My old wardrobe was a hefty, mahogany giant from the 1970s. Uncle Jasper, Mum’s brother, had built it. As a matter of fact, he’d built pretty much every piece of furniture in her house with the exception of the upholstered living-room suite covered in clear plastic that she’d bought from Singer six years ago.
I shoved the empty suitcases and bags against the side of the wardrobe and tied back the window curtains to let in more breeze.
“You okay in there?” Serita stuck her head in my room.
“I’m fine,” I lied.
“Yuh finish unpack?”
“You hardly ate.”
“I’m not like you who can eat two plates of curry chicken and roast breadfruit and not gain an ounce.” I grabbed the scarf from my head and threw it on the bed.
“Oh, hush . . . But Fadda have His mercy!” Serita did a double take. “A wha’ happen to yuh hair?”
I ran a hand over my sparse, curly afro. I had forgotten the wig was off.
“You used to have such thick hair. I used to envy you.”
“It looks bad?”
Serita skinned up her nose. “If it look bad!”
I slumped down on the bed beside her. “You always look good, short hair or long . . . I hate you.”
Serita gave her usual one-shoulder shrug.
“If I were as pretty as you—”
“Lawks, girl, get over it.” Serita cut me off. “It annoys me when you keep saying that. Makes me hate being me sometimes.”
“You? If I looked like you, I wouldn’t hate being me for a second.”
“Oh, hush! Look at you wid yuh Dolly Parton boobies dem. I had to wait ‘til I have pickney to get to a 36C.”
“I’d take your body over mine any day.” Somehow, saying it out loud made the vanity of it sink in. “I did it for him, you know, Ree-Ree. The spending was to look good for him. So I would look like the other wives and not make him ashamed in public.”
“April, you forget is here Jake met you—in Port Antonio? He thought you were the most beautiful girl in Jamaica. And that time yuh never have extensions and nails and all dem fancy trimmings . . . And, he still loves you, by the way.”
As it turned out, while Mum and I were making roti in the kitchen, Jake had called the house to check if I’d reached in safely. Serita wasn’t supposed to say anything.
Then, before I could give it a second thought, my most shameful secret popped out of my mouth…
To be continued… (click here for part 2)
©Dionne Brown 2016
Image “Diamond Engagement Ring” courtesy of Sharron Goodyear at FreeDigitalPhotos.net