girl Fitting Back Into My Life

Sonya Smith

For months now she been looking at me funny. She asks me why I wear clothes that hang on me. Now she asking me why my skirt so short. Then she stares, like she seeing me but seeing something else, too. It bugs me, so I say something, anything to make her quit. She sits and stares some more. Her eyes narrow so I can't hardly see the whites of 'em. She huffs, like she gonna say something else. But she just shakes her head.

My shoulders slump with relief. Momma swallows her last bit of coffee, then she stands up and tilts her head sideways, looking at me again. My Moms looks really nice in her blue houndstooth designer suit this morning. Her hair is smooth and pulled back in a twist that accents her high cheekbones. Moms has that smooth, caramel-colored skin. She doesn't wear a lot of makeup, either.

She must think I'm looking at her all soft because she reaches out a hand. I duck my head but her fingers still stroke my forehead. I jerk back, blinking my eyes clear. Her hand is still hanging in the air.

She lets out a little sigh and says, I guess, since you're almost a senior, you're too big for cuddling now, huh?

She laughs and before I can turn away, she kisses me on my forehead as she passes by. She says, You won't ever be too grown to be my baby.

She grabs her keys and is out the door before she can see them tears well up in my eyes. The brightness of the morning sunlight swallows her up.

On my way to school, I see Yolanda. It's good to finally see her and let her see me, too. Hey, Miss Yolanda, I sing out.

She turns to look back. Her hair has grown. It is straightened to death. It hangs past her shoulders and she must put some type of pomade on it because the blackness of it shines like melted silver. She got on some polished, black patent leather platform shoes, which look cute with those black biker pants she wearing. She smiles and hits me on my arm, saying, Guuuuurrrrllllllll -- she draws the word out so long, it sounds like she gargling. It is almost like I haven't been avoiding her for the past few months. That's a cute skirt, sh-ooooo-t. You just got it?

Naw. I look down at my feet. My shoes are cute and all-brown leather flats -- with much thinner soles than Yolanda's. After wearing my Nike's for the last four months, I felt like if I wore my platforms today, I might walk funny or something.

Why you just wearing that skirt now for? she asks.

I shrug. This is the first time I was able to wear the skirt. I bought it one day, early on, back when I could still hide out at the mall. It was in the window on one of those ivory colored, faceless mannequins. You know the kind that lean way back, with their backs arched like a swan's neck. It shimmered under the florescent lighting of the display case. It was that brown, slinky material with little bits of metallic gold that flashes every so often when the light hits it just right. The kind of material that fits you everywhere. I wanted it to remind me of who I was. So I got it, with an ivory colored, cut-off blouse in that stretch lace material that almost shows my navel. Heck, Moms would really be having a cow if she saw me walking around showing my navel. Besides, I can't imagine showing my stomach anymore. But the skirt fits me everywhere. When I put it on this morning, I could see in the mirror that I am still the same.

We walk step-in-step together, Yolanda chattering all the way to the school. Occasionally, she yells across the street at someone or speaks to someone passing by. I try to listen, get the news about who's dating who and what not. We pass the convenience store where the boys are all hanging out before class. You can see their boxers over the tops of their jeans. These boys wear colorful boxers-magenta paisley or purple with the little round print that almost looks like flowers. I like that they at least try to wear nice boxers. Some of them boys be real tired-ain't even got the hang of the look. They just look like their underwears is hanging out of their clothes. One of them, some brown-skinned boy I don't know, nods at me before throwing his head back. I see his Adam's apple bobbing up and down as he drinks orange juice from a plastic bottle. I quickly look away. He is just the kind of busta I always avoid. Leaning all on his mother's car, no thought for getting his own ride, I'll bet.

Yolanda sees me looking, however. Oooooo, that's Craig. He moved up here last week. You ain't seen him before? Don't you love his fade? she asks, and continues without waiting for me to answer.

She tells me all about her first conversation with him. Yolanda has total recall of all conversations she has with boys. If there is anything to be known about a boy, Yolanda will know it first. But it's like her words don't touch me. It's like she talking about some T.V. show or soap opera. All drama and little substance. At the beginning of the school year, I used to be just like her-except for dealing with the bustas. I wanted me someone who had something going for him, so I didn't waste my time dating one of these the-only-money-I-got-is-the-allowance-my-momma-gave-me-high school boys. I look back at those boys, now, however and I sigh. I still don't wanna deal with 'em. But maybe they aren't as bad as I used to think they were. Or maybe all males are the same -- men . . . boys, it don't matter.

I put my head down and zone out, not hardly hearing Yolanda talking. Even though I look the same on the outside, I feel dead on the inside. There are too many things I'd like to forget. But I keep remembering. I keep remembering the feeling of his lips on mine. They were like rubber. But I let him kiss me. I let him put his tongue in my mouth. It was like I was watching him, watching everything from up above, outside of myself. He asked me why I don't kiss him back. I was too ashamed to tell him that I didn't know how. How would that look? Me trying to fit into his crowd, and all? Be all grown like they was.


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