"What?" I asked out of pure habit.
"You heard me. I said 'yo' momma'."
I had heard her, she said my mother, not my momma.
Even with the bravado she displayed in the middle of the street, and my inexperience with fighting. I wanted to reach around her, wrap all 22 inches of her weave around my hand and not stop beating her until she begged my 'momma' for mercy. However, something inside of me, that little voice that had kept me on the straight and narrow up until now told me to walkway.
"Yo' bald-headed, pigeon toed momma" she continued taunting me.
My eyes scanned the faces in the crowd that had now formed around us, conducting a quick risk assessment. There were two of her friends, about three men that I had never seen before, and little boy, who couldn't have been more than six. All logic told me that there was no way I could minimize the risk of some sort of harm coming to me. Given my inexperience in fights, my first and last one being in Kindergarten over a red block, with my now best friend, there was a good chance this girl could, and would whoop me all over the street. An outcome that would not only leave me with physical bruising, but also the emotional embarrassment of knowing that I got my butt handed to me in front of a six year old. On the flipside was the off chance that I did get the best of her. If her friends were anything like the Pitt bulls they favored, my victory would be short lived, and I would still end up being whooped all over the street. My only clear and concise option was to walk away.
"Whatever!" I replied backing away from the confrontation. There was no way I would turn my back to that girl. In these parts that was like asking beat down.
"What? You scared?" She taunted some more.
I decided to ignore her as I continued my retreat.
"Yeah go 'head. Run home" She practically yelled as I was now far enough away to turn my back to her, and make my way home. I wanted to yell back something insulting, and witty, but nothing came to mind, even as I turned the corner to make my way home.
With my ego a little bruised I tried to psych myself up with the thought of how proud a mature person would be of me. I could officially say I walked away from a fight. Avoiding altercation isn't as easy as it sounds. When everything in you is screaming 'punch that ho', it takes a trained and special person to hear the whisper telling you to walk away. Yes that's what I told myself, you are a special person. By the time I reached my apartment building I was soaring with pride. I had done good today. I jogged up the steps to my second floor apartment with an extra bounce in my step. I even opened the door to my apartment in an excited fashion.
"Why you bustin' through the door like you the police?" my mother asked looking over her shoulder at me.
"Sorry, ma. I did good today though."
"Yup" I said hot stepping over to the refrigerator. I was going to reward myself with a cold beverage, "I walked away from a fight."
"A fight? What was you gonna fight about?"
"Some girl said something bad about you." I informed her as I popped open a can of soda.
"About me? Girl, you should've slapped that ho. You don't let no one talk about yo momma. In my day whew, you said something bout somebody's momma them was fighting words. You kids these days have no values." she said shaking her head.
I couldn't stop my jaw from dropping. "Ma, there were at least three of them though."
"So what, it's the principle of the situation. Three on one, five on one it don't matter. There are certain things you take that for. I bet you'd be quick to fight over some no good boy though."
It was my turn to shake my head, "ma I don't fight at all."
"And that's your problem, you're too damn scary. Walk away from a fight, I'll be damned! You're supposed to fight for ya mother."
It was a week later and my mother was still going on about my scariness. Every chance she got, she was tearing me down about my generation's misplaced importance.
"Y'all wanna fight over shoes, and gang colors, and streets, and broken down neighborhoods. Y'all don't know what's important. Y'all walk away from what your supposed to fight over."
"What is worth fighting over?"
I made the mistake of asking with a roll of my eyes.
"See that's what's wrong with y'all. None of you kids have any respect or sense of pride. Don't fight over anything, least of all your momma"
I hated when she was got sarcastic with me.
It was a few days after that when my mother inexplicably invited me to go shopping with her. As we moved through the mall, I was began to get the feeling that I was invited strictly for my mother's use. She provided her own brand of mostly negative commentary on just about every group we passed. I nodded in agreement, not necessarily because I thought with my mother was correct, but mainly because I felt I owed her. After all it was me who had let a girl bad mouth her, and go unpunished. My mother deserved the same amount leeway.
It had been an hour since we arrived at the mall, and a little over 20 minutes since we had entered my mother's favorite clothing store. We browsed through a few racks of clothing before coming to a discount rack of questionably fashionable tops.
"Ooh, here, go try this one on." My mother commented shoving a window curtain looking, orange top in my face.
"Ma, that shirt is ugly."
"No it's not. Go try it on."
I let out a breath. The shirt was disgusting, but I turned to do as I was told.
"No fight. Damn shame", my mother commented only slightly under her breath as a I walked away.
It would have hurt my feelings to know that my mother thought of me as low as she did, but I had no right to hurt feeling. I was the one who had proven how low I thought of her first. In all honesty her way of thinking was beginning to grow on me. If I couldn't take a butt whooping for my mother, who would I take one for?
