“So, what do you think we should get mommy for her birthday, Rosetta?” Cedric asked. The car’s old brakes gave a mechanical whistle as they stopped at a red light. The blue sedan had become weathered over the eight years since Cedric bought it. This was mostly due to the fact that he had no indoor parking. However, fading color, and rust starting around the edges of his car’s humble body were not the worst outdoor parking could throw at him. He and his daughter had the misfortune of living in a neighborhood which had seen a spike in crime over the past four years so there was always the possibility of it getting feet in the middle the of the night.
“A birthday cake?” Rosetta said, excitedly. Her hazel brown eyes smiled with excitement. Her mother tried to tame Rosetta’s mane before Cedric and Rosetta left, but her hair was as difficult to tame as a Norse mythical monster. So, now Rosetta sat there with a ribbon that was holding on for dear life.
“Yes, we’ll buy her a cake,” Cedric laughed, “but what about something that will last a bit longer?” Rosetta thought hard for a bit.
“It depends. How old is mommy today?”
“Well, she’s only a year younger than me, so...”
“What? That can not be right,” Rosetta said, tapping her chin with her forefinger. “mommy can’t be ninety-nine years old!”
“You either have a really good sense of humor, or you’re really bad at math,” Cedric said. They both laughed. The way the light shone through her hair strands reminded Cedric of the auburn he always observed in his own mother’s hair.
The traffic light turned green and Cedric pulled away with an unimpressive rumble. However, a car ran a red light on the intersecting lane and crashed into their car, sending their blue saloon violently rolling across the intersection.
Cedric woke up gasping for air. He sat up and wiped the moisture from his forehead and eyes. He had been having the same nightmare for months now, but each time it felt as real as reality. The ache in his heart usually persisted throughout the entire day. He took his cellphone from the bedside cabinet and looked at the time. It was five minutes to four, five minutes before he had to get up and ready for work.
At his bedside was a framed picture of his late wife, Adia. He longingly stared at the photo, it still pained him to look at her photograph, even after all the months that has passed since the accident. How long does it take to get over the love of your life, Cedric thought.
His alarm went off. He snapped from his daze and dragged himself out of bed and into the shower.
After he got dressed in his beige security guard uniform he went to the room across the hall to check on his daughter, Rosetta.
She was fast asleep. Her bag stood next to her bed, packed and ready for school, and her uniform was neatly ironed and hanged neatly on a hanger on her closet door. A few months ago that picture would have been a stark contrast. Cedric always wondered how a child can become so precocious overnight.
Since Adia passed away in a car accident only seven months ago, Rosetta seemed to feel the need to become the woman of the house. She was the woman of the house, and was surprisingly good at it, but Cedric still felt guilty about not being able to do anything about it. No eleven year old should be worrying about ironing clothes and what to cook for dinner. But she wouldn’t be stopped no matter how hard Cedric protested. In the end Cedric realized that keeping busy was Rosetta’s way of coping with the loss of her mother – something Adia also did to cope with various situations. Perhaps doing the tasks that Adia once did brings some closure in a way.
Cedric sat down for breakfast and enjoyed his last cup of coffee before working all day. The day of the accident replayed in his mind perpetually, even though seven months had already passed.
Cedric remembers that it was a perfect day, the sun was brightly shining. Him and his wife was on their way to the mall to pick up a birthday cake for Rosetta. He blamed himself for the accident. He kept on rehearsing what he could have done differently that morning. His thought process was interrupted when Rosetta called him from her room.
“I’m here. Is everything okay, angel!” Cedric asked. Cedric heard slouching footsteps approaching. Soon Rosetta emerged from her bedroom with a blanket over her shoulders. Her eyes were baggy and her brown frizzy afro leaned to one end.
“Today is trash collection day.” Rosetta said as she walked to the dustbin in the kitchen, she opened it and checked the contents. “Don’t forget to take out the trash, daddy.”
“I did forget, thanks for reminding me.” Cedric said. “Why don’t you go back to sleep my angel, you have a long day ahead of you.” Rosetta shook her head.
“I’m so used to being woken up by you this early in the morning, that I automatically wake up around this time every morning.” Rosetta chuckled. She grabbed the remote and snuggled in front of the television. Cedric got up and sat next to her. Rosetta cuddled up against him and threw her blanket over his legs.
“How about we go out for ice-cream after I come home from work?” Cedric asked.
“Have you forgotten that you’re the sole breadwinner in this house, daddy?” Rosetta said jokingly. “I understand that we have to stretch our budget as much as we can, so don’t worry I’m happy as things are.”
“I know you are, and that’s exactly why I want to spoil you a bit.”
“Your spoiling me with your presence, daddy.”
“Sometimes I wonder if you’re eleven years old. You sound much older.”
“I’ll take that as a complement, and I’m actually eleven and a half, daddy.” Rosetta said. They both laughed.
“Now that you’re awake, do you want me to pour you a coffee.”
“I love you, daddy.” Rosetta said. Although a bit out of place, those words were well appreciated by Cedric. It wasn’t something he had heard much these past months. Cedric had always had a feeling, or rather, a fear that Rosetta secretly blamed him for the accident and subsequent death of her mother. They were best friends, Rosetta and Adia. They laughed together and talked about everything while Cedric sat quietly observing the two most beautiful woman in his life.
There was a moment of silence as the father and daughter just enjoyed each other’s presence.
The touching moment was interrupted when the television suddenly switched to static. Cedric was confused. He had never observed static on a digital feed. Cedric watched intently at the screen as what looked like his wife’s face start to form in the static. He tried to adjust his eyes as best he could, but the face wouldn’t go away. He turned to Rosetta to see if she was seeing what he was seeing, but she wasn’t there. Rosetta, along with her blanket was gone. He didn’t even feel or hear her get up. Cedric looked around him, but saw Rosetta nowhere. She was not hiding behind any of the furniture, or the curtains. It was like she had dissolved into pure air.
“Rosetta!” Cedric called out, but there was no answer. The only sound emanated from the refrigerator, which was humming away in a low-pitched droning sound.
Cedric jumped up, totally freak out by what he was experiencing. He headed straight to Rosetta’s room and found her fast asleep on the bed. Cedric called out to her again, this time she mumbled something back at him, before pulling her blankets over her head. It became apparent that she was never awake. The thought that he had just imagined a whole conversation with his daughter disturbed him deeply. He went back to the living area and saw the television had somehow switched itself off.