drama

Elle – 1

Prologue

Sierra Vista, Arizona, Former USA 2012

The setting sun stroked the streaky clouds with the hue of coral pink. The pale blue sky prepared for the coming starry night. Out in the Sonoran desert, by a bunker entrance of a southwest intelligence base, stood CIA agents Xavier D. Wace and Mara Taylor-Wace watching the sun pass away unto the other side of the world. All Zave wanted to do was to take Mara’s hand and hold it in the peace the coming dusk. The words, “I love you, Mara”, tickled the back of his throat, begging to be voiced. As if this very moment, was a flashback from the evening they officially became a team. It was that evening Zave knew one thing for certain, that he could trust Mara Taylor with his life. Now five years later, his future depended on Mara trusting him with her life.

Zave could only imagine what it was like to be Mara. Mara knew, however. Angry that a man madly in love with her was stolen from her soul. She looked at him, and felt guilt and shame. She felt guilty for lacking the capacity to love him back and she felt shame for being unworthy of his love. Aside from her last boyfriend that she co-dependently cohabitated with, Max, who apparently has been a dead rogue agent for the past five years, she didn’t do the love thing. She wasn’t even sure if she loved Max. Max was another warm body to lie down with to lessen the sting of loneliness. And he was a great spy… together they were great spies…

But Zave claimed, he and she were elite spies saving the world side by side. And in terms of the love thing, they set the bar for true love. If endless love were a real thing, they came close to it. And knowledge of such a great romance infuriated Mara! She could never be a good spy in a massive vulnerable state like being-in-love. Yet, somewhere deep at her core, she wanted to know what that felt like and to understand the impact that would have on her life. Therefore, she found a nearby, big rock and took a seat. She looked up at Zave and asked him to tell her a story: the story of them.

Practically bowing at her feet, he sat at the base of the rock and he told her. He saw for the first time at Langley, when she was given an award for outstanding work in the field.  At that celebration, he heard about all her missions and knew she was way out of his league since he was just an analyst. But the day they became a team, was where they currently were and after they got their orders they stood at this very spot and watched the sunset and that’s when everything changed.

He talked about all their missions. The first time they kissed for real and not for show, when they thought they were about to die in a vault running out of air. When they were on the run, and they realized they couldn’t be without each other. The time he made his first kill and lost Mara over it, and the time he won Mara back by saving her life… How he proposed the day Paxton’s third child was born. How he saved her life again a few weeks before their wedding day. And how he felt the moment he lost her.

Embracing their current reality, Zave looked up at her and cleared his throat, “Quorra made a cute suggestion… you know… she’s at that age where she watches movies about princesses all the time. The prince fixes everything with one kiss. She thought, maybe if we kissed, it would fix us… you might remember us.” He explained as he got up to face her on bended knee.

Those teary brown eyes of Zave intrigued her. It was a stupid idea and most likely wouldn’t work at all, but it was the least she could do for the man that saved her life twice. Swooping down by leaning forward gently, she went to kiss him. He met her lips halfway by cupping her face in his slender, lanky hands. The kiss was infused with passion lacking for nothing and it did stir something in Mara she couldn’t explain, but as far as the faintest memory of Xavier Douglas Wace… the kiss did nothing.

Reluctantly, Zave freed her from his lip lock. Holding his hands up, ready to embrace her in another kiss, he desperately asked, “So, anything?”

Remorsefully, she answered honestly, “I’m sorry… no…” Mara’s truthfulness surprised her. She’s never been so forthtelling nor has she ever wanted to be so frank with a person. Maybe she was in love with him. Unfortunately, only her subconscious knew it. Maybe she needed more of his affection to evoke that love for him. “Maybe if we kiss again…” she said leaning down for another kiss.

He was entranced to succumb to her will, but just as the surface of their lips skimmed each other’s, he pulled himself back and hurriedly stood up. Defensively, he held his hands out as if he could push her away with some invisible force. Wincing with discomfort, Zave knew it wasn’t right, whatever it was they were doing.

“It’s not supposed to be like this, Mara! I know the kiss thing was stupid… It was a little girl’s idea after all, but we’re in love, Mara… People in love are different than this…You deserve better than this.”

Baffled by his reaction, turning down another chance to kiss the woman he madly loved, Mara rose to her feet. Rising, the faint wind caught her hair and rustled her auburn strands across her face like a model picture-perfect-ready for a glam-bam-moment-money-shot. She reached for his hands, but he tucked them safely away into his pockets.

“So what are you saying, Zave… you want me to leave?” She asked, highly confused.

Reacting rapidly, his hands sprang from his pockets and up in the air as a gesture to aid his words, “No-no-no-no, GOD, no! That is the last thing I want. And I’m sorry Mara, but I can’t let you go back to being the lone spy. We’re a team. We’ll always be a team. It’s crazy to think that everything we had could come flooding back in single moment, when it took years to build it.” Coyly, he took her hand and rubbed the back of her hand with his thumb smiling like a dopey Snow White dwarf, and he finished saying, “We should take things slow like a Sunday-Evening-Drive and along the way take many trips down memory lane.”

Rule number one of dating, never compare, but since her last recollection of intimacy in a relationship was with Max, she automatically thought about what Max would do. By now, they’d either be in his car having sex, or in a hotel room… having sex… But Zave… he probably doesn’t use the word sex in the same context… Or does he? Why did she have to compare, when she could be wooed by his romantic gesture of chivalry? Perhaps, she fell for him because he’s not like other guys.

“Where do we begin then?” Mara asked, wondering where they’d go next.

“Motel 6,” Zave smirked, “We spent the night there before heading to San Diego. There was only one room available, with one bed, room 114…”

Fate was on their side. The room was vacant and they took it for the night. Cautiously, stepping into the room, Mara hoped a memory would sprout from the deep trenches of her mind, but her recall remained blank. As Zave scoped out the room, he recreated every detail of their night there five years ago as best he could with what the room had.  Disappointed, she fixed her gaze on the newly installed, standard hotel red carpet. The carpet was obviously new because it didn’t even look worn, and what were the odds Motel 6 had champion carpet cleaners?

Zave just closed the egg-shell white drapes, when turned to Mara to say something, but he noticed her long, drawn out observation of the carpet. Hope burned eagerness in his heart thinking if she could remember what changed about the room, more time together could trigger memories of their life together, and eventually he would have his Mara back: his entire life back. Restraining himself from running over to her, he froze where he was, as if he moved more than his lips he could compromise her potential memory from surfacing.

“What is it, Mara?” He asked.

“The carpet…” Mara started to say it was brand new, but Zave assumed her impending statement would offer more.

He interjected with the truth, “It’s different, isn’t? A different color… what color did the floor used to be?”

Zave bit his bottom lip, wincing with a hint of shame. He knew he shouldn’t forcefully elicit memories from her mind, but he couldn’t help it. If she couldn’t remember the faintest thing about him, he would lose her forever, and life without her wasn’t fathomable.

Mara didn’t have to be a spy to read his face. His face encompassed an expression of total dependency. He depended on her having a recollection about the carpet. She could fake it, but if she was wrong, it could make the evening awkward. Truth would be best.

She was about to confess she only made an observation, but then she noticed the drapes. White would go much better with a deep blue color. It was a Motel 6. Their colors were quite patriotic. And years ago, two years back according to memory, in reality seven years back, she stayed at a Motel 6 in northern Arizona. The architecture of both franchise motels resembled a similar style. Chances were the decorum was the same too.

Mara made a lucky guess, “Blue… it used to be a dark blue…”

Relief reverberated through Zave’s soul, she remembered SOMETHING! He couldn’t contain his joy. He leaped forward and engulfed her in his embracive arms. A cuddling warmth emitted from him and into Mara. Mara’s heart enjoyed such abounding affection, but her mind repulsed the very nature of that adoration resulting in the safety of stiffness, which signaled Zave to let her go and step back.

“Sorry…”

“It’s okay. I’m fine.” Mara beamed a quick, forced smile trying to show she was fine when she really wasn’t.

Her headache was more like a migraine now. And on the car ride over, her nausea came back. All she wanted to do was lie down and sleep until the pain, the queasiness, and the tiredness went away. The medical examiner at Fort Hauchuca said she didn’t have a concussion. She didn’t even need stitches for her forehead, just a big band aid. Normally, even on her worst days, Mara could battle her nausea and prevent puke from pouring out of her mouth, but today wasn’t one of those days. She nudged Zave out of her way, and rushed to the bathroom. Mara managed to pay alms to the poor john with perfect timing.

Highly concerned, Zave knelt behind her and held her hair.

“Maybe we should go back to base to get you checked out again.” Zave suggested.

“I’m fine.” She said standing up. After rinsing her mouth with water, she added, “I think I’m just coming down with something.”

Zave stroked some loose strands of hair behind her ear faintly chuckling, “Unless poisoned with super-spy truth serum or targeted with bio-warfare by my arch-nemesis, you never get sick.”

Humored and annoyed at the same time, Mara rolled her eyes as she giggled with subtle disbelief.

“You don’t believe me?” Zave huffed. “I’ll have you know, since I’ve known you, aside from the few cases I’ve mentioned, you’ve never been sick. The common cold couldn’t catch you.”

Laughter sprang from the core of her soul without an open invitation, but the way he talked about her health made her genuinely laugh. She can’t remember the last time she laughed this hard… with him it was probably a few weeks ago. Maybe he made her laugh the day she was taken from him. Did she trade in the life of espionage for a life of normalcy? A normal life being something she never really had.

Though the stew from the diner didn’t agree with her, she could eat a bacon cheeseburger with extra bacon and no onion. What was the nearest fast food chain with decent pig-angus-curdled milk-sandwich-galore? When Mara inquired about getting more food, Zave looked at her like she was insane.

“Seriously?” He asked making sure.

“Seriously.” She said as deadpan as possible to stress how important it was she got more food.

“Okay… You sit tight and I’ll go grab us a bacon cheeseburger with extra bacon and no onions to split.”

 “No,” Mara snapped.

Confused, he wondered if he was mistaken about her favorite fast food item, “Did you lose your taste buds too? Since when have you ever refused to split such a delicious beast with me?”

 “My taste buds are the same. I want my own.”

 Zave raised an eyebrow finding her appetite peculiar. He knew if he thought about it, he could figure out what it was, but right now he had to keep his bride happy. “Whatever the lady wants, she shall get… two heart-disease monsters coming up when I return.” Zave promised making his way out the door.

A calmness came over Mara while Zave was out. For protection reasons she was alert, but her tough exterior guise was down, because she felt a slight sense of security. She no longer had to worry about Xavier, deep down in her gut she knew she could trust him.

It wasn’t until she was braless and pant-less lying on the stiff, firm bed an uneasiness began to stir in her. What was she going to do as a civilian now? Xavier had the Plum Tree of course, but what did Mara have? Would she become a Kung Fu instructor to suburban spoiled brats or a cook at any number four star restaurants? Or would she work at a shooting range? Sure, she had a wide skill set and any number of jobs could be hers, but what would become of her? Would she be stuck in a mundane job for the rest of her boring normal life?  Could she live a normal life knowing she could do nothing to protect the Free World? Sorry Mr. Wace, but Mrs. Wace couldn’t do this… She couldn’t be the wife he needed.

