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And They'll Come Home
By Charlene E. Green
URBAN BOOKSCopyright © 2010 Charlene E. Green
All right reserved.
September 16, 2007, 11:39 P.M.
I can't believe my babies turned five years old today. Where the hell did all the time go? I just gave birth to them yesterday, didn't I? First Ellie, then Willie, nineteen minutes later. Damn, it was painful. But it was all worth it. I don't think I've ever loved any two people more than my precious twins. My parents and Weston run a close second, but that's a different kinda love that I have for all of them. This love ... it can't be explained or measured, ever.
So we gave them their very first birthday party today. We figured five was a good age to start having them. They'd be more likely to remember it better. I'm so damn tired! There were so many screaming, laughing, and sometimes-crying kids in the house that I thought I was in the middle of Romper Room for a while there. Weston's been asleep for over an hour; I told him he was gonna be worn-out. Willie and Ellie were spastic with excitement. They crack me the hell up. I can't believe some of the crazy things they say, too! Sometimes Weston and I are just floored by what comes outta their mouths. I'm always wondering if I said stuff like what they say when I was a kid. I'll hafta ask Mama and Daddy about that one day, when I'm thinking about it.
Anyway, the partywas so fun. I'm glad we did that for them. They ate so much junk, though. They're gonna have attention deficit disorder for, like, the next week behind all the sugar they ingested today. But oh well. It's not every day your babies turn five. It was definitely a day they'll never forget. Weston told me Ellie asked him if they could have another party next week. Weston told her it's not their birthday again next week, and that's what the party was for today. She said they should be able to have another one so the kids who weren't here today could come. She's so funny. Always trying to work a twist so she can get a little somethin' extra.
Genine did pretty good today. I was worried about her for a while, but after things got rolling, she seemed to be okay. I hope she's able to move on soon. It's been a little over two months, and although I can't pretend to know how she feels, I also don't wanna see her suffering over this for years to come. She's always so sad, and that makes me sad. I just don't know how to help her. I guess I can't, really, and that's what hurts me the most.
So, on another note, Angela called me tonight and said some dude's been by the shop for the last two days looking for me. I asked her who it was, and, of course, she didn't know. Actually, she said he didn't leave his name. But she said he was tall, real dark-skinned, and awfully fine. Whatever. Probably somebody who was referred to me by one of my clients. Sometimes that happens. People come in looking for me so they can find out about my services. Whoever it is'll hafta wait until Tuesday to talk to me. I'm so glad Weston and I planned to take tomorrow off, 'cause this house is wrecked, and it's gonna take us all damn day to get it back in shape.
Ellie screamed, "Willieeeeee! Gimme back my doll! You messin' up her hair!"
He ran past Weston, laughing, with Ellie's favorite doll in his hand, with its legs flying in the air. He screamed back, "I'm gonna flush it down the toilet!"
"Daddyyyyy!" Ellie shrieked.
Weston turned and grabbed Willie by the arm, which brought his running to an immediate halt. "Ay! Boy, what's wrong wit'choo?! Gimme that doll! You not flushin' nobody's belongin's down the toilet!"
Weston snatched the doll and handed it to Ellie. "Here, Boo Boo."
She grabbed it and said, "Thank you, Daddy," and ran off, out of breath.
Then he told Willie, "And git'cho butt back upstairs and put'cho shirt on! Leave yo' sister's stuff alone and go git dressed! Y'all supposta be havin' a party in an hour and you runnin' 'round here half naked and tearin' stuff up!"
I walked up behind them and said, "Willie, for the last time, stop foolin' around and go find your doggone shirt!"
Weston asked me, "What happened to his shirt?"
"I don't know.... He shoved it somewhere in a pile of clean clothes a little while ago, talkin' about he didn't wanna wear that one. There's five different loads of clothes in the laundry room. I don't know which one he put it in."
Weston looked at Willie and reprimanded him. "Boy, I don't know where you got that mess from, but you gon' stop all that shovin' clothes away when you don't wanna wear 'em."
"But I don't like that shirt. I wanna wear somethin' else."
Weston said, "Did I ask you all that? Now git in there and find it! You got five minutes!"
Willie got ready to start crying, but Weston put a stop to that. "Don't'choo dare start cryin'! You ain't got nothin' to cry about yet! If you don't git'cho behind in there and git dressed, you will have somethin' to cry about! Now git outta here!"
Willie ran off toward the laundry room, whimpering.
I said, "Your son."
He said, "You carried him."
I grabbed Weston's behind, copped a squeeze, and then he pulled me in and kissed me.
I asked him, "Can you believe they're five already?"
"Hell, I still can't believe I got three kids."
