The mirror was her shield, her confidant, and the only
thing on earth that could not speak back to her.
It had always been her friend. Since the age of 7,
2.look at: what
She went so far as to name the looking glass:
Trimmed in gold with a silver lining around the frame covered the
majority of the wall.
Rose stared at the looking glass and said, "My life was supposed
to be just like Janet Collins."
but it ain't.
She was four-foot eleven, with a petite frame, sporting a natural
red afro, and wore red clog.boots which always matched her red
lip.stick at Paul Lawrence Dunbar High School for the Performing
Arts in Fort Worth, Texas.
Rose was a dancer (naturally).
She did not share that
With anyone because
She may have been hit
by her Mama who had
5.other children to take
Care of including her
Husband who beat her
3.-2-.4 times a.day.
Kinship was something Rose knew-nothing about.
Alma.Jean was either in the kitchen, living room cleaning up the
mess that Charles.Rae had left for her, tending to the children,
ironing -washing clothes, screaming and hollering:
"Sit down, get off of that table, boy'e I sayz comes heah!
Gyrl.I'm gon' bea cho tale fah tak-n down dat haer. I means it
Rose would always be in her special.place when the hollering and
-N.Front of Allure-
"I can do chassé, cabriole, glissade, pique, double
pique, and tempers."
"I can do chassé, cabriole, glissade, pique, double pique, and
"I can do chassé, cabriole, glissade, pique, double pique, and
She did them in the little room that she had between her and the
wall that almost touched her back.
Her arms aligned horizontially in the mirror, legs spread wide
open, she would lift one leg, and stand on her toe---pointed.
Nothing would stop her from surpassing Carmen Jones…
She did not ever really hear the hollering, cursing, screaming,
The mirror did not speak back to her. Allure loved her. Allure
was her reflection. Allure made her body float.
Allure always applauded: Silently.
Rose was the oldest child of Alma.Jean. Rose did not have many
friends. Rose was not allowed to do anything with out her sisters
and brothers. Rose was confined to school, home, and church. Rose
saw her daddy beat a man to death. Rose saw her aunt die of
cancer on their living room couch-Black people did not have
insurance back then. Rose walked to the hospital to see her
mother deliver her last child in the snow after her daddy had
just beat Alma.Jean. Rose lived in a shack. Rose lived across a
chicken-shack. Rose was born in the 1950'z. Rose saw the civil
rights movement (some of it). Rose knew her daddy was really not
her daddy (step). Rose did not know when her mother slipped out
that night. The night when she me Jimmie. He gave Alma.Jean money
to take care of the children, because Charles.Rae gambled all his
Alma Jean slept with Jimmie.She lied to Charles Rae.
Rose found out one night after…
Alma.Jean was tired of being beaten by Charles.Rae
"I'm tied. I'm tied. That's why yo favah-rite of all six
chil'dren I un bar'd is not cho'yoez.
R. O. S. E.
She be.long to Jimmie. Jimmie luv.me mo' dan U e'vah haz. I
mean's I'mma tirad of U hitt'n on me and kick'n me in's mys head.
I'm sick an tirad of hav'n to wash yo' nastty clothes. I can't
deal witcha no.mo Charles.Rae. I wan't you to get yo' ass off mys
couch and get on dem streetz cause dats where u belong. I'm
tirad. I'ms glad I had Jimmie, he was something USE wasn't:
A.Man. He take care of his chile' and only outzsa respect does he
stays away from gettn to kno huh."
Pretty is… Pretty does… Pretty is… Pretty does…
Looking at myself in the mirror; I see sexy or what use to be
sexy… that is what he told me yesterday. I never heard that I was
beautiful from her: Alma.Jean.
I guess she was to busy tending to the other children. My
reflection was suppose to be of a dancer, well traveled, not
married. My dream began in her womb, as I continute to daydream
while standing in front of Allure.
"Where did you come from," Rose asks the caramel skinned woman
standing next to her.
"I came through Allure," Janet Collins, responded.
Rose had said her names so many times in her mind that the mirror
allowed her to appear in the form of a shadow but to the would be
dancer: Janet was reality.
"I see you like to dance."
"I did like to dance."
"I met this no good nigga named Earl; I got pregnant with my
first child named Charlie. Then I met X and fell in love and was
caught up in his life and never remembered that I had my own."
"I see. So you mad cause you had them babies and you stopped
"I'm mad because I love me to much. Nobody ever really loved me
but this mirror. I can wake up in the morning, and stop in front
of it at night and it shows me this pretty face. I wish I could
have met my daddy. I wish my momma only had me. I wish that I
could have had a nice childhood. I wish I was not pregnant at
fifteen and then getting in to another relationship to solve my
problems of loneliness. I wish I would have listened to my momma
though she never listened to me."
"You close to your mama?"
"No, she died a while back… I did go to the funeral but was not
included on the program as one of her children. My siblings don't
like me because they say I run away from my problems. They say I
think that I'm better than them, and that I act white. They say
that my husband is a drug addict and sleeps with my daughter. I
have a feeling that he did something to her but I never had the
nerve to say anything because I love him and he provides for
them. I can't provide for them by myself. So, I keep quite. When
she says something that is when I will say something."
"Does any of your kids dance?"
"Charlie does, and she is good. But, I can't seem to get myself
to see her perform, it burns inside that I was not given the
chance to pursue what I love too: Dancing."
"Do you love yourself?"
"No, I hate myself. I hate that I hate. I hate that I don't like
me. I hate that I was born. I hate that my mother was born. I
hate that my siblings were born. I hate that we lived in a shack.
I hate that it was across from a chicken-shack. I hate that my
step dad beat my mamma. I hate that we never had enough of food,
clothes, books, toys, girlie things, and a backyard to play in. I
hate the fact that my youngest brother was in danger while my
mother walked in the snow for four hours to deliver him. I hate
GOD. I hate that he does not listen to me. I hate that women can
give birth. I hate that children are a responsibility. I hate
that I have responsibilities. I hate that I hate. I hate that I'm
answering your questions honestly. I hate that I'm beautiful and
that's all people see. I hate that I have gained weight. I hate
that even though I have gained the weight people still say I look
very young. I don't feel young. I feel
"And you say you wanted to be just like me. I remember when I was
accepted in to the world of dancing that white folk did not want
me to dance in their instituitions. They wanted me to be a white
face-painted. Can you believe that they wanted me to paint my
face white. Hell' I'm New Orleans. I'm from culture-I am culture.
They wanted me to be something else. I wanted to be me. I chose
not to dance with them. I chose the life I wanted. I chose to
"Why could I have not just did what you did and went to school
and not messed around with boys. Why did I have to get caught up
in lies, deceit. Earl, the father of Charlie, never wanted her.
He did not even want his name on her birth-certificate. He beat
me. He hated me. He made in to a prostitute. And, I ain't never
told nobody dis. This is just between me and you Ms. Collins. I
stretched my legs so far out to these men to feel what love was
and realized that it was never between their legs but in their
mind in that invisible place in the heart that no one sees. I
wanted to be loved. I wanted my daddie's love, my momma's love. I
wanted, I just wanted someone to realize that I existed."
--------Janet Collins sits on the floor and looks up at Rose and
shakes her head. She knows that she can't help Rose only she can
--------Rose looks in the mirror and sees that her friend is
sitting on the floor. She knows that Ms. Collins can't change who
she is right now.
She never was accepted
She never really knew who she was
She only felt and believed in Allure
Allure solved all of her problems-regardless if Janet Collins
appeared or not.
(c)2010 kYmberly Keeton