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Coretta is not afraid to own her mistakes, but she’s also not going to be a catchall for everything that’s wrong in this world.

Coretta has got nothing left to hide
© 2015 by Binahkaye Joy

“It started out small. Just something to soften the memories as they eased through, you know. Can’t erase a past with good intentions alone. Sometimes you got to help it along, even if there’s no way to really sustain the illusion. Mama would cut in right here and say this is not the time for any poetic talking. But like I always tell her, ‘This ain’t poetry. These are just my words.’ Besides, I am an English teacher. My vocabulary gets extensive when it wants to be.

Yes, it’s true some griefs are too much to bear. Even God stopped trying to convince me otherwise. A loss like that. A loss like that, well it just rings like a bell in your head. Won’t nothing really make it stop crying out. But that stuff used to just turn down the volume a little. Make it so I could at least go outside without losing my mind. See a yellow flower and think it was beautiful like any normal person could. My drug made it so I could look at the sun and not think of blood and shattered skulls and little girls in Easter dresses with blood stains ruining what was supposed to be a good day. A good life. My sister loved yellow. Had a yellow ribbon in her hair the day of the accident. Mine was purple. Only way you could tell us apart because Mama had us prettied up in the same lacy, white dresses. Resurrection Day. Jesus is risen, but Becky is not. She had a fall and just stayed down.

Daytime is the hardest. Springtime especially. Everyone wanna be out in all that sunshine. I just wanna go back into winter’s dark light, be under a blanket with a book that is not about love and that happily ever after shit. Really though, I don’t want to have to face the same sun that just sat there and watched my sister die like it wasn’t nothing horrible going on. The sky didn’t even budge. Not one cloud. Not one teardrop of rain. I was furious, and I was only four years old.

Grandma always told me the anger wasn’t good for me. Told me over and over, ‘Child of mine, live a little life today for us. We ain’t all gone. You got people.’ I tried, but wasn’t no safety I could find in her praying and hand-holding. Even she was sipping on the medicine she had tucked away on her closet shelf. Bourbon for when no blessings would flow. But I never said nothing about it. I really tried to get over all the rage like Grandma asked me to do. It was just so impossible to do alone. Needed some protection for when that thing would creep back on you. Grab you in your vulnerable space when you’re risking one of your breaths to make a wish or have a dream. Rip you out of your sleep, remind you that you still ain’t no ways healed.

It started out small like that. Just a little something for those moments when I couldn’t protect myself from all those memories long enough to walk to the corner and get some fresh air. And I did to stop when I got pregnant, okay. All these assumptions that my baby must’ve been a drug baby are absurd, okay. I was not using. Soon as I found out she was coming I put that shit down. And she was almost a whole fucking year old before I felt like I needed some more protection.” ~~ Coretta speaking to her new counselor at the family treatment center where she is six weeks into an eighteen month recovery and alternative sentencing program.


The Embodied Character process is an experiment in character development for many of my stories. Listen to some of my other characters. Learn more about all of my work.