Barbara was nine to Jazine's eight. Storming through the schoolyard towards her with one of her disciples, Barbara came up to Jazine in the schoolyard during lunch recess. Her heart was beating with terror; Jazine feared what she was going to do. She thought of running away but remained frozen. When Barbara was practically face to face with her, she coolly asked. "Why did you lie about the stick?"
The one they put in her tus-tus.
It happened one late afternoon in the churchyard. Jazine was scared and excited that day. If she did what they wanted they would be her friends.
'We all did this,' they assured her.
"Why did you lie about the stick?" Barbara repeated with growing annoyance.
First initiation rite. 'We have to hump you.' Jazine really didn't like what was going on now. Her father humped her. Humped her until he moaned and rolled off her body.
Lucky for her, Barbara, Elaine and Sharon were awkward and embarrassed. Each one straddled her and pretended to hump her. No one's tus-tus touched the other girl's tus-tus. She did see the stick, a torn tree branch that lay by her side.
"I don't know what you mean," Jazine blurted out.
Barbara looked like she wanted to challenge her but suddenly seemed bored and sucked her teeth. "Never mind." She remembered the stick, just couldn't remembered what happened. Jazine remembered enough.
Second initiation rite. She had to fist fight each girl. She gave a pretty good go with Elaine and Sharon but she didn't have the fire for going for the jugular like Barbara did. A sign of weakness.
Third and final initiation act. An act they would make her do for many months to come. They led her to a big tree away from the church; it had huge branches and was concealed by tall stalks of grass.
"Drop your pants and hump the tree," Barbara said coldly. Jazine stared at her in disbelief.
"Do it. We all did it." Elaine and Sharon nodded their heads dumbly in agreement. No one said anything, all eyes were glued to Jazine.
"What if someone sees me?"
Barbara sighed impatiently. "Ain't no one gonna see you."
Jazine looked around anyway; all she could see was the grass and this ominous tree, dark and menacing before her. She undid her jeans and let them fall to her ankles.
"Your panties too."
Jazine continued to stare at her in disbelief but the eyes she looked into were cold and serious.
She hooked her thumbs around the waistband of her underpants and pulled them down to her sagging jeans. She felt the wind on her butt, a light cool breeze that oddly felt soothing to her despite the situation. Elaine and Sharon stared at her. The two sisters were excited, about to see something that they never seen before. Jazine, now totally stripped, was focused. She knew what she had to do. Hips snapping, she humped the tree, wincing at the feel of the rough bark.
"Kiss it," ordered Barbara. She put her mouth to the bark, lips mashed together.
"Close your eyes."
She shut them thinking, this will be over soon. They could tell she hated it, she guessed, because Elaine said, "I know. You wish it was a boy." As if to console her. Jazine continued to fuck the tree saying nothing but thinking, 'You're wrong. I want no one.'
"I want this house clean before I get home. They're coming this afternoon," her mother said. She meant the people from Co-op City, the place where her mother wants to live. Jazine and her older brother vacuumed the dingy rug and dusted the worn furniture. When Jazine heard they might be moving, she was so happy. She wrote about it in her diary. A life without those girls, a life without torture. It wasn't official yet, but so far her mother passed all the tests, she told her children. She needed to pass one more hurdle, a personal character evaluation. Jazine kept the possibility of her family moving a secret but that did not stop her from fantasizing about having a life where she was valued and loved. No more teasing or being humiliated. She would never see her father again. A life without her father. He wouldn't be able to find them. They would live happily ever after.
Jazine and her brother were outside playing when the people came to see their mother. They both didn't say anything to the other kids when these strangers went inside their apartment building. After they left their mother told them that she would hear within a week about her chances. A week, thought Jazine. I can hold on, she kept telling herself, and she did. A few days later they called. Her mother got the apartment. Jazine could not remember her exact emotion or what she said. All she knew was that she was happy. Now she could spread the news. We're leaving! We're leaving! Of course she faked sadness that she was going to live in a new neighborhood. The girls at school were surprised but acted like they didn't care.
One late afternoon, an afternoon that Jazine would remember vividly, she was on the back of a bicycle, her arms wrapped around Barbara Thomas's waist, riding down the street. When she got to the intersection, Barbara stopped and leaned over the handlebars lost in thought. Jazine looked up at the sky and could see the sun beginning to set, a dark tangerine shade. Barbara broke the silence replying almost sadly, "I don't want you to leave." Jazine looked at the back of Barbara's head then looked again at the beautiful sunset, and couldn't help but smile.
© Mitzi Pelle
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