A Plane, A Car, A Home

Read Part 1

I exit the airport to no fanfare, no family reunions. Just moths flying around the bright lights. I don't know why I expected one. Our family was never tight like that. I sit my bag down on a bench and turn my phone on. Suddenly I'm hit with text messages I missed during the flight.

Mom: Can't pick you up, dinner with your aunts 
Janae: Read 9:47AM
Dad: Sorry baby, I'm driving a shipment up to Washington right now. If I was in the city, you know I'd come get you

I guess I'm getting a cab. I head over to the cab pool and see one driver left for the evening. I realize I don't have any dollars to pay him. Just some Russian Rubles I planned to keep for a souvenir. Reluctantly I head back in the airport and look for a currency exchange center. They closed at 8pm now I'm just screwed. Maybe I can bargain with the driver.

"Hey, I don't have any dollars on me right now, but I've got Rubles," I plead with the driver.

"Sorry, I can't take those," he responds coldly.

"But it's more than enough, there's like a thousand dollars here you just have to trade it in the morning."

"How do I know it's real? I ain't ever been to Russia," he spits back.

I turn away in frustration trying to think this through. What are my other options? I don't have dollars. I don't have an American VISA. I should just steal the cab and hope he doesn't call the police. This is ridiculous. I can't depend on my family for anything. I've been gone 4 years and they're still horrible. Except dad, that man just doesn't know how to live life without working. If he wasn't halfway to Washington I have no doubt he'd pull that semi right up the gate for me.

"Excuse me, is this cab taken," a woman's voice asks.

"Nope," the driver responds.

"Yes it is," I shout.

"Lady you don't have money," He retorts.

"I do, but you won't take it."

"This is America, why would I take Russian money?"

"If you don't mind the company, I'll pay for the ride," says the woman behind comically large sunglasses.

"Sure, let's go," it's not like I had any other choices.

We get into the car and the driver pulls off. Between the sunglasses and giant hat I can't help but laugh at this woman. It's like she's one of those old movie stars trying to hide her face from paparazzi. She looks ridiculous.

"Is there something funny," she asks. I must be failing to hide my smile.

"Maybe just a little."

"And what would that be," she asks, sunglasses surely hiding a mean look.

"Your outfit makes it seem like you're one of those celebrities in really old videos trying to hid her face behind sunglasses and church hats. You either just got beat up or wandered out of the wrong decade," honesty is all I know.

"Oh, I look like I just got beat up? You're walking around with no money, a duffel bag, jogging suit and a broken arm," Oh, she has jokes.

"I mean, I did get beat up kind of, there's video footage."

"Oh, I am so sorry, I didn't mean any..."

I cut her off, "no, I was playing basketball in Russia, I broke my arm. All over Russian ESPN."

"Oh, you're famous. I didn't know. Sorry about the arm. I'm Vivian," she introduces herself.

"I'm not even that famous, but I'm Naomi Hardaway, no relation."

During the ride I learn that Vivian actually is way more famous than I am. Vivian Houston, news anchor turned D List actress and her career is starting to really blow up now. She's a nice woman. I hope she does well. The first thing I notice is the house was painted. We live in a red house now. Why red? Who paints a house red? My key still works and I slide into the all too familiar home. The outside got a makeover, but the inside is still just as cluttered as ever.

I walk around reacquainting myself with it. Not much has changed since I left. Still silent, just the creeks in the floor as I walk through. My bedroom is still untouched by time. Still a child's bedroom. I didn't spend any time here after I went to college. I came home injured and watched the draft her. Crying alone as my name wasn't called and the experts discussed how I was injury prone. I guess they were right. I never got the chance to change anything before I was called out to Russia.

I lay down on my bed as it squeegee, not used to being touched after all these years. I stare up into the ceiling thinking of all things I said I was going to do and how I almost just barely did them. I was going to play professionally in the WNBA, just barely missed it. I still played professionally, just not in the WNBA. I was going to be a champion. Then I got injured in the game that would have sent me to the championship round. Close but no cigar. The Naomi Hardaway story.

Read Part 3

Naomi Will Return in Phantasmagorical get a free copy.