Blond Hair, Black Braids
by B.T. Bonner
Olivia watched from the passenger side as Tyrone maneuvered his car off of the main road and deep enough into the woods that cars passing by would not detect it. The noisy snapping of sticks and twigs combined with the frantic crunching of pine cones underneath the tires were noiseless compared to the drumming going on inside of Olivia's chest as he thrust the gea r shift into park. Leaning over into the passenger seat, Tyrone grabbed and pulled anxiously at the buttons on Olivia’s blouse. She tried to adjust the knob on his car radio thinking that if she could at least hear some soft music it could somehow magically restore the illusion of romance that she hadn't felt since their first swing at intimacy. Olivia and Tyrone managed to make their way to their little outd oor hotel room in the woods every couple of days since discovered it. It was intimately hidden out of the scope of nosey neighbors and friends, and most important, free of charge. Although it wasn't the way that Olivia dreamed of losing her virginity, the heat of their combined passion somehow melted away the discomfort of the cramped two-door escort which wore the stench of spilled beer and a one-year-old ai r freshener tree hanging from the rear view mirror."Tyrone, I have something to tell you."
I don't know if it was the fear in her voice or the lack of response to his lips on her breasts that forced Tyrone to cease fire his sexual conquest and freeze up like his body had just been dipped in liquid nitrogen."Baby what's the matter?" Tyrone asked impatiently.
Olivia inhaled and released a deep sigh before reaching under her seat for the last of the cheap, warm beer that Tyrone's dad had coped for them earlier that day. He charged his usual two-dollar coping fee for minors. Olivia twisted off the beer cap and quickly downed a couple of swallows before looking up into Tyrone's eyes.
All week long Olivia had worried herself to the point of tears trying to construct words the right words. She’d spent nights wondering how he would react. Wondering if her confession would be met with the same gentle touch that took possession of her body three times a week in the back seat of his car. The same words that she had spent the entire week convincing herself of were now lost somewhere in between fear and uncertainty. Olivia turned down the volume on the car radio."I think I'm pregnant!"
Silence hung in the air for what seemed a slice of eternity before Tyrone slouched backwards in his seat while twisting on his braids. The fear in Tyrone's eyes made his pupils dance a jig. He lowered his head into his hands and searched the confines of the car for air before looking up, over, and into Olivia's eyes."Are you sure? I mean is it mine? he rambled. Um, how you know you pregnant anyway?"
Breaking the barrier of silence, Tyrone's questions sprang from his mouth so fast he didn't notice the fresh school of tears as they swam down Olivia's face."I missed my period twice and..."
"You what!" Interrupting. Wait a minute, I thought that you were on the pill. How the hell you pregnant if you on the pill? Tell me that?" Tyrone asked, interrupting his original questions with angrier more insistent questions. His voice had turned from the sensual baritonic moan of a man on top of his woman to the squeaking of an scared young bitch with high pitch."I didn't tell you I was on the pill Tyrone and you know that you're the only boy that I've been with."
Olivia's whine-filled words became more frantic. In the silence Olivia's heart was pounding the insides of her chest. Traces of fear riddled across her wet face as she pulled her long blond hair back and tied it in a ponytail with a clip. The look on Tyrone's face confirmed everything that had kept her up late the past few weeks reading Arabesque romance novels in hoping that maybe she could find an answer to her problem. Any happy ending would suffice. Tyrone's dark hands tightly gripped the fuzzy cover on the steering wheel as he let out a growl and turned away from her cursing out loud.
"Damn Olivia does anybody else know about this yet? I mean..."
"Naw..." she interrupted sharply.
"Well don't tell nobody about this, we going take care of it before anybody finds out anyway. eah, I'll come up with the money and you can just make an appointment at the clinic to have it taken care of."
"Taken care of?" Olivia exclaimed in confusion amidst her sobbing. "What do you mean taken care of? I can't have an abortion Tyrone. My mother would freak out. I'm not getting an abortion Tyrone. No way!"
