The year is 1907.
An aging woman, worn and tired, sits smiling out a cracked and clouded window. She is humming a song of love–a song of true love.
There were no birds to be heard singing in that neighborhood. Not one bird, but a scraggly pigeon or two, had been spied there in years.
The night was dark, and evil was present. It was dark, because old, ramshackle buildings hovered over the narrow streets. Evil was present, because worn and filthy bodies scampered and slummed about, inviting its company. They invited it readily with every breath of foul and rancid air that passed through their grime-stained lips. From these lips also could be heard the shouting and whining of the most depraved of profanities.
In short, evil was present, because it was welcomed.
A young lady, between child and woman, thought to herself that if the night was any more fear-inflicting there would be no purpose for a Hell. At least in Hell, she thought, no one could do anything about the miserable conditions. Here nobody tried. They wanted it this way, and only evil itself could explain why.
The girl, lovely in physique and demeanor, had her eyes only minimally focused on these streets. Most of her attention, which is what brought her so bravely to this place, was narrowed on a moving form, just recently uncloaked. Nina was following a woman who, to her own mystification, kept walking farther and farther into the darkness. It was as if the woman felt a sense of belonging here. None but Nina truly knew just how little this woman belonged here; for the woman, carrying a cloak and wearing a prostitute’s garb, was Nina’s own mother.
Seeing her mother in this place, dressed as she was, filled Nina with a greater dread than she ever before had known. Her mother was not an evil woman. Nina did, however, know her as a foolish woman a times. That knowledge alone allowed for what Nina saw next to make a much smaller immediate impression than it should have.
The woman walked under a lone street light where a fat, gnarly man waited. With no spoken greeting, she followed him to an upstairs apartment. Nina wanted profusely to vomit. She wanted to cry even more. Most of all, though, she wanted to walk into that room, with its dim light bleeding through faded red curtains, and kill someone.
What she did instead would produce wonder and surprise in any person containing any respect for what is decent.
She just stood there.
She stood there and waited in the shadows for nearly two hours, until the same woman let herself out of the apartment. Covered again with the cloak, Nina’s mother, Monica, began to tread hastily past her daighter’s hiding place.
After her mother passed, Nina stepped out from the shadows and began to follow her. She’d gone only a short distance, caring little about being heard, when Monica spun around and waved a silvery object in the darkness.
“Get away from me, you filthy wretch, or I’ll rip your intestines from your stomach and leave you to the starving rats!”
For a second time that night Nina found herself in a state of utter disbelief. She felt the knife of sick deceit much more sharply than she feared any attack from this foolish excuse for a mother.
“Witch, it’s me!” She spat hatefully, then walked on by as if nothing more could be said.
Weeks had passed before Nina spoke to her mother again. Avoidance was a cinch, though, considering that her mother had made sure that they never came into contact. They lived in the same small house, and they saw each other not even once.
In Nina’s mind, the way a mother shows love to her child is by being there. A good mother would face up to her mistakes, even when it meant humiliation and rejection from the child she had wronged. With each day of avoidance, though, Nina became more and more convinced of one thing. Her mother had moved beyond foolish to truly heartless and completely hateful.
The old woman stands from her small chair by the window and walks to the table that stands in the middle of the room. It is a small kitchen, dark and full of sad memories. The woman’s face shows evidence of none of them. She reaches to the center of the table, where next to a glowing candle lies a worn book. She opens it and begins to read the words she wrote so long ago. The words tell the stories from her life she hopes never to forget.
Like a memory, she reads of when her precious baby boy was born. She remembers the moment when he was placed into her arms, captivating her heart in a way no one had done before. She had named him Jamin Promise Opalinksi, for she knew his birth was a promise from God. One day her little boy would free her descendants from the tyranny of evil into which he had been born.
Jamin’s father had been an evil man, given wholeheartedly to the violence born in him by the contents of his brown bottles. He had struck her body with more blows than she could have tied to count, just as his father had done to his own mother. The time came, though, when Jamin chose to stand up to the evil that had plagued his ancestors.
At the age of fifteen, Jamin had commanded his father to rise in anger against them no more. He’d followed his words through by throwing the reeling drunkard out of the tiny house he did nothing to support.
That day, her son became a man. Jamin had learned that nothing in his life was more worthwhile than working out good for the ones he loved. He would not give in to the evil desires of his diseased heart. This was just the beginning.