A Little Taste of Home
By Lexi R.
I felt the lumps of the cobblestone road pound against my feet as I sprinted through the streets Looking at all the grey tall buildings that had always made me slightly depressed.The pounding of my feet reverberates off the walls when I passed through the murky tunnel that led to my house. As I turned the corner outside of the tunnel I saw the small brick house, that matched all of the houses on the street to the tee, house that I grew up in. The bricks seemed to be struggling to hold each other up they appeared to almost sink into each other . It had only one floor and the windows seemed so dusty that you could draw in them. I walk to the small white wooden door the wood looked like it was splintering. When I tried to open the door I heard it groan in protest but when I pushed through I could see my life long home. There was a small ratty brown couch and two plush chairs tucked away in the left corner near the fire while in the middle of the room there was a small wooden table with three matching chairs sitting underneath the table. The right corner of the room had a hallway that lead to our rooms. I pace down the hallway and open a door with the letter ‘M.’ I walk into my room and sit on the small bed that I no longer fit into and patted the bed thinking of all my childhood memories that happened in here. My eyes slide slowly to the suitcase that was at the foot of the bed; I skimmed my hand over it with doubts and fears of travel filling my mind.
¨Matthew!¨ I hear the front door open and my parents walk in while my mother call my name. walking into the living room and sit down on the couch and tuck my hands in my lap looking to my parents who sat down next to me.
¨Mother,father how was your day?¨ I ask trying to fill the awkward and sad silence. My father grunted in return while my mother went on a rant about how her day was and how all of her friends wished me the best of luck. The conversation carried on this way with my mother talking about herself and her life. All the while dad and I listened silently holding our own silent conversation with our eyes for the rest of the night.
Soon we had to retire to bed but I didn’t sleep a single hour. Everytime I closed my eyes horrid visions filled my mind of ships capsizing or me falling ill due to the sea or even falling overboard and sharks devouring my body.When the sun finally rose to the sky and light filtered through my room I sighed and threw a hand over my eye trying to block it out. Not two seconds after waking I heard my mother’s light steps walking through the hallway towards me. I could hear the soft “tap tap” of her fist on my door when she knocked.
“Mathew! Darling it’s time to wake up” mother sings as she walked into my room without permission but I was more then used to that. She sat at the foot of my bed and patted my leg while looking around the room with a sad reminiscent look in her eyes.
“I’m up mother,I am just thinking about New York” I groan as I sit up and wipe the sleep from my eyes. She pulls her hand off my leg and looks at me with that sad look still in her eyes but this time with growing tears in them. “Mother I’m going to be okay don’t worry” I say as I put my hand on her shoulder before standing and grabbing my clothing that I had laid out the night before.
“I know you will be Matthew but that does not mean that I will not miss you” She says with a slight growl in her voice before standing and completely shaking off the previous sadness. “Breakfast will be ready in five be there in four.” mom says in her usual chipper voice as she practically danced out of the room pulling door shut with a light tug. I groaned as I rolled over in bed with a knot tying in my stomach. I quickly changed into the traveling clothing that I had picked out the night before. It was a simple black coat and ratty black shirt and pants to go with it.
“Mathew your mother is going to have an aneurysm” I heard my father’s soft gruff voice ring through the door then his footsteps softly walk away. I quickly stand and pull the door open and grab my suitcase before having one last look at my room. Before joining my father and mother in the kitchen and sitting opposite of them and enjoying a silent breakfast of tea and toast.
It’s amazing how fast the morning can go when you want it go slowly. After breakfast my parents and I got into our car before driving to the dock in the sad silence that filled breakfast earlier that morning. When we finally arrived at dock I started at the giant boat in front of me in awe and silent horror with wide eyes. I turned to my parents as I felt the words leave me. How am I supposed to say goodbye to my parents like this and what am I supposed to say? I thought to myself just before my mom flung her arms around me and hugged me tightly and I could feel the tears start to slip down her face.
“Mathew you’re going to do great things with this life I am so proud of you now go!” she said as she pushed me towards the ship with a smile.
