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If Beale Street Could Talk, by James Baldwin (part 2)

Author: James Baldwin

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When the doorbell rang, it was Ernestine who went to the door, and Mrs. Hunt who entered first. She was dressed in something which looked very stylish until you looked at it. It was brown, it was shiny, it made one think of satin; and it had somehow white lace fringes at the knees, I think, and the elbows, and – I think – at the waist; and she was wearing a kind of scoop hat, an up­side down coal scuttle, which hardened her hard brow.

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May 7
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(May 07 2020 10:04AM) : Click here to leave a video comment about this part of the novel: https://flipgrid.com/0e773598
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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 11:23AM) : why does Mrs.Hunt always have to be classy?

She was wearing heels, she was gaining weight. She was fighting it, not successfully. She was frightened: in spite of the power of the Holy Ghost. She entered smiling, not quite knowing at what, or at whom, being juggled, so to speak, between the scrutiny of the Holy Ghost and her un­steady recollection of her mirror. And something in the way that she walked in and held out her hand, something in that smile of hers, which begged for mercy at the same time that it could not give it, made her quite wonderful for me. She was a woman I had never seen before. Fonny had been in her belly. She had carried him.

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May 12
Cristy I (May 12 2020 12:43AM) : shes describing her like that to let us know how fonny mom was trying to keep up with the looks and the lady she was but she failed.
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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 11:27AM) : Did she change?
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May 5
Jessica H (May 05 2020 10:06AM) : No, but now that Tish is pregnant, she can look at her a little bit differently. They have a little bit more in common now. [Edited]
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May 12
Cristy I (May 12 2020 1:17AM) : why seeing her like this change her point of view of fonny mother ?
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May 12
Jessica H (May 12 2020 10:28AM) : Since she is pregnant, she now knows what it is like to carry a potential person inside her. It changes the way you look at the whole world, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.
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May 18
Idrissa S (May 18 2020 12:57PM) : Now that she is pregnant shes experiencing how does it feel to carry a human being inside of you for 9 months. now that she is pregnant that stops her from doing some activities she was able to do before getting pregnant.
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Behind her, were the sisters, who were quite another matter. Ernestine, very hearty and upbeat at the door (“Only way to get to see you people is to call an emergency summit meeting! Now, don’t you know that ain’t right? Come on in this house!”) had shuttled Mrs. Hunt past her, into Sharon’s orbit: and Sharon, full of grace, delivered her, not quite, to Joseph, who had his arm around me. Something in the way my father held me and something in his smile frightened Mrs. Hunt. But I began to see that she had always been frightened.

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May 21
Jessica H (May 21 2020 10:47AM) : Yes, about life. Mrs. Hunt sees the was Tish is loved and protected by her family.The way she acts, we can infer that perhaps Mrs. Hunt was never loved and protected like that, which is why she acts so awfully, to protect herself.Underneath she is afraid.
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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 11:34AM) : scared about what? life?
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May 18
Idrissa S (May 18 2020 12:59PM) : Yea because when a women is pregnant I believe it makes them over think about If the baby gonna make it through or is the mother gonna make through the pregnancy.

Though the sisters were Fonny’s sisters, I had never thought of them as his sisters. Well. That’s not true. If they had not been Fonny’s sisters, I would never have noticed them at all. Because they were his sisters, and I knew that they didn’t really like Fonny, I hated them. They didn’t hate me. They didn’t hate anybody, and that was what was wrong with them. They smiled at an invisible host of stricken lovers as they entered our living room, and Adrienne, the oldest, who was twenty- seven, and Sheila, who was twenty-four, went out of their way to be very sweet with raggedy- assed me, just like the missionaries had told them. All they really saw was that big black hand of my father’s which held them at the waist – of course, my Daddy was really holding me at the waist, but it was somehow like it was them. They did not know whether they disapproved of its color, its position, or its shape: but they certainly disapproved of its power of touch. Adrienne was too old for what she was wearing, and Sheila was too young. Behind them, here came Frank, and my fa­ther loosened his hold on me a little. We clattered and chattered into the living room.

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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 11:37AM) : why is that wrong about them?
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May 5
Jessica H (May 05 2020 10:08AM) : I think it's because they look down on people rather than trying to relate to them honestly.
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May 18
Idrissa S (May 18 2020 1:08PM) : She needs to speak like a real adult because what she just said doesn't make any sense to me at all like she needs to be more professional while shes talking.
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May 19
Jessica H (May 19 2020 9:42AM) : What she means is that the sisters look down on everyone. They think they are better than everyone else. To hate someone, you have to feel really strongly, and they didn't bother with strong feelings because they put themselves above everyone.
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May 12
Cristy I (May 12 2020 1:39AM) : In this paragraph she basically saying how the girls are related to fonny but they don't have a good connection because of the way they judge people and act.
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Mr. Hunt looked very tired, but he still had that smile. He sat down on the sofa, near Adrienne, and he said, “So you saw my big-headed boy today, did you?”

