Road to HOME
A place I visit often is the cemetery. It’s not that I’m a total weirdo or anything, and I like to visit scary places all the time. I assure you that’s not the case. As a matter of fact, I have a natural distaste for anything that has to do with cemeteries and horror stories but it’s not like I can stop myself from going. My one and only parents are buried there. Their graves dug side by side. Their ages close in proximity too – my mom, 40, and my dad, 41. Both departed from this life way too soon without me. Their 19-year-old daughter who is in her last year of secondary school, now left to live alone without any other family. An orphan who has only one person in the world that I can honestly call my friend, and someone that I’m thankful for staying faithfully by my side in this lonely world. They may be gone now but it’s not like I can blame them for leaving me, after all they weren’t given the choice to stay because it’s my fault that they’re dead. I know that.
My parents died on a Friday evening, so when the weekend had passed, then came the dreaded Monday morning, which meant a new school day, a new school week and coping with school kids who audibly and thoughtlessly talked about the incident involving my parents’ death that was reported on some of our local news stations, as though I, Alisha Salizar, their schoolmate, was invisible and not currently experiencing the most horrifying period of my life.
I know what you’re thinking...why would you even go to school in this kind of situation? Well, the reason for that is my parents. It’s not like it’s their last wish. It's just that I know my parents and I know that this is one of those very important things they would want me to complete. My education. The whole way. From beginning to end. Kindergarten, Primary school, Secondary school. Then, once I finish my secondary school studies, it’s off to university where I'd diligently pursue the career path I choose. This is a huge part of the reason I had such great respect for my parents. They knew the importance of education. As a child, I loved learning, whether it be through reading books or getting hands-on experience. Thanks to my parents’ influence and guidance, my love for reading, writing and all things under the umbrella of learning were cultivated. Then one day like an epiphany I knew what I wanted to be - a teacher. I felt like that was my purpose. This is just one of the reasons why I loved them . They were awesome. They allowed me to freely choose what I want while giving me a sort of freedom and independence under their care but I guess that’s what parents are supposed to do, anyway, right? I’m not there yet, but it’s my hope that when I’ve found “Mr. Right” and got married, I can give my child the same love, attention and patience they did me.
You know, it’s unbelievable how cruel people can be sometimes. Unfortunate situations like these remind me of just how cold and cruel the world can be. It can even leave you feeling lonely at times. Those very same schoolmates and classmates of mine, spoke as though they were present at the incident, knew exactly what had occurred that day and the types of emotions I was feeling in my heart. I wish they knew about the types of thoughts that filled my mind like a poison threatening my health each day since the incident occurred. Maybe then they’d understand me a little better, which is something I’d gladly welcome. They weren’t there yet, they had the audacity to spread rumours and lies with the intent of defaming my character, for the sake of gossiping, that no one even bothers to ask me the truth about it. I mean, is it really so difficult for someone to approach me, even if it’s secretly, and say,
“Alisha, are you doing alright?”
“I heard about what happened to your family on the news the other day. All of the other kids are gossiping about it but if you don’t mind...and you want to talk about it...can you tell me what really happened that day?”
“I’m here for you, just remember that. Anytime....Anywhere! I’ll listen to anything you want to say or get off your chest. After all, when it’s all said and done, we’re all friends here, okay?”
If there was anyone at all who was interested in hearing the whole truth, I would tell them about it. From where I stood, I just needed someone to make the first move and we’d probably be halfway there already. Halfway to the truth.
While eating out alone in the school garden, perfectly shaded and hidden behind a huge green patch of bush, at lunch time, Kianna came to accompany me with a female classmate, Trinity Davis, who is president of our school’s Journalism Club. She wanted to find out specifically and personally, the events surrounding my parents’ deaths last Friday evening so that if given permission, which I did eventually grant, she would be able to cover the story. In her quest to persuade me, she shared her thoughts as to why I should do it but honestly, she didn’t have to do that because I already knew why I needed to do it. For three reasons: (1) to have an outlet and audience to tell my story because trying to keep it inside and bottling up all the sadness, all the different emotions would only drive me to the edge of insanity or off a cliff if I were to allow them to overwhelm me, (2) So that all the rumours, gossip and defamation of character talks, spread by my fellow students, will come to an end after everyone hears the entire story, and (3) to help that no one winds up like me, dating a dangerous person...a person that they don’t really know.
