Sitting together on the back steps, “Emma, les run off,” Elzado pleaded. “Bama an Sally been gone so long. They ain’t never comin back afta us,” she said forlornly.
“I know they ain’t.”
“Well, les run off then! I’m tired uv doin all the work an me an you gittin all the whuppins, specially you. Gramma hates you. Look at my back, Emma,” pulling down the neck of her tattered dress to bare the rows of freshly inflicted coat-hanger welts.
“I know, El,” Emma said while looking at Elzado’s shoulders, “mine look the same way, but you too little to ru—”
“Naw I ain’t! I’m big as you is, an I do as much work as you do.”
“I know that, but you still jes ‘leven.”
Emma, at fifteen, had blossomed. Though her five-foot-five frame was slim, it bore the signs of womanhood; and her long dancer legs were striking. She kept her wavy, reddish, dark brown hair in a braid that hung midway down her back, exposing an interestingly beautiful face. The tiny moles dotting her cheeks were un-ignorable and accentuated the dark, intense eyes and pouted lips.
Unlike her sisters, Emma took her caramel-colored complexion and good grade of hair from Charlie’s light brown Cajun Negro side of the family. Bama, Sally, and Elzado, with their kinky black hair and dark mahogany skin, resembled Lillie and the rest of Grandma Duck’s offspring.
Grandma Duck was crowding seventy and not as agile as she used to be but just as hateful. Because she had gotten too short-winded, she delegated her oldest daughter “Big Auntie” full authority to do all of her “personal whuppin” while she oversaw to make sure it met her satisfaction.
Big Auntie was still sitting at the kitchen table while Emma and Elzado cleaned off the dirty supper dishes. She was just as ornery as Grandma Duck, and Emma decided now was as good a time as any. She had wanted a chance to talk to her away from all the others. As she raked the leftovers into a bucket for the hogs, “Big Auntie?”
“I wisht you’d make them ol boys uv yourn stop meddlin me.”
“They be meddlin me too,” Elzado chimed in.
“You shet up an gitcho fanny outta this kitchen!” Big Auntie demanded. After Elzado left, she asked Emma indignantly, “Meddlin you how?”
“Puttin they hands up under my dress, pinchin my titties an stuff lak—”
“Shet yo lyin mouf!” Big Auntie shouted angrily, pushed her chair back abruptly and stood up. “They ain’t dun no such a thang! You lowdown cow, none uv my boys wouldn’t even look at you!”
“They did, Big Auntie!”
“I tole you to shet yo mouf! I be seein you sassy wigglin yo fanny up an down in that hall lak you got sump’n somebody might want!”
“Naw I ain’t!”
“Why, you ol Charlie-lookin devil,” coming around the table to get at her, “you bet not ‘spute my word!”
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