Kickoff written by blancheking

Town of Silence

America according to a 12-year old immigrant

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The neighborhood rarely gathered, except for weddings and funerals. I stood in the back, four feet tall in a white dress and new white socks. Some people stared at me, then, when they caught me looking back, turned away to whisper among themselves. They wore black, as is traditional at a funeral. But Mama did not like black. She said so after Papa was killed.
In the middle of the room, two easels covered in flowers flanked the sides of a long table. Mama’s picture was hastily pasted in the smaller structure. A man’s picture decorated the bigger one. He was not my Papa. Papa died in Yugoslavia, when the communists captured him and his friends two years ago. Mama escaped with me to the United States. She promised to marry an American man in exchange for citizenship. I didn’t know much about my stepfather, except his last name was Bishop, and he smelled of medication.
We lived in a one-bedroom apartment in San Diego. Mama and my stepfather slept in the bedroom. I slept in a closet. It was
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okay, not big, but I had enough room for me, a few books, and a toy Mickey Mouse my mother had bought me when we first came to this country. He was my best friend for a long time.
Eventually, my stepfather wanted to leave. He said the devil was coming, and put me and my mother into his truck. We drove toward the ocean, passing the cliff-side where my mother wanted to stop and enjoy the view. I had to go to the bathroom. My stepfather said no. I remember yelling in Slovenian. I had to go. I really had to go.
Finally, my stepfather pulled over and let me out. As I ran towards the trees, I heard the door slam behind me and the engine start. My stepfather drove over the cliff and disappeared. I heard a thud, then a loud crunch. Then the car exploded.
I stood there, watching by the cliff ledge with my backpack of books and my Mickey Mouse. Part of me wanted to cry, or go down to the fire to see if Mama was okay. My body turned numb, refusing to move save to sit the ground. Mama had been there
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only a minute before, and just like that, she was gone. I didn’t even get to say goodbye.
After the incident, the government sent me to live with my stepfather’s mom. Her real name was Sheila, but everybody called her Madam Zwella. She lived by herself in an apartment complex by Ranston Beach, a quiet retirement area south of Los Angeles. It was not a big complex, but it had a courtyard and stairs leading to the sidewalk. We held the reception to Mama’s funeral in that courtyard. I didn’t know anyone except Grammy Sheila, so I sat on the front stoop facing the street.
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