Copyright© 2012, 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.
“Emmanuel, will you bless the table?” Denise asked.
“Let’s all bow our heads, please,” Emmanuel paused and then proceeded. “Heavenly Father, for this food we are about to receive, we are truly thankful. Bless the hands that have prepared it. Bless all the places that it came from; the farms, the farmers, the factories, the stores. If there are any impurities, please cast them out so they bring no hurt, harm or danger. May this food be nourishment for our bodies, as Your Word is nourishment for our spirits and souls, and we thank you for the finances that allowed us to buy it. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.”
“AMEN!” Everyone else around the table said in unison.
“Dang, Manny! I ain’t know you had all that in you,” Angela teased. Everyone laughed and started passing around bowls of vegetables, platters of meat, mashed potatoes, yeast rolls and all other kinds of goodies.
It was the Sunday after the Saturday that the women had moved into the house, and Romina suggested they have a celebration dinner and even volunteered to cook the entire meal. They’d invited Emmanuel, because it just seemed like it would be wrong to leave him out. He wasn’t really the man of their house, but he was. They didn’t even try to explain it to themselves or each other. They just knew he should be there.
Emmanuel sat at one end of the long table, and William sat at the other. On Emmanuel’s left and William’s right were Xavier, Sonjie, Xavari, Quintarius, Kelvin and Romina. On Emmanuel’s right and William’s left were Marcus, Angela, Quintenerra, Sarah, Denise and Naomi.
Emmanuel looked at all his children and their beautiful mothers. He looked at Xavari’s belly getter rounder and fuller with each passing day. He wondered if this whole thing would actually work out.
Emmanuel knew these women had great expectations that they could pull this off, but they were four, different types of women living under the same roof. He had already seen the separation forming that night at Angela’s old apartment; Denise and Xavari on one side, and Romina and Angela on the other. Could they see it?
Emmanuel had always gotten all his children together, but that had been for one or two days; a week at the most. Could they really live together in peace day after day? Denise’s children were so different from Romina’s and Angela’s. Would they be able to get along? He wasn’t so much worried about the little ones, but the idea of Sonjie and Naomi sharing a room really bothered him. Naomi had issues with her body, and Sonjie had the body Naomi wanted. Would that be a cause for friction between them? He didn’t want his daughters fighting with each other.
Emmanuel decided to enjoy his time with his children and their mothers and put all his doubts out of his mind.
This is the easy part; the moving in together. Only time and experience will tell how this will play out. We’ll just have to wait and see, Emmanuel thought to himself.
“TARRI, I KNOW YO’ MOMMA TAUGHT YOU BETTER THAN THAT! Close yo’ mouth when you chew,” Angela barked at Quintarius.
Quintarius looked like someone had just stuck him in the bottom with a straight pen. He looked from Angela to Romina a little confused about what to do. Romina’s face had flushed red.
“You heard Aunt Gee. Chew with your mouth close,” Romina said meekly. She watched as her son’s mood soured. I’ll have to talk to Angela about that when we get to our room, Romina thought to herself.
“Goodness, now that we’re all in the same house, I just realized we never talked about what the children will call us,” Denise interjected to move past Angela’s awkward outburst.
“Well, I sure don’t want the kids calling me Miss Xavari day in and day out,” Xavari said.
“My kids cain’t call adults by they first name. I wasn’t raised like that, so y’all gotta have some kind’a something before y’all’s names,” Angela said.
“Tarri and Nerra call you Aunt Gee, Momma, so why cain’t we call Miss Denise, Miss Romina and Miss Zee aunt, too?” Sonjie wanted to know.
“Aunt Zee. That works for me,” Xavari said.
“Well, I guess that makes me Aunt Denise,” Denise added.
“Oo, can we call you Aunt Dee?” Sonjie asked with excitement.
“Well… I don’t see why not,” Denise said and smiled at Sonjie.
“Then you can be Aunt Ro,” Naomi said to Romina.
“Oo, I like that, Naomi,” Romina said with a smile, trying to recover from her embarrassment.
“Romina, the entire meal is delicious. Thank you so much for fixing all this food,” Denise said. Romina smiled graciously.
“Yeah, girl. You put yo’ foot in’nem greens,” Angela said.
“I liked the green beans,” Sonjie said.
“Me, too, and the chicken,” Naomi added.
“What’d you put in the mashed potatoes?” William wanted to know.
“It’s a secret, Will,” Romina said and blushed from all the praise.
“Auntie Ro, you sure can cook,” Kelvin said. “Momma, why you don’t cook stuff like this?”
The conversation around the table died down ever so slightly, and everyone tried not to look at Angela. They were waiting for the explosion. To their surprise, Angela just laughed.
