Better Believe It
by Fern Ronay
Publication date: December 3rd 2019
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Jada Marlone’s life appears to be perfect on social media. She has a loving husband, a beautiful child, and a successful career. What she doesn’t post about is the disconnect she feels in her marriage, the difficulties of motherhood, and her strained relationship with her mother. Resigned to never being truly happy, Jada runs into an ex-boyfriend. While trying to decide whether the coincidence is her second chance at happiness, Jada begins having dreams that feature her dead cousin Gina. With Gina’s help, Jada starts to uncover the real reasons behind her life decisions. As Jada tries to figure out her future, uncontrollable events threaten her resolve. Will she be able to draw from all she learned from Gina, or will she risk making the same mistakes twice?
The first time I got my heart broken, I was five years old. It happened in the kitchen.
My sister, Orly, was a toddler, still in diapers, waddling around and babbling. I was sitting at the kitchen table, perfecting my writing of the alphabet on red construction paper. Using a freshly sharpened black crayon, I swung out the curve of my u too wide when I heard the bang. Orly had bumped into the cabinet as she turned the corner from the dining room and fell back on her head.
“Wahhhh,” she wailed.
My mother whipped around, dishtowel swung over her shoulder, and bent to pick up my sister. She spoke in the syrupy voice she only used when speaking to Orly.
“What happened? Where are you hurt?”
“She bumped into the cabinet and fell,” I said as I formed the second leg of my letter v.
“Oh, my little chickpea.” My mother sang the words to Orly.
I had asked her once, “If Orly is your little chickpea, what am I?”
“I don’t know, Jada. You’re my…” She paused to light a cigarette. “You’re my kidney bean.”
“Do you like kidney beans?”
“They give me agida.” She blew smoke in the other direction, a stream flowing from her lips, which, a few hours earlier, had been lined with red lip liner and filled in with matching red lipstick. Red. Always red. “Fix your barrette. Did ya have it like that all day in school?”
Ya have to know how to fix your own barrette.” She had pointed at the side of my
head. “Get those side hairs. Over here. The side ones. Do ya want to look like a ragamuffin?”
Now, as I continued alphabet writing at the kitchen table, my mother rocked her
Is she singing? I stopped mid w. What is this song? I like it. She never sang it to me
before. She’s not a singing mom. She doesn’t sing.
“Hush, little baby.” She swayed back and forth by the kitchen window.
I would like a mockingbird and a diamond ring.
She stopped once Orly was calm and distracted by the paper towel roll in her hands.
I finished the alphabet and held up my construction paper.
“I did it! And on red paper, your favorite color.”
I brought it over to my mother so she could get a better look.
“Nice,” she said as she stretched her neck past Orly’s resting head and Orly’s left hand, which bopped me on the head with the paper towel roll.
“Hold on.” I walked around to the other side, so she didn’t have to strain her head.
“I see, Jada. Very good.”
I made her hold it.
“Uh-huh, good. Is that supposed to be an H? It curves in. Looks like a capital A.”
She was right. It wasn’t perfect. What was I thinking? That H does look like an A. That H is horrible. That H is disgusting. I ripped it up.
“What did ya do that for?” my mother screamed. “Pick those pieces up. Why would ya do that?”
“It wasn’t perfect,” I hollered back, flipping through the construction paper for a fresh, new sheet. “Hold on.”
I started over, and by the time I finished and checked every letter, I was confident in my redo. I held it up to double-check. Yup, perfect.
By then, Orly was napping and my mother was smoking a cigarette on the porch.
I carried the new masterpiece with my fingertips toward the porch. “Look now.”
She blew smoke out the enclosed porch’s window as she reviewed my letters.
“Why don’t you ever sing to me?”
“Huh? Oh, Jada, for Christ’s sake.” She took a long drag while I waited for an answer.
“Because you’re the big sister. That’s why. Go clear the crayons off the kitchen table. We’re going to have dinner soon.”
“I like songs. I liked that song a lot.” I swayed from one foot to another, willing her to sing to me now.
“Jada, please! Go clear the table before your father gets home.”
I threw the crayons in the box instead of placing them neatly in rainbow order like I normally did. Little sisters are smaller and cuter and get sung to. I snapped the plastic container shut. But I go to school. Yeah, I’m smarter than a stupid, little baby. I carried the construction paper and crayons up to my room and slammed the door behind me. I hate being a big sister.
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Fern Ronay has lived in NYC, Chicago, and now sunny Los Angeles with her husband, but she will always consider herself a Jersey girl. She is the author of two novels, Better in the Morning and Better Believe It, and is the host of the podcast Signs from the Other Side, as well as a host at the AfterBuzzTV network. Follow Fern on Instagram @FernRonay and check out her free ebook at FernRonay.com. Author links: https://fernronay.com/ https://www.instagram.com/fernronay/ https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5263737.Fern_Ronay https://www.facebook.com/FernRonay/ https://twitter.com/FernRonay