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Authors: Earl Sewell

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Keysha's Drama

BOOK: Keysha's Drama
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Earl Sewell
Keysha's Drama

For my uncle Larry Studway

There will never be anyone as unique as you.

Acknowledgements

First of all I must thank God for all of my blessings and for the gift of creativity. I want to thank the students at Bret Harte Middle School in Chicago, Illinois, Avondale Junior High School in Atlanta, Georgia, McKinnely Junior High in South Holland, Illinois, and Palatine High School in Palatine, Illinois, for giving me an opportunity to share my love of creative writing.

To Candice Sewell for being a constant inspiration in my life. I love you more than you'll ever know.

To Ms. Saleen Alan for being such a passionate and inspirational teacher to your students.

To Lisa Johnson for helping me to see this project through to the end. Thank you for all of your help.

To Mary Griffin for getting on my case when I slide offtrack or fall behind on my writing schedule.

To Annette McNair, Martina Royal and Donna Hill, thank you for your willingness to offer help at the drop of a dime.

To Linda Gill, Glenda Howard and Evette Porter for the opportunity to be a part of the Kimani TRU imprint.

To Sisters on the Reading Edge Book Club in Antioch, California, and Circle of Sisters Book Club in Kalamazoo, Michigan, for all of the love and support you've shown me.

To Fred Miller, John Rossini and Steve Rossini for your friendship over the years and for providing me with an opportunity to return to Palatine High School as a guest speaker at the boys and girls' track-and-field banquet. Speaking to the students was very rewarding.

To everyone who has supported my work over the years, thank you so much for helping me make my dream a reality.

To my readers—I'd love to know what you think about this book. Please forward your messages to [email protected]. Please be sure to put the title of the book in the subject line so that I'll know your message to me is not spam e-mail.

“Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.”

—James A. Baldwin

Chapter 1

N
o matter how hard I tried to get Ronnie's attention he wouldn't look me. He avoided eye contact by toying with the ring tones on his cellular phone. His unwillingness to look me in the eye and speak directly to me annoyed me. Ronnie was seventeen and stood about five foot nine inches tall. He had brown skin just like mine and wore his hair French braided. That day he was wearing an oversize white T-shirt, baggy Sean John jeans and what appeared to be a new pair of Nike Air Force One gym shoes. We were standing on the sidewalk in front of the apartment building that he lived in with his mother. In the distance I heard the thud of music from a trunk amp bouncing against the air. Ronnie is my boyfriend, or should I say was my boyfriend until I caught him snuggled up with some girl inside of a movie theater. When I saw him and the other girl I decided to play it cool at first, you know, just to make sure that I wasn't overreacting. I discreetly positioned myself in a seat directly behind them so that I could keep a close eye on them. No sooner than the lights went down, Ronnie took off his jacket, hooked it around her shoulders and began kissing her. That's when I lost it. Before I could even think rationally, I began attacking them both. I slapped him on the head and pulled her hair. It wasn't long before two movie theater ushers rushed in to stop my assault as well as ask me to leave. At the time I didn't give Ronnie a chance to explain what was going on and who the girl was. To be honest, I really didn't care who she was. All I knew was that my boyfriend, who had told me at least twenty times he loved me the night before, wasn't acting like it.

The movie theater incident happened weeks ago. I hadn't seen or heard from Ronnie since that time because I had to move away due to a load of family drama that was going on in my life. During the time I was away, I cried a lot partly because of the situation my family was in and partly because I really missed Ronnie. Now that I'd returned to my old neighborhood, I thought for sure Ronnie had missed me at least a little. I also wanted to give him a chance to explain himself as well as see if we could forget about what happened in the past and start over. Besides, I'd heard that he was no longer with the girl he'd been caught cheating with.

I tried once again to get Ronnie to acknowledge me. When our eyes finally met, I could tell he wanted me to disappear and forget that we ever had anything meaningful.

“Why did you even come around here looking for me?” he snapped at me as if the very sight of me irritated him like a bad skin rash.

“Don't you bark at me like that,” I shouted back at him. “I thought you'd missed me and I wanted to give you a chance to explain yourself. So, what happened between us, Ronnie?” I asked straight out.

“I've already told you. It's over between us. You're playing too many games, girl. I'm just not into you anymore.”

“But why? What did I do?”

