It was 1946, I was sitting at the one and only Cocktail Lounge, an interracial bar when a dashing white man came up to me. He was tall, very brawny and fit with beautiful blue eyes that could woo any girl they came in contact with and a cigar in his hand. The way his light brown hair was slicked back just added to how charming he was and he had a smile so bright it would put the sun to shame.
“Hey honey, you’re looking finer than a daisy in spring,” he said as he took a pull from his cigar. This was very out of the ordinary.
“uh t-thanks”, I stuttered nervously.
“Don’t be nervous honey, I just wanted to offer you a drink”, said the kind gentlemen.
“You should tell a girl your name first don’t you think?”, I said smiling.
“Pardon me, I’m Michael Kenneth Roberts, m’ lady”, he said jokingly, “and you are?”
“Diane Jefferson Carter,” I said proudly.
“So can I order you that drink now?” he asked,
“I would love that,” I said almost blushing.
“So where are you from Diane?” You see, I was born on May 1st, 1926 in New Orleans, into a family that wasn’t very wealthy. We were barely making ends meet, my father, he was a tall slender man. I don’t remember much about him but my mom used to tell me stories about how he worked at the local bakery, and how he was also an activist. She also used to tell me how he’d make the best Beignets in the whole state, and how even on the gloomiest days he could put a smile on my face. After a protest, the local bakery was set on fire by some angry white men so he and the other black people in our neighbourhood took to the streets to protest one injustice after another. My father started to lose hope so he enlisted in the army when I was 3 years old and he didn’t come back. My mom and I packed our things and we moved to New York where living was cheaper. My mother became one of the maids for a rich white man. My mom is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever met. She rocked an Afro, with long legs, and she had the most beautiful eyes I’ve seen. They looked like a sea of honey.
There were two things I wanted when I was younger, to be a ballerina, and for my mom to be happy. But my mom didn’t have enough money. My mom was my whole world. She made everything better, and she was my best friend, but I could always tell that she was never truly happy after my father left. She stopped smiling. She did smile but they weren’t genuine and who could blame her, she always had to work. She had two jobs and she was working double shifts most nights. I always stayed up for her but sometimes when she came back from work in the night she’d have bruises on her face, I’d ask what happened but she always said not to worry about it. That’s why I always tried to please her. She sacrificed so much for me and she was so hard working. I tried my best in school which was already hard enough, there were no books, bad teachers, and it was just a terrible environment. I’d do all my chores and homework before she got home so that she would have nothing to worry about. One day when I was taking out the garbage, I noticed a sketchy man standing by the bin. He was tall, dark and skinny but muscular. I didn’t want my mom to get upset with me for bringing the trash back into the house so I started slowly moving closer to the bin. When I got close enough to throw the trash in, I noticed the man coming closer to me. When I started to panic he ran towards me, grabbed me and started pulling down both of our pants. I was scared and in pain, but I couldn’t scream. I never ended up telling my mom.
My mom was never a strict lady but there was only one thing she told me not to do, one thing that would make her unhappy, and that was to bring a white man home. She saw what they did to dad and how he spiralled and she didn’t want that for me. I knew it was going to be hard for her to get used to, but Michael didn’t need to know this.
“I’m from here actually, yeah I uh grew up in the west” I hesitated a little but it hurt me knowing I was lying to him but I didn’t want to scare him off.
“Do you come here often?” he asked. His voice was very desirable
“no, not really,” I said even though the staff here sees me every week
“you know you’re well-spoken for a lady of your kind”.
“Oh, thank you”, I say.
“and your hair, can I touch it?” he asks.
“su-” I didn’t even have time to reply before I felt his hand running through the hair that took me hours to do.
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