Rae Rae

When I opened my eyes, Mama was leaning over me in full makeup.

“Get up, Rae” she whispered. “Come on. Get up.”

“What time is it?” my sister Kimmie’s voice was groggy.

“We overslept,” Mama said. “Cyril will be here any minute.” Cyril was Kimmie’s father and Mama’s long-lost one true love finally come back to her.

Kimmie and I climbed unsteadily out of bed, and Kimmie stumbled to the bathroom. I stood and stretched my arms, yawning. Mama sat on the bed and watched. “Remember when Kimmie arrived and I promised you things would be different, that we’d be happy? ”

I nodded, rubbing the sleep from my eyes.

“Well, now is our chance,” she said. “You’re coming with us.”

I stepped backward. “I am?”

“You sure are.” She smiled. “Excited? ”

I might have said, “When I was braced to say good-bye to Kimmie, you were planning to take me with you and didn’t say so? How cruel.”

But I wanted to be flying down the interstate in a fast car, Kimmie and Mama within arm’s reach. After all, she was my mother whom I revered, and I didn’t really know how to say harsh things to her, even if I had formed the thoughts in my mind. I threw my arms around Mama’s neck.

She gently pried me off of her, held me at arm’s length. I felt her gaze pour over me as she touched my cheek with her palm. “Oh, Rae, wait till you see how much fun it’s going to be,” she said, her voice low. “Everyone down there is so friendly, and there are lots and lots of children to play with. Plenty of places to ride your bike....” Her eye caught something over my shoulder. She rose from the bed, went over to Kimmie’s altar, picked up the picture of herself and Cyril. “Bless my soul,” she whispered. “I didn’t know she had this. Will you look at that?”

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