I was in Paris, France and the stage was all mine. The audience was cheering as I finish my last song. I looked out, the lights blinding me and I became sad. Ever since I was a girl I watched my mother walk the wooden planks of countless stages. I thought that I wanted the same thing but as I come along on my own, I realized that this is not what I want. I look at the smiling fans. They all adored me but they had no reason to. I was a lie and a phony.
I walked back to my hotel room and take a seat on my bed. I opened up the blinders on the glass windows and I look out. I remembered when my mother would tell me all these crazy stories. At the time, I thought all her stories were crazy but as I got older I noticed that her stories weren't so silly after all. My mother's name was Margie Rigby. When I was seven, when my mother first started singing, she told me that we would have to move. She said to me, "Marjorie, now I know that you are a smart girl and you'll make it as good as I ever will. I'm sorry to tell you that school for you is a no go." At the time, I was a little confused. She saw my expression and explained it to me. She said that I wasn't going to go to school anymore, that I was being home schooled.
I walked around saying all of the big folks words and sometimes, when I was angry, I stooped down to their level and started to use slang. My mother did not like me to use slang so I tried not to use it. When I was home schooled, my teachers taught me the proper way to speak.
"Slang is for the poor folks, for the unfortunate." Mr. Ray said to me one day.
"But Mr. Ray, aren't we poor, mama and I?" I asked him.
"Marjorie," He took a big breath. "You and your mother is not as poor as you think. When your mom starts singing, you won't be poor anymore."
"But we are poor now," I argued.
"Don't worry about the now, Marjorie." Mr. Ray became flustered. "Worry about your future. You won't ever get anywhere speaking all that slang."
"Okay," I said and I looked down to my little feet. "Mr. Ray?"
"Yes, Marjorie," He answered.
"Sometimes you speak slang so how come I can't?" I asked.
"Marjorie, slang is in my nature. I was born with it." He said. "Some people don't fully grow out of it."
"Will I be like those people?" I asked.
"Naw, Marjorie." He laughed. "You are going to grow up to be a proper lady."
"I will?" I asked.
" 'Course you will."
Over the years that Mr. Ray taught me, he became my favorite teacher. Mr. Ray was a smart man. I never wanted any other teacher unless it was Mr. Ray. Mr. Ray was what they call an abercrombie, a know it all. He knew things from science to English and he taught me every last thing. Mr. Ray could have been my father.
"Marjorie," I heard a knock on the door.
"Who's there?" I called.
Roy was a very good friend of mine. I have known Roy for two years now and we have been datin' for only one. My mother always wanted me to date a man like Roy. He was a good looking man and he had a very nice smile. When I first met Roy, I was smitten. I thought he had been the nicest thing since I came into my career. He had been the nicest person until I got to know him. Roy was one of those stuck up rich men and I didn't like it none. Sometimes it makes me mad just thinkin' about him. Although Roy may have been stuck up, he had a nice side. When Roy was nice, he put on his charming smile and said the nicest things. That's the part I liked most about Roy: his nice side.
"Hi, Roy." I greet him and take in his usual wear. Roy was wearing a nice black suit with his matching top hat. Sometimes I wish that Roy would dress a little more exotic. He was too clean for my taste but that's okay too.
"Marjorie," He said. "You look well."
"Thank you, Roy." I said.
"You ready?" He asked.
Roy and I walked off together, skippin' down the steps of the hotel. My arm was in his and as we walked into one of my favorite french bars, I saw everyone smile. It was the usual thing. I was famous all around Europe and if I knew anything it was that no matter what you said or did around here, you were always praised for your actions. I smiled at everyone as Roy took us to our table. Roy sat with me for a few minutes before heading to the bar. Roy could never seem to spend an entire night at the table side but I could not help but feel relieved.
I looked onto that glorious stage in which I once stood. It was a few nights ago when I sang a song with Josephine Baker. She was the nicest thing ever and she had a beautiful voice as well as a beautiful face. After singing our duet together, we danced to a little jazz music. It was a night to remember.
