Ostrich In The Sand

Ostrich In The Sand

It was drizzling when Felicia pulled into the parking lot. She glanced at the dashboard, seven thirty eight pm. She parked in the only available space, grabbed her purse and scurried out of her brand new Wrangler jeep. The icy rain felt like needles, forcing her to pop the collar of her long winter coat.

“I hate this weather.” she muttered.

The weather forecast had said nothing about any chance of precipitation; she would have worn a hooded jacket instead. Digging inside her purse, she fished out a Macy’s plastic bag and proceeded to use it as a shower cap. It had cost her to her hair and she was not in the mood for Sherry, her hairdresser, and her increasing shenanigans.

Halfway to the building, she turned and hurried back to her car. She went to the rear of the car, ran her hand over the temporary tag she had just gotten that week. Satisfied that it was well protected from rain, she made another mental note to apply for a customized tag; something like “BGCHK” or “BABE”. She would be ready to fight Mike to finish if he dared to raise any objection, after all he did not contribute a cent towards this car.

As Felicia stepped inside the building, a voice on the intercom was booming:

“…at this time, we would request all parents to accompany their students to their individual homerooms. Thank you.”

Doors flew open and the hallway was filled with boisterous students and tired-looking parents. Joining the throng, Felicia made her way to her daughter’s homeroom. Some people were already seated and Mrs. Tubbs was handing out some papers. In the process of taking off her coat, she remembered that she was still wearing her nurse scrubs. She pulled her coat back on, wishing that she’d had enough time to go home and change into regular clothes. Shrugging resignedly, she located her daughter’s desk and sat down.

“It has been a productive Parent/Teacher conference,” Mrs. Tubbs was saying. “Thank you all coming and, please, do not forget to sign the attendance sheet.”

Felicia struggled out of her daughter’s seat, smoothed her coat and went to sign her name. Mrs. Tubbs walked up to her.

“Mrs. Uteh, if you have a moment, I’d like to speak with you before you leave.”

“Oh yes…yes…sure.” Felicia felt a bit nervous. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched Mrs. Tubbs as she said goodbye to some of the parents.

“What does this woman want now?” she found herself thinking. “It looks like she will not be satisfied until I start coming to this school everyday. Have I not kept my promise of attending this conference? If that is not a sign of commitment…”

“Alright, Mrs. Uteh,” Mrs. Tubbs interrupted her thoughts, “I know that it getting late so I won’t take much of your time.”

Felicia caught herself staring at Mrs. Tubb’s mouth. She could not quite place it but it looked she was wearing dentures. She had not noticed it the time they met during her daughter’s registration. How old could she be…60…65?

“Gloria was not able to come with you?” It sounded like an accusation to Felicia.

“No, I came directly from work. It was so hectic in the ICU that I had to pull a double shift. Besides, I didn’t know that she was expected to come.”

“I did leave a couple of reminders on your answering machine. We wanted this to be a joint conference.”

“Oh, you must have called the house phone,” Felicia answered weakly “We hardly check the messages.”

“Oh, I see.”

Mrs. Tubbs handed her a file, Felicia felt a myriad of emotions as she reviewed the contents. She double checked to make sure that the file had Gloria’s name on it. Missing grades, In-school detention, Tardiness, Truancy….Truancy? That girl went to school everyday.

When she saw her signature on papers that she had never set eyes on before, she knew that the situation was worse than she thought.

Felicia’s hand was shaking when she placed the file on the table. Had she been so busy that she did not notice her daughter’s grades declining? Gloria used to be an above-average student.

“Oh my God!” she exclaimed faintly, “To think that we are paying a private tutor to help her after school.”

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Uteh, but Gloria does not need a private tutor. She gets enough tutoring here. She needs her parents. Sometimes, I get the feeling that she is rebelling against something. She is a teenager with raging hormones. I think that you and your husband should work towards giving her the attention that she so obviously craves.”

There was an awkward moment of silence as Mrs. Tubbs adjusted her reading glasses, gathered her papers and put them away.

“I know that you are doing your best but it is my job to protect the interest of every child in my class. Just know that I am available and willing to assist in any way that I can.”

 

It was past nine pm when Felicia parked her car in the garage and let herself in from the side door.

“Wow, mom, you’re home early.” Gloria looked up briefly from the computer and acknowledged her mother.

If Felicia heard her, she gave no indication. She dropped her purse on the coffee table, scanned their expansive living room like she was looking for something.

“Where are the twins?” she directed her gaze at Gloria

“Upstairs…with the nanny.”

Purposefully, Felicia strode to where Gloria was sitting, stood behind her and peered at the computer screen.

“Is that Facebook?” she asked disapprovingly.

“Yep!” Gloria answered without breaking the speed of her typing.

“When did you join Facebook?”

“C’mon, mom, I’ve been on Facebook like forever. Duh!”

“How dare you? No wonder you are doing so badly in school.” That was not the way she had planned to address the issue but she just could not control herself.

