If they sent a cloud from heaven
I would ride into the skies
To escape all of my troubles
And to cast away your lies
- “A Dandelion Dies in the Wind”
I hurried out of the room, and taking my bag from the hallway ran into the main lobby. I found the door leading upstairs to where all the parents had been herded and took the stairs two at a time. When I reached the door, I peeked in the window; I could see my mother, sitting on one of the couches, staring at all the posters on the walls. Her eyes looked misty, as though she was about to cry. I paused before flinging open the door, and announcing:
“Excuse me, but if any of you want your daughters to be sexually harassed, by all means, leave them here with that horrible man. He made degrading comments about my mother, and about me, and I really don’t see any reason for me to be here any longer.” With that I looked at my mother, hoping for her to run to me, hold me and tell me that she would never let that son of a bitch touch me or even look at me again. Instead, what I saw was something I will never forget in my whole life. My mother’s eyes were blazing with anger, and disbelief.
“Brenna, let’s go, I have a lot to talk to you about young lady.”
I fell behind my mother and followed her to our car. It was difficult to keep up with her, as her legs were longer and she could walk much faster than I could.
“I am so embarrassed.” She said as she sat down in the driver’s seat.
“I couldn’t believe it mom, when he said...”
“No, Brenna, I can not believe you would embarrass me like that in front of all those parents. How dare you make up a story like that!” She was seething.
“Mom! I didn’t make it up!”
“Oh right, you just were so happy to be here auditioning that you couldn’t help but spoil the whole thing for yourself.”
“Myself?! What about you?! You were the one who wanted me to do this, not the other way around.” She backed out of the parking spot and tore out of the lot, smacking my hand as I reached for the radio dial.
“Do you ever think of anyone other than yourself Brenna? Do you even realize how much your father and I have given up so that you could do the things you do? Do you have any idea how much I have given up for you? I gave up my entire career for you! And this is the thanks I get? You make up a story about the director of one of the largest, most innovative dance companies. Someone, who is not only well known, but respected in the world of Irish dance? We could be sued for defamation of character for remarks like the ones you made back there.” My eyes began to brim with tears. She didn’t believe me. I looked at her, her face flushed with anger, her knuckles white as she gripped the steering wheel.
“You think I just made it up? You think I would invent something like that?” I let the tears spill over my eyelashes and down my cheeks.
“What am I supposed to believe Brenna? All you’ve done recently is complain about these auditions. You know, you really are the most ungrateful, selfish person. Your father and I do all we can for you, we go out of our way to give you special opportunities other people can’t give their children, and how do you respond? You throw tantrums, you make up stories, and you sabotage your own auditions. What are you doing to yourself Brenna? What do you think you’re going to do with your life? Just hang around here while Daddy and I pay for everything? I don’t think so sweet pea. Life doesn’t work that way, and unless you wise up and get your focus back, you’re going to lose everything you’ve worked for.”
As we pulled into our driveway, I didn’t even wait for the car to stop before I opened the door and bolted out of the car. I stormed into the house, to find my father sitting in the kitchen.
“Hey kiddo, how’d the audition go?” He was smiling
“Great, just great! Why don‘t you ask Mom since she seems to think I‘m a pathological liar.” I screamed stomping up the stairs to my room, and slamming the door shut behind me.
For a while I sat on my bed throwing dirty socks at the wall. I could here a murmur of sound from downstairs. My mother was in the house, and she of course was not happy. I went over to my door and pressed my ear against it. The murmur of their voices suddenly became clearer, and I knew it. They were fighting. They never fought, and they were fighting, and it was my fault. I listened closer as the volume rose once again from downstairs.
“Zac, I am just sick and tired of this attitude of her’s.”
"Siobhan, I just don't see Brenna making that up."
“Of course you don’t! You’re the ‘good parent’ she loves you. She sees me as just the evil Hitler mommy. I’m the one who makes her do the auditions, I’m the one who makes her do all the things she ’hates.’ You know what Zac? It’s not fair, because you need to be helping me.”
