NowComment
2-Pane Combined
Comments:
Full Summaries Sorted

This Side of Home, "Summer" Chapters 1-16

Author: Renée Watson

0 General Document comments
0 Sentence and Paragraph comments
0 Image and Video comments


Summer

New Conversation
Paragraph 1 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 1, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Chapter 1

New Conversation
Paragraph 2 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 2, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

June.

New Conversation
Paragraph 3 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 3, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

The season is changing.

New Conversation
Paragraph 4 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 4, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Portland’s rain is stubborn. It shares the sky with summer’s sun, refusing to leave, refusing to let the flowers breathe. But summer is determined. Her sun pushes through the cracks of the clouds, making room for her light.

New Conversation
Paragraph 5 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 5, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 5, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 5, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 5, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

By July , the sun will win. And in August we will ask her to go easy on us. We will sweat and suck Popsicles, sleep under fans, and swear this is the hottest summer ever. Even though we said that last year.

New Conversation
Paragraph 6 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 6, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 6, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 6, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 6, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

But now we are going back and forth, umbrella up, umbrella down, jacket on, jacket off. Some days there is sunshine and rain at the same exact moment.

New Conversation
Paragraph 7 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 7, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 7, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

The season is changing.

New Conversation
Paragraph 8 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 8, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

And every time the season changes from spring to summer adults start saying, “Be careful out there,” because they know that summer can bring shootings and chaos with her. And when violence comes no one says, “This isn’t supposed to happen here,” as if this is a place where we should be accustomed to tragedy.

New Conversation
Paragraph 9 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 9, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 9, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Every summer the media come to my neighborhood, and every fall they come to my school. Never for good.

New Conversation
Paragraph 10 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 10, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 10, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

But there is something good to see here.

New Conversation
Paragraph 11 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 11, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

And not just all the new pretty houses and shops that line Jackson Avenue now. There is something good here. And not just because more white families have moved to this side of town.

New Conversation
Paragraph 12 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 12, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 12, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 12, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

There’s always been something good here. People just have to open their minds to see it.

New Conversation
Paragraph 13 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 13, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 13, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Chapter 2

New Conversation
Paragraph 14 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 14, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

This is the way it is.

New Conversation
Paragraph 15 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 15, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Nikki and I are identical twins, and our best friend is Essence. Mom says it’s like she has triplets the way the three of us do everything together, the way we’d do anything for one another. And she’s right. Essence is more like a sister than a friend, so when she stops at my locker after school and whispers to me, “We’re moving,” I get a sick feeling in my stomach.

New Conversation
Paragraph 16 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 16, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 16, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 16, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 16, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“The landlord is selling the house,” she says. Casual. Like what she’s saying is no big deal. Like she hasn’t lived directly across the street from me and Nikki our whole lives. Like we never sat on her porch swing on summer nights swinging away to imaginary places. Like she never tiptoes across the asphalt in the middle of the night to come to my house so she can escape her drunk mother.

New Conversation
Paragraph 17 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 17, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 17, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 17, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 17, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 17, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 17, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“He said he’s tired of renting ,” Essence says. This time not as casual as before, as if this is the first time she’s realized that just because her posters have been hanging on her bedroom wall all these years doesn’t mean those walls belong to her.

New Conversation
Paragraph 18 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 18, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 18, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

She owns nothing. Not even those hand-me-down blues records singing in her eyes.

New Conversation
Paragraph 19 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 19, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 19, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“Where will you go?” I ask.

New Conversation
Paragraph 20 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 20, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 20, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“Gresham probably, or maybe North Portland. We don’t know yet.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 21 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 21, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 21, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Both places are far— at least forty-five minutes away by bus. Too far for best friends who’ve had to take only ten steps to get to each other their entire lives.

New Conversation
Paragraph 22 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 22, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 22, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“Don’t look at me like that,” Essence says. This is her way of telling me she is about to cry, and Essence hates to cry.

New Conversation
Paragraph 23 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 23, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 23, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I look away, pretend I’m okay.

New Conversation
Paragraph 24 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 24, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Chapter 3

New Conversation
Paragraph 25 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 25, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Getting bad news is not the way I wanted to start off my summer vacation.

New Conversation
Paragraph 26 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 26, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

It’s the last day of our junior year of high school. We are officially seniors. Next year, when I come back, I’ll be student body president. The results were posted this morning. I have a lot of ideas about what I want to see change at Richmond, but for now, all I am thinking about is summer vacation and enjoying every minute of it with Essence. We wait at my locker for Nikki and the boys to show up.

New Conversation
Paragraph 27 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 27, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 27, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 27, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 27, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 27, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 27, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Devin.

New Conversation
Paragraph 28 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 28, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Ronnie.

New Conversation
Paragraph 29 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 29, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Malachi.

