Copyright© 2011, Faydra D. Fields. All rights reserved.
Typos have been fixed in the final version of the book. Keep in mind that some of this information may have changed in the final version, as well. The changes were made to make the story flow better.
(Denise’s oldest son)
I can’t believe she’s tripping over something so stupid. Boys fight. It’s not like I’m going to be a criminal because I got into one fight. She’s the one who has me going to this stuck-up, stupid school, anyway. If she’d let me go to the school up the block from our apartments, I’d be around more people who look like me and know what I’m going through. These white folks don’t care nothing about me. Oh, God. I can hear her now, “Don’t care anything about me.” Ugh. I can’t believe I have her voice in my head, sitting here correcting myself when she’s not even around. How square can you get? I want to go live with my father, but how do I tell her that’s what I want to do? There are too many people, too many females, in this two-bedroom apartment. I could use that argument to get out from under her thumb, but how do I convince Dad to let me stay with him?
(Denise’s oldest daughter)
I can’t be pregnant. I cannot be pregnant. I. cannot. be. pregnant. Oh, God. What am I going to do? I can’t believe I trusted that foolish Kenny! “We don’t need a condom, baby. I can’t even have kids. I had an accident when I was little,” he told me. Mother will lose her mind over this, and I’m sure I’ll lose my life when Daddy finds out. Kenny’s mother just laughed when I told her: “Why you cryin’? I bet you wasn’t cryin’ when y’all was doing the do. Cryin’ ain’t gone help nothin’. It is what it is. If you pregnant, you pregnant. I’ll take care of it while you finish school.” She didn’t even act like it was a big deal. She said all that to me without even turning away from the television, like she honestly thinks it’s that easy. Doesn’t she know my parents are going to kill me?!?! Oh, GOD! What was I thinking?
(Angela’s oldest daughter)
Let me not crease this magazine, or Momma will know I found it under her mattress. Um! Look at his thing. I wonder what it would feel like to have that inside me. Momma think I don’t hear her and Daddy in there at night. I hear them. They so nasty. She be moaning and calling his name, talking about, “Uh, that’s my spot, baby! That’s my spot! Right there, baby!” Haha! I can’t wait to be with a boy. I like walking down the street in front of them high school boys. I don’t look 12. My friends are still flat in front and back, but I’m not. Plus, I’m tall like my Daddy’s people. They don’t know I’m only in sixth grade. They cain’t do nothing for me, though. If I didn’t learn nothing else from my Momma, I learned this: don’t ever hook up with a dude who ain’t got money to spend on you. Yeah, I cain’t wait to be with a boy, but he gotta have a car and some money before I give up anything.
(Romina’s youngest child)
My mommy embarrasses us. She doesn’t mean to. She can’t help it. I heard my grandma call her retarded. I asked my teacher what retarded means, and she said it means slow to learn. My teacher wanted to know why I was asking her about that word, and I told her I heard someone say it. She didn’t say anything, but I know she knew I was asking because of mommy. My teacher says I’m not retarded. She says I should be in the second or third grade, because I’m really smart. I asked her if I could go to the second or third grade. She said I need to stay with children my own age. My teacher’s nice, though. She gives me higher-level work so I don’t get bored with school. I was excited at first and then I took some of my high-level work home. My brother had to help me with it, because my mommy couldn’t. I wish my teacher was my mommy.
William & Naomi
William sat at the desk in his bedroom. He was trying to find the right words to put on the paper that would convince his father to allow him to move in with him. He reasoned that sending a letter was better than asking over the phone, because he could get all his thoughts out before his father interrupted with questions or just flat-out said no. William reasoned he could also be proactive in his letter and answer all the questions he could think his dad might ask.
“Yes,” William responded to the soft rap on his door.
“May I come in?” Naomi’s muffled voice traveled to him through the closed door.
“I’m busy, Mi-Mi. Can you come back later?” William scratched through a sentence on his paper and started it over on the next line.
“I really need to talk with you, Big Brother.” Naomi never called William “Big Brother” unless she really needed to talk. She wasn’t a pest like other people’s little sisters. He liked talking with her, and he respected her. She was actually a great little sister, so he tried to accommodate her whenever he could. She did the same for him when he needed to talk.
“OK. Come in.” William covered the paper with one of his school books. He shifted in his chair to face the door as Naomi turned the knob and pushed it open.
“Hey,” Naomi said as she hugged herself and inched into the room. She closed the door with her back and leaned against it. She stood by the door studying her shoes. William found this odd, since she normally came straight over to his bed and sat across from him while he sat at his desk.
