“Madam, you and your children need to come with me,” a police officer stated. He was from the police nationale.
Mom gazed up at him and asked: “Why, what have we done? We’ve only been sightseeing here on vacation. We have our passports and travel Visas.”
“If you come with me, right now, this will be much easier,” the officer said. I shivered at his cold impersonal accented tone.
My Mom attempted to speak but the officer squeezed her arm tightly and picking her up, deposited her in the back if his police car.
My sisters and I peered up at the officer scared spitless. “We didn’t do anything,” I said. “I’m twelve and my two sisters are ten-years old twins. We aren’t bad kids.”
The officer nodded at me. I could hear my Mom crying and banging her hands against the window in the police car. My sisters Paige and Monique were crying silently.
“What’s your name Cher?” The officer asked me. His French accent was thick when he spoke English.
“I’m Brianne, what did my Mom do?” The officer didn’t say anything, but he nodded to one of his fellow officers.
“We need to talk to your Mom about some things for a while. This is officer Carson, he’s going to take you back to your hotel. You girls can watch movies and swim in the pool. Don’t leave and always ask Carson when you want to do something. He’ll take you for repas du soir later on,” the officer said. He smiled at me and I could tell his smile was forced.
“But our Mom . . .” Paige and Monique whined. It was no use. Officer Carson herded us into his vehicle and drove us back to the hotel we were staying with our Mom.
We played in the pool, pretending we enjoyed it. We watched three movies on pay-per-view and then some cartoons on TV. We played on our Mom’s tablet, emailing our Uncle Reese and asking what we should do. The message always came back to Mom’s email, saying the email address was wrong, but we knew better.
At 4:00 pm Officer Carson came back from the gift shop with chips, popcorn, pop, and chocolate bars. Paige and Monique were happy to eat what they could; mom didn’t let us have much junk food, even on vacation. I had a square of delicious Belgian chocolate and almost threw-up.
Later around 8:00 pm, Carson told us to put on nice clothes for dinner. We dined at a trendy restaurant and the food was magnifique. By this time the smell of the delicious food in the restaurant and my hunger had surpassed the twisted and nauseous feeling in my stomach.
“My Mom, what if she can’t afford all this?” I asked Carson referring to all we’d done so far. Our family had scrounged and saved to travel to a few countries in Europe this year. Mom thought it was vital for us to have the experience traveling to see history, and other cultures.
Officer Carson appeared thoughtful. “It’s okay Brianne. Ne tu inquites pas. We’ll take care of things until your Mom returns. I nodded. I didn’t know what else to say.
That night we went to bed sleeping fitfully. The next morning Carson awoke us and told us we would be sightseeing today. He told us about various places we could visit and let us choose a couple of them to see. We went to the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. We didn’t have to wait in line at all; we immediately were able to see what we wanted first.
The four of us continued site seeing for the next week, never seeing our Mom. We always went out to dinner at a different restaurant each night to dine. Carson enjoyed eating well.
One day, Carson even took us to H&M and some clothing stores for girls our age and let us each have one-hundred-and-fifty Euros to shop. We didn’t question Carson on this, even though it was a lot of money to us. We decided to spend eighty Euros and save the rest of the money for emergency.
Caron seemed to know, “Vous etes des files intelligences pour economiser de l’argent. Bon les files.” He smiled at us, a rare occurence. We understood a bit of French from school and found ourselves picking it more with Carson. He brought us back to the hotel to spend the rest of the day watching movies and swimming.
Three-weeks later our Mom returned. We cried when we saw her. I thought I’d never see her again and I gathered Paige and Monique thought the same.
Mom appeared awful, unkept, and waif thin. She immediately went to bed, waking up in the middle of the night to shower. A wardrobe of various designer clothes and shoes was later delivered to her that week and Carson handed her a cheque for a large amount of money. My Mom’s eyes nearly popped out of her head.
“For all your troubles Madam,” Carson told her and disappeared; we never saw him again.
After Mom recovered for a couple of weeks, she decided we should continue to travel. A Doctor which had come to see her every two-days declared her fit and well.
“Now that we have the money, we can travel throughout Europe and see many countries, not only three,” Mom told us. She smiled almost like her old-self and arranged for us to go everywhere we wanted and stay in nice hotels.
