Chapter 1 (Part 1) of “Called Out” Excerpt
Thursday was always a hectic day: school, then dance practice, then homework, then whatever duties were given to me before 11:00 p.m. By the time I could relax, it was time to go to bed. Mom and Dad had it easy, though. Oh yeah, they came home from work; then Mom prepared dinner while Dad changed his clothes and plopped in front of the TV with a can of pop and a Wall Street Journal. It was never, “Well, Sweetie, I’ll iron those clothes for you,” or “Don’t worry about the dishes tonight.” I always had something to do while they did absolutely nothing.
“So Kiva, how was school?” my dad asked while walking casually by my room. He was a very handsome man to be a dad. He always wore those nice suits that seemed to fit him perfectly and, he never had a bad hair day. My aunt always said I looked like him, but I never saw the resemblance. He being 6’5 and I being 5’3, I just couldn’t see it.
“It was straight; we talked about the Civil War and, yeah, that’s it,” I said dryly. Talking to someone I didn’t want to be bothered with and wrapping my hair at the same time made me want to concentrate on the latter.
“Oh, well you know those leaves need to be raked and the den needs to be vacuumed, so when you’re finished with your hair, get to business, alright?” He stood in my doorway loosening his tie, about to relax, and had the audacity to ask me, at 5’3” and 125 pounds, to rake the leaves? I just couldn’t believe it. He walked away slowly, waiting for me to mumble, but after living in the Niran house for 17 years, I knew when to keep my mouth shut.
I plopped on my bed and slid off my boots and socks. As I laid back on my bed, I grabbed Mr. Squiggles, the first Teddy bear my father ever bought me. I was three years old when we went to the state fair and he won it by climbing the ladder and hitting the buzzer at the top. Back then I thought he was Superman, but now he’s just Dad.
“Kiva, Sweetie, telephone,” my mom yelled up the stairs from the kitchen. I knew who it was before I even picked it up. I turned my body over and scooted across to the other side of the bed and reached to grab the cord of the phone, which was dangling close to the end of my bed. As the phone fell I grabbed it just before it hit the ground. “Hello.”
“Kiva, Kiva, Bo Beava, banana fanna, fo feava, me mi mo meava, ki…”
“Hey Monique, wassup?” I said before she could finish her sentence. She always knew how to make me smile, even when I was irritated.
“Nothin’ much girl, just chillin’ like a villain, you know how I do.”
“Well, I can’t talk long because I have to go rake the leaves before it gets dark, wassup tho?”
“Rake the leaves?!” Monique guffawed. “Isn’t that why that strong hunk of a man you call your daddy lives there?” Monique was in love with my father.
“Please Monique, spare me the comments about how fine my daddy is,” I replied.
“Well girl, when I see a good thing, I have no choice but to shout, hey!” Monique shouted over the phone like she had just caught the Holy Ghost. I could see her now, making that ugly face she makes while throwing one hand up in the air and the other holding her back. She was a mess, and I got all the laughs I could out of it.
“Well girl, I’ll call you later because I have something to tell you about James.” My eyes widened. James was the love of my life, even though he didn’t know it, and I knew if she had something to say about him, it had to be important.
“I guess I can wait an extra five or ten minutes to rake the leaves; they ain’t goin’ nowhere,” I said, holding in my excitement.
“Well, if you must know,” Monique said sarcastically, “I was in line for lunch today and James came up behind me. He asked if you and I were going to Homecoming together, and I told him, maybe, but I didn’t know.”
By this time I was sitting on the edge of my bed. “So what happened after that?”
“Well, he said that his mom got a new car and he didn’t want to go with his boys, he wanted a girl to go with, and he asked me who I thought wanted to go with him.”
I jumped up and started pacing across my bedroom while waiting for her to finish the rest of the story. “So, what did you say?”
“Well, I told him that I didn’t know and that maybe he should ask you who he should take.”
“What! Why would you tell him that?” I fell back on my bed in disgust, trying to be quiet so my father wouldn’t know I was still on the phone.
“Well Kiva, I didn’t know what you wanted me to tell him. I figured it would give him an excuse for him to call you, and you an excuse to spend some extra time talking to him; shoot, I thought it was pretty clever,” she said haughtily.
I sat up on my bed and thought about what she said. I guess she was right; now I had something to talk to him about tomorrow in school.
“I guess so Nique; I didn’t think of it that way. Well, tomorrow I’ll just talk to him at lunch, and—”
“Uh, you probably won’t have to wait that long,” Monique said nervously.
“Why is that?” I asked, trying to hold the phone and put on my jogging pants.
“Well, I kind of gave him your number; he said he was gonna call you around 9:30.”
I sat there in silence.
“Alright, ‘Nique, well I’m ’bout to get off the phone. I’ll see you tomorrow. Watch your back,” I said with an attitude.
“Whatever, Kiva, just thank me tomorrow when y’all are going to Homecoming together.” I knew she meant well, but sometimes she just went about things the wrong way. I swear, if Jesus came down from on high and told her to go left, she would go right, just because she would have thought that she was helpin’ him out. I hung up the phone and decided to get comfortable. I put on my high school hoody and reached under the bed to pull out of a box of old high school notes, flyers, pictures and invitations. I opened one up and was surprised to see who the sender was.
I saw you walking down the hallway and you dropped your notebook. I still have it, so if you want it, you can pick it up from my locker after school. Alright, bye.
