When I got home Ommy was already gone. One less thing I had to take care of tonight, but guilt nipped at the pit of my stomach for making my mother go to Austin alone and take care of Rahim’s parents.
I walked through the house, pushed my bedroom door open, shut it behind me, and hit my knees outside of church for probably the first time since we came to the U.S. God, please take care of Kailee and Mirriam. Guilt stabbed me again. I had no idea where my little sister was, but Kailee’s name was first. It had been a long day and I was exhausted, so I hit my mattress. But sleep didn’t come.
I wrestled with worries of where Mirriam was and what was happening to Kailee for a couple of hours before I heard the front door open. Ommy came to my room and opened the door. She knew that had always annoyed me. And I was a grown man now. She could knock. Ommy sighed, but I kept my eyes closed because I was in no mood to listen to her cry about the horrible injustice I had put her through tonight.
At some point, sleep finally came. I was pulled out of it way too early though by Ommy banging on the door. At least she knocked this time. I rolled out of bed, looking for clothes, when I caught a glimpse of my denim-clad legs. I didn’t have to get dressed. I still wore yesterday’s clothes. I pulled the door open. “What’s wrong?”
“We haven’t heard from Mirriam.” She shook her head.
“She’ll call … eventually.”
“Come have breakfast.” She turned toward the kitchen. She was too worried to mention that I forced her to go to Austin by herself last night. I followed Ommy. The smell of samoon and cheese called from the kitchen, but what I really wanted was coffee. Someone banged at the door before I could make it to the table.
I crossed to the front door and pulled it open. Caleb’s mom stood on my doorstep in her pajamas and house shoes. Tears streamed down her face, and she clutched a tissue in one hand and a cordless landline in the other. This cannot be good. I squeezed my eyes shut, bracing myself for what she had to tell me as I pushed the glass door open.
“My son called this morning.”
“Is she okay?”
“He says they’re both fine.” She wiped a tear from her eye.
“Why do you not look like they’re fine?”
“My son is married! He’s only eighteen, and I wasn’t there to see it. And I blame you!”
“To my sister?” Somehow I already knew the answer to that.
“Uhh… bingo.” She slapped the side of her head with her hand.
“What do we do now?”
She shrugged. “I’m not going to lose my son over this, and he’s right. He’s grown, and it’s not my decision. I guess we plan a wedding party.”
Maybe for a white kid when you got married was your choice, but I didn’t think Ommy would see it the same way. And I didn’t want my sister married to a user.
“Can’t we get it annulled or something?”
She laughed. “He’s eighteen. She’s almost eighteen and out of high school. I doubt it, but you can try.”
“I—he didn’t need someone’s permission to marry her?”
“Here he would have had to wait until September. They’re in Mexico. I guess you don’t have to be eighteen in Mexico, or they lied.” She smiled. “If they lied, you might be able to get it annulled. Off the record, I support your cause. But I won’t force them. As soon as she turns eighteen, they won’t need anyone’s permission, so it’s an unneeded fight with my son.”
“They could call you but not Ommy?”
“When they come back to the U.S. they aren’t planning on coming here until she’s eighteen. She thinks you’re mad at her, and she’s afraid you’ll try to marry her off. This is your and your mom’s fault. If you would have let her date who she wanted to, they probably would have broken up in a year and married more suitable people at a more suitable time. But you had to push her into something, and he married her to get her out of it.”
“Well, good thing he did her a favor. It’s not like a doctor wanted to marry her or anything.” I slammed the door in her face. I didn’t care to hear any more about her son’s generosity for my sister. Does she know half the stuff he’s done? What he did to Kailee?
I headed into the kitchen and slumped into a chair at the table. The whole kitchen smelled like samoon. She must have baked it today. I grabbed a piece, threw it on a plate, and picked up the honey. After that news, I wasn’t hungry anymore, but I needed the sugar boost to figure out how to break the news to Ommy.
The rapping on the door started again, but I ignored it. Mrs. Miller could save her sermons for someone who cared. I took a bite of the warm bread and honey as the beating continued. Ommy set a shot of hot tea down in front of me. From the smell, I knew it was Turkish. The good stuff. All of a sudden, it was the best thing on the table. The glass was so hot it burned my fingers, but I would chug it anyhow. When the shot glass touched my lips, I knew it was too hot for that. The incessant banging hadn’t stopped yet. I placed the glass back on the table.
“What is it?” Ommy pulled out her chair.
“I don’t know,” I said. But I was fairly certain it was Mrs. Miller itching to give me a piece of her mind. I swung the door open and gaped. Rex Hill stood in front of me in a three piece suit. But the real shock was Jackson standing beside him in a suit and tie.
Before I could ask what had happened, Rex spoke. “If you care about my daughter at all, I need you to come with me.”
“Arraignment and we need to get there soon. I don’t want them to call her before I’m there. They aren’t supposed to, but overcoming a technicality is a mound of paperwork, and she could sit there until I sort through it all.
“Ommy, I have to go somewhere. I’ll be home soon,” I called behind me.
“What? Where are you going? What can be so important? We haven’t found your sister yet.”
“Mrs. Miller heard from them this morning. She’s fine.”
“Were you going to tell me?”
“Ommy, we’ll talk about it soon. I promise, but someone else needs my help right now.”
“Abrahem, don’t you dare walk out that door,” her voice got closer.
I turned to look over my shoulder, and she was right behind me. “Ommy—”
“Who is this?”
“Kailee’s dad and her brother.”
“That white girl? Of course. You know I expect this kind of thing from your sister, but from you—”
“Hey, I’ve got to go.”
“You are supposed to be an example. You’re her older brother. You’re probably why she did this.”
Right. Could one more person blame this on me? Please. I sighed. “Maybe and if it’s my fault, I’m sorry, but right now I’m going to help Kailee.” I started out the door, and she followed me into the yard.
“Abrahem, you cannot do this!”
Rex and Jackson walked toward the Jaguar in the driveway, and I followed them. Ommy caught up to me and grabbed my arm. I jerked away from her. “Ommy, I’m sorry, but I have to do this.”
Rex and Jackson climbed through the front doors. I grabbed the handle of the back driver side door, swung it open, climbed in, and pulled it shut. As we drove away, I watched Ommy stand in the yard and sob. This kind of thing was unheard of back home, and for both of your kids to disobey you in one day—that was enough to give a parent a heart attack. Guilt ate at me, but if I stayed home with her… Kailee needed me.