Read Sweet Tea: A Novel Online

Authors: Wendy Lynn Decker

Sweet Tea: A Novel







Wendy Lynn Decker











Sweet Tea

Copyright © 2014 by Wendy Lynn Decker

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.


Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any Web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of the publisher (including but not limited to language, drug usage, etc.), and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations and events portrayed in the novel and names, including references to any products are either products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. This book is copyright protected

Printed in the United States of America.


Serenity Books

Email: [email protected]




Book front and back cover concept and design by, Larissa Spathis and 
Calogero Panzardi.





   Also by Wendy Lynn Decker, THE BEDAZZLING BOWL























Dedication: To my mother.
















The cardinal is a sign of hope from a loved one who has passed. When you see one, it means they are visiting you. The cardinal usually shows up when you miss your loved one that has passed or during times of celebration as well as despair to let you know they will always be with you













ama was different from other mothers, only I didn’t realize
different, until the day she buried our Thanksgiving turkey in the front yard. At the time, Mama believed the sacrificial act would save our sinful souls. In actuality, it challenged me to sacrifice my own.

I’d been waiting around the house all day for the big feast. Mama had put the turkey in the oven early that morning, and it was near sundown. The smell of sausage balls and sweet potato pie lingered in the air making my mouth water and stomach growl. Luke, my twelve-year-old brother wore a face that told me if he didn’t get fed soon, he might go hunting in the backwoods. But, he didn’t say anything, which was very unlike him. My older sister, CeCe, didn’t seem to care one way or the other. Like always, I nominated myself to find out what was going on. Like always, I discovered more than I bargained for.             

“Mama, where’s the turkey?” I said. “It’s been in the oven all darn day. I’m starving.”

She sprung up from the couch nearly knocking me off my feet. I jumped back.

“You wanna know where the turkey is, Olivia? I’ll show you where the turkey is.” She stormed out the front door and down the aluminum staircase, and stepped over the short picket fence into the tiny garden in front of our trailer home. She fell to her knees and ripped through the dirt and rose bushes with her bare hands. Strands of dark hair clung to her pale face. I watched in confused horror, shivering in the fear of not knowing what she was about to do.

She stood up, holding something in her arms. Grass and mud covered her clothes, smeared mascara darkened her high cheekbones, and the eyes of a stranger glared at me; a stranger I had met before. With outstretched arms, she stepped forward and shoved a fifteen-pound cooked turkey at me.

I backed away from the defiled bird. “It’s okay, Mama, we don’t need to eat turkey. . . . Heck, I don’t even like turkey! CeCe, c’mere,” I shouted.

My sixteen-year-old mind was used to what we called “Mama’s quirks,” but this was the worst yet.

I stood motionless. CeCe rushed to my side. Wide-eyed, she stared at Mama for a second and then spoke to her in a calm voice. “What’s going on here, Mama? What are you doing with the turkey?”

“Tell her, Olivia, tell her!” Mama hollered as she dangled the bird by one hind leg at her side.

I couldn’t tell CeCe if I wanted to because I hadn’t a clue why Mama would bury our Thanksgiving turkey in the first place.

“I did it for us.” She dropped the turkey onto the ground and started to cry. “We haven’t been livin’ right for the Lord, but now He will not forsake us.”

She began a babbling chant. “
. . .
Guru . . . Deva . . . Om. Jai . . . Guru . . . Deva . . . Om.
Hold my hand, Olivia, say it with me . . .
Jai Guru Deva . . .

Leaving the turkey where she’d dropped it, CeCe took Mama’s scratched and dirty hand and led her to the front door. Mama reached for mine with her other hand. I grabbed it and trailed behind.

“What’s she saying?” I whispered.

“She’s singing that John Lennon song Daddy used to play for her on guitar.” CeCe gazed toward the sky and we chanted along with Mama as we led her into the house. “
Nothing’s gonna change my world . . .”

CeCe pressed on Mama’s shoulders so she’d sit down, and I lifted a pillow from the couch and placed it behind her head.

My brother Luke peered at Mama with a narrow stare. “Where’s the turkey, and when are we eatin’?”

“Just forget about the turkey,” I hissed.

“I’m hungry.” Luke yanked the refrigerator door open. He stared for a minute, and then slammed it shut. “Ain’t never nothing in this house to eat.”

Luke flew off into his bedroom, probably to dismantle his TV for the hundredth time. Daddy used to say Luke leaped out of Mama’s womb and right into his toolbox. Daddy died in a car crash on December 8
. The same date Mama’s beloved John Lennon was shot and killed. Daddy was the only man Mama loved more than John. It devastated her; it devastated all of us.

In a few weeks it would be the fourth anniversary of Daddy’s death. The bizarre connection to John Lennon continued to twist Mama’s mind and hinder our healing. It also sabotaged our holiday season.

Although we all suffered the loss of Daddy, I felt as if CeCe and Luke suffered the most. I was like the extra child on a wooden seesaw shifting from side-to-side; sometimes by Luke, other times by Mama. Splinters pricked me, wore me out, tempted me to hop off. I learned to pluck them with tweezers from God’s first-aid kit.

“Don’t worry, Luke, we’ll eat turkey, just not right now,” CeCe said, and pulled a glass from the cupboard. “I’ll pour you some sweet tea, Mama. Tea always makes you feel good.”

Mama sat quietly staring into space. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw CeCe grab a bottle of pills from the cupboard. She poured the tea into the glass and opened two capsules and slipped the contents into the glass and stirred.