Hurriedly, she got dressed. Before leaving the room, she checked how many rounds she had in her 9 mm. Cautiously, she tucked the gun in the back of her pants. Taking one glance around the room, she took in one final glance at a normal life. As a child a normal life was all she wanted. She imagined she wanted that with Zave too. But now, it was the last thing she desired.

A stone wall in stature and a tank in attitude stood outside the room door, blocking Mara’s quick getaway. That stone wall tank was none other than Colonel Ben Tucker. Standing sternly, with his hands cupped on his belt poking his elbows out at the side, and glaring at Mara suspiciously, he asked, “Where you going, Taylor?”

Mara noticed a bucket for ice in her peripheral vision, on the table near the door. Snatching the bucket, she put on a forgetful act, “I almost forgot this,” she held up the ice bucket. “It would be hard to get ice without it.”

“Mmmhmm… And I just stopped by to say hi,” he said condescendingly as he stepped into the room, forcing Mara back inside.

Tossing the bucket back on the table, Mara asked, “What are you doing here, Tucker?”

Working the room, staying on guard, Ben explained, “I figured Mr. Warm-and-Fuzzy would be eager to spark your old memories. This would definitely be the first stop down memory lane, except he forgot one major detail. I was stuck in this room too. I took the floor, and man, I gotta say I’ve slept better in guerilla infested jungles than on this floor.” He grunted disdainfully under his breath with his grizzly gaze upon the floor.

Ben positioned himself in front of the door again, looking at Mara with one hand behind his back, she knew he was ready to pull his gun if necessary, she too had a hand behind her back ready to pull her weapon.

Ben went on to say, “I’ve been your partner for five years. I know the old you and I know the new you. Old Mara Taylor, would do what your about to do. She’d take off and we’d never see her again. New Mara Taylor, Mrs. Xavier Wace, would stay and give Zave a chance. I decided to embark on the memory journey, just in case Old Mara Taylor got cold feet and wanted to flee.”

“I’m not cut out for this…” Mara reasoned.

“Without Xavier, I’d agree with you. But he changed you… he changed me even… Take it on good authority: think with your heart not your head.”

Mara knew she couldn’t get past Ben without a hassle. Another opportunity would present itself later for her to leave. “You’re not actually going to sleep in here on the floor again, are you?” Mara asked, defusing her defensive stance and resting both hands at her side.

Ben followed suit and reattached his hands to cuffing his belt around the buckle. He answered, “No. But don’t get any ideas in the middle of the night about leaving. Any move made outside of this room, I’ll know about it.”

Taking a seat at the edge of the bed, Mara asked why Ben cared about Xavier so much. Ben took a seat at the table. He took his wallet out of his side pocket. With the wallet open to sheaths of pictures, he handed it over to Mara to look at.

The pictures captured the portrait of a genuine, average, American family. There was a picture of a typical couple in love. The man was a scrawny, goofy but cute looking, bearded man embracing a stunning, vibrant woman with Tucker’s soothing, cool sage green eyes. Written on the back was: Paxton and Cory, 2005- 3rd anniversary. Another picture, with the same woman, she held new born twins and on the back of that picture was written: Mommy Cory with babies Sky Leia and Walker Luke, 2007.

In the picture after that, Mara held a fairly new baby girl and Xavier stood behind her looking down at the precious little girl. Mara held the child with her left arm and a huge diamond engagement ring sparked from the flash of picture captioning. Written on the back of that picture was: Baby Quorra Tronna with Auntie Mara and Uncle Zave- best engagement gift ever: their new goddaughter, 2010. The final picture had to be a recent one. Paxton, Cory, Mara, Xaiver, two little kids, a toddler, a woman, another man that looked incredible, a young teenager, and Tucker stood in a courtyard of some complex. On the back of that picture was written: the whole gang, 2012.

Mara flipped back to the face of the last picture. She stared at it knowing everyone and that place was familiar to her, but like a word on the tip of her tongue, she was at a loss as to who everyone was in relation to her and what that place was to her.

Ben talked about when that picture was taken and who those people were. “Mr. Incredible there-,” Mara stated his name in unison with Ben, “Houston Wace,” which surprised Ben.

“You remember your brother-in-law?”

“I worked with him on a few cases before he retired. Zave and Hew are brothers? They’re so different. I knew the director had two sons I just never knew Xavier was the other.” Mara was shocked too. Would she really marry to advance her career within the agency?

Ben grumbled a hum… not really sure what to say Mara. Therefore he played it safe, and went back to talking about the photo. “So Mr. Incredible, and his wife, Bea, threw a party for your first anniversary. Paxton’s buddy Logan from the Plum Tree took that picture. It was a good party. The only one who hated it was Egan, he was on babysitting duty.” He was in the middle of telling a story about the mischief the twins Leia and Luke got into, when Mara interrupted him.

“I get that Cory’s your daughter, but why do I get the feeling Paxton is more than a son-in-law to you?”

“He’s nothing more than an idiot son-in-law to me, but to Zave, his buddy Paxton is more a brother to him than Hew.”

Shocked slightly, Mara questioned, “You have a daughter? That bombshell Interpol agent isn’t her mother, is she? What was her name? Amiee Brasseur, right?”

“It’s a long story, wait, you didn’t find out about Amiee until four years ago?”

Huh… that’s the key to unlocking her memories… No pressure.

“Okay, so I remember something within the last five years… I remembered a few things while we were taking down Nee. Is Amiee Cory’s mother?” Mara couldn’t picture Ben with any other woman. Amiee and Ben were perfect together.

“Ah… no… Look, family is worth suffering the slings and arrows of civilian life. Xavier taught me that.” Ben tried to assure Mara.

Staring at those captured moments made Mara think about the woman those people expected her to be. She was a sister-in-law, a godmother, an aunt, a wife, and a friend. By no fault of her own, she failed each and every person because currently she was just a spy. Worried she’d drown in her thoughts, she slammed the wallet shut and handed it back to Ben.

“Tell me about civilian life then…” Mara sighed. A part of her wondered, if a man like Colonel Ben Tucker could manage normal life. Then perhaps she could do it.

Listening to Ben talk about his daughter Cory, and how his eyes filled with joy at the mention of her name, Mara knew he wasn’t the same NSA agent she remembered. She wasn’t sure what to think of him. Was it sweet he was a caring father and grandfather? Or was it just awkward and almost terrifying to comprehend? Ben Tucker had gone soft. It made Mara’s queasy stomach return.

Ben was in the middle of sharing how he found out Cory was his daughter, when Zave walked in with greasy, fattening food delight! Ben closed his lip and rose to his feet quickly. He greeted Zave like a fellow soldier without the saluting part. Serving up the food at the table, Zave asked Ben if he wanted to stay while Mara moved over to the table to get her food. Ben kindly rejected Zave’s offer, but that didn’t stop Zave from trying to convince him.

“Are you sure, Tuck? I can’t eat a heart-disease-waiting-to-happen by myself.”

With the door open, and ready to back out of it within the moment, he said quickly, “As much as I would love to die of a heart attack, I should call Cory and let her know we’re all alright. You two have fun. And try not to keep me up with all your baby-making noises.”

Immediately, after the door shut, Zave asked Mara, “How much did he tell you about our life?”

“Not much… what did he mean by baby-making noises?” Mara asked unfolding her foiled-up broiled burger. She salivated by the aroma alone. Her imagination went wild with high expectations of delicious satisfaction as the sweet memory of the combo taste of angus beef, smoked bacon, and cheesy cheddar awakened the taste buds on her tongue.

“It’s nothing… Obviously, something we’ll revisit in the future, if ever!”

“Anything referring to baby-making is not nothing? Were we trying to get pregnant?” Mara asked with a mouthful of burger.

Blushing ferociously, red throughout his face all the way up to his ears, he took a bite into his burger without saying anything. Mara swallowed her bite ready for more, but taking the time to tease was more appetizing than a bite of food.

“O my gosh… You want little carbon copies of us running around… Taking off their diapers and prancing around naked!” Playfully, Mara fist-bumped his shoulder, “Don’t you?” she egged.

Frustrated, Zave dropped his burger onto its wrapper and clearly stated sternly, “No I don’t… You do or did or do… You know what I mean. I agreed because I would do anything to make you happy.”

Now that was interesting. Zave turned Ben into a family. Zave was head over heels in love with Mara. Zave had an interconnected familial intimacy between his friends and actual family and he didn’t want to have kids and build a family of his own. Xavier Wace was not the open book Mara pegged him to be after all and Mara wanted to understand the reason why.

“How come you don’t want a baby?” Mara asked plainly.

“Because of Theus. A few years ago, he took over my consciousness and I almost didn’t regain control. You made me promise to leave Theus as inactive as possible. I’m just afraid I can’t keep that promise. I know you could survive without me, but it would be unfair to ask our child to do that.”

Theus, if Mara understood the gist of it, Theus was a semi-self-aware-artificial-intelligence that was integrated with cutting edge biotechnology based on Neuro-Science breakthrough discoveries. The goal was to create the Ultimate Spy with only enough humanity to make safe judgment calls. What the human host lacked in skill, Theus made up for it in more than one way. What Theus lacked in judgment, the human host took care of it. It was the intention that Theus and the human host were meant to merge in some way, becoming some new way to be proficiently human, but Theus was never supposed to override the human host’s soul.

But if weren’t for Theus, Xavier wouldn’t be married to Mara. Yes, Xavier and Mara both work for the CIA at Langley. But they worked in separate departments. While Xavier analyzed intelligence with a task force that cooperated with Interpol frequently, Mara handled clandestine affairs primarily in Europe.  Ben Tucker and Mara had a history of running into each other, since Ben worked in a similar department for the NSA. And though the NSA was supposed to strictly handle affairs directly a threat to the USA, duty called divergent action at times. When Xavier active the Theus Sphere on accident, and merged with Theus Sphere in gauntlet form, he become a valuable asset to the CIA and NSA.

Xavier would see Mara around in the elevators or in the cafeteria, but he never had the courage to even say hello. All he could muster was a goofy smile. She always initiated a simple, “Hello, how are you doing?”, and he would stutter in his response of simply being O-K.

Approximately five years ago to the day, Francis Wace, the Director of the CIA called Xavier into his office. Xavier was not made for field work but he was a brilliant analyst. Francis had his son working on some Top-Secret intel that mostly everyone who knew about it was dead. Xavier had to decrypt a highly encrypted file on a flash-drive, Francis wanted to know how much longer it would be until he cracked the code.

Xavier was about to tell his father, Francis, he had just finished it that night, and if the Theus Sphere from the Prometheus II Project really existed, the entire spy game could change, in the wrong hands, the entire world could change and not necessarily for the better. But Francis made the mistake bringing up Houston, the golden child… the perfect spy that gave up the spy game six years prior to that day. Francis wasn’t sure what agent he could trust to recover the intelligence on the flash-drive. Xavier offered himself, but Francis chortled at the thought. Xavier was cleared for field work, in his report it’s noted he’s not likely to survive in one piece. Thinking back on his training, he probably only passed because he was the Director’s son. Driven by the urge to prove his father wrong, he chose to lie saying he needed more time with the decryption, and he left his father’s office determined to recover the Theus Sphere and bring it directly to his father.

“New or old me, I know myself pretty well… If I thought, we were ready for a kid… then we were.” Mara said.

Yawning, Zave asked, “Are you tired? I sure am… we got a long drive back to Virginia starting tomorrow.” He gets up gather his trash into the fast food bag.

