Tuesday, December 12, 2006

time will reveal pt. 2

click here for part one

my heart was pounding so hard it left craters in the wall of my chest...

"what can i do..."

i felt like that time when i woke up christmas morning to find a brand new electric blue ten-speed bike standing at the foot of my bed...

"to make you feel secure?"

or that time i had a dollar in my pocket and knew as i heard the strains of the mr. softee song wafting to my ears from a block over that i'd be able to buy not one but TWO chocolate eclairs AND a blow pop...

"remove all your doubts..."

or like that time, in band camp when uh...never mind...

"so that you know for sure that you're the apple my eye girl..."

it was the...

"fulfillment of my dreams..."

and i was both giddy and terrified.

i heard damon's voice singing to me in el debarge's tenor, each word dipped in syrup as my ears licked them clean, the meaning behind the words coating my heart like powdered sugar.

he liked me!

one of the cutest boys in school liked ME.

one of the smartest boys in school liked ME.

one of the fifth-grade boys liked ME.

wait...that last one was a downer...

i mean, he was still in the fifth grade, two grades lower than mine. no matter how wonderful he was, there was no changing that sordid fact.

"what are you looking like THAT for?!?"

i turned around so quickly i'm sure my head would have flown off and slammed against the wall had it not been attached to my neck. the forgotten pain in my knee and ankle returned full force as i was yanked out of my daydreaming back into reality. 'swad stood there looking at me as though i'd just farted.

and damon was standing right there next to him.

"i know just how you feel, but this time love's for real..."

"uh, what?" i asked dazedly as i just stopped my mouth from falling agape.

"in time it will reveal...the special love that's deep inside of us will all reveal in time..."

aswad looked disgusted as he jabbed damon in the ribs and responded.

"you look like you do when you're talking about marcus allen."

"shut UP!" i yelled, my body felt like it'd been juliened by embarrassment and my pride was now dripping from the openings left after my body had been cleaved. i stiffened my spine as though i could manually close every wound and hold some of it in.

damon just stood there silently with his baseball mit in his hand, staring at me intently as el debarge continued singing his heart on his behalf...

"more precious than silver, more precious than diamond rings or anything that i can give you..."

"i just like this song, is all," i answered as haughtily as i could muster. by this time 'swad had started laughing at my discomfiture and i knew i had to get both of them out of there with a quickness. i turned back towards the stereo and turned off the tape. while i stood there facing the tape deck i gathered all the couth and calm a seventh grader could find in a meadow blooming full with her insecurities.

"look who's talking," i heard damon's voice say teasingly, "the same guy who trips over himself every time he's around..."

"HOL' UP...," aswad interrupted frantically, "i think i hear marc outside!"

i turned just as aswad grabbed damon's sleeve and started pulling him into the hallway. damon was still looking at me, a smile skittering shyly across his lips.


his smile nudged mine awake.


the bouquet of my pride was held tightly within my fingers, their petals only slightly wilted from the weight of embarrassment damon assisted in lifting from them. i exhaled dreamily. he was quickly becoming my knight in shining armor.

i played that tape over and over again until i had the lyrics memorized, even eating my dinner in my room so i could listen to the tape and re-read the letter until each word was permanently engraved upon my brain. i went to sleep with the paper folded and tucked beneath my pillow.

the next morning i woke up extra early, my body shivering with restlessness and anticipation of the new day. i ripped the blanket from over me and jumped out of bed, tripping over the discarded clothes huddled on the floor as i raced towards my closet. thrusting the door open, i stared woebegonely at the contents hanging limply from the hangers. up until then i hadn't put much thought into what i was going to wear to school and in fact had seen very little of the inside of my closet, preferring to don what was easily accessible on the carpet next to my bed. nervously i pulled at each garment, glancing over each of them with a growing sense of alarm. all i had hanging in there were either sunday best dresses or clothes i'd outgrown the year before. with my mind at panic pitch i started shoving the pieces aside haphazardly and willed myself to calm down. a deep breath of relief escaped me as my fingers finally clutched a new beige skirt tucked in the back. mom must have snuck it there, knowing her daughter would probably have made it conveniently disappear had she spotted it sooner. i said a prayer of thanks for my mom's sneakiness.

i tossed the skirt towards my bed as i swiveled and ran to my dresser, yanking out the drawers on a frenetic quest to find a top to go with it. throwing clothes everywhere, i stilled when my eyes finally landed on a beautiful lavender cashmere sweater my mom had bought for me before school started. i ran my fingers over it reverently before pulling it out and walking over to my bed to place it on top of the covers. it had short puffy sleeves and tiny ruffles on the v-neck. totally girly.

totally not me.

at least, not me before that day, because i was determined to show damon i could be a girl too.

i was standing there daydreaming about how perfect the day was going to be when my mom walked into my room.

"you're already up?" surprise was sewn into her voice. i turned my head towards her.

"yup," i answered on a sigh. mom raised an eyebrow as she looked at me, a question in her eyes. she stepped over to my bed and glanced down to the outfit i had sprawled across the covers. i heard her gasp.

