DANTE'S TOMORROW

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They sat huddled among one another,shivering and scared.  Their bedroom was dimmed with only the moonlight peeking through the blinds. The room was modest and had the bare essentials of a dresser and a full-size bed.  To four years old Dante’, dwelling inside the vastness of the room overwhelmed him and his twin sister, Dharma.  He had his arm wrapped around her as she pressed her face against his shoulder. “I wish mommy would come home” she sniveled, “She hasn’t been home since Monday and now it’s Wednesday”.





Dante’ held his sister’s closer to him as his way of replying to her question. Then a tear streamed his face and he thought back the last time they saw their mother. 

It was Monday night, and their mother sat along the side of their bed conveying a peaceful smile.  She just read their favorite bedtime story, The Cat in the Hat. Dante’ remembered her touch as she caressed his forehead. “Now, little D” She said, “I know you’re only a few minutes older than your sister, but I trust you will hold the fort while I’m at work”.

“Yes, mommy” he answered boasting a smile.

After Dante heard the apartment door closed, he suddenly had this strange feeling.  Any other night when she went to work at her new job as a 911 dispatcher, he would lie in the same spot next to his sister without thinking twice and went to sleep. At that moment, he felt something was nagging at his soul as if a weight was pressing against his chest.

For two weeks since their mother had her new job, she had trouble finding a sitter.  Her mother was in a nursing home suffering from a stroke, and her father was killed by gun violence when she eleven years old.  As for child care, she couldn’t find an inexpensive place to take her children during the nightshift, and when she did found one, she was placed on a three week waiting list.  Basically, she had no choice to leave them at home alone.  At the least she had her seventy-five year old neighbor named, Mrs. Sanders, who lived in the apartment below them.  Since her neighbor didn’t have any room for the twins to sleep, the ladies arranged where she would check on them once in the middle of the night and again in the morning.  Every thing worked out well until Monday night.  Dante’ hadn’t seen or heard from their neighbor either.  It was though as the people who mattered were disappearing without a trace.

“Dante’, I’m hungry” whimpered Dharma

After sadly gazing at the extraordinary moonlight, Dante’ then looked to his sister and bravely replied, “Okay, I’ll make another peanut butter and jelly sandwich”.

He took his sister by the hand toward the kitchen that hadn’t been clean since Monday. Dirty dishes were piled in the sink and an overloaded trash can that sat close by. Dante’ wanted to wash the dishes, but being four years old he didn’t quite know where to begin.  So he and his sister did the best they could to care for themselves.  When they were hungry, they fixed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or ate a bowl of cereal.  They never touch the microwave or stove since their mother warned them that touching those appliances were dangerous.

When the two returned to the bedroom, they sat on the bed nervously eating their sandwiches.  It was approaching one a.m., and the window was cracked opened to humming of cars and late night chatter from neighbors.  Then all of the sudden, a loud crash of tumbling trash cans interrupted their meal.  Dante’ sprang from the bed to investigate the noise.  His eyes wandered below the window at two cats prowling around the toppled cans. “Dante’, what is it” asked Dharma, “Is it mommy?”

“Naw, its two old alley cats looking for food” he answered with a sigh.

His sister eyes began to fog with tears.  She continued to watch her brother peep out the window and quickly thought of something horrible.  “Dante’, what if mommy went back doing what she did before she got clean” She whimpered.

Dante’ swiftly looked back to her and joined her on the bed.  He wiped her tears from cheek and courageously smiled.  “Mommy wouldn’t do that” He reminded her, “She promised us she’ll stay clean forever”.

“But what if…”

       "No, Dharma!” He interrupted, “Mommy doesn’t do that stuff anymore”

Dante’s eyes were glued to the window while consoling a frightened Dharma.  Then he thought back a year ago when their mother fought valiantly against drug abuse. When drug rehab didn’t work, she sought help at the last place she thought of ever going, to church.  The ministry had temporary child care for mothers who attended drug counseling. 

