Fly be Free

Fly Be Free
“I have to leave.” My sister insists! “I need to get away from him.”

She left quietly in the middle of the day. Mom & dad were at work and this was her opportunity.

As she opened the door, the light outside casts her shadow up the stairs. It trails up each riser and almost seems to touch my shoe. The light, glistening off the metal strap on the suitcase, catches my eye. As I turned away to avoid the glare, she disappeared into the anonymity of the street. Only a note left for him and mom, gave an indication of where she was going.

“It is time.” she said.

Time for her to be free, time for her to grow. Time for her to trust in herself. Her marriage to Manny, at the ripe age of twenty, was a way to obtain freedom. Freedom from mom’s control and freedom from life in the Bronx.

But in her running, she ran into murkier waters. Now she needs to get away from everything! From him, from mom and from the church’s opinions. Divorce is not an option, so running away, to recreate herself seems to be the only way.

As the door closed, away she went to find herself…

My mother frantically searches for her.

“Where did she go?” my mother asks

Days go by and all her friends do not know where she could be. Nobody knew. She asks me and I pretended that I did not know what happened.

“No mom, I do not know where she went!” I reply.

But deep down inside, I really do not want her to be found. This was a clean breakaway. That’s how she felt she needed it to be. Months have passed and mom continues to cry every day. I feel torn – don’t want to see mom cry, but also don’t want to betray my sister’s freedom.

Today, the phone rings. It is her! I am so glad to finally hear from her.

“Put mom on, I need to explain..” she tells me, so I get mom on the phone.

“Mija, where are you? are you OK?”

“I’m doing fine mom. I’m living in Manhattan and got a new job. It pays me  more money and can afford to live in a home for young women.”

First time that mom did not dominate the conversation and only listened.

“Mom, how is she doing? Where is she?” I ask as she hung up the phone.

“She would not say…”

I understood that she did not want to reveal any other clues to her whereabouts. She was still in fear that my mother would turn her over to him again. So she trusts no one and reveals nothing…

– only that she will be fine now.

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Incredible Xmas Surprise!!!

It is three days before Christmas and I was feeling sad up until now. See a year ago, today, my dog ran away. He was a dumb-as-heck, goofy German Shepard. He would chase his own shadow and run after his own tail. Several times, he was even chased home by the local tom cat. I would talk to him & give him commands and he would just stare back at me with that dumb “lets-go-out-and-play” look. His ears half bent and that tongue just hanging there salivating. That funny look of innocence. I miss that look and I miss playing with him.

All he ever wanted was to play ball in the rubble piles that once stood as an old Brown-stone – proud of its heritage. He just wanted to fetch and have fun and just be with me. He was my dog smart or not.

But now I am happier then ever, because today he came back! A year later, to the day, he came back smarter than ever. Its almost as if he went off to boot camp to learn a few tricks! He came back fully trained and able to do tricks. Tricks like chasing after Frisbees and catching them in the air. He is now sure of himself and chased that tom cat up a light pole. Truly an amazing transformation! I would love that.

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Ships Passing in the Night

Ladies at the factory, sewing My whole world consists of three city block – which exists, like an island in a sea of chaos. My friends are all from the block, from our own territory. Once in a while we would encounter an island-hopping stranger from a different neighborhood. This was always a search for friends or foes. We would size each other up, walk circles and then just sail away, like ships passing in the dark of night, back to our own neighborhood.

This was the extent of our encounters. We dare not venture off outside of our territory. Once in a while, I would take a risk and venture to another part of town. Maybe it was to see what I was missing or just being adventurous, but it was usually for a valid reason. I would go to the novelty shop or to the public library. I would test the waters and if my parents find out, they would be very upset.

My parents are very strict. Dinner is served at six and we have to be at the table no matter what. Sunset on Fridays is the same – at the house, in the living room before the sun kisses the horizon. Are they strict because of the SDA religion; strict because they are just protecting us from the savagery of the gang-ridden streets; or because of their fears? Whatever the reason, they just do not want us to be outside.

Mother kept us busy. Inventing tasks, games & constantly giving us chores to do. Anything to keep us busy. It was specially tough during the summer months when there was no way to prevent us from hitting the streets. My mother was always worried about our safety – so much so that whenever school lets out she worried even more.

So now for winter break, she got my 13-year old brother a job in Manhattan. He loves to take things apart and then puts them back together again. He would boast that he would make the machines more efficient and that the parts leftover were… Um, just redundant. He was proud that he has eliminated excess. He got very proficient at solving problems, that he would work in the basement, fixing all my mother’s sewing machines.

What better way to keep him busy and give him a trade, while keeping him out of trouble. My mother asked for a favor from her boss down at the factory. He agreed to allow my brother to go to work with my mother. Today, two sewing machines broke down and the repair guy was not around. My brother jumps in, tinkers on the machines and actually fixed it – no spare parts!

My brother did such a good job fixing the machines, that the boss actually told my mother that he has a job on his days off from school. And he promised that for the summers a position would be open for him.

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