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.
“When are they coming to fix the air conditioning? This fan isn’t doing anything but making a lot of noise and blowing hot air around the room.” Regina had to speak loudly to be heard over the fan oscillating in the kitchen.
“The guy said he’d be here first thing in the morning. I can’t wait. I took the little window unit out of my room and put it in Xavier’s room so he doesn’t wither away from the heat. His little body is all broken out with heat rash.” Xavari was sitting at the kitchen table and her sister was standing behind her styling Xavari’s hair into cornrows.
“Did you remember to put that part of the crib that slides down back up after you changed him? I remember that one day you forgot and Xavier rolled out onto the floor. One minute I’m talking to you. The next minute we hear this thud.” Regina laughed as she recalled the sound of Xavier dropping to the big pillows Emmanuel had placed right next to the baby’s crib for just such an occurrence. Xavari didn’t laugh. She was remembering the chewing out that she had received from Emmanuel for being so careless.
“Regina. Even when Xavier’s 50 years old, that’s not going to be funny to me. My baby could have hurt himself badly.” Xavari was annoyed that Regina always recalled that incident with such amusement.
“Girl, please. Babies are more resilient than we think. Besides, Manny was well-prepared for it. Nothing happened to your baby, so get over it.”
“Whatever. I just don’t think it’s funny.”
“Whatever. If you weren’t so proud, you would have had a new crib for Xavier, instead of that ol’ raggedy thing you got at the thrift store, but you didn’t want Daddy to buy you anything for this hole in the wall. I don’t know why you didn’t just stay at Daddy’s instead of moving into this roach motel of an apartment building,” Regina teased as she worked on a braid.
“I just needed my own space. I got tired of Daddy trying to tell me how to raise Zay. It was like he thought since he was paying the bills, buying the food and putting clothes on our backs, he could just run me,” Xavari spoke loudly to be heard over the fan.
“Well, duh. He was footing the bill, so you have to deal with his rules. You know how Daddy is.” Regina was using the spiked end of the rat-tail comb to part Xavari’s hair so she could start another braid.
“Yeah, I know how Daddy is. That’s why I had to get out of there. He was driving me up the wall.” Xavari closed her eyes and tried to concentrate away the pain in her scalp.
“I can’t blame you for that. It’s why I couldn’t wait to get married, but now what are you going to do, Xavari?”
“Ow! Could you quit pulling so hard?!” Xavari hunched down in the chair to try to move away from Regina’s hands. Regina kept a firm grip because she didn’t want the braid to get twisted.
“Look, I can’t help it if you’re tender-headed. Stop squirming and sit still or this braid is going to be all zigzag, and you ain’t Allen Iverson.” Regina repositioned Xavari’s head so she could finish the braid.
“What do you mean ‘what am I going to do‘? What can I do?” Xavari squinted her eyes and hiked her shoulders up to her ears to try to lessen the pain of having her hair slowly pulled from her scalp into another cornrow.
“Quit squirming, Zee, or I’m going to leave your head half-done. Why do you do this every time? You’re the one who wants these tiny little cornrows, and you know what I have to do to make it look right. It wouldn’t hurt so bad if you let me make them a little bigger,” Regina complained.
“I like them small. They look better that way to me,” Xavari said as she futilely tried to move her head to a position that was more comfortable as her sister continued to tightly braid her hair.
“They look good any way I do them, so you can kill that noise.”
“Whatever, nothing. You wouldn’t ask me to do it all the time if I didn’t have you looking boss, so don’t even front, little girl.” Regina finished the braid, put a faux cowry shell on the end, created another section and started another braid.
“Ow! I know you don’t have to pull that hard, girl! Can we take a break? I feel like you’re going to pull my eyes into the back of my head,” Xavari asked with exasperation.
“Let me finish this one, and I’ll let you take a break.” Regina eased off the braid a bit. She finished it and put a faux cowry shell on the end.
“Whu! Cheese and crackers! How much more do you have to go?” Xavari felt around her head to see how much loose hair was left unbraided. She frowned when she realized Regina wasn’t even halfway done and her frown deepened when she looked over at the fan. It was just whirring away, making a lot of noise, but it wasn’t shooting out any cool air.
“Answer my question, little girl. I want to talk about this before your man gets home.” Regina spoke to Xavari over her shoulder as she washed the grease off her hands in the kitchen sink.
“Emmanuel doesn’t live here,” Xavari retorted.
“He has a key and you let him come and go as he pleases, so he lives here, even if it ain’t fulltime,” Regina shot back.
“Whatever. He didn’t say he was coming over tonight. I asked him to be here tomorrow to let the air conditioning guy in, but he said he’d have to let me know if he’d be able to work from home tomorrow. I need to call him and find out.”
“Girl, please, you don’t know when you’re going to see that man.” When Regina turned around from the sink, Xavari had her eyes closed and she was resting her head on her arms on the table. With excitement in her voice, Regina said, ”Oh, hey, Emmanuel.” Xavari whipped her head up from the table and looked behind her to view the empty door frame. Regina laughed.
“You punk. You play too much.” Xavari tried not to register the disappointment on her face that she felt in her heart. She always got excited when Emmanuel came through the door.
“Little girl, what are you going to do,” Regina asked again. She was drying her hands on a dish towel.
“What do you think I’m going to do, Gina? It’s not like I have any choices,” Xavari snapped.
