behavior, daughters, family, life lessons, mothers, relationships, values

Mothers

My childhood memories of my mother consist of her constant worrying about whether we’re safe, warm, and not hungry. I remember those annoying mitten holders I was forced to wear on the sleeves of my winter coat to make sure I always had my gloves. Or those annoying snow pants I had to fight my way into. When my brother came home from school with his eye practically hanging out the socket from getting beat up by bullies, I remember the way she jumped into her car, tires screeching to confront them. I also remember thinking my mother was going to prison, but it worked out fine. ; ) She put her own health on the line, working constructions jobs to keep food on the table. All these things she did for us. She’s the type of mother I want to be one day.

What I don’t understand is how someone could just throw their flesh and blood away without a passing glance. For nearly a year, my mother has been raising her niece’s, my cousin’s baby. The whole saga started last January when she received a call that my cousin was giving birth at the hospital. It came as a surprise to us since we’d just talked to the girl, who’s in her early twenties back in October and she hadn’t mentioned anything about even being pregnant. Since the girl’s mother, my mom’s sister had just moved out of state, my mother went to see about her and the baby.

Mom immediately fell in love with the 3 pound preemie and promised to do everything she could for her. Since my cousin was close to getting evicted from her place and the government was in her business because the child was born with drugs in her system, my mother came to the decision to take care of the baby until she could get herself together. I was skeptical at first, fearing that Mom was taking on too much, like she tends to do. With my mother, myself, and my two sisters sharing an apartment, it was a group effort but we all did our part to take care of the baby from the time she left the hospital.

Knowing the mother could barely take care of herself, Mom paid for everything the baby needed out of her pocket, from clothes, to diapers and furniture. Mom provided while all the girl and her family could offer were thank you’s. Mom isn’t the type to worry about getting paid back for her efforts, she does it because it’s the right thing to do and God will see to her having what she needs. The sleepless nights and 3 am feedings belonged to my mother, who’s staring down the throat of 60, works 40 hours a week and goes to dialysis 3 times a week.

In the meantime, she coached my cousin on getting support for the baby, including WIC for the formula, and making sure the baby got part of the father’s income from the government. My cousin came to get the baby late in the spring and 3 months later we got a call from her saying that she needed us to take the baby again.

The relationship with the baby’s father was taking an abusive turn and she was moving out of town to be with my aunt. The baby was returned to us in deplorable conditions. Her eczema was out of control, diaper rash had run rampant, and the clothes my mother sent when she gave her back the first time were filthy with most of them having to be thrown away. Once my mother got her home the poor thing guzzled three bottles of milk until we could go get more formula.  The vouchers for the food and milk that the government gave for free had not been used and the lump sum of money my cousin received for her child, definitely wasn’t spent on her.

 

My cousin left with promises of sending a portion of the baby’s money every month for expenses, but that’s one promise that hasn’t been fulfilled. Since she skipped town we’ve only seen $100 of the promised money and we haven’t heard from her in nearly two months. When she does call it becomes an ‘I’m a bad mother’ docudrama worthy of Lifetime TV where she wants to rope you into feeling sorry for her. The focus turns to her, not to the baby she left. I see that the longer she’s away from her child the more disassociated she becomes, the bond between mother and child broken.

The baby is doing just fine and approaching her first birthday. She’s smart, loves to talk, and is happy as she can be. But kids grow up and one day she’s going to have questions. How will her mother explain why she abandoned her and took off with the money that was intended for her care? How will she tell her daughter she didn’t do all she could to make sure she was taken care of? Isn’t that what mothers are supposed to do?

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behavior, brothers, daughters, death, dysfunctional families, family, fathers, grieving, Indie Author, life lessons, Mental Health, mothers, relationships, Uncategorized, values, writing

The Marrying Man

My Father

My Father

The innocent looking boy in the picture is quite the cutie isn’t he? He would live to be 87 yrs old before being called home, and while on this earth, lived quite an eventful life. He married 6 times, with only 2 marriages ending in death, my birth mother, wife #3, and wife #5. 

He worked in the auto industry for most of his adult life. He believed in Generous Motors until the financial collapse of GM’s bankruptcy broke his heart. Life changed around him and he just couldn’t understand the why’s. He refused to believe that after all his years of blood, sweat and toil to a company he loved, he suddenly had to pay doctor co-pays and worry over the possibility of his pension being cut. The latter thankfully never happened.

 I’d love to say in this post that he was a perfect father ect…. I’d love to say it, but truth was, he was blissfully unaware that he was a complicated man. He believed in simplicity and yet he convoluted his life so badly when it came to his family. With his last wife, he believed his kids should have just fallen all over the woman he loved, and love her just as much as he did, even as she was ripping our family apart.

This of course was his pollyanna, his utopia. Blood will always be thicker than water and the woman made sure that her grown child and grandchildren were to always come first in his eyes. At times I believe she succeeded and enjoyed rubbing my nose in it.

That’s not to say he didn’t love us. I think he just assumed we knew he did, and felt he had to outwardly show it to her children more. He had to prove to the new wife his loyalty, and I believe she exploited it to a high degree. I know in later (rare) private conversations with him, he later felt trapped in that loyalty, but felt powerless to do anything about it.

I loved him to a fault when I was young, and I do have many fond memories of him. My most valued memory is the father/daughter dance at my wedding. It was one of the few times I really felt connected to him, that he cared and was happy with my choice of partner. he loved my husband and thought highly of him. He even defended him against my husband’s own father. Yet another father story for another time.

 After wife #5’s death, my brothers and I struggled to reconnect with him, feeling that for the first time we could have had that long awaited, and unencumbered relationship with him. 

Not so much.

 I quickly realized that he was the ‘marrying man’, when he announced at 73 yrs of age, that he was seeing yet another woman. This was literally months after wife #5 died. It was like a sickness, he just couldn’t be without a woman whom he wanted to give control over his life.

As an adult I began to see the pattern emerge. I don’t know much about wife #1 and 2, except with #2, he had 2 boys that he let another man adopt because he didn’t want anymore animosity and fights between wife #2 and #3, besides he had young children with #3 and another new life. 

With wife #4 he had no children, and after a contentious relationship, ended up leaving her for wife #5. With wife #5 he gained 4 stepdaughters that he truly loved. It was inexplicable to me that he also dropped them all by the wayside when #6 came around, though later he would believe wife #6 when she said it was their fault and they abandoned him. It’s that ‘why didn’t they worship #6 like he did’ kind of thing. Through rose colored glasses of love and obsession, he failed to see #6’s jealousy and that she pushed us all away.

The 4 girls would never be able to have any semblance of a relationship with him again, with only one of them being able to see him once before he died. Wife #6 made sure of that. She also made sure my brothers and I were tossed out of the picture until she finally relented to having me around. 

This was an eggshell walk for me, treading water carefully as to not upset the balance that allowed my continued visits. My brothers just gave up.

Now here’s the weird part, as time went on he just couldn’t understand why things were the way they were. He couldn’t see his role in the drama. Sensing that he was losing his touch on reality in his last years, I let it be and decided instead to try to persuade the brothers to make up and just be a family before he passed. It didn’t work. I spent years on this fruitless endeavor, arguing and pleading with them to no avail. I swallowed so much pride I was drowning in my own tears.

I was with him that weekend at his home, watching his chest rise and fall with each ragged breath, hanging on to life with him in his few moments of clarity, in-between  blissful pain free naps. I held his hand, stroked his hair and prayed for a peaceful ending, letting him know he wasn’t alone. 

I watched as the funeral home came and zipped him up in a body bag and carried him out on a gurney at 5am, after hospice came and declared him what we already new him to be. 

I sat in the funeral home alone for calling hours, my husband having been taken ill that day. I was surrounded by wife #6’s family, very few I truly believed loved him, and senior center friends of his I didn’t know. My family was nowhere to be seen. It was totally awkward sitting there. Many of his ‘other’ family didn’t know who I was, since I was never spoke of by #6. I felt like it was me, not him, that was the ghost in the room. Only one of #6’s family offered a condolence to me, thankfully it was #6’s daughter, who was gracious enough to put aside her own grief to see that I too, was hurting. I dreaded the funeral the next day.

