By: Mia L. Hazlett
Isn’t a grandmother supposed to love all of her grandchildren equally? Can you hold them to the same standard you hold a mother? Or can they have favorites? Can you be excluded from her home baked cookies and extra long bear hugs, just because you are dark-skinned and don’t have “good hair”?
So mine were the one set of dry eyes in a room of twenty-something. And although no one could see through their tear-stained eyes, I could still feel their looks of disgust as I stood by my mother’s side. I refused to feel any shame for not crying for the passing of a woman who meant nothing to me. She spent half her life criticizing my wool hair and extra dark complexion and the other half not wanting to see me. And if it was not for my mother, I wouldn’t even be here right now. So go ahead stare all you like, you will not see me shed a tear or crack a frown.
The confusing part of their stares is, I didn’t know if they were disgusted with me personally because this woman they mourned had convinced them over the last twenty-two years that I wasn’t family. Or if it was because I was playing hypocrite by coming to the announcement of her death, when I spent the past three years not even knowing she was sick. It wasn’t that my mother didn’t try to tell me that there was something wrong with her; I just suddenly had to get off the phone when her name was mentioned. Coincidence? Avoidance? Call it what you want, but I don’t have any regrets.
The thing is; my grandmother is like the bully on the playground at recess. Everyday you go out there, you know they are waiting for you. Just to say or do something. And then they pounce at the slightest or no provocation at all. And you take it because you think nobody cares. You have gone to your parents, principle, the teachers…you know, all the people that are supposed to protect you. They do nothing but leave you to fend for yourself against this evil-spirited monster everyday.
That’s what being around my grandmother was like. Walking out to the playground just waiting to hear what she would have to say about my appearance or what skill I lacked compared to my light-skinned cousins. The problem with her being my grandmother is I couldn’t rebel. The bully on the playground, you can just turn around and start swinging when you can’t take it anymore. But when you are dealing with the oldest matriarch of the family, you can’t just lose it, because she actually had a gang that worshipped her.
She had convinced my cousins that my mother took me in after her friend left me on her doorstep, “I mean how else you gonna ‘splain that tired wooly mess ontopthat dark ole face. Ain’t but a baby and look old as me, with that dark ole skin on her. That didn’t come from this here bloodline. We make light pretty babies. All our babies got that good hair-long hair, you can just comb on through.” And that pretty much sums up how a visit with grandmother went.
The thing I couldn’t figure out about her, she was darker than me. When she couldn’t do her hair anymore, my aunt’s used to draw straws to figure out who was stuck with the task of braiding her “nappy brillo pad”. I don’t know if it was because I reminded her of who she was, because to look at me was to look at her. I could deny my mother with her light buttery complexion and long wavy mane, but there was no denying that I was Macy Grant Johnson’s granddaughter.
So now let’s fast forward: she is gone and buried. But now this woman has called from beyond the grave to give me one last slap. She must have seen me smile the other day, so here I sit with all 27 members of my greedy family at this will reading. Again, if not for my mother, I would have stayed at home. But the wretched women specifically told her attorney that I had to be there or everything she had would be left to some charity, rather than the family.
I mean I am a Christian and usually pretty good at forgiveness, but Macy is making it so hard. She is dead and still calling the shots. How could someone be so cruel as to want to humiliate me in front of my family one last time? Twenty-two years wasn’t enough? She truly is evil. I’m trying not to cry, but I thought once she died I would never have to face this bully again. I want to have faith that God has His reason, but I am bracing myself for the embarrassment I know I am about to endure at the hands of this dead hag.
Up until moments ago, my faith in God was shaky, but now it is completely gone. Because I’m pretty sure you have to be somewhat intelligent to get into and graduate from law school, but not this idiot. He couldn’t even read. Because God knows if he could, he wouldn’t have just said, “Macy Grant Johnson leaves her entire estate to Macy Lee Grant Johnson. The value of said estate is $3,426,749.00.” I know my grandmother, bully of my life, would not leave her entire estate to me.
