My family is fluffed up. My Aunt Betty had her son, Arnold Patrick Moneymaker, at the age of 16. Arnold’s father, Patrick was 18, but in the state of Arizona it wasn’t illegal for them to be together. Jewel was 9 at the time. A few years later, Aunt Betty had Annette Devlin Moneymaker, at the age of 19.
Aunt Betty and Jewel had really, scary religious parents- Catholic I think… and very racist… because Patrick was half black, he was not good enough to be with their daughter… When Aunt Betty got pregnant, they kicked her out of the house. Patrick played the good guy, he married Aunt Betty and they got a one-bedroom apartment…
Arnie was 6 going on 7, Netty was 3, and Jewel did something monumentally stupid. She seduced her brother-in-law and conceived me at the age of 15, but that ugly truth didn’t come out until I was like 2, when Aunt Betty and Patrick got divorced and he shacked up with Jewel for a bit.
I don’t call him dad. I call him Trick… all three of us do… He is currently serving time for smuggling drugs and weapons across the border. I have no idea when he’s getting out. Occasionally, he writes me a letter. I never read them. He left Jewel when I was 4, and I barley saw him… I don’t really know him.
Oh, and Arnie, at the bright age of 18 had a baby with is 17-year-old girlfriend, Jessica… Our family is just cursed. I swear there’s some bored, spoiled woman fictionally writing about my life on her tiny little blog… Because according to Netty, God is good and if He gets credit for my crummy life, I’m having a hard time believing the Man in the Sky is a good guy.
Albany was born when I was 7… to Bobby Church… and Genie is supposed to be Bobby’s- according to Jewel, but according to Bobby he is not her father, yet, he won’t do a DNA test to prove it. He wasn’t that bad. He swore worse than Jewel, drank a lot more, but he never beat anyone up… Jewel would beat on him. I really thought they would forever be miserable together… but Jewel caught him cheating and kicked him out. Three days later… she brought home the jerk.
“OW… Holly fluffing CRISP!” I scream.
“I need to make sure they’re clean.” Netty says as she washes my feet with a warm, rough wash cloth.
The soles of my feet sting like a fiery bee sting multiplied by a thousand.
I ran for as long as I could and then I walked. By the time I got all the way to her house the sun rose. Deshaun had already left for work and she was up… probably praying… I don’t know…
Now that she’s done cleaning my feet, she applies this fancy cream from the hospital… it’s actually super soothing… It must have a pain-killing agent in it.
The wooden toilet seat is finally starting to hurt my butt… I readjust to get comfy and she snaps at me to stay still as she holds gauze to my left foot and then she wraps it snuggly in white bandages.
I look up at the skylight. The foggy glass makes it impossible for anyone to see in clearly and for anyone to see out. The pastel green wall and matching tiny, rectangular tiles are pretty. I want a bathroom like this when I have a house one day. Well, if I ever have a house one day…
Gently, she sets my left foot down and picks up my right foot and rests my heel in between her knees, which she sits on upon the floor, at my feet.
I’ve always been jealous of her straight brown hair and light green eyes, and white-person complexion. She has a peach-earthy tone, but no one knows she’s part black. She looks white, so does Arnie. They look like twins, except for some reason he shaves his head completely bald and he doesn’t have a receding hairline. Maybe it’s because he’s a hipster. He sports a full beard that is weirdly red instead of brown, which he grooms and uses beard oil to keep it kempt. Moronically, he wears non-prescription glasses. Yes, the man collects fakes glasses, some of them lens-less, just to wear as a fashion statement.
“Savannah, why are you ignoring me?” Netty asks as gets of the ground slowly, groaning lowly like getting up is a real struggle.
“I’m sorry… What did you ask?” Wow… where is her attitude coming from? I got a lot on my mind. I can’t focus.
“Why did Aunt Jewel kick you out?”
I want to say part of the truth. I hit her and I burned her hand… If I tell her the full truth, I’m scared… Netty is so by the book about everything… What if she makes call the cops? I can’t do that. I won’t.
No. I need to lie altogether… at least until I figure out what to do.
“I’m pregnant…” Okay, I tell the truth a little.
I get to stay honest. I don’t need to say anything else. She jumps to conclusions like I knew she would. She’s convinced Derek is the father. She’s disappointed in me. So disappointed she repeats it, “I’m very disappointed in you.”
That’s not fair! Oh wait, she doesn’t know everything, but I thought the God she served knows all, why isn’t He telling her the truth? Fine, she can feel however she wants about me.