Later I thought back to this and realized Mom was running from the demons chasing her inside, from her nightmares, and her flashbacks.
On a beach in Grenada, Spain, Mom finally said: “Girls I suppose it’s time we go home, you’ve missed a month of school already.”
We didn’t want to leave. We were worried about or Mom. She hadn’t been the same person since the police first took her away.
I’d given her space and only asked once or twice what happened to her. She ignored me. She wouldn’t talk to Paige or Monique either.
” I can’t tell you. That’s why we’ve so much money now Brianne,” she finally said to me.
Years later, I’m thirty-six and visiting my Mom. She is paging through a scrapbook of our European vacation.
“You never said,” I began,”You never told me or anyone what happened to you in France. I know the memories give you nightmares still. What did the French police do to you Mom?”
To my surprise she answered me. “Your Dad, you never knew him. I divorced him when you were only three-years-old and the twins one-years-old. He was a bad person, involved in things even in Europe which were awful and illegal.” A tear slipped out my Mom’s eye.
“When we came through France, they thought I was there to see your Dad. They promised they wouldn’t hurt my daughters but treat them well, if I told them everything I knew about your Dad. I told them I hadn’t seen him in almost ten-years that he was a terrible low-life, wanted across the North America.”
“They wanted more. The police thought I had to be in contact with him. They were sure I was here to see him. For a week they tortured me, wouldn’t let me sleep, and other worse things. Eventually, they believed me and promised to let me go if I helped catch your Dad and draw him out from hiding so they could arrest him. Their plan worked, your Dad’s locked up forever,” my Mom said.
“Mom, how could you not say anything all these years? How did you manage to travel around Europe after being . . .”
She cut me off. “Money Brianne. Millions and millions in US funds. Enough to send my three daughters to the best universities and give you everything I couldn’t before. Enough money to wipe out the misery of thattime in my life.”
“Did it work? I asked my Mom.
She sighed tears forming, “It’s money Brianne. It makes things better and hides the truth. But in the end, the truth of what I went through is always there behind my eyes when I close them. I’m thankful Carson took care of you Brianne and Paige and Monique. He treated you well as the police promised he would. Above all, I was grateful and am grateful for that.”
Mom closed her eyes and the tears continued to streak down her cheeks.
Jared was the kind of man who made any woman who saw him stop and stare. He was classically handsome, with blond hair and blue eyes; he was told he resembled a thirty-five-year-old Brad Pitt.
Jared was blessed, but he didn’t realize how much. He owned his dream company, made tens of millions of dollars early in his career, had mansions all over the world, cars of various makes and models from classics to brand new, as well as, any toy he desired — skidoos, motorcycles, dirt bikes, (etc).
Yet, Jared was alone in life. He had no emotional relationship with any woman he dated. He felt many women and men were worthless beings, wasting their life focusing on helping others and building relationships which, ultimately, ended.
Jared believed he was “better” than other people due to his wealth, prestige, and attractiveness. He knew he needed a partner, a woman who had similar qualities to him. He also knew it wouldn’t be a love match for he had no love in his heart.
One night at a charity reception, a hideous girl named Ali approached Jared. She carried with her a basket of the most delicious looking apples.
People were drawn to their ruby shine and many people begged Ali to have one of her apples. Yet, they cringed at her repulsive faces and body, ravaged by burns and disease.
Ali’s form was bent and crippled and she dragged behind her a club foot. Her eyes were beady and when she opened her mouth, she revealed rotten teeth with many missing. Her basket of apples, in fact, was the only attractive quality about Ali with exception of her beautiful golden hair. It was thick, lustrous, and reached her waist.
Jared was appalled when Ali approached him but he noticed her mouthwatering basket of apples. As with everyone, he was drawn to them. But Jared didn’t understand why Ali carried the apples around, not willing to give them to anyone, despite offers of large sums of money and contacts for proceeders to alter her appearance.
“What do you want?” Jared asked Ali, gazing down on her in her repulsive ugliness.
Ali laughed. Her voice deceivingly youthful, “I can give you anything you desire with these apples. What you want the most will be yours with only one bite.”