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May 12
Cristy I (May 12 2020 1:37AM) : lines 5 - 11 more

By the way she describing the scene you can infer that they trying to have a conversation but its a lot of negativity in the air . @the way fonny family speak about him.

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May 18
Idrissa S (May 18 2020 1:14PM) : I feel like they trying to have a little cool conversation but they might believe its going to feel weird because the negativity that's going on around them.
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May 19
Jessica H (May 19 2020 9:42AM) : Good perception!
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“Yes. He’s fine. He sends his love.”

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“They ain’t giving him too hard a time? – I just ask you like that because, you know, he might say things to you he wouldn’t say to me.”

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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 11:40AM) : why is that if that's his father?
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May 5
Jessica H (May 05 2020 10:08AM) : He might not want his parents to worry or think he can't handle it.
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May 18
Idrissa S (May 18 2020 1:22PM) : He probably don't need or want his parents to be over thinking about him or that he ain't ready to be a father at the moment.
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May 19
Jessica H (May 19 2020 9:43AM) : right
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“Lovers’ secrets,” said Adrienne, and crossed her legs, and smiled.

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I didn’t see any reason at all to deal with Adrienne, at least not yet; neither did Mr. Hunt, who kept watching me.

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I said, “Well. He hates it, you can see that. And he should. But he’s very strong. And he’s doing a lot of reading and studying.” I looked at Adrienne. “He’ll be all right. But we have to get him out of there.”

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Frank was about to say something when Sheila said, sharply, “If he’d done his reading and stud­ying when he should have, he wouldn’t be in there.”

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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 11:43AM) : why she sounds hars?
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I started to say something, but Joseph said, quickly, “You bring that six-pack, man? Or, I got some gin and we got whiskey and we got some brandy.” He grinned. “Ain’t got no Thunderbird, though.” He turned to Mrs. Hunt. “I’m sure you ladies won’t mind-?”

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Mrs. Hunt smiled. “Mind? Frank does not care if we mind. He will go right on and do what pleases him. He ain’t never thought about nobody else.”

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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 11:44AM) : that was a big sub!!!

“Mrs. Hunt,” said Sharon, “what can I get you, sugar? I can offer you some tea, or coffee – and we got ice cream – and Coca-Cola.”

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“-and Seven-Up,” said Ernestine. “I can make you a kind of ice-cream soda. Come on, Sheila, you want to help me? Sit down, Mama. We’ll get it together.”

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May 12
Cristy I (May 12 2020 1:43AM) : lol I feel like Ernestine was the right person to deal with fonny sisters.. shes describe like the strong women who wont mind fixing anybody.
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May 21
Jessica H (May 21 2020 10:49AM) : I know I already said this, but the actress in the movie gets her part perfectly.
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She dragged Sheila into the kitchen. Mama sat down next to Mrs. Hunt.

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“Lord,” she said, “the time sure flies. We ain’t hardly seen each other since this trouble started.”

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“Don’t say a word. I have been running myself sick, all up and down the Bronx, trying to get the very best legal advice I can find – from some of the people I used to work for, you know – one of them is a dty councilman and he knows just everybody and he can pull some strings – people just got to listen to him, you know. But it’s been taking up all of my time and the doctor says I must be care­ful, he says I’m putting an awful strain on my heart. He says, Mrs. Hunt, you got to remember, don’t care how much that boy wants his freedom, he wants his mother, too. But, look like, it don’t matter to me. I ain’t worried about me. The Lord holds me up. I just pray and pray and pray that the Lord will bring my boy to the light. That’s all I pray for, every day and every night. And then, sometimes I think that maybe this is the Lord’s way of making my boy think on his sins and sur­render his soul to Jesus-“

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May 12
Cristy I (May 12 2020 1:46AM) : Well here we can see that the mother its actually trying to do something for her son, but she needs to learn hot to be a mother first.
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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 11:48AM) : what does she means exactly?
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May 5
Jessica H (May 05 2020 10:15AM) : She's kind of guilt-tripping him or anyone who will listen, like, "oh, who am I? Nobody, just his mother. I'm fine, nobody needs to worry about me," when she really means the opposite.
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May 12
Cristy I (May 12 2020 1:47AM) : He was just trying to be a better man and prove something better to the society. He did it the wrong way but god wont punish you when you do it with good intentions.
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May 18
Idrissa S (May 18 2020 7:34PM) : Just Because he did it the wrong way doesn't mean he did intentionally. If he did what he what he was trying to prove with good intention and it went the wrong way god wont punish him for.
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May 19
Jessica H (May 19 2020 9:44AM) : The messed up part is, he didn't do anything to get put in jail, as we will see later on.