After I received that letter, I thought James was the sweetest guy I ever met. The letter wasn’t much, but it was something! Since freshman year, there was always something special about James Richardson. Now three years later, that something was still there.
When we were freshmen, he asked me to go to the movies with him, but my mom told me I couldn’t go, so he took Shayla Thompson instead. They were together for about eight months; after that, I heard she broke up with him because he wouldn’t have sex with her. So many girls tried to holla at James, and I see why. He’s 6 feet tall, has dark chocolate skin, and just fine all the way around.
Nobody understood how I felt about James. See, to me his most important trait is that he is a devout Christian. He hasn’t had sex, and as far as the rumors are concerned, he has a great reputation, and he goes to church faithfully every Sunday, or so I hear. That’s what attracts me to him, that sweet, kind, loving attitude, with just a little bit of edge!
“Kiva, I’m not gonna ask you again, go rake those leaves!” My father yelled as he walked down the stairs. By this time, he had on a white polo shirt and some black swishy pants. I was so tired of doing chores.
“Dad, here I come.” I grabbed my watch and my hat and ran down the stairs. It was 7:00 now; if he was calling at 9:30, I needed to be finished with all my chores and studying before I could settle into a pleasant conversation with James.
“Sweetie.” My mother caught me right before I walked out of the door.
“Yes, Mom,” I replied, turning around to see Paulette in a pink and white floral apron with white pearls around her neck and oven mitts on her hands.
“I wanted to know when a good day to look for your Homecoming dress was?” She slipped the oven mitts off and pulled out from one of her pockets a tiny notebook and a pen.
“Mom, I really don’t know; how about Saturday afternoon?” I leaned against the door as she wrote down the date and time.
“That’s cool, Sweetie. We can spend the whole day together. We could go get our nails done, grab a bite to eat. That would be great if—”
“Um, Mom, I hate to stop you, but I have to go rake the leaves and finish my homework. I am expecting an important phone call at 9:30, so I want to get everything done, okay?”
“Well, okay, go on out there and finish your chores.”
“Thanks. Bye, Mom,” I replied sarcastically.
“Bye,” she said walking away and putting her mitts back on.
I loved my mom, but we were just so different. We never saw eye to eye on anything, not even clothes. So I knew Saturday was going to be a trip. My father and I were really close, though. When I was younger my mom had my brother all the time because he was so little, and I was with my dad, so I learned how to play sports, make model cars, and play video games, while my brother, at the age of 13, knows how to cook, play the piano, and sew his buttons on his jackets when they fall off.
An hour and a half later, when I finished raking and bagging the leaves, I stuck my head in the living room and asked, “Dad, where’s Justin?”
“Oh, he’s at the church and then he’s staying the night over at Uncle Mike’s. What’s up, Princess?” My dad was in his usual spot, in the recliner with a Wall Street Journal in his lap and a cold Mountain Dew in the holder. I walked in slowly and sat on the couch next to him.
“Nothing, I just hadn’t seen him all day, and I wanted to know where he was.” My dad looked at me and smiled. He then put this paper down and asked me what I wanted him to ask me all day.
“So, who are you going with to Homecoming?”
I slowly leaned forward and smiled. “Daddy, there’s this guy,”
“Oh, here it goes,” he said laughing lightly.
“Daddy, he’s a really nice guy, he’s really smart, and his mom is letting him use her car, he also plays—”
“Is he saved?” My father asked sternly. “Better yet, is he living saved?”
I knew that was coming. “Yes, Daddy. He goes to Blessed Temple, Aunty Deborah’s church.” I knew since he went to a church where family was, he would find it okay.
“Alright, just wanna make sure I don’t have to school somebody.”
“Daddy, he’s really sweet.”
“So, Baby Girl, what’s the problem then?”
“Well, he hasn’t asked me out yet, but he’s calling me tonight to ask me about Homecoming, so I figure he’s gonna ask me tonight.” I clasped my hands together and ground my teeth at the thought of him asking and me being too nervous to answer.
“Baby, don’t be nervous. And don’t go chasing after him, either. In the Bible, it talks about men finding their women, not women chasing after them and clubbing them over the head. If he asks you and you feel comfortable, then say yes, but if you don’t, then say no. I won’t be mad at cha’.”
“I know, Dad, I just don’t want to say the wrong thing or do anything stupid.” I got closer to him and put his arm around my neck. I felt for a second that I was eight- years old again.
“Sweetie, God loves you and wants the best for you, so the only thing that you should be worried about is making sure that you are doing everything that is pleasing unto his sight, okay? Behave yourself accordingly and make sure that your body is continuously being used as a living sacrifice, which means no hanky panky. Of course you’re going to be nervous. You were nervous on your first date, in your first dance recital, and even when you went to high school. Just talk it over with God and make sure first that this guy is worthy of pumping your gas. Then you will find peace and understand that Johnny, or whatever his name is, should be the one nervous, not you.”
I sat in his arms and listened to my dad’s advice. He was the best father I could ever have. He always showed me in every situation how God was affecting it.
“Yeah, you’re right, Daddy. Thanks.” I got up to go head outside, feeling so blessed because my father loved me enough to care about my relationship with Christ and always related it to my life. But would I know what to say at school tomorrow?
“Oh yeah, and Sweetie,” he said right before I turned the corner.
“Let tomorrow worry about itself, okay?” I laughed, nodded, and turned away.
© copyright 2010 Dara Nichole/ Beautiful Works Publishing