A Little of My Own Black History …
In honor of Black History Month this February, I decided that I would share with you all a little of my own family’s history and my memory of a special person. As some of you already know, I am in the process of writing a historical fiction book based on my family – specifically my great grandmother, Buena Vista Rogers, and her seven children, who grew up in Alabama. Below is a small excerpt of the book. Happy Black History Month! Enjoy and please share your thoughts …
~ H. Amber
The sweet chirps of birds near the opened window of my great-grandmother’s room were the only sounds whispering in my ears before I slowly cracked my eyes open to greet the early morning light. Hues of daylight crept through the sheer curtains of the bedroom as I awoke. I cautiously opened my eye lids, as to not let the sandman’s residue scratch the insides of my eyes and lay there for a few minutes, staring at the ceiling trying to remember where I was sleeping.
There was a quiet, yet distinct, movement coming from in the kitchen that gave my answer: Tuskegee Alabama. That was BV, short for Buena (pronounced Bu-wee-na) Vista, in there. I turned over and mom lay next to me – with her hair wrapped in a royal blue and sky blue satin night scarf. She was in a sweet slumber that was apparent by her soft snores, so I quietly turned towards the right side of the bed as to not disturb her.
The coldness of the floor from the air conditioning against the bottom of my feet was a drastic contrast to the warm aroma of coffee brewing in the kitchen. BV was an early morning “waker-upper” as I’d call it. But, so was I. We were the only ones who woke up early when mom and I came to visit during the summer. Around 7 a.m. each day, I’d crawl out of the bed my mother used to sleep in as a child and find BV alone in the kitchen. One might assume that she had a Latin background due to her name being the Spanish translation of “Good Morning,” but, no. Her father simply adored the name because of the way it sounded and named as such. I’m glad he did.
Lifting myself quietly from the queen-sized bed, I slowly stepped down the short hallway, barefoot and still in the white and pink cotton nightgown with lace trimmings that mom bought special for this trip. I stood there, my hair braided in corn row designs and lavender barrettes and bows.
It was dark in the hallway. I didn’t want BV to see me.
I thought of a great idea. I would play like it was a game of hide-and-seek and peek at what she was doing before she could detect me. “She’d think that was funny,” I whispered to myself. So, I stood there, at the corner of the hallway where the opening doorway of the kitchen hid. “I wonder if she could hear me awake and walking,” I thought, wondering what she was doing in there. Strategically, I placed my back against the wall so that she wouldn’t detect my shadow coming from the light of the sun shining through the opened blinds in the kitchen towards the shaded hallway.
It was like an episode of the popular ‘80s series MacGyver, my nine-year old self imagined, except there were no objects around that could help disguise or protect me so I could devise my plan. “I got it!” I thought. I’d first see where she was positioned. Then, that’s when I could figure out what I’d do next. Carefully maneuvering and sliding my body against the wall like I was a spy, and taking short walking movements and crawls, I decided I’d turn my head slightly towards the doorway to see where she was in the kitchen. I cautiously poked my head around to the corner of the wall, only showing one of my eyes, because surely two eyes would reveal my identity. BV, who was now in her early 70s, was standing in front of the stove, still in her light pink cotton nightgown, too, with her noticeably soft white hair in her signature low bun. Perfect! Her back was to me, I thought. I’d stay in this position until I could see what she was doing in there. If she turned around, I could swiftly get back into my original position. I was so smart; she wouldn’t even notice I was here! I immediately was overwhelmed by a rush of excitement thinking about how clever I was at this very moment.
Just as I was about to watch her next move, it was if it was my imagination had kicked in, but it wasn’t my imagination.
“Good morning, my sweet Hopie,” she softly whispered my nickname in her subtle southern accent, without even turning around. My mouth dropped. How did she always know when I was there? She turned around and smiled at me with that humble, yet warm and contagious smile of hers. I couldn’t help but to grin. Her smile always made me get what felt like warm butterflies fluttering in my tummy.
Still grinning, I let out a heavy sigh and dragged my feet over to the rectangular kitchen table. Ugh, she had caught me again. How? Could she be some kind of disguised super hero with magical powers?
Maybe she had invisible eyes on the back of her head. After all, mom told me some pretty telling stories of her childhood when she said BV would stare at her with piercing gray eyes whenever she got into trouble. Just the thought made shivers go down my spine. I think I had seen something like that on a television show once. Anyway, these aliens would come to Earth with a mission, but because no one could find out about their secret mission, they’d come disguised as normal people. If this was true, my great-grandmother BV was one of the nicest aliens I knew. Secretly, I didn’t think she would want to go back to alien land when she completed whatever mission she was here for on Earth. I think I made her that way, actually. She would always look at me with such love and tenderness. I don’t know any alien that is like that. Plus, I never got those piercing gray eyes mom talked about. “Yup, she just loved me too much to go back to alien land,” I convinced myself.
BV finished what she was doing at the stove, which was pouring a cup of coffee for me in my special cup, and walked over towards me. She kissed me on my forehead and placed the mug adorned with yellow daisies on the table in front of me. Yellow was my favorite color, she knew that.
In loving memory of Buena Vista Rogers