Then a miracle happened. The 3 step sisters who were still alive (1 passed away 2 yrs prior)  and their spouses and children, who’s hearts were also broken by the man lying in the casket, had made a last minute decision and showed up at the funeral, swallowing their pride with me, shedding tears for the relationship they remembered with him, not what for what it became.

I don’t want my readers to get the wrong impression about this post. It’s not a bash my father for the last time kind of thing. He was, after all, a funny man with down home, countrified kind of humor. He enjoyed playing his music and was quite an accomplished singer and guitar player. He played in many bands and gave generously of his time to playing for the ‘old’ folks at the senior centers and nursing homes in his seventies and early eighties, before his health demanded he stop. He was beloved by his friends as an affable, kind man, who would give you the shirt off his back. Like I said, he was complicated without ever realizing it.

There is, of course, a huge amount to tell of his life that would have to be classified as fiction, because, well, truth is stranger than fiction. I just wanted to share this more for me than anything, to help reconcile on digital paper my feelings of undying love for this man and simmering disappointment of what could have been.

If any of you have had a parent like this feel free to comment and tell me about it. I’d love to know I’m not alone.

 

 

 

 

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behavior, celebrity worship, daughters, disrespect, Fame, family, fathers, life lessons, morality, mothers, nudity, rape, self respect, teens, Uncategorized, values, women, youth

Pimping Yourself For Fame

The opinions in this post is mine and mine alone. Agree, disagree I don’t care. I just felt it had to be said.
I saw a picture posted by a barely 18 year old on a news story on the internet, and when I say barely 18 I mean she’s not even a month into supposed adulthood. Kendall Jenner made news this week with a picture of her in a black fishnet type shirt with no bra and leaving nothing to the imagination. It was extremely see thru much to the delight I’m sure of many males both young and old.
kendall
Now I’m not a prude, I am not above writing the love story that gets physical, but the books we write are for grown adults not YA. My issue with the picture of Kendall Jenner’s nips is this. She wasted no time in sexualizing herself the minute she turned 18 and it’s now reported that her father, Bruce Jenner, is supporting her decision to instagram this picture to 7 million followers and now millions more thanks to the power of the internet. She might as well get it over with and make the sex tape and post the completely nude photo announcing her new found self depreciation and degradation into an object to be lusted over.
Where is the self respect? Yes she is technically an adult and in this country can do what she wants, but the fact that she did it so quickly after turning the magic adult number tells me that she has been thinking about this for a while way before she turned that magic age. Face it she didn’t wake up from innocence the morning of her birthday and convert to sluthood that same day, she had role models.
I understand the Kardashian/Jenner motive is to strictly whore yourself out for money. What is nonsense is the man who is supposed to be her moral compass,  her protector, her father, basically gave his tramp stamp of approval and has solidified her place in the Kardashian world of being slutty equals money. This approval by her father and no doubt her mother who’s every move is about the almighty dollar, sends a dangerous message to the followers of this young lady that dressing like anything goes is OK and consequences be damned.
Till something goes horribly wrong.
Normal everyday girls do not have Kardashian/Jenner money to protect them when things go wrong.  We read stories several times a week where there is a rape, gang rape, abuse, molestation and incest of women and young girls, some are so young they are barely out of diapers. We are shocked and appalled when this happens and before you scream at me, I’m in no way defending the men or boys or even saying the girls deserved it, but I am railing at the collective lack of consciousness that allows the celebrity to be our moral compass and give way to the anything goes attitude. How can we cry foul when the image of the willing wanton slut is shoved in our faces on a regular daily basis. When we individually or as a society, applaud, imitate and condone the behavior of the wannabe celebrity or musician that ‘twerks’ onstage provocatively and glorifies the use of drugs and sex. The message is clear, all women if they are showing it off or not are fair game.
Justin Bieber was just reported as having a party where strippers were hired to be naked at this party. The comment continued that the other women or girls at this party felt ‘out of place’ and pressured into also disrobing and parading nude for the enjoyment of many male celebrities that attended. The lure of being able to say you partied with the male celebs and had money rain down on you overrode any modesty and moral decency, allowing the girls collective debasement and lack of self respect to take hold. Partygoers were made to sign confidentiality agreements that they would not disclose anything that happened while attending said party or face a fine of 5 million dollars. Yes, I said 5 million.  Now who is that for? It doesn’t take a genius (or maybe it does) to know it was for the further intimidation of the girls, especially if something untoward was actually done to them while in their state of disrobement. To protect the male celebrity against being charged with whatever illegal activity happened whether it was sex she didn’t consent to or the slew of illicit drugs that were consumed that night.  May I also remind my readers who say it was The Bieb’s right to throw such a debauched party that he is not yet even 21.
Where are the parents? Where is dad to drag his daughter away and say I love you too much to let you debase yourself like this, or is dad to busy ogling young Kendall Jenner on his laptop or phone.
Where dad to teach his son that objectifying and disrespecting women and girls is wrong. Where are Bieber’s parents to reign in this kid and help him stop his path of self destruction we see happening to so many young celebs these days?
 Where are the mothers to advise and counsel their daughters on being self respecting, strong young ladies that don’t need to parade her nakedness to get attention. That the kind of attention she gets by putting it all out there is not the loving attention she is actually seeking.
We’ve all seen pictures of very young girls trying to be older than they are, wanting to show skin and appear sexy way before their time. We rail against this holding our hands up decrying the situation while we are buying her the Halloween costume of the slutty celebrity she emulates and call it cute. We enter her in the beauty contest shoving her little feet into high heels and have her practice her smile and call it investing in her confidence.
All because society and celebrity told us this is the way to be accepted.
There is some truth in the statement “little girls marry their fathers.” What she grows up with and see’s she will carry with her into adulthood and pass on to her own daughter in an endless cycle. It is proven that a girl who witnesses abuse by men in her home will more than likely end up with an abuser at some point before hopefully the cycle is broken.  If she is brought up with low self esteem and little respect, she will not magically obtain it when she turns 18.
A final thought. If we wouldn’t want our own young daughters, granddaughters, nieces to be emblazoned on instagram in a see thru top showing her nips to the world, or would die of shame to know our precious girls paraded around at a party butt naked to be used, objectified and reduced to the level of sex toy, then we need to stand up and let our objections be heard. We need to talk to and educate our boys on respect for women and how to be proper gentlemen. We need to educate and promote self respect and self esteem with our girls. We need to kill this celebrity worship and stop rewarding bad behavior.
If we don’t we all must look in the mirror and wag a finger at ourselves the next time we are shocked and appalled when our girls and women suffer with our indifference at the hands of bad men.

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daughters, family, fathers, life lessons, mothers, relationships

Kids Grow Up

I am an adult child of divorce. I was about sixteen when my parents decided to end things. To make a long story short, my father wanted to do what he wanted and my mother wasn’t having it.

Kids aren’t stupid and they know who looks out for them. I watched as my mother, a housewife for eighteen years, pulled out the newspaper the day after he left and went to work the next day. She worked jobs she shouldn’t trying to put food on the table.  Recycling plant, cleaning toilets, construction; it didn’t matter, if the money was green she took the job. We may have had utilities off from time to time, but there was always food on the table, even though it may not be the gourmet cuisine you wanted. We learned how to make food last on a limited budget and we were never on any public assistance. The struggle bonded us deeply.

Now my father on the other hand was living the life he wanted with no responsibilities to tie him down. He went and married the woman he was seeing while he was married to my mother, about two months after the divorce was final. He went and bought that brand new red Mustang, not the type of car you would expect from someone with three kids. He wouldn’t call to check on us, but to brag about where he’d been on his vacation. He couldn’t come for his scheduled visits but he made sure we saw his shiny new sports car. He could care less that his kids were hurt, scarred and traumatized, it was all about him.

The same could be said for his parents. We were their only grand children, so on Christmas they doted on us with the huge gift boxes from Hudson’s. My grandmother would go all out with the beautiful hand knit sweaters and name brand items for kids. After my parents split, that was it. No Christmas gifts, no birthday wishes, nothing. As we struggled, no one called to see if the kids had shoes, coats, or even food. We were cut off completely, even though they only lived eight minutes away from us.