“Good luck son” My father said looking me in the eyes with pride gleaming in his. I nodded silently as I turned and walked quickly towards the ship trying my hardest not to look back at my parents. I kept repeating my personal mantra of “This is your dream. This is your dream,this is your dream” as I boarded the ship. I have never been claustrophobic but that changed the moment the ship sailed away from my homeland England.
I have been a healthy person my entire life yet within days of getting on the ship I was sicker than ever. “Ugh” I groan as I sit up from my cramped room in the boat feeling my forehead which was still burning as hot as hell’s inferno’s . I struggle to stand up and walk like the living dead to the boats bathroom that was down the hall from my room. I desperately tried to avoid running into anyone and spreading the germs to them but it was hard there was people everywhere on this god-forsaken boat. When I finally reached the bathroom I stood in front of the mirror looking at myself, My coffee brown hair was ruined from sleeping and sticking out at abnormal angles opposed to it usual stick straight manor. My tired green eyes were almost swallowed by the deep dark circles that surrounded them, while my skin was sickly pale that brought out my freckles in an almost creepy way. I gave a disgruntled sigh looking at my crooked teeth “Americans will never accept me looking like this.” I growl as lean my head against the mirror closing my eyes for a second enjoying the feeling of the cool mirror on my simmering skin.
“Excuse me sir you have been in there for a long while and I do really need to relieve myself!” said a very Irish voice,sounding almost strained. I stood up when I heard her voice it was incredibly soft yet still somehow still stern. I opened the door slowly to reveal a beautiful woman with long red straight hair that reached down past her shoulders. I met her forest green eyes as I tried to speak only to feel myself grow sick again and throw up right next to her feet. “Geez I know i’m not the prettiest thing but i’m not that bad am I?” The woman laughed after getting over the initial shock of my sickness.
“Oh bloody god I’m so sorry miss, I have gotten ill due to the close quarters with all of these people trust me miss your appearance had the opposite effect on me–” I quickly tried to shut myself up from embarrassing myself more than I already had.
“Well thank you sir, I am Aideen Mc’greeger let me accompany you back to your room so you don’t throw up on anymore unsuspecting woman’s feet” Aideen giggled with an obvious blush dusting across her cute freckles.
“Thank you miss Aideen that would be preferable, by the way my name is Matthew Wingfield. Are you heading to New York as well?” I ask as Aideen helps me to my feet and starts to lead me back to my room with my directions.
“Nice to meet you Matthew do you greet all women by upchucking at their feet? And yes I am going to New York as well; I’m trying to get a job there.” The girl said laughing at her own joke as she opened the door to help me into it. “ Alright Mr. Mathew here you are I hope that you feel well enough come visit me soon: Aideen says as she turns to head out the door but pauses as she looks back at me “ I do get very lonely on this boat” I look up at her and blush at her dazzling smile.
“Just the thought of getting to see you again makes me feel ten times better” I say surprising myself at the shockingly flirty words that left my mouth. Aideen cheeks darken to a rose color as she lets out a giggle then leaves without another word. I blink at the spot the woman had just left and let a small sigh leave my mouth. I lean my head down on the little cot that they dare not call a bed and think back a conversation that me and my crazy mother had about two years back.
“Mom I really am not ready for marriage” I groan as she continued to talk up her friend’s daughter for the third time.
“Matthew darling, you have to meet Amelia she’s beautiful and will make the most darling grandchildren!” My mother sang in her slightly nagging voice.
“Mother for the last time I wish to travel to America before I start a family I’m only 18 years old give me sometime mother.” I argue with her in an exasperated voice rolling my eyes lightly. “
But darling then how am I supposed to approve of her if you’re in America I simply can’t let you just go marrying whoever you want, what if you marry some broad of an American girl.” She cried in despair as if the thought of me marrying an American was the worse then her worst nightmares. “
“Mother shouldn’t I get to decide who I am or who I am not to marry?” I ask with a slight glare at her, Don’t get me wrong I love my mother dearly just she is so…overbearing at points… a lot of points.
“No no no!” she sang as she danced around me cleaning up the room then continued saying “Matthew it is tradition to marry who your parents pick so you must deal with it darling” she hissed finishing the conversation.
