“Ma . . . let me sleep in your bed,” I whine.
“Why? You have a bed of your own,” she replies calmly. We are in my mother’s bedroom on the second floor of our townhouse in Sandy Springs. I am standing in her doorway as if I have the right to demand that her bed become mine for the evening. Ma is standing in front of her dresser mirror with a bandana full of small, plastic, light green rollers sprawled on the dresser’s surface.
“I don’t feel like making up my bed, so just let me sleep in yours.” Although I could get my freshly washed sheets out of the dryer or get a new set out of the linen closet, my whine gets more pitiful as I try to evoke sympathy from my tired mother. The rollers mean she is preparing for her ritualistic rest before she goes to work at Northside Hospital, but I continue to plead my case of laziness. Ma is a registered nurse who works with women who have had female surgery (hysterectomy, breast reconstruction). Her upcoming night of dealing with people in pain does not stop me from standing in her door with my hands on my hips. Despite my stance, she calmly continues to put the green plastic rollers in her thin, brown hair.
“No, Breah. Make up your bed, and sleep in your own bed.” Her voice is still calm, but the seriousness of her tone becomes evident.
Being a girl on the brink of teenage attitude and self-righteousness, I push the issue. “But Mommy, I don’t want to make up my bed. I want to sleep in your bed.” My feeble argument is not persuasive, and the whine pushes my mom’s last nerve.
Ma finally turns from the mirror and exclaims, “Breah Nicole! Get out of my room, and go make your bed! You are not sleeping in my bed, so stop asking, and do what I tell you!” Feeling betrayed and shocked at this unprovoked, hostile admonishment, I storm out of the room with the fury of being betrayed, and I slam, yes slam, my mom’s bedroom door.
As I’m hauling the fresh sting of fury and betrayal down the hallway, I hear a door open. I can’t see, but I instinctively know that my mother is in pursuit of me! Time slowly unfolds like an out-of-body experience. My mom is a mild-mannered person. She does not easily become angry or raise her voice. I succeed in conjuring up the beast from within and assuring my own demise. These thoughts plague me as I sprint down the short hallway. I safely make it to the stairs, and then I panic. What am I going to do? If I take one stair at a time, she might catch up with me. My options are to get caught and get a whuppin’ or get away and pray that the whuppin’ doesn’t come later. I am also battling my fear of stairs while planning my sure-to-be-ungraceful escape.
My fear of my mom overwhelms my fear of stairs, so I jump. I jump with the hope that when I land nothing will be broken and I will be able to continue my escape. I land close to the bottom of the first set of stairs. I stumble down the last couple of steps and safely make the flat ground of the landing. As I turn the corner of the landing to continue down the next set of stairs, I hear something hit the wall. Curiosity makes me turn to see what is following me by flight. I glance down and see a fuzzy house shoe of blue cotton and plastic. Ma has thrown the house shoe at me! The presence of the house shoe confirms her pursuit. I had not imagined the bedroom door open or the shadow following me down the hallway. The mild-mannered lady had actually set out to catch me. I cautiously but quickly run down the last set of stairs and sigh my relief.