“Yeah right,” said Jared. “Why would you give me a bite of one of your apples? And for free? You’d be stupid to do that.”
Ali giggled,”I didn’t say I’d give you a bite for free. Nothing’s free in this world as you well know.”
Jared peered again at the apples which called to him, a sirens song from forbidden fruit,”What’s your price hag?”
Ali smiled and her rotten teeth and foul breath made Jared take a step-back. He knew what the ugly woman would request, but for some reason, he let her ask for what she wanted.
“I want a kiss. A real one,” Ali said.”For a kiss I will give you one apple. Perhaps, then, you will find the woman who will truly be your other half.”
Jared gasped, afraid the horrid woman could read his mind. He nodded to her and said: “I accept your bargain.”
“My names Ali,” she said and drew closer to Jared. She stopped for a moment,”This will only work if you truly desire a partner to love, with a pure-heart.”
Jared brushed Ali’s words aside, “My intentions are honourable enough.” He tried not to gag as Ali’s mouth drew closer. But he stared at her gorgeous red apples and imagined an apple in his mouth; it was how he managed kissing Ali.
Her lips were dry as they rasped against his. Ali’s tongue dove in his mouth and when she groaned, he felt as if he might throw-up. She bit his lip and she laughed when he cringed.
When Ali stopped kissing Jared, she stepped back, her mouth in a mischievous smile. She drew a beautiful ruby apple from her basket and presented it to Jared with gnarled fingers.
Jared grabbed the apple, greedy for its taste. He gorged on it as if he was Eve and the apple, the forbidden fruit in Eden.
Suddenly, both Jared and Ali began to glow with white light. While Jared withered, developing scars and burns all over his skin, Ali became stunningly beautiful. She became a curvaceous and breath-taking woman in her prime. She attracted the crowd in the room to her presence.
Jared’s hair had fallen out and his expensive clothes hung on him as his muscle tone disappeared. In minutes, no one recognized Jared; he was as ugly and as repulsive as Ali had been. His only remaining attractive feature were his bright blue-eyes.
A beautiful golden haired goddess stood before Jared. She sighed, grasping his scarred hand.
“I told you Jared. You had to want what you desired with a pure-heart. You had to be ready to love the perfect woman for you; but you love no one but yourself. I was the perfect woman for you, but you loath me. You called me a hag.”
Jared laughed, “You were disgusting and now you made me disgusting too.”
Ali let go of Jared’s hand, offering the basket of apples to him:
“Only, give an apple to the most loathsome and disgusting person you can find on the earth. Remember appearances are not everything and under the most beautiful and sometimes successful people, hides a monster,” Ali warned.
“You’re a monster Jared, but you have been given a chance to redeem yourself. To learn to love and be human, until you find the most terrible woman and find the smallest glimmer of hope inside her. She will either become your true–love and save both you and her, or become as you have, taking your place. You will return to your former privileged life and body, but with a changed heart. You will know when you find the right person and will wander the earth until then.”
Ali dropped Jared’s hand and disappeared into the crowd. No one noticed him for once. They only noticed Ali who had become his philanthropic sister. She became owner of all his wealth, company, mansions, and life, when he disappeared.
Jared wandered the earth an evil gnarled old man for years and years. Some say, he still wanders today. No one knows if he’s changed.
And now for our (optional) prompt. Today’s prompt comes to us from Gloria Gonsalves, who also suggested our prompt for Day Seven. Today, Gloria challenges us all to write a poem in honor of Earth Day. This could be about your own backyard, a national park, or anything from a maple tree to a humpback whale. Happy writing!
For more information please see NaPoWriMo. The poem form is Etherees, repeated, and turned upside down, and written as they are.
Calling her Mother, created in beginning,
Adoration is hers, our provider,
Gods hands formed, but yet she falters,
He said be her caregiver,
Taking more then we’re meant,
Using her until she —
Is broken, torn,
Forgetting our place,
Nurture her as she,
Nurtures her caretakers,
Ignorance destroys beauty,
Creator so lovingly beheld and,
Let us name earth’s creatures — disappearing.
Don’t forget, protect earth, greed consumes her.
Through thousands, perhaps, millions of years past,