Authors: Tamika Christy
Tags: #ebook, #FIC043000, #FIC049020, #FIC044000
Â© 2013 Tamika Christy. All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, digital, photocopying, or recording, except for the inclusion in a review, without permission in writing from the publisher.
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, names, incidents, organizations, and dialogue in this novel are either the products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
Published in the United States by BQB Publishing
(Boutique of Quality Books Publishing Company)
Printed in the United States of America
Library of Congress Control Number: 2013932829
Book design by Robin Krauss,
Cover illustration by Leah Jennings
his book is dedicated to
My daughters for inspiring and motivating me;
My dad for guiding and nurturing me;
And my sweetie for the unconditional love and support.
Mom, you are still the most amazing and loving person
I've ever knownâRest in Peace.
he sound of my parents talking woke me out of my sleep. I sat up and looked around my bedroom. It looked like the room of a twenty-four-year-old college senior, but lately, it didn't feel like I was in college. I often had to remind myself of why I made the decision to live at home instead of on campus. Granted, at the time that I made the decision, it had seemed like a good idea. Living at home was comfortable and affordable. Once I started school, however, I often questioned my decision to continue living at home. Shortly after I decided to get my own place, my only brother, Andrew, was killed. We were a close family and devastated at his untimely death. At that point, there was no way I was going to move out. I thought my parents and sister needed me home with them. But, as time passed, I realized they really didn't need me at allâI was the one who needed them.
Andrew and I were as close as any two people could ever be and when he died, part of me died too. He and I had gone to a house party one night and we separated at some pointâme hanging out with some friends and Drew going outside for some air. I was still talking with a friend when I noticed everyone headed outside. I followed the crowd and gasped, only to discover my beloved brother lying on the ground, bleeding. It was frustrating because no one stepped up to say they knew anything. It was a mystery then and, over a year later, it remains a mystery. There were different rumors going around. One was that some guys were walking by and got into a verbal altercation with Drew and shot him, but none of the stories were ever corroborated. It was hard for my family to deal with the loss and even more so because of the lack of clarity surrounding his death. We all grieved, but we grieved differently. My mom ate, my sister Ava fasted, my dad drank, and I sank into depression. As time moved on, however, so did my family. I, on the other hand, still struggled with losing Drew and my mom “gently insisted” that I see a therapist. Some woman named Dr. Judy. I was resentful at first, but I eventually learned to appreciate having Dr. Judy sit for an hour and listen to me gripe and pontificate. Mom paid for it and, depending on my mood, sometimes she got her money's worth and other times she didn't.
Some days, I enjoyed the comforts that home had to offer. Other days, however, I would have shaved off my eyebrows to have my own place. Between my overbearing mom, and the issues of my extended family and friends, there were days I struggled just to hear my own thoughts.
I showered and dressed before heading downstairs. On the way down, I peeked into my sister's room. Ava was buried under her comforter, with one foot hanging off the side of her bed. I shook my head at the chaos. Given that my mom and dad were the tidiest people I knew, Ava's sloth often caused me to question her paternity.
I walked into the kitchen, where my dad, Roscoe, was fussing at my mother. He was bent over, looking in the cupboard. I sat down at the table quietly.
“When did you start buying
Dr. Pepper?” he complained. “And, Anita, where are the cinnamon rolls?”
“The cinnamon rolls are at the store, where they belong,” Mom replied, not bothering to turn away from the cantaloupe that she was cutting.
“Wrong answer,” he told her. “Where they belong is right here in this kitchen, so I can pack them in my lunch.”
Mom turned and rolled her eyes at him. She had battled the bulge for as long as I'd been on the Earth, probably even before that. This means I grew up on every diet known to humanity. When she dieted, we all dieted with herâwhether we wanted to or not.
“Come on, Roscoe, you know I don't have that kind of willpower,” Mom explained. “You don't need those cinnamon rolls. Take some of this cantaloupe to work. I'm taking some with me. You'll like it. It's sweet.”
“I don't want cantaloupe, Anita. I want a cinnamon roll.” Roscoe kissed Mom on the cheek, picked up his lunch off the counter, and kissed me on the forehead before walking out of the kitchen.
She called out to him, “The banquet is in a month, and I need to fit into my dress. I can't fit into my dress with cinnamon rolls lurking around the kitchen, taunting me.”
