My A.R.R.A.: Growing into me

My A.R.R.A.: Growing into me

by J.C. Sykes


Publisher Outskirts Press

Published in Self-Help/Motivational, Biographies & Memoirs/Memoirs, Biographies & Memoirs, Nonfiction

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Book Description


In this inspirational memoir, we meet a young woman forced to grow up too quickly when she marries at sixteen. Under extreme adversity and depression, the teen finishes high school. Carlen shares her life story in the hopes that others will be motivated to persevere in the face of overwhelming odds. Inspired by a quote passed down from her father, "A quitter never wins and a winner never quits", Carlen attacks her obstacles head on. Will Carlen continue to maintain her sanity against all odds?

Sample Chapter

ADEN RETURNED TO St. Louis from his schooling in Pensacola, Florida, on February 18, 2001. Carlen was miserably overdue. The next OB appointment was the following day, which was also her due date. Aden made fun of the way Carlen maneuvered around with such a big stomach. While he laughed, she took deep breaths to stop from yelling at him. It was like old times. The two giggling about any- and everything. Unfortunately, Carlen couldn’t enjoy it as much since she had a weight sitting on her bladder. When the couple went to see the doctor the next day, nothing had changed. Aden despised seeing his love so uncomfortable. He tried to do any- and everything to help make things bearable for Carlen. Most of the time he just annoyed the hell out of her. He was sweet and overprotective as usual. Now he was fifty times worse since she was carrying his child. Carlen was overdue and hadn’t dilated at all! Her OB decided to induce labor on February 22, 2001. Carlen had to report to DePaul Hospital at nine o’clock the following morning to get things started. That was music to Carlen’s ears! Until then, the couple prepared to be at the county courthouse to get married. Carlen knew getting married was a major commitment, especially at only sixteen years old. Me-Mama assured Carlen it was the right thing to do since she was pregnant, not to mention he was a serviceman. She guaranteed Carlen that she and the baby would be taken care of without a doubt. At almost ten months pregnant, walking up and down stairs, then back and forth from building to building, was not ideal. It had to be done. The future husband and wife both needed to sign documents before marrying. Carlen was in more pain than she imagined was possible. It was February 20, 2001, and the teens finally acquired their marriage license. Aden had also taken Carlen to get her military identification photo and card made. She was officially a military dependent. That process took even longer than getting the marriage license. Carlen was ready to give up. She wanted to wait to get married at a better time for her physically. Aden was determined to make it happen at that very time. When everything was finalized, the kids were set to be married February 21, 2001 at 12:00 pm. Carlen was nervous, excited, and skeptical all at the same time. She knew she cared about Aden, and becoming his wife was always the plan.

She couldn’t honestly say it was love. She honestly didn’t know what love was. She’d seen so many forms of it. Was it the way Me-Mama loved her kids? Was it the way her brothers loved money and fame? Was it the way her father loved her so much that he wouldn’t show up when she was stabbed? Was it the way she loved her stepfather? Carlen had a million questions that no one could answer. She didn’t want to go against Me-Mama and not take her word that getting married at that time was best. She didn’t want Me-Mama to have to take care of her and the baby. That could never end well. Carlen thought all of these things, but shrugged it off as a classic case of cold feet. Not to mention she was pregnant and emotional. That night as the pair lay in bed, the energy between them was magnetic. They talked about their plans to move to Florida after the baby was born, once Aden was situated where he’d be stationed. Carlen would register into school as a junior once in Florida. Everything seemed too good to be true, and indeed it was.

The duo finished talking and made love one last time before they were husband and wife. Big stomach and all. It was a very difficult task, and it even felt different since Carlen hadn’t had sex since he’d left for boot camp in November. Afterwards, they both fell asleep in bliss. Carlen was up frequently to use the bathroom, and kept hearing Aden’s two-way pager go off. Aden slept hard, while Carlen’s sleep was light and uncomfortable. She ignored the pager all night. The next morning was the day of the marriage. At about 9 am, Aden’s two-way went off yet again. Carlen trusted Aden with all her heart, so she figured it was military business. Carlen picked up the two-way and tried to wake Aden. He slept hard and seemed exhausted. A message came across the screen saying “I love you, I miss you, and I can’t wait to see you.” This completely threw Carlen for a loop. Aden was known to be the player in the past. Carlen figured since he was marrying her in just a few hours, this had to be a mistake. She was young, naive, and in denial. Carlen responded back to the number, telling whoever it was that Aden was her husband and not to send anything else to his pager. She didn’t receive a reply. Had Carlen known better, and listened to the signs God had shown her, she wouldn’t have ever considered marrying Aden. That message was the last sign smack in her face. When Aden finally woke up, Carlen asked about the message. He assured his soon-to-be wife it had to be a wrong number. He claimed one of his Navy friends had given a girl his number because he was married and didn’t want his wife to find out. Conveniently, Aden was the decoy person.

Carlen believed him since he swore to God he wouldn’t marry her and still be playing games. It was two hours before going to the courthouse to get married. Even though they talked about the message, Carlen had a pinching gut feeling about it for the rest of the day. She never forgot the number, which had a Pensacola, Florida, area code. Carlen kept the feeling in her heart, and the number in her head for future references. Carlen and Aden got dressed to be wedded in formal wedding attire. Aden wore a Navy uniform—his dress blues. It included a white sailor hat, all-black long-sleeve button-down, and all-black pair of what looked like bell-bottom sailor pants that matched. Military attire always stayed freshly pressed, professional, and attractive. Carlen wore a pair of maternity black slacks with a white shiny polyester button-down collar shirt. The shirt had long sheer sleeves, and the buttons on the shirt were diamond-like studs. Her feet were too swollen to wear any extravagant shoes. She wore a pair of black loafers with a short wide heel. The buckle on the shoes matched the shiny silver buttons down the front of her blouse. The two looked good together as usual. Me-Mama took off work early to go with them to the courthouse. She had to be there since Carlen was a minor. Me-Mama basically signed Carlen over to Aden at her age.

