9.08.2011

for his birthday

"Are you sure you want to do this?" Adele asked, straightening Trevor's collar and looking directly into his almond eyes. "It's your birthday, sweetness, don't you want to do something special? Something just for you?"

"This is for me, Mama, it is special. I haven't seen him in a while and I want to see him on my birthday."

Trevor was turning eight today. For the past two years, he had been the man of the house. What he said, therefore, went. He wanted to go and visit his father, and that was that.

"All right then, love, we'll go. When you all have finished your lunch, we'll take Calvin and Adaria over to your Gramma's, and we'll go."

Trevor finished his noodles and carefully took his plate and fork to the sink to be washed. He folded his napkin and placed it on the mat for dinner. He watched his younger siblings finishing their macaroni and beans. "Hey Cal, can you eat please? Pay attention to your lunch, little man. I got someplace to go, let's get a move on."

Eventually, lunch was done, everyone had used the potty, socks and shoes were on and tied, toys were chosen for the visit with Gramma, jackets were donned, and everyone was out the door. Trevor kicked a rock up the sidewalk as they walked; when it disappeared down a storm drain, he looked up ahead at his mother.

Holding little Adaria's hand, Adele carried herself, it seemed to Trevor, like a queen. She was tall and lean, her hair always just right. She was beautiful and he loved her. He wondered why she never wore a crown. He ran forward and touched her empty hand lightly; she spun around and looked at him. "Aw, there you are, my birthday boy. What you doing now?" Trevor beamed at her and fell back, matching his gait with Calvin's.

Three city blocks later and two flights up, they found Gramma watering her begonias and watching Oprah. "There's my angels! C'mon, Gramma got some sugar for both of you." Adele released the little ones to her mother's care and edged toward the door. "Oh my love, my Trevs, happy birthday to you! When you come back I'll have a treat for you." She took Trevor's cheeks in her hands and kissed his head. "See you in a bit."

A long look passed between the two women as Trevor adjusted his backpack and headed for the door. "Thank you, Gramma. I'm eight now, you know. I'll see you after I visit with my Daddy."
Trevor heard his grandmother, though she tried to keep it under her breath. "Why aren't you giving him a birthday party, that boy carries enough. Now this! It isn't right." Adele flinched at her mother's tone and retreated.

"Let's go then, Trevor, baby."

"Gramma? I'm doing fine. I am having a very good birthday." Trevor held the door for his mother.

The bus trip from Trafford to downtown seemed to take forever. So many stops, so many people. Trevor sat right up next to his mother, watching. When a woman with sweet breath leaned close to his face and said "What a cute little boy you are!" he shrank from her and disappeared inside his mother's sweater. I am invisible, he thought, I have the invisibility cloak, like my Daddy.

By the time they changed buses twice and finally made it down Ohio River Boulevard to the SCI Pittsburgh facility, it was well past 3:00. Adele pushed Trevor forward. "Visiting hours are only until 4, baby, let's go faster," and together they sprinted down Beaver Avenue to the main entrance.

As they walked down the ramp to the front doors, Trevor read the sign that he had long ago committed to memory. He thought about it every day: "State Correctional Institution, Pittsburgh." What did that mean, "Correctional Institution," anyway? Wasn't this a jail? They navigated the revolving doors and the path to the front window.

"Your business? ID, please." Trevor watched the attendant as she accepted his mother's license and began to write out visitor badges for both of them. "Inmate's name, please?"

"Henry Simmons. Henry Francis Simmons." Trevor noted the higher than usual pitch of his mother's voice.

"Hang on a sec." The attendant, Trevor realized, was in uniform and had a gun on her belt. Is she a police officer? Maybe a guard? Maybe she will take us to the room to see Daddy. "Eh, sorry, ma'am, but he's not here." Trevor jumped. Not here?

"What do you mean, he's not here?" Adele's voice cracked and got louder with each word. "Not here?!"

"Yeah, lady, he was transferred up to Rockview a few weeks ago."

"A few weeks ago! Rockview? Where is that!" Trevor stared. "He's my husband, shouldn't I have known, shouldn't I have been notified or something?" Adele's voice trailed as Trevor studied her face. He reached for her hand and gripped it hard with both of his.

"Yeah, whatever. He must have really fucked up. Take it up with the super, that's all you got. That's where he is, lady. Rockview. Bellefonte. Nice up there, farm program and all. Next!"

Adele jerked away from the window and walked a few paces; she sank to the floor next to a water fountain. Her head on her knees, she buried her face in her sweater to muffle her sobbing.

Trevor stood, his legs pressed hard against her side, his hand on her shoulder. "Don't worry, Mama. Oh, don't worry. Mama?"

Adele allowed one sob to escape, and one deep breath in. "Trevor? Baby. Oh, baby, I wanted something different for your birthday."

For my birthday. Right, he was eight. He was the man of the house. Straighten up, then.

"Let's go, Mama. Let's go home."

My pal Lance of My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog prompted me to write "for his birthday." Thanks, Lance.

7 comments:

  1. oh man.

    this was fantastically written, and what a character you've crafted with Trevor. I could see this all so clearly in my head with the sensory detail you provided. Great writing!

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  2. Okay, Trevor is me...I get it. what a tribute...

    seriously, That was brilliant. I felt like I was with them.

    favorite line: "For my birthday. Right, he was eight. He was the man of the house. Straighten up, then." reminds me of my childhood.

    awesome, Maid Marian

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  3. A wonderful piece, again. :) Your characters always come to life in the most extraordinary ways. It is a true pleasure reading your words, my friend.

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  4. This tugged on my heart strings. I think this is a common scenario. The US has more people in prison than any other country I heard. Yes, there is a place for viscous crimes, but there are people caught in the cycle of courts that really don't belong. Guess my liberal views on non-violet crimes reflects on my California attitude. Great and sad write. Love it when a poem makes me feel.

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  5. :( I've always felt for the kids who've had to grow up so much faster than others,... you've nailed it on the head with Trevor... great writing!

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