A situation like this where my parents died, and faulty information is being circulated about that particular incident and myself, is precisely why I’m grateful for my best friend, Kianna Richards. I love her to pieces. She means a lot to me. She is the only one, after my parents, who really understands me as an individual. That I am loving, independent, responsible, mature, especially for my age, and strong but also sensitive. I’m glad she gets me, and I get her, and that time around I was glad that she and Trinity asked me about the incident so, naturally I told them the whole story, from beginning to end, without omitting a detail and it went like this.
Every Tuesday evening, I used to visit my parents’ house to have lunch and spend quality time with them. I miss them a lot so they came up with the idea that I should visit them every Tuesday evening to have lunch, spend quality time together with them and end the evening with a sleepover afterwards, since they wouldn’t want me to drive back to my apartment late at night.
One of those Tuesday evenings though, I had planned to bring my best friend, Kianna, to have lunch with us, and she decided that she would bring after-meal snacks for us to enjoy. All I would need to do was pick her up at her house. However, I live 40 minutes away from my parents' house, and while that’s a long drive, Kianna lives even further away - 2 hours away, and in the opposite direction from mine and my parents’ houses.
By the time I was fully dressed, out the front door and seated in the driver's seat of my car, just about to buckle my seatbelt the pocket of my jacket vibrated with the sound of my cell phone ringing. Taking it out of my pocket, then looking at the caller ID, it read “Mom”. I swiped across the phone screen, answering unhesitantly, pleased to receive the call thinking of how much I missed her even though we were only a few hours away from meeting.
The call would not be as I had imagined it would be. Instead it was a rather disturbing phone call from my mom, where she said in a rushed and shaky tone, “Alisha...Alisha! Turn back! Okay? Please! Don’t come here anymore!” Before I could even get a word into the phone, she hung up without even so much as a word of goodbye. It was at this moment that I knew something was wrong. She wouldn’t ordinarily do this. Our relationship was such that even if I had left my parents’ house not too long ago and thereafter, returned to mine, whether I called, or she did, we’d talk for hours, even if it meant just keeping each other company. But this time it was so brief that not only did it sound weird, but it also felt weird. It felt like something deep in my gut was telling me something’s not right. My mom sounded so afraid as though she knew that something terrible was going to happen.
Oh no! I’d better go! I have to see what’s going on! I thought to myself, as I hurriedly strapped on my seatbelt, skidded out of the driveway of my house with my hands at the wheel of my car, driving in the direction of my parents’ house, forgetting that I was supposed to drive by to pick up Kianna at her house that’s located in the opposite direction. I tried to calm myself down by saying aloud, Alright, Alisha. You are driving right now, so calm down. Calm yourself! I’m sure everything’s fine. Everything’s going to be just fine...as usual. Don’t worry! My body seemed to defy my words because as I drove, I could feel the small hairs on my skin stand up and a dreadfully cold shiver down my spine.
“Talking to you girls now, I honestly can’t say for sure if what I felt then was a supernatural sign or something but I just got a feeling that things were ominous, despite my wishes or affirmations to myself.”
Locating the accelerator pedal, I pushed, exceeding my previous driving speed. I quickly drove to the house. Arriving there, I dashed out of the car door before my car could even fully stop. Flung the unlocked front gate of our house open and hurriedly ran to the front door.
Upon opening it and walking through the door, abruptly I paused, unable to move an inch. Something felt different just as soon as I stepped through the front door. The usual smell of dinner was absent, and I knew something had changed. I instantly ran to look for my parents. As I was desperately searching for them around the house, some loud noises came from the backyard. Fearing for my life after hearing those sounds but desperate to find my parents, now exhausted after running from room to room in our humongous two story house, slowly I stumbled to the back door of the house which led to the backyard, and just like that, my entire life changed.
