FICTION: “Motherless Child”
By Shaniera Scott
Editor’s Note: The following is an original short story written by a Patterson student.
It is said that every child needs a mother. Have you ever thought of it the other way around? Either way, the bond between a mother and her child is one of the most precious relationships to have.
Bianca is the daughter of Tonya Jones. Tonya isn’t the best mother there is, but she has her moments. Tonya also struggles with drug abuse and has for twelve years. Bianca, who is Tonya’s oldest daughter, often looks after her little brother and sister when their mother is away or what they like to call “going through it”. Brian is the little brother; he’s eleven and Sasha, who is four, is the baby. Bianca, being seventeen and the oldest, has a lot of responsibilities, such as school, work, the kids, cleaning, dinner, and her mother.
You’re probably wondering why a child’s mother would be their responsibility. Well, when it comes to the Jones household there are a lot of things any normal person would call “backwards”.
On a regular day Bianca gets up at about 6:30 with her siblings and gets them bathed, dressed, and ready for school. Brians’ school is about four blocks away and Sasha’s daycare is also on the same block. After breakfast, a couple minutes of TV, and morning prayers, the kids are all on their way.
After dropping her “love bugs” as she calls them, off to school Bianca catches the #13 bus to school on the South side. Aside from Bianca’s busy and abnormal life at home, she’s very popular among her peers. In school, her name is common and the boys tend to make her the topic of conversation whenever she’s in sight.
Some say keeping things bottled up isn’t good at all but Bianca Jones does it for a living. No matter what she goes through or the unfortunate things that happen, she never lets it show. Anyone who knows her, or thinks they know her, would describe her as a social, lively, and independent girl. Her personality attracts others but no one gets too close.
“What did you learn today?” Bianca asked, as she and her brother walked back home after a long day. Bianca carried Sasha in her arms.
“Nothing much. But there is this thing.”
“It’s a luncheon for all the kids who have perfect attendance.”
“That’s good, Brian.”
“I got an invitation but…”
“It’s a luncheon for kids and their parents.”
“Oh, damn, Well, I’ll talk to Mama for you.”
“C’mon now Bianca, you know she ain’t coming home no time soon!”
“Brian, don’t say that.”
As they both came to a stop, Bianca couldn’t help but notice the hurt in her baby brother’s eyes. Here she was trying to play “Mommy” to her siblings and juggle a double life but this not only weighed heavily on her but on her little brother, too.
Finally, after walking in silence, they came to their door; but as Bianca was putting the key into the lock, the door was being opened from the other side. Startled and confused, Bianca and her brother stepped back only to be looking into the eyes of their mother.
“Mama, what are you doing?” asked Bianca.
Scared and embarrassed, Tonya just stared back at her children.
“Brian, take Sasha upstairs and stay up there. Go!” said Bianca.
As Brian brushed past his mother, he realized that she had his game system behind her back along with a couple of Bianca’s CDs. Even the living room TV was in the vestibule.
“What the hell, Ma!” yelled Brian.
“Upstairs, Brian” said Bianca, as she stepped closer.
Tonya took a step back as her daughter walked forward, closing the door behind her.
“Mama,” she said shaking her head in disgust, “Really, are you serious?”
“Look, don’t come in here questioning me, okay?” Tonya whined desperately. “I am a grown woman!”
“Stop, Mama! Stop it! You need to get help…Look at you!”
“I’m fine,” Tonya said turning back to look in the living room mirror. “I’m fine, I just—“
“You just what, Ma? It was bad enough I had to go through this B.S. but I refuse to let them go through it, too! It’s not fair.”
“Oh, so you just so damn perfect, huh? I’m trying.”
“Taking from your own kids, Mama? We haven’t seen you in a whole month and you come and try to take from us. We are your kids!”
Looking into her mother’s eyes with a heart full of anger, hurt, and confusion, Bianca began to cry.
“How do you think it feels to tell your baby sister, ‘Mommy will be back’ and days and weeks go by and you are nowhere in sight?”
As Bianca speaks, she notices that her mother is high. She can’t keep still, her eyes are blood-shot red, and she smells.
“I can’t take this s**t!” Tonya said and abruptly and she walked out the door, down the street to a waiting car.
Again, weeks went by. Weeks turned into months once again. In May, Sasha’s fifth birthday was coming up, so Bianca had to work a few extra shifts.
Ms. Nancy, the lady next door, agreed to help Bianca with her brother and sister while she was working.
“Thank you, Ms. Nancy,” Bianca said after picking up her siblings up after a long day.
“No problem, baby. Say, uh, how’s your mother?”
“Umm, she’s alright. Yeah, she’s fine, thank you.”
As Bianca immediately tried to walk away, Ms. Nancy stopped her.
“Bianca, just pray,” she said.
Although those were only two words spoken, they stung her, stuck to her, and haunted her.
Bianca and the kids did their morning prayers asking God to protect them and help them have a productive day, but Bianca knew Ms. Nancy’s two-word speech meant way more than that.
These words stayed with Bianca for weeks. Morning, noon, night and when she least expected it she’d hear Ms. Nancy’s voice somewhere in her head saying, “Just Pray” over and over and over again.
May 28th came and Sasha’s fifth birthday was now here. From the extra hours and help from Ms. Nancy, Bianca was able to give Sasha a beautiful birthday party at their house. There was food, cupcakes, balloons and decorations everywhere. Children from the daycare, couples from the neighborhood, family and friends all came together to help Sasha celebrate. Two hours into the party was time to sing “Happy Birthday”.
