DISCLAIMER: Rough Draft!
Grandma says the good Lord loves Wednesdays just as much as any other day. I never thought about it before, Wednesday being the same as any other day. It seemed weird somehow. I had a funny feeling my grandma believed in a very weird God. I was going to tell her on Thursday what I thought, but that morning my mom came into the room while I was eating my breakfast.
She got some cereal and sat at the table right next to me. I was surprised to see that she was all the way dressed with makeup on and everything. She looked really pretty with makeup, but she hardly ever wore it anymore.
“Mom, where are you going?”
“Going?” She looked at me funny and smiled before she brought her arm around my shoulders and pulled me toward her. I felt a kiss go on my head, just like how Dad used to. “Honey, how are you feeling?” She gave my shoulder another squeeze and pulled back to look me in the eyes.
Mom shrugged. “I don’t know. I was just wondering if you wanted to skip school and do something with me today.”
“Do something with--?”
“You know, in case you don’t feel like going back there.”
“What?” Mom was acting different than I’d ever seen her before. I couldn’t believe what she was actually saying. I watched her eyes for a moment to see if she was playing some sort of trick. They weren’t exactly happy eyes, but they weren’t sad either. In fact Mom’s brown eyes looked perfectly serious. “Um, okay.”
“Great.” My mom smiled. I waited until the smile lit up her eyes too, it didn’t. Instead she asked, “So where do you want to go?” and then took a deep breath and smiled again.
I could tell Mom was trying to be brave. As I sat there at the breakfast table, for the first time it actually hit me that she wasn’t. All at once, I wondered how hard it must’ve been for her to move us from California to Grandma Haney’s house here in Arizona. She must’ve been very scared and worried about it.
“I don’t care. We could go to a park, somewhere. Maybe?”
Mom thought about the park and then she nodded. “Yeah, that’s a good idea. And since it’s February, it’s not too hot.” She patted the table and took another deep breath. “Well, let me get your sister ready for school and Cameron fed and then we’ll head out, okay? Grandma’s already offered to watch little Cam for us while you and I have a special day. So does that sound good?”
I couldn’t believe she was asking my opinion. “Sure.” And it did sound good. It sounded really good. I don’t remember the last time me and my mom had spent a whole day together. As I went to put my bowl in the sink, my tummy got a little bit nervous until I remembered that today was Thursday and Thursdays are always better than Wednesdays.
In my room, that me and Hannah (my sister) shared, I quickly put my backpack on the floor by the closet and changed my P.E. shoes to my purple sparkle flats. Then I put on my new blue jacket. I buttoned it up over my shirt and looked in the mirror to see if I was decent.
I loved my new jacket with the purple butterfly. It looked really pretty with the light brown hair that me and my mom had.
Grandma said that I looked more and more like my mom everyday. I scrunched up my nose and leaned into the mirror. I hope so.
“Hey, Mom wants to know if you’re ready.” Hannah skipped up behind me.
“Yep.” I scrunched my nose up one more time and looked down at her in the mirror.
She giggled. “Come on, let’s get out of here.”
She was already out the door when I turned around.
At the park Mom found a real nice shaded spot under a big tree. We both sat on the bench together and watched the old people walk their dogs and some other moms push their babies in strollers. It was strange to see what people did when I was at school. It was like a whole other world, or something.
After a few minutes of silence my mom sighed and put her arm around me again, like at breakfast. She pulled me close to her and I rested my head on her shoulder. It was nice. Then she started to draw lazy circles on my back with her fingers and that felt really good.
“Yeah,” I mumbled into her shoulder. I didn’t want to get up, which was good because Mom didn’t make me. Instead she just kept rubbing my back.
“How do you like school?”
“School?” I shrugged. “It’s okay, I guess.”
“Is your new teacher always mean?”
“Mrs. Sheridan? No.” I didn’t know why my mom was talking about my teacher. I hoped it wasn’t because she was still sad with me. “Well, I mean, yesterday she was mad, but usually she’s nice.”
