Chapter 13: Starting Chapter One
Time slowly flows for the rest of the night until Ilona is ready for bed.
Pajama clad, teeth all brushed, homework complete and nestled in her backpack, she holds the book before her, mesmerized. Minutes tick by, with her gaze never wavering from the cover, her hands not flipping it open to devour it.
Ilona keeps replaying the day in her mind. Cynthia, Madison, Clara, Susan and Collette were unknowns twenty-four hours ago, people she had desperately wanted to meet, befriend and become a part of her life. All to fill that hole that ached inside.
And one moment of movement, aided and abetted by the book, brought an end to the pain. Love fills the hole now. Ilona can feel it growing inside. The fact the girls accept her, let her inside their lives, and even now call her at home, seems astonishing. Old Ilona could never have dreamed of this. New Ilona is happy beyond happy.
With these thoughts, a chance insight flickers across her eyes.
Not once, when she was on the phone tonight, did any stray feelings of self doubt attack her. The conversations flowed naturally and felt just like friends chatting, an exercise Ilona had never been a part of before, but one she took right to. Maybe it was because two of her friends had called her? Of their own free will? Those actions made Ilona realize something hugely important, these girls wanted to be her friends. She has value to them. Which means, Ilona has value. This revelation makes her stare at the book go misty with tears.
As she gently wipes her eyes, her mother knocks and enters the bedroom.
“Are you alright kiddo? You’re crying.” Her mother states with concern.
“Oh, it is just an emotional part of the book, that’s all.” Ilona waves her mother’s concerns away, while finishing wiping the tears away. The look on her mother’s face, as she glances at the closed book on Ilona’s lap, makes her realize the lie is not believed. Crossing to sit on the bed, an agreed upon look between the two settles the matter. For now.
“I just wanted to check in before your required reading. See how you are doing tonight.” Her mother strokes her fingers through Ilona’s hair as she talks.
“I am doing wonderful. Hoping to get chapter one done tonight.” Ilona stares at her mother’s arm, just above her, caressing her, and likes the gentle touch.
“Are you happy Ilona?” Her mother says, with eyes full of warmth.
“Yes, yes I am. Very happy.” Ilona beams out.
The next few moments are full of silent understanding, hair being played with and a book laying between them.
“Before I let you get back to…” her mother eases out of the quiet and glances down at the book “some man with a trident, I have one more thing for you.”
She pulls her hand slowly from Ilona’s hair and plies a folded piece of paper from a shirt pocket.
“My mother gave this to me a long time ago. It is an old poem I think. Seeing your happiness today made me think of it. Read it when you have the chance, but I think it is right for today.” She carefully pulls it open and places it on Ilona’s side table.
With curiosity clearly on her face, Ilona glances over at it.
“La Vita Nuova? Here Begins A New Life? I have never heard of it. What does it mean?” Ilona’s thoughts connect even as she spoke, and the dawning of how truly wise her mother is enters her. Even with knowledge of her mother once being a child like her, it is sometimes hard to fully appreciate that reality. And this poem from long ago tells Ilona that somewhere in the past, her mother had a day like today. She wants to ask what happened to bring this paper to her, but decides against it. Her mother is respecting Ilona’s privacy, so she will return the favour.
“Read it. And you will understand. But first, the trident awaits you.” Her mother points to the book, then gets up, leans forward, and plants a kiss on Ilona’s head. “We can talk more later kiddo. Goodnight. Love you.”
“Love you to mother. Here’s to a new life.” Ilona waves to her mother with the book.
“Yes. A new life.” Her mother smiles as she leaves the bedroom.
Ilona picks up the poem and reads it through. Twice. The words and feelings it says attach to her day, causing a hug to the paper. Pulling out of the embrace and reading it again, she closes her eyes and tries to imagine how this came to her mother. We both have secrets now, she thinks. Slowly she opens her eyes to take in the paper one more time, which also makes her to spy the book still in her lap. She regretfully puts the poem to the side, and remembers her quest from a day ago.
Holding the book up, she carefully takes the strip of paper Cynthia gave her, all filled with new friends phone numbers. She slides it under the cover, over the first blank page with the inscription from her parents, and promptly figures this would make the best bookmark possible.
Her fingers delicately opens the book, flips to the first chapter, and just before she reads the very first sentence, she whispers.
Song For This Chapter: Firework by Katy Perry
New Story Arc Starts Next Week!
First serialization started on Friday, June 7th, 2013.