“You might be right,” said Sharon. “The Lord sure works in mysterious ways.”

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“Oh, yes!” said Mrs. Hunt. “Now, He may try you. But He ain’t never left none of His children alone.”

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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 11:50AM) : it's funny to see this because I have seen this quote lately anywhere !

“What you think,” Sharon asked, “of the lawyer, Mr. Hayward, that Ernestine found?”

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“I havent seen him yet. I just have not had time to get downtown. But I know Frank saw him-“

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“What do you think, Frank?” Sharon asked.

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Frank shrugged. “It’s a white boy who’s been to a law school and he got them degrees. Well, you know. I ain’t got to tell you what that means: it don’t mean shit.”

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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 11:53AM) : wwhy he says this is it because of the color and the type of class he in he thinks nothing going to happen?
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May 5
Jessica H (May 05 2020 10:17AM) : It means, all the law degrees in the world won't help if the lawyer himself doesn't want to help his client. Just because you have a law degree doesn't mean you intend to use it properly. Frank has seen this before.
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May 5
Angelina F (May 05 2020 6:44PM) : How he has seen this before?
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May 6
Jessica H (May 06 2020 9:49AM) : He has heard many stories in his life about people he knows locked up and not helped by the lawyer appointed to help them. It happened too often back then, and it still happens now (I hope less often).
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May 18
Idrissa S (May 18 2020 7:46PM) : I agree with frank because some of this lawyers out here don't be helping the clients at its best unless you really paying a lot of money for a great lawyer and frank has already experienced that.

“Frank, you’re talking to a woman,” said Mrs. Hunt.

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“I’m hip, and it’s a mighty welcome change – like I was saying, it don’t mean shit and I ain’t sure we’re going to stay with him. On the other hand, as white boys go, he’s not so bad. He’s not as full of shit now, because he’s hungry, as he may be later, when he’s full. Man,” he said to Joseph, “you know I don’t want my boys life in the hands of these white, ball-less motherfuckers. I swear to

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May 12
Cristy I (May 12 2020 2:00AM) : He didn't believe the lawyer will do the job how he was supposed to because he was a white boy. In a racist community ofc.
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May 18
Idrissa S (May 18 2020 8:09PM) : Lol damn that was really a foul no one should be saying this about other racism no matter whats your skin color, but he also has a point because many white people doesn't like working with a black person in my opinion.
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Christ, I’d rather be boiled alive. That’s my only son, man my only son. But we all in the hands of white men and I know some very hincty black cats I wouldn’t trust, neither.”

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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 11:55AM) : understandable !

“But I keep trying to tell you, I keep trying to tell you,” cried Mrs. Hunt, “that it’s that negative at­titude which is so dangerous! You’re so full of hate! If you give people hatred, they will give it back to you! Every time I hear you talk this way, my heart breaks and I tremble for my son, sitting in a dungeon which only the love of God can bring him out of – Frank, if you love your son, give up this hatred, give it up. It will fall on your son’s head, it will kill him.”

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May 12
Cristy I (May 12 2020 2:04AM) : She doesn't support his kind of thinking because as a religious person you gotta love one and other but in fact her husband just another black man falling in a racist society cycle.
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“Frank’s not talking hatred, Mrs. Hunt,” Sharon said. “He’s just telling the truth about life in this country, and it’s only natural for him to be upset.”

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“I trust in God,” said Mrs. Hunt. “I know He cares for me.”

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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 11:57AM) : Mrs. Hunt is really a spiritual women!
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May 13
Cristy I (May 13 2020 11:22PM) : lol i feel like shes a devil soul trying to hide behind the holly ghost .
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“I don’t know,” Frank said, “how God expects a man to act when his son is in trouble. Your God crucified His son and was probably glad to get rid of him, but I ain’t like that. I ain’t hardly going out in the street and kiss the first white cop I see. But I’ll be a very loving motherfucker the day my son walks out of that hellhole, free. I’ll be a loving motherfucker when I hold my son’s head be­tween my hands again, and look into his eyes. Oh! I’ll be full of love, that day!” He rose from the sofa, and walked over to his wife. “And if it don’t go down like that, you can bet I’m going to blow some heads off. And if you say a word to me about that Jesus you been making it with all these years, I’ll blow your head off first.You was making it with that white Jew bastard when you should have been with your son.”

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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 11:59AM) : hold up she cheated?
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May 5
Jessica H (May 05 2020 10:20AM) : Frank is saying that his wife has spent more time in church, with Jesus, than she has on raising her own son or paying attention to her husband (Frank). He's calling Jesus "that white Jew bastard".
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May 12
Cristy I (May 12 2020 3:01AM) : hes speaking out of pain and anger. more

Frank feels like he living in a unfair society where theres no justice for man like him. his also angry because hes wife instead of being the mother she was supposed to she made it all about church and the appearance

Mrs. Hunt put her head in her hands, and Frank slowly crossed the room again, and sat down.