That conversation was the last time I really had thought about a wife or anything other than pursuing my dream of going to America to become a businessman and making money. As soon as I saw Aideen thoughts my mind filled with ideas of families and love, which was crazy I had only met the woman so marriage was still far away in my eyes. That beautiful red head would not be caught dead getting married to a scrawny Brit like me. I thought to myself with a growl and with that final thought I closed my eyes trying to rest.
Low and behold though the green eyed beauty was with me almost every day for the rest of the days on the ship and with every day that I spent with Aideen I fell harder and harder for her. Aideen was just so different then all of the other girls that I had met. Where most girls were completely obedient Aideen was not in the slightest she never listened to me in the slightest; most women were politely quiet Aideen was loud extremely so in fact we have gotten in trouble for her loudness more than once by the sailors. This Irish woman was different in every way possible but I wouldn’t want her any other way.
“Hey Matt what you thinkin bout in your over thinking brain of yours?” Aideen asked cocking her head to the left and raising her eyebrows in question. I shook my head and waved her off.
“Nothing to worry about Aideen” I say looking back to her as she rolls her eyes at me.
“Fine don’t tell me” Aideen says as she walks to the railing of the boat and looking over at the ocean with a happy sigh “Matt where are you going to go once you get to New York?” Aideen asks as she rests her head against the railing.
“I’m going to find a job and the cheapest hotel then make my name known.” I say walking up next to her and looking at the ocean as well. “ What are your plans for America Aideen, are you meeting anyone there you haven’t told me your plans yet.” With worry in my voice I fear that my friend didn’t have a plan for America and would just be wandering around hopelessly there. Aideen laughs and shakes her head bitterly as she clenches the railing tight enough for her knuckles to turn white.
“I haven’t told you on purpose Matt.” The redhead says as she looks up to me with angry tears leaking from her eyes. I was about to ask what was wrong but she beat me to it saying “ I am to be married to a complete Stranger once I land in New York; I am supposed to just throw my life away to some man I don’t even know let alone trust!” She takes a breath then continues to yell. “Matt I’m scared I don’t know him what if he’s rude or ugly or hates m-“ I cut her off with a tight hug pulling her head into my shoulder and shooshed her while patting her head.
“Aideen, I won’t let you marry him.” I say pulling her head up and making her eyes meet mine. Her beautiful wide, teary, emerald green eyes meeting my forest green ones. “I won’t let anyone take you away from me, Aideen look over there do you know what that is?” I ask pointing to the Statue of Liberty in the foggy distance.
“ Of course I do Matthew I’m not dumb, it is the Statue of Liberty.” Aideen growled still keeping her usual sass through the tears. I smile and nod and at her.
“Yes and that statue symbolize a new start for people like us.” I sigh as I pull Aideen close and say “once we land at Ellis Island you can come with me and we can make an honest living it won’t be easy but it’s worth it if I can stay with you.” I finish looking to her for an answer. Aideen stares at me for a while before jumping into my arms and pulling me into a quick kiss. My eyes widen as she pulls back and nods her head happily.
“Yes Matthew, thank you for saving me from that awful life”. Aideen says as she grabs my hands and jumping slightly. I smile and nod.
“This life will be perfect as long as you are in it.” I say while pulling Aideen into the another hug .
Aideen and I both started working in a factory it was hard work and changed both of our views about how perfect America was not to long after we started working there. Ellis Island was hell in itself there were so many people I felt like I would explode but we got through without any major complications. We faced many instances of racism one of which Aideen knocked a drunk man out cold after he called her something along the lines of “a despicable Irish harlot”.
It took about three years before we had enough money to open our own little restaurant called A Little Taste Of Home. We specialized In foreign cuisine to try to help other immigrants feel a little less homesick.
“It also took another two years before I asked Aideen to marry me (she said yes) that was a year ago so as of right now that’s all I have to tell you little one you’re caught up on mommy and daddy’s life” I told the little infant that I held in my arms bouncing it gently up and down . I could see my tanned skin and tired circles around my eyes reflected in the happy little girl’s big eyes. I winced slightly as the baby grabbed a tuft of my coffee brown hair but then moved my head down so Erica could a better grip on my hair.
“ I Hope your life will be as much as an adventure as mine was because of you and mummy my dreams have all come True.”