldn't be better now that I have taken my pills". Clarissa didn't know how to sensitively approach the subject so out she came with it, "are you sick, like really sick?" Raquelle knew exactly was she was trying to ask and burst out laughing hilariously. "I am not sick, 'rissa. Let's just say I am managing my figure." "Managing your figure with what?, Clarissa asked with confusion written all over her face. These, duh. Raquelle had just introduced her to some strange looking pills that she promised on the life of her mother that it worked miracles to keep one's body weight in check. She was a convert.
There was not a day gone past since then that she didn't take her pills and puke out at least two meals. The twins didn't tell her the pills were addictive. There were times she tried to stop taking them as she felt so weak but just couldn't. She was losing weight indeed as promised but way too fast. Oh God how does she stop? She'd gone 3 dress sizes down in 3 months. Her life seemed like a roller coaster as she barely lived each day. She'd seen the looks of concern on her mother's face as well as her dad. She was concerned. Life for her was now a chore. No energy, little concentration and the inability to hold anything down. Not for long anyway. What would she do. She'd be skin and bones before she realised it. How did the twins not look phased?
Six months had passed and she was scared for the life of her that she would die. She gathered up the courage one Saturday and off to the local chemist she went. She needed to find out any information there was about the purple pills. "Hey Clarissa! How's your mom and pops, Mr Devi asked in his upbeat way". "Fine thanks", Mr. Devi. "Mr Devi, can you keep a secret"? Mr Devi looked at her wondering. "If it's about you of course". "I need to find out what these pills are that I have been taking". At that point she gave Mr Devi the pills. At once Mr Devi went red and stuttering his speech in a cold way said, "w-h-o g-a-v-e y-o-u t-h-e-s-e"? She went silent. "Answer me girl", he scolded. "I got them from a friend", she replied. "Silly girl do you know what this is"? He was looking angrier with each passing minute. "This is a lethal dosage amphetamine". "Why are you taking them"? "What for"? Again she went mute. "You better answer me before I call your mama"? "I wanted to lose more weight like the new twin girls so I took them. They gave it to me to take so I could be just like them". "Girl didn't anyone tell you that those girls are trouble. They are into all sorts of drugs, men who could be as old as their dad and booze". "Rissa, I expected better of you, way better". "You were beautiful just the way you were". Mr. Devi's disappointment in her went to the core of her more than any stronger words or punishment could.
She left Mr. Devi's shop with that line resonating in her, "you were beautiful just the way you were".
You are quintessentially special,
Claudine Miller looked over the reunion invitation she had come home to meet. The silvery embossed A5 paper with black sans serif lettering together with its matching flap envelope was beautiful. The class of '89 was itself beautiful. Seeing the invitation brought back many a fond memories to Claudine. The three times 'dance queen' went down memory lane. She remembered her girls. They were 7 in total. Lesley, Maude, Roselyn, Summer, Verona, Ariel and of course her. They were known as the wonder girls. Walking together, studying together, on the newspaper team together even to spending most weekends with each other. They couldn't get enough of each other it seemed. Sitting at her makeup station in her basement flat she reminisced about the time they went to the shopping centre to spy on Verona's secret crush to ascertain if he had a girlfriend or not. It turned out that he did. What a bummer for Vi. Now at 42 she thought how silly of them to have gone out in action men costumes to hid their identity leaving their hair uncovered. Those were good times.
Life had taken a twist since high school. She initially deferred her University entry for what at the time she thought would be a year. Then it became two and then she was expelled according to the University rules. "If only her father had not defrauded the tax office and paid them their due, she would have been financially buoyant", she thought. Poppy as she fondly called him was doing time in jail for evading taxes and without him who would fund her tuition and living expenses. She was reduced to making a living immediately working in the local factory as a cotton weaver while the other six 'dream girls' were living the dream. A dream that was now a thing of the past for her. She tried to push herself through nightschool but quit as she was just too exhausted with the factory work and couldn't concentrate. '12 years to the day Poppy was imprisoned and I still work at the local factory. Worst still I now clean schools at dawn to earn more money and I still can't make ends meet', she sighed. How could she face the 'dream girls'? What would she tell everyone?
Looking at herself in the reflection of her makeup station mirror, she saw a woman shaken but not stirred, beaten but not overcome, tossed by the winds of life but not dead. 'In the 3 months to this reunion, I Claudine will rewrite my story. I will no longer stand bare. I will...'
You are quintessentially special,
"I choose you", Mindy Swift heard whispered once, twice, thrice, four times up to the seventh time. She could scarcely believe that Daunte Craddock would choose her, her! At first when he started muttering into her left ear she thought it was all pure jokes so she laughed then tears trickled down her rosy cheeks as she took in for possibly what could have been the very first time the opposite sex said anything of honesty to her without needing anything in return. She knew by looking into his emerald eyes that he meant it with every fibre of his being.
