Lily: Chapter One
Mama pull the stolen car up the long driveway and walk to the front door with me behind her. The white lady don’t see me till Mama walk her wide body through the door. At first, the white lady smile when Mama introduce me as her grandchild—till I don’t smile back, and then she frown and start examinin' me. This white lady ain’t nothin’ like my mama. She ain’t fat. She tall. She got a clean house. She like dogs. She got a lil poodle that won’t stop barkin’. She got a TV. A Zenith. It’s big and got doors. But it ain’t on. I wish it was. We ain’t got one.
The white lady who I ain’t neva seen who s’posed to be my grandma has her face so close to my head I can feel her nose on the part in my scalp. “Why is her hair waving at the root? She looks colored,” she tell my mama.
“She is colored,” Mama tell her back.
I have to jerk my body back when that same white lady smack my mama’s cheek so hard it sound like a glass broke. One of Mama’s teeth fall out, but they all rotten, any way. Inside, I’m smilin’ ’cause that white lady did to my mama what I been wantin’ to do—smack the shit outta her. She deserve it. Not for sayin’ I’m colored, but for all the otha shit she done to me. She my mama, but only ’cause she push me out, not ’cause she act like one. I don’t neva want kids. I don’t neva wanna be nobody’s mama.
“You can’t stay here with a colored child. You laid down with one of them and had their child, so you may as well learn the hard way what it’s like to be one. Use the side door when you leave.”
The house we at is the color of Pepto-Bismol, and it got some brick on it, too. It got two stories, but a lotta otha houses on the street only got one. And they got a lotta trees at they house, and so do they neighbors. Only faces I see out this way is white ones. I was scared at first, but Mama say they don’t know we not the same as them.
We go back to the car—a Ford Mainline that look like a hearse—that my mama stole from her boyfriend. He ain’t gonna report her ’cause he married and she a secret he don’t wanna get out. He got what Mama call a fetish for fat. Mama let him come ova wheneva he wanna, as long as he bring money and food…a whole lotta food, all for her. He pay to watch her eat while she naked. I don’t know why anyone wanna pay to see that. I gotta see my mama that way every day when I wash her big ass and mama or no mama I feel like she should be payin’ me. If I had a choice, even if she was payin’ me, I’d turn down the money. But I’d rather him be into fat womens than lil girls. ’Cause the next man that put his hands on me, I’m killin’.
“You wanna know why I am the way I am?” Mama say as she stab the key into the ignition. “It’s cause they the way they is. Colored,” Mama spits. She got tears in her eyes. She hardly got room between her chest and the steerin’ wheel. “She colored, too. My daddy is, too. They wanna spend they whole life pretendin’ not to be, just ’cause they can. I can, too, if I wanna, but I don’t.”
“Why not?” I mumble.
“What you say?” She shove my shoulder hard, pushin’ me into the side of the door.
“Why be colored? You can’t do nothin’. Nothin’ worth nothin’. Can’t even live where they live. It’s easier bein’ white.”
“I hate crackas. That’s why not.”
“But your boyfriend a cracka, Mama.”
“That man ain’t none of my boyfriend. He a man who pay me to do freaky shit with him and food. If I had my choice, I woulda married a man as black as my cast-iron skillet. But I couldn’t risk havin’ no dark kids. The world hard enough for light coloreds—a dark one got it even worse. I hate white folks. Hate I look like ’em. I ain’t tryin’ to pass. I’m tryin’ to survive the best way I know how. So next time you wonder why I am the way I am—rememba the day I drove you all the way out to Warren to see your white side.” She start the engine and pull the gear down so hard I figure it gonna come off.
I can’t neva forget this day, but not for why Mama want me to. ’Cause I seen my mama get slapped and half her face turn red, the same way mine do when she smack her meaty hand to my cheek for not makin’ enough when I cook her meals, or goin’ too fast when I wash her up and for not gettin’ in between all the skin folds, the way she like, and not puttin’ enough calamine lotion on the raised spots. If I love my mama, I wouldn’t mind. But since I hate her, I can’t stand to feel her skin against mine. But I’m gonna do betta with her meals since the docta say if she keep eatin’ the way she do, she gonna die—and that’s what I wanna happen.
My mama’s sadness don’t last long. She turn on the radio and hear a song she like.
“Who dat, Mama?”
“Who dat? Lil bitch, you betta know your music, much as I play mine. That there is Tommy Edwards ‘You Win Again’. Ooh, this song right here make it all betta.” Mama wipe away her tears and turn up the volume. It’s too loud, but I can’t say nothin’. ’Cause if I do, it won’t make it all betta for me. “I do win again. I always win. The hell with them crackas and they pink house. We gonna find us a place to stay—somehow.”
I hope you enjoyed the preview from my upcoming novel, Lily. If you'd like to continue the journey, please order your copy today from Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Tolino, or request a digital copy from your local library through OverDrive, Baker & Taylor, and Bibliotheca.