I’m Gonna Tell My Mama!
By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee
(Photo is of a Timex watch my Grandmother Lola gave me when I was nine years old … I wore it at Grandma Alma’s … fell one day onto some rocks, knocking the breath out of me … scratching the face of the watch. I still have this watch. Photo/story is owned by me, Gloria Faye Brown Bates/Granny Gee. Story is true … )
What a sweet child! You have the most beautiful smile. How pretty you are!
The little girl stood there, smiling sweetly. She basked in the compliments just as a pup lies in the sunshine, enjoying the warm rays.
She felt happy, loved. These old women cared about her. They came every Wednesday night, Sunday morning to pick her up to go to church.
They knew she lived in Hell, probably was a sinner … and they were trying to save her. They told her Jesus loved her, and she was going to Heaven one day.
The little girl thought about Heaven; she wanted to go. Why, one could walk on beautiful golden bricks, dress in white dresses, eat foods that wouldn’t stain them. If there was something wrong with one’s body … they could go to Heaven, and it’d be fixed!
She wanted Grandma Alma, George to go to Heaven. She couldn’t get them to go to church. George was blind … he might would have a hard time seeing in Heaven, anyway.
Grandma Alma wouldn’t be able to walk on those shiny bricks, either… she was paralyzed. So, maybe they didn’t need to go to Heaven. They weren’t sinners, anyway.
The old women seemed very interested in her … so, she must be the biggest sinner of them all. She knew she was a mean, little girl. She was told that all the time since she came to Grandma Alma, and George’s.
She was being hit all the time … if the grown-ups weren’t hitting her … she had to fight all her cousins next door. The strange thing was … she loved them very much.
She didn’t think they loved her at all. So, many people were hurting her … she was only one person. It wasn’t like that … ‘before’ she was thrown there, in ‘Hell’………
The worst thing about it … was she ‘looked like her daddy’! Whenever anyone became angry about anything … if she happened to be standing around … and they saw her, they would scream at her, “you look just like your damn daddy”!
Sometimes, a hard slap would follow the words. She’d cry over being slapped for looking like ‘some daddy’ she’d never met. Who was he? What did his ass look like? Was he mean? Did he like her?
She hated him! She wanted to look like her mama … oh, everyone always said her mama was just absolutely …. beautiful! She was always compared to Elizabeth Taylor.
She vaguely recalled a strange man coming to visit her beautiful mother, sometimes. She would peep through the crack in the bedroom door, see them holding each other tightly, kissing.
The man looked ‘familiar’. If the man ever spoke to her, she never remembered it. That man was her father … he still loved her mother … it was her … he’d come to see.
He would drive an hour to come ‘visit his daughter’. The little girl never recalled him acknowledging her … in her mind, she always saw her mother, and the father … holding each other, kissing.
The old ladies took her to prayer meetings in people’s homes … usually other … old people. They always loved her … they’d pinch her pretty cheeks. They loved her curly hair, and oh my … wasn’t she a … sweet child? Faye didn’t feel worthy … she was getting in more fights at Grandma Alma’s.
So, many kids … her cousins. Someone was always angry … ready to fight. When they would see her at that time … they wanted to beat her up. She never had to fight, until … ‘she came down here’ … came to Hell … came to Grandma Alma, George’s.
She would always smile sweetly, instantly think if they only knew … how awful she was. She had recently learned to hate people … hate her mama; hate her cousins … aunts, uncles. She had learned to hate … everyone. She’d learned anger … now, she was ‘mad at the whole world’…..
‘Before’ age nine, she had lived in ‘Heaven’ … at age nine, she was ‘thrown in Hell’ to swim, or sink. No one gave a damn anymore about one … little girl … just sometimes.
She was slapped around, screamed at … people hated her one minute, loved her the next. When they became angry, they’d show hate to her … in their eyes, voices.
She was rapidly learning to hate back. The pain was almost more than she could bear. She had to toughen up, survive all the chaos she was thrown into.
She would hide in the little space between the old, red, vinyl couch and bookcase … in the front room.
She could hear all the screaming, cussing … sometimes, secrets a little girl’s ears shouldn’t hear.
No one would know she was in the little space, sitting … drawing on the white pages in all Grandma Alma’s books. She would sit there, getting lost in a wonderful world of creating … dreaming of beautiful clothes she’d never seen in person.
She would draw them, color them … cut them out to put on the paper dolls she would make for herself. Colors … designs fascinated the little girl. She created beauty in her young world, while … Hell broke loose around her.
The little girl was called a bastard one day by her teenage aunt. “You damn little bastard … don’t you ever come in my damn room again”! The little girl loved the record player in her aunt’s room. She would sneak across the floor to turn it on …
The little girl loved to dance … the music entered her body … made her move. She could visit Heaven for a few minutes, dancing.
One day … the teenage aunt became very angry at the little girl. She happened to come back home earlier than she’d said. She caught Faye, the little girl in her room, dancing to her record player. Not only Faye, but … several of Faye’s cousins were in there, also.
