Book One in the CUSA series
(C) 2017 Adam Cole
Published by Nuncici Press, an imprint of Adam Cole Works LLC
“Rosa!” her Mamma shouted. “What are you doing?” Then she gasped, as if she was unable to believe what she was seeing. “You!” She pointed a finger at the addict. She had seen Firoz giving Daddy the cigarette.
“Mamma,” she said. “Wait!” She could see that Daddy wasn’t shivering anymore.
“What have you done?” Rosa’s Mamma screeched. “Haven’t you got any decency?”
“I’m praying,” Firoz answered.
“Get away from my husband!” She turned towards the others for help. “Get that drug filth away before I kill him!”
“No, Mamma, he’s trying to…”
The slap Mamma gave Rosa was so swift that she was on the ground before she realized she had fallen. Through the confusion, she could still hear her Mamma shouting at Firoz.
When Rosa looked up, she saw Mamma kneeling over Daddy. “Eduardo,” she said to his face.
“Pest!” Mr. Kwang said to Firoz, coming over to him. “Parasite? Why don’t you leave us be?”
“You’re the reason we’re in this mess,” said the Chinese woman, pointing a finger at the drug worshipper.
Rosa wanted to stop them. But they were rising to their feet one after the other, starting to take out their fear and anger on Firoz. One of them picked up a rock. It seemed to bounce off the drug worshipper before he knew it had hit him. He looked around suddenly, bemused, as if he had an insight. The next rock let him know what that insight was.
Stumbling to his feet, he seemed curious about all the people shouting at him, moving towards him, then scuttling away like frightened dogs. He acted like he didn’t know what to do. Finally, some realization of the danger he was in dawned on him and he turned and began stumbling away.
The people followed him out of the dim enclosure, throwing rocks at his back until he had disappeared completely into the night. Terrified by the fury of this mob, Rosa got up and shuffled away from all the sound. Her face hurt, and she didn’t understand why she felt so ashamed when she hadn’t done anything wrong. She really didn’t want to be around these people anymore. They were all falling apart. She wished Chassis could have been here to shut them up.
First she started walking away from the noise. And then she started running, because it felt so good to move away from all that awful yelling. She pushed through the trees and let them close behind her, to protect her from her Mamma and all those other stupid chicopes. But she could still hear them.
She could hear her Mamma shouting “Rosa! Rosa!” way off in the distance. Rosa was glad her Mamma was worried. She wasn’t about to answer. She hoped her Mamma was scared shitless. She wanted her to be sorry she’d ever yelled at her daughter, much less slapped her. So she ran farther. She ran until her heartbeat was louder than the shouting.
Once she couldn’t hear them anymore it occurred to her how dumb she might be acting. She considered that it was pointless to be running through the woods in the middle of the night when she didn’t know where she was going. So she stopped running.
Rosa had thought that if she just turned around, she could walk back the way she came and she’d bump into everybody again, no problem. But it didn’t work out that way. For a while, she didn’t hear anything. Then she made out their voices, way off in the distance.
She thought someone was calling her name. But she couldn’t tell which direction the sounds were coming from. It was really hilly out there in the woods, and the hills were steep, and the noise was echoing off them. She slid down some places and then couldn’t climb back up. And even when she did make it up somewhere, she only heard the sounds coming from some other direction.
She kept trying to follow the noise, but the more she wandered, the fainter they got. Rosa wanted to call out, but she was too scared about who else might hear her.
So she kept quiet and tried to listen, but the sounds got farther and farther away, and she thought she was heading in the wrong direction. She didn’t know one direction from another anymore.
She wasn’t sure if she was crying on purpose. She didn’t remember feeling bad enough to want to die, or to stop walking, even though she was getting tired. She did remember hearing Chassis’ voice in her head, telling her it was okay to be scared, and to just keep going. Keep going, the voice said.
So she kept going. And she didn’t stop until she reached a clearing where the moon shone full on her. Then someone grabbed her by the shoulder and she screamed very loud.
More about Motherless Child
When Rosa’s mother loses her job with the Corporate United States, her family must flee or be killed in an employee purge. Taking the dangerous bus trip across the Unincorporated States, they are ambushed by bandits. Hopelessly separated from her family, Rosa is rescued by the people of Ascension, a small backwoods Virgilna town with a terrible secret.
Seventeen years in the making, Cole’s book about a girl trapped between two Americas serves as a reminder of what the United States has become, and what it still could be.
Adam Cole is an author and music educator in Atlanta, GA. He has written numerous books and stories for children, as well as a number of adult and non-fiction titles including The Girl With the Bow and Seven Ways the World Can End.
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