End of a Dream 

Shelia watched her girls as they ate their breakfast before school. She was leaning against the kitchen sink, smoking a cigarette. Sara was dressed in her usual pair of blue jeans with bell bottoms and a blouse that was two sizes too big for her, still trying to hide her breasts from the world. Shelia gave up years ago with trying to get her to dress more ‘ladylike’ and was just thankful that she had Jean to pamper with cute dresses and blouses, show her how to wear her make-up properly and just talk girl talk because Sara was always asking questions that Shelia really didn’t have the answers too or cared to answer, like,

 "How come they always following us in the store downtown?" with "they" being the White store clerks, or

 "When we gonna move out of this project? Who's that man you talking to? Why don’t you like Mr. Jimmy?’

 Shelia knew the answers to all of the questions but didn’t want to get into the facts of life or hurt Sara’s feelings since she seemed to have a soft spot for the bowl of jelly. 

“Anything going on after school today?” Shelia asked.

“I got theatre rehearsal until five o’clock,” Jean answered then took a drink from her glass of milk, wiping her mouth with her napkin.

“I was just gonna hang out and watch Jean.” Sara took a drink from her glass of milk and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand.

“Sara, please use your napkin! That’s what it’s for!” Shelia put out her cigarette in the ashtray on the counter and then sat at the table with her daughters.

“Listen, I need you two to come straight home after school. You have been late too many times.”

“It’s not my fault Mom,” Jean quickly said.

“Are you saying it’s my fault?” Sara asked angrily.

“It’s not mine!”

“You always blaming me for everything.”

“I didn’t say your name.”

“You didn’t have too; I know what you mean.”

“Mom! Did I say her name?”

“You always trying to get me into trouble.”

“STOP IT!” Shelia looked at each one sternly. Both glared at each other one more time then went back to eating their Corn Flakes.

“I don’t care whose fault it is. I don’t care why you did it, I just care that you get your black asses here on time from now on, is that clear?”

“Yes ma’am,” they both said in unison. 

“Good. I don’t know if you know it or not, but a man was killed behind IGA, so I need you to be careful. You hear me?”

“People been killed in that alley before, what’s the difference now?” from Sara between a spoonful of cereal in her mouth.

“Stop talking with your mouth full of food. The difference is that I just need you to be careful that’s all, it’s getting more dangerous.”

“Do you know who he was Mom?” Sara asked after swallowing the food in her mouth.

“I’ve seen him in the neighborhood, from time to time.”

“I think he hung out at that club you go to sometimes too,” Jean piped in the conversation.

“How you know so much about him?” Shelia asked Jean.

Sara kicked Jean hard in the leg.


“What’s wrong with you girl?”

“Nothing Mom, I don’t know him, I just heard talk at school, that’s all.”

“What kind of talk?”

“Just talk, that he was killed in the alley, shot a couple of times, some kind of ladies’ man, that’s all. Sara heard it too.”

“I didn’t hear crap. I mean nothing.” Sara got up from the table and took her bowl and glass to the sink, rinsed them out and put them in the dishrack to air dry.

“Come on Jean, we gonna be late.” Sara waved good-bye to her mother, got her schoolbooks, and left out the kitchen back door.

“Yeah, go on to school and be here no later than five-thirty, you hear me? Both of you.” Shelia yelled after Sara.

“Yes Ma’am, we’ll be on time, I promise.” Jean kissed Shelia on the cheek, got up, grabbed her books and leaving her dishes on the table ran out the door behind Sara.

Shelia stood, cleared Jean’s dishes, and took them to the sink. She watched her daughters as they walked up the alley towards school until they were out of her sight. She could tell by the way that Sara was acting that she knew more than she was saying about Smooth’s death. There was no way that Jean knew something that Sara didn’t. Jean couldn’t keep her mouth shut and a secret to herself if you paid her. Shelia knew this because she had attempted to pay Jean, threatened Jean, and even punished Jean and Jean still couldn’t keep quiet. Shelia hoped that her name didn’t come up in any conversations that they heard. Should she go ahead and tell them about Smooth herself or take her chances that she could keep this part of her life from her girls? No. It wasn’t necessary for the girls to know anything about Smooth at this point. Shelia didn’t bring men around her girls, never did, and didn’t plan on doing so anytime soon. Their Daddy was the only man they knew in regard to their mother’s love life. Until he died that is, after that, Shelia felt it was best to not try to force the girls, who loved their father, Jacob Brady, very much, to have to deal with any other "Daddy" figure.  

Sara was like Jacob. Thoughtful, intelligent, always wondering about life and what made people ‘tick’ as he would often say. Jacob was a loner like Sara. He was quite satisfied with going to work and coming home to his family every day. He didn’t have many friends but lots of associates. Jacob and Shelia balanced each other out. Shelia liked to party sometimes, hang out and socialize with friends and Jacob agreed to go out at least two times a month with his wife because he liked to watch her move on the dance floor. And because he wanted to keep Shelia happy. He loved her and had been in love with her since they both were sixteen years old. They were happy. Then out of nowhere, Jacob had a fatal heart attack. No warning. Came home from work, ate dinner, played with the girls, made love to his wife, went to sleep for the night and didn’t wake up. Died in his sleep. End of a dream. The girls were five and four years old. Old enough to remember. Young enough to forget.