Gloria King is a soft-spoken round woman, who’s slightly shorter than me, with long beautiful jet-black hair and smooth coffee-colored skin with a dash of cream thrown in so it wasn’t straight black coffee. I had never seen a Black woman with such long hair that wasn’t a wig or a weave, so I instantly found her interesting.
I could tell it was her hair because of the scalp. Wigs and weaves give themselves away because the scalp is never the right color for Black women. Well, unless you’re white, then it matches perfectly. Gloria’s make-up was always done tastefully and exactly the right amount. She was professional through and through. She never made me feel guarded or on edge when we met. She made most of our conversations feel as if I started them.
Up to this point in my life, there were only three other people I liked. My best-friend Legs, my teacher Jeffery at school, and my boyfriend Jayden. Gloria made the fourth person I could tolerate longer than ten minutes. Our sessions never felt like counseling, but more like two friends hanging out shooting the breeze.
Everybody on my list beat out my family, but that’s another topic for another time. Definitely therapy worthy. Gloria interrupted my thoughts abruptly.
“You want to go to my office and talk?” tipping her chin down towards me waiting for me to lift my head and respond because I had not once looked up at her or anyone else in the rec room. I just focused on the floor and my torn clothes as a distraction from the present.
I didn’t answer, I stood and walked off towards her second-floor office. I knew I wouldn’t escape a lecture, so I might as well get it over with. She would shortly hand down my sentence for my outburst and violation.
I stood to the side of Gloria’s office door waiting for her to meet me there. She arrived moments later, opening the door. I sulked in and took my usual seat at the window.
I typically sat in that chair during our sessions, so I could people watch and gaze at the world outside this existence, daydreaming about everything conceivable in life.
My mind was usually occupied as she talked about events. I would often miss her questions because I’d be so deep in thought and far away from this place with all its rules and occupants. As I sat there drifting in thoughts and watching people and cars go up and down the block, I was reminded of the time I had a run-in with the police on my way home from work one night.
That night when I got off the bus about three blocks from the group home, I stepped into a vacant doorway to get my jacket out my bag, when a cop shined his car’s spotlight in my face, blinding me.
He searched the length of my body with his spotlight, apparently looking for obvious contraband, and then paused his light directly in my eyes. I wondered what I had done wrong but was too scared to move. Oakland cops were notorious for racial profiling and I didn’t want to give this cop a reason to detain me any longer than he needed to.
“Yes, officer. Is there a problem?” I asked with a shaky voice.
“Why are you out here alone, so late, ?” He responded, keeping his light plastered to my eyes.
“On my way home, sir.”
“Hmm. You live round here?”
“Bout three blocks over,” I answered while shielding my eyes with my free hand, which were starting to hurt from the strain of trying to focus on seeing him through the blinding light.
“Hmm. I see… So why you hovering in that doorway digging through your bag?” His voice became gruffer and full of accusations.
“My jacket…” I trailed off, becoming more scared by the moment.
To keep things from intensifying, I immediately dropped my bag. I didn’t want him to think I was reaching for anything. Cops in Oakland tended to shoot first, ask questions later. It didn’t matter that they had a Black female Chief of Police. Black people and white cops are never a good combination under most circumstances. Honestly, I was shocked he hadn’t asked me to drop it already. If for nothing else, his safety, just in case I was carrying.
Keeping my hands visible, and in plain sight, I waited for further instructions, which he took his time giving. He was too busy chuckling at my unexpected reaction to his line of questioning.
“Missy, pick-up your bag. Go on, git home. It’s not safe to be out here this late by yourself.” He instructed, and I did as I was told, picking up my bag. I walked off swiftly, my heart racing as fast as my feet were moving. I didn’t want him changing his mind, thinking I was suspicious after all. He continued to follow me with his spotlight until I turned the corner a block away.
All I could think on my way home that night, speed walking to get there before that cop showed up again, was why in the hell did I let my co-worker talk me into covering his late shift. I had to get special permission to be out past curfew on a school night. What a dummy.
Back in the office with Gloria, who had just asked me a question that I completely missed. I looked at her blankly waiting for her to repeat it.
“Topaz are you listening?” she asked as she rustled through a folder in front of her, which I could only assume was mine.
I nodded my head as an automatic response, which is what I did to most questions I got from adults or authority figures.
“You sure? I’m waiting for an answer.”
I’m sorry. I-I was sort of daydreaming,” I admitted as I dropped my head embarrassed and focused on the floor and my torn clothes. I should have asked if I could change before we met. Too late now. I just wanted to get this over with and go to my room, but it looked like it would be a while. We hadn’t even gotten to the lecture yet.
“Fine. I wanted you to explain how this fight started.”