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Adrienne looked at him and she started to speak, but she didn’t. I was sitting on the hassock, near my father. Adrienne said, “Mr. Rivers, exactly what is the purpose of this meeting? You have­n’t called us all the way over here just to watch my father insult my mother?”

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“Why not?” I said. “It’s Saturday night. You can’t tell what people won’t do, if they get bored enough. Maybe we just invited you over to liven things up.”

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“I can believe,” she said, “that you’re that malicious. But I can’t believe you’re that stupid.”

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“I haven’t seen you twice since your brother went to jail,” I said, “and I ain’t never seen you down at the Tombs. Fonny told me he saw you once, and you was in a hurry then. And you ain’t said a word about it on your job, I bet – have you? And you ain’t said a word about it to none of them white-collars ex-antipoverty-program pimps and hustlers and faggots you run with, have you? And you sitting on that sofa right now, thinking you finer than Elizabeth Taylor, and all upset be­cause you got some half-honky chump waiting for you somewhere and you done had to take time out to find out something about your brother.” Mrs. Hunt was staring at me with terrible eyes. A cold bitter smile played on Frank’s lips: he looked down. Adrienne looked at me from a great dis­tance, adding one more tremendous black mark against her brother’s name, and, finally, as I had known all along she wished to do, lit a cigarette. She blew the smoke carefully and delicately into the air, and seemed to be resolving, in silence, that she would never again, for any reason, allow herself to be trapped among people so unspeakably inferior to herself.

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May 12
Cristy I (May 12 2020 3:17AM) : This whole paragraph is undefeated, she put fonny sister to reset.
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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 12:04PM) : Does Frank like his daughters?
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May 5
Jessica H (May 05 2020 10:21AM) : Doesn't seem like it. Then again, they don't seem particularly likable...
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Sheila and Ernestine reentered, Sheila looking rather frightened, Ernestine looked grimly pleased. She served Mrs. Hunt her ice cream, set down a Coke near Adrienne, gave Joseph a beer, gave Frank a Seven-Up, with gin, gave Sheila a Coke, gave Sharon a Seven-Up, with gin, gave me a brandy, and took a highball for herself. “Happy landings,” she said cheerfully, and she sat down and everybody else sat down.

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There was, then, this funny silence: and everyone was staring at me. I felt Mrs. Hunt’s eyes, more malevolent, more frightened, than ever. She was leaning forward, one hand tight on the spoon buried in her ice cream. Sheila looked terrified. Adrienne’s lips curled in a contemptuous smile, and she leaned forward to speak, but her father’s hand, hostile, menacing, rose to check her. She leaned back. Frank leaned forward.

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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 12:07PM) : was they catching up to her news?
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My news was, after all, for him. And, looking at him, I said, “I called this summit meeting. I had Daddy ask you all to come over so I could tell you what I had to tell Fonny this afternoon. Fonny’s going to be a father. We’re going to have a baby.”

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Frank’s eyes left mine, to search my father’s. Both men then went away from us, sitting perfectly still, on the chair, on the sofa: they went away together, and they made a strange journey. Frank’s face, on this journey, was awful, in the Biblical sense. He was picking up stones and putting them down, his sight forced itself to stretch itself, beyond horizons he had never dreamed of. When he returned, still in company with my father, his face was very peaceful. “You and me going to go out and get drunk,” he told Joseph. Then he grinned, looking, almost, just like Fonny, and he said, “I’m glad, Tish. I’m mighty glad.”

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May 12
Cristy I (May 12 2020 3:33AM) : They had a deep connection between each other in general its like they family.
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May 12
Cristy I (May 12 2020 3:32AM) : What she means by this ?
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May 12
Jessica H (May 12 2020 10:35AM) : I take this to mean that at first he felt the reflex to judge her for getting pregnant, but then thought just a bit more and didn't judge her. more

In his mind he picked up a stone to throw at her, to blame her for something, and then decided not to. He put it down again. Figuratively, not literally.

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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 12:11PM) : was he really glad or tried to show a front on front of Tish?
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May 5
Jessica H (May 05 2020 10:22AM) : I think he really is glad.
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“And who,” asked Mis. Hunt, “is going to be responsible for this baby?”

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“The father and the mother,” I said.

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Mrs. Hunt stared at me.

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“You can bet,” Frank said, “that it won’t be the Holy Ghost.”

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Mrs. Hunt stared at Frank, then rose, and started walking toward me; walking very slowly, and seeming to hold her breath. I stood up, and moved to the center of the room, holding mine.

