Debt/ Uppity


I grabbed a chicken out the coop to cook for dinner, and wrung its neck.  Then I sat down on the steps and began pluckin’ it’s feathers when I noticed Papa across the way. He was talkin’ to Ole Pete and they was starin’ at me and I known they was talkin’ about me.

I turned my head cause I ain’t want to talk with Papa. I was still mad with him.

I yawned,  it been a long day and was only gettin’ longer. So I didn’t right off notice them come up behind me.

“So you’re Pete’s girl,” someone said.

I turned frownin’  in the sun at the two shadows before me. I put up a hand to cover the glare. Whoever said that stood where the sun shone round them like wingless dark angels. I couldn’t see their faces, but then one come ‘way from the sun.  I seen then who it was. Mrs. Wilson puckered brow stared down on me. Ms. Mary stood next to her; they looked like twin wolves eyin’ a sheep.

Mrs. Wilson was as tall as Pete, with silver streaks in her long black ‘white folks’ hair. Her color was  like goat’s milk, what Mama called Molato.  I didn’t much like Mrs. Wilson, she thought she was better than regular black folk causin’ her skin was near white. She been married and widowed five times the last one left her with four girls. I went to school with that mean bunch, all of them just like the Mama, uppity.

I didn’t want to, but Mama told me to always speak. “It don’t hurt nobody to speak,” she said.  So I bit my tongue and spoke. “How do Mrs. Wilson,” I said, “Ms. Mary.”

They nodded polite like. “Good Lawd gurl! I’s know you were scared to see all of this,” Mrs. Wilson said lookin’ at the men still lying in the yard. “Lawd Pete don’t need no more troubles. Ain’t that right Mary?”

Ms. Mary nodded. She weren’t as light-skin as Mrs. Wilson, but her white daddy showed in her blue eyes.

“Especially after his wife and all,” Mrs. Wilson added. She was lookin’ at Papa and Pete and shakin’ her head. “Best not talk about men business; don’t want to scare the little one.”  She nodded to Mary.

I looked away to frowned down at the chicken.

“Best not,” Mary agreed.

“Lawd knows Pete’s a good man,” Mrs. Wilson said lookin’ at me again.

“He sure is,” Mary added.

Ms. Mary was what the town folk called a parrot, she just repeat whateve Mrs. Wilson said or nodded in agreement. She ain’t got a mind of her own.

“What’s your name again child?” Mrs. Wilson asked, fanning herself from the heat with her large hat.

Both women wore large hats to keep the sun away, so they won’t get black.

Mrs. Wilson knew my name, knew my folks too. Last month she tried to get Papa to beat me causin’ I got into a fight with her daughter Helen at school. Helen Wilson is the Devil!

She was beating Wonda Lyons  with a stick for no good reason. Everybody knows Wonda ain’t never done nobody no harm.  Plus Wonda was my friend so I took that stick from Helen and started beatin’ on her. “How you like that?” When  I left her she was black and blue.

“Syreeta,  that’s right?”

This time I didn’t hide my frown. “Yes ma’am.” I answered pluckin’ the feathers off that dead chicken as hard as I could.  I wished it was Mrs. Wilson.

Copyright © 2013 Glynis Rankin


    1. Hey AR. for some reason I’ve been missing your post in my reader, don’t know why.

      Anyway, I remember my parents talking about that, although I never went through it myself. Its a shame people had to go through such humilation

  1. Lovely. I feel the outpouring of the narrator’s heart, the pain and struggle she’s going through as a child. Good set of dialogues, Glynis. I bet the main character has little or no love for those older women.

  2. This is great, Loved the dialogue, the setting. “Both women wore large hats to keep the sun away, so they won’t get black.” Living in India, my mother always covered my light colored skin. It struck a chord.

    1. Thank you Theinnerzone.
      Its a universal mindset that comes with European colonization it seems. My father’s mother believed that light-skin was preferable to dark too, her hate for her darker-skin grandchildren left emotional scares. Beauty comes in many shades.

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