Monday, February 13, 2006

Pred. & Preach. Daughter - Ch. 4

Six years later
“Ms. Bradshaw, why do you keep a Sunday subscription to a Georgia newspaper?” Yashika Whitlock asked the manager of the small Tennessee flower shop they worked in on that sun-drenched Monday morning. Despite the difference in their ranks, they both wore pink and blue floral smocks with their company’s logo above the left breast pocket.

“I have family in Georgia,” Chasity replied casually. She didn’t even look up at the friendly shop clerk nearby as she flipped through the newspaper in her hands. She was in search of something…rather someone.

Chasity turned to the metro section of the paper she’d brought in this morning. She quickly scanned the contents of that section for certain key names. Finding no Deweys listed there; she turned to the lifestyle section of the Bennington Gazette, hoping to find another picture of a beautiful little bronze-skinned girl featured in the ‘child of the week’ segment.

Yashika’s large brown eyes looked puzzled as she put on a pair of gray-striped gardener’s gloves. “I thought your family lived in Colorado and South Carolina.” Then retrieving a pair of sharp gardening shears from the long, tall white counter they both stood at opposite ends of, she busied her hands with de-thorning several bundles of red roses in front of her.

“Most of them do, but some of my relatives live in Georgia and I like to keep up with them any way I can since we aren’t very close,” Chasity answered, trying to be as truthful as possible without going into too much detail.

Although Patrick and Sheena Dewey were not her blood relatives, she did consider them to be related ever since the nice Christian couple from Georgia adopted her baby girl several years ago. Chasity had a beautiful little girl that she named La’Charity at birth in honor of the child’s maternal grandmother who always wanted to have a child named Charity. It was with great anguish and reluctance when she handed that child over to a set of new parents when the infant was only two-days-old.

Chasity had cried for many hours that fateful day while her aunt and father had stood by with severe expressions of disappointment on their faces and stern words coming out of their mouths to insure that she would not change her mind. Per the adoption agency’s contract, each mother had forty-eight hours to change her mind after the baby was born. Bertha and Boise had wanted to make sure that that didn’t happen in Chasity’s case.

That hospital visit had been the second time Boise had come to see his daughter during the whole ordeal. The first time had been on Chasity’s April 19th birthday and he hadn’t stayed long enough to do much of anything besides give her a present and watch her cut the red velvet cake Bertha had made. Boise had just found it too hard to be around his daughter back then, especially while she was shamefully eight months pregnant with an illegitimate child.

As a result of her father’s lingering disapproval and rejection, Chasity decided not to return to Colorado after the baby was born. She could not bear having to deal with that type of negative behavior on a regular basis and she wasn’t particularly interested in returning to a life where she would have to pretend to be someone that she wasn’t anymore. Chasity was no longer Rev. Bradshaw’s sweet, innocent, pliable daughter. The Marcos situation had forever changed that and her.

Unfortunately, some of the ways in which Chasity had changed were not necessarily good ones. For instance, these days she found herself constantly struggling with bitterness and suspicion. Her bitterness was towards those that should have shown her more love and acceptance in her time of need. Her wariness was towards anyone who tried to show her those things now.

On a more positive note, the Marcos situation did bring out an independent side to Chasity, a side that she didn’t even know she had. From now on, she followed her own path, made her own decisions. Chasity just wished she’d been more independently decisive before she’d given her baby up.

Fortunately, Chasity did decide to finish her double bachelor’s degree in horticulture and architecture. And she decided to do it at her own expense, too, in her zeal not to be controlled by anyone else ever again. She’d learned the hard way about people with control issues and she did not want to put herself in the position to be controlled through money as she’d been through love.

As a result, Chasity refused to accept another dime of her father’s money. She also refused to accept any of the Deweys’ money. However, her aunt Bertha didn’t seem to have a problem with receiving the large adoption settlement and even declared that those funds would be used for ‘religious’ purposes. Unfortunately, that money was used to build another wing onto Bertha’s already large ranch-styled house in the country, giving the prideful woman further cause to behave pompous among her neighbors.

Once Chasity had been given a clean bill of health, she left her aunt’s house in South Carolina and enrolled part-time in a Tennessee college to complete her studies. She used money that she’d earned while working as a physician’s secretary during her pregnancy and applied for any available financial aid she could find. However, instead of pursuing a career in architecture like her father expected her to; Chasity opted to make a career out of her favorite pastime – floristry – and in fact, planned to own a chain of florists of her own one day.

Seeing no Deweys in either of the previous newspaper sections, Chasity finally turned to the obituaries. She dreaded doing it, but it was necessary in order to keep up with the child she gave away. Suddenly Chasity’s eyes lit upon a most disturbing obituary, or rather set of obituaries. Two large color photos, showing the faces of the couple who had adopted her daughter were side by side, indicating that they were no longer with us on the earth. The paper said nothing about how they’d been killed, but that they’d died on last Wednesday and were survived by their six-year-old daughter, La’Charity Dewey. It also gave the funeral arrangements.

I knew I should have gotten a weekday subscription, Chasity mused with anxiety clawing at her belly. What had happened to the Deweys? But more importantly, what was going to happen to her daughter now that they were gone?

Seeing Chasity suddenly looking so distraught, Yashika stopped what she was doing and moved closer to her manager. “What’s wrong, Ms. Bradshaw?” Although there was only a three-year difference in their ages, the fact that Chasity carried herself much older than she actually was always caused everyone to address her as if they would a much more mature woman.

“I have to get down to Georgia,” Chasity said, clenching the paper to her rapidly beating chest. “Two of my relatives died.” Her body moved from behind the tall counter as if on automatic. “I have to go get my baby,” she added in a low voice, unaware that she was telling her deepest, darkest secret in that whisper.

“Your baby?!” Yashika echoed with shock in her voice. Her large eyes looked even larger now. She’d never heard her manager mention anything about having any children in the whole three years they’d worked together. But then again, Chasity seldom talked about her personal life and, in fact, had very few friends and associates.

Chasity’s honey-colored eyes grew wide at her slip of tongue. She began to fumble over her words and with the paper in her hands as she attempted to explain herself. “I…uh…what I meant to say…” Her voice trailed off, not really knowing what to say since denying her daughter would absolutely be a lie. Chasity might have given her child away, but she would not, could not ever deny La’Charity.

In her distraction, Chasity’s right elbow accidentally knocked a multicolored flower-laden display vase off of the counter’s right edge. Trying to catch the expensive arrangement before it fell to the hardwood floor, she let go of the paper and lunged for the tumbling glassware. Unfortunately, Chasity’s effort was too little, too late and the vase of flowers hit the floor anyway and broke into a thousand shattered pieces. Of equal misfortune was the fact that her right foot slid across a slippery fragment of broken glass and she went tumbling to the floor soon thereafter.

When Chasity heard a bone snap in her left leg and felt the sharp piercing of her knee from another piece of glass that she’d fallen upon, she knew she was in trouble. No! This can’t be happening, God! Please help me, Lord, she prayed with pain shooting like rockets throughout her left leg and knee.

As she looked expectantly towards heaven, Chasity soon received assistance in the person of her coworker. Towering over the injured woman with a worried look on her olive-skinned face was Yashika. Fortunately, her busy fingers were now dialing 911 on the beige phone she retrieved from the wall enroute to her fallen colleague. Suddenly this sunny August morning looked more like a gloomy gray December afternoon.

© 2006 Suprina Frazier

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i believe another chapter of 'P&P' would be just compensation.