My entry to the prompt CANT STOP THE FEELING by Justin Timberlake
|Rainbow colors of early dawn blanket New York skies as purple, rose red, golden yellow pierce my tiring eyes. I'm dragging myself back home from a ten hour shift at the local 24 hour convenience mart. Up the front steps I slowly climb while the brightening stabs of sunlight persistently prod my sleepy conscience. My 3 years old nappy-headed girl-baby peeps out at me over the window-sill beside the front door, her eyes wide. Times are not so easy as we thought they'd be when we moved to this lower income neighborhood but I make myself remember where we originally come from.
I was just barely a teenager when my folks decided to pull up the roots we'd had in Ghana since before I was born. In my mind's eye I still see the blackness of the night we decided to flee from Africa. Dead silence can be deafening and my head buzzed with the strain of trying to listen out for anybody that might be spying on us. Africa's corrupt government could and did as they pleased even to the destruction of its people. I thought of the scavengers, as we called them, setting fire to the area so most of the people ran to save themselves by hiding in the always nearby forest. While we squatted like helpless mice in the tall grass, the scavengers would enter and take whatever they liked. There did seem to be a pattern and path to the raids and destruction although there was nothing anyone could do even if we could prove it. So the people would cower until the raids were finished and some would go home to ashes. Neighbors helped each other in those days because there is no other way to survive. And the deed will surely fall back upon everyone so there is no other option but to help each other survive. Or die.
I was left relieved I did not have a child at that time even though many girls my age did have children. In an oppressive system there are not heroes to uphold the law, and most times there is no law.
My feet take on a burst of energy in protest as I recall the depressing days of yesteryear and I switch on a ramshackle radio that sits on a wobbling coffee table just inside the weatherbeaten front door. The music sweeps upward throughout the musky old apartment and a tiny 3 years old nappy-headed girl-baby swirls around and around to the musical beats, her tiny nightgown dress balloons as pleats expands and, looking down, she squeals with excitement!
Suddenly, I hear the boom of a man's voice and I know we've woken the chief of our family, Dustin. I cringe because I know his shift starts when mine ends and he needs all the rest he can get. But to my surprise Dustin leans to open the bottom drawer under the stove and pulls out the trusty cast iron fryer. "I'm cookin' breakfast. You get comfortable and come back to eat with us."
I see baby girl drag her highchair closer to the table. She was always hungry. I smiled. It was not the hunger we felt in Ghana. That kind of hunger is satiated with whatever you can bear to put on your stomach. Sometimes even bugs. No, she was born into a different world. She would never know that kind of hunger. Her kind of hunger was for her papa's special pancakes and fresh ham. The kitchen would end up being dusted by flour all over the floor, ham grease on the handles of every cabinet. But when Dustin left for work and I'd cleaned the tiny kitchen, our nappy-headed girl-baby would cuddle deeply in my arms and I'd tote her to the wonderfully comfortable bed where we'd sleep until it was time to wake up and get ready to go to work ...again. This feeling can't be beat. It's the feeling of freedom!
Another very different feeling I have in contrast is a subtle feeling I cannot quite call 'fear', mind you, but it still sends goose bumps down my spine whenever I hear the boom of that voice. Dustin.
Dustin is the very first authority figure I'd met in the US; a policeman. He showed up at our front door one morning and that booming voice was all I could hear as it yanked me from my sleep,
"GET UP AND GET OUT! YOUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE!"
Of course, I was so disoriented I could not even think to do anything except run. And run I did. I could hear the clawing and coughing of all the others in the house as they were attempting to do the same. It's crazy how fast smoke can consume an entire apartment building and quickly after that the fire engulfs it. No wonder people die in house fires. You think you have plenty of time to escape but you don't.
I guess that's good what came out of my experiences in Ghana. I knew, firsthand, the destructive nature of fire. And I can run very fast.