Now, the time in the hour glass is in our favor. We’re stable adults now, no drug use, no illegitimate children, my brother had his growing pains as a young black male growing up in Detroit, but these days he’s a workaholic and he’s fine. We’re as close to Mom as we’ve ever been.

Mr. Sherman on the other hand is another story. Having worked for Ford since he was eighteen, he makes a nice salary, but you can never tell. His life is a never ending spiral of dysfunction. The divorce from wife number three was final a couple months ago, so I know he’s looking for his next flavor of the month. He has no choice but to flit from woman to woman because he has no bond with his children and has to assimilate himself into their family. He’s the type who likes to rewrite history, like he was Cliff Huxtable; I have no problem reminding him what a terrible father he was.

Our relationship with him is awkward, like we’re operating at two different frequencies. When we talk he makes juvenile jokes, like he doesn’t realize we’re grown adults now. He doesn’t know me. He can’t tell you my favorite food or color. He’s even clueless about me being a writer, which I plan on keeping that way. Whatever he is, I’m stuck with him.

The ‘accessories’ on the other hand are optional. We eventually reconnected with my grandparents a when we learned after about fifteen years when we learned my grandmother was dying of cancer. We visited the hospital a couple times, but I felt the coldness, like I’d wandered into some random stranger’s hospital room. How pathetic is it when your own grandparents have to ask if you have any children? After a knockdown drag out debate with my brother and sister, we attended the funeral and started visiting with my widowed grandfather again.

Every week or every other week, we’d visit, go out to dinner or a movie. We even invited him over to dinner a couple times and my sister called him every day. A couple years later, a few of her daily calls went unanswered and he called back when he felt like it. He had a new woman in his life and little by little we could feel that chasm opening up again. My sister trying to be nice tried to give him another shot, but the writing was on the wall for me. Dear old sweet granddad used us as placeholders to keep from being lonely until he found another wife. After that I was done with the Sherman family completely. It’s been about two and a half years and I haven’t looked back.

Which brings us to the very reason I’m so pissed today. Sunday my father calls with his normal chit chat which results in him holding the phone in silence and me trying to come up with conversation because he doesn’t know what to say. Before he ends the call, he tells me to call my grandfather on Tuesday, cause it’s his birthday. Huh?

Today I had a missed call from my father and I know what he wants. If I didn’t know what he wanted, the text with my grandfather’s phone number is a clue.

I’m not calling him. Call me cold, callous, heartless, whatever, I’m done with these people. I’m not a toy you can take out of the box and play with whenever some one feels the need. My grandfather has kicked us to the curb twice; once as children and once again as adults, after we gave him a second chance. This isn’t the Oprah show where the long lost relative is hiding behind the curtain. Fake isn’t in me, so I’m not doing the loving granddaughter routine, pretending every thing is fine and make him feel better. I don’t think so.

People need to know that kids aren’t stupid. They may be little and defenseless and can’t do anything when you break promises or break their hearts. But they grow up. Be careful what you throw away.

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biracial, Chicklit, daughters, diversity, Drama, family, fathers, Fiction, friends, ghosts, Indie Author, manners, mothers, Multicultural, Paranormal, supernatural, women

Danielle’s Halloween

Here’s a fun treat. This is a prequel of sorts to the yet unpublished third book in The Body Hunters series. Call it a Halloween treat! Enjoy!

“I promise honey, this is going to be the best Halloween/Slumber/Birthday party ever.” Danny’s mother, Julianna happily announced as she hung the Happy Birthday banner.

The Labouleaux family’s living room had been set up as party central with everything a six year old little girl could want at their party; every six year old girl except Danielle Labouleaux. Danielle or Danny as she preferred did not understand the need for all the hoopla surrounding her birthday. She’d practically begged her mother not to invite any of girls in Danny’s first grade class other than her two best friends.
“Not it’s not!” Danny protested. “The other girls in my class hate me.”
Julianna beamed a smile down on the daughter who was her spitting image, except for her golden eyes and golden complexion which was inherited from her father. “Honey, they don’t hate you. They just haven’t taken the time to get to know you. That’s what this party is about; getting to know your classmates and making friends.”
“Whatever.” Seeing that her mother still wasn’t listening to her, Danny stalked off in search of the candy she’d been forbidden to eat.
Danny was different, she knew that. First and foremost, she was psychic, able to communicate with ‘ghosties’ as her Grandmere called them. That fact was a secret that only she and Grandmere shared. Her grandmother warned that Danny would become a powerful psychic, because she was chosen to be born on November 1st, or what was called The Day of the Dead. The Day of the Dead was when the veil being the living world and the spirit realm was lifted. On that day, Danny would be a beacon for those ghosts who craved attention and wanted to pester her with their selfish requests. As she got older, the ghosts’ would be more and more demanding for her attention.
Danny also had a stronger connection to the spirit realm than most psychics, even those born on November 1st. Just a few months ago, she underwent emergency surgery to correct a heart defect. While she was on the operating table, the doctors lost Danny for several minutes before they were able to revive her. This phenomenon deepened her connection to the spirit plane.
Unlike the kids at the school whose parents were either both white or both black, Danny’s father was black and her mother was white.  She first noticed that her parents were different during Open House when the school year first started. Though her parents didn’t seem to be aware of it, Danny saw the stares and the whispers from the other parents. She put it in the back of her mind, until the kids in her class started to tease her about her parents, calling her an Oreo.
After punching her classmate Jasmine’s lights out on the playground, Danny went home with the question of why they would call her a cookie. Her father, Marcel Labouleaux lovingly pulled her into his lap as he and her mother told her the fairy tale of how she came into being.
They explained how her mother, the beautiful, violet eyed princess, defied the wishes of her rich family and eloped with the handsome Creole man she’d fallen in love with. Much to the young couple’s delight, Julianna had a bun in the oven. When Danny asked how her mother got the bun in the oven, Marcel quickly changed the subject, recommending that she not get into any more fights.
“It’s getting late, Danny. Go upstairs and put on your costume.” Her mother advised. “Your guests will be arriving soon.”
“But mom!” Danny protested.
“Do what your mom said.” Marcel commanded in his booming voice, just walking in from the market with refreshments for their overnight guests.
Rolling her eyes, Danny made a point of stomping up the stairs as loudly as possible. She’d be glad when this night was over.
The costume she’d picked out was draped across her bed. It’d been a knockdown drag out brawl, but Julianna finally relented and let Danny pick out her own costume.
No frilly pink princess costume for Danielle Labouleaux. She knew that she wanted to be a superhero, but not Wonder Woman or Supergirl like the girls in her class. Danny wanted to be a superhero that looked like her, so she showed her mother of picture of Storm from the X-men cartoon.
Proud of her selection, Danny put the white wig over her dark hair and hopped into the black jumpsuit with the matching cape. Liking what she saw in the mirror, she started hopping on her bed, the black cape billowing around her.
“Danielle! Your guests are starting to arrive!” Julianna called from downstairs.
Exhaling sharply, Danny slowly descended the staircase, meeting the familiar and friendly faces of her friends, Emma and Felicia. Emma was a white girl with dark brown hair pulled into pigtails. Felicia was a black girl with freckles and braids. Emma’s costume was a bloody zombie princess, while Felicia was disguised as a glamour girl, with a tiara and feather boa.
They squealed and giggled like little girls do, frolicking through the house. The three best friends played to their heart’s content, until the five invited girls from their class started to file in with their blankets and sleeping bags. Fresh from an evening of trick or treating, they were still in costume.
Julianna, ever the gracious hostess whether the guest were young or old, had plenty of Halloween treats and activities planned for the girls. The party went well, with Danny’s classmates enthusiastic about the Halloween games. The girls’ nastiness toward Danny was temporarily forgotten as they stuffed their faces, danced to silly songs and competed for Halloween themed prizes.
After the festivities were over, the living room was set up as the girls’ campsite with an assortment of kid friendly Halloween movies playing on the television. The girls changed out of their costumes and into their pajamas.
Tammy, the alpha dog of Danny’s tormentors at school pointed at her as she buttoned the top of her pajamas.
“Look! The Oreo is about to turn into Frankenstein!” Tammy’s horde of flunkies giggled as Danny hastily finished buttoning her top.
The zipper scar that bisected her chest was what remained after Danny’s life saving surgery. Getting teased about it was almost a daily ritual at school. She’d been following her father and Grandmere’s advice about using her words, not her fists, but she was nearing a breaking point.
“Leave me alone!” Danny shouted back.
“Oh, Frankenstein gonna cry.” Tammy mocked, bringing her balled up fists to her eyes. “Wah, wah, wah. Crybaby! Are the Oreo’s tears made of cream filling?”
The other girls laughed at the amateur comedienne.
“I said knock it off!” The infamous Labouleaux temper was ready to break free.
 