I see all of the jazz musicians take their places. They never brought any sheets with them on stage. They had everything memorized. I watched the small clarinet player get to his left and then I saw the piano player take his seat. The last two who came out was my favorites: the trumpet and the saxophone players. I smiled big and cheered them on with the crowd. They had the most beautiful sound.
The musicians played five little pieces. The last one was my favorite. They had two trumpet and saxophone solos and I jumped like a hooligan when they finished. Boy, I just couldn't get enough of them. I yearned so badly to be on that stage. Imagine that, me a saxophone player. I would truly be living my dream. After the band had finished, the restaurant started to play a few recorded tapes. They were all jazz. I walked to the bar to find Roy.
"Roy, would you like to come dance with me," I offered him.
"Not now, Marjorie," He shooed me away.
"Well fine," I was angry now. "Don't come gettin' mad at me when I am dancin' with someone else."
I stomped off and went to find another man to dance with.
"Marjorie?" I heard someone say.
"My name is Leroy Cadet and I overheard your conversation." He said.
"Oh, well I'm sorry you had to hear that Mr. Cadet." I said.
"Please call me Leroy," He insisted.
"Well alright then, Leroy." I smiled.
"Would you care to dance?" He asked.
"I sure would," I took his hand and pulled him to the floor.
For the rest of the night I danced all night long with Leroy. He may have been a stranger but he knew how to do those moves. We were kickin' our feet and swingin' our hips about. That music was beautiful and so was this night. Roy oughtta be ashamed of himself. He's missin' out. I forgot about Roy and just danced. Leroy turned out to be a better dancer anyway.
Leroy walked me to my hotel room door and I thanked him for the night. I stepped inside my room and turned on the lights. I suddenly saw Roy sittin' in a chair in front of me. I was speechless, not scared. He has no right being here no matter what he is to me.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"You's a brodie," He said.
"I am not a mistake, Roy." I said with an angry tone. "Stop talking all that slang!"
"Marjorie, what were you doing dancin' with the poor folk?" He asked angrily. "He's nothin' but a crumb."
"Leroy is not poor." I said. "And please, Roy, stop using all that slang! You are supposed to be better than that. You were raised differently."
"No matter how I was raised Marjorie," Roy stood to his feet. "You know just as well as I do that the man you were dancin' with was poor."
"He was wearin' clothes just as good as you." I crossed my arms over my chest and looked away.
"You are only lookin' on the outside, Marjorie."
"Well I don't know him none." I waved my hands in the air with fury. "Roy, leave right now."
"Well I don't care. You is a squat Marjorie," It was clear as day when Roy started walking that he was as drunk as a hog. No wonder he was talking all that nonsense.
"Roy, I don't want you to come back." I said. And I meant it.
"Stop talking nuts, Marjorie." He laughed.
"I'm serious, Roy. I'm planning on leaving soon anyway."
"Marjorie, I'm sorry. Forgive me." He pleaded with me.
"Roy, I'm not sure you are gonna like where I'm going anyway." I looked at Roy.
"And where is that?" He asked.
"Well I'm thinkin' New Orleans." I walked towards my bedroom window.
"New Orleans? Why?" Roy asked.
"I want to pursue my dream and start anew." I smiled at the thought.
"That's a stupid thing, Marjorie. Starting new is for crumbs. Something you ain't." Funny, he called me a crumb earlier.
"It doesn't matter, Roy." I looked him in the eye. "Good-bye, Roy."
"Marjorie, what if I come with you?" He was begging now. Sometimes that boy doesn't know when to let go.
"What are you gonna do the whole time?" I asked.
"Well I can just keep you company. I'll buy you a home and everything." He smiled.
"That would be nice, Roy." I said walking to the door. "If you want to come with me, then come."
"When are you leaving?"
