Have read part one of Reunion?
If you did, thanks so much and welcome to part two. Please like, share, give feedback. This story will be in four parts and I am also sharing it on wattpad, so for a book experience, you can read the story there.
My heart is hammering in my chest as we slowly make our way up the sand and dirt packed, driveway— our house is on its own little knoll, a jagged irregular spot high above the neighbours’ plots of land. This space, this little hillside crag has been in our family for decades, maybe centuries. I know that my great great-grandfather had his waddle and daub hut here. Then a wooden cottage of old grandpa Dum, a wooden house swaying stilts that my grandparents called home, then a concrete two bedroom bungalow that I grew up in, and the house is still evolving. We walk towards a two storey structure. This house is alien to me. There is large balcony that wraps around, it must have stunning views of the valley all from up there and my parents got their wish, elevated above everyone else.
On the verandah three old men are busy at dominoes. Bang. Bang. Bang goes the domino piece on the table. I stop to watch them when I am spotted. I tell Lisa-Maria and the others to go ahead inside, as I walk towards the players, the one staring at me is my Uncle Al, Allonder Benson, my mother’s brother. The man always terrified us, his hangdog face always stern and eyes watchful, he never spoke to us when we were children, just kept watch. Now the pit bull’s jowls are twitching as I walk towards the table, I turn on a smile, the smile I use for work and clients.
“Uncle Al it is so good to see you…good afternoon gentlemen.” I say loud and happy as I approach.
Al gets to his feet and my world tumbles further out of control when he smiles and pulls me into a hug. I am in a daze as I am introduced to his cronies, Bill and Thomas. I have known these men, from a distance all my life, and it is strange how in just seven years, they are reduced to elderly.
Inside the living room, Aunt Melba, Al’s wife is busy sewing, I say hi and Melba who was always bubbly just nods in response. Children are scattered all around her , on the sofa, on the floor, eyes fixed to the TV screen. Lisa-Maria returns to say that my things are in my room and I thank her without querying which room is mine. Instead I asked her for Monique.
“Kitchen.” Lisa replies and she and her troop exit the house.
Inside the kitchen, it is has expanded from the small galley cooking nook of my childhood. Before me is large, modern, sparkling eat-in kitchen with a large centre island and butcher block. A woman stands with her back towards the entrance way, but this can’t be Monique. Her once small frame has widened over the years. And her long hair is gone. Monique loved her long hair, she always had it braided in a single plait down her back, swinging at her butt. Mo has a pixie cut. Monique stands chopping vegetables and singing softly to herself.
“Mo.” I whisper and I feel stupid for feeling shy. This is my home and this is my sister.
Monique turns smiling and rushes at me. I am caught in a big hug and she shouts, in a long singsong voice,
“Jon, she is here.”
Jon walks in beaming at me and I can’t help but smile back.
I loved us once. The three of us, the Goldsons, Jon-Michael, Monique-Rose, and me, the baby, little Lillian-Catherine, we were so close, always together. Roaming along the back woods that I had once fancied our own land of freedom, magic and allure, we stuck together. Hopscotching, double-dutching, playing rounders, or Chinese skip. Or we would join the Millers from next door for Sunday afternoon cricket. I used to think we were inseparable, invincible, and unbreakable. Jon, the bright light of my childhood, my hero. He was 12 years old when I was born, Mo was eight and I was the surprise baby, the one my siblings cooed over and protected. But children have no power.
“So wait, yuh jus’ ago skin aff yuh teet.” Jon mocks and before he can finish I launch myself into his arms.
I am home and maybe with him being gone, we can be a family again. Like before. Or even better than before, because now we can be honest with each other.
“Where is Mamma?” I ask, my curiosity winning my desire to ignore her existence all together. They really ought to have died together. As soon as I have the thought, I wish I didn’t. I wish that I could go back and take it all back. But it is there, I wish my mother and father were both deceased.
“She went to the morgue. She wanted to dress him herself or whatever. Linton took her, she and Sis Bessie from church.” Mo shrugs and goes back to washing and chopping vegetables.
I feel clearer and happier than I have been in years. The unsettling feeling is my stomach is gone and I ask about family and friends. I start with the Millers. I need to know what is happening with them. Mo stares at me for a long while before she starts her updates.
Tasha, the first Miller girl divorced her Japanese husband last year and is back at the house living with her mother and the two children. The twins, Tessa and Tina live in Burch Bay and run a cook shop and grocer. As Mo goes down the list of the Millers, I am patiently waiting for her to say something about TJ. I haven’t been able to find him anywhere online. He isn’t on Facebook, or Twitter, it is as if TJ decided to vanish. It all changed after TJ went to school in Barbados, we would talk on Skype, text and email and we were supposed to be together forever but our forever came to an end on Christmas break ’09. Last year I saw the youngest Miller girl, Tanisha, at Dino’s and after the my goodness and I can’t believe commentary on changes in weight, height and hell even skin colour, I asked her about TJ and the damn girl said he was OK. I mean TJ and I were together for five years, all through high school and then nothing and all the girl had to offer was a raass, “He is OK.”
“And Tamera, she live in England, always posting on Facebook, you should fren har. She post updates every day of her and the British husband and the six dog dem have. Call herself pet parent.” Mo stops and laughs at her joke.
And I realise that I am holding my breath, waiting on her tell something, anything about TJ.
“Jon…Monique! Lisa…where is yuh mada? She caan jus come lef yuh here look afta the odda pickaninies. Look at the house, people coming and going and not even a likkle pot a food. Is a damn disgrace.”
I stiffen at the sound of my mother’s voice, she is shouting now, and all the peace and sense of belonging drains from me. I am amazed that I am instantly quieted by mother’s booming voice.
“We are in the kitchen Mamma.” Mo offers, cutting the complaints.
I listen to my mother’s laboured breathing and unintelligible muttering. She bursts into the kitchen, her hands full of shopping bags, Jon moves to relieve her of the baggage and Mo has started up the oven, placing dishes in. Mamma zooms past me towards Mo instructing her on what needs to be reheated and how the food ought to be divided, family food, food for friends and visitors, how they all need to separated.
“Ma.” I manage to let out.
“Hmmm” is her only comment, my mother, Debra Benson-Goldson, is still instructing Monique to fix that, change this, cut this. Bent, small and menacing, my mother is impatient and hisses as she takes over, adding a casserole dish to the oven.
“Ma, me and Lilli will go get Uncle Mike, and collect the cooler and ice from Jan’s before the crowds start. Do you need anything else?” Jon asks.
“Yes Jon and please remember to pick up Sister Bernice and Mrs. Oliver. I promised them to arrange a ride. Change into something decent before the leave the house.”
That last bit is directed at me without any actual effort to see me, acknowledge that I have come come. Immediately I feel so small and insignificant.
So Lilli has reconnected with her family, was it that bad? I didn’t think so. Or is all the drama all in Lilli’s head? Is she the problem? And what do you think of their mother Debra? Let me know in the comments. Please share if you like, share with friends and family, the story continues next week.
Have a fantastic weekend.