“Oreo! Oreo! Oreo!” The girls in Tammy’s clique chanted.
“How about you take your heart out so we can see it, Frankenstein?” Tammy jabbed again with her sharp words and her pointy finger into Danny’s chest.
She pounced on Tammy like a jungle cat. The assault took the bully by surprise as Danny pummeled her from one end of the living room to the other. The pink Barbie play tent Marcel had erected so the girls could pretend they were camping collapsed under the weight of the grappling duo. The other girls screamed trying to get out of the way for fear of being the next victim of Danny’s fury.
Having heard the girls chanting ‘Oreo’, Marcel and Julianna were already on the way to the living room, knowing there was trouble. Expecting to find their daughter outnumbered and in need of a rescue, they were stunned to find her holding her own.
“Take it back.” Danny growled, slapping Tammy’s reddened cheeks.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry I called you an Oreo!” Tammy wailed.
Despite his urging his daughter not to fight, Marcel felt a little fatherly pride that she’d given the bully exactly what she was looking for. He pulled Danny off Tammy and into his arms.
“Enough, Danny, enough.”
“I tried to use my words, but I couldn’t help it.” She sobbed, tears falling on his neck. “They wouldn’t stop calling me names.”
“I know, sweetie, Daddy knows.”
Julianna turned her motherly rage on the five instigators. “Is this how your parents taught you to behave? You come to Danny’s house, eat her food, play her games, and you mistreat her? What kind of spoiled brats are you?”
Danny’s enemies flinched under Julianna’s glare, muttering apologies.
Danny was still clinging to Marcel’s neck. “I’m about to start calling their parents because I’m about one minute from whupping their behinds myself.”
One after another, Marcel called the parents, pulling no punches about their children’s racially charged behavior.  Upon their arrival, some of the parents tried to defend their children’s antics, blaming Danny, but Felicia and Emma were there to provide their eyewitness account of events. The parents then went from defensive to super apologetic.
“You know racism is learned in the home. It’s a shame that kids pick that up from their parents.” Marcel remarked dryly to one mortified mother, who hastily dragged her towheaded daughter out the door.
“So I guess the next thing is to wake up with a cross burning on my lawn.” He matter-of-factly stated to a humiliated couple as they whisked their daughter away.
“Give me that candy!” Marcel snatched a bag of treats from one girl on her way out the door with her shame faced mother.
After the antagonists were gone, Marcel left to take Emma and Felicia home. He’d already called their parents, who expressed concern for Danny. Marcel thanked them for their worries and let them know he’d be dropping the girls off shortly. Before leaving, they gave Danny a supportive hug.
“Are you mad at me, mama?” Danny asked as Julianna tucked her into bed.
“Mad at you? Why would I be mad at you?”
“I ruined the party.”
Julianna sighed, sitting beside her on the bed. “I’m not mad at you. Who I’m mad at are those atrocious little snots and their equally atrocious parents!”
Danny giggled at her mother’s version of harsh language.
“I can never be mad at you, my love. Now go to sleep, sweet dreams.” Julianna kissed her on the forehead.
“That’s horrible.” Cassie cried out as Danny continued her tale.
It was over twenty years after that fateful birthday and the two best friends were sitting across the kitchen table from each other. It felt like a lifetime had passed since then, Danny’s parents and her Grandmere lost to her over the years. The now adult Danny went to the coffeemaker for the carafe and refilled their mugs.
“Dad was pissed. He was so aggravated with the situation that he joined the PTA.”
“Why would he join the PTA? What would that have to do with anything?” Cassie flipped her blond hair over her shoulder.
“He joined the PTA so he could have an excuse to see those girls’ parents every few weeks.” She laughed. “My dad was very ornery and he couldn’t resist an opportunity to make those parents feel even worse.”
Cassie joined in the laughter. “What about Tammy and her goons?”
“I never had problems with bullies after that. They didn’t even cause me any problems in high school, so I guess they learned their lesson.”
“I know I learned mine.” Cassie and Danny weren’t always friends in fact they started off as bitter enemies. Having been the recipient of a Danielle Labouleaux beat down, she didn’t blame the bullies for not bothering her again.
“You know I’m still sorry about that.” Danny said remorsefully.
“I don’t know why. I was acting like a stuck up biotch and I deserved it.” Cassie acknowledged. “I still don’t understand why you don’t want to have a birthday party. So what if you had to beat up Tammy?”
“Like I said my birthday being on The Day of the Dead leaves me vulnerable. After that ruckus during the slumber party, I fell asleep and woke up to dozens of ghosts reaching out to me.”
“Yikes!”
“Exactly. Dealing with my gift is hard sometimes, even as an adult; imagine turning seven years old and having ghosts fighting for your attention. I woke up screaming and luckily Grandmere was there to calm me down. On my birthday, spirits are drawn to my raw emotions, so she taught me a few exercises to keep them at bay.”
“Danny, I’m so sorry your birthday is so traumatic.”
“It’s no big deal. Now you know why I don’t celebrate my birthday. It’s just too much drama and too much of a hassle. So don’t bother planning a birthday party for me. I’ll be just fine.”
“When was the last time you actually celebrated your birthday?” Cassie asked out of curiosity.
Danny shrugged. “It was the year before Grandmere died.”
Cassie was horrified. Danny’s grandmother had been gone for close to ten years.
She watched as her friend dumped the contents of her mug into the sink and left the kitchen. Visions of streamers, balloons, and birthday wishes took root in Cassie’s mind, despite her friend’s protests. She was going to give Danny a birthday extravaganza whether she liked it or not. She just needed a partner in crime and she knew just the man to help her.
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biracial, Chicklit, Drama, Fiction, ghosts, Paranormal, supernatural, supernatural, teens

Danielle Labouleaux at 16

 Here’s something fun!  Just to get an idea of why she is the way she is, here’s a short story featuring the heroine of our book,   The Body Hunters at the tender age of sixteen.  Enjoy! 

I’m not going!” I said not so politely to my mother. Her violet eyes looked at me in exasperation. She threw up her hands as she passed by my father saying to him, “You talk to her!”  Marcel or Dad as he insists I call him gave me a look every father tries on their daughter the ‘do it or else’ stare, but he doesn’t scare me one bit. I brush past him into my room ready to slam the door in his face. He was having none of it this time.  He grabbed my door from my hands practically ripping it off the hinges. Oh Lord, I have really pissed him off now!

“So help me missy, you are not too old for me to take over my knee!” He barks at me.

 I shoot back with “Really, that’s the threat you’re going to use? You are as pathetic as her!” I know I may have crossed the line. He may not have been the most attentive father, my grandmere raising me and handling most of my discipline and all. But this time he’s not playing. He grabs me by my arm and swats me on my behind.  

“Damn it!” I yelp. I had forgotten how big and strong he really is. “God I hate you!” Yep that’ll teach him, my 16 year old brain is pleased with itself.

Dad however is not.  “I’m going to give you 10 minutes to get into that gown or I will put you in it myself!” And he’s not joking. Even I know when to quit. I resign myself to the fact that the debutante ball is in my immediate future.  He lets go of me and I slam the door.  Fuck her and fuck him! I sit on the edge of my bed my golden brown eyes welling up with tears.  Damn that swat really hurt! 

