A Story Worth Telling

A Story Worth Telling


Domestic Detention. (A Story Worth Telling)

I was ten years old when my mother migrated from the Caribbean, and journeyed to North America. Leaving us behind was her only alternative. Life was no bed of roses for her or her sibling, but my grandfather who was a strict man, cautioned them to always prepare for the worst of times. My grandmother who was a wonderful woman, was much softer, and thought them that being supportive of each other was very much essential rather than optional.

My aunts immediately took over the role of my mother. Time quickly moved by, and as I became a teenager, the majority of them began to slowly migrate, one after the other. The only one who remained on the Island had gotten married, and moved to a different location. My sister and I went along with her to the new location which was only a five – minute drive away. Moving away from the playing field, beach, police station, and the Church where I was an altar boy became my concern, but my new location turned out to be much better than anticipated. We were graciously welcome by everyone, and instantly blended in. It was as if we had known each other from birth. I became adventurous, climbing mango trees, and rocks at a beach where a simple fall could have landed me in treacherous waters, but I was having the time of my life. 

Time moved by swiftly, and within the blink of an eye, five years had already passed since my mother had migrated. She kept in constant contact with us through mails and telephone calls. There wasn't any need for conern, until one night during a phone conversation, she informed us that she was about to get married. At first, I was happy for her, but the more I contemplated about it, I became worried. She was a soft, quiet woman who refrain from all confrontation. She agreed with anyone over anything just to make things right. I was also concerned that all of her siblings were miles away. The only person who was there to protect her was her uncle who was very much in his eighties. As her wedding day approached, her soon-to-be husband was introduced to her friend and family who all thought that he was a loving man. Her uncle, on the other hand, didn’t trust him. He believed that there was something sinister about him that made him quite un-easy. I wasn’t sure if it was due to his navy training, but something about him didn’t sit well with her uncle.

About a month into their marriage, I received a photograph of her, smiling in a wedding dress. Beside her was her husband. He on the other hand appeared stern. Though I was never an expert on body language, something about him didn’t click with me as well. Was it a sense of exacerbation? I asked myself, but couldn’t help to wonder.

As time went by, everything about him began to unfold. The man who everyone, except her uncle thought was a wonderful man had taken his mask off. The face of a brutal, malignant narcissist was revealed. He instantly isolated her from friends, and prohibited her from visiting anyone. Family was restricted from calling her, and the phone calls she frequently made to my sister and I, all came to a halt.

Out of concern, family members began to reach out to her, but each time they did, it caused her telephone number to change. She did her best to keep in touch with us, by sending letters, but each time she did, her husband moved her from State to state, and into unfamiliar territories where she was only surrounded by his family.

Out of the blue, one day, we received a few mails from her. Some were typed, and others were written in a very awkward hand writing, which made us believe that they were probably written by a five- year-old child. In one of the letters was her new telephone number. I wasted no time in calling that number, only to hear that it was already changed. Out of panic, letters were sent to her at her new address, but they all returned and was stamped “return to sender. “

For days we awaited her phone call, but those days sadly turned into weeks, which then turned into months, then years without knowing her whereabouts. It was as if she had vanished off of the face of the earth. Many in my family feared the worse, and presumed her to be dead. I on the other hand, thought otherwise. My belief was that she was still alive, but was very much living in captivity. Being her son, meant that it was my job to find closure at any cost, and after secretly orchestrating a plan, I embarked on a mission. With two photographs of her tucked away in my pockets, a paper with some of her last know addresses scribble onto it along with several numbers that were once used to reach her, I embarked on a journey with the intention of handing everything over to the FBI. I vividly remembered that sunny, Monday afternoon when I left. The massive, yellow sun was hovering over the Island. It wasn’t even obscured by a smog of cloud as I grabbed my bag, quietly said a prayer before pulling on my suitcase.

Quietly seated in a moving vehicle with my head blankly staring out the window, the memories of her flashed across my mind as the breeze gently hit my face. Later that night, we arrived into New York City which was gray and gloomy and covered in an expansive canopy of white. Towered structures were partially concealed though smog of fog, and appeared as if they speck on Islands in a foggy Ocean. I was now in the city that never sleeps, dull and worried about if I was prepared to accept the outcome of the closure that I badly needed.

