Sitting quietly on the front pew at her brother’s funeral, Aisha Norwood listened to the minister fervently preach about the goodness of God. The more he preached, the bitterer she became on that cloudy March day.
How could a good God allow sweet, kind-hearted Dominic to die such a senseless death? Aisha mused sullenly. She just couldn’t seem to wrap her mind around that concept at all.
Aisha also couldn’t wrap her mind around the fact that no one on either side of the family had bothered to tell her about Dominic’s drug problem. A serious drug problem that he’d had for the last few years. A problem that eventually led to his untimely death. The fact that no one bothered to help Dominic get rid of that problem while there was still time caused Aisha’s bitterness to grow.
What’s wrong with these people? she thought, narrowing chestnut eyes at her weeping relatives.
As expected, they were all dressed to the tee in their black suits and dresses of mourning. The best dressed of them all was Cousin Carmen, the family’s newsletter distributor and number one gossip. She was crying the loudest.
Aisha couldn’t understand any of their tears. Nor could she trust them. She didn’t know if they were crying out of love for Dominic. Or out of guilt since they’d all sat back and watched him self-destruct for years.
Most likely the latter, Aisha thought bitterly, feeling her heart grow cold towards her relatives. She couldn’t wait to catch the first plane back to
Yet no matter how much distance Aisha tried to put between her and her relatives, she couldn’t put any distance between her and her conscience. Or rather not enough distance from a conscience that kept echoing, How could ‘you’ have missed the signs? Weren’t ‘you’ and Dominic closer than close?
Truthfully, Aisha and Dominic had been very close, dating all the way back to their childhoods. Even Laquetta, Dominic’s sister on his father’s side, hadn’t shared the same tightness of bond with him.
Aisha and Dominic’s closeness continued even after they became busy adults and moved to different parts of the world. In fact, they talked on the phone at least twice a week, which is why Aisha thought that she should have picked up on Dominic’s drug addiction even if nobody else did. Which is also why her conscience kept giving her fits. Unfortunately, she hadn’t had a clue.
If I had known, I never would’ve lent him so much money. And I definitely would’ve come back to
Aisha had quickly picked up on other things concerning her brother. For instance, she noticed Dominic’s preference for men while they were still in their teens. She’d even helped him to break the news of his homosexuality to their mother.
Yet this drug thing…Aisha had been completely oblivious to that. Dominic always paid her back every dime he borrowed, he was always well-groomed when she saw him, and he always acted as if everything was fine in his life.
Acting. That’s how he hid it, Aisha suddenly realized, starting to understand things a lot better now.
Aisha and Dominic had both inherited keen theatrical abilities from their mother. Thus they could be quite convincing when they wanted to be. Aisha just never thought Dominic would or even could use those abilities against her.
Great job, big brother. You should have gotten an Oscar for that one, she mused as the preacher finally brought his message to an end.
Knowing what she did now, Aisha was able to quickly forgive her relatives for their oversight. After all, if Dominic could fool her, he could fool anyone. However, having that knowledge still didn’t make Aisha want to linger in town any longer than she had to.
First chance I get, I’m out of here, she thought decisively.
© 2005 by Suprina Frazier