It was the first time in my life that I was ever so angry with my mother that I felt like swearing at her. But knowing what would of happened if I did, I cried Instead, out of desperation, hoping my tears would make her feel bad enough for me to let me stay; as usual my tears didn’t phase Mama one bit. She stood there with her one hand on her bulky hip and looked me square in the eye, past the tears, the tears that were failing to save me from what I felt was the punishment of all punishments.
I couldn’t believe Mama was doing this to me. How could she? I wondered. She was sending me away to Mississippi on that stinking farm with people I hardly knew even though they were family. In my mind Mama was being a pill, and she wasn’t hearing anything I had to say. Her mind was made up. I was leaving.
“That’s not fair!” I shouted while I stood in the middle of the kitchen wiping the tears from my cheeks.
“It’s for your own good,” Mama said, paying more attention to the cast iron pot in the sink she was scrubbing.
Mama was so angry with me, that she didn’t even look up at me once until I begged louder and harder than before, “But Mama, please?” I pleaded over and over again.
“But nothing, I don’t want to hear it,” she said, angrier than I’ve seen her before. “It’s final.” “You really did it this time,” She reminded me.
Her pitiless attitude burned right through my soul, and I thought it was just awful of her to be ruining my life like this. My dream of ever getting in the Cotton Club was being squashed like a cock roach and buried in the earth with the worms James played with; or so I thought.
The rest of that night while me and my little brother James lay in bed, the room was so quiet I could hear the sound of the weak floorboards squeaking from Mama pacing back and forth across in the front room as she asked God for help with me. “Lord what has gotten into that child?” I heard her ask God. “What am I to do with her Lord,” she continued.
I figured if I just went off to sleep, by morning Mama would forgive me and change her mind about sending me to Mississippi. To make sure, I climb out of bed, got down on my knees and squeezed my eyes shut as tight as I could-- as if somehow that would make Him hear me any better-- and asked God to help me too. I began to pray like I never had before.
Dear God, I know what I done was wrong, disobeying Mama like that and all, but please God, don’t let her send me away? PLEASE? Amen!
The whole time I was praying, I could feel the bed wobble every time James flipped flopped from side to side pretending to be asleep. I knew he really wasn’t, though, and I knew he heard me praying because when I got up from off my knees to get back in the bed, he whispered to me, “Audrey, why is Mama sending you away?” He asked me if it was because of that place, as if he was worried for me for the first time in his little pesky life.
“Is it Audrey? He asked again. Is that why Mama’s making you go to Mississippi?”
“Mind your business, I snapped back through the tears that were about to build up again. We both laid hushed in the pitch dark room with only the light from the moon shining in, and the rats scratching in the walls. Neither one of us said another word, until James out of nowhere quietly whispered to me in raspy voice, “sorry Mama’s sending you away. For some reason, or another I believed James this time, because he never felt bad for me about anything, but I said nothing back.Note: To read more of the story, click on this link. You will need a PDF reader, such as Acrobat Reader.