Posts tagged “announcement

Homecoming, Chapter 12

Posted on 27/01/2016

Sandwiched between Clement and Darah, Eleazar studied the woman sitting opposite him while everyone else watched them in silence.

Phoebe curled her hand around Abe’s and Geraldine spied Bart’s expression before placing her hand over his. Her pulse tripped when he took her hand and held it at his lap. Her cheeks warmed and she snuck him another look but he kept his attention on the woman, Eleazar’s grandmother.

Mrs. Sharma Crane pulled an embroidered handkerchief from her clutch purse and dabbed her weathered cheek. When her hazel eyes met Eleazar’s, the boy looked away and leaned into Clement. She sighed and turned to Abe. “I know this isn’t protocol showing up like this, but I couldn’t not come. I didn’t mean to alarm anyone and…”

Clement grunted under his breath, receiving a quelling look from Phoebe.

“It’s alright,” Abe reassured her. “I know this must’ve been hard for you also.”

“You have no idea.” Her gaze sought Eleazar once more and a lone tear slid down her cheek. “For nine years, I’ve been looking for him. I had no idea he was still in the city… still alive.”

Phoebe hesitated–Eleazar hearing about the demise of his mother in this way wasn’t right. She looked over to where Eleazar sat hunched over, his way of shielding himself during uncomfortable situations.

“Hey guys,” Clement interrupted Phoebe’s thoughts. He draped one arm around Eleazar and the other around Darah. “It’s been a long day and I’ve got tons to unpack. Eli, Darah, give me a hand, yeah?”

The anxiety rolled off her shoulders as Clement stood and the younger siblings rose from their seats without a word of protest. It seemed this was one conversation they were willing to miss and Phoebe was grateful for that.

Mrs. Sharma Crane couldn’t say a word but her longing gaze followed Eli around the sofa and disappeared behind the wall. Sighing, she turned to the remaining adults in the room, chagrin etched on her features. “I really am sorry.”

Gone was the enraged woman who demanded her rights as grandmother. She’d witnessed Eleazar’s frightened eyes and the quiet terror in his stance as he leaned away from her.

“I know the agency suggested I wait, but I just couldn’t stand missing a chance to see him. He’s my grandson…”

Phoebe gave the older woman a kind smile. “It’s okay, Mrs. Crane. Losing both your daughter and grandson must’ve been hard for you.” When Abe quietly slipped his arm around her shoulders, tears rushed to her eyes and she blinked them away quickly. Her loss was nothing compared to Mrs. Crane’s, for she hadn’t developed a long-term relationship with her unborn daughter as the older woman had with hers.

Mrs. Crane dabbed her eyes and looked down at her gnarled hands. “After all these years, I just never thought I could hope again.”

“What happened?” Abe asked quietly.

“My daughter was in real bad shape. I did the best I could for her when she was young but there’s only so much you can do when they get older. She got into poor company, started drinking heavily.” Pain deepened the grooves on her face. “God knows what else she got involved in. It got to the point that I couldn’t do anything else for her. She wanted to leave so I let her go.”

Everyone sat in tense silence. Phoebe prayed Clement had kept Eleazar and Darah from hearing distance.

“She was my only child,” Mrs. Crane continued, her voice trembling. “I was devastated at how she’d changed. But I’d always believed one day she’d forgive me for giving up on her and just come home.” Tears streaked down her face. “Then one day, she came home. Heavily pregnant. It didn’t matter, I was hopeful she was ready to get better.”

Phoebe gripped Abe’s hand, giving him a silent warning to brace himself.

“And she was! We were doing well. She was determined to get clean and fix her life.” Mrs. Crane wiped her cheeks. “She started coming to church with me frequently and we spent quality time preparing for the baby.” She wore a wistful smile that wobbled. “I thought for sure all would be fine.”

Abe and Bart stiffened visibly when Mrs. Crane choked on a deeply-wrought cry.

“Then she just disappeared the day before she was to deliver.” Mrs. Crane’s eyes flashed wild as though reliving the day. “I thought for sure the father of her baby had come to get her. I was like a crazy person looking for her everywhere. The police said there was no sign of struggle and that she’d left on her own.” Mrs. Crane shook her head violently. “I refused to believe it; not after all the changes she’d made, all the plans we’d made for her and my Caleb.”

Phoebe felt the jump of Abe’s pulse against her hand and snuck a look at him. He looked as visibly pained as she felt inside. Oh how she wished to shield him from hearing the rest of the story.