My mom nodded. I know she did, because her hair brushed up against my face. Up and down. Up and down. “I’m sorry she was mad at you,” my mom whispered and then kissed the top of my head again.
That was two head kisses in one day. I liked it.
I didn’t know what to say, so I said, “It’s okay.”
“Well, she didn’t understand, honey.” She rested her chin on my head. “Your teacher didn’t understand how special your daddy was.”
I waited for my mom to start crying. She always started to cry when she talked about her prince. After a couple of seconds of silence, Mom took a deep breath and her voice got all wobbly.
“She didn’t know what a good man he was. And what an awesome father and—and husband he was. If she knew, Chelsea, if Mrs. Sheridan knew—like your old teachers did—then she wouldn’t have ripped up your paper. And she wouldn’t have told you to stop reading about him, honey. She wouldn’t have.”
My heart hurt again. I missed my dad so much.
Mom rubbed her chin on my hair and I felt a little spot of wet hit the top of my head. She was crying.
“She just didn’t ever know your daddy. If she did, she would’ve called him a prince too. Right in front of the whole class. She would’ve told everyone he was a prince—just like your old school, remember?”
I nodded. I could remember. I could remember all the ladies at the old school--even Mrs. Tibbets, the grouchy librarian—all those ladies called my dad Prince Tennyson. They liked it when he came in his uniform and opened the doors for them and quickly ran to catch them if they were carrying something heavy, so he could hold it instead. They liked it when he smiled and waved at them, even when he was super busy, or super late. They liked it when he gave me piggyback rides and carried me out to the car. All the kids liked that. Everyone wanted a dad like Prince Tennyson.
I missed my dad.
I could feel my eyes getting wet too.
“Chelsea, I want you to really listen to me, okay?”
I nodded my head again.
“No matter what anyone else ever tells you, your daddy was a prince. Okay, honey? Don’t you listen to anyone else telling you that it was made up and a fairy tale. Your daddy was the most special prince in all the world. And he loved you, and loved our family more than anything else in all the world. Everyone saw it too. They saw your daddy was special. Just like Mrs. Sheridan would’ve if she had met him.”
Mom brought her arms up closer and squeezed me to her as I brushed at my wet eyes. Then she whispered really quietly, “I love you, honey. You are a very special too, just like your daddy.”
I cried then. Two big tears came down my cheeks. I didn’t even try to stop them.
“I just wished to God that he didn’t leave us,” Mom said.
I sniffled once and wiped my eyes. Then I pulled back and looked at my mom. There was something I needed to know right then. “I know, I asked you this before, but I want to ask you again. Can I ask you something very serious, please?”
Mom looked at me real quiet for a minute, then she said, “Um, okay. What’s up?”
All at once I couldn’t look at her. Instead my hands played with the button of my new jacket. “I was just wondering if you thought—maybe even the tiniest bit—that God was real. What do you think, Mom?” I glanced back up. “Do you think He’s real?”
“God?” Mom pulled me close to her again. This time I felt her rock gently back and forth. She waited a long time before she asked, “You really want to know, don’t you?”
“Yeah.” I nodded my head, because I really did want to know.
I held my breath and waited. It took a while but Mom finally answered.
“I don’t know. I don’t think He is, Honey, but I just don’t know.”
I let my breath out in a loud swoosh. This wasn’t good. It didn’t make sense. I pushed my self out of her arms. “Well, how do you find out if He is or isn’t?”
“I—“”There has to be a way to know the Lord is real, right?”
“Uh, maybe. Why does it matter so much?”
She didn’t get it. I couldn’t believe that my own mom didn’t understand why it was so important for me to find out if God was real or not. I thought that would be obvious to anyone.
I guess not. I closed my eyes and rubbed my face. I will not cry. I will not cry. After I had talked myself into being rational, I opened my eyes again and looked right at my mom. Right into the same big brown eyes that I had.
