Chapter 1: Learning Experience
I was repeatedly told that I would become someone significant by my Nana. She would frequently recite the story of my unique birthmark to me. I can plainly remember her tracing her frail little hands over it many times. Oh, how I miss my Nana, I thought as I lay across my bed thinking about her sweet, warm face. A vivid image of her flashed before my eyes as though it was merely yesterday we sat on her bed talking about nothing in particular.
The loud ringing of my alarm jarred me out of my thoughts informing me that it was time to begin my morning routine. I briskly get out of bed and get dressed for my morning run. I put on my favorite New York navy blue baseball cap along with a plain white tee-shirt and a pair of navy blue shorts. Lastly my navy blue and white Air Nike Jordan.
I grabbed a chocolate protein bar as I headed outside into the already scorching July heat. I had to quickly get accustomed to living intense California heat when I moved back into my old family home. A luxurious two-story house that I have lived in for eighteen years of my twenty-four years I've been on this earth. The elegant well-kept house had me baffled in my teens on how my Nana was able to afford to pay for it without ever having to work. I would have never thought that I'd be back in the one town that has broken me into so many tiny pieces. This wretched town has brought me so much torment in my life, but yet here I am.
Standing there I begin to question my sanity for even listening to my therapist who suggested I needed to deal with my past if I wanted to become whole again. I laughed bitterly to myself as I tried to picture myself as ever being whole before. I couldn't even grasp what that has ever felt like and personally don't think that is even possible at the moment.
A loud cheerful greeting from my next-door neighbor, Mandy abruptly jarred me out of my wallowing of the past. Mandy is a beautiful petite, seventeen years old sometimes very bubbly young lady that frequently joins me on my early morning run. I've come to know Mandy from when I accidentally bumped into her a year ago. Knocking her down and scattering all the contents of her groceries along the pavement.
“What's up shorty? I jokingly say as I stand looking down at her. For the first time, I noticed that I'm a good two feet taller than her.
“Nothing much just dreads going back to school on Monday,” Mandy responds dryly.
“Just think about it as your last year,” I say as I pat her on her back.
“That's the only good thing about this year that I'm looking forward to,” Mandy says bitterly. “I'm getting the hell out of this fucked up town and its evil people to try to make a better life for myself! Mandy adds after a long pause then began to jog a few steps ahead of me. I felt like I had missed something very important when she spoke her last statement.
“Is there something that I can help you with or do you want to talk about what's going on? I asked very concernedly.
“No! There's nothing that anyone can do anymore," Mandy states flatly as she runs off into the distance and soon afterward disappears into the throngs of joggers ahead of me.
For some reason, I always feel empty whenever Mandy leaves me alone. Shrugging out of my weird and sudden depressed mood. I continued with my daily routine stopping along the way by a private pond near the park. I stood there and watched the ducks in the pond splash around without a care in the world and often pondered what it would feel like to be in their place where I didn't have a care in the world.
I'm interrupted out of my thoughts as I overhear someone weeping in agony. I didn't want to intrude on someone else's privacy, but Nana constantly advised me to follow my initial instinct.
I could hear her saying now, “Lily Carmichael if you don't get up this very instant I will beat your tale black and blue.” Laughing to myself, I looked around the crowded park as I stood up. I immediately recognized Mandy a few yards away squatting underneath a massive oak tree with her head between her knees. She was crying uncontrollably and shaking like a leaf on a cold winter day.
My foot felt like they were affixed to the ground as if that was indeed possible. Mandy suddenly stares at me with piercing eyes of hers making me second guess whether I should intrude on her privacy. I watched as she wiped the tears from her eyes and placed a smile on her face. Kneeling in front of her, I performed the one thing that my Nana repeatedly did when I felt terrible. I hugged her as if my life depended on it, and Mandy returned the gesture as she began crying again for what seems like forever.
I stayed in the same spot not bothering to move an inch while stroking her back gently. Offering her all the comfort that I could muster up. I would have given her my very own life if it would've eliminated all or some of the pain that she was experiencing. “Lily, you don't know how much just you being here means to me? Mandy says.
“Mandy, you know the offer still stands if you want to talk about what's going on with you.” I'll do nothing but listen if that's all you desire. Whatever you reveal is safe with me! I pleaded hoping that I was getting through to her.
“Things will be better after today! I thank you for asking and allowing me a shoulder to lean on. You could have just looked the other way just like everyone else has done in my life, Lily.” She says wiping her tears away with the back of her left hand. I felt relieved to know I was at least a little comfort to her but I still couldn't help wondering how anything would be any different by the end of the day.
I watched as Mandy stood up and dusted the imaginary dirt off her clothes and looked down at me with peace in her eyes. A peace that wasn't there a few moments ago. For the life of me, I couldn't comprehend what was going through her mind. “I'll see you later Mandy! I yelled at her retreating back as she walked cautiously with her head held high as if nothing at all had just occurred.
Lying back on the ground under the massive oak tree I looked at the beautiful leaves shaking back and forth. It practically felt like they were gently whispering a well-kept secret to each other.
My mind began to drift to a far off deep, dark place that I've always tried to keep at bay. This was my well-guarded secret from the cruel world that only Nana and I knew about. I stood there grimly watching as my mom did what she believed was best to allegedly shelter me.
I genuinely love my mom and detest her too. How could she leave me behind? I'm grateful to have my Nana, but she could never take the place of my mom no matter what she did? A steady flow of uncontrollable tears streamed down my face as I recalled all the personal torment I've had to endure from the cruel kids at my lousy school about my mom.