Faye was the only child who couldn’t get away fast enough. Her aunt caught her by the arm, spun her around … slapped her hard. “You damn little bastard! I’ll teach you to come into my room again! You look just like your damn daddy”! Her aunt slapped her hard, then …………
Walked to the wood box, picked up a piece of firewood … began to beat the little girl. The little girl cried until she couldn’t cry anymore. She was the worse person in the world … everyone hated her.
Her aunt threw her to the floor … ordered her to get up, and said, “Get the hell out of my room! If I catch you back in here, I’ll beat you to death”!
Faye pulled her body up off the floor, stood. Her legs were burning … she looked down to see blood on them. Not only that … her arms had blood streaming down on them.
Her little shoulders shook as she stood up, looked her aunt full in the face. “I’m going to tell my mama when she comes home … she is going to kill you”! She began to cry, uncontrollably. Her body hurt something awful from the beating … not only that, her Heart hurt … her aunt hated her! It was ‘the end of the world’….
“Tell your damn mama, see if I care”! The little girl began to cry more … turned, walked away. She walked into the front room, sat on the red, vinyl couch. Her body hurt, she was sleepy. She cried herself to sleep. She laid her head down on the thick arm of the couch, slept.
Faye felt someone shaking her, to wake up. She looked up … her teenage aunt was standing there … she was smiling a sweet smile. In her hand, dangled a watch. “Here, Faye … this is for you. It’s a Timex watch! Here … I’ve already set it for you, and everything’! She began to put it on Faye’s wrist ….
The memory of what happened before she went to sleep, flooded back. “No, I’m going to tell my mama you hurt me”!
The teenage aunt kept trying to get Faye to take the watch. No matter how much she tried … it didn’t work. Faye was going to tell her mama … her mama was going to kill her aunt for making that blood on her legs, arms.
Her teenage aunt thought her Timex watch would keep her from telling. She thought she could bribe Faye … this time it didn’t work. Faye was one very angry little girl.
A month went by … Faye’s mama came home. She always disappeared to come back weeks, months later. She ran to her before she could walk into the house.
She began crying, telling her mama about the Timex watch, and the beating she’d recieved. She didn’t see the fire in her mother’s eyes … but, she felt her mother stiffened up.
Faye’s mother went in to speak to George (her step-father) … and Grandma Alma (her mother). They were sitting, talking in the middle room (later, in Faye’s mind … she called it ‘The Arena’. This was where Hell broke out … often.
Faye heard the screen door open in the living room … she felt afraid. Her teenage aunt had just walked into the door! All hell was getting ready to break loose …
Sure enough, as soon as her aunt (her mama’s sister) … walked into the door … Faye’s mama began asking her aunt about the stick of wood she beat Faye with. She saw fear in her aunt’s eyes … sort of … felt sorry for her.
A whirlwind of action happened that fast! Her mama had run across the floor, grabbed Faye’s aunt up … began ‘whippin Hell outta her’!
They fell onto the old, dusty, wooden floor in front of where George sat in his old, cane chair. Grandma Alma sat beside him in her old, pink, upholstered recliner. “Stop! Please don’t fight”!
No one heard her Grandma Alma cry, nor saw the pain in her eyes. George sat there, blind … ‘not knowing what the hell was happening’. Faye saw … felt pain for them.
It seemed the fight would never end. Faye felt good every time her mama hit her aunt. She deserved that for hurting her. She even reached down with her small hand, ‘smacked the shit’ out of her!
Faye heard something hit the floor … two white teeth had flown out of someone’s mouth!
The fight stopped, Faye watched as her young aunt stood up. Blood was streaming from her mouth … her mama had blood on her. Faye felt sick to her Heart … she had caused this.
It was her fault her mama had ‘beat the hell’ out of her aunt. Her Heart broke … her teenage aunt hated her for the rest of her life. She lost two teeth, got her ‘ass whipped’ … because of beating Faye.
Faye was shaking inside … all the sounds of flesh being slapped, punched … made her feel like she was going to throw up. She realized she didn’t want to see her aunt cry, be hurt for what she did. She forgave her aunt right then.
Time went on, her mama disappeared again. Her teenage aunt would cast glaring eyes at her … but, she never touched her again.
One day, her aunt from next door came in … she had ‘hell in her eyes’. She saw Faye … came up to her, grabbed her by her shoulders, screaming at her for something not remembered, now.
Her finger nails made an awful scratch down Faye’s forearm. It hurt so bad … not only that … Faye had finally reached a breaking point. She had been kicked around for the past several years at her Grandma Alma’s and George … even if she died … she couldn’t take the pain, anymore.
For the first time in Faye’s life, she held her ground against her most favorite aunt. She wasn’t going to be slapping, hitting her anymore. She looked her aunt straight into her eyes … saw her aunt’s expression change ….
She calmly told her aunt, “This time, you beat my ass … the next time … I’m going to beat your ass”! Faye was fourteen years old … That was the last time, both aunts ever ‘laid a hand’ … on her.
That time … Faye took a stand, knowing she’d be ‘killed’, didn’t care. She couldn’t take anymore of their abuse. She was ready to fight back … not say, anymore … ‘I’m gonna tell my mama’!