Emigration

The taxi sped along the bumpy, narrow road where the early morning dew had settled on the flora growing along the sidewalk. Crisp country air infused with the scent of lavender poured in through the front windows of the cab.

Dulcie looked wistfully through the window and repeatedly wound her handkerchief around the index finger of her left hand.

It was a 2 hour ride to the George William Gordon International Airport in Clarendon. The ticket in Dulcie’s handbag read that her flight was scheduled to depart at 10:00 am.

They were driving along Bamboo Avenue, a narrow thoroughfare where bamboo trees grew as tall as 50 feet on either side and intertwined into an arch at the summit like bushy clasped fingers. The quiet of this idyllic country lane was only interrupted by the odd car, truck, or bus going to town or to the market.

“Are you okay, Mama?” came a voice from next to Dulcie.

It brought her out of her reverie. She nodded unconvincingly.

“The road’s just bumpy, that’s all,” Dulcie replied.

She clutched her handbag closer and shifted her weight from side to side in the back seat of the taxicab. Glancing down at her floral linen blouse, she smoothed out the lace collar for the umpteenth time and again checked the box pleats on her skirt. She’d spent a considerable time ironing her Sunday best. Her stockings started to prickle her legs every now and then, as they were unaccustomed to each other, and she was dying to relieve her feet of these new shoes.

“We’re almost at the airport. Don’t worry,” Dulcie’s daughter, Peggy, reassured her. “And then we’ll be on the plane and on our way.”

Dulcie faltered. “So do they give you food on the plane? I still think we should have packed breakfast.”

“No, Mama,” answered Peggy. “I told you. They will serve you breakfast on this flight.”

Dulcie spoke again. “You did lock up the house properly, right, Peggy? I don’t want anyone poking through my house now they know no one is there, you know. They will steal all my nice things.”

Peggy squeezed her mother’s hand reassuringly and smiled at her as if she were talking to her own little one.

“Don’t worry, Mama,” she said soothingly. “It’s locked up tight. And only Miss Marsha has a key, ok?”

Dulcie did not answer, but returned a half-smile.

Don’t worry? she thought. I’m dressed in my finest and going to what?

The half-smile slowly retreated from her face.

She had celebrated 76 birthdays in Coleyville. She remembered when the clock tower was built in the town center. As a child she participated in the May Day celebrations in 1955, wearing a Jipi-Japa hat and the colorful floral dress her own mom had made for her. She was there when the first major road was paved and when the first car drove through in a ceremony of pomp and circumstance.

Her kids were attending the high school when LaFerne Smith’s unruly boys blew up the Chemistry lab and half the classrooms in 1972. The church had to accommodate some of the kids in their auditorium for classes back then. And she was very much present when a new school was finally rebuilt in 1975. LaFerne’s boys had moved on to the city since then, thank God, and were probably locked up in prison by now, or something, she figured.

Her children and grandchildren had been born in this country.

Her husband  and eldest child were buried on the farm that she still owned and where she had raised four other children. She would walk down the hill to the shade of the lignum vitae tree to converse with her late husband whenever she faced tough situations.  Like this one.

How would she speak to him now? Who would take care of him and extract the weeds from his final resting place? And who would care for her baby, her first born, resting next to him?

A solitary tear escaped her eye and was summarily dismissed en route down her cheek with a sweep of her left hand.

She snorted.

Peggy looked up, but the look on her mom’s face made her think twice about saying anything to her.

She understood.

Dulcie knew her kids were only thinking of what was best for her. She was the last living one of her siblings residing on the island and after her last fall, she was unable to care for herself and the farm anymore. With all her children living abroad, there was only one thing that could be done.

The air had now lost the sweet smell of lavender, replaced with the oily smell of airplane exhaust. The quietude of country living was now replaced by the bustling of traffic, noisy cars horns, and airplane engines. The farmhouse was 2 hours away in the distance, soon to be in her past.

Airplane wing b and w

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