Nala Caliente turned to her side and looked at her watch. The bigger hand had only slightly moved from twelve while the smaller rested on six. It was Sunday Nala also noted as she got up in a sitting position with a groan. A persistent stomachache tortured her for days now but she found ways to push trough it. It was her reasoning that by the time you get to a certain age just have to take the limits that come with it, and accept the fact that there will be certain pain and inconvenience you just had to ignore in order to lead a normal life.
She carefully put one foot after the other on her soft yellow carpet and got up slowly steadying herself with one hand on the soft bed. Then she straightened up feeling her joints complaining. Live with the pain… Nala reminded herself as she walked barefooted trough her large bedroom.
What other options did she have anyway? Go to her daughter Summer and complain? What good could that do? Summer would just make a big fuss about it and make Nala go see a doctor. And what would the doctor say? That she was old. A diagnosis Nala could make herself and she had no medical degree, no degree whatsoever.
So she walked slowly and steadily to the calendar she kept on the wall, and like she did for three months now, she crossed another day, Another day behind her… When did time start to race like this? Nala wondered. It seemed that each day flew by faster than the one that preceded it….
Summer was coming to an end. It was evident by the slight chill she felt as she stood barefooted and in her thin nightgown. The first of September was only a week away… The big day, the terrible day… The day Nala would lose her grandson… She hastily moved her eyes away from the calendar unable to look at the looming threat of that circled day any longer.
Instead her eyes fell on the floor length mirror right next to the calendar. Her own expression staring back at her from the glass was something unrecognizable. Had she always been this thin, or this pale? She knew she hadn’t always have these lines etched to her skin… Her light brown eyes that in the right light seemed almost orange were filled with tears and one, very thin hand rested on her heart while the other one was placed over her torturous stomach. She took a deep breath to compose herself, and picked up a brush to run it trough her long hair, she might have been old but she had beautiful hair. Once she was satisfied with the way she looked she headed upstairs. There was a long day ahead of her and she didn’t want anyone to think there was something wrong. Last thing she wanted was to worry her family.
Nobody was up yet, she heard Bradley come home late last night, again. His work was really draining the poor man. Summer wasn’t working today and Silvester wasn’t an early raiser. Using the time she had Nala got up to preparing breakfast. She sang softly while she cracked the eggs in the bowl. She had decided to make pancakes because Silvester loved those. And there was nothing Nala loved seeing more in the beginning of the day than a smile on that bright little face, especially if she was the one to put it there.
As she put the contents of the bowl in the automated blender she wonder what her mother would say if she could see her now, cooking with a song and a smile. While she was a teenager her mother put a lot of pressure on Nala and her little sister Minissa to learn their way around the kitchen. That particular skill had eluded Nala at the time, and for years later. It wasn’t just the fact that at that age annoying her mother was somewhat of a hobby to Nala, she also found cooking totally uninteresting. Whenever Minnie was struggling in the kitchen Nala would find way to escape outiside and jam on the old guitar she had found among her grandfather’s stuff after his death.
Her mother was in no way supportive of Nala’s new hobby and her ignoring the important lessons she tried to embed in her. There were many things Nala’s mother had told her but one that kinda stood out the most was when she told her that she would never amount in anything, which in her book meant she would never make a good wife, or a good mother.
At the time Nala didn’t really care, her dream wasn’t to get married and make babies like her sister did, she wanted to play her guitar, and conquer the world one song at the time and to do just that she had to get as far away from that house she could.
In the years in between, which is how Nala referred to the years after her divorce from Dina and before Summer showed on her doorstep, Nala thought about what her mother had said more then she ever thought she would. After all she did have a wonderful life that she managed to loose, a beautiful wife that cheated on her, neither of her daughters came to live with her and for the first time ever Nala felt lonely. She had her music of course, that never left her, if it did she might as well have thrown herself of the balcony, or held her breath in the cold waters of her pool years ago.
But then one day her pregnant daughter showed up on her doorstep after a nasty fight with her other mother and Nala let her in without saying a word. That day both of their lives changed and Nala couldn’t be more grateful for that. She got her second chance and she was pretty adamant to do her best, she didn’t want Summer to feel she has to leave her, not ever.
“Morning nana.” A cheerful childish voice spoke behind her and she turned with a smile and a plate of pancakes in her hand. Her train of thought was instantly broken and all her attention was focused on a barefooted little boy that had just walked in her kitchen. Silvester was followed closely by his mother. “Morning love. Just in time of pancakes.” Nala said smiling herself as she handed the plate to her grandson. “Yay, pancakes! You’re the best nana!” Nala said nothing but presented one of her cheeks to the boy to kiss which he did without objection taking the plate outside to eat. They ate outside for the whole summer, and today was a nice day so it would be no exception.
Nala watched Silvester take a seat and happily take a bite. His feet were cheerfully dangling in the air as he ate, and his reddish-brown hair was all ruffled from sleep. “Well morning to you to mother.” Summer said behind her coldly as she took some pancakes on a plate and followed Silvester outside.
It was already nine fifteen Nala noticed as she joined them at the table. Her stomach still troubled her so she din’t eat but she sat at the table, hardly moving her eyes from her small grandson. After he was done eating he got up hopping of the yellow chair and took his plate to carry inside. “Leave it love, I can do that.” Nala protested moving to take away the plate from his tiny little hands.
