Take My Hand Chapter 14

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Chapter 14

            Jocelyn lay curled in the bed, tears silently rolling down her face as she stared out the barred window. Stars twinkled softly in the distance, lulling her troubled mind and numb body into a fitful sleep.

            Dreams haunted her through the night, beginning with a haze of indistinguishable images floating through her mind like the moment before death when your life passes rapidly before your eyes, some moments taking lasting precedence over others, yet all flittering quickly through the subconscious.

            The first image her mind provided at a discernable pace was a memory of her mother, Alyson, when Jo was 7. It was Jo’s birthday, but her mother had already been sick for several months, and she wasn’t able to have a party. They had thought that the mastectomy had been successful at the time, and Andy had still been kind and attentive to both her and her mother, but everything would change a few months later when her mother died…

            Jocelyn sat in her room playing with a doll that she’d gotten the year before for her birthday. There had been no gifts this year. No cake, no candles, no singing either. Jo, however, wasn’t worried about all of this; she, even as a young child, worried more for others than herself. Her mind was usually occupied with worry for her mother, who had been sick for 6 months at the time of Jocelyn’s seventh birthday. It was no different as she sat playing with her doll in her room, trying to stay quiet so her mother could rest.

            “Jocie.”

            Jocelyn looked up from where she sat on the floor brushing the doll’s hair.

            “Mommy, you’re up. Was I too loud?”

            “No, sweetheart. You’re being a little angel, as always. Come to me, my baby,” her mother told her as she knelt slowly on the floor.

            Her breath wheezed out slowly as she used Jo’s nightstand for a brace. The little girl rushed into her mother’s arms as the woman gently smiled and held out her arms. Jo cuddled into her mother’s arms, closing her eyes and drawing in the scent of her mother’s perfume.

            Alyson had gotten up about two hours before and had showered and gotten dressed in honor of her daughter’s birthday, donning her daughter’s favorite dress and spritzing her usual perfume. She was having a good day and fully intended to take advantage of the fact.

            “Mommy, are you okay today?”

            “Yes, my sweet Jocie. I’m feeling much better today,” she told her as she softly kissed the top of her head.

            Andy had been gone for most of the morning to run errands. He had already lost his job due to her mother’s illness, but he never complained. He was very attentive to Alyson, only leaving when it was absolutely necessary. He never let Alyson out of the bed for more than a few minutes, but this morning had been one where he had been required to leave and Alyson had taken advantage of the situation to make her daughter’s birthday a special one.

            “Come on, now. I will make breakfast for you,” Alyson told her young daughter.

            Jocelyn quickly hopped to her feet and extended her small hand toward her mother to help her stand. Alyson smiled and accepted the help as she somewhat struggled to get to her feet. They walked hand in hand to the kitchen…

            The memory faded into another a year later, several months after her mother had died…

            “Jo! Get your ass in here!”

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