My name is Obelia Akanke. I’m one of the newest members of Authors of Main Street. I am a spoken word poet, and I also write short stories, novellas, and novels. My focus tends to be sweet, contemporary romance and women’s fiction…with humor because I’m easily amused.
My writing tends to focus on interpersonal relationships with a message. My background is in social services, so I like to write poems and stories to help others understand the “why” of a character’s actions. My topics range from light (ex. a date gone wrong) to heavy (ex. male sexual abuse). I tend to address hard topics because I’ve found many people want to say something or ask questions but may not feel comfortable enough to speak up for whatever reason.
I’ve released a short story and novels #1 and #2 in the Heart of Crystal series. The bonus book should be out within a month, and I expect the final book to be finished by spring. It’s a new adult sweet romance centered around a college student learning to trust herself again after an incident with her ex-boyfriend caused her physical injury.
As you’re probably aware, the Christmas boxed set is about to be released. My contribution is titled The Family Gift. I wrote it with my grandmother in mind, so it’s a way of honoring her and sharing some of her personality with others. Have a peek at the first chapter.
***When the family matriarch is hospitalized after a fall, the elder granddaughter, Parker, steps up to attempt to earn and save enough to take care of the family and prevent the house from being sold at auction.***
Parker Johnson forgot how to dial 9-1-1. Her grandmother lay on her side on the bedroom floor, writhing in pain and screaming out prayers. Wendi flapped her hands as she moved side to side around their grandmother crying and on the verge of hyperventilating; she made the situation worse.
“Oh, help me! Don’t let me go out like this. Not in front of my grandbabies.” Ethel beat her fist against the floor and grabbed at strands of carpet each time she released her fist to beg for mercy. “Please just make this pain stop! Knock me out. I can’t take it!”
Parker pushed the button to get a dial tone so she could call for an ambulance. Her grandmother had insisted on having a landline so people could reach emergency personnel in case there was ever a power outage. Parker carefully dialed as she verbalized “9-1-1,” concentrating on the task at hand – getting an ambulance.
“We’re at 1057 Sycamore Lane. It’s the blue house at the end of the drive. My grandmother fell down and said it hurts too much to move. I think something’s broken. Please hurry.”
The operator asked questions about how the injury occurred.
“My grandmother said she went to sit on her bed to take her pills and slid off. I think she hit the metal rail on the way down because her elbow is bleeding. She’s on her right side and yelling that she broke her butt.” Parker gave directions to Wendi. “Put a pillow under Grandma’s head. Try to keep her comfortable. Stop freaking out. Grandma will believe it’s worse than it is if you don’t calm down.”
Wendi fanned her face, breathed out as if she were doing Lamaze exercises, and followed instructions. “Grandma, you’re gonna be alright. Parker’s on the phone with the paramedics, and they’re on the way.”
“How am I going to be okay when you’re over here about to give birth?” Ethel called out to Parker. “Child, tell them to hurry. My butt’s broke, and your sister done gone into labor! Why now? Why? I’m too old to be raising more children.”
Parker went to her grandmother’s side to rub her uninjured arm and try to help her relax. “Grandma, Wendi’s not pregnant.”
“Then why she over here hee hee hoo hoo breathing in my ear like she about to push out a 10-pound baby? Got my nerves all worked up. My blood pressure already through the roof. I’m laying on this floor and can’t move. Some strangers about to come in and see me in my nightgown.” She tried to fix her gown with her left hand. “Oh, my word. I can’t let them see me with my thighs showing. Help me get covered. Grab that throw blanket and put it over me.”
Parker reached behind her grandmother. The blanket was partially under Ethel, so Parker draped the rest across Ethel’s legs then instructed Wendi to unlock the door and wait for the paramedics.
“And straighten the front room.” Ethel called out after her. “We can’t have people coming here, thinking we live in a pigsty.”
Wendi turned and opened her arms as if to question why she was worried about cleaning the house at that moment, but Parker shook her head and gave a forward wave for Wendi to let the comment pass. Both women knew their grandmother would not tolerate a dirty house. They always picked up after themselves and helped clean. Visitors to the house meant an additional once-over to make sure everything was in order. Parker knew her grandmother’s routine. Whenever anyone left for longer than a couple of days, extra measures would be taken to ensure they returned to a clean house. She figured her grandmother knew she’d be gone for a long time and wanted to leave the house in good shape.
Within a few minutes, sirens could be heard, and voices and the sound of wheels and metal moving through the house alerted Parker that paramedics had finally arrived. They moved around Ethel and decided the best way to help her onto the stretcher.
“Grandma, I’m going to drive Wendi to the hospital. We’ll meet you there, okay? We love you.” Parker made sure her grandmother could see her until the doors to the ambulance were shut. She grabbed her keys.
They got to the emergency room and were told their grandmother was being seen. They would have to wait for someone to give them an update. Parker checked her cell phone for messages. She tried to emotionally distance herself by working on the monthly budget. Wendi paced in the waiting room.
“Do you mind pacing over there? I’m getting dizzy.”
