Against the Grain (con.)

Twelve days later, Malaykah was involved in a car accident. Through no fault of her own, she was rear-ended by a teenager. No one was hurt, and the damage was minimal. Malaykah took the incident in stride. She was grateful the mechanic quoted a reasonable price for repairs. The option to take the train to and from work seemed more beneficial than a rental car.

Not long after the accident, Malaykah began to experience body aches and severe migraines. She shook it off and continued to try to find momentum with balancing her life. Evenings on the train were a pleasant break from her usual routine. She was gifted the opportunity to think about her experiences both in the human realm and the realm beyond the stars and sea.

The train station was a mere fifteen-minute walk home. With her eyes towards the sky and head in the clouds, she nearly missed Shannon in the driveway with a man in a car. There was no way to mistake who was inside the vehicle. It was none other than Alejandro. He sped away so fast that he did not see Malaykah walk up to the house.

“Nice night to be out and about,” she said to her daughter.

Shannon shrieked and dropped her house key on the ground. She turned around and glared at her mother. Her hands shook so hard that she was unable to fit the key inside the slot. Malaykah gently nudged her to the side and opened the door with her own key.

“Mom, you scared the crap out of me,” Shannon said with a tremble in her voice.

Malaykah began to hum and said, “Did I now? My apologies, dear.”

Shannon eased inside the house behind her mother, not sure what to make of the situation.

“It was a nice night. Lucky for us, the rain finally lifted,” Shannon murmured slowly.

Malaykah took off her heels and plopped on the couch.

“I do appreciate the rain for my sad little garden outback, but taking the train does make it feel like a challenge,” she said while digging through her purse for her phone.

Shannon sat beside her, completely thrown off by Malaykah’s mood.

“Okay, Mom, let’s stop with the polite banter. Go ahead and lay into me,” she demanded.

Malaykah dumped the entire contents of her purse on the couch without finding her phone. She busied herself with the search for several minutes. Finally, Shannon became annoyed and cleared her throat loudly to retrieve her mother’s attention.

Malaykah looked up at her disgruntled child and chuckled, “Lay into you about what, darling?

Shannon scoffed, “I know you saw who dropped me off just a minute ago.”

Malaykah nodded silently as if she did not recognize the car.

Shannon scooted closer and reached for her hand.

“Actually, the timing is perfect. You may as well know, Dro and I are back together.”

Malaykah sat in silence. She imagined that her facial expression did not reveal any kind of emotional response because Shannon seemed to search her eyes with a penetrating stare.

“Oh my, what an interesting development,” she chimed passively and began to sift through her purse once again.

Shannon became incredulously furious. Without thinking, she snatched the purse to toss it across the room.

“Is that all you’re going to say?” she yelled.

Malaykah tensed up, prepared to yell back. Then suddenly, she looked at Shannon’s visible aggravation and felt empathy. The twins crept out of their rooms to see what all the commotion was about. Malaykah waved her hand for them to stand down.

“What would you like me to say?” she asked.

Shannon stood over her mother and continued to yell. “I don’t know; maybe yell or scream. You could tell me what a no-good loser my boyfriend is. You could do something to discourage me from seeing him.”

Malaykah attempted to soften her tone.

“Do you really need me to do any of that?” she asked.

Shannon glanced at her siblings. Roy looked as if he wanted to pounce on her, but Roxy glared at them both in confusion. The room was silent for a good minute before Shannon responded to their mother.

“Well, no. But jeez, Mom. You’ve changed so much since that awful night. We hardly recognize you anymore.”

“Why aren’t you bent out of shape?” Roxy interjected.

“Are you feeling alright, Mom?” Roy asked.

“How did this conversation shift over towards me?” Malaykah chuckled.

Feeling defeated, Shannon plopped down on the couch.

“Because; we need you to be our mom again. Not this nonchalant fem-bot who can just remain chill about everything,” she said.

Malaykah shook her head and laughed, “Well, this is a first. I’ve been called many things in my lifetime, but never a fem-bot.”

Shannon pinched her on the thigh and said, “Mom, I’m being serious. You don’t seem to care too much about anything these days. You haven’t intervened when the twins team up against me. Your job doesn’t seem to have you stressed out anymore, and I honestly feel like you’re practically giving your blessings for me to date Dro again.”

Malaykah playfully pinched Shannon’s leg and replied, “You’re wrong. I decided to let the three of you hash things out like mature adults should do. Nothing bad has happened yet. My life at the office is purely miserable, but I can’t just quit. I haven’t given my blessings for you to take up with Dro. In fact, I think it’s a terrible idea. However, I know if I allow my irritation to rule over the things I can’t change, there would be nothing but catastrophic consequences. The best I can do is control my emotions and believe for the best results. I don’t want to fight with you, the twins, Alejandro, or my boss, for that matter.”

Both Roxy and Roy came to the couch to hug Malaykah. Shannon, however, was even more displeased.

“What kind of Jedi mind trick is this? I half expected you to throat punch me over Dro,” she exclaimed.

Malaykah pulled Shannon into her embrace.

“What would that solve?” she asked.

Shannon abruptly pulled away and huffed.

“Maybe nothing. Maybe it would make you feel better, instead of suppressing your feelings. Or maybe it would set me straight. It certainly seemed to work on Dro. He’s been a saint lately,” she answered.

Malaykah threw her arms around Shannon so tight she could not escape. After she squirmed for a few minutes, she surrendered. Roxy and Roy continued to latch on to their mother, and they all silently wept.

“I don’t want you to suffer, Shannon. I don’t want any of you to suffer at all. If I tell you to stay away from him, it would only push you further into his arms. I don’t want there to be a rift between any of us. So my hands are tied, but my heart is wide opened,” Malaykah cried.

Shannon raised her head and shook away when Roy tried to hold her in place.

“I know you think you’re being strong right now. Somehow you believe using reversed psychology will make everything alright. Truth is, I prefer the old you who would go at least eight rounds with me to prove a point.” She got off the couch and grabbed her keys to walk out the door. “This new version of you sucks. You’re weak and afraid to actively participate in your life. Whatever happened to you while you were in a coma must’ve been truly unnerving.”

Roy calmly walked over to Shannon and shoved her against the front door.

“You really need to watch your tone, big sis,” he warned.

“Why do you always have to act like a spoiled ass brat?” Roxy chimed in.

Malaykah wiped her face without so much as a word. It took her a few moments to realize her children were about to come to blows. She banged her fist on the coffee table to get their attention and said, “If you took up with Dro because you couldn’t help yourself, I understand. If you did it to serve as a wake-up call to me, I understand that too. The question you need to ask yourself is, who are you really angry at? As a mother, I’ve done all I can and then some to look after you all. At some point, you have to fend for yourself and deal with the fallout from whatever consequences that may come. Yes, it’s risky. But ultimately, it’s up to you to make it out on the other side of any dark tunnel you find yourself in.” She got up and walked towards her bedroom. “I pray you never spend a day in my shoes.”

~Ch. 16, The Realm Beyond the Stars and Sea~

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