“Here Mama, drink your tea.” She held the glass to Mama’s lips. She took a sip. After about four more sips, Mama placed the glass on the end table.

Not long after, she fell asleep.

“What did you do?” I whispered.

“I bought sleeping pills from the pharmacy. It won’t hurt her. It’ll just make her sleep for a while. She hasn’t slept in days. Haven’t you noticed?”

“I noticed,” I said. “You think I don’t hear her clanking dishes at the kitchen sink in the middle of the night, or blasting the TV while she watches those weirdo shows?”

Mama battled with sleep all the time. She slept either too much or too little. There was never an in-between with Mama in anything she did. Even when it came to God. Mama loved Him with all her heart or she wanted nothing to do with Him. We all followed suit with her decision to forget Him after Daddy died. However, lately, I found myself praying again. Mostly for Mama, that she would meet a nice man who’d take care of her. Then I wouldn’t have to worry if CeCe left. The closer she came to graduating Landon Community College, the more frequent my prayers became.

CeCe grabbed her purse and sprinted for the front door.

“Where ya goin’?” I said. My heart quickened. I didn’t want her to leave. What if Mama woke up and did something worse? She’d done many unusual things over the past few years, but this incident brought Mama’s quirks to a new level of peculiarity. I followed CeCe outside to her car.

“Go back inside,” she said. “I’m just going to the store for some food.”

She turned to get into the car, and I noticed a streak of dirt above her upper lip. I laughed. Sometimes I had to laugh after things settled down with Mama. Perhaps it was a nervous laugh, but it beat crying, and I had done enough of that after Daddy died.

“What in the world are you laughing at?” CeCe asked, annoyed.

“Hold still.” I stretched the sleeve of my sweatshirt over my thumb and wiped away her dirt mustache. “You can’t go anywhere like that.”

She bent down and checked her face in the car’s side mirror then pointed toward the garden. “Throw that turkey in the trash, will ya?” She took off.

Back inside, Luke stared at the TV.

“Where’d she go?” he whispered.

I reached inside my pocket and pulled out a piece of bubblegum. “Here,” I tossed it to him. “She went to get some food, it’s gonna be all right,” I told him, although I had no idea if it would be.

Mama still lay asleep on the couch. Her deep breaths turned into heavy snores. She looked helpless. Not like a mother. Like someone who needed a mother, and seeing her that way filled my loneliness with more invisible pain.

After Daddy’s death, CeCe and I accepted Mama’s depression as natural. But weeks turned into months, and months into years, and it seemed as if Mama’s grief transformed itself into another being who took up residence inside of her head. I never knew which one I’d be seeing from day-to-day.

Fifteen minutes later, CeCe returned. The three of us ate a Thanksgiving dinner of turkey pot pies, macaroni and cheese, and chocolate pudding for dessert. After we finished, we sat at the table and stared at one another. I spoke up first. “Shouldn’t we call Grandma and Grandpa?”

CeCe shrugged. “No sense in calling them. It’s not like it’ll make a difference.”

Mama’s parents, Lily May and Charles Cleveland lived in a retirement village in Texas. They only came to visit when the spirit moved them, and it hadn’t since Daddy’s funeral. Daddy would have been surprised to see Grandma and Grandpa. We hardly saw them when they lived in Georgia, and I don’t remember him being very fond of them.

“What about Aunt Nadine?” I suggested.

CeCe raised her right eyebrow. “Whatever for? She’ll never leave her fancy apartment in New York City to come down here and help her
quirky sister Cassandra

I often dreamed I could move in with Aunt Nadine and wear designer clothes and expensive perfume. I’d stroll down the streets of New York City and people would stare at me because they wanted to be me, not because they wanted me to go away. Even though I was born there, I had only seen New York City on TV and in movies.

But CeCe was right. The only time we heard from Aunt Nadine was when we received the generous check inside the self-portrait Christmas card she sent us each year or on some rare occasion.

“How about What’s His Name?” I asked.

CeCe raised both eyebrows at the mention of Mama’s brother. “You can’t even remember his name, why would we call him?”

The truth was, no one had been there for us after Daddy died. It had always been CeCe, and she’d been preparing me for the fact that she’d be leaving soon. “I’m not staying in Landon, Georgia all my life,” she often told me. “Soon as I save enough money and finish school, I’m boarding a plane for Hollywood.”

Back in high school, CeCe held the lead in all the school plays. Mama swore she would be famous one day. Mama would raise her chin, pull her shoulders back and strut around town, bragging about CeCe to anyone who’d listen. It made me crazy jealous.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted for my future. It was difficult to focus on one that included juggling life with Mama. Heck, it was hard enough to live my life the way most sixteen year olds did, or for that matter, take charge when CeCe was worn out and Mama was incapable of just being her own self. But I knew for sure I didn’t want to stay in Landon any more than CeCe did. I wanted a career—something I could be proud of—something where people would be proud of me. Although Mama talked of CeCe becoming an actress, I knew she would die if CeCe left, and
would never have a chance to live. I needed to find a way to make her stay.


Other books

Carla by Lawrence Block
Into a Dangerous Mind by Gerow, Tina
Sabotage: Beginnings by LS Silverii
Angel Dust by Sarah Mussi
Medusa by Torkil Damhaug
Unsuitable Men by Pippa Wright Copyright 2016 - 2022