“You're crazy for starters,” Ronnie said and then was silent for a long moment as I waited for him to elaborate. “Look, you just need to forget you even know me. In fact, just erase my name and face out of your memory.”

“How can you say that to me? After all we've been though? You told me you loved me and no matter what we'd be together. You promised me, Ronnie, you promised me that you'd never hurt my heart.” I raised my voice at him. I couldn't help it because my heart was hurting. It didn't matter that we hadn't seen each other in two months, my heart was still broken and I wanted an explanation.

“Look, girl!” he said, pointing his index finger at me as if it was a weapon.

“Oh, now I'm just some girl?” Whenever I got upset about something, no matter how calm I tried to be my voice would always express how I truly felt. “Get your finger out of my face.” I quickly grabbed his index finger and tried to twist it off his hand. I wanted to hurt him at that moment. I wanted him to feel the heartache and pain I felt. We tussled for a moment before he broke free of my grip.

“You need to leave, Keysha. I'm not playing with you. Go on back home to your mama.”

“So what are you saying, Ronnie?”

“Keysha, I'm through with you. What part of that isn't getting through your thick skull?”

“How can you just turn your feelings for me off like that? I mean, I thought about how I felt about you every day. I even called you after the incident and left messages for you asking you to call me back so we could talk but you didn't. I even called you when I found out that I had to move away for a while. I thought for sure you'd at least want to know where I was being shipped off to but you never contacted me.” I was pleading my case. I reminded him of my good-faith efforts to stick by his side. I was hoping that he'd feel some sense of guilt.

“Keysha, I'm just not feeling you like that anymore. You were cool for a minute but then you started smothering me. You called me too much, you didn't like it when I wanted to hang out with my friends instead of you. On top of that you're too bossy. I just can't get down with a girl that acts crazy and bossy all of the time. You need to roll out and leave me alone.”

“Okay, I'll change. Will that help?” I asked, hoping to find the words he wanted to hear.

“No, just leave me alone, all right.” Ronnie finally put away his cellular phone. “I've just erased your name, number and special ring tone from my phone. It's been real,” he said and then turned his back and walked toward his building.

“I hate you, Ronnie!” I shouted out as loudly as I could. I wanted everyone within the sound of my voice to know how upset I was. I suddenly didn't care about making a public scene.

“Yeah, whatever. Don't come around here looking for me anymore,” he said as he entered his building. At that moment rage pumped through my blood and I rushed into the building behind him. I grabbed a fistful of his pretty braided hair and tried to snatch it out of his head. He reached back and put his hand over my fist and tried to pry it away.

“Let go of my hair, Keysha!” he shouted out as we scuffled. At that moment I heard the door to his apartment open. Ronnie's mother came into the hallway above us on the next landing.

“Let him go before I call the police on you!” she screamed at me. Part of me didn't care if I went to jail but another part of me did. I held on to his hair for a moment longer and then yanked really hard, ripping his hair from his skull.

“Get out!” his mother commanded me. She was much larger than I was and for all my spunk I knew I was no match for her. “And don't let me catch you back around here anymore. Do you understand me?”

I rushed out of the building before Ronnie or his mother could come within arm's length of me. Once I got outside, I ran as fast as I could. I wanted to get away from them. In many ways, I wanted to run away from myself, but I knew that was impossible. When I finally stopped running, I was a good four blocks away. I decided to rest on a bus bench so I could catch my breath. I leaned forward and rested my elbows on my thighs as I waited for my breathing to regulate. For a moment, I thought about crying but I couldn't summon up any tears because I was too angry. My life was so messed up. I swear, sometimes I wondered if some mythical witch or wizard placed a curse on me. I swept my fingers through my hair as I mulled over my situation. My mother, Justine, was crazy as well as pregnant. I had to admit that it tripped me out when she admitted she was going to have a baby. Justine is a real piece of work. In fact, her brain should probably be donated to science because her thought process is completely twisted. My mom became pregnant with me when she was very young. She acts more like my girlfriend than my mom. She cares more about partying than she does about keeping a roof over our heads, a decent job or food on the table. Sometimes, well most times, we fought and argued with one another. I didn't like her because she didn't act her age and in some ways resented the day I was born. At least that's the way I felt.