“Yes, you have choices. You just don’t want to admit you have choices.” Regina sat across the kitchen table from her sister.
“I’m not having an abortion, so I don’t have any other choice, Gina.” Xavari wouldn’t look at Regina. She put her elbow on the table and rested her cheek on her fist.
“I don’t understand why you’re being so adamant about this, Zee. Why would you have a baby you don’t want?”
“It’s a sin against God, Gina! I’m not doing it!” Xavari was getting annoyed with this conversation.
“Well, when you were “doing it,” were you thinking about sinning against God?”
“Excuse me?!?!” Xavari’s voice went up a few octaves.
“Xavari. You are 19 years old, and you’re about to have another baby with a man you say doesn’t want to marry you and what’s worse is you don’t want to marry him. I can’t believe you didn’t learn from my mistakes. You know how disappointed Daddy was when I got pregnant the first time. I thought the man was going to have a stroke the second and third time I got pregnant. You watched me give up high school, friends, parties, the prom, graduation, the senior class tri…”
“I know, I know, but it’s different for me. I graduated from high school. I’m in college,” Xavari said with an attitude.
“For now. What are you going to do when you’re too sick or too tired to go to class?” Regina gazed steadily at the top of Xavari’s head, because Xavari refused to look at her.
“I won’t be too sick or too tired. I’m going to finish college. I have to finish college. If I don’t, I won’t be able to get a decent job or…”
“Xavari, listen to yourself. You don’t know what’s going to happen during this pregnancy. Remember what you went through when you were carrying Xavier? Your body hasn’t recovered from that pregnancy, and now you’re pregnant again. You’re going to have two kids in diapers at the same time and…”
“JUST LIKE YOU DID!” Xavari yelled at Regina and shot up to her feet and squared off on Regina.
“YES, XAVARI, JUST LIKE I DID, AND YOU THINK YOU’D HAVE LEARN NOT TO BE JUST LIKE ME!” Regina’s fists were balled at her sides and she was breathing heavily. Xavari was in the same stance. They looked like mirror images of one another.
“I’M NOT GOING TO BE LIKE YOU, BI…!” Xavari stopped herself before the “ch” escaped her lips.
“I wish you would,” Regina said slowing in a low growl. Neither one of them breathed for a few seconds. The only sound in the kitchen was the droning of the oscillating fan. Their eyes were locked as though they were playing the staring game they used to play as children to see who would blink first. Xavari conceded. She crumpled into the chair directly behind her and broke down into tears.
“Oh, God, how could I let this happen again? I don’t want another baby right now!” Xavari covered her face with her hands and sobbed like a woman who was mourning the death of a child, not a woman giving life to a child. Regina felt a lump in her throat and tears starting to well up in her eyes. She hurried to her little sister and put her arms around her. She spoke softly to Xavari.
“Hey, little girl. It’s going to be okay. We can deal with this. Xavari, you don’t have to have this baby. Have you told Emmanuel?” Regina rocked Xavari to calm her down. Every few seconds the warm air from the fan blew on them as it oscillated from side to side.
“No, but I think he suspects,” Xavari replied into her sister’s neck.
“Xavari, you don’t have to have this baby. Women have abortions every day. It’s not that big of a deal,” Regina said as she gently pushed Xavari away from her and wiped Xavari’s eyes with the flat of her palm.
“Regina, how can you say it’s no big deal? You’re asking me to murder my child.” Xavari looked into her sister’s eyes for the first time since they’d started the discussion about the pregnancy.
“Xavari, it’s not murder. Don’t think like that. It’s an alternative to having a baby you don’t want.” Regina’s voice was compassionate but firm.
“How can you say that? The Bible says that God knew every one of us before we were even formed in our mothers’ wombs. I don’t care about all this “when does life begin” crap that the scientists and politicians are spouting. If God knows us before we’re formed in our mothers’ wombs, abortion is murder.”
“That’s not how I see it, Zee.” Regina walked around the table and sat back down in the chair across from Xavari.
“Well, that’s the way I see it. God says He won’t forgive the shedding of innocent blood. I’m not having an abortion, Gina. That’s out. Besides, Emmanuel would lose his mind if I had an abortion. I’m having my baby, and that’s all there is to it.” Xavari crossed her arms over here breasts and looked evenly at her sister.
“Well, you can forget school, because you’re not going to make it through this year.” Regina crossed her arms over her breasts, too, and rolled her eyes at Xavari.
“Yes. I will. Why do you have to be so negative?”
“I’m not being negative. I’m telling you how it’s going to be. You’ll do good for awhile and then you’ll have to withdraw, because you forget Xavier has to be dealt with, too.”
“Look. I know it’s not going to be easy, but I can do this. I need you to do me a favor, though.” Xavari uncrossed her arms and placed her hands on the table.
“What, little girl?” Regina looked at Xavari with an unsmiling smirk on her face.
“Don’t tell Daddy, and whatever you do pleeeeaaase don’t let Emmanuel know about it.” Xavari looking pleadingly at her big sister.
Regina opened her mouth to respond, but before she could get any words out, Emmanuel appeared in the kitchen doorway.
“Don’t let Emmanuel know about what?” Emmanuel stood there with a blank look on his face and Xavier on his hip.
Copyright© 2011, Faydra D. Fields. All rights reserved.