“Hey,” William said focusing in on his sister’s tear-stained face. “Mi-mi, why are you crying?” When she didn’t answer him, he started to get concerned. “When’s Mother coming home?”
“She’ll be home in about three hours,” Naomi responded without looking up. This caused William to frown slightly. He didn’t have three hours to deal with whatever Naomi was crying about. She probably got an A-minus on a test, he said to himself.
“What’s on your mind?”
“I have to tell you something, Big Brother. I need to know you won’t go to Mother, please.” Naomi didn’t look up but her tears increased in volume.
“Of course I won’t tell Mother. You keep my secrets. I keep your secrets. What’s wrong, little mama?”
“Don’t call me that, William,” Naomi said through gritted teeth.
“Why not,” William asked good-naturedly, “I always call you little mama.” He was smiling, hoping he could get his sister to smile a little, too. His smile quickly disappeared when Naomi melted to the floor and started crying hysterically into her hands.
“Shhhhhhh.” William rushed from his chair and gathered his little sister into his arms. She was so tiny and thin for her age. He picked her up and carried her over to the chair he’d been sitting in and placed her gently on her bottom. She kept crying, even though he tried to comfort her. When he realized he just needed to let her get it out, he kneeled in front of her and placed her forehead on his shoulder and put his arms around her. He rocked her slowly and tried to remember the last time he’d seen Naomi cry.
Naomi didn’t cry. He’d nicknamed her “little mama,” because she was always so well-collected and organized, just like their mother. She would run the house when Denise wasn’t home. Naomi made sure he and their little sister were fed, the dishes were washed, everyone’s clothes were laundered and ironed and put out for the next day of school, and she even read bedtime stories to Sarah when Denise wasn’t home or was too tired to do it. It hurt him to see Naomi so distraught, but he knew he couldn’t make her talk until she was ready, so he just held her and rocked her.
“Yes, lit… I mean, Naomi?”
“William, I’m pregnant,” Naomi choked the words out into her brother’s shoulder. She felt him stop rocking. He put one hand on each of her shoulders and pushed himself away from her to look into her face. Her eyes were swollen and red and her nose was running.
“What did you say?” William looked Naomi square in the face. He was sure he’d heard her wrong.
“I’m pregnant,” Naomi said again, forcing the words from her throat and trying not to break down crying again.
Who?” William let go of Naomi’s shoulders and sat back on the heels of his feet. His mind was telling him to close his gaping mouth, but he couldn’t do it.
“I was stupid, William. I let this boy put his penis between my legs and he wasn’t wearing a condom. It was my first time, and he said he di…” Naomi stopped mid-sentence, as William held up his hands, closed his eyes tight and turned his head to the side.
“Who…the hell is this boy, Naomi!” William could feel the blood rising in his face.
“He’s my boyfriend.” Naomi decided not to scold William for his profanity, since she was depending on him to help her with her situation.
“Your boyfriend?” William got to his feet and yelled down at the top of his sister’s head. “YOUR BOYFRIEND? YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO HAVE A BOYFRIEND, NAOMI!” He saw her shrink into herself, and she started crying again. He realized he was yelling at her more out of jealousy than out of anger. How was it that his little sister had lost her virginity before him, and he was a boy and closer to being able to date than she was?!?!?
“I know, but all the girls liked him and he liked me,” she said through sniffles and sobs.
“Naomi, we used to tell each other everything! You know everything about me! Everything! Now you’re keeping secrets from me?!?! Mother explicitly told us both we cannot date until we are 16 years old. Now you’re telling me that not only do you have a boyfriend, you’re letting him put his penis inside your vagina?!?!”
“It was only one ti… Wait a minute. What?” Naomi stopped crying and turned her swollen eyes and frowning forehead up to look at her brother. She was confused.
“What do you mean, “What?”! You heard me. You’re letting some little boy put his penis in your vagina, and you don’t even talk to me before you do that!” William dropped back to the floor with his legs crossed in front of him, Native-American style. His shoulders were hunched down and his chin was on his chest.
“Wait a minute. I didn’t let him put his penis in my vagina.” Naomi wiped her tears with the back of her hand.
“Don’t start lying to me now, Naomi. That’s the only way you could be pregnant.”
“What? Wait a minute. That’s not what that song said.”
“What song, Naomi?” William was getting annoyed with her.
“Remember that one we snuck and listened to on the station Mother won’t let us play? The guy said over and over ‘Let me put it between your thighs, so we can make a baby with my nose and your eyes.‘ That’s what Kenny did. He put his penis between my thighs and this white stuff came out of it and he wasn’t wearing a condom. I got up fast and wiped it off. When I got home, there was still some of it on my thigh dried up and soaking into my skin. Why are you laughing?” Naomi couldn’t see William’s face, but she saw his shoulders vibrating like he was sitting in a paint mixer. She frowned and crossed her arms with a huff.
