Tanisha’s room, dubbed T’s World, was candy sweet and girly. She had stuffed bears and throw pillows for days and every shade of pink she could find, somewhere in that tiny-comfy room. Half my pancake sat uneaten in a filmy pool of syrup, raising Tanisha’s suspicions. She kept looking up trying to catch my attention. But I kept my eyes glued to the textbook review questions, even when I heard a familiar beat come through the radio. Tanisha jumped off the bed and cranked it up to ten. Eric B is President was our favorite song!
I had to laugh at Tanisha doing the wop with her pink suspenders hanging down off the side. She could do every dance that came out without even practicing. She waved her hands and her head back and forth like the pendulum in the clock.
“C’mon Ayj! Do it with me!” The beat was so hypnotic, I couldn’t fight it. Back and forth. Back and forth. With both hands, then one. One hand on the hip!
“Ayj, you’re killin’ it!” she cried as she spun with hers and kicked her leg up. We wopped ourselves into a fit of giggles, collapsing to the floor.
“Wooooo! That was fun!” she giggled.
“Definitely!” I cracked my math book back open to the exercises. I could feel her eyes on my forehead.
“You thirsty?” Was I thirsty, she wanted to know. I had all these words and ugly feelings trapped between my throat and lips. I was parched!
“A little.” She came back with Sunnydale juice and her brother Sha-Born following behind her.
“What’s the word, Big Head?” he said. “I got this song by a new female rapper named MC Lyte. Yall are gonna love it!” I always wanted to hear the new songs from Sha-Born, but I couldn’t even sit still. I guess my uneasiness showed because mother hen, Tanisha, felt my forehead.
“Adrienne, are you sure you’re alright?” I pushed her hand away.
“Yeah. My stomach feels a little funny. I need to lie down for a sec.”
“I’ll let yall hear it another time,” said Sha. He loved to show off his new records to us. He called us the rap Siskel and Ebert.
“You wanna watch The Last Dragon again?”
“Yeah. That’s cool.” We loved Taimak, even though we knew we could never bring him to Brooklyn. Black belt or no black belt, I could see Trey Ski grabbing him in a bear hug and Fuquan choking the poor guy to death. I plopped into her funky pink armchair and watched the beginning of the movie until it was watching me. I heard her calling my name, over and over again.
“Ayj. Your mom called. She wants you to come home now.” I kept my eyes closed, holding onto the wonderfully far away place I was visiting.
“You’ve been acting real funny since the day you and Julie got into it. Did something happen at home?” I stared at her like she had three heads partly because her face was entirely too close to mine.
“Adrienne, what is going on?”
“I hate being there.” She nodded keeping her eyes focused on mine. “Kerri makes me sick and everything is Rodney, Rodney, Rodney.”
“That’s all?” she asked. I nodded. She kept her eyes trained on mine and then she made this face that she makes when she doesn’t believe what someone is telling her, but doesn’t want to call them out. It’s a little twitch at the side of her mouth. You have to be quick to catch it. She sighed.
“Come on. I’ll walk you half way.”
As we got closer to Caroline’s, on that blustery December evening, I couldn’t help but think Corey wouldn’t get with her. Based on all he said he liked about me, she wasn’t his type. She was a dashiki wearing-Black Power girl that did African Dance in all the talent shows. Plus she had a big head and acne all over her face.
The silhouette of two bodies under the fire escape by her apartment building caught my attention. I tried to sneak a peek, but it was too dark out. But as I got closer, I recognized Caroline’s bowed legs bent back and akimbo. My heart sank. I recognized Corey’s blue and yellow Polo Goose. She and Corey were locked in a soap opera kiss. I focused on the sidewalk ahead of me, careful not to look in their direction. Tanisha touched my shoulder in sympathy.
“Girl, please,” I said. “That doesn’t even phase me.”
But even if it was ten degrees outside, and I had to walk two blocks out of my way to come from the other direction, I refused to pass her building. As much as I pretended to be immune, it did phase me. It dug a second hole out of my heart.
“Whenever you’re ready to talk, I’ll be here. Trust me, it can’t be worse than watching your father hold a loaded gun to his head.”
Damn. That was messed up. Didn’t matter. The rules were simple. You never turned on blood and you never told secrets. Period.
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