“Get off that computer at once before I make you regret the day that you were born…”

“Since when did you care?” Gloria shouted back. She got up, pushed her chair down and ran towards the guest bedroom. She paused at the door, took another look at her mother and with all the venom that her fourteen year old body could muster, yelled “I hate you” before banging the door behind her.

Slowly, Felicia went up the stairs. Without stopping to check on her twins, she walked stoically to her bedroom, locked the door, put her face in her hands and cried.

 

“Mike, we need to talk.” Felicia had waited for her husband to come home, watched him eat a very late dinner before broaching the subject.

“If it is about sending money to your brother, the answer is still the same. No.”

Felicia eyed him surreptitiously.

“I was at Gloria’s school today for the Parent/Teacher conference,” she paused for effect. “After talking with her teaching and looking through Gloria’s performance record, I am convinced that we need to take drastic measures.”

“What exactly are you talking about?”  He asked.

Felicia went on to give him a detailed account of her meeting with Mrs. Tubbs. She did not hold anything back. When she was done, she waited for a reaction from Mike. He appeared to be deep in thought, so she waited.

Eventually, he raised his head, looked her directly in the eyes and said, “So what do you plan to do?”

“What do I plan to do?” Felicia retorted. Running her fingers through her already disheveled hair, she stood up, sat down and stood up again.

“Alright, since you have put it that way, I will tell you what I plan to do. I will quit my job and stay home to raise my kids.

“You will do no such thing,” Mike jumped to his feet too. “Need I remind that we have the mortgage, car notes, insurance, school fees and other expenses?”

“Then stay at home with the children while I go out to work. You and I know that we cannot survive on this your consultancy business.”

“Watch your mouth, woman!” Mike approached her menacingly “Who are you planning to turn into your houseboy?  Remember that I brought you to this country, paid the fees for you to attend this Nursing school that has scattered your head so.”

“Ok…ok,” Felicia retreated, her palms spread defensively, “why don’t I cut back on the hours that I put in? Gloria has two hundred friends on Facebook. Who are these people? The twins hardly see me. We may be living the dream but we are losing out on the things that really matter.” Felicia had tears in her eyes as she spoke.

Mike took in her demeanor, walked to the bar and poured himself a glass of brandy on the rocks.

“Emotions are quite high right now, and I have an eight o’clock appointment in the morning. Let’s sleep over this and talk tomorrow.”

Without giving her a chance to respond, Mike went upstairs to their bedroom.

Felicia knew that she would not be getting much sleep that night. How could she, after the reality that had just stared in the face? She knew that whatever decision she took, she would be making a huge sacrifice. She prayed that they would be able to find a meeting point.

Turning off the lights, Felicia went upstairs for what could be the longest night of her life, yet.



37 thoughts on “Ostrich In The Sand” by Rhema (@rhema)

  1. Uh.. Rhema, I like the theme of this story and parts of it are quite nicely written but there were a lot of typos and some dialogue felt a bit …somehow e.g. ‘She is a teenager with raging hormones’ Would a teacher say that? And then the bit where the girl shouts ‘I hate you’, it just feels unoriginal. But the conversation with the husband, I liked that. I think this just needs some reworking. It’s a good job.

    1. My dear, its unfortunately so real!
      A teacher would say that in a flash and a lot of the teenagers esp the white kids would say that also.

      1. It is very very real.

        1. Yes dear, unbelievably real.

  2. Hi, Gboyega.

    Thanks for the candid review.

    Isn’t it amazing how one can proof-read an article so many times and still miss some typos. I could have sworn that I corrected the one in the second paragraph.
    It should read “It had cost her a fortune to fix her hair and she was not in the mood for Sherry, her hairdresser, and her increasing shenanigans.”
    There is nothing like a second pair of eyes.

    I have also learned, from your comment, to be more conscious of the diverse demographic location of my readers. While it is commonplace to hear a teenager in America throw ” I hate you” at her mother, it may not be so in other places.
    Ditto, the teacher’s comment.

    Thank you, again!

      1. I dey fine.lol
        Thanks, howyoudey.

  3. Rhema, this couldnt have been better written!
    You excellently depicted the unfortunate life of some Africans here. Working several jobs so they can pay for that 6 bedroom house with double garage, swimming pool, Hummer or Sequoia and a live-in nanny and they only come home to sleep…dont even enjoy the house they are paying thousands of dollars monthly for.
    It was very sad that the husband still didnt get the gravity of the situation with their 14 yr old. I guess he will when she comes home preggo by Tyrone.
    Good job but this better have a part 2 ooo or I am coming after you!

    1. Hi Chet,

      Thanks for your comment. You have provided more insight into this “thing” that our people are battling with.
      I couldn’t stop laughing when I read the bit about “Tyrone”.

      As I go along with the story, I will provide another glimpse, just so you don’t come after me. lol

  4. It felt like I was watching a movie…nice work!…Gboyega already mentioned the typos so I wont go there.

    1. Thanks, Mercy.
      Please forgive the typos. After Gboyega’s comment, I double-checked and realized that I posted the unedited one here. I am not making excuses though, just that I should be more careful.

