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Authors: Philana Marie Boles

Little Divas

BOOK: Little Divas
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Philana Marie Boles

Little
            

Divas

For Jada and Linsey,
our little divas in training.

And in loving memory of one of
my dearest friends from childhood,
Lance Corporal Michael Dale Myers,
United States Marine Corp.
You are forever “Tuna” to me.

Table of Contents

one

two

three

four

five

six

seven

eight

nine

ten

eleven

twelve

thirteen

fourteen

fifteen

sixteen

acknowledgment

About the Author

Copyright

About the Publisher

“Look,” Rikki said under her breath.

It was pretty boy Darwin Mack, and he had just finished with his game. Now he was waving his arms in the air. “Yo! Rikki!” he called.

I winced when I saw the smile on Rikki’s face. Great. Just great.

Rikki undid her braids, pulled all of her hair back into a big, bushy ponytail, and started walking real slow. “Let’s go on over there,” she said.

As usual, I saw no choice but to follow.

June 15

Dear Mom,

Well, you’ve finally left for Africa and here I am with Daddy. I had a great time with you yesterday—thanks for taking me to the mall. I love this new journal, and I promise to write in it all the time and let you read it when you get back, just like we planned. I know I am going to miss you over the next year, but I’m glad I have good memories to think about too.

You’re probably still worrying about whether or not Daddy can handle taking care of me while you are gone, but don’t. He and I will take good care of each other. There are already lots of reasons why I think living with Daddy is going to be cool. Want to hear them?

  1. My brand-new pink and white canopy bed and all my ruffled pillows.

  2. In the morning he listens to funny songs on the radio about liking big fat women and not having enough money to pay the bills. It’s called the blues, and Daddy says that B. B. King sings them best.

  3. Tonight Daddy watched music videos with me, and he didn’t complain once that rap isn’t real music. He said that hip-hop is a culture, just like the blues, only it’s talking real fast instead of singing.

  4. Daddy’s new house is so big that I feel like it’s a castle, and like I’m the princess.

  5. He is the coolest father ever, Mom. I swear! And so are you. The coolest mom, I mean. It’s going to be a great year, I promise.

one

“Psst Cassidy,”
Rikki whispered as she passed me the mashed potatoes during dinner, “I’ve got a secret to tell you!”

Now what’s the point in telling someone that you’ve got a secret when you know you can’t say what it is until later? Talk about annoying. I just rolled my eyes and kept eating.

Rikki and I are the same age and have been best friends all our lives, but for some reason, this summer we haven’t been as close as we used to be. We don’t agree on anything anymore. For instance, she can’t
wait
to turn thirteen, but me? I’m happy being twelve. And if
I
had a secret to tell
her,
I would just wait until I could reveal what it was before bringing it up.

Later, after dinner we were camping out downstairs in Rikki’s basement so that we could help her older sister, Mary, sneak out. Just like Rikki, Mary likes to do what she wants, when she wants, and as often as she pleases. The big difference is that Mary is a whole lot nicer to people in the process, me especially. Maybe that’s because she’s sixteen and closer to freedom than Rikki and I. I don’t know.

Mary was once again sneaking out to see her boyfriend, Archie, and it was taking her forever to leave. I could tell by the way Rikki was acting that she wanted to wait to spill the big, huge, gigantic bowl of beans until after Mary was gone. So, I just tried to think about other things in the meantime, like how Aunt Honey and Uncle Lance’s basement is such a funny place.

There’s a long lamp with shimmering shingles that reminds me of potato chips. A laundry chute through which dirty clothes come bursting down from the upstairs bathroom is in the back corner. Out of nowhere,
phrump,
you can look over and right there, lying in a basket, will be a pair of Uncle Lance’s socks or one of Aunt Honey’s bras.

An old floor-model television that we aren’t allowed to turn on without permission sits in the corner, along with a stereo that is also a no-no unless Tremaine Hawkins, CeCe Winans, or some other gospel singer’s voice is coming from the speakers. Also, there’s a shelf lined with old, leather-bound books, which Aunt Honey says are antiques that we’re not to touch. It’s funny—Rikki and I call this basement our private refuge, yet everything down there is off-limits to us.

I watched as Mary took her time applying her makeup. Annoyed, Rikki tugged impatiently at one of her braids, her dusty-colored hair divided perfectly in two sections with thick yellow ribbons on both ends. She says she’s the last twelve-year-old in the world who’s still wearing that hairstyle, and I think maybe she’s right. Daddy and Uncle Lance are brothers, but Uncle Lance would
never
let Rikki wear her hair down the way Daddy lets me.

I respect that Uncle Lance is a minister and everything, but he and Aunt Honey are so strict that Mary and Rikki say they feel like they’re in prison, and honestly, sometimes it really does seem that way. I don’t know. Maybe if Aunt Honey and Uncle Lance didn’t give us speeches about sinning and damnation and being righteous all the time, my cousins wouldn’t stress about growing up so fast.

Still, if I were in their shoes, I’d just wait. Being grown up isn’t
that
far off. Easy for me to say, I guess. My parents don’t have nearly as many rules as Aunt Honey and Uncle Lance. They don’t even live together anymore. As a matter of fact, I moved in with Daddy two months ago because Mom moved all the way to Africa.

I still remember the day Mom announced that she was going to volunteer for an organization called People for Peace. Daddy was dropping me off after a movie, and Mom surprised both of us by inviting Daddy to come in. Something was up. I could feel it. Ever since the divorce a few months earlier, my parents rarely stay in the same room together for long. So when Mom actually asked Daddy to have a seat, I started feeling real nervous, and my throat was tight and dry.

Mom started in by saying that the divorce had helped her realize how much she regretted not having done some of the things that she’s always wanted to do. Then she said that she needed to have “peace of mind” about that. I guess
that’s
why they call it People for Peace. Ha, ha.

Anyhow, she was going to be gone for a year, and even though she knew that it would be a tough adjustment for all of us, she needed to know what we thought about me living with my Aunt Beanie while she was away. Daddy immediately called that idea ridiculous.

“Why in the world,” Daddy demanded, “should my daughter have to go live with your sister when her very own father is right here in the city?”

“Excuse me?” Mom quickly retorted.

I shook my head, sighed, and closed my eyes.
Here we go again,
I thought.

But actually, I felt just as upset as Daddy sounded. It was one thing that Mom was leaving me for a whole year, but she also wanted me to go live with Aunt Beanie? To share a room with my cousin
Tosha
of all people?

“I’m her father,” Daddy reminded Mom. “And if she’s going to live with
anybody,
it’ll be with me!”

“Well, well, well.” Mom made a ticking sound. “Isn’t
this
something? Now, all of a sudden,
poof,
you’re actually going to have time to be home every evening? So what, me leaving the country is what it’s gonna take for you to put down the saxophone, Ray? I’m supposed to believe that you’ll actually see to it that your daughter is fed, stays out of trouble,
and
has clean clothes?” Mom chuckled at the thought.

BOOK: Little Divas
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