This afternoon, I stumbled across one of the many snatches of writing I’ve started, then abandoned. This one’s actually pretty recent. I started it the first week of the new year. I don’t know; I feel like it has potential. But I’m interested in your feedback, so please leave some.
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Mama was never right after Minnie Ripperton died. For months, she walked around the house, grabbin’ at her bosoms like a slaver. “C’mere, girl,” she’d call to me or one-a my sisters, pressin’ our palms to the orb of her breast,”That feel like a lump to you?”
After she got over gropin’ herself, she took to callin’ us in from outside early and holdin’ us to her chest, goin’, “Mm, mm, mmm,” all the time. She wore baby’s breath in her hair for a while, which was nice, but then she took and burned up all her batik dresses. I was ‘specially sad to see those go. Always figured I’d inherit at least one of ’em; then I could go floatin’ around like a goddess from Cape Town.
Sometime, in the kitchen, while the water ran, Mama would purse her lips and, with suds up to her elbows, she’d mumble down in her throat, where she thought no one could hear:”I’m gon’ have to get me a white man….” Even if it meant dyin’ too young to see her babies grown, Mama wanted to be Minnie.
She was still mournin’ after she turned 50 and Maya Rudolph had been on Saturday Night Live for years. She’d watch her impersonate Whitney or Oprah and still say, “That poor, poor child….”
Mama was prettier’n Minnie, with her heart-shaped booty and her French roast skin and them itty-bitty cornrows curvin’ up ’round her head like tiny ropes turnin’ double-dutch. Whenever she went out with a man, which wasn’t as often as the neighbors had each other thinkin’, we used to sneak into her bedroom and rub her tubes of Desert Plum and Tinted Ruby lipstick ‘cross our faces so hard they crumbled, then steal splats of her cold cream and splashes of all her eau de toilettes. We were greasy and glad to be there, in that over-warm shotgun house with the ebony statues of naked men and women huggin’. Just us three girls and our ever-mournin’ Mama.
We didn’t think nothin’ of it, all those years she spent wonderin’ if modern advances coulda saved Minnie Ripperton. Mama was just like that; she held on too long. She didn’t see no harm in it, and I suppose there wasn’t none. But over the years, she lost many a friend and lover to clingin’. It was just too hard for her to accept people change.
“I’m here, Mama.”
Her skin was clammy as ever. Cold in the fingers like she was already half-gone, and she was. She most certainly was.