Don’t Give Up

“Don’t Give Up,” Said Mom
A Novella by Christina Leigh Pritchard

Cover Art: “Crossroads” by Korny Pnk


Christina Black’s mother has cancer and her father has vanished. The only good things left in her life are Harry the Butler, Mariana (best friend) and skateboarding (which she isn’t all that great at…) Oh and there’s this guy named Michael Gray too.

Chapter One

Christina Black squirmed. Sweat dripped down her face and it wasn’t from the South Florida sunshine. Her mother’s hair was gone. There were five or six bottles of pain killers lined up on the kitchen counter.

“Christina, where are you?” Mrs. Black called. “I want you to sit and read to me honey.”

Christina’s green eyes watered and she pushed back her black bangs. They stuck up slightly from all the sweat. “I’ll be right in,” she shouted. Her voice cracked
a little. She grabbed her mother’s pain pills and placed them on a tray with some toast.

“Okay mom, I’m ready,” Christina said. She peered around the door to see her mother’s head wrapped in a handkerchief. Her mom was so skinny and frail. A big lump clogged Christina’s throat. There was saliva stuck in the corners of her mother’s mouth making her look half alive. Slowly Mrs. Black’s eyes fluttered closed.

Christina put the tray down on the end table and crept out the front door. She raced towards her favorite spot. It was at the end of the street on a private boating
dock. She collapsed onto the dock and burst into tears. Her mom couldn’t have cancer. She was only thirteen. What would she do without her mother?

“Oh no, look who is being a big baby again.” Mariana chuckled, plopping herself down next to Christina. “Look at our tree.” Mariana ordered, grabbing Christina by the face. She made her stare at their lopsided palm tree. “Remember when we planted
that? We were five years old. I had just moved here and you found me crying like a baby because I was adopted and scared. Do you remember what you said?”

Christina shook her head, wiping tears off her cheeks. “You said not to cry because we have to grow along with our new tree.”

The two girls leaned against each other’s shoulders. “No more crying.” Christina whispered.

Mariana wrapped her arm around her best friend. “Perfect.” The girls looked across the water as fireworks burst in the sky. “By the way, happy Fourth of July,” Mariana sighed.

“Yeah,” Christina whispered. “Hey, I am going to go see Harry.” She stood up and brushed the dirt off her pants.

“What is it with you and my butler?” Mariana teased, “Sometimes I wonder who your best friend is; him or me?”

Christina stared down at Mariana’s long light brown hair. It went past her butt and her brown eyes lit up her face. She looked nothing like her adopted parents. They
were the richest people in the neighborhood and classic in appearance with their blond hair and light skin. They had everything; even an adopted child.

“I’ve known Harry longer than you! He was there the day I was born even.” Christina exclaimed, “He’s also the one who told me where to find you way back when we were five years old and you were crying out here about being adopted. We are friends because of him.”

Okay, okay, just go already!” Mariana rolled her eyes.

Christina ran through Mariana’s two acre back yard and jogged around their Olympic sized swimming pool. There in the corner was a guesthouse. It was one room and Harry lived in it. There were two sofas, a little black and white television and a mini kitchenette. The floor was covered in black and white checkered tile. He even had his own bathroom.

“Harry!” Christina called, pounding her fists on his front door.

“I’m on me way.” Harry was called Harry because; well he was hairy all over. It was on his face, his back and even inside his ears. Plus, he had an Irish accent. “So what can I do for ye miss?”

Christina waltzed through the door and sat on one of the sofas. There was a bowl of popcorn which she grabbed and tossed a few kernels at the older man. “I want you to tell me about how you first became a butler.” She decided.

The television went off and Harry lay on the other sofa. “Again?” He complained.

“C’mon!” Christina whined, “I love to hear the story.” She slouched down and grabbed the blanket lying by her feet.

“I was in my mid twenties,” Harry began, “I didn’t have a penny to my name.” Harry looked over at Christina. She was out cold. He frowned and turned out the light.

