By Kristy Kassie
“How is she?”
Sitting beside her mother’s hospital bed, Naomi looked up to see Ian in the doorway.
“She’s awake, but it won’t be long now.” Although she had his colouring and his hazel eyes, Naomi felt nothing for the dark-haired man with the café au lait skin. “I didn’t expect you to come.”
“I was surprised – surprised and grateful – you called. Naomi, I’m not sure how to explain.” Ian stepped into the room, his gaze avoiding the beeping, hissing machines and monitors…and the bedridden woman whose eyes, though clouded with pain, latched onto him.
Naomi dug deep.
Was she relieved he had come? Was she disappointed? Repulsed?
No. She was … indifferent.
“Talk to my mother. She’s the one who left me with my grandmother so she could chase you half way around the world. Can’t you see you’re the one she wants, even now?” Naomi walked over to the window in the far corner of the room.
“It’s complicated,” she heard Ian say weakly.
She jerked around. “You used a woman’s love to satisfy your own selfish needs. Then you left.”
“You don’t understand,” Ian protested, dropping into the chair she’d vacated. “Leaving Trinidad, moving to Canada, was my chance at a better life.”
“And in the 30 years since you found that better life,” Naomi challenged, hating that she couldn’t keep the bitterness from her voice, “did you once think of the woman and child you abandoned? The woman you claimed to love but didn’t have the decency to marry? She loved – loves – you with all her heart!”
Naomi saw the change in him then, like a stone wall crumbling. “I loved your mother more than anything. But we were so young.” Weeping, Ian reached out to grasp the withered hand laying so still on the white sheets and finally addressed the dying woman. “Marla, I hoped you’d find happiness with someone else.” Naomi watched tears leak from her mother’s eyes. Ian continued. “When – when you found me in Toronto all those years ago, I had a wife and baby, a business – too much to lose.”
I lost a mother and a father, Naomi felt like screaming. But nobody cared about that. When she tracked you down, my mother didn’t bother to say that she left your daughter behind thousands of miles away.
“All she ever wanted,” Naomi stated, looking down at her mother’s frail, cancer-ridden body, “was to hear you say you loved her. Now you can go.”
“Naomi …” Ian extended a hand and started to rise.
She wanted him gone. God help her, she wanted her mother gone, too.
“Get out,” Naomi said through clenched teeth, turning back to the window. “I never needed either of you.”
Kristy Kassie was born in Trinidad and Tobago. She lives, teaches English as a Second Language and writes fiction and creative non-fiction in Vancouver, Canada. “I can describe myself as a ‘blind, brown woman’ and give up because that’s three strikes against me,” Kristy says. “Or I can choose to achieve anything I want to. I choose the latter. No, I’m not amazing. I’m determined.”