    2. Ditto Mercy on the movie. Felt like one of those nicely written Hollywood family dramas.

  5. I felt the mother was acting like the world was about to end. I mean, the teenager has ‘only’ 200 friends and low grades.
    We don’t know if she was into drugs, bad gangs, or even pregnant. She shouldn’t be having sleepless nights yet.

    1. HAHAHAHAHA!!! Rubbish man!!!

      1. This is hilarious. Don’t let Felicia get her hands around your neck. lol

    2. No mind them. Na true you talk jo Kaycee!

    3. 1000 friends would have been better, lol.

  6. I feel this, typos or not…

    1. Thanks, Raymond.

      I wish I saved the draft so I can edit.

  7. Nice Story. Would like to read the next one…if there is one.

    Yeah…all the ‘issues’ have been addressed, so…

    Nice one.

    1. Thank you!

      There will be a next one, so help me God.
      I hope to get your feedback then.

  8. Lol @Chetachi – truly Tyrone!
    Brilliant story, sadly, too real.

    1. Thanks, Lade. I appreciate.

  9. adams (@coshincozor)

    Wow i love this! This is what i call real!

    1. Thank you, adams.

  10. A very nice story, Rhema. Felt like watching a movie. Your language is crisp, clear and carries the ‘right’ emotion.
    You delivered.
    Part two? Anytime soon?

    1. Wow, you are very kind.

      Part two…coming soon

  11. Hi Rhema,
    I really enjoyed reading the story. Unfortunately, this situation happens far too often in families both in Nigeria and abroad. Lol at the statement “If it is about sending money to your brother, the answer is still the same. No.”

    Sometimes those conversations about sending money back home are like negotiating peace treaties :) I agree with Mercy’s comment about the imagery. It felt real and I could totally connect with the characters. Remember to stay in one person’s head (POV). I also look forward to reading part two.

    1. Thanks Yejide.

      The adventures of African couples versus sending money to extended family members is story for another day. lol

      Glad that you connected with the characters. Thanks for the tip.

  12. Good story, Rhema. Well written, with not too many typos.

    The moment where Felicia discovers that Gloria is doing badly in school is rather underdone. I would not have said that she had a “myriad of emotions”; instead I would have spelled them out clearly – bemusement, giving way to disbelief and terminating in shock and horror.

    And I’d have titled it “Ostrich head in the sand” or just “Head in the Sand”, since after all, it’s not the entire ostrich that is supposed to be in the sand.

  13. Thank you so much, Tola.

    You made a valid point. Just saying “myriad of emotions” seems like a lazy way of communicating something that could have made a better impact. I will correct it in my final draft.

    I grew up with the expression “don’t be an ostrich in the sand”. That, in essence, means “do not do what an ostrich does in the sand”. An ostrich buries its head in the sand. It is on that premise that I chose my title.
    Thanks for bringing this up, though, I have just looked up “ostrich in the sand” and found out that there is already a book with that title. I will be choosing another title when I’m done.

    Thank you, again!

  14. I like this piece and the issues you chose to explore. I like how you started off giving us an in into the mind of Felicia, caring about her wig, wanting a name plate, etc, you know, very materialistic. But like Tola, I think you slacked as you went on to the, if I may say so, meatier parts of the story. I don’t want you to tell me about bemusement or anger, I want to SEE her emotions, did she get goosebumps at finding out her daughter was forging her signature, did her eyes bulge, did the tic on her head or chin start up, did she shake her thighs when she got into the shouting match with her daughter, did she cry or was she tapping the table when she told her husband? It is this emotional depth that will hook the readers.

    I agree with Gboyega in a way. An american teenager might yell “I hate you” but maybe not on just being ordered to her room? From Felicia’s reaction with the school teacher, there is no previous animosity between her and the daughter, or is there? It may make more sense to have a mini confrontation before the “I hate you.”

    Good work though, look forward to more.

    1. Oh, Myne!
      Thanks for taking the time. I appreciate the detailed feedback.
      Points noted. I will do better.

      Perhaps I should have indicated that this is not the beginning of the story. I Initially tagged it an excerpt, but edited it out. I wanted to be 100% sure of where I am going with this before anything.
      Did I just commit myself? :-)

  15. I loved the story. I’m not really a prose person to know about formatting and that, but I enjoyed the story. Looks like one of those films Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock could get an Oscar for. Keep writing.

    Just bought my application for your fan club. Will read the next story and possibly apply, lol.

    Keep writing.

  16. Thanks, Jay.
    Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock, eh?…Quit messing with my head, boy! :-)

    Thanks for the vote of confidence. Will keep writing.

    Later.

  17. This story reminds me of why you remain one of my favourite writers on NS. You know how to evoke emotion; to make us empathize with your characters. My advice is that you focus on that strength and develop it very well. I believe it is this kind of quality that endears me to Danielle Steel’s novels.

    Keep improving your art Rhema. I still remember I said you will be great one day.

  18. Really nice writeup.

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