The Good Luck Patch
An original short story By: Kierstin Johnson
Naomi ran to Mrs.Craig’s house and began pounding at the door. "It's me Mrs. Craig," Naomi yelled while trying to muffle the sounds of her crying. Mrs. Craig opened the door not rattled or alarmed by her crying. "Come in dear," she said softly. Naomi rushed past her into the kitchen with hot tears streaming down her face and dramatically plopped herself into a seat. When Naomi looks up Mrs. Craig is already in the kitchen. She didn't hear her walk down the hall. But that's how Mrs. Craig was, quick, quiet, and gentle. She was her elderly neighbor who lived at the end of the street. Whenever Naomi had an issue at home Mrs. Craig was always there with an ear to listen and sometimes advice to give. She never pushed, she mostly listened. It was why Naomi trusted her with her worst days. She was her safe haven. Her house was the color of mud brown and her yard was too. All but one patch was ever green. She called it the good luck patch. It was there when her and her husband first bought the house 45 years ago. All the grass in her yard died, all but that patch. Her good luck patch. "Tea?" She asks. "Mmhm" Naomi responds. She brought over two cups of tea placing Naomi’s cup in front of her then taking her own seat. "What seems to be the trouble dear"? "My mother. It's always my mother. I have no idea how I can keep managing this life with her. She's rude, she's always angry, she acts like everything is my fault and ONLY my fault. I feel like I'm dying every day in that house”. Mrs. Craig doesn't respond or react. She takes a sip of her tea and takes a long look into Naomi's eyes as if she's trying to send a message without speaking. "This seems to be a reoccurring thing with you two. The only question I have is what have you done to change the circumstances and reaction from your mother?" Naomi pauses confused how she should be the one to change the circumstances between them. She speaks, "Why must I change something? SHE'S THE MOTHER NOT ME"! Naomi yells. “Do you know your mother's story?" She says softly before taking another sip. "Her story? What do you mean by her story?" Naomi asks confused. "Are you aware of the hardships in life your mother may have had to face. Do you know the life she had to give up in order to give you life”? Naomi takes a long pause and finally in a more calm and softer tone "No. Not at all". Mrs. Craig takes a deep inhale of her tea as if she's tracing every note of herbs in the tea bag. She finally speaks "I fully believe we choose our parents before we come into this life because we know the lessons we want to learn. They're such a large part of our story and while they may not be perfect, they do teach us many things. Your mother may be all of the things you described but I can safely assume you've never thought to change your tone of response when dealing with her. Our mothers can be our best friends or our worst enemies. We choose which one they’ll be to us. As they do with you too. I don’t know much but what I do know is that if you don't know your mother's story then dear you don't really know your mother. When you learn your mother, you learn life". Naomi sits there for a long moment and without speaking stands up and rushes out the kitchen to the front door. "Thanks Mrs.Craig!" She yelled. Mrs. Craig takes a sip of tea and smiles to herself. Naomi bursts through the front door of her house. “Mom!” She yells while running up the stairs. “Mom”! Checking every room. “Where is she?” she says out loud to herself. She rushes back down the stairs and runs to the backyard “MOM!” She screams. “Yes.” She hears a firm but quiet voice behind her. She turns around to see her mother sitting on the patio reading a book. “Mom didn’t you hear me yelling your name”? Without looking up she says, “If we’re being technical my name isn’t Mom, it’s Anita”. Naomi rolls her eyes in annoyance.“Mom if you heard me why didn’t you just say something? What if it was an emergency”? Still looking down at her book, “I know the tone of your voice when there’s an emergency despite how much you think I don’t know you”. Naomi walks towards her mom and sits down next to her. “Can you please just look at me? I need to ask you a question”. Anita takes a deep sigh and closes her book. “Shoot.” She says. Naomi studies her mother’s features for the first time and notices all the similarities between them. The eye shape. The moles on her face and neck. Even the middle part in their hair was the same. It was like a mirror looking back at her. “Have I really never looked this deeply at my mother?” She thought to herself. “Girl, you better ask your question