"So you mean you wanna mess up everything trying to have a baby? I am not ready to be no baby daddy Olivia. I got accepted into college and everything. My daddy would beat my ass if he finds out that I got a white baby on the way, plus, plus, what your mama gone say?" Transforming his anger and fear into a sarcastic laugh. "We already have to sneak around in the woods, now you gon tell her you gon have a black and white baby? I don't think so." Laughing some more. Hoping that his sarcastic laugh in the face of her news could spark her insecurity just enough to save him from having to explain all of this to his father.
"This ain't funny Tyrone! What the hell is so funny? I'm pregnant and you're laughing at me!"
Olivia's panic-filled ranting and ravings finally releasing her fate out and onto a deprived world. Olivia had been denying her body's warning signs despite the nausea wake up calls in the morning and the weight gain that she had been concealing from her mother. Olivia opened the car door, jumped out and slammed it back as hard as she could. She began to run through the woods trying her best to escape the fear that was attached to her present and her future. She didn't want to wind up one of those teenage mothers that she'd heard so much about in health class. The ones that were forced to drop out of high school in their senior year because someone thought that it would be best for everybody. Neither parents nor teachers wanted some young knocked up teenager in their classrooms admitting to the rest of the young girls that pregnancy wasn't all that bad. That it was possible to still have a life despite the evidence of premarital sex. The parents in this small rural town in Galion, Ohio knew that if one popular teenager took a swim in a creek infested with piranhas, there would be an entire school of less popular kids lining up to bathe in the same dirty water.
Olivia navigated her way in the dark in between tall trees and around picnic benches. She heard Tyrone's car door slam, followed by his voice calling her name in the distance, to finally his footsteps behind her. Olivia felt his hands grabbing at her arms and turned to face him. Instinctively she began hurling obscenities, twirling blame, and swinging clinched fists at Tyrone. Olivia fought feverishly for her youth as hard as she could until finally she lost the battle. Tyrone pulled her close to him trying his best to comfort her and keep from being struck by her punches at the same time. Olivia's legs weakened. She wrapped both of her arms around Tyrone's waist. She needed his strength so she took it burying her head deep within the confines of his broad chest. Her once faint sobs turned into heavy wailing that drowned out most of Tyrone's words that were already of little comfort.
"It'll be alright baby. Trust me, It'll be ok. Shhh...I'm here for you baby. We'll get through this together."
Tyrone's whispered a barrage of designed promises that he pulled straight out of the Desperate Man's Play Book written for the Guilty and Afraid. Promises that were partially for Olivia's sake but mostly were for his comfort. As Tyrone stood separate from his body in the middle of the woods watching comfort Olivia, he knew at that moment that he would not make it to Ohio State football tryouts this summer. All of his father's warnings rang in both ears like a referee whistling for a late hit.
Boy, don't you go out there and make yourself no babies. Get yourself a condom if you are going to be out there having sex. I would be in the NBA or something right now if I had listened to my daddy when he told me the same damn thing. Next thing I know some white man at the hospital throwing you in my arms and I ended up at the steam plant right next to him. Better listen to what it is that I'm telling you boy. You got chances so don't screw em up!
Tyrone didn't know whether to cry out for his daddy or high tail it to the car as fast as his football legs would carry him. Instead, he just stood there rocking Olivia back and forth, assuring her that everything was going to be ok.
After what seemed nine months of cuddling and reassuring, Tyrone took off his jacket and placed it over Olivia's shoulders as they strolled back to the car arm in arm. Once again the night had gotten away from them and Olivia knew that she would have to make up a good excuse for being three hours late coming home from school. Tyrone's words comforted her a bit so she momentarily forgot all about the second most important thing going on in her life. At that moment all she knew for sure was that she had Tyrone in her life and somehow that was enough to sustain her. Tyrone would take care of everything.
Tyrone helped Olivia back into the car and jumped into the driver's seat."Olivia, I'm sorry about what I said before. I would never ask you to do anything like that ok? He said softly. Its just not what I had expected to hear."