He remembered his mother knelling to his eye level, bravely smiling with her dark circles staining her eyes.  “I love my babies” She said as her voice broke, “When I’m finish with this program, mommy promises to the both you that I’ll stay clean from here on out”.  She caressed Dharma’s long ponytail braid and began to weep.  Then a heavy set woman told her it was time for the meeting.  It was one of the ministers’.  Their mother followed the dark-skinned woman with a short afro through a set of double doors. The piercing sound of those steal doors shattered Dante’s heart, and wondered if his mother would be alright.  She made promises of getting clean time after time.  Yet, he had a feeling at that moment she was going to get through it, despite his lingering fears. 





Contrary to the sound he heard outdoors, the same shattered feeling had returned.  He couldn’t get reassured of knowing if his mother was okay without seeing, or least, hearing her soft-spoken voice. The boy’s emotional heroics were soon diminishing. 





“Dharma, why don’t you go to sleep” He told her, “Maybe mommy will be home by the time you wake up”.





With some reluctance, Dharma abided her brother’s request and lay inside the bedspread.  In her tiny voice she asked him, “What if she doesn’t come, Dante’”.





“Stop thinking like that!  Remember what mommy always tells us?” he asked while fluffing her pillow.





“What’s that?”





“We need to have faith!” he said.




Dharma forced a smile to her twin brother as if those words had calmed her nerves. She pulled the cover close to her chin and went to sleep.








While watching her sleep, he prayed silently for a miracle.  Dante’ looked toward the window again at the moonlight, asking God to bring their mother home safe and sound.  He didn’t care if she started using again; he just wanted to be in her arms.  When drugs were her way of life, she always managed to put food on the table and kept a roof over their heads.  Her faults and mistakes were between her and God. 





Hours have past and Dante had finally drifted to sleep.  Then a strange, soft sound entered the room.  He raised from his pillow and a saw his mother standing inside the same moonlight that had been keeping them company all night.  “Mommy, you’re home!” He groggily smiled.  Dante looked over to his sleeping sister, and then looked back at his mother.   “Mommy, where you been?” He asked her.




           





            Still wearing the same clothes she wore two days ago, she shown a calming grin.  With the radiance of the light shining against her brown skin, his mother approached the side of his bed to sit down.  “Mommy, what happened?” He asked, “Me and Dharma been here for two days scared”.








His mother placed her warm lips on his forehead and then began to tuck the bedspread around him. “Little D” She said as she patted his head, “I’m sorry you and your sister were left alone since
I’ve been gone.  It’s just…”






“Are—are you—back on drugs?” he nervously wondered.





“No baby, I’m clean as a whistle”





“So where you been?”





His mommy reached over to his sleeping sister and caressed her unraveled ponytail.  “Dante, I want you do something for me” she said as she stayed focused on Dharma.





“What is it, mommy?”





“You’ve been so being brave since I’ve been gone” she said and then paused to look back at him, “Your sister is going to need you, okay?”





“Okay, mommy”              





His mother stood up and kissed him on his cheek.  “Mommy, can you cook us French Toast when we wake up?  Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches getting is a bit old” he quietly giggled.





She placed a single finger on his lips and whispered a hush.  “Little D, I want you to remember one thing as long as you have breath in your body” she said.





“What’s that?”





“No matter how bad things get, just remember to keep the faith because there will always be tomorrow”





And then for some reason, Dante’s fears were calmed.  As much as he tried to worry about his mother, he felt somehow it wasn’t a need anymore.  Also, there was something else.  As he peered at his mother, confidence was prevailing than the shining moonlight.  “Now go to sleep” She told him.  He happily closed his eyes and slept through the final darkness of the night.




            Suddenly, he had awakened to loud murmuring outside the bedroom.  He sprang out of the bed, hoping his mother was in the kitchen cooking what he’d asked for.  “Dharma, she’s home! She’s home!” He exclaimed.








The two ran into the hallway to discover strangers in the living room.  It was the police and most of them wore jackets that read, CSU, and they looked just as surprised as the children were of seeing them. 






Wearing a two-piece dark suit, the
woman detective came towards the twins and knelled to their level.  Her blue eyes gazed through their
nervousness.  “I bet you’re probably
wondering why are there strangers in your apartment” She asked in a soothing voice.










The twins didn’t say a word.  They looked over her shoulder at the police curiously
walking from room to room.  Then Dante’
suddenly asked, “Where’s mommy?”








