“Girl, you think is now we had to do it!” she said, licking her lips.
She bent over in front the long mirror that stood near her dresser and shook her large backside; she shook it so hard that the almost rotten, wooden floors began to creak. Her top burst open, revealing her powdered chest and the top of her breasts. Whilst shaking her backside — from side to side — she raised her sheer white skirt and tucked it into her underwear.
I watched her with a puzzled look, “Girl, what you doing deh?” And then I laughed when she shook it even harder.
“Shana, when you see I hold him eh, hmm!” She straightened herself and walked to her wardrobe that refused to stay close. “You know me already, bad anywhere!”
I hated her to talk like this, every time was always the last time and then she would see another nice-looking man. “But to me you have a man already, you living with him and all, what you doin’ with another one?”
Tamara sucked her teeth whilst pulling out a black plastic bag that was hidden under a large heap of clothes. “I know what the man doing. Let me have my fun, eh. I eh have no ring on my finger and besides, this is the last time.”
“The last time again.” I shook my head in disappointment.
“Shana, woah, you not any angel, uh, the man you have not even yours. Give me a break, eh.” She was right; I was a jabal, the outside woman.
From the bag, she pulled out a pair of white shorts and a cut-up top and spread them both out on her bed.
“Miguel tell me to wear this tonight.” She held the shorts up to her waist and began shaking her backside again, “He bought it for me.” The yellow light from the bulb bounced off her fair complexion, and she smiled, “Girl, I watching the time and as if 10 o’clock not coming.”
It was actually just minutes after eight and we soon had to begin getting ready to go to the village club—Moonshine—but Tamara was so excited to see her outside man that the time difference seemed like centuries.
We were both fourteen when Tamara introduced me to Miguel: the tall, dark skinned Rasta man, who always hung out on St. Ann’s street. It seemed like only yesterday that he was going away to America and wanted to do the thing with Tamara, before another man claimed it. Little did he know, that cherry was long gone. But, it never happened for I revealed his intention to Tammie’s mother.
Seven years later — as we stood in the club — she still desired him the same way, naked, with only those locks. “When the locks drop on your face, Shana, ain’t nothing like it,” she’d once said.
He stood there with his tight, skinny jeans, white T-shirt and swept-up locks pretending as if he didn’t know me. “What y’all girls drinking?” he shouted, so that we could hear him above the loud music.
“I taking anything straight, baby!” Tamara began gyrating again. I declined. I couldn’t get drunk because, as always, I was the watchdog. Tamara had a bad reputation around the village but her boyfriend Lance saw only the sweet angel who slept next to him. Many people said she ‘tie’ him with some dark magic.
As they danced, I saw the flash of white disappear and then re-appear. He worked his hand through one of the cuts in her top and grabbed her; she moaned, showing appreciation. They didn’t care who saw. “Watch that mad ting,” someone shouted. I sighed.
She flicked the sweat off her brow, whispered to him, and then went outside. I soon followed. “Aye, where y’all going?” I said this twice before Tammie answered.
“We coming back, wait for me by the jeep.” Then they disappeared into the darkness of John’s Road.
My feet began to hurt as I stood there, for thirty minutes, like a fool, waiting for my friend. Every time we went liming, it was always about a man-thing, we never have fun together. I took off my high heels and sat on a stone.
I heard her voice. She was wondering out loud where I had gone.
“Look me, where were you? You know how long I deh’ waiting?” I was angry.
“Sorry, my girl, it won’t happen again.” She smelled of coitus, in the distance, I saw a flickering light and a puff of white smoke.
I sucked my teeth so hard it echoed. “What happened?” I asked as if I didn’t already know.
She looked back and said, “Nothing.”
A few weeks later, my ringtone awoke me from my sleep. It was Tammie, she was sobbing and talking simultaneously, I couldn’t understand her; I couldn’t calm her. In an instant I got up and ran down the hill to her house.
I knew the alley so well that even in the darkness I knew when to jump. The lights were on; she opened the door instantly as if she already knew I was there. Her cheeks were red and wet and in her hand she held the result of a pregnancy test.
“What I telling my man!” Lance was away in the countryside for the past two weeks tending to his old uncle’s farm. “Two little weeks he leave me alone and I make another man breed me.”
I said the first that came to mind, “You have to kill it.” She was surprised. “Today self, take it out!”
“I not killing my child! My mother had eight children and she never did that.”
“Ok, well, as soon as Lance comes back, you make sure he believes this is his child.” We agreed and locked the secret away.
As Tammie’s belly grew, everything seemed perfect. Lance always wanted a baby and finally, he got one. He was so happy that he asked Tamara to marry him; she said yes.
But, even at seven months, she was still up to her old tricks. A text message came in from her one night at 7:30 p.m.
