Survivors of the Z’s- Rhonda Gedling, Royal Gorge Bridge, Colorado
We had parked in an area that was astonishing. An area that we had found and we were now left we just our thoughts and ourselves. The landscape around us drowned out everything we had gone through.
All the pain
All seemed to have gone away in a moment of being there.
I felt the winds whisk pass me and I was sure I heard Elaine’s voice speak to me.
She was at peace
“Everything is fine Rhonda,” she told, “keep doing what you’re doing, stay strong and look after each other, mom loves you and I know… you love her, watch each others backs and keep going and one day… I will see you again and then… we can be a family again… I love you sis”
Her voice flowed
Hitting all the right buttons
Switching the darkness off
And turning the light on
I closed my eyes and imagined her next to me.
It was strange because it felt…
We were sitting in a cafe. We used to meet up a lot there. Even though we were both busy as we both had more than one job. We still found the time for each other as families should. She sat across from me. We had a window seat and we used to play a game. Every man we saw we used to ask questions like.
One night stand?
Me being extremely picky with men. Whether it’ll be them being too short, too tall or too womanly. I never got to gripse with it, so my answers were mostly… avoid.
On the other hand
She didn’t seem to mind
So many times we went out together for drinks and she loved a chat up line.
I loved a good, fuck off and go away or I am not interested.
I remember her taking me to one side and saying, “stop being so uptight, one day you’ll regret turning all these men away”
I can remember saying to her, “aren’t you scared, after what happened to you?”
Her answer was, which made her braver than anyone I knew, “I can’t let what happened haunt me, therefore I will not let it ruin my fucking life… and neither should you”
We didn’t go out much when we reached our thirties and late twenties, but when did, it was a night to remember. But, meeting up for a coffee was hardly missed. We sat down at our usual table gazing out at the crowded streets of New York. Many men passed and I always said, avoid.
“What about him?” She asked
A man waited at the bus stop outside. He was average height. Looked like he was in his early thirties. He wore a thick brown jacket because it was winter and he had a full head of hair, I never went for bold guys. He was cool looking.
Had a confidence about him the way he stood.
“Rhonda…” I looked at her after looking at him, “so, do you like him?”
“He’s alright I guess,” I said
“Do you like him?” She repeated
I nodded, “yeah, ok… I do”
“Great,” she said, “now go and talk to him”
I looked over again and that one moment he glanced up, he caught me looking. I looked away. I then lifted my head back up and he was still looking.
“Rhonda, Rhonda, Rhonda,” Elaine chanted
He began to make his way into the cafe
I hid my face with my hand, “Oh crap,” I said, “he’s coming in”
He walked into the shop and he came over.
“Hey…” he said, “I saw you looking earlier, was that at me?”
I smiled nervously, Elaine flashed her eyebrows, “Yes it was,” I answered
“Wow, beautiful woman like yourself, I thought it would’ve been somebody, like… your boyfriend?”
“Nope, it was you,” I told
“And she doesn’t have a boyfriend,” Elaine told, she then got up and began walking away
“I grabbed her hand, “wait, where’re you going?”
“I need to make a call,” she said, “take a seat,” she said to him
“Oh, I don’t know… my bus”-
“That’s fine, come on,” Elaine said, “when’s your bus?”
He looked at his watch and smiled, “I’m sure I could sit down for a little bit”
“That’s the spirit,” she said, looking at me and winking, “I’ll see you later sis”
She then walked out.
I was more nervous now. I felt like the seat was getting warmer. I took a deep breath and prepared myself for making an absolute idiot of myself. It had been awhile since I had done anything like this before.
He sat down, he looked nervous, “so, ermm… are you from around here?” He asked
“Hamsford,” I told, “not far from here, I’m visiting my sister”
“Oh I know Hamsford, nice place,” he said
“Yeah I guess, it has its moments,” I told
“With women like you living there, there’ll be a lot more,” he looked down and giggled, “I’m sorry,” he said
“For what?” I asked
“That was so cheesy, I’m not used to this at all”
“Neither am I,’ I told, “I haven’t really had much luck”
He pointed to himself, “like me,” he said, “I struggle, I surprised myself that I even came over”
“If it weren’t for my sister I wouldn’t be even talking to you right now,” I said
We spoke for a little longer and he had to go in the end to catch his bus. He gave me his number and quickly left, so I was unable to give him mine and having the luck I had, yeah… I lost it and for some reason he never even came back to the same bus stop.
The memory passed and I still gazed out into the heavenly open. Mom stood there next to me. She looked on at the open in sadness.
“I’ll always remember,” she said
“Remember what?” I asked
“When it all went wrong,” she answered
“Let me say this,” she said, so I did, “when your father left me, I thought I could cope, but the pressure just… fell on top of me you know,” she continued, still looking at the scenery, “I loved a drink, but slowly it turned into a habit and suddenly it wasn’t doing the trick anymore, then… I turned to drugs and suddenly… I had no money, so…” she breathed heavely, “I turned to sex, selling my body,” she wiped away a tear as I listened, “I was a terrible mom and I didn’t deserve any of you, not you, or your brother or sister… It’s my fault that they’re dead, because how I treated you, if it weren’t for me… they would still be here… talking to us”
“But they aren’t,” I said, “its just me and you now, what happened in the past, ok… you did a lot of fucked up things, like… take away our childhoods because you were so wreckless, moving away and not even telling us, so we had nobody… I hate you for that… I do, but one thing is for sure and this’ll be the one thing that’ll forever stand,” I touched her shoulder and we both looked into to each other’s eyes, “you’re my mother, you’re my family and we’re all we have now, so… lets make it count…” I looked up to the sky, “for them”
We hugged and I heard her cry into my ears.
I held tight…