A bus stopped in front of me, and the driver opened the door thinking that I wanted to get on. I looked at him for a moment and then waved him on. I sat upright on the bench and glanced at the green and white street sign. I was at the corner of Chicago and Laramie Avenues, which meant that I was in the heart of the hood. My mom and I were staying in a basement apartment a few blocks up. I hated the place. It was run down, dirty and infested with roaches and rats. It was nothing like my Aunt Estelle's home. She had a beautiful high-rise apartment overlooking Lake Michigan. I used to live there with her husband, Dr. Richard Vincent, my Grandmother Rubylee and my cousin Nathan. It was nice living in such a grand place, but that all changed because my Grandmother Rubylee, who was crazier than my mom, was stealing money out of Richard's bank account. She got caught by the police and is serving time for her crime. Shortly after my Grandmother Rubylee was arrested, my Aunt Estelle passed away, and that pretty much ended the welcome of Justine and me in Dr. Vincent's home. All of that happened about two months ago, right around the time I caught Ronnie at the movie theater with some girl.

I decided it was time to get up off the bus bench before I started to look like a female version of Forrest Gump. As I continued on my way home, I thought about school, which would be starting soon, but I wasn't looking forward to it, especially since my mother didn't have money for back-to-school gear. I knew kids were going to talk about me walking around in last year's fashions. I was real self-conscious when it came to fashion and my appearance. My face was filled with pimples and my hair was overprocessed from doing one too many home perms. I thought my nose was too big, my butt was too big, my breasts were too small and my legs were too skinny. I was thinking about my situation and self-image so hard that I actually walked past my apartment building and had to turn around and go back. The building was a large red brick structure with three separate entrances. I had to walk down the block a little ways to the very last entrance, which was near an alley and vacant lot where alley mechanics liked to park their hoopty-mobiles and work on them while they drank alcohol. If they couldn't get their cars running they'd just leave them there until they could. From time to time, if the cars sat too long, eventually parts would come up missing. The entrance to my building wasn't secure at all. The landlord got tired of putting locks on the doors because tenants or their guests continually kicked in the door to gain entrance. I think people did that sort of thing because they didn't have much else to do. I was about to enter the vestibule of the building when I heard someone call my name.

“Keysha, hold on a minute.” I stepped back out into the sunlight and saw Toya Taylor, a friend that I'd known for years. She lived in the apartment across the hall from me. Toya had a baby she was continually trying to get neighbors to watch for her while she roamed the streets trying to keep up with her baby's daddy. Toya is sixteen but the father of her baby is a few years older than her. Toya was also rather conceited when it came to her hair. She was one of those girls who had a finer grade of hair as opposed to a coarser grade. She loved to show it off and brag about its length. Today for some reason, she wasn't in the mood to show off her hair because she had it tied up in a black head scarf.

“Hey, what's up? Why do you have on that head scarf? It's hot as hell out here.” I was being nosy. I wanted to know what was going on with her hair.

“Girl, my baby's daddy is tripping. He doesn't like for me to be outside by myself with my hair down so he makes me tie it up when I'm not around him.”

“Well, if it makes him happy then I guess it is okay,” I said, even though I didn't believe her for one minute. I think she did something to her hair and now it's messed up and she doesn't want to get ridiculed for having damaged it.

“Where have you been? I came over looking for you this morning but you weren't home.”

“Girl, I got into a fight with Ronnie,” I said as I sat down on the step. Toya sat beside me.

“What about? You told him that you wanted to give him a chance to explain himself, right?”

“Yeah, I told him, but it didn't matter. He still treated me like I was a fly at a picnic. I got so mad at him that I pulled out a patch of his hair.”

“For real?” Toya's voice was now filled with excitement. “What happened next?” she asked, wanting to know every detail.

“His mother came out into the hallway where we were,” I said as I scratched my arm.

“You fought his mother, too?” Toya asked, jumping ahead of my story.

“No. I didn't fight his mother. When I saw her I turned and ran out of the building.”

“So, are you sad about the breakup?” Toya asked. “Because if my baby's daddy broke up with me, it would be on. I'd have to hurt him.” I wanted to point out the fact that I'd heard that her so-called man had another girl he was dealing with, but I didn't want to go there with her. I just wasn't in the mood to fight with anyone else right then.

“So, what's next? What are you going to do? You've got to find a new man.”

“Girl, I'm not thinking about boys right now. I'm thinking about school and trying to get through another year.” I glanced up at a few billowy clouds and then down at my feet. My gym shoes had seen better days.

“I think I'm going to drop out of school,” said Toya.

BOOK: Keysha's Drama
5.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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