I had been living at Camden House for a little over two months. Just having started my senior year of high school a few months earlier, right before coming to live here. So far things were as they were. I liked most of the girls living here or was at least cordial to a few. No real love lost, but not enemies either. I guess it was okay. I didn’t have any real problems, except for Tonya. She was proving to be a real thorn in my side.
One night as I laid in my bed listening to the murmur of distant conversations of the other girls that lived here. I could just make out who was talking. Tonya, augh, I can’t stand that girl.
Tonya was a loudmouth white girl who thought she was Black because of her Black boyfriend and growing-up in the hood, gray-girl. Most of the girls here are afraid of her fake gray-girl ass. She just needed to catch me on the right day, and I would show her she didn’t scare me.
What can I say about Tonya, she’s a skanky white-girl with dirty blond shoulder-length hair, who has the same nose piercing as Teena Marie, this white R&B singer that I love to death, and it might’ve been cool on Tonya, except she was an awful person. All the nose piercing did was accentuate her ugliness.
She would always start arguments with me about one thing or another. The payphone was usually the root of all our dysfunction. She knew we had time-limits. We didn’t need Tonya taking advantage and punking us into letting her cut into our precious fifteen minutes because she thought she could.
Tonya has said repeatedly to anyone that will listen, that she hates everything about me. Starting with my name, Topaz, which she thought was stupid because it’s a gemstone. My height, because I am damned-near a foot taller than her at 5’10”.
Her dislike could be based purely on jealousy because I got a lot of attention from everybody. Who knows? I can’t help it if people genuinely like me. I’m sure I have no idea why she can’t stand me.
She’s just jealous because she’s not me, was the conclusion I drew on the matter.
From what I’ve learned in the past, men might like me because they are attracted to my outer beauty, my wide curvy hips, full lips, long legs, my eyes with their sparkling golden irises, my caramel-colored skin, and my Black-girl thickness in a nutshell. I chuckle at the thought, Guys can be so shallow, can’t they? speaking out loud, not sure if anyone heard me talking to myself laying in my bed distracted by the other’s conversation taking place in the hallway near my room.
My grandma used to say, “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly is to the bone.” I don’t think truer words have ever been spoken, because I have come across some beautiful ugly people in my short eighteen years of living. And I didn’t appreciate my looks the way most people did. It’s not what I saw in the mirrors I tried to avoid as much as possible.
Tonya, on the other hand, was shapeless, classless, arrogant, and ignorant. The only reason Black guys liked her was that she was easy. I’m not trying to slut-shame, But the truth shall set you free. Won’t it though?
With ten girls having to share one payphone with a fifteen-minute time-limit, and Tonya almost always disrespecting the time-limit, it can be challenging. Tonya liked to bully the other girls. I couldn’t stand for this type of shit any longer. I rarely used the phone anyway. I was usually at work or at school. Regardless, I’m bigger than her, so I know I can take her.
The few times I have gotten into fights was because other kids were instigating. I’m a softy until you push the wrong button, and Tonya makes my nerves ache every time I’m in her presence. Dealing with her made me forget I am not a fighter. Up until that point, I had only had three fights. I didn’t lose, but did I actually win? Something I was sure to evaluate in the near future.
If she keeps this mess up, I’m gonna lose it. I will kick her gray-girl ass, especially if she keeps trying me.
Tonya saw me approaching the payphone and with one hand covering the receiver says to me just above a whisper, “I’m ma be a couple more minutes,” smirking because she thought I wouldn’t do anything. She continued her conversation, ignoring me while I stood there.
I politely waited for another thirty seconds or so, before pointing to my imaginary wristwatch, letting Tonya know time’s up, wearing my frustration skewed across my face. I hoped she got the message, so I didn’t have to elevate my frustration into something a bit more physical. Of course, Tonya kept ignoring me, talking on the phone to her boyfriend as if I weren’t standing there waiting for my turn.
Tonya had the audacity to put two fingers up to me, indicating she needed more time.
“Oh, hell Nah, this shit ends now,” I said loud enough to make one of the other girls stick her head around the corner to see what was going on and then deciding to stay and watch the impending events unfold.
I walked to the payphone and pushed down the hang-up lever, ending Tonya’s call abruptly.
“I can’t believe you did that, Bitch, I was in the middle of a conversation with my man,” Tonya’s neck reddening from her obvious anger, which caused her face to flush pinkish-red. Soon the redness that started on the back of her neck was slowly meeting the now redness of her usually pale face, making her look almost cartoonish. I half expected steam to escape from her ears like it so often does in cartoons.
She was as hot as fish grease. I could see her visibly trembling with anger and weighing her options, like what would happen if she jumped bad with me? Regardless of my usual Zen-like nature, the outcome would not be good for Tanya if she dared to try me.
By now, my anger had escalated too. I was so angry with her. I was tired of Tonya taking advantage of us all. The other girls were scared to talk up for themselves, but one of us was going to have to take the plunge. I guess it was gonna be me.
I was the only one that sort of intimidated Tonya. I could tell because she always knew how far to push me and would stop right before I lost it completely. Today was the day she’d find out what it looked like to go too far.