Tyrone reached over and grabbed her by the hands. Her soft, pale hands were cold as ice from standing outside so long. He cupped both of her hands into his and breathed his warm breath on them. They exchanged a smile as he guided her hands around his neck and leaned in for a kiss. Olivia's blue and black eye makeup smudges covered her face as well as all over the front of his beige jacket. Tyrone probed her mouth slowly with is tongue at first. His gentle kiss quickly reignited the passion that they both craved despite the news of her pregnancy. A passion that was more important to her than anything and everything else in her life. Tyrone quickly reached for the zipper on his pants with one hand and reached under Olivia's skirt with the other. He leaned over onto her and threw both of her legs up unto his shoulder like she was swinging from a trapeze. Their bodies were tangled inside of the little two door escort like a twisted work of bad art. Black arms and white legs. Blond hair and black braids. Time disappeared. For that fifteen minutes there were no teachers telling them the right thing. No pregnancy tests telling them the wrong thing. And most important, no parents telling them the difference.
Olivia reached over and gave Tyrone a kiss before jumping out of his car a block away from her house. As Olivia walked across the grass and up the driveway to her house she knew that her mother would be waiting in the living room at ready aim as soon as she walked through the door with a dozen questions and threats identical to yesterdays. As far as Olivia was concerned it didn't matter what she told her mother as long as it wasn't the truth. Weeks into the relationship Olivia's mother stumbled across a picture of her and Tyrone conveniently placed inside of her bottom dresser drawer, stuffed inside of a envelope concealed under a pile of neatly folded clothes.
Oh Lord Jesus, who is this black boy on the picture? Answer me Olivia! Who is he? Didn't your daddy and I raise you better. If you don't be careful you gonna wind up with a little black baby and your father, Lord Jesus, your father is going to go have a stroke! You know those people have baby's at thirteen years old and I'll be right sure that you are not going to wind up one of their next victims! You hear me? There will be no black babies coming into this house!
The lies had become so automatic that Olivia never really considered sitting her mother down for even as much as a teaspoon of the truth. Before Olivia could stick the key into the hole her mother had opened the front door and held the screen door open. The look in her mother's eyes told Olivia that she had been crying. Before Olivia's mother could get the words out Olivia had already decided to pour her a dose of reality.
"Mom I think you should sit down, I have something that I need tell you."
"Oh, I guess you have another perfectly rational explanation for worrying me half to death. Olivia I don't want to hear it! You can save your lies for..."
"MOM! If you would listen to me for a minute I can explain" Olivia pleaded with her while taking off Tyrone's makeup-smudged jacket and throwing it across the back of her fathers recliner.
Interrupting, "Olivia Newton Davis, this is the very last time that you are going to run out doing God knows what after school and step into me and your fathers house at all hours" she preached.
You think your father and I are going to let you destroy your life running around town with this black boy?" her mom questioned. "Everyone in the entire neighborhood knows about it. Jesus H. Christ I cant even go into the supermarket without one of Galion's finest staring at me liquor I got the got damned plague. Now you listen here there will be no more of this, it has to stop now.
Olivia tried desperately to utter the words that were trapped in her throat like a caged lion begging to be free.
"Mama, I'm pregnant"! Olivia whispered into the air and watched as her teenage confession seeped from her mouth into her mothers ears, up through her brain which was trying desperately to unprocess what she knew she had just heard her only daughter whisper, and out her mouth as she began screaming for God's help and chasing Olivia around the house.
Olivia barricaded herself in the safe confines of her bedroom as her mother pulled stood on the other side of the door reading scriptures out of the bible.
Olivia sat on the floor in the furthest corner of her room trying desperately to ignore her mother's relentless torture tactics from the other side. She reached for her phone and dialed Tyrone's number. The phone rang two times before Tyrone's father picked up the telephone."Hello?"
"Tyrone, its me." Olivia whispered from the other end of the line."What's up Olivia, I just got in. Why are you whispering?"
"I need you to come pick me up. I told my mother everything and she is really..."
