One Day

There was always an interesting moment in Frida’s life, it swayed here and there, to and fro, left to right, never ceasing in its excitement. She was far too busy to think about the past, that if faded there and then, never to creep up in her minds eye. Frida was far too captivated by the present that it filled her day with joy and diversion. She had too much fun to dwell on the past and too occupied to think about tomorrow. Mona made her live for the moment.

“Today, only matters, my little cherub,” Mona would cheerfully say. “We will be merry and all our worries will fade away. Every day is an important day, don’t forget that, Frida. What we will do tomorrow, will be for tomorrow to decide for us.”

And merry and dance they did. Frida had so much fun that she forgot about the things she was supposed to remember, and remembered what she was supposed to forget. Though, at times her belly grumbled and she went to bed without having much food, she was glad and grateful that she had Mona, who loved her and cared for her as a mother should. Mona indeed, loved her daughter more than any earthly possessions, more than life itself, but caring for a child was not easy and at times challenging. Mona could never stay still for very long. She was a wanderlust, driven by a desire to take in the sights and sounds of the world. Mona loved her freedom and with that, taught her daughter that life experiences are what made you stronger, bolder, and insightful. The world was Frida’s school, and it taught valuable lessons that school, those made of brick and mortar, could ever teach.

Frida saw very little of the inside of a school. The first time, she was seven, the second time she was eight and the last time when she had turned ten. Her father, Robert Otto had insisted she be brought up in a private institution so she can have a better education, become a better person, have a better life. Mona wanted couldn’t disagree with him, after Mr. Otto was Frida’s father and he had as much say about her up bringing as her mother did. Mona didn’t believe that school was for everyone. Frida was innocent and wholesome, carefully reared with the conviction of a spiritual pious. Mona wasn’t bold enough to tell Mr. Otto that schools were full of theories, never fully quenching the inquiring minds that come in fresh and pure from the outside. Mona never felt that questions are never answered, and most that emerged from these institutions were never joyful to learn beyond the walls of the system.

Mona wanted Frida to enjoy learning in her own way, to simply enjoy the quest of finding solutions and keep probing the puzzles. She wanted Frida to be inquisitive and be excited by her curiosity, and explore the things that she loved. But, Mr. Otto wanted the best for his daughter, and didn’t want it any other way and sent Frida to a very expensive private school. The school itself was indeed impressive to both mother and daughter, but when it was time to say goodbye, Frida wouldn’t let go of Mona. She begged and pleaded and wept, while clinging on to her mother.

“Frida,” her mother was feeling the same unwilling feeling of letting go. She had to convince each other that this was the right thing to do. “Your father wishes you to go to school, and like an obedient child you must obey. It is what he wants…”

“I don’t want to go,” Frida wept. “Please, take me with you. I promise I will behave better.”

“My child,” Mona had never been apart from her daughter since the day she was born. “We must both do something we dislike that is part of life. We are not going to like everything we do, but we must accept it and adapt, at least for your father’s sake. Who knows, you might like it.”

“I won’t like it, ” Frida said, “I know I won’t. I want to be with you. Why can’t I go with you?”

“We have talked about this,” Mona tried again. “I love you very much, but your father, insists you go to school. You know I want to take you, but alas, he has made up his mind.”

“I don’t belong here,” Frida said.

“Of course you do,” Mona replied, “you have every right to be here. I want you to at least try. It’s important for your father. He only wants what is good for you..”

“You never made me go,” Frida said.

“I never had a reason to,” Mona admitted. “Your father loves you and that is all that matters. You need to keep your chin up, now let me see that smile of yours.”

Frida couldn’t muster her smile.

“Oh, don’t be like that,” Mona searched for her daughter’s smile. “You could better.”

Frida wiped her tears and managed to smile a bit.

“We will see each other again. I promise,” Mona always kept her promises.

“When?” Frida hoped her mother would say tomorrow.

“Soon,” Mona said, “soon enough and we will go to Greece as we had planned this winter.”

With that, Mona kissed her daughter goodbye.

