The Waning Importance of “Spark”…In Some Cases, At Least

I can’t afford to give you any background on this one folks. We’re going straight into M.O.M. Mode! Just buckle up and know that this is all based on true events.

 ***Lights fading out****

Abiola and Samantha were quiet for the most part of the 9 hour trip from Raleigh, NC to Huntsville, Al. It wasn’t until they crossed into Chattanooga that the silence was broken.

“What are we going to do when we get there?” asked Abiola.

“All we can do is be there for her,” replied Samantha.

“I’m not very good at just being,” Abiola murmured. “But the situation is so ridiculous that I’m not sure what to do!”

Samantha sighed and tucked her blond hair behind her ears. She took a sip from her Coke Zero before speaking again.

“Fine,” she said, blowing a loud breath. “I’ll play Sympathy and you play Comedy.”

Abiola immediately brightened. She was good at making jokes…even if these Americans didn’t always get her Nigerian humor.

“Great! I think we should all play to our strengths.”

Emboldened by their hurriedly hatched plan, Abiola stepped on the gas and sped towards Emily’s house. The sooner they got this over with, the better.

Emily Prism’s father had died a month before. However, the relationship between Emily and the man who raised her at his convenience was tumultuous and violent. She hardly mourned his passing. Abiola and Samantha were taking the trek from the other side of the country to console their friend in the passing of someone far more dear to her – her beloved mouse, Minnie.

Abiola did not understand this attachment to a rodent. A dog she could comprehend, perhaps even a cat. At least they had personalities. Why Emily was grieving so desperately over the death of something so close to the bottom of the food chain was beyond her grasp. Still, she wanted to be a good friend. Emily was taking Minnie’s death terribly hard, even to the point of being on suicide watch.

When Samantha and Abiola got to Emily’s door, they braced themselves and plastered sympathetic smiles on their faces. Samantha lifted the enormous brass knocker and banged it three times. Socked feet came shuffling down the hallway to let them in.

“Girls! You’re here!” whispered Emily.

Her eyes were red-rimmed and her throat hoarse from sobbing.

“Yes,” smiled Samantha. “We haven’t even checked into our hotel. We came right away.”

Abiola sniffed the air and looked around. She detected a faint animal scent, but couldn’t tell what it was. As she stepped over the threshold, something caught her eye to the left. A pair of candles was lit in the parlor, and there on the dining room table sat a small coffin, surrounded by a baby’s breath floral arrangement.

Yesu.  

“So when is the funeral?” Abiola asked stiffly.

Emily was taking their coats and hanging them in the closet.

“I was thinking we could have the ceremony after lunch,” she sniffed. “I can’t thank you girls enough for coming.”

Samantha and Abiola followed Emily into the kitchen. They passed room after room still unfurnished save for the cardboard boxes bearing scribbles of the contents inside. Emily Prism lived in a veritable mansion. The three women had worked together in the Research Triangle in Raleigh and quickly formed a bond in the male dominated industry. Their friendship worked and survived this long because they were all so very different. They didn’t have any of the same goals and didn’t like the same men, and as demonstrated by this visit, did not share the same passions. Only another nerd would understand this bond. However, Abiola herself was still struggling to understand why she was at this woman’s house to bury a mouse.

“The house is beautiful,” said Samantha, looking around admiringly.

“It’s a lot bigger than it looked in the pictures,” Emily conceded. “I bought it sight unseen. Still, it’s turned out to be an excellent value for the money.”

“I’ll bet,” Abiola smirked.

Emily Prism had a doctorate degree and a distinguished career in biochemical research. Childless and unmarried, she took a job requiring her to from North Carolina to Alabama while retaining the same salary. She was basically loaded. Abiola would have been envious of the woman, if not for the fact that she was so sweet. She deserved all her success.

“Can I help you with anything?” asked Samantha.

Abiola settled onto a barstool in the kitchen and watched Emily scurry around. She was frantically pulling pots and pans out of cupboards and placing them on the stove.

“No, no,” Emily smiled, her thin lips curled upward in appreciation. “I’m just making quesadillas.”

“Did Minnie also like cheese?” asked Abiola.

