“You go right to your room,” Aunt Mae Louise ordered. “No apple pie and ice cream for you tonight. Go on,” she cried, her arm out and finger pointing.
No apple pie and ice cream? I guess I’ll go and cry my eyes out, I thought, but said nothing. I turned and left them gaping after me. When I got to the room, I closed the door and sat on the bed, pouting. Maybe I should just run off tonight, I thought. I could go to Sylvia’s for a day or so. Not having any real money made it all very hard, though. I barely had enough to pay for a bus ticket into the city.
Even though the door was closed, I could hear Barbara Ann moaning about her piece of pie being too small. Uncle Buster took her side, but Aunt Mae Louise was overpowering, and they all grew quiet again. Was this any more of a home than the apartment I had been forced to leave?
At this moment I really did feel like a trapped animal. It tore at my insides, making my nerve endings sing. I rose and went into the bathroom, locking the door. Then I took out the cigarette Ashley Porter had given me and lit up. Doing something as forbidden to me in this house as smoking made me feel a little free at least. I opened the window so the smoke would not be easily detected.
Just after I took one puff, Barbara Ann was at the door.
“I gotta go,” she wailed.
“Just a minute,” I said.
“I gotta go!” she cried louder.
“Damn it.” I took a
nother long puff, blew the smoke out the window, tossed the cigarette into the toilet and flushed. Then I waved the towel about.
“I gotta go now!”
“What’s going on here?” I heard Aunt Mae Louise cry in the hallway.
I unlocked the door.
“I was just going to the bathroom. That’s allowed, isn’t it?” I asked.
“Go, but don’t dawdle in there,” she said.
Barbara Ann stood looking at me.
“I thought you had to go so bad,” I told her.
She glanced at her mother and then rushed in and closed the door.
“Go back to your room. I’ll tell you when to come out to wash the dishes,” Aunt Mae Louise said.
I started away when the bathroom door opened.
“Come look at what’s in the toilet, Mama,” Barbara Ann said.
“What?” Aunt Mae Louise looked at me and then went in.
My heart began to pound. I started for the bedroom.
“Stop!” Aunt Mae Louise shouted. “Just stay right there,” she ordered, her finger pointing to the floor. “Buster!”
Uncle Buster came around the corner.
“You go into her room and tear everything apart. She brought in something she shouldn’t and who knows what else?”
“I didn’t bring in anything. I—”
“Go on, Buster,” Aunt Mae Louise commanded.
“What she bring in?”