Marjorie Akins was in the kitchen, when she heard the front door open. April's voice sounded out:
"Mom, I'm home."
Then Marjorie heard April say, to someone, that she'd be back in a few seconds. She went into living room and toward the front door. There was April talking to a young and very striking black woman.
"Well here she is," April said, with a shake of her head, "It's tugboat Annie herself."
Marjorie grinned and did a curtsey, when she heard the words. She and April had gone round and round about over the issue of the way that Marjorie dressed. But Marjorie herself felt that since Ralph was gone, run away with his secretary, she didn't have that much to dress up for, so that, sweats were her normal fare around the house.
Marjorie smiled at the black woman, who gave her a very penetrating glance from her huge brown eyes. She stuck her hand out and said:
"Don't mind grumpy; she hates it, when I dress casually around the house. I'm Marjorie, April's Mom, though you wouldn't believe it, when you hear her big sistering me all the time."
The black woman smiled and said softly: "I'm Rhianna."
"Oh, of course," Marjorie said, "April has talked about you a number of times; Rhianna, I'm so glad to meet you. I'm pleased at the way that April appreciates your friendship."
"Thank you," Rhianna said, "It's an important friendship to me too."
At that point, Marjorie gave the lovely black woman a penetrating look, almost accidentally.
Rhianna, understanding quickly said slowly:
"And, no, Mrs Akins, it's not that kind of relationship."
Marjorie was caught flat footed by the candor of the black gal. She sputtered just a bit, and finally said:
"I'm so sorry; I guess I was wondering that. It's only a Mother's normal worry, that's all."
"Yes, I know that," Rhianna said, still holding on to Marjorie's hand, and only letting it go, when they heard April clattering back down the stairs.
Marjorie turned and gave April a huge hug. April moved into the hug with a large smile on her face.
"Sorry, Mom, about being mouthy with the 'Tugboat Annie' comment," she said softly.
"There was no harm meant and certainly no harm received. I know that I rarely try to spruce myself up, darling. I will try," Marjorie said, kissing April on the cheek.
Turning to Rhianna, who was watching her with glittering eyes, Marjorie at first hesitated, feeling the power of the look that she was receiving; then she shook her head and said:
"Sorry about that little bit of family business, Rhianna.'
Then she continued: "And where are you two off to?"
"We're going to the library to study and then maybe grab a bite afterwards. Shouldn't be too late."
"Please don't be," Marjorie interjected, "Remember that tomorrow you go for the intern interview, and you don't want to be tired."
"Yes, Mom," April said, rolling her eyes.
"Hey," Marjorie countered, hugging her daughter, "Mothers get to be and sound like Mothers."
"I know, and I love you," April said, turning to leave.
Marjorie turned to Rhianna again and stepped up to give her a hug. She was once again almost overpowered by the shine in Rhianna's eyes. She struggled slightly but finally managed:
"It's really lovely to meet you, Rhianna; I hope you come again."
"Oh, I'd like that," Rhianna said, mentally expanding the lovely plans that she already had for Marjorie, whose tatty clothes didn't hide her ripeness at all.
The two young girls left then. When they were in the car, Rhianna turned to April and said:
"You know, despite the sweats, your Mom is a real looker; what's up there?"
April was used to that kind of honesty with Rhianna and said, with a sigh:
"My dad left my Mom a few years ago, for his secretary. It was so weird. I mean, in their marriage Dad was the older one, about 10 years older than Mom, and they had, at Mom's parents' insistence, a pre-nup so that Dad walked away with his bimbo secretary with nothing at all. The money was and remains Mom's. But since the loser pulled up stakes and left, she just hasn't cared very much. She probably has more sweats than the college basketball team!"
"Well," Rhianna said, "She certainly is gorgeous and seems to have some really great equipment."
"I know," April said, shaking her head, "It's what bugs me so much; she's got so much and she's allowing herself to kind of waste away."
"Too bad," Rhianna said.
"Yeah," April answered. "But, hey, what about eats after we do our studying?"
They discussed where to go for a bite, after they did the studying that they wanted to do.
At home, Marjorie had a bit of a difficult time getting the gleam of Rhianna's eyes out of her mind. She was a bit shaken, and didn't know why at all. She tried to shake it off and settled down to watch a movie with a glass of wine.