Samantha shot her a look. Emily’s shoulders heaved up and down as she bent over the sink.

“No, she didn’t,” she whispered. “She liked bread best.”

Not funny, Samantha mouthed.

What!?? Abiola mouthed back.

“Can you point me in the direction of the bathroom? I’m going to wash my hands before we eat.”

“Sure. It’s right around the corner to your right,” Emily said, pointing with a fork.

Abiola stepped down from the barstool. As her feet touched the ground, something ran over her boot. She looked down and saw a long pink tail disappear into a cabinet. Sweet Jesus! Minnie had come back to life!

Abiola shrieked and jumped on top of the kitchen counter. As she hovered precariously on the marble surface, she watched in horror as another mouse ran behind Emily and scampered underneath the kitchen table. It nibbled on a cracker, making squeaking noises as it ate. It seemed to be scolding Abiola.

“What is going on?” asked Samantha incredulously.

“It’s a mouse! Minnie has been resurrected!” Abiola screeched. She began praying fervently in tongues, willing the Holy Spirit to cast out the demon who had raised the rodent back to life.

Emily reached under the table and lifted the small quadruped, holding it delicately in the palm of her hand.

“Abiola, stop it,” she seethed. “You’re upsetting Otto.”

“What the hell is Otto?!?”

“He’s one of my six mice,” Emily said simply. She shot Abiola a look as she placed Otto in a white wire cage.  “You can come down from there now. He’s not going to bite you.”

Abiola was from Africa. She knew better. Anything with teeth will eventually bit you. Struggling to regain her composure, she alighted from the countertop and tiptoed towards the bathroom. When she got there, a mouse was sitting on the toilet…just chilling. Abiola spun on her heel and reached for her purse. There was a bottle of hand sanitizer in her purse.

By the time she got back to the kitchen, Emily had already set out their lunch. A beautiful orange and lime green platter was decorated with triangular cut quesadillas. Pico de gallo and sour cream were artfully placed in the center. Abiola had no appetite. She sat at the table and chewed heartily on a stick of gum she’d found in her jeans pocket.

“Aren’t you going to eat?” asked Emily innocently.

“Oh…no. I can’t,” Abiola stammered. “Lactose intolerant, you see…”

She let her voice trail off.

“I can cook you something else,” Emily offered.

Samantha chewed slowly on her flatbread and cheese. She knew exactly what Abiola was thinking. Had the mice also gotten into the food? Was it contaminated? Samantha didn’t want to upset their friend. She dutifully ate the portion that Emily had dished out for her. Abiola looked at the two White women in disbelief. Not her, she said to herself. Not today, and not ever!

When the meal ordeal was over, Emily ran the dishwasher and turned to her friends.

“Did you guys bring something to wear?” she asked hopefully.

“Wear for what?” Samantha pressed.

“For the funeral. Do you have anything black? Mourning clothes perhaps?”

“Uhhhh….,” Abiola was at a loss. Light headed from all the insanity surrounding her, she stumbled back against a wall.

Emily and Samantha caught her and lifted her to her feet.

“Yes,” whispered Emily. “I know. This is all very emotional. I can feel your grief, my friend.”

Abiola nodded and straightened up.

“My coat is black and Samantha’s is navy blue,” she said, clearing her throat. “Will those do?”

“Yes,” Emily smiled gratefully. “If you give me a moment, I’m just going to change.”

Samantha and Abiola exchanged looks.

“You go right ahead, sweetheart.”

Moments later, Emily emerged from the wide oak staircase in a nun’s habit. A dazed look had come over her face.

“I’m ready guys,” she said, her voice barely audible. “Abiola, would you do the honor of being Minnie’s pall bearer? Will you carry the mouse?”

“Henh? Carry it to where?”

“To the backyard…for the funeral.”

This woman wanted her to carry a mouse – a dead mouse – in her hand? Abiola took a deep breath.

“Of course,” she grimaced.

Because that’s what friends do. They carry dead mice and eat rat droppings if that what it takes to save another friend’s life.

***Lights fading in****

Oh there’s more! Get your lunch ready for Spark Part Deux!

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