Normani Brooks

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The Invite

SHAYLA’S PERSPECTIVE

I could not believe my big brother was out here half-naked, causing all these trashy little girls to be out here at this park like this. Before I knew it, I motioned for Breanna and Normani to follow me over to where they were. It was so crowded out there, mostly women, it was hard getting through them. Once we got to the court, it looked like the game was coming to an end.

“Aye, G, pass me the ball,” Rodney shouted out to George.

George passes the ball to Rodney, and Rodney makes the shot giving their team the win.

“Hell yeah, that’s game,” Rodney said in a roar of excitement.

“Sorry ass boys, we 21-0,” George said as he was taunting the losing team.

“Man, I need to be on yall team,” Lloyd said.

Lloyd played for the rival school on the west side of town but grew up in the same neighborhood as us. His family used to have money, but when his father went to jail for money laundering, his family moved to the west side of town. Where the cost of living wasn’t so steep.

Lloyd walked up and shook hands with Rodney. George laughed at his comment and pointed to the white boy who was playing on Lloyd’s team.

“Who is the white kid, where you find him at?” George asked Lloyd.

“He was new to the team. He used to play for the boys up in Gwinnett. He got some skills. He was one of their top players,” Lloyd said, wiping the sweat from his face with his shirt.

“Not enough skills to win this game, today bro, pay me my money,” George said, holding his hands out to Lloyd.

Rodney also held his hands out, waiting on the money they had just won. They were so into their game that they didn’t even notice how crowded it had gotten. Rodney looked around and spotted my friends approaching him and me.

“Brodie, let me hold some of that ball money. I know you just came up with that win,” I said, walking up to Rodney.

Rodney’s facial expression changed from happy and content to one of confusion and anger. As I got closer, he grabs the back of my neck and goes off about the clothes I had on. Which was this short pink overall romper? I mean, it was the summertime, and the temperature was always over 90 degrees. What did he expect me to be wearing in this type of heat?

“What the hell you got on, Shayla? Where the fuck are your clothes? You got all these dudes eyeballing you out here!” Rodney was upset.

I was yelling for him to let me go. We always got into little fights and arguments like this. Even when we were kids, we would argue over the smallest thing. Ever since our father stepped out on us, Rodney took on this fatherly role that was very much of a headache for me.

“Let me go, Rodney, mama saw me leave the house, and she didn’t have any complaints. Besides, these boys know pretty when they see it,” I said as I finally pushed him away from me.

My girls started to laugh, and then Normani came to my defense.

“Rodney, you and Boy George over there is the reason the majority of all these girls are out there. Seeing as all yall are shirtless and sweaty out here putting on a show,” Normani said, folding her arms.

Rodney walked up to Normani, sweat dripping all over him, getting too close to her. I could tell she was uncomfortable. He smiled at her and then asked her if she was enjoying the show as well. Breanna side-eyed me, and I looked at Normani to see what her reaction was going to be. Rodney was teasing her.

“Besides, We can’t help that everywhere we go, the ladies go, we didn’t plan this crowd,” Rodney said in a snarky way.

Normani pushed him back and yelled out that he was wet and smelly. Everyone laughed. Just then, George walked over, and I immediately got excited. That boy knows he fine. When George came into the fold, the first thing I asked about was the party. I needed to know if my friends and I would have guaranteed free entry. Seeing as he was my brother’s best friend.

“So George, we get to walk to the front line of this party right, my girls and I can’t be waiting in no line when you and my big brother are close friends,” I said with a sly smirk.

“You’re not going to this party, Shay,” Rodney interrupted.

I was so confused. I just knew my brother had to be talking to someone else because I didn’t hear that. ” You gotta be out your mind! There is no way in hell my friends and I are missing out on the biggest party of the summer, and the last party that George will be throwing seeing as he graduates this year.”

This was the end of an era, and I would not miss out on the big bang it was about to be.

“You tripping, my girls, and I will be there,” I said, looking back at Bre, dapping her up.

“We go where the fellas go,” Bre said as she laughed out loud.

“Everybody knows all the fine boys will be at this party,” I said, nudging my brother to move out of my way.

George looked at my brother, then shrugged his shoulder with a smirk on his face. “If my boy doesn’t want his little sister at the party, there isn’t much I can do about that.”

I couldn’t believe George let my brother dictate who could and couldn’t come to his party. “George, ain’t you running the show? I mean, it is your party,” I said in a condescending tone.

Rodney gave me a stank eye. “You not going, and that’s it”

While Breanna and I were going back and forth with them about being at the party, I hear Normani yell out that she wasn’t going to the party.

“See, Shayla, you need to be like Nerdy Nori and stay your ass at home,” Rodney yells out.

I look back at Nori, like seriously, of all the times to start this crap, she chooses now in front of my brother. He is already giving me a hard time about going to the party anyway. I looked at Bre, and she rolled her eyes and shrugged her shoulders, not even acknowledging Normani’s comment.

“We are not little kids Rodney, everybody we know is going to George’s party,” Breanna said.

“Exactly, Rodney!! Nori is going, believe that,” I said, cutting my eyes at her. She just stood there saying nothing.

Just then, a female voice from in the crowd calls out to Rodney. A girl walks up in the smallest dress I have ever seen. Smaller than the romper he was just scolding me about wearing. It was so short and tight you didn’t have to imagine much because it was all there for the viewing. She had long blonde braids and long pink nails. She was about the same height as me, with a chocolate-coated skin complexion. She didn’t live in our neighborhood.

Rodney turns to acknowledge her, and when she finally gets over to him, he hugs her with this big goofy ass smile on his face. I was so confused as to when and how this little connection happened.

“You ready, baby,” she says, not even acknowledging the rest of us standing there.

He leans in to kiss her, then grabs his gym bag and shirt off the ground ” Alright kids, daddy gotta go,” he said sarcastically.

He daps George up, and George turns to walk off first. “Yea, I gotta go to. I’ll see y’all at the party...maybe...maybe not.” he laughed then disappeared through the crowd.

Before Rodney leaves, he looks back,” If Nori goes to the party, I will let it go and allow you and your friends to come to the party with no problems.” He looked at Nori and winked his eye.

“Nerdy Nori, ain’t going nowhere, so I’m not worried,” Rodney said, laughing as he left.

“Hell, yes, that’s no problem,” I said.

Yes! Bre Shouted,” We need to find something cute to wear to this party.”

Bre looked over at Fred to ask if he was going to the party as well. he shrugged his shoulders and looked over at Normani ” Y’all sure Ms.Bougie gone go,” he said, looking her up and down.

Bre and I look back at Normani.

“Did he just call me Nerdy Nori again?” Normani said in a low tone.

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