As she sat, half watching the movie and half ignoring it to run through her busy thoughts, she said to herself:
"This is nonsense! You aren't and have never been attracted to women and this is a friend of April's! Straighten up!"
After that little interlude, Marjorie didn't really feel more at home one bit with the remembrance of the gleam in Rhianna's eyes. So, she called up one of her main defenses and simply made an attempt to push it out of her mind.
But the truth was that Marjorie Akins was ripe indeed and ready for someone to take her in hand and change her. She'd been perhaps, she thought often, too 'bland' for Ralph and now, this time, this present time was only a waiting time, waiting for someone or something to happen.
The following morning Marjorie was up early to get April a good breakfast, before she had to go and have her intern interview. She thought that it was exciting that her little April was coming to the end of her education and starting to get out into the work world and make her own mark. It brought tears to her eyes. Just then April came into the kitchen.
"Hey, there's my gal Annie," she said with a sassy tone.
Marjorie glared at her with mock severity and said: "That's no way to talk to your Mother, young lady. These are clean sweats!"
April went to her Mom's arms and said softly: "Oh, Mom, I just wish that you'd get over it and start to brighten yourself up a bit. I hate to see you all gloomy so much."
"I appreciate that, sweetie," Marjorie said. "I will try soon; I promise."
Marjorie got April off and had the day to herself, wondering, as she usually did, what she'd do today. Her thoughts were interrupted by the doorbell. She went and opened the door only to find Rhianna standing there.
"Rhianna!" Marjorie said with obvious relish, once again struggling not to get lost in those big brown eyes. "You just missed her."
"Not here to see Arpil," Rhianna said, moving into the house, as Marjorie stood back for her to enter, a bit non-plussed by her manner.
"I'm here for you, Marjorie! To talk." Rhianna said, drawling out Marjorie's name. Then she went on:
"Don't know that I like that name Marjorie; but, girl, you certainly dress like a Marjorie. You look like you're prime under those sweats but you come across all Marjorie. Is that your whole name?"
Marjorie stuttered a bit as she sought to answer the inquiry:
"No, uh, Rhianna, my middle name is Angel."
"Hot damn!" Rhianna said with a grin. "Then Angel it is. For you and me, you're Angel. Got it?"
"Uh, yes," Marjorie said, "Uh, got it."
Marjorie didn't know why she was reacting this way, and she also realized that she was quickly getting lost in this conversation. She tried to get a grip and said to Rhianna:
"But where are my manners? Please come in; coffee? You said that you want to talk to me." "Sure do, Angel," Rhianna said.
Marjorie was thrown off by the difference in speech, speech pattern, cadence and mannerisms of Rhianna today. This was more like a tough ghetto girl. The classy student of last night was nowhere to be found.
"I don't understand, uh, Rhianna," Marjorie struggled to say. "What's wrong?"
"Angel, honey," Rhianna said, "You're wrong, all wrong; and that's why I'm here."
It was then that Marjorie decided that, even if this was a friend of April's, this conversation was going no further.
"I'm sorry, Rhianna," Marjorie said, pulling herself together, "But I don't think I like the tone and it's none of your business besides. I think you'd better leave."
""Makin' it my business, ain't I, Angel?" Rhianna said.
Marjorie then took a step toward the door but Rhianna interposed herself between Marjorie and the door. She shook her head and said:
"Always has to be the hard way; white women always want the hard way. But that's good for Rhianna; the hard way's fun."
Without another word, she slapped Marjorie in the face; the slap was hard enough to knock Marjorie staggering backward; she hit the couch and her momentum sent her over the back of the couch, where she landed. She was immobilized for a moment, and, upon looking up, saw the scowling black woman staring at her, hands on her hips and her head shaking.
"Like the hard way, do you, white bitch?" Rhianna said grinning down at the stunned woman.
"What? Why?" Marjorie croaked, as she struggled to get up. Then with all the courage that she could muster, she said:
Rhianna hit her again, and sent her spinning down, sitting on her ass. When Marjorie made a move, Rhianna said imperiously:
"Stay there, bitch and listen!"
.... There is more of this story ...