That night Mara slept in the bed and Zave slept on the floor. Early in the morning, Mara relied on good ole Ben not changing his tactical ways. She discovered his booby traps and escaped from room 114 before Zave or Ben woke up. As much as small part of her wanted to stay and find out who she could become, for the time being she was who she was and that person was a spy… not a civilian wife…


True Dallas, the Republic of America, 17 years later

“At that time I was who I was and that woman was a spy… not a civilian wife…” I read out of mom’s old secret journal. If I get caught looking at this she will have my head.

She never tells me anything about dad. I ask and she says he was a great spy for the former USA. She talks about great the old America was. It wasn’t perfect but at least it was a genuine, united republic democracy.

In the RA, here in the west, we have an oligarchy that operates as a legit republic. Only the people with money and power have a say in the affairs of the country.

The Democratic Coalition of America, in the east, claims to be a true democracy, but they all blindly follow the nonsensical, so-called wisdom of Philosopher Jessey… They don’t have liberty. They have a dictatorship, but he isn’t savage… maybe he’s more like a despot?

Mom was pregnant with me when she left dad and Ben behind at the Motel 6. She didn’t find out until a few weeks later. While she was pregnant with me, her memories started coming back. By the time I was one, she remembered who she was, and she contemplated going back to my dad, but then the Second Civil War broke out.

My mother fled with me to Europe. Madrid, Spain to be exact. She planned on raising me there, but then Civil War II ended and she decided to come back to North America. One would think it was to tell my father about me and reunite with him and we would become one big giant family… but no…

We leave in the RA as Spanish Immigrants. She works in PR for a fashion company. I go to fanciest Private School in the area: Bush Washington Academy.

Not wanting to tempt fate. I put her little black journal where I found it, locked in the safe in her bedroom walk-in closet. I hurry across the upstairs hallway to my room. It’s almost 6 pm. She’s been away all week on a business trip and she said she would be home today at 6 pm. My mom is never late.

As my plain white desk I stare at the screen to my tablet. I’m supposed to be researching on why Civil War II occurred for my history paper, but I find myself wondering if I look like my dad. If he met me and got to know me, who he be proud of me?

Right at six, I hear the garage door open. I rush to my window and watch mom’s black SUV zoom down the street, turn sharply onto the driveway, and brake abruptly taking shelter. Speeding home from a business trip is unusual. What gives?

As I head down the long, steep carpet staircase. I hear mom come into the kitchen from the laundry room, which leads to the garage. Mom enters her black hair in a messy bun and she’s dressed in pink hospital scrubs like a nurse. Something tells me mom is still a spy…

I mean, I’ve been thinking it for some time. She has a safe in closet with several different passports and alias, various types currency, a couple of guns and a knife. Plus, sometimes in the middle of the night, she’s not in her bed. Occasionally, I hear her take phone calls in German, other times Russian, and Cantonese… Never in Spanish or in French and she works for a Fashion Company… And as I read today, she’s a spy through and trough not some suburban single mom… well, she is that too, but do spies ever quit the game? I think not!

“Mom, what’s going on?” I ask.

“Remember how I had you pack a bag in case of an emergency?” Mom inquires rushing up the stairs meeting me in the middle.

“Yeah.”

“Go grab it. We need to go.” She orders grabbing me by the shoulders and forcing me back up the stairs.

“What’s going on?” I ask again. I know she won’t tell me but I can’t help put try.

“We don’t have time for discussion. Go!” She snaps.

As I race to me room, trying not to freak out externally as mush as I’m losing it internally, mom barks, “And change your clothes. Keep it simple like jeans and a t-shirt. However you’d dress to travel for a long time.”

“I take it you don’t really work PR for Noir Creations.” I state pausing in my doorway.

“Just do as I say, now is not the time to talk!” Mom hounds slamming her door shut.

In my lame travel outfit, blue jeans, a black tee, white cardigan, and black boots and my emergency backpack slung on my shoulders. I knock on mom’s door.

“I’m ready. Now what?” I yell.

Not opening the door and yelling back she directs, “Go to the garage. Get in the front passenger seat and wait for me. We’ll be leaving shortly.” Right as I step away, mom poke her head out of the door, “And leave the duffle bag in the backseat alone. Don’t open it.”

Telling a curious person to not touch or look at something is idiotic! It’s almost like she doesn’t know her daughter?

Standing outside of the vehicle in the stuffy, humid garage I stare at the bag through the tinted window. It just looks like a regular duffle bag. There’s probably just wads of cash inside… Oh that would be SO COOL to SEE!

No, I should listen to mom. Maybe the bag is laced with a bio chemical that would splatter all over me opening and I would contract a deadly, contagious virus and put the entire RA at risk for a pandemic.

Slowly, I take off my heaving backpack and open the backseat door. I toss it inside on top of the duffle bag. Suddenly, mom’s mysterious bag moves like a cat is inside of it. Weird for the cat not to snarl and meow though. The bag isn’t big enough to fit a dead body inside, well, not of a normal size person… maybe a little person.

Would if she killed an arch enemy spy that is a dwarf or something?

I’m sorry mom but I have to look!

Holy Mother Mary, Joseph, and Jesus… It’s a baby… a blue, blindfolded baby swaddled in a blue blanket. Mom killed a baby… why?

Carefully, I untie the  blindfold from the infant’s eyes. His perfect head of black hair silky soft. I jump when I notice his stomach moving and feel hot breath come out of his agape lips. Without notice, his eyes pop open but instead of screaming, his ice blue eyes lock me into a hypnotic gaze. As we stare at each other his color gently comes back to new born baby pink.

Mom comes barging through the door from the house with a few bags, but she drops them she spots me disregarding her orders.

“You opened the bag?!” She screams as she lunges around the front of SUV toward me.

She shoves herself in between me and the open door and looks at the baby, “You had to remove the blindfold…” She grabs my cardigan by the back of my neckline and pulls me back as she slams to door shut. Instantly, the baby begins wailing.

“Why were you suffocating a baby in a duffle bag? What kind of spy kills babies?”

“A spy serving her country preventing pure evil from existing in the world!” Mom screams massively pissed off. “You have no idea what you just did?!”

“Ah, I saved a baby’s life!” I shout back.

“We don’t have time for this we need to go. Get in.” Mom says reopening the backseat.

“I can’t ride upfront anymore?”

“Just get in a quiet the baby.”

“I don’t know how to do that.”

“He’ll be quiet when he sees you, get in.”

She’s right. The moment I sit in the baby’s sight… no more crying. My mom is right, I have no idea what I just did and I feel like when I find out I’m going to freak out externally.




Note from the Author

Have you ever watched that show CHUCK on NBC, starring Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski? Well, if you haven’t, stream it on Amazon Prime Video! (If it is still available there.) CHUCK is one of my favorite shows ever and if not for this show I wouldn’t have been inspired to write ELLE. Zave is my version of Chuck and Mara my version of Sarah, along with a few other characters.

Now, I could never re-create the magic of such a show, but when something ends I always like to think about what happened afterwards. ELLE is my sequel to CHUCK changing a lot of factors, combining my own concepts from my love of made up espionage.

So this Story Sunday is a little influenced by some Fan Fiction, but I also throw my own trademark flare… like there’s a baby in it already! This seriously will be a blast and I look forward to this ride with you!

For my fellow CHUCK fans, what were your favorite moments from the show? Comment with a GIF or words on this post!

Bussing It – Part 10

…10 Years Forward…


“Homecoming”

I’m honored to do Genie’s hair. Brings back memories of doing hair while Derek and I were both in college. He was finishing up his Bachelor’s in Religious Studies and I was getting my Master’s in Education. I worked at a high end salon, so I was racking in a lot of dough. Derek was working two jobs on top of going to school. And when I wasn’t at the salon, I was taking care of our girls… we barely saw each other.

But now, I work at Brink as a Math Teacher and Derek works at a Christian School as a Chaplain. He still works at warehouse some nights and on the weekends, but we’re not crazy busy like we used to be. He’s currently working on his Masters and wants to get his Doctorate eventually. I’m amazed at where we are!

“Wha-la!” I say spritzing her tight, pulled back bun with hairspray to hold it in place all night. I really didn’t do anything fancy.

She stands up and gives me the mightiest hug for the skinniest girl. Then she holds my shoulders and looks me in the eye, “I had a dream you and Derek had a baby boy.”

With an eye roll, “Derek and I are happy with both our girls… we don’t need anymore kids.”

We really couldn’t afford that right now.

“I’m just saying… he’s adorable! He looks like Papa Trick.”

Julie is pasty white with straight black hair and hazel eyes. Priscilla has straight red hair and ice blue eyes with freckles. She’s trying to tell me Derek and I are going to have a kid with brown skin and curly hair? HA!

“What are you smoking?” I joke.

“I know this is hard to accept but accept it!” She says keeping her cheery smile. She takes her navy-blue ball gown off its rack that helped it hang on the door of her closet. The bell of the gown embellished with faux diamonds and pearly-looking jewels. The sleeves of the gown matching blue but also see-through.

“I’ll wait for you downstairs with everyone else.” I say as I leave.

I was prepared to go through the whole safe sex talk. I know that makes me a little hypocritical as a Christian… but I think it’s better to have that conversation, but Genie’s pretty on fire for God… which I know we’re all prone to falling and sinning at times, but her heart desires what God wants for her life. At least I’m pretty sure, if her heart isn’t in that place, she is a GREAT actress.

In the foyer, Bobby lectures Oliver, Genie’s date, about when to be back and all the things father’s lecture their daughter’s date about. I picture Derek doing the same thing in like seven years when Julie goes to her first school dance. O my God! That’s only seven years away… I feel OLD. Okay, I’m only 26, but I have a 9-year-old! All my friends are just getting married and starting to have kids…

Xzavia, Bobby’s wife, has Albany on the home video-chat system. She’s away at college in Columbus, OH… That’s so far away from us, but we’ll see her at Christmas.

I purposely step in the line of sight to steal the attention.

Albany: Savvy!

Me: Hey Al!

Albany: I miss you.

Me: I miss you more! I can’t wait for Christmas… why aren’t you coming home for Thanksgiving again?

Albany: I’m going to spend it with Philip’s family. They’re right here in town.

Me: Aw… I forgot you have a serious boyfriend. Stop growing up! Just stop!!!

Albany: Whatever! You can take it.

Me: No, I can’t… (I get all teary-eyed.)

Albany: Are you crying? Are you finally pregnant again?

Me: Did Genie tell you about her dream?

Albany: No, we were praying for our families in class last month and I had a vision of you having a boy. He looks like your dad, just a lighter version. His curls are so gorgeous. You’ll finally have a kid that looks like you.

Me: (Trying not to be offended I say🙂 Julie and Priscilla look like me! We have the same eyes and noses.

Albany: Whatever, your son is gorgeous! I can’t wait until you find out your pregnant.

Me: D and I are done having kids!

From the top of the stairs, Genie yells, “No, you’re not!”

Looking at Albany on the hand held  video-chat sphere, Xzavia comes to my rescue, “Stop pestering her. Prophecy can change according to obedience, are you sure you were released to share that with Savvy right now?”

Albany: (wincing from shame) Oops. Sorry Savvy. I love you.

