Non-Fiction Short Story | Foods

Elayane Merriwether


As the years have gone by I have noticed that several things have changed in my family. I know things are suppose to change because that is a part of life. Moving from New York to Florida a lot changed. No more Christmas caroling at my Aunts house in Long Island. It was one of those things I looked forward to every year growing up. My Aunt was one of those over the top aunts who had the winding banister leading upstairs covered with wreaths and shinnying red and gold balls. The fireplace mantel covered with little nutcrackers dressed in royal blues and vibrant shades of green. It was a grand production me, my sister, my father, my mother, aunts, uncles, cousins and nieces and we would crowd around the rather large sleek black Yamaha piano and sing carols for hours on end. “Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the waayyyyyy” I can remember the sound of the music as if it was yesterday. I couldn’t carry a note; neither could most of us quite frankly but all the same it sounded somewhat magical. But with the move came the ever flowing path of change. One thing that had never wavered or at least I thought would never waver, was our Wednesday and Sunday ritual. Every Wednesday was bible study at the Oviedo Methodist Church next to my high school and every Sunday morning was breakfast then church. Even though we were in a different state, Sunday brunch and church did not change. Most times my dad and my mom cooked and boy did they cook. Everything from grits with butter melted on top, to oozing eggs, sizzling bacon, the tenderest smoked ham I had ever tasted and salmon cakes that melted with flavor in your mouth. Looking back I guess I should have noticed that the Sunday brunches turned into dry cereal and milk but growing older I didn’t pay much attention to these things. One particular Sunday I woke up to my parents yelling which alone was unusual because not only was their room across the house but, I had

never heard my mother ever raise her voice before. “You can’t have the dining room table” I heard my mother yelling in what seemed like a fit of rage. My father always the devil’s advocate seemed to be aiding to the argument and sounded like the one who had started it. I quietly move to my sister’s room to wake her up. “Brie, mom and dad are fighting pretty loud lets go listen”. My sister always the more logical and practical out of the two of us merely rolled over and opened her eyes and proceeded to tell me to leave her alone. “Ollie, you’re so stupid, get out of my room pleaseee.” Brie despite the fact that she was my younger sister, seemed to always be more mature than me whenever it came to just about everything. Since by sister wouldn’t join in on my adventure to ease drop on my parents I was forced to abandon my mission. I headed in the kitchen to pour myself some cereal. But the screaming didn’t stop. It seemed to get louder and I felt as if the house was shaking and the walls around me were coming down. I had never heard such anger in my mother’s voice before and it sounded extremely unsettling to hear. The fighting seemed like it was lasting for hours when it reality it was really just minutes that seem to last forever. The fighting had finally gotten my sister rise from her bed. Moments later my mother came out of my parent’s room and into the kitchen and looked different tired perhaps or just worn and aged from fighting. Yet she acted as if nothing was wrong and we were instructed to quickly finish eating and get ready for church. My sister and I rushed to our rooms and continued to whisper. Why had our parents been arguing at nine in the morning? Why was my dad saying he wanted the dining room table? “Elayane, Brieanna I’m getting in the car and leaving without you” my mother yelled into the house from the garage. Famous words of hers always were threating to leave us because we took too long to get ready. I always found it to be extremely irritating her hurrying us but as kids we didn’t really have a discrepancy for time.

But looking back my mother was only trying to instill valuable life lessons and the importance of being prompt. My sister and I scurried into the car shoes and makeup in hand. We had mastered the art of sleeping in until the last possible second and getting ready in the car on our drive to church. Brieanna and I look at each other knowing what we had to ask and even though my sister was always the more mature one, there were some things only a big sister could do. “Mom I have a question… are you and dad getting a divorce.” As her eyes met mine in the rearview mirror and waited for her response. Anticipating her to pullover the car and feed us some cheezy line like were not the one to blame instead she kept driving and replied very vaguely “I’m not going to say yes but I’m not going to lie to you” Like what the hell is that supposed to mean you can’t answer a question with a yes and a no. She might as well have never answered the question in the first place if she didn’t intend on full disclosure. Without hesitation I challenged her response “Well that clearly means yes, were not five and were not retarded mom so thanks”. Being a teenager I had not yet realized that spouting off at the mouth was no way to have a conversation with your parents or to get anything done. My mother continued to drive and the conversation seemed to be over. I can say for a matter of fact that I did not remember the service that day or the message the preacher said. I think this was the defining moment I mentally checked out of church sermons. I couldn’t listen to a preacher giving his insight when my parents were getting divorced. That my cookie cutter family image was nothing more than a mirage and that I Elayane Merriwether would be just another statistic doomed to have the same fate as my parents. It sounds exaggerated and it sounds over the top but these were the thoughts that were running through my head. Just as much as everyone dreams of that picket fence and that perfect family the dream growing up is to be a child in that family. A family where there are bagged lunches, getting dropped off at ballet practice, family dinners and family vacations and late nights spent playing board games.