©2007 Mia L. Hazlett
By: Mia L. Hazlett
“Well darkie, wool-head, coon-face, nigga-baby, here’s $3.4 million for ya.” How ironic is that statement? It could only be made from Macy Grant Johnson from beyond the grave. A woman who has never positively acknowledged my existence is now leaving me her fortune….not to mention the 27 instant enemies. I mean I guess they have never really liked me and now they have 3.4 million reasons to add to their list. As if the will wasn’t enough, before I could leave the room the attorney gave me a small white envelope with my initials neatly printed across the front.
I was able to escape the room with my life. I think it was my mother’s glare that warned everyone there would be no drama today. What did this damn thing say? I want to open it on my way to the car, but there are some non-well wishers following us. My only fear is I will wait to the car and find out the note says, “Psych!” and these stragglers are waiting to take a picture of my reaction. I can’t put it past that woman. She would do something like that.
At home that evening I finally muster up enough courage to open the envelope. I gently tear the envelope open and take out the tri-folded piece of white-lined paper. I shut my eyes and pray to God for strength, “Please Lord don’t let this be a joke.” I unfold the 8 ½” x 11” paper and read the four words, “Because I owe you.” What does that mean? And leave it to her to be dead, so I can’t ask her. This cannot be a good thing. Not from a woman like her. I mean there is so much I could do with $3.4 million, but it just doesn’t feel Christian to take money from someone I don’t like. Still don’t like the woman and she’s dead. I guess walking around hating dead people isn’t exactly Christian either, but something inside is telling me not to sign for that check tomorrow. No good will come from it.
I decide to sleep on it and see how I feel in the morning. I wake with the same feelings, still hate her, still don’t want her money. I could just give it to my mother, but I can hear her now, “if she wanted me to have it, she would have left it for me and not you.” There is something so unsettling about this. My stomach flutters the whole drive to the attorney’s office. I don’t shut my car off immediately as I sit in the three-space parking lot. I could very easily leave and not come back, but $3.4 million is a lot to just walk…drive… away from. I turn my car off and say a quick prayer before getting out and making my way to the front steps of the office building.
The receptionist gives me a cheery hello and smile. I sit in the leather armchair and think to myself that I still have time to leave. Time to get away and never be found again by anyone in this family. Well that’s an impossible dream, because I would have to stay in touch with my mother and counting on her to keep her mouth shut to my whereabouts is useless. So I walk into the attorney’s small office when he calls my name. We share quick small talk and then he drags a large white cardboard box from out of the corner. Maybe I’m getting cash.
Instead of a wad of crisp green bills, he pulls out a stack of envelopes. My name…her name…is neatly printed across the front in blue ink. A weak stretched elastic is barely holding together the stack he has thrown on the end of his desk. I am beginning to assume that I am not here to sign for a check today. I am beginning to think that the first letter is going to hold the “psych” I have been waiting for. I think to myself that I still have a chance to bolt out of here and never look back, but I have to know what these letters say. They most likely hold the answer to, “I owe you.”
©2007 Mia L. Hazlett
By: Mia L. Hazlett
I sit before the box of letters on my bed and browse through them. There is a small number in the upper left hand corner of the twenty envelopes. They are arranged chronologically, so I pull out the first one.
It wuz 1928. A day that wuz so ruthless with the heat, that just blinkin’ made you sweat. Macy baby, it wuz that day I dun learnd to hate the culur of my skin. And chil’ when I say hate, I mean if I could have gone home and washd away the black, it would have been gone.
We wuz in Porter, Mississippi. It wuz me, my two big brotherz, my big sister, and my three cousinz down at the lake. Now we shoulda known better, becuz that there lake borderd someplace you just don’t go. That’s just what Momma sed, “Don’t cha ask why. That there lake borderz someplace you just don’t go. Ain’t no need for no cullurd people to be down there.” To this day, I wish we had listend to Momma. Macy baby, to this day I wish we had listend to Momma. But when you hard headed like we was, well baby, you just don’t do what yur Momma tells you all the time.
