Call It Dreamin' Deja 8 minute read

Deja-Tres (Continuation from Deja-Two)

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[sommaire-chapitres livre=1 affiche_infos=true titre=true resume=true numeros=true]

“Mom still isn’t home.” Deja finally heard her sister’s words.

She sat up and leaned to one side, putting most of her weight on her right arm, and looked at her sister’s expectant eyes. Porsche’s eyes said, “fix it, Deja.” Although, Deja was the younger sister, she was always seen as the smarter, more responsible one – particularly since she got accepted into Hudson Elementary. Deja’s mind started to zoom: she pictured Lucky’s lanky body leaning against the frame of the door this morning, her mother passed out above the empty Jack Daniels bottle on the floor. She couldn’t think about what to do because she was so focused on what she should’ve done. She started biting her index fingernail and thinking, “I shouldn’t have left momma this morning,”

 

She felt her throat tighten, but the tears wouldn’t come. The girls at her school cried so easily: a lost favorite pencil, a tiff with a friend, not being chosen to play the princess in the school play. To Deja, crying seemed like a luxury.

 

On Deja’s first day at Hudson Elementary, her mother, outfitted in a yellow sundress, hair held with a daisy barrette, and pretty fake-gold earrings in the shapes of daisies held her hand tightly as she walked up the school steps. When Deja started to cry when they were about halfway up, her mother stopped, sat on the steps and gently pulled Deja to sit next to her. She took Deja’s hand in hers and wiped Deja’s tears. “Baby, women like us, being where we from, ain’t got time for no tears. Frankly, ain’t a whole lot of time for feel; there’s only time for do. You can DO this, Deja. You are smarter than any of these kids in here. Go show them who Deja is. Who we all are.”

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She sat up and leaned to one side, putting most of her weight on her right arm, and looked at her sister’s expectant eyes. Porsche’s eyes said, “fix it, Deja.” Although, Deja was the younger sister, she was always seen as the smarter, more responsible one – particularly since she got accepted into Hudson Elementary. Deja’s mind started to zoom: she pictured Lucky’s lanky body leaning against the frame of the door this morning, her mother passed out above the empty Jack Daniels bottle on the floor. She couldn’t think about what to do because she was so focused on what she should’ve done. She started biting her index fingernail and thinking, “I shouldn’t have left momma this morning,”

 

She felt her throat tighten, but the tears wouldn’t come. The girls at her school cried so easily: a lost favorite pencil, a tiff with a friend, not being chosen to play the princess in the school play. To Deja, crying seemed like a luxury.

On Deja’s first day at Hudson Elementary, her mother, outfitted in a yellow sundress, hair held with a daisy barrette, and pretty fake-gold earrings in the shapes of daisies held her hand tightly as she walked up the school steps. When Deja started to cry when they were about halfway up, her mother stopped, sat on the steps and gently pulled Deja to sit next to her. She took Deja’s hand in hers and wiped Deja’s tears. “Baby, women like us, being where we from, ain’t got time for no tears. Frankly, ain’t a whole lot of time for feel; there’s only time for do. You can DO this, Deja. You are smarter than any of these kids in here. Go show them who Deja is. Who we all are.”

 

They stood up and walked up the brick stairs and through the big wooden doors of Hudson Elementary together. That was 2 years ago and Deja hadn’t cried again since that day. She so badly wanted to cry now but there was Porsche, with their momma’s almond-shaped, dark brown eyes, looking at her for answers.

Just when life is in somewhat of a groove, even if it’s a bad one –there is a rhythm to things — the needle hits scratch—everything stops for a minute, the needle can’t move, and then the same sound is repeated. What Deja heard, “you have no one.” She realized in this moment was that she and Porsche were truly alone, without their momma. She couldn’t think of one person to call, to reach out to for help. Now that she assessed the situation, it was time to move the needle.

Deja grabbed her sister’s puffy coat and headed out the door. “I’ll be right back,” she said. Closing the door before Porsche could protest.

Deja ran down the metal steps. Clank, clank, clank. The park was full, as usual, but the little babies on the swings were replaced by teenagers flirting, jonesing, gossiping; the picnic tables no longer had older men playing cards, checkers and chess, but supported teen boys talking about the girls on the swings. Giraffe-like street lamps were the May pole for several groups of people weaving in and out. Deja scanned the crowd and saw Benny.

Benny was sitting at the edge of one of the picnic tables—the flurry of gnats flying around the swirl of smoke rising from his Newport was almost pretty—a ghetto Cirque De Soleil. “Benny, have you seen my Momma?”, Deja asked breathlessly.

“Hey dere little lady,” Benny said without ever taking the cigarette out of his mouth. “What now, you looking for your Momma?”images

 

“Yes, have you seen her?” Deja didn’t know exactly what Benny did, but he was like the mayor of Brown projects: always sharply dressed; always had a new ride that no one touched, and he usually knew the happenings.

Benny took a deep drag on his cigarette, squinted his eyes and stared up at the acrobatic gnats flying above his head. He blew out a large stream of smoke-making the gnats change their routine—looked directly in Deja’s eyes and said, “Go home, little lady.”

“Bu… But, my”

“Go. Home,” Benny repeated.

Deja turned around and did as she was told. This time her footsteps didn’t even make a sound going up the metal stairs.

It was a light knocking at the door that woke Deja up from a fitful sleep. Benny was there. “Let’s go,” was all he said.

Deja didn’t grab her coat or wake Porsche. She just followed Benny.

There were people still at the park, but it was quiet. Whatever was happening at that time, people didn’t want broadcast.

Benny cut across the park, crossed Hawthorne and made a right on to the alley behind Chang’s Mart, where they sold groceries, liquor, lottery tickets, black hair supplies and just about anything else they could squeeze into the tiny store. He stopped as soon as they reached the end of the alley and got away from the strong stench of the overflowing trash receptacles.

“Look now, gal, I ain’t want yo biness in the street. Dats why I sent you home earlier. When we talk, we talk. Just us. Okay?

Deja nodded.

“I tried to get yo momma to go home, but she in a bad way—ain’t listening to reason right now. She might listen to you.” Then he just started walking again. Deja followed, walking in the cloud of cigarette smoke trailing from him. The haze of smoke matched the fog in Deja’s mind. She followed Benny for around five minutes until they ended up on a street of different colored row houses: some with boards on the windows, some looking as if there was a Grandmother who woke up and baked cookies every Saturday for her Grandkids and hosted family dinners every Sunday.

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They stopped at the fourth one. It was brown brick with covered windows. The only story it’s outside appearance told was – neglect. Benny led Deja towards the front door but then down some stairs, he threw his cigarette down, put it out with the right toe of his Timberland boot, and said, looking at Deja “You ready?”

 

He opened a metal door and let Deja in. The air immediately became still and thick, like a full laundromat in June with all the dryers running. The only light came from the glow from an overhead oven light in the kitchen that was over to the left of the long rectangular room that Deja and Benny stepped in. The gray cement floor was littered with beer cans and empty food wrappers; there were five or six old, stained couches of various colors and styles pushed to the middle of the room; only one person lay face down on one of the couches—a woman—somebody else’s momma maybe—yelling in her sleep. Deja thought she must be having a terrible nightmare.

 

The rest of the room’s occupants sat on the edges of the room, leaning against the walls—as if they all needed something more solid than cushions to hold them up. Clinging.

 

Deja’s eyes zig-zagged the room when she spotted that striking Robeson red hair. Momma?

[sommaire-chapitres livre=1 affiche_infos=true titre=true resume=true numeros=true]

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