This next morning, I thought it was time to see my mother before I left. I drove all the way down to the nursing how and walked through the hallways. Since I was the usual visitor, the workers let me in right away. I knocked on my mama's door and waited to hear an answer. I heard my mother grunt a "C'mon in" and I smiled to myself. It was nice hearing her voice again.
I slowly opened the door and saw my mom laying down on her bed. She had a small bed but her small body fit perfectly with it. It was just the right size and I'm glad that she has a place to sleep. Ever since she stopped singing, she hadn't had the best time makin' money. Now, she was gettin' too old to work and that's why she is in this nursing home. I looked at my mother. Her eyes were closed and it made me wonder if she was sleepin'.
"I know it's you, Marjorie." I heard her whisper.
"Hi, mama, how are you?" I laughed.
"Well I am just fine," She sat up on her bed.
"That's always good, mama." I walked over and sat in a chair next to her bed. My mother grabbed my hand and held it with a tight grip.
"Yes it is," She smiled. For a moment, my mother just stared at me in awe and I knew what she must have been thinkin'.
"You know, Marjorie," She began. "You look so much like your pa."
I looked down to our hands together. I remember my daddy like he was still here. I remember when me and my daddy use to play outside all day and when I came home from school, he was always there. Whenever I had a bad day, my daddy always knew how to make me laugh. Not only was my father good for laughs, but he always gave me advice. Somtimes, his advice was better than mama's and that's really sayin' something.
When I was six years old, almost seven, my father was put on trial. At first I didn't know why, I just knew that he was goin' to jail. I remember watchin' my daddy get handcuffed and taken away from me and my mama. I was so scared. My mama told me that my daddy was being put on trial for something he didn't do. When I asked what it was, she hesitated to tell me.
"Marjorie, the police think your father killed someone." She said slowly.
"Why would daddy do somethin' like that?" I asked.
"He didn't." She answered in a quiet tone. "The police thinks he did."
"But why?" I didn't understand.
"I don't know why, Marjorie."
A few months later, I heard that my daddy had been lynched. My father was never a guilty man and I knew he could never hurt a fly. At first, I was angry and upset but then my mama said somethin' to me that I knew I could never forget. She said, "Marjorie, it doesn't matter what everyone else thinks. What matters is what you think and what you know about your father. He's a good man, Marjorie. He's a good man." She gave me a hug after that and I remembered that ever since.
"You use to say that everyday, mama." I looked at her.
"Yes I did." She looked towards her feet. "It's unfortunate what they did to him."
"I know mama. That was back then though." I smiled big. I didn't want no tears on this day.
"Yea, it was." She looked towards me again. "So what brings you to see me, Marjorie."
"Well mama," I began. "Tomorrow, I'm leaving."
"Leaving?" She looked like she just lost all her breath. "Where are you going?"
"New Orleans." I answered with pride.
"I'm gonna get the dream I've always wanted, mama." I smiled. "Even if that means startin' all over and livin' poor."
"Before I was placed in here, I would have said no way," She started. "But now, I'm happy for you."
"Are you really, mama?" I asked in surprise.
"I am." She smiled. "But, Marjorie, that's quite a dream you've got there."
"I know mama but I'm gonna make it." I smiled softly.
"Oh I know you will." She laughed. "I love you, Marjorie."
"I love you too, mama."
I gave my mother a hug and left the nursing home. I left with a smile and happiness in my heart. I knew my mother would understand, or rather I hoped she would. I walked with a bounce as I made my way to my hotel room. I did not want to wait another day but I was gonna have to. As I stepped inside, I finished packing the rest of my items. I put the last piece of clothing away and sat on my bed, thinking about my father.
"I love you too, pa."
Authors Note: This use to be a novel but I don't see me getting anywhere with this so I made it into a short story! It's not complete yet, so my apologies. There will be a little bit more to it. ANyway. I hope you enjoy what you have read and hopefully you'll still like it. Some don't, that's okayy. Have a good one Booksie! ^0^ -Zarah!
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