"Oh, speakin' of that ... where's Lydia?"
"Yolanda said she's on her way with her."
"Yolanda's not stayin' for the party?"
"Naw, she gotta go to work. Somebody called in sick again."
"Damn. I was countin' on her help around here."
"Rishidda's not comin' wit' her kids?"
"She's coming, but she's not bringing the kids. You know, they're older. They said they didn't wanna go to a kiddie party. But anyway, she's not coming until five."
"Well, your parents'll be here. And Genine and them, too. And I'm here. What about me?"
"I dunno, Weston. What about you and twenty screaming kids? Can you handle that?"
"Well, hell, I can try. I do a damn good job wit' the three I got, so it can't be much harder than that."
"You say that now, but wait until they're all talking and screaming and yelling at the same time. It's different. I've done it before at a bunch of Rishidda's kids' parties. It's not the picnic you think it's gonna be."
"Well, don't count me out just yet. Gimme a chance to show you what I'm workin' wit' first." Then he popped his collar and did a silly shoulder move.
"I know what'cha workin' wit'-that's how we got twins in the first place."
He pulled at my blouse and started feeling my breasts. "And I know you know how to work wit' what I'm workin' wit'. Come on, let's go do a little work right now ... before people start showin' up."
"No. How 'bout you go in there and see what your son is doing and I go get my daughter's hair finished?"
"Oh, now he's mine and she's yours. Okay. But don't be flippin' the script when she starts actin' like you, and then you want me to claim her."
"Screw you, Weston James."
"I'll make sure you do that later on, Katrice Nicole."
We went our separate directions in the house to see about our separate kids.
Around seven o'clock, after all the kids had gone home and Weston had taken the twins upstairs to get them ready for bed, I took a break in the kitchen with Sabrina, Genine, Chantelle, and Rishidda. I needed it. My feet were on fire and my back was aching. And I could have sworn I heard ringing in my ears from all the high-pitched screaming that afternoon.
"Well, ladies," I said, "that was fun, but I'm not tryina do it again no time soon. Rishidda, I don't know how in the hell you managed to get through all the damn parties you've thrown for your kids. It's too much work ... and money."
"Girl, you just gettin' started. Somethin' tells me I'll be back here for more parties than you think."
"Don't count on it. I'ma hafta find another way for them to celebrate in the future, 'cause all this madness is exhausting."
Genine said, "It was nice seein' all the kids havin' so much fun." She sounded a million miles away when she said it, though.
There was an awkward three-second silence while we all kind of looked at each other in search of how to respond. Genine was looking out the kitchen window, so she didn't see us. But she's not stupid, so she felt the vibe.
She turned from the window and looked at us. "You guys, I'm okay. I was just makin' an observation."
Nobody said anything.
"Seriously. I am. Now stop lookin' at me like that."
I said, "Well, we're just worried. You haven't really talked all that much about it, and to be honest, I was afraid for you to even be here today, with all the kids around. Not that I didn't want you here ... but you know ..."
"What do you guys want me to do? Talk about it every time we see each other?"
Sabrina said, "No, but when you don't talk about it, it makes us wonder where you are mentally with the whole thing."
"Okay, you wanna know where I am mentally with it? Here it is. I'm pissed, I'm hurt, I'm scared, I'm confused, and I'm tired of people lookin' at me like I'm about to fall apart at any moment. It's done. The baby's gone. I can't change it. So now I hafta deal with it. Is that what you wanted to hear?"
Chantelle said, "Well, at least that's a start. That's the most I've heard you say about it since last month. My aunt had a miscarriage, and she was destroyed. She called my mother every day for, like, two weeks cryin' about it."
Genine told us, "You guys, this is somethin' me and Warren hafta work through together. By ourselves. It's not a regular girl-talk topic. He's upset, I'm upset, and we're just kinda goin' through the motions these days. We don't even talk about wedding plans anymore. It just kinda ... all went out the window after that day."
Rishidda said, "Well, I know how ya feel. Folks was hard-pressed to get a hello outta me after Cash died, much less a conversation. You gotta handle it your own way. Just know that we gon' be here for you if you do need to let some frustration out at the drop of a hat. Until then, just do you, girl."
"Thanks. I am. Now let's change the subject. Let's talk about why you won't give that guidance counselor at Cassius's high school no play. Wassup wit' that?"
I jumped in. "Oh-for real, 'cause from what Cash-sorry-Cassius-gotta remember that-said last week when I was at the house, dude's asked about her a few times, now."
Rishidda said, "He think he cute, all of a sudden wantin' to go by his real name. Anyway, I told him not to be tellin' that man nothin' about me, either. I'm not tryina git wit' him."