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“I guess you call your lustful action love,” she said. “I don’t. I always knew that you would be the destruction of my son. You have a demon in you -1 always knew it. My God caused me to know it many a year ago. The Holy Ghost will cause that child to shrivel in your womb. But my son will be forgiven. My prayers will save him.”

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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 12:13PM) : What does shrivel mean?
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May 5
Jessica H (May 05 2020 10:22AM) : dry up and die away
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May 12
Cristy I (May 12 2020 3:36AM) : Her reaction got me so angry and it was so unexpected for some reason I thought this baby was gonna melt her heart , since god say baby are blessings..
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She was ridiculous and majestic; she was testifying. But Frank laughed and walked over to her, and, with the back of his hand, knocked her down. Yes. She was on the floor, her hat way on the back of her head and her dress up above her knees and Frank stood over her. She did not make a sound, nor did he.

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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 12:14PM) : did he just hit her? WTH

“Her heart!” murmured Sharon; and Frank laughed again.

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He said, “I think you’ll find it’s still pumping. But I wouldn’t call it a heart.” He turned to my fa­ther. “Joe, let the women take care of her, and come with me.” And, as my father hesitated, “Please. Please, Joe. Come on.”

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“Go on with him,” Sharon said. “Go on.”

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Sheila knelt beside her mother. Adrienne stubbed out her cigarette in the ashtray, and stood up. Ernestine came out of the bathroom with rubbing alcohol and knelt beside Sheila. She poured the alcohol onto the cotton and rubbed Mrs. Hunt’s temples and forehead, carefully taking the hat completely off and handing it to Sheila.

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“Go on, Joe,” said Sharon. “We don’t need you here.”

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The two men walked out, the door closed behind them, and now these were these six women who had to deal with each other, if only for a moment. Mrs. Hunt slowly stood up and moved to her chair and sat down. And before she could say anything, I said, “That was a terrible thing you said to me. It was the most terrible thing I’ve heard in all my life.”

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“My father didn’t have to slap her,” said Adrienne. “She does have a weak heart.”

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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 12:19PM) : I mean if what she said was awful and frank did't care then I felt like she deserve it, even tho I don't like domestic violence but hey this was back in the days she would be fine
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May 5
Jessica H (May 05 2020 10:24AM) : Yeah, he should have just said what he had to say and left. Left her. I agree, didn't have to hit her.
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May 12
Cristy I (May 12 2020 3:42AM) : i agree with yall hitiing a female its not the right thing to do but somebody needed to smack the holy ghost out her mouth .. shes annoying and was very disrespectful .
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“She got a weak head,” said Sharon. She said to Mrs. Hunt, “The Holy Ghost done softened your brain, child. Did you forget it was Frank’s grandchild you was cursing? And of course it’s my grandchild, too. I know some men and some women would have cut that weak heart out of your body and gladly gone to hell to pay for it. You want some tea, or something? You really ought to have some brandy, but I reckon you too holy for that.”

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May 12
Cristy I (May 12 2020 3:46AM) : lol foreal like what he said was the most immature , disrespectful and ignorant thing I've hurd. she needed the holy ghost smacked out her body
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“I don’t think you have the right to sneer at my mother’s faith,” said Sheila.

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“Oh, don’t give me that bullshit,” Ernestine said. “You so shamed you got a Holy Roller for a mother, you don’t know what to do. You don’t sneer. You just say it shows she’s got ‘soul,’ so other people won’t think it’s catching – and also so they’ll see what a bright, bright girl you are. You make me sick.”

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“You make me sick,” said Adrienne. “Maybe my mother didn’t say it exactly like she should have said it – after all, she’s very upset! And she does have soul! And what do you funky niggers think you’ve got? She only asked one question, really-” She put up one hand to keep Ernestine from inter­rupting her-“She said, Who’s going to raise this baby? And who is? Tish ain’t got no education and God knows she ain’t got nothing else and Fonny ain’t never been worth a damn. You know that yourself. Now. Who is going to take care of this baby?”

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May 12
Cristy I (May 12 2020 3:49AM) : that's racist.
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May 12
Cristy I (May 12 2020 4:00AM) : The sister in this sentence admitted how she actually been feeling about tish. [Edited]
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“I am,” I said, “you dried up yellow cunt, and you keep on talking, I’m going to take mighty good care of you.”