“It’s funny how you never really understand or believe, and so, you doubt that someone’s life has really changed when they say “Because of this one incident, my whole life has changed - everything’s different!” but when you actually have to go through it, suddenly like a ball of lightning you get what they mean. You begin to think, It's true what they say, isn’t it? It takes just one moment, one decision and one mistake to ruin your life.”
I couldn’t believe what my eyes were seeing. I couldn’t believe it but there they were lying face down on the ground – dead. Their bodies twisted in awkward positions. Gunshot wound to their heads. Miraculously still standing, stunned with disbelief, there were no words I could utter. My eyebrows twitched but only momentarily while my lips moved, expressing no full words or sentences, just nonsensical speech as almost equivalent to those of a baby’s babble. No thoughts came to mind, only the image of the scene before me. Jaw dropped, eyes wide open, trembling, standing upright till my knees gave out...I fell to the ground. My whole body weak in agony. My heart suddenly aching. My mind, in disarray. I was so traumatized that I couldn’t think straight. Just then my phone rang. Kianna had called saying,
“Hey Alisha. What’s up with you, today, huh?”
“Weren’t you supposed to come pick me up at my house so that we could go to your parents’ house together?
“Have you changed your mind? Are you not going there anymore?”
“Hello! Alisha, answer me...please. What’s going on?”
Perhaps it was a subconscious action, but I picked up my phone when she called and though I did, no words beside the word “uh” would come out. I wanted to say something out loud, even if it's barely audible, to let her know what had happened but nothing came out. Seemingly, my response didn’t sit well with Kianna who then retorted,
“Okay! That’s it! You’re not answering!”
“Fine! Stay where you are! I’m coming!”
“I can track your location by phone using GPS, so just wait for me.”
“I’ll take the first taxi I can get and come to you, right now.”
After a time, Kianna arrived at the house where she then came to the backyard. I suppose she became curious upon noticing that the door that leads to the backyard was open as she called out my name while she searched around the house for me. As soon as she saw me on the ground, rushing to my side she shouted, “Alisha! Alisha! Are you okay? What happened to you?” instinctually, looking up from where she had knelt to comfort me, she exclaimed, “Oh God! No! Are those your...Oh my gosh!” Hurriedly she grappled to take her phone out of her pockets and called the cops explaining to them what she saw when she had arrived at the scene.
They arrived in no time, which was rather unusual for the police, but I’m sure Kianna was grateful for it, just as much as I was especially as it meant that we would not have to stare at neither be in the presence of the gruesome picture that laid before our eyes any longer than we must, and that they, the cops, would be able to catch the creep who did this villainous act sooner.
Having stayed motionless kneeling on the ground for as long as I could, before finally becoming mentally and physically exhausted, I blacked out right there on the ground several feet away from my parents’ bodies. I had reached my limit it seemed.
Waking up some hours later, as I was told by Kianna, was how long I had been asleep, since fainting, she updated me about my parents’ case. That the police had begun the investigation into my parents’ homicide, and that they had found what they believed to be a lead in the case. That news brought me a little peace, a little relief as I’d trust the police that justice would be served, and soon, I’d be able to find out who murdered my parents and why they did it.
Upon investigation, the police found a string of threatening messages on my mom’s phone from my ex-boyfriend stating that he is going to kill my parents if I don't come back to him. That was a week before this incident occurred, but I guess my mom never saw it fit to tell me. Maybe she didn’t want me to worry and just thought that she and dad would handle it on their own without my knowing or interference, since it had been only a few weeks since I had broken up with him, and that I was still recovering after discovering what he had done to me, and the type of person he really is.
“Hmm! Though… I’m just speculating. I don’t actually know what happened that time but I really wish she had told me. But it’s too late for that now, I guess.”
Anyway, before I knew about my ex-boyfriend’s ugly personality, his handsome face and charm which turned out to be nothing but a facade in the end, captivated me and we had started to date each other. The relationship lasted for a little over a month, and I have got to admit he hid that part of himself well or I don’t know…perhaps I simply did not want to notice the true him or pick up on any of the hints in his masquerade.