“Hush, boy. I do cook stuff like this. I just don’t cook it all the time,” Angela said and kept the smile on his face. I’m gone beat his lil’ ass when we go upstairs, Angela thought to herself.
“Well, it’s been a long time,” Kelvin said absentmindedly. He had no idea the kind of trouble he was causing himself and the kind of embarrassment he was causing Angela.
Romina smiled to herself as Kelvin “outted” Angela on her cooking habits. That’s what you get, Romina thought.
“I’m ready for dessert,” Emmanuel said. He knew he’d better save the rest of Kelvin’s rump.
There was a rousing applause and calls of affirmation to Emmanuel’s mention of dessert. Romina got up from the table and headed for the kitchen.
“Aunt Ro, would you like some help?” William asked Romina.
“I’ll help her,” Quintarius said and rushed from the table behind his mother.
Everyone at the table could hear muffled voices from the kitchen, but they all pretended not to know what it was about and they kept their own conversations going.
The only person who seemed to be oblivious to the tension in the room was Angela. She was still eating heartily from her plate and giving bits of ham to Marcus, who was greedily gobbling down each little piece.
After a few minutes, Romina and Quintarius returned. Quintarius was carrying saucers, spoons and forks, and Romina had a tray with a chocolate cake, a sweet potato pie and a coconut pie. William made room on the table by picking up some of the empty serving bowls, and Romina sat the tray down on the table.
“Thanks, Will,” Romina said and took the empty bowls from William and went back to the kitchen. While Quintarius was putting saucers in front of everyone, Romina came back with two one-gallon blocks of ice cream. One was Butter Pecan, and one was Vanilla.
When Quintarius got around the table to Angela, he reached to put the saucer in front of her plate because she was still eating.
“BOY! YOU DON’T REACH OVER NOBODY’S FOOD LIKE THAT!” Angela hollered at Quintarius.
“You stop yelling at my brother! You stop it! Quit being mean to him! He didn’t do anything!” Quintenerra burst out in tears, and Sarah also started crying and hugged Quintenerra.
Angela looked like she didn’t know what all the fuss was about. Sonjie and Kelvin had the same look as their mother. They were used to her yelling about everything. They were also accustomed to her nit-picking everything they did. Angela turned to look at Quintarius who was standing behind her with tears streaming down his face.
“Oh, boy. I ain’t mean nothin’ by all that,” Angela said. She looked at Romina, “I ain’t mean nothin’ by that. I’m so used to yellin’ at my hard-head kids I wasn’t thinking.”
“You’ve done it twice tonight,” William said. He looked at Emmanuel, who gave his son a slight nod and raised eyebrow as if to say, “You’re speaking the truth son. Just don’t go too far.”
“Did I?” Angela couldn’t remember yelling at Quintarius before he reached over her plate.
“Yes, you did,” Xavari chimed in. She could see that Angela really had no idea what they were talking about.
“Well, dang, I apologize, Tarri, if I yelled at you twice tonight,” Angela said in a flippant tone that didn’t sound like she was really remorseful. These sensitive-ass heffas gone make me choke somebody, Angela thought to herself.
“May I be excused, please?” Quintarius asked. Romina was about to say he couldn’t go, but Emmanuel interceded.
“William, take your brother upstairs and help him get himself together,” Emmanuel said and took the rest of the saucers and utensils from Quintarius and gently pushed him towards the other end of the table.
William got up when Quintarius got to him and put his arm around his little brother. As they were leaving the dining room, Quintenerra got out of her chair and followed them. Sarah followed Quintenerra, and Kelvin followed Sarah. Seeing that their siblings were leaving, Naomi and Sonjie left the table, too.
The only sounds in the dining room now were from Xavier and Marcus who were baby-talking and pounding on their high chair trays. There was awkward silence between the women, and Emmanuel just had nothing to say.
Xavari got up from the table, took Xavier out of his high chair, and opened the sliding doors to the ladies’ common room. She put Xavier in the playpen in the corner of the room, plopped down on the sofa and turned on the television.
When Denise heard the evening news, she got up and joined Xavari in the common room. Romina followed Denise.
Emmanuel just sat in his seat with his head leaning back on his chair and his eyes closed.
Angela got up, picked up the coconut pie and brought it back to where she was sitting. She sliced into it and put a huge piece on her plate. She gave Marcus some of the coconut shreds from the top of the pie, and his giggles caused Emmanuel to open his eyes and look over at the baby. He then looked at Angela, who looked at him and said…
“This pie is good. You want a piece?”
Copyright© 2012, Faydra D. Fields. All rights reserved.