Mrs. Crane swallowed hard. “Then she showed up in the hospital with clothes bloodied, refusing to talk, and looking like she’d lost her mind. They said she willingly came without the child.”

Geraldine inhaled sharply, her free hand moving to her mouth. Bart looked as though he was about to be sick. Phoebe fought the nausea rolling in her stomach. Abe sat deathly still and Phoebe just couldn’t bring herself to look at him.

“They said she abandoned him somewhere after birth,” Mrs. Crane shook her head. “It’s a lie. She did want Caleb–”

“No she didn’t,” Bart finally spoke, his tone callous. He stared hard at Mrs. Crane, no sign of empathy in his angular features. “Your daughter didn’t want Eleazar. She never wanted him.”

“That’s not true!” Mrs. Crane protested. “You weren’t there, what do you know?”

“Your daughter played you,” Bart continued, face tightening with rage. “She knew you’d take her back if she agreed to sober up, but never had any intentions of keeping him.”

“Shut up!” Mrs. Crane shouted, her voice carrying in the room.

Phoebe glanced at the empty hallway for signs of an eavesdropping Eleazar or Darah. Or worse Clement, for he wouldn’t sit as quiet as Abe was.

“Mrs. Crane,” Abe spoke up. “I’m afraid I have to ask you to leave.”

The righteous indignation in his tone made Phoebe shiver.

Mrs. Crane’s eyes were wide as saucers. “But–”

“We’ve heard what you’ve had to say,” Abe continued. “As you said earlier, this is against protocol and you’re acting inappropriately by showing up here. I’ll have to report it to the agency if it continues.” He stood and Bart stood also.

Both Geraldine and Phoebe gaped at the two men who resembled stern bodyguards ready to escort the older woman out of their home.

Mrs. Crane stood stiffly, eyes glistening with tears. “You’re wrong. I did not abandon Caleb.”

“No one said you did,” Abe said in a placating tone although his expression was stern as Bart’s. “Yet the fact remains that your daughter did just that, and she lost her right and yours the day she gave him up.”

“He’s no longer your concern,” Bart added, his jaw clenched so tight Phoebe was sure it hurt.

Mrs. Crane flinched at his words. She turned pleading eyes to Phoebe.

“You should’ve really called first, Mrs. Crane,” Phoebe said gently, her heart hurting for everyone involved. “Eli shouldn’t be hearing this from a stranger, which is unfortunately what you are to him.”

Seeing she had no allies in the Teka clan, Mrs. Crane’s face hardened. “If I didn’t take drastic measures, you wouldn’t have let me see him.”

“Again,” Bart inserted. “Eleazar is no longer your concern.”

“That’s not for you to say. He’s my grandson.”

“Was,” Bart muttered. “He sat in a foster home for two years before our parents adopted him.”

“I-I didn’t know he was alive!”

“I’m sure you didn’t. Still doesn’t change the fact that he’s our brother and he’s staying here.”

Phoebe’s chest tightened when Mrs. Crane winced at Bart’s callous words. No telling how she would’ve reacted if Clement had been the one to deliver the blow.

Abe then stepped forward. “Mrs. Crane…”

The woman flinched and took a step back, visibly overcome.

He sighed. “If you’d like to communicate with any of us, please do so through the agency. Don’t show up unannounced like this again.”

“I–”

“Goodnight, Mrs. Crane.”

The four adults heaved a collective sigh once Abe closed the front door behind Mrs. Crane. Phoebe lowered to her seat. Bart dragged a hand over his face. Geraldine sat in pensive silence.

“Unbelievable,” Bart muttered, perching on the couch beside Geraldine.

Abe stared over their heads at the stairwell, a frown forming. “How much did you hear?”

All of them whirled about to find a scowling Clement and a teary-eyed Darah. Clement had an arm around Darah. Eleazar was notably absent.

“More than enough,” Clement growled.

Bart breathed a curse when Darah dissolved into sobs.

“Oh dear…” Phoebe stood quickly and hurried to Darah’s side. The girl turned her face to Phoebe, the wails muffled against her shoulder.

Abe scowled. “Where’s Eleazar?”

“Pretending to sleep,” Clement grumbled. His eyes moved to both Bart and Geraldine. “I told you guys to soundproof the walls.”

Geraldine grimaced. Bart muttered another curse word and dragged a hand over his face.

