a collection of short stories written throughout the life of the author. Some of the short stories reflect life experience and others present either the philosophy and/or ideas of the author. All are extremely entertaining …and insightful!
“Go to sleep, little one, you’re safe in Mommy’s arms; close your eyes without fear, the Good Lord’s always near...” The little girl heard the familiar lullaby that her mother put her to sleep with.
She felt safe and warm. Her mother’s heartbeat, close to her ear, provided a rhythmic cadence and soon she was asleep. The mother rocked her and continued to sing a little longer, making sure she was really out, and not pretending like she sometimes did, so she’d stay with her some more.
Gently, she carried her to the small bed, putting her down with practiced ease, covered the sleeping child with her favorite blanket, carefully arranging the sheets that she usually tossed aside during the night. She finally placed big Sally (the special doll) by her side and without noise, let herself out of the room.
She went into the kitchen, andn settled down with a mug of steaming coffee, which she sipped slowly while her mind raced.
Tomorrow would be an important day in her child’s life. She’d be going to school for the first time. She’d be out of reach of her protective arms and vulnerable. The thought scared her.
She remembered her first day in school. The agony and pain of it, the awful names thrown at her, the jokes and humiliation, the tears.
Things had changed some since then, but had they changed enough?
Her little girl was beautiful with her big brown eyes and short curly dark hair. But she was also black, as black as she’d been and still was, even though her daddy was white. Her daddy that had left them as soon as he found out she was pregnant.
She had raised her alone, without his help, making sure she didn’t lack for anything, bringing food to the table every day. She’d loved her for them both. She worked as a maid and was proud of how she earned a living; with decency and hard work. The lady she worked for was a good woman who treated her with respecdt and allowed her to bring the baby with her, for she wouldn’t leave her baby with anyone.
She would better herse4lf. She had already started two years ago, finishing high school and was still taking those correspondence courses through the mail.
In two more years, she would be able to get a job with benefits, fix up her little apartment and make sure her little Lilly could go to a private school, and get a good education. No welfare for them; not while she could work and earn an honest living.
The neighborhood she lived in wasn’t bad. A lot of pain and anguish for those who had sons, fathers and brothers away in Vietnam. It was rumored that war would soon be over. Hard working families that did the best they could to keep the trash out of their homes, caring about the affairs of one another like a big extended family. She wasn’t bothered much. A teenager here and there, not much younger than herself, would make an occasional good-natured pass at her, trying to impress his buddies. She didn’t feel offended. Girls in their neighborhood were protected. She knew that and they knew it too.
She felt so old sometimes, and yet she was only nineteen. The boys’ whistles remiinded her of her true age, although she wondered if mental age wasn’t much more determining than physical age.
Her apartment was tiny, but it had all she needed. One bedroom which she shared with her daughter, a small kitchen and living room close together and a bathroom. She kept it spotless with soft, pastel colored bright curtains that made it look homely and protected the furniture from the mid-day sun. The rent was a little high but with utilities included it wasn't too bad.
Her parents had been active in the Civil Rights Movement in the early 60's. Born in the 1930's in the South, life had proved to be extremely difficult for both. She had been born in 1952, almost causing her mother's death after eighteen hours of labor. She became their only child upon whom all their dreams for freedom and equality were placed.
In 1961, her parents narrowly escaped death while participating in the movement as Freedom Rivers. Concerned relatives smuggled them out and sent them north. They gave in because of her, not because they were concerned for their own safety.
They settled in Washington where politicians were paying lip service to equal rights for the colored people. Discrimination wasn't as open or hostile, but it was there for all to see. She was sent to school. At 9 years of age, she was a shy, proud youngster that kept mostly to herself and made few friends. Her grades were good although she knew she could do better if she became more active in class.
Much as she tried, she could not bring herself to do that. The old fear was still there, settled in the pit of her stomach. The fear that made her remember her first day of school, when she had been ridiculed, humiliated and called the “N” word by some white classmates. She wasn't four years old anymore, but she was still afraid. Her parents' courage seemed to have skipped a generation. She felt ashamed of not living up to their expectations. This would not be the only blow she'd give to her parents. At fourteen years of age, she found love in a pair of dazzling bue eyes that encircled her heart. She could not believe it! She was in love with a white boy and he claimed to love her too! Her senior by only one year, it wasn't log before she gave in to the demands made by him. She had to prove her love to him, otherwise she'd lose him. He was so handsome and popular!
I have been more fortunate than most for my life has been abundantly enriched by friendship. I don’t have a lot of friends if they are counted by numbers, but the few that have graced me with their presence in my life have been rewarding and true.
My earliest memory of friendship comes out of boarding school. I was six years old and had awakened to the fact that I couldn’t account, or remember, the past two years of my life. Mama had just left, after explaining why I had to remain in boarding school. “It’s for your own protection, little one.” she’d said. “Your Papa is sick and I must need to know that you are safe.”