“You ready, Boo?” asked Bianca.
“Yes!” Sasha replied excitedly.
“1,2,3” Brian shouted.
“My Baby!”, screamed a voice from the vestibule.
“Mama”, Bianca said under her breath.
“I hope y’all ain’t think I was goin’ to forget my baby’s birthday,” Tonya said.
“Come here, baby”, motioned Tonya to Sasha.
Sasha ran over to her mother and received a hug from her for the first time in almost a year.
“Excuse me everyone–it’s time to go”, said Brian.
“Mama” Bianca whispered.
Brian hurried to get everyone out and several minutes later Tonya and her children were amongst one another in complete silence.
“Now, I got good news y’all”, Tonya said. “I’m better. I’m done. I’m back.”
“Ma you said that last time”, Brian said.
“I know baby, but this time I mean it.”
Bianca stepped in.
“Mama, when’s the last time you used any type of drug, I mean ANY?”
“About two days ago–but look, y’all I promise I’m done. Just give me a chance. I miss my babies”, Tonya said as she hugged Sasha again.
“Just Pray…” were the words Bianca’s mind spoke as she looked at her mother.
A week went by since Tonya’s reappearance and since then she had been staying home with her kids and was drug-free. But it had only been a week. Within her week of sobriety, Tonya had two anxiety attacks and constant vomiting.
This behavior upset Brian and Sasha, but not Bianca. She was used to it. Bianca never left the kids alone with her mother and was still following the 6:30 till night agenda that took place when Tonya was away.
One week turned into two and two into three. Bianca was surprised their mother made it through this long.
It was a night that had seemed almost regular; Bianca and the kids were on their way home, but before they could get to their block, they saw their mother running toward them.
“What the hell,” whispered Brian.
Bianca could clearly see that Tonya was running away from someone. At least that’s what it seemed. Brian began to run toward his mother.
They clashed; Tonya wrapped her arms around Brian but quickly let go.
“C’mon y’all; we got to go this way!”
She was now walking at a steady pace with her kids and trying to put on a smile.
“Ma, what’s going on?” Bianca asked.
“Ricky, he …” Tonya said under her breath.
Bianca stopped in her confusion, with Sasha in her arms and Brian by her side. Ricky was a lifelong friend of Tonya’s. In fact, he was the one who introduced her to drugs. It was always Ricky before anyone else when it came to Tonya. When she wasn’t home, she was with Ricky. Gone for months? She was with Ricky. High and out? Ricky, Ricky, Ricky.
Bianca couldn’t stand the sound of his name, let alone his presence. Instantly, she was in defense mode. She turned the corner from her mother, walking as quickly as possible with her siblings at hand.
“Bianca!” Tonya yelled.
She didn’t answer. She knew whenever Ricky was around it was not a good scene. She also refused to have him anywhere near her siblings, especially Sasha.
After calling her daughter for a couple of minutes Tonya walked back to her friend.
“What the hell is wrong with you, girl?” Ricky yelled. The whole block could hear him.
“Baby I just…”
“You just what? Worried ‘bout them kids? You’ve been gone for weeks. Don’t you miss me?” Ricky had a pull on Tonya. Anything he said was done. “Now c’mon girl, get in the car.” Tonya did what she was told and went.
After circling the neighborhood for a bit, Bianca finally came to her door. She had Brian and Sasha stay the night at Ms. Nancy’s just in case Tonya and her friend decided to pop up. Alone and stressed, Bianca cleaned, bathed, and sat. Sat and thought about everything. She was past the “woe is me” stage, but things still seemed so unfair. Here she was seventeen and basically the mother of two. No, she didn’t look at her siblings as burdens, yet she wanted so much more for them; more than what she could give, although she was happy and relieved that they didn’t have to go through the things she did when she was younger.
There’s only so much a girl can go through by herself.
Bianca was so secretive though. She wouldn’t let anyone in. She was afraid. Those who pretended they cared were all monsters to her. Everyone was a fraud. All she had was Brian and Sasha. Then as she was sitting and thinking, those two words crossed her mind again; just pray.
You’re probably wondering how I know so much of Bianca, how she feels and why. Well, something I haven’t told you is I am Bianca—not exactly, but in a way. Bianca lost her mother to something powerful that she couldn’t shake loose. She is without a mother because her mother is without herself. I lost my mother to the power of miscommunication. Alone and confused, dealing with things a lot of girls my age don’t, I “roll with the punches”. There are girls in the world whose stories are worse than mine–worse than Bianca’s; girls whose stories may not be told. Every day is harder for all of us but things also happen for a reason.
Again, it is said that every child needs their mother. Have you ever thought of it the other way around? The bond between mother and child is one of the most precious relationships to have, yet any female can have a baby but it takes a real woman to be a mother.
Shaniera – I hope you continue to write. As a short story, I could feel the pain, anguish and especially the love you have for not only your brother and sister but also your mother. Fortunatly, you have discovered God’s gift to you in your writing and expressions. Please continue to pursue your dreams and as Ms. Nancy said “JUST PRAY”. May God bless you and your family. I will continue to look for your next short story or better yet, your book. B’Blessed Young Lady God’s got your back.
Your writing is excellent. This is only a glimpse of the greatness within you. See You At The Top!