Chapter Two

Christina woke up to an empty room. The clock said nine a.m. That meant Harry was making breakfast for the Zupa family. She rolled off the sofa and trudged over to their sliding glass doors.

Mariana sat glumly at one end of the fourteen chair table and her parents sat at the other. There was an empty place setting right next to Mariana.

“Good morning, Christina,” Mrs. Amy Zupa smiled. She looked like a movie star. “I hear you were at Harry’s again last night. Is everything ok?”

“Yes Ma’am,” Christina answered. She sunk down in the hard wooden dining chair.

“I hear your mother is going through Chemotherapy,” Mr. Zupa announced. He kept his eyes on his newspaper. “How is that going?”

Christina shrugged her shoulders. Harry placed a plate of food in front of her. She hardly noticed.

“Dad, would you stop making my friend feel uncomfortable?” Mariana whined, “Besides, we were talking. I want a new bike.”

Her father shook his head. “The answer is no. I spent over a grand on your last one and you rode it into the lake.”

“Mom, are you going to let him do that to me?” Mariana cried. “I need a new bike so that I can hang out with my friends. Everyone else has one. You won’t let me get a skateboard so what am I supposed to do? Walk around and watch everyone else?”

“As long as you wear your helmet; watching sounds like a great idea.” Her mother teased.

“That’s not funny,” Mariana grumbled. She shoved herself away from the table and stormed up the stairs. “I hate you! You make me sick!”

“Alan, what should we do with her? Did we do the right thing?” Mrs. Zupa whispered.

“It’s just hormones,” Mr. Zupa decided. “Christina, tonight when we drop Harry off at your house to clean, we’re going to visit with your mother. Please make sure she is aware of it and is comfortable with that.”

Christina nodded her head and grabbed her plate.

“I pay Harry extremely well,” Mr. Zupa stated. “You can leave that on the table.”

“Yes Sir,” Christina mumbled. She ran up the stairs to Mariana’s room and closed the door.

Mariana ripped things off of shelves and out of drawers. “They make me sick!” She screamed. “All I want is a bike so I can be normal like everyone else. Can you believe them?”

Christina slid down the wall and landed on the floor with a thud. “Well, you did drive your bike into the lake.”

“Oh shut up!” Mariana hollered. “I’m not the one who has to sleep at Harry‘s every night.”

“At least I prefer a human over a stuffed teddy bear.” Christina rolled her eyes and tossed Mariana’s raggedy bear at her face. They giggled.

Mariana put her finger up to her lips, crept out her bedroom door and leaned over the balcony. “My parents are gone; let’s go.” Mariana led her across the street to a neighbor’s house.

“Just cover me,” Mariana whispered. She put her feet inside the crevices of a chain link fence and hopped over.

Christina watched her best friend grab a new four speed bike from the person’s porch and toss it over the fence. “If they won’t buy me a new bike then I will just steal one.” Mariana decided. She jumped back over the fence and sat on her new bike. “Let’s go see what everyone else is doing.”

“I dunno, I think I should get home. My mother-”

“Stop being a baby. You don’t want to go home just so you can sit there while she sleeps. You are coming with me and having a good time for once.” Mariana argued, “Get on, now.”

Christina jumped up on the handle bars and the two girls sped down the street towards the neighborhood park. In the middle of the basketball court sat their three friends Kyle, Meagan and Tom.

“Hey, what’s up?” Mariana hit the brakes and screeched to a stop.

Meagan jumped up and took her freckly body over to them. Her red hair blew in the wind. “It’s about time you losers got here,” Meagan smiled. “We were going to leave and forget all about you.”

Christina put up her hand and rolled her eyes, “You know you were worried we’d never show.” She took a seat next to Tom. He was older, about fifteen, tall with light brown hair and light blue eyes.

“Yo, you guys are not gonna believe what I found today.” Kyle shouted. He rubbed his clean shaved head. “C’mon, you gotta see this.”

