Rar! Rar! Rar! Rar!
My alarm clock nagged at me to get out of bed. I slapped it off, my eyes still heavy with sleep. Blackness, stained with only a thin ray of blue light from the lamppost, leaked through my window. I rolled over in the sea of jade coverlet, glaring murderously at the scarlet numbers on the clock. It told me it was 4:05.
Today would be the day that would change my life. And all I wanted to do was sleep, and eat, and drink. But I couldn’t do any of these things, for today at 9:00, doctors would take their scalpels and cut my legs open. They would make me better. All I cared about, like any nine-year-old girl, was being pampered like a princess in the months afterward.
Across the hall, I could hear my parents’ stir, the dog whining impatiently, the crack of the bedsprings. Soon I would hear my mother’s joints snap as she shuffled into my room, singing, “Get up, my sleepyhead, it’s time to get out bed, it’s time to go to the hospital. Today’s the day!” That was worse than the alarm clock because then my bed always seemed even more soft and squishy and warm.
I threw the covers off, walked blindly with my hands grasping for guidance into the bathroom, and let the stream of hot water crash and flood the tub.
“Alice, honey, time to get up. You don’t want to miss your daddy, do you?”
“Mm-mm,” the little girl mumbles. Her eyes flutter open and she sees her mother’s willowy figure leaning against the doorframe. She could hear the pounding current of the bathwater a long ways away. Her cotton candy pink Disney Princess suitcase stands against the wall, empty and unzipped. It waits for her to slide out of bed, to get on a plane to Los Angeles at 7:40 A.M.
Her mother glides to her bed, tousles the young girl’s auburn hair. “C’mon, Sleeping Beauty, I want to leave this apartment in an hour.”
Buffalo, New York
Buffalo, New York
Little pinpricks of light from corporate towers danced happily on the water and down below in crowded houses. All four of us—me, Megan, Mom, and Dad were packed into my mom’s 1999 white, mud splattered Kia minivan, crossing over the Skyway. The morning dawn over Buffalo was quite beautiful, a watercolor of deep blue and black, stained with hazy purples and streaks of pink. Smoke from Mom’s cigarette billowed out into the crisp air. Its stifling reek seeped into the van. I kept stuffing my nose in my shirt, or inhaling the brisk wind hungrily from Dad’s side of the vehicle—kind of like a dog.
In the harbor below, a big broad ship towered into the dark sky, its mast studded with bright yellow lights.
“What’s that?” Megan asked, looking up from her book on Anastasia and the Romanovs.
“That, Megan, is the USS The Sullivans,” my dad informed us.
“It’s kind of a funny name,” I said.
“Well, there’s a story behind it. The Sullivans were five brothers who joined up with the US Navy during World War II. And all of them died in the war. And there was this one family, I think they were from Tonawanda, who also went through something similar as the Sullivans. That’s why it’s here in Buffalo,” Dad said, pointing to the darkened boat.
And then it zoomed out of sight.
Go to Part III.