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Election Day

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A fictional series

Last week:

“Ah taking you to Queenshow,” Christopher announced without really giving me the option to decline. Of course I could have turned him down; but at the time, I was like a puppet on a string.

On a hot Friday night in July, I was walking into a crowded Victoria Park.{{more}}

Afterwards I was supposed to meet my cousin Brad, who was going to give me a ride home and save Christopher the trip to Mespo.

Brad was just approaching Sion Hill when I realised that I did not have my house keys. Hezron was not at home and I did not, under any circumstances, want to wake Mommy.

“Shucks Brad, ah tink ah lost me key.” But the very words sparked the memory of me handing the keys to Christopher when I had stopped outside my house to fix my shoes. Brad turned back and took me to Christopher’s rented flat in New Montrose.

…Even as my cousin had rolled up to his drive way and I had recognised the parked car from school. Even when my head should have added one and one – my heart had been busy inventing other explanations, other possibilities.

Maybe if my head had been leading I would have saved my heart from the hurricane wreck that followed….

I had arrived in England on a cold, summer day. This was about two years after I had been snapped out of my state of love-struck stupor by Christopher’s infidelity. The night I had found him with my schoolmate Jemma George was a turning point in my life.

I was glad it had happened. Now I understood that nothing but total commitment without distraction could fulfil my dreams. I took the pain of the heartbreak and locked it away with all my other aches and disappointments and I refocused.

It was not long before I was back on track with my school work. It was harder than before; because I no longer had the sanctuary of Mrs Cooper’s house. Luckily, Mom was more or less living with her boyfriend; but there was always that atmosphere of dysfunction in our home that made it difficult for me to concentrate. I had to resort again to doing my studies in the library.

The sweet relief of victory came the following summer when I opened my results and saw the “A”s shining up at me. I was awarded an Island Scholarship. I wanted to go to America; but the funding would not have covered all my living expenses there and I had a cousin in London, not far away from Southbank University.

I arrived feeling like I could have a new beginning. One of the questions I was asked when I applied for my student visa was whether or not I would return to St.Vincent when I was finished. My answer of course was yes; but in my mind I was thinking, ‘return? Yeah right. A heard of horses could not drag me back to that Island.’

Now I finally had a chance to advance without being lumbered with my dysfunctional past. Surprisingly though, after a few weeks, I found myself missing home – perhaps because I refused to embrace the nonchalant, party existence of my peers. I made myself a bit of a recluse. To school to work and then back to my cousin’s flat.

“Girl you need to get out sometimes or you go go crazy in this place, “ my cousin would say; but I was afraid. The size of the city, the multicoloured, multicultural explosion of sounds, sights and situations overloaded my senses. It wasn’t until I started going to church that I really developed a social existence in England and even then I was still defined my foreignness. The church was not as strict and rigid in its lifestyle; it was influenced more by the culture of the society in which it existed than the culture of the religion.

During my stay in England I obtained an education not just in economics and business, but in life – a broadening of perspective that made me question every truth I had grown up knowing. The result was a crisis of faith… questions that had no answers…. mainly two – if there is a God why did he allow my brother to die… if there is a God why do some people live in poverty whilst others prosper?

I continued to go to church but the question marks remained, perched precariously above my head. Whilst I waited for the answer I decided that I was going to try and do something about the injustices that existed in my world.

At the time, the only thing I could think of doing was volunteering. I became a volunteer at a centre for disabled teenagers. The experience was enlightening. I met young people who had every right to be angry, bitter and discouraged; but instead were empowered with a resilience, strength and positivity that made me marvel.

Finally I started to feel like I had found my niche and I begun to look for ways to extend my stay in England after I had completed my studies. I would have found a way; but life doesn’t always work out as it should.

It is amazing how one midnight hour phone call can change your course….

More next week