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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 12:25PM) : ouuu this is getting spicy
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May 12
Cristy I (May 12 2020 4:02AM) : lol facts..
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She put her hands on her hips, the fool, and Ernestine moved between us, and said, very sweet­ly, “Adrienne? Baby? May I tell you something, lumps? Sweetie? Sweetie-pie?” She put one hand very lightly against Adrienne’s cheek. Adrienne quivered but did not move. Ernestine let her hand rest and play for a moment. “Oh, sugar. From the very first day I laid eyes on your fine person, I got hung up on your Adam’s apple. I been dreaming about it. You know what I mean-? When you get hung up on something? You ain’t never really been hung up on anything or anybody, have you? You ain’t never watched your Adam’s apple move, have you? I have. I’m watching it right now. Oh. It’s delicious. I just can’t tell, Sweetie, if I want to tear it out with my fingers or my teeth – ooh! – or carve it out, the way you carve a stone from a peach. It is a thing of beauty. Can you dig where I’m coming from, sugar? – But if you touch my sister, I’m going to have to make up my mind pretty quick. So” – she moved away from Adrienne – “touch her. Go on, please. Take these chains from my heart and set me free.”

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May 13
Cristy I (May 13 2020 6:12PM) : I love Ernestine attitude she has such a bossy personality and no matter what shes down for tish.
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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 12:28PM) : Ernestine is a very over protected sister
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May 5
Jessica H (May 05 2020 10:25AM) : She is really amazing in the movie.

“I knew we shouldn’t have come,” Sheila said. “I knew it.”

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Ernestine stared at Sheila until Sheila was forced to raise her eyes. Then, Ernestine laughed, and said, “My. I must have a dirty mind, Sheila. I didn’t know that you could even say that word.”

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Then real hatred choked off the air. Something bottomless occurred which had nothing to do with what seemed to be occurring in the room. I suddenly felt sorry for the sisters – but Ernestine didn’t. She stood where she stood, one hand on her waist, one hand hanging free, moving only her eyes. She was wearing gray slacks and an old blouse and her hair was untidy on her head and she wore no makeup. She was smiling. Sheila looked as though she could hardly breathe or stand, as though she wanted to run to her mother, who had not moved from her chair. Adrienne, whose hips were wide, wore a white blouse and a black, flaring, pleated skirt and a short, tight, black jacket and low heels. Her hair was parted in the middle and tied with a white ribbon at the nape of her neck. Her hands were no longer on her hips. Her skin, which was just a shade too dark to be high yellow, had darkened and mottled. Her forehead seemed covered with oil. Her eyes had dar­kened with her skin and the skin was rejecting the makeup by denying it any moisture. One saw that she was not really very pretty, that the face and the body would coarsen and thicken with time.

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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 12:32PM) : why she felt sorry for them?
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May 5
Jessica H (May 05 2020 10:26AM) : Because she sees how awful the mother is, and how bad the relationship is between the parents, and how can a person learn to be a good person when that's all you see?
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“Come,” she said to Sheila, “away from these foul-mouthed people,” and she had a certain digni­ty as she said it.

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They both walked to their mother, who was, I could suddenly see, the witness to, and guardian of their chastity.

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Mrs. Hunt rose, then, oddly peaceful.

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“I sure hope,” she said, “that you’re pleased with the way you raised your daughters, Mrs. Riv­ers.”

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Sharon was peaceful, too, but there was a kind of startled wonder in it: she stared at Mrs. Hunt and said nothing. And Mrs. Hunt added, “These girls won’t be bringing me no bastards to feed, I can guarantee you that.”

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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 12:38PM) : She's not very happy of the news!

“But the child that’s coming,” said Sharon, after a moment, “is your grandchild. I don’t under­stand you. It’s your grandchild. What difference does it make how it gets here? The child ain’t got nothing to do with that – don’t none of us have nothing to do with that!”

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“That child,” said Mrs. Hunt, and she looked at me for a moment, then started for the door, Sha­ron watching her all the while, “that child-“

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I let her get to the door. My mother moved, but as though in a dream, to swing the locks; but I got there before her; I put my back against the door. Adrienne and Sheila were behind their moth­er.

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Sharon and Ernestine did not move.

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“That child,” I said, “is in my belly. Now, you raise your knee and kick it out – or with them high heel shoes. You don’t want this child? Come on and kill it now. I dare you.” I looked her in the eyes. “It won’t be the first child you tried to kill.” I touched her upside down coal scuttle hat. I looked at Adrienne and Sheila. “You did pretty well with the first two-” and then I opened the door, but I didn’t move – “okay, you try it again, with Fortny. I dare you.”

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May 13
Cristy I (May 13 2020 6:23PM) : i feel like shes trying to say that the girls are so unhappy that they don't even feel alive cause of the way their mother raised them.
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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 12:42PM) : wait did she really tried to kill before?
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May 5
Jessica H (May 05 2020 10:28AM) : No, she means, look what you are doing to your daughters.
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May 13
Cristy I (May 13 2020 6:23PM) : shes trying to say that the girls are so unhappy that they don't even feel alive cause of the way their mother raised them.
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“May we,” asked Adrienne, with what she hoped was ice in her voice, “leave now?”

