Today's Reading

CHAPTER ONE

It's the heat you never get used to. The way it bullies you at night. I wait for the creak of the bedroom door, the dull thud of footsteps, the pulling back of covers and the heavy sink of his body next to mine on a mattress, but none of it comes. It'll never come again. A friend saw to that. And I got on a bus, and I came to Memphis. I birthed you.

Mama Sugar and I tell people your father died in a car accident. But that's not true is it, child? People tell me they're sorry for my loss, but I'm not sorry.

You squirm when you suckle. You can never be still. You're always hungry or crying or cooing or laughing. Never sleeping or giving me peace. And everyone says you're handsome. They talk about those pretty green eyes of yours. Everyone says you're a blessing, but they don't know, do they? I know. Everything. You still suckle and lightly pull on the meat of my nipple though I'm almost dry and have barely anything left to give, but you don't care.

Mama Sugar knocks on my door, like she does every morning before the sun is up, when little strips of gold lay themselves below the deep blue of night. "Look at 'em. Growing like a weed." She scratches her left palm. Her green apron with yellow daisies is covered in patches of flour. "Bring Lebanon downstairs. He gone fall asleep in a little bit anyway. You need to get him on a steady schedule soon though. He's almost five months now."

"You know him better than I do."

"Naw Sara-girl, you his momma. You know him." She scratches her left palm again. "Damn. I must got some money comin' in." Mama Sugar and her superstitions. Her good fortune somehow lurking beneath her wrinkled skin.

I stare at your face. You stop suckling and smile, as big as Mama Sugar. And all I want, all I yearn to do, is disappear. Instead, I will take you downstairs with me into a kitchen even hotter than this small room with its bed and the dresser and the turquoise suitcase with a doll inside. I'll lose myself in flour and sugar and eggs and extracts of vanilla and lemon and almond. I'll try to find a piece of me still lush and thriving in smells from the stove baking biscuits Mama Sugar made or in the skillet frying bacon and eggs.

I'll try to forget though I have you to remind me. Little bastard. 

"Be down in a few minutes," I say.

There's a crash from the hallway. "Dammit, Amos! Where's my grandbaby? You leave Will alone again? I told you don't come up in here drunk! Should be at home with yo son and leave that nonsense on out in them streets!" Mama Sugar slams my door. Voices, muffled and not so muffled, bicker then apologize. There is again stillness and suffocation. And your eyes, like his, flutter open and shut, fighting against rest, but finally you fall asleep. I tie a clean scarf, light pink, on my head. It will catch the sweat on my brow as I work in the kitchen. It won't catch tears though, but I lie and say they're sweat. I wrap you in a blue blanket and have the same thought I always do: How long would it take for you to die if I place a pillow over that nose like mine but those eyes like his?

I won't though. I'm not a monster and I have enough to answer for, my friends have enough to answer for on my behalf, and so I'll take you downstairs and let people fuss over you and treat you like a little king. I'll try to ignore you and this constant rolling in my stomach and dampness on my flesh I can never seem to keep cool and dry.

The hallway is dim. Amos' door is closed as he snores and sleeps off whatever mischief he discovered during the night.

"Sara! Sara-girl! Come on down here and go get me four green tomatoes from the garden!"

The stairs are steep and winding. There are seventeen of them, which I count in my head. I watch them and your face because any jostle will wake you and I'll have to try and get you back to sleep. Please don't wake up. And you don't.

Maybe there is a God.

Mama Sugar's husband sits quietly, patiently at the table. "Hey little man!" Mr. Vanellys whispers as his tall, slender, dark frame lumbers up from the too-small chair at the kitchen table next to Mama Sugar. "Can I hold him for a little while, Sara? He seems to wake up when you put him in that crib."

"Sure. Thank you." Me not having you in my arms is fine. I can use them for better things like picking perfectly ripe green tomatoes from the garden.
...

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Today's Reading

CHAPTER ONE

It's the heat you never get used to. The way it bullies you at night. I wait for the creak of the bedroom door, the dull thud of footsteps, the pulling back of covers and the heavy sink of his body next to mine on a mattress, but none of it comes. It'll never come again. A friend saw to that. And I got on a bus, and I came to Memphis. I birthed you.