Whereas he always used to visit me at my house I decided to pay a surprise visit to his place for once instead of it constantly being the other way around. Walking up the flight of stairs that led to his house’s veranda, I saw them...him and some girl wearing a skimpy outfit matched with light blue high heel shoes kissing while his back was pressed against the front door. Entering his veranda, I walked straight up to the door, apparently unnoticed by them, and knocked saying,
“So sorry to be interrupting, but is this what you do?”
“Say that you like somebody, you want to get to know them better...even if it’s slowly, but then you rush to cheat on them the first chance you get?”
“Or is this not your first time doing this?”
“Any other girls I should know about?”
“Look, Alisha! You might be pissed off right now but… you’re to blame here.”
“Excuse me! Say what?!” I retorted to his absurd remark. He continued,
“You shouldn’t have made a surprise visit like this. You were just completely unexpected this time.”
Removing his hands from her embrace and slightly stepping away, he said,
“Forget this lady, okay? Forget you ever saw her and let’s just move on.”
The lady stood dumbfounded as was I, upon hearing this for a short time, then sucking her teeth she produced a loud sound. In my country, Trinidad and Tobago, we call it ‘steups’. I imagine it was done loudly so that she could openly express her disapproval and annoyance at us for having the conversation that we did. As she was passing beside me to go down the stairwell, it seemed like she purposely bumped into my shoulder, making me lose my balance a little. Luckily, I held on to the stair-railing so I didn’t fall but I’d say she was the lucky one. Lucky I did not let my temper get the better of me especially in this infuriating situation but I’d made up my mind that even if she did do it on purpose to spite me, I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt as there was no way on this green Earth, I was going to start a fight with this lady over this ridiculous man giving him any sort of satisfaction or pleasure.
That lady departed from the area and soon so would I but not before saying these last words to my now ex-boyfriend.
“Ha! Are you kidding me, right now?”
“No! Never! I will never get back into a relationship with you.”
“I’d have to be crazy to do that! And…after this, I simply never want to see you again. Don’t ever contact me. We’re done! Okay? Good bye!”
As I turned around and quickly made my way down the stairwell, while furious but sad too, that I had been cheated on, I also felt relieved. Relieved that I found out who he really was before things could escalate between us into what I would probably take as true love, being as inexperienced as I am in relationships between a man and a woman. I found myself thinking that I should feel happy and relieved that during the course of our relationship, I did not freely and speedily give up anything of myself that I would never be able to get back once it’s been lost, I suppose, as it would have been in this case.
After the last thing that I had said to him, I had hoped that there would be no doubt in Sevyn’s mind that our relationship was over and done. It’s obvious that after he cheated, I would want absolute zero association or interaction with him ever again, and that’s what I did.
Besides being a cheater, it turns out that the guy was a total psycho who possessed negative personality traits such as over-possessiveness, vindictive behaviour and a need to be right all the time. Perhaps when we were a couple, I blinded myself to the possibility that the person he had shown to me on our dates was a cloak hiding his true self, but maybe, the truth is I never seriously gave that a second thought because I was just thrilled to finally have a boyfriend when everyone else I knew about, already did.
“What do you girls think?...Are your thoughts the same as mine? Because right now, I’m thinking that I must have been a totally selfish and evil person. I must be one of the most evil people in the world. Because of what I did, two of the people who I treasured most are gone now. It’s my fault, right?”
“Alisha, No! You’re not! You definitely are not! You are someone who is loved and loves in return because of the amount of love you are given. You are loved by God, most importantly, and your friends here, and…your parents, of course though they may not be with you now.” Trinity answered. Kianna however, nodding in agreement with Trinity and patting me gently on the back.
“But you don’t understand! I’m to blame! I’m…to blame. I feel like I’m to blame. No matter how I think about it, that’s the thought that pops up in my head…I’m the one to blame for my parents’ death.”
