Jewel watched the sky as if willing the plane back. She tried to remember a time when she had not done the very same thing and was not surprised to lack an answer.
Her mother had always been busy even during her tender years as a child. Jewel remembered how in the past mama had made it up to her by spending the weekends with her and dad. They would do so many magical things, shopping, hiking, sky diving or just something then she’d be gone again. Jewel hadn’t minded so much as she understood that she had to work. The work of a journalist is not easy and she enjoyed watching her on TV then going to school to be favoured because of the same. Besides daddy had always been there for her, she was his princess .
Her father was a mechanical engineer and was employed at a leading motor vehicle manufacturing company in their state. Often he’d take her to work and she would marvel at the cars. She would ask so many questions about the engines, hose power, speeds and all that and within no time she could differentiate so many cars by the mere purr of their engines. Everyone marvelled at her intelligence ( or at least in his place of work they did.)
She had once tried to tell her friends about cars but they all looked at her like she had lost it! Her friends seemed more interested in the tea party they were enjoying and one even went ahead and told her with utmost disgust that she was beginning to sound like a boy and a geeky one at that. She had been tight lipped about her fancy in cars when it came to her friends from then, feigning interest about the barbie dolls and their doll houses as well as all the other mindless games they played if only to keep them happy. She did not however keep quiet when she reached home and it was just her and her father. She would go on and on about cars and the power that they held and daddy would smile happy and content. Often he would chip in and explain what she did not understand or facts that she had wrong. She had never been happier than when seated on her father’s laps just talking. He would read her stories when she was too tired to talk, stories on fairytales and on strong people in the society. She would fall asleep in his lap and he would carry her to bed. She would love life no other way. Okay….maybe she would have loved it more if mom was part of all of it…but for now she was content. Mama would come when she could. Daddy had always assured her of that. And when she did come…it was simply magical.
Then daddy had an accident in a test drive and in a cruel split second; he was gone! With him had gone all her dreams of ever having a family, of ever driving a sports car, of ever being happy.
Jewel had hoped mama would be home more often, spend more time with her. Silently, she hoped that mama would agree with her and support her in her dream of being one of the best racing drivers. How wrong she had been.
Mama had come home two weeks after the funeral…why? she had never understood…she had figured she had been in the middle of an important story or maybe had been too angry at Papa to attend the funeral. Or was it at her? At thirteen years of age she had resolved that some things were better of not knowing.
Mama had been given a month off work in which she had cried often asking God why He had taken her Jack away and mumbling regrets of why she had not spent time with him. Sometimes she had blamed dad for going into the car and asked why he had chosen that career in the first place. Somewhere in between Jewel had been forgotten and in the tears mama shed -she knew her dreams were being washed away. She would never tell her now! She felt like hating mama-she was the one who always left! Why could SHE not have chosen a different career? She did not even come to the funeral! Like what was wrong with her? At least dad had spent time with her! He had been a perfect dad where had she been? One day she had caught herself wishing that mama had died instead of papa and hated herself for it.
She remembered her Sunday school teacher saying that one should not judge and should pray for the weak and told herself that she would do just that. Mama really looked weak. Her needs would have to overlook Jewel’s. She however hoped that mama might see her effort and remember that she had a daughter.
She tried everything.
Keeping the house neat, cooking what they needed to eat, washing the home, she even tried talking to her but each time mama would look into her eyes and turn away. Jewel wondered why she did that. Did she blame me?
She remembered that dad had told her that he would be only be a minute then he would take her to the museum. She had begged him all week. She could easily have gone alone but really all she wanted to do had been to take a walk with her father and just talk with and have fun with him.
All the girls in school had been driving her crazy with all their talks on fashion, music and crushes…Argh! She knew he would take long and said as much but daddy had turned to her and said “don’t worry Angel I’ll hurry back. It’s the fast car” jewel had smiled. Dad would rush back…it was a race car after all. She had gone to the stands to watch him drive.