Mama Sugar and I tell people your father died in a car accident. But that's not true is it, child? People tell me they're sorry for my loss, but I'm not sorry.

You squirm when you suckle. You can never be still. You're always hungry or crying or cooing or laughing. Never sleeping or giving me peace. And everyone says you're handsome. They talk about those pretty green eyes of yours. Everyone says you're a blessing, but they don't know, do they? I know. Everything. You still suckle and lightly pull on the meat of my nipple though I'm almost dry and have barely anything left to give, but you don't care.

Mama Sugar knocks on my door, like she does every morning before the sun is up, when little strips of gold lay themselves below the deep blue of night. "Look at 'em. Growing like a weed." She scratches her left palm. Her green apron with yellow daisies is covered in patches of flour. "Bring Lebanon downstairs. He gone fall asleep in a little bit anyway. You need to get him on a steady schedule soon though. He's almost five months now."

"You know him better than I do."

"Naw Sara-girl, you his momma. You know him." She scratches her left palm again. "Damn. I must got some money comin' in." Mama Sugar and her superstitions. Her good fortune somehow lurking beneath her wrinkled skin.

I stare at your face. You stop suckling and smile, as big as Mama Sugar. And all I want, all I yearn to do, is disappear. Instead, I will take you downstairs with me into a kitchen even hotter than this small room with its bed and the dresser and the turquoise suitcase with a doll inside. I'll lose myself in flour and sugar and eggs and extracts of vanilla and lemon and almond. I'll try to find a piece of me still lush and thriving in smells from the stove baking biscuits Mama Sugar made or in the skillet frying bacon and eggs.

I'll try to forget though I have you to remind me. Little bastard. 

"Be down in a few minutes," I say.

There's a crash from the hallway. "Dammit, Amos! Where's my grandbaby? You leave Will alone again? I told you don't come up in here drunk! Should be at home with yo son and leave that nonsense on out in them streets!" Mama Sugar slams my door. Voices, muffled and not so muffled, bicker then apologize. There is again stillness and suffocation. And your eyes, like his, flutter open and shut, fighting against rest, but finally you fall asleep. I tie a clean scarf, light pink, on my head. It will catch the sweat on my brow as I work in the kitchen. It won't catch tears though, but I lie and say they're sweat. I wrap you in a blue blanket and have the same thought I always do: How long would it take for you to die if I place a pillow over that nose like mine but those eyes like his?

I won't though. I'm not a monster and I have enough to answer for, my friends have enough to answer for on my behalf, and so I'll take you downstairs and let people fuss over you and treat you like a little king. I'll try to ignore you and this constant rolling in my stomach and dampness on my flesh I can never seem to keep cool and dry.

The hallway is dim. Amos' door is closed as he snores and sleeps off whatever mischief he discovered during the night.

"Sara! Sara-girl! Come on down here and go get me four green tomatoes from the garden!"

The stairs are steep and winding. There are seventeen of them, which I count in my head. I watch them and your face because any jostle will wake you and I'll have to try and get you back to sleep. Please don't wake up. And you don't.

Maybe there is a God.

Mama Sugar's husband sits quietly, patiently at the table. "Hey little man!" Mr. Vanellys whispers as his tall, slender, dark frame lumbers up from the too-small chair at the kitchen table next to Mama Sugar. "Can I hold him for a little while, Sara? He seems to wake up when you put him in that crib."

"Sure. Thank you." Me not having you in my arms is fine. I can use them for better things like picking perfectly ripe green tomatoes from the garden.
...

Join the Library's Online Book Clubs and start receiving chapters from popular books in your daily email. Every day, Monday through Friday, we'll send you a portion of a book that takes only five minutes to read. Each Monday we begin a new book and by Friday you will have the chance to read 2 or 3 chapters, enough to know if it's a book you want to finish. You can read a wide variety of books including fiction, nonfiction, romance, business, teen and mystery books. Just give us your email address and five minutes a day, and we'll give you an exciting world of reading.

What our readers think...