They say disappointment doesn’t hurt if it isn’t ‘real;’ if one shouldn’t have expected more from the beginning. If those words sounds bitter, they are. I’ve lived a long line of disappointments that, according to folks around, I shouldn’t have expected to go any other way. Can’t depend on other folks, they said, sadly shaking their mop-heads. Seems I continue to disappoint, just as they disappoint me. Who’d of thought this world was such a wash of disappointment?
Started when I was a child. Ma and Pa never much cared for me or my sisters. Grew up poor, stuck in the backwater of the hills, hungry most every day. Don’t take me wrong. I never hated my upbringing, nor the fact we was hungry. I just hated the lies.
‘We might be poor, son, but we’re too proud to take from them more better off than us.’
‘Don’t you know your Pop is doing the best he can? Ain’t easy life isn’t. Takes a lot from a man.’
‘Your Ma’s a religious woman, son. Just like an angel.’
Well, no. We might have been poor but it was cause Pa spent his time and money drinking. Never did the best lessin he couldn’t help it. The less you do, the better, was his motto. Besides, why work when the government will take care of you?
And Ma? Angel from Hell maybe. It was her strong with the strap, not Pa. I feared her more than I ever feared anybody else. She killed Tash. Might just as well, anyway, cause she wouldn’t give her no food. We tried to sneaking in, but Ma always caught us. Strapped us bad. Her feeling was every child gone left more food or the rest of us, meaning her.
Left home at 12, figuring I’d do better on my own. Worked hard, took my punches, my disappointments, kept moving. The one right thing I did – never going home again.
“Nolan Briar Tate.”
I rose, walking up the steps and across the stage. President Monroe held out his hand and we shook.
“Congratulations, Nolan,” he said then moved to his seat.
For a moment, I stood there, staring out over the thousands of faces watching me. Susan was there, front row, cheering louder than all the others. Hers were the only cheers I heard.
Stepping up, I lay my hands on the wood of the podium, cleared my throat. “I’ve been thinking about disappointment lately; how we let our lives disappoint us, blame others for our hurts, when we’re the ones responsible for shaping the life we want. If you learn to trust yourself, trust those who love you, disappointment no longer has any power over you… It is, after all, just another word for fear…..”