The Balance Mate

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Chapter Ten

We dedicate this chapter to all single mothers out there. We love you!

Nathan's Point of View

Oftentimes, misfortunes are like unwelcome guests. They show up out of the blue, with no warnings, and no telltale signs. But even good fortune doesn't come to us with a gentle knock.

I was finally able to get out of bed this morning. The earthquake last night was terrifyingly strong, and the whole neighborhood had been thrown into chaos by how nonstop the shaking was. I'm certain that it will be the talk of the town since rarely that such disturbances occur in this small town.

My phone is full of texts again from my team mates. I placed it back on the side table because I was too indifferent to send a reply. I got up and walked straight to the kitchen. I'm grateful for the harsh taste of black coffee, which is helping me get out of bed right now. I've simply been feeling very tired all week.

This was exacerbated by the fact that I only got a couple hours of sleep last night. When I stretched one arm out, I let out a lengthy yawn, only cutting it to read the note my mother had left me on the fridge door.

As expected, my mother never leaves the house without leaving me something to eat. She's so adamant about cooking every day for me to enjoy home cooked meals. Growing up, she filled my childhood with so much love. I may not have the ideal lifestyle, but the fact that she was around all the time is more than enough. I was always known as that kid with just a mom in school.

I have never known my father. I have to admit there are instances when it makes me wonder what it would be like to have a father figure in life. But my mom never talked or mentioned him apart from the one time I was in elementary and our teacher asked us to bring our fathers on career day. Instead, my mom showed up in his place. That's when she made up a story that my father had passed away. Later, I found out from Uncle Dennis that my father was an abusive alcoholic and that my mom had walked out for our sake.

I have all these thoughts running through my mind. Both misfortunes and good fortune arrive unannounced. They are like waves that wash over you, either drowning you or pushing you back to shore. At times, misery and fortune come with the same faces.

Up until now, I still find it arduous to distinguish either. I find myself wondering which face fate dealt me with. Did fate bring me a stroke of luck or an assembly of misery? Or are they neither?

My eyes suddenly fell on the old wall clock and, once again, things should be rushed. I shrug these emotions just like my mother does with hers. I head over to the bathroom for a quick shower to get ready for an early training.

With each stride on the pavement, I didn't see that I accidentally walked into a pool of water, which caused me to glance down at my relatively favorite footwear. I rubbed my feet to shrug off the moisture, hoping not to do any more damage than I already had. A glint of light blinded me a bit, feeling warm on my skin as if it was a kiss on my cheek, comforting me from my mishaps. I shrugged the wild invasion of my thoughts.

Ever since I became aware of my existence and from the time I became cognizant of my surroundings, I have had this feeling that I am constantly being watched by supernatural entities. When I was young, I had a recollection that someone was looking after me. I vaguely remember their faces, but a dark, foreboding presence and a warm, comforting light have always loomed around me. It's funny sometimes that I can hear them bickering.

I can't seem to comprehend their purpose in my life, but I have always regarded them as my companions. I have always thought that they were sent to keep me company during my loneliness. True enough, they have always kept matters interesting on my behalf, especially on days when my mother is working. I have come to acknowledge their existence as part of my life and have always thought that they were normal for every kid.

For some reason I can't fathom, I have always been drawn to these creatures. They have invariably shaped most of my childhood memories and have steadfastly influenced my consciousness. I often ask myself if they're just creations of my imagination or is it because I have no friends?

Overtime, these things disappeared as I ventured into the realities of this harsh world. I have to grow up fast. The kind of pace where I need to be brave, mature and responsible. I came to realize that I am not as privileged like the other kids. I was taught to keep my opinions to myself and remained polite at all times. Just like how my mother takes it all in and lets it go as easily.

Other parents would look at my mother and dismiss her, but she stayed focused on our survival. She taught me that opinions don't matter since they don't pay the bills. If only these people knew the kind of woman she was.

My mother has always worked tirelessly for my wellbeing. She's been doing odd jobs just to feed and clothe me. Uncle Dennis says she didn't complete school because she got pregnant early and my father was unreliable. She had to put up with my father's constant abuse until she had me and mustered the courage to leave him.

My mother was a strong woman who tried her best to be a parent for me. I've seen her tolerate insults when she would bring me to work. A single mother with no college education has long stung her. Regardless of her circumstances, she ignores these unpleasant remarks and chooses to move forward. Her strength is amazing. My mother wants me to have the life she didn't have, and the only way to go about it is to have an education.

My mother chose to live this way and regardless of her status in life, she chose to live with integrity and dignity. I may find her way of life frustrating at times, but most of the time I am in awe of her resolve and her strength as a person.

I remember the day when an arrogant owner made us wait for my mother's compensation. She looked exhausted from cleaning that huge house. We patiently stood in front of a window, simply staring at the beautiful swimming pool outside.

"One day we will have our own pool just so you and I can swim all day." Her voice was shaking, but these words brought me to the idea of where she gets her courage to face such adversities.

