What Happened to Omar Adantes? Part II
Otherville exists just on the other side of an invisible curtain, separating the living from the dead. Some have called it purgatory, but Otherville's residents only know it as an unsolvable mystery, a place that holds impossible secrets to the wonders of eternity.
How do you get to Otherville?
Just like Omar.
NOTE TO THE READER: Omar's drive for selflessness made him a pillar in his family, and a steadfast rock and support system for his mamma who had already lost so much. This only made his death that much more unbearable.
This is part II of Omar's story.
“Hot pan! Hot pan coming through,” Mama shouted as she powered through the kitchen and into the back yard. Omar smiled and shook his head as Mama hustled back inside to grab another pan of macaroni and cheese.
“Do you think four pans will be enough?” Mama asked breathlessly.
“I don’t know, Ma. Last year on the Fourth, Aunt Adri ate almost a whole pan by herself,” Omar teased, knowing Adri was in earshot.
“Not my fault your mama makes the best mac and cheese in the state,” Adri retorted, sticking her fork into the last pan of mac and cheese on the stove.
Mama grabbed a spatula from the counter and smacked the back of her sister’s knuckles with it. Adri tried to retaliate, grabbing up a damp dishrag and preparing to snap her sister’s behind with it.
“Don’t you dare,” Mama laughed, pointing to the fridge with the business end of the spatula. Adri narrowed her eyes at her sister as she made her way to the refrigerator and opened it.
“You did not!” Adri cried, spinning around with a large pan of mac and cheese clearly labeled with her name.
“Only so you wouldn’t ruin Omar’s graduation party by eating all of the food!” Mama teased, returning to the smorgasbord of salads spread across the kitchen counter.
“Whatever, I’ll take it,” Adri shrugged, hugging the pan to her chest.
Cooking wasn’t always Mama’s thing. After Daddy died, Mama lost herself. Mama was a fighter, but there’s only so much fighting one woman can do when she is suddenly expected to be the sole caregiver, the sole breadwinner, and the soul of the family, all without ever having a moment to grieve the love of her life. Once the funeral ended, all Mama got was a sea of judgment. How are you going to take care of the kids? What are you going to do for money? How are you going to afford the house? When will you move on?
The questions were endless, and instead of answering them, she turned into herself. Omar was the first to notice the extra time she took in the bathroom, the extra hour she slept in. When Mama started missing her shifts at the hospital, Omar decided to get a job at a local restaurant. As Mama’s depression worsened, Omar quickly became the provider for his family. He often stayed late at the restaurant to make extra money. While his classmates were going to parties and chasing girls, Omar was working. But Omar didn’t mind. He started to help with other chores, first cleaning and slowly working up to helping with the restaurant’s finances.
Omar learned a lot about money, how it worked, and how to make it work for you. It’s how he came to know, at just fifteen years old, that he wanted to be an accountant, so he could take care of Amara and Mama. While the restaurant owner, Mr. Dansing, helped Omar prepare meals to take home for his family, Omar asked questions about savings and retirement, the differences between stocks and bonds, and how to plan for a healthy financial future. Omar learned almost as much about finances as he did about cooking under Mr. Dansing’s wing. He was always more than eager to share his knowledge with Amara, and Mama when she was around.
The first time Mama came out of depression, Omar had shown her a few new cooking techniques he had learned. She seemed interested, allowing Omar to guide her through the process like a careful dance. They kept the same two-step for several weeks, and Mama’s skills grew stronger. She started a new job, and it looked like she was finally turning a new leaf, until the day she got a letter from a woman whose husband died in the explosion with Daddy. She dove headfirst into a rusted pool of anxiety and depression, all too willing to take her back.
This became Mama’s pattern; several months of depression, a few months of unemployment, repeat. As time went on, however, the cycle began to make subtle shifts. What was once several months of depression became a few. Then, only a few weeks until finally, Mama woke up one morning and announced, “I am done with this. Things are going to change around here.”
That was almost a year ago. Since then, Mama’s therapist has helped her finish her nursing degree, which allowed Mama to move from her position as an aide to a nurse at the local hospital.
“I still can’t believe my baby is going to college,” Mama said with the same whimsical tone she used the night of his fourteenth birthday.
“Ma, I’m not even leaving home. The college is only ten minutes away. It won’t feel any different than being in high school,” Omar replied, but he knew it was a lie. Something about the electricity that tingled his fingers and tugged on his heart told him that college would be much different.
Mama bounded across the kitchen in three easy steps, engulfing him in a hug that only a mama can give her son.
“Thank you for everything you’ve done for this family,” she whispered, allowing the unspoken truth of his sacrifice to finish the conversation. Omar didn’t respond. Instead, he hugged his Mama a little tighter.
“Don’t you worry. We are going to have the birthday party of the century when you turn eighteen this Fall, and you can invite all of your new college friends,” Mama said, carefully pawing at her eyes to keep the tears from streaking down her face. “Would you mind getting the grill going for me?”
“No problem, Ma,” Omar smiled, squeezing his mother’s arms and walking towards the grill. He felt the electricity rise up in his body once more, sending shock waves towards his head. He hadn’t realized how much all of this had meant to her. Once he had his accounting degree, life would get much better for Omar and his family. Just four more years and he could change their lives.
The electricity flowing through Omar’s skin grew in intensity as he wrapped his fingers around the metal spatula. It throbbed through his veins as he opened the lid to the grill, like the pulse of a power surge. A sharp pain cut through the center of his skull like a lightning strike hitting a tree. His vision blurred, then disappeared as the remnants of the electricity ceased to exist, all of the power in his body shorting out at once.