Clearing her throat loudly and theatrically fake, Genie directs everyone’s attention to her. We applaud her and tell her how beautiful she is as she descends the stairs. She walks up to Oliver, who nervously tells her how pretty she is. He puts the red rose corsage he brought on her right wrist.

In front of the door, she stands locking elbows with Oliver. Oliver’s black bowl-cut hair is slicked with a lot of moose to stay in place. He wears a gray suit with a navy-blue bow tie and a burgundy dress shirt. They smile for photos. I don’t get why Genie died her beautiful blonde hair jet black, but she wanted a different look. I never pictured Genie dating a Native American, but they look cute together. I for sure thought she would date a Mexican with her love of Mexican culture.

I remember when she was tiny playing princess in Bobby’s living room! I can’t handle this!!!

After pictures, I swoop in and hug her not wanting to let her leave. I whisper in her ear, “Guard your heart…” She totally knows what I mean by that.

Derek is the youth pastor at church, that we all go to together, and he preached a sermon about sexuality and purity. He preached when we guard our hearts we’re holding dear all the promises of God, and when we trust God and follow in His precepts, when we receive God’s promises it gives glory to God and prevents us from damaging our souls or hurting others. He emphasized sex out of marriage compromises our relationship with God. Because we’re designed for marriage and only meant to have sex within marriage, doing it outside of marriage damages our heart, but within marriage sex ignites our hearts and helps us build healthy concepts of commitment, love, and intimacy. I wish I heard a sermon like that as a teenager… Even though Derek and I didn’t have sex until our wedding night, this night ten years ago, which was like 4 months after Julie was born… I think Derek and I would have just had a smoother first year of marriage, if we heard the message he preached on “Guarding Our Hearts” at Genie’s age…

“Can you let go now? I don’t want to show up after all the fun is over.” She says loudly.

I release her drying my tears on my sleeve.

“Oh, Happy Anniversary! Why are you hear and not with your husband?” Genie wonders.

“He had to work… we’re gonna celebrate next weekend. Thank you.”

Bobby embraces me on the left and Xzavia embraces me on the right, as we stand outside by the door and watch the young couple get in Oliver’s mustang and drive away to one of the best nights of their high school career.

“Belated Happy Anniversary”

Half awake I feel a warm light appear in front of my face. The smell of pine firewood hits my nose and I perk up suddenly opening my eyes. To my wonderful surprise, it’s Derek holding a new candle of my favorite sent to my nose. I look at the alarm clock and it’s 4:13 am. He must have just gotten in.

“Happy Anniversary… Have I told you lately… I love you so much.” He set the candle down on my night stand and kisses me.

He breaks away and goes to stand up, but I hold him by the head, “Are you coming to bed?”

“I’m all sweaty and musky from lifting packages all night. Don’t you want me to shower first?”

“You can shower afterwards.” I kiss him back.

He pulls away to gain clarity, “You mean I’m actually getting lucky tonight?”

“So, you don’t want to then?” I tease.

Quickly, he stands up and whips off his shirt and then leaps over me and lands on his side of the bed. His long locks cover his face like a curtain. I turn over and I hover his head. I wipe the hair out of his eyes, strand by strand. For a good while, we just smile and stare at each other. He doesn’t look that different than he did 10 years ago. He’s a little thicker. I remember after military school for two years he had a six pack but now it’s a pouch… I’m very grateful he isn’t going bald like his dad…

But beyond his looks, I’m so in love with who he is on the inside now. I love the man of God he is. I love the father he is to our girls. I love the type of son he is to his parents. The type of brother he is to his siblings and to mine. I love the kind of neighbor he is to everyone around us. I love how he treats me like I’m his queen, but he leads me like a king. I love him more than I did yesterday. And yesterday, I loved him a lot because he picked up an extra shift at work to earn more money for our family vacation next June.

He lifts his head to kiss me, but I back up.

“What? You changed your mind?”

“Genie, Albany, and Xzavia have had visions of us having another baby… and I know we can’t really afford that right now?”

“Well, I wasn’t planning on going unprotected tonight.”

Yeah, we’re that couple that still uses condemns… Birth control makes me sick… we tried many different kinds but I’m one of the women in the world that gets terribly sick under hormone manipulation… and neither one of us like the idea of getting fixed… I’m usually pretty good about tracking my ovulation and make sure we avoid making love on the days I ovulate to be extra safe, but I don’t know… I kind of want another baby.

“You don’t have to tonight… if you think we can manage the expenses as they come up…”

“Oh, we can handle anything together. Are you sure?”

“Yeah…” I say right as I kiss him.

“The AMAs”

Tyler Swipe, who some how transformed into a pop star after rising to fame as a teen country star, announces who the New Artist of the Year is, “Kaylie Johnson!”

Julie and Priscilla leap off the couch and start jumping radically all over the floor. Julie does a somersault in between the coffee table and the TV yelling, “SHE DID IT!”

“Aunt Kaylie won! Aunt Kaylie FREAKING WON!” Cillie shouts exuberantly.

I’m like crying… This is the moment she’s been working for the past ten years. She moved to Nashville after high school. She would call me after every rejection, every fallen-through deal, and every disappointment for encouragement and prayer. When she took the huge risk to transition from a Christian artist to a Secular artist, she got a lot of criticism from our circle of Christian friends. But last September, her album dropped and beat out some of the top artists in the country. Her single “Love & Freedom” still sits at number one. Her album is the most downloaded across all platforms. Over half the songs on her album have been featured on TV shows, and in films…

Kaylie wears a stunning red dress, he long hair in a fancy fishtail braid, with sparkles and jewels woven in. She hugs the songtress Tyler Swipe and accepts her AMA.

Crying joyfully, she wipes her tears, “O dear Jesus my Messiah… I don’t have any words… but… Thank you! Thank you God, thank you to my producers Lauren and Ed, to all the musicians who played on this album… thank you to Neill, my husband… I love you honey… Oh, and I have to thank my bestie- Savvy! I’m so grateful for this and I would not be hear today if I did not trust the path God sent me down. My glory is God’s glory. Oh- and thank you Julie and Cillie, your prayers got me through- now go to bed!”

The girls freak out they got mentioned on national TV.

God’s goodness can be overwhelmingly beautiful.

“Cash Moneymaker, Future NBA ALL-STAR”

“Let’s go defense!” I blare at the top of my lungs.

“Cash Money!” Trick hollers.

It’s nice that we’re all here. Derek, my girls, Bobby, Genie, and Xzavia, Netty, and Deshaun, and Arnie and Jessica. Trick too, my dad, who is the best. I still can’t bring myself to call him dad like Netty and Arnie, but he’s cool with me calling him Trick. So… after Julie was born, I did start writing him letters, but even after he got out of prison we didn’t connect until my grandma, his mom, got sick. Julie was five and Priscilla was three. Julie has always been close to my grandma since she was born, so over the last week of her life we camped out at the hospital and Julie bonded with my dad right away. I knew there was no way to avoid him anymore.

Cash takes after his dad. He has a beautiful set of curls and yet, he shaves them all off to sport a bald look… He’s so tall for 13… 6’0”! College scouts are already recruiting him. He plays varsity for the high school he’ll be attending next year as point guard. Last week an analyst on ESPN brought him up and says he’s the second coming of Kobe Bryant…

Watching him on the court dazzles us.

One-minute left in the 4th quarter, we’re down by two points, and the other team has the ball. Cash didn’t play most of the game because he hasn’t been listening to the coach. He’s in right now, because he’s the best player defensively and offensively. He’s also the number one stealer in the region right now.

Sure enough, Cash steals the ball from the opposite team’s point guard. He drives to the hoop. On his way up for a lay-up he gets fouled, but he still makes the basket. He makes the extra point putting the team ahead by one.

 The clock slowly whines down, between the fouls and the time outs and the free throw shots, from both sides.

Ten seconds to go, we’re down by two, our ball. Full court pressure after the ball gets passed in to Cash. Cash spins around his defenders and rushes to the top of the key at the three-point line, he pops his shot off and it goes in putting us up by one!!! Yes.

They put full court pressure on the other team and the clock runs out before they cross over to their side of the court. We WON!

The whole family high-fives and hugs as we cheer about the victory. Cash leaves his teammates to join in our family hug. We don’t care that he smells and is drenched in sweat. We put him in the center of us and smother him with love!

This is one portrait of family I never pictured. I wanted a close family like this my entire life, since I was a little girl. We are far from perfect. We fight a lot and get on each other nerves, but there’s no doubt any of us love each other. We are all alcohol and drug free. We spend every holiday together. We get together once a month and we take giant family vacations together. We attend the same church. We live in the same city, and whether we’re blood or not, because we’re family, we’re there for each other, no matter what… All things are possible with God.

And my nephew will make it to the NBA if my prayers have anything to with it!

As we release Cash to go back to his team, Trick announces, “Pizza on me at Mama’s EVERYBODY!”

Trick does really well financially. He wrote a book about his life and his conversion to Christ while he was prison. He goes around the world sharing his testimony and preaching the gospel. And last month he just sold his book’s rights to Pureflix so they can make a movie about his life. Makes me wonder if I should write a story about my life… no one would believe I’m not on drugs, not a smoker, and not an alcoholic. That I’m a teen mom that lives in upper-middle class with a Master’s Degree. That I’m married to my childhood sweetheart. That I survived rape, kept and raised my rapist’s baby, and put my rapist behind bars… No one would believe my story.

“I Miss You”

Ten years ago today, a time of tremendous gloom

I sat in your hospital room

I witnessed you rededicate your soul to the One

Who bled, died, and rose again for you- the Son

Messiah Jesus- our glorious savior

Who won your heart through a painful cross labor

I’m at peace knowing you’re in paradise

I can’t imagine the glory you know and the size

Of the smile on your face

In that wonderful place

I have so many unfulfilled wishes really

I wish you got to hold Julie and Cillie

I wish you were there when Derek and I said I do

I wish I could hold you and kiss you and tell you I love you

I don’t really remember telling you that

And even though you put me through a lot of crap

I’m so grateful we had that best time together

For your finale in life, that it was better

Than our ugly beginning

I know you know in life now I’m winning

But with all my blessings- it doesn’t change this fact

I MISS YOU. I MISS YOU. I MISS YOU.

“Truth Prevails”

I stare at the letter from Kurt. He got sentenced for 15 years but he’s up for parole due to good behavior. He claims to have found Christ and his letter is filled with a long-winded apology. He wants me to be a character witness for him at his hearing! I believe he’s changed, but I don’t want to help him get out sooner. He wants to meet Julie too.

Now, we’ve told Julie that Derek isn’t her birth father. We told her that Kurt was and that he wasn’t a very good man and he was in prison for something bad that he did. We did not tell her about the horrendous act that led to her conception. We’re waiting until she’s older and more mature to handle that reality. We’re not lying to her, we’re just withholding part of the truth.

For the past year, I’ve allowed Julie and Kurt to exchange letters, but Julie’s never expressed she wants to meet him. She’s never referred to Kurt as her father. She tells her best friend Stacey that Kurt her is sperm donor dad. She came up with that take all on her own, after she watched a PBS special about IVF and egg and sperm donating in America, and how laxed our restrictions are on how often people can donate their genetic material. She may be 9, but at times she’s like 30.

I don’t know what to do… I don’t think I can handle this right now. Christmas is coming up, Derek and I just found out we’re pregnant for a third time- I really don’t why I let my sisters manipulate me into this pregnancy, and I have the classrooms from hell this year!