New Conversation
Paragraph 30 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 30, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Devin, Ronnie, and Malachi are in my dad’s mentorship program . In the fifth grade when we became friends, we had no idea the boys would end up the finest guys in our high school. Once they get to my locker, Essence is all smiles because now her arms are wrapped around Malachi. Essence and Malachi have been together since freshman year. They are the only couple at Richmond High who might actually know what love is. They love like spring.

New Conversation
Paragraph 31 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 31, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 31, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 31, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 31, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 31, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 31, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Ronnie takes Nikki’s hand. Their fingersintertwine like knitted yarn . Ronnie is the first boy Nikki kissed, the only boy she ever cried over after a breakup, ever got back together with and loved again.

New Conversation
Paragraph 32 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 32, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 32, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 32, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I walk next to Devin. No hand-holding or long embrace. He kisses me on my cheek, delicately, as if my face is made of hibiscus petals. I am not used to the way his lips feel against my skin. We have always had love for each other . A brother-sister friendship. But now we have more.

New Conversation
Paragraph 33 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 33, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 33, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 33, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 33, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 33, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 33, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 33, Sentence 7 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

The six of us leave Richmond High and head home. We walk the same way every day down Jackson Avenue, making stops at one another’s blocks like a city bus. Jackson Avenue looks like most of the streets in Portland: wide sidewalks with trees that hover and shade the whole block. Branches reaching out to hug you; plump houses with welcoming porches.

New Conversation
Paragraph 34 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 34, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 34, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 34, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 34, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Every time we walk down this street, Essence says, “This is my street.” Because Jackson is her last name. She looks at me. “You guys don’t believe me, but I’m telling you, this whole street was named after my great-grandfather.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 35 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 35, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 35, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 35, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 35, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Essence has all kinds of stories about her family history. I know she makes them up, but it doesn’t bother me. Sometimes you have to rewrite your own history.

New Conversation
Paragraph 36 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 36, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 36, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 36, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Malachi comes to her defense. He says to me, “Look, you and Nikki aren’t the only ones who have famous names.” He laughs.

New Conversation
Paragraph 37 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 37, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 37, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 37, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

The story goes like this: Mom and Dad, who are both community activists, wanted us to have names that represent creativity and strength. Mom always tells us how the agreement was that Dad could choose our names if we were girls and she would choose if we were boys . If we were boys, we would have been named Medgar and Martin. But once they found out we were girls Dad decided to give us the names of our mom’s favorite poets, Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni.

New Conversation
Paragraph 38 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 38, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 38, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 38, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 38, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Nikki hits Malachi lightly on his shoulder. “Don’t be jealous,” she says.

New Conversation
Paragraph 39 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 39, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 39, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Devin jumps in. “Malachi has a biblical name. That fits as famous, right?”

New Conversation
Paragraph 40 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 40, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 40, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 40, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Ronnie shakes his head. “Uh, no. I mean, who remembers what Malachi did in the Bible? No one ever mentions him.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 41 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 41, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 41, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 41, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 41, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

We all laugh.

New Conversation
Paragraph 42 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 42, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

As we walk down Jackson Avenue, I take in all the newness, all the change. I turn to Devin and say , “Remember that house?” I point to the pale-yellow bungalow that takes up the entire corner with its wraparound porch. It no longer has its wobbling steps, chipped paint. “I will never forget that day!”

New Conversation
Paragraph 43 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 43, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 43, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 43, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 43, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 43, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“Don’t remind me,” Devin says, even though the memory brings a smile to his face. We retell the story as if we don’t already know. Devin says, “That dog came out of nowhere! Just came right up to the fence growling like crazy.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 44 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 44, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 44, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 44, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 44, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I laugh. “Only I didn’t know it stopped at the gate . I swear, I thought it jumped over and was chasing us.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 45 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 45, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 45, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 45, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“You took off running, Maya! Ran so fast, I could barely catch you.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 46 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 46, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 46, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

And this is a big deal because Devin is an athlete and I have never been.

New Conversation
Paragraph 47 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 47, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Then we remind each other how Ms. Thelma sat on her porch pretending to mind her business, when really she was eavesdropping and watching us to see what we were doing so she could tell our parents if we were misbehaving.

New Conversation
Paragraph 48 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 48, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“It’s so strange to see her house as a coffee shop,” he says. And there is no more laughter in his voice.

New Conversation
Paragraph 49 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 49, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 49, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

For the past four years, there has been constant construction on just about every block in my neighborhood. They’ve painted and planted and made beauty out of decaying dreams. Block after block, strangers kept coming to Jackson Avenue, kept coming and changing and remaking and adding on to and taking away from.

