I’ve lost trust in Janice. We’ve been friends since the second grade. Now we’re Seniors in high school. She’s never been completely trustworthy. She stole a boyfriend of mine. Once she told a deep dark secret of mine to the whole sixth grade class. I don’t know why. I forgave her. I believed her each time she said it would never happen again. This time I can’t forgive her. She told all the important people in my life that my mom is a bar hopper and a whore. Really, it isn’t the truth. Why would she make up such a lie? I think Janie is jealous of me. She’s never really been my friend. That’s what really hurts. Because I trusted her so much. She was the sister I never had but wanted all my life. My parents treated her like their daughter. My mom never hurt her. Why would she say something so daggone ugly and horrible? I wanted to kick her butt. She’s five inches taller than me. That made me change my mind. Plus, I’ve seen her in fights. She really can fight. She pulls hair like an orangutan might pull hair. She scratches your face. She goes crazy. Really, I think she is crazy. This time I’m not making up with her. If this is friendship, I don’t want it.
Now when I walk down the hall at school, everybody laughs at me. One boy hollered, “you gonna be like yo’ mama?” I dropped all my books on the floor. Left my school locker open. Ran outside of school. I passed my street and ran up the hill to the cemetery. No one comes here unless they have to bring a body for a funeral. I don’t have to worry about a truant officer coming by. I don’t have to worry about seeing Janie’s big nose looking down trying to find out my business. I didn’t want to cry. Couldn’t help it. Janie never was my friend. The kids in school didn’t care one bit about me unless there was a way I could pass them an answer to a quiz or do all their homework.
I use to do all of that for them. I thought that would make them like me. I knew underneath they didn’t really like me. I couldn’t face knowing that fact. You can’t go through public school without friends. If they ever figure out you’re a loner, you can forget it. They will hurt you up bad. I pulled a nickel out of my pants pocket. I looked at the print, “In God We Trust.” I remembered my Grandmama telling me, “Don’t trust nobody but the Good Lord.” I didn’t know what she meant. She was always humming and making up some old saying to quote day after day after day. As I say by the grave of Jenella Lincoln, I had to look down at the gravestone to see her name, I wondered did Grandmama know what she was talking about. Man, I had to have somebody to trust. I decided to go to church on Sunday. I would go with my brother, Tom. That way I wouldn’t be by myself. I wouldn’t sing. While the preacher was preaching, I would read the words to the hymns. They seemed to talk about Jesus in almost every song. And tonight I would try to say my prayers.
Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I die before I wake, I pray the
Lord my soul to take.
I didn’t know about a soul or none of that stuff. I just believed praying it would help me get my trust back in folks again. Maybe Jesus would send me a “real” friend. Someone I could tell anything to and they would really care how I felt. That would be my first prayer. “Jesus, I need a friend.” I looked at Jenella’s gravestone. She died at ten years old. I would come back and visit her. Put a rose or two on her grave. If I couldn’t find roses to pick, I would bring and leave my gold locket for her. I don’t think anyone would steal it. After all, couldn’t you trust people who came to visit cemeteries?
They walked every day. If he lived another month, it would be a miracle. Not his thoughts, but the words of the doctor who had taken care of him for thirty years. So he knew the right thing to do was to set a goal. Try to find something worthwhile to do before he left this earth to go to Heaven or Hell. While thinking, his eyes landed on his granddaughter’s photograph. He leaned back in his desk chair. He had found this desk and chair on a trash heap. Rich people threw out anything. Nothing they threw out could be considered trash. That day he quickly stashed the desk and chair in the trunk of his truck. Once he got it home, it seemed right. It seemed like that desk and chair gave a sigh. “We belong here. We waited all this time for her to throw us out. Then, two or three days we waited for you to ride by in that noisy truck. Ever heard of a muffler? You need one.”
Once he leaned back in his desk chair the idea spun in his head all of a piece. Every day he would meet his daughter whether morning or afternoon and take her for a walk. It would never be the same time. That would be too boring. It would always be a different time. That way she would always be surprised.He would buy her a sketch pad and a set of pencils. That way she could make a journal of what they would see at the zoo or what they would see in the museum. Some days they would just sit on a bench and feed the pigeons. The important thing would be that she would have a memory of grandpa liking her company. John became so excited he walked in the kitchen and opened a can of bake beans. After he ate the baked beans, he would make a call to Tink’s mother. Surely, she would like the idea too. There was one problem. Lola didn’t know he was dying. He didn’t want her to know. He wanted to just slip away from her. He felt that would make his death easier on her.
Thank goodness it was summer. Tink would have lots of time every day. He would make this a summer to remember and a summer that no one could relive.
I experienced a serendipitous moment this morning. On Facebook, I found a page for St. Augustine, Florida. I could feel my mother’s presence. However, she is no longer with me. She passed away years ago. Anyway, it just felt so magical to unexpectedly find so many photos of the place she called her childhood home. I just felt so happy. If I could do it, I would travel there this very week. I have the feeling my next thought would be to move there for the rest of my life. It’s such a beautiful place.
The odd thing is that on a genealogical site I never found St. Augustine, Florida as my mother’s birth home. I always came up with Georgia. I know Georgia is just as beautiful as St. Augustine. I just want to know the truth. Where was my mother born?
Does it matter? I think so. I think Family History is very important. No knowledge of my family background is like feeling lost in a dark place every day. I keep trying different door knobs. Each door knob is locked. I can’t get in. It leaves me to wonder if there is something shameful in my past. If there is something shameful, don’t I have the right to know it? Don’t I have the right to struggle with the truths that have made me who I am? Perhaps, I will pay another visit to a genealogical site. Seeing St. Augustine made me want to do research again.
Her sister screamed. For years, her sister kept her emotions hidden. No one knew whether she enjoyed going up North. No one knew whether she felt happy to graduate from high school. Her face never betrayed the feelings inside. She wore one face for every event in her life until they shot and killed her six months old baby daughter, Summer. Then, she broke loose. She let it all out on the street in front of Maxie’s grocery store. Since that day, I’ve never heard another scream like that one. Since that day, every emotion shows on her face. The laugh might follow a walk up the aisle of the church to look in a casket. A tear might fall while she’s watching a basketball game. Since that one afternoon when she lost Summer, Ellie is all mixed up. I remember reading She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb. My sister has come undone. She’s fallen like Humpty Dumpty. No one can put her together again. She’s broken inside and out.
That night I saw a face in the back of a black SUV. If I ever see that slime face again, I intend to kill him. I won’t need a weapon. I’m going to unglue him with my bare hands. I want him to feel what my sister felt. Then, I won’t feel as sad looking at Ellie’s sweet face.