One Way Or Other… Something Was Going To Give
By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee
She walked out of the doorway with a dread, she knew she would face obstacles in her path on her way home to eat lunch. Her name was Gloria, she was fifteen. She walked home to eat lunch her mother prepared for her each school day.
Her father, stepmother, two half-sisters had done the ultimate to her. She couldn’t believe it all began with a lie… her two half-sisters whom she got into trouble for, took the blame for… had lied on her.
She loved her sisters, she thought they loved her. She learned they only used her as teenage girls will do… to keep from getting into trouble. She became the scapegoat… her sisters knew she would take the blame, she was the oldest… she would protect her sisters.
One of her sisters used their father’s razor … taken it from his bathroom. Not only had it been used… it’d been put back ‘dirty.’
Gloria had never walked into her father’s bathroom… she was afraid of him, respected him so much… she’d never stepped across the invisible lines he put between them.
The sister who used the razor put it back, unclean… in his bathroom. Gloria never knew when it happened …. until her stepmother grabbed her by her arm, forcing her into the bathroom in hers, her sisters’ bedroom.
She began screaming at Gloria! Did you use your father’s razor, put it back in his bathroom dirty?!!! Gloria stood there in shock, not understanding why her stepmother was screaming at her… shocked numb.
“No, no, I didn’t use his razor. I never go in his bathroom,” she told her stepmother. “You damn liar, you!” the stepmother screamed at her. “No, I didn’t use it, I promise you I didn’t use it!”
Gloria stood there, blinded by pain… tears in her eyes. She had just been beaten by her stepmother. She almost fainted, she didn’t see it coming, her stepmother struck so fast.
“Honest, I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it!” The stepmother slapped her in the face again, blood splattered everywhere. “You are going to clean that up!” the stepmother screamed. “You are nothing but a damn liar!”
Gloria stood there, dazed and confused. In her mind, the words “I didn’t do anything, I didn’t do anything, why… God?” She heard a new voice….
“You damn little bitch! You are nothing but, a liar! You are just like your mother!” Gloria went into a deeper shock, numb to almost falling to the floor. Her father never spoke to her… now, she was hearing him scream at her, screaming bad things at her!
She looked into his face, a face so much like hers. Her eyes begged him to believe her. His eyes held pure hatred in them for her, they blazed with hot fire. His hand shot out, slapped her so hard she fell against the sink. Her father’s hand hit her for the first… last time.
She fell to the floor as they walked out of her bathroom. The stepmother saying “Bobby, that’s enough!” She weeped, no one came to comfort her. She was too ashamed to walk out of the bathroom, she knew everyone hated her now. It was out in the open.
She walked into the bedroom where her two half-sisters sat on their beds. They’d heard, seen all that transpired. One of them had used their father’s razor… let this happen to her. Gloria looked at them through swollen eyes, blood on her face, her clothes… they wouldn’t look up at her.
The guilty party didn’t come forward… she sat there on her bed, looking down at the floor. Gloria looked at her, thinking how many times she’d gotten into trouble for her, took the blame. This time, was the last time ever she’d take the blame for her.
Gloria knew she couldn’t continue to live there. It was a wonderful home, wonderful people… but, they hated her because she was her father’s first child by another woman. Gloria knew there was a lot of jealousy, anger at her… she tried to do all she could to help in the house, do her schoolwork, talk softly, not bother anyone. Nothing made the difference….
This was it…. Gloria went to school. For the first time, she shared with a friend what really went on in her life. This friend thought she was perfect, with a perfect family, a perfect home, life.
How shocked she was to learn what happened… saying she’d help her get away. Gloria decided between two options to leave, she’d either do it by suicide, or by… running away. She chose running away, this time.
She’d heard her stepmother tell her two half-sisters to ‘keep an eye on Gloria Faye, tell me if she tries to use a phone, watch her in the halls at school.’ Gloria wanted to use the coin phone in the hall for students… she needed her friend to watch out for her.
Her friend, Barbara, watched for her as she called her mother to please come get her. That’s all she had to say to her mama… her mama, Aunt Ruby, were there by the time she got home from school.
Gloria’s heart was in her throat, she was very afraid. At the same time she knew her mama would whip her stepmother’s ass for beating her …. one could look at Gloria, see on her pretty face, that she’d been slapped around, beaten. Not only that… her very soul was bruised.
All they had to do was look into her eyes, on her skin… there were bruises, scratches. Some places still had traces of blood that wouldn’t wash off no matter how she scrubbed her face.
When the school bus stopped at the end of the long driveway, Gloria looked up to the huge house they lived in. She loved the house, and…. there was a strange car in the driveway, two women standing outside the car. Oh, mama!!! Tears came in her eyes, her throat choked up… my mama is here to get me!
Gloria’s thoughts began to flutter like birds inside a cage. Some beat against the bars of her mind’s cage… she was scared. She knew who the other woman was with her mama. It was her Aunt Ruby… her mama and aunt meant business.
Gloria knew she was going to get to leave with her mama, now. Her stepmother was very hot-tempered, scary when she was mad…. but, she wasn’t a match for Gloria’s mama, much-less her mama, and her aunt together.
Gloria, her two half-sisters walked in silence up the driveway. One could hear angry voices….