These were the thoughts that would consume my mind. It would be several days later that my father would tell us that we were going to take a trip “to get ice cream”. I can’t remember where we went for ice cream or what kind I even got. Probably two scoops of cookies and cream chip ice cream, with chocolate syrup drizzled on top coated with rainbow sprinkles my go to flavor at sixteen years of age. I just remember sitting next to my sister and staring across the table outside on a bench and listening to my dad talk himself in circles. A technique that would become very common for him among the web of lies he would continue to spin. I remember him rambling to us as if we were little kids. “Sometimes people make mistakes, and even though they are sorry it’s too late. As you know your mother and I are getting a divorce and I am the one to blame. I cheated on your mother and it is just too hard to forgive but you must not be mad at her she means well”. I really couldn’t tell what had me more upset at this point, that I couldn’t enjoy my favorite flavored ice cream or that my father who had always preached the importance of following Gods will was nothing more than a hypocrite and a fraud. I could no longer believe or trust in anyone or anything I had ever been told. “Nothing will change me not living there, I will see you guys all the time and we will be closer than ever” I remember him saying. If only these empty promises were true. But with the divorce gave more unwanted change then I ever could have imagined. Days would turn into weeks and weeks into months and we didn’t hear from my dad. Our phone calls and text messages of “I miss you” and “I love you” went unanswered. The occasional, inconsistent, sporadic “Miss you too sweetie” “So busy, but well get dinner soon” didn’t in the least bit satisfy our burning feeling of pain. I didn’t see how much my sister was hurting until she broke down after we had gone on a family trip to New York. It was me, my sister and my dad and we had gone to Long Island to visit our aunts. It had been a surprise visit and a much needed trip. Four days later my dad was dropping us off and my sister burst into tears the moment we walked through the front door. I rushed to her side “Brie Brie what’s wrong?” she keeps sobbing with no response. I stayed persistent “Tell me what’s wrong pleasseee”. Her response is

something no kid should ever have to say “I just don’t know when we’re going to see dad again”. She immediately wiped her tears and went to bed, that was five years ago and I haven’t seen her cry since. With this divorce more traditions were forgotten and they became nothing more than hazy memories. Some so far away that some days I don’t even know if it’s my own memories or something I’ve seen in a movie. Looking back my childhood seems to be someone else’s and I have easily forgotten about all the time we spent together and the adventures my family had. I can only remember the pain, the lost, the change and this new lifestyle I never wanted. A lot about me has changed and I finally see that I can pin it to this point in my life five years ago. I know longer trust authority like I once did, I know longer hold extremely religious people to a higher stand, I half-heartily listen to sermons and I haven’t touched cookies and cream ice cream for at least a couple of years now. But with all this pain and hatred for the dramatic turn my life took that I never thought it would I also found out more about myself. I found strength in myself that I didn’t think was possible, a soft spot for the underdog in any situation and intense feeling of having to fix people and their problems. With every bad comes some good and although I still can’t see all the good for all of this yet I have found faith in myself. Not the kind of faith you find in a god, or a doting parent or a friend but the faith in me that I will make it and I will overcome. Most importantly five years ago I promised myself that I would learn from my parent’s mistakes and most importantly my fathers and that I would never let my family fall apart. So help me god I promised myself that I would always fight. Fight for what I want in life, fight for my dreams, fight when someone else is too weak to fight and fight for my white picket fence.

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