New Conversation
Paragraph 50 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 50, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 50, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 50, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

About a year ago Ms. Thelma’s old house became Daily Blend: Comfy. Cozy. Coffee. I wonder if those laptop-typing, free– wi-fi– using coffee drinkers know that Ms. Thelma’s grandson died in that house. That a stray bullet found its home in his chest while he lay sleeping on the couch. He was only eight and only spending the night with his grandma while his parents were away to celebrate their anniversary. Wonder if they know that she had her husband’s eightieth birthday celebration right there in the backyard; wonder if they know the soil used to grow Ms. Thelma’s herbs and flowers and that her house always smelled good because her kitchen was full of basil, or mint, or something else fresh from her garden.

New Conversation
Paragraph 51 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 51, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 51, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 51, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 51, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 51, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 51, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 51, Sentence 7 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

After Ms. Thelma’s husband died, she moved to Seattle to live with her son, who never came to visit enough, she always said. Mom keeps in touch with her, mostly through holiday cards and phone calls on birthdays.

New Conversation
Paragraph 52 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 52, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 52, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I wonder what Ms. Thelma would think of all these people being in her house. Wonder if she had any idea that in just four years our neighborhood would be a whole new world. And I wonder what will be different in the next four years.

New Conversation
Paragraph 53 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 53, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 53, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 53, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Mom keeps telling me that life is only about change. Just last night she looked at me and Nikki and said, “I can’t believe my little girls are all grown up now.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 54 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 54, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 54, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Nikki and I just sighed. We hate when she gets all sentimental.

New Conversation
Paragraph 55 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 55, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 55, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“You’ve grown up, got your own identity and styles now,” Mom said.

New Conversation
Paragraph 56 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 56, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

And this is true.

New Conversation
Paragraph 57 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 57, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

When we were kids, we spent our childhood looking just like each other, ponytails all over our heads, matching outfits with our names written on the tags so we would know what was mine, what was hers.

New Conversation
Paragraph 58 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 58, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

We have seen our reflections in each other our entire lives.

New Conversation
Paragraph 59 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 59, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

But then, freshman year, no more matching outfits. Nikki’s style is made up of mismatched findings at secondhand stores and garments from the too-small-to-wear-anymore section of Mom’s closet.

New Conversation
Paragraph 60 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 60, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 60, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Sophomore year she started experimenting with color on her eyelids, lips, fingernails.

New Conversation
Paragraph 61 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 61, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I stayed plain faced. Modest in everything except attitude, Nikki says.

New Conversation
Paragraph 62 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 62, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 62, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Junior year, Nikki’s hair had a personality all its own. Pressed straight most days, but sometimes she let it be. Natural waves swimming all over her head. My long, black strands twist like licorice and hang down my back, always braided.

New Conversation
Paragraph 63 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 63, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 63, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 63, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 63, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

All these adjustments to our outsides.

New Conversation
Paragraph 64 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 64, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Reversible if we want to go back, be the same again. It’s the changes on the inside that I’m worried about. I keep telling Mom that it feels like Nikki and I are growing apart.

New Conversation
Paragraph 65 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 65, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 65, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 65, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

She says, “There are going to be a lot of things that start changing now that you’re older. You’re growing up, that’s all.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 66 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 66, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 66, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Maybe she is right.

New Conversation
Paragraph 67 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 67, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Part of me is excited, but it makes me nervous, too. There are some things I like just the way they are.

New Conversation
Paragraph 68 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 68, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 68, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Chapter 4

New Conversation
Paragraph 69 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 69, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Essence’s mom is a cracked vase. A woman who used to hold beauty.

New Conversation
Paragraph 70 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 70, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 70, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I’ve seen pictures of Ms. Jackson and Mom when they were in high school. Mom has told me the story of how they met, of how they’d stay after school to watch the football team practice. Ms. Jackson was watching a guy named Reggie . Mom had her eyes on Dad. Mom never tells the part about how Reggie left Ms. Jackson, how when he came to the hospital two days after Essence was born he told Ms. Jackson, “This baby don’t look like me,” and walked out.

New Conversation
Paragraph 71 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 71, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 71, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 71, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 71, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 71, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

But Ms. Jackson tells the story all the time. Especially when she’s drunk. Tonight she is pacing their living room with an empty bottle in her hand that she tries to drink from. “Got to move out of my house ’cause your trifling, no-good daddy ain’t paid no child support.” She stumbles over half-packed boxes, almost trips, and then yells at Essence. “Didn’t I tell you to get this living room packed up? You think this stuff is going to pack itself?”

New Conversation
Paragraph 72 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 72, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 72, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 72, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 72, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 72, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 72, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 72, Sentence 7 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Essence finishes wrapping the plates and glasses in bubble wrap. She places them in a box, then walks over to a closet in the hallway and pulls out a dusty box that’s falling apart and bursting at the seams. It has a missing flap, so it can’t close properly. Essence reaches in and pulls out a stack of magazines. They are small, almost the size of thin books. “What do you want me to do with your Jet magazines?”

