“Mummy, hurry up nuh.”
“Stop hurry mi, man . . . Pay all of it.”
“So where’s the money?”
“A don’t give you the money yet?” She patted her apron pockets.
Hands akimbo, I tapped my foot on the grey kitchen floor.
“Ask Serita.” She waddled off to stir the stew peas.
I stormed off to the office at the rear of the restaurant.
“Serita . . . Serita.” I hollered out and pushed open the office door.
“What?” Serita’s eyes were locked on her computer screen.
“Gimme the money fi pay dem two bill before mi get off mi head inside here.”
Serita laughed. “You and Mum having it out again?”
“She annoys me, man.”
“Hush, April, you know is so she stay from long time. Stop stress out yuhself.”
“If she neva so cute with her Dorothy Dandridge hairdo, I woulda gone back to St. Andrew long time . . . or move to Florida. Somebody can’t tell her to change her hairstyle?”
“She says it fits her face,” Serita giggled. “Plus, Daddy likes it.”
Mum’s face was as round as mine. With all the castor oil she had me rubbing on my scalp, my hair grew out to look like hers again. When freshly shampooed, it was curly and unruly. I was too lazy to blow it out; so I let it be or slid a dozen hairpins in to flatten the top.
Although I didn’t mind being the centre of Mum’s attention at home (I was her wash-belly) the eternal mothering was irritating me. I felt my independence slipping away. But I didn’t want to return to the city, not with Jake living there. I would crumble into a pile of depression.
I peered through the office window. “Ree-Ree, it’s raining.”
“I can’t go again.”
“Yuh going to mek likkle dew stop yuh? It soon ease up, man.”
“But the town going to wet and miserable.”
“Put on yuh sneakers.”
“Cho. You go. You accustomed to the noise and whole heap a people.”
“Me? No sah. I can’t go now. Gwaan man, get the likkle walk-out . . . Either that or stay in the kitchen with Mum.”
Slippers slapping against the soles of my feet, I returned to the kitchen to let Mum know I’d gotten the cheques and was on my way. Ricardo was in there alone peeling yam.
“Yuh si Mum?”
“I tink she gone ba’troom. Bwoy, you look so c—.”
I walked off before he could say another word. If I stood there, he would only find some compliment to give me about my hair or jeans. The last time it was my toes and the blue nail polish, which I wiped off the very evening I went home.
Ricardo was eight years younger than me, but something in his eyes said that if he ever caught me by myself, he would find something about my hair or toes to cling to.
“Remember to change your shoes.” Serita called out from the office. “And si di umbrella here.”
I zipped back through the kitchen and extracted the umbrella from Serita’s hand. Her mobile phone was at her ears.
“Ricardo,” I said on my way out.
“Share out my oxtail and put it one side for me.”
“Plain rice or rice and peas?”
“Rice and peas.”
“Okay, beautiful. Ha—”
I rolled my eyes and bolted through the door.