I go to my closet door where mommie dearest has kindly hung my ball gown. Leave it to Julianna to pick a white gown. Hello it’s not 1940! They do come in other colors! But no, she would not relent on style and color; she said it would be so pretty against my caramel skin. Well, I’ll give her that much, she was right about the dress. I will never tell her though, she would never let me live it down.

I put the dress on and it flows to the ground covering my feet.  I slip the white heels on and it lifts me the few inches I need so it doesn’t drag on the floor. Now let’s see what to do with this hair. Screw it! I just shove it up in a bun. I had eyed the scissors and contemplated killing Julianna by cutting my shoulder length hair in a bob. Yep that would have done her in. I am grinning devilishly at the thought, but alas my rear end is still reminding me of why that is not such a good idea.

Earrings and a necklace, damn! Again they are laid out for me. Pearls, Ugh! Seriously mother I’m not eighty years old! The corsage will be given to me by some poor sap son of a lawyer she has decided to hook me up with.  It’s her debutante all over again except this time I am to play the role of Julianna. I could care less.  Its not like she was ever there for me in the first place with her and dad being absentee parents because of their so called jobs. It’s hard to imagine mother getting her hands dirty, coming from old money and an even older white family. Wretched excess I call it. 

Wasn’t sending me to finishing school bad enough? It nearly did finish me, especially at tea when the head mistress had us showing off our polite high tea skills and I purposely shoved a whole scone in my mouth just to piss her off.  I laugh to myself at the memory. I am probably the only person to ever get kicked out of a finishing school. Yep I was finished alright! But I received another patented Marcel Labouleaux tongue lashing.  At least grandmere found the retelling of the story funny.

I decide since they are making me go to this pretentious event I will not wear the pearls. I had found a small old jewelry box a while back hidden in the floor boards in my bedroom under the bed. It is a very old home we live in and I never had the nerve to open it. I decide maybe there is something in there I could use. I move my bed and crawl on the floor not caring that the dust bunnies may be taking up a new residence on my immaculate white dress. Reaching underneath I loosen the boards and pull up the small jewelry box. Sitting back on the bed opening the box I see with fevered delight, a short gold chain filigree necklace with a pendant in the shape of a star with a blue topaz set in the middle and matching star topaz dangle earrings. I am in awe of the pieces and run to my closet door mirror to put them on. They are gorgeous. I fastened the necklace around my neck and to my delight the star pendant sits at just the right angle that everyone will have no choice but to look at my cleavage.  Another kill shot for mother Julianna! 

I am giving myself a grin in the mirror. Next up are the earrings. I carefully hold them in my hands as I remove the post stops and insert them into my lobes. I turn back to the box looking for anything else I can find. What is this? I pull a tab up and reveal a hidden bottom with a picture of a young man and woman. I immediately get a chilling sensation throughout my body as I fall to the floor; my eyes rolling into the back of my head. I see myself in my room but I am standing and I see the furniture and everything is changed. A man dressed in an army uniform is hiding the jewelry box in the floor board.

“Honey what are you doing?” a female voice calls out. I see him quickly replace the boards and right himself before she enters into my bedroom. She is unaware I am there.  She is beautiful, almost glowing with a little bump in her stomach. I recognize she is pregnant.

He tries to hide his mischievous grin. “Just looking for my watch baby.” He says as he kisses her and puts his hand on her bump.

“You mean the one you’re wearing?” She says putting her hand on top of his as she kisses him back. “C’mon hubby we are going to be late for Thanksgiving at my parents.” 

“We could just stay here and celebrate by ourselves.” He is now embracing her tighter, I feel like I am seriously intruding.  

“Um, no they are expecting us and may I remind you celebrating by ourselves is what got me in this physical state to begin with!” She laughs and lightly pushes him away.

“C’mon baby you know I ship out tomorrow.” He gives her sad little puppy dog eyes.

“I know, we’ll stay a few hours and then the rest of the night you are mine!” Her eyes gleam at him. He smiles widely at the thought.

 She walks out the door first with him in tow. I turn to find a way out but I see him now standing side by side next to me. He is looking forlorn; I think he is going to cry. No sound is coming out of his mouth, I am aware of this because it’s happened before, the spirits that come forth can’t speak to me. He turns to look me head on and I see the bullet hole in his forehead and the blood pooling in his eyes. I am shocked but hold on to my senses. He points to my neck and ears. I get it now; they were supposed to be a Christmas gift to her.  I nod my understanding to him as I touch the pendant that is resting on my chest. I suddenly feel very guilty wearing it. I look away from him embarrassed. When I look back he is smiling, the bullet hole and blood gone, his is wearing white and glowing pointing to a slip of paper that was also in the bottom of the box. It’s a receipt with what I am assuming is his name. Sgt. John Deardon. I have a name to go on and I know what I must do. The room shimmers around me and I am suddenly eyes open on my bedroom floor. There is a feeling of urgency to the find her, Mrs. Deardon.

I have to escape this prison I’m in. Marcel and Julianna are at the watch waiting for me to come downstairs. I hear the front door open and the voice of a squeaky young man that is to be my date. Ugh! Dad is bellowing for me to hurry up. I yell back not to rush me in the most irritated voice I can muster. I look around frantic as I take off the earrings and necklace and replace them in the box. I have to act fast. I can’t go looking for Mrs. Deardon in this damned dress, but I don’t have time to change. I eye the scissors I was contemplating cutting my hair earlier with. I cut the dress ruffles to just above my knee. I am really going to pay for this later, but I don’t care, when the spirits ask me to help, they usually mean it’s very urgent and need help now. I open my window and remove the screen slipping out to the large branch hanging on quietly trying to not make any noise as I let myself fall to the ground. Damn it! I forgot about these heels. 

“Oh well” I muse and head off sneaking into the back yard and over the fence. Mission accomplished! My inner voice is screaming with glee, no fucking dance tonight and no pimply nerd for a date to try to fend off in the corner of the hall. 

I am quite a sight as I catch a bus a little closer to town. At least I had sense enough to bring my backpack with money and my bus pass not to mention the jewelry box. I am getting a lot of stares and snickers, but that’s ok. I get off at Bourbon Street and walk to my favorite little pizzeria; they will have a phone book there. I know the owner Terrance very well, I’ve given him a reading with his deceased daughter and helped him get closure after her death. For that he helps hide me out for a while when the wardens known as my parents come looking for me. He welcomes me in and after looking me up and down knows I’m up to no good.

“What in God’s name is going on today Danielle?” He says in his Caribbean accent. I tell him I need a phone book because I need to find someone and it’s urgent.  He laughs and tells me aren’t they all urgent. He knows me well! He points me in the direction of the old fashioned phone booth with the phone book attached to a chain. Deardon. Not a common name and hopefully not too many in New Orleans. Thank God only one, Deardon, Samantha R. I won’t call her. I just need the address. It’s actually only 3 streets over! Terrance says I’m not going alone he will go with me. He’s met dad once or twice and doesn’t want to get on his bad side by telling him that his only child was kidnapped or something terrible he conjures up in his mind. Terrance leaves the restaurant in his capable waitress’s hands and brings his scooter to the front. He makes me wear a helmet. Now I really do look a sight!

We pull up into the driveway of the small apartment building. Terrance insists that he escort me. He’s afraid one of these times I’m going to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. We walk the hall and find the apartment number. I knock with apprehension as I hear light footsteps approach and open the door.

She is still beautiful. Her dark mane with silver streaks cascading down her shoulders as she stands staring at me with helmet hair and my torn debutante dress, standing with this skinny Caribbean man with the wide toothy grin. 

“May I help you?” She asks me with a quizzical look on her face. She is dressed in mom jeans and a button down blouse appropriate for her age.

“Um, excuse me, I am Danielle Labouleaux and this is my um…uncle Terrance. I believe I have something of yours.” I am sweating and bordering on stuttering.  This is the hardest part, getting the living to believe you. I unzip my backpack and take out the box while Terrance is saying his hellos.  I hand her the jewelry box and she takes it with hesitation looking at it like I just handed her a bomb, which in a way I have.

“I’m sorry young lady, but I have never seen this before, I think you are mistaken.” She looks to Terrance who shrugs.