New Conversation
Paragraph 73 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 73, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 73, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 73, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 73, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 73, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 73, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“If I got to tell you what to do, why you helping?” Ms. Jackson says. She snatches the magazines from Essence. They slip out of her hands and scatter on the floor.

New Conversation
Paragraph 74 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 74, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 74, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 74, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 74, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I bend down and start picking them up.

New Conversation
Paragraph 75 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 75, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“I ain’t asked you to do nothing!” Ms. Jackson kneels down and picks up the magazines, cradling them in her arms in a way a mother holds her child, in a way I don’t think she ever held Essence.

New Conversation
Paragraph 76 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 76, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 76, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“Ms. Jackson, I was— I was just trying to help,” I say. “Sorry.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 77 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 77, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 77, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“I don’t want your sorry. And what I tell you about calling me Ms. Jackson?” she says. “I done told you my name is Darlene.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 78 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 78, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 78, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 78, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Mom says calling adults by their first name is disrespectful. “Sorry, Ms. Darlene,” I say.

New Conversation
Paragraph 79 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 79, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 79, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

She stands up, barely able to walk straight. She continues her rant, talking to me even though she isn’t looking at me. She paces the living room, still nurturing her magazines. There are so many they barely fit in her arms. “Coming over here acting all siddity. You can leave and go tell your momma everything you seen here. I know that’s what you gonna do. Comin’ over here like a spy or somethin’—”

New Conversation
Paragraph 80 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 80, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 80, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 80, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 80, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 80, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 80, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 80, Sentence 7 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 80, Sentence 8 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“Mom!” Essence says.

New Conversation
Paragraph 81 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 81, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 81, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“You shut up and help me pack. Didn’t I ask you to help me?”

New Conversation
Paragraph 82 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 82, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 82, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Essence can’t or won’t look at me. I’m not sure which. She always gets this look when Ms. Jackson relapses. As if it’s her fault, like she should be able to keep her mother sober. “I can’t wait till I graduate so I can get away from you,” Essence says.

New Conversation
Paragraph 83 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 83, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 83, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 83, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 83, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 83, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I think Ms. Jackson might throw the magazines down and slap Essence, but instead she just yells back. “And where you think you gonna go? You hang with Maya and Nikki, but you ain’t smart like them— and you don’t have Mr. I-Have-a -Dream Thomas Younger as a father to pay for college.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 84 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 84, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 84, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 84, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

When Ms. Jackson is drunk she calls Dad all kinds of names. Sometimes, Mr. Thomas-Younger-Our-Next-President, or Mr. Make-the-World-a-Better-Place. I don’t want to say what she calls Mom.

New Conversation
Paragraph 85 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 85, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 85, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 85, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“I’m getting away from you,” Essence says. “And I’ll work my way through college if I have to. I can do hair.” She holds a handful of her own braids in her hands as proof.

New Conversation
Paragraph 86 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 86, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 86, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 86, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 86, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Ms. Jackson rolls her eyes. “You ain’t gettin’ into college. Not with that Richmond High education. That school ain’t nothing. Not like it was when I went there. Back then we had good teachers—”

New Conversation
Paragraph 87 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 87, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 87, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 87, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 87, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 87, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 87, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“Well, you can’t tell that by looking at you!”

New Conversation
Paragraph 88 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 88, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I wish Essence hadn’t said that.

New Conversation
Paragraph 89 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 89, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“What did you say?” Ms. Jackson asks.

New Conversation
Paragraph 90 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 90, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 90, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I look at Essence. Hard. I shake my head.

New Conversation
Paragraph 91 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 91, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 91, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 91, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

When Essence opens her mouth, I am afraid of what might come out. She sighs and says, “Nothing, Mom. Nothing.” Essence walks over to her mother. “I’m done arguing with you. Just give me the magazines so I can repack them,” she says.

New Conversation
Paragraph 92 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 92, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 92, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 92, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 92, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 92, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 92, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“I’ll take care of these. You pack up that stuff.” Ms. Jackson points to a bookcase that holds family pictures and a framed handprint that Essence gave her for a Mother’s Day gift. We were in the third grade, and our teacher had each of us dip our hands in our favorite color of paint and make prints.

New Conversation
Paragraph 93 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 93, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 93, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 93, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 93, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Essence walks over to the bookcase with an empty box in hand. She dumps the picture frames in the box.

New Conversation
Paragraph 94 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 94, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 94, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Ms. Jackson neatly packs her magazines. One by one she puts them on top of each other. “These are classics. Might be worth something one day,” she says. Her voice is calm now, and I don’t think she’s talking to us. Or maybe she is but it doesn’t matter to her if we are listening. “Do they even make Jet magazine anymore ?” she asks. “This one here has Michael Jackson on the cover. This was back in his normal days. Back when everything was—” Ms. Jackson is still for a moment, just looking at a young Michael Jackson. She touches his face before she puts it in the box, then takes another one. “And this one— Luther. I can’t throw out Luther Vandross.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 95 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 95, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 95, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 95, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 95, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 95, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 95, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 95, Sentence 7 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 95, Sentence 8 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 95, Sentence 9 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 95, Sentence 10 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 95, Sentence 11 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 95, Sentence 12 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 95, Sentence 13 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Ms. Jackson talks about each magazine as she puts them in their new home. She has her own personal black history time capsule. She walks over to the sofa, dragging the box with her, and sits next to me. For each magazine, she has a story.

