by Wendy Lynn Decker
GENRE: Coming of Age/Christian fiction
The fourth anniversary of Olivia’s daddy and John Lennon’s death is approaching. Like the shot heard ’round the world, TV and radio stations keep the frenzy alive and recognize Lennon’s life, while Olivia’s mama remembers Daddy’s death. Instead of healing, Mama’s strange behavior keeps getting worse.
After viewing an afternoon talk show, Olivia discovers her mother might have more than a case of eccentricity – she may be mentally ill. When those fears are confirmed, Olivia is faced with more decisions than any sixteen-year-old should have to make. With no adult family members to turn to, she is forced to trust the only people who’ve offered help: one strange man and a friend her mother makes at the mental institution.
Facing the intricacies of her mother’s illness one minute and the decision to have sex with her new boyfriend the next, Olivia finds that through faith and determination, she can conquer it all in this poignant story of love, intuition, compassion, and hope.
When the Monday morning after Thanksgiving rolled around, I wondered if Mama had taken a bath yet. It wasn’t like her to wallow in filth. She spent more time in the bath than a bar of soap, but I wasn’t going to be the one to suggest she get in the tub. I needed to get myself ready for school. I had to look just right today.
“Have you heard Mama run the bath yet?” I asked CeCe.
“Nope,” she answered, while scrubbing the kitchen table as if she hoped it would change colors. “She went to bed after me last night. Hopefully she took one after I fell asleep.” She waved her hand in front of her nose. “By the way, what kind of shampoo are you putting in your hair? Last night I sneezed about ten times when you rolled onto my side of the bed.”
“Jonzie gave it to me,” I said.
CeCe looked at me funny. “You sure it’s for humans? Knowing Jonzie, it might be some type of dog shampoo.”
“No! Jonzie found a bunch of it in her basement. Her Daddy used to work for a big fragrance company. He has boxes and boxes of samples.”
“Did you check the expiration date? I think it may have gone bad.”
I shrugged. “Maybe we could save up for bunk-beds, then your nose won’t be so close to my head.”
CeCe kept scrubbing. “Don’t worry; you’ll have the bed to yourself soon enough.”
Though I would have loved to have the bed to myself, I’d rather share it with CeCe for five more years than let her go away and leave me alone with Mama.
Just then, the bathroom door creaked open, and Mama stepped out. I could see her clearly from the kitchen. There were no twists and turns in the trailer like there had been in our house. Just one straight hallway of metal covered in taupe-painted drywall, with a portrait of our family hanging crooked from a skinny nail halfway down.
Daddy would have been sad if he knew our portrait no longer sat on the fireplace mantle. He loved our house. He built it especially for our family. I remembered him saying he made sure to build it big enough so we would never have to move. The only thing reminiscent of our old house now was the flower bed Mama made on the small plot of grass on the side of the trailer.
Dressed in her uniform, all fresh and clean, she said, “Good morning, girls.”
Cece and I breathed identical sighs of relief. “Morning,” we said.
Mama smoothed the sides of her hair while she sucked her lips inward, staring into the air as if it were a mirror. “What a beautiful fall day it is.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” CeCe said. “It sure is a beautiful day.”
She grabbed a couple of chocolate chip cookies from the cookie jar and waved goodbye. “Don’t forget to wake Luke up.” She slipped out the front door like any other Monday. But I knew it wasn’t any other Monday. It was one Monday closer to the anniversary of Daddy and John Lennon’s death.
Each year when the anniversary drew near, John Lennon’s face plastered every station on the television. I would often dive across the living room floor, rushing to change the channel before Mama saw it. We all knew if Mama saw Lennon’s fans clutching their candles while they sang Give Peace a Chance in Central Park, there would be no peace for us.
Wendy Lynn Decker has lived in thirteen different towns in the state of New Jersey. Now, she lives a bike ride away from the ocean and her favorite restaurant. She is the author of the middle-grade chapter book, THE BEDAZZLING BOWL, which is the first book intended for a series.
Find her here:
WendyDecker19 – http://www.twitter.com/wendydecker19
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