“I’m sorry, little mama. Oops. I mean… I forgot you don’t want me to call you little mama right now,” William was trying to stop laughing, but he couldn’t get himself under control.
“STOP LAUGHING AT ME, WILLIAM! MOTHER IS GOING TO KILL ME AND YOU’RE SITTING HERE LAUGHING AT ME! WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING AT ME?!?! STOP IT! I HATE YOU! IT’S NOT FUNNY!” Naomi popped up from the chair and tried to dash past William, but he grabbed her arm and wrestled her to the floor, hugging her playfully and still laughing. Naomi struggled against him, but William continued to hold her and laugh.
“Woooo! Mi-Mi! Woooo. Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute! Woooo! OK, I’m going to stop, I promise. Woooo. For real. Give me a minute,” and William leaned to the side, laughing uncontrollably and taking an obviously livid Naomi over with him. Naomi struggled to get away from him, more angry than upset at this point.
“Let me go, William! I hate you! Why are you doing this to me? My life is over and you think it’s funny. I bet you won’t be laughing so hard at my funeral! Let me go! I’ll never tell you anything again! Never!” Naomi kept struggling to get away and William kept holding her and laughing.
“What are you all doing,” a little voice said through the closed door. It was Sarah. William’s laughter had awakened her from her nap.
“Nothing. Naomi is telling me a funny joke,” William shouted at the closed door. The knob turned and Sarah poked her head into the room. She saw William laughing like a madman and a scowling Naomi struggling to get out of his embrace. Sarah flung the door open and ran into the room.
“I want to play, too!” Sarah wrapped her arms as best she could around William and Naomi and laughed with William. Sarah twisted William in such a way that he lost his grip on Naomi and she leaped up from the floor and moved away from the mass of arms and legs and giggles.
“Sarah. Leave right now! I’m talking with William.” Naomi stood by the door and held the knob.
“I just wanted to have fun, too,” Sarah pouted when she realized how angry Naomi was. William figured he’d laughed enough at his sister’s expense, so he helped her get Sarah out of the room.
“Sarah, come back later and we’ll play, okay? Right now, Naomi and I need to finish talking. Give me hugs and kisses.” Sarah hugged and kissed her big brother and walked toward the door. As she passed Naomi, Sarah poked out her tongue and rolled her little eyes.
“I like William better, anyway. He’s not always bossing me,” Sarah said as Naomi closed the door behind her. When Naomi turned back to William, he was standing by his bed with a book in his hand, flipping the pages and still chuckling.
“Naomi. I apologize. I shouldn’t have laughed at you, but there’s something you need to read.”
“I don’t want to read anything you have, William. I can’t believe you would…”
“Hush, Naomi, and look at this with me, please. I think you’ll laugh, too, when you read this.”
“I doubt it. If it’s not something to tell me how to get un-pregnant, it’s not going to be funny to me.” Naomi left the door behind and walked over to her brother. He offered her the seat at the desk and he placed the book in front of her. Naomi read the header: Human Sexuality and the Developing Teen Body and Mind.
“You’re learning about this in school?” Naomi’s eyes grew large when she saw the pictures of naked men and women.
“Yes, and you will, too, next year. I think it’s why Mother has the ‘no dating before 16′ rule,” William said as he pointed to the part where he wanted Naomi to start reading.
Neither of them said a word as Naomi read to the end of the page and flipped to the next. William stayed next to her, one hand on the desk next to the book and one hand on the back of the chair, leaning over her as she read. When she was done, she closed the book and sat quietly for a few seconds.
William backed a couple of steps away from her to give her a minute to process what she had just read. For the second time, Naomi popped up from her chair, but she didn’t try to dash past William this time. She jumped up to William’s height and hugged her brother hard around the neck.
“Thank you, William, thank you,” Naomi said as she exhaled and plopped back onto the chair at the desk. As she did so, her elbow pushed the Human Sexuality book and another book across the desk, exposing the letter that William had been writing before she knocked on the door.
He reached down to move it before she could see what it was about, but he could tell by her expression she’d seen enough to understand why it was hidden.
“Don’t think that means we’re done with the subject of your boyfriend and why you’re playing with fire, young lady,” William said with half-hearted conviction as he looked at the floor, folded the letter and shoved it in his back pocket. He was hoping and praying Naomi wouldn’t press the issue. He wouldn’t be so lucky.
“No secrets, huh? You’re trying to leave us.”
Copyright© 2011, Faydra D. Fields. All rights reserved.