New Conversation
Paragraph 96 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 96, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 96, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 96, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 96, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Essence lets out a loud sigh of boredom, of frustration. She goes upstairs. I think maybe I should go with her, but I feel like Ms. Jackson needs me to stay. She needs someone to listen to her yesterdays. She packs the last magazine, one that has the Olympic track star Flo Jo on it. “Help me tape this, please,” she says.

New Conversation
Paragraph 97 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 97, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 97, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 97, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 97, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 97, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 97, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I take the tape from the coffee table. She grabs the scissors. Together, we close the box, store her memories once again. Before I let go of the box, Ms. Jackson grabs my hand, squeezes it tight. “Don’t tell your mom, okay? Don’t tell her you seen me like this,” she says. “And your dad. Don’t tell your dad. Promise me, okay?”

New Conversation
Paragraph 98 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 98, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 98, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 98, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 98, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 98, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 98, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 98, Sentence 7 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 98, Sentence 8 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 98, Sentence 9 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I don’t answer.

New Conversation
Paragraph 99 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 99, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“Promise me.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 100 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 100, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“Promise me you’ll stop drinking,” I say.

New Conversation
Paragraph 101 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 101, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“I promise. I promise I’m gonna get myself together,” Ms. Jackson says.

New Conversation
Paragraph 102 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 102, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 102, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“I won’t tell them,” I say.

New Conversation
Paragraph 103 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 103, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Ms. Jackson lets go of my hand.

New Conversation
Paragraph 104 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 104, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

We both know neither of us will keep our word.

New Conversation
Paragraph 105 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 105, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Chapter 5

New Conversation
Paragraph 106 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 106, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Essence will not tell us how she feels about moving. Instead, she curses the landlord. Rants to me and Nikki about all the things he ever did wrong.

New Conversation
Paragraph 107 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 107, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 107, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 107, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“He never fixed the light in the bathroom; we have to hit it in order for it to come on,” she says. “And the dishwasher. That thing has never worked. Not once, not ever, in seventeen years. We use it to store pots and pans.” Essence takes everything out of her top dresser drawer and stuffs it into a suitcase. “He raised the rent even though he took two weeks to schedule the exterminator to come.” Essence is yelling now. She slams the drawer and opens another one. “Mickey and Minnie should’ve been paying rent ,” Essence says. “Since they left Disneyland and moved in here.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 108 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 108, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 108, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 108, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 108, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 108, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 108, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 108, Sentence 7 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 108, Sentence 8 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 108, Sentence 9 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 108, Sentence 10 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 108, Sentence 11 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Nikki can’t hold back her smile. It spreads across her face and she gives in to a laugh. Essence gives in, too. Her head falls back and she laughs up to heaven, showing God her smile before the rest of us see it.

New Conversation
Paragraph 109 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 109, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 109, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 109, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 109, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

We chase the sadness and anger with our laughter. Essence sits on her bed and says, “Do you guys remember that night we all stood in the middle of my bed, hollering for hours?”

New Conversation
Paragraph 110 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 110, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 110, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I feel jittery just thinking about it. “That mouse was strolling all over your room. Just roaming around like he lived here,” I say.

New Conversation
Paragraph 111 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 111, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 111, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 111, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“He did live here!” Nikki says.

New Conversation
Paragraph 112 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 112, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 112, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

And we laugh harder.

New Conversation
Paragraph 113 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 113, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I finish the story, “And Dad teased us. Said we were scaredy-cats.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 114 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 114, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 114, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Nikki remembers, “Yeah, he was like, ‘You three tall girls are scared of a tiny mouse?’”

New Conversation
Paragraph 115 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 115, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“If it wasn’t for your dad,” Essence says, “I don’t know what we would’ve done.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 116 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 116, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

She is talking about how Dad came and put out mousetraps , how he always comes and helps— fixing things around her house like he’s the handyman. She is talking about how Dad came the night Ms. Jackson had a breakdown and locked herself in the bathroom, how he called Mom and how they took Ms. Jackson to the hospital and let Essence stay with us until her mom was better.