Frida didn’t find school as interesting as her father had said it would be. The lessons were long and it required a dep concentration for Frida understand, but no matter how hard she tried, the learning did not come easy to her. She was simply not enjoying herself, and friend were not easy to make. The other girls didn’t talk to her and who could blame them, Frida couldn’t relate to them. She had never been around children her age and this new situation made her uncomfortable. When she lived like a free bird, Frida held her head high, but now, she hung her head low, wishing she was somewhere else but here. Her courage was overcome by unhappy thoughts that yearn to be traveling to the four corners of the world. Frida, was quiet and kept to herself. She noticed a few girls that also kept to themselves, but she didn’t bother to talk to them. She missed her mother, she missed being around the adults, but the teachers were not like Mona’s friends. They were distant and commanded much authority. There was always homework to do, and little less time for anything else and soon she let her lessons slip.

Two weeks had gone by and Frida was more misplaced than ever before. She called Mona everyday, begging her to come take her away.

“But it’s only been two weeks,” Mona said. “You haven’t had enough time to digest everything about this school.”

“I feel left behind,” Frida wept. “I don’t seem to grasp what they are teaching. I don’t think I understand what they want me to learn. It doesn’t come easy. I don’t know what they want from me. I don’t want to be here anymore.”

“It’s never easy, my love,” Mona said. “You must give a little bit more time.”

“How much longer?” Frida was hoping Mona would say a day or two, and was surprised to hear her mother say a month. Not wanting to disillusioned her mother she agreed. But by the third week, Frida did not make much of an effort. She became unhappy, and felt she was losing herself, and questions of uncertainty, and unwavering thoughts began to inject themselves in her thoughts. Her sense of adventure began to fade, and decided one day to escape. When she did, she immediately called her mother. Mona without a word of displeasure, picked her daughter up only to return her to the school. This kept on and on and by the end of the second month, Mona realized Frida was not suited to be institutionalized. Of course, there was Mr. Otto that had to be dealt with, and she made sure Mr. Otto knew what was best for Frida.

And just like that, mother and daughter resumed their lives on being on the road. And just like that, the memory of her time in that school faded.

One Day

Every year, when they returned to this little fishing town, the results were always the same and never getting better. The arguments Mona had with Mr. Cadieux escalated. Adele became more disobedient towards her husband, and things intensified one night when Mr. Cadieux came looking for his wife. Mona impede his presence, but he was stronger than her and managed to push her aside. Mr. Cadieux was beyond the strong feelings inside him, and came down like a ton of bricks on Adele. Mona tried to protect her friend, but Mr. Cadieux only turned on her. Frida rushed to her mother’s aid, but Mr. Cadieux pushed her away. Frida watched helplessly as her mother received the end of his fist. When he finished, he turned on his wife and struck her before taking her away. He gave a promising indication to both woman that if he caught them together again, one would be buried six feet under.

Frida, nursed Mona the next few days, while she came down with a fever and became delirious. A doctor had to be summoned. Frida hoped that would end the relationship, but Mona was determine to not part without her friend. While convalescing, Mona often asked for Adele.

“She’s not coming,” Frida would tell her.

Mona didn’t listen and gathered enough strength, to rescue her friend. It was almost midnight when Mona dressed in her favorite red dress, did her hair and make up and headed out the front door. Frida tried to persuade her not to go see Adele, pulled at her, pushed her when she took a step forward, encircled her arms around Mona’s waist to anchor her, but nothing worked. Frida knew Mr. Cadieux had meant every word he said.

When Mona reached Adele’s home, she banged at the door, waking up everybody in the house. The lights were turned on, and the light steps of a women could be heard going down the stairs, past the threshold, through the hall, in to the living room and the front door slowly opened. Adele stood over Mona, the light behind her hid her in the darkness. She did her best to hush Mona, telling her to leave that it wasn’t prudent to be here. Mona wouldn’t listen and wouldn’t accept it, she begged and begged to runaway. Adele wouldn’t dare, not when he was upstairs. Frida began to cry as her mother forgot she was there.

“Who’s there?” Mr. Cadieux’s voice could be heard from the top of the stairs, but it didn’t discourage Mona, it only reinforced her love for Adele. When Adele didn’t respond, he rushed down the stairs and saw Mona, it made him flip his lid.

“Leave, you Temptress, be gone with you,” Mr. Cadieux clenched his jaw. “Leave my wife alone. You have done enough to my family. Leave and be a mother to your child, you ungodly women.”

