As Olivia entered the diner in a blinding white shift over Louboutin heels, Mary almost pictured her dressed like the people lined up outside of the Welfare Department in Downtown Newark.
Olivia could drag her to a five-star restaurant if she wanted but Mary felt that dinner on a Sunday at Don’s Diner was perfect for their first reunion in five years.
As Olivia sat, Mary switched to Ewe, “Good morning, my queen,” they dove into their traditional greetings: a skill she taught her daughter despite their American status. She couldn’t die leaving Olivia without at least greeting her in Ewe.
Olivia shifted, taking off her Chanel aviators. Diamond studded earrings gleamed under the sunlight peering through open paneled windows. A blond waitress came to take their order.
“I didn’t come here to have dinner. It’s about my baby.”
Mary stopped. Olivia lived in San Francisco with her husband, whom she had two children with. But Mary knew that her daughter meant the dead baby.
“You were pregnant with that boy’s child for two months. You bled, I took you to the hospital. They announced a miscarriage.”
Olivia’s voice trembled, “His mother called me the week before I had the miscarriage…she was crying, begging me not to abort the baby.”
Mary laughed, “Did you think that hooligan’s mother was capable of helping you take care of it?”
The waitress came to ask if they needed anything. The blonde woman smiled so bright that Mary feared her eyes would roll out of their sockets. The women shook their heads. She left.
“…you put something in the tea you gave me, didn’t you?”
“You’re a good wife, a good mother, married to a man who makes more than you. You live in a gated place and eat without worrying. That is the way things should be.”
“This is not about money!”
People on their right jolted at the loud bang of her daughter’s fist over the table.
She blinked, “What did you expect? Did you believe the lies he was telling you when he came to my house? That he would do good by you?”
The boy was Andrew, who already dealt on the streets while he bounced in and out of school. Four children, by four different girls. Her daughter was the fifth at seventeen years old.
Mary was blind with hatred as she marched Olivia to Andrew’s house and demand for the boy to fix the situation. She made sure the neighborhood by Madison Ave Elementary School heard her voice. Andrew’s mother almost fought with her mother. But Mary had a way about her that made her mouth more vicious than her fists.
“If I had sat by like his useless mother and allowed it to happen, you wouldn’t have that house in San Francisco. Don’t come over here and expect me to ask for your forgiveness. You bled because God did not want that abomination. I didn’t give birth to you to put you on display!”
Mary thought of her home, a tiny shack propped next to a gutter. Every day, she had to hold her breath step over it to get to school and get home. This all changed when her Aunt Seyram pushed her inside. As Mary vomited and spat out filth, she listened to the woman tell her that she would stay in the gutters where she belonged.
Her daughter’s hands loosened.
“Eat your food.”