God, what do I do?

GO.

I laugh.

Julie walks past me and sits down at the kitchen table, and she set her backpack on the tabletop. Cillie follows her lead and sits next to her. They pull their school iPads out and log in to start their homework.

I snap out of it and put the letter in the junk drawer.

“What do you both want for a snack, before dinner?”

“A peanut butter and banana sandwich.” Julie asks.

“That’s weird!” Cillie says sassily to her big sis. “I just want PB&J mommy,” in a sweet girl tone to me.

That was Kurt’s favorite snack…

“Have you ever had a peanut butter and banana sandwich, Julie?”

“No, but Daddy Kurt says it’s is favorite snack and he misses it.”

“How come Julie has two daddies and I just have one? Paulie has two daddies too, but they live together, but he doesn’t have a mommy… that must suck.”

“Cillie, watch your mouth.”

I try to process Julie calling Kurt dad and wanting to eat a snack like him as I gather the ingredients. It’s so much easier to talk about forgiveness and moving forward when you don’t have to face the person who hurt you… I mean, I know I don’t have to worry. He has to register as a sex offender and he can never be alone with Julie, but I can’t stop my heart from racing with panic…

DON’T BE AFRAID.

Yeah, I don’t have to be afraid.

“Ooo! There are beautiful angels surrounding you mommy!” Cillie exclaims. She’s a seer. She sees angels all the time and she’s been getting visions about her baby brother like crazy. She told us his name the other day, Rodney, which before then we couldn’t choose between that name or River for a boy and Delany or Laney for another girl. We’re very private when discussing baby names not revealing the name until the seven month, but with prophetic kids and family members you can’t keep anything secret.

“Yeah, mom, God sent His messengers to help you be okay with Daddy Kurt’s letter. So are you okay with going to see him?” Julie wonders…

The mail was in the house, waiting on the kitchen island counter when I got in the door… The girls came in after me and there’s no way Julie could know about the letter let alone know what it was about…

Okay God… I will go… I’ll speak on his behalf but God… just keep me sane and my girls safe…

Both my girls get up and race over to me. They hug me as I start crying.

“It’s okay mommy.” Cillie says.

“You don’t have to go if it’s too hard.” Julie says.

Laughter tickles our hearts and as I crouch low we just keep laughing in the Holy Ghost. They smother me in kisses on my cheeks. Then Julie hands me the kitchen hand towel to wipe my tears.

“I’m okay… How did I get blessed with the best girls?!”

“Because God is too good!” They shout in sync.

…Back to the Present…


“God is Too Good”

I want to write a poem but I can’t really settle on rhyme and meter… But just thinking about God’s goodness, blows my mind… I went to church with Derek and Kaylie last week and I learned why awful things happen to people.

We live in a fallen world and we all have free will, because God loves everyone unconditionally, He will not override anyone’s freewill. Unless we submit our will to pursue after His will, is when He’ll interfere in our affairs and impact the earth because He gave authority of the Earth to us.

When we have relationship with God and we live our lives for Him, we build the Kingdom on the Earth. Through loving people like He loves us is how we change our world and bring people to Him. We don’t have to be perfect, we just have to listen and to trust Him and have faith everything we go through has a purpose that will make God’s Kingdom bigger. As believers we are one big family and our job is to add to the family God has designed and to build a home for God on the earth.

I have to forgive the jerk, Kurt- I have to forgive Kurt… Because Jesus died for all of us, he deserves forgiveness. I have no idea how I can forgive him… but I know with God… anything is possible.

I think last night I had like a vision of my future… Ten years from now… I don’t remember anything but the names of my kids… I think… nope… I don’t remember. I have immense peace! Whatever life throws at me, God is with me, and He will never leave me or forsake me!

Thank you, Jesus, for saving me.

And I must be this way because Netty’s been praying for me… probably Derek’s prayers too… And well Kaylie’s as well… who cares! Jesus is the best friend I’ve ever had… greater than Derek and Kaylie put together.

I don’t hate my life anymore. I’m sad my mother is dying. I’m sad I don’t know my dad. But I got this hope, knowing everything is going to get better. I have a purpose now. And that purpose is living life with God, after all He made humanity because He wanted to enjoy community with us (Rev. 4:11).

I think I’m going to write a book about my life… or at least blog about it… so if anyone suffered like I did or do… they know there’s real hope. Not the kind of hope where you wish for things to be better, but with hope that confidently knows something better is COMING!


Author’s Note

Originally, “Bussing It” was going to be 12 parts. But I cut it short, when I incorporated the flash-forward, I felt like it offered enough to showcase the direction Savvy was going to take with her life.

I was seriously thinking about Savvy putting her first child in adoption, but I decided against that. I felt like a stronger story of forgiveness prevailing that way. But I’m pro-adoption…

This story is the first Story Sunday where I have campaigned like crazy on social media and the first series where I was very adamant about being consistent. I only broke once by failing to post a part one week, but life happened and I didn’t plan enough to make up for it.

I’ve had this idea since 2012. There’s many different versions on my flash drives. The only part I used from those other versions are the characters and the stories that Savvy told her little sisters. In one version, I was going to have Savvy grow up to be a famous children’s author and I think based on this version, we can see she definitely followed some path of writing in life, but I left it very open-ended as to where that goes.

In all the other versions but this one, Savvy and Derek were going to break up and he was going to die in  a car accident and or a drug overdose. But I really fell in love with this idea of the two of them forever and never separating until death from a ripe old age.

Originally, she was going to be pregnant by Derek and not Kurt. Originally Kurt was really sweet and Bobby was the child molester, but somehow those roles changed and I’m okay with that.

As usual I have people getting saved in my story because salvation is the best and I love seeing the power of that even in a fictional context. I think I’ve used the power of conversion too much. For the next one, we’ll have a series with already saved people!

Thank you so much for reading this serious. If you loved reading it, feel free to share it with someone you think would enjoy reading it!

If you have any questions for me, drop them in the comments section, and I will respond as soon as I can.

I know Disney uses the slogan “Dare to Dream”… and I don’t know how long they’ve been using that, but I thought of the for story title back in 2013/2014, and I feel like I came up with it first… but I have no proof and I very well could be wrong. But I dare you to dream and to never give up on your dream, you have that dream for a reason, and you are meant to fulfill it. God will show you how to do it the best way! And if God crushes your dream, he has something better in mind because He knows you the best!

Best regards,

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Bussing It-Part 9

“My Boys”

Cash sleeps peacefully in his car seat in the back. I can’t avoid looking in the review mirror to watch him sleep. His mop of maroon red hair reminds me of Patrick, dear old dad. For a second, I wonder how he holds up in prison.

Arnie talks just above a whisper not to wake Cash Moneymaker up. That name, right? I’m surprised the hospital let them walk out of with an infant named CASH MONEYMAKER.

“Thanks for coming to dinner with us tonight. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen my favorite little sister-cousin.”

I hate it when he calls me that… An abhorrent reminder of our terrible family tree.

“Yeah. It was nice. It’s a bummer Jessica couldn’t join us.”

Arnie sighs as he slowly rolls to a stop at a red light. “You know why she couldn’t join us?” He questions with hand gesture air quotes. I’m not sure if he’s really asking or being rhetorical… He continues without my response. “She’s out with her girls… enjoying her youth while she’s young! She don’t cook, clean, or take care of Cash. I do all that. She never picks up her phone. She gets in late at night. If I didn’t work overtime, we wouldn’t be making ends meet because she doesn’t chip in with her check at all… Jessica couldn’t join us because she’s a ghost!”

That sounds rough.

The light turns green and he looks back at Cash through the review mirror as he drives forward.

“I was going to break up with Jessica the night she told me she was pregnant; did you know that?”

I quietly shake my head no and moan subtly, “Nah-ah.”

“You know I only married her thinking about what my mom might of wanted… did you know dad didn’t marry my mom until after I was born? Netty was the only one born in wedlock…” He chuckles. “They of course told everyone they were married when they moved in together, but they weren’t yet.” He adds.

It’s weird. Our father had children with a set of sisters… Aunt Betty got breast cancer, fought it for three years, and died right before Arnie’s 16th birthday. Arnie and Netty went to go live with dad’s mom- Grandma Patricia. Aunt Betty never kept Arnie and Netty away from Grandma Pat, but Jewel never lets me see her. Maybe if I ask, I could go see her.

“Not to change the subject,” and by not trying to I totally am trying to, “how is Grandma Pat?”

“Good. Really good. She asked about you last week, I told her all the cool things you have going on and I left out all the drama- like the baby, D, and Aunt Jewel dying.”

“I get I disappointed everyone by getting pregnant as a teen too, but ironically, they baby, D, and my mom are the three main things giving me hope.”

“You really gonna marry D? Just because he knocked you up?”

“No… I mean sort of… I mean, D and I are going to get married one day any way, but due to this, we’re moving up our timeline.”

“You should put the baby up for adoption.” He says bluntly as he turns onto the street that leads to Bobby’s house.

“Well, tonight was great up until right now! Not everyone is like you, okay? D, is not you. D and I are nothing like you and Jess. I’ve been in love with D since we first met as kids. My love for him only gets stronger over the years. I love him more now than I did before I was pregnant. You have no idea the lengths he would go for me, how much he has already sacrificed for me, and how much more he is giving up for my sake. Sometimes, I think he’s too good for me, but I’m wired to love him, and if I don’t have to live without him, I won’t. Marriage wasn’t even on my mind, but he proposed to me. He got his parents blessing, he got my mom’s okay, and our families are surprisingly behind us. Life is always going to be hard, much of it will suck, but its not so much about where you’re going in life, but who is on the bus with you, bussing it through life with you. Derek is with me. Only death will separate us.”

The minute Arnie stops in front of Bobby’s house. I get out and slam the car door. Cash wakes up crying. As much as it sucks to disturb Cash from a peaceful slumber, I get satisfaction in charging away from Arnie with the final say in my court.

“Going Once, Going Twice… Sold?”

I stand amazed. I marvel at the beautiful, jungle styled nursey at Netty’s and Deshaun’s that used to be the office, across from the room I stayed in…

“We want you and the baby to stay with us.” Deshaun says.

That’s surprising.

“For as long as you need. We want school to come first to you.” Netty adds.

“You can focus on school and motherhood…” Deshaun falls silent.

“And if motherhood proves to be too challenging, we would be willing to take custody for you.” Netty shares the true motive of the baby room. They want my baby.

I take a deep breath in. I exhale as I count backwards from ten in my head. For some reason, this sweet offer pisses me off. Why do people think I can’t handle school and motherhood? Doing homework and raising kids isn’t a challenge for me. I did that with my sisters. They came out of my mother’s womb with me as their full-time caretaker. I was seven, went I was putting bottles of baby formula together and changing Albany’s diapers. When Jewel and Bobby were busy partying all weekend, I took care of the three of us.

And as a kid, even though I missed a lot of school, I never fell behind making honor roll every year until high school, where my grade went down for a lack of attendance. One teacher accused me of cheating, saying I couldn’t pass my tests if I wasn’t in class learning the material. Well, that one teacher was wrong! Obviously. Therefore, I left and I went to Brink.

“Thank you… this is really sweet… but I have to decline your offer.”

“We’re not going to offer something like this later.” Deshaun says firmly.

“That’s okay. D and I got this.” I say, proudly holding my bulging belly.

