Better late than never! I was out bowling all evening and just now got home, but I refuse to fall behind so early in the game. SOOO here it is: the continuation of the story! Due to yesterday’s overage and today’s busy-ness, this is a relatively short (but important) addition. Once again, criticism and feedback are more than welcome and very appreciated!
Chapter 5 – Turbulence
“Attention, passengers. We are experiencing some minor turbulence. I ask that you please remain seated until further announcement.. thank you.” The voice disappeared and I watched as a little red light appeared above my head, commanding me to stay seated. I heard children hush and adults exchange nervous whispers. I shook my head, unworried, and tapped my fingers on my glass. It was now less than a quarter of the way full and most of the bubbles had already disappeared. I felt eyes watching me and turned my head to catch them. The woman in the seat beside mine was eyeing me curiously. She raised her cup to her ridiculously red lips and drew it away slowly.
“Are you feeling any better?” I asked too kindly.
She cocked her head to one side. “You know, I am!” She said it in a way that was.. remarkable; with an air of pretended surprise.
“Wonderful.” I resumed facing forward, an action that I thought would politely end the conversation.
“Turbulence always makes the flight interesting,” She murmured on, running her finger up and down the cup. “I’ve never been intimidated by it.” I could feel her cold, bottomless eyes riveted on me.
First-time-flyer my ass, the me inside my head scowled.
“I’m sure you haven’t,” I rejoined coolly, and continued facing forward.
“We’ve scheduled the surgery for June 18th. Make sure he gets good rest and plenty of fluids until then. The day before the scheduled surgery, he needs to eat no more than a very small breakfast. No aspirin or other medications during the three days preceding the surgery. Also, we’ll need to have him here overnight before the surgery. One parent can stay with him.”
The doctor nodded his head to conclude the lecture and strode out of the room, his long legs ending in dark blurs called shoes that smacked at the ground with no emotion, no heart, and no sympathy – unanxious to linger, to listen or to console. Mom sat in a faded blue chair, her knees pressed tightly against each other, her hands resting in her lap, gripping each other so tightly that I wondered if her fingers could break. My dad sat in a similar blue chair beside hers, his noticeably newer, or at least not used as much. He was wearing beige khaki shorts and a red t-shirt with “Tampa Bay Bucaneers” stretched in black letters across the front of it. He held a gallon-sized coffee mug in one hand and rested his other hand on his knee. Both of my parents gazed down, refusing to look at each other, unable to look at me. I watched the two of them quietly and wondered why they were so quiet. Finally, dad looked over at mom. She felt it and turned her head to meet his eyes.
“We’re going to have to let her stay with them for awhile.”
My mom looked over at me, her face pale, her eyes colorless, her stare blank.
I was three years old, and my brother was having his brain tumor removed.
“Rosie,” my Aunt Debbie cooed, “it’s so good to see you again so soon!”
It was a week since I had been with mom and dad at the hospital. I hadn’t seen Aunt Debbie since early on that spring; it was now late summer. I peered up into her face and smiled, returning the embrace she welcomed me with.
Mom and dad stood by the car, looking uncomfortable. We had driven all the way from North Augusta, South Carolina to Akron, Ohio. All because of me.
Aunt Debbie smiled over at them and nodded her head, like she was giving permission for their leave. My dad walked forward slowly, taking each step with care, careful not to disturb the sleeping grass, the slumbering dirt. He stopped in front of me and sighed.
“We’re going to miss you, Rosie,” he croaked. He hugged me hard and quickly, and then he let go. The last thing I remember is dad jogging back to the car; I could see my mom inside, crying, her head held awkwardly, like she was fighting to keep from looking at me one last time but really wanted to.
My stay in Ohio was pleasant, or at least as far as I can remember it was. Grammy wrote me letters and my parents sent my Aunts, Debbie and Jill, money to spend on me for Christmas. I remember receiving a huge dollhouse that December. It pulled apart into three sections, and you could see everything inside – the kitchen, the bathroom, multiple bedrooms, a patio, a pool – and everything was pink and white.. there were small people you could make walk or dance or shower, and a small dog you could place wherever you wanted. My Aunts explained to me that while Bobby was recovering from his surgery, I needed to stay with them and have fun. I found out later, as a teenager, that I was a sickly child, and that my common colds and viruses could have easily killed my immune-deficient brother had he caught them.
So, in essence, I was being quarantined.
My Aunts came into the living room one day while I was watching a 90’s cartoon on television. It might have been Rugrats. I always wanted to be like Tommy: adventurous and brave, and full of smiles, with lots of bright ideas and the best of friends.
“Look we what got in the mail today, Rosie! It’s a video from your parents. They moved into the townhouse and want to show you what it’s like!” They turned off the cartoon and popped the video into the VHS player. They both slid onto the couch, one on either side of me, and fixed their eyes forward. I followed suit and smiled as familiar faces appeared on the screen, talking excitedly, pointing at pretty new furniture and citrus-orange walls. My mom’s hair was up in a ponytail and she was, like usual, wearing too much mascara. She smiled at the camera and blew me a kiss. I heard my dad’s voice narrating as I watched Grammy dance from the living room, where dad’s big screen TV and mom’s brown, sectional-sofa lived, on up to the stairs. I saw a small upstairs bathroom, with a blue shower curtain that had schools of green and orange fish swimming across it, and a toilet sea with a fuzzy, blue cover. She finally led the camera into my bedroom, talking in excited, high-pitched tones and opening the door slowly to make a show. The room was a very bright yellow color, with a large window against the wall opposite the door that I would enter the room from. My small, twin-sized bed sat in the corner of the room, wearing a bright yellow comforter that had Lion King characters scattered across the front of it. The faces all took turns talking into the camera, telling me how much they missed me, how much they loved me, how they couldn’t wait to see me and that I would be coming home soon. The video ended and I looked beside me. Aunt Debbie was dabbing her eyes with a tissue, and Aunt Jill, at the other end of the sofa, was wiping her eyes with the backs of her hands.
“Isn’t that so wonderful, Rosebud?” Aunt Debbie sniffed, stroking my hair absentmindedly. “Your family loves you very, very much!”
I scooted myself over to the other end of the couch.
“Can I see cartoon now?”