“Ma’am could you please open it? There is a piece of paper with a name you may know.” She breathes deep and ushers us into her small but nicely decorated apartment.

“Please sit.” She motions to the dining room table and chairs. Terrance and I oblige her request. He is smitten I can see it; he hasn’t taken his eyes off of her since we got here.

She puts the box on the table and slowly opens it picking up the necklace and earrings, I lift up the false bottom and she pulls out the receipt. An audible gasp escapes her mouth as she puts her hand over it. Tears well up in her eyes and I am suddenly feeling very sad. Terrance puts his hand on my shoulder sensing my mood.

“Where did you get this young lady?” Tears are streaming down her face.

“Call me Danny and I found it in my room. I believe you used to live in my house. It was hidden under the floor boards.” I am now holding my breath.

“On Rouge Street?” she asks.

“Yes ma’am” She stares at me as if she has seen a ghost. I am hesitant to tell her the truth but feel the need to do so anyway.  “Ma’am, I know this sounds crazy but I get visions and spirits come to me when I see a picture. Here this is also yours.” I dig out of the backpack the picture of her and Sgt. John Deardon and hand it to her. “You too were lovely together, did he ever get to see the baby?” I ask and she jumps out of her seat. Terrance stands up quickly and tries to calm her down.

“Ma’am” He says through his thick accent. “I know it sounds funny, but it’s ok, she tells the truth on this. Trust her, she can do this, she has done it for me after my daughter died. Please sit we mean you no harm.” Terrance’s voice soothes her and she sits warily.

I tell her the whole story with all the details and her beautiful blue eyes glow with anticipation. I finish and she picks up the story.

“He shipped out the next day, straight to the front line. A few weeks later I have two Army men at my door giving me the news that his envoy had been captured and he was shot in the head as he was trying to gun down the enemy to give his platoon a chance to escape. So in answer to your question, no he never got to meet his son.” 

She goes to the small living room and picks up her son’s picture from a small desk in the corner and brings it back to the table. “He looks just like his dad.” She says fighting back tears. “He’s getting married tomorrow and now thanks to you Danny I have a very special gift to give to my new daughter in law.” She leans over and kisses me on the forehead. Terrance smiles sweetly at her as he grabs her hand to comfort her. She continues wiping her tears away with a tissue. 

“Young lady, I can’t thank you enough, but judging by your manner of dress aren’t you supposed to be somewhere? And what did you do to that dress!” She is now practically laughing at the sight of me. I explain the circumstances and she tells me I should have never gone against my parents, but admits she also left her own debutante ball ditching her date to meet her secret motorcycle riding boyfriend in the back alley, the future Sgt John Deardon.  Her dad after giving her a good backside swatting, grounded her for a month along with threatening to break lover boys legs and bike if she ever saw him again. She is alive with the memory and I feel that I have a comrade in arms with her and Terrance who is now so deeply engrossed laughing at her every word.

I motion to Terrace that we should be going and I know that I have to go home and face the music. I can’t hide out at grandmere’s since she is in Atlanta right now, and I don’t want to ruin my other hidey hole at the pizzeria by having Terrance try to explain to my parents what I was doing. Samantha Deardon walks us to the door still holding Terrance’s hand. I go into the hallway walking fast and far enough so he can have a moment with her for which I can see he is grateful. I sneak around the corner and listen. She gives him her phone number and he promises to call her to tell her that I have made it home and that my parents aren’t going to go all Mommy Dearest on me. He reassures her that he’s fairly positive it’s not like that but is aware there are tensions between me and my parents. She tells him if it ever does become that way to please bring me to her. He agrees and tells her he will call her within an hour. She smiles at him. I think the smitten thing is now going both ways. I’m glad, since Terrance’s daughter died he’s been alone, his wife divorcing him for another man years before.

I put the helmet back on and we are driving through the streets. I am feeling free on his scooter, wishing it were a real motorcycle.  The wind in my face is freeing and I relish the ride knowing that my very freedom is at stake. I tell Terrance to drop me off a street away so Marcel and Julianna don’t see him. He doesn’t need that grief and I don’t need to explain what I’m doing with an older Caribbean man. He agrees but makes me promise if things get to rough to call him right away he will confront the wardens. I promise him and tell him to save a slice for me whenever my dad decides to unground me. He winks and drives away.

On the short walk back home I see the house.  All the lights are on and the front door is open. Marcel is pacing frantically and Julianna is trying to calm him down. I sneak behind the house and climb the big tree outside my bedroom window reaching across the branch to the frame of it. I enter in the window butt first and when I turn around he is there. Fire is lighting in his golden eyes making them shine brightly; this is not a good sign. He is staring at me waiting for me to speak. Julianna enters into the room and screams at the sight of my dress and me. Dad orders her out. Another bad sign. She is screaming in French about the dress and what the hell had gotten into me as she leaves. I put on my defiant face and dig in my heels. Marcel finally speaks.

“Of all the dumbass things you have done! I cannot wait to hear this explanation young lady!” He pauses. I say nothing. We stare at each other for a few seconds. In truth I am trying to formulate a decent lie and I know he knows it but he will never be able to confirm it’s a lie. I finally speak.

“I told you I didn’t want to be forced into going to that stupid ball! You didn’t listen to me, like you never listen to me!” I’m on a roll; I’ll use the screaming teenage girl routine on him. “You don’t care about me neither of you do! She just wants me to be her! Well guess what? I’m not and never will be! And wouldn’t want to be! I gave up stuck up snobbery for lent!” Whoa! even I surprised myself on that one. I am shocked when he answers in a calm voice.

“That’s all fine and dandy Danielle but it doesn’t explain where you were or how your dress got to this state, not to mention your hair!” It’s a ploy. He’s not buying the screaming teenage girl routine. I try a different tactic.

“I just wanted to see if either of you even noticed if I had left! Seeing as how you both are way too busy to be bothered half the time!” I start with the crocodile tears.

He’s not moved. “Well if it’s our time you want then by all means your mother and I will be very happy to spend a lot of quality time with you. Starting tomorrow in fact! You will be your mother’s little helper around the house and I will be more than happy to make sure you are not deprived of my attention when we clean out the gutters and garage.” Oh crap! Well that backfired and grandmere is not going to be back from Atlanta for another two weeks. He continues. “Now that that is settled I’m still waiting to hear where you were.” I’m running out of ploys, I can’t tell this man that I’m psychic and talk to dead people, that I was delivering jewelry box to a heartbroken widow. They will have me committed! Only grandmere would understand. I come up with the best thing I can think of on the fly.

“I was meeting my boyfriend. He picked me up in his motorcycle down the street, that’s why my hair is messed up.  I’ve got helmet head.” I look down at my feet. I hear my mother reenter my room. I think I just succeeded in killing them both. They should be dropping dead at any moment.  Instead their mouths are wide open and they’re staring at me. Well at least it shut them up. My brain is pleased with itself! Hell I should have thought of this sooner! Ha! A faint sound escapes my lips that resembles a snicker.  Marcel is not buying it, Julianna is hovering over my father’s shoulder ready to cry.

“Julie, quit crying! She’s joking!” Marcel is glaring, damn why did I snicker out loud! “Fine you don’t want to say where you were then that’s OK, but don’t even think you are leaving this house anytime soon! And tomorrow that tree is coming down! Talk to your daughter damn it!” He addresses her as he leaves and mother comes over to me, she takes my face in her hands and sits me on the bed. Oh lord what fresh hell is this? My brain is frantic.

“I know your father thinks you were joking, but darling do you have a boyfriend and are you having sex? Do we need to talk?”

“Oh God mom! Really!” My face is flushed with embarrassment and anger. I’m sixteen years old and she’s just deciding its time to talk about the birds and the bees? “No, you don’t have to talk to me about that; grandmere has already had that talk with me a long time ago! Ugh!” I cross my arms and turn away from her. I can’t even look her in the face. How dare she decide this is the time for that just because I bring up an imaginary boyfriend. She is just as uncomfortable as I am I can tell. She gets up to leave and kisses me.

“If you do have any questions……”

“Grandmere has covered everything, will you please leave now, I’d like to enjoy my last few hours of freedom before I begin my prison sentence!”