See, it was hot. Real hot. And we was just gonna jump in that big ole lake and jump on out. Hadn’t even plannd on more than a minute’s fun. But when you dun have seven kids, ahundre’ degrees, and a big ole lake, well then chil’ you got yourself a watr party. That’s what we calld it, “a watr party.” Well we got to splashin’ and jumpin’ and just doin’ things that kids do, and before you knew it, twenty minutes or so had dun passd by. My big brothr Tobias jumpd on out and told the rest of us to follow his lead. And Macy we did. We dun followd Tobias’s lead and got on out of that there lake. We dried off and begun walkin towards the path that leed to the road and that’s when Momma’s voice came into my head, “That there lake borderz somewhere you just don’t go.”
Two sirs were comin’ down the path t’wards us. That’s what we calld all white men, “sirs”. Even in yur thoughts you calld them that, so you would never make a mistake in there presence. They weren’t gonna let us go by Macy, they weren’t gonna let us go by. We all steppd aside into the bushes and left the path free. They dun slowd there walk as they approachd Tobias and stoppd inches from his bare feet. “Look at this here nigger coon, Jesse.” That was his friend’s name, Jesse. “This here boy’s been swimmin’ in our here lake, Jesse. He done got all his nigger shit in it. Jesse, tell this here boy, what we do to niggers that swim in our lake.” Jesse dun steppd on Tobias’s toes with his torn sneekers and spit right in my big brother’s face. “We kill coons that swim in our here lake. DO YOU HEAR ME BOY?” He got up real close to Tobias’s face, and dun twistd on Tobias’s toes somethin’ awful, and whisperd, “We kill coon niggers that swim in our here lake.”
Tobias didn’t budge, not even a flinch. The spittle dun stayd on his face and he didn’t even move. “Jesse, I say we kill this here nigger and make these here little niggers watch. Should we do it fast or real real slowlike.” Now Jesse got off Tobias’s toes and steppd back. “I want to kill him real slowlike. Been a while since I had me a niggerkill.” That’s what he called it Macy, “a niggerkill”. “But it’s been a while since I had me a lil’ fun with a coongirl. I sure would like to have me some fun with a coongirl right now. But I want me a real dark nigger. There’s you and you.” He dun pointd the stick he been holdin’ at me and my sister Ruby. He kept goin’ back and forth and back and forth and he dun stoppd at me. “I’m gonna have me some fun with you lil’ girl.”
I’ll spare you the details Macy, but know thoze boys took us deep back in the woodz that day and I think it was hourz for my two oldest brotherz finally died. And Macy, those boyz did some awful things to me and my sister. I say to you Macy, those boyz did some awful things to me and my sister Ruby. I ain’t never been right since that day, just ain’t never been right. My Momma had done told us not to go to that lake. She said, “That there lake borderz someplace you just don’t go.” But Macy, we went.
©2009 Mia L. Hazlett
By: Mia L. Hazlett
It was a lot easier to hate someone because they were a jerk. A jerk was just that, a jerk. And that’s how I had always thought of my grandmother. But this letter made it much more difficult to hate her. I was beginning to understand the deep seeded abuse she cast upon me. Still, how could I erase a lifetime of hate with a letter, well I guess letters? I turned to the only person that could offer some sort of explanation, Macy’s daughter, my mother.
So much pain resurfaced in the two hour conversation we shared – pain for both of us. I realized my grandmother had reached from beyond the grave, and her hatred was revived as she forced me to open old wounds for my mother. When my mother cried, a chord struck in my heart as we relived a past that we thought was buried. As I leaned back on my couch, I regretted calling my mother. It never crossed my mind that my mother was a victim of Macy’s serial abuse too. Macy was a woman so wronged that she carried her wrath for two generations.
My grandmother prayed that my mother would take the routes of my aunts…marry light. But not my mother, Daddy was somehow darker than her. So I guess my baby picture delivered the third strike. My mother was dark, she married dark, and now she had an extra dark baby. She shared with me our first meeting. It wasn’t that warm fuzzy pacing the waiting room thing or waiting by the phone, but I was hidden from her for almost two years. A family birthday brought us together and my hell on earth began.