"You what!", Tyrone screamed into the phone. "Why in the hell did you do that. I told you that I would take care of everything."Do you think your dad will let me stay at your house for a while? Like until I graduate?"
"Hell no, my dad would kick my ass if he found out. I told you that no one can know that you are pregnant."
Tyrone's panic-filled words became louder and more frantic as he stumbled through sentences like a blind man in a forest. Tyrone tried his best to console Olivia. Tried to let her know that everything was going to be fine but he wasn't locked in his room with his mother trying to perform an exorcism. Tyrone faked another call and clicked over to the other line. He stood there with the telephone at his side trying to think of what to say next. He thought of all of the things that his mother had ever told him about taking care of his body as well as all of the things his father had preached and bellowed about not being tied down ad doing something with his life. As Tyrone combined his mothers wisdom and his fathers duly noted failures, the answers came to Tyrone as clear as a field in the country.
Tyrone clicked back over, "Olivia I think we need to stop seeing each other" and hung up.
Olivia sat on the floor of her room in shock as the dial tone rang in one ear and her mother's sobs blared in the other. Hanging up the phone Olivia got up and went into her bathroom. Looking at herself in the mirror, she could hardly recognize herself. Her eyes were black and blue, her eyes were green and red and puffy. Her skin was pale white and ghostly. Her mouth was so dry that she could hardly gather enough saliva in her mouth to wet her lips. Her mother had stopped banging on the door. Olivia reached in to her bathroom cabinet and grabbed the cellophane wrapper of Contact sinus capsules. She opened them up and placed a handful of them into her mouth and washing them down with water from the sink. She reached up from the toilet seat and pulled down her robe that had been hanging on the back of her bathroom door on a hanger. The hanger and robe fell to the ground. Olivia spread the robe out along the base of the toilet and slid her underwear down to her ankles. She sat up jus enough to lift her skirt from under her. She picked up the wire hanger from the floor and began uncurling the hanger from the hook. After bending the hang straight, she slid down on the toilet seat with her head resting back against the commode. She inserted the hanger inside of her most sensitive and precious place. She tried to hold back the screams but the pain that shot through her entire body was unbearable. She let out a scream at the top of her lungs. In an instant her mother had began screaming and pounding furiously on the locked door. She could now hear her father's faint shouts as she twisted the thin metal hanger into her body. She dropped the hanger and tried to make it to her feet. There was sticky dark blood all over her hands. It had run down her legs like the Red Sea. She tried to stand but fell to the ground. The pain had her insides burning as she twisted and turned on the floor.
Her father busted in the door shouting and screaming. HE looked over at Olivia and saw the blood between her legs as she rolled around on the white tiled floor screaming."In heaven's name…Oh my God! My baby!"
Tyrone awakened to the sound of his 7am alarm clock to give him enough time to eat breakfast before he ran a couple of miles on the track. As he jumped into the shower and let the warming water run cross his face, he couldn't help but think of Olivia. The way that he had hung the phone up in her face last night was really mean. He decided that he would call her after he came from his run. She is probably on punishment any, he thought as he grabbed the soap and lathered up. The water in their house always took a long time to get hot. The shower was usually over by then. Tyrone stepped out of the shower onto the naked floor he heard the telephone ringing from the phone in the kitchen. He thought, it had to be for his mother until he heard her mother calling him into the kitchen. Tyrone grabbed a towel and headed for the kitchen.
"Yeah ma, who is it?" Tyrone asked reaching out for the telephone.
Placing her hand over the phone, "Ty, I have Mrs. Davis on the phone, Olivia's mother," she grunted angrily followed by a look that could cut frozen butter if need be. "Who is Olivia and why in the world is her mother calling here this early morning on a Saturday morning?
Tyrone stood in front of his mother clothed only in a towel wondering how he was going to explain all of this.
Tyrone's mother hung up the telephone and took a long deep breath before turning to face Tyrone.
