He would never head back home til he’d found her again. He’d promised, swore he’d find her, and he wasn’t going to break that promise any time soon. He’d been gone over seven years already and he was looking as hard as that day he left Texas, snow still on the ground from the Christmas Eve flurries. She was always gone when he got somewhere, like she knew he was tailing her and was shooting off again when he got too close.
The row had started no different to all the other rows. They’d traded insults. He hurled her job and her no-good daddy at her. She called him a coward and asked why he couldn’t hold down a job. Then their Mama had come home and heard them fighting. She was real quiet, looked at them both and shook her head. Did I bring you up to be like this, at each other’s throats? What do I say about family got to stick together? They said sorry like they almost meant it.
“When you fight with your kin, it makes God and the angels cry,” said Mama. Her daughter laughed. “What now Kimberly? Spit it out. Do you think God likes hearing you row with your brother?”
“Mama, God don’t care about us and he never did.”
“Don’t say that. Don’t you say that. The Lord cares about every last one of his flock.”
“So why does he make us so poor, Mama? Why did he let us go hungry when we were growing up? Why don’t he bring my Papa back here to provide for us?” Then she whispered, “Why does he make me dance in that club night after night, just to put food on the table?”
Their Mama, all riled up, said “Our God don’t do them things, it‘s people do them things. You could go to college and get a proper job, but you make good money letting men leer at your body. That ain’t God’s fault. It’s yours.”
And then she left. His sister packed a few things in an overnight bag and headed out into the evening. They thought she’d come back in a day or two, when she’d calmed down, but she never did. So Christmas Eve their Mama sent him out after her. “Please find my baby, son. I need to tell her I’m sorry. God will help you find her.” She signed the cross and her other child left the house, leaving her alone.
God didn’t help him find her, more like helped her hide from him over the years. He travelled after her, following leads where he could, and only came home for a few days when God set his Mama on her final journey. He took off again right after the funeral.
Mama would never get the chance to tell Kimberly she was sorry, but one day he’d tell her for them both.
Inspired by ‘On the Road film is unveiled at Cannes’