I felt my phone buzz in my pocket cutting my thoughts. I already knew the text was from my mother, wishing me to have a good day. This is her habit before she sleeps after coming from a late night shift. I've heard her explain to her superiors how her given schedule is somewhat unholy compared to the other co-workers, but again, my mother, being my mother, endures it just for me.

Sometimes, I wonder if I wasn't born, maybe she could have had the life she deserved. Sometimes, I just want her to retaliate and fight back, but I realized it takes an enormous amount of fortitude to choose humility over pride.

One thing I've learned from her is that, as long as you have integrity, you're never on the losing side. She always reminds me to be grateful for whatever we have and to choose kindness even in the most dire and dreadful situations. I owe this kind of mindset to my mother. I wouldn't have all these friends surrounding me if my mother hadn't given her daily lessons in life.

I quickly reply back to her text, confirming my whereabouts, as I know this will give her peace of mind, knowing I'm in school. I shoved all my clothes in the locker and headed out before another scolding from the coach occurs. I dread my morning training. I only do it so that I can be in this school for free, but this is the part I need to play. I had to comply with the rules of the scholarship grant. Only one more year in this school before I'm off to college.

The subject of colleges has come up recently in our conversations, and I was unable to provide a good response. I haven't had the opportunity to think about what I truly want to do with my life yet. Every one of my classmates seems to have determined what they want to be in the future, as I observe them from all sides. I wonder why they don't feel anxious about the future.

I lifted the bar to strengthen the muscles in my chest and today, for some reason, my thoughts sprung back to my childhood being far from ideal. This was probably because of our constant need to relocate and move around.

Growing up, we often moved around because my mom was in constant search for a job that could offer her greater monetary compensation. I don't blame her, because raising a child alone is no easy task, especially for a single parent. The only downside to constantly moving around is that I never get to make friends, because as soon as we settle in, once she finds a better job offer, we need to uproot our lives once again.

Moving to this town is somewhat of a blessing, and how my mother stumbled upon this job opening. This is the first time we have stayed in one place for more than three years. We finally got the chance to get to know all our neighbors.

The community has been nothing but a welcoming family, for the first time far from all the old neighbors who led us to feel out of place, and for the first time in so many years, I've seen my mother actually have friends around her.

I suddenly thought of Chloe and how it would be nice to have her as my first girlfriend. We have grown really close. She has helped out a lot with my academics, and it didn't hurt that she was really attractive and her body was so seemingly flawless. I started to feel my pants getting tight. I had to shrug these thoughts off fast. Chloe had been increasingly and would always be on my mind sexually. I sometimes feel hot around her, which I find very odd. It is like a switch that turns on and off. I am, after all, still that weird kid that no one knows about.

I refused to get distracted by sinful thoughts before an accident happened. I carefully put the bar back, finishing my last set for the day. I wipe my face with the towel thrown at me by the coach, knowing I'm about to leave the mandatory training. He stopped me to discuss his plans for me. I nodded in agreement but remained quiet as to not cut off his upbeat mood.

My coach mentioned getting noticed by major university names and maybe making it to the big leagues if I perform well this season. The instructor abruptly mentioned getting rid of distractions like ladies, etc. He encourages me to concentrate so that we may live in a more comfortable house and be able to take my mother places. All of this is about enjoying life in the fast lane. I get why I'm getting this talk as I am known to be the poor kid in school and this somewhat a form of encouragement to perform well.

For more than a decade, our lives have been characterized by a nomadic way of living. We've lived in trailer parks, in the basement of a hotel where she once worked, in a studio apartment and, hopefully, we've reached our final settlement in this suburban neighborhood. Somehow, I pretty much like it here. By far, this takes the top spot of the places we've lived, but can I really leave my mother behind all alone?

The day had passed as fast as I could imagine. I'm just glad it's the weekend now. I walked into our house and I heard my mother getting ready again for work. I sat at the table waiting for her to join me.

"There's my handsome muscle boy. How was your day today? Did you eat your lunch? " She bombards me with her usual questions, kisses my forehead, and serves me her home-cooked meals as always.

We have a couple of hours to hang out before she heads out for work, but today was such a weird day. My mother initiated an awkward safe sex talk. She must have noticed the fondness I've developed towards Chloe. As I do hang out with her on the weekends, doing random things. I've been holding back from asking her out officially as a couple because dating costs money.

"Don't forget to do the laundry. Love you, see you tomorrow. " My mother says, giving me a weird smile from the awkwardness. I bid her bye as she leaves for work.

Now that I'm turning 18 and almost an adult, I decided to share my mom's burden of maintaining our household. As I stared closely at the night sky, I let out a sigh, took in several breaths and tried not to think about anything. I felt my body falling asleep when I heard a knock on my window. I got up to see Chloe. She has a sign in her hand. I squinted a few times to check if I was reading it correctly.

"Will you go to the beach with me tomorrow?"

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