Chantelle asked her, "Why not? What's wrong wit' him?"
"Nothin'. I'm just not tryina go that route wit' him, that's all. I don't need to be involved wit' nobody at my son's school."
Sabrina said, "You shouldn'ta gone up there that day in ya tight-ass Apple Bottoms jeans and ya cleave-teasin' blouse. That's what did it."
Rishidda said, "Can I help it if I got a lot ta offer? If Cash's ass hadn't been actin' up in the first place, I woulda never been up there that day. I had to leave work early, too."
Chantelle asked, "Well, he's not Cash's counselor, is he?"
"No, but still. What I look like datin' some man my son sees every day at school? If it don't work out, it's gon' look bad."
Chantelle looked at Rishidda and twisted up her face. "Why you assume it's not gon' work out? You better get'choo some damn dick, girl. That man got a job, probably a house and a nice car, too. He's obviously educated, and if he's nice lookin', then I say give him a little taste of what'choo got ta offer."
"I'll pass. That's uncharted territory to me."
"Well, speakin' of gettin' dick," Chantelle said while getting up, "I gotta go. I got a date in two hours."
I asked her, "Um ... since when does 'date' automatically equal dick?"
She said, "Um ... since we've been out four times, and the last date ended with his lips wrapped around my left nipple, suckin' like he needed milk to do his body good."
Everyone fell out laughing. Then Sabrina said, "Well, on that note, I gotta go, too. All this talk about milk and dick is makin' me thirsty. I told Ty I'd be at his house before ten. I'm hopin' he has some milk for me, too. A milkshake, baby. Nice 'n' thick."
Rishidda said, "And creamy smooth."
And I added, "And just a little salty."
Chantelle laughed and said, "Oooooo, you freaky hoes."
Then I said, "Dammit, all y'all get out. Now I'm thirsty."
We all laughed and then filed out of the kitchen.
After I said my good-byes to the girls and they left, I got ready to go upstairs when my cell rang. It was Angela.
"Hi. What's up?"
"There's this dude that's been in the shop lookin' for you for the last two days."
"Who was it?"
"I dunno. He won't leave his name. He just comes in the door, looks around, asks if you're there, and when I tell him no, he says thanks and leaves."
"Well, did you tell him I'd be in on Tuesday? It's probably someone who's been referred to me."
"No, I never got that far. He don't wait for me ta say nothin' else-he just leaves. He fine as hell, though. Real dark, tall, and got that kinda silky voice. You sure you don't know who it is?"
I was irritated; it sounded like she was trying to start a rumor on the sly.
"Angela, I have no idea who it is, and right now, I don't really care. I'm tired. If he comes back tomorrow, just tell him I'll be in on Tuesday. Okay?"
"Okay, honey. I just thought you might know-"
"Angela, I gotta go. I hear the kids callin' me. I'll see you on Tuesday."
"Oh-well, okay, then-"
And I hung up on her. Yeah, yeah, rude, I know. But I was having issues with her, anyway, and that call did nothing but irk me. I wondered if I did the right thing by hiring her to replace Tiki after she and Charles moved to Atlanta at the beginning of the year. Talent for doing hair, I knew she had. But some of the things she did and said made me wanna wring her neck. She had only been working at the shop for about a month and a half, and already we were off to a rocky start.
I shook off the Angela call, looked around the ramshackle house for a minute, then thought about all the cleaning Weston and I were in for the next day. But when I pictured my kids' happy, smile-plastered faces, it made the mess totally worthwhile.
I turned off the living-room light, bolted the front door, and headed upstairs to spend the rest of the evening with my husband.
I know what I did that night in May was beyond wrong. I'm not proud of it, either. A lot of people are still pissed at me behind that stunt, too. Charles won't even speak to me because of it. I messed around and lost my good friend. He cussed me up one side of the phone line and down the other when he came back from his honeymoon and found out what happened. Called me up and blew my hair back so hard, I was too ashamed to even respond. Told me I was a low-down, dog-ass ho, and then he said I used his wedding to get to Katrice, and that she was the only reason I showed up. That wasn't true. I would've come even if she hadn't been there. I love Charles. He was the truest dawg a brotha could ever have. Now I'm shut down. Permanently. He told me never to call him again, and to leave Katrice alone. Threatened to kill me if I didn't. So I took my Pacific Bell beating and agreed to move on without a fight. But I wanted to talk to her. I wanted to keep in touch with her. I wanted to keep our connection going. But, of course, with all the threats and whatnot, I was too scared to do that.
Excerpted from And They'll Come Home by Charlene E. Green Copyright © 2010 by Charlene E. Green . Excerpted by permission.
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