Wendi wrung her hands. “I’m sorry I can’t be as calm about this as you, Parker. Grandma’s seriously hurt. What are we going to do? I’m not ready to live without her.”
“First of all, that woman prayed and screamed so loudly, death would be too scared to get her before she’s ready to go.”
“Secondly, who said it’s time to panic? You’re worried about news you haven’t even gotten yet. Grandma’s strong. You heard how she was still trying to run the house and make sure everything’s in order while stuck on the floor.”
“Yeah, you got that take charge attitude from her. Why didn’t I get that kind of confidence?”
“Because as the older sister, I had responsibilities you didn’t have – like babysitting you.”
“Hey, I wasn’t a bad kid.” She pretended to be insulted.
Parker smiled. “I never said you were. I just said I had different responsibilities. I was expected to do the right thing and to look out for you to make sure you did what you were supposed to do. I was the first one to wash dishes, learn to cook, get a job, graduate. I was the practice child. By the time you came along, all the kinks were worked out.”
Wendi giggled again. “Well, I guess that’s good to hear.” She looked at the clock on the wall. “I wonder when they’ll let us go back to see her. Not being able to talk to Grandma is making me more nervous.”
“I’m sure they’re doing what they can. Maybe you should try to take a nap until then. It’s already after 1 a.m., and you’ve got school in the morning.”
Wendi sat beside her sister and laid her head on Parker’s shoulder. “Don’t you have to work tomorrow, too?”
“No, I’m going to send an email then call in the morning to make sure they know I won’t be there. I’m sure they’ll understand.”
Parker stayed awake and read articles from her phone about falls in elderly patients. Their grandmother was 71, so every injury as a senior citizen was an increased risk of death, extended recovery time, and increased likelihood of additional injuries. She determined that she would do whatever was necessary to take care of the household now that she would need to make decisions. Parker, Wendi, and Ethel had already discussed what would happen in case Ethel passed away. Ethel made the sisters swear to her that they would support each other and not let things deteriorate through family arguments. As the elder sister, Parker would take over whatever was left of the estate and ensure Wendi had appropriate provisions. Ideally, the goal would be to keep the property maintained, but there would be fair distribution in case there was need to sell it.
Wendi rubbed her eyes and stared at the words on Parker’s paper. “What are you writing? A grocery list?”
Parker added cinnamon and brown sugar. “Yes. This list is for groceries. This is my ingredients list for cookies so I can make sure I don’t forget anything while I’m shopping.”
“Ooh, you’re making cookies again?” Wendi sat up and looked at her sister. “Wait. You must be worried. You bake when you get stressed.”
Parker put the top on the pen and forced a smile. “Sometimes, I bake for other reasons. Right now, Grandma is going to want food from home. If I bring her cookies, too, she should perk up and know everything will work out. So, tomorrow, she’ll get pork roast dinner and the first cookies she taught me to make.”
“Brinmons.” Wendi’s face lit up.
“Yes, but we only named them that because you couldn’t say brown sugar and cinnamon.”
“Ms. Johnson?” A doctor stood by the registration desk.
“Yes?” Parker and Wendi answered.
“Follow me please. We moved Mrs. Johnson to a room in ICU. She’s on heavy medication. She wants to see you both, but she’s also very sleepy. If you could keep your visit to one to two minutes, it would help her by allowing her to see you but also to get the rest she needs.”
The sisters tiptoed into the dimly lit room and kissed their grandmother’s cheeks.
“Hi, Grandma.” Wendi hugged Ethel across her shoulders to keep her from trying to turn for a hug. “You scared me.”
“I know baby,” Ethel whispered. “I’m still here. I’m not going anywhere until it’s my time. Where’s Parker?”
“Right here.” She put her hand on her grandmother’s shoulder.
“Hey, baby. You know they’re going to keep me here for a while, so take care of everything until I get back.”
“I will, Grandma.”
“Oh, and can you bring me some stew or something to eat? I don’t want to have to ask for salt or sugar. I’m already gonna be here for breakfast and lunch. I want a dinner cooked from home.”
“Already got my list for your pot roast.”
The doctor peeked into the room.
Parker hugged Ethel. “We’re going to let you get some rest now. I’ll be back tomorrow after I take Wendi to school and buy groceries.”
Dr. Burton spoke to the sisters outside of the room. “Mrs. Johnson has a fractured hip. Although she did hit her elbow in the fall, it’s not broken, which is good. I will be talking to the orthopedic specialist and team to review her other medical history from her primary care physician to determine the best way to treat her. From what I’m seeing now, it looks like she will need surgery, physical therapy, and plenty of time to recover.”
“When are we looking for surgery, and what kind of recovery time are we talking?”
“After speaking with her physician and checking insurance, we’re hoping to have a decision first thing this morning so we can operate today – tomorrow at the very latest. It’s a hairline fracture that we might recommend healing on its own in younger, more physically active patients. For patients with increased risk of falls, brittle bones, or slower healing times, we recommend pins in the hip. As far as recovery, I’d say prepare for a few months before she’s feeling comfortable enough to move around as she did before.”