I told Diebaby our phone was off and that I would call him from a pay phone. I did not want him calling the house and Momma telling him I had ran away. So I would catch the bus over to his house to visit him, so he wouldn’t know that I was homeless.
After about two weeks back at being homeless and not being able to wash my limited amount of clothes regularly, what I feared happened.
“Why you smell funny” Diebaby asked? I had not had a chance to sneak back to Grandma’s. She was home more now during the day; she no longer worked full time. I was embarrassed! “I haven’t had a chance to wash my clothes and take a shower” I said, looking at the floor in his living room.
“What do you mean by that” he asked? He looked really confused. “I have been living in a vacant house for the past two weeks” I said. “Stop playing” he said. “You for real” he asked? I told him yes and explained that this was not the first time; he was shocked.
He pulled me close and hugged me tight. He went to his room and came back with a t-shirt and sweat pants; he grabbed a towel and wash cloth from the hallway closet. “Go take a shower and put this on; I will wash your clothes”. I took a shower and changed clothes; while Diebaby put my clothes in their washer.
“You should come and stay with us” Diebaby offered. “You think your mom would let me” I asked as I felt my eyes widen. “I am going to talk to her; but I know she will” he said. He called his mother on the phone and talked to her. She talked to me more when she got home; I slept there that night and moved in the next day.
Mrs. D was the best! I called her that because I felt self-conscious about wanting to call her mama, when she was Diebaby’s mother; so I called her Mrs. D. I loved her and she made me feel like she loved me back! She was pretty, with a round face like Theia’s; actually to me, she looked like she could be Theia’s mother. She was classy and had great hair; ALWAYS!
They instantly became my family! They included me in everything! His brothers were nice too and they even gave me a hard way to go like brothers and sisters do from time to time. Every Sunday we went to South Dallas to gather with his extended family at his grandmother’s house; she lived on Macon Street.
The house and the back yard would be packed with his family. We played cards and dominos while waiting for the food to be finished; and the older men watched football in the house. His cousin Kimberly loved to lip sync to Chaka Khan and would put on a show in the back room of the house; I would play along, but I sang for real!
Diebaby loved it and said I turned it out; he loved when I sang for him! I sang gospel music or Luther Vandross, as I played the air guitar and drums for him, putting on a concert performance. I loved how he acted like he loved it! I was a Darden; part of the perfect family for me!
But a lot of the time I felt really sad; and I would go into their bathroom and cry. I would sit on the floor and cry into a towel. Once, I heard Mrs. D tell Diebaby “Leave her alone Diebaby; you would cry too if you were alone and living with people other than your family”. Diebaby would be at a loss for words when I came out; he just hugged me.
The rest of my junior year seemed to fly by and both Diebaby and I were soon seniors in high school; as I continued to live with the Darden’s. Our senior year Diebaby became Drum Major for South Oak Cliff’s marching band and we were hyped!
I was proud as he marched in front of the band like it was his rightful place! He had the cane, tall hat, long James Brown cape and he STRUTTED! He was the Man! I videoed his performance in the big parade that his school marched in on Martin Luther King Blvd, but I messed up the footage because I kept dancing and marching to the drum line. When we later tried to look at the video, the footage was bouncing and shaking all over the place.
The year came and went; graduation was around the corner. My cousin Gina came to Dallas to visit from North Carolina. I went by Momma’s house to see Gina while she was in town, plus it was a chance to see Sand at the same time. Everything was going great until Momma got mad about something and started hitting me.
Gina was so upset that she followed me outside, as I was leaving begging me to move to North Carolina with her. “You should go into the Air Force with me. You can move to Goldsboro and stay with me and mama until we leave for boot camp” she said. “Is it okay with Aunt Gloria” I asked? “I know it’s already okay” Gina said passionately. “I will buy you a bus ticket if you come” she offered. “Okay” I said. “Let me know when you are ready and I will buy the ticket” Gina said.
I told Diebaby and his family that sometime after graduation I was going into the Air Force and staying with my Aunt in North Carolina until I left for boot camp. Mrs. D thought it was a good idea to go and stay with some of my relatives for a while; but that I could always come back if I needed too. I LOVED HER!
Skyline graduation came! All of the Darden’s were there; I know they came mainly for Theia and Woo, but they yelled just as loudly for me when I crossed the stage! I was proud! I had gone to school every day and graduated on time with a 3.79 GPA!
Grandma Bertha who was in a wheel chair, daddy Presley, Sand and Kooky were there; I could hear and see them jumping up and down and waving, while yelling.
Momma and Corn did not come.
Almost a year and a half had passed since I last saw Gina. Diebaby and I eventually broke up after he went off to Grambling State University; as a member of their marching band.
I visited Grambling a couple of times to see Diebaby perform with the band; but Diebaby was doing his own thing and experiencing new things.
It was not fair to Diebaby to have him worrying about me and my crazy life; or me giving him a hard way to go because I was jealous of all the new things he was experiencing that did not include me.
The girls were really digging him at Grambling and I saw it when I visited him. I just knew he was going to leave me for one of the college girls.
I couldn’t take it, so I beat him to the punch and told him I was leaving for North Carolina; even though I really became homeless again. Once I moved out of his parent’s house we lost touch.
I stayed with a friend in Pleasant Grove for a while, then with Aunt Marilyn and then with grandma Bertha; before Momma found out I was there and I had to move back home.
I was 18 now and felt like I should be able to live where I wanted, but since I had nowhere else to go, I went back home.
I had been back home with Momma a couple of months now and I hated it! I was in the kitchen washing dishes, when I heard Sand screaming!
Sand was pregnant by this time by the drummer of this band that I had briefly sung with. I quit the band after the drummer dogged Sand. She was pretty, pregnant with her big belly.
I take off running in the direction of Sand’s screams! As I run through the den, I hear Momma’s voice coming from her room.
“You think cause you pregnant I won’t beat yo ass” she growled. “I know that’s Corn’s baby” she spat.
As I run into the room, Momma had Sand on the edge of the bed, with her legs pointed straight out. Momma has straddled her legs; and is bent over with her back to Sand. She has one of Corn’s old leather bedroom slippers and she is beating the bottoms of Sand’s bare feet with it!
Sand is screaming and her arms are flying about, but she cannot move; her belly is too big and Momma is too big! “Momma what are you doing” I yelled without thinking. She just kept beating Sand’s feet.
“Momma Stop” I yelled, as I walked closer! She continued to beat her feet. I reached in and snatched the shoe from her hand! She looked up at me with a face that looked like it belonged to one of the demons I saw in a horror movie once!
Momma turned dark red, as her nose scrunched and she held her lips pulled back over her teeth; she threw Sand’s feet down on the floor so hard, Sand howled! “Oh, I guess you grown now, humph” she snarled, as her lip turned up!
“I guess you gon stop me from whopping her humph” “You gon save her” she asked sarcastically? “You gonna take her whopping for her, humph” Momma said, as she walked up to me swaying her hips with her fists bawled up!
She drew back and punched me in my face! “Get out Sand” I yelled! Sand took off running holding her stomach, towards the back of the house to our room! Momma grabbed the belt that was on the bed and started beating me with it! “Don’t you ever get in my business again” she yelled! She beat me until she was satisfied.
Sand hugged me and put medicine on my cuts when Momma was done.
Nothing had changed; I quit my job at the YMCA and I called Gina, I was headed to Goldsboro.