This story is by Marlene McPherson and was part of our 2018 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Sean followed his father into the small house. At a glance he saw all the
Furnishings and this registered disappointment.
“You are here with me now!” said Mr Williams.
He swung on his heel and faced him “Yes, daddy.”
“Sean we’re exhausted from the long ride from St. Mary. Let’s retire to bed.”
Sean twisted and turned beside his father. Unable to sleep, he crept off the bed,
knelt and prayed.
“Heavenly Father help, guide and protect us in Jesus’ name, amen.”
“Good night, daddy”, whispered Sean.
Next morning his father directed him to shower in the bathroom that was a
long way from the house. Both strolled so he got a panoramic view of his
tenement yard environment.
An old Chevrolet car and a variety of overgrown fruit trees formed the frame
work of the wall. Beyond this area stood a dilapidated fence. Seeing this unusual structure, Sean wondered, if this was creativity or necessity.
His father prepared breakfast in the outside kitchen. They both dressed, ate
and started out for school and work.
“Today, I will be showing you around so learn fast, take note of the names of
places and landmarks. When you are knowledgeable, you move with
Kelly Mair Primary school was much bigger than Mica in St. Mary. He could
see the word ‘LIBRARY’ in bold, he glanced at his father and smiled.
“Mrs Maize, here is the boy.” Both adults exchanged pleasantries as he led
Sean in front. The teacher took Sean’s hand and walked him to the classroom.
That evening as Mr. Williams got home from work, he closed the door behind him and said
“You’re home, good!”
“How was school today and what subjects did you do?”
Sean responded:” Great! I like that school, especially the big library. Mathematics,English Language and General Science and the students are brilliant!”
“Education is an expensive commodity so make the best use of it”, stated Mr.
Williams. Changing his demeanor, he said “You hear me?”
“Yes, sir,” Sean spoke up.
Every evening his father scrutinized his assignments and questioned him.
Once the answer was correct, he smiled and nodded. Sean feared these sessions; each was a period
of intense agony, with the leather belt or a piece of electric cord at hand.
After six months Sean’s life changed.
He suffered tormenting headaches. “Oh my head hurts,daddy, oh…daddy”. cried
“You want something to cry about? you’re not hungry, nor working! So shut up!” he blurted at him.
Sean felt unloved and isolated. He missed his grandparents but he dare not mention it.
Within the following week he had his 13th birthday. Birthdays were usually a
celebratory time for him, so he reminded his father.
“Today is my birthday daddy,” beamed Sean.
“Really, that is good.” “I never got a birthday present from my father, but I got from your mother who has left me for greener pastures ,that bitch!” he said with disdain.
Sean, surprised and hurt at this disclosure prayed.
“Sorry to hear sir”, he muttered trying to show concern.
Mr. Williams remained quiet and exited the door.
He passed his examination so September would find him in high school. Sean assumed he could now stay outside, visit his cousins since his examination was over and he had proven himself to be a success. But this was not to be.
One evening while observing the Duco- man at work the time sped by without him realizing it. On arriving home, he found his father seated waiting for him.
“Oh you tun man now pon me”. (using the Jamaica dialect.) He stood up, grabbed the the electric cord, wrapped it over his right hand, drew Sean by his belt, then mercilessly hurled about four lashes across his back in quick succession.
“Daddy why, why?” Sean yelled. He wormed and struggled to get away but his father’s grip prevented this. Echoes of his shouts were heard outside the house but no one intervened.
“This is for just in case” jeered his father.
“I can’t take any more pain, why you so wicked?” he shouted.
Another blow followed.
“Daddy if you lick me again I will kill you!”
“What you say boy? You want to kill me? “ and he released his grip and bent over to meet his eyes. Sean sped away like Flash!
Two words of a popular lyrics reverberated in his consciousness “ Murderer! Murderer!” as he scampered away.
“Why should I commit such a great sin?”
“No, No the Bible says I must honor my Father and my mother, not to murder
them.” He reasoned with himself.
As soon as he was outside his eagle eyes settled on the blue Chevrolet near the
Ackee tree. He fell, rolled and shuffled under the car. Within minutes he saw the slipper of his father running towards the gate.
As the quiet night grew on Sean’s busy mind he turned his thoughts to God.
“ Heavenly Father, forgive me and help me with survival skills”. Sleep overtook him
A new morning dawned.
When his father left for work, Sean went inside the house for his belongings and placed them in the car. He showered, allowing the water to soothe the sore areas, changed his clothing, then went over to the duco-man work yard. While there, he was drawn to a small auto shop across the road.
Sean went and asked for the owner. “What would you like the owner to do?”
asked the worker.
“I want to be a productive steward,” he replied.
“Okay” young man,” and he left and went inside.
When he reappeared , he was in his Jacket and tie. Both chuckled.
“Please come in sir,” said the owner. Without hesitation he followed him.
“I could do with another worker but you are too young” .
Sean explained. “I do not want to be a full time worker but I could do tasks that
I could be paid for without being on your payroll.”
“Okay, I like your confidence and I will help. I am doing this because I was given help at your age. Your task for today is to wash my cars.”
He complied then went back to the shop to observe the procedures. During the break, Miss Pearl, the office helper offered him lunch.
By the end of the work day Sean left the office with three hundred dollars.
This became his best summer since coming to the city.
The weather forecast was troubling. Pouring rain prevented Sean from sleeping in his place of refuge, so he affixed a hammock onto the ackee tree.
He developed a routine of ‘early to rise’ and preparation that served his minimalist life-style.
Mr Stephens expanded his business and Sean was part of the team. Both men devised plan that proved to be a win- win for both parties.
During his high school days the driver would pick him up after dismissal;
presented him with his dinner from Miss Pearl , then both journeyed to do deliveries. He did his home work on the way to the establishment and slept on the return leg.
Sean achieved success cropping nine subjects in the major external exams
and was offered a scholarship.
One morning the unspeakable happened.
Sean was trying to sleep between raindrops! A family friend visited a
neighbor. On leaving the yard she pushed the gate openwhich hit the Ackee tree. Sean lost his balance and fell .
“My God, is not this Elaine’s son, Sean?” she asked. As he was about to answer, she gesticulated to him.
“You do not have to tell me your story. Elaine, your mother is my friend. She had to run for her life from that abusive man. I am glad that you claimed yours.”
Sean gathered his paraphernalia and placed placed his index finger on his lips indicating to Pam that she should remain quiet.
“Let me call her and tell her to send for you. You are a good boy because I learned of your achievements, Congratulations!”
She continued in awhispered “ Do you have your mother’s number?”
“No Miss Pam,” said Sean.
“You know what? Walk with me Sean. Your father use to call and threaten her, so she changed the number.”
Both left the yard to the nearest Kentucky restaurant and stood inside.
Pam dialed Elaine’s number and said “I have a special gift for you. Just speak to this person.” Upon hearing his mother’s voice for the first time, he slumped, heavy beads of tears ran down his cheeks and the phone fell from his hand. Pam cried as she stooped to embrace him, instead both hugged. A sweet hush came over the environment and all the patrons stared!