“H-how can people be so-so horrible?” Darah railed against Phoebe’s shoulder.

Abe moved past Clement, taking the stairs two at a time.

“He locked the door, Abe,” Clement called after him. “Leave him alone for now.”

Phoebe shook her head when Abe didn’t listen and kept going. Clement grunted and followed him up.

Then Bart’s cellphone rang obnoxiously in the tense mood and he snatched it from his belt loop. “Hello?” he barked, entirely out of sorts. The scowl on his face morphed into alarm and his gaze slid to Geraldine. “Hold on.” He extended it to her. “It’s your mom.”

With a quizzical look, Geraldine accepted the phone and put it to her ear. “Mama, what’s wrong?” she asked in Spanish, her expression changing as her mother rattled in rapid speech. Her eyes widened and she looked to Bart. “They’re here!”

Darah’s sobs paused and Phoebe frowned, both looking to Geraldine. “Who’s here?”

“Your in-laws?” Bart’s frown deepened.

Geraldine nodded vigorously. “They’re at the airport.”

He scowled. “But they’re a week early!”

“But your engagement party!” Darah protested, glistening eyes wide with alarm.

Both Bart and Geraldine groaned. Abe and Clement trudged down to the living room without Eleazar. Abe frowned. “What’s going on?”

“Geri’s in-laws are here a week early,” Phoebe mumbled, watching displeasure shadow his features.

Clement whistled in disbelief. “And this day just went from bad to worse…”

<<Chapter 11 || Chapter 13>>

Advertisements

Homecoming, Chapter 10

Posted on 20/01/2016

“So what’s this about a fake marriage?” Clement ventured in the silence, ignoring the weight of stares around him. He focused his attention on Bart and Geraldine who sat together. “Why fake when you can have something real?”

“Don’t change the subject,” Abe groused in annoyance.

“No one was talking,” Clement said matter-of-factly. “You were just staring at me.”

Abe rolled his eyes. “What do you mean you’re dropping out of college?”

“Did you flunk out?” Darah asked, wide-eyed.

“No.” Clement frowned at his sister. “My GPA’s pretty decent.”

“What’s a GPA?” Eleazar asked, still leaning into Clement’s side.

“Something you don’t need to worry about for now, Squirt.” Clement ruffled Eleazar’s curls, earning him a smile.

“Was it too cold? Were you unhappy there?” Phoebe spoke softly, fading Clement’s smile. She tilted her head to study him. “Were you?”

“He’s homesick,” Bart muttered. “Practically calls every day.”

Clement scoffed. “Not every day.”

“Is that it, Junior?” Abe cut in, his tone equally gentle. “You’re homesick?”

“It’s complicated.” He sighed. “I just don’t like it there.”

“Then transfer. Why dropout?”

“I don’t like school.” Clement looked up at his eldest brother. “It’s just not my thing.”

Abe’s frown deepened. Their parents had saved up for each of their formal education, believing it would be the best investment for each of them. “Then what is your thing?”

Clement shrugged. “I’m working on that.”

Both Abe and Bart grunted in disgust.

“Hey, don’t look down on me just because I’m not cut out for school.”

“But that’s just it,” Phoebe inserted “You are cut out for school. You just said you have a good GPA which means you’re doing well in your classes.”

Clement heaved a sigh. “Guys, my decision has been made. I withdrew two weeks ago.”

“Two weeks ago?!” Abe roared. “Why didn’t you tell us? And what were you doing since then?”

“Backpacking in the mountains, getting inspiration.” Clement replied easily, undeterred by his brother’s rising irritation. Then he turned back to Bart. “Now what’s this about you and Geri not getting married?”

Bart rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Unbelievable.”

Geraldine managed a smile. “It’s complicated…”

Clement shrugged. “Then give me the short, easy version.”

Phoebe put a hand on Abe’s shoulder, shaking her head to deter him from starting an argument with Clement. She’d learned a while ago that Clement was probably the most stubborn out of the four Teka siblings–and if he’d made up his mind, there was no convincing him otherwise.

Abe frowned at her silent charge but blew a breath through his flared nostrils before dropping his shoulders in defeat. For now…

Once Geraldine had given Clement the short version of their plan, Clement sat back in his chair and shook his head. “This is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.”

“Says the guy who drops out of school for no reason,” Bart grumbled, and the two brothers exchanged glares. “So what will you do now? Loaf around until you come up with inspiration?”

