Here's the final sample from SEPTEMBER before its release. Enjoy!!
Mama had to pry Kenny’s arms from around her neck and when she stood to her feet, I could see the wet spot on her blouse left behind by Kenny’s tears. Kenny’s cries became shrill and louder as Mama backed away from us, moving toward the car door. Grandma Orene stepped forward, and when she wrapped her thick fingers around Kenny’s little arm, his knees buckled and landed on the gravel of the makeshift driveway that made up most of our grandmother’s front yard. His cries transformed from shrill sobs to pained wails.
I reached for him but Grandma Orene shook her head. “You let me take care of him, sugar,” she said warmly. “Now come on here, big boy. I got some cake in here and I think you’ll like it. It’s chocolate. Your mama told me you love chocolate cake.”
Kenny’s wailing stopped almost the second she spoke the words “chocolate cake”. His wet eyes widened and he stood to his feet.
Our grandmother turned to me and winked. “Let’s go get us some cake, Chrissy.”
I smiled as I followed her into the old, paint-stripped house.
Grandma Orene’s house was larger than the little house in the woods where Kenny and I had spent our lives up until that point, but it was full of furniture and knick-knacks. It smelled like food and was so warm, much warmer than our house. It was an old house, but the floors didn’t creak like at our house and the air didn’t seep in under the doors and the windows didn’t rattle when the wind blew. The furniture was old, but not raggedy. The couch sagged but was covered with a clean quilt. The coffee table was chipped, but there wasn’t a speck of dirt on it. The house was lived-in, but not run down. It had taken on the characteristics of a true home rather than just a building.
When I walked into the kitchen and saw all of that food on the table, I couldn’t believe it. I had never seen so much food in one place and intended for one meal in my whole life! Fried chicken, greens, pinto beans, cornbread, boiled okra, potato salad, and of course, a triple-stacked chocolate cake with chocolate icing. I looked over at Kenny whose eyes had grown so wide, I thought they were going to pop out of his head.
“We gon’ eat all this?” he asked excitedly.
“As much of it as you want,” Grandma Orene answered. “Now, go wash your hands over at the sink. We gon’ eat soon as your Aunt Joyce and your Uncle Larry get back.”
I took Kenny’s hand and inched toward the sink. “Who is they?” I asked.
“They your daddy’s sister and brother. Now go on and wash them hands.”
“Where they at?” I said as I turned the water on in the faucet and lathered my hands with soap.
“Down the road a bit. They be back shortly.”
I nodded. “You my daddy’s Mama, right?”
She smiled at me and nodded. “Yes, I am, smart girl.”
“Where his daddy at?”
A sadness swiftly filled her eyes.
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