It was freezing outside, and all of Carlen’s dress coats were too small. She ended up wearing her everyday South Pole bubble coat. As country as it was with her outfit, she couldn’t afford to get sick. Aden wore his military all-black P-coat. The youngsters walked and held hands behind both their mothers as they prepared for their nuptials. Carlen was now nervous, and convinced. She was convinced the message on Aden’s pager earlier that morning was her cue to say no at the altar. Carlen felt like she was about to sell her soul to the devil! Strangers looked at the kids with sighs of joy and congratulations. Me-Mama asked Carlen one last time if she was sure she wanted to marry Aden before she signed the papers. Carlen’s heart screamed NO, and wanted Me-Mama to get her out of there. Her immaturity told her mouth to say yes. Aden knew Carlen was bothered. He pushed to say whatever he could to assure Carlen his love was for her only. When they entered the courtroom, there was a line of couples waiting to be married. “What the hell” was the first thought that came to mind. This was never Carlen’s impression of her wedding day.Seeing a line of people waiting to be married made the commitment feel unsacred. The priest, judge, or whoever was at the altar married couples, then said “next” as if they were in school lunch line. Carlen and Aden’s turn was growing near. Carlen battled herself mentally about walking out when it was time to say “I do.” The only other option was trusting Aden and going through with it. Finally it was time, and Aden helped Carlen wobble to the altar. A past-due Carlen was now having contractions. Standing straight up was painful.

As the two stood there looking at each other while the words of the Bible were spoken, Carlen’s heart started to break. Both parents watched on, and everything inside of her grew silent. It was finally time for Carlen to answer if she took Aden to be her lawful wedded husband. “No” sat on her tongue, as “yes” rushed up her throat and committed suicide off her tongue. At that very moment, Carlen knew she’d made the biggest mistake of her life. Carlen felt God showing her the way out, yet she didn’t listen. She kissed the most uncomfortable kiss ever as MeMama took pictures. None of Carlen’s siblings were in attendance. They refused to be a part of such a terrible decision. Chase was totally against Carlen being with Aden at all. He never liked Aden, and only put up with him out of respect for his twin. Chase thought Aden was nothing more than a dressed-up loser.

The teenagers were officially husband and wife. They signed their last document, which was the marriage certificate. Once the witnesses signed next to their signatures, the deal was sealed. It took everything out of Carlen to act happy. The entire time that message and number kept popping up in her mind. The contractions and the discomfort of being pregnant were now overwhelming. The family had already arranged a small gathering at Red Lobster to celebrate the matrimony. After being seated and given menus, Aden received another two-way message that he went to the bathroom to answer. Carlen saw him jump when it vibrated. He wasn’t aware of how closely his new wife was paying attention to him. Carlen knew without a doubt something was going on. She tried to enjoy the celebration with the family, but her mind was too far gone. Me-Mama knew something was up, but Carlen made her think it was just labor pains. The rest of the family all laughed, ate, and enjoyed themselves, which did put a smile on Carlen’s face. The waitress then brought out a triple-layer chocolate cake the newlyweds were to share. They fed the first piece of cake to one another as people did at weddings. On the outside they looked happily married. On the inside it was nothing but pain for Carlen. They all sat around talking and wasting time when it felt like a rope was tightening in Carlen’s stomach. Everyone thought she was going into labor, but again it was false labor pains. On that note, everyone retired to their cars. Carlen needed to go home and get some rest. She felt empty since none of her siblings were there.

Carlen wanted a fairy-tale ending, but it was everything but a fairy tale. She’d opened the gates to hell for herself, and she knew it. When Carlen got home, Chase came into her room to check on her as he always did. The two had a small, concerned conversation. If anybody knew something was wrong with Carlen, it was her twin. He asked how did it feel to be married, and was the baby moving a lot? It was the way he looked at Carlen and the vibes they shared. They didn’t have to talk about the obvious. Comforting each other in times of gut feelings was how they dealt. He was Carlen’s real significant other. The bond the two shared as twins was phenomenal. He understood and read Carlen better than Me-mama. Carlen wanted to tell Chase about the message and how she felt, but he already wasn’t fond of Aden. A moment of silence crept up during the conversation, and Carlen dropped her head. Chase frowned as he felt a gut-wrenching pain from his twin, and silently left the room. Carlen knew Chase was in her corner for whatever was to come. She didn’t want to jump to conclusions without any real evidence. As she lay there thinking about how she felt, the regret was crushing. She tried to get some sleep while Aden went to his nana’s house. He wanted her to go too, but Carlen let it be known to him how upset she was. Aden was the king of deceit, and manipulation was his specialty. Carlen could tell he knew he was in trouble behind this. It was only a matter of time before the truth came to Carlen.


Excerpted from "My A.R.R.A.: Growing into me" by J.C. Sykes. Copyright © 2018 by J.C. Sykes. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

J.C. Sykes

J.C. Sykes

Juanakee "Colby" Sykes is a native of St. Louis, Mo. She is the mother of three daughters and one son, whom the four of their first initials make up this books title; A.R.R.A. She and her husband own a carpentry company in their home town of St. Louis. Colby is a talented artist of many trades. She enjoys designing and building furniture in her free time, as well as event planning, and mentoring. This innovative wife and mother is the youngest of eleven children between both mother and father, including her deceased twin brother Chase who died when they were twenty five. Colby began keeping a journal of life lessons learned when she was nine years old. This ambitious new author has a story to share with the world. It is her privilege to help other's, as well as her duty.

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