“Maybe if I hadn’t kept the relationship going for that long or introduced him to my parents or had him hanging around us all the time and regularly visiting our home carrying the excuse of visiting in order to see me, and get closer with my family…those things probably would not have happened to them! They'd still be alive, living happily with me for a very long time until the time for them to go, naturally and at peace. That’s what I wanted for them! That’s what they should have had! They should not have been robbed of that chance by my relationship.”
Trinity and Kianna kept silent this time around even as their faces screamed ‘disagreement’ at my words. Probably recognizing that I needed to say more of the things that were on my mind still.
“When I broke it off with Sevyn, at no time did I ever have any intention of resuming our relationship so almost immediately after we broke up, I blocked his number on my phone so that he could never contact me! I just felt more at ease in doing that so that I knew neither through calls nor messages could he get through to me. I never knew that he would send those horrible messages to my parent’s phone however, and do the unthinkable to both my parents too.”
“The messages that he sent to my mom – I never received them. I never saw them. I couldn’t see or receive any texts from him, but this whole thing still feels like it’s my fault. Maybe I could have stopped it from happening if I had known. I could have done something.”
“Umm! Well, Kianna, Trinity…The story ends there…for now…at least. I’ve just told you everything there is to know about the story. But, I’m sorry for my temper getting a bit out of control, at the end there.”
“Look, Alisha! It’s okay! We know that you needed to let that out. But you need to know…you need to believe too, that, though it’s hard, it is not your fault. You shouldn’t have these negative things on your mind. Give yourself a break! Your parents wouldn’t want you to torture yourself like this, either. So don’t be this hard on yourself…Okay?” Kianna replied.
Smiling faintly, I said, “Hm, yeah! Thanks for everything Kianna, Trinity.”
“Um so, Trinity…since that’s the end of the story, that’s all you’ll be needing, right? If so, I’m sorry to say this but… I think I need to be left alone, for a while…please? The both of you.”
After hesitating for a short time, Kianna and Trinity left the garden together while I stayed behind to be alone to reflect and cry, and being the person that I am, I didn’t want to let them see me cry. That’s the part of me that hates being vulnerable in front of people, whether they are close to me like family or a friend, or not. I just despise the idea that I may seem weak to others.
Several days later, when the weekend approached, I met with Kianna and her parents at their house. They helped me arrange all the requirements for my parents’ funeral. Kianna’s parents were just like she was - the resemblance was uncanny, not just in looks but in terms of personality as well. They were understanding, caring and loyal just as their daughter. I couldn’t help but appreciate it - both their assistance and their wonderful personalities. Through a discussion with them, we settled on having the funeral the following week on Saturday, in the afternoon. As I was about to leave after we’d finished discussing, Kianna and her parents told me, though they had always said it times before, that I should be careful as Sevyn’s whereabouts are still unknown, even from the time of the police’s earlier investigation since the incident occurred. Every time they said this, I always replied along these lines with a smile “Don’t worry, you guys! I can handle it! Even if he does appear before me after all this time, I’ve prepared for it. Okay?...You all don’t need to stress!”
When that fateful Saturday afternoon came, I took on the role of celebrant of my parents’ memorial service. I also performed a eulogy but sadly, of all the onlookers present at the service, none were family members. Not one family member or relative was in attendance, not from my mother's side or father’s side. Left without another option, to comprehend their behaviour, it seemed to me that they had pushed aside their sense of humanity and reason to let their pride and egos take center stage over a single thought for the son and the daughter they had lost.
How could they! I know that both sides harbour enmity towards the other because their son and daughter married each other despite their fierce disapproval but it’s utterly absurd, vexing and insufferable how they argue with one another like children every time they meet, each side defending their own from insults thrown. All because a doctor, a position they so highly esteemed, married an artist who has a lower income and originates from a poor background. In my opinion, who cares if they were from different backgrounds anyway? My parents were a beautiful pair that complimented each other, and they were strongly in love so the parents and relatives on both sides should have apologized, and stopped this nonsensical behaviour a long time ago. The thing is that even though I had Kianna and her parents, and I’m grateful for that, it still would have been nice to have my family here.