He had been going real strong and the car seemed to be in perfect shape. They had done a good job with it. Then as he was turning at the last corner, Jewel had turned to pick her bag. What she saw when she turned back would torment her all her life. Daddy hit something, the car screeched and then …burst into flames.
She often woke up screaming even now all this years later.
She had run there but someone had caught her, she had tried breaking free but they wouldn’t let her. She screamed and turned trying to break loose but they wouldn’t let her near that car. She saw him only once after that. He was on a stretcher been taken to hospital. He had struggled she remembers… they wanted to take him away fast but he kept asking for her. Maybe he had known. They let her through and she saw her father all burnt and in pain and she felt big lumps of tears fall. Her heart felt slit like a knife. Even in so much pain he had held her hand, his hands had burns all over, pink and raw and oozing water yet he still held on.
His last words to her, were words that would never leave her, she had recited them over and over in her heart and they kept her through all the dark days.
“Jewel, my baby, Jewel” he had winced out.
“I love you baby. Be a good girl and take care of yourself and mama. She loves you so much. Never doubt that. Tell her I love her for me will you? Be strong dear and one day you’ll be the greatest. I love you.”
He had been wheeled out soon after, whisked into the blaring sirens. Twenty two minutes later, on the 17th of August, her father had died on the way to hospital. There had been no need to tell her, she remember how suddenly she had felt so hollow, how all air had left her lungs and the soaring pain she felt when he passed, pain so strong it brought her to knees and the feeling of her whole world collapsing around her. She remembered the hot tear that had trickled down her left eye. She remembered the silent gush that had followed. Even now, she felt tears welling up inside her. Did mama blame her? Was it her fault that dad had rushed? Was it?
All the same, after two weeks her mother had called the station and said she would be reporting in. Jewel felt sad. They had only spoken once. Mama had asked her whether she would be comfortable staying with a nanny for a while before Aunt Katie came. Jewel had said she did not mind. Mama had said good and called the child care centre. She might as well have taken a knife and stabbed Jewel for the pain she felt. A day later Jewel had seen her mother off to the airport. Her last words had been “take care of yourself and don’t give the nanny a hard time. She’ll be waiting when you get home. Jewel could not remember when she had cried as much as she did that day. She longed for her love, her comfort and wondered whether she had caused papa’s death somehow.
‘A day will come’
She heard from somewhere deep inside, a reassuring reverberating within her and though she didn’t see who had said it –it had given her hope; Someday…
Her nanny had turned out to be a girl slightly older than herself whose main concern seemed to be more in her image and her fun rather than in her. At thirteen, Jewel could swear she had more brains than the eighteen year old ever would. She was scarcely ever home and when she was, she was nursing hangovers. Jewel had loathed her and prayed that she would not become as worthless as this girl was. She wondered if mama had even bothered to see who the childcare would send. She also began to wonder whether the Good Lord really cared. In a month she had lost both her parents and her dreams with them. To top it all up she was now under the care of a worthless girl with a can of beer for brains! What had she done to Him?
‘All things work together for good for those who love the Lord’
She had heard and screamed she didn’t care. Now so many years later she wondered where the voice had come from. Either way she didn’t care! God had ceased to exist for her the day her mother had flown in that plane so many years ago.
Her phone rang and jolted her from her reverie. It was Nick, her boyfriend. She looked at the sky again and sighed. She wished her mother knew him. She really did not know whether to trust him and with the addition of the text she had received she didn’t know what to make of him. How had mama dealt with guys in the past? Hmmph…at least Nick cared. She turned and picked the call.
“Hi dear, took you long to pick the phone…”
“Sorry, had a lot in mind.”
“What’s up Hun?” she wondered whether to ask him about the text she had gotten in the morning. She thought against it. She’d ask later.
“Not much. I’m at the airport. Mum just left.” She hoped he wouldn’t sense her disappointment yet something in her she hoped he would.
“Now you can come over for a drive.
Let’s race….Middle Street?”
Jewel laughed at the irony. Here she was depressed and her boyfriend could not think of anything but fun and speed. Some things never change or at least he didn’t.