Excerpt from upcoming: “Mama…Remember the Music”
As the holiday season and our trip to Florida approached, Rana grew more agitated and shocked me by stating she didn’t want to go to Grandma’s.
“Ra – please, what’s up?”
“Ma – I just want to stay home. It’s — it’s, safe here.”
Though we couldn’t pinpoint how or why, our peace filled back-scratching family had changed after visiting my parents in July.
In the afternoon of December 26, 1999, we arrived at my folks in Palm Coast. After dinner that evening, while doing the dishes, my mother brought up the sleeping arrangements.
“Mom, Rana’s not sleeping in Erica’s room.”
“Here we go again, Mom, she’s 19, Rana’s only 14. She’s just not a good influence right now.”
“What do you mean?” she questioned in her typical way of feigning disbelief.
“First of all, she gave Rana cigarettes and beer this summer. She’s just too old ‘n into different things…”
“What – Cigarettes? How do you know that? And what things?”
Could she really be so blind or in denial?
“Ra told me and Geez-us, really Mom? Sex, drugs, alcohol…Erica’s is a full five years older; Ra doesn’t need to be around her right now.”
“Erica! Come in here.” Mother called out, and then turned back to me, “She has a right to defend herself.”
My mother’s ever present parrot, Aunt Pat, echoed the sentiment verbatim. “Yes. She has a right to defend herself.”
Erica came out of her room into the kitchen. My mother says while waving her stubby arm from me to Nik, “Lisa, tell her what you told me just now.”
I told her I didn’t appreciate her giving Rana beer and cigarettes this summer. I also questioned her about marijuana — fishing for the “Rana’s not telling us everything” feeling I had when Ra blurted out her beer and cigarette confession between heaving sobs, after running out of church during the Eulogy a couple of months ago.
Erica denied everything. When I didn’t let her off the hook, she blurted, “You don’t need to worry about what I’m doing, you need to worry about the fact that your daughter had sex with 21 year old with AIDS!”
By then Rana had also come out of the bedroom. The color drained from Rana’s face, ashen, mortified, betrayed.
“What? What did you say??” not yet allowing the words to sink in. But all at once understanding Rana’s alternating withdrawal and fits of rage over the last six months.
At this point my Mother and Patsy were piping in, trying to figure out how, what, when, and where this all happened.
With attention now on Rana, Erica slinked back to her room. As she edged past me, she mumbled, “That Copsy’s no good; he’s the same guy that took my virginity back in high school.”
Grandma grilled Ra for information. I overheard “What do you mean they climbed through the window?!”
“Mother! I specifically asked you not to let her sleep in there!!”
Erica came out of her room again and headed for the front door.
I trailed behind shrieking, “Why didn’t you tell us sooner??!”
Only to have her blurt out, “well Rana’s just a slut for doing it with a 21 year old…”
I lunged at her. By then I knew Rana had not been with these men by choice. Justice would be served, these predators needed to be stopped!
“Quit it, just quit it!” Rana stepped forward, scratching at her face, pulling at her hair. Strands of long fine light brown silk wrapped around her fingers.
Everyone stopped cold. The room went silent.
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Mama…Remember the Music will be available Spring 2014.
Please email LRThornton01@gmail.com to reserve a hard copy.
Proceeds will be used to support bullying, dating violence, and self-injury prevention programs. For Rana who believed:
Life is too short to be mad or sad all the time…
For that we might all know what it takes a loved one to self-destruct and that we may give a person at risk – reasons not to. Invest time – in the people you love.
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