Christina jumped back onto Mariana’s handle bars and they followed Kyle into an alley downtown. An old movie house sat at the end of the alley with busted windows and boarded doors. There was glass shattered everywhere. “You have to be careful climbing in.” Kyle told them. He pointed at a busted window.

Christina went in last. Her eyes bulged in amazement. It really was an abandoned movie theater. The chairs had been pulled out of the cement and tossed into a big heap.

“Look, someone set this place up as a skate park.” Kyle pointed at a half pike way in the back corner.

“This is so cool!” Tom exclaimed.

Mariana picked up a deserted skateboard. “Check it out! There are even three skateboards,” She giggled, pushing off with one foot. She glided across the room.

Tom and Kyle grabbed a board and did the same.

“Be careful, there are a lot of holes in the cement from when they pulled out the chairs from the ground. Don’t hit one or it will knock you off your board.” Tom
shouted, falling from his. Everyone laughed.

“Doesn’t pay to be bossy, does it?” Meagan teased, climbing down from the pile of movie seats. She offered him her hand.

“Think you can do better?” Tom handed Meagan the board and she blinked twice.

“I think Christina has the right idea-sit and watch.”

“Oh C’mon, Meagan, I will go right after you try.” Christina shouted, still on top of the mound of chairs.

Mariana’s watch beeped. “Hey, my parents will be home soon; I gotta go. But we’ll meet here tomorrow okay?” She yelled, disappearing through the window. “C’mon Christina, your mom will be looking for you too.”

The girls rode back to Mariana’s house and hid the bike in her father’s shed. “My dad never comes in here.”

“See you tomorrow,” Christina called over her shoulder. She raced home to her house. It was getting dark and she had to read to her mother.

She tiptoed through her front door and spotted Harry passed out on the couch with a newspaper on his chest. He snorted at the sound of the door.

“Ye mother has been waiting for you to read to her.” Harry whispered. “Where have you been?” He pulled himself up off the sofa and stammered into the kitchen. “I’ll fix you something to eat.”

Christina grabbed her journal and sneaked into her mother’s room.

“Hey Mom,” Christina whispered. Her mom’s face was so skinny. Her lips were dry too. “Harry said you wanted me to read to you.”

“Yes, I want you to read me something you wrote about when you were eight.” Her mom said. She strained to move her head closer.

“Okay, November 21st,” Christina began, “My mom, Mariana, who is my best friend in the whole wide world, Mariana’s mom and Harry went to the beach. My mom said Mariana and I are like her and Mrs. Zupa when they were kids. They were best friends since they were five too. I hope we stay friends forever.” Christina wiped a tear from her face.

Mrs. Black grinned, “Honey, do you remember when you and Mariana decided to clean the house?”

Christina nodded, “Yeah we took the hose and dragged it into the living room and sprayed everything with water.”

“Oh what a mess that was!” Her mother laughed, “You two were such a handful.” Mrs. Black closed her eyes, “Okay honey, I am tired now.”

“Alright mom,” Christina kissed her mother on the cheek. “I love you.”

“I love you too.” Mrs. Black’s eyes watered. More than you’ll ever know.

Christina and Harry walked out the door together. He held her dinner in his hand and she carried a change of clothes. “You sure you don’t want to sleep in your own bed?” Harry questioned. Christina shook her head.

“You’re going to have piles of dust in that thing before long little lady.”

“I can’t stay there at night.” Christina frowned.

The two odd friends walked across the Zupa’s yard towards the guesthouse. When they entered the small guesthouse, Christina sat down on her usual sofa. “Hey, tell me how you became a butler,” She grinned. Harry placed the food next to her on the couch.

“Oh please don’t make me tell that story again. Can’t I tell you a different one?” Harry grumbled.

Christina giggled and gobbled down her dinner.

“Nope, I want to drive you crazy. Ha, ha, ha,” She chuckled. “Tell me the story Harry.”

“Well, I was in my mid-twenties…” Harry began.

He looked over at his little friend to find she was sound asleep. Harry turned out the light.

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