Mindy had suffered a lot. At 18 months she had lost the one person who would affirm her as perfect - her father. He'd done a runner with the local librarian. All those "Mr. Swift, you lookin' mighty fine today "had a hidden meaning or was it just that men couldn't resist the alluring bossoms of women. She would never know why her father had abandoned her and her two brothers and of course her mother. "Who would give up pure love in the arms of Helen Swift for Ms.Breakup", she wondered. Her father did. He had cost her all her failing relationships with men. She just couldn't trust them although she wanted to give and receive love. Every man she had met reminded her of her father. What if he (Craddock) abandoned her when she gave of herself fully she thought. Would he run away just like her daddy. Her last relationship was the most sour. She didn't understand this man cave thing with men. Why did they always want to run into their cave? She felt lost when Tony Dupree did that to her. More than that she felt all the feelings about her father over and over again. She knew Tony would leave. It was only a matter of time - and he did leave the day after Val Day. "My mantra is keep a piece of your heart in case those bastards knock you down and you never get up", she coyly recalled to herself. Inwardly she knew a chasm was forming between her and men that was wider than the Atlantic Ocean and North Sea combined. Each time she got close to a guy she saw abandonment, rejection and felt unlovable as a result. Nothing may have happened on the surface but as sure as the day it became a self-fulfilling prophecy in her life.
She'd seen Daunte Craddock at her local grocery from time to time." He must love the morning shopping like I do ", she thought. She didn't think anything of it. Then as if catapulted into his sight she began to see him more frequently even when she deliberately changed her shopping pattern. For Craddock, she was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. Not for her physical beauty per se but there was a mystique about her he couldn't get enough of. Her vulnerability and childish yet cute ways shone through. She came across easy to love. Having 'bumped' into her for some weeks now he was sure she was unattached but why he thought.
Daunte was different. He didn't want to rush her. He was patient with her. He listened to her, focused on her like there were no other women in the world. At first it was too good to be true. She was looking out for the worst but patient Daunte just loved on her despite her excuses. Like nursing a wounded sheep he loved her back to wholeness, back to...
You are quintessentially special,
Noelle Santiago looked on in panic at the trail of exquisitely lined up beautiful women for the cheer leading try-outs. She at once felt less than as she judged herself by their standards. All these college women in and around her age seemed to have it all, put together from top to bottom. To add insult to injury, their cart-wheels, stamina and acrobatic displays were excellent. They were pros from the looks of it. She on the other hand had been practising in her family's less to be desired somewhat garden, somewhat shrub in downtown New York. She knew deep down that her ensemble could do with many more months of refinement but this was her last chance at her childhood dream before she focused on her senior year. Moreover, she was sure the recent public festivals with the pinadas and chorizos had caused her to gain some extra pounds. Her mini- skirt tight at her waist confirmed it.
She knew it was a long short to be in the final line up. Why couldn't she have a faster metabolism? She had suffered like a pendulum with her body weight never quite making it to her ideal weight. To add to it, every life event seemed to revolve around food. Take her break-up with Paulo. She binged on sugar candy three weeks in a row. She thought about her little sister's school recital last year. She was so proud of her baby for remembering all the words that she ate more than her fair share in celebration and then take work, that God forsaken boss had stressed her to the point that food was her escape route. Now at 14 stones she wasn't even sure if she could climb the pyramid let alone the girls at the bottom able to hold her up.
"Noelle you are next", she heard her name called. She took her place and started her routine. Everyone in the gym was silent. She wasn't sure if it was because she was holding her own or because she seemed to be the most heaviest cheerleader. She finished her routine, thankfully but without a single applause. She waited for the dreaded announcement. Noelle was number 83. The lineup would be by numbers. "Numbers 12, 20, 11 and 10 got selected. There were only two more slots. Should she still hope against hope. Her heart sank as she heard the final lineup, "number 77, and, number 41, congratulations". She couldn't breath. Why had she put herself through this torture. She would never be chosen because let's face it she was fat.
She tried to stay strong as she slid past the celebrations by those chosen. And how did she deal with it, she went to Smarty Doughnuts to dunk her sorrows down.
Two weeks later and a day before the local league played a friendly, she got stopped by the head cheerleader. "Noelle, get ready, although you were not part of the final lineup, the
judges and I have been thinking and we have now included you. You have a strong torso to undergird the others.". See you bright and early for practise after class. Noelle was speechless. Not only has she been chosen but she had been specially selected. She was perfect as she was. She was fit for purpose. The body she'd despised all her teens into young adulthood would now be an anchor for a team she didn't have to push her way to belong.
You are quintessentially special,
= Welcome to Authentically Penned. The contents produced here have been in part plucked from pages in my life. I am all the more richer in my experience and thankful for all I have been through and to come.