She looked over at me. I was still sitting quietly. I looked over at the small television on the counter. I wanted to avoid a conversation about food and eating habits. There were many things that Mom and I didn't agree on, and weight management was at the top of the list. I'm size two, but I'm healthy. It seemed that my mom had developed a rare form of amnesia and forgot the countless diets she raised me and my siblings on. Now she thought I didn't eat enough.
“Where are you headed?” she asked me.
“I have an appointment with Judy,” I responded.
“Okay,” she said, still cutting the cantaloupe. “Are you going to complain about the cinnamon rolls, too?”
“Nope,” I said, heading to the cabinet for oatmeal.
“That figures,” she said. “You don't eat enough anyway.”
Here we go.
“I eat, Mom. Just in moderation. Healthy weight management, remember?” I said.
“More like weight obsessed,” she said, pouring a cup of coffee.
“I'm not weight obsessed, I'm healthy,” I said, instantly regretting the comment. I should have just kept my mouth closed.
“Bulimia isn't healthy, honey,” she said.
“You're right, Mom. Bulimia isn't healthy. It's an illnessâan illness I don't have.”
She glared at me over the top of her glasses. “You need to eat more,” she said, putting the cantaloupe in the refrigerator. “You're as thin as a rail.”
I wanted to tell her that she needed to eat less, but I didn't. I wanted to live to see the end of the day.
Roscoe walked back into the kitchen before I could defend myself. He was wearing his work uniform and still had his lunch in his hand.
“Remember, I have my meeting tonight after work,” Roscoe has worked for the electric company for at least twenty years. He loves his job and has often said that he has no plans to retire. He said working kept him out of trouble. Although that could be true at times, there were plenty of other times when he almost lost his job because of his drinking. That's why he frequented a sober support group. As hard as he tried to stay on the wagon, there were times when he slipped up. Too many slip ups, in my humble opinion.
“Okay,” Mom said. “See you later.”
Mom sat down and started watching a news report about a black business executive who had been indicted for fraud.
“Surely they know he wasn't behind it. There's more to it,” Mom said.
“Yeah,” I said sarcastically. “Greed.”
“No. He was under somebody's direction,” Mom said.
“So that makes it okay?” I asked. “He did it because he wanted to, because of greed.”
“He did it because he wanted to keep his job,” she said.
“He did it because he was greedy,” I repeated.
Mom glared at me. “Anaya Goode, how in the world do you go to college smart and come out stupid?”
“Mom,” I said, “you think everything is a conspiracy, but this is not someone else's fault. The man is guilty, plain and simple. They have e-mails of him admitting his wrongdoing.”
“So I'm a conspiracy theorist?” she asked.
“I didn't say that,” I argued. “It's just that sometimes you sound a little . . . paranoid.”
“Don't start that,” she exclaimed. “Don't you call me paranoid until you've lived a day in my shoes. You couldn't have survived one day in the life I had when I was your age.”
Not this morning, Mom; not the story about the twelve-mile
“Do you realize that my sisters and I had to walk twelve miles to and from school in the heat of summer and in the dead of winter, and after school to help my mama clean houses? You need to respect the struggle.”
respect the struggle. I'm just saying, everything that happens to Black people is not a conspiracy. People make choices, knowing there is a consequence, and it's no one's fault but their own.”
She looked at me as if I had grown a third eye.
“People do what they have to do to survive. And there are always two sides to a story.”
“I get that, Mom. But at some point, we have to be accountable for who we are and what we want to be. We have the same opportunities for education, the same opportunities for prosperity, and the same opportunities to raise our families. But what is happening?” I gestured at the television as if to prove my point. “We have more black men in prison than in college. So who's teaching young boys how to be men? Who's showing girls what kind of man to look for? We need to wise up and get educated. We need to move forward. Heck, it would be nice if we started voting.”
Mom stared at me a long time before she finally stood up and spoke.
“There's a story in the Bible about Jesus and a blind man,” she began. “The blind man comes to Jesus and asks to be healed. Jesus spits on some dirt, mixes it up, and puts it on the man's eyes. Then he tells the man to go to the water, rinse his eyes out, and come back. When the man returns, Jesus asks him what he sees. The man says he sees men as trees. Jesus spits on the dirt again, rubs it on the blind man's eyes, and tells him to go and rinse his eyes a second time. When the man comes back, Jesus asks him what he sees now, and the man says he sees men as they are. You, Anaya, see men as trees, and I see them as they are.”