Losing My Cool by Thomas Chatterton Williams

Losing My Cool by Thomas Chatterton Williams

Author:Thomas Chatterton Williams
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Published: 2010-03-10T05:00:00+00:00

After I dropped off Pup, I drove Stacey to her mother’s in Plainfield in what started as silence and escalated into shouts and screams. She hated what I was becoming—had already become. It was “wack” and I wasn’t “the same” anymore.There was “another nigga” in the picture now, too, she revealed. I had begun to expect that. Tell me something I don’t know, I thought. He was a thug, “real thorough,” she bragged. They had met at a cookout or a birthday party for her girlfriend in Roselle or someplace like that. He asked her number and she said what the hell. I was down in D.C. at the time, doing whatever it was that I did in college with fools like Playboy, she reasoned, and she was lonely or curious or bored— and what did I expect, really? Did I not see this coming while I was running around using “big-ass words” like life was some giant spelling bee, talking “that bullshit” and dressing “like a fag fresh out the Village”? It was my fault, not hers, she said. I didn’t say anything, just ground my teeth (nervous habit) and tried to keep the car steady on the road, which was no small task.

Then she told me something that I didn’t know: “I’m pregnant, nigga. I missed my period last month and an EPT test confirmed that shit.” My heart practically leaped onto the dashboard; Pappy’s worst fear made flesh, I thought, only thank Jesus or Jah or Allah I had been in another part of the country when it happened. It’s not yours, I told myself, but the revelation still caught me obliquely like a sucker punch to the side of the head. I was dazed.

“You’re what!” I screamed, hurling the car to a stop on the road’s shoulder and smacking the button for the hazards like it had stolen something from me. I cut the ignition and took a deep breath, trying with what might I could channel through my gaze to grip Stacey with my eyes and wring out any last droplet of familiarity from her defiant and unrecognizable face. There was none left. She was pregnant, she repeated matter-of-factly, as though she were telling me she had hay fever or oily skin, and there was contempt in her eyes, not remorse. She loved her baby’s father and had decided to keep the child and move to Newark, and that was that.

“You’re having the baby and moving to Newark. Are you serious?” I said, sounding more like a concerned parent than the lover I had been just hours ago. As my mind raced, my stomach felt like a tangle of drawstrings being pulled tighter from every direction. “You don’t work! How are you going to support a child? You’re only eighteen! What does this motherfucker even do?”

“Nigga, he sells crack!” she shrieked, and her voice and that wall she had so meticulously erected fractured. “He be on the block. What the fuck do you do, huh?


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