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Life Ain't Fair
'I'm ready Ma,' I called from the bedroom I shared with my two younger sisters. I walked into the kitchen carefully, as though the ten steps might ruin the new dress Ma had made me for the first day of school. 'I'll be out in a minute,' Ma yelled back. My Ma was a patient lady, with wrinkles on her face by her eyes and mouth. She was slender and her hair was always tightly braided and pulled back out of her face. Ma could be strict, but most of the time she was cheerful. In the kitchen, she'd sing to me and my sisters when she was cleaning.
I knelt down to put on my shoes; the first pair that was all mine. They were black with a shiny silver buckle. Ma came in and bent down to help me with the buckle, even though I told her I didn't need no help. I never been to school before, so I was nervous and excited at the same time. I kissed Samantha and Olivia goodbye and opened up the screen door. Ma handed me my lunch pail and promised me I would be fine.
As I walked, I tried not to get my shoes dirty and still make it to school on time. When I got there, a teacher showed me to my classroom and told me to pick a seat. The desks up front were filled, so I chose a spot on the bench in the back, where there was an open space next to me. Looking around, I saw that everyone had light skin and hair. When the teacher walked in, there was a girl with her. She had brown hair and brown eyes that sparkled. The teacher pointed to the spot next to me and slowly and confidently the girl sat down. She smelled like talcum powder and she had a bow in her hair. 'My name is Holly,' she whispered. 'What's yours?'
'I'm Anne,' I said. Suddenly I wished I had a pretty name instead of such a plain one. Ma said Anne was a strong name. Maybe it is, but it sure don't sound pretty like Holly.
The teacher introduced herself as Ms. Peterson and she started to teach us counting. I couldn't concentrate and before I knew it, Holly was nudging me and telling me it was time for lunch. I grabbed my lunch pail from under the bench and hesitantly met Holly outside. I asked her where her lunch was and was embarrassed when she pulled some change out of her sock, which was white and ruffled with a pink bow. 'Walk with me,' she said. Across the street there was a drugstore where Holly bought a fresh roll and two butterscotch candies. When she handed me one of them, I smiled and thanked her. On the way back to school she asked me how old I was. 'Seven and a half,' I answered proudly. 'Oh, I'm eight already,' she said. 'I used to live in Boston, but then my daddy got a new job.' 'I went to school last year too, but here they said it was different.' 'Oh,' I said nervously. 'You're really pretty.' I didn't mean to say it, it just kinda slipped out.
'Thanks. But I wish I had hair like yours.' 'Mine wont ever curl.'
She amazed me and I wanted to be her friend more than anything. We got back the classroom and the lesson went on. From time to time Holly would smile at me and I couldn't help but smile back. When school was over, Holly and I said goodbye and promised to sit by each other the next day.
I ran home, excited to tell Ma all about my new friend. I threw open the screen door and saw Ma feeding Samantha and trying to get Olivia to stop crying.
'Ma, I made a new friend!' 'She sat next to me and then we went to lunch together!' 'Her name is Holly and she bought me a candy at the drugstore!'
'Anne, you let her buy you something?'
'Well yeah Ma, it's not like I asked her or anything.' 'She just gave it to me.'
'Is she white?' Ma asked with a slight frown.
'Yes. She has brown hair, and her eyes are brown too, just like mine.' 'And Ma, she used to live in Boston!'
'Anne, I want you to stay away from her, you hear?' 'You can't trust no one no more.'
'But Ma, that ain't fair.' 'Holly is my friend.'
'Yeah well life ain't fair Anne.' 'It's about time you learnt that.' 'You never know who is gonna stab you in the back.'
With that she turned back to Samantha, snapped at Olivia to stop crying, and as I walked away I noticed the tears streaming down her face. On my way back to my room a white man's face jumped out of the picture that hung on the wall for as long as I can remember. He was standing next to Ma and she had a big smile on her face. She wasn't wrinkled then, and her eyes seemed brighter. Ma's belly was big and the man had his hand on it. Ma never talked about the picture, but when I walked by it this time, it made me wonder what my Daddy was doin now.