“Danielle, be happy I had already talked him out of the belt! I’ll work on getting you an early pardon if you promise not to do anything like this again.”

I look at her dark hair and flawless white skin that has been sun kissed by the hot Louisiana summer sun. I wish I could have had her violet eyes. She really is stunning, people have compared her to a young Liz Taylor and I can see why. I feel she means her words and I make a meek promise. She leaves and I finally get out of the destroyed dress and shoes. I brush out my hair and get ready for bed. Laying in the dark I am awake but dreaming of boyfriends with leather jackets on motorcycles.

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Author, biracial, Chicklit, Drama, Fiction, Paranormal, supernatural

Danielle’s Afternoon

Here’s another short story featuring our heroine from  The Body Hunters

 I hope you enjoy it!

 

I head downstairs with a little extra pep in my step this morning.  There’s no school today and I get to hang out with my grand mere.  She has some special project she has to take care of and she asked me to come along.  She could have said she was going to watch paint dry and I would still be excited.  For as long as I can remember grand mere has been my parent, my teacher, my disciplinarian, and my confidante.  Even though I live with my parents, they’re not always around, but my grand mere is always there when I need her.

Other than being family, grand mere and I have something in common: we’re both psychics.  We both have the ability to communicate with the dead.  It’s a trait that’s passed down from generation to generation in the Labouleaux women from way before our family migrated to New Orleans.  My great-great grandmother trained grand mere how to use her abilities just like grand mere trained me.

At five years old I was diagnosed with a life threatening heart illness and while the surgeons were operating on me, I died on the table and was gone for a few minutes before I could be revived.  This event gave me a deeper connection to what grand mere calls the ‘spirit realm’; the place where we’re able to interact with people who’ve passed on.  Grand mere calls me a prodigy and promises that if I continue using my abilities like she taught me, I may be the most powerful medium in the world.  Mwah hah hah!  It’s a good thing I’m not plotting world domination.

I head to the kitchen where my egg and sperm donors, otherwise known as mom and dad are busy getting ready for their day. They have no clue as to my psychic abilities.  Sometimes the things that I’m able to see and do freak me out; so I know my logical father and prim and proper mother couldn’t handle it.

 I’m a product of a mixed marriage, dad is Haitian Creole and mom is white, her family coming from a long line of New Orleans aristocrats.  Dad is an FBI agent and mom is a high society blue blood trying to climb back up the social ladder.  With their busy agendas, it’s a wonder they ever fit enough time into their schedules to conceive a kid.

I follow my nose to the coffee maker where dad has a fresh pot brewing.  Mom is sitting across the table from dad who’s busy with his nose in some of his case file while eating a bowl of corn flakes.  Mom scowls at me, but I ignore her evil look and fill my mug with coffee and a copious couple teaspoons of sugar.

“Danielle, you’re only sixteen years old.  You have no business drinking coffee.”  She complains, peering at me with her violet eyes.

With my back turned I roll my eyes.  If she cares so much about what I have for breakfast the least she could do is have some semblance of food prepared.  Truth is she can’t boil water without causing a three alarm fire.

“I’ll be fine, mother.”  I tell mommy dearest as I stuff a Pop Tart into the toaster.  “I don’t think I’ll stunt my growth or anything.”

“What are you wearing?”  She moves to the next subject of my attire.  Unless it’s got a designer label or comes out of a boutique she doesn’t think it should be worn.  I on the other hand find nothing wrong with my dark jeans with the hole in the knee and my button up cotton top over my tank top.  I am not going to become a debutante, designer name dropping zombie like her so called friend’s daughters.

“What?” I ask.  “What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?”  Mom hates confrontation so I love pushing her buttons.

“Well, it’s atrocious.  You’re wearing sneakers, those jeans should have been thrown out long ago, and look at your hair.  You have that beautiful hair and you tie it up in a ponytail?  Really, Danielle how do you expect to attract a nice young man?”

“I already have mother.”  I say.  “Why just last week I gave Walter Brady my virginity.”

Mom just about chokes to death on her store bought croissant and dad is up in an instant patting her on the back.”

“Jesus, Danny!”  Dad grumbles, handing mom a cup of water.  “Are you trying to kill your mother?  Juliana honey she’s just joking.”

She looks at me for confirmation that her dear sixteen year old daughter hasn’t yet been deflowered and I’m barely standing I’m laughing so hard.  After I wipe the tears from my eyes I soothe her mind, letting her know I was just joking.

“Danielle you shouldn’t play games like that.”  She scolds.

“Okay, mom, I was just kidding.  Lighten up a little.”  I say, taking a bite out of my hot Pop Tart.

“I swear, you’re meaner than a snake some times, little girl.”  Dad complains, but I can see the laughter in his gold-brown eyes that are identical to mine.  “You bout ready?  I’ll walk you over to Mama’s.”

Luckily for me, Grand mere lives right across the street.  Whenever I needed her, she was never that far away.  As Dad opens the door to her house, the smell of her cooking immediately steps out to greet us as warmly as grand mere.  

She still lives in the same house that dad grew up in and we moved in across the street when I was just a baby.  Her house and decor has been seriously upgraded over the years though.  You see grand mere was a woman of color ahead of her time.  While my grandfather was a fisherman and shrimper, grand mere also had the entrepreneurial spirit, owning her own down home N’awlins style food restaurant.  Tourists would come from miles and mile to pig out on grand mere’s cooking. 

A few years after grandpa passed, a big corporation paid grand mere a pretty penny for her restaurant and her recipes for their own chain of restaurants.  Ever the shrewd businesswoman, grand mere made a ton of money off the deal, enough where she could retire early and still have money left over to take care of the next few generations of the Labouleaux family. 

“Mama, you sure have it smelling good in here.”  Dad says as he walks through the house to the kitchen.  The windows in the kitchen are fogged up because of the steaming pot she has on the stove.  Grand mere is at the sink, picking collard greens fresh from her garden.

My grand mere is pretty jazzy for an old chick.  She’s about my height at 5’ 5’ with a tiny waist and slender build.  She too is biracial, her dark hair now streaked with strands of grey and curled into spirals.  Her skin is a clear and flawless honey gold and she has the same golden eyes as me and dad, another Labouleaux trait. As always she’s wearing some of her colorful vintage jewelry, the type you see Liz Taylor wearing in those old movies.

“Thank you, cher.”  She tilts her head so she can accept Dad’s kiss on the cheek.  “Danielle, do your grand mere a favor and help me pick these greens.”

Obediently I follow her orders, washing my hands before separating the leafy greens from the stems and washing them.  Grand mere stirs the pot on the burner where she has a smoked turkey neck cooking for adding flavor to the greens.  She wraps the seasoned roast she has on the stove in foil before having dad put it in the oven.  As usual grand mere has been working her culinary wizardry in the kitchen.

“Isn’t this a lot of food for just you?”  Dad asks.

Grand mere smiles and pats his pot belly.  “Well you know I try to feed my son and his family every chance I get, cher.  I can’t have you starving to death.  You know that pretty little thing you married can’t cook to save her life.”

I smile to myself.  Grand mere has no malicious intent talking about my mom.  Her not being able to cook is a documented fact in our family.  Grand mere has tried to teach her to cook, but mom is just hopeless in the kitchen.  Training me in my paranormal abilities isn’t the only thing grand mere has taught me; I’m a mean cook. 

Dad leaves a few minutes later and grand mere walks him to the door.  I’m following grand mere’s orders, seasoning the greens and reducing the temperature of the big stainless steel pot. 

“What are we doing today, grand mere?”  I ask as she reenters the kitchen, taking off her apron.

“Consider today part of your training, child.”  She says cryptically.

We get in her sporty little Cadillac and head to the other side of town; the hood so to speak.  Grand mere pulls in front of nice little house that looks like it had been transplanted from a nicer neighborhood.  The two story house with the fresh coat of paint doesn’t seem to belong with the dilapidated housing on the block.