They chime in about how were too young to get married. I laugh because Netty married Deshaun when she turned 18 and he’s five years older than her. They started courting when she was 17 and half, but they were friends since she was 11 and he was 16. He was her youth leader in middle school and in high school. Granted, they didn’t kiss until their wedding day, but he groomed her to be his wife. And they are lecturing me about getting married too young… I can’t!

My phone pings with a fresh incoming text. It’s from Kaylie. She’s here to pick me up.

“I really appreciate this offer. I feel super loved, but I don’t need to take it. I can handle D, school, and the baby. I have to go, my ride is here.”

“The Darkness Gets Exposed”

Sliding into her car like a whale balloon, I sort of forgot we had a nasty fight. Remembering the last thing I said to her makes me want to climb right out. Why is she picking me up?

“Thanks for coming…” I say.

“I’m sorry.” Kaylie says turning off her ignition and pulling out her keys. “I had no business trying to force a huge life decision on you like that… I was wrong about that dream anyhow.”

Now I’m curious. As I struggle to put my seat belt on, I ask her what the dream did mean.

“Well… I think I know what the dream was about…” Kaylie admits nervously.

“I’m sorry too.”

“I get why you said what you said though… if I’m right about the dream…”

“What do you mean?”

She proceeds to tell me about her dream. She sees a dark figure looming over me at night while I sleep.  She seems me crying in Derek’s arms. I’m without clothes but he isn’t. She saw me give birth to a girl. She knows what I name the baby, but she won’t tell me.

She sees me place my baby girl in the arms of a light skin black man, he could be mixed. He has a maroon red afro, a matching goatee, and he dresses like he’s stuck in the 70s- paisley patterns and orange and yellow colors. He stood next to a woman with porcelain white skin and bright red hair. She had the most gorgeous aqua eyes. She wore clothes like she was in the 80s.

Then she sees the dark figure follow me as I age. Derek tries to help me, but I never let him. Before Kaylie saw anything else, she woke up.

“So based on that you think I give the baby to a couple that looks like my Grandpa Marion and Grandma Pat? How do you know I’m having a girl?”

“I know you’re having a girl because my dream from God said so… and yeah, I thought you were supposed to give your baby to a biracial couple, but I got it all wrong. The man is your dad, and the woman is your grandma, and after your daughter is born, you’re going to reconnect with them. But the dark figure… Kurt hurt you, didn’t he… he’s really the baby’s father, not D, isn’t he?”

I break down and cry. The burden of keeping that secret from everyone I love and care about hurts. Holding in such a filthy, dirty secret weighs on my heart. The more I cry… the lighter I feel. Like somehow, I’m letting go of all the darkness that shackles me.

Kaylie rubs my back… It’s soothing… Kaylie leans over and hugs me as she cries with me. Sometimes, it’s a relief to have someone sit with you, hold you, and grieve with you. Nothing needs to be said. No one needs to tell what to do to get past your pain. People who do that aren’t strong enough to bear the pain with you. But the person daring enough to empathize with you, and to labor in sorrow with you… that’s a true friend…

But how could she know the sex of the baby? I haven’t told anyone. Not even my sister. How could she know about the jerk? Just my mom and Derek know and neither of them would tell a soul. I’m a fool to ask when I know her answer. She’ll say that God told her through the dream…

I pat her on the back for I’m all cried out. She pulls back and sits back in her driver’s seat. We wipe our wet faces with our fingers. I rub my snot on my forearm like a little kid… not the most sanitary thing to do. Taking in a deep breath, I try to get back to normal… Finally, I ask something that really bothers me about God, “Why does God let awful things happen to good people?”

“Because He loves everyone.” She says…

We start laughing hysterically. I don’t know why, but the laughter perks up my downcast soul like a shot of a pure high straight through my whole body and mind. I seriously feel like we smoked some seriously good weed, but better! It’s like it’s a sunny, warm summer day, and I’m being hugged by everyone I love at once, while staring at the night sky. Those are my three most wonderful types of things in the world and this moment feels like all three of those things are happening right now. There’s a literal warmth coursing through my body. There is this energy, this presence all around us.

“I love you Savannah.”

“I love you Kaylie.”

Kaylie stops laughing, “I didn’t say anything.”

I stop laughing. I look at Kaylie and she looks back at me.

“I love you Savannah.” I hear softly but I don’t see Kaylie’s mouth move.

I check the backseat to see if Derek is with us, but he’s not. I want to freak out and panic, but I can’t. I have too much joy.

“A warm sunny, summer day… A starry night… Hugs from your favorite people like Genie and Albany, and Derek, and Arnie, and Cash, and Netty and me…” I hear and see Kaylie say. She adds, “God loves you very much Savannah. He has a plan for you and for your baby. The final days with your mother will be the best of times you’ve ever had with Jewel. Your father is getting out of prison soon and you’re going to get a letter in the mail from him, Netty will deliver it to you. Write him back. And don’t be afraid of the truth, expose the darkness and you will get justice. Turn Kurt in. Don’t wait any longer…”

There’s no doubt in my mind anymore. God is real.

“God”

All my life I didn’t understand

Who I was and especially the Great I Am

It didn’t matter how much everybody talked

I didn’t see what they saw that gave them their faith walk

So many times, I wanted to believe

But with all my terrible garbage I couldn’t perceive

Then something crazy happened to set me free

God audibly spoke to me

Now all I got on my mind is that God is real

He is real. He is real. He is real.

I feel like I’m falling in love all over again, but it’s stronger

I feel like I’m worth it, like life is worth living much longer

Jesus- died for me

Holy Spirit- sealed me with this revelation

Now I know G-O-D as FATHER

I don’t know much about dads because I never really had one

There’s this peace I have that somehow, I got this

God, I love you

Thank you for loving me

The poem doesn’t have a solid meter or rhyme

But it’s what’s in my heart this time (SMH-blah!)

Bussing It – Part 8

“Surprise, Surprise. Promises, Promises.”

Right now, I should be in the middle of Botany, confused out of my mind, instead Kim is and jotting notes for the two of us. I wait with Alexis at the airport for Derek.

I can’t believe we’re still together. All day I’ve felt like I’m in daze. Maybe, I’m in a coma and Derek isn’t coming in real life, just in my dreamscape… Then again, if I was dreaming I sure as heck wouldn’t be pregnant with the Jerk’s child, it would be Derek’s baby.

Alexis flips through a celebrity gossip magazine she has with her as I just sit rubbing my baby bump. I feel like the baby finds it soothing, but I do it mostly because it makes me feel calm.

“Poor Gina…” Alexis sighs referring to the famous Broadway Starlet.

“I don’t think she’s that bad off… I think it’s good she asked for help after a mental breakdown… That takes courage.” I say.

“Oh I agree, but the media just won’t stop talking about it. She doesn’t owe the public any explanations. She has every right to keep her life private.” Holding up the article about Gina, “They interviewed a friend of a friend of her cousin about her breakdown… the person wasn’t even there when it happened.”

“But yet, you’re reading the GUIDE TO THE STARS and supporting their exploitation of celebrities.”

Defensively, Alexis says, “I didn’t buy this, a co-worker gave it to me. I don’t buy stuff like this.”

I just let silence make things awkward between us. I scroll through my social media, which I haven’t done in a while, and notice about 75 comments on my post announcing my pregnancy. A lot of love from people with some drama from people who say I’m trapped in poverty now. I wonder how people would react if I confessed I would have rather aborted my baby… And the weird part is, it’s not because I don’t love my baby, but every night when I go to sleep I’m reminded of what that monster did. In my sleep, I’m haunted by what he did to me, some nights I can’t stay asleep. What will it be like, when the baby is here?

“I thought you both would be more excited to see me…” I hear Derek say as I sense his presence approach me.

I leap up as fast as I can and I spring into his reaching arms for me. I hug him tightly like my life depends on holding onto him. He smells a lot different. Instead of teenage male body spray that borderline mimics the fragrance of teenage girl body spray, he smells like he wears a grown man’s cologne.

Marveling at how his man mane is gone and he now sports a crew cut fade, I just stare at him. He even stands up straight with a posture like a soldier and his biceps actually have some muscle tone. He sort of reminds me of the jerk, I hate it more than I love it, but I love him.

I go to kiss him on the lips and he turns his head and makes me kiss his cheek. He takes my hand and intertwines our fingers. Then he gives me a soft peck on the back of a held hand.

“I missed you so much baby!” Derek says rubbing the back of my hand.

Did we enter the Twilight Zone and cross over into the 50s of America… How come he won’t kiss me like a normal teenage boy? If this has to do with Jesus, I’m gonna curse and I don’t swear.

Without asking, he cups the outside of my womb. The baby does move and then he retracts his hand a little freaked out.

“That feels weird…” He retorts.

“Imagine how it feels for me.” I say.

Alexis stands looking at us. I’m curious why we’re not leaving. I watch Derek give his mother a look and she slightly tilts her head forward, giving him a similar look back. Derek lets go of my hand and reaches into his blue, straight jean pants. I still can get over how he’s dressed. His red T-shirt is tucked in and he’s wearing a belt. Out his pocket, he holds a red ring box in his hand. As she opens the box as he gets down on one knee.

What is happening right now?! Is he proposing and Alexis knew about this? OMG, why is he proposing? Can we even get married? We’re teenagers!

“Savannah Lorene Moneymaker, will you marry me?”

Everyone in the waiting area stares at us, waiting to see what I’m going to do. If I say yes, and we get married, financially it will be a little easier, won’t it? Or will I get more money from the state being single? I really need to look into that… I know I want to marry Derek one day. I cannot picture my life without him. I don’t want to live life without him…

“Yes… I’ll marry you…” I say crying. I don’t like that I’m in tears, but I can’t help it.

He gently slides the modest diamond ring onto the proper finger and stands up to embrace me. He kisses me on the forehead and he shouts excitedly that I said yes. The crowd happily applauds for us.

This is definitely a surprise.

“Light and Dark Don’t Mix, Spiritually”

Kaylie’s silence worries me. I thought she would be happy for me and Derek. I hold my hand out so she can look at the ring, but she ignores it as she gets off her bed and crosses over to her closet on the other side. She slides her shutter closet doors open and the upper half of her body disappear behind a wall of her hanging clothes. She backs up and turns around holding a worn out shoe box. She comes back and sits down up against her cherry wood headboard. She pulls the lid off and the inside is cluttered with note cards, flooded pieces of paper, and pictures- polaroid pics, 4 x 6s, and a few wallet size pics too. Before she opens her mouth I know its her Trevor Box… I have an ALL-THINGS-DEREK-BOX too.

“Trevor will forever be my first love… but he’s not saved… he’s no good for me. Light and Dark don’t mix, and as hard as it was, I had to break it off with him for good.” Kaylie whines from her self-righteous soapbox.

I don’t need to hear this preachy stuff from her. I rock back for momentum and then I slowing roll off her bed. “You know,” I say, turning to put my tude in her direction. “I thought you would appreciate how Derek called my mom and got her blessing before he popped the question. That he secured a job through one of his dad’s friends before he came back. How Alexis and him are going to convert the garage into an apartment for us until we finish school… But no, your religion has to come before me… Moses wasn’t married to a Jew… she was from Media- not even his own kin. And Hosea married an unclean prostitute!” I pause for a second not sure why I brought the Bible into this… That’s what happens living with Netty and being forced to attend church twice a week. Plus, her and Dashuan talk about the Bible and their faith all the time at dinner- it consumes the conversation.