Frida pleaded with her mother, pulling at her mother. Mona would once and in a while turn to the child, telling her to stop yanking her. It wasn’t until Mona and Frida saw Adele lean in to the light and noticed her bruised face. It was such a sight, Mona gasped, and stumbled back. Her friend’s beautiful face was replaced by a deformity that shocked both mother and daughter. Frida clung to her mother’s waist, cried and pleaded with her mother to leave. Mr. Cadieux pushed Adele out of sight and slammed the door on them. The lights were turned off and Mona and Frida stood in the darkness. Mona understood her repercussions and slowly wheeled around, holding her daughter in her arms.

They went home, but it wasn’t the end of it. It was the longest winter Frida ever had. They lingered in the old fishing town, Mona feeling under the weather while Frida took care of her. Mona would beseech Frida and asked her to go down to the market and see if Adele was there. When Adele was not there, Mona would beg Frida to go by her house and see if she was there. Frida, didn’t feel good about any of this, but did as she was told.

“Yes, Mona,” Frida would simply say. When she returned, Mona asked for information. Adele was not at the fish market, but Mr. Cardieux was. No, she didn’t see Adele at home. No, she didn’t knock. No, she couldn’t see what she was doing. It went on and on, until one morning, Frida woke up to find Mona gone. Frida looked in all the rooms, and found her belongings gone, except for her traveling trunk and Frida herself.

For two days, her mother didn’t return. Frida stayed in their small rented apartment, the memories of her father gone. Her brothers, the ocean were non-existent as if it never happened. All that matter was the present and her uncertain future. Frida abandon all hope, she prayed Mona would come to her senses, but the hours passed one by one.

On the third day, Frida hadn’t figured out what to do next. She had no plans, she was weak from her unhappiness and from lacking nourishment. Mona had left her money, but Frida wasn’t feeling courage’s to leave the apartment in case Mona returned for her trunk. She didn’t want to miss her if she did come back. Frida soon ran out of milk and her tummy rumbled. She laid in bed, and quietly whimpered, as she carefully listened for the door.

By the afternoon, Frida’s sense of happiness slowly restored themselves, and she sat up, breathing in a new life into her soul. She was determined to continue on, she just needed a plan. Suddenly, without notice she heard the door shut close. Frida went to the living room and saw Mona standing there, leaning her back to the door, where she slid to the floor. Frida ran to her and knelt beside her mother. Mona caressed her face and say she couldn’t do it, she couldn’t leave. Frida embraced Mona, uncaring if she returned for her or her trunk. Perhaps Adele changed her mind, perhaps Mr. Cadieux caught them. Whatever the reason, Mona had returned for Frida.

Mona and Frida left a day later never returning to the seaside fishing town. That was the last Frida ever saw Adele. Years later, when Mona became ill she would ask for Adele, even whispered her name during her delirium. Frida wasn’t pleased to her that name, but when Mona passed away Frida decided to visit the old fishing town and inform Adele about her friend’s passing. Mr. Cadieux still lived in the same old house, still had his fish stand in the same old place in the market. He was older now, worn, by time, work, and life itself. She didn’t have the courage to go up to him and instead went back to the house he shared with Adele. She knocked a few times but no one answered. As Frida was leaving a neighbor stopped her.

“Are you looking for Mr. Cadieux?” the neighbor asked.

“No, I’m looking for Adele Cadieux,” Frida was by then eighteen and heavily pregnant.

“Adele Cadieux?” the neighbor seemed surprised. “Hadn’t been heard or seen for many years now.”

“Oh, how so?” Frida was surprised.

“On minute she was there the next she was gone,” explained the neighbor. “Nobody has seen her. We all believe she abandon her husband, left with her lover. One thing or another. Others believe she was murdered by her husband, but those are just rumors, can’t go by rumors, can we? All that is certain is she hasn’t been seen in years. She never returned.”

Frida thanked the neighbor and left, slowly an old memory reemerged, one that had been dormant for many years. One of the times, Mona had begged her to check up on Adele. Frida had found Mr. Cadieux sitting on the steps of his backyard, crying. She had never seen a man weep and moan as he did. He still wore his dirty apron from his fish stand and kept looking down on his hands. Frida had taken a peek through the window and saw nothing but stillness inside. She never saw Adele. Whatever the truth, Adele was gone. Frida found peace and hoped Mona did too.