An Excerpt from the soon released novel, The Six (Copyright Protected) online and in select book retailers Summer 2013!
Good for 90 days
The room got quiet, and just when you could hear a pin drop, my grandmother began to laugh.
“What’s so funny Gertrude?” my grandfather asked my grandmother.
“She said she was dating this…young gentleman, and Stan that’s just funny to me.”
She paused. The room got still and everyone, crippled in awkward judgements from all ends, looked at each other with wonder, disdain, and betrayal.
“You know something, Stella, your grandmother warned me about this day. She warned me. She said ‘Oh Trudy that girl’s going to test the limits with you, just you wait! But when she does don’t give up on her, she’ll come around.’ I have waited for this moment to come—never knew what form your test would come, but I waited. And here it is, you’re dating him!” She responded as she continued to laugh.
My father was hurt, he knew this wouldn’t be an easy dinner, but he expected more...he hoped for more than what my grandparents were able to give. Determined, my father looked my grandmother in her eyes, attempting to peel away some layer of the unwarranted hatred she seemed to have for their relationship.
“Mrs. Bartholomew, I love your daughter and we are going to be together, ma’am. I am not just some joker; I am a true and honest man. I work, I may not be in medical school, but I make an honest living. I will do my best to provide a great life for your daughter.” My father said.
My grandmother began to laugh even more uncontrollably. Seeing how my father put his heart on the table, and seeing my grandmother step on it with every exploding bout of laughter, made my mother extremely upset.
“Mom, SHUT UP!” The room was still. I have been told that stopped my grandmother’s laughter for good.
“You have never taken me seriously. All you do is laugh at my dreams. I told you I wanted to go to college and you wanted me to stay home and wait for some guy, that I probably don’t even have a thing in common with—that I would be completely unhappy with...” My mother’s tears began to flow uncontrollably.
“I knew this was you—I knew this was you all along. I knew you never cared for my happiness, only for your image. You would be happy if I waited in this house for a guy you chose to to come home from his breaks in medical school and live a life as an unfulfilled, unhappy, uncontrollably miserable housewife—just like you!” My mother said with clear frustration in her voice. My grandmother condescending grin turned into a full grown scowl as she stared at her daughter make this unwelcomed monologue.
“How dare you talk to me like that! Stan, how dare she talk to me like that?”
“How could you say that about your mother, Stella? What are you doing to my daughter, huh? She’s never spoken to her mother like that before.” My grandfather asked.
Immediately my mother felt the extremity of her words to her mother, and while she meant them, she regretted the hurt they would cause. “Mom I’m sorry. Dad, it’s not him, I am sick of being treated like this. Whether you guys like it or not, I love him and he loves me—we love each other. Mom and dad this is the 80s, we can’t live in our old rules anymore. Mom, you can’t pick who I love...I choose, not you. Could you try to love me instead of hating the decisions I make with my life?” My mother said as tears ran down her face.
My father stood up and said, “Mr. and Mrs. Bartholomew, I never meant to cause you good people any stress or frustration. I only know how I feel, and I know how your daughter makes me feel…”
Interrupted by my grandmother who jumped up and said;
“Feel…feel what? Oh God, Stan, they’re talking about feeling. Feeling what? She’s making him feel, he’s making her feel? They are feeling, Stan, feeling! I am not prepared for feeling! Not at all prepared, Stanley!” My grandmother said hysterically.
“I meant how she makes me feel inside, ma’am.” Interrupted again by my grandmother.
“Inside…inside what?! Oh No, now they have feelings inside—with each other! She’s making him feel inside, she’s feeling inside. They are feeling inside, Stan! Do you see what is happening to our daughter? She’s become an inside feeler!!!” My grandmother exclaimed.
“STOP IT, MOM, STOP IT! Either you love me with him or you will never see me again, and I mean it! I am a grown woman and I deserve some damn respect!” My mom said.
“You have lost every sane part of your mind. I want her committed, Stan. She’s crazy talking to me like that! Where’s the Manischewitz? I can’t take this, I won’t take this.” My grandmother said.
“Mom, you heard me clear, and if you don’t accept us as we are, you will never see your grandchild!”
“What does Lydia have to do with this? Your sister did right, and she got married and had a baby by a lawyer—a Jewish lawyer! And you will never get her to keep my grandchild away from me. Especially not after she hears this foolishness you got going on. Stan, where is the damn Manischewitz?” My grandmother rebutted.
“I am not talking about Lydia’s baby. I’m talking about mine. I’m pregnant!” My mother said. My grandmother stood up and just as she began to speak—she fainted!
Always a fortress, my grandfather’s face turned redder than fire engine. “I send you to Pennsylvania to get a good education, and learn something and you go and get knocked up by a…HIM! You are a disgrace! You come in here pregnant, you lie and say he’s one of your college friends—which for the record I never believed. You’ve disrespected me and your mother. I don’t know how they treat their parents over there in his village, but over here we respect our parents. You know this, Stella, You know this! I don’t care if you have 2 months, 2 weeks, or 2 days left in school, you are not going back to Philadelphia. What are your friends going to think of you having a baby? Better yet, what are people going to think about you having a baby by him, Stella? Did you ever think of that? DID YOU? Answer me!” my mother’s father screamed at her.
While my mother was being scolded by her father, my father went to help my grandmother up from her place on the floor. Can you imagine the shock when she awakens to my father’s dark face staring directly at her as he wiped her face with a damp cloth? My grandmother screamed and began to push him away.
“Get your hands off my wife!” My grandfather screamed at my father.
Tensions were high, my grandmother refused to move from her space on the floor, and my grandfather was absolutely livid. My father was told to leave their home immediately and they—my father and mother—both agreed that it would be best. Knowing that this was a definite possibility before coming to their house, my father was prepared with a bus ticket home and tokens for the train. Before leaving my father handed a bus ticket to Philadelphia to my mother and he said; “The ticket is good for 90 days, Stella.”
They both hugged and before they could even attempt to get comfortable in their embrace, my grandfather pushed them apart and my father to the ground and said to him with an extremely firm tone;
“If you value your life, your future, and my daughter at all, you will take your little nigger ass as far away from here as possible—and never see her again. Get the hell out of my house!”
“Sir, I’m sorry, but I can’t do that. She is having my child."
“No, she isn’t. That won’t be happening. Now get the hell out of my house!” My grandfather said.
“You heard him, get out of here! You're not welcome here!” My grandmother screamed.
“I love you, Jacob.” My mother said to my father before he left.
At that time, as my mother recalls, a tear traveled down my father’s face and feeling helpless, he left, all the while, looking at my grandfather straight in his eye as he slammed the door in his face.
He stood on their steps for a few minutes and listened to the screams from her father and mother and left thinking that he would never see my mother again and that he would never see their child. His final attempt to keep his love and child in his life was to write a small note and leave it on their door that read simply: 90 days.