If you are a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic chick who loves a good short story with insight and inspiration for your personal and professional life, I’m excited to let you know that today, Day 65 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project, I’m kicking off my attempt to blog a book. I’ve been toying with the idea for a while, and with the approach of my 48th birthday this weekend, I’m just going to take the plunge. I’ve written a novel and am working on having it published, but in the meantime, I’ve had all of these other stories in my head and heart. The plan is to post three parts of a Pink Collar Chick’s story with:
- The Struggle
- The Strategy
- The Solution
Eventually, I hope to compile them into a book. Like Chicken Soup for the Savvy & Chic Soul or something like that…
Here’s the first one. I hope you’ll enjoy! If you do, please like it, comment, share it, and hopefully follow my blog to get the next part as soon as it’s posted. Thank you!
As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose chick who’s approaching 50, I want to live out my dream of sharing my fiction with women. So excited to share it with you.
Ava Turns Her Avocation into A Vocation – Post 1 of 3
Ava had always been a natural cheerleader. Though she’d grown up in poverty in a neighborhood where cheer classes weren’t even offered and she hadn’t ever participated on a squad at school with all the fees and uniform expenses, she could nail routines like she’d attended cheer camp. Ava would watch her peers perform at games, and other than the slightest tinge – not of jealously, but of wistfulness – she felt nothing but optimistic. That her school’s team would win the game and that one day she’d be the one cheering others on from the sidelines. She was small but had a loud voice and would make the best cheerleader.
School also came naturally for Ava. She’d tested into one of Cincinnati’s first Magnet schools. Fairview Elementary offered a bilingual program and she loved learning German and everything else for that matter! So much so that at the end of fourth grade, rather than let the kids in the neighborhood forget all of their multiplication tables or never crack open a book all summer, Ava started the Sunshine Club on her aunt Bitsy’s front porch. The club combined story time, math review and tutoring if needed (this was especially needed and surprisingly popular with the boys), and of course it incorporated the arts in the form of creative writing, drama, music and dance. A Bible lesson and prayer were also a part of the agenda. Ava ran her club like a true schoolmarm and managed to keep the unruly boys in line, even though some of them were a few years older. “You’re going to be a school teacher,” her aunt told Ava. Ava twirled the end of the long, thick braid pulled over her shoulder and felt her face flush. She remembered being mortified when a loud mouth boy in her class once bellowed, “Hey! Look at Ava. She’s the only black girl who can blush!” The thought of having to deal with the likes of him made her dip her head and reply, “Thank you. Maybe…”
At some point, Ava decided Sunshine Club dues should be collected to help cover any expenses for supplies such as paper and snacks, and it may even yield enough money that an activity could be planned to end the summer. Rather than balking as she anticipated they might when she brought it up, from that day on, most of the ten or so club members faithfully deposited what little change they could beg, steal or borrow into the slot Ava had cut in the lid of a Pringles can she’d decorated with a smiling sun. Every afternoon, when the club disbanded for the day, Ava walked the dues can down the street to the house where she, her single mother and her brother lived and hid them in her bedroom closet for safe keeping. On a sweltering Friday afternoon she was especially excited to get home and return to re-reading Bridge to Terabithia, a book they’d read in class that year and which was now a new favorite.
The street was lined with run down dilapidated houses. Ava had recently overheard her mother and Aunt Bitsy discussing how the neighborhood was going downhill. As far as Ava, who’d been born in the summer of ’69 was concerned, it had always been bad considering the alcohol and drug use taking place all around her. No matter, she thought. I’m just going to stay inside reading in the summer and doing homework during the school year until I can go away to college. Now, she stopped dead in her tracks, all thoughts of college and the book being written the same year she was born forgotten. Dougie, the huge, menacing teenage boy whose mother used to babysit her and her brother stood in the screen door and called out to her.
“Ava! Where you headin’ so fast, girl?”