Olivia woke up a hospital bed on the seventh floor of (Ohio Hospital) staring at the wall. Exhausted from having to answer a thousand and one questions about her, about Tyrone and about why she tried to spear herself to death. Her stomach felt like it had exploded and her privates were so sore that she dared not move an inch. She tried to reach her hands up but couldn't move them. She began struggling to free her hands which were strapped to the sides of her hospital bed. She could see her mother standing on the other side of the clear glass window talking to a nurse. She tried to yell for her mother but her voice grew faint with every attempt. She was still twisting trying to break free from the shackles that bound both her wrists as her mother and the nurse both entered through the door and stood over her bed."What is going on mom?" she asked pleadingly. Her mother looked into the eyes of her daughter and tears began to stream down her tired, worry riddled face. "It's going to be alright Olivia," her mother said shakingly before turning her back on her daughter and running out of the hospital room with her hands covering her mouth.
The nurse placed her hand on Olivia's.
"Do you know where you are?" the nurse asked. "Do you know why you're here?"
Finally giving up the fight for her wrists, Olivia looked up at the thin white woman and nodded."What is going on? Olivia asked confused and pleadingly. "Last night you tried to take an overdose of amphetamines?" wanna tell me why?"
The nurse had an overbearingly rigid voice that made Olivia feel like a piece of meat.
Olivia heard the questions as the nurse rattled them off one after the other but she couldn't seem to focus her brain enough to answer."Don't worry Olivia, you're safe now and the baby is fine," the nurse added before walking out of the room and closing the door behind her.
Olivia laid her head back against the hospital bed and escaped into a child's dream free from adult rules. Free of emotions the tingling inside of her forcing her to break those rules. Rules that she seemed to be learned too little, too late.
Olivia was allowed to return home after a couple of days or exposing every intricate detail of her private life with her parents, strangers, and a resident psychiatrist who couldn't have been more than five or six years older than she was. All the while she hadn't heard from Tyrone. He hadn't come to visit her at the hospital nor had he called. Every time she asked her mother about her she would tell her that she would be best to forget all about that boy.
A dark cloud of guilt followed Tyrone through the halls of the school for the next few weeks. Weeks of dirty looks from white boys and girls combined with high fives and a thousand question from brothers wanting to hear dirty answers. Answers that Tyrone didn't have. Tyrone passed by a bulletin board and looked up the graduation list. He was scheduled for fitting of his cap and gown today at noon. HE rushe d through the halls heading for his locker. He was already on the boys vice principals most wanted list for being late to class more times than a sexual active teenagers menstrual cycle. Both hands filled with books he struggled to close his locker door determined to make it to class on time. As he slammed the door Olivia was standing in front of his, her eyes throwing daggers and spitting fire. He gasped for breath as his books fell to the floor and his bowels almost followed."Olivia, what? How?"
Words were a faint memory as her cold green eyes bared down on his. Olivia stood silent less than an inch from Tyrone watching his face twist to a tune of fifty emotions. Without saying a word Olivia grabbed Tyrone around his slender waist and buried her head deep into his chest. Tyrone hesitated and scanned both ends of the hallway before embracing her. HE rubbed his head through her blond hair and rested his chin on the top of her head. Tyrone had no idea what to say after the last promise that everything would be ok. Before Tyrone could utter any words which were not coming out anyway, Olivia began softly, "Tyrone we need to talk, can we meet for lunch?""Yes, I mean no...um I have to get fitted for my cap and gown this afternoon," he said letting go of her and bending down to pick up the books and papers that were scattered at their feet. "Tyrone, I really need to talk to you!" her voice raising about three octaves and turning a bit pressed.
After a couple of minutes Tyrone spoke agreed to meet her after school at their private place and headed down the hall for his class which he was surely late for again. Olivia walked outside of the school and sat on a park bench behind the lunchroom. She didn't care to hear all of the questions and whispers about her. In the course of a few minutes she had already heard that she had tried to stab herself; that she had drank a gallon of Liquid Plumber; and most damaging to her reputation, that she was having a black baby. Olivia reached into her purse for her cell phone and called her best friend Annie. She would know just what to do.