By Jennifer N. Shannon
When he walked into the house, he gently dropped his backpack onto the floor and used the opposite foot to push on the back of each heel to step out his black sticky work sneakers. The living room was completely dark except for a flash of light from the kitchen. His mom always left the stove light on so he would remember to warm the plate of food that was left for him tightly wrapped in aluminum foil. But as always before he ate, he tiptoed towards the back of the house, peeked in to make sure his little sister was asleep, safely, and then opened his mother’s door to find her in the same worn out position she was in each night; sprawled over the bed, arms floundered about, apron still wrapped around her waist, twisted slightly. He grabbed a blanket from her closet, unfolded the dingy pattern and covered his mom’s thick body. He leaned down and kissed her forehead and although he didn’t hear her, she said, “I love you son,” tenderly underneath her breath, still half-asleep, still unconscious but awake enough to know it was him.
Following the dim path that led him to the kitchen, he walked back down the hall. Once standing in front of the stove, he noticed an envelope beside the plate of food, addressed to him, Ernest P. Williams, III. This is what he had been waiting for. He nervously picked up the rectangular packet and stuck his index finger in a small gap and began opening the sealed flap. He unfolded the letter.
“Dear Ernest,” he read, slowly glancing at the words multiple times before reaching the 2nd sentence of the 1st paragraph, “you have been accepted to our School of Engineering, with a full academic scholarship.”
He stopped, gasped and felt a smile cloak his face. He repeated the words “accepted” and “academic scholarship” aloud. Without notice, a single tear fell onto the aluminum foil and strolled down the curves of the food before bouncing onto the stovetop. He was overjoyed. He couldn’t eat, he simply stood. The light from the stove became a blur as tears continued to well within his eyelids.
A new beginning, he thought. A new me, he imagined. “A new life,” he said. “A new life.”
Jennifer N. Shannon is an author, writer and artist. Writing is the place she feels the most free, and even during “work hours” she is often consumed by an overwhelming desire to share experiences, dreams, love and truth with those who, like her, want to feel and be more than what is considered the norm. She is the author of three books, and her short stories have been published by Deep South Literary magazine. Jennifer is still graciously pouring her heart into various forms of expression in hopes of inspiring others.