To those she loved, she was known as Mama. My mother called her mother. I called her Ms. Macy. She called me the black sheep among her pure lambs. You see Ms. Macy was the daycare for our family. My mother dropped me off at six in the morning everyday, except Sunday. Six days of relentless verbal torture from that woman…every single week. There was no reprieve. Just a self-hatred that formed from as far back as I can remember.
I sat on my couch for over an hour after my mother left. The letters begged for my attention as I tried to avoid them. I reached for the envelope with the tiny number two in the left corner. Tears streamed as I read each word. I cried myself to sleep that night.
That day at the lake chainjd my life Macy. Therr wuzn’t nuttin’ that happnd to them boyz Macy. Thats just how it wuz back then. Therr wuzn’t nuttin’ that wood happn to white peple dat killd cullurd folk. The thing wuz, white peple didn’t think or care that cullurdz luvd therr babeez. Becuz it wuzn’t only my life dat chainjd, but Mama wuzn’t rite aftr dat eether.
See my daddy dun got killd to. My oldr bruthr Tobias wuz namd aftr my daddy. Daddy shur wuz angree. You mite now think he dun run to therr houz and hurt them, but he didn’t do that. One them boyz walkd passd my daddy in town and daddy dun gave him a bad stare. Thats all it took back den. You dun lookd at a white man rong and you wuz cullurd, then they wood hurt you reel bad Macy. They wood hurt you reel bad.
I dun wish I hadn’t run after them people in the woodz Macy. I dun wish I hadn’t. But I did. Me and my couzin followd thoze therr men and I saw what they did to my daddy. Don’t know if you dun hurd about linchins Macy, but thats what they did to my daddy. They dun linched him.
My daddy wuz a big man. It dun took four of dem skinny white menz to hold onto my daddy. He dun faught dem men through the field, but when they got him to that therr tree in the clearing, therr wuz about twenty othr menz therr. Me and my couzin stayed up in the trees in the woodz, but we could see it all. As I looked past my daddy at the tree, thats when I new what they wuz gonna do to him. Therr wuz already a man hangin’ there. He was just hangin’ therr with no life.
I didn’t do nuttin’ Macy. I didn’t do nuttin’ but cry in that tree. They dun stripped my daddy’s clothes off and tied hiz handz round the trunk ov that therr tree. Sum men had whips and sum had sticks. They dun beat my daddy bad. They beat him till he stopped hollarin’. I thought he wuz ded, but when they untied him, he didn’t fall. My daddy stood aftr hiz beatin’.
A big fat man came on my daddy and hit him in the neez with a big long stick. Daddy fell back with a big crash and cry. Two ov them other men dun put a rope round my daddys neck. I didn’t know where he went as they gatherd in close round him, but then daddy was in the air. They dun threw that rope up over that branch next to that no life man. He kickd and screemd Macy. My daddy kicked and screemed.
When that man let go of my daddy’s legs, he didn’t screem no more. His cheeks puffd and his eyes lookd up. I stoppd lookin’ ’cause I saw one man bringin’ ovr sum fire. I new they wuz gonna burn my daddy. Ain’t nuttin’ no child should have to do, but Macy, I prayd my daddy wuz ded. Macy, I dun prayd my daddy wuz ded. My prayers wuzn’t answerd Macy. I herd my daddy screem to death. All the way to his death, my daddy screemd.
My momma did her best with us other ones after that. But she just wasn’t the same. She dun lost her sons and husband. They dun took the bodies somewhere after that, my daddys, my brothers, and that no life man to. So she lost her men and couldn’t even bury them. Not like all the big stuff that happens nowdays for dedfolk, my daddy and brothers didn’t get no funral. I don’t think it was the no funral so much that botherd her. It was the fact she had to keep cleanin’ the house of the boy who dun killd her sons, raped her daughterz, and got her husband ded.
©2011 Mia L. Hazlett
By: Mia L. Hazlett
How did you survive seeing your father killed? This was more of a follow-up question to, after you’ve seen your brothers killed and sister raped, following your own rape? It didn’t seem logical to even ask these series of questions. But in just two letters my grandmother explained her entire life to me, and our dysfunctional relationship. In just those two letters, twenty-two years were forgiven.