“Siobhan, I am helping you, but did you ever think for just once that maybe Brenna isn’t exactly like us? Maybe she doesn’t want the same things we did. Maybe she doesn’t want the things we want for her. Maybe she needs a break; she’s been doing all this for so long, maybe she needs a chance to really feel her options out.”
I could hear my mother slam something down, and then the sound became a murmur again. That night, I didn’t even come down for dinner, I just did a final check in my room to make sure everything had been properly packed, and shoved everything my mother had packed for me into the corner with my suitcases. Tomorrow was going to be a long day.
The next morning, I was so eager to start my trip; I woke up half an hour before my alarm went off. So, I took my shower, got dressed and started dragging my luggage down the stairs.
“Brenna?” My father asked stumbling out of my parents’ bedroom. He was in his robe. “What are you doing honey?”
“Getting ready to go to the airport” I said in a sing song voice.
“Honey,” he yawned, “It’s 5:30 in the morning.
“We don’t leave for the airport for another two hours.
He shook his head and wandered back into his room closing the door behind him.
Somehow the minutes moved quickly and soon I was in the back of our car driving to the airport. The radio was on, and my father and I were singing along. I noticed my mother, who normally sang along as well, adding to the two-part harmony my father and I started, sat, staring frigidly out the window.
“I know,” my father started, pulling out a cassette, “we’ll listen to this.” My mother glanced over at him.
The opening chords of “The Sally Gardens” began to fill the car. He put in my tape. The tape I had made my mother for mother’s day last year. It was all her favorite songs, this one being her all time favorites.
Down by the Sally Gardens
My love and I did meet
She passed the Sally Gardens,
With little snow-white feet.
She bid me take life easy,
As the leaves grow on the trees
. But I being young and foolish,
With her would not agree.
When I was one and twenty,
I heard a wise man say
“Give crowns and pounds and guineas
But not your heart away, give pearls away,
And rubies but keep your fancy-free.”
But I was one and twenty, no use to talk to me.
And when I was one and twenty,
I heard him say again that, “A heart out of the bosoms
Is never given in vain. Tis paid in sorrow plenty and sold for endless rue.”
And I am two and twenty, and oh, tis true, tis true.
In a field by the river,
My love and I did stand.
And on my leaning shoulder,
She placed her snow white hand.
She bid me take love easy,
As the grass grows on the weirs.
But I was Young and foolish,
And now am full of tears.
Much to my father’s dismay, the song did not break the ice, instead my mother rolled down her window to drown out the sound of my voice echoing through the speakers. Arriving at the airport never made me so happy. As my dad helped me cart my luggage to a skycap so I could check most of it, he was telling me jokes in a weak attempt to make my mother and I laugh. My mother would not break, not even for the “three strings go into a bar...” joke. When he got to the punch line, I had already checked in at the gate and was now buying a book and some candy for my flight.
“Do you remember the first time I took you to the airport Brenna?” My father asked gazing out the window watching the planes.
“No, not really dad.” I absently picked at a spot on my shirt.
“You were so little; you were so excited to see the planes.” I shrugged.
“I’ll bet your mother remembers.... We were here to pick her up.”
I stole a quick look at my mother. She nodded, her eyes filled with tears.
“She was coming back from Ireland...”
“I’m going to get a soda to take an aspirin.” My mother said standing up abruptly.
“What was that about?” I asked. My father smacked his head with the heel of his hand.
“I shouldn’t have told that story. I forgot...we were picking her up because she had just come back from Ireland...she had been touring with a company but they asked her to leave. It was not too long after you were born, and they said she wasn’t the dancer she used to be, and that she never would be.... They let her go.”
Then I remembered, she came off the plane crying, and I said
“Mommy! Why are you crying? Are you sad?” And she told me, “No, Brenna. I’m just so happy to see my baby.” And she carried me around the airport, my arms wrapped tightly around her neck.
“Oh.” I hung my head in shame. It really was my fault my mother’s career had ended.
They called my flight, and as I was in line to board, my mother handed me a folder and told me to read it on the plane. I didn’t even look at her; I just took it and left.