Have you ever wondered at times, “how can a person be so dastardly? How can a person be so bold-faced and unapologetic in the face of the person that they’ve hurt? How audacious does a person have to be to waltz into a building that’s holding a funeral service, look you straight in the eye, smile at you, then sit at the front seat as though they have done nothing wrong and act like this event wasn’t happening because of something they had done. Well, that’s Sevyn Daniels for you! My ex-boyfriend! The worst mistake of my young life!”
Surprised at his sudden entrance, I grabbed the mike situated in front of me, while standing on the podium of the funeral hall in the middle of performing the eulogy for my parents’ memorial service. Risky as it would be to execute it, I decided to seize a chance because there was no way I was planning on letting him escape after what he did. Bending closer to the mike, stopping my eulogy I said,
“Well, hey there, Sevyn! How have you been?”
“Rather, where have you been? Has it been fun for you, ruining somebody’s life and going into hiding like a coward, instead of giving yourself up like you’re supposed to?!”
By this time, members of the audience had, upon hearing the name “Sevyn” as well as every other sentence that followed, come to the understanding that this man was the one who murdered my parents as they’d been informed was the name of the murderer by the updated story on our local news, they realized the bad situation they may be in and began to frantically scurry out of the funeral hall, scared of the thought of what might happen next.
Their fears were not unfounded as the situation grew worse when Sevyn pulled out a gun, which I presume was the same one he had used on my parents, and shouted at them all, “Sit down, all of you! Right now! She and I are not done talking!” Then he continued saying, “Alisha, you really have no idea how much I missed you. I’ve missed you so much! Let’s get back together! Continue our relationship! We can start fresh!”
“Sevyn, I say this from the bottom of my heart…You are one sick individual! You’re absolutely insane! I want nothing more to do with you than to see you be cast into jail where you belong!”
With one slick move, he came on to the podium just a few inches from where I was standing and angrily he said, “You’ve hurt my feelings, Alisha! How can you say that?!” Walking even closer to me, he grabbed my hand but I used my Lipstick stun gun that I was carrying in my purse and secretly took it out when he was talking and shocked him in the abdomen. I stunned him just enough so that he would be made unconscious then I immediately pulled away so as to not critically damage or injure him.
While everyone was shocked at the developments between Sevyn and I, and they were miraculously still seated on their chairs after the terrifying incident that probably made them too scared to move even after Sevyn fell unconscious, Kianna who was seated at the last row of the back of the funeral hall, ran up to meet me on the podium and hugging me she said,
“Oh my gosh! Alisha, are you okay? Are you crazy or something?! How could you do that?! You made me so scared! I had no idea what could happen here with either you on the podium or us in the audience. That was super irresponsible but… I got to say, friend, you are really something else when you put your mind to it. Ha!”
“Wow, ok! I know that you must have been really scared and shocked by my actions and in recognition of that..I apologize, and I’ll apologize again if you need me to after we’ve dealt with the situation here but first…let’s call the police! Can you do it though? Right now, my hands are trembling so much…I need some time to get myself together.”
“We don’t have to! Actually, while you and Sevyn were getting carried away in your conversation, I called them. They’re located 30 minutes away from here and since it’s been a while since I called them, they’ll be here in 10 minutes or so. Don’t worry!”
After a short time, the police arrived at the funeral hall. They put handcuffs on Sevyn and carried him away. Finally, Sevyn Daniels had been caught and he’ll be put behind bars for a long time, I thought to myself. It had been a long while since my parents' funeral that I felt so relieved. Nothing would bring them back to me, alive but at least, their murderer was caught, convicted and in prison. Finally, I was able to, somewhat, breathe properly again and have some closure.
Though it’s been months since my parents death, and I visit their graves very often still, I’m glad that I’ve have been able to receive the counselling that I desperately needed from a church I have started to attend since being informed by Trinity as it’s the church that she’s a ’Sunday Regular” at. Since then, upon accepting the Lord as my saviour then I was able to realize that though it’s hard I need to move on and to do that the right way, it’s necessary to forgive Sevyn and myself as well, and live happy and free for the rest of my life until I am reunited with them again one day soon.