I wasn’t in the mood to read another letter. My mundane routine work day did little to distract the images I carried of the very descriptive lynching of my great grandfather. They haunted my dreams, morning coffee, bus ride, and my two business meetings. Even though my curiosity screamed for the small envelope marked with a number three, I had to take a break. I needed to digest my ancestry.
Combined, the stories as a whole were tragic. But, my mother’s story was most spirit breaking. She existed in silent grace, but the flood gates were finally lifted the other night when she let me inside of her reality. My consoling was not offered to my mother, but to a woman who had suffered the generational abuse from a mother who was defined by a lifetime of tragedy. Unfortunately, my grandmother was actually raising her daughter the best she knew how. She offered her the love that my great grandmother offered her, very little.
And as my mother revealed her upbringing to me, I realized the hero within her. For although she didn’t know it, she had broken the generational curse. Although my grandmother and mother had no one to run to in the midst and anger of their mothers’ tirades, I did. After spending a day with Ms. Macy, I was able to run into the loving comforting arms of my mother. I was showered with kisses and hugs. There was not a day that passed that my mother didn’t compliment my beauty. I never comprehended my grandmother’s hatred, but I relished in my mother’s love.
I sat in the darkness of my living room and called my mother. I wanted to know how she was able to a offer a love she had never experienced. My mother answered and filled my ears with motherhood wisdom. She preached the importance of what I had always grown up with, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Although love was absent from her mother, it was abundant in the next door neighbor that took care of her after school. It was spoken to her through words of encouragement from a third grade teacher. It was “you can be whatever you want to be when you grow up,” from the man at the sixth grade assembly. Most of all it was a grandmother that told her on her deathbed, “Don’tcha be like me. When you have yourself a baby, you make dat baby your heart.” So maybe it was the woman that began it that truly ended the curse. Because there was not a day that went by that I didn’t feel I was my mother’s heart.
©2011 Mia L. Hazlett
By: Mia L. Hazlett
I woke on Saturday and turned to the #3 envelope on my nightstand. The plan was to read it before I fell into La-la Land, but I wasn’t sure of the content, so I chose sleep. So as held it in my hand, I said a little prayer first. I didn’t know what piece of my ancestry it held for me, but I had to get to know my grandmother since I had now forgiven her.
Well Macy, it wuz not reel nise livin wit my Momma aftr everythin dat dun happend. Wut waznt makin hur happy wuz the frend dat I made in the sistur ov the boy who dun hurt my familee. Hur name wuz Mary. Mary wuz hur name Macy and she uz my frend.
Like I dun told you before Macy my Momma dun cleend the house ov the peeple dat dun killd hur famlee. She startd takn me to wurk with hur. 1 day I wuz cleenin in the kitchin with Momma and Miz Mary came in. Momma kept cookin’ and I kept cleenin the floor. Miz Mary wantd to eet hurself sum lunch so Momma dun made hur a food. Az Momma wuz makin hur food, Miz Marys Momma came in. We dun calld hur Mz. Suzana.
I dont know wut dun hapend in dat dur kitchin Macy but it wuz sumpin. It wuz cuz there wur women in dat kitchin Macy. There wuz a hole bunch of quiet in there, but sumpin dun hapend dat nevr culd ov hapend back den. I meen az far az beein leegul an all. We all dun sat at dat table an ate food togethr. No culurd folk evr got to eet food wit white folk. Dat just nevr hapend. But Macy Mz. Suzana dun sad sumpin to Momma dat made hur cry. She dun said, I sorry. I sorry dat my boyz and huzbin dun hurt your famlee. And den she dun touchd my hand and dun squeezd it. She dun squeezd my hand Macy.
Dat day wuz dat day Macy. It nevr hapend again. But hur sun nevr tuched me again. He dun nevr even lookd at me no more. So dat day wit Miz Mary and Miz Suzana kinda made things beter livin wit Momma. I think Momma got hur sum more money from Miz Suzana and I sure nuf got all of Miz Marys to small cloze. And becuz of dat day Macy you have all this money. Cuz Miz Suzana sqeezd my hand you have this money.
