My time with MPAX was a lot of fun, but I'm happy to find myself in a far warmer climate today. Join me in paradise with Mark Koopman.
Today's snippet involves DeShawn and his mother. Reggie and DeShawn have started dating, as much as middle school students date. She and DeShawn were in his apartment when his mother came home, catching them kissing. They stood quickly and spilled their bowl of popcorn. DeShawn has been sent out to get groceries, leaving Reggie alone with his mother.
Reggie concentrated on the popcorn, too afraid to look up. The grocery bags rustled as DeShawn’s mother placed them on the kitchen counter. Reggie picked up the last few kernels and dropped them in the bowl. She tried to put the bowl in the kitchen sink, but DeShawn’s mother stopped her.
“You need to throw out the popcorn first,” she said.
Reggie picked the bowl back up and poured the contents into the empty trashcan. A few seeds pinged and ponged against the plastic trashcan, filling the room with little slapping sounds. Her back tingled under the woman’s stare. She turned to place the bowl in the sink, but stopped when she saw his mother sizing her up.
DeShawn’s mother struck a match, filling the air with a sulfur stench. She flicked the match into the sink and it sizzled in a small puddle of water.
“Let me ask you a question,” she said.
Reggie clutched the bowl tighter in her arms. “Okay.”
“You a virgin?” she asked.
Reggie blinked a few times, trying to focus on DeShawn’s mother. Her mouth went dry but she managed to mumble, “Yes.”
“Good. You plan to stay that way with my son?”
“Yes.” She didn’t like the way she felt, tiny and scared. His mother seemed to tower over her even though they were almost the same height. Her heart was racing worse than it had before any fight, but she knew the woman would not hit her.
DeShawn’s mother took in a drag from her cigarette, held it for a moment in her lungs as she ran her eyes up and down Reggie. She opened her mouth and released the smoke in one ill-smelling cloud. “Good. Don’t need no new babies in this family. I raised plenty already. You change your mind, you two better be safe. You understand me?”
“Good. Now put that bowl in the sink and get your little ass home. DeShawn’s got chores to do.”
The bowl made a funny clink as she lowered it into the sink. For a second, she was scared the bowl had cracked, but the clinking sound was louder than the hit was worth. She knew his mother watched her as she walked out of the apartment. Reggie could feel her disapproval following her out of the room. She wanted to run, but she forced her legs to keep an even pace.
She had spent the night before huddled in her bed, a knife clutched to her chest as The Apartments raged in its fury. She’d barely slept and when she had, she’d dreamt someone was trying to open their door. The last few hours she’d passed staring at the doorknob, never quite sure if it was turning or not. Somehow, this conversation was worse.
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