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Tish,” said Sharon; but she did not move. Ernestine moved past me, moving me away from the door and delivering me to Sharon. “Ladies,” she said, and moved to the elevator and pressed the button. She was past a certain fury now. When the elevator arrived and the door opened, she merely said, ushering them in, but holding the door open with one shoulder, “Don’t worry. We’ll never tell the baby about you. There’s no way to tell a baby how obscene human beings can be!” And, in another tone of voice, a tone I’d never heard before, she said, to Mrs. Hunt, “Blessed be the next fruit of thy womb. I hope it turns out to be uterine cancer. And I mean that.” And, to the sis­ters, “If you come anywhere near this house again in life, I will kill you. This child is not your child – you have just said so. If I hear that you have so much as crossed a playground and seen the child, you won’t live to get any kind of cancer. Now. I am not my sister. Remember that. My sister’s nice. I’m not. My father and my mother are nice. I’m not. I can tell you why Adrienne can’t get fucked – you want to hear it? I could tell you about Sheila, too, and all those cats she jerks off in their hand­kerchiefs, in cars and movies – now, you want to hear that?” Sheila began to cry and Mrs. Hunt moved to close the elevator door. Ernestine laughed, and, with one shoulder, held it open and her voice changed again. “You just cursed the child in my sister’s womb. Don’t you never let me see you again, you broken down half-white bride of Christ!” And she spat in Mrs. Hunt’s face, and then let the elevator door close. And she yelled down the shaft, “That’s your flesh and blood you were cursing, you sick, filthy dried-up cunt! And you carry that message to the Holy Ghost and if He don’t like it you tell Him I said He’s a faggot and He better not come nowhere near me.”

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May 13
Cristy I (May 13 2020 6:42PM) : lol shes crazy .

And she came back into the house, with tears running down her face, and walked to the table and poured herself a drink. She lit a cigarette; she was trembling.

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Sharon, in all this, had said nothing. Ernestine had delivered me to her, but Sharon had not, in fact, touched me. She had done something far more tremendous; which was, mightily, to hold me and keep me still; without touching me.

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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 12:50PM) : that's what are mothers are for!
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May 5
Jessica H (May 05 2020 10:28AM) : Yes. Big difference between the two families in terms of love and commitment.

“Well,” she said, “the men are going to be out for a while. And Tish needs her rest. So let’s go on to sleep.”

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But I knew that they were sending me to bed so that they could sit up for a while, without me, without the men, without anybody, to look squarely in the face the fact that Fonny’s family didn’t give a shit about him and were not going to do a thing to help him. We were his family now, the only family he had: and now everything was up to us.

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May 13
Cristy I (May 13 2020 6:47PM) : I understand why they didn't want tish around during this convo.. tish will feel like they gotta take care of people shes bringing in their lifes and in reality a baby and a prisoner its a lot to handle.

I walked into my bedroom very slowly and I sat down on the bed for a minute. I was too tired to cry. I was too tired to feel anything. In a way, Sis Ernestine had taken it all on herself, everything, because she wanted the child to make its journey safely and get here well: and that meant that I had to sleep.

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So I undressed and curled up on the bed. I turned the way I’d always turned toward Fonny, when we were in bed together. I crawled into his arms and he held me. And he was so present for me that, again, I could not cry. My tears would have hurt him too much. So he held me and I whispered his name, while I watched the streetlights playing on the ceiling. Dimly, I could hear Mama and Sis in the kitchen, making believe that they were playing gin rummy.

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That night, in the room on Bank Street, Fonny took the Mexican shawl off the pallet he had on the floor and draped it over my head and shoulders. He grinned and stepped back. “I be damned,” he said, “there is a rose in Spanish Harlem.” He grinned again. “Next week, I’m going to get you a rose for your hair.” Then, he stopped grinning and a kind of stinging silence filled the room and filled my ears. It was like nothing was happening in the world but us. I was not afraid. It was dee­per than fear. I could not take my eyes away from his. I could not move. If it was deeper than fear, it was not yet joy. It was wonder.

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He said, not moving, “We’re grown up now, you know?”

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I nodded.

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He said, “And you’re always been – mine – no?”

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I nodded again.

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“And you know,” he said, still not moving, holding me with those eyes, “that I’ve always been yours, right?”

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I said, “I never thought about it that way.”

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He said, “Think about it now, Tish.”

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“I just know that I love you,” I said, and I started to cry. The shawl seemed very heavy and hot and I wanted to take it off, but I couldn’t.

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May 13
Cristy I (May 13 2020 6:50PM) : they have a love s strong and umique.
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Then he moved, his face changed, he came to me and took the shawl away and flung it into a corner. He took me in his arms and he kissed my tears and then he kissed me and then we both knew something which we had not known before.