“I expected this from my sister, but not from you. And I don’t care if Jesus is a better friend to you than me right now… Knowing Him doesn’t give you license to tell people what to do with their life!” I yell.

Wow, I rarely yell, but hitting the 2nd trimester my emotions stay on high, in every single mode… And I can’t control it…

“It’s just I had a dream and I think it was about placing the baby in adoption…” She blurts.

“SO WHAT! I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care! I don’t have to follow God like you. I wish I could be as lucky as you and have this kid die in my WOMB!” And now I shut up.

Kaylie hangs her head as she trembles crying. Everything in me just wants to hold her and apologize until I really do die.

“I’m sorry…”

Not even looking at me, “Just get out…” Kaylie manages to say.

“The South Side-Again”

I like moving homes while being pregnant. I’m not really expected to do anything. Mom and I sit on the couch and we tell Bobby, Derek, the girls, and Bobby’s friends where to put things.

I guess Jewel and Bobby started talking right when she found out she was sick. He’s been seeing the girls every Sunday, since I moved back, and taking them to church. He no longer denies Genie is his. He can’t really, she looks like he spit her out.

The plan as of right now is that all of us live together until I marry Derek. Then I’ll go live with him and Alexis. Bobby has an extra truck that he’s letting Derek use, therefore, he can pick me up and take me to and from school.

I don’t remember a lot about Bobby, but I really hope living with him will be pleasant and as drama free as possible.

Bussing It – Part 7

“Baby Buddies”

I’m an idiot. Roger, my case manager at school, advised me to take only one college course this spring. When have I ever listened to such sage advice? I signed up for three: Botany, Psychology, and Photography 1. The Psych and the Photography class were like made for me, but the Botany class happened to be other worldly… like info from another world with a language barrier I can’t crack!

Biology… why didn’t I take Biology? Well, for my third quarter in high school I’m taking it. Now, maybe taking high school and college Biology together would have enriching but at the time it seemed like getting put on a skewer and roasted over an open fire to me… In other words, just no. That wasn’t happening for me. I’m three weeks in, just past the point of the ability to drop the class without affecting my GPA and I’m in a sinking ship I need to make sure it gets to shore with a passing high C. If I flunk, I get my privileges to take college course for free revoked.

My two and half hour, twice a week class just ended and I’m frozen in my seat… looking over the notes I took during the lecture don’t have any fluidity page to page. I AM ON A SKEWER ROASTING OVER THE FLAMES OF HELL!

“Baby Brain got you bewildered too?” Kim asks standing next to me as I remain seated. She’s 28 weeks pregnant like me. We keep joking that our babies will be born on the same day. She’s half White and half Korean and her husband, Miguel, is half Mexican-American and half Japanese. She’s 36 and this is her fourth child. She’s been a stay at home mom, but not she’s going back to school to follow her passion and to become a teacher… She took Botany over Biology because she’s squeamish. I love the fact she pretends to be lost with me, but she totally understands this stuff more than me, and that’s why I sit next to her in class.

Pulling out her phone, Kim displays the latest 3D sonogram of her little one and hands me her phone so I can gawk over her growing miracle.

“Awe…” I say… Not really sure what to say.

“We finally decide on a name for her, it just came to us.”

“What is it?” I say handing the phone back to her. I close my notebook and pack up my things.

“Sonya Lucia Mary Soo Yun Tanaka… hopefully they count Soo Yun as one name or else we’ll be charged for a sixth name.”

Waddling out of class with Kim, I have to know, “Why so many names?”

“Well, my father is of Russian descendant and none of the other kids have a name to honor that… Then I’m really proud of my mother’s heritage. Of course, Miguel would die if we didn’t have a name that paid tribute to his family and Catholicism.”

That didn’t exactly explain why, but what more can I ask…

Right as we hit the parking lot, the gloomy rain clouds fulfill their purpose and release a steady rainfall. Kim whips open her hot pink umbrella with white pokadots and shares with me since all I got is Derek’s hoodie of his favorite baseball team.

“You’re not stuck taking the bus tonight are you?”  Kim wonders with genuine concern in her voice.

“Yep, I’m bussing it.” I sigh.

“The last think you want to catch is the flu or a bug. I got the flu with Junior and it’s the worse illness you’ll ever experience. You want a lift home. You live on the east side right?”

“Um, I’ll take my chances… thanks though…” I sneak out of the covering of her umbrella. The cold, thick rain quickly drenching the hoodie

Locking elbows with me and reeling me back under the shelter of her umbrella, she makes it clear, “Oh nonsense. I live on the east too. I’ll take you home. Do you live on your own or with your boyfriend?”

“With my mom…”

“Your boyfriend isn’t in the picture anymore?”

We stop in front of a white SUV. “He’s in military…”

“I never pictured you to be the military man type?” Kim as she unlocks her vehicle. She walks me to the passenger door and makes sure I get inside.

Once she takes the driver seat, she tosses the umbrella in the back, that clearly looks like it belongs to young children. Two car seats sat in the back, food crumbs, a musty, moldy aroma, and toys of all kinds from actions figures and hot wheels to baby dolls and teddy bears.

Now would be good to clarify and spill the truth about me… but people assume a lot, and when I talk about my life, I just want to disappear…

“That’s sweet you’re staying with your mom while your man is away, will he be back in time of the birth?”

“Hopefully…” I say surprising myself. Do I have a clinical lying problem? Am I a pathological liar?

“You know what we should do together?”

“A mommy and me class when the babies are old enough, we could be Baby Buddies?” Kim says excitedly turning on the ignition.

“Can you explain something to me? If the war is over, why do we still send soldiers over there? And is your man a marine, an army man, an airman?”

“Um… I’m in high school. I get to take college courses for free. My boyfriend got shipped off to military school before I found out I was pregnant, and after I told him about the baby on FaceTime, we haven’t spoken since… I’m 16… I turned 16 two weeks ago.” The truth feels good to say.

We sit in a loud silence for a moment. The rain comes down harder. Finally, Kim speaks, “You’re so mature for your age! You could have fooled me the whole semester and I wouldn’t have known… If you want to fake being older the rest of the semester, I will totally go along with it.”

As she backs up erratically, she babbles on and on about how great Mommy-and-Me-Classes can be. We zip through the parking lot and through the rain way too fast for two pregnant women inside an SUV.

“Remembering Jewel is Mom”

Jewel made Saturday mandatory family day. We all get up by 9, we leave by 10, and go out to eat for breakfast. Then we go see a movie. After the movie we go to the park, if it is too cold, we go to the library. We go out for lunner (lunch/dinner). Then we spend the night playing board games as we over indulge with ice cream sundaes.

I barely remember this side of Jewel. She was a lot like this when I was super little, when she was married to my dad.

Even though she’s dying, and she can smoke as much as she wants to, she doesn’t have a single cigarette in the apartment. She drinks sometimes, and she’s not supposed to, but instead of being an angry drunk, she’s a crying drunk.

I sit at the kitchen table, organizing the movie tickets and printed pictures for the past three weeks. Scrapbooking is the art of memorializing life moments in a photo album, an art form Jewel will teach me tonight. We have color paper with quirky patterns, scissors, glue sticks, sticker letters, and a blank scrapbook album my mom’s had for eons.

Mom takes her seat beside me, at the head of the table, and looks through the paper… “I’m thinking pink?”

“Eww… just because were girls doesn’t mean we need to make it girly… how about red?”

“The male version of pink… okay…”

I laugh. I never looked at red that way.

“So… uh… what do you want to do for your baby shower?”

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“Well, do you want people to know the gender or not?”

I get what she’s doing… she wants me to tell her the baby’s gender…

“I think I’d rather get gift cards to buy baby clothes… so the guests don’t need to know, but who am I going to invite who can afford to bring anything? Do I have to have a baby shower?”

I watch mom cut and glue pink paper that looks like strokes of paint into the first page of the album. She takes the movie tickets and our pics outside the movie theater and arranges them in a manner pleasing to the eye.

“I never really asked you, I just assumed, but… do you fluffing want to raise the baby? Have you thought about adoption?”

She’s the third person to mention adoption to me. Last week, at work, I went to a grand opening to La Vie downtown to take pictures for Troy’s food critique, and he suggested Derek and I look into adoption. Then Kaylie brought it up yesterday saying that she felt led to bring that up to me. Now, my mom.

“Sniff, there was this sweet couple from church that wanted to adopt you… sometimes I think I should have let them…”

I hate it when she brings that up. It makes me loathe myself more. It makes me feel like she hates me and thinks I ruined her life.

“O fluff, are you crying, what for?” Jewel asks as she gets up. Coughing, she rips a piece of paper towel from the roll, hanging above the sink and comes back over to me. She hands the paper towel to me use as a tissue.

“I feel like you don’t love me when you bring that up…”

“If I didn’t fluffing love you, I would have aborted you.” She erupts into a long coughing fit as she covers her mouth with her fist.

Like on code blue alert, I shoot up from my seat, and worry, “Do you need your inhaler? Where is it?” I go to the bathroom to check the medicine cabinet. It’s not in there. I scan the bathroom counter and don’t see anything. I barge into her room and look on the dresser, the night stands, and then I remember she probably brought it with us… It must be in her purse. I think her purse is in the living room.

Before I can get to her purse, and I’m back in the kitchen, her coughing stops.

“I fluffing fine… You panic too easily.”

“How can I not panic? You’re dying… you’ve chosen to die and that can happen at any moment… how cannot freak out about that?”

“Oh Savannah…” Mom says embracing me. She squeezes me tight and kisses me on the forehead. “I love you…” She says with a shakiness to her voice like she’s about to cry. “I know I’ve been the world fluffing worst mother… A real mother fluffer mommy dearest and you don’t need to forgive me for the sniff I’ve done, the blick I’ve been, but please, do me a favor… don’t panic… everything is gonna be okay, okay?”

There’s something about being held by your mother. Listening to her heart beat in her chest. The scent of her, her shampoo, her perfume, her clothes, her sweat… and the peace that hits you and makes you feel safe… If I could stay like this with her forever, it would erase all the terrible things she’s done, and it would stop any future of her not being there. To not panic, I have to remember Jewel is a mom, she is my mother.

“Alexis”

Alexis Fabry… she took back her maiden name when she divorced Derek’s dad. She’s a nurse at the hospital right down the street from my mom’s apartment. When Netty wanted to cart me around and look at hospitals to see which is the best one to have the baby, I was actually praying we wouldn’t go to Alexis’s hospital. Dr. Varejao can makes to four hospitals within the city, and its up to us which hospital we want.

We nearly make it out unseen, when Alexis enters the elevator before we can make it to the lobby.

“Savvy…” The tall, skinny aging blonde can’t say anything beyond my name.

“Hi Alexis…”

“Ms. Shay?” Netty double checks she’s Derek’s mother.

“Yes, you’re Netty, right?” Alexis questions shaking my sister’s hand.

“The one and only… how’s Derek?”

“He’s doing much better… Um…” Alexis gulps as she nervously pulls on her ear lobe. “How, are you Savvy? Other than pregnant, I didn’t know you were pregnant… does… did… you tell… Derek?”

“That’s a good question, Savvy, have you told the father of you baby about his child?”