“I don’t give a flying fuck. You’re cutting into my fifteen minutes, Bitch!” I responded, this was the last straw, I had had it with her and her attitude. Enough was enough. One of us had to take a stand against this gray-beast.
The counselors didn’t care if our time got cut short. They just made us get off the phone when the time was up for the day.
And this bitch was cutting into my time, but not to – fucking – day! I wasn’t going to stand there and let this happen, not again. She always did this, and I had fallen victim too many times before.
For the record, I can talk smack just as good as the next person, and Tonya always got under my skin. It made it too easy for me to bad-mouth her. I hate to admit hating another person but, I FUCKING HATE BITCH WITH A PASSION!. My inner voice screamed. I was itching for this girl to make a move; twitch or something so I’d be justified in giving her the ass-whooping she deserved.
I got the desired reaction because hanging up the phone started a screeching loud argument with both of us screaming at the top of our lungs, calling each other every vile name we could think of at that moment. A lot of bitches, hoes, sluts, and cunts were thrown around, which then escalated to one of us shoving the other, causing me to land the first blow right on the edge of Tonya’s jaw. A couple more inches and I’m sure I would have loosened at least one tooth because I swung with everything I had. I wanted it to make a direct hit and caused as much pain as humanly possible.
During our exchange of plummeting each other, the girl that had been waiting for the main event, called to the others who came yelling towards us, excited that I was finally standing up to the gray-beast. Unfortunately, this also got the counselors’ attention and they came running down the narrow hallway to break us up.
One of the counselors arrived a few steps before the other counselor, while I had Tonya by her dirty blond hair about to mud-stomp her ass into the ground. He stepped in between us, catching a full face slap from the flying hands involved in this boxing match.
By then the other counselor was right there, helping the first counselor to break-up the fight. I landed the last blow, ripping out the handful of hair I had taken hold of right before the counselor approached to break us up. I separated from Tonya with a souvenir of her hair as a reminder of the day the gray-beast got her ass handed to her.
I could tell the counselor that got hit was upset, but he held his composure, directing us to go to separate corners and cool down. We each retreated, as directed, to lick our wounds and assess the damage we’d done to each other. I’m pretty sure the bald patch I created wouldn’t go unnoticed.
I knew there would be consequences when the dust settled. One of the golden rules of the group home was no physical contact without the other person’s permission. I’m pretty sure I didn’t have Tonya’s permission to beat the hell out of her, but I had to take a stand.
My grandma used to say in all her infinite wisdom, “You gotta stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.” Years later I would find out that that quote was a variation on a Malcolm X quote but still equated to the same meaning. In the end, I had to stand up for myself, which benefited the others too, and also I couldn’t let this girl keep thinking she can always get the better of me.
As I sat in my corner sulking, I didn’t notice my counselor Gloria King approaching with a complete look of total disappointment drawn on her face, I could hear her angry, heavier than usual, footsteps approaching me, so I knew she wasn’t happy, and rightly so.
I knew better. I knew I handled this all wrong and deserved whatever punishment that was coming to me, but first, there would definitely be a long lecture to discuss why I did what I did. It wasn’t like Gloria didn’t know the animosity between Tonya and me. I’m sure she wished I had handled it differently, but there was no use in crying over spilled milk now.
Gloria didn’t have to worry, I was totally embarrassed that she saw me lose it that way. I lowered my head to rest it on my knees, wrapping my arms around my legs to keep them from slipping and straightening out below me, and to avoid Gloria’s gaze I kept my head down.
I could feel the heat radiating from her fiery dark-brown eyes as she stared at me with fury and disbelief. In the end, I felt justified even though it was the wrong reaction to her action. Tonya got exactly what she deserved. I knew I could take her. She likes to talk a big game, but when it’s all said and done, she ain’t shit.
“Topaz! Really? I know you know better than this?” Gloria said, her voice raised louder than she normally talks, as she neared me sitting on the floor in my corner of the rec room.
I kept my eyes lowered, inspecting my torn clothes, saying nothing. I knew Gloria was right, I should have controlled my temper better, but why should Tonya get to abuse our phone privileges all the time?” justifying my actions to myself.
The counselors were never going to do anything to stop her. They didn’t care, as far as I’m concerned, the counselors have more important things to do; like talk on the phone, read books, talk to each other, anything but make sure the phone use is fair and equitable amongst the residents. Which was obviously not their priority.
Even though I was in massive trouble, I knew two things had changed today; one, Tonya would no longer bully any of us because she knew I was not afraid of her; and two, Gloria was angry and there was nothing I could say to change that. All I could do is get ready for what came next. The end of life as I knew it.
Author Notes: Hello to all my coming-of-age enthusiasts. Thank you for stopping by and giving this book a read. I am deep in the heart of revisions.
Please feel free to leave comments and suggestions on any paragraph you feel warrants it. It is your comments and suggestions that will help make this a spectacular book in the end.
Stay safe and healthy. Read lots of books for entertainment, and soon this pandemic will pass.
Peace and blessings!-CV Davis
© CV Davis – Author