She somberly looked up to her
partner as if she was trying to find the answer through him.  She then glanced back at the children.  “I’ll tell you what” She answered, “Are you
hungry?  I know a place around the corner
that makes great French Toasts. Would you like that?”









The woman stretched her hands
expecting the children to oblige her to offer. “It’s okay, you can come with me. I’m the good guys” She said.








Dante’ glanced over to his sister
as she shyly had her head bowed to the floor. “I think its okay, Dharma” He said, “We can trust her”.  He laid his tiny hand inside the warmth of
the detective’s palm.  When his sister
noticed Dante was beginning to trust the woman, she followed along by taking
her other hand. 










As they were going to the squad
car, Dante’ saw a peculiar sight.  There
was police tape lined around the alley and a police offer taking photos of the
trash cans.  Lying nearby was a black
bag surrounded by loitering debris.  His
worst fears came true.  Tugging on the
woman’s jacket, she lowered back to his eye level.  “If I ask you something, could you be honest
with a four year old?” He asked her.













She looked toward the alley as if
she already knew the question.  He leaned
toward her ear to fretfully whisper, “Has my mommy gone to Heaven?








The woman eyes welted with tears
and nodded her head.  “I’m sorry,
sweetie” She said.  Dante’ held back his
tears because he remembered what his mother had told him a few hours ago, to
stay brave. 











            Out of nowhere, a young officer
came near the other detectives without noticing the children.  “Excuse me, Detective!” He exclaimed, “We
caught the man who killed the victim. The suspect admitted of robbing and killing the victim two days
ago.  And according to her job, she never
reported in to work.  As for Mrs. Sanders
she was admitted to the hospital three days ago and been there since. She also
said she left a message…”















“OFFICER!” interjected the woman.
She caught the man’s attention by using her head to point in the direction of
the children.  “That will be enough” She firmly
added.









The Detective focused back on the
children, and then apologized for the officer’s insensitive actions.  Then Dante’ said something that shocked the
detectives and the nearby officers. 








“That’s okay” He quietly sobbed, “Mommy was good mommy. She never asked for anything from anyone to take care of us. And even when she was on drugs, mommy found somehow to care of me and my sister. People are so quick to look down at other people’s bad luck.  They don’t know what my mommy been through. But my mommy gave me a gift last night that I know I’ll keep forever in my heart.  She told me there will always be tomorrow. I know it is…..I just know it is!”






The woman nodded her head in
approval from his revelation.  She raised
her arm to dry her tears on her sleeve, and then escorted the twins inside the
car.  “Your mommy was a smart woman” she
tearfully agreed, assuming what he meant was dream.










As they drove away, Dante’ held his
weeping his sister.  “Dante’, who going
to take care of us” cried Dharma.








Just when he was about to answer,
he saw a crowd of curious onlookers watching the grim scene.  Among the hoards of people was their mother’s
spirit, smiling at her son.  He quietly
gasped as the squad car stopped at the red light. 









Without anyone else seeing her,
including Dharma, she mouthed the words to Dante’, “There will always be
tomorrow”, and blew a final kiss to him and disappeared.








“Dante’, what you are looking at”
asked Dharma, while drying her tears.








He returned his focus to his scared
sister, but shown a smile.  “Dharma, I
got the feeling everything will be okay. Remember, there will always be tomorrow—just remember that”.










THE END 













© Imani Wisdom, 2011



























































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4 comments:

abigailkrocker said...

That. Was. Amazing. Heartfelt. Tearful. Wonderful. What was the inspiration for this blog?

Imani said...

This post came initially from a poem I written in 97. And Tuesdays are my inspirational days, so I made it to a short story for this blog.

When I wrote these characters years ago, it came from a true story from a friend's life. Unfortunately, the outcome was reversed.

So this poem has been lying around for fourteen years collecting dust. I just thought I would bring it back to life. :)

Kaya said...

Imani Wisdom...there you go tugging at my heartstrings again. It gets so that every time I read one of your posts, I expect you to take me on an emotional ride. This was very engaging...Please keep me intrigued...One Love, Empress.
Kaya

Imani said...

Thank you so much, Kaya <3

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