Not so long after Gloria walked up to her mama, aunt…. she was on her way back to live with her mother. Gloria learned a lot more about her stepmother during the short exchange of angry, vicious words… she learned that her stepmother …. lied, also.
Her stepmother kept two things that weren’t hers to keep, when she took them forcefully from Gloria, it was on pretense of taking care of them for her…. ‘so you won’t lose them.’
Her stepmother took them, placed them in a mosaic box that held things she wanted to make earrings from… for her own two daughters.
She said Gloria’s ear lobes were ‘too big’ to have pierced ears…… (Gloria didn’t have big ear lobes, and she was just as tiny as her half-sisters, and the prettiest…. she never knew this at that time… she never knew she’d lost all her baby fat, had a beautiful figure…. it took months for her eyes to open, for her to realize it… she’d lived in fear for so long.)
When Gloria asked for her mama’s St. Christopher necklace, her Grandma Alma’s ring before leaving, her stepmother said these very words to her, throwing her into another shock: “Don’t you remember, you lost them?” The expression in her stepmother’s eyes was… a mixture of smiling, satisfaction… she’d gotten the best of Gloria Faye…….
Shocked that her stepmother was lying, keeping her mother’s St. Christopher necklace… and her Grandma Alma’s antique engagement ring…. numbed Gloria. She was weakened from pure shock that her stepmother wasn’t going to give those precious things back to her.
This affected Gloria for many months to come… especially when her Grandma Alma cried when learning about her beautiful antique diamond engagement ring.
Guilt ate at Gloria, it still bothers her as an older woman. Her mind goes back to the moment her stepmother picked them up…. taking them quickly to put them in that box of hers, to ‘protect them for Gloria.’
Gloria had too much respect, fear… to say anything to her stepmother, except softly saying, “I won’t lose them, I treasure them.” It hurt her deeply when her stepmother wouldn’t give them back to her… she never heard her.
Now, more obstacles were in her path… she’d come back to live with her mother. She began school at the time it began desegregating… black, white students at the same school. There was a lot of tension… bad things were happening in, out of school in that area.
Gloria stood in the doorway looking down the steps, to the sidewalk. On the left-hand side, a group of black students were standing there, laughing and talking.
This was her obstacle each day now, to walk home to eat lunch at her mother’s. They made life bad for her… they would step out in front of her, blocking her her path. They would say ugly things to her… thinking she was too small to fight back, say anything.
The strange thing was …. they mistakened silence for weakness. Gloria wasn’t weak, she’d had to fight all of her fifteen years to be there, at that moment. Silence, a soft smile…. was her only way to avoid confrontation. They didn’t accept it, they made her life hell each day as she had to pass by them.
We all know that when you boil water in a kettle… and leave the top on…. it’s going to let off steam one way, or other. Gloria had become a little water kettle… the steam kept building, she kept trying to avoid confrontation until one day…
“I will fight everyone of you here! You may kill me, I don’t care, I’m tired of all this bullshit! I will fight a bear, now!” Gloria blew up, nice no longer.
She was ready to fight, die… whatever it took now… to knock this out of her path. She’d waited too long … but, there were so many students against her… there were about ten students, all bigger than her.
A big, black girl looked at Gloria, walked up to her… looked down at her with a strange expression. “You’ll fight all of…. she looked around as she spoke… all of us?”
Gloria felt such fear, but… to see her eyes, the black girl knew Gloria meant for something to happen ‘now’…. no matter if she didn’t come out as the winner.
Gloria nodded her head, said “yes! I will fight a bear if need be!” She was afraid, but.. she looked each student in the eye, and said, “I mean it!”
She heard laughter, knew that she was going to die here, right now. They were going to gang up on her, kill her. She just knew that when one passed that first lick… she’d turn into a fighter… fight to the death… even if it was her …own death.
The big, black girl looked down at her, her eyes had softened. Gloria looked back up into her eyes, confused. The big, black girl told her to go on, they didn’t have any fight with her.
Tears were in Gloria’s eyes, she was a mixture of pent-up anger, fear, in fight or flight mode… for a moment she didn’t know what she was supposed to do.
Gloria’s eyes began to really see each black student… when she really looked at each one of them… she began to see…. kind expressions. Those kind expressions were directed at her! She didn’t see hatred! She couldn’t believe it.
She stood there shaking, she smiled back at each one of them…. walked off in disbelief that… she was still in one piece. They could have killed her, or hurt her badly…. she wondered ‘why?’ they didn’t gang up on her.
Already before, black and white students were fighting, hurting each other… wonder ‘why?’ they didn’t get her? She’d been easy for them all to … attack.
She walked home to her mother’s house, ate little hush puppies and navy beans, drank ice tea… that her mother had prepared for her. Gloria never forgot to this day, what her lunch was that day. She ate it while experiencing many emotions at once…. feeling such peace inside knowing the black students didn’t want to hurt her.
There after for the time Gloria attended that school, the black students treated her good. They became her friends… in this one instance… Gloria found peace of mind in her tumultuous life… it became one less obstacle in her path. Not only that, she can look back through the years to that moment in time… feel good about it inside.
She meant to knock that obstacle out of her path… one way or other…. even if it meant dying. One way or other… something was going to give….
- Death Smiled At Me… (grannyscolorful.wordpress.com)
- It Was Only… Yesterday (grannyscolorful.wordpress.com)