I stand up only to experience shooting pain on the bottom of my feet. “Can I barrow a pair of shoes please?”
Fortunately, we’re both a size 7.
“You’re not going anywhere. You can stay in the spare room.” She holds out her elbow for me to take. “Let me help. Lean on me.”
I want to run, but I’m too exhausted. I want to cry, but I’m all cried out. I want to punch her in the face, but she doesn’t deserve it. I want to set Jewel on fire, but that is psychotic. I want to die, but then Albany and Genie would be sad. I want to be with Derek. I wish I knew where he was, because I would hitchhike my way to him. I’d repay my drivers however needed… H O W E V E R N E E D E D.
We wobble to the end of the hall and across from the home office, we enter the spare room. The walls are a pastel yellow and the carpet is a plushy, thick cream. The room is tiny. A twin bed rests under the window and a tall, cherry wood dresser stands by the door next to the closet, with white wood sliding doors. A light blue quilt with a lavender flower pattern sits at the foot of the bed made with white sheets. The sunlight leaks through the cracked blinds, making the room cinematically inviting.
Side by side we sit on the bed.
“I remember like a few months ago… we had that really deep conversation over coffee and you were adamant you and Derek weren’t having sex… is Derek the father? You can tell me anything, you know that right?”
Instantly, my sight blurs from my newfound tears… Apparently, I can cry… still…
She swoops me into her embrace and I can’t let go. This attention feels amazing! Like I wish my mom had a nurturing bone in her body but she doesn’t… because all I really want is my mom… why can’t Jewel be my mom- like why can’t she love me like a good mom?
I want to tell Netty about all of it, but I can’t. I won’t… I’m tired…
“Get some rest,” Netty says in the threshold of the door. She adds, “Let me know if you need anything.”
I don’t bother to get under the covers. I grapple the pillow in my arms and lay my head on the mattress. The refreshing smell of detergent relaxes me a bit.
“Derek Phones Again”
Derek: Happy Thanksgiving!
Savvy: I can’t believe you’re not here.
Derek: Yeah… hopefully mom will let me come back for Christmas.
SAVVY panicked by the thought.
Savvy: I think it’s cool that your mom flew out to your dad’s so you could spend Thanksgiving with your whole family. If you had to spend Christmas like that, would that be so bad?
Derek: (Sighing) I just miss you like crazy… I miss Kaylie and Trev too, how are they?
Savvy: Um… not super great…
Savvy: Well, Kaylie wanted to place the baby in adoption and Trevor wanted them to keep the baby, but it doesn’t matter now…
Derek: (Shocked) She got an abortion?
Savvy: Ah… no… she um… miscarried… And Trevor’s trying to make up with her, but she’s totally cut him out of her life. To her they’re over… I kind of think it’s a good thing…
Derek: (Agitated) But isn’t she rededicated to Christ? How will Trevor get saved if she cuts him out of her life completely?
Savvy: She can barely look at him without thinking about the baby she lost. Give her some time Derek.
ANNETTE opens the door to make an announcement.
Annette: Dinner is ready and we’re ready to eat.
SAVVY sits up suddenly, muting her end of the phone call.
Savvy: Can you just save me a plate? I don’t know when I’ll talk to D again.
Annette: Did you tell him about the baby yet?
Savvy: I don’t want to tell him over the phone.
Annette: You need to come eat with us now and then do your homework. He can callback another day.
ANNETTE leaves the door open disappearing around the corner and down the hallway. SAVVY moans in a harsh hush tone, SUPER angry at ANNETTE and her dumb house rules to always eat dinner together. SAVVY unmutes the call.
Derek: Babe are you there?
Savvy: Can you call me tomorrow or soon? I have to go.
Derek: Um yeah… do I call this number?
Savvy: Yeah, this is officially my new number… I’m on Netty’s plan now.
Derek: Jewel is allowing that?
SAVVY freezes. She doesn’t know what to say to that. DESHAUN, ANNETTE’S husband peaks into the room. The black man stands tall at 6’5” and he’s a very muscular Firefighter. He keeps his head bald because he has a bald spot. He doesn’t have any facial hair though.
Deshaun: (Intimidatingly) Didn’t your sister tell you dinner was ready, and didn’t she tell you to join us?
Derek: Who is that?
Savvy: Yes, sir. I’ll be right out.
DESHAUN remains standing in place, glaring at SAVVY, waiting for her to move.
Derek: Is that the jerk?
Savvy: No. I love you, bye.
SAVVY hangs up on DEREK. She gets up and walks up to DESHAUN. She follows him to the dinning table.