The doors to the lobby open up and I choose to escape. I barge in between them and book it for the exit. I’m not ready to tell Netty the truth… I will but do I have to on this day?

They both catch up with me outside the sliding entrance doors. Those similar blue eyes to Derek, gaze at me with a fused look of confusion and concern. I’m sure she sent Derek away to prevent becoming a young grandma. Good news, she’s not going to be a grandma any time soon. Bad news, I can’t go over that.

“Since Christmas, Derek’s been begging to come back home and to stay with me. He said you needed him, you told him, didn’t you?” Alexis wonders.

I nod yes.

“I don’t get it… If you told him about the baby, why didn’t he say anything to you Alexis?”

Alexis shrugs her shoulders… She suddenly grabs my hand and caresses my backhand with her thumb.  “I’d love to have you and your family over for dinner tomorrow night, your sisters, your mom, and whoever else, and we can talk about what needs to happen from here… does that sound like a plan?”

Netty agrees to dinner without my consent. She never declines dinner. But if Alexis didn’t work all the time, she would be a perfect mom. She’s thoughtful and caring. She does all the house work even though she works over 50 hours a week. I used to wish all the time Alexis was my mom. I looked forward to her being my mother-in-law. Who knows what she is to me anymore? I don’t even know if Derek is still my boyfriend.

“Texting Derek”

Savvy: Derek… I still love you…

Derek: SAVVY! I love you. I thought you were done with me. I just want you to know, I’m still here. You and me, always.

Savvy: What about the baby?

Derek: You, me… and the little bambino too😊

Savvy: Really?!

Derek: Yes, who else have you told… everything to?

Savvy: Just you… and my mom… no one else…

Derek: Did your mom believe you?

Savvy: I think. IDK.

Derek: …

Savvy: Why?

Derek: I got a plan, but it won’t work if my parents learn the truth… How did dinner with my mom go?

Savvy: I’m alive… the baby is fine…

Derek: LMBO. My mom called me and reamed in to me for not telling her that you’re having my baby.

Savvy: But I’m not.

Derek: For my plan to work, you are…

Savvy: Is Jesus okay with you lying?

Derek: Probably not, but I don’t care. I’m never living without you.

Savvy: COME HOME!

Derek: I will be, Monday night? Will you come with my mom to pick me up from the airport?

Savvy: I’d love to but I have Botany at West Campus.

Derek: I’m getting in super late… like 9pm.

Savvy: I get out at 8:30.

Derek: Okay… Will Jewel be at work, maybe I can drop by?

Savvy: She works day shifts now, she’ll be home. Sorry.

Derek: When will I see you then?

Savvy: I guess whenever.

Derek: Can’t you skip one class? We haven’t seen each other in MONTHS!

Savvy: I’ll think about it.

Bussing It – Part 4

“Dinner 38”

              Netty firmly believes the family that dines together, stays together. Eating dinner at the table isn’t up for debate and absences from dinner is only excusable when sick, out of town, at work, or invited to someone else’s house for dinner. I’ve been to 37 dinners since living with Netty and Deshaun. Tonight makes the 38th dining experience.

              “At the next visit, we’ll know the sex of the baby. We should have been able to find out today, but the technician couldn’t get a clear view… but everything else looks really good.” Netty says passing Deshaun the serving bowl of sautéed green beans.

              Dishing out a hearty scoop onto his light blue plate, Netty’s favorite set of dishware, Deshaun asks me, “What do you want, a boy or a girl?”

              I hate that question. I hate that I’m pregnant. I hate that I dream about having a little girl and treating her like precious gold. I hate that I’m afraid she’ll look exactly like the jerk and I’ll detest her existence and treat her like the scum of the earth.

              “A boy.” I lie.

              “Really?” Netty seems surprised.

              “A boy, you want a little D running around?” Deshuan hands me the bowl of green beans.

              The whiff of the veggies makes me super nauseous. Normally, I love veggies, but lately I only want wings and rice. I take a little bit because Netty will lecture me about how bad it is to eating according to cravings and not a well-balanced diet.

              “I just want a healthy baby.” I say honestly. “Maybe, we shouldn’t bother finding out the sex. Letting it be a surprise could be fun.”

              Netty nearly choked on her meatloaf at that thought. Netty plans everything to a tee. Knowing the gender will help plan for the baby shower, how to decorate the nursery, and how to pray for the kid’s destiny. Gulping her food, she says, “Well, if that’s what you want… okay…”

              That must be the opposite of how she feels on the inside.

              “What does D want, huh?” Deshaun wonders.

              “Um…” I can’t lie about this one. Netty confronted me in the car, on our way home from the doctor’s visit, asking me if I told Derek yet. I told her the truth, that I didn’t. I almost broke down and told her about the jerk, but I can’t. “I don’t know.” I shrug my shoulders.

              Deshaun chuckles when he concludes Derek knows nothing about the baby. He sighs as he bites the food off his fork. Though his mouth is closed, we can hear him smack his food as he chews. It’s super annoying. The baby flutters and kicks me as I eat the meatloaf. This baby is a total carnivore.

              Deshaun takes a swig of his beer from the green bottle. He sets his beer down on the table and after he swishes his gulp down, he asks me, “You plan on raising this baby on your own?”

              “I don’t even know if I want the baby, so I until I know what I want to do, I don’t see the point in telling him.”

              “He’s the father, he should know about his child.”

              “D’s no more ready to be a father than I’m ready to be a mother.”

              “You should have thought about that before being careless and getting knocked up.” Deshaun snaps.

              Crying, unable to hold them back, I plea, “May I be excused.” I wipe my suddenly runny nose.

              “You need to finish eating.” Netty mothers me.

              “I’m done. I feel sick anyhow.” Guilt like a brick hits me. I’m a horrible sister for lying to Netty and Deshaun. I’m a terrible girlfriend from hiding this pregnancy from Derek. I’m an awful person. “May I be excused please.”

              “Yes, you may.” Netty says.

              I wish I could just leave my dishes behind, but that isn’t earning my keep.

              While I rinse my plate in the kitchen, I overhear Deshaun rant how unfair I’m being to Derek. Netty defends me a little bit, but she backs off the more heated Deshaun gets.

              In my room, I lie on my side, like a good pregnant woman, and I wish I just knew what to do. I wish I could stop crying, but I can’t.

“Post Trevor”

Kaylie’s been a doll. To spare me from the horrors of bus travel as a pregnant woman. She picks me up whenever. I text her my location and she pops up there as soon as she can get there.

I’m surprised at how well she’s coping. She broke up with Trevor before she miscarried, but I really thought she would go running back to him after she lost the baby, but that’s not the case. I also thought she’d be in utter despair. Netty confessed to me the other night she’s had two miscarriages and she still grieves the losses. However, Kaylie’s thriving in school. Her dark brown hair chases her crimson hair away as time goes on. She brings her guitar to school and plays in the park before and after school. In Social Studies when we talk about politics she boldly tackles the topic arguing from a biblical viewpoint.

I sort of have no idea what happened to my second best friend. She continues to be a different person. When she smiles, it doesn’t seem fake. When she sings, her voice brings a peace. When she laughs, she makes me laugh.

In class and in the hallways, when Trevor tries to talk to her, she kindly says she doesn’t want to talk to him. But when we’re alone, she says nothing bad about him. She wishes nothing bad upon him. Kaylie has become a saint. Kaylie’s life post Trevor is great!

I wonder, would I fair in life so well post Derek?

“GPAs”

College GPA: 3.9

College Algebra: A-

College Writing I: A

High School, Junior Year GPA: 3.89

“FaceTime w/ Derek”

DEREK’S long locks are gone. He sports a clean cut, close fade. He looks well.

Derek: I miss you so much babe.

Savvy: I miss you too.

Though SAVVY is burning up under a pile of covers, she makes sure to hide her bulging belly.

Derek: So my mom picked up a lot of extra shifts, because a lot of nurses took the holiday off, so… she isn’t coming out for Christmas after all.

Savvy: That sucks hon, I’m sorry to hear that.

Derek: No, this may be a good thing. Maybe my dad will let me go visit my mom and then I can see you.

Panicking, SAVVY blurts-

Savvy: NO!

Derek: (confused) No?

Savvy: Like I miss you like crazy. I really do. But you look really good… I can’t really remember the last time you looked so good, so happy…

Bashfully, DEREK smiles as his cheeks flush red.

Derek: I am happy. I’m really happy. Do you know why?

Savvy: Why?

SAVVY waited for him to be romantic and to say something along the lines of seeing her face, but what he said surprised her and made her angry.

Derek: Jesus the Messiah.

Savvy: (rolling her eyes) Really?

Derek: Yeah, like um, last week, before I got released for Winter Break… in our last chapel service I accepted Christ Jesus and invited Him into my heart… Like I have no doubts anymore God is real.  I don’t have nightmares anymore. I don’t want to get high anymore… and um… (whispering) I don’t think about sex all the time or look at porn anymore. (Returning to normal volume) And I don’t feel alone anymore… I have this peace constantly that doesn’t make sense. God is SO AWESOME.

Savvy: I’m happy for you… I’m happy that you’re doing so well.

Derek: Why don’t you believe in God?

Savvy: What?

Derek: I mean, do you believe in God, like Netty does?

Savvy: No. I don’t but I haven’t really bothered to study religion.

Derek: But knowing God isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship with Jesus.

Savvy:  I kind of don’t feel like the preaching right now and if that’s all you want to talk about, maybe we should just talk another time.

Derek: So you’re going to ask me to not talk about something important to me because it makes you uncomfortable. I asked you a question just trying to learn more about you so maybe I can help you and you want to avoid it…

Savvy: You want to know why I don’t believe in God?

Derek: Yeah, why?

SAVVY pushes off her heavy blankets and points the phone at her stomach as she pulls up her flannel shirt.

Savvy: Because I got fluffing raped by my mother’s boyfriend and I’m stuck having the jerk’s kid. (Pointing the phone at her cigarette burns on the upper part of her abdomen) Because my mother abused the crap out of me. (Crying, and yelling, she holds the phone back up to her face) Because you got taken away from me, the one good thing in my life and now there’s more than a physical distance between us. It’s like I’m not important to you anymore. I don’t believe in God because I have nothing good going in my life and I haven’t really seen anything to convince there’s such a thing as a good God because life sucks. I wish we had fluffed and I wish I was pregnant with your baby, because at least I would be excited about this and maybe I would have you back in my life and maybe, just maybe I wouldn’t feel like dying. Like I hope I die giving birth because I don’t want to live anymore, but I can’t kill myself, because I don’t want my mother to have the satisfaction of getting rid of me nor due I want my sisters to miss me… and truth be told I’m scared as SNIFF of death because I can’t help but think you and Netty might be right, God is real and because I HATE HIM SO MUCH FOR MY CRUMMY LIFE I’LL GET STUCK IN HELL. This life is hell enough. I don’t want to live forever in hell, but if God is real He better do one good thing for me. I don’t know what that is… but it better be something fluffing good. And you know what, I get enough God Talk living with Netty, so I don’t want to talk to you until we can just be ourselves and talk and if you can’t be the new you without Jesus Fluffing Christ, than I don’t want to talk to you. GOODBYE Butthole!

SAVVY hangs up the phone and throws it on the bed. It bounces off and falls to the ground. Fortunately, she didn’t crack the screen of the caseless phone.