Days went by as I pondered the decision, then on a brutally cold morning, I reached for the yellow pages which many used at the time since google was unavailable. Immediately, an idea came to mind. “What if I call one of her old numbers and hear a message that informs me of her new number, I asked myself. My original idea was quickly squashed, and I asked my aunt’s husband if he had any old numbers of her while she was living in New York City. The plan worked. He quickly dialed a number, which led us onto another number. Numbers after numbers were dialed until a woman answered. After explaining who I was, she informed me that my mother was very ill, and that she never knew she had family. I was shock, baffled, and couldn’t comprehend. Happy to know that she was still alive, but wondered if she was a cancer patient in a hospice hospital. I became restless that night, and couldn’t sleep.

The following morning when I got out of bed, it wasn’t any different. After dropping my cousins off to school, I waited for her phone call. It seemed like as if it was an eternity, but after hearing her voice, I felt a sense of relief. She was jovial, and sounded as if everything was ok. I was very much under the suspicion that her husband was nearby and kept the conversation casual. The day after, I called her, but she sounded dull, and hopeless. That confirmed my suspicion that during the phoen call the previous day, her hisband was somewhere beside her. A date for a reunion was set, and I immediately grabbed a piece of paper and wrote down some questions that I needed her to answer. 

Finally, that day came, and as a lingering chill filled the air, my heart beat profusely against my chest. A feeling of guilt somehow came over me and it caused me to shred the piece of paper I had with the written questions that I needed her to answer. 

I boarded the aircraft and quietly sat in my assigned seat, and noticed that a flight attendant had already taken notice that I was somehow despaired. She approached me, and after an explanation, she wished me a happy reunion.

Three hours later, I was at an airport in a new State. My mother’s husband saw me exiting the terminal and as our eyes met, he immediately looked away, and concealed himself between the crowd as he scanned my surrounding until he was convinced that I wasn’t accompanied by anyone. After introducing ourselves, we made our way into the airport parking lot, and the first thing I noticed was that his vehicle was missing its front number plate. I panicked, and immediately asked him why. He explained that vehicles in that state don’t use front number plates, and out of concern, I scanned every vehicle in that parking lot until I was convinced that he was speaking the truth.

A while later, we pulled up to a house, and instantly, I recognized the number on the house. It was the same house where all of the mails sent to my mother, was returned from and were stamped, “return to sender”. It puzzled me as I tried to figure out the reason for me being there if my mother was no longer living there. I exited the vehicle, leaving him in the driver’s seat and approached my four-year-old sister who was already awaiting my arrival. “Do you know who I am?’ I asked. She nodded, then shyly looked towards the ground. I turned to look at the vehicle, expecting to see him still seated in the driver’s seat, but to my surprise, he had already made a secret exit. Fear immediately came over me, but I needed closure. After releasing a sigh, I reached for the door handle of the house door and lost my footing, and stumbled forward, but managed to grab onto the handle to prevent myself from falling. My sister looked at me concern, but a quick fake smirk from me assured her that there wasn’t anything to be concern about. I sighed a second time, opened the door, then entered into a dark living room, due to the lack of sunlight that was blocked by the undrawn curtains. My eyes were scanning the entire living room until they met a disorganize center tabled with a few cushions scattered on a carpet that was badly in need of a vacuumed. “This isn’t my mother.” I said to myself, knowing how clean and tidy she was. Suddenly, I was interrupted by the banging sound of cookware. I looked toward my sister for an explanation, but this time, it was as if she had taken an oath of secrecy. I then made my way toward the doorway of the kitchen, and completely froze like a mannequin. Utterly dumbfounded with my eyes widen in shock, and locked onto my mother. She looked unrecognizable, and decades older, seated in a wheelchair. Below her waist was completely stiff, and paralyzed, but her torso was trenbling like a woman with 


The book “Domestic Detention” can be purchased anywhere books are sold. Below is a link to its Amazon page.


Author: Rodney Pemberton

Rodney Pemberton is a train screenwriter, and author of the book “Domestic Detention”. For more about Rodney, visit https://imanient.com/


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