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WARNING: This scene is from the middle section of the book and contains spoilers if you have not read Family Ties yet.
Krista returns home from school while I work on a History essay in our room. “Can you help me with some of my homework?” She dumps her backpack on her bed.
“Sure,” I answer, writing out the rest of the sentence before looking up. I may be one giant ball of fury, but Krista, Cal, and Nick are a bright spot at times. Psuedo-siblings who understand what it’s like to be uprooted and tossed aside like a weed. “What do you have?”
“Langston Hughes.” She pulls out her composition book and flops onto her bed.
“I hate it.” She takes out a pencil, flipping the book open in her lap. “I have to write a poem inspired by one of his.”
“Which one did you like most?”
“None of them.”
I drop my pen and scoot to the edge of my bed. I can’t believe she doesn’t like Langston Hughes. She should have related to at least one of his poems. She was raised by a single mother with five other siblings. If her mother wasn’t giving each of them a beating, the oldest two were torturing Krista and the other three. “Or all of them?” I ask.
She crosses her arms and blows out a puff of air upwards, sending her light brown bangs flying for a brief moment. “Maybe,” she mutters.
“My favorite is ‘Lonesome Place.’ I also like ‘Still Here.’”
Her gray eyes light up and she uncrosses her arms, setting her hands on her book. “I like those too.”
I grin, knowing I got through. “Guess you don’t really need my help then.”
I leave the room to get my laundry out of the dryer. When I return, Krista is focused; the pencil scratching across the page as fast as her hand will move. I fold my laundry, letting her work in peace.
I resume work on my Roe v. Wade essay. Yes, an essay on the very thing I had done a year ago. Just think, if the decision had gone the other way, I would’ve either had an abortion done by a doctor risking his or her license or have a baby in my arms right now.
I shudder at the thought of being tied to my father by a baby. People may not agree with me, but it was the right thing for me to do. It wasn’t about the baby. It was about him. It was about his power. It may seem callous, but unless you lived in my shoes you have no place to judge.
“Sara.” The nearness of Krista’s voice jolts me out of my thoughts. She is standing next to my bed with her composition book clutched to her chest.
“Hey. What’s up?”
“Would you read my poem?”
I blink in surprise at her question. She’ll ask for help with homework, but never asks me to read anything she has to write for homework. “Are you sure?”
She nods, holding the book out to me. I accept it, opening to the last page she wrote on.
The Chair by Krista Demming
It’s a chair
Simple as that.
It’s a prison.
Something to be
And beaten upon.
It will never be
Just a chair
I close the book and hand it back to her, wiping tears from my eyes. She poured her heart out in so few words and in a way I never could. I might like reading poetry, but I’ve never written it well. “I love it, Krista. You have a gift for it.”
A wide smile breaks out across her face. “Seriously?”
I return the smile. “Seriously. Better than I can do.”
She throws her arms around me. It’s the first time she’s hugged me. The abuse by her mother and older siblings left her distrusting of women and teenagers and I always respected her space because I know how it feels. I slip my arms around her and hold her close.
It’s also the first physical affection I’ve had since I hugged Andrew and Rose before Gillian drove off with me to bring me here. I miss it. I’m starved for it. I lived in a lush, tropical environment that gave me everything I never had in the desert I lived in before – love, affection, belonging, confidence. Now I’m back in the desert – parched.
Fuck the judge.
Fuck the Lloyds.
Krista breaks away and I swipe under my eyes.
“Are you okay?” she asks.
I nod and return to my essay.
But I’m not okay.
I miss Rose.
I miss Andrew.
I miss Arissa.
I miss Damian.
I miss Jason.
©Debi V. Smith, 2015