“Death, Can You Be an Angel?”
Death can you deliver me?
Can you set me free?
Will you come for her?
Cancer. The incurable kind.
The worst woman in the world,
Finally got what she deserved.
Cancer. Stage 3. Deadly.
I thought I’d be happy to see her go.
But I’m sort of sad about it.
Death can you be an angel,
And promise everything will be okay,
When my mother has gone away?
My job is the best, but working minimum wage for five hours, five days a week will not pay for bills and taking care of a baby. I haven’t physically gone into the office downtown since I started showing. I’ve been emailing all my work, but I’m stuck going in today because Esmeralda refused to accept my photos for February’s Magazine without seeing me.
The jerk left his old camo jacket behind, which is super warm and majorly baggy to hide my baby bump.
I started working for Mottoes last year. I forged Jewel’s signature, so I could start working at 15. Only my counselor at school knows I work there. The job fits well with going to college classes at night.
Mottoes is a media group where young voices provide the content. Ages 15-26 either write for Mottoes magazine or take pictures or do both like I do. Then we have a radio show and a few podcasts. It’s amazing. For all the work we do, and the workshops we attend hosted by our employer, we get paid! Actual professional journalists and media moguls come and share their methods to their craft. We also do fun activities and hang out together.
As usual we circle up in the center of the meeting room, which just has boring white floor tiles and boring cream ceiling tiles, and we’re in a basement room so there’s no natural lighting. We’re going to spend the next 30 minutes sharing one blessing and one curse. This time gives us all some peace in our very messed up lives, and this circle time also makes us like family to each other.
Troy Eldridge, his entire left arm is burnt up like a crisp, and he has severe nerve damage in all four of his left fingers. Somehow his thumb is normal. His parents were cooking meth when he was four and their meth lab blew up. He caught fire while he was running out of the house and he was too little to stop, drop and roll. Part of his body is burnt too, but no one can see it. He went to go live with his aunt who was married to an alcoholic. For years he was his uncle’s punching bag when the man was drunk. In middle school, Troy was the bully, beating the snot out his victims. He got kicked out of nearly every public middle school on the Eastside. CPS finally figured out he was being abused and put him with his paternal grandparents his freshman year of high school. His grandpa was a retired minister and his grandma turned out to be a sweetheart saint. It took a couple years, a lot of counseling, and Mottoes for a few months, but now Troy is a creature he likes to call human. If I wasn’t in love with Derek, or pregnant, I would totally date him. He’s not the cutest guy, but he has a warm charm and he is kind. Plus there is something about his soulful sage green eyes. Nah, I would not date him… His scars are really cool though… maybe I would…
Alice is a recovering anorexic. She still looks like a pencil and her black hair looks beyond fried from malnutrition. “Recovering” is the key word.
Blaine, our giant boy-man, who has a teddy bear of a face, suffers with severe depression.
Misha’s a former drug addict: painkillers. She used to be like a soccer prodigy, but a year ago she got in a car accident with her mom and they both survived, but due to injuries to Misha’s pelvis and left leg, she’ll never play sports again. She can’t even run and needs a cane to walk. After she got out of rehab, she was referred to this place and she hosted a sports radio show, she surprising loves it.
Kyler doesn’t talk, and no one, but Esmeralda knows why… he looks like a lanky weasel or maybe he appears more like a ferret. Anyhow, he’s the magazine’s current co-editor. He’ll write on notepads, send texts, and send emails, so he’s literate, but he simply doesn’t talk.
Fiona is a hot-head, she gets pissed off super quickly. I think it’s because she is of Italian decent, but am I stero-typing?
Then there’s me… I seem like the fairly, normal one. I’m honest about Jewel’s verbal abuse. I’m honest about being more of a mom to my sisters than Jewel. I’m honest about me and Derek, but everything else I sweep under the rug.
Our group strictly works on the magazine. While other meeting rooms, are filled with other creator groups at Mottoes for different media-related reasons. Esmeralda Ranaldi is our fearless leader. She has a gold nose ring in her left nostril. Her long, dark drown dreads are held back by head scarfs. Long flowy dresses with wild designs are her style. Bold and big gaudy, sparkly jewelry in her ears, around her neck, and on her wrists. And rain or shine, hot or cold, she only wears some form of sandals. Inside, she walks around barefoot as frequently as possible.
Trying to sit down on the ground without looking 20 weeks pregnant is a challenge. Okay, so I just have a little bump. I have popped enough to notice.
Troy notices I’m wincing as I squat low.
“Are you okay?” He asks.
“I’m fine.” I say.
He reaches out to help me, but I smack his hand away. “Don’t help. I’m good.”
I realized kneeling on the floor and then slowly adjusting to sit down made it possible.
Esmeralda smiles ear to ear not taking her eyes off me, which means she wants me to go first.
“Savannah! It’s too good to have you back! In honor of your return, please, go first.”
I’m totally embarrassed. I wish I could curl into a ball and disappear. “Can I go last?”
Esmeralda cautiously nods her head yes agreeing. “Sure…” she mutters. “Troy, you’re up!”
“Curse: I’m flunking Algebra 2. Blessing: I’m getting A’s in every other class. This is my best semester academically in the history of my school career… so I guess I need to find a tutor so I can end the semester well?” Troy says.
“Sav should tutor you. She’s a math genius.” Misha says. She’s lucky and gets to sit in a chair. I guess I could have faked a leg injury to get a chair… but then I would have to create a lie of how I got hurt. Less lying this way, maybe no lying.
“I don’t know… I have like zero free time…” I say, which is true now that I’m living with Jewel and my sisters again.
One by one, everyone shared their blessing and their curse for the day. I zoned out after Troy, trying to figure out what I’m going to say. I think I have to go big. I can’t hide a baby from everyone.
“Okay Savvy, you’re up…” Esmeralda says.
“Did Kyler go? I hadn’t noticed.” I admit.
Everyone squeals yes in various ways as Kyler holds his little whiteboard aggressively. The top reads: BLESSING: I tried coffee and liked it. The bottom reads: CURSE: I PEE A LOT FROM TOO MANY CUPS.
“Peeing a lot sucks dude… but at least you can stop it by not drinking coffee… me however, I have like a little person growing inside of me that kicks my bladder a lot and makes me pee all the time. That’s my curse: teen pregnancy. Blessing: impending motherhood… I think.”
Misha, Blaine, and Alice think I’m joking. They laugh hysterically.
“Good one!” Blaine blurts out.
“I don’t think she’s joking. It may be winter, but you don’t need a military winter jacket for Tucson.” Fiona states.
I unveil the bump by opening the jacket, the laughing stops, and all eyes bug out except for Fiona.
Reluctantly, Esmeralda asks, “Do you…want to… share more with… us?”
“No, I’m good.” I say.
Getting up from the floor, I let Troy help me up. He’s sweet. Everyone disperses to their battle stations, except, I join Esmeralda at her desk.
She leans back in her swivel chair, nervously clicking the top of her retractable pen without stopping. I struggle to find comfort in the modern, egg-shaped plastic chair.
“This is why you haven’t come in,” leaning forward and resting her arms on the desk, “You were ashamed of your pregnancy?” She asks.
“No… not totally… my mom has stage 3 lung cancer. She doesn’t want traditional chemo, and she doesn’t want surgery to try and live. She wants to die… So we maybe have a year with her. I just thought my time has been more important to spend with her and my sisters than coming here.” I explain.
Okay, so I tell a little white lie… but it would be true if I knew about mom’s cancer sooner. It’s more of an excuse than a lie, right?