For the past six months, I had the great honor of being a part of the Givens Foundation Emerging Writers Program. Last night was our public reading and it was a blast! Being surrounded by Black writers was a fulfilling experience. We became family. If you weren’t able to join us you missed a night of really great writing! Although I normally participate in the Weekend Writing Warrior challenge on Sundays I decided to post the piece I read last night titled, “Let the Church Say Amen”. This piece was inspired by a quote from Beloved by Toni Morrison. Hope you enjoy!

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While waiting on her turn to meet the Lord at Saint Peter’s pearly gates, Aisha anticipated her turn to answer the Archangel Micheal’s question, “If you could do anything on earth, what would it be.” Well, of course, many souls on line asked for second chances and riches. And with the snap of his manicured fingers they disappeared then reappeared even faster never once seeming much different from when they originally left. So Aiesha realized quickly that going back to redo everything wasn’t much of an option. The semi she slammed her Mercedes into had snapped her head clean off. And frankly, she’d won the lottery a couple of times and it wasn’t a picnic; folks always had their hands out. So when Michael got to her; his glistening honey colored eyes taking in her pink t-shirt and jeans that hugged her curves, she knew exactly what she wanted to do.

“So, if you could go back and do anything what would it be?”

“I want to give a toast at my wedding.”

Micheal’s perfectly arched eyebrow jerked upward as his full thick lips formed a dazzling smile.

“This I have to see.”

The year was 1990. Aiesha was marrying her high school sweetheart; Phillip Bell III.

Aiesha and Michael were a sight to see. Michael in his high waisted double pleated Navy linen pants with the matching ¾ length suit coat. And her in a matching Navy cinched and belted calf length skirt with shoulder pads and hoop earrings. They looked horribly stunning.

“Now don’t get any ideas, we are only here until you do your toast which will be after your husband’s brother rambles on about marrying beneath him.”

Aiesha followed Michaels lead as they moved towards the front of the Prince Hall Mason Lodge #6; to sit at the table right in front of the head table.

Aiesha noticed that no one in the hall recognized her. But she thought, why would they. She had a head full of braids and just a few wrinkles creasing her sepia toned skin. She was about 50 pounds heavier than her younger self. A couple of children and depressive eating helped with that. She also moved differently. These days she glided into every room. Her younger self usually stumbled or slinked; eager to not be seen. In the early days of their relationship, Phillip managed to take up most of the air in any room he entered. She had been simply happy he noticed her.

She looked around the large hall and scoffed at the distasteful decorations. Everything was either wine or pearl colored; the table clothes, the centerpieces, the brides maids dresses, the groomsmen’s boutonnieres. It was as if no expense of bad taste was spared. She remembered sitting at her mother’s table being shown patterns and colors and textures and fed pastries and crab cakes and chicken and fish until she thought she’d vomit up the wedding that her mother always wanted.

She glanced at her younger self; knowing that fake smile she had plastered on her face would have her cheeks hurting for a week after. As she watched her younger self attempting to ignore Phillip flirting with his ex girlfriend, a beautiful ebony sista, he’d insisted attend. Her resolve grew stronger.

They sat through five speeches before Andrew; Philip’s brother drunkenly slurred through his speech. Aiesha watched her younger self sink back into her seat as each pot shot landed to laughter from Phillip. She could tell most people thought his words were just a friendly roast from her new brother-in-law. But Aiesha knew he meant every word. He spent all of high school hitting on her. And she spent all her time turning him down. When Philip told his family they were engaged; Andrew got Philip drunk and sicced Vanessa Jenkins on him. Vanessa Jenkins; pretty, light skinned, blue eyed, big assed Vanessa Jenkins. Philip begged for three months before Aiesha could forgive him for his indiscretion.

She barely heard Andrew’s last word when Michael nudged her under the table.

“Showtime, sista girl, and make it good,” he whispered, placing an ebony hand on hers.

She took a swig of champagne then stepped forward.

“Well, my dear Aiesha, some would say you got yourself into a whole world of mess. Won’t you celebrate with me what seems to be the last day you get to be you.

You see, you a tidy slaughter.

Yes, the Bell’s love them some obedient, submissive lil black girls who listen to their elders and husbands and breed. And you will breed, oh yes you will. In between the two miscarriages and the one abortion you’ll have yourself a couple of kids. A boy and a girl…all.at.once. And they, the ungrateful entitled little Bell clones, will drive you nuts.

And as you know by now, Philip isn’t made for working. Oh he can make a dollar. But he ain’t trying to make a home. He knows how to keep the bed rocking though; that’s one thing you can say. Too bad your bed ain’t the only one he rocks in. He can’t help it though, he got those rolling stone ways from his daddy.

Look around the room, don’t some of these people look more like brothers and sisters than cousins to you.

Ah baby girl, if only you knew your potential at 19 the way you’ll know it at damn near 40. But by then, you’ll think it’s a little too late. And you’ll be on your way to another bar, to meet another man to have just one drink to put your mind at rest and you’ll find permanent rest underneath a semi.

So what I say to you is this, Love your flesh, love your hands, love your neck and love your head cause in 20 years when you’ve thought you’ve had just about enough it’ll come clean off.”

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