“When people die, where do they go?” I didn’t wait for my mom to answer me, instead I just kept talking. “They go to heaven, right? Heaven is where God is, right?” Mom’s eyes flashed, but I kept talking fast so she wouldn’t say anything. “So if there is a God, then Dad is with him, right? Then if Dad is with him, then when I’m old and I die I’ll go there too, right? So then I’ll be with Dad again. Then I’ll see him and he can hold me again. And he can dance with me and give me piggyback rides and read me funny stories, right Mom?
Except—except, if it isn’t true. And there is no Lord, or God, or anything, then where is my prince? Where did he go? See, Mom? See? I have to know if He’s real or not. I have to find out. I have to. So that way I know what happened to Dad. And—and, I bet once I do, you’ll be happy too. Because I’ll tell you, I’ll show you if I find out there really is a God. And then you’ll know with me and then you’ll—“
Mom smushed me to her really hard and really tight. It knocked the words right out of me. But it was okay, because Mom had begun to rub my back again.
“Shh… Honey, it’s alright…” She said that over and over again. “Shh… Honey, it’s alright…” until I stopped crying. I didn’t even know I was crying that time, until my shaking stopped and I could breathe right again. Then I began to see that I’d been really emotional.
It felt like a huge river had just exploded over the wall that was holding it back--or maybe even charged right through the wall that was holding it--a huge, gigantic river.
Once I calmed down Mom held my hands and said very softly. “Okay. Let’s see if God is real.”
That’s all she said. But I couldn’t believe she’d said it.
She must really love me, and she must want to remember her prince again. I took that as a very good sign. “Okay.” I smiled.
Mom smiled too. It still didn’t reach her eyes, but she smiled. Then she said the best thing ever. “Want to go to McDonald’s? I bet you’re starving.”
I laughed. I was. “Yes!”
“Great!” Mom jumped off the bench and held out her hand for me, just like she used to when I was a little girl. “Come on, let’s go.”
I bounced off and took her hand. It felt soft and strong. It was fun to hold her hand while we walked back through the park.
I liked it.
The rest of the day was really good after that. Me and mom even got to eat ice cream and go to a cheap movie. That was my favorite part, sitting in the movie with Mom. She didn’t laugh out loud like she used to when she watched a movie, but she watched the whole thing with me.
For a long time now Mom hasn’t watched a whole movie. Usually she’ll start one in the DVD player and then after a few minutes walk out of the room. I was beginning to think that she didn’t like movies at all anymore. But, at the theater I kept sneaking glances at my mom. And do you know what? It was crazy. Two times I saw her smiling during the funny parts. Two times! That’s amazing, because my mom doesn’t smile at the funny parts, anymore.
Maybe she had a good day with me too? I hope so. I hope I made my mom have a good day. She needs those kinds of days.
It was late when we got home. Almost time for dinner. Grandma Haney didn’t mind though. She had a big grin on her face when we came through the door. Cameron was in her arms and he was grinning too. “Look! Look, who’s here! Your big sister and Mom,” she said in a really excited voice.
“Mama!” Cameron lunged and kicked to get out of Grandma’s arms and go into Mom’s. My mom smiled and held her arms out for him. It was cute when he climbed up on her hip and hung on like a monkey.
Then Grandma said something I wished she wouldn’t have. It took Mom’s smiles right off her face. I don’t think Grandma Haney meant to hurt Mom’s heart, but she did.
You never know what will hurt Mom’s heart and make her sad and make her put her baby on the ground and say, “I don’t think I’m very hungry. I’m gonna go into my room now. Chelsea, help Grandma with Hannah and Cameron, okay? I’ll see you in the morning.”
I looked at Grandma and she looked at me. I knew we were both thinking the same thing.
She shouldn’t have told Mom how much Cameron is beginning to look like his daddy.