“Leave it mum.” Summer said in her serious, motherly voice. “You are spoiling him. He needs to learn.” “Well that is what grandmothers are for, is it not?” Nala said with a warm smile, dismissing her daughter completely. “He needs to grow up mum, you can’t baby him forever…” Summer continued louder and more annoyed.”But he is hardly more than a baby!” Nala exclaimed also a little louder then she intended and Summer frowned. “I know you don’t agree with most of my decisions but they are MY decisions, and he is MY son.”
Nala stopped speaking and just looked at her daughter. There was truth in her words, and the two of them had had many conflicts when it came to raising Silvester. What Summer was failing to see was that it had nothing to do with Nala thinking she was a bad mother or anything, it was just the simple fact she was so young… And yet she was always so serious, and what Nala really feared was how this was rubbing over Silvester and he was just so little… It really perplexed Nala how Summer saw none of this.
The biggest clash they had of course was regarding Summer’s decision to send Silvester to school this fall. Nala just couldn’t wrap her head around this, he was only four! But they had fought about this so many times this year that Nala didn’t really have the strength to do so any more… Especially not today, she needed her energy for bigger things, far more important things.
So she walked calmly inside passing Summer who was putting the leftover pancakes in the fridge, for her husband to eat later when he gets up, which Nala figured would be soon since Bradley wasn’t a big sleeper. Ignoring her daughter she turned to her grandson instead.
“So love, want to go out with grandma today?” She smiled but then a nasty wave of pain overcame her and she had to steady herself on one of the kitchen counters while fighting to keep a smile on her face. She figured she would have to take some pain meds before she went out. Last thing she wanted was to scare Silvester. “There is this awesome place from where we can see the ocean, and there are a lot of butterflies and…” “Sure!” The boy exclaimed happily before he had thrown a nervous glance at his mother. Summer kept her back to them and said nothing.
“Go on then get ready! I just have one quick phone call to make.”Nala winked at him and the boy sprinted out of the kitchen. Nala watched him go down the stairs fearing that he might fall but he didn’t. Once he was out of her sight she pulled out her phone and dialed Riam, her sister’s ex husband. The two of them had their issues throughout the decades they had known each other but in the end they had become good friends. After all they did share a common passion. Music.
Once, years ago, someone told Nala she had music running in her veins, they were both drunk or high at that time and she laughed, louder then ever, but it was true, in a way. Ever since finding that old guitar she never knew her grandfather had music was the defining force in shaping her life. It was music that made her hop on to the backseat of Riam’s truck and leave her hometown with him and Minissa in search of a better life.
She and Riam chose different paths when it came to their music styles, and have both retired from active participation in that world but still it wasn’t something you could just run away from it. After all it was in their veins.
That was why they formed a little band with another old friend of theirs, Nina Caliente and occasionally they would get together and play, mostly for charity events since anywhere they went they could gather up quite a crowd. They played each others songs, and they played new songs.
But lately they weren’t playing at all. Nina’s daughter attempted suicide and was in a coma for months, Riam had become a father again, for the fifth time, and Nala had Silvester.
But then just the other day Nina called them to inform them, as casually as only Nina could, that she had gotten them a gig. It was a benefit for the local hospital, where sadly Nina got to spend a lot of time lately. Nala was quick to come on board and so did Riam. If nothing else all the planning and practicing brought back some cheer back in Nina and that alone was enough to make it all worth it.
The gig itself was to happen next Saturday, and for Nala what made it especially big was the fact that it would be the first time Silvester sees her perform and she was very eager to see his reaction.
She went over all the details with Riam, and they combed trough the song list once again. It wasn’t a long conversation, years of friendship had made it pretty easy for them to find common ground over things like this and she ended the call quickly and hurried downstairs to start her day with her grandson.
She found Silvester anxiously waiting by the door, but he was not alone. His mother was standing next to him, holding one hand protectively on his shoulder, a serious look on her face. She was probably telling him to behave… Nala thought annoyed, there was no need for such talks, not with Silvester, he always listened to her and they would have a wonderful time wherever they went together.
“Please don’t keep him out for too long.” Summer said before Nala had even reached the bottom landing. So the behave well conversation is for me after all. Nala thought as she looked at her youngest daughter amused. “I mean it.” Summer continued with a frown. “We are going to a party at Phoibe’s tonight and he has to be home early to get ready.” “Why is he going to a boring party in the first place?” Nala asked glancing over Silvester concerned. “Because I say so.” Summer sighed. “Why do you do that mum? Why do you question every one of my decisions?” “I was just curious…” Nala tried to explain. “I don’t think parties are a good place for a four year old boy, that’s all.”
“It’s not really a party… More a get together of sorts… Mum’s gonna be there and she wants to see him.” Summer ended. “Well your other mother knows very well she is always welcome here…” Summer sighed loudly. “Stop it mum! Please! You know perfectly well mum doesn’t like coming here…” “She was here for your wedding…” “MUM!” Summer was yelling now and Nala took it as a sign. “I give up.I’ll have him back in time. I have some things to do anyway.”
She then walked right pass her daughter and walked to Silvester who was just standing there quietly the whole time. His emerald green eyes seemed sad and seeing that made Nala feel like a sting had been pierced trough her heart. She sighed as she took his tiny hand. “Come love.” They went trough the door into the warm and sunny day. Nala felt Summer’s gaze on her back as she did so but she didn’t turn around, neither had even said goodbye.