by Kimberly Morgan
“How did you say Maggie died again?”
“You know her husband shot her. Her husband was her first cousin. Both of ‘em near ‘bout drank they selves to death.”
“And what about Uncle George?”
She sighed heavily studying the green blanket she sat crocheting a little too hard. “He was cussing God. It was storming hard. God struck him down. Momma told him to come in the house, but he wouldn’t.”
She went on to describe what the landscape looked like that night. I closed my eyes and watched as the rain poured down on the green vast country land of what she referred to as ‘up home’. The sky was magenta, blue and gold all at the same time and I could see the clouds rushing across the sky as if in a hurry because in the next few seconds a hard bout of thunder would roll through them like waves in the ocean. Lightening would brighten the midnight sky one, two, even three times back to back.
And my uncle stood outside, arms spread wide open, looking up at the sky. His mother stood at the door of the modest wooden house, her beige apron bawled up in her first like a tight knot. Her hair was wrapped in a beige scarf to match the apron, begging the oldest of her five sons to bring his drunken self into the house. But he would never see the inside of the house. Again.
My stomach moved. The bubble passed from the right side and stopped just beside my belly button.
The question was not and had never been whether the light in my womb would be a boy or a girl. Undoubtedly it was would it be good or evil. And would we be able to tell the difference between the two?
“Somebody killed Maggie’s husband a few days after he killed Maggie,” she was saying. She wasn’t looking at me, rather her eyes stayed fixed on the blanket through the brown glasses she wore. They sat strategically on the crook of her nose as if they had never been moved. I knew under the blue scarf that she wore, her hair was in a pony tail. I could see little bits of gray that hair dye had forgotten poking out from underneath. “They said,” she continued as her hands moved methodically back and forth as if the crochet needles were weightless. Her hands moved like that when she corn rolled my hair. “They say it was that man that had a liking for Maggie. He tried to put roots on her a few times but she always got away.”
“Maybe it shouldn’t have been him she was running from.”
She smirked at my comment but never stopped what she was doing. I realized I wasn’t even facing her but I could see her every movement perfectly behind my closed eyes.
“Did they ever find who really killed him?”
“No. Just like they didn’t find who killed their son. Remember you were ‘bout sixteen when he died in that fire.”
“I thought it was an accident.”
“You know that won’t no accident. They knocked him out and put him in that house cause he was drunk. They all was drunk.”
“What about Uncle George? Was he drunk?”
“He was a gambler more than a drinker. Gambled all his money up, his wife put him out. But he was a sharp dresser and he always had somethin’ for us when he came home. Like that pocket watch. But your Granddaddy lost that over in ‘Nam when he died. I hated him for a long time for losing my watch. I would have rather my watch come home than him. But neither one of ‘em made it back.”
She looked thoughtfully off into the distance then as if she was talking to someone over by the wall. “I was round ‘bout your age when my momma died in that car accident on the way to Virginia. You know your aunt was cuttin’ up in college and them girls wanted to kill her for messin’ with somebody’s man. She was always wit’ somebody’s man. So momma was goin’ to get her. Two drunks ran her off the road.”
“Then your daddy died of heartbreak.”
“They said it was a heart attack. But nobody dies like that. Not while they mourning, not at somebody’s funeral.”
She put her utensils down and held the blanket up. My eyes were still closed as I watched her approach me on the blue couch. I even placed my arm over my closed eyes so I could make sure not to peep. But I saw everything anyway. Just like my eyes were wide open.
She sat on the other end of the couch by my feet. I watched her eyes through her glasses as she placed the blanket over my stomach like she was doing something as simple as cooking dumplings.
“Tell me about the baby.”
“Lord have mercy chile, there’s been so many. There was the one I told you about. He was a real distant cousin, but the poor thang never grew. They said ‘cause his momma watched all ‘dem scary movies when she was carrying him. The Lord knew when his grandmamma died nobody else would take care of ‘em. So she came back for him.”
“I hate that one,” I said with my eyes still closed. “It scares me.”
I wanted to ask why she had stopped by. Was it just to crochet this ugly blanket? But I knew why. Deep down I knew the family was tired.
“Do you see the babies? Are they okay?”
“Yeah. Your brother, your cousin, they all just fine. Don’t worry. It’s for the best.”
Before I could object, it wouldn’t have done any good anyway; there was a quick jerking deep in my belly like my intestines were being used as a life line. The pain subsided after a moment, but the pain in my heart remained. I felt the coldness from a tear fall down my left cheek as I removed my arm from over my eyes.
My dead grandmother of fourteen years was wrapping my baby up in the green blanket.
“The family’s tired,” she said as she struggled to stand up from the couch with my baby in one arm. “Only one way to stop generation curses,” she said shaking her head as she walked towards my front door. “Only one way.”