or let me mind my business.” Her mother says sharply snapping her out of her trance. Stammering Naomi finally speaks “Can you...can you tell me your..story”? Her mother rolls her eyes and then laughs. “My story huh. What exactly would you like to know”? Naomi feeling herself getting frustrated from her mother’s response takes a deep breath before responding. Looking her mother directly in the eye she speaks in the most genuine voice “I just want to know you, Mom. That’s all”. “I just.want.to know you”. Anita sits up straight looking intently at her daughter. It was the first time she had ever asked about her life. It was the first time anyone had asked about her life. She didn’t even know where to begin. “Let’s start dinner before everyone gets home. Come help me”. Anita grabs her daughters’ hand, and they head back into the house. After dinner they spent the remainder of the night talking about her life. About her mother’s painful childhood with a mother who kept boyfriend after boyfriend leaving Anita to wonder who her real father was. About her hidden talent of playing the piano. She had been classically trained by a teacher at school who saw her potential when no one else did. And about the betrayal and loneliness she felt when Naomi’s father left her for another woman a week before giving birth never to be seen again. Her mother’s life had been a mystery for so long. Now she was finally understanding. There was so much pain her mother had hidden for many years behind a smile. Her mother was the strongest person she had ever met, and she didn’t know it until that day. As she got ready for bed, she prayed a silent prayer for her mother for the first time. She prayed for the forgiveness of actions against her mother. She prayed for the pain her mother had always felt to be lifted. And she prayed for them to never drift apart like they had so much in the past. This was the relationship she needed most. The next day Naomi found herself knocking on Mrs. Craigs door again. “It’s me Mrs. Craig, it’s Naomi”! Mrs. Craig opens the door, this time with a smile on her face. “Come in dear”. Naomi walks in and heads towards the kitchen taking a seat at the table. When she looks up Mrs. Craig is already at the stove making tea as if she knew she would be stopping by. She brings two cups to the table handing Naomi one and gently sits down. “So, did you learn dear?” She softly asks. “Yes, I learned more than I thought I could know”. “And what did you learn dear”? Without hesitating Naomi responds, “That I can be selfish. And that I don't know much about anything, let alone life”. Mrs. Craig grabs her hand and begins speaking. “You know that green patch of grass outside”? “Your good luck patch”? “Yes, dear”. Naomi shakes her head yes. “Well, when we first moved into this house, we had no grass just that patch. My mother came over one day and was mortified by the sight. She went to the store and bought everything we needed to grow the greenest lawn you could have. And it was the greenest lawn on this street for many, many years. My mother grew up dirt poor and never had a yard. She spent most of her life working for rich people with huge, green lawns. Something I never had as a kid. Not until I moved into this house with my husband. My mother wasn’t a rich woman, but she always made sure if she couldn't have it I at least did. She was proud of everything I had become and when she saw my yard, she spent every cent she had so that it could be everything she felt I deserved. I told her it was a waste because it was just dirt but then she pointed to that patch and she said something that never left me. She said, “You see that patch right there? That patch is confirmation that there’s life inside this dirt. It may be small but it's a sign from God that there's life here. That’s how I look at you whenever I’m down. Whenever I forget myself and feel like I can't do something. You’re all the growth in life I missed out on but seeing you accomplish what I couldn’t was confirmation that there was always life inside of me. That patch is your good luck patch. YOU, were my good luck patch. So don’t doubt what can be done when there’s proof right there.” That day my mother told me her story. That was the day I began to learn life. You dear are your mother’s good luck patch”. Naomi sat in silence for a while and finally with tears streaming down her face she lets out a small laugh and says, “I’m the good luck patch”. Mrs.Craig shook her head in agreeance and sipped her tea with a soft smile on her face. She had passed on what her mother had taught her so many years ago. Now Naomi would be able to pass this on later in life as well.