New Conversation
Paragraph 117 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 117, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 117, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Just as quick as the laughter came, it leaves. Essence stands up and paces the room with her arms folded. “I can’t believe I have to move. I hate our landlord,” she says. “I really hate him. He kept telling us he was going to redo the basement. Every year he had some plan, telling us he could make it a rec room, a study, an exercise space, but it’s still just a creepy dungeon,” Essence says. “And then he has the nerve to start fixing things— right in our faces —a new bathroom with a jetted tub and marbled shower.” Essence fills a suitcase with the clothes that are hanging in her closet. “And he goes and tells us it ain’t for us. Like we ain’t good enough to live in a place like this. Can you believe that? He’s going to fix it all up, and we can’t stay.” She inhales a gulp of air. “He knew he was going to sell the house. He knew it. And he knew we wouldn’t be able to afford it!”

New Conversation
Paragraph 118 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 118, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 118, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 118, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 118, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 118, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 118, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 118, Sentence 7 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 118, Sentence 8 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 118, Sentence 9 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 118, Sentence 10 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 118, Sentence 11 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 118, Sentence 12 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 118, Sentence 13 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 118, Sentence 14 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 118, Sentence 15 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 118, Sentence 16 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 118, Sentence 17 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Essence looks out of the window. “Just when things are starting to get nice around here, too. Finally got a neighborhood I don’t have to be afraid to walk through at night, and I got to leave.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 119 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 119, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 119, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 119, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Essence sits back on her bed. I don’t know what to say, what to do. I am just as mad as she is, but it won’t do any good to join her in complaining. Nikki and I start taking her posters off the wall. Most of them are pages Essence tore out of hair magazines, except for the one big poster of her favorite basketball player.

New Conversation
Paragraph 120 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 120, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 120, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 120, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 120, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 120, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

The last things left to pack are the picture frames on her dresser. Every photo has a friend in it. There’s one of her and Malachi, and another of her, Nikki, and me when we were in the eighth grade . We are standing outside the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry at a field trip. The three of us just happy to be together.

New Conversation
Paragraph 121 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 121, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 121, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 121, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 121, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 121, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

The next frame Essence picks up holds a picture of us at the Tillamook Cheese Factory. Ms. Jackson is standing on the end, holding her waffle cone. The rest of us had all gobbled ours right before my mom took out her camera. Mom and Ms. Jackson used to take us to the coast every summer, and we couldn’t go without stopping at the cheese factory. Each year, we took the tour to see the huge machines and learn how cheese is packaged, how ice cream is made. At the end of the tour, we’d stop by the gift shop. Mom always bought smoked cheddar; Ms. Jackson, the squeaky cheese curds that make noise as you chew. And at the very end, we all got ice cream cones—the best part of the day.

New Conversation
Paragraph 122 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 122, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 122, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 122, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 122, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 122, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 122, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 122, Sentence 7 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 122, Sentence 8 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Essence gently puts the photo in the box. There is no bubble wrap to put the frames in, so she takes a black marker, writes FRAGILE on the box . I think maybe that note is not only about what’s in the box, but the girl packing it.

New Conversation
Paragraph 123 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 123, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 123, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 123, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

The three of us sit, looking at the lonely room. I think of all the things we did here. How when we were in elementary school we were small enough to fit under her bed and we would pretend to be on a camping trip. In middle school we whispered and giggled the night away talking about our secret crushes. We carved ESSENCE + MAYA + NIKKI = FRIENDS 4 EVER in her closet.

New Conversation
Paragraph 124 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 124, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 124, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 124, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 124, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 124, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“I’m going to miss you,” I say.

New Conversation
Paragraph 125 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 125, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Nikki looks at me like I have just said the craziest thing . “You’re acting like she’s leaving the country.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 126 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 126, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 126, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“Well, the bus ride is forty-five minutes,” Essence tells us. “You two better come see me.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 127 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 127, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 127, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I don’t know why I start talking in a motherly tone , but I can’t help it. I say, “You better keep your attendance up.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 128 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 128, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 128, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“She’ll be fine,” Nikki says. Like she’s forgotten that Essence hits the snooze button for an hour before she crawls out of bed. We both know how long she takes to do her hair, her makeup, and to nurse her hungover mother before she leaves for school.

New Conversation
Paragraph 129 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 129, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 129, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 129, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“Maya, don’t worry about me. I’ve got to stay on top of things so I can get me some scholarships. Perfect attendance. Honor roll. That’s my goal.” Essence stands up, and we follow her downstairs. The stairs moan like an old woman with bad knees. Essence says, “I wonder when the landlord’s going to fix the rest of the house. You two have to get in good with whoever moves in here so you can tell me how he changes the upstairs.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 130 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 130, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 130, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 130, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 130, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 130, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 130, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 130, Sentence 7 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 130, Sentence 8 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 130, Sentence 9 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“Okay,” Nikki says.

New Conversation
Paragraph 131 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 131, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I don’t say anything.

New Conversation
Paragraph 132 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 132, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

We go into the kitchen, and Essence opens the refrigerator. It is in its usual state. Half-empty. She takes out three cans of soda, and we go outside and sit on the porch swing. Essence and Nikki start talking about prom. They’re already making plans even though prom is at least ten months away.

