Enjoy the second part of Mama, which releases December 2018. Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter to get the next preview.
I knocked on the door a couple of times, and then I rang the bell. I heard someone come to the door, and I could feel them looking at me through the peephole. I started to turn around and walk back to my house when I paused. I knocked one more time, this time a bit louder. If I wanted to go with the goal of being inconspicuous, that was gone now. The whole neighborhood probably
I yelled, “Ms. Ruthie, is that you? I just want to make sure you’re okay. I’m not mad at you. See, I brought you some dinner . . . just like Mama would have done. Please open the door.”
I backed up so that she could hopefully see the wrapped plates through the peephole. I heard the chain slide, and she cracked the door open just a little bit. I could just barely make out her face in the doorway.
“Ms. Ruthie, please let me in.”
I felt like I was begging her, but I didn’t care. It was important for me to talk to her, even though I didn’t fully understand why. I couldn’t leave without speaking to her first.
“Sweetie, the house hasn’t been cleaned yet. I don’t want you to come in. I don’t want you to see it like this,” she tried to explain to me.
“Well, Ms. Ruthie, please come out so that we can talk. I just want to ask you a couple of questions. Please, Ms. Ruthie, please,” I continued to beg as my voice started to quiver.
“Zora, I don’t want you to see me like this either.”
“Are you on drugs?”
There was a long, uncomfortable pause, and then I swore I heard Ms. Ruthie take a big sniff. Not like a drug addict looking for that first unattainable high again, but one where someone is trying her very best to hold back every single tear and peace of sorrow left in her. I immediately regretted my question.
“Oh, Ms. Ruthie, I’m so sorry. I’m just trying to find the truth about what happened to my mother. The police are saying that she attacked an officer, and that he killed her in self-defense. That’s not her! I know it!!!” The tears were coming down both of our faces, but neither of us could see each other.
“Zora,” Ms. Ruthie slowly began, “I’m scared to come out of my house because of what happened. I know I need to get my house cleaned, but I’m too scared to have anyone in the house. I won’t even let my sons back in here. I know I’m sick, but this is no life to live.”
“Ms. Ruthie, I just need to know what happened. Can you please tell me that?” I begged through my tears.
“Okay listen, baby girl. I don’t want you or I to get hurt. I never know who’s watching us anymore. Look, call me on the phone at quarter after 8 tonight. I’ll tell you what I know, but then please don’t ever ask me about it again.”
“Oh thank you so much, Ms. Ruthie! Look, I’m leaving the food for you right at the door. I know you don’t want to see me, but I know Mama would be so mad if I stopped bringing you meals.”
I thought I heard a slight laugh. Something I hadn’t heard in days. For a quick second, I felt something tingle in my heart. I thought nothing was left in there, so it was good to know that I could at least feel something for a split second.
I walked back to my house and looked at my cell phone. I had to wait almost four more hours before I could call Ms. Ruthie. Aaliyah wasn’t home yet from field hockey practice, and I wasn’t sure where Tone was. Honestly, though, I wouldn’t want to talk on the phone too long. I just didn’t want to be home alone, and no boys were allowed there without another adult. At this point, I even wished for Gigi. I knew she would be crying or being all overly protective, but it would keep me distracted. I called Uncle Marc, but no answer. Darn it . . . where is everyone?