“Oh…” I wasn’t sure how to answer that. I didn’t want to give a long explanation. I just wanted to get out of there. Away from her prying eyes that were fixed on me, reading everything into every facial tick or expression I made.
“The phone,” was the closest thing to the truth I could offer.
“The phone? I don’t understand why you two would be fighting over the phone,” she said leaning towards me, focused intensely on my eyes. It was if she were a human lie detector reading my thoughts and checking my racing pulse for falsehoods.
It didn’t take long for her eyes to soften. She seemed calmer and didn’t appear to be angry any longer. From what I could tell, she was more concerned with why and how this fight started. At least she wasn’t mad at me any longer.
I began with the details of the fight that ensued over the payphone. I didn’t want to sound like a whiny brat, but the more I talked the more I began to sound exactly like one. I gave her the short version and ended with I was right to stand up to Tonya. Gloria released me from her gaze and continued to review my file. When she was satisfied with the information she had gathered, she spoke.
“Unwanted physical contact is automatically three demerits. You have two incidents already. You will return to new resident rules for the next 30 days,” she informed me matter-of-factly, leaving no room for me to interpret this information in any other way. The only thing this equated to was me being, FUCKED!
Being in Gloria’s office suddenly became stifling. It was not the safe-haven I had become accustomed to. Her office was usually my escape from all the noise that ten girls make, but not currently. I just wanted to be anywhere but there.
“Was there no other alternative, Topaz?”
Shaking my head. No. I continued to look at the floor for guidance. Searching for the right words to tell her, but nothing came to mind. I just wanted this meeting over.
What could I say that would make this any better, Gloria knew I didn’t like Tonya, but she also didn’t think I would fight her until it happened. I could continue whining about how Tonya always hogged the phone, or that she was always casting snide comments in my direction.
No matter what, if I liked it, Tonya hated it. But none of these excuses were going to be good enough to get me off the hook. Not even the truth could change the group home rules. There were no exceptions, not even for me, one so highly favored by all the staff. Even I was not safe from the rules and their inevitable outcomes.
Having five demerits on my record could potentially extend my punishment from 30-days to 60-days if I commit one more rule violation. Gloria proceeded to tell me how I earned the previous demerits. Rubbing salt into my already open wounds, no less. I cringed as I listened to her list of my past violations.
“Topaz, you have two existing demerits currently on record. One from last month for breaking curfew, and one from last week for not completing your chores. You were already teetering, now this,” she explained. She looked so disappointed, which made me instantly feel worse.
“She started it” – I pouted my words like a two-year-old on the verge of a full-out tantra – “she was cutting into my phone time, even after I asked her to get off the phone, she refused, so I hung up the phone to end her call,” I interrupted, and offered in defense of my actions.
“I understand that you may have felt justified, but this is not how civilized people act. You know this. How many times have we talked about using our words instead of our fists to settle disputes? What could you have done differently to avoid a physical confrontation with Tonya?”
“I dunno,” flushed from frustration and a new fueled anger of having to be restricted to this freaking house for the next 30-days.
“I know that’s not true Topaz. You and I have discussed numerous ways to defuse a temping volatile situation. Have we not?”
At that moment, I no longer wanted to talk. I wanted out of her office and in my room. I wanted to be as far away from Gloria as I could be. I was seething with anger. I wanted to throw something, or smash something.
“I need some space. I’m going to my room.” I announced as I stood and walked out, not waiting for her answer or her attempt to continue to make me talk about what happened.
Tears welled at the rim of my eyes. I was so angry, I could see red. The only other time I’d been this beside myself is when I contemplated suicide as an escape from my horrible life. I wasn’t suicidal right now, but I was definitely dangerous. I could really hurt something or somebody, and I was sure something destructive was going to happen. My rage was bubbling, I felt explosive.
This Bitch has cost me my freedom. Because of her, I’m stuck in this God-awful house for the next 30-fucking-days.
I made my way to my room, slamming my door as hard and as loud as I could. I wanted it to shake the floor and for anyone walking in the hallway to feel my wrath. My rage, boiling in my gut, like a raging pot of hot water. I could feel myself on the edge of hysteria and I didn’t know how to make it stop. I had never felt such a loss of control.
I guess I could contribute my current state to all the years of bottled up emotions. All the years of physical, mental and sexual abuse. Always having to put on a brave face like nothing was ever wrong. Like nothing ever bothered me, but that was a lie. I felt everything. I feel everything. I just learned to hide my feelings from others because it wouldn’t do any good to complain or hurt in front of others. But right now I was all emotion, red burning hot emotion, was all I could feel.
Accepting my fate and my resolve, I released the loudest scream my lungs had the capacity for and let all my rage go.
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
© CV Davis – Author