©2011 Mia L. Hazlett
By: Mia L. Hazlett
Work was absolutely impossible. Knowing I had a box full of my ancestry waiting at home made me appreciate the long weekend that was now upon me. I had told my friends I was going away for the weekend, so I could have uninterrupted alone time with my grandmother. Dead or not, this was the closest we had ever been. I needed to hear her story. I wanted to understand why she spent my lifetime showing her love for me through hate.
There was an inner conflict warring inside me at the same time. Should I include my mother in unraveling the mystery of her mother? We both knew who she was, but I guess in life it means a whole lot more to find out why people are the way they are. But because I was only a few letters in, I decided to wait on sharing with my mother. I felt a need to protect her, just as she had spent her life protecting me as best she could. There was a part of me that felt as though my grandmother was apologizing to my mother through me. She knew I told my mother everything, Maybe she wrote these letters to my mother so I would tell her, rather than for her to have to read them by herself. Because if my mother had received them, she would never share any of these with anyone.
I usually have my bottle of Riesling and a good book as I cozy under my sheets on a Friday night. But wine didn’t compliment the mood to the #4 envelope that sat next to my pillow. I opted for a cup of decaf coffee.
Even dough Mz Suzana dun luvd me and Moma, we dun stoped wurkin’ fo her not to much aftr dat der lunch. Sho was sad fo me and Mz Mary. Sho was sad. Wuznt jus bout money now and eatin. It wuz jus hard to find good white folk to wurk fo bak den. Moma didn’t want wurk fo nobody dat had manee boyz. ‘Cuz aftr skool I wood come on and meet her at her job. Even dough I wuz yung, she dun sed my bodee parts wur reel ladeelike. We dun had us good luk wit Mz Suzana, but not manee wite ladeez wuz like her. Lots ov dem dun hated culurzds. Don’t reelee no how it wuz dat Mz Suzana culd say stuff to her son, cuz most timez da white women culd not say nuttin in her house. So Moma wuz scurd a boy or da man in da house wood want to touch my bodee. After wut Mz. Suzanaz boy dun did to me, I didnt never want no boy on top me like dat again.
Moma dun found uz a house wit a reel mean ole ladee, but she wuz alwayz in her room. Her dotter wuz sumpin reel nice Macy. Sumpin reel nice. I dun liked Mz. Bell reel good. She pay Moma eight moneez a week Macy. We ain’t dun never made dat type der money. Mz. Suzana onlee pay Moma five moneez a week and gave us food and da clothes, but now Mz Bell do dat and mo moneez. Mz Bell have hurself two sonz. They wuz like da sun an da dark. Now here me Macy. HERE ME REEL GOOD. I never dun looked any ov doze boyz in der faces or eyez, but they dun said I did.
I dun walkd to go meet Moma one day after school. Dats wut I wuz suppozed to do. Meet moma at Mz Bells house. I wood do a da sweepin dat needed to be dun. When I dun got der I walked round da house to da back. Now my clothez wuz still small cuz Mz Mary wuz much biger than me. But I wuz a bit biger than Mz Bell. Dats da clothez I wuz gettin. Mz Bells old old clothz. Mama sed to preciate all we got an wear dem if I wuz gonna be der. Her shirt fit me reel tight cross my growin’ chest. Moma sed my bodee parts wuz growin sumpin wild. I wuz jus reel quiet when she wood talk like dat. I dun come round dat house and Mz Bells bad son wuz sitin’ on a stump with a long twig in hiz hand. He looked at me sumpin rong Macy. He looked sumpin rong. I jus went to da back door and der wuzn’t no way da door wood open. He started laffin’ sumpin rong. He told me wuzn’t no one home.
