Like I started the other day, I am sharing the reader’s choice from my second book, History of a Woman. Enjoy!
The check came once a week and on it, in the tiny, informal script she could see the statistics. She saw the demographics, the signatures, the dates, the times, the dollar signs and the cents. The sense. Pay to the order of the single mother, the broken hearted, the lost and struggling. Pay to the order of that bitch who walked out, that gold-digger, that useless leech.
Twenty dollars and thirty-two cents. Thirty-six dollars and seventeen cents. That was the breakdown. That was division at work. That was the price tag, per child, per absent father, per paycheck, as order by the court.
So her son was worth $20. 32 a week. He was worth one pair of sneakers, plus tax. He was worth a family dinner from KFC. He was worth two Wal-Mart brand t-shirts and a pair of jeans with the little buttons inside to adjust the waist so they wouldn’t fall off his thin hips. He was worth one pack of the good brand of nighttime pull-ups and a fruity flavored Tummy Yummy.
$36.17. She was worth fifteen dollars and eighty-five cents more than her brother. And why was that? Because she is the older of the two? Because she came first? Because she was left behind first? That extra fifteen dollars and eighty-five cents makes her worth ice-cream at school for an entire month. She is worth two of those scarves from Target that she wants, because all the other little girls are wearing them. Thirty-six seventeen means she is worth one new dress and stockings to match. She’s worth a movie date with her mom and maybe, just maybe, she’s worth popcorn with extra butter.
She stares at the names and the dates and the amounts. She pulls out her calculator, because she’s logical, because she’s sane, because she knows there must be some algorithm in play that dictates the price attached to another human being’s name, date of birth, and social security number. Somewhere inside her children’s DNA is the bar code that is engraved with all this information. That’s why she couldn’t find it. That’s why the numbers never came out right.
One month is $81.28 and $144.68. That’s school supplies for both, new book-bags and lunch boxes, and for her daughter, that means she’s worth a new pair of dress shoes where her toes won’t hang over the edge.
One year makes them worth $975.36 and $1,736.16. He is four, so that means he’s worth $3,901.44. She’s six, so it’s $10,416.96. Right? That makes sense, she figured. I mean, by the time they are grown, their price-tags will be immense. They will be worth so much…so very, very much.
And that was the game. It was all a gamble. They had set the bet and she had called. Not only had she called, but she’d raised. She’d raised and raised and raised. She met each of their bets and doubled and tripled them. She’d paid in her part, and not only with money, but with her time. With her kisses, her late night wake-up calls, her trips to the family doctor, her white hairs, her once a month new toothbrushes, her story times.
So when those men would show back up, she’d be able to look them in the eye. She’d be able to say, “Hey, I figured it out.” She knew her child’s worth and she’d raised the bet. “It’s on you now. Call or fold.”
Remember the contest is still going on until December 15th! Visit http://facebook.com/HistoryofaWoman and LIKE my page for your chance to win a copy of one of my books! Your choice!