CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED and NINETY-SEVEN
“I got a call from the police,” Gran said. “My daughter had hurt herself. Would I take the baby? I went to one of those horrible motels on Colfax to find… awful things. As you said, Tanesha, blood everywhere and… you were the one crying, screaming really. You were hiding under a table with your back to a wall. Your hands were over your ears and you had your knees pulled up. You were howling at the top of your lungs. It took me almost an hour to get you out. You and Yvonne were in the hospital for… days. I thought she was… Doctors said she’d injured her brain and I thought she’d finally come home. I went down there on the third morning and…”
A single silent tear rolled down the contours of Gran’s face. Her eyes traveled the lines of Tanesha’s face.
“Yvonne was gone,” Rodney Smith said. “The man who owns her came to get her in the night. They left you. We’re not sure how she pulled that off, or what it cost her, because… he… and you…”
“He told me,” Tanesha said. “He used to sell me too.”
“Like it was something she should be proud of,” Heather snorted.
“He used to make more money off Tanesha,” Sandy glanced at Tanesha. “And she was supposed to be proud of that?”
“He told us he was coming for Tanesha after high school,” Jill said. “That he was waiting for her to grow up. So you’re probably right, Mr. Smith. Tanesha’s mom probably agreed to go with him if he would leave Tanesha alone until she was grown up. He’s a fool.”
“We snuck her out of town,” Heather smiled.
“I wondered what happened,” Rodney Smith looked from Heather to Sandy and then Jill. “Thank you.”
“It was more blood, Tanesha, than I’d ever seen,” Gran said. “Yvonne had some brain damage from… everything and… She saved you. In my heart, I know that she saved you.”
“I believe that too,” Rodney Smith said. “No matter what happened, Yvonne loved you, Tanesha. She used to call you her special light.”
“So that’s our story,” Gran said. “Blood, tattoos, and failure. We failed Yvonne and you. Can you forgive us?”
Tanesha threw herself in her grandmother’s lap and cried. The moment she hit Gran’s lap, her grandmother began to sob. They cried for the loss of the beautiful Yvonne, for the things mothers do for their children, and their own inability to make the horrible past any better. Tanesha held on to her grandmother until all the tears were spent. When she looked up, her friends were gone. Rodney Smith was drinking tea with Jeraine in the dining room and she was starving.
“Dinner?” Tanesha asked. When she gave a partial smile, Jeraine knew that, even though she wasn’t all right today, she was on the other side of this horrible mess.
“I’ll see what I can make,” Jeraine said.
“You better not make a mess in my kitchen,” Gran yelled.
He gave her a curt nod, almost a bow, and went to make dinner.
Denver Cereal continues on Monday…