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Her Big Blue Eyes
On a broken down residential edge of Detroit, Amari rides a red rusted bike—handed down by her older brother—down the uneven sidewalk. A ragged American flag swings through the wind, and a damp yellow armchair occupies the wooden plank porch. Her mother, wrapped in a thin lavender robe, waves Amari back inside for a fresh cup of morning coffee.
Amari’s face flushes as she glances about for any sign of her new friends. She sighs in relief, and pours herself a hot cup of coffee.
“Why you got to be ashamed of your Mama? You can hide behind those bright blue eyes of yours and your Papa’s skin, but you ain’t gonna hide me forever.”
Amari stirred in a tablespoon of cream, “I know, I just thought…Now that we’re on the other side of this town, and people only see my blue eyes and light skin, it’s like I’m one of them.”
“Child, you’re one of us, too. Don’t you forget that.” Amari’s cat Pumpkin slinked into the kitchen, and jumped onto her lap. “Pumpkin don’t care that she orange, but that’s who she is.”
“Wait up, Amari!” Kate—Amari’s new best friend and neighbor—hopped on her deep purple bike and peddled hard to catch up with her, smiling. School was out for the day, and the two of them have been riding home together since October.
“Oh, sorry! I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, so I sort of…sort of forgot?”
Kate stopped her bike, placing a comforting hand on Amari’s shoulder, “What’s wrong? I can tell something is bothering you.”
“Nothing, nothing,” Amari assured her. “Don’t worry about it, I’m fine.” She sped away down the street.
Mama knelt over patches of mottled grass—some green and yellow—patting down the dirt around a young tulip. “Amari!” She beamed, “How was school, sweetie? Come help me plant them tulips. Thought they’d liven things up around here.”
“I’d love to,” Amari obliged. “Even if I’m beat.”
Soothing her guilty conscience about not telling Kate wouldn’t be easy, but planting a few tulips under the blazing sun should take her mind off of that.
To her dismay, Amari eyed Kate crossing the street to meet her. I should be grateful to have a friend who looks after me, she thought, but…
“Hey, Amari. I wanted to make sure you were okay, considering earlier.”
“Oh, thanks,” Amari paled, avoiding eye contact with her Mama.
“Won’t you introduce me to your friend, Amari?” Mama asked accusingly.
Pained, Amari lied, “She’s our gardener.” Mama raised an eyebrow, crossing her arms.
“Sorry, okay” Amari relented, “She’s my Mama.”
“What’s wrong with that?” Kate asked, honestly.
“I thought that you wouldn’t like me anymore if I told you, or that you’d treat me different.”
Kate glanced at Mama’s dark skin, smiled, and threw her arms around Amari in a big hug, “I love you all the more, my lovely friend. If anyone treats you different, I’ll go beat them up for you.”
Amari sighed a breath of relief, “I shouldn’t have kept that from you.”
Kate laughed, “You and your big blue eyes would’ve had me fooled. But be proud of who you are, Amari. For your Mama too.”