New Conversation
Paragraph 133 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 133, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 133, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 133, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 133, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 133, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 133, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

We’ve had our senior year planned out since we were in middle school.

New Conversation
Paragraph 134 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 134, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Prom: Me and Devin, Nikki and Ronnie, Essence and Malachi.

New Conversation
Paragraph 135 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 135, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

College: the boys at Morehouse, us girls at Spelman.

New Conversation
Paragraph 136 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 136, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

That’s the plan.

New Conversation
Paragraph 137 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 137, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Essence and Nikki talk about going to the beach the weekend of prom, which I know Mom and Dad are not going to allow. I let them have their fantasy and start watching Essence’s neighbor , Carla, who is moving another roommate into her house. Carla moved in two years ago. She’s thirtysomething, at least I think she is. She rents rooms to college students, which means there are always people in and out. Carla is in a band and sometimes has rehearsals in the garage, and that always gets Ms. Jackson complaining. She thinks the music is too loud. “And it don’t even sound good,” Ms. Jackson always says. And then she goes on and on about it. “White people moving here thinking it’s okay to play music all loud and let their dogs go to the bathroom all on the sidewalk. Let one of us blast our music and I bet they call the police for noise violation.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 138 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 138, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 138, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 138, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 138, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 138, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 138, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 138, Sentence 7 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 138, Sentence 8 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 138, Sentence 9 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 138, Sentence 10 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 138, Sentence 11 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I guess the one good thing about Essence moving is, Ms. Jackson won’t have to argue anymore with Carla.

New Conversation
Paragraph 139 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 139, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I actually don’t mind Carla’s music. She even offered to give me guitar lessons, but I never took her up on it.

New Conversation
Paragraph 140 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 140, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 140, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Carla waves at us. I wave back.

New Conversation
Paragraph 141 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 141, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 141, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“Maya, are you listening to us?” Nikki says. “We’re about to go see a movie with Ronnie and Malachi. You should call Devin and see if he wants to come.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 142 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 142, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 142, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 142, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 142, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“Today is Thursday,” I remind them. And they know what that means. Devin is enrolled in Summer Scholars. He never misses it. We’ve been out of school for two weeks, and I’ve barely seen him. “Maybe we’ll hang out with you guys tomorrow,” I say.

New Conversation
Paragraph 143 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 143, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 143, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 143, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 143, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 143, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 143, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

When Ronnie and Malachi come to pick up Nikki and Essence, they all try to get me to come, but I refuse to be the looming shadow of a double date. “I’m fine,” I tell them. I go across the street. Home.

New Conversation
Paragraph 144 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 144, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 144, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 144, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 144, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I text Devin. Ask him if he wants to get together when his class is over and wait for him to get back to me.

New Conversation
Paragraph 145 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 145, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 145, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Chapter 6

New Conversation
Paragraph 146 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 146, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Devin is here.

New Conversation
Paragraph 147 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 147, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

But not for me.

New Conversation
Paragraph 148 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 148, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

He has a meeting with Dad. They check in once a month. Usually Dad takes him out to eat, but today he’s putting Devin to work and they are pulling up the carpet from one of the rooms in the basement. I guess all the renovations on our block has Dad wanting to fix things up here, too. He promised he’d give Mom her own sewing room by the end of summer.

New Conversation
Paragraph 149 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 149, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 149, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 149, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 149, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 149, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I can hear Devin and Dad talking, even though I’m not really trying to listen. Devin is telling Dad about his aunt and how he feels she doesn’t understand where he’s coming from. “It gets frustrating sometimes living in a house full of women.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 150 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 150, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 150, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 150, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Dad laughs. A little too hard, if you ask me. “Son, I know. I know.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 151 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 151, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 151, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 151, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 151, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Devin has grown up in a house full of women, and Dad says women don’t know everything, can’t teach a boy everything, shouldn’t have to be everything. Devin’s mom and dad died in a car accident when he was just a baby, and his aunt took him in and raised him as her own. His aunt has never been married and has four daughters who are older than us. They baby Devin sometimes, and a lot of times they can be bossy. He complains about it, but I think he also likes the attention.

New Conversation
Paragraph 152 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 152, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 152, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 152, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 152, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 152, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I think Devin’s family looks out for him because they know he really might do something big with his life. Devin is the one who makes sure we all keep our grades up, that none of us end up on the wrong side of the statistic. He talks about the future, has plans and dreams of what he wants his life to be.

New Conversation
Paragraph 153 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 153, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 153, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 153, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Devin is a make-your-momma-proud kind of person. The good-grade-makin’, football-all-star-playin’ brotha who old women point to and say, “He’s the next …” New hope stirring in them because when they look at Devin the future don’t look too bad.

