Building 45

Literary/Arts Journal

My Forgotten Aunt

by Tareq

The sky was filled with dark gray clouds, the wind was swift. The rain was constant and this is what I consider to be perfect weather. I find that I am the most productive on dreary days like this one. I suppose that is why I finally walked to the Hostess discount store, something I had been meaning to do for a long time. It was only a little ways off from my after school program and I was craving a six-pack of crumble donut holes. Once I was in there, I saw a pack of orange slices that triggered a memory of my aunt.

I had an aunt Olivia, but to us was known as Faye-Faye. She was one of my favorite aunts, always giving me sweet treats, taking me out for tasty eats, and she was always giving me compliments that I could never get enough of, like, “Tah-Tah, you sure look handsome today.” She was someone who had credibility when it came knowing what looked good. Back in her day she was too hot to trot, with that famed Farah Fawcett hair-do, and white lipstick. She was a trendy lady, but later struggled with the disease diabetes. This shifted her priorities. The orange slices reminded me that she lived right across the street from the Hostess store. I felt horrible because although I knew her health was rapidly failing, I never followed through on the vow that I had made to myself in regard to aunt.

During the previous Christmas of that year my parents, Grandma and siblings Dominick and Maxwell all had exchanged gifts and no one was disappointed with what they had received. As family began to arrive, it became apparent that we had had a more enjoyable Christmas than some our other relatives. I see my auntie Faye-Faye and she is overjoyed to see me, as I am to see her. She is visibly struggling to breathe, her legs are extremely swollen, but her familiar, beautiful smile masked all of her ailments. It only took a little while for her to ask me. “Did you get me anything for Christmas?” It only a fraction of a second for the lie, “Of course” to fall out of my mouth.

I quickly ran upstairs to my mom’s room and told her what had just happened and how bad I felt. The truth was I never saw my aunt often enough to know that she would even make it to Christmas dinner. I offered up the idea that my mom should let me give the Estee Lauder perfume that I had bought for her to my aunt. Without hesitation my mom agreed. To see the way my aunt reacted was priceless. I imagine that she truly thought that I had remembered her on Christmas. I vowed to myself that I would start going to visit my aunt more often, especially because she didn’t live that far from me.

I rushed out of the Hostess to headed towards my aunt’s house when a boy Terrance from high school stopped me. We weren’t exactly friends but not total strangers either. I told him I was headed somewhere and to my surprise he asked could he go.

Once we arrived at my aunt’s house I wasn’t sure what to expect. She was not really mobile so I expected the apartment to be in sort of a mess, and it was. Dishes piled in the sink, food spoiled in pots on the stove and clutter gathered on the floor. “Tareq, whose house is this?” Terrance asked. I didn’t answer instead I picked up a picture frame that seemed to be the only spotless things in the entire apartment. Inside the frame were my cousins Elishua, Akin, Yelafa, Neila, and Rolando, all standing in front of my aunt’s past homestead. My aunt was pleased that I had stopped by and glad that I had brought along a friend. She told Terrance that she was pregnant with nine children. This was believable because her belly had become extremely swollen and hardened. She commanded that both of us come over and rub it. While she and Terrance talked, I went to town cleaning her studio apartment. Once I finished Terrance and I left and my aunt seemed to be as thrilled as she was on that Christmas day. It was as if she was so happy that little Tah-Tah did not forget about her. The truth is that I had often forgotten about my aunt. I was too preoccupied with the trivial clique dramas of high school. This is something I always feel terrible about because the next time I saw my aunt was at her funeral service.