Burger and fries, and steak and potatoes.
Some people live for that happy ending, but I’ve learned to be content with a happy medium. Yeah, I live up to almost every stereotype of a single black mom, but I don’t care about stereotypes, because we all have issues, no matter what race, marital status, or social status. I’m not trying to change so that society will be proud of me, I’m just trying to survive. I can’t change the hand I was dealt in life, I just play the hand I’ve got. By no means do I want anyone to feel sorry for me, so keep your sympathy.
“Mom, are you going to dine with me?” Jolene yelled. She had taken the wrapper off both of she and Aspen’s dollar burger, and she opened the wrapper and placed their burger and fries on it, as if it was a plate. She took a sip of her large, dollar drink. “I’m coming baby girl,” Aspen said. She was in the bathroom voice recording herself.
Aspen didn’t have any plans to do anything with the voice overs. She just didn’t have anyone to talk to, so oftentimes recording her thoughts were therapeutic. Aspen flushed the toilet and came to the sink in the hallway to wash her hands. She sat down and grabbed a fry. Jolene tapped her hand, “Mom, we have to say grace first,” she said.
“You’re right, sorry. Sorry, God,” Aspen said. Jolene blessed the food, and they ate. They pretended that they were having steak and potatoes at a fancy restaurant. Later on, they watched TV, and Aspen tucked Jolene in for bed.
“Ouch,” Jolene said. “Mom, something bit me,” she said. Aspen took the covers off Jolene, and she saw bed bugs. Aspen called the front desk, but they didn’t do anything. “Lady, what did you expect for forty dollars a night,” the clerk said, before hanging up the phone.
“Baby, I’ll be right back. Don’t open this door for anyone,” Aspen said. Aspen went down to the front desk and demanded a clean room and an additional night’s stay at no cost. The clerk laughed. Aspen threatened to report the hotel to the department of consumer affairs, the better business bureau, and she threatened to call the police about the drug activity at the hotel. The hotel was really used to launder money, and Aspen knew it.
“You either give me a clean room, or this whole establishment will go down on your watch. How’s your boss going to feel about that?” Aspen said. The clerk gave her keys to a cleaner room and a free night’s stay as requested. Aspen came back to the room to get Jolene. “Come on baby girl, we’re going to a different room,” she said.
When they got to the other room, there were still roaches, but the linen was clean, and there weren’t any bed bugs. “Aspen, aren’t you tired of living like this?” she said to herself. “You’re almost thirty, and you have nothing to show for yourself,” she thought to herself. While Jolene got settled into bed, Aspen went on the patio to smoke. Weed calmed her anxieties but Jolene gave her reason to live.
Aspen would get free weed from a male friend of hers that she’d see once a week. He had no idea that Aspen was homeless. Whenever they’d get together, she’d dress up and they’d meet at whatever location. She’d ride with him to his place, and he’d cash app her money to get a ride home. She never used the money for a ride, she’d save it for food, a hotel, or personal items she and Jolene needed.
Aspen looked down at her government issued cell phone. She checked her voice messages, but no one had called her back for a job. She had been trying for months. Mom, I’m ready for story time, Jolene said. “Okay, baby, I’m coming,” Aspen said.
“I have to figure this out,” Aspen said, as she thought about where she and Jolene would stay after tomorrow night. “God, I miss you Joe,” she said, as a tear rolled down her cheek. Joe was Jolene’s dad and Aspen’s husband of seven years before he was gunned down during a gas station robbery a year ago. She sniffled and wiped her cheek, then she took a puff of the blunt and put it out, before going back inside with Jolene. “Are you okay, mom?” Jolene said. She could tell that Aspen was sad.
“Yeah baby girl, I’m fine,” Aspen said. “You miss dad don’t you?” Jolene said. “Yes, but we’re going to be alright baby. I promise,” Aspen said. “I know.
I miss dad too mom, but I have faith in us. We’ll figure this out, together,” she said, as she held her mom’s hand. “The only thing you have to do is worry about school baby. I don’t want you worrying about anything else, okay?” Aspen said. “Okay.
I love you mom,” Jolene said, before sitting up and giving her mom a hug. “I love you too, baby girl,” Aspen said. Jolene laid back down and Aspen tucked her in. “Now, tell me your story,” Jolene said. “Okay, here goes,” Aspen said.
Once upon a time, I lived in a happy home with my mom and dad. I had the best parents in the world. They loved me so much, and although they didn’t have much, they made sure that I had the best of whatever they could afford. One thing about my parents, they never looked like what they went through. Mom used a co workers address so that I could attend the best schools.
“And my school was one of the best schools, back then?” Jolene said. “Yes, it was,” Aspen said. When I was six, mom developed breast cancer. When I was twelve, she died. Dad remarried when I was fourteen, and he died when I was sixteen, in a car accident.
My step mom treated me like crap after my dad died. I did everything for her. I cooked, cleaned, and even paid rent when I began working at the age sixteen. She lived lavishly off the money from my dad’s insurance policy, while I ate ramen and bologna sandwiches, and wore hand me downs. She never had children, and I think that made her bitter, especially knowing that my dad always chose me first.
She’s the type who hates being second, or she’ll make her competition feel her wrath. Maybe that’s why God didn’t give her any kids, because as a parent, you have to put your kids before yourself. Anyway, I was mentally, emotionally, and physically abused by my step mom from sixteen to eighteen. She even tried to make me trick off to come up with more money for rent at the age eighteen.
I didn’t want to do it, and the man that she had to come over to have sex with me, forced himself on me, and I stabbed him in the neck with a pocket knife my dad gave me. I still have the knife to this day. My dad gave it to me when I turned thirteen. He was very protective of me, and wanted me to have something to protect myself with in case he was not around.” Aspen pulled the knife out of her pocket and flicked it open, she thought of her dad and smiled.
“I wish that I could’ve met grandpa and grandma,” Jolene said. “Me too, baby,” Aspen said. Aspen closed the knife, and put it back into her pocket. Jolene had fallen fast asleep. Aspen kissed her on the forehead and said good night.
Whenever Aspen told Jolene her story, she’d tell her about some things, but other things were just too painful to talk about. She’d tell Jolene that she was physically abused by her step mom, but she wouldn’t tell her that she blacked out numerous times from being hit in the head with a cast iron skillet, or that her step mom woke her up one time by pouring boiling hot water on her. She told Jolene how her step mom would call her ugly, but she didn’t tell her how she spit on her, and would call her the scum of the earth, and the devil, because Aspen is dark skinned. She told Jolene how she’d get punished if she didn’t clean the way her step mom wanted her too, but she didn’t tell her that if she missed a spot when dusting, her step mom would make her go to bed without dinner.
“That woman really did a number on me. She made me feel like I was nothing and that I’d never be anything,” Aspen said. I guess her curse worked. Then she looked at Jolene and said, I promise, no one will ever make you feel less than you are. I will protect you with my life, baby girl.
I may not be able to give you everything you deserve, but one day, I’ll make you proud, I promise.” Then she laid beside Jolene and put one arm around her and fell asleep.