Not wanting to reply but afraid not to, Ava merely waved and hurried past the house to her own. Heart beating rapidly, her hands shook as she used her latch key to unlock the front door of the shotgun style house. “One, two, three, four,” she breathed in slowly with her back braced against the door. Then she exhaled, “Four, three, two, one” just the way the emergency room doctor had shown her when she had a panic attack the last time her mother tried to drop her off at Dougie’s. She’d begged her mom not to make her go but couldn’t put into words how she felt about him pushing her down on the bed so he could “tickle” her. Ava was only nine, but she understood it was a dangerous game and wanted no part of it. When her mother, who didn’t listen like her Aunt Bitsy did, insisted Ava stop acting like a baby, she’d had thrown such a tantrum she’d started to hyperventilate and had to be rushed to the ER. Having Dougie’s mother babysit wasn’t brought up after that. Sometimes Ava wished her mom would ask her why she’d reacted that way, but since she was unable to speak about it, she figured it was just as well. “God, please keep me safe from Dougie” Ava prayed. “Thank you.”
Emotionally spent from reliving the incident and encountering Dougie for the first time since, Ava was glad to retreat to her room. Her mom was still at work and her brother was out ripping and running as usual. That gave her about an hour of peace before she’d be expected to do her chores when her mom got home. Once the Sunshine Club dues were tucked away in her closet, Ava went into the kitchen, which was conveniently located off her bedroom with the house’s unconventional layout, to get an afternoon snack. While standing with the refrigerator door open, she felt uneasy, like someone was watching her. Dismissing the notion, she found some pepperoni and cheese cubes then closed the fridge. When she did, she heard a weird noise in the backyard that was visible from her bedroom window. About to go investigate, she paused to grab the kitchen phone when it rang.
“Hello,” she answered it around the pepperoni she’d popped in her mouth.
“Ava, listen to me. I need you to come up to the house right now,” her Aunt Bitsy said in a strange voice.
“Um, okay. I just left there a few minutes ago…”
“Ava! Do not argue with me. Get up here right now!”
“Yes maam”, Ava answered, stunned. Her aunt sounded more like her mom who was often harsh. Aunt Bitsy never was.
Grabbing her book, Ava headed out the front door, only to have the neighbor across the street, Miss Clemmons, yell, “Are you OK, Ava?”
“Yes maam,” Ava replied displaying the same respect for Miss Clemmons as she had her aunt. In a hurry or not, she didn’t want to get in even more trouble than she already was, though she couldn’t imagine what she’d done. Regardless, Aunt Bitsy’s tone brooked no argument. When she said “Right now”, she meant Right now!
When her niece arrived, Aunt Bitsy immediately explained the reason she’d ordered her to leave the house. Miss Clemmons had watched Dougie follow Ava down the street. When he went into the backyard and didn’t come back out, she’d feared he was up to no good and was right. The police arrived at Ava’s house a few minutes later and caught Dougie on the scene in her bedroom. Ava had her second panic attack when she learned how he’d stacked the picnic table and a bench under her window, climbed up, cut the screen out and entered. The police caught him red-handed with the Sunshine Club dues – fifteen dollars and some change – and promptly hauled him off to what Ava’s brother and his friends called juvie.
Traumatic as the event was, especially considering the sliced window screen, none of the adults, even Aunt Bitsy, could understand why it sent Ava into a panic attack. They didn’t know what she did. Had it not been for God answering her prayer, things would have turned out very differently.
Dougie had been after more than the money.
In that moment, Ava realized two things. The first was that she wanted to speak up but couldn’t. For some reason, she just couldn’t find her voice with the police or even her Aunt Bitsy. Perhaps it was because she was only a child and simply didn’t have the words. The second thing was that she was going to start learning how to speak up, not only for herself, but for other girls when boys tried to do something bad to them.
Just like with cheerleading, she wasn’t able to do it the way she wanted to right now, but someday, she would be a real cheerleader for girls and women.
Stay tuned for Post 2…