FRIDAY #FICTION with RONOVAN WRITES Prompt Challenge #31-Have a Drink.
Stretched out on a bed, a long, lanky child with brown hair and brown eyes wearing a leotard wrote in meticulous cursive. She listened intently to the dictations of a voice only she could hear.
“Remember to put an apostrophe between the R and the S,” he said. “If you are to claw your way out of poverty and obscurity, you must learn how to write correctly.”
My name is Jean Ella and I just turned 9. My new mom bought me a diary with a lock. She says she will not look inside it, but she just became a detective.
Detectives do not like mysteries and she is going to find out my secret if I am not careful. One day I want to write my story so that other girls will not feel so alone.
My new mom came to my rescue last year. You see, I started out life in a room the size of a closet. My old mom and I lived in an ancient trailer and I had a mat on the floor as my bed.
My old mom and her boyfriend killed my dad and buried him close to our home. My new mom says she is on death row. My companion says it means that she will worry that she will be shocked for the next 20 years.
I remember my father as kind and full of hugs. I did not care that he was dirty from being a plumber’s helper. My old mom said she was ashamed and wanted him to leave. He said he would fight for me. That is the last time I saw my dad.
She glanced upward to address the man standing at the edge of her bed wearing a red smoking jacket, smiling at the way he floated slightly above the rug. “Is this enough practice for today, grandfather?”
“Careful,” he replied. “Your new mom just emerged from the shower. Hide your diary in your safe place.”
Jean Ella tiptoed into the kitchen, opening a bottom drawer filled with serving trays for old people parties her new mother was never going to have. She scurried down the oak-planked hallway into a room with the same light-brown flooring.
“Do I hafta go to ballet class?” Jean Ella whined. “Tiffany always makes fun of my name.”
“You must learn grace and poise in the face of hardship if you are to regain our true heritage,” her companion said. He pointed to her ballet shoes. “Do not forget those.”
Jean Ella stuffed them into a pink ballet bag with the picture of a princess dress and her name embroidered on it. She carried it into a living room half the size of the trailer she grew up in and waited on a soft dark, brown couch.
Dressed in a t-shirt and smooth, thin pants, Detective Jonas gently sat next to Jean Ella. She held several papers in her hand and looked up at a clock.
Jean Ella couldn’t see the time. Her companions head was in the way.
“Your diction tutor says you’re her best student. I think it’s in your genes,” Detective Jonas said. “Your first day here, you asked if the man buried near the oak tree was really your father. Remember the day someone rubbed the inside of your cheek with a swab?”
“That was months ago, mom,” Jean Ella said.
“Neither the man who died nor the man in jail are your father,” Detective Jonas said. “In fact, it appears that your father, as well as your great grandfather, is of the same royal lineage.”
“Mom? Can I have something to drink?”
“What kind of drink?” Detective Jonas asked.
“Do you have beer or hard lemonade?” Jean Ella sighed.
“Not for a 9 year old. When did you drink alcohol?”
“I skinned my knee when I was 8. My step dad said a hard lemonade would take away the pain. I was so dizzy and my head hurt when mama yelled at him for it, but I forgot about my knee.”
Detective Jonas chuckled at a child’s logic. “People would kill to be that close to royalty, not anxious.”
“They’ll come and take me away. I don’t want to lose my mom,” Jean Ella cried out, throwing her arms around the amused woman.
“No one is going to take you away from me, sweetie, you’re legally my daughter. But there’s an envoy coming from Europe to meet you…and…well…you’re also related to the present dictator of…”
Detective Jonas started to giggle. The giggle became a hearty laugh.
“Why are you laughing at me?” Jean Ella asked, tears rolling past trembling lips.
“This dictator’s brother is an ambassador to the UN. He wants to meet you, too.”
“Why is that funny?”
“Sweetie, it seems your great-great grandfather’s maid was the daughter of a former slave. You’re 1/27th black.”
“No! It cain’t be!” Jean Ella shouted. She ran to her bedroom and slammed the door.
“I have tried so hard to teach her the ways of royalty,” the man in the red jacket said to the ceiling. “Am I to be stuck trying to educate trailer trash for the remainder of my existence?”
“You have no right to talk about my daughter that way,” Detective Jonas said, looking at the entity still blocking her clock. “Don’t act so shocked. During that extensive search for Jean Ella’s lineage, I discovered that her paternal grandfather was my father. It means you and I are related.”
“Oh, joy,” he sighed, disappearing from the living room to comfort Jean Ella in her grief.
Detective Jonas picked up the phone to tell the ballet teacher they weren’t going to make it. She winced as Jean Ella screamed curses at an entity she desperately wanted to punch in the mouth.
Not only did she have to teach Jean Ella that all people were created equal, but she was going to have to contend with an officious ghost hell-bent on turning both of them into royalty.
She walked toward Jean Ella’s room, grumbling, “And I thought her refusal to sleep on a bed would be my biggest problem.”