Turning into the dressing room I could hear the voices of the other patrons. I took the empty stall next to the one that held two occupants. Changing out of my top, I unintentionally listened to the conversation going on in the next stall.
"Girl, quit playing, you're wearing the hell out of that dress."
My stomach sank to my knees. The dressing room was more than adequately heated, but that didn't stop the goose bumps from forming. I brought my ear closer to the thin wall that separated the stalls. Trying on the horrible shirt was the furthest thing from my mind. I wanted to leave the dressing room immediately. I just needed to make it to my mother. I would be safe with my mother. However, between me and my mother stood the other stall. The last thing I needed was to bump into her while trying to avoid her.
"C'mon girl, Let's pay and get something to eat."
I listened to the movement in their stall and prayed they would leave before my mother came calling for me. After all my mother was the least patient person I ever met. I sat on the tiny bench and waited for the sound of the dressing stall door to open. It came only a minute later, I heard them make their way out of the dressing room; loud and laughing like always. Giving them enough time to cover a fair amount of the space between the dressing room and the counter, I got up and went to find my mother.
Thankfully, I found my mother on the opposite side of the store from the counter. I made my way over to her in a rushed walked.
"C'mon ma, let's go." I said grabbing her hand to pull her towards the exit.
"Wait, I didn't see you in the shirt. What's wrong?"
"Nothing. I just want to go." I said impatiently making sure to keep an eye on the counter, where She was.
"Well, I'm still shopping."
I watched move from the counter towards the door, which really wasn't anywhere in my direction, but I reacted anyway. I quickly stepped behind my mother.
"What the hell..."
I ignored my mother's questioning gaze as I crouched behind her and watched the girl and her friend exit the store.
"What's going on?"
I straightened up, avoiding my mother's eyes as I moved to the other side of the rack.
"Wait... Oh hell nah! Is that that heffa?" My mother practically shouted, pointing toward the exit. "That's that heffa ain't it. Let's go."
My mother went stalking off towards the exit, completely forgetting about the shopping she was doing. I didn't want to move. I did not want to follow her, but the people in the store were already staring at us...Well, me since my mother was already at the exit. I didn't like standing beneath their questioning gazes, so I stepped off after my mother.
"Ma, c'mon. Let's just go home." I said once I caught up to her in the hallway.
"No. We gon' go see about that ho'. Got you hiding like some scared dog. I don't think so."
"Ma!" I practically yelled. Half out of fear, and half out of frustration.
My mother stopped her pursuit, and stared at me. I could see the crazed look in her eyes that she only every got when she was arguing with my father.
"Oh. So you're bad enough to raise your voice to me?"
I didn't like her tone, mixed with the crazed look, and the way she smacked herself in the chest as she talked.
"No" I said barely above a whisper.
Confrontation is not my thing.
"You must be, 'Cause you damn sure ain't talk to that trick like this. You know what..."
My mother's statement trailed off as she leaned her head to the right side to remove her earring, before moving on the left.
"Ma what are you doing?" I asked watching the crowd form from out of peripheral.
"Oh! You gon' fight today. You got a choice. Me or her" my mother informed me, as the crowd looked on in anticipation.
I looked over my mother's shoulder and seen Her making her way back towards us. No doubt my mother's yelling had caused a stir, and like every other person in the vicinity she was coming to see what the fuss was all about. I snapped my eyes back to my mother.
"Ma, please." I said as close to tears as I had been in a while.
"Please nothing. Me or her." she gave me the ultimatum once again.
I knew she wasn't joking. Her face was dead serious, as she pulled her hair up off of her shoulders, wrapping it with a rubber band.
I took one last look at the girl, before looking back at my mother. I weighed my options while trying not to cry. The little voice was whispering for me to run away, but a different voice, a much louder one was telling me what I knew to be true. My mother would no doubt chase me down, and beat me in front of everyone. I did not want to be beat up, but my mother, in front of everyone. There was no doubt in my mind that the nausea in my stomach came from the possibility of having to fight my mother. I wasn't afraid of Her. I was afraid of confrontation, and I was afraid of my mother.
Once the girl got to the outer layer of the group, my mother stepped to the side, she was ready for a fight. I locked eyes with the girl and she smirked at me, no doubt taunting me. I looked at my mother and she nodded as if to say 'me or her'. I knew what I had to do. I balled up my fist and moved toward the girl. I chose her.Author's Note: This a quick response that wrote, and really enjoyed so I decided to post it. For those of you waiting for In Plain Black and White, I am sorry. No I did not forget about it. I just decided to write it until it's complete and then post it all at once because I'm no good with this updating stuff. -