Tea Time: Rhona Fuller

Nobody should have to fight to eat in they own house. But nobody should have to fight to stay alive in they own house either.
— Rhona Fuller, Rabbit's Lucky Number

Cooking for Dub and Adrienne is easy. When they hear these pots bangin' they say I'm making magic.They both like to eat my cookin' so everything I make is alright with them. Except for black eyed peas. Adrienne won't eat them no matter what.

She's one of these new kinda kids. I never told my mother what I didn't want to eat. I just ate it.

My mother was one of thirteen kids. That's why she said she only had us three. "Cause you shouldn't never have to fight to eat in your own house." Rodney, me, and Alberta was my mother's babies. We always had enough food. Especially Rodney. My little sister Alberta died when she was seven. I was eight and Rodney was ten and built like Grimace from McDonald's. He wasn't mean back then. But after Alberta died. Yes, he was. 

I still remember my mother came out the room carrying her. Her brown arms and legs were limp, but it's her legs I remember 'cause she was always trying to race me. She said she would beat me in a race even if I ran and she hopped. Then she would hop, hop, hop like a bunny until my mother yell for her to "Stop all that jumpin' round!" I remember her legs, too, 'cause she was tall for a girl and even though they was bent made my mother look even smaller.

The day we buried Alberta, my mother shrunk some more. She never hugged us after that either. She said she couldn't put it away. I would always ask her, "Put what away, Momma?" One day, when I was ten, she finally said, "Dammit Rhona. Put away the memory of holding your sister knowing I couldn't do anything else for her." 

I heard her and Daddy talkin' one night. And I heard Mommy say that she think Rodney had something to do with Alberta not breathin' no more. And Daddy said, he don't know bout that cuz Rodney not that smart or he too scared of his shadow. And when I turned around and saw Rodney's face, I felt bad for him because up til that day, he loved my Daddy and all of us. He used to make Alberta these paper birds that she loved.

The crazy thing is, I know that Rodney didn't have nothing to do with Alberta because it was my turn to cook dinner. All morning he was hiding in the kitchen closet waiting to scare me out my mind, but I got all my stuff the night before and wouldn't go 'cause I knew he was there.

When I told him I knew he didn't do it, he smacked me in the face and told me to mind my cross-eyed business.

And that was when the war began.

Nobody should have to fight to eat in they own house. But nobody should have to fight to stay alive in they own house either.

That's why I had one baby. My sweet, Adrienne. Long as I'm alive, she won't have to fight for nothing in this house. I put my life on that.