“Aye, if Lance ask if I was with you last night, say yes, we went by Miss Sheila for fish.”
I rolled my eyes and continued watching the news. Lately, every week I had a new lie to tell Lance.
But as she came closer to her due date, she grew frantic. Her calls were frequent and often she would tell me how scared she was that the baby would look like its father. And when the baby came, all seven pounds of her, she was beautiful; her name was
Michaela. I was relieved that she was light-skinned: her nose and lips were shaped just like her mothers’, but secretly I had hoped that the baby would be nothing like her.
Lance however, seemed happy, but from time to time, disappointment clouded his countenance. His face grew darker, he stank of alcohol and he never really wanted to hold Michaela. It wasn’t until the afternoon Tammie was due to be discharged, that I understood the reason behind this change.
As I left the maternity ward, he skipped down the stairs, two by two, shouting my name and was out of breath by the time he reached me. “Aye Shana, hear dat” he tried to regain his breath, “a padna’ of mine tell me something but I just can’t believe it.” My heart began to beat so hard, I was afraid Lance was hearing it too. “He say my child not mine, is a boutine I have; you know about that?”
Beads of sweat ran down my back, “Me!?” I placed my hands on my chest and acted surprised, “What nonsense mate talking? So whose child then, since he know so much?” That was my best comeback and I sucked my teeth to make it more believable.
“He tell me some Rasta, a Rasta on the block claiming my child.” I had never seen that look on Lance’s face before. His ever constant, big smile was gone, now replaced with the looks of confusion and hurt.
“Well, I don’t know anything about that, eh. Mate lie.”
No, I was the liar. My friend did cheat on him, many times, but what was I supposed to do, tell him the truth?
He looked relieved, but as I walked away, something just told me he knew I was lying.
The weeks dragged by and Lance grew more distant, more silent. He wasn’t his jolly old self. The change in his spirit was evident, he scared me, and Tamara felt it too. She would tell me that he would come home without saying good night and constantly ignored the little girl. He would get so irritated by the child’s crying that in the middle of the night he would leave. I did my best to assure her that things would get better.
It was a few months later, the day before Michaela’s christening, it was late and Lance hadn’t returned for the day; Tammie was worried. Her phone calls to him kept going to voicemail and none of Lance’s friends had seen him either.
“Well, hear dat, I will take Michaela and let my mother comb her hair before we come down, O.K.?” I went to the kitchen to pack my god-daughter’s bag. Tammie nodded but I saw that did little to help her. Her face was lined with worry and she had become pale. I didn’t know how to help my friend. The once carefree Tamara, who always did as she pleased, was now fearful.
She gave that little girl a long kiss and said tenderly, “I love you.”
Later in the evening, I awoke to some commotion outside. “Whoa, whoa, whoa you think the man bong’ to do the girl dat!?” Sirens wailed and loud cries filled the air. I ran outside to see what had happened. Everyone turned to me as I came down the creaking stairs. I was nervous.
“Mum, what happen? Why y’all crying like dat’?” I scanned their faces for an answer but was afraid of what I might hear.
“Sha, sit down deh, ok?” I began to shake, why should I sit down. “Something happen—”
“Something like what?”
“Something happen in de village.” My mother pressed her lips together, walked towards me and held my hand. Her hand was cold and sweaty. I felt a gentle breeze working its way up my back, goose pimples covered my skin.
“Lance lose his head with all that nonsense about him feeding a next man child.”
My breathing became heavy.
“He kill Tammie and shoot himself.”
The next thing I knew, I was on the ground screaming, “No! You lie! Not my friend, not my friend!” The tears came pouring out. “Lance, what my friend do you! What my friend do you!”
I was inconsolable. “Drop me! Just drop me! Let me go and see my friend. Let me go!” It couldn’t be true. I kicked at one of the ladies who held me, she landed on a pile of trash bags. I didn’t care. Seconds later, I was down the hill.
The red lights from the ambulance flashed eerily onto the wooden structures that lined the alley way. I could see them: the ambulance people, in their white suits, at her door.
Everyone just stood there in shock. “Dat’ Lance do de girl?” People still couldn’t believe it. “He could’ve just left her.”
“Excuse me! Excuse me!” I pushed my way through the throng of villagers.
Blood. I saw the blood dripping down the porch stairs, just everywhere, and I saw her, almost naked, lying there—lifeless. I dropped to my knees. “Tamara! Tamara!” I cried. “No! No not my friend, not my friend.” I cried so much that I threw up.
In my grief, I lost consciousness. When I opened my eyes, I saw that little girl, the boutine with her big, bright eyes smiling at me, so unaware, so innocent. I kissed her, and she laughed, then I cried. She was the best decision Tammie ever made. Although she was another man’s blood, she became mine that day.