A Hispanic woman who looks to be in her mid-thirties is sitting on the porch in a white plastic chair.  On seeing grand mere she stands up, moving like she just lost a heavy weight bout.  Her eyes are red and by the balled up tissue in her hand she’s been crying.  Grand mere hugs her, whispers something in her ear and takes a set of keys from her hands.  The woman leaves and heads to a house next door and grand mere turns to me.

“What you are about to see is not like anything I’ve ever shown you before.  I don’t want you to be scared, cher.  But I want you to be prepared.  You understand?”  She says with a hand on my shoulder.

I nod dumbly, not quite sure what she means, but okay.  I’m game.

When I was a hard headed seven-year old, mom and dad forbade me from watching the movie Poltergeist.  I didn’t let their warning of the film being too scary bother me and I watched it anyway.  For weeks my immature seven year old brain was having day and nightmares about child eating trees and little girls stuck in the television. 

The scene grand mere and I encounter when we open the door to the house reminds so much of that movie.  It looks like a ghost is having a telekinetic temper tantrum.  Nearly every inanimate object in the room seems to have become animated and alive.  A kid’s collection of Hot Wheels cars have turned the wooden living room floor into their own personal race track and a Slinky moves down the staircase and back up again.  The living room chair is moving back and forth across the floor, while a pile of shattered porcelain lay on the floor.   Upstairs a voice calls for ‘Mama’ as if from the top of Mt. Everest, the voice echoing throughout the house.

“It’s okay.”  Grand mere assures me.  “He’s not going to hurt us.  He’s just scared and confused.”

As a butcher knife sails through the air, I silently hope grand mere is correct and whoever ‘he’ is he means us no harm.  

“Grand mere, what’s going on here?”  I finally get the courage to ask.

“Something bad, cher.  Something really bad.”  She says sadly.  “Are you ready to go into the spirit realm, Danielle?”

I nod my head and we sit together on the sofa, which thankfully hasn’t been brought to life.  She takes my wrist, her finger over my pulse.  We’ve done this before, her venturing into the realm first and me piggybacking on her ‘signal’ right behind her.  Grand mere is strong enough to slip into the spirit realm at will; I’m still learning so my gift requires a photograph to act as my bridge into the realm. 

I concentrate on her ‘signal ‘ and I get the chill that comes with entering the spiritual plane, that feels like someone dropping ice cubes down my back.  When I open my eyes again, we’re inside the house, but it’s not really the house, just a recreation of it.  As most times when I’m in the trance, there is no audio, so it’s important to pay attention to the minute details of the vision.  I’m standing beside grand mere and she silently nods to me; holding her right index finger is a little boy.

He’s probably about five and as cute as a speckled pup as grand mere would say, his big brown eyes looking at up at her.  In much the way I used to when I was his age, he’s tugging on her finger like he wants something.  He points up the wooden staircase; he something to show us. 

We follow our tour guide to what’s the doorway of an adult’s room.  Inside is another representation of our young chaperone and another child about the same age.  Grand mere and I watch the scene unfold as the boys are playing with action figures on the bed.  After a few minutes one of the boys grabs a chair and starts rummaging around the top of the closet.  I’m holding my breath as I see him pull down a shoebox. 

The two boys hover over their prize and pull the lid off the box; inside is a shiny handgun.  Grand mere and I watch the scene unfold, wishing we could change it, but there’s nothing that we can do.  Our little guide’s future is already set in stone.

The two boys toy with the gun, playing cops and robbers or army men, whatever little boys at that age play.  All too soon the gun goes off.  It’s surreal watching it happen with no sound, like watching a silent movie.  The gun muzzle flashes, the brief flare momentarily lighting the room like someone’s taking pictures.  One child drops the gun, his expression one of horror.  The other boy falls to the ground, a blossom of red slowly spreading all over his white tee shirt.  There’s red now all over the carpet, so much red. 

The woman who we saw on the porch is in the room now and I realize she’s the young boy’s mother.  She drops to her knees, cradling her son to her chest, rocking him back and forth.  Grand mere and I are still observing as the paramedics come, pronounce our little friend dead and take him away.  Even though I knew how his story ended, I still was hoping for a better ending.

We step away from the vision and the little boy is crying, still holding on to grand mere’s finger.  Grand mere takes him and wraps him in a hug like she used to when I was little.  She wipes his tears and I’m standing there at a loss, unsure what to do, feeling totally powerless.  This scene is beyond the scope of anything I’ve ever done as far as my gift.

A nearly blinding light opens in the spirit realm, right where the bedroom door should be.  Grand mere walks him to it, but doesn’t step thru it.  On her knees one more time, she rubs his head, kisses his cheeks and hugs him one more time.  I watch as the child walks into the light, looking at us one more time as an older Hispanic man with short grey hair and kindly brown eyes appears and takes his hand. I am instantly understanding this is his grandfather who passed before him. The older man smiles and then they are gone, evaporated in smoke. I feel a couple of tears drip down my cheeks.

My eyes open in my reality and all the movement in the house had ceased.  Things are back to normal or as normal as this broken family can get.

“You okay, cher?”  Grand mere asks as I shake my head, loosening the remnants of the startling scene I’ve just witnessed.  With my gift, I’ve seen death, but never one so young.

“I’m fine, grand mere.”   I say.

We head back outside where the mother is waiting, her eyes nearly overflowing with unshed tears.  Grand mere takes the mother into her arms and the woman breaks down.  My grandmother whispers words of sympathy and encouragement into her ears.  She tells the woman that her boy is finally at peace and she needs to stay strong and keep living.  After a few moments, the woman stands up, her teary eyes and red nose the aftermath of her broken heart.  With a final goodbye, grand mere heads back to her car, but not before promising to call and check up on the mother from time to time.

As we’re headed back home, grand mere tells me what was really going on in the house.  The little boy’s death was so sudden, that he’d been stuck in transition from this world into the next.  His spirit had been acting out, desperate to break through the spirit realm and get to his mother.  Grand mere had to step in and help him move into the afterlife, something she is hoping I will be able to do in the future. I may not she says, I may only be able to help them in their immediate issue but not actually open the door for them to move on. Either way grand mere says I have to heed whatever my gift allows me to do. She explains that just the act of righting a wrong may allow them to go to the afterlife on their own. Some come and go between the earth and the spirit realm several times at will just to have a wrong righted or give a warning at a particular time and place. She is also promised to teach me to discern which spirits really need help and which ones are just trying to get attention for attentions sake, otherwise she says I may go crazy with the visitations.

Coming home, we enter into her kitchen, the roast is now done and the house smells heavenly. It’s close to 2pm and Marcel and Julianna are heading from our house across the street. Mother of course looks perfect with her long brushed shiny black hair and yellow sundress, her sunglasses hiding her sparkly violet eyes. Dad is wearing his plaid dad shorts that come down to his knees and a white polo shirt. What a pair! He is holding her hand as they cross onto grand mere’s lawn. Ugh, now he’s kissing her. Grand mere is watching this hideous display of affection through her dining room window smiling at them. I stick my finger down my throat mocking the scene. Grand mere smacks me on the arm and warns me to behave. Dad opens the door and lets mother go through first. We are having an early dinner because apparently it’s the alien pods anniversary.  Dad settles into a chair in the kitchen after kissing grand mere on the cheek. Mother follows suit.

“Mama that smells wonderful, we about ready to eat?” Dad is patting his belly. “Where did you two go today?” He looks directly at me hoping to catch me flinch. I know his interrogation techniques and I’m prepared to put on my game face.

Grand mere answers. “Cher, we just went to the mall, why are you always so suspicious?”

Mother speaks up on his behalf. “Danielle did you tell your grandmother we caught you sneaking out at night twice this week?”  She’s boring holes in my head with her stare. I have to quickly defend myself.

“It’s not that big of a deal, I just had to give Amy her homework, she’s been out sick. I didn’t want to disturb you and dad fooling around on the couch.” Dad spits his sweet tea all over his shirt as I burst out laughing. Mother is hiding her face behind her hands.

“Danny!” Grand mere admonishes as she smacks me on the back of the head as I pass her to get plates. “Child, I swear you are going to be the death of me!” For the moment the subject of my escaping the prison is forgotten as we set the table for my parents anniversary dinner.

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