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“I love you, too,” he said, “but I try not to cry about it.” He laughed and he made me laugh and then he kissed me again, harder, and he stopped laughing. “I want you to marry me,” he said. I must have looked surprised, for he said, “That’s right. I’m yours and you’re mine and that’s it, ba­by. But I’ve got to try to explain something to you.”

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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 12:56PM) : They are so in love!
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He took me by the hand and led me to his worktable.

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“This is where my life is,” he said, “my real life.” He picked up a small piece of wood, it was about the size of two fists. There was the hope of an eye gouged into it, the suggestion of a nose – the rest was simply a lump of somehow breathing wood. “This might turn out all right one day,” he said, and laid it gently down. “But I think I might already have fucked it up.” He picked up another piece, the size of a man’s thigh. A woman’s torso was trapped in it. “I don’t know a thing about her yet,” he said, and put it down, again very gently. Though he held me by one shoulder and was very close to me, he was yet very far away. He looked at me with his little smile. “Now, listen,” he said, “I ain’t the kind of joker going to give you a hard time running around after other chicks and shit like that. I smoke a little pot but I ain’t never popped no needles and I’m really very square. But-” he stopped and looked at me, very quiet, very hard: there was a hardness in him I had barely sensed before. Within this hardness moved his love, moved as a torrent or as a fire moves, above reason, beyond argument, not to be modified in any degree by anything life might do. I was his, and he was mine – I suddenly realized that I would be a very unlucky and perhaps a dead girl should I ever attempt to challenge this decree.

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May 13
Cristy I (May 13 2020 6:53PM) : This whole paragraph its just about communication and good vibes in a relationship.. you can tell they were bestfriends and the love was real.
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“But,” he continued – and he moved away from me; his heavy hands seemed to be aftempting to shape the air – “I live with wood and stone. I got stone in the basement and I’m working up here all the time and I’m looking for a loft where I can really work. So, all I’m trying to tell you, Tish, is I ain’t offering you much. I ain’t got no money and I work at odd jobs – just for bread, because I ain’t about to go for none of their jive-ass okey-doke – and that means that you going to have to work, too, and when you come home most likely I’ll just grunt and keep on with my chisels and shit and maybe sometimes you’ll think I don’t even know you’re there. But don’t ever think that, ever. You’re with me all the time, all the time, without you I don’t know if I could make it at all, baby, and when I put down the chisel, I’ll always come to you. I’ll always come to you. I need you. I love you.” He smiled. “Is that all right, Tish?”

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“Of course it’s all right with me,” I said. I had more to say, but my throat wouldn’t open.

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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 1:11PM) : Howcome was she speechless? I would've been too
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May 19
Idrissa S (May 19 2020 12:17AM) : nah that was too funny shit my throat would've been freezing too.

He took me by the hand, then, and he led me to the pallet on the floor. He sat down beside me, and he pulled me down so that my face was just beneath his, my head was in his lap. I sensed a certain terror in him. He knew that I could feel his sex stiffening and beginning to rage against the cloth of his pants and against my jawbone; he wanted me to feel it, and yet he was afraid. He kissed my face all over, and my neck, and he uncovered my breasts and put his teeth and tongue there and his hands were all over my body. I knew what he was doing, and I didn’t know. I was in his hands, he called me by the thunder at my ear. I was in his hands: I was being changed; all that I could do was cling to him. I did not realize, until I realized it, that I was also kissing him, that eve­rything was breaking and changing and turning in me and moving toward him. If his arms had not held me, I would have fallen straight downward, backward, to my death. My life was holding me. My life was claiming me. I heard, I felt his breath, as for the first time: but it was as though his breath were rising up out of me. He opened my legs, or I opened them, and he kissed the inside of my thighs. He took off all my clothes, he covered my whole body with kisses, and then he covered me with the shawl and then he went away.

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The shawl scratched. I was cold and hot. I heard him in the bathroom. I heard him pull the chain. When he came back, he was naked. He got under the shawl, with me, and stretched his long body on top of mine, and I felt his long black heavy sex throbbing against my navel.

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May 19
Idrissa S (May 19 2020 12:20AM) : damn I really love how comfortable they are around each that's so sweet from them.

He took my face in his hands, and held it, and he kissed me.

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“Now, don’t be scared,” he whispered. “Don’t be scared. Just remember that I belong to you. Just remember that I wouldn’t hurt you for nothing in this world. You just going to have to get used to me. And we got all the time in the world.”

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May 4
Angelina F (May 04 2020 1:59PM) : that's so cute she lost her virginity with fonny and he was a gentleman with it
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May 13
Cristy I (May 13 2020 11:22PM) : yes and you could tell he was in love with her.
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