Blessed Tragedy - By Hb Heinzer
The day I graduated high school was the day I was paroled. After an eighteen year sentence, the “princess prison” I was born into could no longer hold me. As the only daughter born after three sons, Mom dressed me in pink from birth and enrolled me in ballet as soon as I turned three. Lucky for me, my father drew the line when she started talking about beauty pageants.
In high school, I was on my school's dance team. Okay, so we were cheerleaders who performed dance routines during the winter season but confessing to the lowest point in my adolescent existence makes me want to vomit in my mouth just a bit. I wasn't thrilled by the idea but mom thought it would keep me out of trouble. She doesn't need to know how flawed that plan was. Let's just say encouraging your daughter to jump around in a skirt that barely covers her nether regions is never the way to keep her pure.
Madeline Grace Neumann died graduation night when I climbed into my 1977 Chevy Malibu determined to live my life on my own terms. I wasn't looking forward to resurrecting her as we drove down the Interstate. By the time we pulled off at Lexington, Rain Maxwell would be shoved in a box and the pretty, polished Maddie Neumann would walk off the bus I've called home for the past five months.
"Come on, Rain," Colton urged, "We all know you're one of the toughest bitches out here; but we want to be there for you."
I'd been having this fight with all of my band mates since I got the phone call. Mom's cancer had been worse than they thought. It turned out three to six months was an optimistic prognosis. Within a month, she was gone. She was gone and I wasn't there for her.
"Absolutely not," I snapped narrowing my eyes. "Trust me when I say it's the last place you guys want to be. Think I'm kidding? Take a good look at me when I walk off this bus."
Colton's thick arm wrapped around me, drawing me closer to him. "You shouldn't have to do this alone. You don't have to do this alone," he whispered. "When was the last time you went home?"
It killed me to think about the last time I'd seen my mother alive. I had been home once, about a year after graduation. I hadn't hooked up with the band yet, but I had already transformed myself into Rain Maxwell. When I walked in the front door of my parents' golf course community home, she cried. She actually cried when she looked at me. And they weren't tears of joy.
My naturally sandy blond hair had been dyed deep red, styled with blunt bangs and big curls to the middle of my back. My brown eyes were a brilliant emerald thanks to the magic of colored contacts. While she didn't understand those changes, I think it was the lip ring, my first three tats, and the patent leather knee-high combat boots that caused her breakdown.
I've spent the past five years avoiding home, unwilling to hide who I was and unprepared for a hysterical encore from my mom. Sure, there were times I missed my family but they didn't understand me any more than I understood them. The guys in the band have been my family since shortly after that trip and that's good enough.
"I haven't been home since before Trav asked me to join you guys," I answered. Having said it out loud, I curled my knees to my chest and began to sob. "She…the last time…my family didn't approve of my life after I left home. Please, Colton," I begged, "It's not that I don't want you guys there. You just can't be there."
The gentle sway of the bus cruising down the highway lulled me to sleep in the kitchen area of our home away from home. Colton never left my side. He pulled my head to his shoulder gently rubbing my arm as I slept. It was the first time I had let my guard down since my oldest brother, Matt, called me with the news.
"Hey, man," Travis whispered. I felt him bump into the table as he slid onto the bench across from us. I could hear everything going on around me but exhaustion forbade me from opening my eyes. "Make any progress tonight?"
Colton shook his head, "No, she's still being stubborn."
I heard the crack of a beer can being opened