"you're wearing a skirt?," she asked as she looked at me with shock in her eyes, her mouth slightly agape as she continued, "to school?!?"

i huffed to cover up the hurt i felt at her reaction.

"i wear skirts to school sometimes, mom," i replied.

"is there some kind of school assembly you haven't told me about?" she continued, still in awe of the fact that her tomboy daughter had voluntarily decided to wear something that didn't have a crotch and wasn't made of jean material decorated with grass and mud stains to school.


mom studied me for a second before a knowing look grew within her eyes. she stepped closer to me and placed her arm around my shoulder, hugging me to her side. DANGITY DANG. i knew what that meant. it meant that no matter what secret i thought i'd buried from her, her mother's instinct had dug it up. i sighed heavily and waited for her to speak.

"so what's his name?"

DANG DANG DANG! how does she KNOW these things? i stood still and stubborn for a second, debating on whether or not i should try to lie about it.

"you can tell me, baby." she whispered soothingly as she hugged me again, "i won't get upset."

i pouted as i realized it was too early in the morning for me to think up a convincing enough lie.

"there's a boy at school," i offered grudgedly, "but i can't tell you who he is!" i added in a rush.

at this my mom was quiet. then she started unplaiting the mangled cornrows i'd put in my hair the night before.

"i'll braid your hair this morning," she said softly, "let me go put on the oatmeal and wake your brother. i'll be back in a minute."

i sighed with relief when she left, then rushed to get dressed, the whole time thinking about keith and how he'd react when he saw me in a skirt. i was pulling on my knee-hi's when mom came back ten minutes later. she had a comb and brush in one hand, a jar of grease in the other. she sat on the bed while i pulled over a stool and placed it between her legs, plopping down on it with my legs spread wide.

"what i tell you about that?" i heard mom's voice gently scolding me from above my head. "only boys and hoochies sit with their legs wide open" i answered without speaking. i hastily closed my legs and pulled my skirt over my knees. mom started parting my hair, greasing my scalp as she prepared to braid it.

"so you don't want to tell me who this boy is," she said contemplatively as she continued working on my hair. when she paused, i figured she was waiting for an answer.

"not yet, mom," i answered pleadingly, covertly crossing my fingers as i told her "i don't even know if he likes me yet."

she started braiding my hair before she spoke again.

"does this boy live in the neighborhood?"

i could tell she was trying to do the process of elimination thing.

"he lives behind the school," i said slowly, careful not to get tricked into divulging more information than was necessary. moms are slick with that particular maneuver.

"do i know him?" she asked. my mind rewinded to all of the boys she'd met who were friends of mine.


"do i know his parents?"

DANGITY. aiight, so now i wasn't so sure how many parents she'd met...

"i think so," i said, then realizing she might panic if she didn't know them, i added "yes, i'm sure you know them."

she remained silent as she finished braiding my hair. as she patted my hair and i stood up, she finally spoke.

"you know i can find out who he is, right?"

"i know, mom." i grew leery cuz i knew she could. "i promise i'll tell you soon."

"okay," she said warningly, "just so you know. i expect you to tell me very soon."

she kissed the top of my head and left the room. i put on my brand new sebagos, grabbed my bookbag and walked out after her. aswad was already in the kitchen eating when we entered. he looked up from his bowl and gasped.

"mom! nikki's wearing a skirt!"

i scowled at him as i grabbed a bowl from the cabinet and stepped over to the stove to fill it with oatmeal. mom laughed.

"she wears skirts to school sometimes you know," she repeated my words to him, laughter in her voice as she turned to me and winked. i rolled my eyes and sat down at the table. aswad was looking at me closely, like he was trying to figure out what i didn't say. i ignored him and started eating.

by the time 'swad and i were walking to school, i was thinking the skirt was a big mistake. all of the kids from the surrounding neighborhoods were also making their way to school and i was quickly becoming the subject of the furtively whispered conversations taking place around me. i swallowed into a tight throat as i felt everyone's eyes on me.

"what's with the skirt, nikki?" this question wrapped in a snicker came from calvin, the neighborhood football star and my frequent teammate whenever we played football on my street. i looked at him with a whisper of disdain on my face.

"no reason," i replied coolly as i straightened my spine, rearranged the bookbag on my shoulder, and kept moving.

"you look like a girl," he taunted from behind me. i heard some of the other boys laugh at his statement.

"DUH," i said as the aggravation crawled into my voice, "i AM a girl!"

i could feel 'swad getting angry as he walked next me. when he heard the boys laugh at what i said he turned around to face them.


his yelled declaration pulled the plug on sound and the laughter drained away as everyone stared at the fury twisting 'swad's face. considering the fact that he was at least a head shorter than most of the boys there, i was shocked they stopped. they must have seen something in his eyes though, cuz they backed down. nothing else was said as we all headed towards school. i smiled a little at 'swad. when it came down to it, he could be ridiculously protective for someone so short.

by the time we stepped onto the school grounds, i was a walking mass of nervousness. i had begun tugging at the hem of my skirt and patting my newly plaited hair in preparation for when damon first saw me.

and then there he was walking towards us.