New Conversation
Paragraph 154 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 154, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 154, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“He’s a good catch,” Mom always tells me.

New Conversation
Paragraph 155 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 155, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

And women throughout our neighborhood pull me aside, saying things like, “I’m glad he’s dating you and not one of them.” And by them they either mean a white girl or a hood girl. I guess Devin and I are some kind of prize to each other.

New Conversation
Paragraph 156 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 156, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 156, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 156, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

But sometimes, instead of winning a prize, I feel like I’m losing him. He always has an excuse, always a reason for not hanging out. At first I thought maybe he was cheating on me. But I trust him, and I know he’s telling me the truth when he tells me he can’t spend time together because he has to get up early for his Summer Scholars program. He is on a mission to be the first in his family to go to college, to be something other than a Portland guy who could have been something. There is no other girl. Just his dream.

New Conversation
Paragraph 157 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 157, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 157, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 157, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 157, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 157, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 157, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 157, Sentence 7 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

How can I compete with that?

New Conversation
Paragraph 158 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 158, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Chapter 7

New Conversation
Paragraph 159 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 159, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Essence’s landlord finished the rest of her house after she moved out . For two weeks, construction workers came early and stayed late. It’s the Fourth of July weekend, and now the house has a FOR SALE sign in front of it. Today is the open house where people come and walk through to decide if this is where they want to live.

New Conversation
Paragraph 160 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 160, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 160, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 160, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 160, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I don’t belong here. I am the only black person in the entire house . Probably the only one who has lived in this neighborhood my whole life.

New Conversation
Paragraph 161 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 161, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 161, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 161, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

The Realtor makes the guests take their shoes off at the door. They ooh and ahh like tourists in a new city. I pretend like I am looking, like I have never been in this house before. And in a way, I haven’t.

New Conversation
Paragraph 162 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 162, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 162, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 162, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 162, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

It is strange to feel like a stranger in my best friend’s home.

New Conversation
Paragraph 163 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 163, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

The hallway is painted a pale tan color, and the carpet has been replaced with hardwood floors. Nothing looks regular anymore. Everything seems special— even the knobs for the shower and sink in the bathroom look like they were handpicked, especially chosen for this new house.

New Conversation
Paragraph 164 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 164, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 164, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 164, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I step out of the bathroom and walk down the hallway to Essence’s bedroom. There is a girl coming out of it. “I love it, Mom,” she says. “We have to get this one.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 165 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 165, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 165, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 165, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 165, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“It is pretty great,” her mom says. “Perfect for your dad getting to work. Carver Middle School isn’t too far from here.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 166 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 166, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 166, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 166, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

They both have brown hair. The mom’s hair is cut short with curls that flip and twirl all over her head. The girl’s hair is straight and hangs to the middle of her back. They both have on the same color of nail polish. Makes me wonder if they paint their nails together and gossip about the happenings of the day.

New Conversation
Paragraph 167 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 167, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 167, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 167, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 167, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 167, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“Where are Dad and Tony ? Have they been up here yet?” The girl grabs her mom’s hand and they walk down the stairs.

New Conversation
Paragraph 168 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 168, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 168, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 168, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I walk into Essence’s bedroom. It looks bigger without her bed and dresser in here. I walk over to the window that faces the street and look out at my house. I remember how sometimes, when we talked on the phone, Essence would stand at her bedroom window and I’d stand at mine and we’d talk while looking at each other. Mom called us crazy.

New Conversation
Paragraph 169 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 169, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 169, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 169, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 169, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 169, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I walk over to the closet, and when I open it, I know exactly why that girl loves this room so much. Even the closet has been renovated. It’s a walk-in closet now— shelves and room to stand in and take your time to choose what it is you want to wear. Space, space, and more space so that your clothes aren’t bunched up on each other, getting wrinkled.

New Conversation
Paragraph 170 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 170, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 170, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 170, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 170, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I think about Essence, how she would love this closet.

New Conversation
Paragraph 171 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 171, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

From the hall, I can hear people roaming from room to room, plotting out how they could make this house their home. “We could use this for an office,” I hear a man say about the room across the hallway.

New Conversation
Paragraph 172 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 172, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 172, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

There are many conversations swirling through the house.

New Conversation
Paragraph 173 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 173, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

This is an up-and-coming neighborhood.

New Conversation
Paragraph 174 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 174, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Is there a Whole Foods in the area?

New Conversation
Paragraph 175 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 175, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

What are the neighborhood schools?

New Conversation
Paragraph 176 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 176, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

This is a prime location.

New Conversation
Paragraph 177 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 177, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Is it a child-friendly neighborhood?

New Conversation
Paragraph 178 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 178, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

The crime rate has gone down.

New Conversation
Paragraph 179 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 179, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“You like the closet, too, huh?” a male voice asks. His voice is closer than those in the hallway. I turn to see who he is talking to, and I realize he is talking to me.