A Shooting Star
Now, you don't know me. And, I know that you know that nobody knows everything. But a person does have to go by whatever they do know and every new thing they can learn, to make any good sense out of life. They say love makes the world go round, and I believe that. But, it seems to me, and I already told you I don't know everything, that nowadays sex is making the world go round.
There's another sayin, "What goes round, comes round." Well, I know that sometime what went around comes back around a whole lot different and bigger and worser than what you sent round in the first place.
You got to watch life, cause it's moving all the time, every minute! You have to look all around yourself and see what's happening to you and everybody else. Try to get some understanding of it. But, I notice, some people look at things in their life and never do understand.
I grew up in a fair-size town that had a little of everything in it, I guess. In small communities you just know everybody cause you go to school with em and you usually know their parents cause you know their kids.
You know how growin children talk by the time they get to junior high school; half of the day is spent on gossip, some innocent and some not so innocent. That's when I started payin attention to Lorene. She was one of our classmates and a main subject to talk about.
Lorene's full name was Heleva Lorene Shaky. Her father named her "Heleva" (I don't know how he came up with that name) and her mother put in "Lorene" and that's what everyone called her, til they were mad at her or something; then they would say "Heleva!" like that, for awhile.
Lorene's mother is a real nice, smiling lady from this town and her father was from somewhere in Washington, D.C. Somehow they met somewhere and he traveled back and forth til they finally got married.
Lorene grew up in a nice house and they seemed to be a regular happy family like most other people round here, but what do I know? Her father, Mr. Shaky, was often gone, on business, back to Washington D.C., and her mother was alone a lot so she attended them teas and church socials and some women's clubs. Nice people.
I came to know them pretty well cause my family was kinda poor and sometimes when I didn't have lunch or lunch money Lorene would take me home with her and her mother would have a nice sandwich and a glass of milk for us. Mrs. Shaky, her mother, always was able to put love in everything she did for Lorene and, in her sandwiches and cookies, included me.
Lorene was a very kind and generous person. I mean, even kind to strangers and anybody. She would make friends with a person in a minute. Her mother was always telling her bout things like that; taking up with strangers, I mean. But Lorene would just smile that friendly smile of hers and keep on being herself.
Lorene wasn't a beautiful girl, but that smile of hers just made her so beautiful like. Just lighted up everything around her and she always seemed to be happy. She knew, at a early age, just how to fool with her hair and make up new styles for herself. Her mother didn't let her wear make-up or nothing, but Lorene didn't mind that either; she could just put that smile on her face and that was enough. She always dressed nice. Clean, too. She made good grades and didn't even have to study hard to do it.
I wasn't always real close to her as a friend because she had so many friends, but they was mostly boys. I always liked her though, but as you grow up you can grow away from some people and still like em.
Now, I don't want to say this, but I have to say it so you will understand Lorene. She was the kind of a girl who was so glad to have a vagina she didn't know what to do. She wanted them boys either to smell it, touch it, look at it, feel it, just anything as long as you did something to it. The boys said she would just be smiling, happy all the time. So . . . she was sorta the object of the gossip of us girls and the object of attention of the boys, a lot.
I can see her now; standing in the schoolyard in her white and brown saddle oxford shoes, a plaid pleated skirt and a white blouse. Smiling. With boys always somewhere near. She was wearing perfume round that time and puttin on a little light lipstick, too.
Well, I still liked her and sometimes I needed that sandwich at lunch cause my family was still doing poorly, but I couldn't stay close, close friends anymore because she was so . . . conspicuous. Anyway, my mama had heard of some of Lorene's doings and told me to just separate myself from her. My mama may have been poor, but she was very strict. And tired too. She and my daddy worked hard; I had four brothers and sisters. Their jobs didn't pay much.
Now, that made me kind of mad at the girls who were always dogging her and even telling their mamas about Lorene. (That's how my mama found out about Lorene and what she was doing with the boys.) Then I had to miss out on a good friend and a good meal when I was hungry . . . because of them! And who knew what these gossiping girls were doing behind trees and walls?
Lorene found another girlfriend though, Carla, who wasn't just like Lorene in her ways, but did let a boy or two go all the way. But not everybody! When we graduated junior high school Carla was at home having a baby. She came back to high school and left the baby at home with her mother or somebody. Anyway, Lorene and Carla had started having sex with boys when they were about twelve or thirteen, so I heard the boys told, cause the boys always tell.
Excerpted from The Future Has a Past by J. California Cooper. Copyright © 2001 by J. California Cooper. Excerpted by permission of Anchor, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.