Fifteen minutes after the news of riots broke, Demarcus showed up banging on my door.
“Sissy open up, open the goddamn door.”
The baby starts screaming and I scoop her up before opening the door. I know how I must look. My eyes are wide and dry even though I’ve been crying. I’ve had on the same raggedy Compton tee shirt and I must stink.
Demarcus comes in and takes the baby; he’s so good with her.
“Go take a shower babygirl. I’ll watch her.”
His eyes are full of fire but his tone is gentle. I do what he says; the shower has been long overdue. Della has been sick and I haven’t been able to do anything.
When I come out in a house dress to find Della cooing up at Demarcus, he doesn’t hear me and I hear him murmur to her.
“We won’t let them do you like that.”
She burbles and he kisses the dimples on her fat little hands. When I see that he’s crying, I pad into the kitchen and bang around making coffee to give him some privacy. When I come out he has the news on and Della posted up in the crook of his arm.
“You feel better?”
I sit next to him and nod.
“Yeah, are things bad out there?”
His upper lip curls and his dimple flashes.
“Not yet. It’s gonna be. Listen, you stay in the fuckin’ house. Only open the door for one of my boys. I’m gonna send them with some stuff for you and the baby.”
He cuts me off with a gesture.
“Don’t. You take what you need. You have enough food for a few days?”
I feel small and scared. He gets up and puts Della in her playpen and sits back down. He puts his arm around me while I cry and shake.
He shotguns the last of his coffee and stands up.
“I gotta go.”
I walk him to the door and he hugs me tight.
“You got your piece?”
I smile up at him.
“You got that number in case shit happens?”
He smiles back down at me, his dimple reflects mine. I am so glad he found me when he got out.
“A’ight. I love you babygirl.”
“I love you too.”
Fifty-eight people died. When detectives knocked on my door the smell of my burning community followed them in. They weren’t there for the stroller, the diapers or the formula. I knew why they were there.
I said goodbye to my Daddy and his dimple the way I said goodbye to South Central with bitter tears and terror and hope.
I will probably talk about historical fiction (read here) and trying it out for the first time. I’ve never done it before and why I’ve never done it before.