I dun turned to walk down da path I had come round to, but he wuz in my way. He got reel close like to me and sed he dun seen me lookin’ at him. I told him I hadn’t been lookin’ at nobuddy. He dun slapped me sumpin’ hard in my face for sassin him. Dats wut he sed Macy, I dun sassed him. He took dat twig and dun poked my chest. He kept on pokin and tole me to take my shirt off. I dun sed no. I new wut he wuz gonna do. But Macy wuznt no boy gonna be on top me like Mz Suzanas son gain. Not never. He dun push me and wit all my power, I dun push dat boy rite on back to the ground. Den I dun run round dat house and he dun cot up wit me and grabbed and ripped my shirt clear off. I didn’t have no things on under it, so chest wuz showin’. Moma told me only my husband wuz suppoze to see me like dat. But I didn’t care. I kept runnin’.
I felt him grab my sholeder and push me. I don’t know wut hapend, cuz I woke up in Mz Bellz house in da back room on a cot. My hed dun hurt sumpin’ awful and I wuz lookin’ at Mz Bellz mean moma. I think she wuz happy wuzn’t dead cause she started prayin sumpin. Mz Bell came runin on nex to her moma an den I saw Moma. She was cryin’ wen she dun grabbed and hugged me sumpin tite. It wuz a bit odd cuz Mz Bellz mean moma wuz bein reel nise to me and rubbin my hed.
Afder dat der day, I wuznt loud to go round der no more. Mz Bell dun taked cared ov uz reel nise, but hur moma wuz reel meen like. She dun hated uz. I never did see dat son ov herz again. Sed he went to liv wit sum hiz momas people dat lived sumwhere in a difrent state. To munts later, my Moma told me why. She dun told me everything dat dun happend dat day wit Mz Bellz son. Don’t member much bout da storee, but I new my bodee parts done got me to have a babee inside me. Yes Macy. Dat is why Mz Bellz son had to go far away. He dun gave me a babee dat der day wen I dun hit me hed.
©2012 Mia L. Hazlett
By: Mia Hazlett
My grandmother’s past was becoming my present. I wanted to consume every letter at once as though they were an enticing book, but each letter set heaviness in my heart with each word. It was only curiosity to get to know whom my grandmother was, which pushed me to finish each sentence.
Now I sat in front of her fifth envelope. It’s funny when someone is given so much power in a family, you just believe in their greatness, whether you like them or not. Glancing over her barely legible four letters I had read, I realized my grandmother’s weakness, her education. It never occurred to me she lacked an education. But maybe that is what made the letters so heart wrenching to read. She was so desperate to tell her story but she barely knew the words to express her years of misery.
Wen you wit a babee in you, boy you don’t feel reel nise. You don’t feel nise a tall. Macy, I dun hated dat der babee in me cuz my momma hated me cuz a dat babee in me. Wazn’t nuttin I cud do rite. She jus hated me.
But she dun luvved me sister. Me sister she wuznt like me. Well she didnt look like me. She wuz reel reel witelike. She cudda dun passd fur a wite persun if she want. But jus cuz moma dun hated me, me sister she tuk care ov me reel well. You see she dun new wut had happened in dem woods wit dem boyz dat dun killed our bruthers. She dun got da wurse of wut dem boyz did. Doctur dun sed she wud never have no babees. It wuz weeks befur she cud even walk after it dun happend.
But it don’t matter nun. I iz gonna hav me a babee and my sister, she reel happee fur me, even tho my moma want us to die. Yup, my moma told me she hope us both die fo we bring hur mo bad luk. She don’t want no darkee babee in hur house. She sed I wuz a bad gurl and it wuz my falt that boy dun dis wit me. I wuz alwayz wearin dem tite cloze round him.
Macy, when yur own moma hate you dat much, you lern to hate yurself too. And when you iz only but 12 yeerz old all you want iz yur moma to luv you. So 1 day I dun take a big rock and put it on da ground and dun fell belly furst on it. I dun nocked da air right out ov myself. It dun hurt reel bad. Sister came reel fast, but befor she culd stop me, I dun catched my breath and did it another. Dis 1 hurt me somethin reel bad and I woke up in the house with the docter man there.
Moma dun stud in da door and she dun hated me. I cud see it in her eyez. She dun hated me somthin bad. To dis day Macy I don’t no why. I dun killd my baby so we won’t bring hur no bad luck. Yes Macy, I dun killd my baby fur my moma and she still hated me.
©2013 Mia L. Hazlett