Clement smirked. “Why don’t you worry about your engagement? I’m sure you’ll have little time to worry about me when you’ve just inherited crazy in-laws. No offense, Geri.”

Geraldine shrugged, her expression wry. “None taken.”

“In order to be the voice of reason,” Abe spoke up. “You need to have reason.”

Silence filled the room while Clement and Abe locked eyes. It wasn’t often the two stood against each other, mostly because they often stood together in agreement. But Abe couldn’t sit quietly while his brother made a big mistake with his future.

Clement’s lips quirked upwards. “Since I’m well over the age where you get to tell me what to do, I’ll take your word as a suggestion. Now let’s get back to more pressing issues, shall we?”

“That’s enough.” Phoebe frowned. “What’s with that ugly attitude?”

Abe’s stiff shoulders lost its starch and he put a hand on Phoebe’s shoulder. “Hey, it’s okay–”

“No it’s not okay!” Phoebe’s voice shook. “Who do you think you are talking to him like that?”

Everyone gaped at her. As his former counselor, Phoebe was attuned to Clement’s melancholic personality and advised everyone to be careful of his sensibilities. She avoided arguments in the heat of the moment and usually sought him out once he’d settled down.

“Phoebe.”

“No Abe, I won’t stay quiet.” Her eyes were now glistening with tears. “After what he’s done for you, you treat his concern like it’s nothing. What, a suggestion? Where do you come off?”

Clement stared at her for a few moments and then he burst out laughing.

Shocked gazes swung his way.

Darah nudged him when his chuckles grew to loud guffaws. “Are you insane?” she hissed, eying Phoebe’s scowl. Abe looked ready to blow.

“That’s enough,” Bart growled, face tight with anger.

Perturbed, Eleazer scooted away from Clement and closer to Darah.

Geraldine watched in amazement that none reached out to seize Clement by the collar, the room growing tense as Clement’s laughter continued.

Finally and thankfully, Clement’s laughter abated. He wiped the tears from his eyes. “You guys are entirely too dramatic,” he said amid chuckles. He looked at Phoebe’s face and her trembling lips. “Phoebe, Abe… guys, I meant no disrespect.”

“Sure looks like it,” Abe groused, rubbing Phoebe’s back to soothe her ire.

Clement’s smile faded and he sighed heavily. “I dropped out of school because I want to be a missionary.”

Shocked silence fell on the family and they gaped at him, flabbergasted.

He shrugged. “I just know what I want to do now, and it’s not school.”

“M-missionary?” Phoebe echoed. “You?”

Clement’s smile reappeared. “Yeah, me. God can use anyone and he wants to use me. I’ve accepted the call.” His eyes swept over his family and settled on Abe. “And as my family, I’d like your understanding and your blessing.”

Phoebe and Abe exchanged glances, Darah and Eleazar the same. Bart just stared at his brother in shocked silence.

In an act of support, Geraldine subconsciously reached for Bart’s hand. His eyes remained on Clement, but his fingers covered hers and squeezed gently. She squeezed it back in silent encouragement.

The doorbell rang again and Abe groaned. “What now?” He rose from the couch and made his way to the door. Pulling it open, his scowl faded, leaving behind only curious confusion.

A small woman stood on the welcome mat, dressed in a tweed suit, her curly salt-and-pepper hair arranged in a fancy hairstyle, her weathered face adorned with faint makeup. She lifted familiar uncanny hazel eyes–the same color as Eleazar’s–and Abe gasped inwardly.

She eyed him with curiosity and her thin painted lips twitched a small smile. “Hello. I’m Mrs. Sharma Crane. May I come in?”

Footsteps rushed to the door before Abe could formulate a response. “Who are you?” Clement demanded at Abe’s right shoulder.

“Don’t be rude,” Phoebe berated him, standing between him and Abe. She turned to the woman with a kind smile. “Hello.”

The woman gave Phoebe a smile that was short of warm. “Hello.”

“Who’s this, Abe?” Bart asked, standing on Abe’s left shoulder.

Abe’s lips moved but no words came, panic seizing him as he repeated the name he’d only seen on birth records. Eleazar’s. His stomach did a somersault. How did she find–?

The woman swung her hazel eyes to him. “I’m Eleazar’s grandmother. May I come in?”

<<Chapter 9 || Chapter 11>>

%d bloggers like this: